Friday, December 24, 2010

Prince of Peace

On this Christmas Eve, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas. Remember that "God in flesh" is our hope.

For those of us whose prospects for Christmas are not so "merry", I share what I am anchoring in during this season. Immanuel is also the Prince of Peace. And so I am praying that the reality of His peace will overwhelm, overpower and consume our anxieties and fears. "May the peace of God that surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord."

I will be off next week. However, I may decide to blog about something. Who knows? But if not, I pray that the new year will bring rich spiritual blessings to us all!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Different Now

Beverly and I began P90X last night. We chose the "Lean" workout schedule. Our 1st workout is entitled "Core Synergistics." I am convinced that this is taken from Cold War Russian KGB code, meaning "Intense Torture." Oh well, the good news is that it's only another 89 days.

10 months ago today Beverly and I entered a journey we would never have chosen. In yesterday's Star-Telegram there was a Dear Abby (actually now written by Jeanne Phillips, her daughter) that spoke for both of us. It is fairly long, but a blog is an online diary, and I wanted to have access to this for years to come. So bear with me.

Dear Abby: My beautiful 20-year old daughter was killed in a car accident. I am writing this not only for myself, but for all parents who have lost a child, and to all of the wonderful people who asked, "What can I do for you?"

At the time there wasn't much anyone could do to help, but after two years I have an answer: Accept me for who I am NOW.

When Rachel came into my life, it changed me profoundly. Losing her did the same. Her father and I work hard to honor her memory, but we will never "get over it" to the degree of being who we were before. I am different now. In some ways -- I think -- better. I am kinder, more patient, more appreciative of small things, but I am not as outgoing or as quick to laugh.

I know people mean well when they encourage me to get on with my life, but this IS my life. My priorities have changed. My expectations of what my future will hold have changed. Please extend to me again the offer of "anything I can do" and, please, accept me as I am now.
--Different Now in Riverview, Fla.

"Abby's" reply: Please accept my profound sympathy for the tragic loss of your daughter. I hope that your letter will help anyone who doesn't understand that the death of a child is the most devastating loss parent can suffer. They may get beyond it, but the never get "over" it. To expect that they would is unrealistic, because it's a wound that may become less visible but never goes away.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I love this thought from my daily devotional this morning: "Do not fear your weakness, for it is the stage on which My Power and Glory perform most brilliantly."

So the "Dream Team" of the Miami Heat might go 82-0 this year? That's what one of them said before the season began. While they are playing pretty good now, one thing is certain: When they come to the end of the season, their record against the Mavericks will be 0-2. Way to go, Mavs!

And what about the ending to the Giants-Eagles game Sunday? Say what you will about Michael Vick, but he is without a doubt the most exciting football player in the league.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Made for Another World

In his book Rumors of Another World, Philip Yancey quotes Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who said, "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience."

Yancey then adds, "Even that fails to get it right. Rather, we are incomplete beings awaiting a complete experience, fragmented beings awaiting unity."

I have been thinking about that ever since I read it. It makes me long for the fulfillment of Paul's words from 1 Corinthians 13: "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Taking Back Christmas?

Wow! Did Cliff Lee pull a fast one or what? Going back to Philly. Oh well, at least he didn't sell out to the Yankees.

Mavs fans will probably hope I don't watch any more Mavs' games. I do a lot of double-tasking when I am watching TV. I watch parts of the Mavs' games at times, but I don't JUST watch. However, last night I was not feeling well, so I watched the whole game. They went up by 20 points, and then decided to take the night off. So much for their win streak. Sorry, Mavs' fans. I'll start watching the Lakers or the Heat.

I tend to want to get caught up in the politicizing of Christmas along with many others. All of the "this is America, and the season is about Christ." But you know what? We sound like a bunch of spoiled whiners. For Christians, it IS about Christ. But we live in a very secular society.

Besides, I can't picture Jesus, if He were still in the flesh, whining because the world did not recognize His birthday. He would simply continue to live and serve and make a difference. He would not lower Himself to the level of His culture. In fact, He would even turn the other cheek. "Taking back Christmas" sounds threatening, doesn't it? Trying to strong-arm our way seems to be out of character from the One we are wanting to honor.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

I Just Want to Be Where You Are

This morning in my daily devotional, I came to a verse in the Gospel of John. Now if there is any book in the Bible that I know, it's the Gospel of John. But as I read the verse, I asked myself, "How have I missed this?" I have read it like I ASSUMED it was being said rather than the way Jesus said it.

Here is the verse, found in John 12: 26: "Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be." Don't miss that! Because here is the way my mind has filtered it for years: "Where my servant is, there I will be."

Now, I believe the way I have "heard" it is true. But that's not what Jesus said here. He said, "Where I am, my servant also will be." I want to be a faithful servant of Jesus. And so, I need to be in tune with my Master enough to know where He is. And wherever He is, that's where I need to be.

So, where is Jesus?

Monday, December 06, 2010

Atheist's Bus Campaign

"Millions of Americans are Good Without God." This is the sign that an atheist group has put on Fort Worth buses during this Christmas season. Now a number of Christian leaders in the area are wanting to mount a counter attack.

What is your reaction to this campaign? I have to admit that my 1st instinct (usually a fleshly instinct) is to join in a battle of words -- if not condemnation. I want to quote Scripture to them: "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" I feel like I need to defend God. The Christian leaders I cited above are complaining that the ad campaign is "in your face", especially since it falls during the Christmas season. But is it anymore "in your face" than Christian ad campaigns have been? Why is it fair for us and not for them -- especially when we SHOULD be different?

But what is accomplished when we respond to people with the same tactic that they use? What really makes us different from them? And is what they said really so threatening? I'm sure there are many good atheists -- just as there are some really sorry Christians. Are we going to win them over by trying to outreason them?

I would like to simply dialog with them. I would like to ask them what they base their standard of "goodness" on, and how they came by it. But to call them "fools" or to tell them they are going to burn in hell is only going to build higher wall of resistance. After all, we are basing what we say on Scripture -- something they have already rejected.

Here's a novel idea. How about let's shower them with grace? Let's step out of our defensiveness (which is driven by our own insecurities), and let's just love them in the same way that Jesus would.

Let's also remember that we are ALL walking by faith. The atheist is putting his/her faith in human reasoning, and we are putting our faith in the One called Jesus. In the end, if they are right it doesn't matter. I have still lived a life that I would choose over anything the atheist has to offer. But if we are right, the whole equation is changed. And I am putting all of my hope and trust in that.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Mr. Rogers

I just finished reading a book about Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers) entitled, "I am So Proud of You." Written by Tim Madigan of the Star-Telegram, it is basically a recounting of their friendship and exchanging of letters through the years.

I came away from the book with an admiration of Mr. Rogers. The target of jokes from media types and the general public for years, this man took it all with an incredibly gracious spirit. He never lost sight of his goal: Letting children know that they are loved.

He was a deeply-spiritual man. His outlook on life inspires me. He was a good friend of Henri Nouwen's (another deeply-spiritual man from whom I have been inspired to dive deeper). His unconditional loving spirit seems almost other-worldly.

My attention has been grabbed in recent times by how much those whom I consider to be deeply spiritual talk a lot about the "thin line (or veil) between this life and the next." I don't know for sure what to make of it, but I am spending more time thinking about it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Quoting Nouwen

Henri Nouwen, from his book Wounded Healer, wrote that a minister's service "will not be perceived as authentic unless it comes from a heart wounded by the suffering about which he speaks . . . The great illusion of leadership is to think that others can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there."

