Friday, November 30, 2007

In 1 Thessalonians 5 we are told, “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.”

“Pray all the time.” Well, that’s what I do and have been doing for years. But my prayer habits or customs have changed. I no longer pray at every meal. Some times I do, sometimes I don’t. Many times it is just not appropriate. I never did pray for every bite of food I popped into my mouth—a candy bar here, a donut there. But I was and am always thankful! I try to live in the spirit of prayer—I pray all the time.

I pray every morning and every night. Well, not every night. Some nights I have just been so tired and sleepy that I fell asleep without praying. But more than in the morning and evening—I pray throughout the day. I have grown tired of the legalistic, “now lets hold hands, bow our heads and pray” kind of praying. I don’t want to talk to my father “by the clock” I want to talk to Him all of the time and about everything—so I do.

As I have gotten older I have changed a lot of habits. I like my new way better and I pray that He does!


Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Peanuts cartoon showed Peppermint Patty talking to Charlie Brown. She said, "Guess what, Chuck? The first day of school, and I got sent to the principal's office. It was your fault, Chuck."He said, "My fault? How could it be my fault? Why do you say everything is my fault?" She said, "You're my friend, aren't you, Chuck? You should have been a better influence on me."


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Every year around this time I say, “Not this year. I’m not going to put lights up on the front of the house. It’s just too much trouble.” A few days later I drag out all the lights, extension cords, timer, etc. and start putting them up.

If you have been wondering where Elvis is—he lives across the street from us. Elvis puts up a lot of lights. His house really looks great, year after year. He put his lights up early this year. There are seven houses on our cul-de-sac and Elvis is the only one that is decorated. So, you see if I don’t decorate our sac will look sad. The house just to the East of us is for sale and has been empty going on two years. A man and his wife, both doctors, built a new home costing a few million dollars. They told our little cul-de-sac, “Good-bye.” The family to the West of us may or may not put up a few lights just before Christmas. The family at the corner is Jewish and they don’t decorate. And then there is Elvis. The next family is Jewish and they don’t decorate and then the man who lives on the corner is a bachelor and he doesn’t decorate.

So it’s left up to me and Elvis. I gotta cut this short and get out there and get going!


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In his autobiographical book, The Sacred Journey, Frederick Buechner writes: “If God speaks to us at all in this world, if God speaks anywhere, it is into our personal lives that he speaks. Someone we love dies, say. Some unforeseen act of kindness or cruelty touches the heart or makes the blood run cold. We fail a friend, or a friend fails us, and we are appalled at the capacity we all of us have for estranging the very people in our lives we need the most…”

I was especially drawn to his words: “We fail a friend, or a friend fails us, and we are appalled at the capacity we all of us have for estranging the very people in our lives we need the most…”

The words remind me of an old song, “You always hurt the one you love, the one you shouldn’t hurt at all. You always take the sweetest rose and crush it until the petals fall. You always break the kindest heart with a hasty word you can’t recall.”

My question is WHY? Why do we do this?


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Be careful what you practice. Some people practice being frustrated—so they become frustrated. If you insist on always being right, or acting like life is an emergency, then your life will be a reflection of what you practice. You will be frustrated!

However, if you choose to be compassionate, patient, kind and humble—you will bring forth peace. Remember that you become what you practice.

Is what you say you want to be, consistent with what your life really stands for? Ask yourself some questions and be honest with your answers.

We all may need to begin choosing and practicing some different things.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Today I look back at what God has been doing in my life and I see His hand everywhere I look. I have lived for seventy-three years but I have not always been aware of the providence of God—His leading and guiding in my life. Too much of the time I have thought that I was in charge or just being led by blind chance. NOT SO! I agree with Abraham Heschel who said, “Our life is not our own property but a possession of God. And it is this divine ownership that makes life a sacred thing.”

Jesus comes to us in a thousand ways and for a thousand reasons, all of them for our Good. “Behold,” He says, “I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).

