Wednesday, January 31, 2007

For those of you who never visit Arizona and only hear about our state, I’m sure it’s hard to imagine a rainy, winter day. But winter does come to the desert and it does rain—a little. That’s what we have today—a little rain and a little winter.

It rained during the night and it has been raining this morning. The rain has stopped for the moment but it still is threatening. That may be all it does for the rest of the day—threaten, but we will take it.

So, today is a day for stew! Charlotte makes a delicious stew and we like to eat it on a rainy, winter day. It would be good on a hot, summer day but we usually don’t eat it then. We like it on a rainy, winter day.

I’m going to “curl up” with a good book in a few minutes. I have so many great books I can’t believe how blessed I am. My schedule for the day is: A good book, a good stew—and I may even take a good nap.

I hope you have a good day!


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

In his Turning Point Daily Devotional for 12/26/06, David Jeremiah points out that, "Christian leaders who appear on secular television talk shows are often asked whether they believe Jesus is the only way to heaven. If the answer is 'Yes, Jesus is the only way,' the interviewer often paints the Christian as intolerant, arrogant, narrow-minded, out-dated, and fanatical.
"But if the interviewer were talking to a physician who had made a medical breakthrough for a terrible disease, would he say, 'Doctor, how intolerant to think this is the only cure for this disease'? If he were talking to a mathematician about the multiplication table, would he say, 'Professor, how can you be so arrogant as to believe that three times three always equals nine'?
"By its very nature, truth is narrow, precise, and factual. Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me' (John 14:6). In this day of pluralism and political correctness, it's important to know that Christ is still the only one who can save from sin. Do you think God would have given His own Son had there been some other way?"


Monday, January 29, 2007

The Hallmark Hall of Fame had another winner last night. Their presentation, The Valley of Light, was excellent. It was heart warming and inspirational. The theme was that we have a purpose in life. A simple but important truth was said by one of the characters, “Everybody needs somebody.”

This little valley was filled with good people. Perfect? No, and I’m sure if you “dug” around you would finds some bums. But the show focused on the good. It was refreshing.
A little community of people that wanted to do good. In addition to this, Hallmark always presents fantastic, heart warming, commercials. I get teary eyed over each one.

I have known my wife since she was a young girl. We have been married over 48 years. She has always wanted to be good. Sounds corny? Maybe. But it’s true. And, believe it or not, we come from a time when people in general, wanted to be good. Oh, yea, there were bad people around, and have been since the beginning of time, but we didn’t know many of them. We left our windows and doors open and the screen door had a simple latch that wouldn’t deter anyone really wanting in. We felt safe and secure. If we needed anything there was a neighbor there to help. Today, it takes a tragedy to get anybody to pay attention.

The Valley of Light was about people who simply wanted to do right. I liked it. I liked it a lot!


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Ann Lamott tells the following story:

I was remembering an old story the other day about a man getting drunk at a bar in Alaska. He’s telling the bartender how he recently lost whatever faith he’d had after his twin-engine plane crashed in the tundra.

“Yeah,” he says bitterly. “I lay there in the wreckage, hour after hour, nearly frozen to death, crying out for God to save me, praying for help with every ounce of my being, but he didn’t raise a finger to help. So I’m done with that whole charade.”

“But,” said the bartender, squinting an eye at him, “you’re here. You were saved.”

“Yeah, that’s right,” says the man. “Because finally some ---damn Eskimo came along…”


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Did you hear the one about the preacher who became a lawyer? Probably not, because as far as I know, Dr. Allen Isbell is the only one who has done it.

Allen is a long time friend of Charlotte and me. We were pleased to see that he and his wife, Mikey were awarded a Distinguished Alumni Citation from Abilene Christian University. Allen, Charlotte and I were students at Lawton High School in Lawton, Oklahoma. Later, Allen and I were at Abilene Christian at the same time. Allen and his roommate had the room next to me and my roommate but they spent as much time in our room as they did in theirs. I have a lot of great memories from those days. After graduation I went to California to preach and two years later Allen went to Carlsbad, New Mexico. That was in the days of evangelistic meetings and I went to Carlsbad and preached in two meetings. We exchanged church bulletins for years while Allen was preaching full time. In 1973 he earned a J.D. from the University of Houston. But he never stopped preaching. For thirty years he has preached for the Broadway Church of Christ in Houston, Texas. Because Allen does not draw a salary from preaching, and because Broadway's building is paid for, the congregation is able to devote 52 percent of its budget to missions and benevolence.

