Monday, December 31, 2007

Something to think about as the New Year approaches . . .

One of our church members sent me the following in an email. It is a good thought as we prepare for the New Year which will arive tonight at midnight. I do not know the original author, so if you do, please let me know so I can give/acknowledge credit.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

I wonder what would happen if we treated our Bibles like we treat our cell phones?

What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?

What if we flipped through it several time a day?

What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?

What if we used it to receive messages from the text?

What if we treated it like we couldn't live without it?

What if we gave it to Kids as gifts?

What if we used it when we traveled?

What if we used it in case of emergency?

This is something to make you go .... hmm...where is my Bible?

Oh, and one more thing. Unlike our cell phone, we don't have to worry about our Bible being disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill.

Makes you stop and think 'where are my priorities'?

And no dropped calls!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

All I wanted for Christmas was . . . time . . .

As our lunch guests were leaving our house on Christmas Day, we noticed that our yard was flooded.

It is an interesting thing to see your yard flooded, on a dry Christmas Day!

Turns out that our water main is very close to our big live oak in the front yard . . . and the pipe was crushed.

So, on Christmas afternoon, we started digging until dark, trying to trace back to the leak in the pipe from where the water was bubbling up in the yard.

The next day, 12/26, my son-in-law came over and we dug the entire day . . . finally realizing the pipe was under the tree, so there was no hope of repairing it.

Before I could call someone to cut the tree down, my neighbor suggested I just put in a new water line, and re-route it around the tree.

I like my neighbor . . . a lot.

Today, we dug the new line . . . finding that very large roots love to live only inches from the yard surface . . . but finally this evening, we have water. Since we did all the digging, I only needed a plumber for less than an hour.

I really made a deal of not wanting Christmas gifts this year. All I wanted was time with my family. Boy, I sure got it! Turns out, it was actually kind of fun working with my wife, son-in-law and daughter. You talk and joke a lot when working together. And . . . we survived! My wife and I only ended up only staying in a motel one night . . . because we really needed a hot shower.

When the clerk at the hotel heard out story . . . he gave us two complimentary coupons for a free buffet breakfast.

I highly recommend the Hilton Garden Inn in Irving, TX, located just east of the south entrace to DFW airport.

I'm doing better than I deserve!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas to all . . .

This is my 50th Christmas . . . the big "5-0".

This is the first Christmas where I really do hope that no one gives me a present, because . . .

I am already a very rich man!

I have the love of a wife, who for 31 years has been with me through thick and thin, whose face I wake up to every morning. Knowing her face is the first thing I will see tomorrow morning gets me excited for the new day.

I have two daughters who are each loving enough to give me a second chance at being a dad, because the combination of illness and personal choice got in the the way of my being a good dad the 1st time around.

I have a great son-in-law, a hard worker who wants to make a good name for himself. I want to go fishing and hunting with him, and hope that he and I both will decide that doing so together is very important.

I have a little grand-daughter, and even though I don't get to see her very often, I think of her, and I want to spoil her rotten. Christmas can't come soon enough so I can see every single one of her new toys and clothes, just to see the twinkle in her eye.

I have two very rich and long-time friendships with Joe and Floyd. The presence of these two "brothers" in my life have been nothing short of an "industrial strength" blessing. There are times when you need a friend, and I can always count on these two to be there for me.

I have a God, who loved me so much . . . He died for me! I better understand each day what love is about . . . as I draw closer to my God who loves me with all His heart. And because of this love, and growing more into understanding my purpose in His kingdom . . . I am close to a decision about something I think I was meant to do . . . but have shyed away from for various reasons . . . mostly because of a lack of faith. More to come on what this is all about.

I am a very, very, very rich man. There isn't a thing in the world I really want or need.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

On a far more happier note . . .

If you were not in worship at FUMC-Grapevine on Sunday, Dec. 16th, you missed the premier performace of All Strung Out, the musical group that has grown out of our First Church Guitars ministry.

I am not sure any of us intended it, but we seem to be oriented at the present time toward being a gospel blue-grass group. We will see what the future unfolds.

My thanks to Bill, Alan, Russ, Richard, Gary, Jeff, and Stu for playing Christmas carols before the 8:50, 10:10 and 11:15 am services, as well as joining with me to provide special music during the 8:50 and 10:10 am services. They all did a great job, and seemed to injoy themselves very much.

Playing with confidence born through lots of rehearsal is really a great feeling!

For information about possibly booking All Strung Out for your next party, gathering, or worship service, please give me a call.

I'm better than I deserve! That's a good thing! ><>

Oh . . . on another health note . . .

I got my new CPAP machine and mask yesterday morning. Oh, I slept very well last night. Got up at 6 PM, showered and got ready for the day . . . and have hit the ground running every since.

The most common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) include:

-Excessive daytime sleepiness, which is falling asleep when you normally should not, such as while you are eating, talking, or driving.

-Waking with an unrefreshed feeling after sleep, having problems with memory and concentration, feeling tired, and experiencing personality changes.

-Morning or night headaches. About half of all people with sleep apnea report headaches.

-Heartburn or a sour taste in the mouth at night.

-Swelling of the legs if you are obese.

-Getting up during the night to urinate (nocturia).

-Sweating and chest pain while you are sleeping.

Symptoms of sleep apnea that others may notice include:

-Episodes of not breathing (apnea), which may occur as few as 5 times an hour (mild apnea) to more than 50 times an hour (severe apnea). How many episodes you have a night determines the severity of your apnea.

-Loud snoring. Almost all people who have sleep apnea snore, but not all people who snore have sleep apnea.

-Restless tossing and turning during sleep.

-Nighttime choking or gasping spells.


I knew I was not resting well, and my memory and concentration really suffered. My lack of concentration this past year is what prompted me to go talk to my doctor. What has changed most in my life . . . through treatment for sleep apnea, has been the character change. I used to not be very nice . . . to anyone. Thank God those days are gone.

In other words, untreated sleep apnea will keep you from being the person you are supposed to be . . . and it will rob you of the peace, joy and happiness that comes from life, family and work.

If you know you have any of these symptoms . . . or others have told you that you have them . . . then please discuss it with your primary physician.

I did, for a 2nd time, and I am doing better than I deserve! That's a good thing! ><>

Goodbye . . . Dan Fogelberg

Singer/songwriter Dan Fogelberg died in the early morning on Sunday, December 16th. His song, Leader of the Band, is one of my top 5 favorite songs.

Back in the middle 70's, I discovered the music of Dan Fogelberg, John Denver, Gordon Lightfoot and Jim Croce . . . all who wrote such wonderful music, with such great lyrics. Each of them featured acousitc guitar in their muisc. Although I love electric guitar, there is just something hauntingly beautiful about acoustic guitar, that I still appreciate.

I am a romantic at heart, and all four of these men wrote songs that touched my heart where ever I was in my life. I sing songs by Dan, John and Gordon, and will be learning JIm's song "Operator" in the near future.

Dan, John and Jim all died before their time. Gordon has recovered from serious illness and is touring again on a limited schedule. I knew in my heart that all four of them had a connection to life and living that I have worked my entire life to better understand and appreciate. I think I've tried too hard. Music is such a simple thing, really. So tender, so comforting, so appealing to the spiritual fire in our souls.

But music is much more than notes on a musical scale. It is most often a message, that for some reason can't be stated with words alone. Music is often a cry for action . . . because it translates the emotion that words themselves sometimes fail to share. Music is the core of my soul . . . and I know now in where and who I am, that music was supposed to have been my life purpose.

But I yeilded to satisfying the wishes of others instead. How I yearn for a 2nd chance that will never come my way again.

Dan died of the complications from severe prostate cancer.

Guys . . . if you are 50 or over . . . get checked. Now!

The leader of the band is tired, and his eyes are growing old . . .
But his blood runs through my instrument, and his song is in my soul . . .

I'm sad these days . . . but I am better than I deserve. ><>

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

If you are considering learning to play the guitar . . .

