Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Presence Living

"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." These words were written by Moses, and recorded in the 90th psalm. I want these verses to be my daily partner in the coming year. I want to be more aware of the gift and value of each day. I want to be more intentional about living in the present -- and living in the presence of God.

Here's wishing you and yours a great 2010! Let's live with kingdom awareness. Let's be available each day to be a part of His activity.

Monday, December 28, 2009

White Christmas!

No longer do I have to dream about a white Christmas. Contrary to the weather forecasts, we got a blizzard-like snowstorm last Thursday. About 4 inches -- and drifts up to 2 feet deep! And 4 days later, my yard still has enough snow to build a snowman. In fact, the backyard is still totally blanketed. I love it!

It looks like this won't even totally melt away before we get more, too. Forecasts call for up to 3 more inches tomorrow!

Lots of good college football this week. On behalf of my oldest son, I will watch Nebraska on Wednesday night. And I look forward to TCU's and Texas' games next week.

I have been quiet on the Cowboy front in this blog during the current football season. I will say at this point that even though it will probably secure him another year as Cowboys' coach, I hope Wade Phillips can win a playoff game. I am not a fan of his, but I hate to see anyone carry a monkey on his / her back. Strange, too, in that he has a pretty good regular season record for his career.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Here's wishing everyone of you the best during this Christmas season. May we all be reminded of the greatest gift of all -- God's gift of His Son.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It Must Be Tough Being an Historical Skeptic

It must be frustrating being a skeptical historian. For years, assumptions have been made by them as to the inaccuracy of biblical history -- only to be proven wrong.

The latest example is the discovery of a house dating from the times of Jesus in the city of Nazareth. The skeptics have questioned for years whether Nazareth even existed in the times when Jesus would have been a young boy. The new findings suggest that it was perhaps a hamlet of 50 houses or so covering a 4 acre area. The buildings appear to have been camouflaged to blend into their background so that the Romans would be unaware of their presence. Having been there and remembering how I could see Nazareth from far away against its backdrop, this makes perfect sense. And it being no more than a small village simply concurs with the biblical account. All the more reason for the Jerusalem big shots to look down on Jesus: "How could anything good come from Nazareth?"

So, Merry CHRISTmas, historical skeptics. You might want to go wash the egg off your faces before you hit the eggnog.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Peace and Longfellow

I have been watching with interest the story of the Utah missing mother of two. Her husband claims that on the night she came up missing, he had taken his two sons (5 and 2, I think) camping -- leaving the house at 12:30 AM. Officials can find no evidence of a camp where he claims he was.

But it got me to thinking: Utah is one of the least-populated states in the US. It is also considered to be one of the most "moral" states -- due in large part to the high percentage of Mormons living there. Is it just my imagination, or does Utah seem to have more than its share of bizarre events like this?

I would like to see results of a study on people who are involved in legalistic religion. My opinion is that such people are taught to cover up and mask for so long that it leads to serious emotional problems.

Last night our men's group was studying Romans 8. Because of the season I am in on my spiritual journey, I am really struck by how often in that chapter (actually throughout Scripture), the concept of peace is a major theme. How often are we told that a characteristic of one who has been born again and has the Spirit residing within is this: PEACE. Unfortunately, I know too few people (I include myself for much of my journey) whose lives are characterized by peace.

Along that line, I came across this story:

One of America’s greatest poets is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The year 1860 found Longfellow happy in his life, enjoying a widening recognition, and elated over the election of Abraham Lincoln which he believed signaled the triumph of freedom and redemption for the nation. The following year the Civil War began.

On July 9, 1861 Longfellow’s wife, Fanny, was near an open window sealing locks of her daughter’s hair, using hot sealing wax. Suddenly her dress caught fire and engulfed her with flames. Her husband, sleeping in the next room, was awaked by her screams. As he desperately tried to put out the fire and save his wife, he was severely burned on his face and hands. Fanny died the next day. Longfellow’s severe burns would not even allow him to attend Fanny’s funeral. His white beard, which so identified with him, was one of the results of the tragedy – the burn scars on his face made shaving almost impossible. In his diary for Christmas day 1861 he wrote, “How inexpressibly sad are the holidays.”