Congratulations to two Mesquite schools for making it to the State Quarterfinal championship: Mesquite Horn in 5A and Mesquite Poteet in 4A. My son Josh led Poteet further into the playoffs than any team other than this years (I just had to work that in).

But help me figure this out: Horn is playing Longview in the TEXAS Quarterfinal game. And where will this game be played? Shreveport, Louisiana! Huh?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful in All Things

"always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Ephesians 5: 20)

I find myself again so grateful to Sara Young from her daily devotional Jesus Calling. Following is today's entry (Remember, she writes this as if it is Jesus speaking to the reader):

Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity. That is why I have instructed you to give thanks for everything. There is an element of mystery in this transaction: You give Me thanks (regardless of your feelings), and I give you Joy (regardless of your circumstances). This is a spiritual act of obedience -- at times, blind obedience. To people who don't know Me intimately, it can seem irrational and even impossible to thank Me for heartrending hardships. Nonetheless, those who obey Me in this way are invariably blessed, even though difficulties may remain.

Thankfulness opens your heart to My Presence and your mind to My thoughts. You may still be in the same place, with the same set of circumstances, but it is as if a light has been switched on, enabling you to see from My perspective. It is this Light of My Presence that removes the sting from adversity.

Congratulations to Josh Hamilton for winning MVP! Gil LeBreton has an excellent article in today's Star Telegram about Josh's priorities. Quite a testimony.

I pray that you may have a Thanksgiving filled with peace and the presence of God.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I'll Praise You in the Storm

9 months. Oh, God -- the pain is still SO intense.

How have I missed this truth from Scripture for so long? The peace and joy of the Lord, and intimacy of relationship, come through the door of a thankful heart. And even in the valley of the shadow of death, a Christ-follower has reason to be thankful.

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.
Habakkuk 3: 17-19

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving season!

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Blog Status

Even though I have few comments on this blog, I have had so many people encourage me to continue blogging. As a result, I feel somewhat obligated to blog regularly.

However, for the last few weeks I just can't think of anything "blog-worthy." I'm kind of going through a blog desert right now.

So hang with me, those of you who have been encouragers. I'm not saying I am hanging up my blog. Rather, I will blog "as the spirit moves me." That may mean another blog tomorrow. Or it may mean it will be a couple of weeks.

I would ask that you keep my family in your prayers over this holiday season.

Blessings and peace.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Practicing His Presence

Beverly received a gift a couple of weeks ago. It is a daily devotional book entitled Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. She writes it from God's perspective in the 1st person, and yet it is really as if God is speaking Scripture to us. It is basically about practicing His presence and finding peace. So far every day has spoken right to me. I find myself looking forward to reading it each morning. In fact, I usually read it, look up the accompanying Scriptures -- and then read it again.

Practice His presence today! Peace.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Praising God's Faithfulness

My family is so thankful for the way in which God is working in us through this most difficult of times. Since Jenny died, David has been pursuing some way he can get more on Malaya's school schedule. His business required him to work 60+ hours a week -- impossible with his new responsibilities. So this summer he obtained a teaching certificate that would qualify him to teach math. He had decided he would sub for a while, and then apply for any job openings.

Well, today he begins a FULL-TIME teaching job! He has been hired to teach 8th grade math. And get this: he is teaching at Malaya's school!

How incredible is that!

Our faithful Father can take even the worst situation and bring good out of it.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Keeping THE Kingdom Perspective

I used to listen to Limbaugh and Hannity when I would be going here or there in my car. When I made the decision to stop listening to this kind of stuff, it is amazing how much more at peace I felt about things. They (and others) seemed to keep me in a constant state of nervousness and unsettledness.

So I really appreciate and relate to the following words from Jeff Christian, as quoted by Edward Fudge:

"I said a prayer this morning (Tuesday, Nov. 2) thanking God that the political ads come to an end today. Personally, I DVR everything now and no longer watch commercials. Especially during seasons like this, however, I avoid them at all costs. In my humble opinion, no greater damage is being done to our contemporary culture than the colossal mind-numbing brainwash we volunteer for at the hands of political ads and 24-hour 'news.' It's just mean.

"Two years ago for Lent I decided to give up watching the news. I still stay informed through online newspapers, but that's about it. I learned a while back that I really do not need someone coaching me on what I need to fear. I have also come to learn that elections come and go, not that much ever really changes, and that the world got a lot simpler to me, not to mention less scary, when I embraced faith in an eternity that is not bound by what people name with venomous anger as all these clear and present dangers." -- Jeff Christian, "Fearlessness Restored," The Empty Pulpit (02 Nov. 2010).

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


I like what Rick Atchley posted on Twitter this morning: "Thankful for a nation where we choose our rulers. Even more thankful for a kingdom where the Ruler choses us!"


It must be awfully frustrating to be a politician today. If you want to serve the people, which way do you go? Only two years ago, the people seemed to be for health care and government help in getting us out of the "great recession." Now there has been a flip-flop. So, if you listened to your constituency and voted for those things two years ago, you probably got voted out yesterday (unless your name is Harry Reid).

I'm not trying to make a political statement one way or the other. It has simply served to remind me of the fickle nature of people in general.

Jesus put it this way (Luke 7: 31-32): "To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.'"

Monday, November 01, 2010

Asking for Prayer Coverage

Today is my son-in-law David's birthday. I know this is going to be a difficult day for him, so I am asking you to remember him in your prayers.

Is the Giant's pitching THAT good? Or have the Ranger bats gone into cold storage?

Practice the conspiracy of kindness this week.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Comfort of Scripture

Do you remember the Superman movie when Superman (Christopher Reeve) put aside his super-humanness so he could fall in love with Lois Lane? It was a bad time to be human, since several world events needed his attention.

I wonder what caused Cliff Lee to take off his cape last night?

Verses that I am choosing to camp on right now:

Isaiah 41: 10: "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

2 Corinthians 10: 3-5: "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have DIVINE POWER to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive ever thought to make it obedient to Christ."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It is Officially a Bust

Just when a defeat of the Cowboys might have sent General Manager Jones a clear message that he is in WAY over his head, he is handed a lame excuse for the failure of the "best 1-4 team in the league" (his words). Tony Romo went down last night with a broken collarbone, so now the Cowboys' season is in peril. Yes, the quarterback that had led this preseason favorite for the Super Bowl (Jerry's prediction, as well as others) to a 1-4 record is now out for 6-8 weeks. Their future looked bright if he hadn't gotten hurt -- but now? Now things are going to be really tough.


How long will Cowboy fans keep buying this snake oil? The only way to change the future of the Cowboys is for true Cowboy fans to let Jerry know they are onto him by withholding their padding of his wallet. That is the only language he understands. I still say if not for what he was handed when he bought the team back in 1989 (the Hershel Walker trade), this man would have delivered 21 years of drought. Instead, it has only been 15 years.

Heal quickly, Tony. I hope that bone heals stronger than ever, because you have a lot to carry on your back.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Rangers in the World Series!

I really never expected to be writing a blog on this subject: The Texas Rangers are going to the World Series! They pretty much annihilated the 2nd-best AL team that money couldn't secure a championship for. That is a huge victory in and of itself -- beating the Yankees. From here on is icing on the cake.

Just think: The Rangers are only two victories away from being World Champions. I say that assuming that Cliff Lee will deliver two victories -- so it's really a 2 out of 5 series after that (I'm saying that with a smile, OK).

I challenged our congregation yesterday to "A Conspiracy of Kindness." I am hoping that our Lifegroups spent time last night brainstorming ways in which we can practice kindness throughout Wise County. I know our Lifegroup came up with some good ideas as the holidays approach.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Followers of Kindness

As I preach through the fruit of the Spirit, this week I come to "kindness." I have been reminded how important this trait is for those who claim to be Christlike. I also wonder if the world would identify Christians as bearing this trait.

