Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

May the Lord bless your New Year!

I guess we're old now - Julie and I, of our own accord, decided to stay home on New Year's Eve. We made a rolicking trip to Tyler today to trade in a gift we received duplicates of and to purchase a new Bible for my use here at home (my old one took a swim in Florida and has, somehow, never quite been the same!). Wow! What a thrill! Well, for us, it was fun. We we're back before 5 PM, driving quickly past the crowded Beer stores in Coffee City.

It's amazing how much effort some people make in celebrating the entrance of the New Year but make almost no preparation for the actual New year! I hope that's not you! My plan is to read through the Bible at least once this year and to read through the New Testament at least twice. In the days to come, I'll share with you some of the things I do in my personal walk with the Lord to keep it fresh all year long.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

One of my favorite Christmas gifts

Christmas day always brings surprises doesn't it? I got one today. My amazing in-laws got me "Manuscripts of the Greek Bible"by Bruce M Metzger, a book I've long sought, even with great passion, but to no avail.I have no idea how they found it but I was surprised to say the least.I also got a great portable air compressor, and a gift card. More later - I'm on the Blackberry right now.

Merry Christmas

Julie and I arrived in Baton Rouge yesterday morning, greeted ever so warmly by her mom and dad, sister Jennifer, brother-in-law Jonathan and their children, Russ and Laura. We had a wonderful day, celebrated with a cajun meal of creole for supper. May the Lord bless your Christmas celebration and grant you a wonderful new year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lunch with Santa Claus

For lunch today, Michael Hicks, member of FBC and Director of Operation Services at the Tyler Salvation Army, took me to a little Mexican place near downtown Tyler. After lunch, he toured myself and Kris Hutchins through the facility. Today at the Salvation Army was not just a Wednesday - it was the Wednesday before Christmas which means an army of volunteers giving away toys, food and bicycles. As I stood there with Michael and the volunteers, the thought occurred to me "I just had lunch with Santa Claus!" It's safe to say many of these children wouldn't have a Christmas without the work of the Salvation Army so it was amazing to get to see it all in action.
There's no way I can adequately describe it, so I used my handy-dandy camera on our new Blackberry and captured these shots. Trust me when I say these pictures don't convey the powerful emotion I sensed while I was there. Such a graciousness among the volunteers. Deep gratitude on the behalf of the recipients. The pride of the administrators that it was moving along so well and the joy at the thought of the happy children on the other end. Amazing. Take time today to thank God for the work of the Salvation Army. Take a moment to pray for those who needed the help. Take time to thank God for his goodness to you and your family.

Monday, December 17, 2007

End of the Year

The end of the year is always a time for evaluation for me - did I accomplish what I wanted to accomplish this year? Was I passionate about what I wanted to do? Did I put my whole heart and mind into the service of the Lord? How can I better use the skills God has blessed me with in the next year? Between now and the end of the year, pray with me for God to give us eyes to see ourselves as He sees us and how He intends to use us in 2008.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Finally - a local cell phone number!

Okay, so we've been here more than 6 months now - I guess we're safe to move our cell phone numbers to a local exchange! I'd grown rather attached to the old one - I got it when I first got a phone in 2001 (had a pager up till then - how old school is that!). It's gone now, however, and if you dial it, I have no idea who'll you'll be calling. Drop me an email if you'd like the new digits or catch me so I can show off my newest toy.

You see, I deeply desired an iPhone - you know, the coolest phone on the planet? But I couldn't stomach the $400 price tag. Nevertheless, we were due to get new phones, so we looked around carefully. Our guy (who helped us through getting a mess straightened out - thanks Dale!) showed me his Blackberry, the newest one. Get this - we caught them on a one-day manager special on the stupid thing, so it was the same price as a Razor. I'm no fool! Give me the Blackberry! It has more features than I'll ever learn to use, but it connects with my machines (already tried both work and home machines with it), tracks my whereabouts on it's nifty little GPS, has a browser, cooperates with my gmail and hotmail emails, watches movies and plays music - it just doesn't "look" as cool as the iPhone. For the$300 difference, I can live with it! Ask me about it and I'll happily show it off!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Speaking of POWER SOURCE. . .