I grew up in a religious environment that saw God in only one place—the Bible. I now know that is wrong headed thinking. I am committed to living a more reflective life so I can be more spiritually sensitive to the everyday moments of life. Looking back over my life I see God everywhere. I am what I am and where I am because of Him.

I thank God every day for His leading. I pray for strength to follow!


Friday, November 23, 2007

Charlotte is downstairs decorating our Christmas tree. Allen and I put the tree up yesterday because I wanted and needed his help and he is going out of town on a business trip next week. Charlotte is the decorator and has been for years. There was a time when it was a family affair. We went out in the cold, wet weather to look at every Christmas tree lot and every tree. One year, we went out in the country and cut down our own tree.
We always helped decorate but Carol, Allen and I became discouraged when year after year, Charlotte ended up moving the decorations we placed on the tree. Our thinking became, “Since you are going to move everything we put on the tree, it would be easier on all of us, if you just did it all to begin with.” That was years ago!

Charlotte is a “professional” tree decorator. She really is. Our tree is beautiful now that she does it all by herself. It didn’t look so great back when we all had a hand in it. There was only so much she could do to correct our “mistakes.” She has always felt bad about it and for years she pleaded for us to come back into the game. But we really didn’t want to work hard enough to do it right so we were pleased to find an excuse to sit back and watch.

First and foremost we think of Christ at Christmas but it also is a fun time. We love Christmas! So this year we have kinda’ “jumped the gun” and got off to an early start. But I guess that is alright, we are from Oklahoma and “SOONERS” at heart!


Thursday, November 22, 2007

WOW! TODAY IS THANKSGIVING DAY 2007! It doesn’t seem possible. Time just seems to fly by. And Saturday will be my 73rd birthday. Seventy-three years of seeing Thanksgiving Days come and go—a lot of memories.

There were years and years of family gatherings. They were wonderful! They have now tapered down to usually just our immediate family. But that’s good too. We have a mountain of memories. Today we will do some personal family things. My son will help me put up our Christmas tree. Charlotte usually helps me but this year she is nursing a bad knee.

When I think of my blessings I think of the churches I ministered with in California and Arizona. Pastoring a church has to be one of the highest of all callings. In this position, one has the privilege of touching life at its tenderest points. After all these years I say to the churches, “Thanks for the memories!”

I have no way of knowing what other surprises God has over the horizon. I do not know what lies ahead, but for today I pause and praise Him and thank Him for the memories.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I have loved going to the grocery store since I was kid. I started working in a grocery store when I was in the ninth grade. I worked through High School and four years of college. Today we have super markets and I love them. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we have a lot to be thankful for. Grocery stores should be on all of our lists of things to be thankful for. They are beautiful and full of great stuff.

I went to the grocery store today. Charlotte and I both went yesterday and bought “tons” of stuff, but of course, we forgot some things. I went back today. One thing I wanted was a half gallon of 2% milk. I looked and I looked. I thought I must be going blind. Nobody runs out of half gallons of milk. I asked the manager. He said, “Let me check.” He checked and said, “No.” That’s it—not, “No, I’m sorry,” not “No, try back later,” just plain “No.” Later strolling back past the milk I saw a sign that said, “Albertson’s Gallon size milk, $1.99.” I said, “Ok, I’ll take that!”

I went up and down every aisle looking for dried beans. Since Charlotte was making corn bread today for tomorrow’s dressing, we decided to have beans. I asked a cute young thing working in the flower department where the dried beans were. She didn’t know and before I could stop her she raced all the way to the front of the store and across to the last checkout stand and inquired. She came rushing back and headed for the produce department. I followed behind saying, “No, no, dried beans are not in produce. Listen to me; I worked in a store for years. They are not in produce.” She didn’t listen. The man in produce said, “They are on the backside of the pasta aisle.” I wanted to go there alone. The cute little thing wouldn’t let me. She insisted on showing the way but she didn’t know the way. I finally got the beans.

