Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
- The Dark Night ($530.9 mil). I gave it an "A" and have already bought the DVD.
- Iron Man ($318.3). Another "A", and I have the DVD.
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($317). A solid "B", but only a weak 3 out of 4 for the series. The DVD is sitting on the shelf at home.
- Hancock ($227.9). A solid "D."
- WALL-E ($223.8). An A+, and I don't usually go for the "cartoons" (unless it's Bugs Bunny and gang). Of course, I had to get the DVD for my girls.
- Kung Fu Panda ($215.4). Haven't seen it.
- Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa ($174.9). Haven't seen it; slept through the original.
- Twilight ($167.3). Will NOT see it; can't figure out the fascination with the undead.
- Quantum of Solace ($164.3). A "C-." It made me long for the days of George Lazenby . . . and that's sad.
- Dr. Seuss' Horton hears a Who! ($154.5). Haven't seen it, but I think Suess belongs in a book not film.
- Sex and the City ($152.6). Don't care to see it, but I'm blessed with a "Y" chromosome!
- Mamma Mia! ($143.8). Will NOT see it. See note on #11.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian ($141.6). A weak "B", and I purchased the DVD. I just wish Peter Jackson had decided to tackle C. S. Lewis as well as his friend Tolkien.
- The Incredible Hulk ($134.5). A "C-". For me, the Hulk will always be a Friday night at 7 p.m. thing.
- Wanted ($134.3). Haven't seen it.
- Get Smart ($130.3). A surprising "B". I thought I was wasting my money when I bought the ticket, but it made for a good evening.
- Four Christmases ($111.6). A "C-". Had a few good laughs, but belongs nowhere near the Pantheon: A Christmas Story, Home Alone, Christmas Vacation and The Santa Clause.
- Tropic Thunder ($110.5). Haven't seen it, but will probably rent it. I'm sure I will need to employ the V-chip.
- Bolt ($102.4). A solid "B". Another animation win. I'm sure the DVD will get added to the collection.
- The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor ($102.3). Haven't seen it. I saw the original and liked it, but these never-ending sequel series get a little tiring.
- Journey to the Center of the Earth ($101.7). haven't seen it, but would like to.
- Eagle Eye ($101.1). A "B-". Decent story, but the trailer has all the good scenes.
- Step Brothers ($100.5). An "F". Before I bought the ticket, I told myself that it was just junk, but I went any way . . . and was miserable.
- You Don't Mess with the Zohan ($100.0). An "F". Ditto the remark on #23 . . . amplified.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
At first I was angry. Fire all the coaches. Ship off half the players. Somehow banish Jerry Jones from the NFL. But, in the hours since, I've calmed somewhat. It was just a football game, after all. And, life goes on. And, as they say, there's always next season.
And, I now want to see something else result . . . I want a do over. I want the Dallas Cowboys to return next season largely intact . . . the same players . . . the same coaching staff . . . and, yes, Jerry Jones, too.
Looking back at the season, I see that several factors led to the collapse of this team. I lost track of the injuries several weeks ago . . . injuries certainly took their toll (think, if Romo didn't miss three games, the Cowboys would have won at least 2 of those games, and the significance of today's game would have been mute). The press (especially, Ed Werder, wreaked their havock on this team with their incessant efforts to keep the drama flowing form Valley Ranch.
I believe Tony Romo will be a great quarterback. Marion Barber, when healthy, is a beast. The line, when healthy, is the best in the NFL. I love the passion of T.O. (I'd rather him demand the ball than be complacent). Witten is a Hall of Famer. DeMarcus Ware is The Best in the league, hands down. Most of the defense is underheralded. I can do without Pacman. Wade Phillips is a great defensive coach; Garrett lost a step this year, but still has so much promise. This team, given a clean slate, can make a great run.
Print it in three-inch letters: The Cowboys will win the Super Bowl in February 2010.
