Friday, February 27, 2009

Marriage Retreat

Tonight and tomorrow Beverly and I will be leading a marriage retreat for our church.  These are such sweet, precious times spent together.  Tonight we will watch the movie "Fireproof" -- so I am going to go home and make about 15 poppers of popcorn for everyone.

Please pray for good marriages to be made better and for struggling marriages to be shored up.

Yesterday afternoon, Jacob (my fellow minister) and I went and played golf.  I hadn't played in a month because of my back.  I played better than I expected, but I could not keep pace with Jacob.  My mind must have been playing games with me, because it seemed that he took more strokes than he actually did.  After each hole, he would tell me his score.  He carded 16 birdies, one eagle and one par.  This guy shot a 54!  I can't wait for the day to say, "I knew Jacob when."    

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The U. N.

Tiger played his first round of competitive golf in over nine months yesterday.  I was concerned as he got off to a slow start -- making birdie the par 4 1st hole, and EAGLING the 2nd hole.  His swing looks like it is much more controlled, which means he will hit more fairways.  Which means he will score better.  Which means everyone else will be playing for 2nd.

Did you hear that the U.N. is wanting to make it a criminal act to defame any religion. I love the way it was reported by the following satirist (I don't know who to give credit to):

Fresh off of its wave of successes in stopping genocides in Rwanda and Sudan, the United Nations passed a measure banning the “defamation of religion.” Sponsored by bastions of democracy like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, it was approved by a vote of 86 in favor, 53 against and 42 abstentions.

How can those countries (Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan) suggest such a proposal with a straight face?  It is an absolute joke!  Hypocrisy at its worst.  And it just goes to show what the U.N. is about today.   

Monday, February 23, 2009


As I said yesterday morning before my sermon, life is bitter-sweet.  Sometimes the sweet outweighs the bitter.  Some seasons in life, the bitter outweighs the sweet.

We experienced a new birth yesterday in our church -- that's sweet.

Tomorrow I will officiate at the service of a man who is a hero to me.  He fought in the Pacific during World War II, and earned the silver star.  He raised four children in tough times working for the railroad.  He worked nights, but had a couple of nights a week off.  On those nights, he would turn off the TV, sit his family down -- and they would read from God's word together and then take turns praying.

He was a remarkable man.  And his passing in itself is bitter-sweet.  I am going to miss him.  But he has been struggling physically for many years.  He was ready to go be with the Lord.  And that is sweet.

On the bitter side, yesterday one of our church families suffered the loss of an infant son.  He was a triplet, and had many complications in his 7 short months of life.

Here is one of the real challenges of ministry.  What do you say?  We are full of theologically-crazy platitudes at times like this.  They do much more harm than good.  I sometimes think the best thing to do is be like Job's friends when they FIRST came to him.  Just sit in silence.

But Wednesday, I will need to speak a word for God into their lives, as well as those who gather for the memorial service.  I know the Lord will provide for me.

On a lighter note:  TIGER IS BACK!  It will be interesting to see how he does in his 1st tournament back from knee surgery.  He was on a torrid streak before he was sidelined.  Those in the know say he has been playing in pain for years.  What might this guy be like if he is healthy?  It ought to be fun.         


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tony Campolo Quote

Tony Campolo has written some stimulating things through the years.  He certainly swims in a different stream than many popular Christian writers.  But so much of what he writes gets us to think outside of the box.  I love his name for a new political movement (I am not writing this to endorse any agenda):  "Red-letter Christians." 

I came across a humorous quote of his yesterday: 

"I've always been skeptical of those television healers who are bald. I mean, if I had that gift, that would be the first thing I'd fix."

Here is a picture of Tony:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ranking the Presidents

Yesterday being "Presidents' Day", I read a ranking of the presidents.  The first three were:  1. Abraham Lincoln, 2.  George Washington, and 3.  FDR.

