Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Bovine of Bethlehem





(Reprinted from today's Times and News-Star..)


AND THE WINNER OF THE 2010 'HARK! AWARD IS...

Since one of his two massive, unduly large yard snow globes deflated – dog bite -- and since he has three children age 6 or less, Dr. Pickles had to make an emergency run to the Christmas ornaments store. All they had left in the blow-up department was a Christmas cow.

(Yeah, I didn’t know they made those either.)

The cow was immediately throw into the mix, joining the surviving snow globe, the bursting snow flakes, the lighted icicles, the shrub netting, the plastic Santa, blinking deer, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Looks like the NBC Holiday Special.

So the next night Dr. Pickles had to bring supper home. He called and asked if Wendy’s would be OK. This not only confused his oldest son, it genuinely hurt him.

“But dad,” he said over the phone, “we just got the Christmas cow. You want us to eat hamburgers, and we just got the Christmas cow? What are you, some kind of …”

Dad hung up. They had pizza with olives.

Dr. Pickles has already promised his children that the family won’t eat lamb, ox or ass, at least not until the Christmas cow is stolen, stored for the off-season, or felled by a hunter with an inflatable gun.

God bless us, everyone!

Much like Dr. Pickles’ yard ornament, “cattle lowing” was as high up the food chain as I made it in any of the Christmas pageants I was privileged to be in. Never got to be an angel or Joseph or a wise guy. Not even a shepherd. My dad, our pastor, said I just didn’t have the build for it. And you wonder why I’ve had problems…

Being both from the South and Baptist, I’ve hit the daily double on Christmas pageants. Sometimes two and three a Yuletide season. Talk to me about physics or punk rock or fiber optics. But don’t talk to me about Christmas pageants. I know about Christmas pageants.

(Except I don’t know why they call them “pageants” instead of the more workmanlike “play” or “presentation.” Pageant? Will Mary show up in an evening gown instead of maternity wear? An angel in a two-piece? Will Little Drummer Boy play while our judges tabulate final scores? We’ve got our hands full with the virgin birth, don’t you think?; let’s keep the rest of this thing simple.)

Christmas plays are not immune to fumbles. If you can’t think on your feet, go stand over there with the lowing cattle.

Case in point: a play last week that Dr. Pat attended. His young granddaughter Kate was narrating. In the dark. A voice in the wilderness. With only a pen light.

Kate was steady and Mary was solid, unlike the shepherds and wise men, who started shuffling almost immediately. Girls are glue. Boys are shufflers. Note this in your next Christmas play.

The best part came when Kate’s pen light died. Without missing a beat, she turned on her cell phone and read by its light. As her granddad said, “Talk about a light in Bethlehem!”

A Christmas miracle. She gets this year’s “Hark!” Award.

My favorite Christmas play moment: The first-grade couple was coming up the aisle, having rehearsed all week with the narrator reading, “Mary, who was great with child….” The translations were switched on game night. The narrator read, “Joseph went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.”

Joseph stopped and, to Mary, his betrothed, screamed, very hurt and very unrehearsed, “Pregnant? You’re PREGNANT?!”

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

(2nd of a 3 part series) The Joys of the Season: No Matter What You Are Facing


BLOG POSTS WILL BE SPARODIC IN 'TIL THE NEW YEAR. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

(My notes from Sunday, Dr. Chris at FBC Ruston presiding, if you trust my note taking.)



Matthew 1:18-20 -- "Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit."

Luke 1

God Can See Me Through The Impossible

I. You Will Face Situations That Seem Impossible

Mat 1:18-19 .. Joseph's problem was a pregnant fiance who said she was a virgin.
Luke 1:26 -- Mary had the same problem! (Luke 1:34 ... Mary to the angel, "How can this be?"

II. Give Everything To God

Mt 1: 19-20 ... Joseph stays calm and listens
Luke 1:34 ... Mary questions the angel for help

Mt 1:24 .. Joseph does as the angel says
Luke 1:38 -- Mary says she is the Lord's servant

Prov 3: 5-6 ... Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths

1 Peter 5:7 ... 1 Peter 5:7 - "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."


III God Will Come Through For You
John 8:41 ... ("We are not illegitimate children," they protested. "The only Father we have is God himself.") ... the Pharisees might be 'picking on' Jesus here, reminding him that he is 'illegitimate'
John 8:48 -- (The Jews answered him, "Aren't we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?") ... Samaritans were 'half-bred' Jews ...

There are major bumps in the road for all of us, especially for Jesus

Luke 1:37 -- "For nothing is impossible with God."
Luke 18:27 -- "What's impossible with men is possible with God."

God WILL see me through the impossible -- IF I will let Him...


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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Always A Quiet December at Pearl Harbor

Reprinted from today's Times and News-Star

On these chilly mornings, my friend Mrs. Jan at the U-Pack-It Coffee & Such reminds us to break out our “fur-lined under-yonders” – or else risk a freeze-up in the tender nether regions.

Either that, or wear double underdrawers.

I prefer the heat, which I was surely in this summer when I found myself honeymooning, of all things, in Hawaii, of all places. I know: sounds bigshot-ish. But to be truthful, we will never forget this experience because we are reminded of it daily in our photo album and monthly in our credit card statement.

Priceless? Whatever.

It’s a long story, how I got to Hawaii and back. To be precise, it’s about 24 hours, counting layovers. If you plan Pacific travel, you’d better know where you’re going, is all I can say. Or be a really, really good swimmer. I’d suggest bringing a sandwich.

The thing is, when I was a small man, I loved reading the “We Were There” book series, written for the upper elementary and junior high crowd. I was a Bookmobile junkie of the first order, and if a “We Were There” book was available, I was an easy sell.

If I remember correctly, it was always a boy and girl who just happened to be in the middle of some serious action. “We Were There With Lewis & Clark.” “We Were There When Grant Met Lee At Appomattox.” “We Were There When Liz Married Dick.” And on like that.

But my favorite in a long line of winners was “We Were There At Pearl Harbor.” I’d just thought I’d read good books before. But once I closed the cover on this baby, I knew that everything before had been just child’s play. Thank you for writing it, Felix Sutton, wherever you are. You made a difference for me.

And so, in May, a lifelong dream came true: We Were There At Pearl Harbor. “There” there. It was not a disappointment.

I am writing this early on Tuesday, the 69th anniversary of Japan’s attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor. It is still several hours before the official beginning of the attack, just before 8 a.m. Hawaii time. At approximately 8:06 a.m., the USS Arizona, hit by a 1,760-pound armor-piercing bomb that ignited its forward ammunition magazine, exploded. It sank in less than nine minutes and with 1,177 of its crew. The iconic photograph of that day is the shattered battleship burning and falling to port.

To stand on the USS Arizona Memorial above the clearly visible sunken battleship is a privilege. Architect and Memorial designer Alfred Preis had in mind, he wrote, an overall effect of “serenity. Overtones of sadness have been omitted to permit the individual to contemplate his own personal responses…his innermost feelings.”

That sounds “deep,” but I will tell you that standing on the Memorial, watching oil still seep from the Arizona’s hull and imagining waves of Japanese aircraft coming from the west over the unchanged Waianae Mountains, is a moment fascinating to contemplate…

The American flag still flies above the USS Arizona from a pole attached to the severed mainmast of the battleship. And a few hundred feet away is the USS Missouri, on whose deck the Empire of Japan signed papers of unconditional surrender to end World War II.

Pearl Harbor at “see” level. As a stocking stuffer, it’s a bit pricey. But if you ever get the chance, please go.
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Friday, December 10, 2010

1st of a 3-Part Series: 'The Joys of the Season -- No Matter Who You Are'

(My notes from Sunday's effort by Dr Chris at FBC Ruston...)

