Saturday, December 31, 2005


I have taken the pages for October, November and December out of my organizer and replaced them with January, February and March 2006. Two thousand five will be history in just a few hours and we all will be trying to remember to write 2006 instead of 2005. One year I performed a wedding ceremony on New Year’s Day but dated the official papers with the old year’s date. The groom was a marine and soon after the wedding left for overseas duty. His wife couldn’t cash his checks because of that wrong date. I put white out (this was used in the old days) on the wrong date and typed over it. The government sent it back and said they couldn’t accept the new date because of the change with white out. She had to get new papers and have me fill in the information and sign the new documents. Starting tomorrow, try to remember: THE OLD YEAR IS GONE, THE NEW HAS COME.

2005 was a good year, but 2006 will be even better!

We wish for you and yours the very best!


Friday, December 30, 2005

In many ways I am a lot like Ralphie the young star of The Christmas Story, which is on television every year during the Christmas season. Ralphie wants a Red Ryder B.B. gun more than anything in the world. However, when he finally gets to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him his heart’s desire, he is so excited and confused he blurts out that he wants a football. Every year members of my family ask me what I want Santa to bring me for Christmas. Every year books are on the list but beyond that---I don’t have a clue. Again, this year I asked for six books. I got six books. Oh, I got other things too, but the books were my favorite things. I have already read one, girl meets God by Lauren Winner, and have started, Christ, Baptism And The Lord’s Supper by Leonard J Vander Zee.

Lauren Winner, like me, loves books. On one occasion she was having a meal with her pastor when he encouraged her to give up something for Lent. He wanted her to give to God something that really mattered, something she really loved. She thought about it and decided on food. She thought this would be a great sacrifice because she can’t do without food. He said, “I would like you to give up reading for Lent. I think books would be a gift you could give Christ that would be really meaningful.” Then he asked her, “What do you do on, say, a Thursday evening once you have eaten dinner, rinsed your dishes, and quit working for the night?”

“I read”

“What about the occasional Thursday night on which you do not read?” He asked.

“I don’t know,” she says. “Usually, I read.”

Then he says it again: “I’d like you to give up reading for Lent.”

“You know,” she says to her pastor, “reading really is my fallback activity. If I have time on my hands, nothing to do, what I do is read.”

“No, no,” he says. “Reading is my fallback activity. Reading is your life.”

That got me to thinking. Maybe reading is my life. When I retired my son and I carried away fifteen boxes of books that I needed to turn over to others. (Get rid of) We then hauled several loads of books home in the back of his pickup. One wall in our family room is solid books. In my home office I have built shelves in the closet and it is full of books. In the office itself I have four book cases full. In addition there are books laying around all over the house. I confess I love books. But I do more than just have strong feelings about books---I read them!



Thursday, December 29, 2005

New Year’s Eve is coming! The champagne will flow!

That’s about all I know about champagne---the cork is popped when there is something to celebrate. I guess I haven’t celebrated much in my lifetime. Well no, I have celebrated a lot. I guess my choice of drink was diet coke or something, I don’t know.

The question of how much I know about champagne came up when I invited my son and daughter over for New Year’s Eve. I told them we would open a bottle of champagne that had been in the refrigerator for several years. My daughter said that it might be “suspect” after that many years. Who knew? Not me! I still don’t know.

A young couple I married several years ago gave the bottle of champagne to me after the wedding celebration. There were several bottles left over so they dropped by the church building and left one in the foyer. I took it home and put it on the wine shelf in the refrigerator. It has been there ever since.

We were sitting at a beautiful table at the Orange Tree Resort. We were celebrating another wedding I had just performed. I reached toward my champagne glass and as I did I hit the top of the glass and champagne spilled on the table. Jon Mouer looked across the table and said, “Brother, you’re drunk already and you haven’t even taken a drink.” Well, not quite, but I really don’t know much about champagne.

Do you suppose that champagne in the refrigerator is still good? There’s one way to find out.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Everybody in Scottsdale loves In-N-Out Burgers. Everybody, that is, except my wife. She eats them, but she doesn’t love them. We know by experience that if you don’t want to stand in a long line and if you want to get a place to sit that you have to go before the lunch or dinner hour. So we left what we were doing and headed over to the burger place around 11:15. Now that is too early for lunch and should have been early enough to beat the crowd, but when we walked in the place was packed.

