Monday, December 14, 2009

Top Sports Stories of the Decade - 2000s

Here's my list of the top sports stories of the decade that is quickly drawing to a close. I would like to see your lists, too!

  1. The rise and fall of Tiger Woods
  2. Boston Red Sox win 2 World Series
  3. Steroids and Major League Baseball
  4. The dominance of Lance Armstrong & Michael Phelps in their respective sports
  5. The paltry records of the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49er's, Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins & Oakland Raiders
  6. The vast improvement of foreign basketball players and teams
  7. The construction of mega stadiums and sports complexes, especially JerryWorld (a.k.a., Cowboys Stadium)
  8. The growth of NASCAR (even though it seems to be declining a bit)
  9. The success of the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers & Indianapolis Colts
  10. Labor peace in the NFL & MLB

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Things I Miss about the Lubbock of My Childhood

Lubbock, Texas will always be my home, even when my address is hundreds and thousands of miles away. A blog post I authored years ago listed some of my favorite things about Lubbock. In this blog post, I remember a few things I remember about the Lubbock of my childhood, fond memories and small blessings that are no longer enjoyed, but a great part of my childhood.
  1. Ham's Convenience Store at 29th Drive & Slide Road. My friends and I would drive our bikes down to ham's several times a week, and daily during the summer, to buy soda pop and baseball cards. Great times! Sadly, Ham's has stood vacant for many, many years.
  2. The Rocket Ship playground at Maxey Park. The contemporary Legacy Play Village is probably much grander, but I remember so many afternoons playing at Maxey park when I was 4 or 5 years old. That rocket ship was so cool.
  3. The big fountain at South Plains Mall. It was always the highlight of visiting the mall, especially at Christmas time, when Santa Clause sat on his big chair right in front of the fountain.
  4. The cotton fields surrounding the L.C.C. campus. It's all developed now, but all that "open" space made for a great playground when I was a kid.
  5. Jose's Cafe. I can still taste the enchiladas after all these years. Muy Beuno!
  6. The Naval Reserve Center on 4th Street. My dad's office for many years. I waved at the President (G.F.) from the curb outside that building and can remember running through the corridors and playing in the gym.
  7. Furr's Pie Kitchen. Is any explanation needed?
  8. The Traffic Circle on old Avenue Q. I know the grown-ups hated it, but as a little kid I was fascinated by it.
  9. The Golden Horseshoe Drive-In. I still remember watching Caveman and many other movies there from the front seat of my parents Ford LTD.
  10. The old Southside Church of Christ. That's where my family attended until I was 10 years old. I remember a lot of fun times spent with the church.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

We Need Your Help

For over 50 years Manuelito Navajo Children's Home has been providing care for children and families in need. We offer a 24-hour residential care facility for children in need of a good, secure, and wholesome place to call home. We give assistance to single mothers and their children. We operate a school for children preschool through high school. And, we do all this with the assistance and generosity of many churches and individuals throughout the country. We accept no public funding, but rely on many partners to make our ministry possible.

People and churches help us in many ways, but regular financial contributions to our work are the most significant and beneficial to us. Like any organization, business, or family a regular and consistent source of incomes helps us to budget efficiently and plan accordingly. To put it bluntly, when we take a child into our care, we would like to know with fair certainty that we will be able to feed and clothe that child six months from now. To be honest, however, we often find ourselves acting on blind faith, accepting care of the child and hoping the funds will be there at the end of the day.

Manuelito Navajo Children's Home is remotely located, especially in relation to most Churches of Christ, which have traditionally served as the bedrock of our support. At present, we are the westernmost childcare facility sponsored by Churches of Christ. Because of our remoteness and little resource to advertise, we often find ourselves at the end of train when it comes to finding support for our work.

We need your help! Can you become a partner in our work and contribute financially and regularly to our ministry? Can you encourage your congregation to support us monthly? Can you introduce our good work to your friends?

I serve Manuelito Navajo Children's Home as director of development and church relations. I am willing to travel to your town and speak to you and your church about our ministry and the needs we have. If you would like for me to come, please contact me at
Contributions to Manuelito Navajo Children's Home can be mailed to M.N.C.H.; P. O. Box 58; Gallup, NM 87305. You may contact us at (505) 863-5530.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Walk a Little Plainer, Daddy

Walk a little plainer, Daddy,
Said a little boy so frail,
I'm following in your footsteps
And I don't want to fail.
Sometimes your steps are very plain,
Sometimes they are hard to see;
So walk a little plainer, Daddy,
For you are leading me.

I know that once you walked this way,
Many years ago,
And what you did along the way
I'd really like to know,
For sometimes when I am tempted
I don't know what to do;
So walk a little plainer, Daddy,
For I must follow you.

Someday when I'm grown up
You are like I want to be,
Then I will have a little boy
Who will want to follow me,
And I would want to lead him right
And help him to be true;
So walk a little plainer, Daddy,
For we must follow you.

Author Unknown

Saturday, October 10, 2009

All People Shall See It Together

If I was not a preacher I could very easily have been a cartographer. I love maps. Since I was a child, I have collected maps of various sizes, shapes, and types. I own maps of the world, of continents and countries, of states and cities, or forests and mountain ranges, and of national recreation areas and amusement parks. I am fascinated by the shapes of continents and oceans, by the texture of terrain, by the winding borders of countries and states, and by the vastness of the world.