I came across a book entitled Conspiracy of Kindness. I think I am going to encourage our church to live by this theme -- and intentionally practice the kindness of Jesus.

I realize I am giving away some of my sermon for this Sunday, but I found this very interesting: The Greek word for "kindness" is "chresto." The Greek word for "Christ" is "christo." Because the words sound somewhat the same, early Christian writers tell us that some people referred to Christians not as "followers of Christ" (Christo), but "followers of kindness" (chresto).

I still obviously want to be identified as a follower of Christ. But I think it would be really cool if I (we) could be known as followers of kindness as well.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

This Guy Can Pitch

I am trying to keep my expectations tempered right now about the Rangers making the World Series. Surely Cliff Lee could tough it up and pitch today and tomorrow.

That was some of the most awesome pitching I have ever seen. The only more dominant pitching I can remember was back in 1986 when Mike Scott was in his stride for the Astros -- throwing the nastiest split-finger fastballs ever. Of course he was probably doctoring the ball, too. The only doctoring Lee is doing is throwing laser-precision pitches within centimeters of where he wants them.

I keep saying "If only" right now -- thinking back to game 1. One game at a time, boys.

And I'm also hoping that Lee really likes Texas. I like him and want him to remain a Ranger. It would be sad to see him join the traitors ARod and Teixeira in Yankee pinstripes next year.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Great Week

Beverly and I have returned from a wonderful trip to the Port Aransas area. This included two nights in San Antonio as well. We managed to eat three meals in San Antonio: One at Mi Tierra and two at La Margarita. We sat outside on a beautiful Friday night and found ourselves wishing we could stay for hours.

Our time on the coast was just what the doctor ordered. Beverly finds the surf to be extremely therapeutic, and she got to spend three days sitting on the beach. I find the golf course to be equally therapeautic. So, she would drop me and my college roommate off at the golf course, and she and his wife would drive over the dunes to the beach 2 minutes away. It was perfect.

We ate as some good restaurants that overlooked the yacht basin. Wonderful times!

We are SO indebted to the couple who allowed us to use their house in Aransas Pass. Each morning we would get up and go sit on the patio with a cup of coffee, our bibles and devotional books. About lunch time, we would head in to eat and prepare for the afternoon. I think I could get used to such a schedule:)

Go Rangers! Beat the Evil Empire!

Unbelievably, Dale Hanson still leads each sportscast with 5 minutes of the Cowboys -- followed by passing mention of the Rangers. Jerry grins all the way to the bank.

We didn't have cable or satellite on the coast, so we followed game 5 of the Rangers-Rays series on my blackberry. We thought we would catch the highlights on the Corpus news that night. So we tuned in. The 1st story was about 3 minutes on the local high school girls' cross-country team. This was followed by a play-by-play of the girls' volleyball game. At the end of the broadcast, the sportscaster said, "And congratulations to the Rangers."

Thursday, October 07, 2010

One of My Greatest Treasures

I will be out of the office for a few days. Probably won't blog until I get back.

1st of all, congratulations to the Rangers for a well-played win yesterday. Here's hoping that they can go up 2-0 as they head back to Arlington.

Saturday is my birthday. Below is a treasure I want to share with you. It is words my daughter blessed me with on her blog for my birthday in 2005. Saturday is going to seem incomplete without hearing her voice.

Yesterday was my dad's birthday! My dad is my hero!! I celebrate him!
I can remember my dad rocking me to sleep everynight until I was about 12 (just kidding, really about 6). After my mom washed my hair I used to sit with my dad and he would blow dry and brush my hair. He did it way more gentle than Mom. And now Malaya's favorite person to blowdry and brush her hair is Grampy!! I remember watching in awe as a little girl as we watched "Jesus of Nazareth" and looking back at my dad as tears fell down his face when Christ was crucified. I remember going to and watching numerous Astros games. I remember Dad recording us as kids talking, singing, singing the books of the Bible on audio cassettes. I remember when Dad bought me a wrist corsage to wear to my piano recital. I still to this day have that corsage. I remember Dad's spankings always followed with an "I love you". I remember working in the garden with Dad pulling vegetables and helping him "dig". I remember helping Dad clean the church building. I remember as Dad would lead Bible studies at church and as people would accept Jesus as their Lord b/c of Dad's example and teaching.
I remember when Dad decided to answer the Lord's calling to become a minister/teacher/mentor and we moved to Crockett. I remember being so proud of him as he would get up to preach each Sunday. I remember our Thursday night Bible Studies and again as more people came to know Jesus through his teaching. I remember him picking me up from school in a pick up truck with a huge rust hole in the middle of it. And I could here Dad coming as I was sitting in my last class:) I remember Dad's teasing about my first "boyfriend", Chad Reminakjsdhfakjsdhlf (I never could spell his last name:) I remember going to visit elderly people from church with Dad and love getting to watch as he handed Jesus' compassion and love and respect to them. I remember when I walked down the aisle to be baptized and my dad reached his hand out to me. I remember looking into his eyes as he was about to baptize me and feeling his love and fatherly pride. I remember when a boy hugged me a little too long in front of my dad and I thought my dad was going to have a heart attack and his eyes pop out of his head:)
I remember getting my first real boyfriends. One became known as "The Dude". It didn't take boyfriends long to respect my dad and to become familiar with "Dad's chair". I remember picking out my first car with Dad. I remember when Dad spoke at my 5A high school's Baccalaureate and I remember being so proud of him.
I remember when Dad took me to college day. I was so nervous but felt so "taken care of" by my dad. I remember when Dad and Mom took me to ACU to stay. I loved hearing Dad pray over me as they were leaving me.
I remember when David asked Dad if he could marry me. Dad said yes and asked one thing of David. He said, "Her mom and I have protected her heart from the minute she was born and now I ask that you do the same." I remember Dad walking me down the aisle and performing the most beautiful marriage ceremony I have ever seen. I felt so blessed to have him play that part in my day. I remember the night before Malaya was born and him calling the family around me and he led our family in prayer as we welcomed in the next generation. I remember the joy he radiated as he became "Grampy". And again, a few hours after Malaya was born he had everyone circle around in our hospital room as we rejoiced and lifted up a prayer of joy and gratitude for Malaya's safe arrival. I remember that Dad could put Malaya to sleep like no one else.
I remember as our familiy went through an extremely rough year. And as that year evolved Dad still remained strong, confident, and Godly. He never lowered himself or gave up his convictions to suit others. He held his integrity. He held his boldness. He held his devotion to a committed situation even though it stunk. He held our family together and encouraged us even though he was the one being attacked and treated in ungodly ways. I watched on Jan. 9th in utmost admiration and respect as he held his honor and composure in a situation that seemed hopeless, pitiful and sick. He was my mom's rock and our family's rock during that storm in our lives. And Christ still redeemed our family through grace.
I remember as people from Decatur started calling Dad. I was thrilled when Dad accepted the job there. I love watching the people there love on my parents, listen in respect to his teaching, accept him as a man of God, and encourage him.

Thanks Dad for being you! Thanks for your guidance, your discipline, your countless prayers over us three kids, your love for our mom, your devotion, your loyalty, your encouragement, your leadership, your forgiveness, your wisdom, your example of Jesus, you being a student of God's word, your committment to ministry, your example of friendship, your untradable "Grampy-ness", and your testimony of a life of faith. The people that you have blessed, encouraged, brought to know the Lord, and led into deeper relationship with the Lord are countless!!

