Tuesday, August 31, 2010

She pulled up just a little after 7:15 this morning.

She parked not far from a sign that said no student parking. There are four on the cul-de-sac.

She got out and started walking toward the school leaving her car behind.

It's a nice car--a van. The windows were all painted in bright colors. A side window had a cross and the words Jesus loves you. The back window proclaimed that she loves two boys and that's she's cool.I ran out my front door wearing pajamas, house shoes and a t-shirt. My hair wasn't combed and I looked like something the dogs drug up. I didn't care how I looked. I wanted to warn this young Christian she was going to get a $65.00 ticket. I didn't know her name. I thought maybe Mary, or Martha. Since I didn't know I yelled "Hey." She kept walking and never looked back. Not to be discouraged I kept walking and yelling "Hey." She kept going all the way to the school about 2 and half blocks. When we got to the school I turned back. I shouldn't have yelled "Hey." I should have tried Mary or Martha---or Jezebel.

All the students walking along smiled probably thinking to themselves, "Looks like the dirty old man lost the race."

The $65.00 fine will be waiting for her when Miss Cool returns.

It's the "Jesus Loves You" sign and the cross that bothers me.

I would like to know what the policeman thought as he wrote out her ticket.


Monday, August 30, 2010

When a man becomes old, like me-- I will soon be seventy-six, he feels a need to pass along a little wisdom if he has gained any along the way.

So you look around and think about it for a few minutes and say to yourself, "I know a little bit about this and that."

The problem is nobody will pay any attention. They're are all busy tweetin' and facebookin' and whatever the heck they do these days.

So you start a blog thinking you will share your wisdom that way.

Wrong again. Everybody's busy writing their own blog.

So you go on Facebook thinking that old friends will just come crawling out from behind the rocks climbing over one another to get to the little gems of wisdom you post every few minutes.

Nope! Too busy posting cute little nuggets of their own.

So like poor old Elijah you consider going a days journey into the desert, sitting under a tree and praying to die. And then because you are so wise you realize, "Flip, I'm already in the desert and I don't want to die."

So being the wise old man that you are you just go to the freezer, get an ice cream bar, take a bite, smile and say to yourself (nobody else is listening) "You're a pretty wise old man."


Saturday, August 28, 2010

"For I know the plans that I have for you, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you."
                                                                                                             Jer. 29:11-12

Isn't that wonderful? God has plans for us.

Jeremiah reminds himself and us of God's hope-filled plans.
"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
   for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
   great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion;
   therefore I will wait for him"
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
   to the one who seeks him;
It is good to wait quietly
   for the salvation of the Lord."   Lamentations 3:22-26


Friday, August 27, 2010

The following quote from the movie Billy Madison reminded me of all the dumb things we listen to from politicians, preachers, professors---just people in general.

"Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."--Principal in "Billy Madison"

Yes, it's a shame but the principal is right. We are often times dumber for having listened to certain things. For too many times we accept insanely idiotic things without any questioning at all.

The principal wanted God to have mercy on Billy's soul because the things he said were insanely idiotic. Will He? Will God have mercy on our souls for the insanely idiotic things we say?

I hope so. I pray so. I also pray that God will lead all of us to truth and rational thought in our communications--coming and going.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Once I get something in my mind I find it extremely difficult to let it go.

I grew up with the idea that we need to persevere. Nobody ever told me how much stress inflexibility creates.

We all have times when our plans change. We think something is going to take place and it doesn't. Somebody doesn't do what they said they would do. You lose your job---and on and on it goes. It's only human to be frustrated when our plans get disrupted.

We need to know that there are going to be interruptions. It's inevitable.

So we need to learn to be flexible. I used to think that being flexible was just being weak. But it's not. And learning to be flexible will bring peace of mind and less stress. Not only to you but to all those around you.

Now, I'm certainly not talking about going along with something that is wrong. I'm talking about those things that happen every day that in the end do not amount to "a hill of beans."

Like it or not--things change.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Monsoons make messes most of the time. Yesterday was no exception.

