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Showing posts from 2008

New possibilities . . .

I don't know about you . . . (But then, how could I???)

Does the coming of the new year make anyone else feel like there are just a bunch of new possibilities that begin tomorrow, January 1, 2009, that were not possible yesterday, December 30, 2008??

You may have to read that 3-4 times for it to make sense. It didn't make much sense when I first wrote it . . . but you can probably get the drift of my meaning.

I have made a large number of pastoral-care phone calls today. And as I spoke and listened, I began to understand that most all of the people I spoke to, especially those who have experienced illness or a death in their family, responded how they feel that the new year will be different, more positive, with new possibilities, especially for healing and for personal peace.

I guess I agree.

And . . . where did this sudden rush or "new" burst of energy and suddenly clearer focus come from? I sure could have used it during Advent!

I had planned to use the week after Chr…

Is December 31st really just another "Fat Tuesday"?

"Fat Tuesday" is the day before the season of Lent, just before Easter.

On Fat Tuesday, participants sometimes "indulge" in a habit or activity, which they plan to give up beginning the following day, when the season of Lent begins.

Lent is a period, where one often "does without" something, such as a food or drink they really shouldn't eat, or perhaps a destructive habit they would be better off not having.

Today is December 31, and here I am in my office, finishing off all the chocolate candy I was given by the sweet church members here . . . so I can start my New Years resolutions for 2009, especially the one about seriously reducing the amount of sweets I eat.

In fact . . I just now . . . (smack, smack) . . . finished off the last piece . . . (smack, smack).

Ever forward . . . ><>
One of our church families sent me this picture. Instead of setting up a Christmas Tree, this family built a very lovely Nativity scene.Wow! This is what I call "Christmas Spirit!"Ever forward . . . ><>

A New Year a coming . . .

Funny thing . . .
Huh?  Has anyone ever noticed how often I start my writing efforts with "Funny thing . . ."
Usually things that make me laugh . . . they don't make other people laugh.   My wife has lovingly suggested many times that I have a perverse sense of humor.
I need to look that up.
Anyway . . . funny thing . . .
After years of sharing, relating, and too often griping about how I usually am quite glad, even relieved, when Advent / Christmas is over . . . . when . . . "darn it" . . . I have a wonderful Christmas experience.
Our theme at the church this year for Advent was "A Simple Christmas."   We got our idea from the folks at the Advent Conspiracy website.  
For Advent this year . . . we encouraged everyone to:
-Worship more -Spend less -Give more of ourselves -Love all 
And . . . wouldn't you know it . . . this year I had a very wonderful, and very spiritual Christmas.    My wife and I chose to not share purchased gifts this year with each other . …

Do you hear what I hear this Advent / Christmas season?

During the Advent / Christmas season, discussions often take place about the best Christmas gift one has ever received, or the best Christmas gift one has ever given.

Why do I believe that Jesus Christ is the best gift ever given?

As I understand scripture . . . Christ was sent to all of us . . . through the actions of a loving and compassionate God who placed His hand into the very fabric of human existence . . . and in doing so . . . gave each of us the "gift of acceptance."

At Christmas . . . it is NOT the loud, flashy commercials and Christmas advertisements I hear anymore . . . I can actually "tune those out" very easily it seems . . .

Rather, during Advent and Christmas, I hear the voice of God saying: through the hearing and singing of music, through the reading of scriptures, and when witnessing the charitable and compassionate actions of others . . .

-YOU are valued . . .

-YOU are included . . .

-YOU are wanted . . .

-YOU are precious to me . . .

-The gift of the C…

On Christmas . . .

Perhaps, it is the combination of our current national financial situation . . .

Perhaps, it is the crushing cultural consumerism which weighs so heavily upon us before Christmas earlier and earlier and earlier each year . . .

Perhaps, it is because of the amount of money spent on Christmas each year . . . supposedly close to 480 billion dollars world-wide . . .

Perhaps, it is the knowledge, in comparision, that it would only take 10 billion dollars to allow everyone in the world to have clean water.

Perhaps, for many, Christmas is not "peace on earth, good will toward all men!"

My good friend, Floyd, and I have been having an on-going several month discussion on the topic of "what is worship?"

