Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The philosopher Nietzsche said that God is dead!

If God is dead “Nothing is true, everything is permitted.”

This is our number one problem today—everything is permissible!

When we no longer believe in God we lose the most important human values, such as faith, hope and love. This attitude is called, “godlessness.”

We have succumbed to a secular spirit. We do what we want, when we want and how we want. No God—no prohibitions. Everything is permissible!


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I’m praying everyday that the black church in America will speak up for itself. Jeremiah Wright (I’m not going to call him Reverend. I don’t call anybody Reverend but God) has everybody believing that he speaks for all black churches. He doesn’t! Wright may be a “good” man but he is confused about many things. And he certainly does not represent what the black church is all about.

I have great respect for the black churches in America and their habits of worship. Some of the greatest preachers have been and are black. Jeremiah Wright is not one of them. I wish someone like Tony Evans would stand up and describe the real black church and its worship. It’s way past time for this to be done!


Monday, April 28, 2008

For years I have struggled with listening to someone’s story without telling one of my own. I can’t seem to do it. I don’t want to do it—or at least I tell myself that I don’t—but I always end up doing it. I think the problem comes from years of preaching. I feel that I must be able to give people an answer for their problems. Goodness gracious, when will I ever learn that people don’t want to hear my sad story—especially if it tops theirs!

Empathy is what people want. They want us to understand. And we cannot understand unless we listen with the intent to understand instead of the intent to reply.

We can’t have empathy unless we take the time to listen. This is tough! Most of us want others to take the time to listen to our stories but we don’t want to listen to theirs. I’m working on this. I’m trying to learn to keep my big mouth shut and just listen—listen with the intent to understand, not reply!


Sunday, April 27, 2008

There was a time when Jimmy Dean was known for his singing. And then in addition to singing he started making and became famous for his sausage. For a few years now, in addition to his sausage, he has been making other breakfast items. I have tried them off and on but I have never cared for them. That is-until he came up with his breakfast bowls.

The breakfast bowls are bowls containing scrabbled eggs, cheese, potatoes, and either bacon or sausage. I like them both. They are easy to prepare in the microwave (just three minutes). And for someone who is as out of it as I am in the morning—this is a blessing.

I don’t like cereal, but I eat it. I have eaten a lot of it over the years, simply because it was easy to fix and I didn’t want me or my wife to “fool” with preparing a big breakfast. But now I feel that Jimmy has perfected his new breakfast item. I can’t eat them every morning because this is not on my diabetic diet. So I want all you other folks to go out and buy some of these things and keep ol Jimmy in business.

Those breakfast bowls sure are good. Thanks Jimmy!


Saturday, April 26, 2008

We are always comparing ourselves to others—and this is not good or at least it’s dangerous. Comparison can lead to envy or arrogance. It can cause us to compete with others in an unhealthy way. We spend time keeping score instead of enjoying life.

Churches even do this. As you might expect I have spent a lot of time with Christians and other pastors. One of the first things we often do is ask, “So, how is your church going?” What we are really asking is, “How big is your church?” We may honestly be interested in how many souls are being saved, but the temptation is to be keeping score.

We are not in competition with our brothers and sisters in Christ, with our children, our friends, our relatives—with anybody. Don’t compete, don’t compare, just ask Christ to help you keep your eyes on Him.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Last night Charlotte and I had the privilege of attending a banquet at the Desert Ridge Marriott Resort sponsored by James and Betty Robison from Life Outreach International.

James preached a powerful sermon and told about the new project they are involved in called The House of Destiny. They are building a place for young girls to take them off the streets in Thailand and rescue them from a life of sex slavery and prostitution.

I can understand sin. I struggle to understand how people can treat these children the way they are treated. It breaks my heart. Pray for this great ministry and this outreach to save children. Charlotte and I have helped Life Outreach International feed and provide water for children in other parts of the world. Now we feel blessed to be able to help save some of these children in Thailand.