I was "playing around" on the computer, minding my own business and not bothering anybody.

Charlotte hollered up from downstairs and said, "It's raining. At least it's sprinkling."

I decided to turn aside and see this thing.

I looked out the upstairs window. And yes, it was sprinkling.

I went downstairs and by then--it was raining--and blowing!

It's the day after and I have cleaned up and repaired almost everything that was messed up and broken.

Except our neighbor's tree. That big green monster of a tree is draped over our fence and in our yard. Very little of it, if any, is in their yard.

Did I mention we needed the rain--and still do?


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Abilene Christian University has a new President. He is the son of a friend who was a fellow classmate when I was a student at Abilene Christian College in the 1950's.

The school he will lead is bigger and "better" and in a sense it is a "different" school. Things have changed.

President Barack Obama leads a "different" country than the one I grew up in. Much has changed.

My last church where I was Senior Minister for fifteen years is hiring a young, new preacher. The church he will preach to is "different" than the one I ministered to. Yes, things have changed.

Is change good? Not always. But it can be. But good or not---change will come.

I have been thinking. Would I go back and do it all over again if I could?

Of course if we could hand pick, separate the good from the bad, keep the things we like and get rid of the things we don't like---most of us would go for that. But that is not to be!

So no, I wouldn't want to go back. I want to go on to new adventures. God has had a lot to offer thus far, why shouldn't I expect the rest to be just as good if not better.

Oh yes, I'm excited about today, tomorrow and the rest of the tomorrows.

The old songs says, " We are going down the valley one by one, we are heading toward the setting of the sun..."  I don't know about you but I want to go with gusto.

What next, Lord, what next? I'm excited!


Monday, August 23, 2010

I was four or five years old. I can't remember exactly. I was playing in our front yard.

My mother was standing on the porch of a neighbor across the street. Across the street wasn't very far in those days. The streets weren't very wide and this one wasn't paved. It was just red Oklahoma dirt and sand.

My mother called for me to come over saying the neighbor lady had something she wanted to give me.

I went hopping, skipping and zig-zagging across that street. The dirt was hot and there were thorns all over.

I arrived on the porch with a big smile on my face and my mother told me the nice neighbor lady had gone to get me a cold piece of cantaloupe. I'm sure my smile grew bigger and my eyes widened.

In just a moment the neighbor returned. She opened the screen door and bent down to hand me the cantaloupe.

No sooner did I see it than I went back across the street much faster than I came. And this time I wasn't smiling I was crying.

That slice of cantaloupe was covered with the blackest pepper I had ever seen. (Of course I hadn't seen a lot of pepper--or cantaloupe. I was only four or five.)

My mother was embarrassed by my silly reaction and never could understand.

This was an early lesson for me that hopes and dreams are sometimes dashed by the smallest of things.

Who puts pepper on a little kid's cantaloupe? 

Using pepper and cantaloupe as metaphors, I have had a lot of pepper put on my cantaloupe over the years.  You either suck it up and learn to live with it or you cry a lot!


Friday, August 20, 2010

Have you ever been fooled by what you thought was God's leading?

The church where I last preached for fifteen years was looking for a new preacher. They indicated they might be considering me to "fill in" a few Sundays and maybe for every Sunday until they could find someone. But they didn't call! Days and weeks went by and I was praying and waiting and wondering. I wanted to be of help if needed and God seemed to be leading in that direction.

One day I was floating in the pool, looking at the beautiful sky and clouds and thinking about God. I was talking to him as I often do and I said, "Father, if you want me to preach at Lincoln Heights I need to know about it. I have got to get on with my life. If one of the elders doesn't call today I am going to forget about it. If they call later when I am involved in other things I am going to say "No." Now, I'm not suggesting you pray like this or start " putting out fleece" or anything like that, I'm just saying this is what I did.