The maps I won represent more than the elements of geography and physical science. Indeed they represent the vast numbers of people that live on this globe. Each corners of the world is unique and special. Each nook and cranny is home to a group of people--nations, races, tribes . . . and families. Cultures vary from border to border, from continent to continent. traditions, heritages, world vies, languages, and the ways of life change as you move across the lands and over the seas. Diversity is the rule of the world; a wonderful blend of color, personality, and thought.

However, the diversity of the world has been offered common ground. The prophet Isaiah declared:

A voice cries out:
"In the wilderness prepare the way of Yahweh,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of Yahweh shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken" (Isaiah 40.3-5).

With these words John the Baptist proclaimed the imminent coming of the Messiah (Luke 3.4-6)--God's anointed One, Jesus Christ--who would bring all faithful men and women into one family, one household, one nation, and one body. Boundaries would be dissolved, differences would be blended, peoples would become a people. One community would be formed from many (Ephesians 2.14-17).

The next time you look at a map, consider the diverse peoples who call our world home. Then, remember the Gospel of peace that calls all faithful men and women into one fellowship.

Friday, October 9, 2009

There He Goes Again!

There he goes again!

These likely were the words of bewilderment uttered by Peter, or Thomas, or Judas, or any one of the Twelve, as Jesus associated himself with yet another outcast. The Rabbi had established a tendency of encountering and even searching out such people . . . lepers, cripples, the blind, the demon-possessed, prostitutes, Gentiles, tax collectors, the poor, and others.

Nothing and no one seemed to hold Jesus back. He did not recoil in horror as a known "woman of the street" wiped his feet with her hair. He did not flee as lepers came toward him--on one such occasion he even reached out his hand to touch the unclean. He did not look with disdain upon a Samaritan woman he met at Jacob's well. He accepted an invitation to dine with a tax collector. He was not horrified when a wild, demon-possessed man charged at him and his disciples as they disembarked from a sea voyage.

Jesus did not avoid contact with people because of physical ailment, or ethnicity, or occupation, or social standing, or morality. Jesus went freely with all sorts of people--people considered to be outcasts, people considered to be unclean, people considered to be sinners, and even people considered to be popular and respectable.

Jesus cared about people, and his mission was not reserved for only the well-to-do or for the righteous. Jesus came to love and to make a difference in the lives of people from all walks of life. And he calls us to do the same. Will you love as he loved?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dinner with the 43rd President

What an evening! I was among the 1,000 friends of Lubbock Christian University who had dinner with President George W. Bush last night. It was great to see so many loyal supporters of L.C.U. and to see so many people who appreciate the presidency of a man who remained firm in his convictions and in his love for country and God during his eight years in office.

My prediction: 50 years from now, historians will look back at the presidency of George W. Bush and rate him as one of the best presidents in modern American history. I hope this esteem comes sooner, but history is only seen clearly from the perspective of distance.

Bush is a good and decent man, and a man of strong faith. His character was on full display last night, and even this enthusiastic supporter of his came away deeply impressed by his humility, engaging personality, intelligence, and humor. His love for country is obvious, and when one hears him unfiltered, it is so clear that his motives and intent as he led this country were pure and selfless. He was not after power, but sought to serve this country for a time and then return quietly to private life. His love of freedom and his desire for all peoples of the world to enjoy freedom is grounded in sincerity and served as the driving force of his diplomatic agenda. And, that is the greatest calling of an American President.

Bush is a man of faith. I was moved greatly by his discussion of faith and spirituality and his commitment to prayer. His policies can be questioned, and I was disappointed by some of the decisions he made during his presidency, but our nation now sorely misses a man of prayer in the Oval Office.

Monday, September 28, 2009

What Was Eden Like?

What was Eden like? I have been to many beautiful places in my life, but I don't imagine any of those places could equal Eden. Eden was truly a paradise: a place of comfort, a place of security, a place of fulfillment, a place of no need. Eden was truly Paradise: a place where God and man were close and at peace.

Then, man wanted more. Adam and Even, though God had given them everything they could ever need, wanted more. You remember the sales pitch: "You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3.4b-5). The pitch worked: "the woman saw . . . that the fruit was a delight to the eyes, and that it was to be desired" (3.6). Adam and Eve had all of their needs provided for--they lived in a paradise created for them, yet they wanted more.

Isn't that desire--the desire for more--a motivation behind sin? That is the temptation that we face daily. We are always looking past what we have to view, and desire, more appealing things. "If I could only have that," we say, "then I could be happy"; this said, despite God's blessings that fill our lives.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Rules for Happy Living

Some rules for happy living . . .
  • Count your blessings, not your troubles.
  • Live one day at a time.
  • Learn to say, "I love you."
  • Learn to be a giver and not a getter.
  • Seek for good in everyone and everything.
  • Pray every day. Reserve time in your day to thank God for his many blessings and ask for his guidance.
  • Do at least one good deed each day.
  • Learn to prioritize; all things have a place in life.
  • Don't let the little things in life bother you.
  • Don't procrastinate.
  • Clean out the trash and fill your life with good thoughts and good deeds.
  • Learn to laugh and learn to cry.
  • Learn to smile--the world will smile with you.
  • Learn to fear nothing or no one.
  • Let go and let God!