This family in the Frisco, TX area, surely makes nice with their neighbors most of the year so they can create such havoc during Christmas! Check this out!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A fine Christmas gift for your favorite Pastor

I haven't admitted it publically here, but I'm an Apple guy. Yes, I'm one of those annoying people who believe if Apple Computers ruled the world, we'd all be a lot happier (except Bill Gates, of course). As such, I keep up with their technology and buy their products (when I can). They just opened a new store in NYC. I can think of no finer gift than to send your favorite pastor to NYC to see this fabulous store in person! Here's a look at the coolest store you're likely to see!
Cool, huh?

A good alternative

Sorry to be so chatty today, but I actually have some time this morning to catch up. I received two emails last week that I thought warranted your notice. The first is a video created by a 15 yr old Lizzie Palmer recognizing our men and women in the military. I've told you of the soft spot I have for our military services - I come from a long line of veterans - so I wanted to clue you in on it. The video is about 5 minutes in length and needs a high speed connection but is well worth your time. I've watched it about a dozen times now. Click here to go to it.

The other thing I got resounded within me. As a pastor, I'm bombarded with emails and requests for protests and boycotts, especially at Christmas. (On a related note, the abbreviation "X-mas" is not "X"-ing Christ out of Christmas, but shorthand for the Greek name for Christ. A Greek X translates to a "Ch" in English). While there is a time and a place for those, many times they lead to Christians appear angry, bitter or divisive, a mis-characterization the media is all too willing to oblige. I received a "Letter from Jesus" about this issue and thought it worth sharing. Here you go:
Dear Children,
It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I wasn't actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate My birthday on what was actually a time of pagan festival. Although I do appreciate being remembered anytime.

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santa's and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 - 8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up. It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5. Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary-- especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.

9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

Don't forget; I am Jesus and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember :



Another place on Sunday

I don't know if you saw it, but a gunman killed four people at two locations in Colorado on Sunday - first at a Youth with a Mission Center (YWAM - based in Tyler) in Arvada, CO and later at New Life Community Church in Colorado Springs. I'm familiar with both ministries, making it feel closer than ever before. I must confess I learned of the first shooting before I came to church Sunday morning. Throughout the service, I had to struggle to stay on task and not wonder what our security procedures are here at FBC. You can rest assured, we'll be reviewing those to insure we have a plan in the unspeakable event that a problem should arise. Pray with me for those ministries as they struggle to cope with the events of this week. Pray for those who must now plan funerals instead of purchasing Christmas gifts. Pray for Brady Boyd, pastor at New Life - he's been there only slightly longer than I've been here. Talk about a difficult transition! Ask the Lord of grace, mercy and comfort to guide them through this dark season of the soul.

Sunday Review

Wow - what a full weekend we had! From the parties over the weekend to the Christmas musical Sunday night, it was a plateful of blessing! A special thanks is due to each of you who worked so tirelessly to make our musical happen. No matter your role, your contribution was recognized by the Lord! Thanks to our musicians, our children, our decorators, our organizers, and, of course, Bro. Kern for pulling it all together. Look for pictures on our website in the days to come.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Happy Hannukah!

Today is the first day of the Jewish celebration Hannukah (sometimes spelled "Chanukah" - Hebrew doesn't translate into English very well). This 8 day celebration means "Festival of Lights" and is celebrated by lighting candles. It commemorates the re-lighting of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Maccabees after it had been desecrated. The Seleucid dynasty, led by Emperor Antiochus Epiphanes (his name means "praise of God." The Jews altered it slightly calling him 'Epimanes' - "mad dog"), had taken the Temple and slaughter a pig on the altar, smearing pig grease throughout the facility. The Maccabees confronted the Seleucids and overthrew them, retaking the Temple, cleansing it and relighting the ritually pure olive-oil lamps contained therein. There was only enough oil for the lamps to burn for a day, but miraculously, they burned for eight days until a new supply could be obtained.
The ninth candle, in the center, is called the "shamash." It's used to light the others.

