Monday, December 31, 2007

Today is New Year’s Eve. And that calls for celebrating; in many cases—excessive celebrating! But New Year’s Eve celebrating is not the celebrating I’m thinking about. My mind is on the celebrating that is done following a touchdown in football. If you watch much football, you know that a team is penalized for what is called excessive celebrating. The penalty is severe—usually 15 yards.

Now in my mind this is just silly. Check this out: A player has just made a touchdown, which is a big thing. It may be the first touchdown the guy has ever made. It may be a touchdown that wins the game. It may be a come from behind touchdown in the last few seconds of the game. It is a reason to celebrate. And there is absolutely no reason to be penalized for that. Sure, if the guy gets carried away and interferes with the game, does something destructive, harmful or vulgar, then he should be penalized. But not for just being happy that he made a big play.

Also, the guys in the striped shirts are not consistent. They don’t penalize the players on the defending team who celebrate when they stop a big play. Yesterday I saw two players who broke up a pass play, dance in the end zone and then jump in the air and bump butts.
No penalty! What’s up with that? Now, I think they should have been happy and I think they should have celebrated. But let’s get real. If an offensive player is going to be penalized for celebrating, then penalize the celebrating defensive player also.

What is excessive celebrating? The referees know. You know. I know. And I haven’t seen anything excessive lately. Let’s face it, the team scored against is embarrassed--dance or no dance.


Sunday, December 30, 2007

James Emery White, President of Gordon-Conwell theological seminary, said, “Never before have the habits of the mind mattered more.” Billy Graham said, “I’ve preached too much, and studied too little.”

With the onslaught of popular culture—television, the Internet and movies—we are faced with a great challenge to continue to develop our minds rather than simply being entertained. God wants us to think and act from a thoroughly biblical perspective. We need to adopt a Christian worldview that shapes our thinking about the everyday world, in every situation.

Bertrand Russell said, “Most Christians would rather die than think; in fact they do.” We must change this. In a few minutes I will be sitting at the feet of a Bible expositor. He will open the Bible and present a clear, concise, truthful message that everyone can understand. It will not be “fluff”. It will be a deep, serious study of God’s Word. AndIt will make us think. And hopefully it will cause us to act!


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Words are important. I have known this for years. As a preacher, I talked all of the time. But I am coming to realize that although I talked a lot, I must have used a lot of the same words over and over. I hate to admit it but much of what I said could be referred to as religious jargon. I don’t like that. But I think it may be true.

I received a game for Christmas called, The Last Word. The person who gave it to me said, “I thought you might like this because you always want to have the last word.” Well as it turns out—I’m not too good at the game. With four people playing—I came in last. I lost!

I need more words!

Reading Sports Illustrated, I came across this quote from tennis star, Serena Williams: “I’m definitely in better shape than I get credit for, [It’s] just because I have large bosoms and I have a big ass…I think if I were not to eat for two years, I still wouldn’t be a size 2. We’re living in the Mary Kate Olsen world. I’m just not built that way. I’m bootylicious.” Bootylicious—now there’s a new word for me.

The origins of the term are rather unclear. Beyonce says it means, “Beautiful, bountiful and bounce-able.” Ok. I accept that. It doesn’t describe me ,but I think maybe it does describe Serena Williams--at least the bountiful and bounce-able part.

O happy day. I’ve got a new word. I don’t know how often I will be able to use it. But I’ve got it just the same.


Friday, December 28, 2007

I watch too much television. I must. I find myself sitting around listening to people butcher the King’s English, who should know better. Let’s face it, English is screwy. Bright, educated, savvy people, who report the news, make speeches and interview the Queen can’t get it right. Some of their flubs have become so common that they’re starting to sound right to our ears.

Grammar has never been one of my strong points. I can mess it up with the best of them. I preached for fifty years and never did get it right. But still I hate to hear these “professional” media people and speech makers tripping over words worst than George W. Bush does.

Life might be easier if we spoke just any old way—but we don’t. The point is that no one is exempt from having his words second-guessed.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

In our family room there is one solid wall of books. There is a large comfortable chair in front of the bookshelf, directly across from the fireplace. Next to the chair is a small table and on top of the table is a stack of new books. I received these new books for Christmas.
I believe in reading!

