Saturday, February 28, 2009

In a speech with the title I'm Still Learning To Forgive, Corrie Ten Boom tells about how memories in a concentration camp came back when she came face to face again with one of her captors. In her minds eye she could see her sister's frail form and ribs beneath the parchment of skin. She felt the shame of walking naked past the men.

Her former captor said to her, "You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk. I was a guard there. But since that time I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein. Will you forgive me?"

Corrie Ten Boom said, "And I stood there and could not. Betsie had died in that place. Could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking? It could have been many seconds that he stood there, hand held out, but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do. And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this jealing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. I forgive you, brother! I cried. With all my heart!"

"For a moment we grasped each other's hands, the former guard and former prisoner. I had never known God's love so intensely as I did then."

Free Yourself to Love--The Liberating Power of Forgiveness by bestselling author Jackie Kendall is one of the books I will be giving away on my blog. As a survivor of severe childhood abuse, Jackie Kendall is an expert on forgiveness. I can't even begin to tell you how much I learned from Jackie's good book. I will have five copies of her book to give away. Visit my blog and let me know you are interested. Who knows? Maybe one of them will be put in the mail to you.


In his excellent book Good to Great in God's Eyes, Chip Ingram discusses ten practices great Christians have in common.

One practice he mentions is, read great books. He then states the following reasons for reading:
Great books broaden your world, sharpen your mind, inflame your heart, develop your skills, and heal your soul. This list of good things makes me want to read. How about you?

Over the next few weeks I am going to be giving away five copies each of three different books. I hope you will come by and let me know you would like to receive a copy of one or all three. Tell your friends to come by also. Having a Christian attitude you will say, "If I don't win one, I would like to know that you do."

Free Yourself to Love --The Liberating Power of Forgiveness by Jackie Kendall will bless your life. You will learn how to exchange bitterness for the freedom to love and be loved.

Work in progress--An unfinished Woman's Guide To Grace, written by Kristin Armstrong, the former wife of Lance Armstrong, is a wonderful book that describes the twelve traits of a graceful woman and shows readers how they can be truly transformed.

A Walk With Christ To The Cross by Dawson McAllister tells about the last fourteen hours of Christ's earthly mission in the most interesting and powerful way of any book on this subject that I have ever read.



Friday, February 27, 2009

The front page of the Arizona Republic states: "Valley forecast calls for abundance of fun in the sun."

The weather forecast calls for: 80 degrees today, 85 tomorrow and 87 Sunday.

What to do outside? Well, there's the Renaissance Festival going on at Apache Junction. You can catch a spring training game or if you are the more adventurous type you can raft the Salt River.

Me? I have books that I need to read and review so that will keep me inside for awhile.

I may venture out to Costco later in the day. Charlotte needs to go there and I can't resist that Hot dog and drink for $1.50. Best bargain in town!


Thursday, February 26, 2009

This week's Booking Through Thursday's questions are:
  • Hardcover? Or paperback?
  • Illustrations? Or just text?
  • First editions? Or you don’t care?
  • Signed by the author? Or not?
My preference is always hardcover. I don't like paperbacks at all but do read a lot of softcover books. Most of my books are just text. I have never had a first edition. I guess that would be nice but I don't really care. I have a few books that have been signed by the author. I keep them because they seem special to me. I have given away cases of books over the years but I have also kept many books for future reference, like Bible commentaries, etc. Our home if filled with books. One solid wall in our family room is a built in bookcase loaded with hardcover books. I have four book cases in my study and a walk in closet with built in book cases. I like,read,reference and give away a lot of books.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I love green grass but I don't like to mow it.

When I left California twenty years ago I left a huge back yard and a large front yard filled with grass.

In Arizona we filled our front yard and our two side yards with rock. A pool and deck cover much of the back yard and there is a very small area of grass under a shade tree.

That small area of grass does have to be mowed, especially when the sun shines. Neil Diamond sings, "L.A.'s fine, the sun shines most of the time...". And that's also true in Arizona. The sun shines most of the time!

So I mowed today.

Did I tell you I don't like to mow? I don't. But man, I really don't like snow. So, I'll stay in Arizona
and mow that little lawn.

Yes, I know those are not the only two choices. But I don't want rock everywhere.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A few days ago when I wrote about the "Treasures" boys carry in their pockets, a blogging friend was wondering if I would tell what I had in my pockets as a boy.