Please pray for this ministry that many may see the heart of God!


Thursday, April 24, 2008

We are always asking, “What’s the score?” We want to know because in our minds, the score defines reality. It tells us how things are going. How people are doing. We have done this all our lives.

A very important question for each of us is, “Who have been the scorekeepers in my life?
For most of us, the first important scorekeepers were our parents. We wanted to win their attention, smiles and approval. Other important scorekeepers were perhaps our teachers, coaches, peers, bosses, coworkers, neighbors.

It’s my opinion that all through life we attempt to keep winning the approval of these scorekeepers—especially the parents. That’s why we are tied forever to buying a particular brand of car, being a lifetime member of a church, always voting for the same political party candidate and on and on it goes. Even after the parents have died, their scorekeeping influence lives on.

My strong opinion is that some who are in almost total disagreement with their church and miserable in attending cannot under any circumstances make a change because their scorekeepers would not approve. The important question in this matter is not, “What would my parents think?” In the final analysis the only question that matters is, “What would HE think?” Turn your life over to Him and you won’t have to worry about the score


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

One won. All the rest lost!

The Arizona Diamondbacks won by one.

The Phoenix Suns lost by six.

Barack Obama lost by 10.

Marlee Matlin lost period.

Yes, I do understand that every time somebody wins somebody loses and vice versa. I wanted the Diamondbacks and Suns to win and I was indifferent toward Obama and Matlin.

I was a busy “boy” last night trying to watch all of this with all of it being on at the same time. I could have recorded something and viewed it later—but hey, I wasn’t that interested. However, I do like to watch people hitting balls and running, bouncing balls and shooting baskets, making predictions, promises, and speeches, and dancing like crazy. What fun!


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"Nothing lasts forever”—not even Malibu lights. Why am I surprised about this? It’s because I was beginning to think that Malibu lights do last forever. Really! We have had our lights for almost twenty years and they just keeping “going” and “going.” Or maybe I should say lighting and lighting.

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against these lights but they did not fail to light. The sun bore down on them without mercy, day after day, year after year and still they gave out their tiny little lights. Nothing seemed to faze them.

Their theme must be taken from the old vacation Bible school song, “This Little Light of Mine.” “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine all the time, all the time, let it shine.”

We have a lot of these lights in the back yard and one or two of them are beginning to fail. Oh sure, I have had to repair some of them over the years but it was never anything serious. Now, I find it easier to just buy a new unit, hook it up and let it shine rather than “fooling around” with an old one that is “at the end of the off ramp.”

“Nothing lasts forever”—not even eyes. In a few weeks they are going to “fool around” with my left eye and remove a cataract. I pray they know more about repairing eyes than I do about Malibu lights.

P.S. Before going to the hardware store I wanted to look at my old Malibu lights to get one to match. I got to fooling around with the one that wasn't working and fixed it. Ha! So I may just replace the old, oxidized, blurry, lense. That's what they are going to do with my eye.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Cancer? No, not as far as I know. Diabetes? No. I have diabetes but I'm taking care of it. Arthritis? No. I suffer from it but I just keep trudging along. Allergies? No. I am suffering from allergies this season but I am going to make it.

What then?

It’s that darn water hose I bought at Costco!

Oh, it’s not Costco’s fault. They are in the business to make money. They will sell anything we will buy. They didn’t even recommend this hose. They just put it out there and like a fool, I came along and picked it up. I thought that at my age I didn’t need a really great hose—meaning one that would last a long time. I just needed a hose that would allow me to do a little watering in the back yard. But this one won’t allow it! It absolutely will not allow it! It twists into knots, binds up, stops the water flow and refuses to cooperate with anything I want to do.

When I was younger I would have thrown this thing in the trash and bought a new one. As I am getting older I have been trying to develop patience (trying but not succeeding) with people and things. But now I've had it!!!

That hose has “bugged” me one time too many! It’s going to the trash and I’m going to Sears.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

The late Fred Rogers, host of the famous “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” had what became a tradition on his show. He would ask the audience to pause for a minute and think about all those who had helped them become who they are.