Today, in an email, I asked him, "what is Christmas to you?" Floyd responded back with a copy of this essay, which he wrote several years ago.

Let me tell you about my friend, Floyd. He is a good man, husband and father. He and I have been friends for longer than I can re…

Don't postpone joy . . .

John Mason's "Nugget of the Week" which I received by email today . . .

Ever forward . . . ><>

My wife and I decided to have a cup of coffee at the local IHOP. Inside, we were greeted by a very friendly, happy, smiling waitress. It didn't take us long to notice that she only had one tooth. On the top and in the middle.

I thought, isn't that interesting? Here's a woman with one tooth, yet she works in a job that requires a lot of up-close people contact. She's smiling, doing a good job. Then, I noticed a button she was wearing: "A smile is a gift you can give every day."

What a profound scene this was. So much so that I complemented her on her button and sincerely told her she had a nice smile. I wondered if anyone had ever told her that.

When she returned to our table she told me that her father had done the calligraphy on the button. She said, "He had his fingers cut off in an industrial accident, and then decided to pick up calligraph…

Fabulous 50's Christmas Songs

This list is from our band brother, Russ Logan, brother of noted bluegrass fiddler Tex Logan, who wrote Christmas Times A Coming with Bill Monroe.

Russ' late brother, Homer, was a great Country Western and Bluegrass fiddler in his own right.

Of course, we think that Russ is a more than a mighty fine mandolin and guitar player.

Ever forward . . . ><>

A Holly Jolly Christmas - Burl Ives
Away In A Manger - Loretta Lynn
Christmas Alphabet - The McGuire Sisters
Christmas Country Christmas - The Statler Brothers
Christmas In My Hometown - Sonny James
Christmas Song - Alvin & The Chipmunks
Christmas Times A Coming - Bill MonroeAnd The Bluegrass Boys
Christmas Waltz - Frank Sinatra
Christmas Without You - Kenny RogersDolly Parton
Frosty The Snowman - Gene Autry
Grandma Got Run OverBy A Reindeer - Elmo & Patsy
Hard Rock Candy Christmas - Dolly Parton
Hark The Herald Angels Sing - Nat King Cole
Have Yourself A Very Merry Christmas - Rosemary Clooney
Home For The Holidays - Perry Como
Its Be…

Lake Charles Adult Mission Trip in Feb. 2009 . . .

You are invited to join a conference-wide United Methodist Volunteers in Mission team to Lake Charles, LA, February 9-13, 2009.

Southwest Louisiana, still recovering from Hurricane Rita in 2005, needs our help more than ever as they deal with the effects of recent hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

The cost for the trip is $200, plus meals on the road. The registration deadline is January 5, 2009; please see the attached registration form for more information.

Jennifer Bellamy
Director of Humanitarian Services
Central Texas Conference UMC
464 Bailey Avenue
Fort Worth, TX 76107
817-877-5222 ext. 37, 800-460-8622, 817-338-4541 (fax)

Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour

I am watching less and less and less and less and less and less and less and less television these days.
Did I tell you that I was watching less television these days?
I am listening to a lot of radio . . . in my car . . . and on www.pandora.com.   Music mostly, and the occasional NPR show or two.   Seems I have been drifting back to folk music, and happily so.   The problem is what I call folk music, and what you would call folk music, may not be the same.  But not to worry, folk musicians have been arguing that point among themselves for years.
Although I haven't heard it on the radio yet, I have have gone to the Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour web site and listened to past shows from their archives section.
Folk singer and tree-hugger Michael Johnathon developed and hosts this weekly broadcast from the Kentucky Theater.  Their 500th broadcast was back in September.
Check it out.
Ever forward . . . ><>

Living life one day at a time . . .

I just guess I have a thing about believing in people.   Especially those who make major mistakes in their lives, or choose self-destructive paths, who then go on to learn deep and profound lessons from the consequences of their choices, and who then move on to help others in the same predicament they once were in.
Joe Walsh is one of my favorite guitarists (the other is Monte Montgomery).  The Eagles are also one of my favorite bands.   Joe's song, One Day at a  Time, has a very good message, especially in admitting when we need to, that we just might be the cause of the problem we find ourselves dealing with.  And after doing so, admitting that we need help from something bigger than we are.
AA calls it "acknowledging a higher power."
I call it . . . God.
Enjoy . . . and then ponder for a while the really important things.
Every forward . . . ><>


With all my thanks . . .