I will make recommendations about guitars to purchase . . . but that decision depends on so much . . . especially the cost.

However, I have been very impressed with the Fretlight 400 series Strat I recently received. It needs a set up to my specifications, but it playes pretty well out-of-the-box. The software loaded very easily, and yes, the chords and notes light up on the frets. It is pretty cool.

I also ordered some additional software from them today, and the downloads were sent to me in a matter of minutes. I now have computer catalog of over 5,000 guitar chords!!! I will settle for being able to play 100 of them in my lifetime. If you want to practice scales . . . click the right link and . . . the entire scale pattern based on the root note of your choice is lite up on the frets of the guitar.

The customer service from the company is very good. I used the customer service chat line twice today . . . both of my concerns/questions were addressed ASAP.

Check out the Fretlight Guitar by clicking here. It costs more than I usually recommend spending if you are just starting out . . . but it is worth your consideration.

I'm better than I deserve! That's a good thing. ><>

Update on doctor's visit . . .

Nothing bad to report . . . other than I now have "Severe" sleep apnea. Will be getting a new CPAP machine with all the fixin's, and with a new setting for the air pressure. Should get it this week I hope, I hope, I hope, I hope, I hope.

I am very impressed with the doctor, staff and facilities. I feel I am in good hands, and the loss of focus and increased fatigue I have been experiencing will soon be a thing of the past!

I'm better than I deserve! That's a good thing! ><>

Monday, December 10, 2007

A letter from Jesus

My friend, Mark Winter, has a good blog article about our reactions to the political correctness of Christmas . . .

Check it out "A Letter to Jesus" here.

I'm better than I deserve! That's a good thing. ><>

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The doctor's office called . . .

My appointment with the doctor to go over the results of my sleep study is this Tuesday morning, which means I have to miss a staff event I really wanted to attend. We have a great staff here, good friends and good people, one and all.

But, I really want to start sleeping better. And hopefully, after next Tuesday, that will start to happen.

I'm better than I deserve! That's a good thing. ><>

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Go "Elf" yourself . . .

One of my fellow church staff discovered this site . . . just in time for the holidays!

You use pictures of family and friends . . . and then enjoy.

My personal suggestion . . . don't use pictures of people who own guns.

I'm better than I deserve! That's a good thing. ><>
I just wouldn't know what else to add top this.


I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Monday, December 3, 2007

Check out John Battern's "Out-the-Door' blog

Just finished a wonderful phone conversation with Rev. John Battern from Iowa. Check out his blog when you have time.

I'm better than I deserve! That's a good thing. ><>

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Sleep study results . . .

For those who know, I participated in a sleep study this past week. It was my 2nd in the past 4 years or so. Seems this past year I have been waking up a lot during the night. As a result, I have been fatigued a bit more than normal.

And when I am fatigued . . . I can get really "grouchy!"

When I sleep as I should, I don't really get fatigued, unless I have been on my feet most of the day.

When I get my sleep . . . I am usually a really nice guy!

We think my waking up may be a mechanical problem with my CPAP machine. It has quite a few hours of use on it. The sleep study was required in order for me to be perscribed a new one.

I will get the report from the doctor in 7-10 days. I would appreciate prayers that a new machine and mask will fix the situation, as well as help jump start my metabolism to a more normal level.

I'm better than I deserve! That's a good thing. ><>

On the 1st Sunday of Advent, my true love gave to me . . .

Snappy title, huh? I bet it got your attention.

Actually, I just wanted to write about the weather.

It was in the 70's this 1st Sunday of Advent. And humid to boot!

And we had A/C problems in the Founder's Chapel and Sanctuary.

Well, in December, aren't we supposed to have the heaters on . . . even in Texas???

I have a list of things I want to ask God when I get to heaven. Why it was 70 degrees today is now a question on that list.

I'm better than I deserve! That's a good thing. ><>

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Some sort of renewal may be coming . . . (views expressed are my own)

Ahem!

I been doing some reading, phone calling, and talking to folks face-to-face about some of the stuff we've started to hear . . . about some actual renewal of the UMC being led by the Council of Bishops.

And I have to say . . . I like what I am hearing. Cautiously so . . . but it is starting to sound promising. Some of the new and younger bishops, whose hearts are for evangelism and not administration, are speaking up, and following up what they are saying with some constructive ideas and suggestions.

My personal suggestions for renewal of the UMC, offered in love and in the hope for us to return again to the values of the Wesley's, have always been the following, similar to what many of you have suggested when we talk at district and conference gatherings:

1) Eliminate all denominational level program commissions, boards and agencies. Replace these groups with similar but leaner and meaner teams in each jurisdiction, whose focus would be narrower and based on more easily recognizable geographic needs. In my opinion, this would provide for better stewardship, with more funds going to the ministries that need them.

2) Replace the title "District Superintendent" with the older title of "Presiding Elder". Require that 80+% of their efforts be concentrated on helping and equipping the pastors and churches in their districts to become more effective. And yes, holding us pastors accountable is part of that.

I believe in my heart that these two suggestions alone would bring about some good.

3) Place our focus again on people, and not on structure. All that we see and do needs to be focused and viewed through a Wesleyan theological lens. Fringe groups who for years have caused division in our church, along with I don't know how many needless and completely fruitless programs, can either accept that we are going to return to taking the gospel to the people, building schools, churches, help centers, and engaging societal sins head on . . . or they can leave and start their own church.

From what I am hearing . . . each of these suggestions, in part or in whole, are being considered. I think eliminating commissions would need General Conference approval, but the other two could occur through leadership of the bishops.

The question will be this . . . how important is power to those who now have it, or want it . . . and will they surrender their needs for the needs of the Kingdom?

I'm better than I deserve! That's a good thing. ><>

Fretlight Guitars

Fretlight Guitars has a neat idea and concept. Might actually be what a lot of us novice guitarists need to "turn the corner" on our playing.

Check it out.

I'm better than I deserve! That's a good thing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Holiday languages . . .

We were talking about the "Texas translation" of cetain words relating to food and holidays.

In Texas . . . we don't say "Pecan" . . . most us say "Be-con."

At least I do.

And it may be spelled "Pumpkin" . . . but most of us 'true" Texans prounce it at "Punkin".

I don't know what we do with the missing "m" and "p".

Sure hope we have some "Be-con" pie and "Punkin" pie for Christmas.

Don't ask me what we call "fruitcake." You don't want to know.

I'm doing better than I deserve! And that's a good thing. ><>

Monday, November 26, 2007

Now, I'm ready for Advent . . .

Except for part of an apple pie that I bought yesterday, all the Thanksgiving leftovers are all gone. Mighty fine eating this year. Turkey, ham, dressing, mashed potatoes, brocolli-rice casserole, mint carrots, pecan and pumpkin pie, and pumpkin-gingerbread trifle.

Went to the 10:10 AM worship service at the church yesterday, and sat in the congregation next to my wife for the first time in a very long while. I was able to worship as a participant instead of being one of the leaders. I did miss doing the children's time.

Spent some time talking to a few relatives and friends on the phone, people I haven't talked to in a while. Catching up and stuff.

The Christmas Tree is up, along with other "inside" house Christmas decorations. I will probably put up the Christmas lights and star on the outside of the house next weekend.

I got a lot of yard and housework done before our Thanksgiving "cold snap" arrived in our area on Thursday. The yard and house look real good.

But most importantly . . . I've been away from my office for 8 days. And as a result, I am ready for Advent.

From now until Christmas Day, there will be very little, if any time off. In the past, when I didn't take Thanksgiving Week off, I would struggle, both physically and emotionally, to make it through to Christmas. This season is very demanding on everyone, but especially on pastors. It is the busiest time of the year at our churches with all the special services to plan and attend, along with numerous Christmas parties. But it is also a busier than normal time for our familes,as we prepare for Christmas Day.

But now, I am rested, and I am ready. I will be able to fully particpate in the Advent journey that leads us to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I will have everything in its proper perpective . . . and I won't be the "Grinch" I have sometimes been in the past.

