Friday, August 31, 2007

Floating on the pool this morning, I couldn't help but notice the beautiful sky and clouds over Scottsdale. I was reminded of a peanuts cartoon my friend Harlow Williams sent recently. It is my all time favorite and I want to share it with you.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Handicap – Figuratively, any disadvantage that renders success more difficult. (Webster’s Dictionary)

Fry’s Markets hires a number of young people to work in their stores. Some of them, in fact many of them, are considered handicapped. However, not all of them, some are just your “everyday variety” teenager. I go to the market often and I have observed them going about their tasks. Help me choose the “handicapped” one.

Group One – Leans in on the counter as he/she slowly drops food into the bags. He rarely smiles, never speaks to you and frequently looks at his watch. He is often seen down some aisle talking to another teenage employee.

Group Two – Rarely speaks but always looks up and smiles. Bags everything according to food groups and quickly places them in your basket. If he can speak plainly he will ask if you would like assistance with your groceries. He never looks bored, never checks the time and says, “Thank you” as you start to leave.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I look for three things in hiring people. The first is personal integrity, the second is intelligence, and the third is a high energy level. But, if you don't have the first, the other two will kill you.
--Warren Buffett, CEO, Berkshire Hathaway


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Michael Vick said, “I found Jesus and I have turned my life over to God.” I’m thrilled for him. I have spent my life trying to help people “find Jesus” and I couldn’t be happier for Michael. Can this be true? Absolutely! I have read about it happening in the Bible and witnessed it in life. IF Michael Vick found Jesus then he surely knows it and Jesus knows it and that’s what really matters. My opinion on the subject doesn’t affect anything.

We have been taught never to question a persons religious experiences regardless of how far fetched they may be. I have had dozens of alcoholics tell me they will never take another drink—and then they do. I have had men say, “I’ll never hit my wife again” and then they do. I have listened to people confess their faith in Christ, be baptized but never change a thing or ever attend church. It still doesn’t mean that Michael Vick isn’t sincere. However, I can’t get it out of my head that he kept lying about his involvement in this dog fighting/killing mess right up until his co-defendants ratted him out. And if this mess was his only mess that would make a difference too. He had somebody in Atlanta following him around cleaning up his messes—and there were many.

Here is what I think happened: His advisors said, “Look, Michael here is what you have to do. (l) Fess up. (2) Ask for forgivness. (3) Find Jesus. This is your only hope.” “Ok man, I’ll do it. I’m not a complete fool.”

I hope Michael Vick has turned his life over to God. If he has it will be a life of integrity and we will know it.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Advice. As a preacher for almost fifty years I have given a lot of advice. We live in a world where we are given advice at every turn and from everybody. As I grow older I have taken up the habit of asking this about advice, "Not what, but who?" Who is giving this advice. That's the most important question. This doesn't mean that we cannot get good advice from the wrong person. We can and I have. I will accept truth from any source. But still, the bottom line is--I want to know who is giving this advice?


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Never, under any circumstances go to Trader Joe’s at high noon.

It’s time consuming, discouraging and dangerous.

Everyday at noon, Trader Joe’s is filled with women and one or two old men. The women are all there on a mission. They are single minded and determined. They give no grace and cut no slack. If you get in their way you do so at your own peril. If you are lucky enough to get by the women—look out for the old men. They come from out of nowhere. They can’t see nor hear. Their motto seems to be: “Dam the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”

Noon is the only time you can go? Well good luck! You can’t say I didn’t warn you.

Oh, by the way, since you are going anyhow, could you pick me up a box of those dark chocolate caramels?


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Although written four years ago, I had not heard of The Kite Runner until just a few weeks ago. It is a #1 New York Times bestseller and a San Francisco Chronicle best book of the year.

The Kite Runner is a moving portrait of modern Afghanistan. One reviewer said, “This is one of those unforgettable stories that stays with you for years. All the great themes of literature and of life are the fabric of this extraordinary novel: love, honor, guilt, fear, redemption.”

Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, the son of a diplomat whose family received political asylum in the United States in 1980. He lives in northern California, where he is a physician. The Kite Runner is his first novel.