In 1862 the toll of war dead began to mount and in his diary for that year Longfellow wrote of Christmas, “A merry Christmas say the children, but that is no more for me.” In 1863 his son who had run away to join the Union army was severely wounded and returned home in December. There is no entry in Longfellow’s diary for that Christmas.

But on Christmas Day 1864 – at age 57 – Longfellow sat down to try to capture, if possible, the joy of the season. He began: I heard the bells on Christmas day. Their old familiar carols play, And wild and sweet the words repeat Of peace on earth, good will to men. As he came to the third stanza, he was stopped by the thought of the condition of his beloved country. The Battle of Gettysburg was not long past. Days looked dark, and he probably asked himself the question, “How can I write about peace on earth, good will to men in this war-torn country, where brother fights against brother and father against son?” But he kept writing – and what did he write? And in despair I bowed my head: “There is no peace on earth”, I said, For hate is strong, and mocks the song Of peace on earth, good will to men. It seems as if he could have been writing for our kind of day. Then, as all of us should do, he turned his thoughts to the One who gives true and perfect peace, and continued writing: Then peeled the bells more loud and deep; “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep! The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, With peace on earth, good will to men.” And so there came into being that marvelous Christmas carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bits and Pieces

I go through seasons where I know today what I will blog on the next couple of days. Right now, I am not there.

I got to play golf yesterday afternoon. The wind started picking up as I neared the end. I finished about 4 PM, comfortable in short sleeves. By the time I got home, the temperature was dropping. This morning, it's in the upper 20s. Fireplace tonight!

I feel like a child at Christmas as it approaches. It used to be that I looked forward to opening presents. I am anxiously awaiting it right now because my grandkids will begin arriving within a week! I can't wait!

I know there is no way that an NFL head coach can be lacking in intelligence. So I have to assume that Wade Phillips does a good job of acting clueless.

Although the Heisman turned out the way I had figured, it seems somewhat unfair the way it was presented Saturday night that by having two candidates from the same conference hurts those candidates. This happened to McCoy and Suh. In fact, one could argue that Suh singlehandedly cost McCoy the Heisman in two ways: 1. By totally dominating him in Texas' game against Nebraska, and 2. By taking Big 12 votes away from him.

I look forward to watching Suh on Sundays.

I know most of you don't care, but I am wondering what is going to happen to pro golf without Tiger. Love him or hate him, his fellow competitors are going to find out how much his presence added money to their pockets. I heard a pro golfer interviewed yesterday, and he admitted that Tiger's presence had put his kids through college.

As much as I enjoy the game, I will probably drop my extended package on Directv -- which is the only way to get the Golf Channel. There just aren't that many guys I am drawn to watch on Thursday's and Friday' rounds, which is what the Golf Channel covers.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Of Such is the Kingdom of Heaven

Today is National Grandparent Brag Day (Just kidding. Actually, that is every day.) There have been several incidents lately involving my oldest three grandkids that I want to brag about. I'll go from oldest to youngest.

Malaya was with her mom and dad in San Antonio this summer. They had gone to eat at La Marguerita in the Market Square, and when they finished, they had boxed up what was left to take back to the hotel with them. As they walked back to their hotel, they had passed some street people. So when they got to the hotel room, they decided to go back out and find someone to give their food to. As they were about to leave, Malaya remembered that they had brought some homemade cookies for the family to enjoy on the trip. She put them in with the food. I LOVE that!

Next is Jed. Yesterday I talked to him on the phone. I had heard that he (3 years old) had decided what he wants to be when he grows up. So I asked him. He said, "A builder." His daddy said, "Tell Grampy why you want to be a builder." Jed said (this was not prompted by his parents), "So people without houses can have one." I LOVE that, too!

Finally, Truitt. Truitt is my 2-year old Memphis grandson. This was on his daddy's Twitter a week or so ago:

Truitt's prayer tonight at dinner, "God, thank you for day...Memphis...the poor...and food. Amen." This world can't hold prayers like that."