I love you, Dad and we celebrate your life!!

I love you, too, my precious girl! I cannot WAIT to see you again!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Ryder Cup Recap

I enjoyed watching the Ryder Cup over the weekend. Incredibly it came down to the last match. The US team actually lost the match on Sunday afternoon when they won only 1/2 point in 6 matches. It was not because Hunter Mahan miss-hit a chip shot in the last singles' match yesterday.

I like a lot of the European players: Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald, Darren Clarke, etc. I even kind of like Colin Montgomery in a kind of sympathetic way. He may be the greatest golfer to have never won a major title.

But Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter absolutely drive me crazy. And so I ask myself: Would I like them if they were on the American team? Honest answer? I don't know.

The weather here in Decatur for the last week has been absolutely gorgeous! Low 50s in the mornings and 70s during the day. I would like to bottle a few of these and break them out occasionally in July and August.

Saturday Beverly and I will travel to San Antonio to meet up with my college roommate and his wife. He preaches for the Northwest Church of Christ there. One of his members had kept up with our Carepages during Jenny's illness. This individual has a house in Rockport, Texas and wants to open it to us for a few days. So the four of us will be spending a few days on the coast next week. Beverly and I are desperately looking forward to it. God has blessed us with so many kind people!


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dez Bryant's Rookie Lesson

So during Cowboys' training, rookie Dez Bryant refused to carry Roy Williams' shoulder pads. I am not defending him, because it's just part of the rookie initiation. Easier to go along than to get defensive. But I do think it is interesting that Williams (who has been pretty much a bust, thus resulting in the Cowboys drafting Bryant #1) would be the one to initiate the raze.

Well, Williams had said at the time that Dez would pay. Monday night, Dez took the offense to Pappas Brothers' Steakhouse. Williams also invited the defense. Dez ended up paying the bill for about 30 football players. Final tab? Just under $55,000. (No, I did not add too many zeroes).

As I listened to GAC (Galloway and Company) on ESPN radio yesterday, they were discussing this. One of them had added up the cost if a person ordered EVERYTHING on the menu (all appetizers, entrees and desserts). It came to just over $1,000. Obviously those football players didn't order everything on the menu. I did read this morning in the paper that many of them left the restaurant with expensive wine bottles under their arms.

The moral of the story? If someone asks you to carry his shoulder pads to the locker room, carry them to the locker room two days (this is a bit of a twist on what Jesus said.) It sure is easier and cheaper than facing the consequences.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Weekend Wrapup

Beverly and I have had all of our grandkids with us at some point over the last two weeks. This morning, our Memphis family is leaving. So tonight we are empty nesters again. It has been SO fun being with our grandkids for so long. I'm going to miss them.

Have I told you how much I love my shepherds? Every time I get to spend time with them, it is a joy. By the way, you won't hear many preachers saying that, either. Also, we have had 6 baptisms since Wednesday. Yesterday morning, one of our Friendspeak contacts was baptized. It was so beautiful. As we gathered after her baptism, we sang to her in Spanish. Tears were flowing.

The Rangers clinched! I have enjoyed watching this team. They just seem to have fun playing ball. I don't have real high expectations for how far they will go in the playoffs, because they have not done well against the Twins or the Rays. But who knows?

And, oh yeah, Jerry's team won yesterday for the 1st time this year.

Ryder Cup week, bay-bee! I love watching. Golf is such an individual sport, but it is really cool watching them play as a team. I'll be pulling for USA, but I have a feeling Europe is going to win this year.

It felt GREAT walking outside to get the paper this morning! 54 degrees. I love it!

Friday, September 24, 2010

ACU Summit

I was blessed by being in Abilene Sunday evening through Wednesday. So many people and places that have shaped me and my life. I must admit that my first trip back since Jenny's death was bitter-sweet. So many reminders of good times. Beverly and Josh did the Lord proud in their presentations at ACU Summit.

I began a series on the Fruit of the Spirit a couple of weeks ago. For the last two days, I have sat here at my desk -- with my mind blank. Sunday I am supposed to speak on "joy." And I feel so inadequate to the task. Then next week is "peace." Oh, how my joy and peace have been shaken. Will I ever really know them again? My mind tells me yes, although they will never look the same. But my heart has its doubts.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Borrowing a Blog Today

A fellow preacher, Wade Hodges, wrote the following blog. I found it thought-provoking. Hope you will, too:

“We just want to be fed.”

Every pastor has heard it from someone. Sometimes you catch it when they’re coming and sometimes when they’re going.

It’s something that church-going Christians say to justify their decision to change churches. Many use it as a smokescreen to cover up the real reason they’re leaving. After all, who can argue with such a rationale? That’s why God created the church, right? So that long-time church goers (and their kids) can be fed.

The irony is that usually the people who use this language are the ones who are least qualified to do so. If you’ve been attending church long enough to know the trick of using “we want to be fed” as an excuse to leave, then you should be spiritually mature enough to start feeding yourself.

Have you ever really thought of what imagery accompanies the “fed” metaphor?

When I hear it, I see a baby sitting in a high chair wearing an apple sauce smeared bib waiting impatiently for his mommy to shovel in another load of gooey stuff. Watch him as he closes down on the spoon. See his mother use it to wipe away the excess from the corners of his mouth. Now swallow. Good boy.

I’m sure anyone who has ever used this line to describe what they’re looking for in a new church is objecting to this image. Which one would you prefer? Maybe a wise shepherd leading his clueless sheep into greener pastures because heaven knows without a shepherd to guide them the ignorant sheep would either starve to death or sniff their way right off of a cliff.

Does that one make you feel any better?

There is a time when we all need to be fed like a baby or a sheep. My boys need feeding. If I don’t teach them the Scriptures and show them the way of Jesus, they will not find it on their own. New Christians need feeding. They need to learn a new story with new language as they leave their old way of life behind. But at some point, children and new Christians should grow enough in their faith to be wise enough to figure out how to feed themselves.

Pastors, we should expect the people in our churches to grow to the point in their relationship with God that they no longer depend on people like us to feed them.

Parents, we should reach a point in our faith when we no longer depend on someone else to feed our kids.

We need a new metaphor and fast, because too many “mature” Christians are making a fool of themselves by walking around saying they just want to be fed. It’s time they take off the bib, grab a spoon, and start feeding themselves.

What if one day the chief complaint from church going Christians were to be something like this:

The problem with our old church is that we weren’t being exercised. We’re looking for a church where we can work, serve, and maybe even suffer. We want to pay a price for something other than adding a new education wing to our building. We want to put it all on the line and do something crazy for God. We’re tired of being fed. We’ve been fed so much, for so long, that we’ve gotten fat. We’re spiritually obese and we can’t take it anymore. We want to be exercised!

Now that’s a metaphor.

It’s also a problem.

Pastors, let’s go ahead and admit it. If our churches were suddenly inundated with such complaints, we’d be the ones who would need to start wearing a diaper.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I haven't been out to the cemetery since Jenny's birthday in early August. Late yesterday afternoon, Beverly and I went for an early supper. When we got in the car after eating, I said, "Something is telling me we need to go out to the cemetery." Beverly said, "That is strange, because three times today I have thought the same thing."

So we drove out there.

As we were driving up, we noticed that Jenny's monument was in place! We had been told we would receive a call when it arrived, but we hadn't yet.

Weird, huh?

It was much more emotional than either one of us expected it to be. I guess I am still in such denial that my precious girl is gone.

"Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." (Psalm 43: 9,11; 43: 5)

He is my ONLY hope.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Yesterday Was a BIG Day

Yesterday my son Josh turned 30. As I watch him and my son Jonathan with their boys, who are 3 and 4, I am taken back to when they were that age. I remember that feeling of having them think I could do anything. It was both incredible -- and fearful. I knew I could never measure up, but it was fun while it lasted:)

I am so proud of Josh. He is so gifted as a preacher. But he also has a huge heart for the disadvantaged. In fact, it is his passion. And I am learning so much from him about living out the heart of Jesus.

Happy 30th, Son.

I LOVED watching the Rangers beat the Yankees Sunday. Actually, sweeping them over the weekend was really nice. But Sunday's game was just good, fundamental baseball. Great pitching from Lee. And our closer, Felix, is UNBELIEVABLE! But we scored runs with good base-running decisions and timely hitting. So different from Rangers' teams of the past who basically depended on the home run.


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Burning the Quran?

I am sometimes SO embarrassed by things people do and say in the name of "Christianity." Too often, it is me.

Reverend Terry Jones, of Gainseville, Florida, I assume feels like he is doing the "Christian" thing by burning Qurans on September 11th. To an outsider, it looks like a publicity stunt. But what kind of publicity? And at what cost?

People have done crazy things "for the cause of Christ" through the years. Crusades have been fought. Inquisitions have taken place. Witches have been killed. Civilizations have been conquered. The KKK has been formed. Segregation has been defended.
And on numerous occasions, books have been burned -- which always seems to bring more attention to the burnees than to the burners. Yet even in my wildest imagination, I cannot picture Jesus smiling over any of that.

There are MANY reasons that Jones' book-burning is a really bad idea. Our military has asked him to reconsider because it will endanger our troups in Afghanistan. Others have argued that it will inflame Islamic radicals. I am not terribly sympathetic over that one, because they seem to get inflamed and blame Americans and Christians if their cereal gets soggy. (BTW, I seem to be in a minority that does believe that Islam is a violent, intolerant, hate-motivated religion whose aim is world dominance).

But listen: The main reason that what Jones is doing is wrong is because it is not Christlike. It bears no resemblance to the Sermon on the Mount. It is not being salt and light and leaven to the world. And it puts those of us who want to be Jesus to the world in a defensive position.

So he and his 400 or so deluded followers will have their 30 minutes of fame. But how many people will turn away from their only hope because of the false impression left by these impostors of Christ?

I wonder if Jesus blushes with embarrassment at us?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

It Was Worth a Try

I have written before on this blog about my love for Memphis barbecue. So yesterday for Labor Day, I had a brainstorm (watch out!). I went and bought a side of both beef and pork ribs. Beverly helped me find a recipe, and I set out to try to duplicate our Memphis experience.

After 4 hours of wonderful aroma and mouths watering, it came time to actually try my experiment. Beverly and David tasted them first, and acted like they were delicious. I tried them, and I was SO disappointed. Not at all what I had expected.

I really think they were cheerleading me because they want me to keep trying to perfect this new menu item. But I have decided I will just settle for an occasional trip to a good ribs' joint -- and stick with my famous hamburgers and popcorn.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Coming Attractions

This week should be an exciting one. I am finishing up a 4-week series on baptism, and anticipating beginning a series on the Fruit of the Spirit. Also, our Bible class quarter changes with next week. I will be teaching Church History 2, beginning with Martin Luther. And on Wednesday nights, the men's class will be sharing from Francis Chan's Crazy Love, and I will be leading that discussion.

Further, our Houston grandkids are here this week with their mom. So much fun!

And tomorrow, I have been invited to play in a golf scramble at Cowboys. That is always a treat. So, it will be an action-packed week.

I know preseason football doesn't mean anything, but surely die-hard Cowboy fans have to be wondering what is going on. After all, Jerry Jones says this is a Super Bowl-bound team. And we all know that when Jerry speaks, you can take it to the bank.

Come to think of it, has there been a team over the last 15 years that Jerry didn't think was at least playoff bound?

It's hard to think football when it's 98 degrees outside. But it's here! High schools began last weekend, and colleges kick it off this week. I love Fall Saturdays, when I can get up and do a little work and then by afternoon sit down to watch football. I usually double-task (as I do when I am watching any sports), but there is just something about the atmosphere of it.

Go Frogs!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Best Country in the World

I borrowed the following from Mike Cope's blog, and thought it was interesting. i read the complete article, and Newsweek used a number of criteria to determine their ranking: education, health, quality of life, economic dynamism and political environment. I would be curious to hear your reaction. Here it is:

Newsweek’s cover story this week is entitled “The Best Country in the World Is . . . .” Here is their top ten:

Screen shot 2010-08-23 at 4.25.17 PM
1. Finland
2. Switzerland
3. Sweden
4. Australia
5. Luxembourg
6. Norway
7. Canada
8. Japan
10. Denmark

It was a good survey if you live in northern Europe! Congrats to Scandinavia.

In the next ten spots you pick up (in order) the United States, Germany, New Zealand, United Kingdom, South Korea, France, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, and Singapore.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Good Trip to Tennessee

We had a wonderful time in Memphis. Two and a half days of hanging with our Tennessee grandkids and their parents. Got to play golf with Josh. Took the kids to Chucky Cheese (my 1st experience there). Truitt absolutely had a blast. Ate delicious pork barbecue. Celebrated Noah's birthday. We will celebrate our anniversary later.

Yesterday was especially good. The Sycamore View Church of Christ is a wonderful body of believers that have encouraged our weak knees in many ways in these last 6 months. I was blessed to be able to preach at both their services, and Beverly and I were interviewed by Josh during the Parents of Teens class. That went especially well.

Thanks to so many of you who prayed us through the weekend. In some ways, 6 months seems like only a few days. The full reality of life without our precious daughter still has not fully sunk in. Beverly reminded me that Saturday was not only Noah's birthday and our anniversary. It was also Jenny's 22nd spiritual birthday. She was baptized on August 21, 1988.

Our doctor who sang over Jenny as she went to be with Jesus sent us an email attachment of him singing "It is Well With My Soul." What a gift and what a blessing.

Today is Malaya's 1st day of 5th grade. She and David will be on my mind all day.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Off to Memphis

Thursday morning Beverly and I will head east to Memphis, Tennessee. We are going there to celebrate August 21st. For 33 years, that was the day we celebrated our anniversary. Now it has been hijacked from us by a cute little dude named Noah. Saturday is his 1st birthday. So we will celebrate our anniversary later.

34 years! Wow! That makes me sound old. I will tell you this: The incredible woman I married on August 21, 1976 just keeps getting better and better. I have had a ringside seat of watching her be transformed into the image of Jesus. And the serendipity of that is that she has pulled me along with her. What a woman!

We will stay over in Memphis until Sunday. I am going to preach at two services Sunday morning, and Beverly and I will be involved in a parenting Bible Class. I am looking forward to that!

There is something else I am looking forward to as well. Thursday night. On arriving in Memphis, we are going to eat pork ribs. Bring 'em on!

Please keep us in your prayers. While so much of this weekend is going to be about celebrating, Sunday also marks 6 months since Jenny went to be with Jesus. Like the sky, her memory covers everything we do.

Monday, August 16, 2010

No Do-Over

Yesterday in my sermon, I mentioned in passing about Uzzah, who committed a "letter-of-the-law" infraction by touching the Ark of the Covenant as it tipped -- and was zapped. I also mentioned Nadab and Abihu, who offered "strange fire" before the Lord -- and were zapped.

Yesterday I watched a true-to-life zapping. Dustin Johnson came to the 18th hole in the PGA Championship needing a par to win. He ended up bogeying the hole, and was walking off the green thinking he was headed to a 3-man playoff.

