Sunday, December 31, 2006

There will be no “Las Vegas” style parties at our house today/tonight.

What happens in Ditmore’s Scottsdale doesn’t have to stay in Scottsdale.

This morning we will head off to Lincoln Heights Christian Church where I will teach all of the adults in one large class in the fellowship hall. After class we will stroll over to the sanctuary for the morning worship service.

After church there will be lunch, a little rest, a little football and then we will head over to Desert Ridge to see the new Rocky movie. After the movie it will be Mexican food at On the Border Restaurant and then home to bed.

Will we ring in the New Year? Maybe--maybe not. Most likely, around mid-night the only noise to be heard around our house will be a lot of snoring!


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Did you ever have a day just get away from you—you know, like gone, over, and you never knew what happened to it?

You got up. You did some “stuff” and then all of a sudden you realize, “Hey, this day is getting away or this day is gone and I don’t know where it went.”

Some days drag by and you can keep up with them (unless you take a nap) but then some days, like today, just zoom along and you never know where they went.

It’s bad to lose a day—especially at my age. I can’t afford to lose a single one. I must stay alert at all times.

Tomorrow is the last day of the year. I’m going to get a hold on the day early in the morning and not let go until after midnight—if I can stay awake until then.

This is not really a blog, it’s an explanation. I was going to write a blog but I let the day get away.


Friday, December 29, 2006

God makes the difference!

“But” is a conjunction with a difference. “And” is likewise a conjunction, but it does not carry the same impact as “but.” To say “and” is to give additional information which may be either trivial or tremendous. “But” adds additional information and it qualifies, alters, and not infrequently completely negates that which has been said. For example, we say: “That is a good idea, but…!” Chances are that the proposed idea will be abandoned altogether. “He is a good businessman, but…” We hear, and we hesitate to put confidence in his judgment or to invest in his business.

A recent study has convinced me that God always makes a difference. When you are reading the Bible watch closely for the expression, “But God…” Notice the difference it makes in the overall situation at hand. The story of Joseph is a good example.

Many bad things had happened to Joseph and he ended up in prison. “And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. But The Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. (Genesis 39:1, 2, 20, 21) Notice: Joseph was in a mess—he was in prison. But he was not alone, God was with him. You will find this throughout the Bible. You will be reading about terrible things happening and then out of the blue you read BUT GOD!



Thursday, December 28, 2006

In the last three years I have had occasion to listen to a lot of “bad” preaching. For almost 50 years prior to that I listened to a man struggling to get it right—I listened to me. It wasn’t until I was ready to “walk out the door” that a light went on in my head but then I walked away only to preach two or three more times in three years. Don't you think that's funny? I think it's funny, or maybe it's more sad that funny. Just when you get ready to do your best preaching--you quit.

Elders are partially to blame for this loss. If I were an elder I would say to the old, retiring preacher: "Stay here as Minister Emeritus and teach, encourage and motive us on to maturity for a few more years. We will hire a pastor to care for the flock and do the "daily" work of the church.

I recently read about the kind of preacher needed today: "He and his family had been through hard times... and it showed. There was a reverence in his pulpit manner, a deep respect for his task, a deep feeling for the words of Scripture as he read them. His sermon was not eloquent, but he was sincere, his humor was natural, and he had a wonderful, hopeful message focused on Christ. This preacher was passionate in the best sense of the word: authentic, exhortative at times, and also rejoicing."



Wednesday, December 27, 2006

President Gerald Ford has died!

I am not the judge, but from everything I could see--he was a good man.



Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Good news—Santa came to the desert. He left here heading north and was sighted circling over the Denver airport. He must have been looking for some people he couldn’t find at home.

This is blue can day on our street and by the looks of the cans brimming with empty boxes—Santa dropped off a load on this cul-de-sac. So much for the words of the old song, “You better watch out, you better not pout, you better not cry…” I know these kids. There’s been a lot of poutin’ and shoutin’ going on around this cul-de-sac. Looks like Santa turned a “deaf ear.” Call it grace.