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Philippians 4.8).

Saturday, September 26, 2009

How Many Hats Do You Wear?

How many hats do you wear?

Hats were once a very popular clothing accessory, and huts usually served not just as a fashion piece, but also as an identifying mark. A policeman wore a policeman's hat. A baker wore a baker's hat. A cowboy wore a 10-gallon hat. A person of prominence often wore a top hat. That hat you wore identified the role you had assumed.

Most people have many different roles. A person, during the course of life, might be a son or daughter, a spouse, a parent, a business person, a church deacon, a Bible class teacher, a Little League coach, a room mother, a Lion's Club member, a gardener, a handyman, and so on. The roles might be spread out a little, but the chances are you play more than one role at a time. And, if you are like most people, you play many of the roles all at once.

Hopefully, as you play each of your life roles, you remain consistent--consistent to your true self and to your true identity. many make the mistake of altering their personality, beliefs, and values as they go from role to role. The church deacon might also be the unethical businessman. The caring mother might also be the town gossip. A person takes one hat off and puts another on, assuming a different persona.

Don't treat your Christianity as just another role and as just another hat to be discarded and replaced with another. As you go from role to role, allow your faith to remain constant--an ever-present force in your life. Allow it to become the accessory that determines who you are.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Testimony of the Wasp

I was surprised one day to discover approximately 50 wasps flying around in my back yard. I have never been a big fan of wasps and my immediate reaction was to go to the garage and get a can of raid Wasp & Hornet spray. For the next 10 minutes I pitched a furious battle, desperately trying to kill as many wasps as possible. However, much to my dismay my attack was having little affect. The wasps seemed to be multiplying and appeared to be getting angry at my offensive against them. My only response was to retreat into the safety of my home.

I began to inquire about how to get rid of my uninvited guests. No productive solutions were offered, but an interesting explanation of the wasps' behavior was given to me. I was told that the wasps were searching for a warm place in which they might hibernate for the winter. This explanation intrigued me. These wasps, among the smallest and simplest of creatures, had the innate sense to know that winter was coming. By instinct the wasps knew to begin searching for shelter from the harshness of winter.

Many in our world claim that the universe, and the life contained therein, became through a random course of events. In my opinion the simplicity of the intuitive wasp offers protest to this view. The wasp appears to me to be a witness to creative design. A Creator, full of wisdom and insight, was needed to create a creature so simple, yet so complex.

The testimony of the wasp is not alone. Consider the ant that is able to build elaborate underground fortresses, the salmon that is able to swim hundreds of miles downstream from its home only to return to the spot with precision, the German Shepherd that grows in its affection for a human master. Consider the testimony of all that surrounds you each day.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cultivate God's Precious Gift

Loneliness . . . the word is one of the most frightening that I know. Imagine living your life apart from others. Imagine having no contact with anyone. Imagine total isolation. The picture is bleak and dreary, isn't it?

Friendship . . . the word is one of the most comforting that I know. Imagine living your life surrounded by a caring family. Imagine togetherness. Imagine a life filled with meaningful friendships. The picture is pleasing and encouraging, isn't it?

A part of human nature is the desire for companionship. We want, and must, be with others. God made us to be communal creatures. Do you remember the scene in the garden? "It is not good that the man should be alone," declared God. God's solution: he made Eve. God provided for the need of man, he provided companionship. It was God's first gift to man!

The world places a premium on wealth and power to the neglect of cultivating relationships. However, a truly successful person is the one who values relationships and friendships. the statement has been made that if a man is unable to love his fellow man, one is unable to love God.

Take time to cultivate relationships in your life.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Children at MNCH!

In the past couple of months, Manuelito Navajo Children's Home has welcomed seven more children into our care. Four have been placed in our residential program, in the care of our house parents. Three children have to live at MNCH along with their mother. There are three teenagers and four small children in the mix. We have welcomed these children on the faith that God will help us provide for them. To this end, we seek your prayers and assistance.

MNCH accepts no state and federal funding. We operate exclusively by the generosity offered to us by individuals, churches, and businesses. This arrangement offers us the flexibility and freedom to address the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the children placed in our care. But, with the economic difficulties besetting our country, we have been challenged this year in our ability to provide the care that is needed. We need your help!

Can you contribute to our ministry of providing care for children and families in need? Any contribution you can make will be a blessing. You may send contributions to M.N.C.H. at P.O. Box 58; Gallup, NM 87305. I am available to come speak to your congregation or business and share about the work of Manuelito Navajo Children's Home. You may contact me at, or at 806-317-1282.

Have You Felt God's Chisel?

The wise man declares, "The crucible is for silver, the furnace is for gold, but the Lord tests the heart" (Proverbs 17.3).

Have you been to Mount Rushmore? I have only seen it in pictures, but I am in awe of this monumental masterpiece. I am amazed at the craftsmanship of the sculptor, of his skill, and his patience as he carefully chiseled away useless rock to create an object of splendor.