Congratulations to two dear friends. It’s a great honor to receive the Distinguished Alumni Citation from a great university.


Friday, January 26, 2007

When an expert in the law asked Jesus for the greatest commandment, Jesus responded with the Shema, the ancient Jewish creed that commands Israel to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength. But the next part of Jesus’ answer would change the course of history. Jesus amended the Shema, giving his followers a new creed for life: to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength, but also to love others as themselves.



Thursday, January 25, 2007

It’s early in the morning, dark, cool—almost cold. The long line of cars on Greenway all have their lights on. It’s a pretty sight. All those people are going east to Kierland Commons or the Scottsdale Airpark. They are going to work. I am going to Einstein Bros. for bagels.

There was a time when this boy from Oklahoma wouldn’t even taste a bagel. Come to think of it there was a time when I didn’t know what a bagel was. I thought they were for the people scurrying down Broadway in New York City but certainly not for the common people trudging down the dusty streets of Oklahoma.

I have tried a lot of bagels and found them wanting. Einstein Bros. advertise their bagels as “Hot and Fresh Everyday”—and they are. They are hot and fresh and delicious—especially with strawberry cream cheese. Get them early in the morning, that’s when they are at their best.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A foursome of senior golfers hit the course with waning enthusiasm for the sport. One said, "These fairways seem to be getting longer and longer," said one of the foursome"
The next complained, "And these hills are getting steeper as the years go by," another complained. The third said, "The sand traps seem to be bigger than I remember them, too."
After hearing enough from his buddies, the oldest and the wisest of the foursome piped up and said, "Guys, just be thankful we're still on this side of the grass!"


Tuesday, January 23, 2007



Monday, January 22, 2007

When Super Bowl Sunday rolls around the big news will be that the coach for the Bears and the coach for the Colts are both African Americans. That is news and worthy of note.

For me, and a lot of others, the good news is—they both are Christians.

Sunday was a big football day. It was the day of the playoff to see who would go to the Super Bowl. The man who taught our Bible Class Sunday morning had just gotten off the phone with his good friend, the coach for the Colts. The coach was getting ready to leave for church. Good for him!

Three cheers for both coaches!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Click on graphic to enlarge.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Jan Karon, author of the Mitford novels said: “The church is the heart of the community. There’s where you go to find Jesus Christ in the flesh in other Christians, there’s where you realize that all Christians are not perfect, that all Christians have evil, wicked thoughts just like you have, and they’re flawed, they’re mortal. But you never say, ‘I don’t go to church because it’s full of hypocrites.’ You keep your eyes on Christ, and then you’re not so absorbed in the faults and mistakes of other Christians.”

The world still pines for the consolation of a Christian world-view. What remains to be seen is how many of us, are willing to do more than read about community life and work to make it happen.

After interviewing Jan Karon and talking about faith in action. Betty Carter said, “Maybe I’ll go home and make my neighbor a casserole or take the folks down the road some squash from my garden.”

"Yes, Ma'am"

Friday, January 19, 2007

While taxiing at London's Gatwick Airport, the crew of a US Air flightdeparting for Ft. Lauderdale made a wrong turn and came nose to nose witha United 727. An irate female ground controller lashed out at the US Air crew,screaming: "US Air 2771, where the hell are you going?! I told you to turn right onto Charlie taxiway! You turned right on Delta! Stop right there. I know it's difficult for you to tell the difference between C and D, but get itright!" Continuing her rage to the embarrassed crew, she was now shoutinghysterically: "God! Now you've screwed everything up! It'll take foreverto sort this out! You stay right there and don't move till I tell you to! Youcan expect progressive taxi instructions in about half an hour, and I wantyou to go exactly where I tell you, when I tell you, and how I tell you!You got that, US Air 2771?""Yes, ma'am," the humbled crew responded.Naturally, the ground control communications frequency fell terriblysilent after the verbal bashing of US Air 2771. Nobody wanted to chance engaging the irate ground controller in her current state of mind. Tension in every cockpit out around Gatwick was definitely running high.Just then an unknown pilot broke the silence and keyed his microphone,asking: "Wasn't I married to you once?"
By Ben Witherington


Thursday, January 18, 2007

When living in California I had a neighbor who, when leaving on vacation, would say to me, “Clif, if you see anybody messing around my house, shoot first and ask questions later.” No, he wasn’t serious; he didn’t want me to shoot anybody and everybody who happened to come by. What he wanted was for me to watch his property.