I didn't tell. I don't know.

However, here is a picture of me when I was a boy. I had a ball in one hand, a catcher's mitt on the other hand and a cap on my head. My pockets? No clue! My pants look like something my mother might have made. I don't think they had pockets. My four brothers and two sisters may have thought I would grow up to be a ball player. The lady across the street, who had sons who were preachers, called me her little Baptist preacher. Well I grew up to be a preacher--but not a Baptist. That same lady asked me one day if I wanted a piece of cantaloupe. I did--very much so! She gave me a big piece sprinkled generously with salt and pepper. I didn't even take it. I went running back across the street crying.

I was a "funny" little kid. I probably didn't put anything in my pockets.

Here's a closer up view


Monday, February 23, 2009

The following poem is from a mother's heart to a son. I could have written this to my son--or daughter. I have known and loved this poem for years. I guess I have my children on my heart right now for some reason or I should say they are always there!

Do you know that your soul is of my soul such part,
That you seem to be fibre and cord of my heart?
None other can pain me as you, dear, can do,
None other can please me or praise me as you.

Remember the world will be quick with its blame
If shadow or stain ever darken your name,
"Like mother like son" is a saying so true,
The world will judge largely of "Mother" by you.

Be yours then the task, if task, it shall be
To force the proud world to do homage to me,
Be sure it will say when its verdict you've won,
"She reaped as she sowed, Lo! this is her son."

Margaret Johnston Griffin


Saturday, February 21, 2009

The boys of today may not carry the same things in their pockets that we did when we were boys but all us who are parents and grandparents can identify with the following poem. Somebody probably has or should write a similar poem for what girls have in their pockets, purses or wherever girls put “stuff.” I wanted to post this today because it is about our treasures—our precious boys and girls, regardless of age and what they have in their pockets.

His overalls hung on the hook by his hat, and I noticed

his pockets were bulging out fat.

So I emptied them out in a pile on the chair, and I

Tenderly touched ev’ry treasure with care:

There were three rubber bands, a parking lot ticket,

Two paper clips and a fishing cricket,

A camphor ball and an empty match box,

A half dozen nails and a couple of rocks,

A yellow golf tee, two lollypop sticks,

A marble, a spool and three tooth picks,

A knife and a pencil, some dry corn silk,

A wire and a cap from a bottle of milk,

A rusty door key and a white chicken feather,

An old clock gear and a piece of leather,

A flash-light bulb and three or four strings,

A broken dog biscuit and two hair springs.

Then I gathered them up, all his “treasures” so grand—

ev’ry rock, ev’ry nail and each rubber band,

And I put them all back, then I kissed him good-night,

and he smiled in his sleep as I turned out the light.

And I thrilled as I thought of the fun and the joy such

trivial things could give to a boy.

Author Unknown


Thursday, February 19, 2009

I am not always the clearest of thinkers and writers. Sometimes I do not communicate what I feel in my heart.

Yesterday I wrote that I want our President to succeed. I do! I want him to be successful in leading the country in everything that is right and good. I want him to fail in all of his liberal endeavors. I despise Socialism, abortion, and a long list of other liberal things that all Christians stand against.

If he fails in his endeavors to lead us out of our financial mess we are in a world of hurt. Can God allow him to lead us in the things that are right and defeat him in the things that are wrong? I sincerely believe that He can and I pray that He will!

May God bless all of us, including our President.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The President of the United States is in Arizona today.

He spent the night here last night and as I type this he is making a speech at a school in Mesa.

I didn't vote for him. I can't stand his liberal views.

But I am glad that he and his speech is being so well received this morning. I wish him well.

I want him to succeed. I want us to succeed. I want the United States of America to be great.

I despised the way President Bush was treated. I want President Obama to be treated well.

I pray for our President. I pray for our nation. I try to do whatever I can to make this world a better place. I leave the results in the hands of God.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The sky is ominous today. It is dark, cloudy and looks like a storm is brewing.

Is this a "sign" of things to come?

I ask this because we know:

Rain that is wrecking havoc in California with mudslides is moving into Arizona.

Relatives from California will be arriving tomorrow evening.

Or is this just one of those rare days in February and not a "sign" of anything?


