Thursday, July 31, 2008

As we conclude our remarks on Romans 8:28 I want to mention the fifth thing Paul says we know about the providence of God: Those who love God are described as those who have been called according to his purpose.

Our love for him is a sign of his prior love for us. God has a saving purpose for us and is working in accordance with it. God knows what he is doing. We are where we are because he has called us.

“Life is not the random mess which it may sometimes appear”.

We do not always understand what God is doing, let alone welcome it. Nor are we told that he is at work for our comfort. But we know that in all things he is working towards our supreme good. And one reason we know this is because we are given many examples in Scripture. My favorite is Genesis 50:20 when Joseph said to his brothers who had been cruel to him, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”


(Reference: Commentary on Romans by John Stott)


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Continuing on with Romans 8:28---

Fourthly, Good works in all things for the good of those who love him.

This is a necessary limitation. Paul is not saying that everything tends to everybody’s good in the end. No, the beneficiaries are his people who are described as those who love him. Most of Paul’s references in Romans to love are to God’s love for us. But here it is our love for God.

This certainly is a common biblical concept, since the first and great commandment is that we love God with all our being.

Do you love God? We are not talking about living this out to perfection. We are never going to do that. (I’m going to talk more about this later). But we can know if we love God. And if we do—Wow! God works in all things for the good of those who love him. Wow!


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

As we continue on with the five truths about God’s providence which we know, I want to list again the first two and then talk about the third one.

First, we know that God works in our lives.

Secondly, God is at work for the good of his people.

Thirdly, God works for our good in all things. All things must include the sufferings of verse 17 and the groanings of verse 23. “Thus all that is negative in this life is seen to have a positive purpose in the execution of God’s eternal plan.” Nothing is beyond the overruling, overriding scope of his providence.

All things are not good but God works for our good in all things.

This gives me great hope. I hope it does you too.

(Reference: Commentary on Romans by John Stott)


Monday, July 28, 2008

Today I want to continue with some thoughts on Romans 8:28, one of my favorite Scriptures.

Yesterday we noted that the apostle Paul lists five truths about God’s providence.

First, we know that God works in our lives. Fantastic!

Secondly, God is at work for the good of his people. Since God is wholly good, his works are all expressions of his goodness. The goal of his providential dealings with us is our ultimate well-being, namely our final salvation. Verses 29-30 make this plain.

The closing song at our morning worship service Sunday was about the goodness of God. Many people went forward to confess their faith in Christ and many others to rededicate their lives. People were crowded around the front of the pulpit and up the center aisles.



Sunday, July 27, 2008

In the last part of Romans 8, the apostle Paul soars to sublime heights unequalled elsewhere in the New Testament.

Romans 8:28 is surely one of the best-known texts in the Bible. For the next few days we are going to camp on this verse.

Verse 28 begins with the statement we know.

There is not a lot we know—that is, there is not a lot we know absolutely. There is a lot we do not know! But Paul says we know and then he lists five truths about God’s providence which we know.

First, we know that God works, or is at work, in our lives.

Isn’t that great news? God is not dead. Neither is He off someplace far away, busy with all kinds of things and totally uninterested in us. No! God is at work in our lives.

Thank God for this great truth that we know.

(Reference: Commentary on Romans by John Stott)


Saturday, July 26, 2008

I love the way Eugene Peterson translates (Paraphrases) Philippians 2:1-4.

“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed
with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”

As you read let the words sink in. Good words!


Friday, July 25, 2008

Some folks down in Mesa are having a crappy day.

They woke up to find one of those blue portable toilets in their neighbor’s front yard.

Was it a practical joke? Years ago teenagers liked to move old outhouses onto front yards as a prank.

No! The neighbor said she has lots of parties and doesn’t like her friends “messing up” her bathrooms. No joke!

The police said she is not violating any Mesa law. (Mesa is one of the largest cities in the greater Phoenix area but I guess they are still a “little bit country” out there)

She has agreed to move the thing to the back yard.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

William Barclay tells the story of traveling late at night on a train outside of London. There was only one other person in the compartment with him and he did not look like the kind of person one would choose as a traveling companion. He was dressed in a strange way and hadn’t shaved recently. Barclay decided it might be safer to stay awake than to go to sleep.