Josh, I agree! As Jesus said, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Fascinating" People? and GMA

Last night Beverly and I watched Barbara Walters' "Top 10 Most Fascinating People." Fascinating? I question Walters' definition when it came to several of her picks. Lewd perhaps. Defiantly immoral for sure (Adam Lambert: "I'm homosexual. Deal with it.") But what a sad statement of our culture if THAT has become "fascinating."

I did enjoy the interviews with Tyler Perry and Jenny Sanford.

Beverly and I have gotten ready for work in the mornings enjoying the company of Good Morning America for at least a dozen years. All of a sudden, they are shaking up our world. A couple of months ago, they announced that Diane Sawyer was leaving to replace Charles Gibson as anchor of ABC News. I can deal with that, although Diane and Robin Roberts have a really cool working relationship.

But the real bombshell was dropped today. Chris Cuomo is being reassigned! Come on, folks! He absolutely makes the show! He has a great sense of humor, and a warm and compassionate side as well. He is an incredible example of a man who loves his wife and kids. What's with this?

Poor Robin. She is kind of left stranded. I'm already speculating as to who they will bring in. Perhaps George Stephanopoulos? Bill Weir? I like George, but I sure can't see him bringing the energy that Chris did. And no women come to mind. They will probably get someone from The View -- at which point I will either beg Beverly to change to The Today Show, or I will have to move to another bathroom.

UPDATE at 1 PM: I was reading the paper at lunch and it DID say that George Stephanopoulos would be Chris Cuomo's replacement. It also said that Juju Chang would join them at the news desk.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Little Drummer Boy (Reprise)

I wrote the following blog 4 years ago, and SOME PEOPLE (named Jeff) will not let me forget it. I decided it was about time to recycle it. Anything I have added is in bold. Here it is:

Christmas season is in full swing now. Everywhere you go, you here Christmas Carols (why do we call them "carols" instead of songs? Is it the alliteration thing?)

My favorite Christmas song is "O Holy Night." I also love "O Come All Ye Faithful." But I also like some of the lighter songs like "Let It Snow," "Winter Wonderland" and "It's Beginning to Look A lot Like Christmas."

Now for my least favorite: "Little Drummer Boy." Now remember: I AM an ex-drummer. But the whole premise for this song just grates on me (please understand: most of my comments here are tongue in cheek You'll have to figure out which ones).

So here's this little Jewish boy in the 1st century -- walking around WITH A DRUM? And these wise men come up and say, "Come, see the newborn King." Right away, I am questioning whether they are wise men if they are inviting a little boy WITH A DRUM to come see a newborn baby. Imagine that, ladies. You've just given birth. "You have a visitor." "Who is it?" "It's a little boy WITH A DRUM. He wants to see you."

So, this little boy WITH A DRUM says, "I don't have anything to give. How 'bout I just lay a few paradiddles on you?" AND MARY NODS "YES"! Tell me any mother with a newborn who is going to let a little boy WITH A DRUM start jamming for her baby! What did he play? "Wipe out"?

And the sound of this drum drives me up a wall. "Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum." It sounds more like a plastic garbage can that's just been hit by a car at about 40 mph -- as it goes end over end down the street.

And get this: The ox and lamb kept time. Yeah, buddy. Those two incredible examples of rhythm from the animal kingdom. "Moo-moo-moo-moo-moo" and "Baa-baa-baa-baa-baa."

If this had really happened, I think it may have been enough to cause Jesus to reconsider. Oh, well -- I guess it could have been worse. Whoever came up with the idea for this song (written in the 60's, I think. That might explain a lot) could have called it "The Little Moog Synthesizer Boy." 'Come, they told me -- woo-WOO-woo-WOO-woo."

So, what's your favorite Christmas carol (song)?