What a great idea. Why not pause every once in awhile and think about those who have helped you become who you are—a grandparent, school teacher or maybe an aunt or uncle.

I do this almost everyday and I am overwhelmed with gratitude for each one of those who have helped me along the way.

What a group! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

In her book Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert tells this story:
There’s a wonderful old Italian joke about a poor man
who goes to church every day and prays before a statue
of a great saint, begging, “Dear saint—please, please, please…
give me the grace to win the lottery.” This lament goes on
for months. Finally the exasperated statue comes to life
looks down at the begging man and says in weary disgust,
“My son—please, please, please…buy
a ticket.”

I’m not suggesting you buy lottery tickets. I don’t! But I am suggesting that you stop just praying for what you want and start doing something to help your dreams come true. Do something! You can’t win the lottery if you never buy a ticket!


Friday, April 18, 2008

The time just seems to fly by when you are having fun. I spent the morning working in the back yard. I pulled weeds, trimmed palm trees, mowed the lawn and watered all the plants and flowers.

It was lunch time by the time I finished so I cleaned up and sat down for a bite to eat. I had some pub cheddar cheese on one slice of bread. I love that stuff and could have eaten a whole sandwich but I was holding back so I could finish up with banana nut ice cream—which I did. Pub cheese is about as close as I get to a pub. In fact, I guess the last time I was in a pub was on our last trip to London.

Well anyhow, it is now afternoon here in the great state of Arizona and I am just sitting down to write this blog. As you are able to see, I have nothing much on my mind so I am forced to either skip blogging today or tell you about how my day is going.

For the next few minutes I am going to lean back in this chair I’m sitting in, close my eyes and listen to the music I have selected for my play list that appears on my sidebar.
Since you are here, why don’t you listen to it with me? Just click on the music and move down the list for as long as you have the time and inclination.

Now close your eyes and breathe out and in slowly. Don’t you feel better already?


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Philip Yancy is one of my favorite writers and almost all of his words “speak” to me. For years I have felt the way he describes with the following words but this is the first time I have ever found anyone else who felt this way:

“Sometimes I feel like the most liberal person among conservatives, and sometimes like the most conservative among liberals.”


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Friedrich Engels


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

TIME TO SAY GOODBYE is the second song on my music play list (If it is not playing you can go to the side bar and click on it). All of the music I have on my blog has special meaning to me.

1998 was a year of goodbyes for my family. Charlotte and I had gone from Scottsdale to Stockton, California to be with her aging and dying parents. Just before we left to return home we received a call from a niece in Los Angeles saying that if we wanted to see her sister before she died we needed to stop by there on our way home. We immediately made plans to go to L.A.

Driving down interstate 5 we were listening to some of our favorite CD’s when TIME TO SAY GOODBYE came on. This beautiful song by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli brought tears to our eyes. We had learned to love this song before our sadness and we loved it in our sadness—broken hearts and all. The words of this song and our having to say, “Goodbye” somehow cemented us to this music.

Yes, it does make me sad when this song starts playing but my mind is also filled with precious memories of all the good times before the goodbyes and I can smile through my tears.


Monday, April 14, 2008

If you stay on this blog through the music AMAZING GRACE and TIME TO SAY GOODBYE the next music you hear will be ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. Or you can listen to it by just going to the sidebar and clicking on it.

The music is by Ennio Morricone and I think it is beautiful. My favorite rendition is on the DVD Tuscany by Andre Rieu. I can watch and listen to his performance over and over again.

I should mention that I first heard this music when watching the movie by the same name. When first released in 1968 the film did not receive critical acclaim immediately. But now it has matured into a classic. I liked the movie but I am not recommending it. Sergio Leone’s epic western was shot partly in Monument Valley. The movie stars Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Jason Robards and Claudia Cardinale.

