Saturday, January 31, 2009

Minister and author, James Emery White wrote that his wife asked him if he knew why it takes one million sperm to fertilize a single female egg. He replied that he didn't know. "Because," she deadpanned, "none of them will ever stop and ask for directions."

Men fail to find the humor in that joke. But even for us guys, the first step toward obedience is stopping to get directions, and those directions are found in the Bible.

Can't you just see God standing in the middle of life's intersections, His hands upraised, stopping the traffic of humanity to tell us: "Just read the Book! That's why I wrote it!" When it comes to obedience, the writer of Psalm 119 revealed one of the great secrets of life: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path."

The directions are there. All we have to do is read them.

(Thoughts taken from James Emery White's book,Life-defining Moments)


Friday, January 30, 2009

You may have noticed that in my description of what I write about in this blog, I stated that one thing I might write about is baloney. Well the truth is that a lot of the stuff I write is "baloney" but I never literally write about the meat product.

Today, I'm more in the baloney mood than the Bible mood.

Growing up in Oklahoma I ate a lot of bologna and listened to a lot of baloney. We loved sandwiches--not the kind you get at Subway, or Jersey Mikes. As a kid I liked to just grab a slice of bologna and bread and run.

As kids, we were also fond of telling someone they were full of baloney which is slang for bunk or hooey. I guess bunk and hooey are slang too. But what do I know? I'm full of baloney.

Today, I rarely eat bologna. More baloney comes out my mouth than goes in.

So today, I guess I'm just kinda full of it--baloney that is, not bologna.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

A fellow brain tumor survivor said to Scott Hamilton, Gold Medal Olympian and Hall of Fame figure skater, “Scott you have every reason to be miserable, but you’re the happiest guy I’ve ever met. What’s your secret?”

Scott Hamilton with Ken Baker tells us how to be happy in his book, The Great Eight, How to Be Happy (even when you have every reason to be miserable). He gives eight secrets to finding happiness. As a figure skater Scott had to learn to do on ice what is called figure eights. He took the discipline he learned from perfecting figure eights and applied it to every aspect of his life. The eight principles he shares in this book are the lessons he lives by.

In this splendid book, Scott Hamilton shares stories from his own journey as a celebrity, Christian, husband, and cancer patient to illustrate the principles that have shaped his life. He challenges readers to take charge of their circumstances, commit to a goal, and go for the gold medal of happiness. Scott doesn’t approach difficulties with a Pollyanna attitude. Instead he looks at life realistically and gives eight principles for living a happy life.

As a Senior Minister for forty-seven years I found chapter two, Trust Your Almighty Coach, the most interesting and helpful. In this chapter Scott talks about how faith in God will give meaning to your life and help you live the best life you possibly can.

This is a book you will read and share with others. However, you will have to buy another copy for your friends. You will not be able to part with yours. It will be a reference book for life.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
--Matt. 5:48, NRSV

Jesus said unto him, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou
hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in
heaven..." -Matt/ 19:21, KJV

I agree with Kathleen Norris, "Perfectionism is one of the scariest words I know."

But the good news about the word "perfect" as used in the New Testament is that it is not a scary word. It does not mean to set forth an impossible goal. It means to be complete, entire, full-grown. It means to be "mature."

If we would see perfection in this way--the Jesus way, instead of the Martha Stewart way, maybe we wouldn't be so scared.

The mature person is one who isn't so preoccupied with self-image. Not being so concerned with self they can freely give themselves to others.

Isn't this what Jesus said we should do?


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Grumbling all the way, I drove to the vehicle inspection station I have been going to off and on for the last nineteen years. "My BMW runs great. I shouldn't even have to do this. They don't think this car needs to be inspected. They just want the money."

The station was permanently closed! The sign said, "Try another location."

Grumbling all the way, I drove back home, got on the computer, looked up another station and a map. I had driven West to get to the closed station. I now needed to drive East to get to the new one. "Man, I'm now running late. There will be a line a mile long. This is gonna take all day."

There was one car in front of me. The old system of testing is gone. The new system only takes a few minutes. I was in and out in just a few minutes and was back home about as soon as I would have been if my old station had been open and operating.

There was no need for discouragement. I missed the beauty of a beautiful morning. There was no need for grumbling. Everything went just fine. I was wrong in my attitude!

I was right about one thing though--they just wanted the money!


Monday, January 26, 2009

I am a big fan of Hallmark Hall of Fame movies.

