Wednesday, September 30, 2009


What would Jesus do? The phrase, unfortunately, has become trite. Yet in actuality, it has lost NONE of its meaning. It should influence EVERYTHING we do.

Our nation is at a place politically like I cannot remember in my lifetime: extreme partisanship. Oh, I'm not saying it hasn't always existed -- but I think more so now than I can ever remember. But there is a new twist now. Both parties want to be the WWJD party. Each has selected its two or three issues that they think they are being more like Jesus about. For Republicans, it's key issues are abortion, homosexual rights and displays of the 10 commandments. For Democrats, it's concern for the poor and health care.

I am reminded of an old Bob Dylan song entitled, "With God on Our Side." It was a commentary on war, and how both sides always think they are on the righteous side. That seems to be where we as a nation are politically.

So, WWJD? As I consider His life, He lived in a day in which politics was heated. The Jews were incensed at the Romans' occupation of their land, levying of taxes, lack of morals and attempts to control their religion (sounds fairly familiar, doesn't it?). The Romans were just as bull-headed in imposing their rule. The situation was becoming volatile . Within just a few years after Jesus' resurrection, it erupted into open rebellion and revolution.

This would have been a perfect time for Jesus to make a divine statement on politics, yet He virtually remained silent. Pretty much what comes to my mind is that He said to pay your taxes. Paul came along and said to honor the emperor (yeah, the one who would have him killed) and to live a submissive lifestyle.

Why such a passive response? Because we are citizens of another kingdom. And when we become too caught up in the pursuits of worldly kingdoms, we have little left to give to the eternal one. The kingdom of God is not advanced so much by weaving it into the fabric of any earthly kingdom as it is advanced through its uniqueness -- its counter-cultural priorities.

I am not saying we must take David Lipscomb's view and totally remove ourselves from worldly politics. But perhaps he was onto something. Our kingdom IS NOT of this world. And I think THAT is the answer to WWJD.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fed-Ex Cup and the U.N.

I'm not sure this FedEx Cup "playoff" is ever going to be what those who came up with it envisioned. Tiger Woods won it yesterday. He had six tournament wins this year, and was the most consistent finisher in the 4 playoff tournaments -- winning one. But it just seems anticlimactic that he wins the $10 million prize as he limps in to finish 2nd yesterday.

I am looking forward to the President's Cup in two weeks.

The world always has some mega-maniac to contend with. I can't think of a time in my life when we haven't. But right now, we have at least 4. There is Kim Jong-il, the dictator of North Korea, Hugo Chavez, the leader of Venezuela, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the leader of Iran, and Moammar , and Moammar Gadhafi, the leader of Libya. Which one is the most dangerous to world security?

And here's something I don't get: Why does the U.N. allow these guys to come speak to them? Is it in hopes that allowing them to vent to the world on a stage like that for up to an hour will bring them around? They made total fools of themselves, and made a mockery of the U.N. Has this tactic EVER worked?

Friday, September 25, 2009

What a World!

Today I am conducting the funeral of a 27-year old man who leaves behind a wife, 2-year old son and another child due in December. He was killed in a car wreck. So tragic. I know we preachers are always expected to have the right words, but there are no easy answers for some situations. My prayer is that the Spirit will just use me as a receptacle today to bring peace and the presence of God.

What is with some of these leaders who are speaking at the U.N.? And why does the U.N. give them an international audience to spread their poison and idiocy? How deranged does someone have to be to deny the Holocaust?

And three terrorist plots thwarted this week! For some, that may make them feel safer. For me, it brings home the fact that there are a lot of people out there that want to see us struck again. I pray that will not happen.

I often pray for the downfall of Islam. I make it clear in my prayer that I am not praying for a violent overthrow. Rather, I pray that people's eyes might be opened to its violence, as well as its inconsistencies and falsehoods. And I pray that Islam might implode because Jesus is made real to these people.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I am speaking in generalizations here: I don't know what to make of us Christians' lack of thinking about heaven. Is it because we are too busy and time-stressed here to slow down and ponder it? Is it that we are afraid it will not be better than what we know here? Is it because we have too many things to arrest our attention now (TV, Ipods, car radio, computer, etc.)? Is it that we are simply afraid?

I realize that a person can become so obsessed with heaven that he / she is of no earthly good. But that doesn't seem to be a problem with anyone I know. I do know that in my own life, when I keep a healthy eye on heaven -- I live with more peace now.

"One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, TO GAZE UPON THE BEAUTY OF THE LORD and to seek him in his temple." (Psalm 27: 4)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Am I Just Lucky?