Here's my picks for this season's NFL playoffs:
Eagles over Vikings
Cardinals over Falcons
Dolphins over Ravens
Chargers over Colts
Giants over Eagles
Panthers over Cardinals
Titans over Dolphins
Steelers over Chargers
Panthers over Giants
Steelers over Titans
Steelers over Panthers
The Pittsburgh Steelers will be the first NL franchise to win 6 Super Bowls. The Dallas Cowboys will be the first to win 7 (in 2011).
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I have a lot of respect for John Walsh and his family. I am glad that they have received some closure as the kidnapper and killer of their son, Adam, has finally been determined. Read the story here.
Ben Witherington is a must-read for me, whether it be his published works or his blog. Today, he offers up another interesting blog post; read it here.
The Greatest Game Ever Played. ESPN's "representation" of the 1958 NFL Championship game between the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants is must see TV. I watched it Saturday night when it first aired, and caught about half of the reply tonight.
The program ends with this incredible stat: In 1958, the NFL had 12 franchises, whose individual value amounted to less than $1 million per team. In 2008, the NFL has 32 franchises, whose individual value exceeds $1 billion per team (including the Dallas Cowboys, whose value is estimated at close to $2 billion dollars . . . of course, a billion dollar partially-public financed stadium doesn't hurt the bottom line).
I'm sad. Next Tuesday is Brit Hume's last day as anchor of FOX News Special Report. He will be missed. He is, in my sometimes humble opnion, the best in the business.
His explanation for his "retirement" says a lot about his character. He's leavng to spend more time devoted to 1-God, 2-his granddaughters, and 3-golf. Can you imagine an anchor of CNN or MSNBC (or one of the Jurassic 3) saying that?
Brit, you wll be missed!
Monday, December 15, 2008
I've never liked the term (perhaps because I was once a lineman), because it seems to promote the importance and contributions of certain players over their teammates . . . at least in the estimation of the uninformed. Any serious football fan knows that all 11 players are indispensable and vital to the team's performance (not necessary equally so, but all important, nonetheless). Tony Romo may get the lion's share of credit (or criticism) for the Cowboys' success (or lack thereof), but Marc Columbo's performance is important, as well. And, Tashard Choice doesn't make his 43-yard jaunt to end zone last night if Flozell Adams and his mates on the line do not get their blocks.
Most enterprises are like this. In every group, there will be the high-profile players and the behind-the-scenes contributors. The boos of an outfit often gets the public acclaim (or ridicule), but the secretary, the researcher, the bookkeeper, the custodian . . . they all play an important role in the performance of the company.
Churches are like this. The preacher is often out in front. Elders are often on the pedestal. Youth ministers are up there, as well. But, where would a church be if it were not for the secretary, or the one who faithfully unlocks the building each Sunday, or the one who prepares the communion, or the one who checks on the shut-ins, or the one who keeps the lawn, or the one who stocks the pantry, or the one who keeps the Bible class curriculum ordered, or the one who prints the bulletin, or . . . well, you get the idea.
I had the blessing of worshiping with the church in Farmersville, Texas yesterday evening. A delightful group. I enjoyed my time with them. I met a young man there who has Downs Syndrome; a wonderful person, with a bright smile, a kind heart, and a commitment to service. Each Sunday and Wednesday, he turns on the P.A. system, puts the numbers up on the "stat" board, and post the song numbers. He takes great pride in his jobs, and he serves his church well. He may not be a "skill player," but his service to the Lord's family is just as important and vital.
I love the words of Paul, as he addresses a church that is beset with division and pride. He tells the Corinthians, "But God has placed the parts, each one of them, in the body just as He wanted. And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? Now there are many parts, yet one body" (1 Cor. 12.19-20 HCSB).
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
A story told in Tom Callahan's biography of NFL legend helps to illustrate how much professional sports have changed over the past 50 years. The story is found on page 47 of Johnny U: The Lie & Times of Johnny Unitas (pub., 2006). Callahan quotes Unitas relating the story to Steve Sabol of NFL Films.