God Can Do Great Things Through You
Matthew 1
1. No Matter What Your Bloodline Is
v 1-3
Tamar (check out Gen 39 for this part of the 'scandal' of Jesus' bloodline)
Rahab, prostitute
Ruth, non-Jewish woman whose people were enemies of the Jews
Uriah's wife (David's adultry)
Manasseh, sacrificed some of his own children to his pagan god

2. No Matter What Your Past Is
Mt 1:5
Rahab got things right with God
David paid a huge price for his adultry but was forgiven and used by God
Thru Bathsheba's repentance came Solomom
Manessah's repentance came after God smashed him like a grape

3. No Matter Who You Are Today
Mt 1:18
'his mother Mary, and Joseph'... God uses common people

Luke 1:48 "God has been mindful of the humble state of his servant (Mary)."
It is 'funny' that the shepherds were scared when they saw the angels on the night of Jesus' birth but when Mary saw the angel in his passage, she was calm.

Luk 2:10 Jesus' birth was announced through shepherds, who were second-class citizens of the day.

4. No Matter What Your Age Is
Joseph was a teen
Mary was between 13 and 15
Luke 1:57 ... Elizabeth, mom of John the Baptist, was 'barren' and very old

If God is in the mix, great things will happen

* God Can Do Great Things Through You -- IF You Will Let Him

Mt 1:24 -- Joseph did what the angel told him to do
Luke 1:30 -- Mary says 'I am the Lord's servant.'
Luke 2:15 -- Shepherds say 'Let's go see!'

"The price of greatness is responsibility." -- Churchill

Are we willing to BE used...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pearl Harbor Day


Go here to see photographs and to read how journalists covered the attack.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Absent Friends ... (I am physically sick about this...)



Don Meredith dead at 72. You can read more about it here and watch video.

Dang. The Lipton Tea commercials alone were enough to make you love him. But he was a rock star when Monday Night Football started. Funny. And good buddies in retirement out in Arizona with Roger Miller. I was thinking about them yesterday; there are two guys I would have loved to have met. ...

Got a great VHS at home called "America's Game" with Don Meredith miked in a 1966 or
67 game, I believe. It's a beautiful thing. He's arguing with a referee about a holding call and his offensive lineman walks up and he points and yells, "Get back in that huddle!"

Hurts me...He was fun and funny and good at what he did. That's a hard combination to pull off; it ain't easy being easy, I would imagine. But he did and could, and I appreciate him. Sick about it...I am hoping my mother does not find this out. Who didn't love Dandy Don?

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

When You're Way Past Wanting Just Your Two Front Teeth

(Reprinted from today's Times and News-Star)

We get up every morning hoping for something.

We hope to make enough money to pay the rent. Or we hope to do something fun. We hope our team wins. We hope he or she will notice us. We hope to make a difference, or we “hope to just make it through another day.”

We run on hope, whether we think about it or not. When we quit hoping, we quit living.

“If you don’t have hope, you don’t have Christmas,” the preacher told us. “If you don’t have hope, you don’t have life.”

If that’s true, hope better be standard equipment. But it’s not. Hope comes as an option only.

Good, then, that the Christmas season is about hope. No hope? No Christmas.

The lights. The tree. The Nativity scene. Symbols of hope. Pictures of hope. Even the presents are mysteries wrapped, hope in a package, hope on a small and non-eternal scale. “I hope grandma didn’t get me socks!?” Again!”

We’re told that the greatest of all things is love. Not faith or hope, each of which hit the tape at about the same time as the other. When you die, what you’ve had faith in will either be there – or it won’t. What you’ve hoped for will be realized – or it won’t. At that point, you’ll have use of neither. At that point, love has the stage to itself.

But in a world filled with “Why’s,” way down here, hope comes in handy. Sort of like air comes in handy.

We start out hoping for little things. A bike and a ball glove and my two front teeth. But you get older, and it’s a different ballgame. You hope for a better job. A better home. A home at all. Someone to love. Someone to even care.

There are days when all you want is hope. Or even a hint of it. I had a friend in that boat. His report from the doctor wasn’t good that day a couple of years ago.

But faithfully, the patient, my friend, did as he was told.

And miraculously, though the climb was steep with dips now and then, the news from the Houston hospital kept becoming more and more favorable.

Finally, one cool Saturday morning this fall, he called to say the doctor had found no cancer. The doctor even told him to come back not in three months, but in six. And after that, probably for not another year.

“A guy asked me back then, ‘What do you do when you find out you have Stage 4 cancer?’” my buddy told me. “And I said that the first thing you do is you get angry. And then you cry.

“And now I know what you do when they tell you you HAD Stage 4 cancer but you’re well now,” he said. “What you do is get really happy. And grateful. And then you cry again.”

There are different kinds of tears. Some – like the ones that come when you find out you’ve been granted more life to live – are liquid joy. They speak what we can’t say.

And there are tears of anger. Or fear. Or tears when healing doesn’t come. But Christmas means we don’t ever have to cry as those who have no hope. Because of Christmas, hope makes all the difference in the world.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Absent Friends: Ron Santo ... (hurts me...)


Former Cubs third sacker Ron Santo, 1940-2010.

Saw him lead the crowd in "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" in the seventh inning stretch at Wrigley this summer ... against the Phillies on a Sunday night ...

You can read more about it here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

To Absent Friends ...Leslie Nielsen was beautiful





"Serious actor"-turned-Naked Gun and Airplane star Leslie Nielsen died Sunday at age 84 due to complications of pneumonia.

Hurts me ...

"I am serious . . . and don't call me Shirley."

Here is an online collection of some of his funniest stuff.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Aunt Ethel's Go-To Goatee Diet Plan (Of Last Resort)

(Reprinted from The Times and The News-Star, Nov. 28)

These are the times that try men’s … colons?

Even the most casual eater, wandering aimlessly thought The Land of the Leftover, has got to be heads up in these post-Thanksgiving days. Cheese dip here. Sausage ball there. Week-old giblets, ripe for the taking.

Food jitters.

For some reason, we are robotically drawn to seasonal foods, even though there are plenty of holiday experiences available that should cause us to lose our appetites. If you can’t relate, then you’ve never been hugged right before a holiday meal by a great aunt. With a goatee. Who’s dipping snuff.

Welcome to my world.

(A have a friend who once lost 15 pounds during December. She didn’t mean to. But right before one Thanksgiving dinner, her uncle said to her, table-side, “Honey, I wonder why God took all the hair off my head and put it on my back?” She was able to eat solid food again, but not until somewhere around Valentine’s Day.)

Another dietary issue this time of year: stadium food. Close to Football Bowl season. Pressure’s on. So we eat either to relieve the stress of a stretch run or because we’re bored stiff because our team IS a stiff. I have yet another friend who shared with me his digestive system misgivings after Saturday’s joyous time in a football stadium occupied by a team that’s more up and down than a prairie dog. “My most painful lesson from the weekend,” he said, “was that pre-prandial and post-prandial reflections on a stadium corn dog are two very different realities.”

Prandial means “of or relating to a meal.” It’s from the Latin “prandium,” meaning, “I should not have ate that.” As you have surmised, to use those kinds of high-dollar words, my friend is pretty smart – but not smart enough to call time out in the corn dog line. You do not toy with a mass-produced corn dog in a competitive atmosphere far, far from your home locker room. You don’t do it.

Let this be a lesson to us all: your digestive system doesn’t know you have a high IQ. Faulty plumbing due to pilot error puts us all – the prince and the pauper, the duke (excuse my French) and the serf -- right there on the same page.

FOURTH AND LONG
The corn dog on a stick I ate was more than just inviting.
Too bad I didn’t think that later it would do the biting.


Food jits.

If our own lack of self control and the overpowering temptations of the season weren’t enough, the food world and Mother Nature herself might be conspiring against us. My own personal mother, of all people, alerted me to this tragedy.

The Nature Conservation Research Council, which sounds like an important thing, forecasts a chocolate shortage. Because African farmers are ditching their cocoa farms for other easier-to-grow crops, chocolate might either disappear or increase drastically in price. This means that in 20 years, a Baby Ruth could well be out of my price range. My mother’s grandchildren call her “Sweeter,” so you can imagine how this is affecting my family. Let’s hold hands and …

CHOCOLATE LAMENTATIONS
No Twix? No Bliss? No Hershey’s Kiss,
No chocolate dip fondue?
The question we must pray is
“What would Willie Wonka do?”

