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Showing posts from December, 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…