We do need to be careful about judging people before all the facts are in. We might convict an innocent person. But there are times to shoot. For example:

A policeman looking straight into the barrel of a gun in the hand of wild man should shoot first and ask questions later. Of course, in our society he will be in a lot of trouble if he does.

Reporters reporting on the man in Missouri who was caught with two missing boys and later confessed to the crime should tell us the kidnapper has been caught and ask questions later. Of course, in our society they must first say he is a suspect and then after months/years and thousands of dollars later they might be able to say he is the kidnapper.

Why we had to have a trial to decide if Saddam was guilty, I will never know. Why O.J. Simpson is living free, even after having a trial, I’ll never know. Why O.J. hasn’t had to pay the Browns and Goldmans a cent, even after the courts determined he must, I’ll never understand.

Why two borders guards are now serving time in prison for shooting a Mexican drug smuggler in the butt, I'll never know.



Wednesday, January 17, 2007

It never fails to amaze me how loud some people get when talking to God or talking on the phone!

The man leading the prayer at the Sunday morning assembly has a microphone in front of him and he is talking to God who knows his thoughts even before he speaks them, and yet he almost shouts and gets as loud as if he was preaching. (I think in some cases he is preaching instead of praying).

There are days when I think I am the only person in the world that doesn’t go around with a phone in one hand and talking so loud that everybody, even the hard of hearing, feels they are a part of the conversation. In happens in the library, where everybody is suppose to whisper. In happens in book stores. It happens all over, all of the time!

On day 13 of my 100 days of reading through Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff, the topic was, Become More Patient. I’M TRYING, I’M TRYING, I’M TRYING!


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

HOPE. I like the word. I even like the way it sounds.

Anderson Cooper was telling Oprah Winfrey about talking to a mayor of a storm damaged city. The mayor kept saying, “I had hoped the storm wouldn’t come. I hoped it…. And then Anderson said, “The storm did come and he hadn’t done anything to get ready for it and he wasn’t ready for what followed the storm. Hope is not a plan!"

Hope alone is not going to get it folks. We need a plan!


Monday, January 15, 2007


Try telling that to the people anyplace east of Arizona. They say, “Sissy! You think you’re cold now, come here for awhile and you’ll know what cold really is.”

Oh well, it has only been below freezing for two nights. Our beautiful green plants and trees are frozen and will lose all their leaves—some may even die. For some reason the ugly ones don’t seem shocked at all. But I guess in the long run, it doesn’t matter. I’m not going to sweat the small stuff.

In a few days it will start getting warmer and warmer and warmer and warmer and we will scream, “The sun is burning up our beautiful plants.” The ugly ones will continue to look just fine. They always do.

I have just turned from the computer and looked out the window to the East. The sky is a beautiful blue and the sun is pouring through the window and flooding the room. Winter came by for a visit. All in all, it was rather nice. In the summer we will long for its return.



Sunday, January 14, 2007

Haddon Robinson is a great preacher. In his sermon, How Does God Keep His Promises? he gives three ways in which God keeps his promises:

*In this model, God reaches down and takes us out of a difficult situation, or takes the situation away.
*For example, note God’s rescue of Israel as they found themselves trapped by the Red Sea.

*God reaches down and empowers us to make a difference.
*For example, God used Moses to deliver the people of Israel from bondage.

*For example, Paul prayed to be delivered from his thorn in the flesh, but instead God gave him grace to endure the thorn.

Isaiah (Isaiah 40:31) got it right when, in order, he spoke of flying, running, and then walking. Sometimes God helps us fly above circumstance; other times to run, and other times just to walk and not faint.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

Andy Rooney has never been one of my favorite people but he is funny and some of the stuff he says makes a lot of sense. Like the following:

When 70% of the people who get arrested are black, in cities where 70% of the population is black, that is not racial profiling; it is the Law of Probability.