Just wanted to take a moment to thank Charles, Frank, Gary, Russ, Sean and Stu for doing double duty this week, as members of our 1st Church String Band had a busy week.
Russ and Stu were able to make it to the Mimosa Manor Nursing Home in Keller with me this past Wednesday.  We gave the folks there a good Christmas music show which included lots of opportunity for singing along.
This past Friday . . . Charles, Gary and Stu joined me at the Botanical Gardens in Grapevine for a Christmas concert for the Grapevine Housing Authority tenants Christmas party.   This was by far one of our best audiences ever . . . lots of people singing with us.
Tonight, at our Las Posadas service . . . Frank and Sean joined me as we provided music as Wren lead congregational singing.  A unique worship experience held in both English and Spanish.
The entire 1st Church String Band will provide music before and after worship services tomorrow, December 14.  
Thanks guys . . . I appreciate you all.  
Ever forwards .…

I Can't Help Falling In Love With You . . .

One of my favorite songs . . . one that Arlo does well, especially when he adds his unique storytelling.
Great tune . . . great words . . . a great song. I guess, as I get older . . . that folk music is my first love, especially for playing on the guitar. Bluegrass (Houston style) is a close 2nd, as is 50's, 60's and 70's rock and roll. We all have what we like best.
Ever forward . . . ><>

Is "character" the real foundation of all worthwhile success? . . .

On Thursday mornings at 6:30 AM, I met with a group of men who gather at a local restaurant for breakfast, fellowship and Bible study. We are currently working together through the book of Acts.

I find real value in meeting with these guys each week. My week doesn't feel right when I am unable to attend. I am honored to meet with them. I am blessed to call them my friends.

When I arrived at my office . . . I opened my email and saw that my weekly "Nugget fo the Week" from author John Mason had arrived. I believe I see in each of the guys who participates in our breakfast / Bible study the type of character which John Mason speaks of below.

I am indeed blessed by each of them.

Ever forward . . . ><>
_____________________________________

Living a double life will get you nowhere twice as fast. Character is the real foundation of all worthwhile success. A good question to ask yourself is, "What kind of world would this be if everybody were just like me?&quo…

Built an "altar" lately . . . ???

Editorial Note: Funny thing . . . what follows comes out of my current email discussion with my friend, Floyd, about worship . . . and out of an email I am currently composing about pastors writing blogs. I share this so you can sense, in part, the context of my thinking.

I have just finished my second reading of the Gospels for this year . . . this time using the ESV translation (English Standard Version) which my dear friend, Floyd, introduced me to a year or so ago.

For those who would be curious to know . . . I am going to use the ESV as my first Bible of choice through the end of 2009. I am praying/waiting for an ESV New Testament and Psalms to be printed, that I can carry in my shoulder bag, that usually goes with me about everywhere I go these days.

Next . . . I plan to read Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus in the Old Testament.

In the Old Testament, a prominent theme is the building of altars.

Mark Batterson in his Evolutional.com blog recently wrote the following about altars. . .

On…

My introduction to Gadow Guitars . . .

Took a short break this past Thanksgiving weekend to travel to Marshall and Jefferson, Texas with my wife and two of our dear friends. Stopped in the Band Stand Music store in downtown Marshall, and was introduced by the staff there to Gadow Guitars.

My good friend Sean introduced me to P-90 pick-ups a while back, and we built my Hotrod #2 with them. This particular Gadow felt like several PRS I have had the chance to play at a couple DFW area Guitar Center stores. However, the neck on the one I am playing in the picture felt a little different . . . a bit fuller from front-to-back is the best way to describe it. Didn't cause the ol' thumb on the left hand any problems. The P-90's on this guitar had a "crunch" that I liked very much, sort of a late 60's early 70's sound. The same guitar comes in a semi-hollow, but I didn't see it in stock.

I liked the guitar very much. Less than $1,000 from a company based out of North Carolina with excellent customer s…

Nobel Peace Prize for Pete Seeger . . .