Well, we all need a lot of grace. Not so much from Santa but from THE GIVER OF ALL GOOD GIFTS. I pray that His mercy and grace will flow out to you abundantly in 2007!

Monday, December 25, 2006


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. In the morning at 9:30 I will continue my messages at Lincoln Heights Christian Church on the theme: “Christmas—Renewal through Christ.” Tomorrow’s message will be “No Man Need Stay the Way He Is.” Paul describing his life says, “I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.”

Like so many of us,Paul’s life was a mess. He did the things he didn’t want to do and didn’t do the things he knew he should. But praise God, he found the answer—the way out of the mess. Don’t miss this: “The answer, thank God, is …Jesus Christ.”

For Paul, the answer to everything was in Christ. In Christ became his favorite expression. He used it or some form of it in every letter he wrote but one, 2 Thessalonians.

That’s the answer for all of us—IN CHRIST!


Rosie O’Donnell is a bully! She is constantly attacking The President, Vice-President, all Republicans, Christian leaders, all Christians, and anybody who disagrees with her lifestyle.

Rosie is full of it!

Now, Donald Trump is no angel. But he is in charge of making decisions like the one he made about Miss America. If he had fired her, Rosie would have said, “Who is he to be judging anybody’s morals?” When he gave her a second change, Rosie said, “Who is he to be judging anybody’s morals?” In her eyes, there was no way he could win. She started the fight. Recognizing her as the bully she is, he decided to kick the crap out of her. It may not be the best answer to Rosie, but somebody needed to do it. He was just taking care of his own business and she butted in. He told her to butt out.


Oh, by the way, “Merry Christmas, peace on earth, good-will to all men (and women—even Rosie).


Friday, December 22, 2006

Denver is a great city. I love to visit there. The Denver airport is one of the best. However, I was stuck there one winter day and I didn’t like anything about it.

A snow storm has held travelers at the Denver airport for a couple of days. It has not only affected the travelers in Denver, but thousands across the country. They are saying that flights will start taking off from Denver today. The people flying out today will be those scheduled to leave today. The ones who have been stranded there will be placed on stand-by.

Some of these travelers will not get out until Monday—Christmas day.

Stop! No! You can’t go!

We hate those words. Nobody likes to be inconvenienced—but it happens. Life is tough.
Elvis sang about it, “I’ll have a blue Christmas I know dear…”. My heart goes out to those people stuck in the snow storm. Will good come from all of this? It certainly could. Will they recognize it? Some may. Most probably won’t.

The newspaper reported this morning that Arizona is now the fastest growing state in the nation. The weather in Phoenix is fantastic right now. There will be no white Christmas here and I’m not crying about it. Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha!


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dr. Larry Crabb says that when he was 10 years old he heard the message of Matthew 21:22, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” He was really excited about what he would be able to do. He went outside and told God he wanted to fly like Superman and that he was going to jump and leave the rest to Him. He jumped four or five times and each time he landed a little further down the driveway. That was the beginning of a 50 year journey of confusion.

Prayer is confusing! I have been praying since I was a teenager but I still don’t have it all figured out.

Philip Yancey, one of my favorite writers, has written an excellent book, Prayer, Does It Make Any Difference? He probes the very heartbeat—the most fundamental, challenging, perplexing, and deeply rewarding aspect—of our relationship with God.

Does prayer work? More personally, does it work the way we think it should? What can we really expect from prayer? Yancy helps with these and other tough questions.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Why are elders, shepherds, so dense when it comes to understanding what is happening to the congregations they are suppose to be leading?

It is certainly not because they do not care—they do care. I know they do. I have been intimately associated with elders for many years. They care but they also seem blind to the things that are going on around them.

I know churches where members—good, honest, God loving members are leaving. They are not radical and they are not trouble makers. They just leave quietly. The elders care but their comment is simply, “Well, you can’t please everybody.”

The Bible School attendance is down and the elders care but they just say the same thing, “Well, you can’t please everybody.”