I am amazed at the painter, the carpenter, the gem-cutter . . . the blacksmith. I am amazed at their ability to create an object of beauty and usefulness from something that is ordinary and common.

The crucible is for silver, the furnace is for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.

Transformation is a powerful word and concept. Examples of transformation fill nature. A caterpillar, ugly and slow, is transformed into a beautiful and fleeting butterfly. A small see grows into a towering tree. A spark grows into angry flames.

The crucible is for silver, the furnace is for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.

We often see transformation in the lives of people. The experiences and influences of life, positive and negative, work to mature the immature. Perhaps one would see that past mistakes are not a crippling handicap, but a manifestation of qualities which enable the individual to rise above mistakes and also to lift others. Perhaps the one who was raised in a broken home will grow to become a loving husband and devoted father. Perhaps the one who once hated will be motivated to love because she herself had been loved by God in the midst of her ugliness.

The crucible is for silver, the furnace is for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.

God is often the sculptor chiseling away the worthless and useless, transforming willing people into men and women of faith. Do you remember Abraham? Moses? David? Peter? Paul? These men had imperfections, but God molded them into great men of faith and service.

Have you felt God's chisel? Have you experienced the flames of God's smelter? Has God worked to fashion your life into the work of beauty and use he desires? Have you allowed the hands of the sculptor to shape and fashion your life according to his plan?

The crucible is for silver, the furnace is for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.

Monday, September 14, 2009

What Must His Feet Have Been Like?

To the disciples the moment must have been beyond baffling and incredibly instructive. Kneeling on the floor before them, with a towel and basin of water in hand, Jesus began to wash their feet. He was their Rabbi, their Master, their Lord. One of his stature did not wash feet. It was even beneath the status of a student and disciple. It was a task reserved for the lowliest of household slaves.

Undoubtedly expressing the feelings of the others in the room, Peter protests, "You will never wash my feet!" "You are too important, too respectable," could have been the added rejoinder. But Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me."

Jesus finished his task of washing his disciples' feet and then explained his action to them. "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord--and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you should also do as I have done to you" (John 13.12b-15; NRSV).

Jesus washed his disciples' feet to demonstrate the serving-love that must be a characteristic of the Christian life. We must serve one another. Service requires compassion, giving, friendship, unconditional motive, selflessness, humility, sincerity--in other words, service is a demonstration of love.

Serving others is not always pleasant, nor is it always rewarding. Washing the feet of another is not an enviable task. Peter was a fisherman after all--can you imagine what his feet must have been like? I'm certain that he did not own a pair of rubber waders! Washing feet in the 1st Century was most certainly a demonstration of unconditional, limitless, and selfless service. And, consider the presence of another man in that room as Jesus washed feet: Judas, the man who would betray Jesus. Yet, Jesus washed his feet, too.

So, this day, let us put these words to practice. Offer yourself to the service of another. Exemplify the love of our Lord Jesus.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Few Cartoons

Traditons Do Not Define Baseball . . . Or the Church!

Note: I have been going through some of the bulletin articles I have written over the years. In the next few weeks, I'll be posting a few of the better ones here on my blog. I hope you'll find them worth reading. I published this article on June 22, 1997 in the Fairview Church of Christ bulletin; Childress, Texas.

During the past week history was made. For the first time the clubs of Major League Baseball's National League competed against clubs from the American League in official, in-season games. Since the beginning of the World Series' era in 1903 these match-ups had not occurred during the regular season. Many who identify themselves as baseball purists have cried afoul at the innovation. "The uniqueness of the game is being challenged," said some. "Another of baseball's long-standing traditions has been thrown by the wayside," bemoaned others.

Most certainly, Major League Baseball is a sport with a rich history and one filled with many revered traditions. It is a unique game in that it is both individual- and team-based. The dynamic of a lone batter facing an opposing pitcher and defense is unlike what you will find in any other sport. Young boys (and maybe a few girls, too) grow up knowing the stats, like Roger Maris's 61 homers in 1961, Big Train's 416 lifetime victories, DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, and Nolan's 7 no-hitters. These individual feats, and other such marks, contributed to team success and triumph.

The uniqueness of Baseball is under assault claim the critics of inter-league play. These are the self-appointed guardians of the game who reviled expansion of the Major Leagues, the introduction of divisional play, the designated hitter, and the inclusion of wild card teams in the playoffs. They claim it is the traditions that make baseball great.

These purists are right to an extent. Traditions have enhanced the game's charm. However, traditions can lose their significance over time. Personally, I wish that the Major Leagues would not have expanded beyond the 16 clubs that played during the first half of the 20th Century, but I know that expansion has brought the game closer to millions of fans. I do not like the use of the designated hitter, but I must admit that it adds an element of excitement to the game. (And, writing in 2009, I long for the days when the Red Sox were as the Cubs, in the midst of a decades-long championshipless drought, but grudgingly admit that the rise of the Red Sox Nation since 2003 has been a boon to the sport.)

Traditions do not define Baseball. The essence of the game remains constant, despite the changes that come. As long as a tradition is beneficial to the play and enjoyment of the game it is benefactory, but once it outlives its effectiveness and logic it is outdated and should be modified or discarded. Tradition should not be an impediment toward progress. (Just think, expansion of the Major Leagues has provided many more teams who have taken advantage of the Cubs ineptitude!)