I tried to figure it out. Why are there so many people here? Sure, the burgers are good but not that good. Really! I asked myself why I liked them. Maybe this would give me a clue why so many people were there. It didn’t! I think I like them because the first little In-N-Out Burger place was in Baldwin Park, California. We lived in West Covina at the time which was just down the freeway from Baldwin Park. Today they train their employees at a burger college not far from that first little place. Maybe I feel close to them because they began close to where I lived. Maybe I think the burgers are better because the employees are well trained and have a degree from burger college. I also like the fact that the two palm trees out in front are always crossed over each other to form a cross (kinda like). The beverage cups have John 3:16 on them (look for it, if you haven’t already seen it). Maybe none of this has anything to do with why I like them. Maybe I just do.

Well, yesterday while standing waiting for my number to be called I wasn’t thinking about why I like In-N-Out Burgers (It’s kinda silly when I get to thinking about it---I like all burgers) I was thinking about my wife. I was looking around the room trying to find where she was sitting. My eyes fell on this beautiful lady and I realized that it was Charlotte. I scanned the room again looking over (not lusting) every woman and said to myself, “You lucky dog, all the women in this room and that beautiful lady is the one you are going home with.”

But it’s not luck. It’s providence. I prayed. She prayed. God listened. It’s a long story. It’s amazing how God molds, shapes, allows, causes and works His will. We first said, “Hi” when we were in our early teens. We will say, “Good-bye” when in the providence of God it is time.

“Thank you Father for bringing this beautiful woman into my life”. Her beauty is not just skin deep. She is beautiful in her very being. Beautiful is what you see and beautiful is what you get.

I guess I like In-N-Out Burgers because I usually eat them with Charlotte. I don’t know why she doesn’t like them.

The Day After

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Yesterday was the day after Christmas. I didn’t venture out of the house. (Well, I did put my trash can out so my neighbor could use it. He has children and they had lots of empty boxes, etc. to throw away) But that’s it. I stayed in doors all day. I stayed as far away from the shopping malls as I could.

I haven’t gone near a mall on December 26 in sixteen years!

I learned a lesson about after Christmas shopping sixteen years ago and I haven’t forgotten it. The lesson is: Unless you are built like Arnold Schwarzenegger or you just like to live dangerously---stay at home!

“But, just think how much money you can save, Clif.” I like money as much as the next guy, but not enough to risk “life and limb” for it.

On December 26, 1989 I had only been in Phoenix a little over four months. Dillard’s advertised Christmas ornaments for 75% off. Wow! Today, we have all the ornaments we need, but sixteen years ago we thought we needed a few more. So off to Dillard’s we went. We were smiling, laughing with visions of great bargains in our heads. The parking lot was full of cars when we arrived. The escalator was jammed with people going to the second floor. When we got off the escalator we could hear loud voices but the thing that caught our attention was the popping of Christmas ornaments being broken. Not just one or two being dropped because of the crowded conditions, but one after another for several minutes.

Coward that I am, I ran! I headed to the down escalator as fast as I could go. I never looked back! “Did you leave your poor wife with the crazed mob?” I sure did. The building could have been on fire and Charlotte would have stayed for the bargains. I would have stayed if I thought she could have protected me. But to be very honest about it, I think she was glad I left. She couldn’t get into the full swing of things with me holding onto her hand.

I know, I know. Heading for the mall on December 26 is a tradition in your family. I’m happy for you. We need family traditions. I’m glad you go out there and help the economy. My tradition is staying at home curled up with a good book. (I always get several for Christmas). It’s traditional for me to sit around the fire, but darn it, this year it was just too hot.

Church Attendance

Monday, December 26, 2005

I attended the Candle Light Service at Lincoln Heights Christian Church on Christmas Eve. The attendance was way down---I mean way down from past years. I don't know why. It just was. I wasn't there but I heard it was down again on Christmas Day (111). This time it may have been because they forgot to fix the doors so they would stay unlocked. Some may have been locked out.

Christmas Day we attended the worship service at Chaparrel Christian Church. The building was packed.

I heard that some churches dismissd their services on Christmas Day.

I have always believed that church attendance is very important to spiritual growth.