Unitas describing his first day in the Pittsburgh Steelers locker room in the 1955 off-season (yes, Unitas was a Steeler before he was a Colt!).:
I asked the guy, "Where are the whites?"--you know, the T-shirt and the athletic supporter and the socks, the undergarments you put on before your pads. He said, "Oh, right over there on the floor." I said, "On the floor?" He said, "Yeah, over there."
Here was this big pile of socks and athletic supporters and T-shirts. You rooted around in there until you found what you wanted. And I said, "This is professional football?" "It's the way we do it"
We went out and practiced and came back in. So, I just figured you took off your whites and threw them in a laundry hamper. "No, no, you hang them up on a hanger and we turn a big fan on to dry them up for the afternoon's practice."
How times have changed! Most professional sports' locker rooms are luxurious spas compared to what Unitas and his contemporaries endured. In fact, as I firs read Unitas's story, my mind went back to the small, cramped locker room me and my 7th grade Eagles' teammates used at Lubbock Christian School. That smell could knock you out!
This past weekend, the Dallas Cowboys held an auction of items from Texas Stadium, which will host its final game on December 21. One of the items put up for sale was a urinal from the Dallas Cowboys' locker room. The winning bid? $500! Can you believe that? And, that, in a recession!!!
I love professional sports, and am a big fan of the Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Cardinals (baseball). I have a few memorabilia items blazoned with the teams' logos. I even shelled out $50 to watch the Cardinals play against the Houston Astros this past summer. But, the money thrown at professional sports in our country highlights some misplaced priorities in our society. Of course, to be fair, and to keep a proper perspective, the inflation in sports is outdone by many other excesses. For instance, Americans spent more on M&Ms last year than they did on tickets to professional sporting events. And, Oprah Winfrey made more last year than the entire lineups of the New York Yankees, New York Mets, and Boston Red Sox combined, together with half of the other teams in the National League!
Am I trying to make a point with this post? Not really. But, I can't believe anyone on their right mind would spend $500 for a urinal, even one "marked" by Tony Romo and Troy Aikman. I'm a fan, but that's a fanatic . . . a fanatic in need of therapy.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I have some favorite eateries:
- Rosa's Cafe
- Cracker Barrel
- Cici's Pizza
- Spring Creek
There's other regular stops, but I visit these establishments often. Why? Consistent quality. Relative low cost. Cleanliness (for the most part). And, especially, service with a smile. Most of these restaurants excel at customer service (there are exceptions, but true as a general rule).
My travels also put me together with many congregations of Christians. I meet churches of all sizes. I meet churches that are growing. I meet churches that are struggling. A common factor in churches that are doing well? You might say, service with a smile.
Growing churches are friendly churches. They are churches that care about people: churches that love being together, and churches that go out of their way to make visitors and newcomers welcome.
Sometimes, congregations fall for the notion that church growth is primarily a matter of big and fancy facilities, or polished and well-educated preachers, or a plethora of programs and offerings. These can be important contributors to growth, but the first spark, I believe, is the people-friendly quotient. After all, the example of the of greatest people-loving person should inspire us!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
So many of us would like the occasional Mulligan to employ in life--the opportunity to do-over some tough moment or unfortunate circumstance. But, life plays through.
Eighteen months ago, I thought I was driving straight down the fairway, flag in sight, but out of nowhere, it seemed, the deepest and most foreboding sand trap of my life reared its head, and suddenly I went from a good streak to an awful lie.
At such a moment there are two basic courses of action. You can flail away at the ball, hoping to pound that ball out of the sand and straight to the pin, and more than likely drive your ball deeper into the sand. Or, you can take your wedge and simply play for the fairway or green, lying up for a better view on the next shot. I must admit, I've spent much of the past 18 months flailing away at the ball: either to recapture my life as it had been (or, as close in semblance as possible), or out of an in-your-face attitude toward the ones whose foolishness (and sin) forced the sand trap. I should have been playing for the fairway.