And, now, to a more important point . . .

The church, like any long-standing institution, is filled with traditions. Traditions do not define God's people, they simply can enhance who we are and make us more effective in our mission. However, even church traditions lose their effectiveness and become outdated. As God's people we must continually evaluate our practices, in the light of God's direction, and determine if our traditions make sense in a changed world. All living things change over time--it is the nature of life.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Tomorrow's Way

Another favorite poem, borrowed from an unknown writer.

I know not if tomorrow's way be steep or rough;
But when his hand is guiding me, that is enough.
And so, although the veil has hid tomorrow's way,
I walk with perfect faith and trust through each today.

The love of God has hung a veil around tomorrow
That we may not its beauty see nor trouble borrow.
But oh! tis sweeter far to trust His unseen hand,
And know that all the paths of life His wisdom planned.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Things Undone

A favorite poem. The author was Margaret Sangster.

It isn't the thing you do;
It's the thing you've left undone
Which gives you a bit of heartache
At the setting of the sun--
The tender word forgotten,
The letter you did not write,
The flower you might have sent
Are your haunting ghosts at night.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

All About the Numbers

I have recently moved back to Lubbock, Texas from Gallup, New Mexico. I remain with Manuelito Navajo Children's Home as director of development and church relations. The reasons for the move were twofold: (1) to be nearer my three daughters, who live in Levelland, Texas, 30 miles to the west of Lubbock; and (2) to be more productive and efficient in my work for the Manuelito Navajo Children's Home.

It really is all about the numbers. Much of the funding base for Manuelito Navajo Children's Home comes from Churches of Christ. Consider:
  • The state of New Mexico has 142 congregations of Churches of Christ with a total membership of around 13,000.
  • The state of Arizona has 135 churches with a total membership of around 11,000.
In comparison, area code 806 (which is basically the Texas Panhandle, including Lubbock and Amarillo) has 181 churches with a membership of over 27,000. Add in the rest of Texas and the numbers are 2,114 congregations and 282,000 members. Oklahoma adds 593 churches and nearly 62,000 members.

Being in Lubbock, I am much closer to many of the churches that support our ministry in Gallup, New Mexico. Whereas, from Gallup, a trip to speak to churches on a Sunday would involve hundreds of miles, and many dollars for fuel, food, and lodging, travel from Lubbock to most of the places I go is much simpler and cheaper. It is all about the numbers (and the great blessing of being so much closer to my girls!).

Manuelito Navajo Children's Home exists because of the generosity of many churches and individuals throughout the country. We can not do what we are doing for children in need without the support of so many. Can you help us? Can you help provide a loving and secure home to children who are in need? Can you be a blessing?

I am able to come and speak to your church about the ministry of Manuelito Navajo Children's Home. If you can extend me an invitation, please contact me at (505) 488-3479 or

Monday, August 17, 2009

Children of MNCH: Past & Present

The "children" of Manuelito Navajo Children's Home, past and present, who attended MNCH's 50th Anniversary Celebration on August 14-15. It was a great homecoming.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

You Can Be a Blessing to the Navajo Nation

Five years ago, I knew very little about the Navajo people (Dine') and the vast and beautiful Navajoland (Dine'tah). My education on these matters is still a work in progress, but in these past 5 years I have come to have a great respect and love for the Navajo. I find their history fascinating. I admire their triumphs (Navajo art, in particular, is among the most creative and beautiful of that of any culture in the world). I grieve over their challenges. I am anything but a "bleeding heart," but I am ashamed of the way earlier Americans treated the Navajo and other native peoples.

After five years of living close to the Navajo Nation reservation, I have witnessed firsthand the foolish (and, I will add, racist) policy of generations past of rounding up native peoples and driving them to "reservations." Often, our government placed these peoples on lands that were the poorest and most remote. No walls were built, but once the reservation boundaries were determined (and changed many times, by the way, by the bureaucrats in Washington), little effort was made to teach the indians new skills, or to provide modern infrastructure that would make assimilating into American culture easier. There were some basic and noble efforts made, to be sure, but these were few and far between. Most cruel of all, perhaps, our government brought in alcohol to "pacify" the natives and to quell dissension and revolts. Oh, what great tragedy alcohol has brought to the reservations.

The past cannot be undone, but the present and future can be better, much better. As I live and work among the Navajo, I see a people who love life, who are bright and industrious, who are honest and good-natured. I see a people who, when given half a chance, can excel and do great things. I continually pray that the resources and opportunities needed for continued and accelerated advancement of the Navajo will come. Share this prayer with me.

Of course, my primary interest here is with the children of the Navajo nation, particularly those children who are in crisis, whose families are beyond dysfunction and who are in great need. We at the Manuelito Navajo Children's Home are striving to help these children and families. We need partners in our ministry to enable us to extend our reach and to take more children into our care. Will you help us? Please make a contribution to our cause today.

