Saturday, March 31, 2007

I love malls. We have some great ones in Scottsdale and the greater Phoenix area. And they are planning for and building more. People come from all over the country to shop here. Even more will come when the newer models of the upscale shopping areas are built.

I still love the old concept called town. When I was in elementary school we lived in town. Mother had no fears about allowing me to roam the streets. I went to the drug stores to look over the comic books; to the theaters to look at what was “showing” and what would be coming next, and to the Kress store to look at the toys in the bins.

In my early teens, and before I started working, every Saturday my sister-in-law would say “let’s go to town.” She would drive us to town and find a good parking place on a main street—there were two. A “good” parking place was one where the most people were going by. We were people watchers. Most of the time we sat inside the car but sometime the guys sat on the front fenders. We stayed for hours. We had a great time. We knew just about everybody that passed by. My sister-in-law always left the car for awhile to go shopping. Occasionally the rest of us would go “window shopping” or just wander in and out of the stores messing around.

Town was a good place to go. I hope you had a chance to do it. (Young people reading this are saying, “Yea, like I’m going to waste my time sitting for hours watching people go by. When I “go to town” I mean something entirely different.)


Friday, March 30, 2007

“The world is going to hell in a hand basket.” How many times have you heard that statement?

My opinion: We are not going—we have arrived!

Some of my proof: Just three examples out of hundreds of things that should have people outraged but instead most people see no problem.




(If you don’t know about the above things you are better off. I don’t have the time or space to say all that would need to be said to explain them.)

If this kind of stuff had gone on when I was growing up, some angry mother would have found these people and beat the crap out of them.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

A cell phone is a good thing to have. They come in handy on many occasions.

We should own a cell phone but it shouldn’t own us.

We should not allow our cell phone use to invade other people’s privacy.

We have a lot of things we don’t jut whip out in public—a phone should be one of those things.

You may just love the tricky little tune your phone plays when someone calls but most people don’t want to hear it—especially at church or any kind of assembly. We all can name a number of times and places when the ring of a phone is unappreciated.

Let’s learn some phone etiquette. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

P L A Y! You know, have fun. Kids today don’t know how to play.

Long ago and far away—when I was a kid, we knew how to play with a capitol P. In the summer we were out all day. Of course, kids living in the country were out all day working not playing. But us city kids—we played. When school was in session we came through the front door and out the back. We played until time for supper and then it was back out until time for bed. We dropped into bed exhausted but smiling. What about homework you ask. My friends and I never cared much for homework but we sure enjoyed playing.

Now that I am retired I have become an observer. The kids on our cul-de-sac do not know how to play. They only talk about it. They bring out the bats, balls and bases. They get everything ready to play but they never get around to it. They discuss the rules over and over and over. But the rules don’t matter because they never get around to playing. They take the bats, balls and bases in and bring out a soccer ball. They discuss the rules, kick the ball a few times and then change to a football. They fuss, argue (and they may even cuss a little) debate and stop just short of fighting.

After awhile they are nowhere to be seen. I guess they are watching T.V., playing with the computer, eating snacks and getting fat. You say, “They may be doing homework, becoming brilliant and getting ready to lead the world to a better day.”




Tuesday, March 27, 2007

One of the coldest winters in history blew through the valley this year. It left a lot of devastation in its path. The calendar says it is spring and that means warmer weather. Al Gore is also running around saying the globe is warming. I don’t believe a thing Al Gore says but I do sit up and listen when the preacher says it will be warmer for some people, some day. But right now it’s still a little cool and there are still a lot of brown trees and bushes. But I’m happy to say that almost all of the bushes are starting to show some green. Wow! Green is good! Green means hope!

A friend in California asked, “Are you still talking to your ficus tree and how is it doing?” Yes, I’m still talking to the tree but like an uncooperative child the tree is not responding to my gentle voice. So I have started raising my voice an octave or two and last week while running the chain saw I strolled over to the tree and just stood by it for a few minutes reviving up the engine. Today, I noticed a few (very few) little green buds on the trunk.


Monday, March 26, 2007

Sean Hannity asked two lovely young ladies he works with if they would allow their children to go on “Spring Break.” One said she went when she was young but that it is vastly different today and that she won’t let her son go when he gets old enough. The other lady said, “Everybody deserves a break and there is nothing wrong with it” (meaning there is nothing wrong with “Spring Break.” However, just moments before they all had listed the bad things that go on there like, rape, drunkenness, nakedness, drugs, and the list went on. And then after all of that, she said, “…there is nothing wrong with it.”