On the way out I saw a sign that said, “Dreyer’s Half-gallon Ice Cream , 2 for $5.00.” I love ice cream! I love Dreyer’s Ice Cream! Wouldn’t you know it—no vanilla! At least I couldn’t see it. Rows and rows of ice cream but no vanilla. Finally, when I turned the corner and started to leave I saw it all by itself away from the other ice cream.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and one of the things I am thankful for is the great super markets. They are beautiful and full of great stuff—if you can find it!


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I was deeply moved and strongly impressed by a story told by Dr. Emile Cailliet. The story is too long to print in its entirety so I will quote and paraphrase as follows.

“In the Lord’s providence, the upward trail I was now following led me through a genuine Christian community as if to illustrate afresh the Master’ assertion, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” The circumstances that led me to these good people were of a rather unusual nature.”

Dr. Cailliet had been invited to spend a week in a mountain cabin when their little boy became ill and there was no doctor within reach. The only doctor was in a distant village that could only be reached by goats’ trails across a mountain. So he put the boy on his shoulders and started on the demanding journey. A small surgical intervention was called for so he had to leave his son over night. As he walked the street aimlessly looking for a place to eat and sleep, a man asked him if he could be of any help. Having heard his story the man opened his home to him. He introduced him to his wife and children. The children stopped their games and stood up to greet him with an inbred reverence. He was immediately taken upstairs to “his” room which was neat and clean. A short time later a gentle knock was heard on the door, and supper was announced.

Down stairs he found a long table with a patriarchal figure standing at the center. It was the grandfather. He had long hair and a white beard. A well-worn family Bible was open in front of him. Next to him on one side stood the man who had invited him in; on the other side, his wife. To her left, the little ones were seated according to age; to her husband’s right, their grown-up boy. There was an empty place at the center, next to the patriarch, a place for the guest. The bearded grandfather then began to read the Bible as D. Cailliet has never heard it read since. There followed a prayer; or rather, the patriarch spoke to God, to Him who was near. Then there was a silence from the depths of which emerged the singing of a psalm. The old man invited their guest to sit down; he in his turn sat down, and the others followed. The free and cheerful conversation that followed soon gave evidence of the genuine happiness enjoyed by this family.

After a wonderful night of sleep, Dr. Cailliet found the same scene re-enacted at the breakfast table. This time, the patriarch rose at the end to pray for the sick boy and to give thanks for their visitor. He left and made his way to the doctor’s house. He accepted only a nominal fee, because, he said, Dr. Cailliet was a stranger in need.

“With the lad happily back on my shoulders, I started on my return journey across the mountain; yet I was no longer the same man, for the experience just evoked was to leave and indelible mark upon me.”

And it has left an indelible mark on me too. We move too fast, miss too much and fail to enjoy genuine happiness.


Monday, November 19, 2007

It has been coming on now for over a month. That which was burned to a crisp by the summer sun and before that frozen to death in the winds and frost—has returned to life.
The bougainvillea is beautiful. There is a large pink one, a small pink one and a large red one in the back as well as a fairly large pink one out in front of the house. The green bushes and cactuses seem greener than I have seen them in a long time. The fichus trees are green; the fruit trees have blossoms on them and my neighbor’s grapefruits hanging over the fence just above our pool looks beautiful. They almost look good enough to eat, but I don’t really care for grapefruit. The flowers in pots around the pool and patio provide an array of color.

The weather person is predicting cooler weather for Thanksgiving Day and following. We have lived in the desert for over eighteen years and it rarely freezes. Last year it did.
I’m hoping its cool enough to have a fire in the fireplace on Thanksgiving Day. It’s already cool enough to have a fire to knock off the morning chill. But I do not want it to eventually freeze and kill our trees and flowers.

The Suns are in first place in their division, the Cardinals won again yesterday and still have a chance to make the playoffs, and Arizona State is ranked sixth in the nation and is playing Southern Cal on Thanksgiving Day. LIFE HAS RETURNED TO THE VALLEY!