I'm better than I deserve. That's a good thing! ><>

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ahhhh, it's time for Thanksgiving . . .

Vacation time starts tomorrow. For several years now, I've been able to take most of Thanksgiving Week off. It's a great time for a break. With Advent just around the corner, this is my last break away from work until the middle of Spring.

A little garden work, getting flower beds ready by trimming down seasonal plants and putting out a bunch of mulch. Here in Texas, this week may be the last time for lawn mowing. That means draining out gas from the lawn mower and tiller. Time to store them until early spring.

There is a starkness to winter that I enjoy. A time for things to go dormant, for greens to be replaced with browns . . . a time for nature to go-to-sleep for a while.

This will be a week where I will have time to bake home-made muffins each morning, and help get the house ready for Thanksgiving company. This will be a week where I have time to do some "physical work" with my hands. May even ride the mountain bike a few times.

I don't want to sit much this week. I want to fiddle with lawn mover engines, oven thermostats, washing machine timers . . . anything that lets me have a reason to go to the hardware store.

Advent is going to be so busy. Our church is growing, and we anticipate record crowds for our annual Choir Candelighthing Service and later for Christmas Eve services (at 5 PM, 7 PM, and 9 PM). I want to accomplish as many "need to do's" this week as I can. I need to do this, because my focus in December will be our church, and getting ready for Advent and Christmas Day.

It is also a time to break in the new 2008 Planner Pad, and begin planning in earnest for the next quarter. It has been a fruitful year of ministry . . . of friendships . . . for family. This week will also be a time give thanks, but also a time to do some "long range" visioning, to dream about a preferred future . . . God's future.

It's going to be a good week.

I'm better than I deserve! That's a good thing.

Rick ><>

Thursday, November 15, 2007

More on To-Do Lists

As I have spent a day or two thinking about it . . . I think I have, in fact, several to-do lists. More than I thought I did. And I do think they reveal some things about me . . . such as current interests, and what I spend my spare time thinking about and doing. I hope it reveals that I am a somewhat organized person . . . who still makes time for the whimsical.

1) I have a to-do list for my daughter's wedding. And it keeps getting longer and longer. But I am glad I have it . . . especially since it is organized by deadline dates.

2) I have a "fish I want to catch" list. It is decently long, but there are quite a few types of fish, both fresh and salt water, that I have yet to catch.

3) I have a "guitars I want to own" list. This one isn't so long anymore. All that is really left on the list is a good Fender Telecaster or a G&L Telecaster.

4) I have a "songs I want to learn to sing and play" list. It is the longest list I have. For every song I learn to sing and play on guitar, I add another five to the list.

5) I have a "places I want to take a vacation" list. Seems as I get older, vacations are becoming more and more important to me. My list does reveal that I don't like to travel that far to get to a vacation destination.

6) I have a "learn to grow grapes and make wine" list. I have drawn the plans to plant 5 rows of grapes in my back yard. Need to grow the grapes before I make the wine!

7) I have a "things I wish I had done" list. But then, most of us have a similar list, don't we?

8) I have a "things I need to do around the house" list. But again, so do most of you!

And yes, I do have a "what I would like to do and accomplish in ministry" list. It is quite long, but in truth, most of it is about my making a name for myself verses yeilding to God's call and will. That list I will be spending some time working on. I will write about it later. Near the top is my wanting to go to Kenya on a mission trip in 2009.

No doubt I have quite a few more lists. I think I am going to purchase the book. Interesting subject.

What To-Do lists do you have?

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

To-Do-List blog . . .

Check out Sasha Cagen's To-Do-List Blog.

Funny thing to consider . . . what do my daily "to-do" lists reveal about me?

I think I will make sure and shred mine at the end of every day!

Give this blog a read. I am going to go look at the book at Barnes & Noble. Maybe I will buy it. Will let you know.

To-Do lists I have considered creating:

-Songs I want to play on the guitar before I die.
-Things I want to accomplish as a pastor before I retire . . . or die.
-Fish I want to catch before I die.
-Diseases I do not want to catch or die from.

I am sure I can think of a few more!

Fascinating to think about.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Monday, November 12, 2007

Thank you for your time . . .

Jeff Murphy is one of the guys in our church . . . loves to hunt and play the guitar. He sent me this story. I really would like to find out who the author is . . . so if you know, could you pass on the info to me.

This is the type stuff I've been finding out about in my life the last 3-4 years. Hope you see wisom the following words.

It had been some time since Jack had seen the old man. College, girls, career, and life itself got in the way. In fact, Jack moved clear across the country in pursuit of his dreams. There, in the rush of his busy life, Jack had little time to think about the past and often no time to spend with his wife and son. He was working on his future, and nothing could stop him.

Over the phone, his mother told him, "Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday."

Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days.

"Jack, did you hear me?"

"Oh, sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It's been so long since I thought of him. I'm sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago," Jack said."

"Well, he didn't forget you. Every time I saw him he'd ask how you were doing. He'd reminisce about the many days you spent over 'his side of the fence' as he put it," Mom told him.

"I loved that old house he lived in," Jack said.

"You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man's influence in your life," she said.

"He's the one who taught me carpentry," he said. "I wouldn't be in this business if it weren't for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important ... Mom, I'll be there for the funeral," Jack said.

As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown. Mr. Belser's funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away.

The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time.

Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time. The house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture .... Jack stopped suddenly."

What's wrong, Jack?" his Mom asked.

"The box is gone!" he said.

"What box?" Mom asked.

"There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he'd ever tell me was 'the thing I value most,'" Jack said.

It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it.

"Now I'll never know what was so valuable to him," Jack said. "I better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom."

It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died. Returning home from work one day, Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. "Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days," the note read.

Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention. "Mr. Harold Belser," it read.

Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack's hands shook as he read the note inside."Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It's the thing I valued most in my life."

A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch.

Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside he found these words engraved:"Jack, Thanks for your time! - Harold Belser."

"The thing he valued most was ... my time."

Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days. "Why?" Janet, his assistant asked.

"I need some time to spend with my son," he said.

"Oh, by the way, Janet, thanks for your time!"


With friends sending me stories like this . . . I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Preached at LifePoint UMC yesterday . . .

For the past month or so, I have been a consultant for our new LifePoint UMC in Keller, TX, a new UMC start that will soon celebrate its 1st birthday. Working with their pastor, Dr. Thomas Childs, and the great volunteers on their New Consecration Sunday team, 50 families attending worship there yesterday turned in giving commitments for the upcoming year.

Their commitments increased by 136% over the giving received this first year. What a great bunch of people whose actions speak so much louder than their words.

I appreciate them all. It was an honor to work with them, and to preach there yesterday.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Commentary from my friend, Floyd . . .

My best friend, Floyd, emailed me this commentary. It is worthy of being shared with our blogging friends.

Dude:

Slight historical error in your latest blog. According to Wikipedia, the compact disc (CD) was introduced in 1982, not 1989. It was on sale in Japan first, by Sony, then to the U.S. the following year. The first commercially released music CD was "The Visitors" by ABBA on 8/17/82.


Stuff that was either too new to be affordable or not yet invented when I was in college: VCR, CD, DVD, DVR, microwaves, personal computers, cell phones, cable tv, satellite TV, MP3's, PDA's, desktop electronic calculators (important to my job), digital cameras, digital watches.

When I was in college, LED watches (remember pushing a button to get the time?)came out and cost 3 times what a Timex costs today, without even adjusting for inflation. There was such a thing as cable TV, but only to replace an outside antenna. You could only get local broadcast stations. When I was in high school, my parents bought me a TI electronic calculator which would add, subtract, multiply, divide, and do square roots. It cost $100.

Floyd


This got me to thinking about something Ken preached in a sermon in October. He asked, "How many products at Best Buy were not even available 20 years ago?"

I bet that list would include about three-fourths of their current inventory!

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Tried planning my own way, and it didn't work . . .