When the train made a brief stop the young man asked Barclay if he would like a cup of tea. Barclay said he would and the young man dashed out and came back with two cups of tea. He then asked: “Would you like something to eat, sir?” Again, Barclay said “Yes.”
He thought the man had purchased some sandwiches when he went out for the tea. But no, it wasn’t that. He reached up to the luggage rack and opened his suitcase. He brought out a flat steak-pie which he broke in half and presented a piece to Barclay. And in spite of Barclay’s protest, would take none of it back.

The young man, whom he thought to be a danger, was one of the kindest people he had met for a long time.

William Barclay said this caused him to recall three rules:
(a Don’t jump to conclusions. (b) Don’t make rash judgments. (c) If you must judge others, make sure you think the best of them, and not the worst.

“Judge not that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1)


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Yesterday I wrote about a new piece of music on my play list—Rivers of Babylon. One lady said it is music that makes you get up and dance. I agree. But mostly, for me, it is just toe tapping music. My dancing is not a pretty sight and I wouldn’t want you to see it.

Today, I want to write about the second piece of music that comes up after Rivers of Babylon. It is absolutely beautiful! All the music on my play list has special meaning to me (and maybe just to me). This music, Once Upon A Time In The West by Ennio Morricone, is music I use for meditation. I turn it on, close my eyes and meditate for a few minutes. (I’m not a mystic. I’m just a tired, old man that has run by too many things without even seeing them).

Meditation is good for what ails you. We all need it. Try it. Check the second song down, close your eyes, relax, breath in and out slowly and just listen. LISTEN!

When the music is over you will feel better—more relaxed and in a good mood.

Rivers of Babylon may have you tapping your toes or dancing. Once Upon A Time In The West will cause you to think about beautiful things and be grateful. Try it!


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

IF and I realize this is a big IF, you have the sound turned on to your computer you are hearing a different sound today. Different that is, from what you have been hearing from my blog. I realize that many of you do not want to listen to music while you are trying to read so you just turn off the music. I do this sometimes too.

But for those of you who have been listening to my music you know that the first thing you hear is Just As I Am and then Amazing Grace. These are two of my favorites.

Now the first thing you hear is The Rivers of Babylon by Boney M. I wanted the music by Abba but I couldn’t find it. My wife said, “People will think they are on the wrong blog.” I said, “I don’t care.” Then when The Rivers of Babylon was immediately followed up with Just As I Am, she laughed and said, “Man, what a switch.” I said, “I don’t care.”

So here it is. Barack Obama is calling for change and everybody seems to love it. So love me. Listen to this music. You might like it. My playlist is really not for you—it’s for me. I like it!

The Rivers of Babylon is taken from Psalm 137. It’s about God’s people being taken into Babylonian captivity and demanded to sing songs of joy. They wept when they remembered Zion. They could not sing songs of joy in this foreign land.


Monday, July 21, 2008

I am almost through reading Faith Of My Fathers, A family memoir by John McCain. This is a very interesting book and regardless of what you think of John McCain, he lived an exciting life. I found much to admire about the man.

Yes, I will be voting for McCain. However, there are many things I do not agree with him on. He just happens to be the better of the two running. And of course, I have never been able to vote for a man that agreed with me on everything—he just does not exist. But Ronald Reagan came awfully close!

The world seems to be in love with Barack Obama—but not me! Absolutely not! And I dislike his wife even more! Do I think he is going to be the next President? Yes, I do! I think there are enough stupid people in the United States that it is inevitable.

Do I dislike him because he is black? NO! That is not it! I don’t want him or any other liberal to be President. That’s the bottom line for me. He is just too liberal!


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Yesterday I watched a television program about how malls are the big thing all over the world. I was amazed. Some of them have condominiums built in them with big, beautiful parks outside.

A few years ago some were saying that malls would soon be a thing of the past and that all shopping would be done on the internet. No so! People want to see and feel what they are buying and they want to interact with people.

However, in the United States not many new malls are being built but almost all of the older ones are being remodeled and brought up to date.

Paradise Valley Mall is not far from where we live. And although we are surrounded with lots of new, inviting indoor and outdoor malls in our area, Paradise Valley Mall is still an inviting place. But it does need a lot of changes and it is getting them.The entire area is being re-landscaped and the newest addition to the stores is a new Costco—of all things. Now I go to Costco but it will never be my idea of great shopping. However, I am glad to see it along with its gas station moving into this great area.

We learn a lot from failure but I have always cheered success. I absolutely hate to see a store going out of business. So I cheer for the Paradise Valley Mall and Villages and wish them the best and I cheer not only for them, but for all the malls around the world.

