Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Happy Fish

Riley is getting an aquarium for his birthday. We told him a few days early so he could help set up the tank. We washed the gravel, placed all the ornaments, filled the tank with water, and attached the heater and the filter. He had a ball helping do all this. We even made a run to PetsMart to get a few extras. We're waiting a couple of days to buy the fish because the water would kill the fish if we put them in today. But the experts tell us that if we let the filter run for a couple of days then the water will be OK and the fish will live. We definitely want the fish to live! Wouldn't that be a sorry birthday present?

Now Riley is at my mother's for a couple of days. He'll be back Thursday for his birthday party and when we get home afterwards...fish in the fish tank! We're all pretty excited about this. We've never (ever) had fish before!

Riley was looking into the lighted aquarium admiring the stuff. He said, "My fish are gonna be really happy!" The tank is perfect.

I got to thinking: Am I providing surroundings that will make my family really happy? Am I encouraging an atmosphere that will make my co-workers really happy? Am I promoting fellowship that will make my church really happy?

I'm not talking about "happiness" as an emotional euphoria. I'm talking about an inner sense of joy, excitement, and contentment that can only be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Happy are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy are those who mourn for they will be comforted.
Happy are the meek for they will inherit the earth.
Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.
Happy are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.
Happy are the pure in heart for they will see God.
Happy are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God.
Happy are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Ten Things I Will Do In 2006

  1. Read the Bible from Genesis through Revelation
  2. Communicate more effectively with Deana
  3. Encourage Jim to use his talents for the Lord
  4. Help Caleb establish funding for college
  5. Teach Riley to ride his bicycle without training wheels
  6. Lead my church into revival
  7. Nurture my training staff
  8. Share my faith every day
  9. Memorize 260 verses of scripture (5 per week)
  10. Preach a first-person narrative sermon in full costume

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What Kids Will Say

My 4-year old calls on the cell phone while on the way home from school. He does this on most days. He learned the habit from his mother. Seems neither of them can go 20 minutes without talking on the phone!

So his question is this: "Does Jesus eat?"

I said, "Sure!"

The follow-up question: "What does Jesus eat?"

I said, "Well, the Bible says he ate fish."

"Ew. I think he eats bacon!"

Bacon is the favorite food of this child. But I don't think Jesus ate bacon. Like other good little Jewish boys living 2000 years ago, pork was not on the menu!

But when Jesus came to earth through the virgin womb of Mary, he came to draw people to himself...into a Christian relationship. We call it Christianity. What Jesus came to do was not Jewish at all. He lived in a Jewish environment with Jewish parents in Jewish places eating a Jewish diet. He kept the Jewish law and read the Jewish scriptures.

But Jesus is the portal into something brand new! We aren't saved by faith in the law but by grace through faith in Christ. We have a New Testament to go with the Old Testament. God became "Father" and even "Daddy" (Abba) to all who will believe through Christ.

And we now have fish and bacon! I'm thinkin' there might be BLTs at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb!

I think Riley got it right.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Remote Control

My, I'm lazy. You can gauge a man's laziness by counting the number of remote controls sitting on the table next to his chair. I have three. One operates the stereo components, the VCR, and TV; one operates the DirecTV receiver with TIVO; and one operates the DVD player. I've just never been able to find one remote that really is "universal."

This may speak more to my lack of funds (or my good stewardship of the funds I do have) than to the existence of a remote that does everything.

I was doing a little online window shopping last night for remote controls. The universal remote wore out. That says a lot, too! How many times can one push a button on the remote before the button stops functioning? That's a question for the wise old owl. A-one, A-two, A-three...

A remote's not much good if it doesn't work. About all there is to do with it is throw it at the TV and hope you hit the channel select button. Or give it to your young son who doesn't really know what one is supposed to do! We did that a few years ago but he's too smart for that trick now.

I'm thinking I might just leave it sitting on the table next to my chair. I already have three...that's pretty lazy. Having four would make people think I'm a super couch potato. I have a few more remotes in drawers around the house. I'll have a remote for everything. Forget the universal remote; they never work everything anyway. And I'll get one of those saddlebag-looking things that fit on the arm of the chair. Or western holsters...swap the six-shooters for remote controls. "Fastest Clicker in the West." I'll be famous!

Speaking of "clicker," I remember the first remote control I ever saw. My grandfather, Dado, would use it to change between Lawrence Welk, HeeHaw, and John Chandler's weather. And it really clicked. Loud. He didn't let the kids use it. Even when remotes first hit the market, it was obvious they were only to be operated by men. So us grandkids were mesmerized. Especially the boys. We knew we would inherit the "clicker" someday - and the right to use it.

So I was window shopping online and found a universal remote for $260. It connects through your computer to a website that has a setup wizard. For $260, the wizard ought to come in the box! Just stuff him right in there.

I just can't see spending $260 for a remote control to operate audio/video equipment that didn't cost that much. I hate to admit it, but I don't think one piece in the entertainment center cost that much. Not only am I lazy, I'm cheap. Wouldn't that be like hiring a NASCAR driver to drive a Pinto? Wouldn't that be like shooting rats with a 12-gauge duck gun? Wouldn't that be like eating a filet on a paper plate?

How about I just get a $19.99 remote and spend the other $240.01 on something else? Or start a fund for the next 20 remotes I need to buy? Wouldn't twenty-one $19.99 remotes last longer than one $260 remote?

So what does this thing do? How lazy does a man have to be to need one of these? Or how technologically challenged does he have to be to need one that will do all this? Why not just plug the TV into the Clapper? Clap On, Clap Off.

I imagine that a $260 remote control must do a lot of things. It converts your 21" TV into a 108" plasma wall. It replaces your CD collection with live musicians. You won't need your DVDs anymore because the remote transports you to the premier of every movie you want to see. It does not, however, operate a VCR or cassette player. Such primitive technology is beneath it.

Oh, and it vacuums the house and takes out the trash. If you can remember where you left it.

Monday, December 05, 2005


I just received a call from my 4-year-old's K4 teacher. Seems I have a very talkative boy. The trail of discipline is that the teacher first corrects him, then writes his name on the board, then puts him in time out for 5 minutes, then puts him in time out for 15 minutes, then calls his daddy. Yikes!

So, I have to determine the proper discipline to enact upon him to bring about the desired result of being quiet and paying attention to the teacher when appropriate.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." That's Proverbs 1:7.

The fear of the Lord is an awesome respect for God that leads to an great understanding of who he is. Knowing God is the beginning of all knowledge. How can one know anything about the universe until they know the creator of it? How can one truly know the workings of the human body until they know its designer? The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.

As knowledge fills our minds we begin to implement some of it; hopefully, we implement a lot of it. Wisdom is the implementation of our knowledge. You can have abundant knowledge but still be a fool if you fail to implement your knowledge. Knowledge, by itself, is not much; there's not much useful in simply knowing. The advantage is in the implementation!

Now, to the point of this post. Discipline is the steady, increasing implementation of knowledge. I'm not too smart when it comes to health; my knowledge is lacking. I know I should lose weight but I am not wise about it. You can tell because I don't implement what little knowledge I have. There have been times when I have implemented this knowlege and lost a significant amount of weight. But I've yet to show discipline by consistently applying this knowledge and keeping the weight off.

It takes discipline to lose weight. It takes discipline to learn a second language. It takes discipline to be a follower of Christ ("If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.")

And it takes discipline to not talk while the teacher is talking.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Dear Dad, I'm off to join the circus

Local pastors meet each Monday morning for breakfast and fellowship. The organizer brings a stack of books (weeding out his library, I guess) and gives one away as a doorprize.

The organizer picks a person and the rest of us guess his birthday. Whoever is closest wins the book of his choice.