Rats . . .

For the past year . . . I have tried to "organize" and coordinatre all my projects and work with over a dozen ministry teams in a personally designed system that I was hoping to actually market for pastors someday.

Parts of it worked . . . but most didn't.

So, I am going to return to using the Planner Pad.

It only costs $26 plus shipping, and is available in looseleaf or spiral in several sizes.

I used it my first year-and-a-half here at FUMC-Grapevine, with great success. My order for the new 2008 Planner Pad was sent in today.

Why did I stop using it?

Ask my friend Floyd why I am always looking for the "perfect" guitar pick!

I was hoping, actually, that I would be a better coordinator/project manager if I developed a personalized system. I gave it a good ride . . . but it didn't work as well as I hoped.

Just thought I would share what I believe is a very good product, especially if you help coordinate teams or manage a lot of projects, like I do.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Even more stuff 50+ year olds think about . . .

More stuff about the college class of 2012 that was sent to me by my friend, Rick.

-The young people who are starting college this year were born in 1989.

-They are too young to remember the space shuttle blowing up.

-Their lifetime has always included AIDS.

-Bottle caps have always been screw off and plastic.

-The CD was introduced the year they were born.

-They have always had an Answering Machine

-They have always had cable.

-They cannot fathom not having a remote control.

-Popcorn has always been cooked in the microwave.

-They never took a swim and thought about Jaws.

-They can't imagine what hard contact lenses are.

-They don't know who Mork was or where he was from.

-They do not care who shot J. R. And have no idea who J. R. even is.

-They don't have a clue how to use a typewriter.


I think I am actually starting to feel sorry for those entering college this year!

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Stuff a 50+ year old thinks about . . .

The following info was sent to me by my long time friend, whose name is also Rick. I do not know who to give credit to for the research. However, I had to share this, because as a 50+ year old . . . it is stuff I do actually think about.

And may God help me!

1977 : Long hair
2007 : Longing for hair

1977: KEG
2007: EKG

1977 : Acid rock
2007 : Acid reflux

1977 : Trying to look like Marlon Brando or Liz Taylor
2007 : Trying NOT to look like Marlon Brando or Liz Taylor

1977 : Seeds and stems
2007 : Roughage

1977 : Hoping for a BMW
2007: Hoping for a BM

1977 : Going to a new, hip joint
2007 : Receiving a new hip joint

1977 : Rolling Stones
2007: Kidney Stones

1977 : Screw the system
2007: Upgrade the system

1977 : Parents begging you to get your hair cut
2007: Children begging you to get their heads shaved

1977 : Passing the drivers' test
2007: Passing the vision test

1977 : Whatever
2007: Depends

What is funny about this, is that in know I have "friends" out there who are scratching their heads as they read this, saying to themselves . . . "Dang, that makes sense to me!"

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Monday, November 5, 2007

A blast from the past . . .

Out of the blue . . . a phone call to my office this morning . . .

Hey Rick, you won't know who this this, but I used to live 3 doors down from your grandparents in LaFeria, TX.

I knew exactly who it was . . .

Scott . . . dude, how long has it been?

Over 30 years.

Wow! A lot of water has gone under the bridge in that time.

Scott had been talking with another of our former high school friends, who told him that I was here in Grapevine.

The conversation lasted about an hour. We both are older . . . have experienced a lot . . . overcome a lot . . . and we both love the Lord.

What a flood of memories today . . . of some awfully good times.

Fishing at Padre Island . . . driveway basketball games . . . tennis . . . snorkeling in ponds and lakes . . . and packing tomatoes by size in cartons at the packing plant in LaFeria.

Scott got me that job. We worked as long as their was a harvest. About three weeks, then it rained, and the harvest was over.

Then it was back to playing basketball . . . fishing . . . the beach . . .

Those were some great times . . . times that kids today will not have a chance to live out as we did.

Good memories. Definitely a God moment.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Perhaps I am a hypocrite at times . . .

Found out yesterday that one of the blogs I used to write (but deleted several months back with the understanding that I had followed every step to ensure security) had been hijacked by a porn group.

Despite my Christian beliefs, values and preaching . . . I suddenly felt the urge to go find these people, and slowly choke them to death.

However, I chose instead to file the appropriate complaints with Blogger.com . . . and the fine folks there took care of the problem in a matter of hours. I appreciate their prompt and professional resolution of this conflict.

Funny, how we say that anger and other emotions cause us to do things.

Not true.

This situation of someone stealing my name and our church name, and misrepresenting it for their selfish promotion . . . yeah, I was very, very, very, veeeerrrrrryyyyy angry about this.

But . . . I chose to be angry. And in that anger, I chose to plan how I would seek my initial "revenge."

Then I decided I needed to calm down . . . so I did some of the things I do when I know I need to calm down. As a result of my choosing not to be angry, I instead chose to do what Blogger.com suggests one do about this type of situation (immediately report it!!!) . . . and as a result, it was all taken care of pretty quickly.

A lot quicker than if I had acted out in anger to solve the problem.

I may irreverent at times.

I may be loud at times.

I may be self-focused at times.

However, I do try avoiding the hypocrite path as much as I can. I am thankful for family and friends who help steer me off this path when I, for some reason, decide it is the path I should walk.

I appreciate you all!

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Being who I am . . .

Since I am the Senior Associate Pastor, I am not the primary preacher here. And that is fine with me. Ken is an outstanding preacher, one of the few I actually enjoy listening to.

So, I get to play the guitar and sing . . . with the children in worship most every Sunday.

This past Sunday, I was approached by a couple in our church, who shared their appreciation for my "unique" approach to ministry. I asked them to define what "unique" meant. There reply was, "you seem to have balanced the irreverent and the holy."

You could have picked me up off the floor.

In last weeks edition of our Annual Conference newspaper (Central Link - UM Reporter) there was an article written by another guitar playing pastor, Will Deuel from the Illinois Great Rivers Conference. You can find Will's blog here.

Man, the name of that Annual Conference would be a great band name . . . Illinois Great River.

It seems that Will often has the chance to entertain at various pastors meetings, etc., and does so in an irreverent and silly way . . . not often singing songs about God, Jesus or the Church . . . but singing funny songs like "Hot Rod Lincoln," "Don't Bury Me," and "One Legged Chicken."

Classics . . . one and all.

Will suggests that pastors are regular guys and gals . . . ordinary people . . . who are called to do extraordinary things.

I call it just being true to myself.

Am I irreverent? Everyone who knows me would laughingly say "Yes." And I agree . . . but as Will writes in his article . . . "But I approach God with reverence and awe, I embrace the holy moments humbly and passionately, and I am utterly convinced of God's Goodness and grace."
I would hope that all who know me would say that I do approach God in reverence, that I embrace the holy moments with a childlike curiosity and wide-eyed wonder.

If not, then I still have more to learn about myself, my beliefs and my values. Everyday I discover something new about me. If it is something good, then I celebrate. If it is something bad, then I start working to change it.

I guess that is why I am trying to approach my needing to get "healthy" from a more spiritual sense.

It's all a part of getting to know myself better . . . being the ordinary guy that God is calling to do an extraordinary thing . . . being true to myself.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Soft drink pledge

My pledge of not drinking "soft drinks that have sugar" is my effort to become a little more personally responsible about my health.

I'm not criticizing the soft drink industry in any way. Dr. Pepper, Coke and Root Beer are just not good for me . . . with the illness I have to manage day-to-day.

I will admit, and not ashamedly so, that I do, every 3 days or so, drink a diet Dr. Pepper (medium size). I have found out that the sugar substitute in the diet drinks affects my pancreas as much if not more than sugar does. So, I can't have diet drinks every day either.

My illness is called "Insulin Cell Resistance." It is not diabetes, at least not at this time. When I eat/drink too many carbs, it causes my pancreas to "dump" all the stored insulin it has ready all at one time. The issue is the damage it is doing to my arteries, and that I am probably a candidate for a stroke in the next 10 years if I don't finally commit myself to doing something about it.

