Thursday, May 28, 2009

More Servant Opportunities

My son asked me to report on my day of service yesterday.  The catfish was cut up into more like nuggets -- which I really like.  That way there is more batter.  So I don't know how many pieces I ate.  Of course, that was after the slavelike conditions of battering the catfish on a beautiful Wednesday -- temperature in the 60s with deep blue skies.  I think it would be easier to round off to the nearest pound how much I ate.

Another ministry day is on tap for tomorrow.  A friend from church called me last night and asked if I would like tickets to the Colonial.  So Beverly and I will go there tomorrow for a day of tough ministry at the golf course.  Conditions will be brutal.  Deep blue skies with temperatures creeping up into the lower 80s.  Whew.  I just need to keep singing to myself, "Make me a servant . . ."

This year the Colonial has drawn something like 95 of the top 100 golfers in the world.  Unfortunately, both numbers 1 and 2 are absent.  We will probably follow a group that includes Kenny Perry and Vijay Singh for a while, and then just find a place to sit and watch.  

"Make me a servant . . ."


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hail, Sports and Catfish

The happiest people in Wise County on this Wednesday morning?  Roofers.

We had a hail storm last night.  About golf ball size.  I just put on a new roof last year, so I'm not eager to have it checked again.

So the Cleveland Cavaliers had been branded by many as the best team in the NBA.  Apparently Orlando didn't get the memo.  Wow, Dwight Howard is incredible!  

The Texas Rangers are playing the Evil Empire at home right now.  They were given an old-fashioned whuppin' on Monday, but managed to win last night.  Hopefully they can pull out the rubber game tonight.

I'm going out to the Long's this morning for the Ladies' Bible Class catfish fry.  Call it a "preacher perk" -- getting invited to their luncheon.  But I must say in all humility:  I go as a servant.  I actually help batter the fish and put it in the oil to fry.  

Thank you, Lord, for giving me a servant heart:) 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Greatest Hits

Over the Memorial Day weekend I spent some time, while in the car and while painting, listening to K-LUV's top 500 songs (voted on by listeners in the Metroplex).  I really enjoy those kind of things.  But I can't say that I agreed with the list.

The Beatles had 43 songs in the top 500.  Their top-rated song was "Twist and Shout" at number 4.  Others with numerous songs on the list were the Rolling Stones, Elton John, the Doobie Brothers, The Beach Boys and The Eagles.

But the top songs?  
1.  "Take it Easy"  The Eagles
2.  "Pretty Woman"  Roy Orbison 
3.  "Old Time Rock and Roll"  Bob Seger   
4.  "Twist and Shout"  The Beatles
5.  "Respect"  Aretha Franklin

As I look over the list of 500 songs, I can say for sure that none of these would make MY top-10.  I even used to perform "Take it Easy", and I like it -- but #1?  And John Lennon's raw vocals on "Twist and Shout" is rock and roll at its best.  But I would hardly consider that to be the Beatles' greatest hit.  

The other three in the top 5?  Come on!

Well, that's my opinion.  And that's what makes these kinds of things so fun.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Frustration

OK, Rick.  It's Friday morning.  Time to be wrapping up your Sunday sermon prep.  Outline is due for the bulletin in two hours.

And I sit.

The subject is not a difficult one:  Prayer.  The disciples' prayer in Luke 11.  "Lord, teach us to pray."  I've preached the sermon many times.  And therein lies the problem.

How many sermons have we heard about prayer.  We come looking for some formula -- something that will make this spiritual discipline easy.  But the disciplines don't come easily.  And there is no formula to prayer -- other than DO IT.

But I don't know if that's what I should say Sunday.  So I am sitting here wondering what to say to people who have heard countless sermons about prayer -- and yet still struggle with praying.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

David Slays Goliath!

I was shocked!  After the way the judges were slobbering over Adam and declaring him the winner, when Ryan announced Kris' name, Beverly and I both jumped up cheering.  I think the best song I have heard him sing this year was last night with Keith Urban.  It was great!

I must say that my opinion of Adam softened last night.  I don't think he could have been more gracious in his loss.  Perhaps he realizes that he hasn't lost.  He will no doubt be a superstar -- just not my style.

Interesting to hear the spin the media is already putting on this:  "America is not ready for the 1st gay idol."  How patronizing is that?  "Not ready."  "Not nearly as enlightened as we media people."

I was saddened to hear that Phil Michelson has had to withdraw from the two local PGA stops because his wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer.  Phil has always put his family 1st.  I remember in 1999 when he was in the final group on Sunday in the U.S. Open.  His wife was expecting their 1st child, and he had a beeper with him.  He said before the round that if she beeped him to alert him that she had gone into labor -- he was withdrawing.

I pray that everything goes well for the Mickelsons, and that his wife is totally healed. 