My question is, “Do you even want to try?”

I have seen this happen so often that it makes me sick. One day, when Bible School attendance is so low that they finally say, “Let’s close it down,” they do “see” and want to make some changes—and it’s too late.

One day, when the attendance is so low that even the little, old ladies ask, “Where is everybody?” They “see” and want to do something about it, and it’s too late.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

In the real world we have to suffer the consequences of our decisions.

Try climbing Mt. Hood in December and you might get caught in a blizzard and not come down.

Get involved with alcohol, cocaine and bad conduct in general and you may lose your crown as Miss America.

Wait until the last minute to do your shopping and the present you wanted to buy may be gone and you may get crushed in the last minute rush.

Show up late for work, “smart off” at your boss, fail to do your job—you may get fired.

Have an affair and you may get divorced.

Drive while intoxicated and you may get killed and/or kill somebody else.

Never go to class and never study and you may never graduate and remain ignorant.

This is a law abiding universe. It’s not hard to figure out why things happen as they do. Mistakes? Yes, we all make them. Ignorant decisions? Yes, we all make those too. But common sense tells us not to just blunder along making wrong decisions and hoping that things will work out for us when they don’t for other people.



Monday, December 18, 2006

Yesterday I asked about family traditions at a Bible Class I’m teaching this month. Wow! There are a lot of traditions and they are not the same for each family.

One family always eats Italian food at Christmas. The fellowship hall was full but there was only one family that had this tradition. I have thought about it for awhile and I think I would like Italian food for Christmas dinner. Why not?

Several families have Mexican food on Christmas Eve. Our family has had Mexican food on Christmas Eve but not always. It is not a tradition for us.

We always have pumpkin pies and pecan pies. We always have turkey and sometimes we also have ham, but ham is not a tradition at our house. We always go to the Christmas Eve service and then our tradition is to open presents on Christmas Eve. When our children were small we opened them on Christmas morning.

Family traditions are wonderful because families are wonderful. Sometimes families are separated by great distances. I hope your family is able to be together. As I get older I see the need to get together as often as possible. I feel this way about the immediate family, distant relatives and the church family.

Do it often. You will always be glad you did.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Several years ago I committed a crime and a sin. I stole a white elephant gift I had taken to a Christmas party to be given as a gift. The person who became the possessor of the gift was a proud possessor and wanted it very much. The white elephant was a horrible picture of me. Some say it looks just like me but in my mind it is grotesque beyond belief. The person getting the white elephant picture of me had an evil scheme on her mind. She intended to take it to the church assembly the next day and have it projected on the big screen for everybody to see. Of course they would have laughed, made jokes about me and humiliated me until I would have ended up in tears.


I put my white elephant gift on top of hers (my ugly picture) and picked them all up and said, “I better put these things in the car before I forget them.” When I returned from hiding the stolen goods in my car, I heard this dear sister in Christ and our host for the evening telling her husband that somebody had taken her gift. They both looked puzzled and a little annoyed but being good host they didn’t say anything.

Well, that was many years ago. Last night we had the annual white elephant Christmas party. This dear lady was there but she no longer participates in the white elephant exchange. She has never said why. She just doesn’t. Last night after all the gifts were taken from under the tree—one remained. It was that ugly picture that I had decided to return to its rightful owner. She said she was glad to get it back but she wasn’t smiling. She also said that she was going directly to the church office to have it prepared for a showing on the big screen.

Wouldn’t you think that after all these years that her heart would have mellowed a little and that she would let me off the hook and also not put the church through such a horrible thing? Well, hopefully she will get back into the game and start exchanging white elephant gifts again. Maybe she will steal my next one. I hope somebody does.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Wheeeee! Tonight we get to go to another White Elephant Christmas party.

I detest the white elephant part of Christmas parties. I always have. It looks like I always will. It just seems so silly to me I can’t really get into the flow.

My wife’s former Sunday morning Bible class has had this kind of party for years. I always go as her guest. It’s a lot of fun. I enjoy every minute of it—all except the white elephant part.