I don't believe in predestination in the strict Calvinist sense. But I do sometimes think about how different my life might be if, having no choice in the matter, I had been born in, let's say, Sri Lanka. In a Hindu culture surrounded by poverty. Wow. Each day being simply a matter of survival.

What hope would I have for the future? How could I face each day without Jesus' Spirit living in me?

It's a reminder to me that this precious message we have is not one to be hoarded -- but to be shared.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekend Recap

Observations from the weekend of sports:
  • I like Colt McCoy. A lot. But he did himself no favors in his bid for a Heisman Trophy Saturday night. Oh, well. Maybe if that pressure were removed from his back, he could focus on the bigger prize -- a national championship.
  • Nebraska experienced deja vu Saturday. They outplayed Virginia Tech throughout the game only to loose by one point on the final play. The same thing happened last year.
  • How long before the Cow-sheep start jumping off of the Tony "Oh-no" Romo bandwagon? He scored a lot of points last night! 30 for his team, and 17 for the Giants.
  • Demarcus Ware is a GREAT football player, and I doubt we have even seen his best. Ditto Jason Witten.
  • Flozell Adams is the kind of professional athlete that makes me dislike professional sports. He is a thug. How does this guy make the Pro Bowl? He misses a lot of blocks -- thus the league-leading holding penalties. And last night's cowardly leg-whip that injured a Giants player made me sick. Is he Eric Williams' clone?
  • Jerry Jones probably doesn't care a whole lot about last night's score. He packed his monument with over 105,000 people. At an average ticket of $180, that's nearly $19 million dollars -- just in ticket sales! That does not include concessions and $50 parking. He is a shrewd businessman (actually, snake-oil salesman is more accurate). If only he would realize -- after 12 years of mediocrity --that he is NOT a football man. But megamaniacs seldom see the truth about themselves.
  • The Rangers pulled their disappearing act again this year. They just waited until September instead of late July.
  • Am I sounding kind of cynical today?
  • FedEx Cup week! I want to see it come down to Tiger or Steve Stricker. Either one of them winning it would make me happy.

I read with interest an article yesterday about where Texas would fit within the world if we were to secede from the United States. We would rank right behind Canada in national economies! I'm not predicting that this secession idea is going to gain huge momentum, but there are now at least 15 states that have some level of activity in this.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Read This

No blog of my own today. I would encourage you to go to my son's blog that is linked here: Josh Ross. I loved his blog today. I am excited about the way the Kingdom of God is being stirred to see, feel and hear the way our Father does. Could it be that much of the animosity that the world feels toward Christ followers would melt if we were more consistently living out the Jesus life among them?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Congressman WIlson is a Racist?

Beverly and I were having a discussion this morning concerning the over-the-top, out-of-line behavior of Congressman Joe Wilson, who called President Obama a liar last week. I absolutely agree that his behavior was embarrassing and unacceptable. I am disappointed that many of our Texas Republican representatives did not agree with the vote to censure his remarks. But when I heard Jimmy Carter this morning say that the comment was motivated by racism -- to me THAT was also over the top.

In my opinion, we are currently reaping the seeds that were sown during the Clinton years. When the Republicans attempted to impeach him over his perjury (and wound his presidency), the Democrats rallied the troops. They were determined to get their pound of flesh. So when George Bush became president, they were on him like ravenous dogs. Harry Reid called him a loser and a liar. He later apologized for the "loser" comment -- but not the "liar." This went on for 8 years.

Now, the Republicans are wanting to extract revenge for that. It is an ugly cycle, and it makes me wonder when it will end and they can actually get about the business of SERVING the American public.

I fear that the Democrats' defense for any charge brought against Obama is going to be, "Those comments were racially motivated." That is a cheap shot. I don't know, maybe Congressman WIson is a racist. I have heard nothing to support that other than Carter's and some other's accusations. But I am hopeful that President Obama's ideas can be discussed -- and disagreed with if necessary -- without the person in question being labeled a racist.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mocking God

How gullible are people today? Billboards like the one on the right are being posted along I-30 between Dallas and Fort Worth. There are at least 5 in the series -- each quoting a Scripture meant to validate the message.

In the one on the right, the passage cited is when Jesus healed a Centurion's servant (Matthew 8: 5-13). I see nothing in the text to even hint that this involves any homosexual activity. This is a total revision (and abuse) of God's Word.

Another billboard says, "Ruth loved Naomi as Adam loved Eve." It cites Genesis 2: 24 and Ruth 1: 14. The first passage says that "a man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife." The 2nd passage says that as Naomi is about to leave Ruth, that she kissed her goodbye, and "clung to her." This is a common practice in the East, and would not even be unusual in the West. Are we going to assume that any time a daughter-in-law hugs her mother-in-law, that there is homosexual activity?