Life will not always unfold smoothly. There will be sand traps--resulting from our own foolishness, the actions of others, a combination of the two, or simply because we are in the wrong place at the wrong time. It helps to know of the sand traps that are ahead, but our forewarning can often be brief.
"Gird up your loins," Peter wrote. Be prepared: the next shot, or series of shots may be tough. Preparation is good; a level head in the midst of the crisis, however, is better. The key to conquering the sand trap is a plan of action--a plan that is not irrational, motivated by unhealthy emotion, but a plan that recognizes the tough spot and knows that the distance ahead cannot be recaptured in one glorious shot . . . the mindset that it will take a series of steps to get back on track.
I'm looking for that next lie; it may only be a few yards from the sand trap, but it will give me a much better position to then shoot for the flag. In fact, I think I have already hit out of the sand trap, but now I'm in the short rough. But, I'll take the short rough over the sand trap any day. Yet, I will not be completely satisfied until I reach the green.
One shot at a time. That's my daily reminder.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Mannheim Steamroller is still the king of Christmas music in my CD player, but Amy Grant, Randy Travis and Trans-Siberian Orchestra are worthy princes and princesses.
I ate lunch in Aggieland. Now, I am neither an Aggie, nor the son of an Aggie, but I was impressed with the campus of Texas A & M University. It was only my second visit there; I was 13 year old the first time.
I only had time to walk around the outside of the George Bush Presidential Library, but that alone left me impressed. One of these days, I will be back to walk through the inside. I've been to four Presidential Libraries this year: those of Ronald Reagan (awesome! . . . with Air Force One indoors), Lyndon Johnson (not a fan, but a great library), and Bill Clinton (looks like an over sized mobile home on stilts . . . his is certainly outclassed by the others!).
My brief visit to the Bush Library included seeing the statue pictured below. It is of a herd of wild (and free!) horses trampling over the remnants of the Berlin Wall. Powerful imagery. Reagan's Library also has a section of the Berlin Wall. I guess Clinton's only memorial is the stained blue dress. (Forgive me, but I couldn't refrain.)
Ahhh, Braum's! I stopped in at the one in Hillsboro. Double-scoop waffle cone: chocolate chip and peanut butter cup . . . hit the spot. And, I've got the physique to prove it!!!
I must say, my week in Houston was enjoyable. The weather was perfect . . . and you can't say that about Houston very often. I visited there in June (100 degrees; 98% humidity); I returned in December (mid 50s to 80s; sight rain on one day). And, except for one long drive, the traffic wasn't too bad.
Anticipating another Big 12 Championship for Oklahoma. Go, Sooners!
I MISS MY GIRLS and home! 12 more days to go.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Have patience, have patience,
Don't be in such a hurry.
When you get impatient,
You only start to worry.
That God is patient, too;
And think of all the times
When others had to wait on you!
These words are just the chorus, but you get the point. Patience is a virtue. It is, according the apostle Paul, a fruit of the Spirit (the product of a faithful and Christ-centered life). And, it is so counter to what we often see in the world (and, sadly, too sparingly seen in people of faith . . . and, I'm raising my hand in self-analysis).
Today, I spent a lot of time on the highways and byways of Houston, Texas, the fourth largest city in America. Without some patience, such an adventure would drive you crazy . . . and maybe off an overpass!
Tonight, some unfortunate driver became impatient and paid the price . . . a price that was exacted in some measure from countless hundreds and thousands of other motorists.
You see, this driver (unknown to me), cut somebody off, an action that led to a chain of accidents and a few crashed cars. Then, traffic became backed up . . . for miles and miles and miles. I first encountered the traffic at a standstill 15 miles! from the scene of the accident. It took me and the other cars around me 1 hour to drive those 15 miles! Argh!!!
