Monday, March 31, 2008

That Inner Struggle Thing

I shouldn't have done it, but how do you say no to Braum's?

I live in Gallup, New Mexico . . . 12 miles from the Arizona border and 500 miles away from the nearest Braum's. For the uninitiated, Braum's is a hamburger and ice cream joint based in and near the state of Oklahoma. Anyone who has ever called Oklahoma home is a Braum's addict, and that definitely includes me. There were a few years there where Braum's burgers and ice cream were staples of my diet . . . and the proof is there for anyone to see!!!

I have been away from Oklahoma for nearly 5 years, so I've been going through Braum's withdrawal. I've spent the past 9 days in and around Oklahoma (south-central Kansas where I am now at is also Braum's country) . . . and so, I've been making up for lost time! There seems to be a Braum's on every corner in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Wichita . . . I haven't made it to all of them in the past week, but I've done my best!

I told myself tonight that today would be Braum's free . . . my body needed a break. But . . . I relented . . . I gave in . . . and quickly gobbled up a double dip chocolate chip-peanut butter cup waffle cone! It was wonderful! All that I had expected! For about 30 minutes!!! Then, reality set in, and now I have a killer headache from too much sugar, and I'm sure those calories are up to no good :-).

Isn't that the way with sin? Often the temptation to indulge in improper behavior . . . to do what we know is wrong and will likely result in harmful circumstances . . . becomes too much (at least in our way of thinking) and we give in and do what we should have avoided. Initially, it seems that the lies of temptation are indeed true . . . what fun! . . . we feel great! . . . best time of our life! . . . top of the world! . . . then reality sets in and everything comes crashing down. Sin is fun for a moment . . . perhaps many years of moments, but there is an end to the fun. Reality cannot be held at bay forever. There will be an accounting. Eating a Braum's double-dip ice cream cone will result in a few hours of discomfort and a few extra pounds, but giving into more serious temptations will result in much more serious and life-affecting consequences.

We learn from our mistakes . . . from those moments when we let down our guard and allow those temptations to take over . . . moments when sanity departs us and self-destructive reasoning and behavior creep in. Or, at least we should. The consequences of bad actions should teach us to avoid the same trap the next time. If we are paying attention. If we do not become so deadened to cause and effect that we do not grow.

Tomorrow will be Braum's free!!! I hope :-).

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Test of Forgivness

I worshiped with two congregations in south-central Kansas today. I was privileged to speak to both about Manuelito Navajo Children's Home. This morning, I was with the McPherson, Kansas church. Tonight, I was with the Haven, Kansas church.

My good friend, Lance Morrisett, is the preacher at Haven. It was good to be with Lance, Jennifer and Cullen. I had not seen Lance and Jennifer in nearly 5 years. We met 10 years ago in Childress, when I was preaching for the Fairview Church of Christ (my first preaching stop) and Lance was the youth minister for th eChildress Church of Christ. Those were good times.

This morning, while at McPherson, I enjoyed sitting in a Bible class with Glen Elliott, the preacher at McPherson. Glen's subject was forgiveness. He offered a test of forgiveness that I found worth sharing. To paraphrase, this is the gist of Glen's challenge: You say you've forgiven the person that has hurt you, but has your behavior toward that person changed? Do you still respond to him or her like you have a grudge toward them, or have you allowed the relationship to enter a new day. Are you happy when the other person meets some adversity or hardship, considering such things as just payback? Or, do you wish good things for the person?

We have all been hurt at various times in life. It is a very human thing to want to strike out and wound the person who has wounded us. But, we are called to forgive; to do as Jesus did . . . to love those who hurt us, and seek not to harm in return, but to forgive . . . to not be bitter, but to find a place of peace in the relationship once more.

