Thursday, December 29, 2011

Last night there were four movies on that I really like: Top Gun, You've Got Mail, On Golden Pond,and Father of The Bride.

I have lost track of how many times I have watched each of these movies.

Do you say, "Nope." "Not for me." "I have seen that. I am not going to watch it again!"

I guess I'm a slow learner. I have no problem watching a movie that I like, again and again.

Last night I settled in on You've Got Mail.

It's a girl's movie? Hey, what can I say? I like it!

What do you think? Should I get a life? Maybe this is just what seventy-seven year old men do? I certainly don't know. This my first time to be seventy-seven.

I can just hear my Christian friends saying, "You should be reading your Bible, praying, visiting the hospitals and prisons, feeding the poor............ "

Maybe I will---just as soon as I get through watching On Golden Pond.

But then again---maybe not!


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Neil Diamond was one of five people who was honored last night by the Kennedy Center.

I have been a Neil Diamond fan for many years.

One day while living in Southern California I was at my brother's home visiting with my nephew. He was excited about Neil Diamond and wanted me to listen to one of his songs---"I Am I Said."

I didn't really understand the song but I liked it immediately.

That was over five decades ago and I have been listening to Neil belt out his songs ever since.

One night while living in Northern California friends took Charlotte and me to San Francisco to a Neil Diamond concert. It was a wonderful evening. We loved every minute of it and it has lived in our memory.

Last night when he was honored with popular artists performing his songs, I felt a tug on my heart and moisture in the corner of my eyes.

I don't worship Neil---not even close to it, but I do love to hear him sing!

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I've been inclined to believe
They never would.......


Monday, December 26, 2011


In the New testament, the apostle Paul encouraged his young coworker Timothy to "fan the flame and stir up the gift that is within you" (2 Timothy 1:6). Paul was reminding his understudy to live with enthusiasm. Give it your all.Don't settle for mediocrity. Stir yourself up; rekindle that fire.

You may have to live or work around people who are prone to being negative, who tend to drag you down. But don't let their lack of enthusiasm squelch your passion. If you live with a deadbeat spouse, make a decision that you're going to be happy and enthusiastic anyway. If your parents are always negative, try to overcome that negativity by being positive, encouraging, and uplifting. Fan your flame more than usual to make sure the fire doesn't go out.

(From Joel Osteen's devotional Your Best Life Begins Each Morning--Devotions to Start Every Day of the Year)


Friday, December 23, 2011

Luke 2:8-20 (The Message)

 8-12There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."  13-14At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:

   Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
   Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
 15-18As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.
 19-20Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!

I love the fact that the sheepherders didn't just talk, they took action. They got over to Bethlehem as fast as they could. And then when they returned the Scripture (The Message) says they "let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen."

That's my prayer for every human being. I want them to hear the Word and then not just talk about it, but check it out. And then I believe every sincere heart will let loose glorifying and praising God."



Thursday, December 22, 2011

In so many ways, music expresses the feelings of the heart.

Growing up in Oklahoma, "I'm Dreaming of A White Christmas" was always on my mind during the Christmas season.

I can't remember if it ever snowed at Christmas time but it must not have or I think I would have remembered.

I liked "Blue Christmas" by Elvis Presley but it didn't express my feelings. I never had a blue Christmas.

I've celebrated Christmas in Oklahoma, California and now Arizona. They all have been great---all seventy-seven. Of course I don't remember the first few. In fact, the first time I remember Christmas or getting a Christmas present I must have been about five. We lived in the very small town of Fletcher, Oklahoma. My mother took me and my brothers to a Baptist Church where they had a huge Christmas tree. Years later I realized the "pearl" handled gun I received was not from Santa but from my mother.

Most of my Christmases have been spent with Charlotte. They have all been wonderful.

When you're seventy-seven you can't completely block out the thought, "How many more will there be?"

I'm comforted by the thought---when it's over here, it won't be over there.

At once the angel was joined by a huge
angelic choir singing God's praises...
            Luke 2:13
Wow! I don't have the words to communicate what that huge angelic choir must have looked and sounded like when Jesus was born.

If we think our Christmas celebrations are great, what must it be like in the angelic realm.

The song that expresses the feelings of my heart now is: "O happy day that fixed my choice On Thee my Savior and my God! Well may this glowing heart rejoice, And tell its raptures all abroad.....He taught me how to watch and pray, And live rejoicing every day."