I've attended three times and won both times we had a doorprize. One book is by David Jeremiah and the other is by Jerry Vines. Excellent!

With such a gift for guessing birthdays, I think I've found my calling. I'm joining the circus...or the carnival!

10 Things I'm Thankful For

  1. Salvation in Christ Jesus
  2. Deana
  3. Jim Bob, Caleb, & Riley
  4. The call to preach
  5. A place to preach
  6. Income to provide for my family
  7. Living in America
  8. Golf, anytime it comes along
  9. Lipitor & Lisinop
  10. My laptop

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Don't you have a few people who have helped mold your life? With the passing of Dr. Adrian Rogers, I've been thinking about those who have impacted my life the way he impacted so many lives. I've only recently started watching & listening to Love Worth Finding; I wish I had started years and years ago.

My most influential mentors in ministry are Wiley Jones, David McLemore, and Rex Horne.

Wiley Jones is pastor of the first church I served. I started as the pastor of a mission church sponsored by his church. Then I moved to the mother church to be Youth Minister. Soon afterwards, I assumed the responsibilities of Music Minister, too. Wiley and I would talk for hours after services. His love for the Lord and burden for the lost made an indellible mark on my life.

David McLemore was pastor of the second church I served. I crawled into his church trying to hide but desperately seeking help. Fresh off divorce, I had avoided church. But one of David's deacons would catch me in town and ask about me coming to church. I finally did. At first, to fill in for the Music Minister while he was on vacation. Then to cry out for help. And David helped. I am serving the Lord today because of David and his church. The fact that I'm alive may be attributed to them.

Rex Horne serves in rarified air. The entire facilities of my church would fit easily into the sanctuary of his church. They have as many deacons as we have on the Sunday School roll. That he would take time to pray with me is awesome. Dr. Horne believes in me and I don't know why. When I send a resume to a church seeking a pastor it is accompanied by a personal letter of recommendation from him. I love to hear him preach. I love to have pimento cheese sandwiches with him. I love share my dreams and calling with him. He was the President's pastor but has time for me.

My mentors have shaped my life. I am better because of them. Lord, help me do the same for other ministers coming along the way.


I wanted to be a gospel singer. On the big stage. I still dream about it. My first taste of live Southern Gospel music was at the Hughes Center. The Rambos and the Galileans. Then Robinson Auditorium with the Goodmans and the Hinsons. Then Parsons Arena and the Cathedral Quartet. I've not been the same since.

Jubilee Quartet was pretty good. We sang in (mostly small) churches around the state for about 5 years. Michael Brashear was asked to be the baritone singer but had bigger things in mind so he suggested me. Some of the closest relationships I've ever known were with those guys who were total strangers. But we became so close because of our common love for gospel music and singing about Jesus.

We made some mistakes along the way. Like singing "I'm Getting Ready to Leave This World" when we sang on the same program as the Chuck Wagon Gang. That song was a staple for them. We should've let them sing it without there being a contest. We thought we sang them off the stage. We actually said that. Now, some folks don't appreciate Chuck Wagon Gang music but you have to respect them. I learned a good lesson from that.

We didn't make smooth transitions in personnel. I hope Johnny and George know I love them dearly. They taught me so much about being a quartet man. Things I'll never forget. I've been able to take much of those experiences into pastoral ministry.

I stood by Jack for most of those 5 years. I have deep respect for him. He's so down to earth and solid in the Lord. He and Becky are phenomenal business people - and they honor God.

In our very first performance we struggled terribly with a song and as the music died down Ricky said, "That's good enough." About a year later he told us that he had come to the point that he wanted to do his best for the Lord. I would still rather hear him sing the tenor line than just about anybody.

The original group consisted of three Free Will Baptists, one Assembly of God, and one Southern Baptist. We could have spent a lot of time debating doctrine but we decided Jesus was the common denominator so our uncommon denominations didn't matter. Oh, that God's church would take that point of view and work together to build up one another and reach the lost.

I'm listening to SolidGospel.com online. It's my kind of music. I'm really eclectic when it comes to music and I'm not one that has to have a certain kind of music in church. But given a choice, I'll almost always choose Southern Gospel. I was nominated for Favorite Syndicated Radio Program by the subscribers of The Singing News magazine. My program was Today In Gospel Music. That nomination ranks right up there with the time Joel Hemphill prayed for our quartet by name.

I sang in the quartet, did the radio program, and promoted Southern Gospel concerts. God has taken my life in different directions since then. But I miss it all. Songs about heaven, the blood, and Bible stories. The lyrics are often predictible and the harmony simple. But it's in my blood.

Thank you, Deed and Tuti, for making me sing the "special" almost every Sunday morning. I have a couple of hiding places when life gets hard: the Bible and Southern Gospel music.

I've been blessed to sing in person with a few of my heroes. But I can sing with any of them at any time...and often do.

My Southern Gospel heroes:
George Latham
Jack Hearrell
Johnny McCoy
Ricky Pruitt
Donnie Martin
Carri Corbitt
Ben Wiles
Tim Hayes
Joey Hannah
Larry Skinner
The Cathedral Quartet ("Live in Atlanta" is the greatest recording ever, any genre!)
The Kingsmen
Gold City
The Greenes
The Nelons
The Hemphills
Rueben Bean
Ed O'Neal
Rick Busby
The Bishops
Karen Peck
Jeff Stice
and a host of others...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


As a pastor, I've often considered the danger of touching a microphone in a baptistry. Of course, we would never purposely reach out to touch one while standing waist-deep in water. But I don't think this pastor thought about it. It's so natural to reach out to adjust a microphone. You could have asked him just before he stepped into the baptistry what he thought about touching the microphone and he would have said he would never do it. But instincts overcame intention and this young pastor is dead.

Can you imagine being in the congregation? Can you imagine being his family?

An article published by Baptist Press qouted a church official saying they were sure he was in Heaven because of his relationship with Christ. That's the only point of comfort for his family, friends, and church.

Baptists are known for a lot of things. We boycott things. We fully immerse a person for baptism. And we believe in eternal security.

Eternal security means that once a person comes to Christ as their Savior and Lord there is nothing that can undo what God does. What God does is apply the death of Jesus (actually, his blood) to our sins; just like the Old Testament sacrifice of atonement. Except Jesus was the perfect sacrifice that was good once for all. When God applies the blood of Jesus to our sins he forgives us and makes us forever part of his family.

The pastor of University Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, is in heaven today because there was a time in his life when he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. Since then he has been eternally secure in that relationship with Jesus.

Becoming eternally secure in salvation is as easy as A-B-C.

A - admit you are a sinner. We have all sinned and our sin separates us from God. It's not a big disclosure that you admit you are a sinner. God knows it. You are really just agreeing with him about it.

B - Believe that Jesus is the Son of God and what he did on the cross is the only way to resolve your problem with sin. Your good deeds are good enough. Your good intentions aren't. You can't attend church often enough or give enough money or do anything that will save you except believe is Jesus.

C - Commit your life to him. This means that you will allow his teachings to mold and shape your life. You will allow his Spirit to lead you. You will look to his Word for answers to life-situations.

Express these things to God in prayer and you will be saved and eternally secure. Just like Kyle Lake.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Have I told you about my older boys?

I am blessed to be the Dad to two young men who will make an impact on the world. Let me tell you about them.

Jim Bob is my oldest. He's 21. That's not hard to remember because he lacks one week being exactly 20 years younger than his Dad. Having a child when you're 20 is challenging but I'm glad I have Jim Bob.

Where'd his name come from? I grew up with the Waltons on TV. Remember John Boy, Elizabeth, and Jim Bob? I am James Robert and I go by Bob. I thought (when I was just 12 or so) that having a son and naming him James Robert, Jr. would be cool. So I did.