Shortly after that I got out of the pool and went in the house and was getting ready to "jump" into the shower. The phone rang and it was an elder. He asked me to come to Lincoln Heights and preach for the month of September. I was standing, buck naked, with the phone in my hand talking to an elder. I felt like he could see me. When I hung up I said, "Well Lord, you certainly do have a sense of humor. You caught me with my pants down this time. I wanted a call today but I never expected You to act this fast."

I saw that call as a sign from God. I have been learning to PAY ATTENTION!

Well, to make a long story short. That same elder called back today to say they have a new preacher who will be coming in September. He had to get his young children enrolled in school here. Bottom line: They don't need me after all.

Disappointed? Yes! But I told this long story to say this: If I can so readily accept the invitation to preach as the leading of God then I must accept the withdrawing of the invitation as a sign from God. He has closed the door. And disappointed as I may be, I am accepting His decision and I am excited to see what adventure He is leading me to next. I want to be ready when He calls and not be caught with my pants down.

How about you? Are you paying attention to the leading of God?


by Leonard Sweet

OVERVIEW: Have you ever experienced the nudge of the Holy Spirit in your life? Are you able to recognize that God is alive and active in every moment of your life and that He is actively working in every circumstance of your particular situation? Leonard Sweet's latest book, Nudge: Awakening Each Other to The God Who's Already There, encourages all believers to live every moment of their lives in holy awareness of Jesus' activity all around them. Sweet contends that most people who claim to follow Christ are more adept at gaining attention than at paying attention, furiously beating bushes that advance their personal interests while not paying attention to the burning bushes all around them that showcase God's activities. ...Scripture study enables believers to actively recognize Jesus where He is appearing all the time--in situations, in people, in creation. Life then becomes filled with opportunities to "nudge" others to wake up to the alive and acting Jesus.

AUTHOR: Leonard Sweet is the E. Stanley Jones professor of evangelism at Drew University, a distinguished visiting professor at George Fox University, and a chief contributor to Sweet is the author of hundreds of articles and numerous books.

MY REVIEW: Without a doubt this is the best book I have read, so far, this year. When I saw the sub-title: Awakening Each Other To The God Who's Already There, I knew I would appreciate this book--and I do! Now, am I saying this is the best book you will read this year? Not necessarily. Why not? Because we are all different. You may not be attuned to this subject right now. Leonard Sweet writes like a theologian and a professor and uses words that some are not familiar with. He does stop to define all those words. But this is a book that will benefit all Christians who will read it with an open mind. I say again, "this is the best book I have read this year."

I could not sit in my "reading chair" and read this book in a relaxed manner. This is a book that I needed to sit upright at my desk because I was busy reaching for colored pens to underline thoughts on almost every page. This book is  filled with thoughts that sent me off into deeper thinking about a God who is alive and well and active in the moments of our lives. This is a book about paying attention! Buy a copy and then brace yourself  to be startled with insight about interacting with a Great God!


Thursday, August 19, 2010

To joy of knowing God comes through recognition. Leonard Sweet talks about this in his marvelous book, Nudge--Awakening Each Other To The God Who's Already There.

"But recognition is easier said than done." Sweet illustrates this with a story about the famous theologian, Karl Barth.

Karl Barth was riding a streetcar in his home city of Basel, Switzerland. He took a seat next to a tourist, and the two men started chatting with one another.

"Are you new to the city? Barth inquired.

"Yes," said the tourist.

"Is there anything you would particularly like to see in the city?" asked Barth.

"Yes," said the tourist, " I would like to meet the famous Swiss theologian Karl Barth. Do you know him?"

Barth answered, "As a matter of fact, I do know him. I give him a shave every morning."

The tourist got off the streetcar at the next stop, quite delighted with himself. He went back to his hotel and told everyone, "I met Karl Barth's barber today."

In the same way we miss moments with God in our daily life. We don't expect to see Him and so we don't.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A New Interpretation of Genesis
By John R. Coats 

OVERVIEW: In this vivid new interpretation of Genesis, former Episcopal priest John R. Coats looks at the ancient text and its characters in a new light, as stories about people whose day-to-day concerns, triumphs, and failures are not unlike our own. In Original Sinners, these characters take on stunning contemporary relevance as they find themselves confronted with extraordinary situations and circumstances that they'd neither asked for nor had anything to say about. Using stories from his life as well as the lives of people he's known, Coats creates a model that can be used to examine your own life and discover aspects of yourself in the characters whose lives unfold in these stories.

