Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Where is God When it Hurts?

Yesterday I began an older book by Philip Yancey, called Where is God When It Hurts? I am drawn more and more to the issue of human suffering, in part because of the wrong theology that has been promoted on the subject -- in which the blame is laid at GOD's feet.

I love what Yancey writes in the preface:

Another thing amazes me. Books on the problem of pain divide neatly into two groupings. The older ones, by people like Aquinas, Bunyan, Donne, Luther, Calvin and Augustine, ungrudgingly accept pain and suffering as God's useful agents. These authors do not question God's actions. They merely try to "justify the ways of God to man." The authors wrote with confidence, as if the sheer force of their reasoning could calm emotional responses to suffering.

Modern books on pain make a sharp contrast. Their authors assume that the amount of evil and suffering in the world cannot be matched with the traditional view of a good and loving God. God is thus bumped from a "friend of the court" position to the box reserved for the defendant. "How can you possibly justify yourself, God?" these angry moderns seem to say. Many of them adjust their notion of God, either by redefining his love or by questioning his power to control evil.

When you read the two categories of books side by side, the change in tone is quite striking. It's as if we in modern times think we have a corner on the suffering market. Do we forget that Luther and Calvin lived in a world without ether and penicillin, when life expectancy averaged thirty years, and that Bunyan and Donne wrote their greatest works, respectively, in a jail and a plague quarantine room? Ironically, the modern authors -- who live in princely comfort, toil in a climate-controlled office, and hoard elixirs in their medicine cabinets -- are the ones smoldering with rage.

I look forward to spending a lot of time with Yancey over the next couple of weeks.

Monday, June 29, 2009

What an End to a Good Week

We had a great time with the kids all here last week. We visited Fossil Rim Wildlife park, the Dallas Aquarium, and played some golf. On Friday night, the boys and I went to a Ranger game -- the only one that it seems like they have won lately. It was a good week.

The kids all left Saturday. Beverly and I spent the rest of the day cleaning house. And just in time! We both got sick during the night. My stomach felt like a roller coaster all night. I woke up unsure what to do on Sunday. I finally decided to get someone to combine my Bible class with theirs, and I went to church, preached, and went home. The best I felt all day was during that hour. Beverly stayed in bed all day.

When I first got up this morning, I thought everything was OK. I'm still much better than yesterday, but not ready to go running.

Friday, June 19, 2009

It's Staycation Time

Even though I will not be missing a Sunday in the next couple of weeks, my family begins our "staycation" this weekend. They begin arriving today, and more on Sunday. We are making our house "headquarters," and will take in a number of local fun things to do.

So I don't know if I will be blogging next week or not. I know, I know. Those of you who flood my blog with comments -- you may just have to save them for a week.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

U.S. Open and PETA

Today Tiger Woods begins his defense of his U.S. Open title. Last year's Open was perhaps the most exciting I have ever seen. This year they are at Bethpage Black in New York state. This course is unbelievably hard. The fairways don't even begin on some holes until 265 yards off the tee. There are some pros who hit good drives -- and are still in the rough!

I know some golfers like to see the courses made so difficult that the pros look more like us at times. I personally don't. I don't mind a course being difficult. But it needs to be fair. It needs to punish the miss-hit shot, and reward the well-hit one. Traditional U.S. Open layouts, in my opinion, often cross the line. When a guy has to hit a drive 270 yards -- IN THE AIR -- the USGA has already eliminated many in the field from being able to compete.

The forecast is for rain, rain and more rain. Which makes it even MORE difficult for the guy who can't hit driver 300 in the air. So the conditions are made even more likely for Tiger to defend his title. I'm pulling for him, but I wouldn't mind seeing Phil (what a story THAT would be), Steve Stricker, Kenny Perry or Paul Casey win (all long hitters).

I would like to play a U.S. Open course when it is set up with Open conditions, just to see what I would score. Two years ago at Oakmont, Tiger said a 10 handicapper couldn't break 100. I would just be interested to see what it would be like.

President Obama swats a fly, and PETA gets offended! Don't these radical movements realize they look buffoonish when they are so extreme? They lose all credibility.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Worship 24-7

What first attracted me to the writings of A. W. Tozer was a booklet on worship. Right now the topic of his daily devotionals is worship. Here is yesterday's:

But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.
--Habakkuk 2:20

So I've got to tell you that if you do not worship God seven days a week, you do not worship Him on one day a week. There is no such thing known in heaven as Sunday worship unless it is accompanied by Monday worship and Tuesday worship and so on....

We come into God's house and say, "The Lord is in His holy temple, let us all kneel before Him." Very nice. I think it's nice to start a service that way once in a while. But when any of you enter your office Monday morning at 9 o'clock, if you can't walk into that office and say, "The Lord is in my office, let all the world be silent before Him," then you are not worshiping the Lord on Sunday. If you can't worship Him on Monday you didn't worship Him on Sunday. If you don't worship Him on Saturday you are not in very good shape to worship Him on Sunday.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Journeying with God

Today I complete my journey through David Nasser's A Call to Die. Some of the days have been elementary, but there have been other days that have been very spiritually challenging and stimulating. It is amazing how many days I would be praying in the morning about something, and then get to my study and find it is right in line with that.

