Thursday, January 28, 2010

Deep Life Questions

Occasionally I have dealt with some deep questions on this blog. Today I really want to go deep.

1. Why do cracker companies wrap their crackers in that ridiculous wax paper that cannot be opened without ripping? There is no smoothness to the way it opens, nor is there any seam that it actually follows as it is further opened. Do you know what this is like for someone who is borderline OC?

2. Why does my car think that when I unlock it, if I don't get in it within about 30 seconds -- that it needs to lock the doors again? Is the manufacturer trying to protect us from the many times we are mugged as we walk to our cars -- and have unlocked them? And if so, in that case, wouldn't the mugger be able to get the keys anyway? What is the possible purpose this feature serves?

3. Why, when you go to a store like Sam's and walk straight from the checker to the door, do you have to undergo a screening not unlike boarding a plane in order to get out of the store? The only purpose I can see that this serves is providing a job for someone. So on that count, thanks for your contribution to the economy, WalMart!

Maybe you have some deep life question that we could ponder together.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Marriage Agenda

I am so proud of my shepherds here at the Decatur Church of Christ, who have gone public with a statement that they want to be proactive in saving marriages -- thus defeating Satan's desire to weaken and destroy us.

As a part of their strategy, I will begin a series of lessons this Sunday about marriage. This is going to be different than the typical series that talks about communication, romance, etc. Although I may touch on such topics, I want us to approach marriage from the assumption that we are disciples of Jesus -- and so how should that affect our marriages?

I have been struck this past couple of weeks as I have begun to try to put together my thoughts. What has struck me as a real "aha" is how much Scripture has to say about relationships, but since those verses are not in the context of marriage, we think them odd when applied there. Yet my relationship with Beverly, next to my relationship with God, is the ULTIMATE place in which the words of Scripture are played out. Ideas like forgiveness, not holding grudges, kindness, patience, being a servant, etc. Concepts like "If someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice at the altar and go and be reconciled. Then come back to offer your sacrifice." We usually make application of that to the Lord's Supper. How many spouses would have to abstain from partaking of the Supper until they reconcile?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Colts vs. Saints!

It's the matchup I had hoped for: Colts vs. Saints. I like Bret Favre, but really am glad that the historical underdogs (Saints) are going to be in the big game. I didn't want the Jets because their coach (Ryan) rubs me the wrong way.

So for the Super Bowl, I am pulling for the Saints. Will they win? I don't know. I haven't seen the line yet, but I would guess that they are going to be the underdogs.

Will Favre retire now? Probably. I guess the real question is will he remain retired after he retires?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Good Reads

I just finished an excellent read that had been recommended to me by my son, Josh. It's called Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus (I can't remember the co-authors' names), and I don't think I will ever read the Gospels quite the same again. I especially liked the section on Jesus teaching in the tradition of the rabbis, and how that shaped the Sermon on the Mount.

Next on my list is a book that Jeff Jones has mentioned in his blog a few times. Beverly is now reading it, and loves it. It's called Crazy Love, by Francis Chan.

I am such a slow reader. I am afraid to ever miss a word. So if I read a paragraph and realize I was a bit distracted -- I go back and read it again. However, I know of few things I enjoy more than reading. During the day, I limit all my reading to news and things of a scriptural basis. At night, I read for relaxation. From Grisham to Clancy to L'amour to Grey.

So what have you been reading lately that might be of benefit?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cell Phones and Driving

Lots of talk in both print and broadcast media right now about texting / talking on the phone while driving. According to studies, talking on the phone while driving ups one's chance for an accident 4 times. Driving while texting ups one's chances 8 times. I'm wondering about that word "accident." Would it really be an "accident" if one is doing something dangerous while driving?

We are a country where a person's "rights" are always strongly considered in any issue -- and that is good so long as common sense and the public good prevails. One could say, "It is my 'right' to drive drunk. It is my 'right' to drive with a blindfold on." And I would reply that is fine if a person is driving in their own pasture -- with no chance of harming anyone else. But not when the welfare of another is at stake.

I admit: I have texted when driving. But I will never do it again. And I admit, even though I did it when no other cars were close by -- I had trouble staying in my lane. And I still talk occasionally on my cell phone while driving. But I am aware that it is a distraction, too.

I would be supportive of a ban on all phone activity for the driver of a vehicle. In fact, I hope it happens. One life lost to the selfish irresponsibility of one who thinks THIS call or THIS message is so vitally important is one life too many. I for one do not know how I could live with the guilt of that.

Monday, January 18, 2010

It's Monday!

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr Day! A true American hero!

"24" began a new season last night with Jack wanting to fly with his daughter, her husband, and her grand daughter to LA to live. Of course, as he is preparing to go to the airport, a crisis develops that draws him out of retirement. The 1st hour consisted of him calling his daughter numerous times to tell her he might be late to the airport, etc. I couldn't help but think, "Quit agonizing over not being able to go with them to LA, Jack. You'll save the world in 24 hours! You can go to LA tomorrow."