Reading is the foundation for intellectual development. The national campaign in the United States that touted reading as “fundamental” was one of the truest campaigns ever launched through the media. Reading prepares us to think. James Emery White laments the loss of a book never read: “The loss of pages never turned, covers never opened, words never seen. A single book can deepen your understanding, expand your vision, sensitize your spirit, deepen your soul, ignite your imagination, stir your passions and widen your wisdom. There truly can be mourning for a book never read—mourning for the loss of what our lives could have held and could have accomplished.”

How do you become a reader? You must choose to read. You can become a reader, but first you must choose to.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

“There has to be a morning after…” The leftovers are stored in the refrigerator, empty boxes and cast off wrappings have been taken away, shops and businesses are open again, and workers are back on the job. And here I sit in front of the computer in a stupor.

Baby its cold outside—cold for Phoenix that is. The sun is shining and it’s inviting me outside. But I think I’ll just sit here awhile. There are about a half a dozen things I could be doing. But I don’t know which one to do first. And ever since I have been retired my philosophy has been, “when it doubt, don’t do anything.”

I hope you had a great Christmas. But I am sorry that you are now totally bored. I know that you are or you wouldn’t be reading this.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas to all blog readers and writers. It is a bright, sunny, but cool Christmas morning here in Scottsdale. For as long as I can remember the Ditmore custom has been to open presents on Christmas Eve. This year that has changed! Last night we opened the presents that were under our tree. Sometime this morning we will open the presents that are under Carol and Allen’s tree (our daughter and son). Charlotte cooked dinner for us at Thanksgiving and Carol is cooking today. This is a great day for us and we pray that it is for you too.

We may take a break from Christmas this afternoon to watch a little of the Suns and Lakers basketball game but generally speaking—today is all things Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!


Monday, December 24, 2007

Do you realize you are a miracle? Someone like you will never happen again!

The good life starts the moment you stop wanting a better one.

Maybe if we remember the manner of Jesus’ birth it will keep us from coveting wealth and luxury he never enjoyed.

Maybe if we remember there was no room for him in the inn it will help us never to let our lives become so crowded that there is no room for him in our hearts.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with us all?


Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Sunday morning worship service is over but I am still stimulated emotionally from the experience. The preacher’s message was transforming. And there was a young lady that sang in such a way that made chills run down my spine. Wow! She was good.

I’m getting ready to watch the football game but I hesitate to do anything that will take away from the worship experience, and believe me, the Cardinals can do that.


Every Sunday is special to me but there is something extra special about the Sunday before Christmas. I like the crowd at church. Many of them are there for the first time and many of them are there for their annual visit. Some of them come twice a year. They will be back at Easter. But regardless of how often they come, I am glad to see them there.

Our new preacher is splendid in every way but he is especially good at opening up the Word of God and making it clear. He’s good!

Today is sweater day at church. It doesn’t have anything to do with worship, of course, but most people cooperate and it’s a fun thing to do. Don’t ask me why. It just is!

So here we are—the Sunday before Christmas. I like it but I wish it didn’t come around so fast.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Saving the natives—native plants, that is. People steal them. Rip them right off the desert. Two people with a truck can uproot a saguaro in 20 minutes and sell it for $55 to $75 a foot. These criminals enrich themselves at the expense of our natural environment.

There ought to be a law against it and there is. However there are only two cactus cops in the entire state. Just two! At one time there were more and they caught 90 to 100 cactus thieves per year. But now, the state just doesn’t have to money to hire more cops.
This cactus cop thing is no joke. We need to take care of the plants that make Arizona special.



Friday, December 21, 2007

Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio is known as the toughest sheriff in the country. He dresses the male inmates in his jail in pink underwear, feeds them green baloney, houses them in tents in the desert and restricts the magazines they get to see and the T.V. they watch.

Joe is one tough character and not many people tell him what to do.

But when called up for jury duty, he reported. He was ready to serve.

“Any of you work for the sheriff’s office?” the potential jurors were asked.

Joe raised his hand and said, “I am the sheriff.”

He was dismissed.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10 NLT).

God does uncommon works through common deeds.

Just do something and see what happens.

Often we stand around saying, “My life is a mess. I’ll never get myself under control; I’m just too big of a mess.” Just do something. Get started.