The 3rd billboard says "Jesus said some are born gay." Jesus said that? It cites Matthew 19: 10-12, where Jesus says some people are born as eunuchs (celibate) while others are MADE eunuchs. How does being celibate equate to homosexuality? And then to make that leap that Jesus SAID some are born gay?

The 4th billboard says "The early church welcomed a gay man." This one cites Acts 8: 26-40, the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch. Apparently these people do not understand the role of a eunuch in ancient history. Eunuch DOES NOT equal homosexual. The reason men were made eunuchs was to insure that they would not have sex with an official's WIFE.

And finally the old, worn-out one: "David loved Jonathan more than women." This refers to 2 Samuel 1: 26, where these two dear friends are parting and know they will never see each other again. So they cry and hug one another. If this suggests homosexuality, then all of the East and even Western Europe must be homosexual.

What blatant dishonesty! This is an offense to the Gospel and to any thinking person's intelligence. In a court of law, these people could be held guilty of libel and slander.

Let me conclude by saying that there was a time I considered homosexuality a much bigger sin than adultery, fornication or violating one's marriage covenant. I have changed in my thinking on that. ALL are violations of God's intended purposes. Where I am today, I would be equally upset if someone tried to twist Scriptures to justify cheating on his / her wife or living in sexual sin.

Let us be aware of this: God WILL NOT be mocked. I pray for hearts to be broken and relationships to be restored to the Father. May that be the ultimate outcome of this.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The King Turns 80

He only dominated his sport for a few years -- from about 1958 to 1964. He won his last major championship in '64, at the young age of 34. And yet, through the strength of his charisma and sincere love for people and his game -- 44 years later he is still referred to as "the king." He humbly says that he does not deserve that title; but rather he is an ambassador for the game.

When he came along, TV was just becoming popular. And he was a perfect fit. Aggressive. Expressive. Interactive. And the nation -- yes, even the world -- fell in love with him. I was about 10 years old when I began following golf. By that time, he had already taken a backseat to Jack Nicklaus in his ability to dominate on the golf course. While Nicklaus would become the greatest golfer ever (Tiger is admittedly closing in), he could never knock "the king" from his throne. Even in losing to Jack, Arnie was still the fans' favorite. And he was my childhood idol. I could not count the number of times I stood over a putt, pretending I was Arnold Palmer putting to win the Masters. I never got to actually watch him win much. But I got to see a man who did much more than that.

Lee Trevino recently shook his head as he thought back on watching Arnie work the crowds. He said no matter how poorly he played or how tired he was, he always made time for the people. Trevino said, "I would have been rushing to the car. But not Arnie. He just loved the people so much."

You could argue who is the most influential athlete in history. Who most impacted his or her particular sport the most? You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who did more than Arnold Palmer.

Today my childhood idol turns 80. I still get a lump in my throat when I see him interviewed or watch reruns of an old match in which he played. He defines integrity, charity and grace. He has been an inspiration for me. Thank you, Mr. Palmer. And happy birthday.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Beatles

The Beatles have been in the news a lot lately. I find it interesting the way some music transcends the generations.

I occasionally listen to stuff I thought was great music back in the 70s (Grand Funk Railroad), and now it makes me cringe. Other music that I thought was OK back then, I now appreciate much more (for instance, the Eagles).

Elvis continues to live on, too. To be honest, I never cared for any of his music. I am not knocking you Elvis fans; just a different preference. But I do still love the Beatles -- especially their pre-drug years. I find it amazing, as I look back, that they basically wrote all those songs in a 6-year span. They hit it big in 1963, and by 1970 they were no more.

Is there really any better rock singer than John Lennon's "Twist and Shout"? And Paul McCartney singing just makes you want to smile. George Harrison took a back seat to Lennon-McCartney, but he wrote a few of their biggest hits. And then, there's Ringo. Not a flashy drummer -- but one of the best at laying down a back beat.

I don't know that I could pick a favorite Beatles' song. "Twist and Shout." "Help." "I Feel Fine." "Come Together." And I'm probably leaving out my favorite.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Noah James

Here is a picture of my newest grandson, Noah James Ross. This is his 17-day old picture. He is in deep thought, mulling over the theory of relativity.

We were able to spend some time this weekend with our oldest grandchild. When Beverly met her parents halfway to Keller last night to drop her off, she began crying. Her mother said she cried for hours because she missed us. What can I say? I'm just a wild and crazy guy!