Monday, December 19, 2011

(The following is from Stephen M.R. Covey's excellent book THE SPEED OF TRUST.)

There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy, and civilization throughout the world---one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business,  the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love.

On the other hand, if developed and leveraged, that one thing has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity in every dimension of life. Yet, it is the least understood, most neglected, and most underestimated possibility of our time.

That one thing is trust.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

 (The following is from Jon Walker's excellent book, IN VISIBLE FELLOWSHIP--A Contemporary View Of Bonhoeffer's Classic Work, LIFE TOGETHER.)

(Holy Scripture) is God's revealed Word for all men, for all
times. Holy Scripture does not consist of individual passages; it
is a unit and is intended to be used as such.
                                                            ---Dietrich Bonhoffer

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching
the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving 
instruction for right living, so that the person who serves
God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of
                                        good deed.
                                                                                      ---2 Timothy 3:17-17

Seeing what God has done through history and knowing what he has done for us develops our faith. In fact, Bonhoeffer says knowing what God did for Israel and what he did for us through Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, is more important than seeking what God intends for us today.

The God-adventure is a sweeping dance of redemption showing how he moves through history coordinating circumstances and events in order to bring us home to him. God's story is a tear-filled romance where he chases after those he loves, regardless of whether they love him back. It's a nail-biting drama where he launches a rescue mission for his children, who are held in captivity, and he arrives in his perfectly planned nick of time.

In God's story, his children follow him in faith, yet even the most faithful stumble and fail. But the story doesn't end there! God redeems even the worst mistakes, making all things work together for the good of those he calls his own.


Friday, December 16, 2011

 And don't sin by letting anger gain control over you.
Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry.
          Ephesians 4:26

"Sally Jo I have been here since 9:00 (that meant an hour) and this guy just now walked in and your are taking him before me."

"I'm sorry but he checked in on the computer and his name got here before his body. He's next. I'm sorry that's just the way it is."

"Ok, good-bye. You will never see me again."

Out the door he went!

Charlotte and I were waiting for hair cuts. We have been married 53 years and this was the first time we had ever gone into the same place at the same time to get our hair cut. A big adventure!

No more than a minute later the door opened and back in walked Mr. Angry. He had calmed down and wanted to get his haircut. Smart move. After all, he had been waiting an hour and he was next in line.

Years ago when I was a young preacher. A deacon became upset at a meeting we were having. He jumped up said he was resigning as a deacon and walked out closing the door behind him.

No more than a minute later the door opened. He slipped back in and sat down. Nothing was said.

It's bad to "blow your top." It's good to get over it quickly.

Oh yes, Charlotte and I got our hair cuts. And it's a good thing too. It's a windy day in our area and what little hair we have left is "blowin' in the wind."


Thursday, December 15, 2011



Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Do you think that you can reprove words,
when the speech of a despairing man is wind?
                            Job 6:26

If you talk all the time---like politicians do, you say many things you shouldn't.

Even if you're not a politician, preacher or mother, you still talk a lot and say things you wish you hadn't said.

"Oh my, I wish I hadn't said that." "I could bite my tongue off."

We all do it!

So why then are we always trying to reprove the words of others?

"Newt shouldn't have said what he did about Paul Ryan."

"Mitt shouldn't have tried to make a $10,000 bet."

On and on it goes. It never ends. We are always correcting somebody.

Am I saying nothing ever needs to be corrected? Absolutely not.

What I am saying is that we are just making ourselves miserable and everybody around us when we are constantly reproving words.

Words can be dumb,hurtful and uncalled for but they soon pass away. Like dead leaves on a tree.



Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yes. It rains in the desert.

Phoenix gets about 8 inches of rain a year. This is not much compared to other major cities. Los Angeles  gets about twice that much and Seattle gets four times that much rain.

But it does rain here. In fact it's raining right now. It was raining when we went to bed last night and it was raining when we got up this morning.

Earlier I posted on Facebook that we were going to the health club and that I would be riding the bike, walking on the treadmill, lifting weights and looking out the huge windows past the palm trees to the beautiful purple mountains soaked in rain.

By the time we got to the club the rain had stopped the sun was shining and I looked out at purple mountains shrouded in billowy,white clouds. Beautiful!