I agree that “parts of The Kite Runner are raw and excruciating to read, yet the book in its entirety is lovingly written”


Friday, August 24, 2007

They say, “Get it while it’s hot.” Well, I want you to get Dreyer’s limited edition flavors while they are still being made—Coconut Pineapple and Spumoni. There was a time when I said, “Coconut pineapple is the world’s best taste.” I no longer think that—but it’s still wonderful. Now, I seem to think that whatever I’m eating ranks pretty close to the top of the list of best tastes.

I need a favor from you and you will be doing yourself a favor at the same time. I need you to go out and buy as much of this limited edition as you can store in your freezer. This will help to keep it on the market. Why don’t I buy a freezer full? There is just one little thing that keeps me from doing that—CHARLOTTE!


Thursday, August 23, 2007

I would like to suggest that you try this bible If you do not have a good study bible this will prove to be helpful and easy to use. Give it a good test. Click on a book of a bible and then a chapter you would like to look at. When the chapter comes up you can click on any footnote at the end of a verse and it will bring up helpful notes. Just remember these notes are the thoughts of man and not Scripture.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I like these words from Shane Claiborne's book, Irresistible Revolution:

I know there are people out there who say, “My life was such a mess. I was drinking, partying, sleeping around . . . and then I met Jesus and my whole life came together.” God bless those people. But me, I had it together. I used to be cool. And then I met Jesus and he wrecked my life. The more I read the gospel, the more it messed me up, turning everything I believed in, valued, and hoped for upside-down.

How about this:
I once heard a pastor say, “The church is like Noah’s ark. It stinks, but if you get out of it, you’ll drown.”


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The youth group has raised almost $500 for drug abuse.
"Correction: The following typo appeared in our last bulletin: 'Lunch will be gin at 12:15.' Please correct to read '12 noon.' "
Any church member over the age of 18 is invited to participate in this lay ministry program. It requires a minimal amount of training and time. The orientation will include six weekly classes of about 200 hours each Tuesday night.
The Seniors group will have a picnic Saturday. Each person is asked to bring a friend, a vegetable, or dessert in a covered dish. Meat and drinks will be furnished.
The last day of Vacation Bible School will include a field trip to the state game farm. We could use some additional volunteers to help preparing the lunch of sandwiches, potato chips, cheese, crack, and cool aid that morning.
Remember the youth department rummage sale for Summer Camp. We have a Gents three-speed bicycle, also two ladies for sale, in good running order. (from Good, Clean Funnies List)


Monday, August 20, 2007

Apollo 11 landed on the surface of the moon on Sunday, July 20, 1969. Most of us are familiar with astronaut Neil Armstrong's historic statement as he stepped onto the moon's surface: "That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind." But few know about the first meal eaten there. Buzz Aldrin had brought aboard the spacecraft a tiny Communion kit provided by his church. Aldrin sent a radio broadcast to Earth asking listeners to contemplate the events of that day and to give thanks. Then, in radio blackout for privacy … [Aldrin] read, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit." Silently, he gave thanks and partook.
—Dennis Fisher, "Communion on the Moon," Our Daily Bread (June/July/August 2007)


Sunday, August 19, 2007

War is hell and hell is horrible!

When will it end? It will not end until we understand who our enemy is and it looks like that is never going to happen.

Liberal, political correctness is wrong headed thinking that has us believing that the only Muslems who want to kill us are radical Muslems. Hear this loud and clear: ALL MUSLEMS WANT TO KILL US EXCEPT THE RADICAL ONES! There are a few—very few, radical Moslems who do not go along with what Islam believes and teaches. True Muslems hate us and want us dead.

Our young men and women are dying on foreign soil fighting a battle that liberal, political correctness will not allow them to win. We have superior forces and armaments and we could win if allowed to. We need to pray for leadership that will find the backbone to stand up to evil, name it for what it is, and kill it!


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Driving out to Carefree yesterday we couldn’t help but notice all the changes being made. When we came to the Valley of the Sun there was just a two lane highway running from Scottsdale to Carefree and Cave Creek. Today there is a four lane highway with housing and businesses springing up all along the way. There was a lot of traffic coming and going. Back in Scottsdale, businesses cover both sides of Scottsdale Road and the 101 freeway slices right across Scottsdale Road and is crowded with cars from morning until night.