At that point, he was informed by an official that he had grounded his club in a bunker on his 2nd shot on 18. This was a little area of sand that the crowds had been sitting in and walking through. I have NEVER seen a tournament in which this has been the case. It didn't have the appearance of a bunker. Yet the rules said it was. Result? Zapped. Two-shot penalty. Instead of a tie for 1st, he dropped to a tie for 5th.

I felt so sorry for Dustin. It didn't seem fair. No room for grace. No do-over. No 2nd chance.

Imagine if that was the way it was with God today. Any violation of the letter of the law -- ZAP! No room for grace.

Actually, I don't want to imagine it. As a result, instead of hiding in fear of a zapping -- I run TO the One who offers grace and forgiveness.

Thank you, Father, for the One who purchased my pardon. I praise you, Jesus, for new life.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Another Good Quote

This week's Tozer quotes are really good. I want to share another one with you today:

But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness and handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. --2 Corinthians 4:2

Here again is seen the glaring discrepancy between Biblical Christianity and that of present-day evangelicals, particularly in the United States....

To make converts here we are forced to play down the difficulties and play up the peace of mind and worldly success enjoyed by those who accept Christ. We must assure our hearers that Christianity is now a proper and respectable thing and that Christ has become quite popular with political bigwigs, well-to-do business tycoons and the Hollywood swimming pool set. Thus assured, hell-deserving sinners are coming in droves to "accept" Christ for what they can get out of Him; and though one now and again may drop a tear as proof of his sincerity, it is hard to escape the conclusion that most of them are stooping to patronize the Lord of glory much as a young couple might fawn on a boresome but rich old uncle in order to be mentioned in his will later on. Born After Midnight, 17.

Have a blessed weekend. Peace.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


From A. W. Tozer:

Let a flood or a fire hit a populous countryside and no able-bodied citizen feels that he has any right to rest till he has done all he can to save as many as he can. While death stalks farmhouse and village no one dares relax; this is the accepted code by which we live. The critical emergency for some becomes an emergency for all, from the highest government official to the local Boy Scout troop. As long as the flood rages or the fire roars on, no one talks of "normal times." No times are normal while helpless people cower in the path of destruction.

In times of extraordinary crisis ordinary measures will not suffice. The world lives in such a time of crisis. Christians alone are in a position to rescue the perishing. We dare not settle down to try to live as if things were "normal." Nothing is normal while sin and lust and death roam the world, pouncing upon one and another till the whole population has been destroyed
. Born After Midnight, 30.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Radical Discipleship

Selected qoutes from Francis Chan in a chapter entitled, "Profile of the Obsessed," from Crazy Love:

  • Obsessed: To have the mind excessively preoccupied with a single emotion or topic.

  • The idea of holding back certainly didn't come from Scripture. The Bible teaches us to be consumed with Christ and to faithfully live out His words.

  • Sometimes I feel like when I make decisions that are remotely biblical, people who call themselves Christians are the first to criticize and say I'm crazy, that I'm taking the Bible too literally, or that I'm not thinking about my family's well-being.

  • If one person "wastes" away his day by spending hours connecting with God, and the other person believes he is too busy or has better things to do than worship the Creator an Sustainer, who is the crazy one? If one person invests her or his resources in the poor -- which, according to Matthew 25, is giving to Jesus Himself -- and the other extravagantly remodels a temporary dwelling that will not last beyond his few years left on this earth, who is the crazy one?

Radical, huh? Yeah, radical like Jesus.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Gear Up, 2

Yesterday our church experienced our 2nd "Gear Up." Although we did not have nearly as many people show up this year, it was still an incredible opportunity to be Jesus to our community. I think our members receive as much or more blessing from serving than do those being served. We had well over 250 volunteers!

I am so thankful for the vision of a handful of our women that has made this a reality.

Tiger Woods, where are you? The #1 player in the world has fallen off the map! Right now, he is a living testimony to how much our emotions affect other aspects of our lives. I cannot think of another athlete who has shown the ability to get "in the zone" like Tiger has throughout his career. But right now, he is in a different area code.

Many are ready to write him off. That would not be wise. Not yet, anyway.

I am equally amazed at Phil Mickelson. For the last several weeks he has been given prime opportunities to take over the #1 spot. With Tiger's dismal showing over the weekend, all Phil had to do was finish 4th or better -- which is where he was after two rounds. So he proceeded to shoot 78 on Sunday! Go figure.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Dog Days of August

Last night Beverly and I were blessed to be invited to share our journey with the Saturn Road Church of Christ. Our good friend Gary Bingham, who serves that church as an elder, did an incredible job of interviewing us. It was wonderful to see so many friends from our Mesquite days. Others came from Trophy Club and Decatur to be with us. The night was a real blessing.

Monday I was in a traffic accident. I left my Honda at the shop this morning. Even though no one was hurt, it was yet another reminder of how fragile life is.

The forecast here in north Texas is hot, hot -- followed by a few days of hot. But that it pretty typical for August. I would like to see some hint of rain in the forecast. What I begin to think at this time of year is that in another 5 weeks or so we will get our 1st cool front. And that leads to my favorite season -- Fall.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Oh What Memories!

Thirty-two years ago tomorrow (August 3rd), Beverly and I became parents. Mom and Dad. We will celebrate our daughter's birth tomorrow by visiting the neo-natal centers at Presbyterian Hospital in Denton and Baylor Grapevine. Jenny often said that someday she wanted to volunteer at a hospital and just rock babies. She loved children SO much.

On her birthday in 2006, I wrote the following blog:

On August 3, 1978 the people of Albany, Texas (north of Abilene) were overwhelmed with 20 inches of rain. The Great Albany Flood. That same day, Beverly and I were overwhelmed with the birth of our oldest child. During Beverly's pregnancy (which she loved. I know you will find it surprising that she found joy in that), people would ask if we wanted a boy or a girl. I wished for a girl. And the Lord granted my wish.

It was still in the days where the father was not allowed back with the mother during delivery. So, when I finally got to hold that beautiful bundle, it was just unbelievable. She brought so much joy into our lives.

She was born with a voice like an angel. Her cry was soft -- almost considerate. But from the time she began to talk, she could sing on pitch. To this day, her voice gives me goosebumps.

So many wonderful memories. I loved rocking her to bed every night, and reading her bedtime stories. Butterfly kisses. Working puzzles. Icees. Going for walks. PIcking the "Oak-oak" (that's okra for you grown-ups) out of my garden.

Whenever we traveled, she would shout, "I see choo-choo train." And she would continue saying it until we said, "Yes, Jenny. It's a choo-choo train."

When she was in kindergarden, she came home from school with an assignment: Write a letter to Santa Claus. So, she and I sat down to write. I asked, "What would you like to say?" No response. I said, "How about let's begin with 'Dear Santa.' What do you want to say next?" She thought for a moment and said, "Rabbit Santa."

I am so glad that Jenny is our first child. If we had had one of the boys first, we might have been tempted to stop there (Just kidding, guys). My only regret is that I was so new at the parenting thing, I made a lot of mistakes with her. If I could do it over again, she would never doubt that she is the pride of her father's heart.

I am so very pleased with the woman my daughter has become. She is an outstanding mother, wonderful volunteer, and a woman of strong faith and conviction. She made an excellent choice in a mate. David is a father-in-law's dream. And I am so very grateful for the way in which she shares precious Malaya with Grammy and Grampy.