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

How To Make Thanksgiving (and Every Day) Great!

(My notes from church at FBC Ruston, Dr. Chris presiding...)

1 Thess 5:16-18

1. Live Joyfully
v. 16
Rejoice always; be joyful always
Make joy the pattern of your life
The author, Paul, understood trials; he is talking of an inward source of joy and cheer; happiness from what happens ... it fluctuates. But ...

Joy comes from...

a. Right Relationships..
First with Christ, and with other people
Gal 5:22 ... Fruit of the Spirit
Without Him there will always be a fundamental void in your heart and spirit
b. How I Choose to Perceive Life
Lincoln: "We're about as happy as we choose to be."
Phil 4:8 -- "whatever is pure, whatever is good ... think about these things.."

2. Choose To Live Dependently on God
v. 17
Pray continually
Luke 18:1 "pray and don't give up"
Keep the lines of communication open to God always

a. The Power of Prayer ... "Prayer can do anything God can do, and God can do everything." -- Falwell
b. Keeps me mindful of my Dependence on God
Matthew 5:3 -- "blessed are the poor in spirit..." meaning, the people who realize their need for God and depend on Him ...
Learn to draw on the power of God

3. Choose To Live Thankfully
v. 18
"..give thanks in all circumstances.."
The Biblical "thanks'' means to acknowledge a blessing; VOICE your gratitude
150 New Testament texts tell us to give thanks
Study after study shows that those who practice sincere gratitude are more healthy and satisfied

A life of joy pleases God and blesses both others and us

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cruisin' for a Bruisin'


(Reprinted from The Times and The News-Star, Nov. 21)


I have never been on an open-sea cruise aboard a luxury liner. I have never even been on an open-sea cruise aboard a run-of-the-mill, secondhand liner, one where the live band is a knockoff of Herman’s Hermits and the most important thing in the buffet line is the microwave.

And I doubt I’ll ever take a cruise, for a couple of reasons. One, too many episodes of “Gilligan’s Island.” I like “Gilligan’s Island.” A lot. On television. Near a bathroom and an icebox that I know will be there, come hell or high waves. It would be neat to get stuck with Mary Ann on a deserted island, but not if it were so deserted it didn’t have cable. And a Wendy’s. Just sayin’…

The second reason – and this is the biggie -- I have some pretty serious Stump Fear. Even in open waters, your Atlantic or your Pacific, my theory is that, well, you just never know.

I did take a bath with a toy tugboat once. And I enjoyed that. At least for a little while, until the water got too dirty and I couldn’t see the bottom and I thought I felt a stump, which is a whole other story…

What I’m getting at is last week’s “problem” with the broken-down cruise ship 55 miles off the coast of San Diego, and how it made me jealous. It was all over the news, as you recall. Engine woe aboard the Carnival Splendor led to loss of power. It took three days to get the more than 4,000 tourists and crew back to shore.

With the ship’s ovens stalled, the U.S. Navy dropped Pop-Tarts and Spam aboard. Drinks were on the house. The cruise lines offered free transportation home, full refunds, and free future cruises to the inconvenienced passengers. Yet what did I hear from that sorry lot of spoiled vacationers? Massive complaining. A mini-mutiny. A “high seas nightmare.”

Really? Even with free Pop-Tarts and Spam!? HA! That is my kind of boat! And it’s all FREE! I mean, what does it take to PLEASE these people?


ODE TO THE CARNIVAL SPLEDOR
Or
MY LIFE IN STEERAGE

Spam and Pop-Tarts, Pop-Tarts and Spam,
What’s not glam
’bout ’Tarts and Spam?

Too bad your
Dreamboat struck a snag,
But good for you
There’s no price tag!


You’re next trip’s free,
And this one too.
Still we have
More good news for you!

Instead of crab
And steak and lamb,
We’ve ordered out:
Pop-Tarts and Spam!

You do not like
Pop-Tarts and Spam?
Do you think you are
Sam-I-Am?


You will eat
Pop-Tarts and Spam
Or we’ll break out
Green eggs and ham!
(Or starve! I just don’t
Give a …. dang!)

You can gripe ’til
Red’s your throat,
Just point me toward
The next big boat
And I will ride this
Wave again,
Rebouyed by
Pop-Tarts and Spam.


(All I can cram?
Oh thank you ma’am!
I love my free
Pop-Tarts and Spam!
It’s like a Love Boat
Food Program!)


So sail on, captain
Of this boat,
And I will keep
My dreams afloat
Of Spam and Pop-Tarts, ’Tarts and Spam,
What’s not to love
’bout ’Tarts and Spam?
From Bali Ha’i to
Birmingham.
(Especially when they’re
On the lam!)


Can we get more
Once we’re on land?
If not, hide me as
Contraband.)


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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

You Can't Make This Stuff Up: (or) The Grass is Always Greener (And More Tender) on the Other Side(line)


My friend Other (say OH-thur) files his latest on The Madder Hatter...

At Monday's press conference Coach Les Miles dazzled us with more insightful football speak.

On the matchup between Arkansas' passing attack and LSU's defense...


"I think it will require us to play the run and the pass. I think they have a balanced offense, not so much in yardage but in the fact that you can be just as hurt when they hand that ball to Knile (Davis). We're going to have to have a plan that allows us to defeat the run first and foremost. The opportunities to have that passer move his feet is something that we must do. We have to be able to get a pass rush. We all know that. We like our secondary. We feel like there is some experience back there and some speed and the ability to get a hand on the ball. It's going to be a great matchup. In that piece when they go back in the pocket and throw, it will predict a lot of the success that they have."

He will eventually replace Lou Holtz as college football's premier coach/analyst. No doubt.

(Teddy note: This is one of the reasons I love college football. And America. It does NOT take a rocket scientist to do some of this stuff that people assume is a big deal....Anyway, I am thankful for The Hat. If you do not have a dog in the fight, he is a pure joy...like watching "Hee Haw" was a joy...)


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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Make Things Better

(Note taking from FBC Ruston, Dr Chris being the starting pitcher...)

MAKE THINGS BETTER
Acts 6: 1-7 (NIV)

1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews[a] among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

*What we need to do to leave GOOD footprints in the sands of time...? Make things better! If yo uwant to be a good leader, husband, etc., make things better.

1. Problems and Needs Exist Everywhere
v. 1 -- the church's needs led to the forming of a deacon body

2. The Need to Improve and Push Forward is Always There
v. 7 -- "the word spread..."
* the priests/Saddueces SEE men honestly and earnestly serving, and it helps to change them
* As long as there is one lost person or disenfranchised family within walking distance of your church, it's God's charge for the church to grow (paraphrasing California minister Rick Warren)

3. To Make Things Better, You Have to Continually Be Getting Better Yourself
* Be willing to become better, and work toward that
v. 3 ... "seven men full of spirit and wisdom..."
IQ and wisdom are not the same thing...Christ's diciples were fishermen, a tax collector, etc...

Gal 5:22-23 ... fruit of the spirit ..... "seven men full of SPIRIT and wisdom..."

Be in church. Read your Bible. Pray. God then empowers us to make a positive difference.

Romans 16 -- Paul lists people who've made a difference in his ministry and for Christ....'ordinary' people trying to make things better...

It takes no effort to make things worse. It takes a bit of effort and prayer and will to make things better.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Thessalonians Series...

(From FBC Ruston, Dr. Chris, if you trust my note taking)

OUR WONDERFUL WONDERFUL HOPE
1 Thess 4: 13-18
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

* Christians have the greatest future immaginable
* This text is more early theology from Paul to the new Christian church
* In the Greek, "hope" is a stronger word than it is in English; in Greek it is a confident assurance that some certain thing will come to pass...