Everybody deserves a “break” from the routine—even small children, mothers and fathers. We all need time for rest, reflection and renewal. But we do not need to be involved in and encouraging anything that has to do with over indulging in sex, drugs, drinking, or anything else. She listed all the bad things that happen at “Spring Break” and then said, “…there is nothing wrong with it.”



Sunday, March 25, 2007

Our church is looking for a new preacher. The search committee has had over 150 preachers apply. They have narrowed the search to about 29. These men are now starting to come to preach. What will we think? Who will we choose? We are constantly told we are looking for the one God wants us to have. I hope that’s true! Too often I’m afraid we get the one the search committee likes best.

“The average man’s idea of a good sermon is one that goes over his head—and hits one of his neighbors.”

“The sermon went on and on. Finally, the preacher paused and asked, “What more, my friends, can I say?” From the rear of the nave came a hollow voice: “Amen.”


Saturday, March 24, 2007

There were more seniors at the afternoon showing of “The Namesake” than at the Sunday afternoon singing at the convalescent home. They rattled popcorn bags, laughed at everything—even when it wasn’t funny, made comments about everything and let out great sighs when something went wrong.

I haven’t been retired long but I guess this is what you do when you retire—go to matinees.

Walking out of the theater I said to my wife, “Look at all these old people.” She said, “Yea, I see them. This is our group.”


Friday, March 23, 2007

The rain stopped during the night and the sky was bright, clear and clean this morning as I headed out for my daily walk. I listened to the mellow voice of Roger Whittaker singing, “Eighteen miles each way, from Dover to Calais.” Over the years I have listened to those words dozens of times. But this morning I couldn’t get them out of my mind—“Eighteen miles each way, from Dover to Calais.” In England, Dover is the closest point to Europe. On a clear day you can look across the English Channel from France and see the white cliffs of Dover.

There we were. I could hardly believe it. We were standing on the coast of England looking at the white cliffs of Dover and waiting to cross the English Channel. I was eager to get started. We had been told that it was short trip over to France and that it would be a quick trip aboard a very fast boat. Well, this day, the fast boat wasn’t running because of high winds. We had to cross on a very slow boat that was made even slower because of the choppy waves. What was dreamed of as a wonderful adventure turned into a nightmare. The worst part was the vomiting—not mine and Charlotte's, but many of the others on board. It was sickening to listen to all of that heaving, retching and gagging.

I will always remember the day I stepped off that boat and put my feet on France soil. I had always wanted to go to France but on that day I was overjoyed to be there. I wanted to drop to my knees and kiss the ground. I felt like I had just escaped hell. Needless to say, we flew back to England! Come to think of it, I don’t think I have been on a boat since.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

If you think church is boring you may want to take a minute and watch a new video on You Tube at


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

In December I wrote that men cannot draw blood. I did not find joy in reporting this sad news. I hate to admit that there is anything that men cannot do as well as women. But my experience had taught me that woman can draw blood painlessly but that men cannot. Well, I have just come from the lab and now I have a different opinion.


I went into the lab this morning intending to refuse having my blood taken by a man. First of all, I didn’t think it could be done and I had made up my mind that I was tired of being used for a guinea pig. Well, the head of the lab is a man and my Dr. had just told me that this man was good. This “good” blood drawer is the one that came to take my blood. Now, I have been going into this lab for years and this man has always been there but has never even offered to take my blood. Today he did! And he did an excellent job.

I complimented him and told him about my sad experiences. He just laughed and said that gender has nothing to do with the ability to take blood. He said I had just been unlucky in getting three students in a row. He said that most of them did not want to take the blood but they had to do it to learn how. He said I could refuse to allow them to practice on me.

I left thinking about my early days of driving out to the country churches. Oh how those poor souls must have suffered through my early days of preaching. There were no blogs back then but if there had of been, some blogger would have written: Men Just Can’t Preach. God Should Put Women In The Pulpit


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Max Lucado is considered by many to be “America’s preacher.” He is well known to church goers because of his writing. He has two new books coming out this year. Max recently announced that after 20 years as the minister of preaching for the Oak Hills Church of Christ in San Antonio, Texas, he is resigning from that position. He will continue to preach there on a regular basis but because of health problems he is giving up his leadership position. He was diagnosed seven months ago as having arterial fibrillation. He does not feel that he is in any danger physically but that it would be best for him to do something else.