It is rare for me to like a commercial--even the "special" Super Bowl ones.

However, I do like--really like, the Hallmark commercials. Sometimes they put a smile on my face. Almost every time they put tears in my eyes.

I especially like the "old" one where the young lady returns to a school she attended to express her appreciation to one of her teachers who is packing up his books and "stuff" getting ready to retire. He asks her what she grew up to be. She said, "A teacher."

I love their theme or motto: "For those who care enough to send the very best."


Saturday, January 24, 2009

“Then the devil left Him; and behold

angels came and began to minister to Him.”

Matt. 4: ll

How well do you receive God’s comfort and His ministry to you?

Jesus received all things well—so should we.

My father was in a mental institution when I was born. He remained there the rest of his life. My mother passed away when I was eleven. My sister and her husband took me in. Later I was sent to live with one of my brothers and his wife and then later I lived with another brother and his family. I took my first job when I was in the ninth grade and have been working ever since. I became very independent. Independence is good but it can produce pride and make it hard for you to graciously receive the caring compassion of others.

Perhaps you’re the giving, ministry type. You freely give and share. You give comfort to others. But how well do you receive God’s comfort and His ministry to you? It’s a noble thing to meet the needs of others, but it’s still necessary to admit our own needs.

Is there an angel knocking on your door wanting to help? Get rid of your pride. Let him/her in!

Isn’t it obvious that all angels are sent to help out with those lined up to receive salvation?” Hebrews 1:14

Haven’t seen any angels lately? Don’t be too sure.

“Why some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it!” Hebrews 13:2


Friday, January 23, 2009

Anyone with small children knows how it goes: you're not in the car thirty minutes, and a little voice from the back seat says, "Daddy, are we there yet?" "No, this is only Goodyear.''

We expect this from small children, but not from adults. Charlotte and I are poor travelers. We want to be there before we hardly get going. When we drive over to Los Angeles we are ready to be there before we get to Quartzsite.

We are all like little children with our longing for more. We graduate from high school and ask, "Are we there yet?" Something inside tells us it's only Blythe.

We graduate from college and ask, "Are we there yet?" It's only Indio.

We fall in love and get married and ask, "Are we there yet?" It's only Banning.

We have children and ask, "Are we there yet?" It's only San Bernardino.

We reach out to God in a new way and ask, "Are we there yet?" It's only Pomona.

Do we ever reach Los Angeles? No--not in this life. One day we shall reach that "city which is to come" (Heb. 13:14), but we are not yet there. Both Scripture and human experience testify to this hard fact, and spiritual maturity requires that we learn to live with it--and live with hope!


Thursday, January 22, 2009

No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived what God has
prepared for those who love him.
1 Corinthians 2:9

Years ago, a famous golfer accepted an invitation from the king of Saudi Arabia to play golf together for several days. After enjoying their time together, the king asked the golfer what he wanted as a gift--"anything you want." The king insisted that he must be given something, so the golfer finally gave in and said, "Okay, fine. I collect golf clubs. Why don't you give me a golf club?" Weeks went by, and the golfer imagined possibly receiving a solid gold putter or a diamond-studded sand wedge from the oil-rich king until a certified letter arrived. Inside he discovered a deed to a five-hundred-acre golf course in America.

Sometimes kings think differently than you and I think. And friend, we serve the King of kings. Dream accordingly!

(From the devotion for January 22 in Joel Osteen's book, Your Best Life Begins Each Morning)


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"Out of Egypt I have called my son." (Matthew 2:15)

Because of Herod's threat, Joseph took Jesus and Mary into Egypt.

Herod's threat, which was so ominous, was nothing more than an open door for accomplishing God's will.

God's will. God's plan. God's providence. God causing things to happen. Making history.

Herod was a powerful leader. He could open scenes, trigger sequences, but he couldn't cause anything to happen--not really. Only God could cause.

When the future doesn't seem to be unfolding according to our precise desires, we get anxious.

Remember the God revealed in Jesus Christ is a God of surprises. When doors of desire slam in your face, trust the God of creativity to open new, unexpected doors into the future.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Barack Obama--the little black boy who could.

We all know the story. There was a mountain to be climbed. The little blue train was small and inexperienced (she had never been on the other side of the mountain). But she knew what had to be done. She said, "I think I can. I think I can. I think I can." And she did it!