AUTHOR: John R. Coats holds master's degrees from Virginia Theological Seminary and Bennington College Writing Seminars. A former Episcopal priest, he was a principal speaker and seminar leader for the More To Life training program in the United States, Great Britain, and South Africa and an independent management consultant.

MY REVIEW: "Even if Mommy and Daddy say it's not you, if everyone else hates your guts, it's probably you: Joseph" When I read these words from the article "Five Lessons from Genesis (About Being Human) That Still Apply Today," by John R. Coats I thought I want to read his new book, Original Sinners--A New Interpretation of Genesis. As a preaching minister for forty-seven years I have read widely in the field of theology and many books about Genesis. This was a first for me! I began reading this book already knowing that Coats' views were entirely too liberal for me. But I wanted to learn all I could from him and give his book a fair reading.

There is much about the book I don't like. Coats uses language that I consider vulgar and draws conclusions that I believe to be liberal and unwarranted. But I did learn some things from his "new" interpretation. I do not recommend this book to the average reader of my blog. Do I think I am better prepared to "handle" this kind of writing than you are. Maybe! Yes, I probably am better prepared than the "average" (whoever that is) reader of my blog. I do not mean this in a condescending way. It's just that years of reading and studying in these areas of interest makes it less likely for me to be shocked by John Coats' boldness.

This interesting book caused me to think and rethink many things about Genesis. I found myself laughing out loud at some of his observations and interpretations. John Coats has moxey and common sense. His book is very readable with  nitty-gritty honesty and humor. Read this book if you want to go on a wild religious ride. Don't blame me if you get thrown off.


Monday, August 16, 2010

As American citizens we have the right to do many, many things.

Having the right to do something does not necessarily make it the right thing to do.

I would have respect for the Muslims wanting to build a Mosque at Ground Zero in New York City if they rethought the situation and said: "We thought it was a good idea and would be well received and show our desire to do a good thing. Since it is not being received in that way and is causing a lot of hurt and confusion we will build in another place. We are not going to insist on our rights and cause hurt to a country we love."

If they do that, I will have tremendous respect for them. If on the other hand they demand their rights and say we are building there and we don't care who gets hurt then I will not respect them or anybody, including the President of the United States, who supports them.

Having the right to do something does not necessarily make it the right thing to do.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Many of us know the twenty-third Psalm.
It begins: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." Even if we do not know the entire psalm we know these first few words. But we don't believe them. Or at least we don't act like we do.
God has promised to both guide and guard us. We need to believe He will keep his promise and take comfort that just as a shepherd finds and redirects sheep that get off course, He will do the same for us.
We need to take seriously the role of the Holy Spirit in guiding his people, neither downplaying the supernatural element of divine guidance nor elevating it beyond our reach to the level of the "super-spiritual," or worse, the superstitious.
                                 Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
                                    Lead thou me on!
                                 The night is dark, and I am far from home;
                                     Lead thou me on!
                                  Guide thou my feet; I do not ask to see
                                     The distant scene; one step enough for me.
                                                              John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
God is alive and well and active in our lives today. He loves us and He will not leave us. He guides and directs us and even if we do not understand how He does it, we need to believe He does and live like it!                               


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Many people believe in God.

But the God they believe in is too small.

We need to discover a God who is present and powerful  in our lives today.

This is what I have on my mind right now--a God who is actively involved in our deepest struggles and is present to answer our deepest needs.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

 I miss singing the old hymns. Well, I still sing them. I just miss singing them with the church.

There are many wonderful contemporary songs that I love also. But somehow the words and their meaning seem to be more clear in the old hymns. Maybe it's just me.