1. Christians Who Have Died Are With Christ
(v. 13-14)
Phil 1:22-23 "... desire to depart and be with Christ."
Jesus to the thief on the cross: "Today, you will be with me in paradise."

2. Christ is Coming Back
v. 14-18
Paul's words are not an exhaustive study, but this text is a 'complete' study.

No one will miss the Second coming
Matt 24:27

Rev 1:7
This will be the most immediately known event ever...

Matt 24:36 -- "...no one knows the time..."

1 Thess 5:2 -- "...will come like a thief in the nite..."

3. Christians Who've Died Will Come With Him
v. 14

4. Believers Will Be With Christ Then and Forever
Eph 2:2 "the ruler of the air..."
"the air" would have been a term then referring to Satan's domain...at Jesus return, we meet him "in the air" and dislodge Satan...
1 Thess 4:17

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thessalonians Series (Part 6, or so!)

(Notes from FBC Ruston, and Dr. Chris...)



POINTERS FOR PIOUS PROBLEMS

1 Thess 4:11-12



Pious is the idea of being real and sincere in your spirituality. These days the connotation is a BAD thing and it's come to mean the opposite to the masses...



1. Live Humbly and Peacefully

* v. 11 -- a 'quiet' life, one at peace and at rest.

* It is impossible to be a positive influence for Christ if you are a troublemaker



2. Focus Your Corrections on the One Person You Have Control Over

* v. 11 -- "mind your own business"

* 2 Thess 3:11 -- "they are busybodies..."

* We are experts and wise at correcting others.

* Often those who don't have enough to do, focus on others

* Make your world better. How do you do that? Make yourself better



3. Do Honest Work

v. 11 Honest work is a good thing; in the Greek culture at the time this was written, Greek culture looked down on manual labor.

Church at Thessalonica was excited about the Second Coming, but Paul is reminded them that they need to stay about God's work in the meantime....Why?



a. For own welfare

v. 12 ...

2 Thess 3:10-12 .."work" equals "you get to eat"

Work if you can an earn your own way



b. It's good for the whole community

v. 12 -- spend life in positive activity



4. Live In a Way to be a Positive Influence ...

"so your daily life will win respect ... "

Lost people are watching us

Live to be a Positive Influence on the World



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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Whale Wars! (The Exciting Conclusion...)


Notes from church...(Dr Chris at FBC Ruston)


The Heart of the Problem is the Heart



God's Main Concerns are People and the Advancement of His Kingdom...


I. God's business is about ...


1. Reaching All People

Jonah 1: 1-2 and Jonah 3: 1-2 ... God says "go."

Jonah 3: 10 and Jonah 4:11 ... God's compassion...


Ezekiel 18: 23 and 32 "Repent and live"


2. Seeing His Kingdom Advanced

Jonah 3:8


II. Most of the Time These Are Not Our Main Concerns ... why?

1. Most of the time these aren't on our minds

Jonah 4:1 -- Jonah is mad at God

4:2 - "God I know you are super abundant in your love, SO, take my life...

4:4 -- God to Jonah ... "Have you any right to be angry?"


Jonah is prejudice, which is universal...We don't look at people as we should or love people as we should.


2. We're More Concerned About Ourselves


a. We favor our agendas over God's

Jonah 4:2 ... Jonah was mad at God for not killing the Nenevites, but instead giving them a second chance


b. We're more concerned about our comfort .

Jonah 4:5-10

Advancing the kingdom is not always comfortable


c. We're More Concerned About the Temporary Than the Eternal

Jonah 4:9-11 ... Jonah is like us ... worried about the temporary when people bound for hell are sitting on a pew with us...

There are 44,000 SBC churches...the projection for the number of SBC churches in 20 years is 20,000.

94 percent of all churches in America are flatlining or declining



III. Invest Your Life in God's Priorities

Jonah 3:10 and Jonah 4:11 -- pictures of the compassion of God


People are the reason God has left us here now. Pray that God will make us people who will make HIS priorities our priorities. Pelple are more important than facilities or prejudicies...People are why churches exist and why we are here.


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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Like Fine Wines and Fine Grasses That Taste Better With Age, He Keeps Getting Gooder




Why does the LSU coach always say "the back end of the game" instead of "late in the game"? I guess because it sounds all footbally and whatnot. Sophisticated. Which just adds to the aura that is the grass-eating LSU coach.

Here is the latest report filed by my friend Other (pronounced OH-thur)...

Since we are at the back end of the schedule, on Monday Coach Les Miles gave some analysis of the way teams are chosen for the national championship game.


When asked if an undefeated team from a non-automatic qualifying conference should normally be ranked ahead of a one-loss team from one of the major conferences…

“I think that there is a difficulty in comparing strength of schedule. I think with that difficulty creates a hailstorm of opinion, and who knows? The only thing I can tell you is you get to the back end of a schedule in this conference, and you first assign a young coach to find out how many of their players are no longer with them. So, in other words, they go through a schedule, and there are a number of guys who aren’t playing, so who have been their backups? I think there are a number of real quality conferences that play great football week-in and week-out, and I think there should be serious consideration to that. I only know this about this conference. The highest ranked team to come out of this conference should well have an opportunity to play in the national championship game. Certainly I’m prejudice, but the reality of it is I don’t know if there is a finer, more competitive conference in America, and certainly at some point in time and it has in certainly the last half of decade, it will be very significant when it comes to who plays in the game.”

“Understand this. Great teams are great teams. It’s based on a championship nucleus. It’s based on skill and ability. It’s putting it together and the chemistry of that team. Great teams can come from any conference. There isn’t any question, but it’s that team that can prove over a length of schedule that they have played the best and deserve the opportunity to then represent all of college football in that game. I’m being as evasive as I can be. I’m certain that it creates great opinion and great conversation as we go forward. I hope to be very interested in that opinion and conversation as we go forward.”

Other has nothing to add to the conversation as we go forward.

-30-

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

You Can't Make This Stuff Up: The Grass Eating Edition



Les Miles was fed up. Or not. Here's the deal....

Not only did he eat grass on the sidelines during LSU's Saturday win over Alabama -- go here for more (I thought, watching it live, that he'd dropped a sunflower seed and, during the defining moment of the game, took the time to reach down and pick it up. Sometimes, when you really crave a seed, I mean, you REALLY crave a seed! I've been there) ... but he also ... well, I'll let my friend Other explain ...


After enduring weeks of criticism and bellyaching from fans Les had enough.
We weren't satisfied with seven wins and only one loss (and that to the Heisman guy).
Even when they'd win we'd complain about play choices and time running out and whatnot.
Some of us would even voice displeasure from the stands during a win.
Les was tired of it so I guess he showed us.
He decided to throw the ball down field, make some unpredictable play calls, utilize more of their talent, and manage the clock.
Just like we had been begging him to do.
I think he did it out of spite.

There were many gems in Monday's press conference including more info about
using a pinch of Bermuda between cheek and gum but this was my favorite:

Here's Miles at his weekly news conference, on if the big plays in the passing game have been there all year and just weren't executed...

"I think the open week, we took time to do some things in the passing game that we needed to do and redo and things that have been there all year, yes, but that we needed to execute better and continue to press in the same direction. I think our football team recognizes when they see us practice that we can throw the football, and we're coming. It just needs to stay there, and we need to continue to execute it that way. Show what we have, not necessarily malfunction for some reason."

Beautiful!

So, I (teddy) conclude that, in all phases of the game – eating grass, calling or not calling plays, press conference rhetoric – this may have been Coach Miles' finest hour.

Next up for LSU: ULM, Saturday night in Tiger Stadium, where the grass takes good.

-30-

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

40 Years and 63 Yards Ago ...


Monday was the 40th anniversary of one of the most famous moments in National Football League history and in New Orleans Saints history.


Click here to read Monday's column from our old friend Peter Finney at The Times Picayune and see video of the kick.