These polls come out about every year, and they change a little.  Harry Truman seems to keep moving up, while Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan have slipped a little.  And sometimes, time removed from the office seems to affect the person's position.  George W. currently ranks below Herbert Hoover.  While I certainly don't think W. was a great president, I have a feeling history will be a little kinder to him (maybe lower middle of the pack).  

Right after Nixon resigned, he was ranked extremely low.  Then through the years, he moved up some (he was a good foreign policy president).  Now he is slipping again.

I wonder how much current political bias plays into these historians' views?

I personally like the Teddy Roosevelt-Harry Truman-Lyndon Johnson type presidents -- who make decisions, and then let the chips fall as they might.  We saw some of that in Reagan, too.

So who is YOUR favorite?  

By the way:  I heard Michael Irvin talking about this on his radio show yesterday.  His all time favorite president?  Barrack Obama.  Yes, sir -- they guy has been in office for 1 month, and he already ranks as the greatest president ever?  I hope history proves that to be true -- but come on!      

Monday, February 16, 2009

TV Favs

I could not tell you what Boston Legal or Grey's Anatomy or any number of popular TV shows are even about.  And sit-coms?  I never even watched a Seinfeld episode until I saw one in reruns while I was cooking dinner recently.  So I would not make a very good TV critic.

There are two shows that Beverly and I follow.  We used to be big Monk fans, but the plots are beginning to get stale after 8 years or so.  But another show on USA Network that I would recommend it Psych.  It is a hilarious comedy-drama.  The premise is a young guy that has incredible recall and takes in all the details of a situation, but the local police department thinks he is a psychic.  So they call him in when their cases meet a dead end. His sidekick, Gus, is one of the funniest people on TV (to me).  It's on Friday nights at 9 (I think), but we just always DVR it.  Give it a try.

I don't know if it is because I am getting hard of hearing (I don't think that is the case, so Jeff -- keep your opinions to yourself), but I have trouble understanding the dialog in so many shows.  Psych is one of them.  So I am beginning to use closed caption.  That way, if Beverly and I miss something, I can rewind to find out what they said.

Of course, you know my other favorite by now:  24.  And I am glad to know that I have converted my son Josh, who recently wrote on his blog that it is the best show on TV.  Again, DVR is so cool.  On Monday nights, Beverly works until about 8.  So I have dinner ready, and we eat while we watch it -- usually beginning about 8:20.  It is on from 8 to 9, and as we fast-forward through the commercials, we usually end up catching up with it in real time about the time it is over.

And then there is the Golf Channel.  But I won't go there with you.             

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Unfortunate Quotes

I came across a list of unfortunate quotes throughout the years.  One of them is from the editor of the Firm Foundation, Buster Dobbs.  I hope you find these as interesting, and at times as funny, as I did.  I had to delete some, because they were not appropriate:

1.  "Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country."  Mayor Marion Barry.

2. “The internet is a great way to get on the net.”  Bob Dole, Republican presidential candidate

3. “We don’t necessarily discriminate. We simply exclude certain types of people.”  Colonel Gerald Wellman

4. “China is a big country, inhabited by many Chinese.”  Charles De Gaulle, former French President

5. “The world is more like it is now then it ever has before.”  Dwight Eisenhower

6. “Traditionally, most of Australia’s imports come from overseas.”  Former Australian cabinet minister Keppel Enderbery

7. “We’re going to move left and right at the same time.”  Jerry Brown, Governor of California

8. “Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.” Joe Theismann, former NFL football quarterback and sports analyst

9. “I always used to put my right boot on first, and then obviously my right sock.”  Barry Venison

10. “Sure there have been injuries and deaths in boxing - but none of them serious.”  Alan Minter, Boxer

11. “Men, I want you just thinking of one word all season. One word and one word only: Super Bowl.”  Bill Peterson, football coach

12. “Strangely, in slow motion replay, the ball seemed to hang in the air for even longer.”  David Acfield

13. It’s a humbling thing being humble.”  Former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett

14. “I have a God-given talent. I got it from my dad.”  Julian Wakefield, Missouri basketball player

15. “He’s a guy who gets up at six o’clock in the morning regardless of what time it is.”  Lou Duva, veteran boxing trainer, on the Spartan training regime of heavyweight Andrew Golota.