She hasn’t been a member of that class for almost three years. But we continue to be invited and continue to go to these once a year parties. As Charlie Brown would say, “We need all the friends we can get.” It’s good to feel wanted. We enjoy the fellowship, food and fun. Everybody, except me, really gets into the white elephant thing. Not wanting to be a party pooper, I squeal, laugh, pretend disgust at an unwanted gift, and take a good gift from someone who really wants it—I’m a hypocrite all the way.

One year, when the party was in our home, an elder of the church brought an old piece of junk from a car. I got it! As soon as the party was over I went right outside to the garbage can and threw it in. I smiled with delight when the garbage truck took it away. The next year that same piece of junk showed up at our party. Everybody squealed, “Look, Clif brought that junk back.” The first giver of the gift joined in, my wife even agreed—“there it is.” I got loud. I was almost at the point of anger. “That is not it. I watched the garbage truck take it away.” I was ready to bet a million dollars. My wife put her hand on me and calmly and kindly said, “Yes, dear that is it. Paul had me get it out of the trash and return it to him.”


Thursday, December 14, 2006

A shopping Scottsdale mom caused a buzz around here when she left her 2-year-old son asleep in her Beemer to go shopping with her purse-size pooch.

Now those valets over at Neiman-Marcus look like nice guys and they are probably intelligent enough as valets go, but come on—did she really expect them to watch her kid while she went shopping?

She entrusted her BMW, and her child to them—but not her dog.

It’s just me, but of the three, the dog is the only one I would have left in their care.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I REMEMBER EARMUFFS. When I was a kid I lived in Oklahoma and it was cold in the winter—very cold. When you went outside your nose and ears got cold. Some kids wore scarves across their faces but I never did. But I did wear earmuffs. I remember having a pair of red ones that I especially liked.

I REMEMBER “CHRISTMAS” CANDY. I call it “Christmas” candy because that was about the only time we saw it. There were small pieces of hard candy that came in many colors. There was “ribbon” candy that was also hard and came in various colors. It was called “ribbon” candy because it looked like ribbon—not stretched out straight but folded and wavey. You can still buy this candy today but I don’t see it very often and it is usually a little on the expensive side.

I REMEMBER SEARCHING FOR JUST THE RIGHT CHRISTMAS TREE. We never, ever just went out and bought the first tree we saw. We looked at every tree on every lot in town and there were a lot of lots.

I REMEMBER RAIN, SLEET AND ICE. Do I ever! If you were walking you had to be extremely careful because the ice on the ground was very slick and you could go down hard. If you were driving you had to be careful because just the slightest pull on the steering wheel might send you sliding or spinning out of control.

I REMEMBER “MAMA.” My mother has been gone for sixty years but I still miss her. She was always there for me. When my brothers and sisters all married and left home, my mother and I were always together. We were poor but I didn’t know it at the time. I don’t remember ever wanting for anything. God knew what he was doing when he gave us mothers.

I REMEMBER MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS. I had four brothers and two sisters. I am the “baby” of the family. I am the only one left. They have all gone on. Most of the time I don’t think about being the only one left. I just try to get on with living my life. But there are those days when I do think about it and those days are hard to take.

I REMEMBER HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE BLESSED MY LIFE. Wow! When I get to thinking about all the people who have and are blessing my life it “blows my mind.” Wow! I don’t forget a single one. I truly am blessed.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Please, I beg you, click on the website I provide here and go to the Opinion Journal at the Wall Street Journal and read the opinion of Shelby Steele as he writes about the war. It is a long article and not totally unlike one lifted from his book, "White Guilt." But please, I beg you, take the time to read it. This is the best thing I have seen about the war in Iraq.