Reese Witherspoon says this about church attendance:

I was raised going to church every Sunday, and I go to church most Sundays with my kids. For me, where I'm at in my career, so many people want to put you in a place that you're not real and treat you like you're not real. For me it's a great experience of grounding, and I stand next to people who have nothing and who have everything, and we all treat each other the same, because we all are the same. It's just like a little weekly reminder. So that's helpful to me, actually.

Sunday, December 25, 2005


DECEMBER 25! Every Christmas Charlotte says, “I knew it would be this way. It seems just like yesterday that we were celebrating Christmas a year ago.” And then she will follow up with, “Just wait and see. We’ll turn around a few times and it will be Christmas again.” Christmas is my favorite time of the year so I’m glad it comes around so quickly. Charlotte and I hope you feel the same way and that this is your Merriest Christmas of all. God bless you now and on into the New Year! Clif and Charlotte

THERE IS NO IDEAL Christmas, only the one Christmas you decide to make as a reflection of your values, desires, affections, traditions.Bill McKibben, Hundred Dollar Holiday: The Case For a More Joyful Christmas

Just For A Few Hours

Friday, December 23, 2005

JUST FOR A FEW HOURS on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day the stupid, harsh mechanism of the world runs down, and we permit ourselves to live according to untrammeled common sense, the unconquerable efficiency of good will.Christopher Morely, Essays

God's Holy Spirit Has Made Her Pregnant

"Joseph, son of David, don't hesitate to get married. Mary's pregnancy is
Spirit-conceived. God's Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a
son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus 'God
saves' because he will save his people from their sins." - Matt. 1:21b-22

From The Human Perspective

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Something worth thinking about:

FROM THE HUMAN PERSPECTIVE, when you compare [God] to the other gods of the other religions in the world, you have to say our God is really sort of odd. He uses the most common of people, people that aren't any different from any of us here; he comes in the most common of ways, when by his Spirit an anonymous young woman is found to be with child. And the strangest thing is that he comes at all—he's not the Above-Us-God, too holy to come down. This God's love is so immense that he wants to come down. And he has proven his love by the fact that he did come down and touch our ground.James R. Van Tholen, Where All Hope Lies

Despite Our Efforts

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I didn't write the following words, but I wish I had.

DESPITE OUR EFFORTS to keep him out, God intrudes. The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities: a virgin's womb and an empty tomb. Jesus entered our world through a door marked "No Entrance" and left through a door marked "No Exit."Peter Larson, Prism (Jan/Feb 2001)


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The preacher said she had gone to heaven. As a young boy I didn't know much about heaven. I hardly knew any Scripture. I was young and ignorant of many things. Not stupid. Just ignorant. What little I did know about heaven led me to believe it was a good place. If anybody got to go there I thought it should be my mother.

After years of preaching I still don't know a lot about heaven, but I know a lot more than I did when I was eleven. I preached a lot about heaven during my ministry and I officiated at many funerals. Sometimes I preached two or three funerals a week. There were months when I would have at least one funeral every week. And then, thankfully, there would be weeks and months when I wouldn't have to walk that lonely trail of tears. But over the years I preached hundreds of funerals and talked a lot about heaven.

One of my favorite books about heaven (next to the Bible, of course) is big book with a simple title, Heaven by Randy Alcorn. Stu Weber said, "Other than the Bible itself, this may well be the single most life-changing book you'll ever read."

Tonight, Barbara Walters will have a two hour special about heaven. I have seen the names of a few of her guests. It will surprise me if some of them know anything at all about heaven---and I really mean anything. But in two hours she will talk to many people. It will be interesting to see what people are thinking about heaven. It is good that the topic is being discussed on national television.

Brother Lemmons was a great preacher and editor of a religous paper. He was preaching about heaven. Every few minutes, after talking about heaven, he would say, "I want to go there. Don't you?" I have never forgotten his words. Yes, brother Lemmons, I want to go there!

Now Is The Time

Monday, December 19, 2005

Ponder this:

NOW IS THE TIME to sing, envision, enact, and retell a story of God coming unexpectedly in the worst of times as a baby born poor, born homeless, born to die that all human life might be transformed and dreams made real. It's God's Good News—but only because we already know the story of Easter.John H. Westerhoff III, A Pilgrim People: Learning Through the Church Year

God With Us

Sunday, December 18, 2005

"Behold, the virgin shall be with child,
and shall bear a Son, and they shall
call His name Immanuel," which trans-
lated means, "God with us." (Matthew 1:23)

Wow! God with us! Who can explain this? Nobody. We don't understand it. We just accept it by faith. God with us.