Again, it is not the movie I am recommending it is the music. Listen to it. I think you will like it.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

I was that Mephibosheth
Crippled by my twisted pride and
hiding from you in a barren place
where You could not find me
where You would not give me what I
But somehow You found me and
I don’t understand why but You
Give me what I do not deserve.
You not only spared my desolate life but
You made it bountiful
And here at Your table
I will thank You, my
--Julie Martin


Saturday, April 12, 2008

The music you are listening to, unless you changed the order, is Amazing Grace by a choral group from the Edmond Church of Christ. You may or may not have noticed that this group is singing without musical instruments. I grew up with this kind of vocal music. I loved it then and I still do today. I left the Church of Christ denomination (my friends in the Churches of Christ will not agree with the designation denomination) and went to the independent Christian Church. For the last nineteen years I have been worshipping with the use of instruments. I would never do this if I thought it was sinful. I do not, and this is one of my main arguments with the Churches of Christ.

If I had remained with them I would never, ever have brought in instruments. The thing I could not tolerate was our teaching that everybody that used instruments in worship was sinning and would be lost. I know all of the arguments in favor of this position and have preached them. I will not give you these arguments here mainly because they are not valid and they also are just silly.

Do I think the Churches of Christ should start singing with instruments? Absolutely not! But I strongly believe they should stop condemning those who do. Sing on my dear brothers and sisters, sing on! Please do! I love the music you make from your heart. I always have and always will.

Of all the renditions of Amazing Grace I could have selected—I chose this one. I am moved every time I listen to it. It helps me draw closer to God!


Friday, April 11, 2008

“Amazing Grace” is one of my favorite hymns. Grace was one of my favorite topics to preach on. I like the sound of the word “grace.” I feel good when I think of grace. I am deeply and sincerely grateful for the grace of God.

The year was 1989. I had been preaching at the Central Church of Christ in Stockton, California for almost twenty years. It was time to move on. The elders at the Lincoln Heights Christian Church in Phoenix, Arizona asked me to send a tape of one of my messages. “Send them a tape from last Sunday” I said to the church secretary. She sent it. They liked it. I moved to Phoenix and preached for that church for fifteen years.

The message my secretary sent was on GRACE.

Think about these words: Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see…”.

We all need grace. We have a gracious God. How great and gracious He is!


Thursday, April 10, 2008

One of the most exciting things I did in the "Holy Land" was to visit Masada. Masada was the desert fortress of Herod the Great. Rising thirteen hundred feet in the dry, desert air, this rugged, flat-topped mountain faces the western shore of the Dead Sea. We get the word Masada from a Hebrew word for fortress.

Our Masada or fortress is our intimacy with the Lord. He is our place of refuge. Intimacy with Jesus is our source of strength.

Don’t wait for the time of trouble before building your fortress. Build your Masada today—before the upheaval comes. If you don’t do it before the storm there won’t be a fortress to run to when you need it.

Masadas are not built in times of trouble.

Draw close to the Lord today!


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Writing about the accidental death of a young friend, Ken Gire said:

It’s the neverness that is so painful. Never again to
be here with us—never to sit with us at table, never
to travel with us, never to laugh with us, never to
cry with us, never to embrace us as he leaves for
school, never to see his brother and sister marry.
All the rest of our lives we must live without him.
Only our death can stop the pain of his death.

A month, a year, five years—with that I could live.
But not this forever.

When I read these words my eyes filled with tears and I thought of my four brothers and two sisters. They have all passed away. I am the last of that immediate family. Several other close relatives have also passed away. Many friends from school days: grade school, high school, and college have also died. Many, many Christian friends from churches where I have worshipped and served have gone on.

It’s the neverness about all this that hurts so much. Yes, I know it’s only for this life and I’m not morbid about it, but neverness is a new word for me and I don’t like it. So I’m not going to dwell on it. My word is someday!