It looks like its simple enough a cave man could do it. Forget that. Men just cannot draw blood. I don’t know why they can’t—they just can’t. I’m thoroughly convinced it takes a woman to do it. I know about this stuff. I’m diabetic and I get my blood tested every three months. For years every time I went into the lab a young lady (not always the same one) would be there to take my blood. It wasn’t what I would call a pleasant experience—but it wasn’t bad either. Then one day, a young man appeared. He tried one arm. Nothing! He tried the other arm. Nothing! I left with both arms hurting and bright colored bandages on both arms. I looked like a clown. Like the one with tears in his eyes.
On two other occasions this young man tried to draw blood from me without success. He should have hit blood because he drove the needle all the way to the bone.

Today, I went in for my three month check-up. I made up my mind that if this young man was there, that I would be as polite as possible but I would ask for a lady to draw my blood. To my pleasant surprise, he wasn’t there! Instead there was another young man there that I had never met. So, not wanting to be rude and not wanting to believe that just because he was a man that he couldn’t draw blood, I sat where he told me to sit and put my arm out. I don’t need to tell you, you already know—he couldn’t do it! I said, “I don’t believe this. I want a lady to finish this. A lady came over and in just a second or so without any pain—she drew the blood.

I drove away from the Dr.’s office muttering to myself, “I hate to admit it, but there are just a lot of things that men can’t do.”


Monday, December 11, 2006

Try as you may, it is almost impossible to keep from offending someone. This is nothing new—it has always been this way. But what is new is that today almost everybody is offended about almost everything.

What can you do about it? Not a damn thing!

I never plan to offend anybody. If I do offend some honest, sincere person then I am extremely sorry and I apologize. But for those of you who just go around looking for something to be offended by, I don’t give a flip. Go ahead and be offended.

I put up a Christmas tree and have no plans to put up anything representing all the religions of the world. We decorated our house inside and out. We say, “Merry Christmas” and although we hope you have a happy holiday we don’t usually say so. But we don’t get offended if you say that to us.

Good grief! The number of things that offend people today is so long I can’t list them all. I don’t know about you but I plan to keep living my life the way I always have. I try to use common sense and do the right thing at all times. I hope you like that, but if you don’t –TOUGH!


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Am I dreaming of a white Christmas? In Phoenix?? Are you kidding?
Last night I cooked steak outside on the grill. The weather was fantastic. However, it got a little cooler during the night so we had a fire in the fireplace this morning. We love it. Oh, it would be fun to have snow here, anytime—but we are not expecting it. If we want snow we can drive up to Flagstaff.

In our 17 years here we have seen snow twice. We saw enough snow to cover the ground one day when driving home from Cave Creek. Another time I had gone down town to the library on a Sunday afternoon. I had a meeting there with a group of ladies. I had to run the wipers all the way home to keep the snow off the windshield. The ground was completely covered and people were either outside or looking out their windows. It was marvelous. It came quickly and it left quickly.

Snow in Phoenix this Christmas? I don’t think so. But hey, maybe I will dream about a white Christmas. It will be fun. But if it doesn’t snow, I won’t cry. I will just run outside and get a tan.


Saturday, December 09, 2006

“In a few days it will only be a faint little memory.” Those words have always infuriated me. Just before I had gall-bladder surgery I heard them. You have heard them too. There is always somebody that feels compelled to enlighten you in an effort to make you feel better. I think we hate to hear these words, first of all, because we don’t believe them—at least not at the time they are said. In the second place we don’t want to feel better, we want somebody to recognize our problem and “feel our pain.”

But, as much as we hate to admit it—we know it is true. In a few days or maybe a little longer—it won’t hurt so much. Thank God, he made us this way. We have grit—true grit that enables us to bounce back or pick ourselves up and go on. Where does this strength come from? It comes from HIM. It really does. God gives us the strength to go on. My favorite Scripture is, Romans 8:28 “…in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Everything that happens in our lives is not good, but it can work for good. God sees to it!

In the morning at 9:30 I will teach a class, “Overcoming Emotional Depression” at the Lincoln Heights Christian Church. I would love to see you there if you live in the area.

God bless you as you live for HIM.