Generally speaking, this festival is always in December. The shame of this celebration of light is that although it foreshadows the "Light of the World", the people of the Jewish faith still live in darkness. Pray with me for the light of truth, given to us by Jesus Christ, grant illumination to their hearts.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Fact or Fiction - "The Golden Compass"

Julie and I aren't movie-goers. Usually, we're just cheap and don't want to spend the money. But more often than that, there's usually not anything worth our time. There's a new movie about to be released that I've been asked about a lot lately. It's called "The Golden Compass" and looks very much like the recent "Chronicles of Narnia" movie or the "Lord of the Rings" series. In a manner of speaking, it shares many common themes - just coming from the other direction. Whereas C.S. Lewis wrote the "Narnia" series to aid children in understanding Christianity, Phillip Pullman wrote "The Golden Compass" to express contempt for God and, at the end of his three book series, kill God off. Color it however you like, it's there and specifically stated as such by Mr. Pullman (here's an article about it). No matter how many ways you put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig. That's my thought about this movie as well. It's still anti-Christian and heretical in nature. Curiousity draws me to it, but I'll wait so I don't have to pay. After all, I'm cheap!

If that didn't move you. . .

Yesterday's service was a true blessing. It wasn't the preaching or the music. It wasn't the handbells or even the fellowship among believers. For me, it was overwhelming to see so many of our church family surround Taylor Kirkpatrick to seek the Lord to heal him. I've been chided for praying out loud asking the Lord (in public!) to heal Taylor. My response to those who chided me was "Why not? Doesn't God delight in doing good things for his children?" What if the Lord doesn't heal him? Doesn't that mean God didn't answer your prayer? No - it doesn't mean that. It means the Lord healed Taylor permanently by letting him come home. I'm completely not worried. My business is to seek the Lord with passion and zeal - His business is to heal and carry forward His kingdom.
Put it this way - I'm in distribution. God's the management. What He does is according to His good and perfect pleasing will!

Beulah "Boots" McClaren

I got a call yesterday that Mrs McClaren, a long-time church member, is sick. I called on her today in the ICU area of Trinity Mother Frances. You'll be pleased to know she's doing well! This morning, she had a stent installed in her heart today after tests showed she had a 99% blockage of an artery in her heart. Wow. She's doing well and already looking forward to getting home. Please continue to pray for this dear and gracious lady.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Report from Sick Bay

I'm back in the saddle today, albeit a little weak. I spent a good part of yesterday sleeping. I hadn't realized how tired I really had allowed myself to become. As much as I tell others to practice stewardship of self, generally I do a terrible job of it with myself. I find myself pressing my physical self too far and then paying the price for it later. You can pray for me with regard to that.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Report from Sick Bay

Obviously, I am working today, but not for long. My wife made me promise I would only work a half-day. I'm feeling better, but I still sound awful. I slept a good part of the day yesterday and slept like a zombie last night. I suspicion I'll be over this by tomorrow.

Kirkpatrick - Final

The Kirkpatrick home took us a little longer, but we finished it Saturday afternoon. To say it was as broad as the Tippetts would be fair. It required re-plumbing the tub, tearing out the existing bathroom almost entirely, recutting two doors, repainting, new flooring and new tile for the walls. All inside of a week. It makes you tired just to read it, doesn't it? No wonder it took so long. A special thanks to Glenn and Katrina Holmans who rode herd over the project, supervising it with expertise and compassion, especially the decorating of Taylor's room. Here are some shots. We'll post more later.

Taylor's shower, complete with bench. Notice the band of Cowboy blue and silver around the tub. A nice touch, no?

The men behind the mission. L to R, Tile cutter Ryan Davis, Glenn Holmans, Dalton Bruton, Master tiler Dean Bruton and Chad Davis. Notice the picture on the far left edge of this shot - it's an anonymous donation. A 2003 team picture of the Dallas Cowboys autographed by Tony Romo.

Tippett's Final Day

So we finished the Tippett house. We did it a lot faster and less expensive than we'd planned! The weather cooperated and, with the help of a number of fellas, the roof is finished as is the inside with the broken sheet-rock and door frame with nails on the inside. We had planned to take more than 2 days to get it done - with all of our help, we finished in a 1.5 days, a fact aided by the impending weather system. The Tippett's called me yesterday (Sunday) to let me know they were dry as a bone and thrilled to death about it! Freedom from fear of the rain is a beautiful thing! Enjoy the pictures from the week of work at the Tippetts.

Bryson Bean (l) and Dwayne Parrish (r) place the roof together.