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

We never know the worth of
Water till the well is dry.
English Proverb

This afternoon I will be sitting at my daughter’s house waiting for a refrigerator repair man to come. Since Friday she has been without frozen food, refrigerated food, cold water, automatic ice dispenser, etc.

Youth, good eyesight, strong teeth, a good job, pets, sweet wife, faithful husband, babies, parents, friends……………………………..The list could go on “forever.”

O yes, we will miss them when they are gone—but what are they worth now?


Monday, April 07, 2008

Our preacher had to be away yesterday because of the death of a long time friend. I don’t usually like it when some member of the church fills in. But the man who spoke yesterday was great. He is Barry Asmus. Barry was a professor of economics for 15 years and is now the Senior Economist at the National Center for Policy Analysis. Named by USA Today as one of the five most requested speakers in America, Barry speaks to diverse audiences all across the world. He is active with many of the ministries at Scottsdale Bible and his is currently serving as an elder.

He preached on The Jesus Way and talked about a book by the same title written by Eugene Peterson. He said at first he could not get past the first 110 pages. He was so moved by what he read that he had to stop, think and pray. He tried three times before he was able to move on. The church book store sold out of the book after the first service. Barry has asked for them to order more. He wants every member to read this book. I haven’t read it yet—but I will.

The Jesus Way. His way should be my way and your way.


Sunday, April 06, 2008

First it’s off to church. This is the Lord’s Day and although I don’t want to sound ultra-pious, going to worship with other Christians is always the first thing we do on this day.

Next, we will stop by the super big Whole Foods store for a sandwich or a salad—or both. We will sit outside on the patio, eat and watch the people go by. The days are numbered for doing this outside thing. This is Arizona and we soon will be moving inside.

Let the games begin. The Diamondbacks and the Suns are both playing today. Oh the joy of having a remote control. All afternoon I will be thrilled with three point shots and home runs. Get’ur done boys!

God, good food and the games—Wow!


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Life is funny. Some days everything just seems to go sailing along.

Other days—nothing goes right.

When things are going right you can say with Scarlett O’Hara, “Fiddle-dee-dee.”

When things are not going so right you have to say with Scarlett, "After all tomorrow is another day."


Friday, April 04, 2008

In today’s world there are some words we are not allowed to say. There are some people we are not allowed to say anything negative about. Oprah is one of those people. Oprah has becomes god to some people—but not to me! I like Oprah. I like her a lot. However, I think she is bringing a terrible message to people. I simply want you to listen to her message and then you make the call. Check it out at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JW4LLwkgmqA


Thursday, April 03, 2008

A lovely lady cut my hair this morning. She did a good job. For years I have been getting my hair cut at beauty salons. The salons are neat, clean and very professional.

But I miss the old barber shop. There were no women there—just “good ol boys.” They had usually been trained at the local barber’s college and didn’t seem to have learned much. They would always ask, “How would you like it” and then proceed to cut it the way they wanted to. They often told dirty jokes regardless of who was in the shop. They talked baseball, politics and sometimes religion. I never got the impression they knew very much about anything.

But I miss them! I miss the old barber pole. I loved to walk by the shop and look at the pole even when I didn’t need a hair cut. Barber shops were about the “guy thing”. I miss that!


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

For generations adults taught their children to say this prayer when they went to bed at night:

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take

I prayed this prayer a few times as a child. It was a ritual that I thought should be done. It didn’t take me long to get past this to a prayer of my own, out of my own heart. This prayer centers a little too much on death to suit me. And yet, death is real and does need to be considered.

I just hope that parents are teaching their children to pray—period. Maybe they are. I have no way of knowing. My gut feeling is that they are not teaching them to pray at all.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

"I want to have my gas and burn it too."

ELATED- A tank full of expensive gas making it possible to get out and go!

CONFUSED – Wanting to get out and go and still have a tank full of expensive gas.

ELATED – A tank full of expensive propane making it possible to “grill up a storm.”!

CONFUSED – Wanting to cook lots of stuff on the grill and still have a tank full of
expensive propane.