I believe that if you are selling me a milkshake, a pack of cigarettes, a newspaper or a hotel room, you must do it in English! As a matter of fact, if you want to be an American citizen, you should have to speak English!

I think Bill Gates has every right to keep every penny he made and continue to make more. If it ticks you off, go and invent the next operating system that’s better, and put your name on the building.

It doesn’t take a whole village to raise a child right, but it does take a parent to stand up to the kid; and smack their little behinds when necessary, and say “No!”

I am sick of “political Correctness.” I know a lot of black people, and not a single one of them was born in Africa; so how can they be “African-Americans”? Besides, Africa is a continent. I don’t go around saying I am a European-American because my great, great, great, great, great grandfather was from Europe. I am proud to be an American.


Friday, January 12, 2007

In a previous blog I wrote about a book I am rereading, Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff. On page 30, author, Richard Carlson wrote these insightful words: “Many people live as if life were a dress rehearsal for some later date. It isn’t. In fact, no one has a guarantee that he or she will be here tomorrow. Now is the only time we have, and the only time that we have control over. When our attention is in the present moment, we push fear from our minds. Fear is the concern over events that might happen in the future—we won’t have enough money, our children will get into trouble, we will get old and die, whatever.”

Notice again the words: “In fact, no one has a guarantee that he or she will be here tomorrow.”

On December 13, 2006, Richard Carlson, the author of those words died of pulmonary embolism resulting in cardiac arrest while enroute from California to a television appearance in New York. He was 45 years old.

He also wrote, What About The Big Stuff—Finding Life After Death.

“No one has a guarantee that he or she will be here tomorrow.” Live in the present moment!


Thursday, January 11, 2007

It’s a rare thing for me to join in anything suggested by the Democrats. However, I have borrowed one thought from them: “The First 100 Days.” That’s it—“The First 100 Days.” For the first 100 days of 2007 I am going to read one essay, one chapter or whatever they should be called, from Richard Carlson’s book, Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff. I have read this book before but I am going to read it again in a new way and with a new attitude.

Richard begins his introduction with these words: “Whenever we’re dealing with bad news, a difficult person, or a disappointment of some kind, most of us get into certain habits, ways of reacting to life—particularly adversity—that don’t serve us well. We overreact, blow things out of proportion, hold on too tightly, and focus on the negative aspects of life. When we are immobilized by little things—our (over) reactions not only make us frustrated but actually get in the way of getting what we want. We lose sight of the bigger picture, focus on the negative, and annoy other people who might otherwise help us.” He has a lot more to say and it’s all good.

One hundred brief readings—one a day for one hundred days—that’s my goal. It’s not a New Year’s resolution. It’s just a commitment I have made to myself.

“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.” –William James


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Gone but not forgotten—pecan and pumpkin pie, turkey and dressing, various sweet treats. They all still live in my memory. I have visions of sugar plums dancing in my head.

I HONESTLY AM GLAD THEY ARE GONE. They will not stay away, of course. They will return in November and December—if not before. Sunday we had a pot-luck at church and it was like Christmas all over again. Maybe it was more like being at the Home Town Buffet, except better—much better.

Now, a few days into the New Year, I am eating less (I’m also enjoying it less) and I have already dropped a few pounds—very few. I am determined to keep this style of eating going until I lose a few more pounds. Each morning when I jump (fall) onto the scales I weigh a little less than the day before. I have my diabetes under control also.

As I begin the tenth day of the New Year I’m smiling. I hope you are too. It feels good!


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Saturday we made the mistake of going over to the west side of town. It seemed that everybody in the state of Ohio had descended on the area. The Ohio State football team came to town ranked as number one in the nation. The Florida Gators had come in ranked as number two in the nation. Last night they played for the national championship.


I feel bad for the losers. I wish everybody could win but that just isn’t the way the game is played.

In the scheme of things I guess it’s good to lose occasionally. It helps to put things in their proper perspective. The morning news brought word of a terrible fire that roared through Malibu, California burning many homes worth millions of dollars. One man being interviewed said that it was a big loss but nothing compared to some more important things. Last year he lost his daughter!


Monday, January 08, 2007

As time goes by, things change:

This year I didn’t take our lights off the house and take down the tree until January 7. In past years I have done these tasks on December 26 and always by January 1 or 2.