I did not vote for Barack Obama. He is liberal. I am conservative. I oppose a lot of what he stands for.

The one thing I can do for him,and I see this as the best thing any Christian can do for him,is pray for him.

I will pray that God will watch over him and his family and help him in the decisions he makes for this great country.


Sunday, January 18, 2009


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Jesus' first miracle was to keep a party going.

He appreciated the lilies and grass of the field and the birds of the air.

He found time to go fishing.

He built things--maybe bird houses.

Jesus lived a balanced life. He went to the house of worship but he also went to work. He prayed but he also played. If he lived in this world today, would he blog? Good question. Personally, I have no doubt that he would. What a great way to get his message out.

I received news this week that a dear blogging friend is retiring from blogging so she can spend more time listening to God and not so much to others. She feels God has directed her to do this. Ok. Maybe He did and maybe he didn't. Oh, I agree, she needs to quit blogging. She needs to do this because she thinks God is leading her to do it.

I have a concern that some of us become so pious that we aren't able to live sanely in this world. Hey, a little blogging never hurt anybody. A little wine, a little McDonalds, a little T.V., a little of this and a little of that--as long as it's alright to begin with, is a good thing.

I hesitated to write the two posts this week describing my devotional time in the morning. I know that everybody doesn't have time for this and some don't even want to do it--but they feel guilty if they don't do it. We have just got to stop comparing ourselves with others.

My plea is for you to live the best life you can, the best way you know how. God loves you and he does not demand perfection. If you do what is right, it will be alright.

Live the Christian life with gusto and a smile, not "scared to death."


Friday, January 16, 2009

Yesterday I wrote about Four Books And A Bible, which should have been Three Books And A Bible--not four. I was never good at math.

Today I want to take a closer look at those three books and the Bible.

Your Best Life Begins Each Morning by Joel Osteen is a small book of devotions for every day of the year. They are brief, timely messages of practical value. Today's devotional had the title, Reach Out by Faith. The text was Matthew 9:21-22 and the illustration was about a man who's wrong attitude was destroying his marriage. The message for the day was, "Your life will change when you change your thinking."

A Year With Jesus by Eugene H. Peterson also contains brief devotionals. The text for today is Matthew 2:11. Peterson says, "The first thing wise people do in the presence of Jesus is worship: not congratulate themselves on having found him, not ask him questions, not attempt to get something from him, but offer up themselves to him."

Daily Readings from the Life of CHRIST by John MacArthur also contains brief writings,but his are a little more expository in nature. The text for today is Matthew 4:4 and he also refers to James 4:14,15 and Matthew 6:28-30. His commentary is excellent. A sample sentence is: "We always suffer and miss out to some extent on spiritual blessings when we shortsightedly worry about the temporal instead of focusing on the eternal."

I like to use the NIV/The Message Parallel Bible because it puts a good translation alongside a one person translation, or more precisely--a paraphrase. I want the translation ,but I also benefit from the more contemporary thinking of Peterson. I'm not trying to do in depth study this time of the morning but just getting my day started in the Word.

Tomorrow I'm planning to write about those who cannot move from time with God to living and working sanely with others. They lay their Bible down and move out into the "rat race" but try to pretend they are still alone with Him.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

My day begins with three books and a Bible.

The first book I pick up is Your Best Life Begins Each Morning by Joel Osteen.

The second book is A Year with Jesus by Eugene Peterson.

The next one is Daily Readings from the Life of CHRIST by John MacArthur.

The last, but certainly not the least, and I will explain this tomorrow--is the NIV/Message Parallel Bible.

After studying the passage under consideration I lay my Bible down and turn to prayer.

I'm now ready to begin the day.

This works well for me, but I'm not suggesting this is the path you should follow. I mention it only because "inquiring minds want to know." Each of us has to travel a road that we can follow.

(Tomorrow, the Lord willing, I will review each of the books mentioned above.)


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dr. Augusto Cury is one of the world’s leading psychiatrists with over seven million books sold. In his splendid book, Think and Make It Happen, he presents a breakthrough program for conquering anxiety, overcoming negative thoughts, and discovering your true potential.

This book is not intended to replace necessary psychiatric and psychological treatments, but it can complement them. Nor does Dr. Cury intend for his book to replace religion in your life. In fact, I believe that as powerful as the principals are that he presents, they cannot completely succeed apart from religion. Dr. Cury uses Jesus as a model of thinking correctly. Examples from the life of Jesus are given at the end of every chapter.