Example: Yesterday morning, I prayed this: "Lord, today let me taste every word before I say it. Let my lips honor You today." I got to my study, opened Nassar, and the lesson was entitled "Watch Your Words!"

The last couple of months have been really stimulating for me spiritually. And this is where pride comes in. Nassar challenged me a couple of days ago to examine a relationship problem. I felt convicted about it. I REALLY want to do the right thing and be pleasing to God. So yesterday I took the step to do that -- and it ended in disaster. I went into meltdown, and felt like my three steps forward over the last few weeks had resulted in four steps back.

Still, God is good and Satan is a liar. I refuse to listen to him -- regardless of who he is using to speak to me. Through Jesus Christ, I am victorious. Praise the Lord!

I know this probably makes no sense to you, but I still needed to journal it. Blessings.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Luke is Doing His Number on Me

Walking with God is the ultimate.  I love that, even if I live to be 110, I won't be finished.  Every day is a new challenge.  Just about the time I get to where I think I'm getting it together, God humbles me with a reminder of Jesus.

I am preaching through the Gospel of Luke on Sunday mornings.  I really intended for this to go for about a year.  Well, I started last September, and I am now in chapter 12.  And I'm just now really getting to the parables!

But each week is a humbling experience as I immerse myself into the words of Jesus afresh.  As He speaks of concern for the poor, the sin of materialism, trusting in God -- I come under conviction over and over again.  But I am enjoying the refiner's fire right now.  It is a good time in my life for this to be happening.

Oh, Abba.  I want with all my heart and more than I ever have wanted it before to be like Jesus. Do WHATEVER You have to do to bring out His image in me.    

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Ultimate Love Test

How can you know who loves you most?

A preacher told me the other night how you can determine this.  Put your wife and your dog in the trunk of a car and close it.  Come back in an hour -- and find out who is happy to see you.  

Have a wonderful weekend. 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Worship, 2

Sorry, but I just have to share Tozer again today, as a follow up to yesterday.  He wrote back in the 50s and 60s, but what he had to say seems prophetic to today.

The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, 
they have done abominable works, there is none who does good. 
--Psalm 14:1

Now we were made to worship, but the Scriptures tell us something else again. They tell us that man fell and kept not his first estate; that he forfeited the original glory of God and failed to fulfill the creative purpose, so that he is not worshiping now in the way that God meant him to worship. All else fulfills its design; flowers are still fragrant and lilies are still beautiful and the bees still search for nectar amongst the flowers; the birds still sing with their thousand-voice choir on a summer's day, and the sun and the moon and the stars all move on their rounds doing the will of God.

And from what we can learn from the Scriptures we believe that the seraphim and cherubim and powers and dominions are still fulfilling their design--worshiping God who created them and breathed into them the breath of life. Man alone sulks in his cave.  Man alone, with all of his brilliant intelligence, with all of his amazing, indescribable and wonderful equipment, still sulks in his cave. He is either silent, or if he opens his mouth at all, it is to boast and threaten and curse; or it's nervous ill-considered laughter, or it's humor become big business, or it's songs without joy. Worship: The Missing Jewel, 6-7.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I haven't shared any Tozer for a while.  Here is today's devotional thought:

Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in the 
beauty of holiness. 
--Psalm 29:2

Yes, worship of the loving God is man's whole reason for existence. 
That is why we are born and that is why we are born again from above. 
That is why we were created and that is why we have been recreated. 
That is why there was a genesis at the beginning, and that is why 
there is a re-genesis, called regeneration.

That is also why there is a church. The Christian church exists to 
worship God first of all. Everything else must come second or third 
or fourth or fifth....

Sad, sad indeed, are the cries of so many today who have never 
discovered why they were born. It brings to mind the poet Milton's 
description of the pathetic lostness and loneliness of our first 
parents. Driven from the garden, he says, "they took hand in hand 
and through the valley made their solitary way." Whatever Happened 
to Worship?, 56-57.

The question, then, in some people's minds is, "So that is our purpose?  To gather on Sunday's and worship?"  This is where we have been taught an incomplete understanding of worship.  Worship is the outpouring of our lives.

Romans 12: 1 says "offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God -- this is your spiritual act of worship."  But don't miss v. 2:  "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will." 

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Wake-up Call

We in the Western world are far past due for a wake-up call from God!  SO wrapped up in schedules and activities that don't have KINGDOM in the center of them.  However, I am humbled when I consider what God's wake-up call in Scripture looks like.  Usually, it involves bondage. 

I borrowed these excerpts from a friend's blog.  They come from Richard Stearns' book, A Hole in the Gospel.  May they serve as a "wake-up" for those who are in my world. 

 “On Sunday morning, safe in our church pews and surrounded by friends, it can be all too easy to leave the world’s violence, suffering, and turmoil outside — out of sight, out of mind.”

“. . . Being a follower of Jesus Christ requires much more than just a personal and transforming relationship with God. It also entails a public and transforming relationship with the world.”

“The whole gospel is a vision for ushering in God’s kingdom — now, not in some future time, and here, on earth, not in some distant heaven.”