Editorial addition . . . 12/1/08) . . . I have a great respect for the musical efforts of Pete Seeger since I first became aware of him in the late 1960's and early 1970's. I do not agree with all the causes and stands Pete has taken over the years. I have, however, been drawn to his music, simple as it is, and his style of performing which invites the audience to participate in the concert. Other favorite artists of mine, Harry Chapin, John Denver; Peter, Paul and Mary, Arlo Guthrie . . . did the same thing. All shared in many different ways how Pete Seeger was an influence to them.

I guess I am drawn to stuff like that.  Seems a lot of folk singers in the past not only sang for people, but also sang with people.

Singing, for me, is a way of getting different people who believe different things to all come to the same table . . . for while singing around that table, different people (in my humble experience) become family together. Becoming family (again, in my humble experie…

In Memory - Jewel Brown-Sharpe . . .

Yesterday, Tuesday, November 25, 2008, around noon-time, my dear maternal grandmother, Mrs. Jewel Brown-Sharp, passed away at Scott and White Hospital in Temple, Texas. She was 93 years old.

For a few moments yesterday . . . the music that is always in my heart and life . . . stopped.

My mother, my uncle, along with my eldest daughter and her husband, and I were having lunch down the street from the hospital. My daughter and I sensed that my mom, an only child, was a little "tired" and we had driven down to be with her, and to visit "Granny", who had been mercifully sedated by her doctors following two heart attacks over a 3 day period. When we arrived at the hospital, my grandmother, as we were told, had just died only a few minutes before. The hospital staff so tenderly prepared her for viewing by the family, and my mom received many hugs and condolescenses from hospital staff.

We are all so grateful that her recent physical and mental sufferings are now over. Grann…

Sniff, sniff . . . ah chooooooo!

For the record . . . I do not like or enjoy allergies.  
The same time every year, right before Thanksgiving . . . my allergies blow up like a Oklahoma farm house hit by a tornado.
I don't like the way I feel with the allergies.
I don't like the way I feel taking medication for the allergies.
What I "most" do not like . . . is how it affects my voice.  Singing for the children's time tomorrow will be difficult.
If I am not singing or whistling . . . I am sick.
Ever forward . . . ><>

I can't help falling in love with you . . .

One of the highlights of my year is to present my pastor's report at our annual Charge Conference.

Seriously.

The reason I enjoy it is that I usually sing a song as part of, or as all of my report, inviting those in attendance to sing with me.

Truly, more so than any other activity, when we sing together we are family . . . one big happy family.

At least, that is my experience and perception of what happens when we sing together.

Guess Pete Seeger had more influence on my life than I thought.

I shared that I wanted to sing a song that put into perspective what I hope people of our community hear when we live with, witness, share and help on a daily basis.

The song I chose to sing . . . I Can"t Help Falling in Love With You!

Wise men say, only fools rush in
But I can't help falling in love with you

Shall I stay, would it be a sin
If I can't help falling in love with you

Like a river flows, surely to the
Darling so it goes, some things are meant to be

Take my hand, take my whol…

The Red Marble . . .

One of my fishing buddies, Ned Conner, sent me this story. I do not know the author's name. If you know who wrote the following, then please let me know so I can give appropriate credit.

Yeah, yeah, I know . . . I am a sucker for a good story or song that tugs on my heart.

After reading this story, I thought how true last line of the chorus is a from the Randy Travis song, 3 Wooden Crosses. "It's not what you take, when you leave this world behind you . . . It's what you leave behind you when you go."

I was at the corner grocery store buying some early potatoes. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean,hungrily apprizing a basket of freshly picked green peas.

I paid for my potatoes, but was also drawn to the display of fresh greenpeas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes. Pondering the peas, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller (the storeowner) and the ragged boy next to me.

'Hello Barry, h…

Is the "Religious Right" dead? . . .

My friend, Floyd, sent me the link to a recent article by columnist Cal Thomas.

Floyd is a good friend.

In the past few years . . . I have moved away from the conservative side of faith and politics. I have not gone to the left, but rather find myself in the gray area between the left and the right.