When he started school he started going by James because that's what the teachers always called him...that's what was on their roll. Then he came back to Jim Bob but then moved on to just Jim. Now he's Jim Bob again. I think the name is great. And I think the young man is great.

He attends the University of Central Arkansas and is in his fourth year working toward a double major in music and theater. He wants to change the way high school choirs function. He writes music, arranges music, and leads a male quartet. He performs in operas and other theatrical productions. He's quite a guy and I love him. He'll impact the world by touching the lives of teenage boys and girls who are trying to decide who they want to be.

Caleb just turned 19. He's a freshman at Arkansas Tech University and wants to be a high school football coach. I think he'll be good at it. He's been playing on a team since he was in 5th grade and in the backyard as long as I can remember. He was always a little taller and faster than the other kids so he started out at tailback and set all sorts of rushing records in the Boys and Girls Club league. He aspired to play in the NFL.

As the other kids started growing and catching up to Caleb, and as he started filling out, he told me that he didn't think he'd be playing on Sundays. A bit of reality in the midst of a child's dreams. His mind for football matches his ability. He'll be a great coach because he wants to help teenagers. He had great coaches like Coach Bobby and Coach Wear to be his examples. He even has Coach Wear's phone number in his cell phone memory. He will impact kids like Coach Wear has impacted him.

I'm not sure if I contributed "Caleb" and his mother contributed his middle name, "Tanner," or if it was the other way around. That was 19 years ago! "Caleb" is the name of a person of great integrity and faith in the Bible - I pray those qualities for my son. "Tanner" became the nickname "TanTan" but he's long since outgrown that. I love him and look forward to his impact on the lives of teenagers.

I can see a little of their Dad in both my boys. More importantly, I can see a little of their Heavenly Father in them.

Father, bless my boys and guide them in your ways. Help them impact the world and help them impact eternity.

Good night, Jim Bob. Good night, TanTan.

Seven Minutes

Do you know what a "noisy toothbrush" is? It's the battery-operated toothbrush that people of all ages can buy at Wal-Mart or most other retail outlets. Are we a lazy people or what? Has moving our arms ever so slightly become grueling? Can we not stand to operate a manual toothbrush two or three times a day?

So we bought "noisy toothbrushes" tonight. Not me. Just my wife and little boy. His is shaped like a Hot Wheels car. Maybe he'll like brushing his teeth now. He's almost five and not too interested in tooth and gum health.

The dentist suggested Deana get one. I guess that's a good idea; I really don't want all her teeth falling out. Although I would love her just the same. I just might not kiss her as much. We'd probably eat lots more mashed potatoes.

I don't remember the source but I do remember reading an article suggesting a person should brush their teeth for at least seven minutes. That's a long time. Gather four of the world's best half-milers and they could run a 2-mile relay in less time. I can shave and shower in about seven minutes when I wake up late or hit the snooze button too many times. Nothing cooked in the microwave takes seven minutes!

High school boys can eat all the food on their lunchroom tray and what they can swipe from someone else's in less than seven minutes. I knew Deana was the one for me in about seven minutes.

You can drive 8 1/6 miles down I-40 at 70 mph in seven minutes. You could cook seven batches of minute rice in seven minutes, couldn't you? I've preached sermons just barely longer than seven minutes.

Try praying for seven minutes! I participated (and later led) in a Bible study called MasterLife. Part of the course was to pray for an hour. Wow! After seven minutes you're looking around the room praying for things you see in the pictures on the walls. You begin to pray that God would impress upon your mind something to pray about. I think I have figured out the answer to one of the great theological questions of all time. How long is eternity? Seven minutes.

Do you know why weddings are so long? It's not the preacher. All the preacher really needs to say takes about seven minutes! It's all the other stuff that drags it out. Six bridesmaids parading slowly down the aisle. A mama trying to convince the flower girl to come all the way to the front without crying. Three solos that may or may not be a close rendition to the original.

So I tried brushing my teeth for seven minutes. I rubbed a hole in my lower gums. Won't do that again.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


I don't know if it's me or if it's them. I try to give them messages that will make a difference but it doesn't seem to be making a difference. I joke about being middle aged but I'm really not there yet. But a characteristic of middle-age is the quest for significance. The question "Am I making a diffference?" is prominent.

That's me. Or is it them? This is frustrating. More than that, it's distracting. I should be casting a vision, inspiring excellence, motivating the masses. Is it me? Am I unable to cast or inspire or motivate? Or is it them? Are they immune to vision, excellence, and movement.

Are other pastor's telling the truth? Are their churches growing, going, and doing? Am I making too much of this? The emotional drain is intense. Maybe I have too much to do. Maybe I'm expecting too much. Maybe I'm ineffective.

I can't think of one person who is excited about being there.

I'm dry. Lord, rain down on me. Flood me with your Spirit. Refresh me. Revive me.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


It's been one week since I sunburned at the Air Show. As is typical with such things and me, I began peeling a few days ago. I rarely tan. It's just burn and peel, burn and peel, etc.

So the affect of the sun on my skin in regard to tanning is minimal at best but mostly non-existent. Some people have a very good response to the sun: tan, even dark tan. I don't aspire to be a Coppertone Girl or anything like that but something besides WHITE legs would be good during the summer.

I hope the Son has a greater impact on my life than the sun has on my skin. What really matters lies well below the skin anyway. It's your heart. Does the Son of God have control of your heart?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


I had to look closely. What I thought I saw disturbed me. As I drove along I-40 there was a billboard on the opposite side of the road. I could clearly see the beer can and the fact that there were people on the billboard. But what really caught my eye was something behind the pictures; almost a watermark.

So I stared intently as I drove closer and closer. My contacts are really old and don't work so good anymore. Focusing is sometimes slow; sometimes impossible. But I was able to focus on the billboard and what I saw disappointed me.

The initials of the beer are BL; so are mine. The watermark on the advertisement was BL.

That really bothers me. Scripture instructs Christians to be in the world to influence it for Christ but not to be of the world (meaning, influenced by it). We are also to avoid all appearance of evil.

I have a personal conviction that this means I should not order a non-alcoholic drink that would be served in a glass similar to the alcoholic versions because someone might think I'm drinking an alcoholic beverage. By the way, I believe it is a sin to drink alcoholic beverages.

Here's another one: I should avoid looking at the rack of calendars on the bookstore if the rack contains calendars of bikini-clad women. I don't want people to think I was looking at those instead of the landscape calendars.

Or what about this: I believe that gambling is a sin because it is not good stewardship (using wisely all that God gives you). So I won't watch the Texas Hold 'Em touraments or learn the specifics of the game even though I enjoy playing cards and even think Poker is a challenging game. But I don't want to give the impression that I gamble or think it is OK.

So, I guess I need to change my name so that my initials won't be associated with beer. Or, better yet, I'll just live in a way that people think of Christ when they see those initials rather than thinking of beer. It's up to me to honor God's name with my name.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

UFOs, Jet Trucks, Sun, and JJ

It was about this time last year.  Deana and I were making our usual trip to town after church on Sunday night.  There was still about an hour of daylight left and the sky was partly cloudy.  Dropping out of the clouds was what I thought was an airplane.  Living near the airport, we see this every day.  But with a closer look, this didn’t look like a commercial jet or ever the C130s that trek the sky from the local Air Force base.

UFO?  Maybe.  Really it was a B2 Stealth bomber.  The base was hosting an Air Show that weekend and this participant was headed to his home base.  Very impressive.  If you’ve never seen the Stealth, it’s worth a trip to an Air Force Air Show.

Today was the Air Show comes around again so we loaded up and went to it.  I’m not a military or air flight enthusiast, but I enjoyed the day.  Well, except for the sore feet and legs and the excessive sun on my face and bald spot.