Impatience hurts. And, often the innocent!
Tragically, the point was proven beyond a doubt this past Friday in Long Island, New York. You've undoubtedly heard the sad news of the Walmart employee being trampled to death by hundreds of impatient and greedy shoppers. All because they wanted to be the first to get a discounted big screen HD TV.
Impatience is all about self. It is not concerned about the welfare of others.
Let us learn to put others first . . . and to slow down a bit!
Monday, December 1, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I worship with the Dunn, Texas Church of Christ tomorrow morning. They are a small country church south of Snyder and a very generous bunch who care deeply about the welfare of children in need. They support a number of children's homes, including Manuelito Navajo Children's Home. I will be sharing with them a report on the work they sponsor at MNCH. I'm looking forward to being with them.
Tomorrow night, I will visit with the church in Lamesa, Texas and then travel on to Abilene for the night. On Monday, I will drive to Houston. I will spend several days there visiting churches. Then, its on to the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. I speak at Bowie, Tex. on Dec. 7 and at Farmersville, Tex. on Dec. 14. I will be making other contacts and visits, as well.
I return to Lubbock on Dec. 15 and then to Gallup with my girls!!! on the 19th.
I love sharing the news about the Manuelito Home and the children of the Navajo Nation. Please pray for my safe travels and effectiveness in raising much needed support for an important ministry.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Oklahoma needs to take care of business tomorrow night and bury OSU.
Bobby Bowden and his Seminoles need to humble Florida tomorrow afternoon.
Florida needs to then beat Alabama in the SEC Championship next weekend.
OU/Texas (whichever) needs to dispatch Missouri in the Big 12 Championship.
Then . . . Texas and Oklahoma (ranked 1 and 2/2 and 1 in the BCS) are scheduled to meet in Miami in January. Think Red River Shootout times 100! This one would be for all the marbles.
And, sorry to all the disillusioned Tech fans here in Lubbock . . . you don't get second chances when you get beat by 44 points! Get over it!
What a disappointment!
I first heard Asia when I was in the 8th grade, on a youth mission trip to Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Up until that point in time, I was a big country music geek (since that was all my family listened to) . . . I didn't quite think that rock-n-roll was devil's music, but it wasn't for me. That is until that fateful day I heard "Don't Cry," from Asia's second album, "Alpha." I was hooked.
To this day, Asia's first two albums remain among my favorites. Their newest offering, "Phoenix," is a pale imitation.
Asia is not the first music band to try to recapture the magic of eons ago. It seems that every rock band of the past has put themselves onto the nostalgic trip (and some--the Rolling Stones!--have been been pursuing nostalgia non-stop for, what, the past 3 centuries!). Why do they bother? Why rest on the creativity and artistry of decades past? Why not push themselves to evolve, to discover new chords and rhythms, to create original music?
Think Johnny Cash. The music he produced in the years prior to his death was different in many ways from the music he created when he was in his 30s and before. There was a certain progression in his music. He experimented. He wasn't afraid to do something new. After all, in his later years, he recorded with the likes of Bono and U2 . . . this singer who came from the Mississippi Delta land of Arkansas!
Or, consider Ricky Skaggs. In the 80's he was the Brad Paisley and Garth Brooks of the day. But, now 20 years later, he is a bluegrass trailblazer . . . and even blending his bluegrass sound with the eclectic "jazz" of Bruce Hornsby.
And, Eric Clapton . . . from rock "god" to a prince of the blues (there is only one King . . . B. B., that is!) . . . and master of the acoustical set.
These men and other pushed themselves into different facets and genres of music and are still creating new and satisfying sounds. So, why, are Asia, Styx, Journey, Rush, and the like dressing up in leather pants at age 50 and 60 and putting out the same old stuff?