After lunch we went shopping at Kierland Commons. With all the beautiful decorations, a light mist falling and many, many people scurrying around---it looked a lot like Christmas. Or at least it was beginning to.

We are now home again. Charlotte is bustling around wrapping presents. I'm upstairs posting this on my blog as the rain splatters gently against the windows.

I'm going downstairs and curl up with a book---a good book, in front of the fireplace.

Sunday afternoon following a memorial service I was chatting with a Doctor friend of mine who will be retiring next year. He was wondering if he would like retirement.



Monday, December 12, 2011

When Job's three friends...heard about all the troubles that had
come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together
by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.
                                      Job 2:11

We all need a little help from our friends.

I especially like two words that leap out to me from this Scripture: sympathize and comfort.

Job needed both sympathy and comfort.

Did his friends succeed in giving it to him? NO!

ELIPHAZ put great faith in TRADITION (15:18-19).

BILDAD was a  LEGALIST (8:4).

ZOPHAR was the MOST DOGMATIC of the three (11:6).

Job needed mercy. He needed grace. He didn't get it from his friends.

I am pleased our preacher has preached on the theme of grace all year. Too much grace? I don't think so!

I have known many like these three men. Right or wrong I have always looked upon them as just good ol boys.

Good ol boys with some good points but too narrow to be of any help. 

They talk a good game but nothing helps. They offer no hope. Grace would have brought some of the comfort they wanted to give.

Want to be a good friend? Want to offer sympathy? Do you want to comfort?

Try showing a little grace.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

One of my favorite devotional books of all time is Tim Hansel's Keep Dancin'---Daily Readings to Celebrate Life. 

The following is the first devotional from that book.

But Jesus came and touched them. "get up," he said.
"Don't be afraid." When they looked up they
saw no one except Jesus.
                     Matthew 17:7,8

I can vividly remember a series of Bible studies with a group of high-school students from San Francisco. We examined the basic theology and doctrine of the church. We explored the philosophical and theological positions of the church through history, debating the relevance of each to today's problems of hunger, nuclear weapons, and other ultra-complex situations. We explored how their subjects at school wove together with all the subtleties of Scripture.

Finally one morning a student raised her hand and said, "I'm really getting confused. Is it okay when I get lost in all of this stuff---if I just look at Jesus?"

I look to You, Jesus, because You alone hold the keys to life.


Friday, December 09, 2011

Scottsdale has become a study in contrasts, where residents and visitors can ride horseback through pristine Arizona desert in the morning and visit one of the country’s best contemporary art museums in the afternoon. It is now counted among the largest cities in the nation, but retains its connection to its small-town, Western heritage. 

The Phoenix area is big---really big! It spreads out in every direction.

But for some reason it still has that small town feel for me. Maybe not for everybody. But for me it does and I like it.

I grew up in Lawton, Oklahoma. Graduated from High School and went to two years of college there.

I felt like I knew almost everybody in town. I didn't of course, and had sense enough to know it. But still I knew a lot of people.

A few days ago pushing a cart around in Fry's Market I met a man I know. We met and became friends at a health club.

Today while pushing a cart around in Costco I heard a cheery "Hi, how are you?" It was a Doctor who lived next door to us at one time but now has moved away. 

A few months back we were at Oregano's Italian restaurant waiting to be seated when a family we knew walked in. I had known the lady and her family when she was just a young girl in California. I married her and her husband in Phoenix. I preached her mother's funeral. We hadn't seen her and her husband in many months. They were moving the next week to Colorado. 

Will I see somebody I know tomorrow when I am out and about? Maybe. I don't know.

This is a big place. There are a lot of people here. But to me---it's getting "smaller" all the time. It feels like home.

I like it!


Thursday, December 08, 2011

Attorney General Eric Holder's butt must so hot right now he can hardly sit down.

Why the fire department hasn't been called I'll never know.

It's about time those questioning him about Fast And Furious called him what he is----a liar!

There is absolutely no other way to look at it.

It's no longer, he may be lying. He is lying!



Wednesday, December 07, 2011


It was Sunday afternoon, December 7, 1941.

"What's all that yelling about?" "I don't know."

My mother and I were just coming out of the Palace Theater in Lawton, Oklahoma.