Bryson (front) and Andy (rear) on the frame.

How many Aggies does it take to put a roof on? Apparently at least five - L to R, Chuck Goocher, Monroe Menke (on ladder), Dwayne Parrish, Jim Smith, Phil Parks and Andy McLaughlin.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Kirkpatrick House Day 3 and 4

Progress has been slow, but it's picking up steam and quickly! We notched in for the shower drain and moved the shower supply lines. James Griffith and Glenn Holmans (aka the "sawz-all brothers" - I've never seen either of them miss a chance to use a sawz-all!) did the dirty work. On Wednesday, our tile man, Dean Bruton, arrived with his crew and boy did they hit it hard and fast! Before we could whistle "Victory in Jesus", they had the custom-made shower pan installed and a custom-fit bench built for Taylor's use in the shower. Somebody showed up with Dallas Cowboys paint and a star stencil and away we went with that! I promise - it's amazing what a group of people who committ themselves to being useful in the hands of the living Lord can do. A special word of gratitude to McCoys (for being ready for us at 7 AM this morning), Burks Hardware and especially Johnny Burks (for taking care of his knuckleheaded pastor!), Monroe Menke for supplying the breakfast, Dean Bruton for the tile work and Jay Graham of the Frankston Citizen for supplying our lunch today. We're still hopeful we can finish this week - check back tomorrow and Friday for the big reveal!

Tippett House - Day 3 and 4

Sorry for the delay - I had a meeting last night. By the time I got home, I crashed out! Progress on the Tippett house was remarkable! I'll have pictures to post tomorrow (Left the camera in Bryson's truck!) Essentially, we finished their house today! We've got a little cleaning up to do, but we got it done! Unbelievable. We trimmed it out, put up the siding, hung some sheetrock and waferboard (to match the rest of a room). Before we left, we said a prayer of blessing over the house, asking for the mercy and peace of God to guide them. Mr. Tippett, owner of the home, confessed that they would build a house out of their new pole barn and tear the other house down! Joking, of couse, but it did say something about how he felt about our work. It was signifcantly less $ than we budgeted thanks to McCoy's Lumber Yard and Burks Hardware.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tippett House - Day 2

With the Tippett home, the first step was setting our posts to hold the structure up. With help from McCoys Building Supply (manager and church member Mr. Brandon Wall and exceptional delivery driver Dennis), we had our supplies when we got started. You'll be glad to know when we quit around 4:30 PM, we had all our posts set, drying in place and ready for us to hit it again come the morning.

Kirkpatrick House Day 2

No progress today on the Kirkpatrick house. We're waiting on our tile guy to get to us. We're patient people so we'll happily hold on.

Tippett's Day 1

We didn't get nearly as far with the Tippett's on the first day. In fact, we didn't do anything other than make our plans and get our materials order. Here's where we started. As is clear, the roof has multiple issues. You can see the space between the existing mobile home and the addition on the right. I can't even tell you how long we debated or how many times we stomped around the house and up and down the ladder before we settled on the pole barn idea. It'll be a lot of work, but I genuinely think it's the best fix. No shifting of the mobile home will create a problem and the issues inside are repairable by making the house water-tight. Pray for us - this is a big job and will probably consume most of our week. Praise the Lord we're meeting real needs for this family.

Kirkpatrick - Day 1

So here's where we started with Taylor's (aka "Tay-Tay") bathroom. As you can see, although there was a handicap chair in the shower, it was of little value given that the curtain could not be pulled around him. He needed help to get into and out of the shower. That's why we removed the tub - see picture below of three men in a tub (how many Aggies does it take to get a bathtub out of the house?). We took out the toilet (handicap one coming back in), the faucet for the tub (new one of those on it's way - special thanks to Glenn "John the Baptizer" Holmans) and the flooring will be replaced (new tile being laid). All told, it was about three hours worth of work tearing it up. With all the laughter and hoo-hawing going on, it was hard to tell if we were actually working. Suffice it to say we had a great time being useful to the Lord on behalf of this family.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