We walked through a transport plane large enough to hold six tour busses or 105 Ford Mustangs.  The seating was just a bench along the perimeter.  That must be really uncomfortable on long flights.

We walked through a refueling plane.  It had a “cockpit” in the rear for the guys who steer the fueling nozzle to the receiving plane.

Riley’s favorite was the J J the Jet Plane exhibit.

The B2 was there along with almost every kind of plane the Air Force uses.  And we saw a demonstration of all of them.  The freestyle demonstrations were pretty impressive.  But the diesel truck (18-wheeler type) with the jet engine mounted on the back was over the top.  The driver holds the land speed record at 326 mph.

Have you ever spent three or four hours on the concrete tarmac of an airstrip?  Good thing it was cool today.  There aren’t many trees out there.  The best shade is from the big and tall guy behind you.

But you have to go to an Air Show.  Just be sure to take the sunscreen, great walking shoes, and patience.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Your Friend, Grady Money

This was told by Dr. Bruce Chesser at a Pastors Breakfast.

All pastors have a group of people we call on to pray.  After a while we learn the person’s pattern in praying.  So at the end of one service Dr. Chesser called on Grady Money to say the closing prayer.

Grady was an older gentleman know for his praying.  He began as he always did thanking God for the day and the services.  Then he thanked God for the message and prayed he hoped we would all learn from it.  Next he prayed for the missionaries around the world: for their safety and effectiveness.  At last he prayed thanking God for the food we would all have for lunch when we got home.

Most people close their prayers with the familiar words, “In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”  That was Grady’s typical ending but for some reason his thoughts locked up on him and he couldn’t remember those words.  He had prayed a beautiful prayer in his typical pattern but when he brought her in for a landing he couldn’t get the landing gear to come down.  He couldn’t think of those words so he did the only thing he knew to do.

Instead of landing that prayer he took her up for another round.  He thanked God for the day and the services.  He thanked God for the message and prayed he hoped we would all learn from it.  He took us overseas and prayed for the missionaries.

By this time Dr. Chesser said even he was looking around.  He looked to the pulpit where Grady was praying.  Grady’s eyes were closed and he was praying hard…and probably trying to remember how to close the prayer.

He prayed for our food and came to the point of landing that prayer a second time.  There was a long silence but no, “In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”  After what seemed like eternity but couldn’t have been more than ten seconds, Grady took her up again.  Like a nervous pilot bailing out of a landing just prior to touching down with the hopes that the next time around would be better.

Dr. Chesser saw that nobody except Grady Money had their eyes closed.  Everyone was looking around wondering what was happening.  He had prayed the exact same prayer twice and was starting it again.  Grady’s hands were locked onto the pulpit, his knuckles turning white.

He prayed for the day and the services, the message and the missionaries, and finally the food.  The entire congregation waited to see what he would say next.

Another long silence.  Surely nobody would blurt out, “In Jesus’ name I pray.”  But maybe somebody would.  The silence lingered.  Just when you thought he would take her up for a fourth round, he said….

“Your friend, Grady Money.”

Humility and How I Attained It

Twenty-one preachers in the same room. A little scary, huh? It was the weekly breakfast for local pastors. I have another job so I seldom get to go. In fact, this was my first time. I found a couple of familiar faces and sat down at their table to eat my biscuits and gravy, sausage and bacon, scrambled and fried eggs, coffee and juice.

Preachers always have to take a little of everything at a potluck so as not to offend any dear lady in the church who brought her prized recipe. I’m not sure who cooked our breakfast but it wasn’t the ladies from the church. Still, I had a little of everything.

Speaking of potluck dinners, did you know the Marriage Supper of the Lamb will be potluck? At least that what us Baptists believe!

I spent a few years traveling the state singing in a Southern Gospel quartet. It’s hard to get five or six guys together often enough to maintain a busy schedule so we eventually became a trio singing with soundtracks. (The extra numbers in the quartet were the musicians.)

By the time we had spent a few years going from church to church (most of which would serve some form of potluck after we sang) we thought it would be a good idea to put together a cookbook using recipes gathered from the cooks at these churches. It was a great idea…we just never did it.

So twenty-one preachers are in the dining room eating breakfast and someone says we ought to share humorous stories. What? We don’t have all day! I didn’t say it out loud but I thought it real hard. I could tell what was coming next. Twenty-one preachers would each tell a funny story (we all think we are good storytellers) and then we’d go around again trying to “one up” the last story. This could go on for a while.

I’ll relate two stories: one of my own and one from Dr. Bruce Chesser.

One of the dates for our quartet was at the church where I was serving as music director. That position used to be called song leader but now it’s called minister of music or worship pastor. I was just the music director. And I managed to have our quartet booked for a singing, complete with potluck!

I am by no means a prolific songwriter (nor blog-writer) but we did sing a few songs I had written. The two verses were cleverly crafted if I say so myself. Here’s the first verse:
Blind and by the wayside, cast out from society,
The old man had to beg to live, the world he could not see.
Jesus sent him to a pool there to wash his eyes.
He came forth in victory much to the world’s surprise.

And the second verse closely following the first:
One day when he passed my way, Jesus found me there,
Bound by this world’s pleasures and lying in despair.
Jesus sent me to the cross there to save my soul.
Because of that one glorious day I’ll let the whole world know.

The clever part of this was the way the third lines in each verse mirrored each other. I usually didn’t sing the verses; our fantastic lead singer did. And he did great. But we now had a new lead singer and somehow the group decided I should sing the first verse and the new lead singer would take the second verse.

So I’m a little nervous wanting to get the words right in front of my own church and this would be the first time to perform the song this way.

I’m singing along pretty good until I get to the third line of my verse. Then something in my head snapped. My ability to think a coherent thought left me. Oh, I looked normal but I couldn’t talk or sing normal. Here’s what I should have said: “Jesus sent him to a pool there to wash his eyes.” But, no, that’s not what came out. Instead, I sang, “Jesus sent him to the pool there to cross his eyes.”

I was so worried about singing the wrong line that I just sang both lines at the same time. I immediately came to my senses no sooner than the words left my mouth. I couldn’t sing another word. I was stunned. Shocked. Not yet embarrassed but that would soon follow.

Our pianist was always the comedian and he couldn’t let it go. “Did he say, ‘Cross his eyes’?”

Had I kept singing I might have been able to make everyone think they just heard it wrong. But I had to stop and draw attention to the error. I always tried to be the professional even though we were just a local group. I admired the quartets that traveled the country singing four or five times a week. I wanted so much to be like them. But, nooooo, I have to sing, “There to cross his eyes.”

And I did it in front of people I would have to face again next Sunday. And the next.

We survived. I was embarrassed. Everyone laughed for several minutes. Then they made us start over. I got it right the next time.

So I’m thinking I made it past this moment. No. The pianist had brought his video camera. We came to his house to practice the next week and he gathers us in the den to “see a video of a song I want us to learn.” It was the video of our concert queued the that moment. We watched it. They laughed. He rewound it. We watched it. They laughed. Over and over again.

The other story from the breakfast is the next entry in the blog. It’s called “Grady Money.”

Not much like Christ

"Christian" is a term first used to describe a group of believers in Antioch. It was a term of derision: "You little Christs! Ha! Fools, all of you!" Something like that. But the religious slur has become a badge of honor for many who have followed Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord over the two millenia since he lived and died. And rose again.

To be a Christian is to be like Jesus. We should love like Jesus. We should act like Jesus. We should talk like Jesus. We should care about others' needs like Jesus. We should seek to include everyone like Jesus.