Please keep the Ross and Bizaillion family in your prayers this week.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Part of the Journey

I went to a funeral yesterday at which one of our elders, Mike McDowell, officiated. He shared a quote from C. S. Lewis's book, A Grief Observed. Lewis wrote this book after the untimely death of his beloved wife. In it he wrote, “Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.”

Words could not be truer.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Through the Eyes of a Child

Attending the Rangers' game last Thursday night with my son Jonathan and grandson Jed was a real treat. It was Jed's 1st major-league game, and this 4-year old was wide-eyed for the entire game. He especially kept an eye on Josh Hamilton and Michael Young. When Young hit a solo homer early in the game, Jed was SO excited. He took in every detail of the game, the ballpark and all the proceedings. Never a sign of boredom. I'm glad I got to be there.

So Dez Bryant refused to carry Roy Williams' shoulder pads. Is this a big deal or not? After all, rookies have long had to endure razing from the veterans. But there is something amusing about a guy who has yet to win the respect of the Cowboys fans or coaches expecting a high-profile rookie to carry his shoulder pads. I mean, if it had even been Miles Austin telling Dez to carry HIS shoulder pads, I might feel differently. But Roy Williams? Seems to me HE ought to be carrying all the receivers' shoulder pads since they have been having to carry him for two years.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rangers' Game: Is it Air-Conditioned?

Hard to believe it has been 5 months today since Jenny went to be with Jesus. In some ways, I feel I am progressing in the healing process. Yet, in other ways, it is still as raw as it was on February 22nd. It depends on what moment of the day it is -- and there is nothing to predict when those feelings hit. Grief is a monster.

My son and grandson are dragging me out to a Rangers' game tonight. I like watching a Rangers' game on TV, but sitting out in the 100 degree heat doesn't appeal to me like it used to. Now if it was playing golf in it -- that would be different.

Actually, I am looking forward to my time with them. Sometimes I just like to play the role of the grumpy grampy.

Jimmy Johnson on Survivor? The easiest way to get him eliminated would be for the rival team to steal his hairspray. He would probably immediately quit.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Radical Discipleship

A. W. Tozer wrote many years ago, and yet what he wrote seems so relevant to today as well. Sometimes he comes across a bit grumpy, but his words ought to alert our consciences. The following is from today's devotional reading:

The church is afflicted by dry rot. This is best explained when the psychology of nonexpectation takes over and spiritual rigidity sets in, which is an inability to visualize anything better, a lack of desire for improvement.

There are many who respond by arguing, "I know lots of evangelical churches that would like to grow, and they do their best to get the crowds in. They want to grow and have contests to make their Sunday school larger." That is true, but they are trying to get people to come and share their rut. They want people to help them celebrate the rote and finally join in the rot. Because the Holy Spirit is not given a chance to work in our services, nobody is repenting, nobody is seeking God, nobody is spending a day in quiet waiting on God with open Bible seeking to mend his or her ways. Nobody is doing it-- we just want more people. But more people for what? More people to come and repeat our dead services without feeling, without meaning, without wonder, without surprise? More people to join us in the bondage to the rote? For the most part, spiritual rigidity that cannot bend is too weak to know just how weak it is. Rut, Rot or Revival: The Condition of the Church, 8! ,9.

I had begun reading Francis Chan's book, Crazy Love, before Jenny got sick. I have picked it back up and have been reawakened to Jesus' call to discipleship. Chan is a radical disciple. Google his name and read about him on wikipedia.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Still Thinking Fruity

I shared last week about spending time in sabbatical reading about the fruit of the Spirit (getting fruity). The following really has no connection, but I guess fruit is just on my mind right now.

On Thursday I bought some nectarines. They were so good I nearly went back to the store to get some more. I love them when they are crunchy -- between green and ripe. Anyway, Saturday our friends (Randy and Linda Davis) brought us a sack full of nectarines from their tree. And they are delicious.

As I ate one on Saturday, I told Beverly, "This is my favorite fruit." Then I remembered how much I love fresh pineapple and a good navel orange. It got me to thinking. I did not realize that I am really a fruit lover! Imagine the fun God had creating such incredible flavors for us!

So, here are my favorite fruits:
1. Fresh pineapple -- It's worth going on a cruise or an all-inclusive resort just to get plateloads of fresh pineapple. Nothing beats it.
2. Nectarines -- not green, but not ripe.
3. Naval oranges. If they are pithy, forget it.
4. Fresh peaches. I don't like the feel of biting through the fuzz. But if I trim it off, a fresh peach may be (next to pineapple) the perfect flavor sensation.
5. Avocado. Think fresh, tableside guacamole.
5. Red seedless grapes
6. Banana -- again, not green and not overly ripe.
7. Watermelon

Not making my list of favorites:
1. Any melon other than watermelon. Cantaloupe sets my teeth on edge, as do honeydews, etc.
2. Persimmons

That leaves a lot of fruits that didn't make either list. Like plums, strawberries, grapefruit, etc. I like most of these, but not like I do my top 7.

So how about you?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Desperate Faith and Hope

Right now I am in a season in which faith and hope have lost some of their "umph." I keep asking God why He made faith so hard. I mean, a person who is honestly seeking Him -- couldn't He just give that person a little peek?

I know what Paul said in Romans 1 about "what may be known about God is plain . . . clearly seen." So am I just lumped in with the godless and wicked he mentions there because I am struggling to see what is supposed to be so plain and clear? The creation of the universe: Yes, that is plain and clear. The deafening silence of the last 5 months is not.

And while I have so often claimed from the pulpit that hope is "confident assurance," right now my hope is neither confident or assured. It is a desperate clawing to just find a fingerhold. So I completely understand the anguish of David in Psalm 13, when he wrote, "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? . . . Look on me and answer, O Lord my God. Give light to my eyes . . ."

And so I once again come back to the words of Peter to Jesus, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Back Home

I am back in the office today after a wonderful week in Orlando. My greatest regret is that I only got to play golf 6 times. I do feel much more fruity, as I spent a lot of time in Galatians 5: 22-25. It is humbling to realize how much more of my life needs to be surrendered to the Holy Spirit.

Tomorrow begins the British Open (or as the Brits would say, "THE Open"). I am going to enjoy watching it and no matter where they are on the course, saying, "Hey, I was there!" Again, if you watch it and they show #11 tee box, remember that Beverly and I shared communion with our friends there.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Another First

Beverly and I are having a great week in Orlando. She is soaking up information like a sponge, and I am getting fruity. I am reading about the fruit of the Spirit, and becoming convicted by how far I have to go in REALLY letting Him loose in my life. I will be preaching through this beginning in the Fall.

Today marks another first since Jenny died, and I am finding firsts to be really tough. Twelve years ago today, Jenny married David. I thank God for David, and am grateful for the day he became a part of our family.

Please keep David in your prayers today. He is a good man who loves the Lord, and I know this is a really challenging day for him. This morning he is also co-speaking at the church where Josh preaches, so I pray blessings on both of them.

Friday, July 02, 2010


How is this for a quote?: “Jesus promised those who would follow Him only three things. . .that they would be absurdly happy, entirely fearless, and always in trouble.”

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Faces of Jesus

I am continually trying to think up new ways of getting out of old ruts. My experiments may seem elementary to many of you, and many of the things I try are things I have SAID for years -- but not put into practice.

Right now, I am trying to remind myself as I enter into any setting that each person I see is made in the image of God. I pray that God will help me to see Jesus in each person. It is amazing the difference it makes. I am hopeful that this will become a new rut. I feel pretty safe with it.