End of the Line

I've just gotten home from our last football game for the year and I'm not yet sleepy, so I thought I'd visit with you for a moment. I was in hopes football season could stretch out another week or two, but alas it was not to be. Our kids played hard and with passion - it just didn't work out this time. We lost a hard-fought game to Elysian Fields. 20-6. It was closer than score indicates, believe me. They scored a late one, I think to make themselves feel better about it. Elysian Fields has been to the playoffs annually for a long time and their experience showed. We started off a little tight - they didn't. But if you had told me in August we would go 9-2, win a share of the district championship and give our playoff opponent all they wanted and more, I'd have taken it in a heartbeat.
It's been thirteen weeks since we started and it's amazing how much changes in that time. I didn't know a single student on the team when we started. Now, I know them all and some of their families. I've never been more proud to be associated with a group of young men than I was this season. We're blessed with some of the finest boys in the state. I hope you'll let them know that when you see some of our high school students around town.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Final Report on "Come Thirsty"

"Come Thirsty" weekend was too short for me. I'm sorry if you missed it - what I took away from it challenged me in some fresh ways. Our worship band, Reese Dean and Kris Hutchins, did a fine job of leading us musically. Although they were quite different from our norm, that's one of the things weekends like these are for. If we did it just like always, what fun would that be? Why do a special weekend to do what we always do?
By far, the best part of the weekend was my dear brother James Lankford. James brought challenging messages, bringing the Word of God in truth and power. I knew he would - that's why I invited him to come. I knew you'd be blessed by getting to share fellowship with him and hear his heart. Pray for his family. Pray for his work in Oklahoma. Pray for the various ministries he's involved with, like IWitness Ministries. Caleb Hilburn went with IWitness to Cologne, Germany the last several summers.
My favorite part, however, was the time you never saw. We spent Saturday afternoon watching the Longhorn game, after worship Sat night just talking about where God has us and how God is using us and Sunday afternoon just doing what we've always done - sharing a friendship that has endured the distance between us. James and I were just pups when we met. It didn't seem that way. We thought we were so grown up when we got started. As I've reflected on that time in life, it seems clear that while it was a surprise to me to have joined the ministry where James and I met (I hadn't planned to, but felt the Lord's leadership that direction), it was clearly ordained by God. It's funny - we only get to talk a few times a year, but when we do, it's like we pick up right where we left off.
This is off-topic but while I'm here. . . there's one other commonality James and I share - a deep indebtedness to Mr. Charles "Chuck" Flowers. For whatever reason, Chuck poured himself into us (and others). His selflessness and love for the Kingdom of Christ made a deep impression on me. His constant challenges to use all that God has given us led me to do PhD work. I'll never outrun his shadow. That's why when you read the preface to my dissertation, you'll find Chuck's name listed prominently. Thanks Chuck!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

When 1 kilogram isn't 1 kilogram

Yet another reason to be thankful for the unchanging God of the universe. I found a story today about the standard cylinder with a mass of exactly 1 kilogram. It's kept in Paris and every year they measure other similar standards against it. It's THE standard used to measure everything from our medicine to buildings. Anything measured in grams or kilograms is measured against it. The problem is it seems to be losing mass. (Here's a link to the story from BBC news.) Not much, but nevertheless, it's losing mass - about a grain of sugar every so often simply disappears. The problem herein is clear - by definition, it can't change. Yet it does. Isn't it comforting to know that our God doesn't change. He is as timeless as the ocean tide and as secure as the sunset. He stands over time and above all changes. We don't have to worry about him changing because "Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever" (Hebrews 13:5).


As I've mentioned before, I'm a big fan of veterans. I found a story this weekend about a WWI vet still alive and well at 107. I thought you'd like it too! Here's the link.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Christmas cards

Although it may seem a bit early to discuss this, Christmas card season is nearly here! I've always enjoyed getting Christmas cards and generally enjoy sending them (except licking the envelopes! yuk!). This year, however, I got an email requesting we send one to some of our wounded soldiers recovering at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C.. An email from a church member alerted me to this special need. Surely in all the other things we'll do this holiday season, we can find time to write a card to a brave man or woman who was injured while defending our nation. No matter your political slant, here's a chance to send a note that's sure to lift their spirits. Here's the address.