Sunday, November 18, 2007

“Those who have abandoned themselves to God always lead mysterious lives and receive from him exceptional and miraculous gifts by means of the most ordinary, natural and chance experiences in which there appears to be nothing unusual. The simplest sermon, the most banal conversations, the least erudite books become a source of knowledge and wisdom to these souls by virtue of God’s purpose. This is why they carefully pick up the crumbs which clever minds tread under foot, for to them everything is precious and a source of enrichment.” Jean-Pierre De Caussade
The Sacrament of the Present Moment


Saturday, November 17, 2007

“Do what you should do, and you will know what to do. God clarifies in the midst of obedience, not beforehand.” Erwin McManus


Friday, November 16, 2007

People all around are looking at us to see what we do—how we live. The world is looking at the United States, observing, evaluating us. Are we a good example? I could write pages about this, but I won’t. Peggy Noonan wrote on this subject today and she does a much better job than I will ever do. Check it out at:


Thursday, November 15, 2007

A newspaper ran a contest asking kids for their profound thoughts (akin to the old “Deep Thoughts” segment on Saturday Night Live). Here are some submissions:

“I believe you should live each day as if it is your last, which is why I don't have any clean laundry because, come on, who wants to wash clothes on the last day of their life?” (Age 15)”
"Give me the strength to change the things I can, the grace to accept the things I cannot, and a great big bag of money.” (Age 13)
“Democracy is a beautiful thing, except for that part about letting just any old yokel vote.” (Age 10)”For centuries, people thought the moon was made of green cheese. Then the astronauts found that the moon is really a big hard rock. That's what happens to cheese when you leave it out.” (Age 6)”As you make your way through this hectic world of ours, set aside a few minutes each day. At the end of the year, you'll have a couple of days saved up.” (Age 7)”If we could just get everyone to close their eyes and visualize world peace for an hour, imagine how serene and quiet it would be until the looting started.” (Age 15)(From Docs Daily Chuckle)


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

For all of us who are married, were married, wish you were married, or wish you weren’t married, this is something to smile about the next time you see a bottle of wine.

Sally was driving home from one of her business trips in Northern Arizona when she saw an elderly Navajo woman walking on the side of the road.

As the trip was a long and quiet one, she stopped the car and asked the Navajo woman if she would like a ride. With a silent nod of thanks, the woman got into the car.

Resuming the journey, Sally tried in vain to make a bit of small talk with the Navajo woman. The old woman just sat silently, looking intently at everything she saw, studying every little detail, until she noticed a brown bag on the seat next to Sally.

“What’s in the bag?” asked the old woman. Sally looked down at the brown bag and said, “It’s a bottle of wine I got it for my husband.” The Navajo woman was silent for another moment or two. Then speaking with quiet wisdom of an elder, she said: “Good trade…”


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Who is this god who determines what is and is not politically correct? Why does he have the authority to say what is a correct word or a wrong word?

In my book (the Bible) the God who created all things, the Lord of heaven and earth is the only one who has authority over right and wrong. It is true we have entrusted certain individuals/groups in our society with determining when we as citizens get things wrong.
But most of the time they find a way to screw this up by trying to be politically correct.

Lowes has decided to call Christmas trees, family trees because the word Christmas offends some people. The only greeting some stores give is, Happy Holidays. Merry Christmas might offend somebody. The morning news reported that a Governor of one of our states that desperately needs rain has called a prayer meeting for everybody who wants to come. You guessed it. Protesters are saying it shouldn’t be done because it might offend somebody.

We should never intentionally offend anybody. But if doing what is right does offend then it’s just TOUGH!


Monday, November 12, 2007

I like the following words from Dr. Emile Cailliet:

Thus in the case of a pilgrim, life may be likened to a journey up and down, on occasion through foggy weather, now and then encouraged by patches of brightness sometimes dim and small. Again, these may grow larger and brighter, and appear at least often enough to sustain the wayfarer in the faith that above and beyond there is a light streaming in a glory of luminous blue—even as he finds himself groping his way through murky weather. …It has always been my experience that the greater the blessing, the darker and more threatening the immediately intervening cloud. The greater our victories in the spiritual realm, the more painful the trials that are sure to follow, in quick succession.”

