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