As you consider this plea, let me share with you some statistics that describe, in some small measure, life on the Navajo reservation:

  • There is 58% unemployment on the Navajo reservation
  • Annual per capita income is around $7,300 (try feeding and housing a family on $7,300 a year!)
  • 32% of house lack plumbing
  • 20% of houses lack electricity
  • 50% of children drop out of school
  • Fewer than 7% of adult Navajos have college degrees
  • 90% of the population is impacted by alcoholism (either personally or through a close family member)
  • The median lifespan among men living on the reservation is 46 years (read this sentence again! . . . that's over 30 years shorter than in the wider American society!)
  • 20% of families are intact; 80% of families are fractured!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mr. D'z

I'm spending the night in Kingman, Arizona. Tomorrow, I have the blessing of sharing the news about Manuelito Navajo Children's Home. Tonight, I indulged in a cheeseburger at Mr. D'z in Kingman . . . Yum! I've made 4 visits to this retro diner this summer, and each visit has been superb.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What Is a Home?

(I found this wonderful statement in a 40-year old publication of the Manuelito Navajo Children's Home. It was authored by Ernestine Schuman-Heink.)

What is a home?

A roof to keep out the rain? Four walls to keep out the wind; floors to keep out the cold? Yes, but home is more than that.

It is the laughter of children, the song of a mother, the strength of a father. Warmth of loving hearts, light from happy eyes, kindness, loyalty, comradeship.

Home is first school and first church of young ones, where they learn what is right, what is good, and what is kind. Where they go for comfort when they are hurt or sick. Where joy is shared and sorrow eased. Where fathers and mothers are respected and loved. Where children are wanted. Where the simplest food is good enough for kings because it is earned. Where money is not so important as loving kindness. Where even the teakettle sings from happiness.
That is home. God bless it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Promoting Harmony

Note: I published this article on my blog back in 2007, but tumbled across it again this morning. It is worthy of a reprinting. It is entitled, "Excellent Rules to Promote Harmony Among Church Members." I am not certain of the author, and it is obviously quite dated (considering the language), but the points are good.

  1. To remember that we are all subject to failings of one kind or another.
  2. To bear with--and not magnify--each other's infirmities.
  3. To pray for one another in our social meetings, and particularly in private.
  4. To avoid going from house to house, for the purpose of bearing news and interfering with other people's business.
  5. Always turn a deaf ear to any slanderous report and to lay no charge against any person until well founded.
  6. If a member be in fault, tell him of it in private, before it is mentioned to others.
  7. To watch against the shyness of each other and put the best construction on any action that has the appearance of opposition or resentment.
  8. To observe the just rules of Solomon--that is, to leave off contention before it is meddled with.
  9. If a member has offended, to consider how Godlike it is to forgive, and how unlike a Christian it is to seek revenge.
  10. Remember that it is always a giant artifice of the devil to promote distance and animosities among members of the church; and we should therefore watch against everything that furthers this end.
  11. To consider how much more good we can do in the world at large, and in the church in particular, when we are all united in love, than we could do when acting alone, and indulging in a contrary spirit.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

2009 Milestones

Forty years have passed since man first stepped foot on the moon. I watched various retrospectives that aired over the past few days and was very moved by the remembrances. What a great moment in history that was, rivaled by few others

I got to thinking . . . what other notable anniversaries are happening in 2009?

  • King Henry VIII was crowned king of England in 1509 . . . 500 years ago.
  • George Washington was married to Martha Custis in 1759 . . . 250 years ago.
  • Robert Fulton obtained a patent for the steamboat in 1809 . . . 200 years ago.
  • Oregon became the 33rd U.S. state in 1859 . . . 150 years ago.
  • Ernest Shackleton became the first to reach the South Pole in 1909 . . . 100 years ago.
  • Robert Peary became the first to reach the North Pole in 1909 . . . 100 years ago.
  • The Barbie Doll was introduced in 1959 . . . 50 years ago.
  • Hawaii became the 50th U.S. state in 1959 . . . 50 years ago.

And, if they had lived to 2009, these people would have celebrated some special birthdays:

  • John Calvin (500 years)
  • William Wilberforce (250 years)
  • Abraham Lincoln (200 years)
  • Charles Darwin (200 years)
  • Barry Goldwater (100 years)

And, 2009 is a special milestone year for me personally.

  • My parents celebrated 40 years of marriage on July 4.
  • Manuelito Navajo Children's Home (my employer) will celebrate 50 years of operation on August 15.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Streak Ends at 32

32 summers! For the past 32 summers I spent at least one week at a Christian youth camp. During many of those summers it was several weeks spent at camp. This summer, the streak has come to an end.

Last September, I decided that I needed a break from summer camp, a sabbatical of sorts. I wasn't burned out on camping, I just needed to recharge my batteries a bit. So, I resigned as one of the directors at Four Corners Encampment in Colorado and decided that the summer of 2009 would be camp free.

I've done o-kay with the decision up until this week. This is the week I'm usually cramming to get everything ready for my camp session on the Dolores River . . . they'll start on Sunday without me. I imagine that by Wednesday, when I am sitting in the 100+ degree heat in Lubbock, Texas, I will be missing the cool Rocky Mountain air something terrible . . . and, more than that, all of the fun of camp.