The Bible teaches that Jesus' death on the cross was a vicarious sacrifice: he died in our places, for our sins, taking upon himself our punishment. Some say that he died only for those who would actually believe in him and accept him. I think the Bible is pretty clear on this point: Jesus died for everyone; God extends the offer of salvation to everyone by his grace. None of us deserve it but he freely offers it.

So everyone is invited to come to Christ. It's true that most people alive today (or who have ever lived) have rejected the invitation. The result of such a decision is that the person rejecting Christ determines for himself his eternal destination: separation from God in a place called Hell. Jesus died for that person's sins just like he died for mine. Jesus wants that person to accept the grace gift of salvation. The offer stands for anyone who will accept it.

But not everyone will accept it. God's love, however, causes him to extend the offer anyway - even if the person will not accept it.

The Bible is also clear that there is only one way to spend eternity in the presence of God in a place called Heaven: Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me."

While the offer is universal, salvation is not. The idea that everyone will somehow be saved in the end is simply not what the Bible says. The person who rejects Christ will not see Heaven. No matter how good they were or how many good things they did. It's not about that; it's about accepting or rejecting Christ as Savior and Lord. If someone is excluded from Heaven it is because of a choice they made, not a choice God made. God made the choice to offer salvation to everyone through the death of Jesus on the cross. He choose to offer it with the condition that salvation must be actively accepted.

Christians are to be like Jesus. One of the many things this means is that it was wrong for a church group to exclude some church members from a function that was intended for a specific group but where some from outside the group were still invited. One person outside the group was invited; another person with similar credentials was excluded because he was outside the target group.

I'm glad God chose to offer salvation to everyone, including me. I'm also glad that I have chosen to accept his grace gift. What a tragedy that some will reject the offer.

If we claim to love one another but act like we don't, we must not. Fellowship has become a buzzword that makes us feel good about our churches. New Testament fellowship not only said to love one another but acted like it, too. "By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another."

Jesus said that. Jesus lived like that. We should, too. Or else we're not much like Christ.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


I guess I'm not aware of how blessed I am. I am 2041 miles away from home but I found Wal-Mart Supercenter. It's not a real Supercenter like we have back home. We have Wal-Marts from one end of the spectrum to the other.

Some small communities still have Wal-Mart Discount City on their sign. Those have been around a long time and have no hope of improvement because the community is so small. Then there are Wal-Marts that are newer and nicer and larger. Then there are the Supercenters like the one here. But then there are the stores built in ritzy parts of town. Yep, we have 'em all!

As I walk through the Supercenter here there are two women with a child. One woman says to the other, "Is this your first time in Wal-Mart?" It was. Her very first time.

Sometimes you don't realize how privileged you are until you meet someone less privileged.

Main Street, Anytown

I'm out of town again. I like home. But this place is not so much different from home. I'm sitting in a restaurant...just like one at home. Deana says we shouldn't eat at a restaurant when we are away from home if we have the same restaurant at home. She's not with me so I went to one of my favorite places.

It was not a fastfood place, by the way. I'm not against them, though. I could eat a sausage biscuit and drink a cup of coffee for breakfast everyday. And I would, too, if the doctor would double my cholesterol medicine dosage!

My favorite place to eat is...I don't really have a favorite place. Not even a favorite food. I love mexican food. I could eat it all the time. If it's mexican I like it. Maybe a chimichanga is my favorite food.

But tonight I am eating a very good meal of chipotle chicken, vegatable medley, and mashed potatoes. Iced tea. Chips and enchilada salsa. Cinnabon cheesecake. At a restaurant just like the one at home.

I've been away since Monday but I'm feeling at home. Not really. Just call me Dorothy. There's no place like home.

But I've learned that most places are pretty much like home. During my chips and salsa and young couple comes and he's carrying a little girl. She's dressed in a green one-piece jumper. She's probably not more than a year old. Her daddy loves her and her mommy.

Just like I love my boys and Deana. God is good.

Oh, the music playing in the background? "Down on Main Street."

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Our church has been supporting the Hurricane Katrina evacuees who are living in hotels in our neighborhood. Now they have either gone back home or moved on to other places. As the pastor, I asked the church to redirect any funds they intend to give for the disaster to the missions offering for our state convention of Baptist churches.

The Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions Offering is collected each year during September. Arkansas Baptists have already mobilized several hundred volunteers and seven disaster relief units to the coast. Our church increased the goal for the offering this year and with the hurricane relief efforts in full swing I have challenged each family to give more to the offering than ever before. We are just a little over a week into the emphasis and offerings are going great.

So the church has way more money sitting in the checking account than we need. Even if we save some back for our own emergencies, we still have plenty to help with this emergency. I asked the church for their feelings concerning making a donation to the disaster relief units of ABSC. The only verbal response was, "I think Dixie Jackson is enough."

I am so disappointed with two things: the selfishness of some in the congregation and the complacency of others who said nothing.

Heavenly Father, break our complacent hearts and selfish attitudes. Teach us to value people and their salvation rather than money and possessions. As their pastor, help me set the example. Help me present you will and truth to them. Revive us in Jesus' name!

Monday, August 29, 2005


The hurricane hit the coast pretty hard. I heard that only three other Category 5 storms have hit the US. The news reports and the Weather Channel amaze me. I think these guys are trying to do what Bernard Shaw did on CNN during the Gulf War. Personally, I don't think there is any honor is staying in the path of a storm (or a war) that prompted the mayor, governor, and president to issues warnings to leave the area.

But we live in a society that specializes in sensationalism. For "reality TV," this is top shelf.

Life has storms, too. You've been there; you know what I mean. Your marriage falls apart. Or you are suddenly without a job. Or your children get into trouble with alcohol or drugs. Or your teenage daughter gets pregnant. Or your son wants to drop out of high school. The list of storms that run through out lives goes on and on. And who of us has been exempt?

Where do you turn when life is stormy?

Jesus and his disciples were on a boat in the middle of a relatively small lake. The Sea of Galilee is, at best, 7 miles wide and 20 miles long. But it sits in the midst of a mountainous region and when the air atop the mountains cools in the evening it slides down the slopes like an avalanche. When the cooler air reaches the Galilee it displaces the warmer air. Storms are frequent.

But this storm was different because the disciples (Jesus was asleep on the boat) couldn't control their vessel. And many of them were professional fishermen who had worked daily on these waters. They thought they could handle the storm but they couldn't.

Where did they turn for help? Jesus was on board! Just like he is on board in our lives - if we have a personal relationship with him.

After the disciples woke him up, Jesus stood on the deck and stretched his arms wide. He said, "Peace, be still." And the winds were calm and the waves died down. They were safe! Because Jesus was on board.

When the storms tear through your life, wouldn't it be great to have Jesus on board? He already is if you are a Christian. If you are not, then you can commit your life to him and his teaching and he'll be on board constantly.

When the storms come into my life I don't try to handle them by myself anymore. I used to. But now I just ask Jesus to take control and he steps forward, stretches his arms across my storm, and says, "Peace, be still." The winds go calm and the waves die down. And I am safe. Because Jesus is on board.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Packed Up

I've been away from home for ten days with two more to go. I'm ready to go home. I'll pack my bags in the morning then check out of the hotel. After I complete my work tomorrow I'll drive toward the airport and find a place to stay. The flight is at 6:05 am. I don't want to have to drive an extra forty-five minutes that early in the morning; so I'll stay close to the airport tomorrow night.

It won't take long to pack. Almost everything I brought is dirty so I'll just throw everything in the luggage and deal with it at home. Have you ever noticed how carefully you pack when you are leaving for a trip? Everything is folded neatly and placed delicately in the luggage. You check and recheck the lids on the toiletries. I even put them in ziplock bags. That's a trick I learned from my wife. When you fly your luggage is kept in a compartment that is not pressurized like the cabin where you ride. So the changing pressure causes the shampoo to ooze out of the bottle and onto everything else. If all the oozy stuff is in a baggie together then your clothes don't get oozed on.