                                                      What a Friend we have in Jesus,
                                                      All our sins and griefs to bear!
                                                      What a privilege to carry
                                                      Everything to God in prayer!
                                                      O what peace we often forfeit,
                                                      O what needless pain we bear,
                                                      All because we do not carry
                                                      Everything to God in prayer!          


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Over 1,800,000 people read Imprimis every month.

This month the excellent feature article is: The Tea Parties and the Future of Liberty by Stephen F. Hayes, a senior writer at The Weekly Standard and a Fox News contributor.

I have been reading this splendid publication for years. I recommend it without reservation.

Subscription is free upon request.

You may email them at or telephone (800) 437-2268.


Monday, August 09, 2010

A True Story
By Nikki Rosen

OVERVIEW: "In the Eye of Deception is an incredible story of someone finding the truth in the midst of great turmoil. Nikki went through things that no child or young person should have to endure. yet the faithfulness of God was evident through those in her life who shower His compassion and love. Forgiving those who deeply hurt her was a beautiful step in Nikki's journey to freedom. I pray that her story will be an encouragement to those who need to find truth and be released from their pain." -Clay Bergen, Freedom In Christ Canada

"Nikki Rosen's book, In the Eye of Deception, is a story of how God's love transformed a little girl raised in horrendous abuse, into a victorious adult. Nikki now reaches out with a message of hope and healing to those who have suffered as she did." -Maury Blair, author of Child of Woe

AUTHOR: I know Nikki Rosen only as a blogging friend. Therefore I do not have much information about her. I have read her book and I read what she writes on her blog. Do I believe her story? Yes, I do. You may not. You will have to decide for yourself. I have no reason not to believe her and in believing her, I join good company. There are many that have testified to her character and her truthfulness. Hopefully her book, which is now in the style of a self published book, will be seen, read and published by one of our major publishing houses. In that way Nikki will be introduced to the world. You will find Nikki's (Sarah's) Blog at

MY REVIEW: One warm, sunny afternoon in Arizona when it was way too hot to be outside, I sat down with In The Eye of Deception. A few hours later I got up from my "reading chair" wiped the tears from my eyes and thanked God for loving us and always watching over us even when it seems He couldn't possibly care or know what was going on in our lives. I thanked Him for touching the life of Nikki Rosen and lifting her up to live on a higher plane with Him. Is the story in Nikki's book true. I believe it is. But I don't know. I do know that as horrible as it is, the kind of things she talks about goes on all the time. And I do know that God can and does save those who will open the door of their hearts and let Him in. I'm an old, retired minister of the gospel. I did not need to read Nikki's story. But I believe God wanted me to read it and tell you about it because there are many, much younger than I, that need to hear this story of God's redeeming love.


Friday, August 06, 2010

By Nikki Rosen 

Ordinarily I would not use my space on Spiritual Sundays to advertise a book or anything else. However, in this case I do so without any feeling of guilt. I am not advertising this book for my benefit but for yours. This is a book you need to read. Nikkie Rosen has a horrible story to tell and it needs to be told so people can be aware of what is going on in our world and also to see God helping those who cannot help themselves.

Nikki did not want to tell her story--she didn't want anybody to know. I believe the fact that her story is now in book form and out there for everybody to see is a God thing. Therefore I want to help her by calling her book to the attention of a major publisher. That's where you come in. All of you who read and write for Spiritual Sundays can help to advertise A True Story--In The Eye of Deception. Some of you are writers and have books of your own published. You may be able to help Nikkie by introducing her work to a major publishing company. Her book has only been printed by the University she attends in Canada and they have no way to circulate copies. The book has been well received by those who have read it and she received the Canadian Christian Writing Award.

The story Nikkie tells is hard to read because it is a horrible story of deception and horrendous abuse. But your heart will be touched by the movement of God in her life and the way she has become a victorious adult. It is amazing! Yesterday I found out she does not attend church on a regular basis. As a minister for forty-seven years you already know I believe everybody needs to be part of God's family--the church. So I'm telling you about Nikki and her book hoping that some of you will be able to help her in ways that I can't. I know you will pray and that is no small thing, but she needs more. I have put it out there now and I am trusting God to lead you to the next step.