I got my electricity bill for the period ending 1-14. This included three weeks of Christmas lights, my family being here for 8 days, and the coldest spell of weather we have had in over 10 years. Whew! Next year, everyone is wearing thermals in the house. We will heat it only to the point that you can't see your breath when you talk.

Speaking of our house, Beverly and I refinanced on Friday. For a short time right out of college, I was a loan officer. At that time, mortgages were running as high as 13%. The historical average is probably between 7 and 8%. We got a 4.35% rate for a 15 year note! I couldn't believe it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

God, Have Mercy!

"He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of You? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6: 8)

". . . judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!" (James 2: 13)

Pat Robertson has again spoken for God. He has said that the devastating earthquake in Haiti is from God because hundreds of years ago some Haitians made a pact with the devil to serve him if he would help them overthrow the French.

This led one minister to response, "He loves to twist the knife in the back of those who are suffering."

Who does this man think he is to always claim to speak for God? From Katrina to 9-11 to the prime minister of Israel having a stroke, etc -- all God's punishment according to Robertson. So I'm wondering why God has not struck the greed of Wall Street with a natural disaster. And why doesn't He cause an earthquake to swallow up al-Qaeda? And back when Robertson's arch-enemy Russia was so powerful, why didn't God send a devastating plague to wipe them out?

Why would God pick on the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere?

I do not understand how God's sovereignty works in a fallen world, and will not pretend to know. But I can only imagine the outcry in America if, for instance after Katrina, some Moslem cleric had come out claiming it was a punishment from Allah against the US. How is Robertson's rhetoric any different?

I DO know this to be true: "Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful."

I wish the man would retire his position as self-appointed press secretary for God.

On a more positive note, the greatest help and aid taking place in Haiti will be from people serving in the name of Jesus. And that is where we can help, too. If you would be interested in sending aid to the Haitian people, you can learn more at The president of this organization is Dr. Milton Jones -- long-time minister in the Seattle, Washington area.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pray for Haiti

I was saddened to hear this morning about the devastating earthquake in Haiti. How sad that the poorest nation in our hemisphere has been struck with such a tragedy. I pray that avenues will be quickly opened for the people there to receive clean water and food.

I almost feel guilty going from that to this. Yesterday I joined the 21st century and got a Blackberry. I feel like a kindergardener opening a calculus textbook. But I am sure I will pick up on it in a few days.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Shocking Revelations and TV

So Mark McGwire used steroids? I'm shocked! The next thing you know, O. J. Simpson is going to admit to murdering his wife and Ronald Goldman. But McGwire adamantly denies that the steroids aided him in hitting home runs. Right.

What will American Idol be like without Simon Cowell? I personally don't care. The show has run its course for me.

Speaking of my viewing interests -- Sunday begins a new "24"!

Well, let's just stay on the TV theme for today. Beverly and I have been watching the old "Cosby Show" when we are home for lunch. That show is really good. Cosby is a genius. Clean and funny. Too few shows seem to understand that combination.

So it got me to thinking: What, in your opinion, are the best sitcoms in history? Mine will probably differ from yours, because I go back to earlier days. Here's mine:

1. Andy Griffith Show (black and white with Barney. After that, it falls out of my top 20)
2. Coach
3. Home Improvement
4. Everybody Loves Raymond
5. Leave It To Beaver
6. I Love Lucy
7. The Bob Newhart Show
8. Cheers
9. All in the Family
10. Sanford and Son

I would probably change some of these if I thought about it longer. And I admit that I don't watch hardly any sitcoms any more. I've seen only a couple of episodes of Seinfeld (ranked #1 all time by many critics), and never seen Friends or The Simpsons. My list is largely based on if I see one of these shows is on in reruns, will I watch it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Concession to Romo Fans

OK, to you Tony Romo fans who think I was wrong by questioning "Romomania" a couple of years ago -- I am ready to make a concession. The guy is looking like a keeper. The last month or so I have seen a different player -- more efficient, more mature, more under control. And I like what I see.

The Dallas defense is playing as well as any in my memory. I have long said that there is no doubt Wade Phillips must be a defensive genius. I'm still not sold on his head coaching qualifications. But nobody asked me.

I love so many of the guys on this team: Ware, Austin, James, Witten, FELIX Jones

Unfortunately, there is still the JERRY Jones factor. 13 years of mediocrity -- by far the longest in Cowboy history. His stubbornness that he is a football man. His arrogant brow-beating he gave to the previous owners, general manager and coach for their 5 years of struggling. And now, with one playoff win, he claims total vindication.