God is with us as we muddle through the mess of this life. He sees our tears. He feels our pain.

God is with us when we are filled with joy. He sees our smiles. He hears our laughter.

This message brings joy and comfort. But at the same time it makes us feel uneasy.

The Creator of the world celebrates when we do good. The good Father that He is, He hurts for us when we do bad.

He knew we couldn't make it alone, so He didn't just start the world to spinning and then go off and leave us alone. Oh no, He's here. Not just in December, but every moment of every day.
The joy He brings is greater than any fear. Fear not! God is here and He is on our side.

About My Links

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Today I want to write a few words about my links. Hopefully you have already checked them out and know how helpful they can be to the student of God's Word. For those not familiar with these tools, I want to encourage you to check them out. Just click on the link and browse around. You will be amazed at what you can find. However, sometimes when you are not familiar with a certain "tool" you don't know how to use it. I wish I could be with you and point out the advantages of each commentary, lexicon, etc. Since I can't I again want to encourage you to look into each one. You will find what you need for any Scripture or topic you are tracking.

There are six different links that will take you to Scripture, commentaries, maps, devotionals, original language/multilingual studies, etc. The Mike Cope Blog is a link to the Senior Minister at Highlands Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas. He, like me, writes about what happens to be on his mind. Mike preaches for a large church and also teaches at Abilene Christian University. You will find his blog interesting and encouraging. The link to Edward Fudge is also a favorite of mine. Fudge is a lawyer in Houston, Texas and a member of the Church of Christ. He has written several books and I have read each one with great interest. He preaches most Sundays but not always for the Church of Christ. If you are interested you can receive his Grace Notes (free) which come to you as E-Mail. You will not always agree with what he has to say but you will always be challenged. I promise you that if you receive his thoughts with an open mind and an open Bible you will be blessed.

God bless you as you study His Word.

Breakout Churches

Friday, December 16, 2005

Thom Rainer's most recent book, Breakout Churches, profiles thirteen congregations that moved from decline to significant growth. He got the idea from reading a book by Jim Collins, Good to Great. Collins' book was about companies that had struggled and broken out.

A dear friend, an elder in a church in California, has asked for my advice as they are searching for a new preacher. I think that church and every church looking for a new preacher needs to read Thom Rainer's book.

Rainer was asked to describe some of the factors that he found characterize the thirteen breakout churhes he profiled in his book. He said, "The number one characteristic that jumps out is that a Breakout Church had a breakout leader. ...We didn't find a breakout church unless we also had a breakout leader. ...I have found that the role of preaching is the number one correlated factor related to the evangelistic growth of the church, the conversion growth of the church."

I love preachers. I am a friend of preachers. But that love and friendship does not keep me from being truthful about them. The truth is that many of them can't "preach their way out of a paper bag." And they couldn't "lead a thirsty horse to water." It's sad, but true. Members find themselves leaving church on Sunday asking, "So what?" So my advice to elders is, pray a lot and go slow. God has the man out there for your church. Make sure he is God's man and not just yours.

On Loving Mexican Food

Thursday, December 15, 2005

It's time to start turning out the tamales. I don't know why but many families have the tradition of making and eating tamales on Christmas Eve.

Mexican food. I love it. Don't you? In November I wrote about loving pizza and others told me they loved it too. When I lived in Stockton, CA a young man burst into my office one day just before noon and said, "Can I use the phone? I need to make a reservation for me and my girl friend for lunch." "Sure, you can use the phone but do you really need a reservation for lunch?" He was going to a Mexican restaurant on the "Miracle Mile" and he said that it was the best in town and that you really did need a reservation. This started a debate over the best Mexican restaurant in Stockton. Everybody in the office that day had a different opinion which resulted in free lunches for a few weeks. I mentioned this fact in the church bulletin and invitations starting pouring in. It seems that everybody in the congregation had a special place for eating Mexican food and they wanted to convince me that theirs was the best. Man, I was eating Mexican food all over town and a few places that weren't in the city limits. I was a little uncomfortable in a few of those places. One day at noon the Deputy Chief of Police and another policeman took me to lunch down on skid row. I felt very safe. The place was full of policemen. It was the place to eat. The food was excellent.