This is not a quick read. It is a book to be read, re-read and studied. Reflecting on this book, Pat Williams, Senior Vice President for the Orlando Magic and author of What Are You Living For?, said “I have long believed that what we think about all day long will turn into reality in our lives.” Think and Make It Happen will help you to understand that your mind is the greatest wonder of all. Yet it is often the territory we most neglect. Using the twelve principles of this book along with the principals of the Bible will help you turn your life into a celebration.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It is not irritating to be where
one is. It is only irritating to
think one would like to be
somewhere else. John Cage

Often we are restless, discontent and irritable because we do not cherish the life we have.

Look around, what do you see?

You might be surprised at what you cherish.


Monday, January 12, 2009

I like George Bush. I like him very much. I have been sorely disappointed with some of his decisions.

It has troubled me greatly because he has refused to stand up for himself.

I watched and listened to him closely today as he held his last press conference.

I learned something.

He is a magnanimous human being. He has the ability to control his emotions and actions in response to indignities done to him. He rejects revenge and rises above anger while in pursuit of more worthy ends.

It takes guts to live your life like that. He said that Jesus was one of his heroes and I believe him. He not only talks about Jesus he walks through life with him.

If it had been my last day with those that had despised me, bullied me, taken advantage of me and written lies about me I would have given them hell. I know that's not the right thing to do, but that's probably what I would have done.

Thank you Mr. President for your magnanimous spirit. Seeing you living like Jesus gives me hope and makes me want to be a better man.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Maria's husband had died when Christina was an infant. The young mother, stubbornly refusing opportunities to remarry, got a job and set out to raise her young daughter. And now, fifteen years later, the worst years were over. Though Maria's salary as a maid afforded few luxuries, it was reliable and it did provide food and clothes. And now Christian was old enough to get a job to help out.

Christina had an infectious way of throwing her head back and filling the room with laughter. She also had that rare magic some women have that makes every man feel like a king just by being near them. She spoke of going to the city. She dreamed of trading her dusty neighborhood for exciting avenues and city life. Maria did not want her daughter to go. Maria knew what her daughter would have to do for a living if she went to the city. That's why her heart broke when she awoke one morning to find her daughter's bed empty.

She quickly threw some clothes in a bag, gathered up all her money, and ran out of the house. With her purse full of small black-and white photos, she boarded the next bus to Rio de Janeiro.
Maria knew Christina had no way of earning money. She also knew her daughter was too stubborn to give up. When pride meets hunger, a human will do things that were unthinkable. Knowing this, Maria began her search. It wasn't long before both the money and the pictures ran out, and Maria had to go home.

It was a few weeks later that young Christina descended the hotel stairs. Her dream had become a nightmare. As she reached the bottom of the stairs, her eyes noticed a familiar face. She looked again, and there on the lobby mirror was a small picture of her mother. Christina's eyes burned and her throat tightened as she walked across the room and removed the small photo. Written on the back was this compelling invitation. "Whatever you have done, whatever you have become, it doesn't matter. Please come home."

She did.

(Max Lucado, one of my favorite writers, has told this true story many times. I have taken it from his wonderful book, No Wonder They Call Him The Savior, edited it to fit this space, and retold it for you)


Looking out the upstairs window of my small bedroom study, I see the green leaves of an orange tree, my neighbors red, tile, roof, and a sky as blue as the Mediterranean.

When I need to dream, I come here.

The leaves dancing beneath that blue sky are like a wink from God.

All of this is calming to me. I feel like God has found me here in this quiet place.

After being here awhile I move to my Bible, devotional books and prayer.

I'm now ready to take on another day. And I can tell by looking out that window, and the wink of God--this is going to be a good one!


Friday, January 09, 2009

Most of us do not listen with the intent to understand. We listen with the intent to reply.

We are not as interested in what is being said, as we are to what we are going to say.

Empathy involves trying to understand the other person's heart, mind and spirit.

It involves taking the time to consider their motives and feelings.

We need to listen with our eyes and hearts, as well as our ears.

What an impact it would have on our relationships if we would only take time to listen--I mean really listen


Thursday, January 08, 2009

It wasn’t a typical Sunday afternoon in Phoenix with an overcast sky and a cool mist falling. When I sat down to read Same Kind of Different As Me, I thought “I have already read sixty-three pages. I’ll read about that many more and then take a nap. It was around 1:00 p.m. when I started to read. When I read these words of Denver Moore: “The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or something in between, this earth ain’t no final restin’ place” I glanced up at the clock. It was 3:00 p.m. I had been reading all afternoon and had come to the end of this splendid book.