I remember well the first time I saw a Max Lucado book. The publisher had sent me a free copy of No Wonder They Call Him the Savior. I had never heard of Max. Most of the world had never heard of him. His friends in Texas knew him and the members and a few friends of the church in Brazil where he was preaching knew him. That was about it. Today, he is known all over the world.

I couldn’t put No Wonder They Call Him the Savior down. I read it straight through from cover to cover. Many of his books line my bookshelves but this was his best, as far as I am concerned. They have changed the name of the church where Max preaches and they are no longer associated with Churches of Christ. But I hasten to say that Max is very much a member of Christ’s church and a dedicated Christian. I am thankful to God for the blessing that he is to the world!


Monday, March 19, 2007

If you have never been to Tlaquepaque then I am going to assume you have never been to Sedona. When going to Sedona, Tlaquepaque is a must visit. It’s not Disneyland, Rodeo Drive, or even Scottsdale Fashion Square—but it is a great place.

There are great little eating places like The Secret Garden Café and upscale restaurants. And then there is one little shop after another, offering everything from jewelry to baubles and beads and even musical fairies.

I wouldn’t drive to Sedona just to go to Tlaquepaque but when there—I wouldn’t miss it.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mike Cope who preaches for the Highlands Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas recommends watching a clip by Craig Ferguson. I watched it and although I probably did not like it as much as Mike did, I too want to recommend it. You will not agree with everything that Ferguson says but the basic message of grace toward others is good.
“When you get twelve minutes, this clip with Craig Ferguson is worth watching”.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Near the end of his life, Robert Frost, the poet, was asked what was the most profound thought he’d ever had. Frost said, “Life goes on.”


Friday, March 16, 2007

We’re about 168 days away from the Scottsdale opening of Sprinkles—the worshipped Los Angeles cupcakery.

A few years ago while visiting relatives in Los Angeles, I discovered Krispy Kreme donuts. Cars were lining up around the block and waiting 45 minutes to get them. I was thrilled when Krispy Kremes came to Scottsdale. Now they are gone. But not forgotten!

Places to get cupcakes are popping up all over this area. Nationally, this frenzy for cupcakes has been mounting for ages. New York went cupcake crazy about four years ago after Carrie and Miranda gobbled Magnolia Bakery’s confections on Sex and the City. Sprinkles opened in Beverly Hills in 2005, and customers still wait in line for 30 minutes to buy a single red velvet cupcake heaped with cream cheese icing.

Come September, when Sprinkles opens at Scottsdale and Camelback roads, people will line up to wait for cupcakes.

NOT ME! Oh, I like cupcakes alright, but I’m not going to wait in line for them (at least not a long line). The craze for Krispy Kremes died down and so will the craze for these cupcakes. But I will be one happy man when I can walk in and in a few minutes walk out with a red velvet cupcake heaped with cream cheese icing. Or maybe it will be a vanilla-vanilla cupcake or a coconut cupcake with cream cheese icing or better still, maybe I will go for a chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream icing. Decisions, decisions!

See my problem? Oh well, I have at least 168 days or longer to make up my mind.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

It’s amazing what a good nights rest can do for your spirit.

My morning walk was exhilarating. I walked to the sound of beautiful music in my ears. The air was fresh and cool. I came home tired but ready to face a new day.

Will I be more patient today? I can’t promise that I will—but I can promise that I will try.

Richard Carlson says, “Don’t sweat the small stuff and it’s all small stuff.” Is he right?
In a way he is. It’s small enough that we shouldn’t fret over it and make ourselves sick. It’s small enough that “in a hundred years from now it won’t make any difference.” But I will always be impatient with people who don’t give a flip about anything. Some things do matter enough to be considered “big” stuff.

But again, today is a new, exciting, adventure. I’m ready for it all—big stuff, little stuff, all kinds of stuff.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

This morning at 10:04 I wrote my blog for the day. I wrote about being patient with people and not losing my cool. I tried. I honestly tried but I just couldn't do it. Charlotte had an appointment with the Dr. at 11:00. We were early for the appointment. That was our first mistake because he is never on time. I walked over to Home Depot and "fooled around" for an hour. I walked back to the medical building and sit outside for 40 minutes. A little before 1:00 I could feel my face getting flush. It may have been my imagination but I felt my heart racing. I never said anything to anybody. Not a word. But let's face it I had lost it. My patience was shot! I tried but I just couldn't do it. But I will try again tomorrow. Why wait until tomorrow? Hey, I know me. This day is shot all to pieces as far as patience is concerned. It will take a good nights rest before I will be able to muster up enough courage to try again.


