Friday, February 29, 2008

Mike Cope shared a story on his blog that he heard from a relative. It is the story of what a three year old boy named Ryan did last Sunday during the morning assembly.

The preacher was preaching away when the door to the auditorium flew open and in came little Ryan screaming, “Don’t let them get me.” The preacher stopped preaching and said, Who is after you Ryan?” Ryan said, “They are trying to get my playdough.” The preacher shouted, “Run Ryan, run. Don’t let them get your playdough. Go through this side door.”

Ryan ran through the door squealing at the top of his voice. The congregation broke out in laughter and applause. The main door came open again and in walked a bewildered teacher looking for an escaped child.



Thursday, February 28, 2008

I love the Book of Proverbs. It is full of common sense. It’s hard to understand how so many of us miss these great, but simple truths.

“… if you keep a cool head, you’ll avoid rash bargains.” Proverbs 11:15

“When you are kind to others, you help yourself; when you’re cruel to others, you hurt yourself.” Proverbs 11:17

“The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.” Proverbs 11:25

“A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump; a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree.” Proverbs 11:28

Good advice! Thanks God!


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

We all have tasks. We have them everyday. We have them for a lifetime.

In Genesis 24: 42, Abraham’s servant said, “God, God of my master Abraham make things turn out well in this task I’ve been given.” (The Message)

That’s my prayer for today, and tomorrow and all the next days.

“O Lord, God…if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come.” (NIV)


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It is a blessing to be associated with the Scottsdale Bible Church. Today it was my pleasure to visit with some of the staff at the Biblical Counseling Center. The center is staffed with licensed Christian professionals and numerous trained Christian lay people reaching out to the church family and community in their times of need. They are a no-fee facility and confidentiality is one of their major priorities.

The mission of the Counseling Center is to glorify God and help others remove barriers that prevent a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. This outreach of God’s love is for any individual who is hurting both in the congregation and in the community.

A new book has just come on the market with the title, God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question—Why We Suffer. The man who wrote the book is a Christian and a brilliant professor at a leading university in the south, who lost his faith because he couldn’t answer the problem of why God allows us to suffer. He asks some good questions in this book but he doesn’t have the answers. I think the Bible does provide the answer—it just isn’t easy to see.

Can the people at the Counseling Center answer your questions about human suffering? I don’t know. This is tough stuff. But I do know that they will share their faith with you, pray with you, and help you find your own answer.


Monday, February 25, 2008

If punishment is called for—do it now!

“When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong.” Ecclesiastes 8:11 NIV

“Because the sentence against evil deeds is so long in coming, people in general think they can get by with murder.” Ecclesiastes 8:11 The Message

If punishment is called for—do it now! We have all heard parents say to their child, “You do that one more time and I’m going to…” They repeat the warning over and over again and nothing ever happens. The child knows this and his heart becomes filled with schemes to do wrong. It’s just that simple.

We need to speed up the process of judging and carrying out punishment of crimes and misdemeanors. If punishment is the right thing to do—do it now!


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Wait? Wait? What do you mean wait? I want what I want and I want it now!

My middle initial is L. It should have been I for impatient.

I have never wanted to wait—not for anything.

Where did this attitude come from? I must have picked it up from my family. It sure didn’t come from the Bible. My nephew and I were just talking yesterday about the fact that the Bible teaches and it certainly proves true in life, that a relaxed attitude helps you live longer. At the rate I’m going, I won’t live very long.

When you wait on God with the right attitude, wonderful things happen.

It’s not enough just to know this—we need to put it into practice. Let’s do it together!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I found George Carlin’s new rules for 2008 on Ben Witherington’s blog. Ben is a theologian that I read often. Now George can be a bit on the raunchy side ,but he isn’t usually profane and he is funny, and I like professor Witherington, read his “stuff.” I realize this is entirely too long. It is the longest blog I have ever posted. When you get tired of reading—just quit

New Rule:Stop giving me that pop-up ad for ! There's a reasonyou don't talk to people for 25 years. Because you don't particularlylike them! Besides, I already know what the captain of the footballteam is doing these days . . mowing my lawn.

New Rule:Don't eat anything that's served to you out a window unless you're a seagull. People are acting all shocked that a human finger was found in a bowl of Wendy's chili. Hey, it cost less than a dollar. What did you expect it to contain? Trout?

New Rule:Ladies, leave your eyebrows alone. Here's how much men care about your eyebrows: do you have two of them? Okay, we're done.