A Recovering American soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington,D.C. 20307-5001

Thursday, November 08, 2007


After work yesterday, Michael Hicks and Phil Parks, both experts in the field of construction, went with me over to the home of Mindy Kirkpatrick and her son, Taylor. Taylor is a 6th grader, physically challenged due to the cruel disease of cancer. He is limited to his chair most of the time, but that hardly dampens his spirits. Typical for a boy his age, he's active and interested in most everything. He's just limited in his home by some of the problems anyone with a wheelchair would find while living in a mobile home. The purpose of our visit was to make plans to restructure the house to make it easier for Taylor and his mother. We've received a donation from a local company (more about that later) to provide for some of the materials, but what we really need now are people not afraid to work and get their hands dirty. People with expertise in carpentry, sheetrocking, tape and bedding - you get the idea. Join us Saturday, November 17th at 9:00 AM at FBC and we'll caravan to our two locations and get started!

Hold onto your hats!

Have you ever heard of the Aleppo Codex? Probably not. But I bet you know what it contains - the Old Testament. According to tradition, it's the oldest copy of the Hebrew Old Testament in the now-standard Masoretic text. I had the privilege of seeing it last year at this time at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D. C. While it may not sound like that big of a deal, trust me when I say it is. Whereas we have more than 5,500 Greek manuscripts that comprise the New Testament, we have less than 100 Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament. Any find related to that is significant.
That's what makes this story so significant. Mr. Sam Sabbagh has had in his possession since 1947 a page from the Aleppo Codex (here's a link to the full story). Eight centimeters square, it contains a citation from Exodus 8. This is it in the picture. Mr. Sabbaugh said he rescued it from the Aleppo Synagogue when it was burning down. We know it did burn about that same time, so it's plausible. Why now? Where has it been? Mr Sabbaugh kept it with him for the last 60 years, sort of as a good luck charm. He moved it with him when he left Israel and had it with him when he emigrated to the U.S. to live in Brooklyn. So why is he surrendering it? Mr Sabbaugh passed away recently so he's no longer in need of it.
Stories like Mr Sabbaugh's make Indiana Jones look pretty tame, don't they?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I just came back to the office from one of the homes we're looking at for MISSION FRANKSTON. Geographically, it's less than 1/2 mile from my house, but in terms of lifestyle, it might as well be a world away. Literally, I had to catch my mouth from hanging open. It's a trailer house that has been added onto. While the flooring is sufficient, the walls are skeletal. Insulation board on the outside (without any siding), rolled insulation on the inside (without sheetrock). Of course, the wall I'm speaking of is the north wall. Light sockets drooping from the ceiling and numerous areas in need of just being touched up. Shocking that it's that close to me. MISSION FRANKSTON can't start soon enough for some.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Veteran's Day 2007

Veteran's Day is November 11. It's my opinion that too little is made of this important day. By ignoring it or passing it over, we've forgotten part of our heritage. My father is a Vietnam veteran. My grandfather was a WWII veteran. My great-uncle is Korean Conflict veteran (and a bronze star winner!). Clearly, I've got a soft place in my heart for Veterans. That's why I'd like to invite you to join me Friday morning, 10:00 AM at Frankston School Auditorium for a Veterans Day Service. We'll be addressed by Vietnam Vet and VFW Sergeant Al Amundson. Here's a blurb from the school about it:
"Included in the program will be the reading of elementary, middle and high school compositions on Veterans Day related themes, the recitation of the pledge of allegiance by elementary students, the singing of the National Anthem by Eric Spears, a musical performance by Adam Johnson and Abbey Thomas and a patriotic medley by the Methodist church Men's Gospel group."

Friday, November 02, 2007

A true artist at work

My man Brink Bizzell is at it again! Now that he's 5 yrs old (happy bday!), he's drawn me a butterfly. I've got several others he's made for me, but this is one of my favorites. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Noah's Ark Fall Festival