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

American Idol and "The Missing Link"

Well, the American Idol judges all but delivered Kris' concession speech last night.  I don't remember a year in which the judges have been so prejudiced toward a contestant as this year.  They are determined to make sure Adam wins.  Last week, Simon even encouraged America to be sure and vote for him.  Yet he only won by 1 million votes.  I wonder who those who voted for Danny Gokey will vote for?  I guess we will see tonight if David has slain Goliath.

Scientists have announced the discovery of "the missing link" in human evolution.  I don't claim to be an expert, but their conclusions seem desperate to me.  However, I will say this:  My faith in Scripture does not hinge on the rules established by the radical fundamentalists who say that Genesis 1 speaks of literal 24-hour days.  The Hebrew word translated "day" is not limited to such an interpretation.  And the section is written in a very poetic style.  Moses was not writing a geology book, but the drama of God's pursuit of humanity.

For those whom I have already seen commenting about us stupid Christians who believe in a book of fairy tales, I would say this:  How did Moses, writing in 1500 BC, know the order of creation?  No one in science proposed such things for another millennium or more.  His order is in agreement even with the order evolutionists say things evolved. 

I wish we could stop with this "science vs. God's Word" war.  It is a war that is being waged by the extremes of both systems.  Moderate scientists as well as moderate Christians can actually see the beautiful agreement between the two.  A good read on this subject is Lee Strobel's A Case for a Creator.

How does this recent discovery affect your faith?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why Are the Spiritual Disciplines SO Hard?

Yesterday I completed moving my office.  The office next to mine became empty, and it is a bit more off the beaten track -- so I grabbed it.  Also (this may mean something to those of you who are over 50), it is closer to the bathroom.  

I have made it my goal with this new office to develop my spiritual disciplines better.  I am working through a 40-day journey in a book entitled A Call to Die, by David Nasser.  It has encouraged me to renew my pursuit of the disciplines.  I think the one I would most like to develop greater is that of meditating on the Word. 

On a more spiritual note, the final 2 hours of "24" was last night, and we haven't gotten to watch it yet.  We are keeping Truitt (our 2 year old grandson), and for some reason his parents don't want him seeing that show.  I personally want to encourage my grandkids to grow up to be like Jack (just kidding).  Anyway, if you have seen it -- don't talk about it to me until after Wednesday.  That is probably the 1st chance we will have to see it.

Also "American Idol" is wrapping up another season tomorrow night.  I get bored with the Tuesday night show, so I just really key in on the last few minutes of the Wednesday night one.  I am rooting for Kris.  Adam gives me the heebie-jeebies.  However, I must confess:  I have never voted for AI.     

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dallas Sports and American Jihad

The Mavs are done for another year.  This team does not face a bright future right now.  I love Dirk, but I don't know that he is a centerpiece to build a team around.  Great shooter.  Great series against the Nuggets.  But something about the chemistry seems lacking.

This team needs to get some of the "thugs" from the Nuggets or somewhere.

This is not a good time to be a Dallas area sports fan, in my opinion.  The Cowboys haven't come close to living up to the billing of their snake-oil owner.  The Mavs will have to be rebuilding.  The Stars?  Oh, yeah.  There is a sport called hockey.

Surprisingly, the Rangers are looking good.  And it is because of pitching!  When have good pitching and Rangers ever been used in the same sentence?    

I have been receiving a number of emails and have read articles about the coming American jihad.  The information cites an Islamic extremist manifesto that targets the world to be under Moslem rule in 100 years.  The plan is to be done covertly -- taking advantage of America's protection of freedom of religion and tolerance of multiculturalism.  According to the reports, our government has known this manifesto existed for some time.

I never know any more what to chalk up as alarmist sensationalism and a real threat.  The media's penchant for chasing a story has diminished my trust (see "Swine Flu").  

I do believe that if Islam continues to grow in this country, much of that is due to a void that America's "playing at Christianity" has left.  And I DO NOT believe that such a conflict is going to be won through military means or legislation.  It MUST BE won by Christians living the Christ life.  And any Christian who does not believe that may as well tell Jesus that He didn't know what He was talking about.  I'm not ready to do that.   

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Sin of Anxiety

Yesterday's "aha" moments with Scot McKnight from his book The Jesus Creed:  

A disciple of Jesus holds aloft the white flag of surrender.  The white flag is actually a prayer.  Here's the simple, white-flag payer a disciple carries each day:  "May your will be done."

Surrendering ourselves to love God is not giving up things FOR God so much as giving ourselves TO God. 

The Lord is REALLY using this recession to run my "trust in Him" through the fire.  I am at the age where planning for my golden years is forefront in my thinking.  Well, my 401K is in tatters.  And now, Social Security is headed for bankruptcy years before they had previously predicted.  This is not a good time to be a baby boomer.

Lord, let me TRUST.  Take away my anxiety.  I WANT to know you, Jehovah-Jireh.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Radical Discipleship

As I study the Gospel of Luke, I am again blown away by Jesus' radical call to discipleship.  To die to self.  To follow Him in the way of the cross.  To carry our own crosses.  Crosses are the way to death -- not pretty jewelry.