P.S. My first job was in a “Mom & Pop” type grocery store. So I cheer them too and I never want to see them forced out. Hang in there if you can. We need you too.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

No kiddin’ I like barbecue!

Even though Dickey’s Barbecue has been around (somewhere) since 1941 they are new to Scottsdale.

Their new place is just a few blocks from where we go to church, so we stopped by there last Sunday.

Yes, it’s good—very good!

Not too big. Not too formal—just good food!

I had pulled pork, Cole slaw and barbecue beans. Next time I am going for the ribs, waffle fries and barbecue beans. And then after that, I will have to cut back for awhile. I’m not suppose to eat too much of this kind of food. But as my friend Paul Covey would say, “From where I’m standing I can see the end of the off ramp. Too late to start throwin’ on the brakes now.”

No kiddin’ I like barbecue!


Friday, July 18, 2008

Coming out of a Sunday afternoon movie, my mother and I were surprised to hear boys on the street shouting, “Extra, Extra, Read All About It.” The year was 1941 and I was seven years old. That was sixty-six years ago but I still remember it just like it was yesterday. From that day until this day I have had a great interest in what happened at Pearl Harbor.

I recently made my second trip to the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. I cannot go there without deep emotion. Following our trip, our daughter gave me a wonderful book which I have just finished reading. The book is At Dawn We Slept, The Untold Story Of Pearl Harbor.

Having finished that historical account I started Pearl Harbor, A Novel Of December 8th by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen.

If you are interested in this kind of history and this kind of reading, you will thoroughly enjoy these books.

We have the saying, “Remember the Alamo.” I say, “Remember Pearl Harbor.”


Thursday, July 17, 2008

If you do what is right it will be alright!

For years I have offered this advice to those I have counseled with.

You may be saying, “It sounds too simplistic. It doesn’t always work out that way.” And I agree. There are some things about which we end up saying to ourselves, “Only God can solve this.”

But remember the Scriptures say, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…” Romans 8:28

It’s hard to know what is right in every situation. Yes, I agree. But most of us and most of the time, we know what is right—we just don’t have the courage or may I say guts, to do it.

Pray. Ask God to help you to know what is right and the courage to do it. And then—do it. It will be alright!

(Or you can just feel sorry for yourself, whine, complain and make yourself and everybody around you feel rotten.)


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A few days ago a friend made the comment that I am the only man she knows that likes to go to malls and places like that.

I like malls and shopping because my wife does. The happiest part of any day is when I am with her. She enjoys driving to the mall, shopping, just goofing around, getting something to eat, and she enjoys it much more when I am along. So, that’s why I do it.

I try to be considerate of her wants and needs and she does the same for me. Ask her how many hours, over the years; she has spent in religious book stores with me.

Ah, mutual respect and concern doth a happy marriage make.

Yesterday, a dear relative wrote nice things about me in her blog and suggested that her friends might like to drop by and read my blog sometime. She told them I might not be writing about pink things in my office or curtains that I have put up—and that is true. One lady has already dropped by and I am glad. Let’s face it, my masculine side wants to think that I am macho and that I have an appeal to all readers—especially women!

Drop by any time ladies!


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I love the title of Dan Merchant's new book, LORD SAVE US FROM YOUR FOLLOWERS.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Treat them right!

Preachers are just human beings and they screw up just like all humans do.

They have to live and learn, stumble and fall, get up and go on—just like everybody does.

Generally a preacher can’t spend his entire life with one congregation. For various reasons he has to move on.

But when that time comes—for goodness sake, treat him and his family with the same respect you would want. Entirely too many preachers are “run off.” This is a shame and a disgrace.

Yes, he has to go. But give him time to make the move. And give him emotional and financial support as he does it.

I have never understood how a church could suddenly turn on someone who has married their young, buried their dead and loved and supported them through every trial. How can a congregation treat with such disrespect, one who has loved and cared for them?

I am old, tired and retired now but I am going to support and encourage young preachers as best I can!


Sunday, July 13, 2008

This video is cute and funny. If you haven't seen it, see it here


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Today we start all over again. Some things will be different this time around.

Today is Saturday and I now clean the house—this means toilets, everything. I didn’t do this for most of the first fifty.

You know something; I’m not going to tell you everything that is going to be different. You are intelligent people and you can figure out what most of the changes will be and the truth is—you don’t care.

I will say this—“It is going to be an adventure and we are going to go with gusto!”