Looking around we could see young boys on every corner with arms full of newspapers.

Small crowds were gathered around them buying papers, gesturing wildly and terribly upset.

My mother bought a paper.


Home was only a few blocks away. We walked fast but it seemed like it took much longer to get home than usual. HOME. It felt good to be there.

Mother looked sad, worried. I felt sorry for her. I really didn't know how to feel.

I was seven then. I am seventy-seven now.

I have revisited that day many times in my mind on many different occasions and for many different reasons.




Tuesday, December 06, 2011

So I pray that God, who gives you hope,
will keep you happy and full of peace
as you believe in him. May you over-
flow with hope through the power of the
Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

 It has always been easy for me to get mental pictures of things.

But for the life of me I can't get a mental picture of overflowing with hope.

I have tried. But nothing that comes to mind is good enough.

"Overflowing with hope" is beyond my mental capacity.

Read this passage, Romans 15:13 again. Read it slowly and deliberately. Think about what it means. 

Isn't it wonderful? Absolutely wonderful!

I want to say with the Apostle Paul: "May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."


Monday, December 05, 2011

"But as for you, ye thought evil against me;
but God meant it unto good,..."
Genesis 50:20

Genesis 50:20 comes close to being my favorite passage of Scripture.

But it's not! My favorite is Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him."

A great truth written large in both the Old and New Testaments is that God means everything for our good.

It just doesn't get any better than that!

But how can it be that all things work together for our good?

Taken separately "stuff"  that happens can be bad.

Taken together it can be good.

Whatever the circumstances yesterday or today they can be good as long as our hearts are right with God and others.

Maybe you can't say it right now, but in time you can say like Joseph, "But God meant it unto good."


Friday, December 02, 2011

I know not, but God knows;
Oh, blessed rest from fear!
All my unfolding days
To Him are plain and clear.
Each anxious, puzzled "why?"
From doubt or dread that grows,
Finds answer in this thought:
I know not, but He knows.

I cannot, but God can;
Oh, balm for all mycare!
the burden that I drop
His hand will lift and bear.
Though eagle pinions tire,
I walk where once I ran,
This is my strength to know 
I cannot, but He can.

I see not, But God sees; 
Oh, all sufficient light!
My dark and hidden way
To Him is always bright.
My strained and peering eyes
May close in restful ease,
And I in peace may sleep;
I see not, but He sees.
             ---Annie Johnson Flint



She has a bum knee and has had surgery on it ---but you wouldn't know it.

She can walk for miles (maybe it just seems like miles to me) at an Arizona festival.

Last month we went to the one at beautiful Fountain Hills. I like to watch the fountain and rest and eat at the food court.

Today we enjoyed the one at Tempe. 

It never fails to amaze me how many talented people there are. I'm not good at crafts. Not at all.

These "crafty" people come from all over the country. And they make and sell a little bit of everything.

I'm not all that crazy about art and craft festivals but I do enjoy being with Charlotte and watching her "have fun."

And I have learned that festivals can be fun if you just relax and enjoy being out and about.

Out and about in beautiful, sunny Arizona!


Thursday, December 01, 2011

I'm comin' home, I've done my time
Now I've got to know what is and isn't mine
If you received my letter tellin' you I'd soon be free
Then you'll know just what to do if you still want me
If you still want me

Ok! Ok! I'm not Tony Orlando. But I have been away from "regular" blogging and I am comin' home.

Some of you have been kind enough to let me know that you miss me. In the words of one blogger---Kathy Barr, "I just wanted to let you know that, although I think your book reviews are well done and thorough and informative, I miss your personal writing -- your stories and anecdotes."

For a long period of time I wrote a blog post every day. I felt obligated to do it and less than I should be if I didn't. One day I "woke up" and said to myself, "I'm taking a break from blogging except for book reviews." And so I did!

I stopped blogging every day and I stopped writing every weekend for my wife's blog, Spiritual Sundays." When writing for Spiritual Sundays I was also reading every post and leaving comments. That made for a very busy weekend.

Well, so much for all that. I'm comin' home--if you still want me. No need to tie any yellow ribbons around trees I wouldn't see them anyway. And I'm not on a bus.

What I would like is for you to leave a comment on my blog and also subscribe as a friend.

I will be coming around again visiting your blogs and leaving comments.