Monday, December 07, 2009

College Football Recap

I cannot remember when I have ever watched three football games in one day, but I did Saturday. I nearly went 0-3. I was pulling for Pitt to upset Cincinnati, which would have helped TCU's standing. Pitt should have won the game. Cincinnati barely squeaked by because of a Pitt bobbled snap on an extra point. As a result, Cincinnati moved from 5th to 3rd in the national rankings (How does this happen?) -- leapfrogging TCU.

In the second game, Alabama embarrassed Florida. They looked really good, and their running back moved, Mark Ingram, probably moved to the forefront in the Heisman Trophy race. It was a sad way for Tim Tebow to finish his career.

Then Saturday night, Nebraska beat Texas in every way except the final score. I don't think Texas scored a point that was not aided by a Nebraska penalty. Even though I was hoping Texas would win, one of the penalties was a really poor call. But that's football. My Heisman favorite, Colt McCoy, did not do much to help his cause against one of the most dominating defensive performances I have ever seen.

In fact, in my humble opinion, the guy who deserves the Heisman this year is Ndamukong Suh, defensive lineman for Nebraska. This guy is an animal! Whoever gets him in this year's NFL draft is going to be blessed.

So, the national championship game will be Alabama-Texas. I will be pulling for the Longhorns, but from what I saw Saturday -- Alabama looks like the dominant team.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

More from Rabbi Jesus

More excerpts from At the Feet of Rabbi Jesus (This is a GREAT book, definitely could preach) -- the chapter entitled "Following the Rabbi":

A rabbi was to model how to live by using examples from his own life . . . Speaking of our tendency to imitate . . . I find that my own mind seems remarkably malleable, impressed by whatever I read or see modeled around me. A steady diet of cynical political commentary always makes me more negative. Being with friends who gossip can make me more careless about how I speak. None of us is so mature that we cannot be influenced. The question is: Who or what do we want to shape our lives? Even the culture around us will try to "disciple" us if we have not placed ourselves under the transforming influence of Jesus Christ.

I used to think . . . that Jesus' command to make disciples simply meant teaching people certain beliefs about God, helping them to accept Christ as Lord, and then educating them in doctrinal truth later on. Though all these are important, this way of defining discipleship showed that I, like many Westerners, approached the gospel primarily as information. Unfortunately, such an approach tends to produce efforts at evangelism that are thinly disguised power grabs. We try hard to foist our belief system onto others, debating with people until they declare our way the best.

An Eastern view of discipleship seems far more in keeping with the gospel . . . This approach involves not just information, but transformation. God's goal isn't simply to fill the world with people who believe the right things. It is to fill the world with people who shine with the brilliance of Christ.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


What a surprise to wake up this morning to about 3" of snow! The weather people had said we might have snow showers mixed with rain -- but basically guaranteed no accumulation. I LOVE snow. I might feel different if I lived up north. It makes even the common scenery take on a new beauty.

I better enjoy it. It will probably be gone by 10 AM.

Poor Tiger. Seems that things are going from bad to worse for him. He hasn't called me yet for advice, but here's what I would tell him. I am a big believer (much more so today than I have been in the past) of bringing everything out into the light. Covering up and living in denial only compounds whatever problem one is in. Once things are out in the light, a person can move forward.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


I was encouraged yesterday as I read an excerpt from Spangler and Tverberg in their book Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. Writing about discipleship, speaking of Jesus, they said:

. . . the changes he worked in his disciples' lives did not come instantly or even easily. Our culture is fascinated with instant fixes and extreme makeovers . . . we chafe at the years it takes to train as an apprentice. But discipleship has always been about process.

While the Gospels record many instances of Jesus instantly healing people's illnesses, we know of not even one instance in which he simply waved his hand to immediately fix an ugly habit for one of his disciples. Instead, he simply kept teaching and correcting them, giving them time to grow.

God seems to work like this much of the time in our own lives. He lets our weaknesses and difficulties drive us to himself, keeping us close. Miracles happen, but he inner transformation we so desperately desire can only be achieve over time. God seems to prefer it this way, perhaps because he knows we can only become like him by maintaining a constant close connection.

I need that! I especially like the statement: "Discipleship has always been about process."