You may read Nikki's post on Spiriutal Sundays by clicking on Sarah (I don't know why she writes under this name). You may read about her and her book at her website

Thank you for taking the time to read this post.


The following is a quote from Barbara Brown Taylor in her book, An Altar in the World.

"People seem willing to look all over the place for this treasure. They will spend hours launching prayers into the heavens. They will travel halfway around the world to visit a monastery in India or take part in a mission trip to Belize. The last place most people look is right under their feet, in the everyday activities, accidents, and encounters of their lives."


Thursday, August 05, 2010


If I had my life to live over again, I would have waxed less and listened more. 

Instead of wishing away nine months of  pregnancy and complaining about the shadows over my feet, I'd have cherished every minute of it and

realized that the wonderment growing inside me was to be my only chance in life to assist God in a miracle...

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television...and more while watching life...

There would have been more I love yous...more I'm sorrys...more I'm listening...but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute of it... 

and never give that minute back until there was nothing left of it.


Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Our neighbors across the street, a nice Jewish family from New Jersey, are on vacation for a week.

I don't know why I mentioned they are a Jewish family from New Jersey. I guess I just wanted you to know. It certainly has nothing to do with what I am writing about. Besides they have lived across the street now for several years so they are an Arizona family. They are good neighbors. The children used to "drive me nuts" when they were young and trying to knock my windows out with baseballs like I did when I was a kid. Now they are older and rarely come outside. I guess they are inside watching television and becoming couch potatoes. However, I don't know. They may be busy doing homework or making bagels or something.

Anyhow, just before they left they asked if we would watch their house while they are away. And they said if the papers start to stack up maybe we could just pick them up and throw them away.

The first thing I do in the morning is go outside and pick up the morning paper. I bring it in the house and start reading. I do this even before my first cup of coffee. I start with the front page and work my way to the last page. I want to turn immediately to the Sports page but I rarely do. This has been my habit for years.

When I walked out the front door this morning I noticed two papers in our neighbors driveway so I walked across the street and picked them up.

I smiled on the way back across the street. No--I laughed out loud.

Our neighbors never pick up their paper on the day it is delivered. In fact they don't pick them up until there are four or five scattered all over the drive. This has been their habit for years.

But they will be picked up this week!


Tuesday, August 03, 2010

I don't know who wrote the following words but I like them. I found this today in a folder of my favorite things:

"Slow me down, Lord! Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind. Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time. Give me, amidst the confusion of my day, the calmness of the everlasting hills. Break the tension of my nerves and muscles with the soothing music of the singing streams that live in my memory. Help me to know the magical, restoring power of sleep. Teach me the art of taking minute vacations---slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to read a few lines from a good book. Remind me each day of the fable of the hare and the tortoise, that I may know that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than increasing its speed. Let me look upward into the branches of the towering oak and know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well. Slow me down, Lord, and inspire me to send my roots deep into the soil of life's enduring values that I may grow toward the stars of my greater destiny."


Monday, August 02, 2010

For the past six years I have spent most of my time at home and with Charlotte.

I love our home and I love Charlotte.

Today while walking at the mall I remembered something I had almost forgotten. For years, in the days when I went to the pulpit every Sunday, I was always mentally working on a sermon. It didn't seem to make any difference where I was, what I was doing or who was there---my mind was on Sunday's message.

That is no longer true. I don't preach any more and there is no need to prepare sermons. Oh, I still find myself thinking about messages that need to be preached and thinking about what I might say on a particular subject. But I am no longer preoccupied with sermon preparation.

For many years almost everything provided seeds for a sermon---everything!

Now, since most of my time is spent at home and with Charlotte I realize I need to be out and about more making connections between modern life and the Scriptures.

During the month of September I will be back in the pulpit. In the meantime I need to be at the mall, Starbucks, sporting events, and other social activities. I need to mingle, pay attention and learn. Maybe we all do.