Christian summer camping has been such a large and important part of my life. I still remember the day I showed up at Boiling Springs Youth Camp near Woodward, Oklahoma as a 7-year old first-time camper. My grandparents were counselors and teachers at that camp and for 5 summers it was the highlight of my year. BSYC began my love affair with everything "camp" . . . a passion that would grow as I spent time at Camp Blue Haven, Black Mesa Bible Camp, White River Youth Camp, Camp Followin', Pine Springs Youth Camp, Christian Camp of the Rockies, Quartz Mountain Christian Camp, and Four Corners Encampment.

I'm already planning on starting a new camping streak in 2010. Anybody need a camp teacher, counselor . . . potwasher??? I come cheap.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Another Move

In less than a month from now I will be making another move. I'm moving back to Lubbock, Texas. I will continue my public relations and development work for Manuelito Navajo Children's Home, but will be living in Lubbock. The MNCH board has been gracious to allow me this living arrangement, a situation that will benefit both the Home and myself.

Of first benefit: I will be much closer to my three beautiful daughters (30 miles as opposed to 470). The past two years of being so far apart from them has been difficult. The choice to be separated by such a large distance was neither mine nor theirs, and we have tried to make the best of it, but I need to be closer to them, and the mechanics for this have now become possible.

Of second benefit: my travel for MNCH will be made much easier and cost-effective. Gallup, New Mexico, where MNCH is based is a rather isolated place, especially in relation to the churches that provide our primary basis for support. Most of my travel for the Home takes me east into Texas and other states, places where Churches of Christ are strongest and most numerous. From Lubbock, trips to speak to churches about MNCH can be made into day trips and weekend excursions, whereas now, from Gallup, they are often 2-3 week journeys.

So, it seems, this new arrangement will be a best of both worlds for myself and MNCH. Although, I absolutely love living in Gallup and being apart of the daily life here at MNCH and with the Gallup Church of Christ. I will be returning fairly often (once a month, or so), but those visits will not be the same as living here. However, one of the lessons I've learned in life is that life is filled with transitions and changes. Nothing ever really remains the same.

I'm still looking for an apartment or small house/duplex to rent in Lubbock. I'm looking for something that is rather modest with enough space to accommodate myself and my daughters . . . and enough space for my books! I am a recovering preacher, after all, and my library is one of the few precious possessions I have. I'll also be working from home, so I need to accommodate an office.

And, now, I begin the work of packing up my house here in Gallup. I've done this many times in my life, too many times. Anybody want to help? :-)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Red River Family Encampment

I attended the Red River River Family Encampment this past week. It was my first time to be there, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. I made a number of good conatcts for Manuelito Navajo Children's Home. I was blessed to see many old and dear friends and to meet many new people. The classes, speakers, and periods of worship were great. I look forward to returning next summer.

This was the 23rd year for RRFE. During those first 22 years, I had heard many good things about the encampment and had always wanted to attend, but something always seemed to preclude my going. What a blessing it was to finally be able to go.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


The two fueling stations whose signs are shown below are seperated by a mere 19 mile stretch of Interstate 40 . . . and, more significantly, the Colorado River. One station is in California. One is in Arizona. Can you tell which is where? (By the way, I took both photos on Monday.)

Monday, June 8, 2009

A View Worth $30.75?

I took some photos at Redondo Beach, California today. They cost me $30.75.

Actually, the photos were free for the taking. Parking my car cost $30.75. The parking spot cost 75 cents; the parking ticket cost 30 dollars!

I had parked my car and inserted three quarters into the parking meter. I walked down to the beach and took some photos and spent a few moments enjoying the surf. I came back to my car and discovered a parking ticket on my windshield. After a couple of moments of bewilderment, I figured it out: I had paid the wrong meter. I looked for the meter-maid, but to no avail. It seems I am stuck with a $30 parking ticket.

The photos, while good in my estimation, are not worth $30.75, but perhaps the lesson learned will be.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Full Moon

Full moon over Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
The photo is grainy, but I like it.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Old Dogs Learn New Tricks

I love maps. I always have. One of the favorite things I had as a child was a Rand McNally world atlas. I spent hours upon hours flipping through the pages. I studied each mach intently. I found the lists and reference materials fascinating. When other kids would spend art class drawing pictures of cars or scenes of family life, I would draw maps.

I drive a lot, and I've got a thick stack of laminated Rand McNally state maps to guide me on my way. I've often been asked, "Why don't you get a GPS locator for your car?" Until a few days ago, my standard response was, "I'm old fashioned. I like my maps." But, last week, my dad gave me his old Garmin. I used it for the first time today as I drove from Gallup to Kingman, Arizona. For much of the drive, the monotone and monotonous voice of the Garmin guide was unneeded (and slightly annoying . . . especially when I wouldn't follow "her" instructions to a tee). But, once I got to Kingman and had to find the Desert Church of Christ building, I discovered the real value of a GPS locator. My Garmin guide drove me right to the building. And, I'm looking forward to tomorrow, when "she" will guide me through the streets of Las Vegas.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Another Kindergarten Graduate

Autumn is my third daughter to graduate from Kindergarten. They grow up way too fast.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Lessons Learned this Week

  1. No matter how many lemons you dig out of your iced tea and pile on the table, the waitress at Denny's is still going to bring you a filled glass with a lemon perched on top.