Josh and I got home last night from Eastland at about 10: 45 PM -- expecting the grandkids to all be in bed. As I opened the door, I was greeted by Jed (4) and Truitt (3). They both immediately began shouting, "Grampy, you're a double-goober with a cherry on your head." Where do these kids get such things? Oops, never mind.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Grandkids and Root Canal (Don't Get Them Confused)

Our house has become a beehive of activity. Beverly brought our Houston grandkids back to Decatur yesterday. Malaya is with us, as is David. And she brought her brand-new puppy. It's a Maltese-poodle -- and is cute as can be. But I have to watch each step I take, because she loves to cuddle against my feet as I walk. Add to that the fact that every toy known to man is out on our floor -- making our house a virtual minefield.

Oh, and our Memphis family is joining us tonight!

This afternoon I am going to see my favorite, wonderful, always-so-gentle dentist (I have to lay it on thick because he reads my blog). I will be having a root canal. I've heard horror stories about them, but I'm ready to get it taken care of. And I think dentistry has improved methods of dealing with this -- right, Doc?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jonathan!

Today my YOUNGEST child turns 27! Hard to believe. Happy birthday, Jonathan!

How about the Rangers? Eleven straight wins. Last night's come-from-behind win was fun. It's a shame they have Tom Hicks' bankruptcy hanging over them right now.

And an 11-hour tennis match? Of course, they got a night's sleep before the last hour. Ten hours of tennis would be pretty grueling. Makes me feel even sorrier for the loser of the match. He deserves SOMETHING!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Faith -- what does that mean? I think for me, without even realizing it, faith has meant a system of belief. And yet, that is the 4th meaning in Webster's Dictionary.

Everything in my life is being lived in a post-February 22nd way. And faith has now been stripped down to what I believe Biblical faith is really all about. Webster's 1st definition is "allegiance to . . . a person", and #2 is "belief and trust in God." Those are where my life is being lived now. Like a desperate drowning person holding onto a rope for dear life with no other options to turn to -- that's where I am today.

We have often used Hebrews 11: 1 as a definition of faith. It says, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." I love the verse. But let's be honest: It sounds like a riddle. Does that REALLY tell us what faith is? Sure of what we hope for? Certain of what we do not see? It seems to me that the writer is telling us that faith boils down to a choice. A choice to TRUST. It can't be proved. It can't be diagrammed.

And while faith in God and the gospel is not blind faith -- it is still a choice to trust what we cannot prove. We have many choices. We can choose atheism. Sorry, that takes more blind faith than anything I know of. We can choose Buddhism, or Hinduism, or Islam, etc. As I consider them all, I keep coming back to this simple statement of faith: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." And I CHOOSE to put my faith in that.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day

Yesterday was a really difficult day for me. Actually, it was brutal. My 1st Father's Day to ever spend without the one who originally bestowed that honor on me. And ironically, my text yesterday was the 5th Commandment: Honor your father and mother. This was a challenge for a couple of reasons. 1. Coming from a dysfunctional family, I find this commandment to be particularly difficult. But 2, it has a promise that if you do honor your parents you will live long in the land. Well, my daughter honored me and Beverly, and she didn't receive the promise. I know there is obviously more meant there than length of life. But when you are where we are right now, things look really different.

Also, today I am officiating at my 1st funeral since Jenny died. As I sat before my Bible late yesterday afternoon trying to come up with words for a grieving family, I was overwhelmed myself with grief. I'm glad no one else was in the office at the time.

I was blessed to be able to play Champions Golf Club in Houston last week. That course has hosted a U.S. Open, Ryder Cup, and several Players' Championships. It was a real treat.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

An Exciting Day!

Today is an exciting day for me. Beverly and I are heading to Houston where I will speak at Bammal Road Church of Christ tonight. Of course, we also get to spend some time with our Houston grandkids.

But the highlight will be after I speak tonight. Malaya, my oldest granddaughter, is in Houston already. And tonight she wants her Grampy to baptize her!

Interesting: Her Grammy was 10 when she was baptized. And I had the honor of baptizing her mom on August 21, 1988 (Beverly and my 12th anniversary). She was also 10. I am confident that Malaya will mature into the spiritual giant that her Grammy and mommy did.

I don't know for sure what Heaven is like. I do know that Scripture says there is rejoicing in Heaven at an event such as tonight's. So I picture my precious daughter, Jenny, rounding up a party in Heaven right now (she always was the organizer). I can't imagine anything that would make her more proud than this.

Monday, June 14, 2010

More on Sabbath

I am almost obsessed right now with the idea of sabbath. I would love to have people share what that looks like for them in their own spiritual journeys. Sad to say, it is almost an unknown discipline among American Christians. We have so bought into our culture's mantra of busyness being a virtue. It has turned into a game of one-upmanship. "I'm busier than you are" -- as if that makes me more valuable. But who would say to someone, "I am less disciplined than you are"? Because in reality, that is what "busyness" really reveals.

Beverly and I have spent some time over the weekend talking about how we can set aside a sabbath time for ourselves. Time of quiet -- to reconnect with God. Can we really set aside a whole day every week for that? I don't know. Right now, we are talking more like an afternoon.

Again, I would love to hear how that works for you, or even ideas you are considering.

Friday, June 11, 2010


What a blessing Beverly and I received last night at her fundraiser. To see the way her ministry is affirmed by our community is so encouraging. And the sensitivity shown to us was gratifying. God has SO affirmed us being where we are.

I am preaching through the 10 Commandments right now. This week is the 4th Commandment, that pertains to the "Sabbath." When we approach Scripture as if it is a legal document rather than a call to know God, we end up as empty shells of what God intended for us. I think that is true when it comes to this commandment. In fact, the call to "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy" is the main reason many will say, "We are not under the 10 Commandments any more." It threatens our "meeting on Sunday" doctrine.

Well, we meet on Sunday because it is resurrection day! But to throw out the Sabbath command because we don't meet on Saturday is to miss God's "health care plan" for His people. God knows how we operate. And He knows we need a day of rest. Not more activity crammed into another day, but a day of rest. A day to reorient ourselves to Him.

I don't do very well at this. Even in my leisure, I fill it with activities (often mindless ones like watching TV). What would a day of rest look like? I don't have it figured out yet, but I am going to make this my quest. I would love to hear from you.

Please pray for our group that left for Ecuador this morning. They will be gone for a week.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Thanks to Good Friends

Tomorrow night Beverly will hold her annual "information and fund-raiser" event. She usually holds it in April, but had decided to forego having one this year. That is, until a few of her dear friends decided that THEY would do it for her. So tomorrow night it will be a done deal.

I am blown away at the friends we have. I know of few things more gratifying. And it leaves me humbled.

The Lord has multiplied Beverly's ministry here in Decatur beyond what I would have ever dreamed. She now has another part-time therapist working with her. And this is all possible because of the generous support of friends and people in Wise County who see the need, and how Beverly is helping to mend lives.

So pray for tomorrow night. Through this ministry, life patterns are changing that will affect generations to come. May the Spirit fill the banquet room with the fragrance of Jesus.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Walking By Faith -- FIRST

Anselm of Canterbury (c. 1033 – 21 April 1109) was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109. He has been called the "Father of scholasticism," which was a movement in the Middle Ages that desired to reconcile Greek philosophy with Christian teachings. He is perhaps best-known as the originator of the "ontological argument" for the existence of God -- a system of logical proof for God's existence.

All that to say this: I have come to really appreciate a prayer he prayed, as over the last few months my nicely-bundled theology has been turned on its head. He once prayed, "I do not try to understand you so that I can trust you. I trust you so I can understand you."

It fits nicely with another quote that resurfaces regularly for me right now. It was advice given to me by a preacher friend. "Learn to be content in the mystery."