I have never lived any place that had as many Mexican resturants as Phoenix. I will never get to them all. I have no idea which one is the best of the best. Maybe someday if I keep eating my way around town I will be able to say, "Eureka! I found it!"

God Loves You

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I have good news---God loves you!

Hopefully you already know this and live every day in the power of that thought. But if not, then my prayer is that you will hear it, believe it and begin feeling it in your life NOW.

C.S. Lewis said: "To be loved by God not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son---it seems impossible." He said, "it seems impossible" and it does---but it's not. The Scriptures teach us that God does indeed love us and delights in us as a father in a son. Wow! Knowing that you are loved by God will affect the way you see everything and the way you live.

God looked at His Son and said "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." His Son lived a perfect life. I live an imperfect life. Yet, He loves me in spite of how I live. I don't understand. I can't explain it. I ACCEPT IT BY FAITH. WOW! GOD LOVES ME! GOD LOVES YOU!

Paul Harvey And Prayer

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

When I read something Paul Harvey has written I often say, "I wish I had written that." When I read his article on prayer I felt that way. I will not quote the entire article, it's too long. I agree with it all but here is what I like best:










Fun Along The Way

Monday, December 12, 2005

I really like this quote by Anne Lamott:

I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief
that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone
just right, you won't have to die. The truth is that you will
die anyway and that a lot of people who aren't even looking
at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and
have a lot more fun while they're doing it.

Anne Lamott, Bird By Bird
Some Instructions On Writing And Life


Sunday, December 11, 2005

The music at the worship assembly this morning was excellent. I appreciated and enjoyed the opportunity of joining with others in praising God. There was everything from "Joy To The World" to Handel's "Messiah." Willie Nelson said, "All music is sacred." I guess that is true. Although I'm not sure about some of the "stuff" I have been hearing the last few years.

When I was a boy, country music was the only music I liked. Now, my taste ranges from country to classical. I often wonder why I like country music so much. Maybe it's the sadness of unrequieted love. That theme seems to run through all of country music.

Music moves me in ways I don't understand and can't explain. There are some songs that bring tears to my eyes each and every time I sing them. I don't know why. I get caught up in the passion of the music. Maybe this happens because it touches something deep inside me. For me it's a spiritual experience. Even if it only lasts for a moment.

It's better to have those moments and not understand them than never to have them at all.

Maybe ole Willie is right. Maybe all music is sacred.

Walk The Line

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Johnny Cash! He was one of those guys that if you cared for him at all---you loved him. If you didn't care for him---you tended to dislike him a lot. People seem to feel the same way about his new movie, "Walk The Line." I wouldn't say, "I loved it," but I really liked it a lot! The reviews are mixed. Some say, "It's awful." Others are praising it to the sky.

I make a prediction: Joaquin Phoenix will win the Academy Award for best male actor in 2005.
IN MY OPINION, PHOENIX IS JOHNNY CASH! Over the years I have listened to and liked Johnny's songs. There's a little town outside of Stockton, California, where I lived for 20 years, named Jackson. I never went near there without hearing in my head, the words of the Cashs singing, "I'm going to Jackson...". If I went down to the prison at Tracy, I thought of his performance at Folsom. A deacon in the church said to me, "Johnny Cash is no singer. He just talks. He just tells stories. He can't sing a lick."

"Walk The Line" tells a sad story. The afternoon Charlotte and I went to see the film there were only three other people in the theater. It was showing on two screens. I assume that's because of the evening and weekend crowds. The day we went everybody was at work or out Christmas shopping. There wasn't any applause at the end. The five of us just got up and walked out. It wasn't the kind of movie you cheer for. Some have expressed disappointment that there wasn't more about his Christian life in the film. This movie was about the earlier days of his life. It ended before he changed and began to live for Christ. In his later years Johnny Cash gave a great testimony for Christ. I'm glad!

Driving home I found myself singing quietly, "I walk the line..."

The Reflective Life

Friday, December 09, 2005

Today I want to share some thoughts from Thomas Merton:

Every moment and every event of every man's life on
earth plants something in his soul. For just as the wind
carries thousands of invisible and visible winged seeds, so
the stream of time brings with it germs of spiritual vitality
that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills
of men. Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are
lost, because men are not prepared to receive them.