A sidebar: Mr Finney, one of the most beautiful human beings ever and a wonderful columnist, was covering the game and left the pressbox during the final minute of the game to get down to the field and locker room to write up what appeared to be another Saints loss. He was in the Tulane Stadium elevator when Dempsey's kick cleared the crossbar.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

More from 'You Can't Make This Stuff Up...'




Opening Statement gems from the Nov. 1 LSU/Alabama Game Week press conference in Baton Rouge from the man under the hat, as chosen by my friend Other, who appreciates a good quote, even if he doesn't understand it:

"Offensively we worked both quarterbacks and we will stay with both quarterbacks.
It is a necessity that we need both quarterbacks' skills."

"I think our defense is looking forward to focusing on tackling tailbacks
and focusing on preparing for a very talented offense,
but one in which we understand the complexities a little bit better."

"I can tell you that we look forward to big games,
and whenever you line up against Alabama, it's a big game.
It is one in which will be approached with the mindset of
let's just play and let's enjoy how we play."

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Texas Rangers: An abbreviated personal history...




The first World Series appearance by the Rangers inspired, for lack of a better term, the column in this Sunday's Times in Shreveport and News-Star in Monroe. I have a semi-long history with our nearest big-league team...Sort of like Toby Harrah, who played shortstop for the Rangers for a bit and whose name is the same frontwards as backwards, but unlike Bump Wills, who made the cover of SI and ... not much else. (Not that I wouldn't have loved to have had his 'career'!)

Here's the column, and below that, more useless information ...



THE RANGERS WEREN'T GOOD, AND THAT MADE THEM BETTER
Teddy

Their owners moved the Washington Senators to Texas in 1972 not necessarily to become the New York Yankees of the South, but instead to become a sort of poor-man’s country club for a fan base that sported “The West Wasn’t Won With Registered Guns” bumper stickers on its pickup trucks.

Having just moved to the Ark-La-Tex and gotten a driver’s license, that was plenty big-league enough for me. Win (rarely) or lose, I have appreciated since then my many dealings with your historically colorful and hard-to-figure Texas Rangers, champions of the American League and, even as we speak, in the World Series for the first time.

The baseball gods have turned the water into Gatorade.

A Rangers fan due to proximity more than passion, I nonetheless am no bandwagon annie. I saw the Rangers even before they were the Rangers: 1966 or ’67, in Washington, 8-1 losers to the Kansas City A’s and Ruston infielder Wayne Causey in old D.C. Stadium, later renamed RFK Stadium. I was 6 or 7 and this was the first big-league game I’d ever been to. The sounds. The smells. The colors. The A’s sleeveless jerseys. It beat climbing to the top of the Washington Monument, I’ll tell you that.

My first Rangers game in Arlington, I got no closer to the field than the parking lot. 1974. We’d moved here from Carolina and my parents took me and my sisters to Six Flags Over Texas. I voted for a Rangers game instead. Didn’t happen. But I talked my dad into pulling the Impala into the parking lot that night and, thanks to the Baseball Gods, there was the frail and aging former Yankees manager Casey Stengel – he would be dead in less than two years – getting out of a golf cart by the press gate. Had on an all-white suit and carried a cane.

My heart stopped.

The P.A. guy was announcing “Graig Nettles, New York Yankees third baseman!,” as the next batter. All I can tell you is that I could not believe it was happening, even as we drove past car after empty car, away from Stengel, away from the stadium, my ignorant family still too jacked up over the log ride to understand that we were in the presence of greatness.

I didn’t ask if we could go in. I didn’t ask if we could turn around. The Stengel sighting (I’d name my son ‘Casey’) and hearing an actual batter announced on a big-league P.A. system was more than I expected and more than I deserved. I thanked Fate and the Rangers for the timing, for the first of many happy moments they’ve given me, none of which involved them winning or losing. I didn’t care. Just like the Rangers’ didn’t.

We’ve run out of innings so I’ll put the rest of this on the Teddy blog at teddyallen.blogspot.com, but one last story: Once our church youth group went to Six Flags (everybody always wanted to go to stupid Six Flags!) and I snuck next door to a 1 p.m. Rangers game, lucked into a ticket by the dugout, and as a 17-year-old was right there by Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford for the Old Timer’s Game before the real game started. Glory Hallelujah! It was a thousand degrees hot and the best church trip I ever went on. It was the day I started believing in miracles.
*
Teddy Allen, teddy@latech.edu, is a Times columnist.

Supplemental Flotsam...

My first Rangers game in person, when I actually got to to INSIDE the stadium, was 1975-ish against Kansas City. First homer I ever saw was from big John Mayberry, and Hal McRae was mad about a being called out on a close play at first, and Harmon Killebrew was in the dugout. In person. I wept. Freddy Patek, the Royals’ 5-4 short shortstop, homered too. Hit it in the tiny gap, maybe three feet wide, that ran between the top of the outfield wall and the bottom of the grandstands, all around the outfield;

Saw Fergie Jenkins start in the first game of a twinight doubleheader against the then California Angels. The temperature on the big Texas clock in left was 101 at gametime. Fergie went the distance. Times have changed;

Saw that doubleheader with the youth director at my church, whose name was Charlie, and his wife. I was 17 years old?, maybe? Now I know why I was asked to go: They needed me to help drive! Got a ticket, my first, on the Interstate, just west of Shreveport. And a few weeks later, Lyman Bostok, my favorite Angel not counting Rod Carew or Nolan Ryan or Gabriel, was killed by gunfire in a case of mistaken identity;

I saw Johnny Pesky dancing in the Red Sox dugout between innings. That was the same game in which Yaz stepped out of the box after a swing, sort of favored his back a minute, then stepped back in and grounded out weakly and then came out of the game. He's mix the next couple of weeks and the Yankees, way behind, would begin making up ground until catcing them on the final day of the season and beating them in the one-game playoff on the homer by Bucky Dent. And all that started with that one swing by Yaz in Arlington Stadium, July of 1978. Didn't seem like a big deal that day ... turns out that it was;

Billy Martin wore a little gold cross by the T on his Rangers cap. I remember him going out to remove a starter named Hand (maybe Bob Hand?) who was training about 147-0 in maybe the fifth. 1975 or so? But I loved me some Billy Martin;

July 4 of '75 or '76 or '77, me and Coach E drove over from West Monroe and saw Richie Zisk single in the 9th to beat the Yankees, then we watched fireworks, then we drove all the way back home;

Me and Jaybo and Ramz -- can't remember where Matth was -- went to the Arlington water park for the day (Wet 'n Wild?) -- this was '82 or '83 -- then over to the stadium and watched a rookie named Saberhagen get pounded; and we thought he was supposed to be good;

Ended up in the coaches' office eating pizza with Rangers coach Art Howe once when I was covering a game, but that was my first time to cover one and how I got in the coaches' room I'm not sure. . . I was trying hard to get to the locker room ... So we start talking about our mutual friend Big Charlie Wilkinson and it took me a while to get out of there ...

Took my son Casey to see the Orioles, his favorite team (because it was my favorite team; he's since come to understand that they are the most under achieving team in all of professional sports and will be so until our current owner is misplaced), to a game, just us two, in the middle of the week. He was probably 7 or 8 so it was `97 or '98, in there. He loved center fielder Brady Anderson. He wore a Brady shirt to the game. But we went to the Rangers souvenier store and he wore a Pudge shirt DURING the game and left Brady in the car. He slept all the way home...

For three consecutive years -- '99 through '01 -- we took Little Leaguers over there to play in Dr Pepper Park, then go to a game. The first year, I got 88 tickets. The next year, 124 tickets. The next year, 180-something tickets and four Little League teams from Shreveport played in the neat little park in the shadow of the big stadium before walking over to the game. It was a beautiful thing...parents, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles, grandfolks .... much fun...

Saw Nolan Ryan pitch in his final year. He gave up a three-run homer to the Orioles' No. 3 hitter early, lasted six and got the win. It was a hot Sunday afternoon...