New Rule:There's no such thing as flavored water. There's a whole aisle of this stuff at the supermarket, water, but without that watery taste. Sorry,but flavored water is called a soft drink. You want flavored water?Drink some of that salinized water at the beach that comes out of your faucet there!

New Rule:Stop messing with old people. Target is introducing a redesigned pillbottle that's square, with a bigger label. And the top is now the bottom.And by the time grandpa figures out how to open it, he will be in the morgue.Congratulations, Target, you just solved the Social Security crisis.

New Rule:The more complicated the Starbucks order, the more annoying the drinker. If you walk into a Starbucks and order a "decaf grande half-soy, half-lowfat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread cappuccino, extra dry,light ice, with one Sweet-n'-Low, and one NutraSweet," boy are you messed up.

New Rule:I'm not the cashier! By the time I look up from sliding my card,entering my PIN number, pressing "Enter," verifying the amount,deciding, no, I don't want cash back, and pressing "Enter" again, the kid who is supposed to be ringing me up is standing there eating my Almond Joy.

New Rule:Just because your tattoo has Chinese characters in it doesn't make you spiritual. It's right above your least flattering feature, and it translates to "beef with broccoli." The last time you did anything spiritual, you were praying to God you weren't pregnant. You're not spiritual.You're just high.

New Rule:I don't need a bigger mega M&Ms If I'm extra hungry for M&Ms,I'll go nuts and eat two.

New Rule:No more gift registries. You know, it used to be just for weddings.Now it's for babies and new homes and graduations from rehab. Pickingout the stuff you want and having other people buy it for you isn'tgift giving, it's the white people version of looting.

New Rule: and this one is long overdue:No more bathroom attendants. After I zip up, some guy is offering me atowel and a mint. I can't even tell if he's supposed to be there,or just some freak with a fetish. I don't want to be on your web cam, dude.I just want to wash my hands.

New Rule:When I ask how old your toddler is, I don't need to know in months."27 Months" is way over the top. "He's two," will do just fine. He's not a cheese.

New Rule:If you ever hope to be a credible adult and want a job that pays better than minimum wage, then for God's sake don't pierce or tattoo every available piece of flesh. If you do, then plan your future around saying" Do you want fries with that?"


Friday, February 22, 2008

Little George Washington is reported to have said, I cannot tell a lie; it was me when his father asked, “Who cut down the tree?” This may be the most famous story about lying in American history. This story was told by Parson Weems in a biography written in the nineteenth century.

The most famous story about not lying in America was a lie. (A quote from John Ortberg)

Politicians are always being accused of lying. Today it is John McCain. Tomorrow it will be somebody else. But politicians are not alone in this. It seems that we all are caught up in lying. Repair shops pad their bills, job seekers pad their resumes, teens lie to their parents, spouses lie to each other and on and on it goes—one lie after another.

The sad thing is—nobody seems to notice too much unless it is somebody famous doing the lying. Bill Clinton and John McCain should not lie, but neither should we!


Thursday, February 21, 2008

I like the following words of John Ortberg.

My eye, hand, and foot are not the problem. The problem is my heart. Integrity is much bigger than simply avoiding breaking the rules. It is becoming the kind of person who does the right thing. Integrity does not mean I get really good at not doing the things I really want to do. It is not using lots of willpower to override my desires. It means I become the kind of person who actually wants to do what is right.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Walk Worthy Book Store, located at the Scottsdale Bible Church is a splendid place to spend time. I work there on Sunday mornings, before and after the 9:45 worship service. I help people locate the books and bibles they are interested in. Most of the time when a person is shopping for a bible they need lots of help in making a decision.
I also work one morning a week.

It is a joy to see people leaving the store with good books in their hands. They also buy cards and music that help spread the joy found in Christ.

Hopefully I will soon be doing some work on the store’s web page. I look forward to promoting books through the web page and the monthly newspaper. These are things that need to be worked out but I get excited just thinking about it.

Walk Worthy Books and Music has a specific inventory to help people meet Jesus, to grow and be like him and go and serve him.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The following quote is from Rubel Shelley. After reading his words I bought the book and read it. I am as excited about the book as he is. I hope you will read it and share it with your friends.