We are planning to be with our Houston grandkids for a couple of days at the end of this week. Last time, Jonathan and I took Jed golfing with us. On the 1st hole, he grabbed his shortened driver, walked up on the tee -- and said, "Where's the hole." I like that!

You know how much I admire Tiger Woods. Great golfer. Great humanitarian. Can be a little testy at times when he's not playing well. But I wonder how any of us would handle scrutiny of every move we make. Anyway, I have been hoping someone would come along to challenge him. Mickelson has given us glimpses of that. Els, Singh, Garcia and Scott have not.

But maybe we have found the guy: Steve Stricker. When he first came along, there were some high expectations from him. But he disappeared into mediocrity for several years. About 4 years ago, he got his game (and mental outlook) together, and he has been playing great since. With yesterday's gutsy win, he has moved up to #2 in the world golf rankings. He and Tiger are good friends, and it is said that he and Kenny Perry are considered the nicest guys on the tour. That is being salt and light -- as both are very open about their being disciples of Jesus.

I look forward to seeing how the last two tournaments in the chase for the FedEx cup play out. Tiger and Stricker will be paired together for the 1st two rounds this week. Should be fun.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

A Moral Quandary

If you read Jeff Jones' blog from yesterday. then you will figure out that he and I had lunch together. As we were talking, a waiter (not ours) turned to us to tell a joke. I never like those situations to begin with. You know, where you feel obligated to laugh so as not to appear rude. Well, it was one of those awkward moments, as he delivered the punchline, where I hadn't yet gotten the joke -- but it was where one is supposed to laugh. A half-laugh came out -- when I realized that he had just told me a racial joke! Then he was gone.

For a moment, I was sick. I looked over at Jeff, and he was looking back at me with a similar expression. Now I am in a quandary. I don't know what to do. As a minister and a board member of WARM -- someone who wants to draw our community to racial equality -- I don't feel like I can stay silent about this.

I think at this point I will write the restaurant a letter and express to them my revulsion at this waiter's joke. Any advice?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

More on Discipleship

Let me return to the subject of discipleship this morning. Jacob came in 1st thing and said that the fall youth retreat was going to be centered on that topic. So we discussed discipleship for a few minutes.

I am coming to realize that I have heard the words of Jesus so much that they had lost their punch. But currently, I am walking through a period in my life in which I am hearing them afresh. They are SO convicting -- His call to a sold-out, different-from-the-world life.

A disciple is more than just a learner. With our Western minds, we think of a learner as someone sitting at a desk taking notes from a lecturing teacher. In the Eastern world, learning took place at a different level. I loved the illustration that Rob Bell used in his book Velvet Elvis as he discussed the meaning of "disciple." Young Jewish boys would choose to become disciples of a particular rabbi. They would follow him everywhere -- even staying close as he went to the bathroom. In the Jewish rabbinical teachings, it states that a disciple should "wear the dust of his rabbi." In other words, he stayed so close to him -- learning from him, becoming like him -- that at the end of the day, he was covered by the dust kicked up by the rabbi as he walked.

This is the way Beverly and I "learned" on our trip to Israel. We stayed so close to our guide, Anton, that if it had been dusty, we would have been covered. We didn't want to miss a word. We dialoged with him as we walked. Something like that of an Eastern disciple.

In my prayer time this morning, I had prayed that today I might "wear the dust of Jesus." And then Jacob coming in to talk about discipleship just reinforced that. Oh, how I want to be like Jesus -- to my wife, to the waiter at the restaurant tonight, to the guy who cuts me off in traffic. Let me be covered with the dust of Jesus.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Sports Page

The final score was 18-10. No, it was not a football game. It was the final to the Rangers' game last night. I think the pitchers forgot to show up. There are still a lot of games left, but the Rangers are in a bit of a funk right now.

Jack Nicklaus has agreed to join Arnold Palmer as honorary starters for the Master. I wish they would add Gary Player to the mix. As someone who begin following golf in the 60s, that will be a goosebump moment for sure. Hard to believe Palmer will be 80 years old on September 10th.

I used to keep up with hunting seasons, but haven't now for several years. I am assuming that dove season opened this morning. Either that or Decatur is being invaded. I could hear lots of shooting from my house. I don't know why I thought dove season opened after Labor Day.

Sunday night Beverly and I were sitting on the patio enjoying the unseasonably "cool" evening, and we heard some people practicing shooting (I am assuming). Someone had a gun that sounded like a machine gun -- reeling off 20 rounds or so in a matter of seconds. Shouldn't take long to bag their limit with that.