Now, don't get me wrong, I like the old stuff . . . the original old stuff . . . and I throw those tunes into my CD player all the time . . . but the tracks are (c) 1983 and not (c) 2008!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Terry Rush has penned another probing and challenging blog post, entitled The Restoration Movement and Its Demise. Read it.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help."
"The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so."
"Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong."
"I have wondered at times about what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress."
"The taxpayer: That's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination."
"Government is like a baby: An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other."
"The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program."
"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first."
"Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."
"Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed, there are many rewards; if you disgrace yourself, you can always write a book."
"No arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is as formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women."
"America needs God more than God needs America. If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under."
Monday, November 24, 2008
I did like the trailer for the newest Star Trek, however (that may have been worth the cost of admission tonight). But, I've got to wait until May 2009 to see the actual movie. Argh!
Here are a few things I like about Lubbock (in no particular order):
- (for the most part) nice, down-to-earth people
- wide streets
- a "clean" look
- all those "W" bumper stickers, even though his last election was in '04
- Lubbock Christian University
- (for the South Pains) lots of trees
- its in Texas, after all
- football is king
- most of my family is here, and many, many friends
- the Christ-centered culture
- great weather (w/ exception of occasional dust storm)
- it's not Amarillo!
- it's not anything like San Francisco
- faith, family and country still matter . . . big time!
- the drive on 19th Street between Frankford and Quaker
- you can be anywhere in the city in, at most, 15 minutes
- hard work and integrity are valued . . . and expected
- and, of course, Rosa's
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Now that all is right with the world, and my senses have come back to me, I'm riding the Sooner train all the way to Miami. The Sooners will defeat the Alabama Crimson Tide for their 7th National Championship. Although, there may be some difficulty in telling the uniforms apart.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
My official residence is Gallup, New Mexico, but Lubbock, Texas is and always will be home. This is where I was raised. This is where my parents (and many extended family) remain. So much of my identity and values find their roots here.
I'm back in Lubbock for the next 10 days. The visit is partly business, but mostly about family. I will continue on from here to spend two weeks in North Texas (all about business there) and then come back to Lubbock for a few days before returning to Gallup for Christmas WITH MY KIDS!
And, a trip to Lubbock is never complete without a pilgrimage to the mecca of semi-fast, casual-chic, Mexican dining . . . Rosa's Cafe. I was there at 11:25 this morning ready to indulge in beef fajitas and possibly the best guacamole and salsa around. Let's see: 10 days in Lubbock, 10 trips to Rosa's? It's possible, perhaps likely . . . better stock up on the Zantac, just in case!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The highlight of the trip, of course, is time spent with my daughters and mom and dad. Because of my need to be on the left coast last month, it has been a few weeks since I was able to travel to Texas to see my girls. Speaking regularly on the telephone is not an adequate substitute. I MISS THEM greatly. Separation from your children (and they from you) never grows easier. You know, divorce really is an act of the evil one. I pray and pray that others would realize this!
Monday, November 17, 2008
Guess who picked up the tab? Take a good look at your withholding on your next paycheck!
I'm a recovering preacher not an economist, but it seems like many of the recent financial problems besetting our country and world can be traced back to excess. Prospective home owners getting mortgages that were more than they could handle. Consumers maxing out a dozen credit cards. Union workers demanding and getting huge benefits packages that the companies had no hope of paying. CEO's and other executives seeking huge salaries and stock options. The Federal government spending and spending, promising and promising, without any hope of ever balancing the books . . . just quick to print an ever-increasing supply of cash.
Now, this recovering preacher is one of the guilty. I have never been disciplined with money and gotten into my share of debt (those student loans are pesky little things, aren't they?). It seems to be that excess and an acceptance of debt are part and parcel of our society . . . BUT, as Dave Ramsey is so keen to say, "The debtor is slave to the lender." Our way of living is unsustainable!