William P. Young's The Shack is the most engaging book I have read in ten years. My wife and I have given away a couple dozen copies (so far!) and are recommending it to all our friends.This isn't "dry, boring theology"; it is a novel. It pulls together in a creative way some healthy insights about the nature and activity of God in order to tackle the problem of human suffering. You owe it to yourself to read this book. My guess is that you will wind up sharing it with your friends and inviting them to discuss it with you.


Monday, February 18, 2008

I grew up thinking that the President of the United States was the ultimate! I even thought that the President of a bank or the President of anything was pretty special. Not anymore! They are just people. They get into their pants one leg at a time, just like everybody else. I was silly enough to think that they could and would make a difference. I thought they would always do the right thing whether it was politically right or not. Wrong again!

Today I will be cooking outside, laying around the pool and I might even do a little (very little) yard work. Nothing I do today will relate to Presidents. Oh, we have had a few good ones, I guess. Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan are two of my favorites. But I just don’t get too excited about Presidents anymore. I kind of favor the “little guy” down at the bottom of the ladder more than the guy at the top.

What will President Bush be doing today? If he takes a holiday he will probably be riding his bike over dusty trails on his property in Texas or clearing it of brush. If he doesn’t take a holiday he will be figuring out ways to spend more money (not his, ours) or give more away. And without a doubt he will be planning ways to assist those who are in our country illegally.

Happy Presidents Day!


Sunday, February 17, 2008

This morning the preacher, preaching out of the Book of Esther, kept talking about “God room.” He wanted us to be like Esther and give God room to work in our lives.

I can tell you from experience, that giving God room to work in your life is an exciting way to live—it’s the only way to live! It would be impossible for me to count the number of times God has worked in my life when I have given Him room.

God is great! Just give Him room and then stand back and watch Him work


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Lloyd John Ogilvie spoke at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California recently on the subject, Preaching with Passion. That’s it folks. If a person is going to preach, he should preach with passion or not at all. If he can’t do it, or won’t do it, then he should quit. He may not need to leave the ministry but he definitely should leave the pulpit. It’s a sin to make people sit, week after week, listening to someone who is just muddling through. Do it with passion or don’t do it! I am thankful to God that I sit every week at the feet of a man who studies the Word and then clearly presents it with passion.

But since I don’t have a host of preachers reading this blog, I need to write about passion in general. We need to do everything we do with passion.

I listened to Celion Dion sing last night in a special concert on television. Wow! Celion knows how to sing with passion and more passion. Wow! Wow!

Read with passion, talk with passion, sing with passion, LIVE A PASSIONATE LIFE!


Friday, February 15, 2008

Johann Sabastian Bach said, “Without my morning coffee I am just like a dried up piece of roast goat.”

Johann must have been a java junkie. I see a lot of folks like him when we occasionally go out for breakfast. You can recognize them across a crowded room. They stare straight ahead. Their eyes are glazed over. They mumble when spoken to.

I’ll never understand it. I drink coffee. I even like it a little bit. But I never, ever, crave it or have to have it to get my “motor” running.

College took its toll on me. I found myself staying up until the wee hours of the morning cramming for Greek exams and trying to finish term papers. Needless to say, I was doing a lot of “horsing around” when I should have been studying. I was the “Whom” as in “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and when the bell started tolling I started drinking (coffee that is). I still don’t know if it was the caffeine that helped me make it through the night or just plain fear.

Come to think about it, I feel like a dried up piece of roast goat in the morning, with or without coffee.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

We say we love God, mom, apple pie, ice cream, movies, books, cars, our country, and on and on it goes. All this love and we have just one word to describe our feelings about everything from God to gummy bears. That word is LOVE!

The Greeks had four words for love: Affection, Friendship, Eros, and Charity.

So, what does love mean? I like the way Paul breaks it down in l Corinthians, chapter 13.

Love never gives up, love cares more for others than for self, love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have, love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first”, doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end.”

“O God, you are love; help us to show your love to others every day. This we ask for your love’s sake. Amen”


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I love baseball and most baseball players. I don’t know much about steroids. I hate lying!

Roger Clemens is a great baseball player. He may or may not have used steroids. It sure looks like he is a liar!

Every game comes with a set of rules. But we often find ways around the rules.

We find ingenious ways to lie by not telling the truth. When caught breaking the rules, we become so busy protesting our innocence—“You don’t think I’d lie do you?”—that we don’t even notice our lack of integrity.

Don’t turn on the television set today expecting to see and hear much news. It is all about one thing—Congress' investigation into the use of steroids in baseball.