The first game Casey ever went to was against the Indians. We left in the sixth or seventh and I watched the rest of the game on the hotel TV. He said he would stay "if they let me bat. Do you think they'll let me bat?" He was 6 and he was serious...

Watched Harvey Haddix pitch in an Old-Timers Game, a re-creation of the 1960 World Series, Yankees vs. Pirates. Loved his sleeveless jersey ...

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thessalonians Series, Part 5

DIFFERENT STANDARDS
1 Thess 4

1Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
3It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4that each of you should learn to control his own body[a] in a way that is holy and honorable, 5not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 6and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. 7For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
9Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more.

MEASURES GOD LAYS OUT TO US AS FOLLOWERS

* Christians are to live by different standards than the world's ever-changing standards ... Judiasm, emperor worship and Greek 'anything goes' religions and attitudes were the standards for Thessalonica at the time of this writing...(the mid first century...)

1. Live in order the please God (v. 1)

2. Live a Life of Continual Growth (v 1 and v 3 ... "be sanctified..." meaning to be 'set apart
Justified -- moment of salvation
Sanctified -- daily walk
Glorified -- death and resurrection

3. Live Under Biblical Authority (v 4 and 8)
Park of our problem is we're not really reading the World ... and when we do, we often apply it selectively

4. Live a Life of Purity (v. 3-7 ... moral purity vs sexual immorality)
v. 6 -- Don't defraud your neighbor ... sex with someone besides spouse defrauds them and their/your future spouse

5. Live in a Way that Blesses Others (v 9-10)
Am I doing life in a way that lifts up other people?

* Hold yourself to God's standards. This is aht makes life matter...

-30-

Friday, October 29, 2010

Whale Wars, Part 6




(My notes from Sunday if you trust my note taking. From Dr Chris at FBC Ruston.)


PROPHETIC OR POLITICALLY CORRECT?
Jonah 3: 1-4

1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 2 "Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you."
3 Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important city—a visit required three days. 4 On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned."

We live in a 'day of political correctness.'
In the original way, political correctness was a good thing, as it was defined. It was a case of being sensitive to others. Now, it has moved to silly degrees and most people seem TOO sensitive. Now we're asked to compromise the truth.
Christmas tree = Holiday tree
Loudmouth = Verbally Abundant
And on like that.
Political Correctness is not new. In Jeremiah 28, a prophet downplays Jeremiah's prophecy. (If you don't want to go to that chapter, I can tell you that in the final verse, the false prophet buys the farm.)
Our World Needs Prophetic Voices
Jonah 3:1-4 ... Jonah tells Nineveh to 'duck!'
* A prophet's main job is to proclaim God's truth, AND also sometimes to prophecy (of particular coming events.) ... So, ALL of us are called to speak God's truth to the world around us.
* True prophets have, in the Bible, always been politically correct. They kept getting killed.
* We need prophets ... in our homes, schools, at work, in our churches ...
FOUNDATIONS OF BEING A PROPHET
1. God's Truth (v.2) "...give them MY message..."
a. Tell it as God's word and truth reveals it
b. Get God's Word IN you
2. Love -- don't steamroll people;
"speak the truth after it's baked in love..."
(v 3:10) ... " When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened."
(v 4:11 --God says to Jonah, "But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"
I Corinthians 4:11 -- "..do everything in love..."
3. Redemption -- v. 10 - compassion
* God sent Jonah not so He could destroy them but so He could redeem them
* Don't talk of hell as if you are glad people are going there! Share redemption instead!
Love, Redeem, Restore, Help
A good prophet is like a good parent
A. Will you be a prophet? Can you have the will/guts/understanding that, sometimes to people, it might be loving to say, "I'm afraid of whwere you're going to spend eternity" or "I'm seeing some things in your life that are far from God's Word and that's not how you should live."
B. Will you HEAR the truth? -- Nineveh did and was redeemed. Hear the prophets...
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Temps Rise as LSU Game Pre-empted ...




An update from my friend Other concerning LSU's coming in second to Auburn Saturday -- not that any of you with television sets in the Shreveport-Bossier area would know that...

Other said:
As an LSU fan, I don't guess I've ever been more disappointed or disgusted than I was Saturday. At times I tried to laugh to keep from crying or screaming. It didn't work.
Who was in charge of the game plan? What a debacle.
Terrible choices. Embarrassing performance. Ineffective, repetitive, but, based on past efforts, predictable.
Somebody should be fired. Because it probably won't end with the Auburn game.
We'll likely see more of the same with Alabama, Ole Miss, and Arkansas.
But that's enough about KSLA-TV.


ALSO, a Les Miles quote post-woodshed (and maybe my favorite of the season, though it's funny and, un-Les-like, sane):

“There’s a want in every football player to take someone on, and that’s what we did. Sometimes when the person is 250 pounds it can be a little much.”

(What he coulda said:)

"Some's got it and some ain't."
-30-

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thessalonians Series, Part 4

My note taking from Sunday night, if you trust my note taking: From Dr Chris, FBC Ruston

"MISSION: PEOPLE"
1 Thess 2:17-20
1 Thess 3
1 Thess 4: 9-10

We are to be on a people mission.

Christ's final words before the ascension were instructions ...
To love people
Win people
Train/Disciple them
Matthew 28:19-20 ... The Great Commission

1. People Must Be Our Passion (2: 17-20)

2. Encourage People (3:1-9)
Every church needs a minister of encouragement ..Not discouragement. Encourage others with kind words. Timothy came back to Paul from Thessalonica all fired up about the faithfullness of the church there. That encouraged Timothy, Timothy encouraged Paul, and Paul wrote back to encourage the church.

3. Pray For Them (v 3:10)
A theologian once said that if we thought about it, we'd find that 'we don't gossip about the people we pray for, and we don't pray for the people we gossip about."

4. Love, Love, Love People (v. 3:12)
May Godlike love be overwhelming and powerful ... (4:9-10 ... 'love more and more and more...')

We talk about love a lot because God talks about it a lot
Proverbs 10:12 "Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs."

Can God use one person to change the world? Pastor Rick Warren ("The Purpose Driven Life") was asked if he felt he could, with God's leadership, change the world. Warren said all he knew was that on his tombstone, he wanted, "At least he tried."

We are always on a People mission...
-30-

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sermon on a Stick: Whale Wars, Part 5

My notes from Sunday morning if you trust my note taking, from Dr. Chris at FBC Ruston...


"EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED (OR WILL NEED)!"

At some point, we will each need a second chance. God is the God of a second chance.

Jonah 3:1 "Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah A SECOND TIME:"

1. We All Need This
Cain. Joseph. Moses. King David. Peter. Saul/Paul. The Bible is filled with people who received -- and accepted -- a second chance from God.

In the 1980s, .38 Special had a hit song with "A Heart Needs a Second Chance." All hearts do.

(In the 1990s, Lyle Lovett recorded "God Will." Part of the lyrics:
"And who keeps on loving you
When you've been lying
Saying things ain't what they seem
God does
But I don't
God will
But I won't
And that's the difference
Between God and me."

Ouch. Often, we're unwilling to give others a second chance.)

2. What The Second Chance Does Not Mean
Jonah 1:15-17 -- Jonah exercises his free will to rebel.
He put others and himself in terrible danger, broke trusts with others ...
Don't play games with the grade of God ... Gal.6:7 "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows."

3. Embrace The Second Chance
This is How We Find It

A. Repentance
Jonah 2:1 -- "From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God."
Jonah gets right with God
Get rid of the junk and clutter that harms your spiritual life

B. Do Right
Jonah 3:3 "Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh..."
Jonah's story illustrates that the whole Bible is about God putting people BACK into the ministry
(Illustration of Seabiscuit -- don't throw things/people away just because it's/they are a little banged up.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

You Can't Make This Stuff Up, (take 5)



Other's picks from the Mad Hatter's Monday press conference. (Other is a friend of mine and a man who, like me, will find his life much less funny once LSU fires its coach.)