I guess by some people's definition, that makes me a moderate, or "centrist."  I like that term better than moderate. Call me whatever . . . just listen to what I have to say first.

I have used a joke a time or two about religion and politics . . . it goes something like this:

I want to start a new political party . . . the "something has to change" party.
I want to start a new church . . . the "something has to change" church.

Funny thing . . . the other day at IHOP in Euless (my favorite IHOP in the whole entire world), I was sharing the joke with the waitress (my wife and I know all of them by name . . . we go to tthe Euless IHOP a lot) about starting the &quo…

More thoughts on the ESV Study Bible . . .

Well, I have had my ESV Study Bible for almost a month. Except for the words of Christ being in black (and yes, I know that most all scholarly study bibles do not put the words of Christ in red) . . . I find that I am becoming more and more pleased.

The ESV translation . . . if I can put this is a politically correct way . . . and can borrow the words of my friend, Floyd . . . is what I would have hope the NRSV could have been. It reads very well . . . actually, it flows so well that I enjoy reading it out loud. I have decided to make this the translation I use for personal reading and teaching through the end of 2009.

The ESVSB is set in a single column format . . . something I appreciate. I still have my old Harper's Study Bible (RSV) from my college years . . . it was a single column format . . . with headings and good notes. I have used the Life Application Bibles for some time because they also were single column formats. It is just easier on my eyes.

As for the ESVSB notes . . …

Check out Pandora.com

For those of you who have not yet purchased an iPod type music player . . .

And, that may just be me for all I know . . .

Check out Pandora Internet Radio. No commercials, and just the artists you want.

I have set up about 25 stations . . . from southern rock-n-roll to the cool Joan Baez tunes I am listening to as I type this.

I am a happy man.

Yes, I will own an iPod sometime in the near future . . . because I can no longer stand AM / FM stations on the radio . . . and I am too cheap (or a good steward of my resources) to purchase a satelilite radio.

But until then, Pandora is the music source for me.

Check it out!

Ever forward . . . ><>

An after-election reflection . . .

Some good words from author John Mason concerning the recent election, and the future that each of us chooses daily to live out.

I offer for your consideration . . .

Ever forward . . . ><>

America has selected its next President. And whether or not you may agree or disagree with this selection, we definitely should note the significance of an African-American elected to the highest office in the world. We have come far as a nation.

Many people on election night, as all election nights in the past, felt overwhelming joy or sadness in the result. But to those of you who voted, I commend you for taking action.

In this time of economic uncertainty and with election results that may not be what you desired, it is easy to feel powerless. And what I have found in most situations is that people tend to quit at two significant times in their lives. After a victory and after a defeat. But now is not a time to shrink away and let outside influences take over. It's a time to, now more …

Thank you Tim Martin at Backwoods in Ft. Worth . . .

On my way back from the Cokesbury Bookstore in Ft. Worth this morning, I stopped for "a few minutes" at the Backwoods store at their new location on W. 7th Street.

I stayed for over an hour.

Tim Martin is the General Manager of the store. He is without a doubt the nicest and most professional manager / salesman I have ever met. He actually help size me into a daypack that "fit."

What a sensational feeling . . . a back pack that fits!

We talked for quite a while about hiking and fly fishing . . . and I think I may have started a new friendship.

Tim is very good at what he does . . . and very smart about what he knows . . . and is very supportive of his customers.

If you are looking for outdoor stuff, and perhaps want to look at some quality stuff at someplace other than Academy or R.E.I., then give Tim a call.

I did purchase a Kleen Kanteen . . . and will be putting back money for the backpack.

Better yet . . . I am planning to go walking!

Ever forward . . . ><&g…

Maybe I am starting to see things . . .

Interesting . . . the things I sometimes get pre-occupied with . . . which not doubt gives my friends like Floyd and Joe many opportunities to laugh-out-loud, or cause them to worry about me greatly.

My pre-occupations lately have been about;

1) (Appropriate) Silence
2) and, Service.

Scary . . . both these words start with the letter "S."

Sort of like my short-list of my core values:

1) Faith
2) Family
3) Friends

They all start with the letter "F."

Either this is all very spiritual . . . or I am entering another "puzzle" period in my life.

Hey, where is my crossword puzzle book . . . it was around here someplace.