But little Carefree is still carefree! Nothing seems to bother it. Roads are being improved and new businesses are springing up all over. New and interesting places to eat are being seen around every corner. But little Carefree doesn’t seem to notice. Oh yes, the snow birds will come in the fall. The lady selling me my barbecue sauce said, “It’s quiet around here now, but just wait, this fall this place will be booming.”

I walked out of the store to the parking lot and the heat hit me like a ton of bricks. It was like a blast out of a furnace. I looked around and saw only one or two idiots, like myself, that were out and about. It’s summer time in Carefree now and like Minnesota in the winter, people pack it in. SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE!


Friday, August 17, 2007

Christianity Today magazine printed an excellent article this week about bloated membership rolls in churches. For years I have complained about congregations that refuse to ever remove anybody from their membership rolls. Even when members die, move to other countries or tell the church that they hate them, the church retains their membership. Why? For the simple reason that it allows them to brag about how large their church is. Never mind that on any given Sunday the FBI couldn’t find half of the membership.

It would be wrong to rush in and remove a member from the roll just because he wasn’t attending for awhile. But let’s face it, friends, if he hasn’t been around for a year or longer he is no longer a member—at least not an active member! No, you can’t remove him from the church or cancel his salvation. I’m talking about membership in a local congregation. The truth is, he either is a member or he isn’t. And my strong feeling is that if he doesn’t ever come around—he isn’t a member. If you have a mate that leaves and doesn’t come home for a year or two I suspect that you consider him “gone” and not a part of the family until he takes steps to correct the situation.

What’s the harm in keeping people on the rolls who do not attend? It’s a matter of integrity. It’s not honest.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

We were getting ready to drive out to Carefree and buy one of the world's best ice cream sandwiches. After looking at the way the stock market is falling I decided that maybe we can't afford ice cream.

Ah, what the heck. We might as well go under with a smile on our face.

On to Carefree!


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

We can learn a lot from newspaper comics. “Hi and Lois” depicts the ups and downs of an average middle-class family. One of the strips showed the family on a typical Monday morning.

In the first frame, Hi, the father and an accountant by trade, is on his way to work. He says to himself: “Another dumb day, going to that same dumb office, to work on those same dumb numbers that I must have worked on a thousand times before!” In the second frame, his wife is cleaning a floor and saying to herself: “Another dumb day, cleaning this same dumb house”(You can finish this for her). In the next frame, you see the older children on the school bus. One is saying to the other: “Another dumb day”(And on and on it goes).

In the last frame, you see the youngest child of about two, standing in her crib, wide awake, fresh for a new day, her arms up in the air, facing the sun, shouting in joy: “ANOTHER DAY!” In her young life, this is not just another dumb day. This is virgin time. New things will happen to her this day, and she is ready to be astonished, ready for God to appear.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

In yesterday’s blog I offered my services to the President. I am ready and willing to replace Karl Rove. I also called his office and made the same offer. Puzzled by no response I had the following conversation with the phone company:

ME – Yesterday I called three smokin’, hot, politicians and not one responded. What are the chances they all three called at the same time and jammed your phone lines?

PHONE COMPANY – One in a billion!

ME – You’re saying there is a chance……then.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Karl Rove will be leaving Washington and returning to Texas. He worked with George W. Bush to help him be elected Governor of Texas and then President of the United States. He has been called “The Architect” by the President and referred to as Bush’s brain by the press. He will be missed!

What did Karl Rove really do? He gave advice. That’s something we all like to do, don’t we? Sure we do. We give advice on anything and everything. We do it with out hesitation or apology. Are we educated in everything? Nope. Have we had experience in everything? No. Do we just naturally know about everything? No. In fact the truth is, we know very little. But what the heck, nobody else knows it all either.

Would I be willing to step into Mr. Rove’s shoes if the President should call? Absolutely. Why not? I went to college in Texas. “But Clif you’ve had no experience as a politician.”

“I was a preacher for fifty years.”


Sunday, August 12, 2007

The sweet agony of indecision—I felt it every time I went into the Kress store. My mother would give me a few pennies—usually a nickel or a dime. I would rush to the back of the store where the toy bins were. I would stand on my tip toes and stare into the small bins separating the toys. The Kress store had one long counter with small dividers in it. I went up and down both sides of the counter, looking longingly.