Thomas Merton
Seeds of Contemplation

My Dark Night Of The Soul

Thursday, December 08, 2005

"My Dark Night Of The Soul" is the title of an article by Chuck Colson that I just finished reading in Christianity Today. He relates how his son had surgery for bone cancer; a week later his daughter was discovered to have Melanoma; his wife had knee surgery and he was having problems with a former employer. He wonders why God is allowing all of this. The article ends with him knowing that God is good, faithful and sovereign even if he doesn't understand why He allows certain things to happen.

Word came last night that a young friend in California will soon die of cancer. She has suffered a long time and now as she is closer to death her suffering has intensified. Why? How can God allow a lovely, young lady and those who love her, to go through this? I don't know! I have never known. I have lost track of the number of funerals I preached during almost fifty years of preaching. I didn't have the answer for all those who suffered then---I don't have an answer now.

It's not that I do not know anything. Like Chuck Colson, I know that God is good. In the mystery of God's unfanthomable will, we can never explain or fully understand. So we should not try to grasp every thread of His plan. We will only become more frustrated and even bitter. Nothing touches your life that has not passed through God's hands. He is in full control. And because He is, He has the sovereign right to permit things we do not deserve.

I didn't have the answers as a young man. I don't have the answers as an old man. But as an old man I do know that the Father knows what is best and He cares. Does He care? YES, HE DOES! And right now, for me that is enough.

I'm praying this morning for all those who are suffering in anyway. My God bless you by folding you closely in His marevelous arms of grace.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

"Others, yes Lord, others
Let this my motto be
Help me live for others
That I might live like Thee"

Act Your Way Into Feeling

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

"Tis' The Season To Be Jolly..."

"I'll Have A Blue Christmas..."

There are times in life when we simply make a choice about how we are going to feel. We might choose to be jolly, we might choose to be blue. If we want to be jolly we may just need "to act as if" we are jolly. Your actions will generate the feelings that go with them. You can actually act yourself into feeling the way you want to. Easy to do? NO! When you start to walk, talk, dress, sing, act like a jolly person that's who you will be. Someone has said, "Fake it until you make it."

"Joy To The World The Lord Has Come"

Thank You God For These Old Eyes

Monday, December 05, 2005

It is absolutely beautiful in Phoenix today!

I had an eye exam this morning. I am a diabetic and have to have an annual checkup but the Dr. said everything is fine. I need new lenses but that's "par for the course."

Driving home I was thankful for everything I saw---thankful to see period.

Our house is decorated for Christmas. I thought, "how lovely." I was greeted by my wife of 47 years. She was a pretty young girl. I first met her when we were in grade school. Today, at 69 years of age, she is absolutely beautiful!

The eyes are are undoubtedly the most sensitive and delicate organs we possess, and perhaps the most amazing. They present us with the window through which we view the world.


Christmas Shopping

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Christmas shopping! I meet it with mixed emotions. Time was when I would find myself running all over town on Christmas Eve trying to locate that special thing, buy it, get it wrapped and under the tree before the family started unwrapping gifts. The last few years, especially this year, has been different. Around Thanksgiving Day family members started marking things in catalogs as worthy gifts---things they would like to see under the tree with their names on them. My wife and I received 8 catalogs in the mail one day. We thought that was a lot. Our daughter received 18 in one day. I did all my shopping at the computer this year. It only took me a few minutes. Oh sure, the postage does seem high but with gas prices the way they are, I figure I saved in the long run. I still have one gift to buy. I know right where to find it. It won't take me long to drive to the store. The parking will not be difficult. I will get in the store and right out again. As I sit here thinking about it, three weeks before Christmas---I meet it with mixed emotions. It all seems too easy, effortless. I don't feel pushed, pulled, harried. My feet are not burning, my back is not hurting. Darn! I kinda miss feeling like a worthy father, devoted husband that will go through all kinds of crud to get just that special thing for that special person. Flip, anybody can push a few keys, print in a credit card number and tell the shopping cart to head for the checkout. Oh well, I see the football game is coming on in ten minutes I guess I better get a cup of coffee and head for the T.V. Selah