Ever forward . . . ><>

An interesting start to the day . . .

This morning, the pastoral staff of our church met together at 5:30 AM, and began cooking breakfast for more than a dozen of our church members who work in financial planning, or as stock brokers, insurance, investments, etc. We wanted to do this as a way of sharing our concern and support for them during these up and down financially stressed times.

As a pastoral staff, we really do not get to do many things together, except on Sunday morning in worship. Although the day started very early . . . it was fun as we cooked together, making fun of each others "kitchen techniques" . . . discussing what to cook first, etc.

For the record . . . we ain't half bad cooks . . . as long as Nathan and Wren are in charge . . . and I keep to washing dishes!!

What made it both fun and reflective for me . . . is that we were starting our day serving others. Now, as I prepare to finish reading this morning the book of Matthew in the New Testament, I find that my service this morning will no …

October 19th concert nets $1500+ for Kenya well project

Stu, Russ, Gary and Jeff playing there instrumental version of "Yonder and Back".

I am glad to report, that as of this morning, moneys donated at the "1st Church String Band and Friends Concert" last night now total more than $1,500, with more donations expected this week.

All of us in the band are proud of the concert we gave yesterday evening . . . it took a lot of work, but it all seemed to come together both vocally and instrumentally. We will have more info available on our next set of projects, and our next concert, once we get through Advent / Christmas. Thanks to everyone who joined us . . . most let us know how much they enjoyed the evening. We appreciate you all!




Just felt like a little color today. This is one of the pictures I took in the gardens of the Crescent Motel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas in late September.

More from "Planet Walker" . . .

I am about 1/3 of the way through reading "Planet Walker."   From a hiking / pro-environment / life journey perspective . . . it is a good book.   
The author, John Francis . . . went 17 years without speaking.  John's journey to self-discovery of his life purpose and passion is fascinating.
I asked earlier . . . what would I be willing to hike across Texas in order to raise awareness of?
I may be closer to an answer than I thought.   Not that I am planning such a hike.  My goal is to do a 4 day Grand Canyon hike first.   But  . . . it is a notion in the back of my mind.
But . . . it is worth asking an even more pointed question . . . what cause would I, an ordained United Methodist preacher (professional speaker-type-person) be willing to support / raise awareness of by not talking for a week?
Could I even begin to understand how to do my job / ministry if I was unable or couldn't speak?  I wonder what would really change . . . if anything.   Communication is much more t…

First Church String Band in action . . .

Yesterday, we sang to a good crowd attending our Ministry Fair. I really believe that we are sounding better and better . . . if the smiles and applause we received is any indication.

This Sunday, October 19th, is our first fund raising concert . . . at 6 PM in the Founder's Chapel. An offering will be taken for the Kenyan village well project we are supporting.

There will be an all-church Ice Cream Social beginning at 5 PM on the 19th, on the playground outside the Family Life Center. Come, bring some ice cream to share, have a good time, and then come take part in our "interactive" concert at 6 PM.
I think we are going to surprise some people. You will be glad that you came.
Ever forward . . . ><>

First Church String Band and Friends Fall Concert . . .

Sunday, October 19th is the day . . . our first fund-raising concert, which will start at 6 PM in Founder's Chapel at FUMC-Grapevine.   
All the guys you see in the picture at the top of this blog will be present, and we have been rehearsing and rehearsing . . . 
Some of our singing friends will be there to sing with us as well.
A special offering to go toward providing a new well for a village in Kenya will be taken.
And . . . there will be an all-church Ice Cream Social in the Family Life Center before our concert. Check the church webpage for more info.

Kid's Beach Club at Grapevine Elementary . . .

I will be helping provide music at the Wednesday afternoon Kid's Beach Club afterschool meeting at Grapevine Elementary starting tomorrow, October 8th. This is a one hour Christian based program for kids who choose to stay after school to participate.

This progarm will run for 6 weeks on Wednesdays, and then again sometime later in the spring.

Ever forward . . . ><>

A great question . . .