The words of the apostle Paul are instructive. Philippians 4.11-13: "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed of hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (NIV). Notice, he doesn't say the secret of contentment is maxing out a Wal-Mart credit card or purchasing the latest Prius!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
I've been in Cracker Barrel so much in the past week (8 visits) that I wouldn't be surprised if the manager handed me a "Rising Star" smock and puts me to work.
It took me 35 years to discover Johnny Cash. Now his music is a staple in my CD player.
I read another story in the USA Today this morning about the safe-haven law in Nebraska. Thirty-four teenagers and older youth have been abandoned by their parents in the months since this law came into effect. Some of the children have been reunited with their families, but many have been placed in foster care.
I'm not certain where I come down on the controversy this law has produced--whether the law should be left as is, or amended to allow only the abandonment of infants. I just know the situation has highlighted the desperation so many families find themselves in. Whether it be the heartlessness or irresponsibility of parents, the challenging economic fortunes of some, or the unruliness of some kids, it is obvious that families are in crisis.
I cannot help but think that too many families lack the great resource of community. From the article I read this morning, it seems that many of the children who have been abandoned by parents come from single-parent families or families where a parent is incarcerated, addicted to drugs, mentally unstable, and estranged from extended family members. Children need a support system that ranges far beyond the immediacy of father and mother and sibling. An aspect of ancient culture that is sorely missed today is life lived within the context of family, clan/tribe, community, nation . . . and, I must add, church (or, community of faith). I was blessed to have parents who kept me connected not merely within our house, but also our neighborhood, and church.
Perhaps the situation in Nebraska should waken all of us to the responsibilities each of us have to each other.
I have rooted for the Oklahoma Sooners since I was a kid, but tomorrow I will be cheering on the Texas Tech Red Raiders to defeat O.U. and move one step closer to a #1 ranking and a shot at the national Championship. Call it a case of hometown loyalty.
Any body up for a round of golf? It's been 13 months since I last walked a course.
Six days and counting to Rosa's! It's been over 5 weeks since my last bite of beef fajitas! It's a shock that I'm still breathing.
I absolutely love playing Santa Clause. I'll be travelling for the next 5 weeks, so Santa went shopping last night. Finding those special gifts (insofar as they can be found at Wally World) for my special little girls is a great joy. In route to that mecca of American commercialism, I even popped in the latest Christmas offering from Mannheim Steamroller . . . Christmasville. The only thing better, is watching my beautiful girls rip open their packages and seeing their smiles and hearing their laughter.
Life is full up of ups and downs, but without a doubt, God is soooo good!
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I was blessed with the opportunity to teach the high school Bible class at Gallup Christian School this morning. I will do so again on Friday and Wednesday of the coming week. These opportunities are some of the highlights of my all-too-short homecomings to Gallup. I enjoy going out on the road and talking to churches about MNCH, but I absolutely love to get back to my roots as a preacher and youth minister and teach and peach God's Word. Especially to our kids at the Home and School.
These kids, for the most part, have had no experience with Jesus and the Bile before coming to MNCH. Many are still very stepped in the traditional beliefs and practices of the Navajo people. It can be a challenge to talk about the Gospel in a way that makes sense and is not overtly threatening or unsettling. The love of God for humanity (especially the person of Jesus) communicates very easily, but the particulars of "Bible-speak" can be hard to convey. But, I enjoy the challenge . . . rather, opportunity . . . to share what I hold dear and what I know is meant to be a blessing for all humanity.
My task in these three classes I've been asked to teach is to give a general introduction to the Bible. Not a subject that is easily reduced to three class periods. But, I'm focusing primarily on the specialness of Scripture.
To this end, I related one of my favorite stories this morning. It is of a man, an archaeologist, who discovered a fragment of Numbers 6 (the Priestly Blessing, vv. 24-26) in an amulet/locket in the ruin of a house outside of Jerusalem. Once dated, this fragment was determined to have been from at least the 8th Century B.C. That is the time of Isaiah! I used this story to speak about the ancient nature and genuineness of the Bible. Here is the case of a person living 2,800 years ago who cherished a portion of God's Word by keeping it close to their person (in a locket hanging from their neck). Wow!