  2. I've crossed the entire width of New Mexico 5 times in the past 8 days (with a 6th trip tomorrow) . . . I discover something new each trip . . . and the beauty of New Mexico is reaffirmed each trip.

  3. While fuel prices have been steadily climbing, the situation is MUCH better than it was a year ago ($2.50 vs. $4.10).

  4. I ADORE my three daughters and absolutely LOVE spending time with them (a reinforcement of an earlier lesson).

  5. Nothing much beats a plate of spaghetti and a slice of pepperoni pizza at Fazoli's.

  6. I miss preaching for a small church (another reinforcement).
  7. Try on the shoes before you bring them home from the store.

  8. My music tastes keep evolving.

  9. God is really good! (Yet another reinforced lesson!)
  10. Finally, think before acting. And, acting on emotion (rage) rarely turns out positively. Thank you for the small voice that said "Stop!"

(Note: the photo above is not mine. Not sure who took it, but I love it!)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wolf Creek Pass

Some people work behind a desk, or on the seat of a tractor . . . I, on the other hand, have the blessing of "working" in places like this. As I have traveled around the country on behalf of Manuelito Navajo Children's Home, I have seen so many beautiful places. Wolf Creek Pass is one of the prettiest . . . and has been on my favorite's list for many years.

Enjoy these pictures I took on Monday. I especially like the "heart-shaped" rock.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My View Today

Driving north toward Blanca Peak, south-central Colorado.

Cimarron River, east of Eagle Nest, New Mexico

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Have You Seen This Bird?

I'm curious. Can anyone tell me what kind of bird this is? I saw it yesterday. It was perched in this tree on the shore of Luna Lake in far-eastern Arizona. It made a rather unusual shrill cry, much louder than its size would suggest.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Geronimo's Land

The Apache Chieftan Geronimo was born on the far side of this mountain in 1820. This is a view of Mogollon Baldy Peak (looking east) in the Gila National Wilderness, southwestern New Mexico.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Divine-Human Venture

All scripture is God-breathed . . . .

Did you know that 8 billion Bibles have been printed since 1816? Over 100 million Bibles are being printed each year. Over 90% of the world's written languages now have at least a portion of the Bible in print. There are an average of 4 Bibles in every house in America.

I'll admit it, my view is biased. I believe without hesitation in the divine nature of the Bible. I believe the apostle Paul when he declared, "All Scripture is God-breathed" (2 Timothy 3.16). I am convinced in the voracity of Peter's words, when he said, "prophecy never had its origin in the will of men, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1.21). The words of the Psalmist are true: God's Word is "more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb" (Psalm 19.10).

What amazes me about the Bible is that it is the product of the joint labor of God and man.

There is a great diversity in the way in which the books of the Bible were written. Moses, as he presented a written copy of the Ten Commandments to the Israelites, declared that he had written the words God spoke, and the people declared in response, "We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey" (Exodus 24.7). Jeremiah, and other prophets, spoke of the word of the Lord coming to them, and the implication is that they then preserved those words in writing. Luke doesn't refer to dictation as he explained his writing technique to Theophilus, his intended audience; instead, he spoke of "having carefully investigated everything," so that he could "write an orderly account" (Luke 1.3). Paul interjected "opinion" (actually, discerning judgment) alongside instruction he had received from the Lord (1 Corinthians 7.10-12, 25-26, 40). The apostle John explained that the Lord told him, "Write on a scroll what you see" (Revelation 1.11), implying a certain amount of subjectivity in preserving in writing a description of the scenes witnessed in his ecstasy. And, then there's the examples of so many psalmists who cried out to God, not in rote ritual, but in honest, heartfelt expressions, such as the one who cried out in vindictiveness, "O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us--he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks" (Psalm 137.8-9).

What do these references show us? Could it be that the image of a Bible writer (like Moses, David, Paul, or John) huddled in a corner, entranced, and diligently writing down words as they are supplied by the Spirit is rather simplistic? There are instances of dictation, to be certain. Moses, as he was on top of Sinai, wasn't given much of a freehand, it would seem. And the prophets spoke as they were directed by God to speak. But, it would seem, many of the human writers of Scripture had a freehand, to some extent. Or, perhaps it would be better said, many authors were enlightened to write, blessed with certain opportunities and experiences, blessed with being in the right place at the right time, blessed with spiritual insight, and blessed with capacities of remembrance or understanding, but with the freedom to express themselves in words that were their own. But, before you think I'm saying more than I'm saying, these authors, freehand aside, were directed by God. God, in his infinite wisdom and ability molded together the divine and human, and the timeless Bible is the product.

God could have done things differently. He could have tossed down the completed Bible from heaven's presses above to the earth below. He could have stamped each copy with his own autograph. But, he didn't do this. He used men (and perhaps a few women; remember, Deborah, and her song?). Consider this: God spoke to mankind through the words of men. How intimate! And, not without precedent. John, one of those writers of Scripture, said, "And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known" (John 1.14, 18).

Arizona State Capitol

The Arizona State Capitol is a beautiful and impressive building, but there's not a good angle from which to photograph it. These pics are the best I could do.

The anchor from the U.S.S. Arizona

A view of the bronze dome of the Capitol, with the mast of the U.S.S. Arizona in the foreground.