On the 'sporadic' passing game...
"Some of which is the situation in the game and one, to manage the game effectively and controlling the ball on the ground. Certainly you'd like to throw the football better than we have. In the McNeese game, I would have certainly thought we would have hit a post or two, but they did a great job. Sometimes you have to give credit to the opponent. They did a good job defending us. We'd like to throw the football better. I guarantee you we are practicing it well."

On the pressure to respond after Auburn's offense scores...
"You're going to be able to do the things that you can do, and I think we're talented enough when called upon to have the passing game operate. I think that will happen. I think when called upon to control the ball on the ground, that's certainly the piece that we also have to continue to do. When you get into a game against your best opponents, you're certainly challenged best. We'll certainly see how it matches up."

On if he feels throwing the football with Jordan Jefferson at this point is a good idea...
"We're seeing the ability to throw the football in practice. It just needs to manifest itself in the game. It needs to show up. I think both quarterbacks will eventually get there. It would be timely certainly this weekend."

Reminds me of a reassuring quote from another confident guy with a hat ...

Monday, October 18, 2010

New TIMES debuts today ...



The greatest change in look and content for The Times in the 14 decades it has served as the heart and conscience for the Shreveport-Bossier City area is in your hands today as you read this story. The new look and press are called Berliner, for the sleek European-style format that is only used in a small handful of U.S. newspapers. Beginning today, you have it in The Times...

Read more of this story by John Andrew Prime and check out more of the new Times at shreveporttimes.com. The picture above is a mock up; today's lede story is the one above with the headline, "Start the Press ... New press, look debut today"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sermon on a Stick: 'Certainty?!"

(From Sunday at FBC Ruston and Dr. Chris, if you trust my note taking...)

" CERTAINTY?!"

Write down YES, NO, and MAYBE. Which one would you circle today, right now, if the question was, "Do you know, if you die today, where you will spend eternity?"

* The Bible is Clear About Life After Death

1. We face the judgement of God (Hebrews 9:27) .. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment

2. Heaven is real -- (1 John 5:11) And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

3. Hell is real -- 1 John 5:12 .. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

* The Bible Is Clear About How We Get To Heaven

1. 1 John 5:11-13 "Believe" here means to understand it and trust it intellectually, and surrender/follow ... "11And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."

2. John 14:6 -- 6Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

* Are You Certain About Your Eternity?

1 John 5:13 .. 13I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

*** Six 'markers' that offer salvation assurance

A. WHEN were you saved? John 3:3 ... 3In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
When is the day you bowed your heart to Christ?

B. CHANGE
2 Corinthians 5:17 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

C. DESIRES ... desires change when our hearts change
1 John 2:6 6Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

D. PEOPLE -- God gives us a natural love for people when we're saved
1 John 4:7-8 ... Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love
1 John 4:20-21 .. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

E. REPENTANCE .. 1 John 3:6 6No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.
Sin is not the saved person's habitual lifestyle

F. HEART -- the Holy Spirit will have a testimony in the new person
1 John 5:9-10 9We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.
John 16:8 8When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt[a] in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:


The Holy Spirit gives comfort OR conviction.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Secretariat




(Reprinted from The Times, today...)

TALE OF A PURE HEART

“Just before noon the horse was led haltingly into a van next to the stallion barn, and there a concentrated barbiturate was injected into his jugular. Forty-five seconds later there was a crash as the stallion collapsed. His body was trucked immediately to Lexington, Ky., where Dr. Thomas Swerczek, a professor of veterinary science at the University of Kentucky, performed the necropsy. All of the horse's vital organs were normal in size except for the heart.

‘We were all shocked,’ Swerczek said. ‘I've seen and done thousands of autopsies on horses, and nothing I'd ever seen compared to it. The heart of the average horse weighs about nine pounds. This was almost twice the average size, and a third larger than any equine heart I'd ever seen. And it wasn't pathologically enlarged. All the chambers and the valves were normal. It was just larger. I think it told us why he was able to do what he did.’”


So begins the classic piece from Sports Illustrated’s William Nack, whose 1990 tale of 1973 Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing winner Secretariat is worth reading over and over again.

I hope the movie is as good. I hear it is. Can’t see it fast enough. (And not just because it stars Diane Lane. Hello!)

“Secretariat” opened Friday. Columnist Cal Thomas calls it “‘The Blind Side’ meets ‘Chariots of Fire’ meets ‘National Velvet.’ It is ‘Annie’ on four legs.”

“The sun’ll come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there’ll be sun…”

Like Annie, we all run on hope. It’s trite and hints at sentimentality, but a healthy optimism and focused hope sure makes the day brighter. Like the story of Depression Era underdog Seabiscuit, another horse who became a national celebrity, a story like Secretariat’s reminds you of the possibilities, of all the good that, with heart, can happen. You gotta have heart…

In beautiful blue and white checkered colors, Secretariat won the Triple Crown in 1973, the final leg by an absurd record of 31 lengths. In the Belmont Stakes, Nack wrote that the thoroughbred ran “rhythmic as a rocking horse.” Secretariat started sprinting from the gate – and never stopped. One of the most magnificent photographs in all of sports is the jockey Ron Turcotte looking over his shoulder down the stretch – and being all alone. Just the horse and the rider, and Belmont Park rocking.

Heart.

Secretariat was euthanized 21 years ago this very week, victim of a painful hoof disease that in this case was incurable. But in retirement, tens of thousands had come to see him, a chestnut colt who, in 1973, had given the nation a break from the confusion and discontent of the Vietnam War and Watergate. When he died, millions mourned him, including Nack, a rookie turf writer for Sports Illustrated in 1973 but a longtime friend of Secretariat’s by the time the famous horse died.

Nack wrote about the time Secretariat had snatched his notebook away and refused to give it back. He wrote about the time Secretariat picked up a rake in his teeth and began cleaning his own stall. And “I told about that magical, unforgettable instant,” Nack wrote, “frozen now in time, when he turned for home, appearing out of a dark drizzle at Woodbine, near Toronto, in the last race of his career, 12 lengths in front and steam puffing from his nostrils as from a factory whistle, bounding like some mythical beast of Greek lore.”

Heart makes the difference. In stories like Seabiscuit’s. In stories like Secretariat’s. In stories like yours and mine.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Whale Wars (4th in a series)

(My notes from Sunday if you trust my note taking. From Dr. Chris at FBC Ruston...)



HOW TO FIND IT

Jonah 2: 1-9

* We lose things all the time: keys, car phones, even our minds! We're always going to lose things. So it's important to know how to FIND what we REALLY NEED.

How DO we find what we really need?

1. Turn To God
Psalm 46:10 "Be STILL and know that I am God..."
We miss finding God because we won't be still

2. Turn To God No Matter What Your Situation Is
A. If things are good, turn to God
Sometimes our comfort keeps us from hearing God ... A great sign of spiritual maturity is CONSISTENCY ... turning to God daily.
B. If things are really bad, turn to God ...turn as Jonah did.
a. Repent --- Jonah 2:8 ... "worthless idols" are temporary things that we 'worship.' We need a heart and direction change.
We can't head in the wrong direction and end up in the right place.
b. Do what you should -- (v. 2:9) ... Pastor R.G. Lee said what when Christians slip, they neglect doing to church, reading their Bibles, tithing and praying ... And sharing Christ...What needs to be rekindled in my life today?
Worship equals surrender.

3. Turn to God and He Will Work In Your Life.
(Jonah 3:2 -- "1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 2 "Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you."
God restored Jonah and set him on the right path.
James 4:8 -- "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you."

Things might not turn out like we want them to, but we'll turn out like God wants us to.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What Is the LSU Coach Listening to in Those Headphones?...




My friend Other told me that one of his buddies, an LSU fan, said about the team's 5-0 record yet laughingstock reputaton: "We're beating folks with one coach tied behind our back." That's funny. My opinion...

So, here are some things me and Other think might be running through the headphones. We know it's not offensive football plays being sent in from the coaching booth upstairs. Hey, he's not THAT stupid...

"The ocean. Like from seashells..."