Monday, February 16, 2009

"Moral relativism is in direct opposition to a biblical world view. The basic idea of moral relativism is: What is true for you is true for you, and what is true for me is true for me.What is moral is dictated by a particular situation in light of a particular culture or social location.Moral values become a matter of personal opinion or private judgment rather than something grounded in objective truth."

Allan Bloom says that almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.

Matters of faith are increasingly rejected in the the public sphere. A particular faith used to be wrong on the basis of what was perceived to be truth; now a faith is wrong for claiming there is truth. As Allen Bloom has wryly noted, "The true believer is the real danger."

Heaven help us!

Note: Thoughts from A Mind for God by James Emery White.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

For the past two days I have posted about Valentine's Day and this morning my post was in a lighter vain and kind of silly. Now I want to be more serious but not morbid. I just want us to place great value on those we love.


Should you go first and I remain
To walk the road alone,
I'll live in memory's garden, dear,
With happy days we've known.
In Spring I'll watch for roses red
When fades the lilac blue,
In early Fall when brown leaves call
I'll catch a glimpse of you.

Should you go first and I remain
For battles to be fought,
Each thing you've touched along the way
Will be a hallowed spot.
I'll hear your voice, I'll see your smile,
Though blindly I may grope,
The memory of your helping hand
Will buoy me on with hope.

Should you go first and I remain
To finish with the scroll,
No length'ning shadows shall creep in
To make this life seem droll.
We've known so much of happiness,
We've had our cup of joy
And memory is one gift of God
That death cannot destroy.

Should you go first and I remain,
One thing I'd have you do;
Walk slowly down that long, lone path,
For soon I'll follow you.
I'll want to know each step you take
That I may walk the same.
For someday, down that lonely road,
You'll hear me call your name.

Albert Rowswell


Valentine's Day is for lovers! Well, I've been living with and loving the same woman for over fifty years so I can laugh at the following:

A wife was sitting at the breakfast table and asked her husband, "What if something happened to me and I died first? Would you marry again?" He thought for a while then responded, "Yes, I probably would." Then she asked, "Well, would you bring your new wife to live in this house and have her sleep in our bed?" "Well, I hadn't thought about it, but I probably would," he said. She probed further, "Would you let her use my golf clubs?" To which he replied, "No, because she's left-handed."


Friday, February 13, 2009

Surprised! I was surprised yesterday when I read a survey that more married couples break up around Valentine's Day than any other time of the year.

Is this true? Why?

She didn't get the pajama gram?

She got the pajama gram but wouldn't take her clothes off?

What's wrong with you people?

Why don't you break up around Ground Hog Day or April Fools' Day? Or why break up at all?

Somebody out there let me know what's going on. Let me hear from you.

I have been married to the same woman for over fifty years. Am I missing something here?

Valentine's Day is coming up--Saturday in fact.

Let me hear from you soon.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Today is the birthday of one of our greatest Presidents--Abraham Lincoln.

Will we ever be able to use the word great again when referring to a President?

Yesterday my post was all about words--good words, bad words and the way we use words.

Mama said, if you can't something nice, don't say anything at all.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My post this morning is longer than usual but I hope you will read it all. It is from a communion mediation given at Highland Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas. Those of us who write and read blogs work with words. That's what this is about--words. Words are powerful.

This I Believe
By Donna Hester

I believe words are stronger than sticks and stones. This I believe.

I’ve always loved words. My life’s vocation has revolved around words.

I believe God spoke the world into existence with “It is good” and saved it once and for all with “It is finished.”

I know the power of words. I think of stirring words: “I have a dream”, “One small step for man, one giant step for mankind”, “Mr. President, tear down this wall”, “Mount up with wings like eagles”.

And more personal ones: “I, Adam, take you, Donna,” “You have a son,” “It’s cancer.”

Of comforting words: “See you in the morning”; “There is ice cream in the freezer”; “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”

And I think of idle words—trivial, gossipy, tattling drivel that neither edifies nor uplifts, but erodes reputations, plants insinuation and carelessly tramples confidences.

And I think of words that build—“you can do this”; “I believe in you”; “come in!”

I think of words of deception—“We’ll stop whenever you want to”; “your insurance will pay”; “fits all sizes.”

I think of confessional words that knock the legs out from under Satan and let the air out of pretensions.

I think of words of love— “She walks in beauty like the night”; “Hi, Sweetheart”; “Call when you get there.”

Of scary words—“HIV positive”; “there’s been an accident.”