16. “Well, I used to look like this when I was young and now I still do.”  Yogi Berra

17. “Sometimes they write what I say and not what I mean.”  Pedro Guerrero, major leaguer

18. “The Bible commands that we hate.”  H. A. (Buster) Dobbs

19. “Smoking kills. If you’re killed, you’ve lost a very important part of your life.”  Brooke Shields

20. “I get to go to lots of overseas places, like Canada”.   Britney Spears

21. “Most cars on our roads have only one occupant, usually the driver.”  Carol Malia, BBC Anchorwoman

22. “I don’t diet. I just don’t eat as much as I’d like to.”  Linda Evangelista, Supermodel

23. “A bachelor’s life is no life for a single man.”  Samuel Goldwyn

24. “Are you going to ask that question with shades on?”  George Bush to blind reporter Peter Wallsten

25. “The gavel of the speaker of the House is in the hands of special interests, and now it will be in the hands of America’s children.”  Nancy Pelosi, on the prospect of Democrats winning back Congress

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Being "Offensive"

I love what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 8 and Romans 14 about getting along in the midst of differing opinions. Through the years I have probably been harsher on not being offensive toward a "weaker brother" than I have been about the weaker brother not insisting on his opinion.

Edward Fudge has some interesting insights into this passage that has caused me to reconsider some things. Here it is:  

A gracEmail subscriber writes: "In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul urges us to avoid even innocent activities if our doing them 'offends' a weak brother or sister. My own relatives and friends include different people who object to using instrumental music in church, celebrating Christmas, playing cards, women wearing pants, wearing clothes with zippers, and drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation. Am I required to cease every activity to which anyone happens to object?"

Regarding this subject, people easily go to either of two opposite extremes. On the one hand, some selfish, immature and headstrong believers insist on exercising their personal freedom, even when they have reason to believe that their doing so will cause a fellow-believer to sin. On the other hand, some selfish, immature and headstrong believers use this chapter as a tool for tyranny, when they try to restrict the conduct of others based on their own personal scruples. Both groups would provoke apostolic frustration.

I once helped a church decide to use unfermented grape juice in the Lord's Supper in consideration of a brother who was a struggling alcoholic. However, while preaching for a different church and having grown a beard, I was approached one Sunday by a sister who said: "Brother Fudge, your beard offends me." To which I replied, as kindly as I knew how, "Really, sister? What sin does it make you want to commit?" She read the word "offend" in her King James Version of 1 Corinthians 8:13 and confused it with provoking a negative reaction. In fact, the verb translated "to offend" in the KJV, in today's English really means "to stumble" (ESV, NASB) or "to fall into sin" (NIV).

We can summarize Paul's teaching in 1 Corinthians 8 in one sentence: When I am with another believer, who I know considers some innocent activity to be sinful, if I have reason to suppose that my doing that activity might cause that believer to do it also, then I should momentarily set aside my personal rights in order to avoid causing that believer to sin by doing something that he or she considers to be wrong.

Monday, February 09, 2009

My Back and Other Stuff

Yesterday was an interesting experience for me, as I preached from a stool. I have had lower back issues for several days, and standing (actually very stooped) for more than a couple of minutes was extremely painful. I had a number of people tell me that they thought it was easier to stay engaged with me as I sat and preached. I found that interesting.

I am going to give it one more day of total rest today. I will stay home and work on our upcoming marriage retreat. Hopefully, tomorrow will be back to normal.

So the list continues to grow. Will we now change his name to A-Roid? You would think these guys would learn from what has come before: Confess your steroid usage, and people will forgive and forget. Deny it and you are DONE!

Someone wrote in this morning's Star-Telegram that they were saddened because Terry Glenn's Cowboy career s now over. "To go into the huddle would be a violation of his probation of not associating with other criminals."