Today was Commitment Sunday in our church. At four Sunday morning worship services, people came to the front to lay on the altar table their commit to serve God through their prayers, presences gifts and service. I think I commited my health to God today as well.

More reports and sharing to follow.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"Drink" for thought . . .

Hmmmmmm . . .

Been off soft drinks with sugar for 5 days. I've lost 4 pounds.

That's math I can understand!

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Cool weather is finally here . . .

Is it me, or has September and now most of October passed by in about 60 seconds????

Yesterday, October 22, 2007, we finally got our first real taste of fall here in the DFW area, waking up to temperatures in the 50's with rain. With the wind chill, it felt like the upper 30's and low 40's.

It was 93 here on Sunday!

Marvelous . . . simply marvelous.

Slight chance of rain today . . . but coooooollllll for a few more days.

Hello to my favorite lite flannel long sleeve shirts! It's been a long time!

Haven't heard my AC come on at all in 2 days. The electric meter is just barely turning.

Glory!

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Monday, October 22, 2007

I was taught to never loose hope . . .

Last week, I officiated at the funeral of a young man in our community who died by an apparant hanging/suicde.

Also last week, two of our local high school students attempted suicide. One died, and the other, after being in a coma, will recover.

Could it be something in our water???

Perhaps it is a combination of my own life experiences, and perhaps I do not really have any clue what it is like to be a teenager or young adult in our current culture . . . but I was taught, and believe to this day, that suicide is not a rational option or choice in life.

Again, I am speaking from my perspective and experience. I know suicide is a tragic thing for all the surviving family and friends. I've officiated at three funerals in the past 4 years where suicide was the cause of death. They each were some of the largest attended funerals I have officiated. The body language of most in attendance, the pain in their faces, how close they were holding on to each other . . . the pain was very great.

At the service, I described the pain of a friend commiting suicide as a "hurricane that hits you all at once in your gut." I didn't know how else to describe it. It was what I saw in their eyes. It was also how I felt.

But God is able. He was able that day, and He is able today, and He is able tomorrow as well.

I grieve for these families, deeply so. But I have to ask a question which I would like an answer to in order to come to grips with all this for myself.

-Has suicide now moved from the "Do Not Ever Do No Matter How Bad Life Is" list to the "Possible Choices For Dealing With Life" list?

When did that happen?

I truly believe that we are created by a loving God to live and engage with other people. Life is not meant to be lived alone.

I also believe that our greatest efforts should not be in the acquiring of wealth, awards or status . . . but in the cultivating of rich relationships. Relationships where someone considering something as tragic as suicide knows they can come to you . . . because you will make yourself available in their hour of need.

Major decisions are not meant to be made alone. They are to be made after careful counsel and personal consideration of learned advice.

But again, I speak/write out of the perspective of a 50+ year old.

Perhaps as I sit in my upstairs church office, I find that I am a little more culturally naive than I thought. Perhaps I am too removed . . . too used to people coming to me . . . than my going to see them where they are.

Lord, help me do what I can, when I can, with whom I can!

Amen!

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Thank you Seekers Class . . .

I had the honor of singing for the Seekers Sunday School Class gathering this past Saturday evening. Liz and I are "official members" of the class, having "been allowed" to join after my 5oth birthday. For the past two years, the Seekers have "bought me" at our annual gala and grand auction.

I officiated at a wedding earlier in the afternoon, and with my allergies . . . my only "somewhat" adequate voice got a little raspy.

Sigh!

My fellow Seekers were very appreicative, despite my more-nasal-than-normal voice. We had a great time . . . singing a variety of songs from the 60's and 70's: rock, country, folk, bluegrass, John Denver, Dan Fogleberg, and Elvis.

I learned a long time ago . . . when you sing for people who are older than you . . . you have to sing:

-One Gospel Song
-One Patriotic Song
-One Elvis Song

A good rule to live by!

I did break out the new Sheraton II, and led the Seekers in a rock-n-roll version of "Hokey Pokey," followed by my first ever attempt in public to do my rendition of Joe Walsh's "Walk Away." Made it through OK . . . but I did get a couple of strange looks . . . and they were deserved. Perhaps I am not really made out to be a 60's rocker after all!

My daughter, Maranda, joined me for our version of the song "Dead Armadillo," which was written by young Harvey Kullemberg, back in 1976 when I was the summer youth director at the United Methodist Church in Bastrop, TX. I only remember the first verse and the chorus . . . but the class got into it pretty good.

It was a dead armadillo ( HA! HA!)
It was a dead armadillo (HO! HO!)
It was a dead armadillo (HEE! HEE!)
It was a dead armadillo (MY! MY!)
It was a dead armadillo, baby it was smilin' at me.

You have to see the hand gestures you do with the song to understand it. Trust me.

Great people, great fellowship, great food . . . especially Carol Lee's cookies. Yum Yum!

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Saturday, October 20, 2007

It's here . . .

It's here, an ebony Epiphone Sheraton II. It sounds even beter than it looks. Would sound even better if I were to finally break down and take some electric guitar lessons . . . and buy a better amp . . . and get better strings . . .

Funny, how something new always ends up costing more than the original price! Boys and their toys.

I joyfully say "thank you" to God and to Sean for finding it and steering it my way. I dedicate it for the purpose of making a joyful noise in ministry.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Friday, October 19, 2007

Praying after stepping off the scales . . .

Dear Gracious Lord,

I have just stepped off the scales.

I am both humiliated, and mad and angry at myself.

No more soft drinks.

Amen.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Yep . . . you guessed it . . .

Yes, the people I like to be around . . . who I enjoy engaging life / faith with . . . are usually involved/ or participate in one or more of the following:

-Singing / music.
-Playing, building or repairing guitars.
-Fishing
-Attending worship and Bible study; and engaging in mission through a local church in the name of Jesus Christ.
-Believing that the Bible is a living document, and trying to live by its guidance despite the failure, at times, of individual human nature.
-Believing that family and relationships are what makes one truly rich.
-Appreciating the out-of-doors and our responsibility to be good stewards of it.
-Appreciating a good, old fashioned, honest and respectful debate on various topics of spititual, relational and social relevance.
-Spending time giving back to our communities through public service.

These are the various elements of my personal value system. Yes, it seems very clear that I am drawn to those who have values somewhat similar to those I have.

And that is not bad in and of itselft. This isn't really a bad list of things to be involved or participate in.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

It's a right good morning . . . and I'm feeling musical . . .

God knows that I love my music. . .
Ain't no one gonna change my tune. . .
Don't ya know that I love my music. . .
Ain't never gonna change my tune. . .

(Chorus to "My Music" by Loggins & Messina)

I'm just in a pretty good mood this morning! Then I rediscovered this picture from last year, when I was in my spiked hair and goatee period . . . right before I turned 50. If that helps explain why I had spiked hair and a goatee . . .

Wish I still had the guitar. Shoulda' kept it. But now I'm getting a black one!

Da do do do do do do do . . . Da do do do do do do do . . . .

I'm better than I deserve!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

We caught 8 fish . . .

A quick 2 hours or so of fishing. We caught 8. I caught one bass while trolling. Poor fish wasn't much bigger than my lure.

Thomas (bottom picture) and Jim (middle picture) caught 7 white bass, 3 of which were real pole benders.

In all the excitement, we forgot to take pictures of the big ones.

Nice cool evening . . .
Cathing fish . . .
Eating peanuts out of the shell . . .
Good friends . . .

The boat that pulled out after us had an ice chest FULL of good sized crappie. Somebody is going to have a fish fry this weekend!

Yes, I am better than I deserve! ><>





Thursday, October 11, 2007

I was paid a compliment today . . .

Twice in fact!

Felt good.

I was told I was appreciated and valued.

Was told that I am an "original," that there is no one else like me.

Thank God for that!

I'm doing better than I deserve! ><>

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The cost of going fishing . . .