Same Kind of Different as Me is a true story written by Ron Hall and Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent. Their story is so heart touching and inspiring that you can’t put it down. It is a story of faith and true friendship. It is a story of a woman who loved God, trusted Him and wanted to serve others. It is a story of a man who struggled to be what God wanted him to be and what he wanted to be himself and then matured into that man. It is the story of a black, uneducated man growing up in the South when black people were treated like animals. He lived among the homeless population with no hope for the future until he met a white Christian woman who befriended him, gave him hope, something to live for, and changed his life. He said, “Until Miss Debbie, I’d never spoke to no white woman before. Just answered a few questions maybe—it wadn’t really speakin’.”

I believe reading this story, may change your life. Living this story changed Debbie Hall, her husband Ron, and their black, homeless friend, Denver Moore.

Denver said, “Money can’t buy no blessins.” This is probably true. But you will not be wasting your money when you buy this book.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)

The sun is out and about today warming up the red roof tops and white headed "Snow birds" in Arizona.

Looking out my upstairs window I see bright colored oranges, tangerines and grapefruit.

I was able to get out of bed this morning. It's now ten thirty and I'm still moving along--slowly, but still moving.

Wow. This is a great day and I'm rejoicing.

I would be rejoicing regardless. Rejoicing just to have another day.

Thank you Lord!


Monday, January 05, 2009

You've Got Mail is one of my favorite movies. A chick flick? Probably.

I love Dirty Harry movies. A male macho thing? Maybe.

I rarely, if ever, recommend a movie. Why? Well mainly because of the "It's all in the eye of the beholder thing." You know--we don't all like the same thing. I'm a coward. I don't like to be criticized.

And then, there's that preacher thing. Some members of the church hear every nasty word and see every naked butt and then translate that into my approval of naughty things.

Once upon a time our church staff was viewing Chariots of Fire, which I think is one of the best movies of all time, and our bus minister got up and walked out because they were drinking beer and said, "damn."

I wish people didn't drink anything intoxicating, say bad words, or show their behinds. However, me wishing this doesn't keep it from happening--in movies or in life. And some people see the bad side of everything. They are so heavenly minded they are no earthly good.

We need to be balanced. In my opinion, most of what Hollywood turns out is trash. However, occasionally a movie comes along that teaches some good lessons. I'm not going to let a few nasty words and the glimpse of a naked body keep me out of the theater.

I thought The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was a good movie. I'm not recommending it-- although my preaching colleague and theologian Ben Witherington does.

Try getting on his case and see how you do.


Saturday, January 03, 2009

“Live This Day as if It Were Your Last. It Might Be!” is the title of the last article in Richard Carlson’s book, Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff…and it’s all small stuff.

Richard Carlson, psychotherapist and world famous writer died December 13, 2006 of cardiac arrest on a flight from San Francisco to New York City. He was going there to promote his latest book. He was forty-five years old.

In that last article, Carlson wrote: “When are you going to die? In fifty years, twenty, ten, five, today? Last time I checked, no one had told me. I often wonder, when listening to the news, did the person who died in the auto accident on his way home from work remember to tell his family how much he loved them? Did he live well? Did he love well? Perhaps the only thing that is certain is that he still had things in his “in basket” that weren’t yet done.”

He went on to say: “The truth is, none of us has any idea how long we have to live. Sadly, however, we act as if we’re going to live forever. We postpone the things that, deep down, we know we want to do—telling the people we love how much we care, spending time alone, visiting a good friend …and on and on. We come up with elaborate and sophisticated rationales to justify our actions, and end up spending most of our time and energy doing things that aren’t all that important.”

These words come not from the Bible but from a guy who lived his life just like the rest of us but perhaps thought more seriously about living and dieing and then did die at an early age. Maybe we would do well to give serious thought to the things he had to say.

“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:13-14


Friday, January 02, 2009

If 2009 is like every other year has been, we will be given many opportunities to choose between being kind and being right.

We will have many chances to “correct” people.

Please don’t confuse being kind with being a wimp.

And I would never suggest that it’s not okay for you to be right.

But if you insist on being right, it often takes away your inner peace.

The best place and time to start being kind is with the next person you speak to.