And I think of terrible, wounding words we send out like missiles: “fat,” “ugly,” “stupid,” “fag,” “retard,” “whore”–short little words that hit their mark and sear in pain so vivid that 50 years later they still burn.

I take words seriously. I have been hurt more by words than anything else—words written, words spoken and words unspoken.

And I have drawn life and courage from words—stayed afloat, stayed faithful and just stayed because of words.

It was not surprising that I chose theater as a vocation. Bringing incarnation to the words in scripts. Getting them up on their feet and breathing life into them on the stage. Creating a person out of words.

And I wonder about this God who describes himself as Word. This Word who left us a book of words, who gave us the Word made flesh to dwell among us.

I have a dream. That humankind could learn to use words, not as sticks and stones of destruction, but as ladders and bridges to raise and build and connect. Maybe, just maybe, if we Christians (we image bearers of the Word) could consistently speak with words of kindness, encouragement, welcome and truth, God would look down and say, “Now that’s what I’m talking about.”


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tule fog is an unwanted but regular visitor to the San Joaquin Valley of California in the fall and winter. I experienced it every year for twenty years.

It comes often and lasts longer than you want but it doesn't last forever. It goes away.

James said our lives are a little like fog, "You're nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing."

Charlotte rolls out of bed in the morning, blinks a few times and sets down at her wonderful Mac computer which she loves.

When I eventually get blanket freedom I sit on the side of the bed and try to decide what day it is and then I put on my house shoes and robe and go outside and bring in the morning paper.

We are retired. We have a lot of interests. We can "spend" our days in many different ways.

What to do with our day, our hours, our minutes--our moments. This is tough stuff. I know. I know. You would like to have this problem.

Well regardless of what season of life you are in right now--you do have to make decisions about what you do with your days--yes, your life!

There's an old song I don't like very much but it has a message we need to think about: "Time is filled with swift transition, naught of earth unmoved can stand, build your hopes on things eternal, hold to God's unchanging hand."

I just looked up at the clock. It's almost noon. How can it be? I just got up.

Valentine's Day is this week? You gotta be kidding. Easter is just around the corner?


Monday, February 09, 2009

For fifty years Charlotte was known as either, Brother Ditmore's wife or Clif's wife.

We retired.

In retirement, Charlotte has become an active blogger. Clif is a not so active blogger.

Now Clif is known as Charlotte's husband.


Saturday, February 07, 2009

In spite of all the love that David and his wife gave their son, he seemed incapable of loving back.
A noted psychologist told them, "Before he's eighteen, your son will either be in jail or dead."

His teen years were the worst years of their lives. His rebellion brought them before the authorities of every educational, penal, and mental institution in the area. He was in and out of almost every counselor's office, every jail, every drug and alcohol rehab center.

Although David had always lived a Christian life he got to the point where he withdrew from everything, everybody and even God. Besides his wife, the one other person who walked with him during these desperate times was a close friend named John. One day David looked at John and said, "I don't want to hear one more come-to-Jesus miracle. Save your stories for someone who cares."

During the darkest days, five friends met David at a chapel for a "prayer intervention." And every Friday for a year and a half, they met at that chapel and prayed. This helped but not enough for David. He went to the chapel one cold night to sit in prayer and wait God out. After reading a while, journaling a while, praying a while, he said he heard God speak.

God said, "If I never heal your son, if I never speak to you the way you want...can I still be your God? Will you still love me, still honor me, still serve me?"

Tears streamed down David's face. "Yes," he said. "Even if you never heal my son, even if you never speak to me in the way I want you to...yes, you can still be my God. And yes, I will still love you, still honor you, still serve you."

(Edited to fit this space from Ken Gire's marvelous book, The North Face of God)


Friday, February 06, 2009

We focus on the distant horizon and forget the ground under our feet.

A pastor in a small church so longs for a big church that he neglects the wonderful little church he has.

A man may dream of a more romantic mate, a closer friend, a more passionate lover. He lets his fantasies blind him to the sweet gestures his wife does make.

We might wish for something more exciting than what is going on in front of us, but today's tasks are vital for tomorrow's joy.


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Over the years Abilene Christian has had great track teams. While I was a student there they had one of their best years. Bobbie Morrow won a gold medal in the 100 yard dash and was considered the world's fastest human being. The boys in old Mabee dorm would gather around the sports page every day and discuss and debate sports.