It was P. T. Barnum that said, "There is a sucker born every minute." Jerry Jones has definitely learned how to market himself to them.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Cold Weather, Lord's Supper and Football

It is 8:25 AM, and the temperature is still dropping. When I got up, it was a balmy 21 degrees. Now it is 19. The roads look like a glazed doughnut from the little bit of rain we got during the night.

This week my sermon will come from Luke's account of the Last Supper. I will be emphasizing the function of the Supper much more than the form. There is no way for Gentiles to have a true appreciation for this event without having at least a basic understanding of Passover. So I will be going back in time today as I put my thoughts together.

Tonight is the big night! Texas-Alabama. After watching Texas' last two games against A&M and Nebraska, I don't give them much of a chance. But I will be pulling for them. I'd like to see Colt go out with a national championship added to his incredible resume.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Brit Hume's Comments

I was blown away by comments I heard on GMA this morning. They showed a snippet of Fox News' Brit Hume discussing Tiger Woods. Hume said (I am paraphrasing) that in Tiger's current religion of Buddhism, he can not find forgiveness. What he needs is to find forgiveness, and that is only found in Christianity through Jesus Christ. Wow! I'm hoping Tiger was listening.

Almost as amazing as Hume's remarks was that he received no criticism or apology from anyone on GMA, either. I just found the whole thing interesting.

Congratulations to TCU on a great year. They couldn't quite get the job done last night against a tough Boise State team. It looked like Boise was getting each TCU offensive play sent in to their huddle. I thought it was unfortunate that, due to the outcome, TCU's defense got little if any credit (at least that I heard) from the announcers for holding the number 1 offense in the nation to only 10 points.

The world is in desperate need of inner peace and a sense of security. Let all of us who are Christ followers exhibit that today.

Monday, January 04, 2010

A Little Football with a Dash of Tozer

This has been one of the coldest winters on record for our area of the country. I'm going to go into withdrawals if I don't get to play golf soon! There was a time I might have played in mid-30s temperatures -- but not now. And the forecast is calling for the most bitter weather yet by late in the week.

This has led to a more sedentary lifestyle. The last several days have been spent sitting around the fire reading or watching football. I'm afraid to get on the scale.

The Cowboys beat the Eagles in impressive fashion yesterday. Can they beat them three times in a season? I wish the seeding in the playoffs didn't result in playing a divisional team in round 1. This seems to happen to the NFC East quite a bit.

I wonder what happens to Wade if the Cowboys don't win next week?

Tonight TCU has an opportunity to prove if they belong in the discussion of being a national championship contender. Their bowl opponent is unfortunate. I can't help but wonder if the "big boys" are afraid to find out if this team can hang with them or not.

Here's a little Tozer to begin your New Year with:

And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God. --James 2:23

After all, what higher privilege and experience is granted to mankind on earth than to be admitted into the circle of the friends of God?...

It is well for us to remember that Divine-human friendship originated with God. Had God not first said "You are My friends," it would be inexcusably brash for any man to say, "I am a friend of God." But since God claims us for His friends, it is an act of unbelief to deny the offer of such a relationship....

The spiritual giants of old were those who at some time became acutely conscious of the presence of God. They maintained that consciousness for the rest of their lives....

Saturday, January 02, 2010

A Tribute to Woody Woodson

As I write this blog, one of the most important people in my life is being buried. Woody Woodson, who served as an elder in Crockett during my first full-time ministry, passed away this week. He was 89. When I saw him in November, he was still chiseled -- with muscles hard from working on his farm. He was really a country boy at heart, even though he had worked in Houston for most of his life.

Due to it being the holiday season as well as some other activities going on this week in Crockett, I only found out last night that he had passed away. The service was this morning at 10. I SO regret not being there.

Woody was a perfect elder for someone with no experience in preaching. I think back to my preaching of over 20 years ago and wonder why he and others even hired me. But he did.

He was one of the most consistent and steady men of faith I have ever known. I buried his daughter, who lost her life to breast cancer, and observed his steadfastness through that ordeal. I saw the way he loved people. I learned from the way he based his core beliefs around Jesus -- rather than human reasoning. I tear up even now as I think back to hearing this godly man pray. Whenever he spoke of Jesus in his prayers, he would begin to break up.

I remember not long after I had begun preaching in Crockett (1988), I asked him one day if I should keep a log as to my use of time. He looked at me, and said, "If we need you to do that, we have the wrong man." Believe it or not, that actually made me MORE aware of how I used my time.

We made many visits together, and I got to watch shepherding in action. Many lessons learned. But for me, most of all I will always be grateful that he offered me an opportunity to become a full-time minister.

His precious wife, Louise, is in my prayers. I love her and her family SO much, and wish I could be there today with them. Maybe next time I'm in Crockett, I will give her a heads-up. This woman can fix dumplings like nobody's business!

Thank you, God, for letting me know Woody and Louise Woodson. And thank you that this man who loved you so much is now at home.