So when I read this quote, it was so where I have been in my thinking lately.
"As heretical as it sounds today, it is probably worth telling Americans that you don't need Jesus to have better families, finances, health or even morality. Coming to the cross means repentance -- not adding Jesus as a supporting character for an otherwise decent script, but throwing away the script in order to be written into God's drama. It is death and resurrection, not coaching and makeovers.... When we are pulled out of our own drama and cast as characters in his unfolding plot, we become part of the greatest story ever told." -- Michael Horton, Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church 

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sports Stuff

The Mavs look like they are toast.  In the Spurs' series, they were obviously playing a team that was running on fumes.  Now they look like the ones who are out of gas.  The Nuggets just kick it into another gear in the 2nd half.  This is looking like a sweep, but the Mavs are a better team at home, so we will see.

I am always intrigued when discussions in sports turn to who is the best in history.  Dan Jenkins, one of the greatest sports writers ever, has just come out with a book covering the Majors in golf.  He has not missed one in about 45 years.

I found his comparisons (I've only read excerpts from the book) to be very interesting.  I have lived through the Jack Nicklaus era, as well as the Tiger Woods era.  I would probably favor Tiger over the Golden Bear -- but only by a whisker (get it).  But who knows, with the equipment improvements, etc.

Jenkins says that Tiger is so dominant because there is no one else who can stand up to him.  He reminds us that when Nicklaus was winning his majors, he was battling Palmer (7 majors), Player (9 majors), Watson (8 majors) and Trevino (6 majors).  In fact, Jack came in SECOND in 19 majors.  Who does Tiger have?  Mickelson (3), Els (2), Singh (2), Harrington (2).  The fields are deeper today, but the legitimate challengers are just not there.

Asked to pick one player who would win on a given day, Jenkins chose Ben Hogan.

Such statistics are fun to discuss, but impossible to measure for sure.  I do think it would be safe to say that you could pick the best handful of players in history:  Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods (OK, more than a  handful).  Not many could argue with that. 


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Pick Your Crisis

It is so predicatable.  Every Monday night at 8:55, my wife will say, "I HATE this show."  Of course, I'm talking about "24" -- which never comes to resolution.  

But really, isn't that more like life than a 30 minute show that has everything settled before the end.  Life is a constant stream of "issues."  Just about the time we get one of them hogtied -- another one comes along.  Sometimes the issues come in clumps -- which REALLY complicates life.  

But God made us amazingly resilient, didn't He?

Right now, Americans have been "clumped."  We have a lot of issues on our plates.  But I am convinced of the truth to the Chinese word for "crisis."  Translated, it means "opportunity."  And certainly, crisis brings opportunity -- especially to those of faith.  

What opportunities we have to BE Jesus!  

Monday, May 04, 2009

Believing is a Relationship

Excerpts from The Jesus Creed by Scot McKnight:

He quotes M. Robert Mulholland, from his book Shaped by the Word, who says "in reading the Bible for knowledge, we can (and often do) miss the mission:  for Abba to love us and for us to love Abba . . . from "information to formation," from learning about love to learning to love." 

"Faith is an ongoing relationship and therefore like a marathon.  Christians are called believers not believeders."

He then quotes Mark Allan Powell (I really like this):

We cannot have a relationship with our christology -- we can have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Our soteriology cannot save us from our sins -- our Savior can.
Our ecclesiology does not make us one -- the Lord of the Church does.
Our eschatology will not transform this flawed universe -- Jesus the King of kings and Prince of Peace will do that. 
And, no matter how much we love theology -- it will never love us back. 
Only God in Christ loves us, and that is why believing is a relationship.

Brag time:  My oldest son Josh is keynoting at Pepperdine Lectures this Friday.  If I understood right, he is the youngest keynoter they have ever had.  His wife Kayci is also speaking there.  

Jonathan (youngest son) is also going.  Poor guy is going to be staying in a beach house on Malibu.  Tough assignment.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Swine Flu

Swine flu.  Is this a media-generated panic during a slow news week?  I am not wanting to diminish a legitimate threat to public health, but this just seems like overkill right now.  The travel industry is already taking a beating, and our VP came out saying to stay off of planes and subways.  The administration had to immediately go into damage control over that comment.  (Being Biden's press secretary would have to be one of the most interesting jobs in the country).

But all of this just muddies the water.  Isolated cases.  Few deaths (although any is certainly cause for concern).  Worldwide -- 331 confirmed cases, 10 deaths.  Is it REALLY a pandemic, as the media says?  Or is it like any other flu that has hit internationally through the years?  Remember bird flu from a few years ago?  The media overstated it, too -- though not nearly THIS much.

I mean, really!  Schools are shutting down.  UIL is canceling all spring sporting events.  The question is being posed as to whether to delay the NBA playoffs.

I just want to know the facts.  People have enough things in their lives that are unsettling right now.  Newspapers are struggling to survive, so are they going to become more sensationalistic in order to sell a few more copies -- even if that means creating unnecessary public reactions?

What do you think?