We loved to talk about the ACC track team but eventually we always got around to talking about Roger Bannister. Roger wasn't a student at ACC he was a 25-year-old British medical student.

Track and field experts had declared that it was impossible for a human being to break the four minute mile barrier. But one day Roger Bannister did it!

Within ten years after Bannister broke the record, 336 more runners also broke it! Think about that. As far back as statisticians kept track and field records--hundreds of years--nobody had done it. What changed? Simple. For all those years the barrier was in the runners' minds. One man proved the experts wrong, and hundreds ran free.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Reading Ken Gire's excellent book,The North Face of God: Hope for the times when God seems indifferent. I came to this touching prayer of an unemployed man:

God help me, please!
Please don't humiliate me again,
not before my friends
not before my wife
not before my children
not before my parents...
Father, what's helping find me a job compared to the power it takes
You to run this world for even one day?
If a sparrow doesn't fall without You noticing, why aren't You
Noticing me? Why are You tending millions of beautiful flowers that
bloom today and are gone tomorrow but You won't tend to me, Your
Child? One nod, one word from You and a door would open. Why
are You humiliating me?...
Jesus, I don't know any more words. I have no more words. Does
Your silence mean, No, You won't help? Does it mean, wait?
How long?
I'm listening, Lord. Straining to hear.
I'm calling, Lord, with all my heart. Please, let me laugh again, help
Me find my reason for getting up in the mornings, take away this
humiliation that slaps me in the face all day, every day.

This prayer touches my heart. This man not only needs a job, he needs to know that God cares enough to listen to him. I'm praying for the thousands who have lost their jobs. I pray that they not only find a job but that they find God in the midst of all this mess and that they cling to Him, knowing that He cares. It's tough! Let's not forget these who are struggling.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Scientist tell us that ongoing well-being is not good for us. An easy existence without challenge is simply not healthy.

Paul said in his letter to the Romans, "we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."

There is an old legend that the people in a small town in Germany for a number of years experienced poor harvests. They prayed and asked God to let them plan everything for a year. God agreed. When they asked for rain, God sent rain. Whenever they asked for sun, God sent sun.The corn grew tall and the wheat grew thick. But when the harvest came, the tall corn had no ears, and the thick wheat had no heads of grain. They cried out that God had failed them.

"You never asked for the harsh north winds," answered God. "Without the harsh north winds, there is no pollination, and with no pollination, there is no crop."

(Read in James Emery White's book, Life-Defining Moments)


Monday, February 02, 2009

James Emery White has done all Christians a favorite by writing A Mind For God. He is the president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He holds M.Div. and Ph.D degrees in theology, history and biblical studies. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including Embracing the Mysterious God, Serious Times and The Prayer God Longs For.

He says, "Never before have the habits of the mind mattered more." With the onslaught of popular culture--television, the Internet and movies--we are faced with a great challenge to continue to develop minds rather than simply being entertained. We need to adopt a Christian worldview that shapes our thinking about the everyday world, in every situation.

A study of faculty members at U.S. colleges and universities found that 67 percent of faculty members either "strongly" or "somewhat" agree that homosexuality is as acceptable as heterosexuality. Eighty-four percent support abortion rights, and 75 percent support extramarital cohabitation. White's oldest daughter, when a freshman at one of the leading universities in the United States, was told that the entire historical record that Christianity is based on is untrue. She was told that Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah, that none of his followers saw him as divine until centuries after his death, that the Gospels are not first-hand accounts and that Jesus was not a religious figure as much as he was a political one.

White wrote this book to help Christians forge their minds on the anvil of development. He explains how that can be done. At the end of the book he gives three book lists that Christians should read and other resources for learning. This is not a book for everyone. I believe it is best suited to someone with a college education or at least someone with an attitude that learning is for a life time and enjoys reading and studying.

Because we have not developed good intellectual habits, our minds are being captured by our culture. If you believe this and want to do something about it--this book will help.


Sunday, February 01, 2009

The old "invitation" song sung at the end of a sermon says, "...almost but lost."

It ends: "Sad, sad, that bitter wail--almost but lost."

The Arizona Cardinals almost won--but lost!

I'm sad but not down and discouraged. They tried. They almost won, losing by just four points in the last few seconds.

So that's over. I will now turn some of my attention to spring training and baseball.