God does uncommon works through common deeds.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mary and Joseph were not trying to get a room at the Bethlehem Holiday Inn. In fact, we don’t have a shred of evidence that there was a wayfarer’s inn in that little village in Jesus’ day. What we have in Luke 2:1-7 is a story about a guest room. It’s about a family making do when more relatives show up than they have room for. The guest room was in the front of the house, the animal shelter in the back, and Joseph and Mary had come too late to get the guest room. When the baby was born, Mary wrapped him in cloth and laid him in a corn crib.

The important question for us is: Do we have room for Him in our homes? If your guest room is occupied and you have to put Him in the very back, He will surely take over and become the center of attention in due time.

(Adapted from information on Ben Witherington’s blog)


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Jan Karon, the bestselling author of the Mitford Series has done it again. Her first book in a new series, Home to Holly Springs is entertaining. It is a fun way to spend some time lost in “another world.” The setting is Mississippi and the language is southern—real southern! Tim Kavanagh left his Mississippi hometown, determined not to return. After thirty-eight years he receives a message that causes him to go back. The cryptic, unsigned note simply says, Come home.

I think it would take more than that to get me back to Oklahoma—but who knows. He just went for a brief visit but that visit led him to a truth that would change his life—forever.

Grab a copy of Home to Holly Springs, curl up by the fire and wile away a winter day. You don’t have a copy and can’t afford to buy one? Borrow one from the library. That’s where I got mine. While you are there you may find something else you like. They have a lot of books, containing a lot of words. Rudyard Kipling said, “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”


Monday, December 17, 2007

I laughed out loud last week when Mike Cope, who preaches for the Highland Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas, said on his blog, that he is getting ready to release a list of preachers he knows that have been taking steroids.

Baseball players taking steroids are considered cheaters. What about men who take Viagra? What about women who increase the size of their breasts through implants, the gardener who grows bigger tomatoes by fertilizing his plants with Miracle Grow or the employee who’s feet never touch the floor because he is jazzed on Starbucks?

Wow! Come to think about it, there are a lot of ways to “cheat.” I think we need to spend a little time defining cheating. There is an old saying, “Cheaters never win.” I’m not so sure. I think we need to spend a little time defining winning.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Saturday we went to an afternoon musical. It was designed to strengthen the faith of the Christians and as an outreach to the community. It was a wonderful afternoon. It could not have been better. Following the music there were activity booths, games, snow,and food in the fellowship hall. All designed as an outreach to the community. The taco soup was delicious. We went home with a smile on our face and hope in our hearts.

This morning the service we attended was packed out. There will be eight services before the day is over. Thousands will hear the gospel clearly and passionately presented. The preacher’s message was that Christ came to save us from our sins. Isn’t that wonderful?
The world is in a mess. Your life may be a mess. But if you can pillow your head at night and then get up the morning, kowing that you are saved from your sins—everything is going to be alright. But it’s not enough just to believe that Jesus came. You must know that he came to save you from your sins and respond to him in faith.

That’s what we celebrate at Christmas—the coming of Christ, coming to save us from our sins.



Saturday, December 15, 2007

The following thoughts will either make you laugh or cry. I recommend laughing. You will feel better.

An invisible man marries an invisible woman. The kids were nothing to look at either.

I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day, but I couldn’t find any.


Friday, December 14, 2007

A dear friend mentioned in her annual Christmas letter that she loves my blog. That puts a smile on my face. I’m sure there are others that feel it is just so much Deja Moo.

Deja Moo: The feeling that you’ve heard this bull before.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was filled with sorrow at the tragic death of his wife in a fire in 1861. The Civil War broke out that same year, and it seemed this was an additional punishment. Two years later, Longfellow was again saddened to hear his own son had been seriously wounded as a lieutenant in the Army of the Potomac.Sitting down to his desk one Christmas day, he heard the church bells ringing and ringing. It was in this setting he wrote:

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep,
God is not dead, nor doth he sleep.
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.

In this Christmas season, whether you are in sorrow or in joy you can know God is not dead, nor does He sleep. He knows your every need and longs to comfort you. Seek Him this year instead of the outward trappings of the season. He will give your life real meaning and your heart real peace.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Why do we bow and scrape to get the approval of idiots? We do it all the time. No matter what you do or say, there is always some idiot that doesn’t like it. Politicians especially, bend over backwards trying to get the idiot’s vote. Why? Politicians are constantly changing their opinion on some important issue because some idiot disagreed with them.

We need to make up our mind what is right and then do it! I can tell you right now, that regardless of what you do—there will always to an idiot standing around to tell you what you did wrong.

