Friday, July 29, 2011

Conscientious Objector?

I've been reading the second in a series of stories written by Elmer Kelton. It is about a young white man in post-Civil War Texas. As a child, he had been kidnapped by the Comanche Indians. During a hunting party mix-up he was left behind injured, and ended up being taken in by some white settlers. He was raised by them as their own.

Later, he joined the Texas Rangers (not the baseball team). In the story, his struggle with deciding what to do during fighting with renegade Comanches is described. Should he be a loyal Ranger? or a loyal Comanche? He concluded that since he had made the decision to become a Ranger, his loyalty was to his fellow Rangers.

Why do I say all of this? Because for the second time in the last couple years, we have the story of a Moslem American service man who CHOSE to join the Armed Forces. No one twisted his arm. He was not drafted. Then, after joining, he decided he is a conscientious objector. But his objection to fighting does not stop him from wanting to kill AMERICAN troops.

I am thankful that he was caught before he could fulfill his evil desires.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Oh, my ______!"

This morning I was thinking, "How would I feel if, when my kids faced a surprise or a frustration in their daily routines -- they said, "Oh, my Rick!" Would I feel honored? Or would I feel put-down?

What got me to thinking about this is that the expression, "Oh, my God!" has become totally acceptable in our culture. This morning, ABC was running a commercial about an upcoming reality show. You know, the kind where they show 2-second soundbytes. It seemed that in each soundbyte, the contestant would say, "Oh, my God!"

I challenge you to watch a sitcom and count how many times this expression is used.

Right after Jenny died, there were days in which it seemed that is all I could pray: "Oh, my God!" But it was not a phrase used as an expression instead of, "Wow!" or "Good grief!" It was all my pained heart could utter. I was SO seeking Him -- but had no words.

But to use that expression so cheaply in the course of everyday communication seems to me to violate the very heart of the 3rd commandment -- to NOT take the name of the Lord in vain.
To me, that means to hold God's name in reverence.

The Jews took the command so seriously that they would not even utter the name YHWH, and as a result we don't even know for sure to this day how to properly say the name God gave to Moses in Exodus 3.

That may have been an extreme approach, but at least it came out of reverence for God. Our culture has swung to another extreme -- an extreme with NO redeeming value. That is, that God's name has become a common oath. It suggests NO reverence for God.

I pray that light might break through powerfully into the darkness!

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul." (Psalm 143: 8)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Extend Some Grace

I know I am writing a lot lately about the Rangers, but I am enjoying this team. They have a great chemistry, and a lot of likable players.

So I write today about yesterday's game. C. J. Wilson pitched a complete game 2-hitter -- AND LOST! The only run was unearned, coming off of an error by Endy Chavez.

The media is pinning this loss on Chavez, and I am thinking how unfair that is. If he hadn't made the error, what would the score have been? 0-0. That is not a win. Who is to say that the Rangers would have won in extra innings?

No, when a team like the Rangers get a complete game 1-run outing, they ought to win every time. The blame for this game goes to the offense. In a 162-game season, you will have games like this, but any time THIS offense fails to score AT LEAST three runs -- they have had an off-night.

This is my humble, but expert, opinion. I am really sorry for C. J. But let Chavez off the hook here.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Time for a New Streak

The longest winning streak in Major League Baseball came to an end last night when the Rangers lost to the Angels 9-8. This afternoon is time to begin another streak.

Verse of the day: "In quietness and trust is your strength" (Isaiah 30: 15)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Serving in the Heat

I spent some time this morning visiting with many of the young people from our church. This week they are involved in projects within our community: working with some of our non-profits, painting houses for elderly residents of Wise County -- as well as other projects. Being the hands and feet of Jesus. I am so proud of them!

Whew! It was already hot just walking from the office down to the church building this morning! We complain a lot about the heat and lack of rain -- and, yes, this year is above normal. But hey: Heat and lack of rain should be no surprise to anyone who chooses to live in this part of Texas. That is called late June, July, August to mid-September.

On a lighter note, Rupert Murdock and his empire is making National Enquirer look more legitimate!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hope and Peace

I love this from the daily devotional book, Jesus Calling: "Do not worry about tomorrow! This is not a suggestion, but a command."

The last year and a half has moved me deeper spiritually in a number of ways. I will mention two of them.

The first is that I want to live each day -- trusting in the Lord for that day. Too much of my life has been lived with worried eyes toward the future. I now rebuke that kind of life.

The second is that I want to live a "no regret" life. I want there to be no loose ends in any of my relationships. If I need to forgive someone, I want to do that. If I have wronged someone, I want to make it right. No regrets. It is amazing how the result of that is peace.

Those are my two big words right now: Hope and peace. My ONLY hope is in Jesus. And HE is my peace.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jenny's Anniversary

Thirteen years ago yesterday, I gave my precious daughter away to a young man from Spring, Texas. He had impressed us with his love for her. And our family had already embraced him as our own. The wedding was lovely.

Last night, we gathered at our house to celebrate Jenny and David's anniversary. David requested that I fix hamburgers (one of my claims to fame and one of Jenny's favorites). We shared good memories, and celebrated David's coming into our family. David, we love you!

Jenny would have been proud.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Chan Nails It!

I received a link to a portion of a sermon by Francis Chan that he delivered at Catalyst 2010 in Atlanta. Out of all of the well-known preachers and writers of our day, this guy speaks most to me. I tried to download the video to my blog but couldn't. So PLEASE: paste this link into your url.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Tragedy at the Ballpark

What a sad story coming out of Arlington last night. Josh Hamilton tossed a foul ball into the stands, and a fan reached out to grab it -- falling 20 feet. He ended up dying on the way to the hospital. His 8-year old son was standing right beside him.

I can't get his son off my mind. How does a person EVER get over such a traumatic thing? I pray that God will hold that boy in His arms and give him peace, as well as the man's wife and family.

Another man fell at the Ballpark nearly exactly a year ago. He survived. The irony is that both men were firefighters.

Knowing how fragile Josh Hamilton already is, I am also praying that he is able to work through this. The paper this morning said that he was devastated -- as I can only imagine. But it wasn't his fault that the accident happened. I know he has an incredible support group around him.

This is yet another reminder of how fragile life is. A healthy man is happily enjoying an evening with his son one minute. The next minute he is gone. No doubt, it never entered his mind as he headed into the Ballpark that he would never leave it.

Hug your kids and tell them you love them. Make relationships right. Live a "no regret" lifestyle.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

New Friends

As I continue to think back about our trip, one of the great serendipities (aside from the gelato) was that on the 2nd evening we sat next to a couple from California. After only a few minutes, we hit it off with them. From there on, every evening (except when they were on extended excursions) we looked forward to our time with them. We talked about EVERYTHING (from family to faith to politics to movies, etc) -- and on occasion even left dinner after over 2 hours to go somewhere else and visit more.

We toured Rhodes together -- and all fell in love with it. We even teased about how we could all move there. We figured it this way: She is a nurse, so she could work in the local hospital. He works from home anyway, so he could continue to do that and take care of the wash. Beverly could have a full case load in a matter of days. All I would need to do is find someone to support a mission work in Rhodes.

We walked Crete together -- eating gelato and gyros and checking out the local shops. It was marvelous and SO relaxing.

God really gave us an unanticipated blessing in Chip and Mitzi. Now I just wish that they lived closer!