I encourage you to do the same. We didn’t relax the first fifty as much as we could have because stupidly we were holding on for dear life. We worked with the church and we let them scare the hell out of us.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Today marks fifty years of being married to Charlotte. I have never been great at math but I can count to fifty. However, I have never really tried to keep track of the years. I feel like Jacob when he expressed his love for Rachel.

“So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.” Genesis 29:20 (Emphasis mine)


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tomorrow, July 11, Charlotte and I will have been married 50 years. I started to write that we have been celebrating all year. The truth is, in one way or another; we have been celebrating for 50 years.

I am impressed with the way Eugene Peterson translates some passages in Ephesians 5:

“…husbands, go all out in your love for your wives…a love marked by giving, not getting…husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.”


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A few days ago when cooking some burgers for my wife and me, I decided to “throw” a wiener and bun on the grill and make a hot dog for myself.

When the burgers were done I took them in the house, added “everything under the sun” and set in the cool, air-conditioned house eating with a big smile on my face.

I wanted to clean the grill while it was still warm so I reluctantly went back out into the heat of the Arizona sun and started cleaning. This is a task I do not enjoy!

All of a sudden I noticed something on the warming rack of the grill. It was my hot dog—delicious hot dog I might add. I had forgotten all about it.

I cleaned with one hand and held the hot dog in the other hand and ate until it was gone. From now on I will always leave a dog behind just waiting for me to come back and clean the grill. I hate cleaning the grill but on this occasion I could barely remember doing it.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Old Frank had turned 60 a few weeks earlier and now they were celebrating his wife’s 60th birthday. During the party Frank walked into another room and was met by a fairy Godmother who said, “Frank this is your lucky day, I’m here to grant you one wish.”
Frank thought for a moment and then said, “I would really like to have a wife that is 30 years younger than me.”

The fairy said, “No problem” and just like that Frank turned 90!

Some of us are never satisfied!


Monday, July 07, 2008

After looking at life for 73 years, working with churches for fifty years and being a careful student of the Scriptures, I am thoroughly convinced that God uses the events of our lives and the people we meet to lead us into fulfilled lives.

The unmistakable touches of grace are blessings that make us stronger and more alive.

You receive a call from an old friend who crossed your mind the day before and you realize it is no accident. You lose your job but it opens the door to a better one that you never dreamed you would have. You realize that things do not “just happen” but that there is a divine power behind them. Grace has just knocked on your door.

Realizing that God is at work in your life gives you the courage to live a more meaningful, hopeful and complete life.

Take a moment to think about all the times that you have been touched by grace.


Sunday, July 06, 2008

“Connecting At The Heart Level” is the title of an article by Edward Fudge. At the end of the article I found myself almost shouting, “How true.”

People will listen to us, be patient with us, and love us when we connect at the heart level.

We need to sit down and talk to people—young and old. We need to get to know them and let them get to know us. When we do this, they will be our friends and they will stand up for us and defend us even if they do not always agree with us.

We must connect, not just intellectually and we may not even connect intellectually but we must connect at the heart level.


Saturday, July 05, 2008

It seemed like there was at least one shopping cart sitting in every parking space on the grocery store parking lot. They were everywhere!

I know I’m bragging when I say, “When I’m finished with a cart I put it where it belongs and will do no harm.” Yes, I guess it is bragging but this is what I think everybody should do.

One windy day I drove down to Safeway. I guess the ladies didn’t want to be blown around so they put their groceries in the car and jumped in. On this especially windy day carts were “flying” all over the place. It was like bumper cars at a carnival. They were bashing into the side of one car and careening over to hit another one.

Too much excitement for an old man like me!


Friday, July 04, 2008

I love America!

I have had the privilege of traveling to many distant places. I have always felt blessed to be back in the United States.

God truly has blessed America and I pray that He will continue to do so!

The flag will fly proudly in front of our home today! And we will thank God for all of those who have fought to keep us safe and for all of those who are now fighting.

I love America!


Thursday, July 03, 2008

No blog yesterday--just too tired!


Am I the only human being who thought that when I retired I wouldn’t have to work?

Am I the only human being who cannot tear off a piece of aluminum wrap with a straight edge?

Am I the only human being that cannot tear off a piece of saran wrap without getting it all messed up so that it is unusable?

Am I the only human being who makes a left hand turn with both hands on the steering wheel instead of just one hand on the wheel and a phone in the other hand?

Am I the only human being who is not in love with the word ambiance?


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A preacher I know living in northern California recently wrote in his blog that things were not going well financially and that the church would have to make some major decisions and possibly let some staff members go. His remarks reminded me of the following cartoon.