I then compared the ancientness of that portion of Scripture with the ancientness of many of the Native American ruins that are close to Gallup. We have Canyon de Chelly to our northwest, first inhabited in the 5th Century A.D.; and Mesa Verde to our north, first inhabited in the 7th C. A.D.; ad Chaco Canyon to our northeast, regarded by some of the Dine' (Navajo) as the birthplace of their people), first inhabited in the 8th-9th C. A.D.
Th Navajo treasure what is long-standing and preserved (a trait I deeply admire of this beautiful people), and so the comparison I drew of the ancientness of Scripture (as represented in the Priestly Blessing fragment), and how it even outdated the cherished sites of Navajo and Pueblobean (or, Anasazi) history and culture, made an impact of the kids I was teaching. And, I must say, on me as well.
I love the words of the Psalmist:
The instruction of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise.
The precepts of the Lord are right, making the heart glad;
the commandment of the Lord is radiant, making the eyes light up.
The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are reliable and altogether righteous.
They are more desirable than gold--than an abundance of pure gold;
and sweeter than honey--than honey dripping from the comb.
(The words of Psalm 19.7-10 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
You see, my generation came of age at the ending of the Cold War when it seemed that armed conflicts were largely a thing of the past. Yes, the first Gulf War happened just three years following my class's graduation from high school, and that did result in the enlistment of some my age, but that war came about when many my age had already set themselves on a career path, and many had already married and started families. So, few of my generation served in the military. Indeed, of all the many friends and classmates I had in school, I know of only one or two who served in the military.
As I reflect on this Veteran's Day this contrast of generations came to mind. I am afraid that so many my age have taken for granted the great sacrifices of those who went before us, those men who dedicated themselves to serving the country in very trying and dangerous times and circumstances. Men who put themselves in harm's way, so that their children could have the prospect of living in a free and safe country. These men are the one's to whom we owe the freedom we now enjoy.
I am reminded of the third stanza of America the Beautiful, our sentimental national anthem. The words of Katherine Lee Bates: "O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life! America! America! May God thy gold refine, till all success be nobleness, and ev'ry gain divine."
As I reflect on this Veteran's Day, I am deeply proud to be the son of a veteran of the U.S. Navy, who served in the Vietnam War, and who served for 20 years, and the grandson of a veteran of the U. S. Army, who served and was wounded in World War II (Philippines).
Monday, November 10, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Despite what has happened today, I know that our God reigns, and that He will effect His way despite the challenges that are put before Him.
I am now in Salt Lake City, Utah, my first visit to this beautiful place. I will be here until Thursday making visits for the Manuelito Navajo Children's Home. And, then, I make the final leg of my trip home. I am so ready to sleep in my own bed!!!
Here's a photo of the Idaho State Capitol in Boise. It is a replica of the U. S. Capitol, albeit a significantly smaller version. I have also attached some photos of the Columbia River east of Portland, Oregon and the countryside of southern Idaho. Yes, that is snow!
Monday, November 3, 2008
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
- I like the "NO" sales tax
- I do NOT like that I am NOT allowed to fill my own gas tank . . . it's an odd thing to drive up to a fuel pump and have a 70-something-year-old female station attendant come up to my window and ask, "Can I fill 'er up?" (That really happened yesterday.) Oregon is one of two states that do not allow drivers to operate a fuel pump at a filling station (New Jersey is the other)
Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Today was fairly overcast, but the view of the Pacific was spectacular, nonetheless. I will post more photos later, including some I took of Fort Clatsop, where Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery spent the winter of 1805-06.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
This last photo is of the Oregon Sate Capitol in Salem. Its a rather impressive building, but it does look a lot like a mausoleum. And, from a distance the gold statue on top reminded me of Moroni!