Spent $28 on a fishing license, freshwater only. If I get to go fishing at the coast this next year, which I don't see happening right now . . . It will be an extra cost.

The Hellbenders at Academy were .30 cents cheaper than Bass Pro Shops. Purchased two, and will go back to Bass Pro to get a refund for the two I bought there . . .

But then will have money in my hand . . . in one of the world's largest fishing stores . . .

Oh, how the vicious cycle continues . . . .

Floyd . . . stop laughing!!!!

My wife's words to me . . . "You better catch some fish!" "Some" was defined as a dozen or more!

I'm doomed.

I mean, I love to fish! In truth . . . I'm just not very good at it.

I catch people better than I do fish.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Going fishing tomorrow . . .


I will be going fishing Thursday evening with church members . . . trolling for white bass on Lake Grapevine.

I am excited!

Went to Bass Pro to purchase the "needed" lures that are hot right now. I got the stuff to put together two of the "Hell-Pet" combos (Pet #13 spoon tied to a large chrome Hellbender lure).

$23.00 . . . and I haven't bought my new fishing license yet. Let's just day the "sharp edge" of my excitement has been dulled a little.

Considering the last fish I caught ( a 7" bluegill perch - see picture) cost me around $300 . . .

I had better catch a bunch of fish . . . or I think I may sell all my fishing stuff . . . and buy that camera I've been wanting.

Adult "toys" just cost too much these days. I guess it's time to let something go.

Sigh!

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Give peace a chance . . .

I'm back from attending a pastor's meeting to help prepare the pastors in our conference for General Conference next year.

The morning sessions were great, including a presentation by a pastor from Pennsylvia who does a wonderful and engaging John Wesley drama. Outstanding.

In the afternoon sessions, the focus was on several issues . . . how to come to the table with those who have different positions . . . dealing with the media . . . etc.

The underlying theme of the entire day . . . General Conference is coming, and that means conflicts and differences of opinion will occur, so let's work on how we will constructively deal with them.

There have been various conflicts and disagreements at every General Conference since they were first held.

It occurs to me . . . that life is a guarantee of conflict, especially if you engage other people. To be a Methodist in this day and age is to be in conflict. We were told today . . . "Where ever there are 2-3 Methodists gathered, you will have 5-6 different opinions!"

That's a good one.

Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble." To be a Christian serving God is to be in conflict with the world.

To not be in conflict, according to my understanding of natural law and philosophy, is another name for "death."

One of the definitions of "peace" is "stillness and quiet." But I'm not ready to be that still or that quiet.

Why then, do many, when speaking about dealing with differences, define "peace" as "the absence of conflict"?

Consider these two statements . . .

1) I may agree . . . I may disagree.

2) I may change my mind . . . and I might not change my mind.

Don't both just invite conflict, or at least a good argument?

Doesn't peace between people in dispute usually come out of an agreement, or treaty . . . which involves a combined effort by all parties to come together, to speak and to listen . . . without one party taking advantage over the other?

How are differences resolved constructively in any other manner, or agreements reached about living together in a constructive manner "despite" their differences?

Am I saying that some conflict . . . (healthy conflict / tension) . . . in life is good?

I think it is! Conflict lets us know that something is wrong. Something we should fix. Perhaps what needs to be fixed is selfishness . . . perhaps our focus should be on God's will for our church instead of our what "our" will for the church is.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

What's in a name . . .

Changed the name of the blog back to One Peculiar Christian.

It better reflects how I am feeling right now . . . and I'm feeling pretty well, actually.

We are called to be a "peculiar people." As we start gearing now toward Advent/Christmas, I feel the need to do my part by standing out a little more in witness to the advancement of God's Kingdom here on earth.

There are some opportunities to sing a little more than normal. And I'm doing a lot more counseling. I sense this is a time of spiritual growth for myself and a lot of people in our church family.

I remember the first time in my life that I was called "peculiar." I took it as a compliment then, and I still do now. After having some success in athletics as a sophomore and junior in high school, but I did not play any sport my senior year in order to sing and travel with a Christian band. It was my basketball coach who said, "That is one peculiar kid! Doesn't he know what he is giving up?"

Sure I knew . . . but I had a calling . . . I knew in my heart . . . that singing, playing the guitar, and sharing my love for Jesus with other teens in central and south Texas was what I was supposed to do.

And, despite the label . . . I found joy!

If being peculiar is not following the crowd . . . or asking "why are we doing it this way?" . . . or simply stating to those who wish to draw us away from our called task, "I'm not interested in that" . . . or knowing in my heart I have to be the one who may have to say "no" . . . then I guess I'm peculiar.

If being peculiar is going against the grain . . . choosing to be happy . . . choosing to consider others . . . choosing to give my prayers, prayers, gifts and service . . . then I guess I'm peculiar.

If being peculiar is not wearing a suit and tie . . . if peculiar is having more guitar stuff in my office than will realistically fit . . . if peculiar is telling the people who I pastor, "I love you," . . . then I guess I am peculiar.

I guess John Mason said it best, "You were born an original, don't die a copy."

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Ha! I am nothing if not consistent . . .

Checked again! My blog is still worth $0.

Ummm Boy Yeah!

Since this blog hasn't cost me a dime . . . I'm still breaking even!

Mercy!

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Monday, October 8, 2007

Discoverintg how much my blog is "worth" got me thinking . . .

And thinking, for me, is a dangerous thing to do. Get's me in too much trouble!

So, Floyd, Mark, Linda, Neal, Steve, John, and others who let me know they read this blog . . .

What is it that truly establishes how much anything is "worth?"

Now, I don't truly classify this blog as anything important. It is just an outlet for me to share my views and experiences . . . after all, a blog is a diary of sorts, right?

Here is where I am going with this . . .

A friend asked me the other day . . . if the the church caught on fire, what would you go back in to save? I believe I may have been asked this question when my blog was profiled on the Locusts and Honey blog last year.

I would think I would go back in to save people, especially children . . .

I would think I would go back in to save the important records of the church . . .

But I know what I would "for sure" (we actually do say that a lot here in Texas) go back in to save . . . my Martin DC-16GTE guitar.

That guitar is a gift from God through the help of a foundation grant, and gifts from my two dear very best friends, Joe and Floyd. As far as my possessions go . . . it probably right now is the most valuable single item I own. I just walked through my home . . . and no other possession, not even all my fishing stuff . . . comes even close.

In truth, it is not the most "expensive" possession I own. But it is the one thing that is "worth" more to me than anything else, at this time and place in my life.

Why is this? Why have I rated the "worth" of a guitar so highly over most any other possession I own? Because that beautiful guitar, which God is letting me be the steward of, reminds me of the importance of dearly and deeply cherished friendships. It also reminds me of my finally accepting the ministry God has called me to undertake . . . "to make a joyful noise wherever I am, or to cause one to be made."

People tell me that I "shine" when I play that guitar . . . like they know, that I know, I'm doing what I am supposed to be doing.

I wonder if many of things we possess, on which we place great "worth," is because it is related to a relationship, or some great sacrifice, or it is the fruit of a long journey of quest.

What truly establishes the "worth" of something you own?

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Well, as no surprise . . . it ain't worth much!

Went to the web site where you find out how much your blog can be worth.

My blog is worth $0. That's right . . . zilch, zero, nada, nothing!

I have, after much effort, finally achieved "pond scum" status in life!

Whew! It's been a long journey. I'm glad it's over!!!!!

HA HA HA HA HA.

Now, do I take this seriously, or go shoot myself?

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Women who grill . . . and the men who love them . . .

Seems I struck a nerve . . . not that guys would disagree with me . . . but that the women grillers out there are agreeing with me.

A woman agreeing with me??? About grilling??? I am at a loss for words!

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Friday, October 5, 2007

Charcoal or Gas . . . I've made my decision . . .

Warning!

This particular blog entry is for guys. And be warned, some of them are not going to agree with me on this.

This blog is for all the guys out there . . . you know who you are . . . the ones who like to eat meat! Meat that you cook yourselves.