It is not enough to say, "I forgive you," but continue to alienate the other person is wrong; to wish that they would meet with some unfortunate circumstance is hateful; to desire the worst for that person is sinful. When we forgive, a new day dawns . . . a new chapter in the relationship begins.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Beautiful World

I began the week (Sunday) in Chandler, Arizona. As this day ends (Tuesday), I am in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I've driven over 1,300 miles in the past three days . . . across four states . . . Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. I have seen so many beautiful sights in those long miles . . . the Sonoran Desert and Dragoon/Dos Cabezas mountain ranges in SE Arizona, the mountains and desert of SW New Mexico, the Rio Grande valley around Las Cruces and the White Sands, the Sacramento Mountains and Cloudcroft, New Mexico, the vast plains of eastern New Mexico, the cotton fields of the Texas Panhandle, the Caprock and hill country of the eastern Panhandle, the Wichita Mountains of Oklahoma, and the rolling hills of central Oklahoma. I've crossed the Rio Grande, the Red River, the Canadian River, and the Arkansas River. What a beautiful world God has made . . . and he has given it to us to enjoy, to call home, to care for and be a part of. How aweome is our God!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Two Recommendations

Two recommendations.

1) Phoenix Zoo. I took my girls there today. I love bringing my girls to zoos, and we have visited several during the past few years: San Diego, Cheyenne Mt. in Colorado Spgs, Oklahoma City (twice), and Columbus Ohio. Phoenix is one of the best. It has some great attractions for small kids. Some hilly terrain, but not much. But, we missed the mountain lions . . . "Exhibit temporarily closed." What a great morning and early afternoon.

2) Serano's. I've mentioned this one before, and I have it listed as one of my favorite restaurants on the right hand column of my blog. I discovered Serano's three years ago, and must make a stop there each time I come to Chandler, AZ. If you visit, order the #33: cheese enchiladas topped with green chili beef. Very good! They were a little off tonight, but still better than most Mexican food I've had . . . and I'm quite particular.

Payson, Arizona

I visited a place new to me today . . . Payson, Arizona. Beautiful.

The comment is not reserved for the town, per se, although in my quick drive through the town limits, I was impressed. My evaluation is primarily focused on the drive into and out of town. For the first time in my life, I travelled the route south from Holbrook, Arizona to Chandler(Phoenix), Arizona, through Payson. What a beautiful drive . . . especially the vicinity around Payson. In the space of about 50 miles you descend from snow-covered Ponderosa forests to the lowlands of the Sonoran desert.

I will definately be making this trip again. Hopefully, I will not be in as much a hurry as I was this morning. I would like to spend some meaningful time in and around Payson.

(I owe credit for the photo to some anonymous source on the Internet. I had my camera this morning, but did not have time to stop and take photos . . . next time!).

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Leadership Training for Christ

It's that time of year again. Another Leadership Training for Christ convention has arrived. It's always a highlight of the year for me.

The kids from Gallup Church of Christ and Manuelito Navajo Children's Home attend the LTC-Southwest convention in Chandler (Phoenix), Arizona. It will be my third year to attend the convention in Chandler, but my first with Gallup. I brought the youth group from Cortez, Colorado the past two years. In years past, I have attended LTC conventions at Tulsa, Oklahoma and Dallas-Ft. Worth. Each convention has its own charm, and aspects genuine to the place, but the overall program is basically the same, and the aim of bringing Christian youth together in an atmosphere where their talents and abilities are affirmed and encouraged is the same in each place.

I have spent most of my life close to youth ministry in Churches of Christ, beginning as a youth, myself, and continuing as an adult employed as both youth minister and preacher for a succession of congregations. Over the years, I have gone back and forth in my feelings regarding L. T. C. I have certain criticisms: namely, the monetary expense (and how that often capitalizes a lot of small church youth budgets), and the use of Easter weekend as a convention time (I understand the logic of using this time, but a lot of family activities are compromised in the process, and many families do not participate in L.T.C. as a result). But, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

I cannot think of another program in churches that involves the nuimber of children, youth, and adults as does L.T.C.; with all ages working together toward a common goal and purpose. I cannot think of another program that taps into the wide breadth of talents and abilities and interests as does L.T.C. L.T.C. excels at communicating to youth that all sorts of skills can be used to glorify God and edify the church. It used to be, that young people (and old, too) were told that serving God amounted to saying a public prayer or leading a song (activities that usually left out half our kids!), but L.T.C. enables kids to use all sorts of talents in Christian service. L.T.C. also brings hundreds and thousands of Christian youth together, creating a "strength in numbers" effect, telling kids, "Hey, I'm not alone in this church thing . . . there are lots of others just like me!" This benefit is especially truth with youth coming from small congregations.