Friday, December 08, 2006

We are not winning the war in Iraq. But we must win. We can and we must. Don’t think for one minute that President Truman wanted to drop the atomic bomb. It was probably the hardest decision of his life. He did it to achieve victory and to save lives. Now, I’m not suggesting the United States drop the atomic bomb but I am suggesting that we need to fight the war and win it or come home and shut up and wait to be killed ourselves.

Listen to what Winston Churchill once said about victory:

“I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government, that I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind…You ask, what is our policy? I will say: it is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.”




Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sunday morning at Lincoln Heights Christian Church in Phoenix, I will continue my series of Bible class lessons on the theme: “Christmas—Renewal through Christ.” The topic Sunday will be: “Overcoming Emotional Depression.” When we come into the delicate area of temperament and emotional behavior, there is no sharp, clear-cut distinction between normal and abnormal. We are all neurotic to some extent; that is, we all have nerves. We have emotions, and they sometimes misbehave abnormally. We all have our ups and downs, our good days and bad days. Everybody gets depressed at times.

Depression can be very serious. Sunday we will talk about ways to overcome this depression. In times of depression, we must cry out to God for hope and seek community with his people. Joy stems from the knowledge of God’s work in our past, plan for our present, and power over our future.

I’m excited about presenting these lessons because I know that we all have times of depression and sometimes it is unbearable.



Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I hate to admit it but there was a time when I thought that people who worshipped with instrumental music were going to hell. How stupid is that? Pretty stupid, I would say.
You may have been faithful in every way possible, cared for the poor, reached out to lost souls—loved God with all your heart, but if you worshipped with instrumental music—Bingo, your goose was cooked.

Thank God he graciously led me to study my way out of that ignorance. And that’s what it is—ignorance. But I am also thankful to God that I am not the only one finding the way out of the maze. Churches of Christ all over the world are beginning to see the light. Are they now using instruments of music in their worship? A few are, but most of them are not. The Richland Hills Church of Christ, in Fort Worth, Texas, one of the largest and most influential churches of Christ recently added an instrumental service to their several a cappella services. A few others have done this but the majority still sings a cappella. Do I want them to change? NO! Absolutely not! What I do want is for them to all stop teaching that it is sinful to worship with instruments and that if you do you are going to be lost. That needs to stop and it needs to stop now!

So today, I am thankful that so many of these dear Christians whom I love with all of my heart are moving closer to the will of God. God wants us to sing and make melody in our hearts with or without instruments.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

How many times have I seen it? I have lost track.

Some people think it’s silly and wish it would go away, at least for a year or two. Others love it. I’m one of the ones that loves it. I have it memorized. I don’t even need to watch it—and sometimes don’t. I smile just knowing its being shown.

A Christmas Story is a magical frozen Christmas for Ralphie. He is intent on getting what he wants—a Red Ryder BB gun. His mother keeps giving the warning, “You’ll shoot your eye out.” Even Santa says, “You’ll shoot your eye out kid.” There are two brothers in this movie that are as mean as they come. Their last name is Farcus. I enjoy watching the Farcus brothers although I don’t like anything about them. They remind me of kids I have known. One time two adult brothers lived across the street from the church building. They dumped a truck load of trash on the church property. I went over to talk to them about cleaning it up. I asked who they were and they said, “We are the Farcus brothers.” I wrote that down and was half way back to my office before I realized they were “pulling my leg.”

This 1983 movie has become a holiday tradition. It’s a good one!


Monday, December 04, 2006

Yep, decorating for Christmas—that’s what’s on my mind today. It’s not just on my mind—that’s what I’m doing. We are late with our decorating this year because of a trip we made to California. And then when we got home from the trip I needed to study for a Bible class lesson and a sermon I was responsible for this past Sunday. I’m a simple minded person and I was afraid that if I got carried away thinking about a sermon I might fool around and fall off the ladder.