Rosetta Stone's 'How to Speak Portuguese"

Merle Haggard's "Wonderin' What in Sam Hill's Goin' On"

The Farm Market Report


NPR

Highlights from the '04 and '07 seasons

Nothing. They just keep down the noise from the crowd...

You Can't Make This Stuff Up , Take 4: (More Meth Valley Hatspeak...)


LSU head coach Les Miles spoke to the media on Monday to recap Saturday's victory over Tennessee.

See the the complete transcript at http://www.lsusports.net/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=5200&ATCLID=205006083

It's pretty lengthy but here are a few favorites chosen by my friend and LSU go-to guy Other...

On who decides who is going to play quarterback in between offensive series...
"Before the series generally there is conversation that would involve me, and during the series generally that's the play-caller. Certain situations speak to (Jordan) Jefferson, and certain plays speak to Jefferson as well as certain plays speak to Jarrett Lee."

On repeating the clock management issues...
"I think it's a completely different scenario. It's a clock management issue without question, but it's not the same. This specifically was trying to use a down, not give up a down, and that was a mistake. That was not the mistake that was made at Ole Miss. The mistake that was made here also dealt with clock management, but it was a completely different scenario and will be approached in a like fashion. The correction will be made very well."

On why there is a disconnect between what happens on the sideline and if Jefferson should have been more assertive in that situation...
"It would have been very easy for us to signal to clock it and have him clock it. The issue was trying to facilitate the call on the field and get the personnel that you want in the game. That decision was made prior to the time understanding. The 'clock it' call certainly was the absolute best call at that time, and it would have gone in the order that it would have anyway. We would have used the play that we used, and that would have been the last play. We would only have gotten another one after we choose the run. The next play, we could have scripted another play, but we would have never gotten it off. We like the calls that we made, and we did want to move in and out with quarterbacks, so moving in and out with quarterbacks and changing personnel certainly added to the mistake and certainly the multiplicity of the things that had to all take place in a short amount of time."

Monday, October 4, 2010

THE METH VALLEY MIRACLE!: You Can't Make This Stuff Up (3) -- Special 'Coach of the Week' Edition




From my friend Other after LSU's 'had 'em all the way' shellacking of Tennessee Saturday in Tiger Stadium or, as I like to call it (in honor of the offensive coaches), Meth Valley.

I take back everthing I said about Les Miles not being quite up to the job.

What an absolutely brilliant sequence.

Who'd've ever thought about pretending to be confused and disorganized just to confuse and disorganize the other team?

First you tease the Vols by yanking the quarterback who had just driven down to the two with some clutch throws.
And when you run your quarterback instead of your money guy and don't get in, you have him seem as if he doesn't care that the clock is running out.
Next you shuffle players as if you don't already have a play strategy for no time outs at the goal line needing a touchdown to win.
Then you have him dance around with a very convincing I-don't-know-what-I'm-doing-back-here act.
He then pretends to forget about signaling for the ball but the center snaps it anyway and it rolls harmlessly down field as time runs out.
So Tennessee is convinced they've pulled off the greatest upset in Dooley's entire life.
But before they can dump the Gatorade, a la Bluegrass Miracle style, they're hammered in the gut with the penalty that you knew was coming all along.
Finally you send the team back with the real play, the money guy goes in – ballgame.
You don't even try the extra point that they could block and take the other way for two to tie.

I take my mad hat off to you, Riverboat Gambler.

I'd be lookin for Coach of the Week recognition.

Other

Friday, October 1, 2010

You Can't Make This Stuff Up (2) ...




More from LSU football coach Les Miles, who is thinking of using his most heralded defensive player on offense. Thoughts from my friend Other follow Les' thoughts (for lack of a better term):

On Peterson: "I don't know when he'll be ready, but there are some thought processes for him on offense."
Other's response: Will he need a bucket, so he can put it on his head to think, like Sgt. Carter had Gomer do?

On booing: "I have a scotoma against all that other stuff," Miles said. "I don't see it. I can't reflect on it. It draws no feel. It's non-descriptive. You kidding me? You have to understand something. I saw Jack Lambert play (for Pittsburgh). He didn't have any teeth. He was tall and he was tough, and he made every tackle. He was from Kent, Ohio. And I want you to know something, I had great respect for him. Wow. And Jim Brown. I remember touching him, Jim Brown, No. 32 in a Browns uniform. Are you kidding me? I was from a middle-income home. So it was such a rare treat to be in a stadium of color and music and excitement that I elevated it well above anything that could be negative. I promise you that (booing) never came across my mind. The only negativity of Cleveland Municipal Stadium was it was too cold in late December. What more do I need to say?"
Other's response: Jack Lambert didn't have any teeth so LSU fans should not boo.

(BONUS COVERAGE: The term scotoma is also used metaphorically in psychology to refer to an individual's inability to perceive personality traits in themselves that are obvious to others.)

On telling about Peterson practicing on offense instead of keeping it from the opponents: "Only because I've been asked," Miles said. "If I hadn't been asked I would have never said it. And to let people know that we give consideration to things that are obvious. If my grandmother was alive, she would give consideration to playing Peterson on offense."
Other's response: If my grandmother was alive, she would give consideration to playing Shepard or Lee at quarterback.

In conclusion:
"I think our special teams is a reason that we win," Miles said. "If the offense can throw it a little bit better and continue to run it like we have, we might see if we can parlay this team into a better position than the 4-0 position that we are currently in."

(I don't know what to say...(Sort of like the LSU coach.)

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

You Can't Make This Stuff Up...


My friend Other sent me this. It's a portion of the transcript from Monday night's press conference. Here LSU football coach Les Miles is speaking, for lack of a better term, on if he has received any negative feedback on his comments about the booing after the game Saturday…

“Not really. I don’t necessarily spend a lot of time with my ear to the phone. I’m not necessarily looking for reviews. I think those things are personal choices, and I guess I’m stuck this way. I’m a purest when it comes to sports. I always felt like when you step in between those white lines, it was without regard to race, creed or color, that any obvious advantages of station and life were lost and that those people who stepped in between those white lines played for score and competition, and any time you stepped onto the field with an opponent, you stepped onto the field his equal and not more than, and in fact your greatest accomplishment to your opponent would be the great effort that you would use to prepare and play that team. I’ve never in my life seen the reason to root negatively. I root strong for the team that I support.”


Uh.....what?

It will be a sad, sad day in my life when he is fired. I mean, you can't make this stuff up. You just can't. Bless his heart...

1-2 Thessalonians (3rd in a series...)

(My note-taking from Sunday, if you trust it. From Dr Chris at FBC Ruston.)

BEING RIGHT ON THESE

1 Thess 2: 13-16

Paul is writing to this relatively new church about some things they must be 'right' on ..

1. The Word (v. 13)

a. The divine expression of the ultimate authority
The Bible IS the word of God, not just the words of God.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 --"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

2 Peter 1:20-21 -- "Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."

b. Points us to salvation
2 Timothy 3:15 "...and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus..."

c. It will continually feed the soul of the believer
* A lot of us are bored with Christianity, and when a friend asks if we're in the Word, we are usually NOT. (We want growth by osmosis.)
Heb 4:12 "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

2. Suffering (v. 14)

a. Make sure you suffer for the right reasons
b. Know it is part of the Christian way (v. 14-15 and ...) Mt. 5:11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me."
c. Suffer well (v. 14) "...imitators of the churches of God..."
* Be consistent
* Be Christlike
* Positive attitude
Persistence and optimism and a happy heart; that's how to "suffer well."
Suffering, even at the hands of religious people, is a part of the Christian walk.

3. Don't Hinder the Gospel of Jesus (v. 16)

* Romans 10:14 "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?"
* Be a springboard to the Gospel, not a barrier.
* ANYTHING we do to hinder the spreading of the Gospel is of the devil
* 2 Peter 3:9 .."The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

How do we hinder the Gospel?
* We don't share it.
* Bad example
* We stay mad at the church or 'religion'

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