You have heard the old expression, “Like a kid with a penny in a candy store.” I was a kid with a few pennies in front of a toy counter. Oh, I loved to go to the candy counter too, but my mother usually stood along side of me there and she bought what we wanted. It was usually those orange candy slices with sugar on them or chocolate peanut clusters. Sometimes, we skipped the candy and went for the hot, roasted Spanish peanuts going around and around beside the mixed nuts. I loved to just stand in front of the counter and watch as they went around and around under the hot lights.

The good old days? I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not. But the 10 Cent Store will always occupy a warm place in my memory. Ah, the sweet agony of indecision!


Saturday, August 11, 2007

For years, as a minister, I felt the need to read books and I did. I kept up. I kept growing. I owed it to the church and to myself not to let the world pass me by. I needed to read to stay fresh. I needed to read to stay motivated and aware.

Free at last. Free to read what I want to read. Free to go on reading adventures not caring where I end up. Oh, I have always done some of this kind of reading but not nearly enough. Now that I am retired—I’m free to read anything I please.

I have made a discovery. Now that I don’t have to read the “tough” stuff to stay informed and educated—I want to. Go figure! Now, for the first time in fifty years, theologians are seriously rethinking the Apostle Paul. ‘New perspective’ scholars argue that we need a new perspective on justification by faith. Do we? I don’t know, but I do know that now that nobody is asking me to tell them what is right or wrong about all this, is that I am greatly interested in getting to the truth of it all.

Oh happy day. I can read or not read. Tomorrow morning when I go to church I will not be stopped by the first deacon I meet or the first old lady, demanding to know what I think about the new perspective on Paul.


Friday, August 10, 2007

A young boy had just gotten his driving permit. He asked his father, who was a minister, if they could discuss his use of the car.
His father said to him, "I'll make a deal with you. You bring your grades up, study your Bible a little, and get your hair cut, then we will talk about it."
A month later the boy came back and again asked his father if they could discuss his use of the car. His father said, "Son, I'm real proud of you. You have brought your grades up, you've studied your Bible diligently, but you didn't get your hair cut!"
The young man waited a moment and replied, "You know, Dad, I've been thinking about that. I've read in the Bible that Samson had long hair, Moses had long hair, Noah had long hair, and even Jesus had long hair."His father replied, "Yes, Son, and if you read on further you'll find out that they walked everywhere they went!"

From Preaching Now


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Talk about inflation—men’s hair cuts are now $400.00. I’m sure that’s right. John Edwards wouldn’t pay more than the going rate, would he? He wants to be our leader and help us to live a better life. Therefore I know he is trying to set a good example by his spending habits.

Man, did I ever get a bargain today. I saved $390.00 on my hair cut. I realize that’s the senior’s price, but the other ol’ boys in the shop were only paying $12.00. What a bargain! I gave the lady a good tip. At those prices I can afford to.

I use the ten minutes I’m in the barber’s chair to meditate. I try not to sleep because I don’t want to scare others with my snoring and I don’t want them to say after I leave, “Did you see that ol’ coot ? He almost snapped his neck off.” I was thinking: “I don’t care how much John Edwards pays for his hair cuts. I didn’t care that Dan Quayle couldn’t spell potato. I forget myself, from time to time. When making a grocery shopping list I usually just put down pot. and let it go. If my mind keeps slipping, someday I’m going to come home with a pot and no potatoes to put in it.

But I do care—I care a lot, about what evil dictators our next President is willing to talk to and what he is going to do and not do with bombs.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Preachers and the churches they preach for are thought to be dull and dreary.

Not so with Randy Wray who preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Stockton, California. Randy is one funny, laugh producing man. I have never heard him preach but I feel confident he is a good preacher. Nobody could be as funny as he is and not be.

I preached for “his” church for almost 20 years. You have to have a sense of humor to exist there. The old saying, “You have to either laugh or cry” applies to his situation. Randy chooses to laugh!

Three cheers for those who make us laugh!


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Some schools opened their doors this week for another year of learning. Most others will begin classes next week. Every year at this time there is something that tugs at my heart. What is it? Do I just want to relive the past? Is it possible I really do want to keep on learning?

There is nothing in this world more thrilling than learning.