Not only was I “late” in doing these jobs I did them on Sunday afternoon. In the past I would have considered it “wrong” to work on Sunday.

They have three evening services at the church we attend but they are all repeats of the morning message with a different preacher, so we don’t attend. They don’t even have an evening service at our last church home. In the past we wouldn’t have dreamed of missing the evening assembly.

This morning it’s almost 8:30 and I am still in my pajamas and robe. In the past I would have felt like a lazy, good for nothing if I hadn’t already showered, shaving and shined by this time.

I’m going to do some work around the house today but I may not start until after lunch. In the past I would have already tackled these jobs and had them done by now (8:30 A.M.).

It’s 2007 and we have found the solution to a lot of problems. I am trying to decide if I am a part of the problem or a part of the solution. How about you!


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Leadership may have to come in a different package. It's got to be credible...Overall, it's about credibility, walking the talk.
--Anne Mulcahy, Chairman and CEO, Xerox


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Two of my favorite magazines are, Southern Living and Sunset. I love the recipes that come in Southern Living and rarely ever care for the ones in Sunset Magazine. However, recently Sunset had a great recipe for a deep dish style breakfast pizza. It is really good.
It consists of eggs, sausage, hash browns, and cheese on a pizza like crust. Now, since Charlotte made it clear she wasn’t eating any of it—I should have cut the recipe down by half—but I didn’t. I made and almost ate the whole thing. Well, what I really did was eat almost half of it over two or three days and then froze the rest. We have one of those machines that seals “stuff” for the freezer so I froze meal size portions. I just take a portion out of the freezer, pop it into the microwave and have instant breakfast.

It’s wonderful. I wish it was time for breakfast right now!


Friday, January 05, 2007

One of my Christmas gifts was an excellent book by Stephen R. Covey, The Speed of Trust, The One Thing That Changes Everything.

Richard Carlson, author of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and other good books (Richard recently died of a heart attack at the age of 45) said of Covey’s book, “I am happier when I am trusted, and I bet you are too. Covey has done a masterful job teaching that trust is conditioned on our behavior and that we can consciously shift our behavior to deserve trust. That one realization can change your life.”

All of us, especially leaders, need to read this book.

In a long distance phone call last night, a friend and former elder of the church told me that the problems they were having at the congregation he attends have come because the members have lost trust in the elders.

This is sad but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Let’s all work harder to build trust; it is the one thing that changes everything.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

We rolled out of bed this morning a little before 7:00 and headed for the Deer Valley Airport. The prices have gone up a little in the New Year but the breakfast is great and the prices are still good.

There was a lot of activity out there today. We watched the small planes taking off and coming in for landing. We saw helicopters, one after another taking off—probably getting up over the freeways to report traffic conditions. Two jets, probably corporate planes, came in. It was fun just sitting there eating and drinking coffee and day dreaming about riding high in the sky.

Yep, this is about as exciting as it gets in retirement. I love it!

I just finished a month of teaching a Bible class and I will preach a funeral message Saturday morning. That’s about as close as I want to get to “church” work—or any work for that matter.

Ah, retirement!


I like this thought from Charles Swindoll: “Don’t trust in people, trust in God, He might have a miracle to get you through."


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Guts is slang for: intestinal fortitude, heart, spirit, nerve, spunk pluck, grit, stamina, toughness, and my favorite—backbone.

Today we live in a “namby-pamby” world. We don’t have the guts (backbone) to get the job done.

We let our children “rule the roost.” We refuse to defeat a small army because we lack the intestinal fortitude or heart. We won’t punish those who commit horrible crimes against society. We refuse to fire people who can’t or won’t get the job done. We never say, “No” to bullies.

We allow all of this in the name of kindness and politeness and yet we are the rudest, crudest generation since the beginning of time. We are so ultra-pious it’s sickening.



Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Boise State came to town and showed us how football should be played.

Man, those guys played with passion and guts!

It was fantastic!

I’m from Oklahoma and I have always loved the Oklahoma football teams. I hated to see this team lose, but let’s face it; they just couldn’t measure up to that little team from Boise State.

This team refused to lose. They came to play. They played. And they won!


Monday, January 01, 2007