That always happened to me before I met my wife. And I never realized my clothes had ooze on them until I was wearing them. Yuck! So that little trick is clever. Use it if you want.

Bruce Williams was/is a radio talk show host. His program is about business, primarily. Here's a trick I picked up from Bruce. When you are flying and will be at your destination for a while, box up your clothes and UPS them to your hotel. Call the hotel and let them know there will be a package arriving for you. They'll hold it until you get there. No baggage to check and tote! Just be sure to ship your box early enough so it will be waiting on you. You don't want to be waiting on it for a few days.

My wife and I did this on our honeymoon to San Antonio. It was our first time to try this. I sounded real confident it would work and Deana finally agreed to do it. I'll admit now that I was relieved to find that the box was at the hotel when we arrived. Yeah!

Then I tried it on a business trip to Maine. That worked out pretty good. My boss (from New York) met me at the airport and we traveled to our workplace together. She was loaded down with stuff and I had almost nothing. Again, I was glad to see the box at the hotel.

One word of advice: pack a change of clothes and a toothbrush - just in case. And don't forget to UPS your stuff back home!

The departure is always more "fun" than the return. I've been gone for almost two weeks. I was excited to start the journey but I'm worn out now and just ready to be home. I haven't taken a picture in four days. I've stopped sightseeing. I just want to check out, load up, and head home.

Life is like that, isn't it. When we started our journey through life we were excited. Everything was new. Sometimes we have moments of "newness" and we get excited about living again. But look around. So many people are just tired of the journey and ready to move on. But they aren't really looking forward to moving on - like I'm not looking forward to another six hours in an airplane Friday.

I believe that those who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord will depart this world in style one day. Just think how you would feel if you had been pushing a cart loaded with bricks all the way across the country but you knew that when you get to a certain city you'll be picked up in a Cadillac, taken to the airport, and sent home in the luxury of first class. Pushing a cart of bricks isn't very exciting and it's awful tiring. But there's something fantastic waiting just down the road.

Someone said, "Life's hard; then you die." I agree but must add, "Then Jesus takes you home first class." But only if you know him as Savior and Lord.

George Younce used to say, "I'm packed up and ready to go." He made that trip a few months ago.

Are you packed up and ready to go?

Saturday, August 06, 2005


I am so glad I'm not seeking a spouse anymore. I never liked dating anyway. In high school I dated just one girl for over three years. After we broke up I pulled myself out of the dumps and asked the prettiest girl in my class for a date. I didn't do it very good. The date never materialized.

Then I met a girl at work in college. We married. Almost 10 years later I found myself looking for a date again. Actually, I wasn't looking but my friends were. There was a blind date that went OK but didn't result in a second date. There was the movie with the girl at work. And the movie with the girl from high school. I really didn't have my heart in it.

God says it is not good for a man to be alone. There are implications on many fronts in this. One is that a man needs companionship. I'm an introvert so the lack of companionship is not that big a deal for me. For an extrovert to "date" like I did would drive them to the brink of mental explosion. But I just stayed at home and didn't worry much about it.

One reason I didn't worry too much about it was that I heard a sermon where the preacher kept referring to the church as "her." I had an image in my mind of what "she" would look like. I shared it with one really close friend and we often talked about "her." Then the preacher started calling the church "her." The Lord spoke to me through that. He reminded me of a commitment earlier in my life when I submitted to do whatever God wanted me to do. I began to get a clear image that God wanted me to invest my life in "her" - the church. That's when I started seminary and re-submitted to the call to preach. It changed my life.

I had also learned that God is the provider of all things. There is nothing we need that God does not provide. There is nothing we have that did not come from God. So when I felt like I needed a companion - and didn't find it through dating - I realized God was providing himself to be my companion. Those years after the broken relationship became the time when I was drawn closer to the Lord. I walked with him closely. I talked with him constantly. I shared everything with him. I learned so much from him. He was my dearest friend and closest companion. He still is.

So I'm having lunch today at this diner in a small Washington town. I just completed a hike fron the top to the bottom and back to the top of Snoqualmie Falls. I don't hike much. There were moments when I thought this would be my last hike! Then there were moments I prayed this would be my last hike!! "Lord, either take me to the top of this mountain or take me to heaven." He did neither so I had to continue my climb. Little kids and women were running up the hill past me. My hair and shirt were soaked with sweat. My heavy breathing must have sounded alien to those who walked past me. I didn't mind people passing me from behind. It was those who were going down the trail that really bothered me. They could not only hear me but see me labor. Nobody asked if I was OK but I know many thought I was not. On my way down I noticed (that's very kind; I really mean I snickered at) a couple of people struggling to get back to the top. I confess my sin of being judgmental and ask forgiveness.

God has infinite perspective. He knew as I was trudging up the hill that I would make it. That's why he didn't magically transport me to the top or just let my life seep from my nostrils and take me to heaven. "If I was God" is one of my favorite sayings. I don't say it to be sacreligious but to make the point that I am not God; he's so much more godly than I could ever be. But if I was God I would have had a good time watching me toil my way back up the hill. In the beginning a little voice in my head said, "You don't have to go down there. You can see the falls from up here." I rejected that advice and went down the slope.

Going down slopes are not pleasant experiences for me. I suffered a tibial plateau fracture (a broken leg) in 2000 on the slopes of Crested Butte, CO. No matter what you may hear, the training slopes at Crested Butte are anything BUT bunny slopes. Treacherous describes them. Go down them at your own risk!

Even the journey to the bottom of Snoqualmie Falls was a bit unnerving. Even after 5 years I still wonder if my left leg will catch me if I start to fall. Going down a rocky slope terrifies me. So the mental pressure of going down hill combined with the physical pressure of going uphill...

I have a masters degree but sometimes I wonder if I have any sense at all.

So I'm having lunch at this quaint diner in Issaquah, WA, just east of Seattle. I'm sitting so that I can watch the people in the diner. I like to watch people because we are funny creatures. Even you. Just a table away is a young couple. Early twenties. It's after 1pm and they are having breakfast. The menu says you can have breakfast any time of the day. So they are.

I hear only some of their conversation while I read from a Warren Wiersbe book. Every once in a while I look up and survey the room to see if anything interesting is going on. Other than the banter between the wait staff and the regular customers, there is nothing interesting. Even the young couple is acting pretty normal. She's talking and he's listening. They talked a lot about their brothers and sisters. I'm thinking they should be talking about each other and what they like/dislike; what kind of movies and music they enjoy; what they've read recently; blah, blah, blah.

I guess I should have talked more about my sister when I was dating!

So the couple finishes their lunches (breakfasts) and he excuses himself for the little boys' room. She sits there politely (as she has all through the meal) until he is out of sight. Then she picks up the shiny silver napkin dispenser and fixes her hair and makeup. It was all I could do to quickly look away and not laugh out loud!

Ahh, the sport of dating. The Lord blessed me with a wonderful wife. We met about 9 years ago and will celebrate our 9th anniversary in March, 2006. We sparred a little, then dated a couple of times, then got engaged. I don't mind going on a date but the thought of pursuing the object of my affection really disinterests me. I'm glad Deana didn't make me chase her too far or too long.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Back to the Game

I'm watching the Yankees v. Red Sox in the top of the 5th inning. 6-2 Yankees, 1 out, Tino Martinez at the plate. He just grounded out to Renteria.

As Martinez awaits the pitch the camera view from center field catches a woman in the stands at ground level behind home plate. She is standing against the screen with her back to the game. What? She (or somebody) paid the highest price to see the game that's not a suite and she's not watching the game?