Don't worry, your secret is safe with me . . . in the kitchen, most of us are disasters waiting to happen . . . I wouldn't know a dry measuring cup from a wet measuring cup.

But let us go out on the back porch with our grills . . . May God bless us all! Some of us even have custom grilling aprons! Wish I could find a cute one my size!

Made the move recently to become more of a grilling "purist." I gave my big old stainless steel gas grill to our former youth ministry director. He is a full time "starving artist" singer and guitar player. Actually, he is going to do great things . . . but I've always wanted to call someone I know a "starving artist."

It's a long story . . . don't ask.

My Texas A&M Aggie son-in-law is very happy with my decision. He says his "prodigal" father-in-law has come home. Time for a party . . . and at my house that means grilling something good to eat.

Pork ribs and pork chops . . . mmmmmmmm, mmmmmmmmm, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! Good eating! My son-in-law did the male grilling world proud that day.

Tasted real good!

The grill I purchased to replace my gas grill is a Weber "One Touch" Gold charcoal grill. And suddenly, grilling is a lot easier . . . and more fun . . . and less to clean up . . . and easier to take care of . . .

And . . . tastier! No propane smell in the food.

Yes, I made the switch because of taste. Yes, it does take 10-20 minutes for the charcoal to ash over . . . but you can put wood chips on the coals for new flavors, and because the grill is round, you can do indirect heat better . . . and grill whole chickens, ham, and whatever I can find on sale at the market.

Also . . . no more propane bottles to carry around to exchange or fill.

I will use any charcoal I can get . . . as long as it is Kingsford.

Don't need lighter fluid if you use a charcoal chimney. The expensive kind at Lowe's, Bass Pro, Cabela's and outdoor stores are all just fine . . . but the simple black one from Academy is less than $10.

Weber has a great web site, with tons of free grilling recipes when you sign up.

The grilling horizon is looking a little brighter now.

I'm better than I deserve ><>

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Oh, Oh Ohhhhhh! Listen to the music . . .

On the 1st and 3rd Thursday evenings of the month, a bunch of guys here at the church meet for what we call "1st Church Guitars." Starting at 6:30 PM, the guys start arriving one-by-one, and begin to plug in amps and tune up guitars. Sometimes we also have a bass guitar player, or banjo, or mandolin.

Are we good?

Well, that depends on what you mean by "good."

We play a lot of stuff . . . some of it sounds good, and some of it needs a lot of work.

We all bring music with words and chords, and we play what is brought, then play some old fovorites. Copies of our old favorites now fill three individual 3-inch wide three ring binders.

In two years, meeting twice a month, September through May . . . that's a lot of music!

But tonight . . . we became more than a group, we became a family. One of our guys testified to answered prayer in his life, saying he wanted to tell the world about what God had done for him, but since the world wasn't there, he wanted to tell us.

He said we were important to him.

We offered prayer after he shared. Then, we all tried to linger for a while, but it was time to go back home to our families. So, one by one, we bid each other good night and God's blessings . . . but somehow it meant far more than it every has before.

I'm doing better than I deserve ><>

Oh, Oh Ohhhhhh . . . Listen to the music,
Oh, Oh Ohhhhhh . . . Listen to the music,
Oh, Oh Ohhhhhh . . . Listen to the music,
All the time!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Joe is home . . .

Spoke to Joe yesteday afternoon. He is home, resting from the chemo, and seems to be in very good spirits, actually feeling pretty good.

Again, Joe appreciates any "industrial strength" prayers anyone would care to offer on his and Riva's behalf.

I'm better than I deserve because Joe is my friend.

Rick ><>

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Update on my friend, Joe . . .

I've spoken to Joe several times this past weekend. He is at M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston, finishing up a 4-day chemo treatment. In a month, they will do chemo again, and harvest the needed stem cells from his blood. Don't ask me how all this works because I have no idea. However, it does sound like a plan!

His most recent scan was pretty much a "pet-negative." In other words, the doctors believe they have killed the cancer, but want to continue with chemo and stem cell treatment. Things are looking good.

Joe has asked for prayers from any and all who would be willing to offer some "industrial strength" prayers. After 4 years of treatments, things are looking better; however, the stem cell treatment is pretty nasty in and of itself.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

It was a great day . . .

The tournament went off without a hitch. 81 great guys and 2 great ladies golfed 18 holes at Sky Creek Ranch in Keller, TX, which had just been overseeded, so the greens were pretty damp.

The team that won last year repeated their win this year! And one of the ladies won the longest drive contest, beating her nearest male challenger by over 40 feet!

I was offered the chance to putt for a birdie for the final group at the hole I was monitor of. It was the hole where you could win a new Chevy truck and set of Calloway clubs for a hole-in-one. Sank an 18 footer, with a break to the left! Sometimes I even amaze myself!

The tournament dinner and awards presentation is my favorite part of the day, because it is always a very good steak and chicken fajita dinner. I don't ever remember having better fajitas. The presentations for 1st and last place, closest to the hole, and longest drive are always fun . . . and should be. These fine golfers deserve the recognition.

Hats off to the staff at Sky Creek Ranch. These folks will always do you good.

Hats off to the Iron Men Golf Tournament leadership team. I am honored to be in ministry with them.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Iron Men Golf Tournament . . .

The Iron Men Ministry of our church is sponsoring a great golf tournament tomorrow, Sunday, Sept. 23 at Sky Creek Ranch in Keller.

It all starts at 1:00 PM. If you have not had a chance to register yet, then come on, and we can probably put you with a team.

A great Mexican Buffet follows the golfing, and then the awards and door prizes start.

I will be around helping with registration, and taking pictures.

I'm better than I deserve!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I think when people eat, it is proof they are alive . . .

Just back from singing for about 50 minutes during lunch at the South Colleyvine Ranch retirement center here in Grapevine. A great place with great staff, a beautiful complex, and some pretty neat residents. I'm tired, and the fingers on my left hand are hurting something awful.

But I want to go back soon and do it again!

The people there applauded and cheered after each song. That is always good.

It beats them cutting my throat.

Pa-Da-Bing!!!!!

That reminds me of a great old joke. The singer says, "I've been having lots of throat trouble lately." Another person says, "Oh, why?" The singer answers, "Because when I finish, people start lining up to cut my throat!"

Double Pa-Da-Bing!!!!!

Anyway, South Colleyvine Ranch is very similar to the retirement center where my grandmother lives in Temple. In my visits there, and in my many pastoral trips to visit and sing in other retirment and nursing homes . . . I have made an observation.

For seniors, being able to eat is proof they are alive. When they start walking to the dining area from their room/apartments for breakfast, lunch or supper . . . they do so with such determination!!!

Heck, I think it is true for most people . . . that being able to eat is proof they are alive. It is for me sometimes.

One of our staff has been battling cancer in his esophogus, and lost a lot of weigh because he was unable to eat, mostly because he could not swallow. Lately, he has been able to eat and hold down some food . . . and he just looks better . . . not so much because he has new hope . . . but because eating itself is proof he is alive.

When Jesus raised the dead man at the funeral in Nain, he told the people to give the man something to eat. When the people saw the man eat . . . they new he wasn't a ghost. They knew he was alive through the power and grace of Christ.

I saw some "alive" people today. That's a good thing.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Yes, it's true . . .

Without a doubt, I have very interesting friends. They are the best kind of friends to have.

Who wants a friend who isn't interesting? Figuring each other out is half the fun!

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Another web site of interest from my friend, Floyd . . .

I meant to share this a few months ago. My friend, Floyd, sent me info on a neat site called The Rifleman's Rifle.

TV, during my childhood, provided many studies in character, especially the old black and white westerns. I liked The Rifleman because Lucas McCain usually won (the good vs. evil thing), but he had to work hard for it. He had to work hard on his ranch. He had to work hard at being a good father. He had to work hard at being a good hero.

Maybe the lesson here is that the good / honorable things in life require hard work and sacrifice.

