Sunday, October 28, 2007

Carnival Atmosphere

Carole and I have just returned from Highland Oaks' annual parking lot carnival. It's really a big deal. Numerous giant inflatable games and exhibits are brought in. There is face-painting and tossing balls at stacked bottles. The food is free. Literally thousands of folks buy a $3 ticket for admission.

The purpose, of course, is to build goodwill in the community and hopefully make a few contacts that result in positive spiritual benefits. In other words, use the carnival to introduce people to Jesus.

Is something like this a wise use of the congregation's money? Perhaps it's worth discussing. It costs a bunch of money...I'm sure just buying insurance for such a big event is staggering. But it does introduce, even in a small way, the community to Highland Oaks. They know we're here and they know we're a friendly bunch. My question to the readers is: Even if none of the thousands of guests ever darkens the doorstep of the church, is such an effort still worth it because of the goodwill created in the neighborhood? Is it worth it just for the sense of teamwork it builds within our fellowship? What do you think?

I know this sounds like I'm negative toward the annual project. But actually I'm not. I just don't know enough about whether actual productive contacts are made and I would like to know that before I decide. Again, what do you think?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tough scriptures: Part 2

36"But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."

How many words do we speak in a day? Kinda depends on the circumstances, I guess. When I taught school, I'd come home some days unwilling to utter even a simple sentence like, "I'm unable to fathom the hopelessness of my task at hand!" I wonder what the average number is for the average American - 10,000/day?

What terrifies me is the realization that most of my words may be careless in nature. Of course, Jesus is probably referring to important situations where words will have impact, either positive or negative. "Honey, I'll get the mail" probably doesn't qualify. But we'd no doubt be surprised how often we can alter situations or relationships with our choice of words. I certainly am turned off by negative folks who spew negative words constantly. And how many of us have learned after the fact that something we said flippantly turned out to have stung someone to the core?

My greatest careless word problem has to do with constantly trying to be witty and to make people laugh. This probably means I have deep insecurity and feel the need to win acceptance through humor, as though I couldn't get it any other way. The problem is that I often cross the line by becoming sarcastic, trying to cast someone in an unfavorable light by putting them down...anything for a laugh, you know. It's high time I reined in this dangerous habit. As the verses in Matthew 12 say, there are consequences, eternal consequences.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Plane Nuts

Reporting in on Saturday's airshow. Best thing I could have done was have Steve Leaming alongside. We talked about everything and his ridiculous puns kept me in stitches. Before we parted ways, I told him how much I appreciated his company. That I sometimes go months with no one to talk to about aviation and that it kills me. He answered the need.

The weather would have been okay but for the wind. It howled so much that the Army paratrooper performance had to be cancelled lest some of their jumpers land in Kansas. We stayed for the last group, the Blue Angels. Imagine going 400 mph on a windy day with 3 other jets 15 inches from your wingtips and then imagine banking that way in a tight curve. These guys are beyond great.

More to say, but I've got jury duty tomorrow and I'm worn out from yesterday. Maybe I'll have something interesting to report about from the Rockwall courts soon.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Plans for Saturday

Just a note that on Saturday, I'll join good friend Steve Leaming and head to Ft. Worth for the 2007 Alliance Air Show. I've been to one in my life and it almost killed me. The miserable story of that experience is here.

Hopefully, we won't have any trouble with the heat. Also hopefully, I'll get good shots of the amazing Blue Angels and bunches of other daredevils.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Two things have conspired to leave me a bit down lately. One is the stuff I see on a daily basis in the bus pick-up areas. The other is the rash of grim news stories in the past few weeks from just the Metroplex. It causes me to ponder about the unseen battles going on between the forces of good and evil.

What I have to guard against is the idea that Satan is winning. I do see so many apparent victories for this agent of darkness. Families being ripped apart, infants being discarded or killed, folks taking delight in causing hurt or harm.

But I try to remind myself that there are just as many, if not more, victories for God and his angels. Often, they have defeated the enemy in some unseen, unrecognized way - and thus I'm unaware of what has happened. Sometimes, however, the victory is obvious. I won't detail it here, but I've seen several situations lately where I said a prayer, urgently begging for His angels to do something very specific. And against all earthly odds, the good guys win. What a joy rushes through me when I see tangible evidence of God's power!

Of course, in the end, Satan will go down for the final time. Evil will be eliminated from everything, replaced by God's consuming presence. All will be love, light, and joy. Every fiber of our being, every nerve ending, will be wired for eternal ectasy. No more pain, disappointment, anger, or fear. An eternity of glory! Bring it on!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Tough scriptures: Part 1

22Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Colossians is filled with practical Christianity - tons of a advice on how to exhibit Christ on a daily basis. I'm fine with all the inspired guidance except for this above challenge from the 3rd chapter. If I were to put it in today's vernacular, it might go something like this:

Listen. At the work place, work as though your boss is Christ himself. Never take advantage of your employer. Work the same whether your boss is looking over your shoulder or on vacation in Cancun.

Most of my time with DISD, I gave my all. Most of the time. But there were plenty of times I shirked responsibilities because I knew I could get away with it. As the years piled up, I got more and more cynical about my bosses downtown and my immediate superiors in the building. So I justified my actions by saying to myself, "They are stupid in educational matters and indifferent to my plight as a teacher. Therefore, I have every right to slough off whenever possible and even sabotage their efforts".

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. God expected me to be the same worker every day, and it shouldn't have mattered that I couldn't work up any respect for those over me. It shouldn't have mattered that often their course of action was totally wrong. It was incumbent upon me to work as though I were reporting to Christ himself every day, which, of course, I really was doing.

This is such a challenge for us. So few of us work in ideal situations. Most of the time, there is an ogre somewhere above us in the organizational flow-chart. God says it doesn't matter. The implication is that through our commitment, we will win over the ogres.

Tough scripture, eh?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Just some things I've been thinkin' 'bout...

!. I've written a bit about the extreme poverty I see every day on my bus runs. One of the sadder sights is a Tuesday and Friday occurrence. Those are the trash pickup days in the Grove, and every household rolls out their City of Dallas-issued garbage receptacle to the curb. This attracts a pitiful horde of shabby guys who push grocery carts around, going from bin to bin, digging for aluminum cans, food, or anything that has value. It is truly life on the edge.

2. My mom's doctor is a source of endless angst to me. For the last two appointments, he has finally seen her exactly 1 hour, 20 minutes after her appointment time. We see him again on the 23rd and if he pulls this again, I plan to stand up to him like a man, whatever that means.

3. I had a field trip to Fair Park last night, taking a volleyball team to a district game. I had the opportunity to look at folks leaving the Fairgrounds after a full day of merriment. They were the most beaten down folks I've ever seen.

4. I spend entirely too much time worrying about language and usage. I wonder if anyone ever says "wreak" (pronounced "reek") without using the word "havoc" after it. And why is it pronounced "reek"??? Does anyone anyone ever say "quagmire" without sticking "veritable" in front of it?