Well, it’s Monday and I’m ready to climb that ladder. We have the tree up and the lights are glowing but it’s not decorated yet. Charlotte will do that while I’m outside climbing the ladder. I decorate the front of the house, the garage, the gate at the entry way and around the front door. I always meet this with mixed emotions. It’s kinda fun and it’s not hard but I always complain. I don’t know why. Do you know why I do? I would like to know? Am I just squirrelly this way or do all men complain about this little task? I say, “little task” but Elvis, who lives across the street, wouldn’t say, “little task.” That rascal decorates his house and property until it looks like the “Strip” at Las Vegas. No, it’s not a small task for him. But he must like to do it. He does it every year.

Well, by sunset, the job will be done. The house will be decorated inside and out. We already have quite a few presents under the tree. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. I’m thinking how tremendously blessed we are in every way. Sunday I will be teaching a class on, “Overcoming Emotional Depression.” My heart goes out to those who have lost control of their emotions and are unhappy. I hope I don’t get my mind on this lesson and fall off the ladder.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. We are making preparation for and looking forward to Christmas. Today Charlotte and I went “home” to Lincoln Heights Christian Church where I preached for fifteen years. It was a joy to be there. I taught a large Bible class in the fellowship hall. All the adult classes came together to make one big class. We will meet together for the entire month of December and I will teach. I also preached at the morning worship hour.

Being at Lincoln Heights is being with “family.” That church is a great group of Christians who love each other dearly. They are family and they care about each other. It is going to be an absolute joy to be with them for Christmas and this will be our best Christmas ever.

This is a joyous time of the year and I want you to experience the joy that God wants you to know. Open your heart and ask Him to come in and bless you and enable you to come to the end of the year with a smile on your face and joy in your heart.



Saturday, December 02, 2006

In the morning at Lincoln Heights Christian Church all the adult Bible classes will meet in the fellowship hall for refreshments and then I will teach on the Scripture, “Narrow is the gate and straitened the way that leadeth unto life and few are they that find it.” The truth that the destination we reach depends not on our ideals alone but on the bus we catch is personally critical. For the most part we do desire good things: happy homes, respectable characters, an honorable standing in our friends’ eyes. Are we on the right bus? In this Scripture we confront the serious implications of a law-abiding universe. It’s one thing to desire a great goal; it is another thing to fulfill the conditions of reaching it, and the conditions must be fulfilled. Consider further that we face here not only the profound implication of a law-abiding universe but one of the most searching tests of our own personal sincerity. It is one thing, and comparatively easy too, to desire something ideal and right; it is another thing to be willing to pay the price. We are dealing here with one of the most common causes of brokenhearted regret and penitence. It is easy to catch the wrong bus. We do it when we do not mean to. The gospel is that there is a right way, offered us in Christ. It does cost but it leads to life. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

At the morning worship hour I will be preaching on, “The Essential Elements in a Vital Christian Experience.” I am excited to be going to the pulpit again. I will have a Bible in my hand and a message on my heart.

I hope to see you at these worship and study opportunities.


Friday, December 01, 2006

I’m interested in family traditions centered around Christmas. You know, like when you open presents, or always having the same kind of meal on Christmas Eve, or always eating that meal at the same restaurant or home—these kind of things.

We always open presents on Christmas Eve. Many families insist that presents be opened Christmas morning. We always go to a Candlelight service on Christmas Eve and some families, though very religious, never go. Some families get together days before Christmas and make tamales and then eat them on Christmas Eve. Our family never knows from one Christmas Eve to the next what we will be eating. On Christmas day our family always has turkey. We have turkey for Thanksgiving and then just a few weeks later we have it again for Christmas. We have often thought we might have something else, but we never do. We have often said, “Let’s not put up a tree this year.” But we always do. We decorate outside and inside. We have often said, “Let’s not buy gifts this year or at least, let’s cut back.” We always buy gifts, and we never cut back.

Isn’t this a great time of the year? I love Christmas music—the sacred and the secular. I hope you have the Christmas “spirit.” It’s a great thing to have. While you’re enjoying all of this, don’t forget “the Reason for the season.”