If you enjoy the old westerns, check out this web site.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

International Talk Like a Pirate Day . . .

My friend, Floyd, sent me a reminder that September 19th is "International Talk Like a Pirate Day."

Ya've been warned, matey! Arrrrrrrrrrrr!

I'm better than deserve! ><>

Monday, September 17, 2007

It is scary to say, "I believe!" . . .

Many who read the New Testament have read Mark 9:24 - "I believe," the man cried: "help my unbelief!"

From different books on theology, various authors have written lines like:

-We need to believe.
-We insist on believing.
-Believing is essential in order to have some certainty about life.
-To believe is as natural as eating, drinking and sleeping.
-To be human is to be a believer.

In the Christian Believer study, we read: "Believing also makes us nervous."

It should!

Believing is a very powerful and life-shaping thing. As a result, believing is very risky, because you could be betting your life when you say, "I believe!"

There are consequences one should consider when you say or write, "I believe!" Beliefs determine the direction and destination of our lives.

I think the most important question to ask about beliefs is this: "What difference will my believing in something make in me, and in my world?"

But so much about belief is subjective. Is it enough, at times, to simply say, "I believe; help my unbelief?"

I will be singing this Wednesday . . .

I am going to provide some musical entertainment during lunch at the South Colleyvine Ranch Retirement center in Grapevine this Wednesday, September 19th. It is located on Poole Road, about two blocks south of Hwy 26.

We have a large group of retired folk from our church who live there. They say it is a great place!

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Why these words mean so much when driving in rush hour traffic . . .

Sometimes, for me, the pace just gets too fast. The white noise of life becomes so deafening. The sound of your tires on the road, the radio, the computer beeping "you have mail," the phone ringing.

No I wonder I find it hard sometimes to hear God.

So, I get away . . . down the the shore of the lake . . . or down a country road.

Whenever I need to leave it all behind
Or feel the need to get away
I find a quiet place, far from the human race
Out in the country

Before the breathin' air is gone
Before the sun is just a bright spot in the nighttime
Out where the rivers like to run
I stand alone and take back somethin' worth rememberin'

Out in the Country as sung by Three Dog Night
Lyrics available at the Three Dog Night web site.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The first help for hurt . . . is comfort . . .

Although I have not written or spoken to him in several days, I know that a dear friend is hurting, as his father-in-law recently passed away. I know that his wife is grieving the loss of her father, whom she provided quite a bit of care for.

I know what my friend is going to do, because I think I know him very well . . . and what he will do will be the right thing to do.

My friend is going to provide his wife with comfort. He is going to listen to her when she wants to talk. He will dry her tears when she cries in front of him. He will hold her hand and just be there. And together, they are going to resolve the hurt to a more manageable level over time, and then one day, the sharp edge of the hurt will be gone. Eventually, as most hurts do, they will fade away . . . in part due the comfort they receive from others.

A blogger friend has experienced a lot of pain from a physical injury as the result of a car accident. I am many miles away and many states away, yet I can do something . . . I can promise to pray for her. That in and of itself is a source of comfort. If a lot of us pray for her . . . and we let her know that we are praying, then perhaps the knowledge of the comfort we want to offer can be a blessing to her in her journey.

Another dear friend is fighting cancer. He and his wife have no children, this has been their battle alone to share to a certain extent. I call him every week if possible, just to let him know I am thinking about him. He shares how it all hurts sometimes, how retirement is not supposed to be like this . . . how he wants to get things in order for his wife, in case the road he is on leads to a "dead" end.

By listening, I offer comfort to him. By praying, I offer comfort to him as well. "Follow up" on a regular basis is a source of comfort. It is also a great gift. Honor a friend who is hurting by "following up" with them on a regular basis.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Disciple Bible Study - Christian Believer

Just started our Christian Believer course, a part of the Disciple Bible Study series. I am a certified facilitor for CB and for Jesus in the Gospels.

CB is a study of the basic doctrines of the Christian faith.

I may have forgotten, but isn't the local church supposed to teach doctrine?

Hmmm, I seem to remember being told in seminary to teach theology. Or was it to live good theology? Maybe I was asleep that day. Oh, I went to class, believe you me I went to class. But . . . I was known to take naps on occassion . . . And, seminary was a long time ago . . .

I just got down my old Dictionary of Theological Terms and reminded myself that:

Theology comes from the Latin words theos (God) and logos (Speech). It literally means the language we us to describe, or talk about God.

Doctrine comes from the Latin doctrina (teaching) and docere (to teach). Doctrine is that which is officially taught by the church.

Sometimes the Roman Catholic church uses the word dogma for doctrine.

Within general Christendom, the word doctrine is intended to mean "teaching approved by the church" (CB Study Manual, p. 10).

In conjuction with my daily readings for the CB study, I have begun to read again our UMC Doctrinal Standards from the 2004 Book of Discipline of the UMC. And I must admit that this is something I have not done in a very long time. I don't want to admiit how long it has been since I read my credo from seminary (I just did and threw it away . . . what immature narrowminded drivel!) and my paperwork for my elders orders (I am trying to find a copy somewhere in my office).

I think I could write a pretty good sermon series on the Doctrinal Standards. But would most of the people in the pew care? Would doing so draw people to worship. Would they understand how important, powerful and scary it is to utter the words from our mouth, "I Believe"?

I can't speak for anyone else, but I know I would enjoy it.

I think I am going to enjoy, or at the very least be challenged on this new road of reading and studying again our Doctrinal Standards and in facilitating the 30 week CB course. I have grown in my faith a lot since seminary and ordination. I want to see if I can appreciate doctrine through eyes that have lived life a while. I've made a lot of mistakes and I've celebrated a few successes as a Christian and pastor. Perhaps the foundational doctrines of my faith will have more and sweeter meaning.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Found the author's name . . .

For years I have used the phrase (or similar wording) . . . Your life is the sum of your choices.

Finally, I know the authors name . . . Albert Camus.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

I can do no wrong . . .

Looked again at the timer knob from the washer, with the intent on throwing it away.

Oh . . . that's how it works! It wasn't broken at all.

Washer is all fixed!!! My wife loves me.

I'm better than I deserve! ><>

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I love it when a plan comes together . . .

The new part to the washing machine went on in less than 5 minutes. It's working together like a champ.

Only one problem, I broke the control knob when I took it off the old timer.

Oh well, a lesson learned.

Methodist preachers are people of many talents!!!!! I can preach, teach, sing and play the guitar, paint a house, and do minor appliance repair!!!!

I'm in a very good mood right now.

I'm better than I deserve. ><>

If it matters, it is going to take some effort . . .

Rebuilding a blog takes a lot of work. Cutting and pasting links and web addresses, remembering who I like and who I don't. Or is that "what" I like and "what" I don't.

Whew! That was a close one!

This blog is kinda important to me. Funny, how all the things that are important to me take effort . . . my effort.

Relationships - take a lot of effort. Successful, enriching relationships are the visible definition of effort.

Faith - devotions, questions and answer time with Christians smarter and more experienced with me . . . putting my faith into practice . . . it all takes effort.

Health - losing weight, taking prescibed medications, exercise . . . feeling healthy takes a great deal of effort.

Home - I am leaving shortly to pick up a new timer switch for my Maytag washing machine. I haven't ever installed a timer switch on a Maytag washing machine before. But doing it myself will save me about $150. But, it will cost me some time, and a little bit of effort.

Life is a story about effort. Our lives are the sum of all our decisions.

When we make these necessary efforts . . . we do earn the right the ask a very important question afterwards . . .

What did I learn from all this?

I'm better than I deserve.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I hit the wrong delete button . . .

Well . . .

Hitting the wrong "delete" button on my Blogger Dashboard page was a complete accident. I was trying to delete my other two blogs, but instead . . . deleted "Better Than I Deserve."

The one good point . . . was the number of emails asking me what happened.

I appreciate you all.

Will build the blog back up as I have the time. Probably later this week.

Rick ><>