They keep saying, “Somebody is not telling the truth.” I personally do not believe that anybody involved is telling the truth. In fact, I think they are incapable of telling the truth! No, it’s not Bill and Hillary on trial; it’s Roger Clemens and his former trainer.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Yale theologian Miroslav Volf says that there are two kinds of richness in life: “richness of having” and “richness of being.” We usually focus on richness of having. We think true happiness lies there.

If only I could have my dream house…
If only I could have a higher salary…
When I get a better car…

We seek richness of having, but what we really want is richness of being. On the other hand, we can have very little and yet be rich.

(Thoughts selected from John Ortberg’s WHEN THE GAME IS OVER IT ALL GOES BACK IN THE BOX}


Monday, February 11, 2008

Great question! David asked, “Shall I give to the Lord that which costs me nothing?”

David had been offered everything he needed to give an offering to God. He turned it down. He didn’t want to offer to God that which had cost him nothing.

Most of us would have jumped at the chance—not David.

When we put thought and effort into our giving, we get great joy.

Think about this the next time you give something. Little time, little effort, little thought—little joy.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Today is Sunday, the first day of the week. I wake up almost every Sunday amazed that another week has gone by and a new one is starting. I don’t know why I am amazed. This has been the order of things all my life. But it does seem like the older I get, the faster a week goes by.

The philosopher Simone Weil wrote, “All the tragedies that we can imagine can be reduced to just one: the passage of time.”

John Ortberg said, “Life does not have a rewind button, so we must seek to get it right the first time.”

Someone has said, “Life is one of those games in which you can only move forward.”

Ah yes, the passage of time. It just keeps moving forward. So if John Ortberg is right, and he is—I want to get it right the first time. Today will be the first time for a lot of stuff!


Saturday, February 09, 2008

It looks like I will be through with my duties inside and outside the house by noon.

You know the routine: vacuum, mop, clean the toilets, pick up, straighten up, organize and put away stuff, backwash the pool, add chemicals, water plants, wash off walkways, straighten up the patio, etc.

Then I will be through and free to do what I really want to do.

But it looks like I’m going to be so pooped I will need a nap.

Oh well, what’s Saturday afternoon for when you’re seventy-three? It’s sure not for cruising main street looking for the best deal in town or chicks, (well, maybe chicks) or going to a movie.


Friday, February 08, 2008

In his book, When The Game Is Over It All Goes Back In The Box, John Ortberg tells the story of the great Scottish essayist and historian Thomas Carlyle. Carlyle’s wife, Jane became ill and he was so devoted to his work he did not seem to notice her poor health much. Eventually it was determined she had cancer and was confined to bed. He truly loved her but did not have much time to stay with her or much attention to give her.

After several years of this, Jane died. On the day of her funeral Carlyle was suddenly, shatteringly empty. He went to her bedroom and found her diary. On an entire page she had written a single line: “Yesterday he spent an hour with me and it was like heaven; I love him so.” He turned the page and found: “I have listened all day to hear his steps in the hall, but now it is late and I guess he won’t come today.”

He read a little more and then ran out of the house. Friends finally found him kneeling at the side of her grave. His eyes were read from weeping; tears were rolling down his face. “If only I had known, if only I had known,” he cried.

Thursday is Valentine’s Day. I’m sure we will remember. But let’s not treat this day the way some treat Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. Paying attention is not an annual event!


Thursday, February 07, 2008

This morning I got up and went without breakfast and I don’t like to do that. I was fasting because I needed to have my blood drawn for a diabetes test and I don’t like that.

I was having my blood taken because I do that every three months when I go to the doctor. Going to the doctor is another thing I don’t like to do.

The next thing on the agenda was stopping by to make an appointment with the eye doctor. That is two things I don’t like: (1) Making an appointment and (2) Getting an eye exam.

In the afternoon I got a haircut and that is something else I don’t like.

After the haircut I went to the grocery store and I don’t like that either.



Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A friend, commenting on yesterday’s blog told me I forgot the “Good Stuff.”

The problem, as I see it, is not that all stuff is bad. It’s that all stuff is not good and we have a hard time telling the difference. And perhaps the biggest part of the problem is determining when enough is enough. You know, like “when do I have enough of this stuff?”

When my mother and father-in-law died it took many long days to sort through their stuff and most of it ended up in a dumpster. Yes, a dumpster—of no value to anybody. A long time friend from a church where I served was known for the stuff he collected. Most people laughed about it and considered his stuff, junk. It was good stuff to him!