Why? Why nurture a plant? What possible good could come from this?

Nurturing a plant—loving a plant will help you to love a person unconditionally. People are always doing and saying the wrong things. We are to love them regardless. We don’t have to approve of them or their actions but we do need to love them. This is hard to do. A plant, however, is easier to love and we can learn from this kind of nurturing.

Right now I’m having a hard time loving what was once a beautiful ficus tree. This once tall, stately, beautiful green tree has turned to a brown, ugly, drooping caricature of itself. What was once a beautiful “friend” is now just a reminder of a cold winter. But I need to love this tree again and I know it. The garden guy said, “Be patient. The beauty will return but it may take as long as two years.” Two years???

Ok, I’m gonna do it! I’m gonna love that tree back to health. I’m gonna talk to it and tell it how much I love it whether it lives or dies.

It’s a more difficult task but I’m gonna try this same thing with people who grate on me. I’m not going to be agitated, irritated or impatient. PRAY FOR ME!


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The young man from Mississippi came running into the store and said to his buddy, "Bubba, somebody just stole your pickup truck from the parking lot!"
Bubba replied, "Did you see who it was?
The young man answered, "I couldn't tell, but I got the license number."

(From Preaching Now)


Monday, March 12, 2007

The following statement is thought-provoking: “If you are 35, you have 500 days to live.” Immediately you think, “That’s not right.” But when you subtract the time spent sleeping, working, tending to personal matters, hygiene, odd chores, medical matters, eating, traveling, and miscellaneous time-stealers, in the next thirty-six years you will have roughly the equivalent of only five hundred days left to spend as you wish. Well, of course, you wanted to eat, sleep, travel, etc. but when you think strictly of the things you want to do but don’t have to do—there is not a lot of time left for that.

All of us are given exactly the same amount of time each day. In God’s eyes, none of us are more important than another.

I’m going outside now and clean up the yard. I really do want to do it. I really do!

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Southern Living magazine is one of my favorites. In fact, it is one of the few magazines I still subscribe to. Up until my retirement three years ago I subscribed to several publications. But I decided I no longer needed or could afford so many. So I dropped them. But my daughter knew how much I liked Southern Living so she gave me a subscription and I am glad she did.

Yes, I like the way of life in the south, especially the food!

Here are some of the recipes I am looking at: Orange rolls. “…these top-rated orange rolls will have you quickly reaching for a sticky, gooey extra helping.” Mediterranean salmon with white beans. Chocolate-Chocolate cupcakes with white frosting. Sweet potato cinnamon rolls. Blueberry dumpling cobbler. Classic barbecue ribs.

Wow! It all looks good to me. There is only one problem—I am diabetic! Oh well, there is one healthy looking thing there—salmon.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

The following information about the movie, “Amazing Grace” was written by Darryl Tippens a professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. Darryl is a faithful Christian and a splendid teacher and writer. One of my favorite books of his, is “Pilgrim Heart, The Way Of Jesus In Everyday Life.” I saw“Amazing Grace” last week and I thought it was very good. I recommend it highly.
“Amazing Grace” is the story of William Wilberforce, the British Member of Parliament who succeeded in leading England to abolish slavery in the British Empire, long before the American Civil War. Wilberforce was a man of deep faith, a wonderful example of how the Gospel changes lives and improves society. In a time when we promote diversity, it’s important to remember it was Christian abolitionists like Wilberforce who brought slavery to an end. A particularly interesting detail of the film concerns the link between the familiar: a hymn “Amazing Grace,” written by John Newton, and the life and work of Wilberforce.
I hope you will share the news of this film with your friends, family, and students, and I hope you will see the film yourself. Incidentally, the producer of the film is Ken Wales, a good friend to many of us at Pepperdine. If you believe in positive, uplifting movies, this is one you will want to support.
At the following web address you can watch a trailer for the film, find theatre locations, and even download study materials appropriate for classes.