Nobody said it would be easy—the life of the pilgrim. But pilgrims we are—and we journey on, encouraged by the glimmers of hope that occasionally break through the clouds. If we do what is right, it will be alright!


Sunday, November 11, 2007

I’m always reading something and thinking, “I wish I had written that.” What I mean is, “’I like this. I really like it.”

Peggy Noonan is one of my favorite authors and my favorite speech writer. She is a writer on the Opinion Page of the Wall Street Journal. She writes great stuff on a regular basis. A few days ago she wrote one of her best. Check it out at:


Saturday, November 10, 2007


Today, on the way to Trader Joes, I drove past the building that once was the home of Krispy Kreme Donuts. The building that once held such an attraction for me now makes me sad.

Paper banners hung on the windows: FLU SHOTS HERE TODAY.

I feel a little moisture in the corners of my eyes.


Friday, November 09, 2007

Standing in line at Fry’s Market waiting to be checked out, I couldn’t help but overhear the checkout lady and the lady customer downgrading men. They started with the customer’s son-in-law who was described as a lazy, no good bum. They proceeded on to agree that all men are lazy and that they pretend to be great workers until you marry them and then—look out!

I smiled. And then I smiled some more. I never once said anything or laughed out loud. I know you find this hard, if not impossible to believe—but it’s true.

The lady customer saw the smile on my face and said, “What do you have to say about this?” Never one to pass up an invitation to pass on my superior knowledge and experience, I said, “Well look who’s made the trip to the grocery store. You don’t see any woman with me, do you? My wife is at home. I’m here. When I get home I will be cooking this food and serving it to her.” (I didn’t tell them she had a bum knee) “Oh wow,” said the customer “You are different. My husband couldn’t make a peanut butter sandwich.”

I left with my head held high and a silly little smirk on my face. Smile fellas. I struck a blow for men. I realize it wasn't a knock out blow--but a blow never the less.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

“Listen Babe, this is not Disneyland.” I made this remark to my sweet wife one sunny day in Jerusalem. She understood immediately what I was talking about. For years we lived “just down the road” from Disneyland and so we went there often. One year when relatives came to visit and to “treat” our teen helpers for Vacation Bible School, we went three or four times. WE ALMOST ALWAYS RAN INTO SOMEBODY WE KNEW.

Los Angeles is a big place, Disneyland is big—and it’s not in the heartland of America. You would think that you could go there many times over many years and never see anybody but strangers. Well, not us—we almost always saw somebody we knew.

So, walking in the Garden of Gethsemane, Charlotte asked, “Do you think we will see anybody we know?” Smart me, I blurted out, “Listen Babe, this is not Disneyland.” We walked a few more feet and came face to face with a man we had known when we were teenagers living in Oklahoma. We hadn’t seen him in years. We lived hundreds of miles apart. We were thousands of miles from home, and wouldn’t you know it—there stood Virgil Trout!

I almost said a word that should never be said in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Holy City of Jerusalem—or anyplace else for that matter. What did Charlotte say? I don’t remember. But she is still smiling and that was 29 years ago!


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

At 5:30 A.M. we walked into Scottsdale Healthcare at Thompson Peak Parkway. This new hospital opened on Monday and Charlotte was entering today (Wednesday) as one of their first patients and the first patient on this particular day.

Over the years I have been in and out of hospitals visiting members of the church and let me tell you, this hospital is at the top of the line. It is excellent in everyway. We toured the facility on Saturday, even going into the operating room. This morning I had breakfast in the cafeteria and that too was top notch.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is not a place you want to have to visit. But if you do need a hospital, and can,--choose this one. Charlotte was there as an out-patient, so we didn’t stay any longer than necessary. But we are making plans to go back as volunteers, one day a week.

I have been ill in a lot of different places—Oklahoma, California, Ethiopia, India, and I am grateful beyond words for good doctors, nurses and health facilities wherever they are. And today, I am especially thankful for Scottsdale Healthcare at Thompson Peak Parkway.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Since I am having a birthday this month, the last few days I have been thinking about growing older.