Thinking its good stuff doesn’t mean that it is. It’s in the eye of the beholder. However, there is a bias that extends to every area of life. I read somewhere that ninety-nine percent of pastors consider themselves above-average preachers. HA!

Yes, we have a hard time evaluating our stuff! But as Richard Carlson would say, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” And in the end, when everything is said and done about our stuff—it’s all small stuff!


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

One of my favorite writers is John Ortberg. I learn a lot from what he writes. The following is from his newest book:

A house, said comedian George Carlin, is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it.

There are now more than 30,000 self-storage facilities in the country offering over a billion square feet for people to store their stuff.We now spend $12 billion a year just to pay someone to store our extra stuff!

You may require a “closet exorcist.” A trusted friend can help prevent the “re-stuffing phenomenon.” Re-stuff happens when, in the process of cleaning out closets and drawers, we are somehow stimulated to acquire new stuff. Beware of the stuff co-addicts, who may see a closet cleaning as a chance to acquire stuff for themselves from your stuff supply. Such friends are likely to go with you on a re-stuffing expedition.

Some people have a gift for acquiring stuff.


Monday, February 04, 2008

It’s Monday!

The Super Bowl was yesterday. Gone. Done. Over. Not again until next year.

This is the Valley of the Sun—but the sun isn’t shining today.

No moxey today. No juices flowing. No ambition. No exciting projects.

I could lie and lay claim to great thoughts, dreams and youthful adventures. But alas, I am not a liar—I’m in a funk!

I’ll bury myself in a book today and enjoy the moments lost in “another world.”

As Scarlett O’Hare would say, “Tomorrows another day.”



Sunday, February 03, 2008

It’s a garbage dump—pure and simple! Let’s face it folks, we can call it a landfill—but it’s still a garbage dump. Garbage, dump and junk are sad words. Landfill sounds a lot better. Everybody wants to have more land.

Call it what you want, it’s still a dump. And that’s where old stuff goes to die. Flat screen TVs, refrigerators, twinkies, broken coffee cups and mugs, all end up at the same place—the dump.

Nobody wants to live next to the city dump so we dress up the name and call it a landfill. It sounds better. We have definitely made it look better in today’s world. But it’s still the place where our “treasures” are eventually dumped.

My wife and I have been married fifty years. We have made a lot of contributions to the landfills in four cities and two states. I know it’s silly but I like to think of our old stuff in a landfill instead of a garbage dump.


Saturday, February 02, 2008

“I don’t drink much coffee, and when I do, I want it in a cup!” My nephew told me this recently without blinking an eye.

“A cup?” “A cup?” “You have got to be kiddin’.” “Nope, I’m not kiddin’.” “That’s just the way I am.”

He and his wife were visiting from California. (Wouldn’t you know it?) When they left I went on a search in our house for coffee cups. I found a few fancy ones in a buffet in the dining room and four or five pretty ones hanging on a hanger on the wall. I think they are just there for show—not for use.

Returning to the kitchen I found lots of mugs. My favorite is a great one from Garland’s Oak Creek Lodge in Sedona. It brings back great memories. Another favorite is from Fort Collins, Colorado. I still remember where and when we bought it.

I love sitting it front of the fireplace with a great mug of coffee. I can’t even imagine sitting there with a coffee cup in my hand. My nephew is coming to visit again soon. I’m setting a coffee cup out for him. I hope he doesn’t use it. It would be embarrassing for both of us.

He was probably just pulling my leg, don’t you think?


Friday, February 01, 2008

She leads the choir at a small church outside Tucson. Sunday it is her turn to bring the special music. She is going to sing the following song. Read the words and think about the message.

I remember when I first heard the news. I thought my life was almost through. Tears filled my eyes and I recall the pain inside. But I knew it was a hill I had to climb.

The road I had to walk was long and dark and it looked like my world would fall apart. Then I fell down on my knees and cried, Dear Lord, Please hear my pleas. And these are the words he spoke to my heart.

I carried the stripes on my back down a long, long road and up Calvary’s hill and it was there for you and the world that my blood was spilled. So don’t you worry, I can carry you, it’s all part of my will. So hold my hand child, it’s just another hill.

So if you’re facing circumstances remember God’s power is real. So hold the Savior’s hand. It’s just another hill.

(Note: I just typed the song without regard to spacing and punctuation. I don’t expect you to try to sing it. Just read it and let the words sink in—especially, “It’s just another hill.”