Baseball is different for me. I like to buy a scorecard or take my own and keep score. I'm tweaking my scoring style and get stumped on the proper scoring at least once in every game. But I don't want to miss a thing and keeping score forces me to watch closely.

Even when I pay $3 for the cheap seats at a AA Minor League game I want to see it all. I want to soak up all the action and any nuance behind the action. I especially like watching the outfielders track a fly ball. If you'll look at the outfielders when the ball flies from the bat you can tell from their path whether the ball is a home run or not. I just shake my head when the crowds yells at a high fly ball while the outfielder is camped out under it 40 feet inside the fence.

Anyway, I love baseball. And I pay attention to the game. But she wasn't watching. She isn't at Fenway for the baseball. I can't think of a worse waste of time than to attend church for the wrong reasons.

The score is 6-4 Yankees. Boston is smelling a comeback.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Tour de Lance

I am so impressed with Lance Armstrong.

I visited the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock a couple of weeks ago. In a display case was a bicycle and yellow jersey worn by Lance in winning one of his six (hopefully, seven) Tours. With all the presidential stuff in the building, I felt more in awe standing in front of the Lance display than with anything else.

I am so impressed with Lance Armstrong.

I want to be a champion for Christ.


You know that person that just tries to annoy you? Isn't there always one person who wants to push your buttons just to see if they can?

I could have responded in many ways. One response is to retaliate - to get down on the same level of relational prowess. I really wanted to do that. I wanted to trade barbs with him. I think I'm pretty witty. I could've taken him on and won! But that very attitude (just the wanting to do it) is a bad choice.

I could have ignored him. I usually ignore conflict. But that never resolves the problem and only leads to greater issues later - and even more discomfort. This guy had to be stopped. He was trying to distract the rest of the learners. I think he had two goals: to throw me off track and impress the others with his knowledge. The truth is, he is actually catching on pretty good and some others are struggling; he just wanted to entertain himself (mostly) and the others.

Or I could have exercised my authority as the trainer and forced him to fall in line. That's always a good idea!

WWJD? What would Jesus do? That's a great question that we should ask ourselves several times a day. I'm standing in the slow line at the branch bank. I'm getting a little frustrated. WWJD? I'm stuck in traffic because the nuts in the other cars don't know how to merge. WWJD? A friend asks me to do something I know is wrong. WWJD? There's a $5 bill on the table at the diner. It's the previous customer's tip. Nobody would see me take it. WWJD?

I have a friend who says WWJD is the wrong question to ask because Jesus wouldn't get into the messes we get into. But that's not the point. IF Jesus did get into this situation, what would he do? Yes, we can answer that question for any situation by applying what we know about Jesus' character. It's a great question.

So, Jesus is the teacher and someone is trying to distract him. WWJD? Sound familiar? It really happened and it's in the Bible. As he is teaching another teacher of the law says, "Excuse me, Jesus. Suppose a woman's husband dies and she marries his brother (a custom of the day). Then the brother dies so she marries another brother." This happens a few times. "Jesus, whose wife would she be in the resurrection?" The odd thing is that the questioner didn't believe in the resurrection anyway, he was just trying to distract Jesus and trip him up.

WWJD? He called the teacher on it. "You don't even believe in the resurrection! And it shows by the question you asked! The truth is that there is no marriage relationship in Heaven so she is the wife of none of them. Stop trying to distract me."

So how does that apply to my horrible experience? Always speak the truth and don't let people get away with tricks like that.

I am surprised that I actually stood up to him. I usually do the Forrest Gump thing and just run from my troubles and conflict. I'm trying to get better at it. I've been praying that God will help me be better at it. I guess today was an opportunity to get better at resolving conflict.

I still have a way to go. But I did better than I would have this time last year.

Monday, July 11, 2005

New System

I've been training employees on a new data system. Previously, we've used a DOS-based system but we are transitioning to a Windows-based system. That's pretty cool. But different.

It's hard to move to a new system because we all keep thinking about the old one. When I took Greek and Hebrew in seminary I experienced the same phenomenon: I would look at the vocabulary words in the new language and try to make and English word out of it. I can never learn another language fluently until I stop trying to convert it into English. My coworkers are having the same struggle switching systems.

But I have confidence they will make the transition within a few weeks and look back wondering what was so hard about this. I think it's because they had such a wonderful trainer.

Have you ever tried to think otuside the box? Studies show us (and my own experience supports this) that churches that function today like they functioned just a few years ago are seeing a decline in attendance, offerings, ministry, etc. As people change, the way we reach them must change. I'm old-fashioned enough to be very careful about keeping the same message but I have to think outside the box to deliver that message in a relevant manner. I can think of no greater disaster than for a minister to be irrelevant.

Steve Lyon said that pastoral ministry is applying the meaning of the Gospel to a person's point of need. Relevance is mandatory!

So I have to change my thinking. I can't preach like I did 10 years ago because people don't listen like they did then. Our church can't continue to do what we've always done - we won't get results like we did in the '50s adn '60s because our neighborhood has changed and people change. It's time to think outside the box.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Late Nights

Something's got to give. So many obligations. I wonder if I give proper attention to any of them.

Here's the deal: I am married, have three boys (21, 18, & 4 years old), pastor a church, and have a full-time salaried job. And there are only 168 hours in a week. And did I mention that I like to sleep?

So my life (and yours) is a matter of prioritizing. I shuffle cards pretty good (I didn't learn that in church!) and sometimes I just want to shuffle my priorities and whatever comes out on top gets my attention. But then I begin to rationalize why each priority deserves to be the priority. Then I pull what's left of my hair out.

Since prioritizing can't be a matter of random selection, there must be a way to organize priorities. If I organize them as listed above (wife, kids, pastorate, job) I don't think many people would object. That seems reasonable, doesn't it? I would be an unfit husband if I didn't put her first; and I don't want to be an unfit husband. I am supposed to love my wife as Christ loved the church - he gave himself for the church. I don't want to be an unfit husband.

My children - even grown - are a blessing and gift from God. You and I know kids who've been neglected by a parent. That's an awful thing to have happen to a kid. I decided a long time ago that my kids would have no reason to feel neglected by their father. God chose the image of "father" to describe his relationship to us. I want to become as much like that image as possible. The boys have to be a high priority. Who would object to that?

Being a pastor is a tremendous joy, honor, and privilege. It's a high calling. The church is full of people uniquely gifted by God's Spirit to be honorable tools in his hands. God works through all sorts of people to accomplish his work. Pastors are one of those he uses. He called some to be apostles and prophets and evangelists and pastors and teachers. And he called all of us to his work. He called me to be a pastor and teacher. The God of the universe called me. That has to be a priority, too.

Since I serve a small church I must have other employment to provide for my family. There are two reasons I must place a priority on my job. One is that it is how I primarily provide for may family. "If a man won't work, he shouldn't eat." I like to eat! I want my family to eat and enjoy electricity and have clothes to wear and all the other things people need to survive. And I want them to have a little of what they want. So my job is important. It's important for another reason. I represent God when I work for my employer. I don't want my coworkers to think Christians are lazy and God is indifferent. I want to make an impression on them so that they cannot use me as an objection to becoming a Christian themselves. I don't want the hierarchy of the company to find me mooching off them and thus gain a bad impression of Christianity. So I do my work as if working for the Lord. Wouldn't you?

So maybe just writing the words "Wife," "Kids," "Pastorate," and "Job" on separate index cards and shuffling them is not such a bad idea after all.

Here's a better idea. "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33)

Rather than having a list of priorities I simply have A priority. In pursuing God's kingdom (his realm of authority in my life) and his righteousness (his standard of right living) my relationship with my wife and children will be perfect; my service at pastor will be honorable, and my job performance will be outstanding.