I like these words from Mike Cope: “I’ve seen many people age well: ripened with kindness, wisdom and patience. They age like good wine.”

Ah, that’s how I would like to ripen. If it’s not happening please tell me. You will be my friend if you do.


Monday, November 05, 2007

Arizona State University has long been noted for being a party school. Nobody would have ever accused the students of praying. Well, hold the phone. Students outside the Danforth Meditation Chapel on the Tempe campus have been conducting a 24-hour-a-day, 21-day prayer marathon.

You may be saying, “If they prayed about the ASU/Oregon football game their prayers are not very effective.” Don’t be too sure. I know a lot of prayers and I feel rather strongly that they prayed for their team to do their best and for them not to get injured.” That pray may very well have been answered.

Bottom line: I see a glimmer of hope on that campus. I’m praying for the prayers. Keep it up. “Prayer changes things.”


Sunday, November 04, 2007

For about fifty-six years I have been “going to church.” I have rarely ever missed--most of those Sundays I was in the pulpit. I started preaching when I was in the twelfth grade. Many think of going to church as going to the church building. I think of it as assembling with other Christians for worship.

I have worshipped with Christians in places like Ethiopia, India, Israel and many places in the United States. It is wonderful to meet with people of “like mind” and raise your voices to and bow before a Holy God. There is nothing like it. Worshipping with other Christians is one of the most important things in my life.

I hope you have a church to worship with today. Getting together with your Christian “family” is a blessing you should not miss.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

I had my annual physical this week. Just tryin’ to stay alive. I don’t know why. It’s just somethin’ we do. But try as hard as we can, we can’t duck death forever. The writer of Hebrews tells us we are going to die!

Here are some grim facts from Job 21:23:
Some people die in the prime of life, with everything going for them—fat and sassy.
Others die bitter and bereft, never getting a taste of happiness. They’re laid out side by side in the cemetery, where the worms can’t tell one from the other. (Job 21:23-26 MSG)

But listen, it’s not all bad. God says, “The day you die is better than the day you are born” (Eccles. 7:1). The apostle Paul said, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:5-55)

Max Lucado says, “With Christ as your friend and heaven as your home, the day of death becomes sweeter than the day of birth.”

I don’t remember my birth but hearing about it I know it couldn’t have been all that great. So I’m glad to hear that death is sweeter. You might as well look forward to it—you can’t duck it forever!


Friday, November 02, 2007

You can learn some good stuff from watching television.

One commercial shows several people in a tram that is stopped high in the sky. They are just dangling there in mid-air. They all look frightened and then one guy says not to worry he has been to a seminar so he starts talking. Another guy looks down, sees a start button, pushes it and they get on their way again. DON’T JUST TALK, DO SOMETHING.

Another commercial takes place in a restaurant. One man at a table starts to choke to death. One guy says he knows what the problem is and what the solution is because he has seen it demonstrated. He and the others are discussing it, the man is choking and a man from another table comes over, grabs the man around the chest and squeezes and the man coughs up the food that was choking him. DON’T JUST TALK ABOUT IT, DO SOMETHING.

On a popular Thursday night program I heard this wise saying, “It's not enough just to know about your crap, you need to do something about it. Change." I say, Amen!


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Jake was dying, and his wife, Becky, was maintaining a candlelight vigil by his side. She held his fragile hand, tears running down her face. Her praying roused him from his slumber. He looked up and his pale lips began to move slightly.
"My darling Becky," he whispered.
"Hush, my love," she said. "Rest. Shhh, don't talk."
He was insistent. "Becky," he said in his tired voice. "I....I have something I must confess to you."
"There's nothing to confess," replied the weeping Becky. "Everything's all right, go to sleep."
"No, no. I must die in peace, Becky. I...I fooled around with your sister, your best friend, and her best friend!"
"I know..." Becky whispered softly, "That's why I poisoned you."