Friday, March 09, 2007

"I am still learning. That is an important mark of a good know you don't know it all and never will."
--Anne Mulcahy, Chairman and CEO, Xerox


Thursday, March 08, 2007

The shepherds (elders) of the Lord’s Church must care for people. This must be number one on their agenda—caring for people. They are not there to run the business of the church, make wise decisions concerning staff and a hundred and one other things that have nothing to do with saving souls.

“The only thing worse than a coach or CEO who doesn’t care about his people is one who pretends to care. People can spot a phony every time. They know he doesn’t care about them, and worse, his act insults their intelligence.” Jimmy Johnson, former coach,
for the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Dead in the desert! A few weeks ago it looked hopeless. Almost all of our trees, bushes, and plants looked dead. “Dead as a door nail.” Brown, ugly, wrinkled, drooping—they looked a lot like me.

It’s still a few days until spring but I’m seeing a few green buds and green sprigs sticking up here and there in with all the brown. THERE’S HOPE!

The “garden guy” said “wait until the middle of the month to start pruning.” What does he know? It will be 81 today and it’s not dropping below 50 at night—so I pruned today.
I took my trusty old pruning shears and saw and went to work. I only worked on one small section of the yard, but it looks 100% better. Make that 90%.

Life is kind of like those plants and trees. There are times when everything looks hopeless but just like the budding trees of spring; we begin to “bloom” again. HOPE—WE CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IT!


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A young woman brings home her fiance to meet her parents. After dinner, her mother tells her father to find out about the young man.
The father invites the fiance to his study for a chat. "So what are your plans?" the father asks the young man.
"I am a college student." he replies.
"A college student. Hmmm," the father says. "That's admirable, but what will you do to provide a nice house for my daughter to live in, as she's accustomed to?"
"I will study," the young man replies, "and God will provide for us."
"And how will you buy her a beautiful engagement ring, such as she deserves?" asks the father.
"I will concentrate on my studies," the young man replies. "God will provide for us."
"And children?" asks the father. "How will you support children?"
"Don't worry, sir, God will provide," replies the fiance. The conversation proceeds like this, and each time the father questions, the young idealist insists that God will provide.
Later, the mother asks, "How did it go, Honey?"
The father answers, "He has no job and no plans, but the good news is he thinks I'm God."


Monday, March 05, 2007

"First they came for the socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me."

The above quote is from Martin Niemoeller. It is one of my favorites. We must--we absolutely must speak out. Stand up for what is right! Stand up against what is wrong! Speak out!


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Carl Jung said, “The only person I cannot help is one who blames others.” When we blame others we make it difficult, if not impossible, to solve our problems. We need to focus on the problem, not the person.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

I learned to read by a method known as phonics and I have been reading and loving it for many years. Phonics was scrapped in favor of the whole-language approach. This approach was predicated on a belief that reading came naturally and that kids would learn to read literally by osmosis. Kids were left to guess at what words meant and never corrected because it is unpleasant to be corrected. When California schools tossed out phonics workbooks, they had had the highest level of reading in the country. But after seven years of whole language, the state was tied with Louisiana for last place in the country.

When George W. Bush was governor of Texas he was shocked to learn that 43,000 third graders could not read but were just passed to the next grade. The numbers continued to grow larger. Bush went to work and changed things for the better and his success is now history.

Today, Johnny still can’t read. Our schools are turning out millions of kids who cannot read. As with so many things this is a struggle between liberals and conservatives. Liberals want a laissez-faire approach because they see it as being liberating, joyful and creative. Conservatives, on the other hand, see nothing wrong with practice, drill, and testing. Practice is the way you get to Carnegie Hall or play tennis.

People don’t understand how profoundly our country is being harmed by turning out millions of kids with heads full of mush. (I realize there are many kids who learn in spite of all this and I am thrilled every time I meet one). Our poverty, our crime stem basically from kids’ inability to access society.



Friday, March 02, 2007

Wherever you go, you take yourself with you. So many of us spend our days wishing we were someplace else. We trick ourselves into believing that if we were on vacation, on a different job, with other people, that we would be happier.


Sure, we might enjoy getting away, having a different job for awhile. But alas, at some point we would “wake up” and discover that once again we are longing to get away.


Keep a Teachable Spirit

Thursday, March 01, 2007

"When you begin to be open to feedback, another very healthy thing happens to you: you swallow your pride and realize that no matter what age you are, you always have something to learn. You realize you can always improve. Every critique has some kernel of truth. Take what’s true and let the rest fall by the wayside.” ~ Rory Noland, from The Heart of the Artist