While on vacation . . . I was visiting an little bookstore in Eureka Springs, located in old downtown on Spring Street, a block or so up from the Flat Iron Building.   In the window of the store, I saw a book with the title,"Planet Walker" by Dr. John Francis.
Back in the 1970's, John was a hippie in San Francisco.  In part because of his involvement in rescuing wildlife affected by a major oil spill, John chose to stop using automobiles, and has since walked / hiked several times across the United States.   He even stopped talking for 17 years as part of his journey.   In the course of his walking, he earned a bachelors, masters and PhD degrees.
Being a long time Colin Fletcher fan (he is my favorite author), and a lover of books about hiking adventures, I had to order this book when I got back home.  
In the course of talking about the book, my wife asked me a question . . .
What cause are you so passionate about, that you would hike or bike across Texas in order to raise …

Is my Jesus too small . . .

After several years of trying to take a good shot, I finally took a decent picture of the Christ of the Ozarks statue, shooting east from the gardens at the St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Eureka Springs, just below the Crescent Motel.
This statue, located on the grounds of the Great Passion Play, is close to 6 stories tall. The arm span is around 60 feet.
Awesome! Simply awesome!
This is only about the 3oth time in my life I have seen the statue. It is an "automatic" every time we go to Eureka Springs, to go see the statue from the church gardens, and then drive across town and up the hill to the Great Passion Play site, and walk down to the statue.
Not far from the statue, across from the Great Passion Play entrance, there is a gift shop. Inside the gift shop, you can purchase a little 6-inch miniature of the 6-story tall statue.
I wonder . . . is the Jesus I first asked to live in my heart when I was 15 or 16 years old, and the Jesus I have in my heart today . . . are the…

New ESV Study Bible coming out October 15th . . .

My friend Floyd first shared with me his appreciation for the English Standard Version of the Bible, which has been out now for about 10 years.   I have the translation on my computer Bible program . . . and have a hard copy that Floyd gave me some time back.
Info coming out about the new ESV Study Bible really has my interest.  I pre-ordered my copy months ago . . . and hope it comes in soon.
The link to the ESV Study Bible page is in my links section.  Scroll down until you see it.   The info videos are very good.   
Ever forward . . . ><>

Ponderings from the Gospel of Matthew . . .

Well darn!

I havent even gotten through the first 2-3 chapters of my semi-annual reading of the Gospels and Acts, when something just knocks me right in the face.

Who were the first people, in the Gospel of Matthew, to come and both respond to, and to recognize the birth of Christ? Who were the first, who by their coming, validate this wonderous event on a much wider scope than most of us consider?

Wise men / Astrologers from another land, no doubt worshippers who practiced in another faith, who probably called God by another name, who travelled a great distance based on a scientific hunch based on the positioning of the stars to welcome the new King of the world.

Why, why, why, why . . . do I so often forget . . . that Christ came for the entire world? Why, why, why, oh why do I keep the theological lense I look through so narrowly focused?

For God so loved the world . . . . how appropriate that at the birth of Christ, it was people "of the world" who come first to acknowledg…

Re-Reading the Gospels . . .

I have talked about this some with my friend, Floyd. It is time for my semi-annual reading of the Gospels and Acts. Matthew, Mark, Luke, Johh and Acts are my Bible bread-and-butter as far as my personal spiritual growth is concerned.

In light of the current situations in Washington and Wall Street, I have decided to read the Gospels and Acts through the lens of identifying the difference real leadership makes, and . . . the abuses of government controls.

I think Jesus has something to say about all of this . . . and I want to put together in context in my mind.

Ever forward . . . ><>

I'm back home . . .

And will be back in the office on Wednesday, October 1st.   
A good trip which included my daughter's wedding, fishing twice on the King's River northeast of Eureka Springs, spending a day driving and exploring the War Eagle area southwest of Eureka Springs, and taking time just to rest and relax.   The weather was simply wonderful, and the leaves were just starting to turn.
And . . . we discovered a new winery and vineyard of special interest to us because of their very good "fruit" wines.
Eureka Spings . . .  Mountain mama . . . Take me home . . .  Country roads . . .
Once again . . . ever forward . . . ><>

Intentional Christian . . .