You make a decision; you are marching full speed ahead and some idiot jumps out of the bushes—march on! This doesn’t mean that you will always be right and it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t listen to the opinion of others. But listen to idiots—NEVER!



Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Once you decide what you want you must ask for it. You have to let others know. You may know what you want but others around you do not necessarily know. The main person to ask for what you want is you. You are the one that must put forth the effort.

But whatever you do, don’t ask for what you don’t want. Don’t ask for what someone else wants. Our parents, brothers and sisters, friends, teachers, books, and all of society tell us what we want and what we should do with our lives.

We must, must, must, ask for what we want. Time runs out eventually. Don’t waste time asking for what you don’t want. You know what you want. Go for it!


Monday, December 10, 2007

Every Christmas when I see little children sitting on Santa’s lap and telling him what they want him to bring them, I think of my niece. In my minds eye I can still see her sitting on Santa’s knee. When he asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she hesitated for just a minute and then said, “ Just some beans.” She loved to eat even when she was just a little girl. But she didn't want beans for Christmas. What she really wanted was toys. But she didn't ask for what she wanted.

Life is kind of like my niece. We either do not ask for what we really want or we do not ask at all. Logic tells you the hard and simple truth that if you do not ask for what you want you will not get it. It is only in fairy tales, novels and movies that wishes come true simply for wishing. In real life, successful people, the people who get what they want out of life, ask for those things over and over.

You ask by doing. You ask in a way that gives you a high likelihood of getting what you want out of life. Look back over your life and see if this isn’t true. How many things—things that you wanted, did you receive without asking? Not many!

Ask for what you want!


Sunday, December 09, 2007

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! It’s colder here in Scottsdale today and cloudy and sprinkling rain. There is a large Christmas tree just outside the church door and over fifty lighted trees inside. The preacher ended a series of messages on grace this morning and will preach two or three “Christmas” messages before he begins a new series from the Book of Esther and then a series from 1st Peter.

The church I grew up in and spent most of my ministry preaching for was afraid to even use the word Christmas for fear of being misunderstood. We didn’t want to add anything or subtract anything from the Word of God. Well, we didn’t do any adding or subtracting as far as Christmas was concerned but we sure did mess around with a lot of other stuff. I can’t even begin to tell you all the adding and subtracting that goes on in the Churches of Christ.

Well, so much for that. I’m determined to not let anything subtract from my joy in the Lord. I don’t know when He was born but by faith I “know” He was! Praise His Name!

Joy to the world the Lord has come!


Saturday, December 08, 2007

She wanted me to come help her make funeral arrangements. She has cancer and could die just any day. It was raining yesterday when Charlotte and I drove over to see her. It was wet and cold out and my old bones were aching. I felt like I was the one about to go.
She greeted us with great enthusiasm and led us into her home and seated us on her couch where we were surrounded by stacks of books and magazines, many of them containing articles and poems she had written. All around the room were beautiful paintings—the work of her hands. She talked without taking a breath. We were planning for her death, which could come just any time, but she acted like a young girl getting ready to start out on the beginning of her life.

It was still raining when we left, but for some reason my body wasn’t aching anymore and I didn’t feel so old. I felt young again. It was being with her. She did it. She told us about walking with God and knowing that He would never leave her. I suddenly felt closer to Him myself. I found His grace flowing through her to me. I went home refreshed in the spirit.

An old lady taught me how to feel young again. Thanks Ruth. I am going to try to stay young in spirit, the rest of my life.


Friday, December 07, 2007

Ask yourself, “What have I contributed to this problem?” Many people assume that any problem they are having must be someone else’s fault. Once you are willing to accept responsibility for the problems in your life, you will see obvious solutions that take very minor adjustments to change.

It’s really not all that helpful to contemplate the faults of others. Rarely can you do anything about other people and the way they do things. It’s best to make changes in your own responses.

I’m not suggesting that everything is your fault or that you should spend too much time thinking about your faults. It is important, however, that you’re honest about your contribution to your problems. Look in the mirror with humility and honesty and ask yourself, “What have I contributed to this problem?”

Have a good day!