I have the greatest respect for good teachers. A good teacher is one with enthusiasm, joy and patience. I pray that this year’s band of students who drag themselves into the class rooms will have teachers who love their subject and their scholars.

I’m thankful for every good teacher I ever had!


Monday, August 06, 2007

I don’t meet too many contented people today. Maybe I’m running with the wrong crowd. Maybe I spend too much time looking in the mirror. Let’s face it; contentment is hard to come by. I think it’s because a contented person has his heart focused on God rather than on possessions or position or power.

The very first temptation in the history of mankind was the temptation to be discontent. God had provided for Adam and Eve far beyond all they needed. Satan caused them to question the goodness of God. And that is exactly what discontent is—a questioning of the goodness of God.

Earlier this morning I was out in the garage messing with my “stuff” and I thought to myself, “Man, you have got too much stuff.” Later I came in and was looking at all the books in my small study and I thought to myself, “Brother, you are going to have to get rid of some of these.” Why then do I have days when I am discontent because I want something more? Why?

I will be more content when I get my heart focused on God!


Sunday, August 05, 2007

She was dressed neatly and had a great smile. When I first noticed her she was trying to pick up some money she had dropped. The grocery clerk came from behind the counter and helped her. She dropped some more money and that’s when she said, “I ought to just go home and stay in bed.”

I’m ashamed to admit that although I didn’t agree with her assessment of the situation I did want her to complete her transaction and get out of the way. She finally did get herself together and start toward the door. When asked if she needed help with her groceries, she replied, “No, when I get out of here I will be ok.”

We all smiled. She left. When our groceries were bagged I rolled our cart toward the door only to get there and find this same lady, blocking the door with her cart and putting money back into her purse. I waited awhile and then decided to go around her and squeeze through the door. But just as I made my move she started pushing her cart again and we almost bumped into each other. She smiled and apologized for getting in my way. I smiled and let her go first.

I watched as she slowly moved across the parking lot to her car. I thought, she probably at one time was a vibrant, intelligent, active woman and all parts of her body and mind were working wonderfully. Now, as she sees herself in the mirror of life, she thinks, “I ought to just go home and stay in bed.”

I offered up a silent little prayer, “God watch over her and help the rest of us to meet her and receive her with GRACE.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

This is “the Age of Noise.” We seem to feel that silence must be avoided at all costs.

You cannot think against this background of noise. You cannot listen against a background of noise. If people are always talking, there is no time to listen.

It is often in silence the greatest things come. We need to remember the words (Psalm 46:10) “Be still, and know that I am God.”


Friday, August 03, 2007

When life tumbles in, God is there!

I love the following words from 2 Corinthians: “He comes along side us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.”


Thursday, August 02, 2007

It was a gorgeous day in San Francisco—one of my favorite cities to visit (not live—just visit). The sky was blue. Little white clouds floated overhead and there was a slight, but cool breeze. It was a great day for visiting the zoo.

Strolling through the zoo was an adventure and a joy, until we came upon the gorilla compound. A small, but lively crowd had gathered and we stopped to watch the show. When all of a sudden, out of the blue, I looked up and saw a gorilla sized handful of crap coming right at my head. It whistled by my head like a large bullet and went PLOP on the pavement by me. I was startled, embarrassed and frightened. Everybody scattered! The agitated gorillas “shelled” the area with their waste for awhile and then finally settled down and looked bored.

As I recall this story for some strange reason a picture of the United States congress keeps popping into my mind. Congress reminds me of the monkey or gorilla cage at the zoo—a bunch of apes running around making a mess and trying to throw it in the face of those who elected them.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Phoenix, according to the London based Economist magazine, is a “crime-ridden mess.” They haven’t always felt that way. They once wrote that Phoenix was the “All-America City” and well governed. Yes, Phoenix is growing rapidly and has plenty of hurdles. But it is not a mess.

An old man sitting on a porch in North Georgia, commented about how his town was growing and then said, “You never get the dog without the fleas-- big dog, more fleas.” In his mind, bigness and the “fleas” that come with it are inescapable.

I agree with the old man. Phoenix is now the fifth largest city in America. We must learn to take the fleas with the dog—the bad with the good—and press on with faith in ourselves, our city, our country and our God.