We start our Intentional Christian sermon and study series this coming Sunday, September 21, when Ken will preach on Prayer.
More info and a schedule of sermons and study groups can be found by clicking here.   This is going to be a great series, leading up to our Fall Ministry Fair on Sunday, October 12, and Commitment Sunday on October 26.
Daily devotional readings, which began today, September 15, can be found online here.
Ever forward . . . ><>

The Watering Hole . . .

I've been enjoying listing to Adam Hamilton's latest sermon series, The Wild Kingdom on the Church of the Resurrection web site.
I strongly recommend your listening to The Water Hole sermon which is also posted on Adam's blog, Seeing Gray.   
Three questions make up his three sermon points . . .
1)Where is your watering hole? 2)What are you feeding your soul? 3)Who is in your herd?
Give it a listen . . . and let me know what you think.
Ever forward . . . ><>

A mellow rainy day of reflection . . .

I am in a rare "mellow" state of mind and heart today . . .

Usually this only happens to me when I am singing or playing guitar . . .

Or while fishing or hiking . . .

Just sort of mellow . . . thinking of some stuff . . .

-My eldest daughter is getting married in a few days. I am proud of both my girls, and in a week or so, both will be "married" to good men. My present and future son-in-laws are more different than night and day. But both have their own unique skills and strengths, and whether I like them or not (and I do!) . . . they were the one's my two babies chose to live life with.

Both my daughters have a track record of making good decisions . . . like their mother!!!

-Serving on the pastoral staff of this church . . . what a blessing! Missions, both locally and oversees, has become such a part of our church DNA. It is amazing all the things I see people doing in answer to the call they feel God has given them.

A lot of people here, serving in such humble man…

Hurricanes and heavy hearts . . .

Labor Day went well for us. I put up a new garage door opener, and built a stepping stone path between our back yard deck and flower bed, a particular spot that is pretty damp and muddy at times.
Otherwise, I checked in on the Weather Channel for updates on Hurricane Gustav.
As a child and teenager who grew up down in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, I went through 2 hurricanes and several tropical storms. I remember Hurricane Beulah when I was in 5th grade. Not really that much wind . . . but oh, it rained and rained and rained and rained. We had standing water for over a month.
So, I think I truly feel for the people of the Gulf Coast. I used to live there, and except for hurricanes and tropical storms, I miss it still to this day. I love the Texas Gulf Coast, and do not get to visit there as much as I would like.
Our good friends, the Laughlin's, have lived in the Houston area for over 3o years, and have only had to leave once . . . and that was the storm that came throu…

Strange doors that I just feel led to go through . . .

Some of you are aware that I created a little "company" recently.
Water Walker Lanyards and Lures.
I have loved fishing all my life. In the past several years, I began "fly fishing" with the support of guys around here . . . Thomas Milyo, Jim Peterson and Kevin Mitchell.
A couple of years ago, I started making homemade fly fishing lanyards. Go here to see pictures of what I am talking about. Recently, some of the laynards I have given away; well, people who got them told me they were not half bad. Someone suggested I try to sell some.
So I said to myself, "Self . . . maybe we could sell some!" So, with counsel from Jim Peterson, Sean Simon, my wife and oldest daughter, all good business people . . . I started my little company. One employee, yours truly . . . and one little 2 x 4 foot table in my study at home.
My goal . . . is not to make a million dollars. Although that would be nice, I guess.
My goal . . . is to see if my hobby can help me…

An early Friday morning meditation . . .

Wow!
I'm looking out my dining area window this morning.   A little after 8 AM.  The sun is up and the angle of the sun's rays are coming across my back yard.  My neighbors very tall pink flowered crepe myrtle tree is in full summer bloom, thanks is part to the 4-5 days of rains showers we have had here.  All my potted plants seem to be thriving.  And, wouldn't you know it . . . I notice several new blossoms on my tomato plants!!!  And I have a least 3 green bell peppers to pick, along with a nice looking eggplant!
Man, if I had planted some okra this year . . . we would be eating really good this weekend.
The leaves on my large oak tree, located next to my back yard deck, are filtering the light of the sun.  Leaves on the outside of the tree canopy are almost a greenish silver, while the leaves inside the canopy are a deep dark green, with just a hint of silver on their edges.
There are humming birds working around the blossoms on my two very large Turks Cap, oh how they dart…