I am looking forward to my time in Chandler, and I know the kids from Gallup are excited. An added bonus: my three girls are with me this week, and I will get to share the fun of L.T.C. with them.

The photo is from L.T.C. 2006 in Chandler. It is of the Cortez youth group (and my kids, too).

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Great Winners

Another Tiger win. Another emphatic declaration that he is the greatest champion in sports history. Has there ever been an athlete with a greater competitive drive?

Here's my list of great champions in sports history.

1. Tiger Woods (he will only continue to make the point)

t2. Bill Russell (Mr. Championship)

t2. John Wooden (brilliant coach . . . a giant of a man in a rather diminuitive frame)

4. Otto Graham (7 NFL championships in 10 seasons . . . why isn't he mentioned in the same breath as Montana?)

5. Joe DiMaggio (the greatest Yankees' captain)

t6. Pete Sampras (if could have only added the French!)

t6. Roger Federer (he will eclipse Sampras . . . unless he runs out of gas!)

8. Jeff Gordon (okay, okay . . . "sports" champion may be a stretch :-))

9. Jack Nicklaus (Tiger still trails the Golden Bear in the numbers race)

10. Pat Summit (a nod to Title IX)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Showdown: KJV vs. NIV

You gotta check out this YouTube video (visit the link below). I've heard some crazy assaults on the NIV over the years . . . this is the craziest. You'll laugh watching it, but it's definately not the most-genuine, intelligent exegesis.

Note: I owe Ben Witherington credit for pointing me to the video. He had it posted on his blog, today.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Forgotten Flicks

Do you Netflix? What a great concept. I've become a Netflix addict.

Lately, I've been requesting some golden oldies . . . movies I had not seen in a long, long time. I enjoyed watching these movies for the 2nd time (or 40th time) as much as the 1st time. Here's my recommendations:

The Apple Dumpling Gang (Don Knotts & Tim Conway . . . need I say more?)

Victory (Sylvester Stallone playing soccer alongide Pele in a WWII POW camp . . . what a concept!)

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (the best of the Star Trek movies)

JAWS (even though Ive seen the shark at Universal Studios, this movie is still one of the best ever made)

Die Hard (the original . . . far outshines the sequels)

Superman II: Richard Donner Cut (an altogether new movie . . . takes a mediocre movie to classic status)

Grab some popcorn and head to Netflix.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Our God Is an Awesome God

Have you heard Charlie Daniels's version of Awesome God? If not, give it a listen. It is on the Songs 4 Worship Country CD produced by TimeLife records, or you can download the single from The whole album is great, but I especially like the Daniels's track.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Favorite Baseball Teams/Seasons

Spring Training has started and another Major League Baseball season is around the corner. I can't wait. I love baseball. I especially love the lore and history of the Major Leagues. Football, specifically the NFL, is my favorite spectator sport, but the NFL does not have the heritage of MLB. Mention a baseball player, any position, any era, and on the basis of statistics he can be compared to players from the past 120 years. You can't do that with a football player. Certainly each era has its quirks that make comparissons a little problematic (i.e., steroids, the "dead ball", segregation, etc.), but all in all it is still fascinating to place Babe Ruth side by side with Albert Pujols and compare their accomplishments, and with statistics there is a certain amount of objectiviy on which to base a comparison.

At the outset of new baseball season, I want to present my listing of favorite baseball teams/seasons. You can tell from the list who my favorite franchise is . . . only the most successful franchise in the history of the National League (and I've been a fan since the early days of the Wizard of Oz!) . . . through good seasons and bad (and there have been plenty of both). Can you guess my second favorite team?

