Friday, July 29, 2005

Moved Any Mountains Lately?

More and more, it's all about faith. Think about how many times the words "faith" and "believe" are mentioned in the NT.

Sadly, think about how many times we sell God short when it comes to our faith. I, like you probably, have come across situations where I feel the result has already been decided. Someone has cancer and is told they have two months to live - well, they're gone. You meet a cussin' wife abuser and you figure his life can't be turned around. A totally hopeless situation in your life convinces you that it's really totally hopeless.

Ah, how foolish. "The blind man said, 'Rabbi, I want to see.' 'Go,' Jesus said, 'your faith has healed you.'" (Mark 10)

"I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Matt. 17)

"Then he said to him, 'Rise and go. Your faith has made you well.'" (Luke 17)

We give up and cave in too easily. The devil (the father of lies) is very good at convincing us that God's power has limits. Well, there are no limits. Earlier this year when Tatum was at her lowest point, I got a phone call from Stan Steadman, a prayer warrior friend of mine. I remember being totally defeated as I described how absolutely gloomy the prognosis it seemed obvious that she was in her final hours. Stan refused to budge from optimistic faith. He kept saying things like, "God's not through with her." And, "Don't lose heart. He can overcome this."

And she got better.

And I learned to believe a little more.

Let's be like Stan and not put parameters around God's power. Let's have ridiculous faith.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Coming Home

This picture shows a wonderful Lockheed L10-11 landing at DFW Airport. But that's not the story. This aircraft is landing following a very long flight from Shannon, Ireland and is filled with American soldiers coming home for a couple of weeks off. From war.

I once took a flight home from army duty. I can't tell you how precious the feeling was when the landing gear touched down. But I was coming home after a mere four months away from Dallas and...I did not have to return to active duty. These soldiers will be going back. Some may not return alive.

I hope the next time you see a soldier in the airport (hint, hint, Brooke and Michael), you make a point of shaking his/her hand and telling them you're proud to have them protecting you. Be sure you look them in the eyes and press the flesh firmly. I got to do this twice at DFW recently. I would have gladly stood in line to do it. It's the least I could do for someone is puttin' in on the line for me.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Split the Screen

Movies are exciting. Something about the big screen, big sound, and all that. But my wife and I rarely bother. I hate Hollywood.

Hollywood has proudly led the charge down the morality hill in America. A few decades ago, the trend started and it became necessary to rate the movies in order to screen innocent eyes from evil. Today, things are so twisted that immorality is depicted as normal, homosexuality as acceptable, and Christianity as laughable and absurd.

And Christians have had their otherwise good judgment seared by the glamour of it all. We say things like, "The language in it wasn't bad, just a few 'hells' and 'damns' and one or two others things I can't mention"; and "Yes there were bedroom scenes but they were tastefully done...not much was shown."

Tell me this. If you had guests over and they used typical movie profanity, wouldn't you throw them out of your house? Or if they were showing you videos of their kids and there was a deliberate bedroom scene spliced in, wouldn't you be aghast? Get this...we are paying to see such in the theaters! See how the devil has worked to erode our good sense?

Every ticket we buy endorses this evil, rotten industry. So the next time you've got a free night, don't automatically head to the Big Town 6. It's okay to avoid the show. Make a statement to yourselves, your friends and your God that enough is enough.

So there.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Turn Off the TV!

See the girl in pink? Know what she is thinking? No, she ain't thinking what dork the photographer is. She's wondering what our society would be like without television.

Some think that the "tube" has been the single most influential invention in the past 100 years. I tend to agree. More influential than the airplane, the XRay, the computer, and heated car seats. Sadly, the impact has been largely negative. Even sadder, most seem oblivious to it.

Decades ago, TV was at least barely honorable...presenting shows with traditional families emphasizing traditional values. But then network execs realized that shock value increased viewership and the decline was on. Today, this factor has been carried to the extreme, with shows becoming more and more desperate in their approach and more and more sinful in nature.

Here are some suggestions for young families: Never use the TV as a babysitter unless it's educational in nature. Never have the TV on to merely provide background noise even if no one is watching it. Think long and hard before watching major networks...remember, you can't trust their value systems at all. Try very hard to keep the thing off as much as possible and instead, read to your kids.

My next rant will be movies. I know you can't wait.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Love or Duty?

There is a trap into which I fall sometimes. It happens when I hear a little voice saying, "You can do more for the Lord." I don't know whose voice it is, but it is very convincing.

The temptation is to immediately rustle up some good deeds and acts of random kindness. You want to make that call, do that favor, send that card. And, of course, these are all wonderful responses. But by responding to that voice, I've put the cart before the horse (old vernacular, isn't it! How about "trailer before the SUV").