Carol Sing and Tree Lighting

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Last night was a wonderful evening! Yesterday had been a busy day and about 6:00 p.m. I found myself slumped down in front of a toasty fire listening to the evening news. A few more minutes there and I would have been in dream land with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. "It's time to get ready to go" I heard my wife's voice coming out of my head fog. We got dressed, drove the 8 minutes to the church building. We met with about 1500 worshippers, a 100 voice choir and a full orchestra. We have been going to carol singings for years. They have always been fun. This year was different. Last night was a special time of worship. When it was time to start I was still tired and kinda slumped on the pew. The worship leader asked us to stand and sing and sing we did. It was when I felt the tears in the corner of my eyes that I knew this carol sing was going to be different. On Sunday mornings the worship leader, the choir, the preacher, all the up-front leaders are all well rehearsed. There are three services following one after another. Each one containing about 2,000 people. Everything has to move with precision and it does. But it never seems hurried or manipulated. Last night nobody had rehearsed! It was just a congregation that had come together to worship. After an hour we left the sanctuary and went outside to surround a huge, beautiful Christmas tree. As we stood with candles lifted in the air, singing Silent Night, the tree lights were turned on. Driving home I was no longer tired. I had been refreshed physically and spiritually. As I reflected back on the evening I could remember that years ago I would not have worshipped with those people. In fact, I would have judged them and consigned them to hell. Why? What horrible sins had they committed? Why instead of singing acappella there was a full orchestra. That's it! Hard to believe, isn't it? As we stood outside with candles held high singing Silent Night (Acappella) I looked down into the eyes of the little grey haired lady that a few minutes before had passed her lighted candle over to light my candle and I was ashamed that I d have ever judged this worshipper. I also thought back to the worship in the sanctuary. A young lady wearing a bright red sweater, with beautiful blond hair stood in the pulpit and read from Luke 2. She read with great passion and then she invited us to come and kneel at the front and pray. People from all over the building went forward to pray or be prayed for. I read somewhere years ago that there is a broken heart on every pew. We sung carols, read Scripture, prayed and drew closer to God. I went to bed refreshed asking God to forgive me for my ignorance and asking him to strengthen me to be able to be gracious to others as He has extended His grace to me.

Rules---Who Makes Them?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Have you ever wondered about the rules of daily living? Who makes these rules? Oh, I'm not talking about the commandments of God as found in the Holy Scriptures. I have tried to do what is right from my youth. My mother died when I was just a child but she instilled in me a deep, abiding desire to do what is right---always. I have failed again and again but by the grace of God I keep trying. I always want to do the right thing. What I find myself wondering about are the rules that man/woman makes. Things like you're not suppose to wear white after Labor Day! Now what's up with that? Why? Who determines such things? I have always been told, "Don't put your elbows on the table." Well sure, it's probably not a good idea, but I do it all the time. It seems to me that children enjoy life a lot more than adults. I wonder if it because they don't have so many rules. I have worked all my life and now I am retired. When I was working I felt I always had to be in the office at a certian time although nobody told me I had to. Nobody checked on me. But in my head there was a rule---an unwritten, unspoken rule that I had imposed on myself. When I took a day off I felt guilty. Nobody made me feel that way. I did it to myself. I had a rule that I should always be on the job! I suppose we need some rules or we would be in a mess. But there are times when I think that things might be better if they were a little messier. We just need to relax. We need to refuse to define ourselves by a list of rules.

Some Days Are Just Like That

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The day is almost gone and I haven't written a thing. Some days are just like that.

I worked all morning trying to repair the lights on a prelit Christmas tree. Some of them were stubborn and wouldn't burn. I rented a magic machine that was suppose to tell me what was wrong and what to do. The man at the store said, "Most people tell me it takes only about fifteen minutes and the job is done." Made my way home singing, "Have a Holly, Jolly, Christmas.... "Several hours later I was sitting on the floor with my head in my hands muttering an old saying, "This is enough to make a preacher cuss." Then it dawned on me, I am a preacher---or used to be. I decided not to cuss, only because I didn't think it would do any good. I had to leave for a doctor's appointment. I have been "suffering" with a "Frozen Shoulder" for about four months. They gave me a cortizone injection and sent me home. I think that's a steroid, so I guess I will fail the test if I decide to come out of retirement and go into professional sports. When I got home from the doctor, Charlotte had fixed the tree lights. MIXED EMOTIONS! Thrilled the lights were repaired---sorry I wasn't the one to do it.

Some days are just like that...............................