“Those words from the Lord’s Prayer, ‘your kingdom come, your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven’ were and are a clarion call to Jesus’ followers not just to proclaim the good news but to be the good news, here and now (Matt. 6:10). This gospel — the whole gospel — means much more than the personal salvation of individuals. it means a societal revolution.”

Monday, June 08, 2009

Sports Tidbits

It was an interesting weekend for sports.  Three of the greatest ever in their individual sports were competing.  I personally went two for three in the outcomes I was hoping for.  

Obviously, Tiger Woods HAS TO be in anyone's discussion of the top two golfers in history.  He looked incredible yesterday as he came back from a 4-shot deficit to win.  He hit every fairway. That is scary.

Then, Andy Federer won the French Open to complete the Tennis Career Grand Slam.

Sports fans are fortunate to be living when we do to see these great careers.

The outcome I did not care for was the Lakers winning in overtime last night.  Kobe Bryant is no doubt one of the greatest basketball players of all times.  But he is not on my list of favorite athletes -- even if my list went to 10,000.  He ranks somewhere close to T. O., and any reader of my blog knows how I feel about that.  He, along with Guru Phil Jackson, cause me to root against the Lakers -- no matter who the opponent may be.

So, two for three on this weekend.

I read this morning of more proof that Jerry Jones has totally lost it.  He is actually considering bringing back Pacman Jones!  Can you believe it?

My treasured Cowboys!  You have been kidnapped, and I no longer recognize you.  

At least Nolan Ryan is making SOMETHING positive happen in the DFW sports world.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

I'm Goin' Back to Houston

Does anybody remember that song (the title of my blog)?  An old Dean Martin hit.

Today my presh (that's Beverly, short for "precious") and I are going to Houston.  My youngest son and his sweet wife's two children both have birthdays this week.  So Grammy and Grampy are going to celebrate with them.  We will be traveling with my daughter and granddaughter and my mother-in-law.

Can't wait to get there!

So far, choosing from between the great composers (Bach, Beethoven, Mozart), I would rank them just as I wrote them.  I am only a notice, but for my own personal tastes, that is the way I rank them.  I will take Randy's advice and check out a couple of others, too.  I am finding that I love strings and definitely don't care for the harpsichord.  And I'm not crazy about the pipe organ, either.    

And opera?  That will have to wait for another life.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A Jessica Simpson Sighting?

My friend and fellow minister Tim Pyles tells a funny story that happened to him recently.  It seems that he went to Whataburger and ordered a Whatachicken sandwich.  

The girl running the register turned to the person next to her and asked, "Is the Whatachicken the fish?"  The other employee said, "No, that is the Whatacatch."

The girl then said, "Oh.  I always get those mixed up."

I wonder if that girl was Jessica Simpson? 

I really wish President Obama the best as he travels to Egypt to address the Islamic world.  As I read this morning, I would hate to be in his place.  Islam does not want to compromise with any nation that is not Islam, because they consider that a "come-down."  If Obama brings up that his father was Moslem, then he is considered the worst of the worst because he left his Moslem faith to become a Christian.

How do you deal with the unreasonable?  This is definitely going to be VERY interesting in coming years.  And I am afraid that we in the Western World are clueless.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Forgive Us, O God!

I was saddened to hear about the murder of a doctor who was known to perform abortions.  He was in church at the time of his murder.

It breaks my heart to realize that while I have been critical of radical Islam, there are people who think they are doing the will of God and pleasing Jesus by murdering those who commit the immoral.  It really leaves me little ground to be too harsh toward those misguided people who commit other atrocities in the name of Allah.

As Pogo once said, "We have met the enemy, and it is us."  We Christians have been our own worst enemies when it comes to spreading the Gospel.  

We've done it through making abortion and homosexuality our two societal concerns -- rather than also being compassionate and responding like Jesus to the condition of those around us (yes, even when that condition is self-inflicted).  

We have done it by making people think that Jesus would vote a certain way.  

We have done it by majoring in minors -- and fighting among ourselves.  No army that fights itself is going to win the war.

I could go on and on.  But my prayer is that Jesus might pour cold water over us and wake us up!  That HE might be THE issue!  And that the perfect love of Jesus might be manifested in His people.  

O God, let this happen!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Colonial and Classical Music

The Colonial tournament was an exciting one this year.  Once again, Tim Clark finished 2nd.  I was kind of pulling for him because he seems like a good guy with a solid game.  But he has never won on the PGA tour.  Nearly 40 second place finishes!

However, Steve Stricker is one of my favorite guys on tour.  A believer -- who, along with Kenny Perry, is considered by their peers to be the nicest two guys on tour.

Beverly and I had a good time on Friday.

I have made so many changes in my life through the years.  In high school, I was a HUGE rock-n-roll fan.  In the 80s, I became a big country music fan.  In the 90s, I switched to Contemporary Christian music.  

Now, my iTunes is filled with CLASSICAL!  Yes, from Bach to Beethoven to Mozart to Strauss.  Who would have ever believed it?  But it is the most soothing, relaxing music!  It plays all day as I read and study.  GREAT STUFF!