If you read Romans enough times, it begins to sink in that doing works to please God is an exercise in futility. What He has done for us is beyond payback. That's a difficult concept that I don't think we'll fully comprehend until we are basking in the glory of heaven. At that point, we will realize exactly how bad sin was, how massive the sacrifice for us, and how undeserved our reward is.

So the ideal scenario is this: we pray for wisdom and for God to open our eyes to just how blessed we've been to be saved. As we daily meditate on this incredible love, we find ourselves responding to needs around us without thinking in terms of points, stars in our crown, or duty. It becomes a worthy lifestyle; your servant mentality is on auto-pilot and you feel no sense of obligation, just happiness at opportunities.

I said "ideal scenario". Some of us were raised in a religious culture where salvation was not a gift, it was a paycheck for services rendered. Overcoming that guilt-based mentality is tough. But it can be done. I've seen too many who've accomplished it.

And, they are the happiest people I know.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Christmas in July

I have a little over two weeks left in this, my 35th summer off. Those of you who teach know the feeling well...the delicious taste of freedom is slipping through your fingers as the looming monster of school crouches in the background.

What makes it worse is that this has been a summer like no other. Never had this much time with Carole, never had this many grandkids to enjoy, never had a full-blown hobby to captivate me like this jet-photo thingy.

So what I'm gonna try to do is remember how I feel when I get out on the Friday before Christmas...when two and a half weeks seems like two and a half months and every day is thrilling in its freedom.

I don't expect it to work.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Funeral Talk

How do you want your funeral to be? Solemn or celebratory? Traditional or creative?

Does it even matter? Will we be laying on the grass of a heavenly meadow 3 days after "dying" and nonchalantly grasp the remote and tune in on our funeral just to hear what is said about us?

Silly us. We worry too much, methinks, about whether the casket should be bronze or mahogany, whether there should be a tombstone or a flat marker, and did the mortician make us look natural.

God would have us understand death for what it really is...transition. If what I've read about near-death experiences is accurate, we will never even lose consciousness. Here today, heaven today. And when we arrive there, the understanding that we so very much lack on this side of the curtain will be immediate. We'll know why some suffer so much, why some are taken early, and why some prayers didn't seem to be answered.

And there will be an instantaneous awareness that the following things were not worthy of all our attention on this earth: sports, clothing, appearance, television, income, and bald spots. Instead, we will understand that we could have done more for the poor, more for the aged, more for total strangers, more to spread the love of Jesus. And just as instantly as that thought arrives will be another: our shortcomings in the above matters were immediately washed away by the blood of His Son.

By the way, make my funeral celebratory.

Friday, July 15, 2005

V'couver and San Antonio

It is 1750 miles or so to Vancouver. It is 300 or so miles to San Antonio. I can fly to Vancouver quicker than I can drive to Summit Bluff.

Speed is so very relative. Imagine an early Texas pioneer on horseback. He would probably take 3 days to make the trip to S.A. If you told him you had a machine that could go 75 mph and get you there in air-conditioned comfort, he'd probably scratch his head and say, "What's air-conditioning?".

Looking out the window of a 757 from 40,000 feet and watching the clouds whiz by as you go 535 mph is truly awesome. But what is going to come along in the future and make us look slow? Will it involve some sort of time-warp? Will our descendents be able to step into a machine and just dial up a destination? I hope not. Part of the thrill of travelling, whether by plane, car, or horseback is simply covering the distance. The grandchildren of Ethan, Maddie, and Zach may not get to experience that thrill.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

All-Star Musings

Remember seeing video of Pete Rose plowing over the catcher in the All-Star game of 1970? It ended an extra-inning game that I did not want to end. I had to head off to basic training the next day and all of a sudden, freedoms such as watching a baseball game were suddenly tasting as rich as Blue Bell. I had 4 months of being away from home ahead...that sounded like so little when I signed up; but during that game, the prospect of not coming home until November felt like a death sentence.

Moral of the story: don't wait until you lose the wonderful delights of ordinary existence to appreciate them.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Let's Taxi Out Again

Well, there was a problem with
accessing my first blog, so I'm starting
from scratch again.

BTW, the Saudi guy called and their flight tomorrow is at
10 AM, so I won't be able to make it. I think since I'm so important, they should reschedule it to suit me.

He did say that they would take another one on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, but I think he meant the week after next.

As you know, we had Maddie's birthday party over here today. There was consideration concern that she would be grouchy and uncomfortable due to the arrival of her first upper tooth. She had suffered with it yesterday and even this morning. But she showed up happy and enjoyed the festivities to the fullest.

I'm so glad that several invited guests had other plans...where would we have put them?

Carole's back from a post-party shopping trip so I'm done.