Report is out that Tiger has had a cub -- this one a boy. Tiger, take my advice. You need to get back out on tour as quickly as possible. You have a girl (which means WEDDING) and a boy (car insurance). Get back out there and start saving your money, my friend!

Actually, he is practicing full-throttle on his new knee, and reports are that he is feeling great. Translation: the rest of the tour is toast. Come on, Tiger. Weekends aren't the same without you.

Friday, February 06, 2009

An Atheist with a Message We Need to Hear

I would encourage you to paste this link and watch as Penn Fraser Jillette of Penn and Teller (comedian magician team) tells an interesting story. He is an avowed atheist, but he has a message for us that we need to hear. I could not get it to come up as a link you could just click on. .

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Breaking Down Barriers

I am getting SO much out of my study of the Gospel of Luke.  This Sunday's passage will zero in on the story of the paralytic who was lowered by four friends through the roof to be healed by Jesus. 

But just prior to that story is the story of a man who had leprosy.  He violated the Law of Moses by not keeping his distance and not crying out, "Unclean."  Jesus never corrected him for this, by the way.  He falls at Jesus' feet.  He doesn't question Jesus' ability to heal him.  What he questions is Jesus' willingness:  "If you are WILLING, you CAN make me clean."

Jesus could have spoken the word, "Be healed" -- and he would have been.  But Jesus "reached out his hand and touched the man.  "I AM WILLING," he said.  "Be clean!"

The touch of Jesus.  It was TOTALLY not essential to the miracle.  But it WAS so important.  There are many things that would keep us from touching people today.  BARRIERS.  In whatever form they take, those barriers prevent us from being Jesus to the world.

I have too many barriers in my life.  I am a daily work in progress.  But I want to become more like Jesus, and that means not being satisfied to leave those barriers in place.     

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Deep Questions

Questions I have been pondering: 

I'm just wondering:  If I don't pay what I owe in taxes, will the IRS accept "it was an honest oversight" as an excuse?  An honest oversight of $128,000?  

Nancy Pelosi, our Speaker of the House, said that "500 million Americans" lose their jobs every month.  Wouldn't that mean that EVERY American would be out of work in the next two weeks?

There is something about Vice President Joe Biden that I like.  I think it's that he just seems like (no pun intended) an "average Joe."   But I didn't like the way he made fun of John Roberts' mess-up of the oath of office.  Is it proof of the truth of the old adage "what goes around, comes around" that he botched up the oath given to one of the new cabinet members?  Be careful what you say.         

Just wondering:  Do the Super Bowl MVPs really go to Disneyworld?  I find it hard to picture Ben R. (a single guy) getting all excited about going there.  Maybe if they have a motorcycle track.

So the Cowboys are the #2 pick to make it to the Super Bowl next year.  What are the oddsmakers smoking?  Have they been watching this circus led by the head clowns of Wade and Jerry?  They must have gotten ahold of the same bong that Michael Phelps was pictured with. 

Does anyone really watch the Pro Bowl?

These questions keep me awake at night. 

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

What Would You Do?

So much for Michael Phelps' "hero" status.

There is a show on ABC entitled "What Would You Do?"  I've only seen it once, but it is very interesting.  They were showing a clip from it this morning on GMA.

Here was the scenario:  What would you do if you saw a baby alone inside a car at in retail parking lot?  They found that 90% of those who actually heard the baby crying walked on by (it was a model of a baby, but it looked and sounded like the real thing).  

There was a day I would have tried to find the parent-in-charge and given him or her a self-righteous sermon.  But now?  Well, I wouldn't ignore the situation.  I really think I would report it to the store manager.  And if that didn't get the desired results, I would call the police -- and stay close by until help arrived.

The guy who does the show suggested that you find the window furthest from the baby and break it out with a brick or a rock.  I'm thinking:  No, not in today's world.  I would be setting myself up for being beat up or sued.  I was really surprised at his advice.

What would YOU do?