My favorite MLB Teams/Seasons:

#1- 1934 St. Louis Cardinals, the "Gashouse Gang" (Dizzy, Daffy, Ducky/Muscles, Pepper, Ripper, the Fordham Flash, Leo the Lip, Spud, Tex, Pops, Dazzy, Chick, Buster, Kiddo, Wild Bill . . . has any team ever had a more colorful collection of nicknames?)

#2- 1941 Booklyn Dodgers (they lost the WS to the Yankees, but this team was special

#3- 2006 St. Louis Cardinals (they should have won two seasons earlier, but they finally sealed the deal in this magical season)

#4- 1927 New York Yankees (what list of baseball seasons/teams would be complete without this team . . . but I still favor the 1921 Yankees)

#5- 1948 Cleveland Indians (two words: Satchel Paige)

#6- 2004 Boston Red Sox (no, I'm not a citizen of the Red Sox Nation, and they swept my beloved Cardinals, but I took great satisfaction in the way this team dispensed the Yankees)

#7- 1982 St. Louis Cardinals (this was the team that began my love affair with the Cardinals)

#8- 1946 St. Louis Cardinals ("The Man" . . . Stan Musial's greatest team, and the World Series that brought a nation out of the years of war and into a time of great prosperity)

#9- 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers (Jackie Robinson, need I say more . . . on second thought this team probably belongs at the top of my list)

#10 - 1985 St. Louis Cardinals (the team that could . . . but fell just short . . . my hats off to George Brett and crew, but the best team lost on that day!)

#11- 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers (they beat the A's, that's reason enough to be on my list . . . plus Kirk Gibson's "Natural" moment)

#12- 2005 Houston Astros (I had to add a Texas team, and this is the closest a Texas team has ever come to Baseball imortality . . . and, yes, they did beat my Cardinals in the NLCS . . . amazing series, though)

What teams make your list?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Top 11 Quarterbacks

In recognition of Brett Favre's retirement, I'll join with the countless others and offer my list of the greatest QB's in NFL history. I refuse to list those QB's who are still in the midst of their careers, but I am certain that in time Manning, Brady, and Romo (yes, that's right) will cause me to reorder my list.

1. Johnny Unitas (he defined the modern QB)

2. Joe Montana (2 minutes left, down by 6, who else would you want behind center?)

3. Otto Graham (no one has approached his champonship run; no one ever will)

4. John Elway (best combination of skills ever)

5. Terry Bradshaw (he does have 4 rings)

6. Roger Staubach (I know, I can't believe I put him behind Bradshaw, but 4 rings outshine 2)

7. Troy Aikman (and, no, Cowboy bias is not in play; this is an objective list)

8. Dan Fouts (often overlooked; perhaps best pure passer ever)

9. Brett Favre (has all the records, but only 1 ring)

10. Dan Marino (his hands are absent the jewelry)

11. Sid Luckman (a Cowboy recognizing a Redskin? is the world coming to an end?)

Most over-rated QB: Broadway Joe Namath.

Most under-rated: Danny White (and, no, its not because I'm a Cowboy fan) & Joe Theisman (and that is certainly not because I'm a Cowboy fan)

Most un-realized potential: Randall Cunningham (meteoric start; forgettable finish)

Who's on your list?

Cowboy Tribute

This lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan takes his hat off (if I wore one) to Brett Favre. Great athlete. Great competitor. Great man. I do take great satisfation, however, in the fact that he never won in Texas Stadium!

Have a wondeful retirement.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Happy Birthday, Doc Watson!

Happy Birthday to Doc Watson, who turns 85 years young, today. For the non-initiated, Doc Watson is a giant in the realms of Bluegrass and folk music, and is a guitar player extraordinaire (especially when you consider the fact that he's blind!). If you haven't heard of him, run to and purchase Three Pickers, a live concert CD/DVD he did a few years ago with Earl Scruggs (of Beverly Hillbillies fame) and Ricky Skaggs. The incomparable Alison Krauss even makes a cameo.

I grew up on Bluegrass music (a cousin even played with Ricky Skaggs), but did not fully appreciate it until the past few years. Now, I'm hooked! And, if you give it a try, I imagine you will be, too.