Sure, I still keep "To Do" lists because I have to remind myself what needs to be done each day. The very first thing on the list is a quiet time with God. I like to do that very early in the morning - it doesn't always happen then, but that's my preference. I try to seek God before doing anything else because none of the rest of it matters without him.

It's late and I have an appointment with my Lord in the morning - early! That's the one thing that won't give.

Friday, June 17, 2005


Bro. David is a dear friend of mine. That's my greatest relationship with him. Besides that, he's been my pastor and mentor. He taught me so much about caring for the flock and developing believers. He has a great heart for both evangelism and discipleship; that's a unique combination because most of us (Christians) tend to lean heavily toward one or the other.

Either at the expense of the other is a mistake. How many of us know people who came into a saving relationship with Christ, made the public profession of their faith, were baptized into the fellowship of a New Testament church, participated for a while, then faded from the skyline of the local church? Honestly, we are blessed if that does not describe us.

Then there are those (I lean this way when I'm not trying to be balanced) who focus so much on growing the Christians we have in church that we don't do much to add to the number of Christians we have in church. It's safer to prod Christians to grow than it is to ask an old toughened sinner to come to Christ. Oddly, the success rate is usually just the opposite.

David excels at both. What an example he is to me. I'm glad God intertwined our paths. And he did it at just the right time. There's no telling where I would be had I not served with and under and for Bro. David. I'm praying for him.

Wild and Sore

Yikes! It had been a long time since I'd done that. As a matter of fact, it's been a long time since I've done much of anything that active.

We went to Wild River Country yesterday. It's a water park. The first waterslide I ever rode was in the parking lot of a hotel in some vacation destination...years ago. It wasn't much. Then there was the slide built on the side of a hill in a neighboring town. All concrete...rough concrete.

Now the slides are made of fiberglass or something like that. Smoother. We used to ride down any slide any way...head first, feet first; with a mat, with an inner tube, or sans device. And there weren't long lines. Run fron the bottom to the top, over and over again. All day long.

That was a long time ago. I'm more mature now. Actually, I'm just older now. If I still could I would have run from the bottom to the top, over and over again. All day long. But I couldn't. Instead, I had to rest at the bottom of each trip down the slide.

But the weather was cooperating. I would've died if the sun had been shining.

I highly recommend a trip to Wild River Country (or any water park) to anyone who wants to have a good time. I had my wife and two of the three boys. The only way it could have been better was to have all the boys with me and more peanut M&Ms. And they have to be peanut...a plain M&M is just a good waste of chocolate.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Frank's Wig

So I'm filling out the profile for this blog. I didn't answer many of the questions because if you know me you know me and if you don't you don't. Since this blog is not about me but about my worldview, it doesn't really matter if you know that much about me; you'll get to know me through the postings.

But I thought the space provided for a creative story about a random topic was pretty cool. I asked for a new question several times and finally found this topic intriguing: "The children are waiting! Tell them a story about a bald frog and a wig."

The space only holds 150 characters - what I wrote wouldn't fit. So here it is.

One day Frank the frog leaped off his lily pad and landed with a big splash in the middle of the pond. Frogs usually don't care much about keeping their heads above water; after all, they live in a pond! But Frank struggled to swim to the shore with his head held high above the water. Ted the turtle laughed at him and Polly the perch just rolled her big eyes at him.

But it didn't phase Frank; he kept reaching with his tiny front legs and swishing with his huge back legs until he made it to the banks of the pond with every hair on his head perfectly dry. That's why he worked so hard to keep his head above water...his hair. Most frogs don't have any hair. As a matter of fact, NO FROGS HAVE HAIR!! Except Frank.

Frank's a little different. He's an individual. He does his own thing. He's like a fish out of water. (Oops, sorry about that.)

Well, it happened like this. There was a little girl fishing from the banks of the pond one day. She came often; usually with her Daddy. The little girl was very pretty. She always wore blue jeans, white sneakers, a pink t-shirt, and a yellow baseball cap. And Kermit the Frog sunglasses. I really think that's why Frank liked to swim close to the bank and watch her. She must have been about 7 years old and she sure loved fishing with her Daddy.

Then it happened. Summer was almost over and Frank had learned from earlier summers that the kids quit coming to the pond and start going to school. Polly the perch had told him that; but what did she know about school?

So Frank knew he had to make it to shore that day because it might be the last day the little girl came fishing. There he was acting like he was soaking up the warm sunshine while sitting on that rock. But really he was watching her.

Then it happened. Her fishing pole was almost bent double. Her Daddy was excited and trying to help her. As he reached for the fishing pole his arm bumped her yellow baseball cap and knocked it off her head onto the grass. Frank had never seen her without her yellow baseball cap. Now it was on the ground and she was struggling to land the biggest fish she had ever hooked.

But Frank lost track of the fishing when he saw her hair. It had been tucked under her cap all summer long but now it was flopping around on top of her head while the fish was pulling at her pole.

Hair. Nobody in the pond had hair. At first it looked strange but Frank began to think it was beautiful. Especially this little girl's hair. It was long and curly and brown. And it looked like a lot of fun. You know, having that stuff balanced on your head and hanging down on your shoulders and in your eyes and over your ears. Frank wanted some of his own.

There aren't any places at the pond to get hair. Frank spent the next two weeks looking for hair in the pond. There was no hair.

Frank knew he had to be creative so he hopped down the path that led away from the pond. He didn't know what was down the path but he knew there was no hair in the pond. Maybe there would be hair at the other end of the path.

Frank was disappointed to see there was no hair at the end of the path. Instead, there was only something called a barber shop. Discouraged, Frank wanted to go back to the pond. But he told himself that if he came this far he could go a little farther and check out this new place.

As he hopped into the barber shop, Frank saw the little girl with the long, curly, brown hair. He mustered all his courage and made his way toward her. When he got to the barber chair where she was sitting he hopped up to the footrest, then to the seat, next the arm, and finally the headrest. He whispered in her ear, "I'm just a bald frog but I would love to have hair like yours. Can you help me?"

She jumped to her feet and acted like she had seen a ghost. Really she had only HEARD a FROG. Frank didn't understand her reaction so he said, "Excuse me, girl. I'm Frank. Just a frog. No hair. See? Your hair is so pretty. Can you help me get hair like yours?"

She ran away.

Frank figured it was time to take matters into his own hands (if he had hands). He jumped from the chair into a pile of hair clippings he spotted just under the counter in the barber shop. Just next to the hair was a blob of mud that must have been tracked in by someone wearing muddy boots. Frank grabbed the mud and stuck it on his bald head. (I bet that looked funny.) Then he placed a few pieces of the hair in the mud. That's one creative frog! He made himself a wig.

As he hopped back to the pond, very proud of his hair, the other residents of the pond stared. First, in shock; then in amazement; then because they couldn't stop staring...and laughing.

That bald frog has worn that wig every minute since. I'm not sure how it stays on; wet mud on a slick frog head??

But I do know that the wig had 17 sprigs of hair in it. I know because I counted them.

Just like God has counted the hairs on your head. He cares that much about you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


I'm new to blogging and maybe you are, too. This will be a learning project for me so please check back from time to time. Maybe I'll get better!

Bob's Worldview will be about gobs of stuff as seen through my perspective. I am a Christian who believes the Bible tells it like it is and is relevant today. So, hopefully, you'll see that worldview in my view of the world.

I'll post ideas, reactions, news, and other bits of info and thoughts. The postings and the contents will be random. I'm pretty busy so I hope I don't neglect the blog.

I'm glad you dropped in and hope you come back! Remember, Jesus saves.