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Physically he was not impressive. He would come into the classroom with an armful of books, pile them on the speaker’s stand and then he would be “off and running.” He brought the Old Testament to life. Wilbur Smith was my Old Testament teacher at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. I also studied the Old Testament at Abilene Christian in Abilene, Texas. I had an afternoon class and this is the only class I ever struggled to stay awake in. What made the difference? Why was one class so exciting and the other so boring?

AWE! Wilbur Smith taught with passion and I sat on the edge of my chair. Awe is an old word that describes a profound spiritual experience.

Abraham J. Heschel was an extraordinary thinker who taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He died in 1972. He once said, “The loss of awe is the great block to insight. …The greatest insights happen in moments of awe.”

Ken Gire wrote, “Moments of awe are moments when we are the most vulnerable to grace. Without those moments, we are vulnerable to everything else.”


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Sitting on a bench in front of Crate and Barrel waiting for them to open, I thought of how blessed I felt to be in Scottsdale. The sun was shining, but it wasn’t too warm—in fact, it was just right. The sky was clear and the mountains looked beautiful in the distance. My mind switched over to Washington, D.C. where our daughter is attending a seminar for the state of Arizona. Two nights ago she called and said it was very, very cold. The weatherman is calling for snow there today.

Yea I know, I complained a lot during the long, hot days of summer—but not now. Wow! I love it. You say, “It’s supposed to be cold at Christmas. Let it snow, let snow, let is snow.”

That’s what you say. That’s not what I say. I say, “Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine—the sun that is. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!”


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

In his book, The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer wrote: “I believe that much of our religious unbelief is due to a wrong conception of and a wrong feeling for the Scriptures of Truth. A silent God suddenly began to speak in a book and when the book was finished lapsed back into silence again forever. Now we read the book as the record of what God said when He was for a brief time in a speaking mood. With notions like that in our heads how can we believe? The facts are that God is not silent, has never been silent. It is the nature of God to speak. The second Person of the Holy Trinity is called the Word.”

Please read Tozer’s words through at least two times. Read them slowly and meditate on them. God is not silent!


Monday, December 03, 2007

As we drove into the parking lot at On the Border Mexican restaurant we looked up and saw a beautiful rainbow arching over the Desert Ridge shopping area. People in front of the restaurant were oohing and auhing. Two people had cameras and took pictures. Charlotte expressed her regret at not having her camera and one man said, “My picture will be on e-bay.”

I’m not much of a picture taker but I am a picture looker and I stood looking at that beautiful picture for several minutes. What I really wanted was a pot of gold. All I got was a pot of beans


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Nothing Bundt Cake is a delightful little shop on Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale that sells nothing but cake—bundt cakes. My birthday cake from there was white chocolate raspberry. It was, and is, delicious. I say is—meaning still, because we froze part of the cake. My birthday came two days after Thanksgiving Day and I was stuffed to the brim. Yesterday we took a small portion from the freezer and Wow—it was birthday celebration all over again.

This little shop has all kinds of bundt cakes: Chocolate, Chocolate Chip; White, White Chocolate; White Chocolate Raspberry; Lemon; Carrot; Pecan Praline and more.

Every time I think of bundt cake I think of the movie, My Big, Fat Greek Wedding. I can’t describe the bundt cake scene—you would just have to see it. So, if you haven’t seen it, I recommend that you do. I like the movie and I like bundt cake. As you might expect, I like cake more!


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Rain has returned to the valley after a long absence. This “storm” has brought us more rain than we have had in eight months. Yes, I know we live in the desert but we still need water. Thank you Lord!

Chili Dogs, 2 for $2.22! Marching through the Paradise Valley Mall the sign just leaped out at me. I love Dairy Queen Chili dogs. Charlotte wasn’t with me so I could have had two and nobody, nobody that matters that is, would have ever known. But I didn’t. I marched on. But that sign just wouldn’t leave my mind. I went back to DQ yesterday. Charlotte didn’t accompany me, she stopped off at Dillards. But she gave me her blessings. At my age, what can a couple of dogs do that hasn’t already been done? They were delicious!

Salmon was on the menu for dinner last night. I guess Charlotte was trying to offset the Chili dogs. My blood sugar readings are much better after salmon than after Chili dogs.

Last night the rain was falling outside, the fireplace was warming it up inside, the Suns were on television, the tree was lit up inside and the lights were twinkling outside, Carol was picking up Allen at Sky Harbor as he returned from a trip to Delaware—I counted my blessings and said a prayer.

Isn’t this a great time of the year?