An unbelievable night. Absolutely unbelievable. We're not entirely sure how many showed up at the Park last night, but we registered 183 children. We're relatively sure there were some who didn't register and we know that many families came with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Our best guess at total attendance is somewhere over 400. We ran out of hot dogs, popcorn and some of our soft drinks - but we didn't run out of candy! :-)
We owe a special thanks to several: Irene Goocher did a great job in coordinating the entire event. Delight Bristow and Diane Beard (aka the penguin twins) did a great job with the gazebo / Noah's Ark. Cody Bristow was an outstanding Noah! Dr. Larry Lummus made a great clown. The Pairs and Spares (Ed and Francine Paris, Chuck and Linda Moore, Lorraine and Luther Ray Doughty, Johnny and Judy Burks) class with the ring / bottle toss and the football throw was exceptional. The Young Couples class with the fishing booth and the sucker pull were awesome. The Lydia Ladies made sure we were all well fed and watered. J.C. Welch, Charles Garner, Luther Doughty and Will Hinkie made sure our hot dogs were hot, slaving over a BBQ cooker all evening. Julie Bacon and Jerri Hinkie kept the cakewalk going while Britt Bacon, Bryson Bean and Mark Chalk kept the hayride running smoothly. Mark Bostick and Pinnergy, Inc. provided the light (and when I say light I mean LIGHT!). Katrina and Glenn Holmans made the pirate booth look exceptionally cool. Jennifer Rhodes and Ruth Dark kept the bean bags tossing while Barbara Railsback, Flo Bussey and Lorraine Doughty got everyone signed in. Tammy Bostick played the music and acted as emcee. Julie Wood took everyone's picture who sat still while Chelsea and Valerie McLauglin wandered to and fro snapping pictures on the fly. If you missed it, go to our church website (after 4:00 PM today) and you'll see pictures of our evening in the Park. Above, meet the winner of our 24" gumball machine - I can say with certainty he'll enjoy that!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Speaking of traveling. . .

I'm convinced that the people who design airplanes are frustrated short people seeking to make life miserable for tall people. They place the seats at a "wide" 9 inches apart, enough room for the Midget patrol from the "Wizard of Oz", but not many others. Are you ready for my chief pet peeve of flying? Especially with Southwest Airlines and their open seating (read that "get there early or be strapped to the wing!)? There are two rows of seats with extra leg room - the front row and the exit row. People in a hurry, I can understand, would want the front row. But invariably, no matter how early we check in, we wind up being some of the last to board the plane. Equally invariably, those rows are gobbled up - by midgets. Or the elderly (to sit in the exit row, you have to be ready and willing to handle the 50 lbs. exit door- clearly a problem for elderly ladies who seem to gravitate to that row). Or women doing their makeup. So those of us who really NEED the space are forced to cram ourselves into a middle seat somewhere in the back behind someone who will want to recline their seat despite the fact my knees are already touching the back of their seat with it upright! TALL PEOPLE UNITE! ALL YOU HAVE TO LOSE IS YOUR KNEECAPS!

Final report on Amarillo

We got home last night around 9:00 PM and we were so glad to get here. Julie and I love to travel - we've been on numerous trips since we've been married - but there's still nothing like coming home. Just in case you're wondering what my analysis of the days spent at the BGCT, here goes.
- The BGCT is only a shadow of what it once was. Too many poor decisions and too many self-defeating visions. But it's not dead - yet. The Convention MUST do a better job of allowing the annual meeting to at least FEEL like there's something to be decided. For example, when the Budget proposal was presented, complete with a $500,000 cut to Missions and Ministries and an increase to Baylor University, it was passed. There was only slight discussion because I honestly think people are either (1) in agreement with it, (2) complacent about it or (3) have realized there's not much the body can do. I was disappointed with the budget so I didn't vote yes or no.
- The BGCT simply MUST do a better job of appealing to younger leaders. Aside from Rick Warren's message on Monday night and Howard Batson's powerful message Tuesday morning, it was like someone encapsulated a conference from 1955 and opened it right there! It felt defitively aimed at those in the 50+ crowd.
- The fate of the BGCT hangs on who is chosen as the new Executive Director. Retiring Executive Director Dr. Charles Wade is a fine man with many admirable qualities. But the future really hinges on who will replace him.
- Swift action is necessary or more cuts in the BGCT are coming.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Report from Amarillo

Wow. It was like old-home day. We saw so many old friends, people with whom we shared life in various ways through our journey, both before we were married and after. We were witness to the historic event of electing our first female president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Congratulations Joy Fenner (or I'm sorry - we'll know later which is appropriate). We were there for the message from Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church near Los Angeles. He preached for an hour (if you can call it preaching) and for the most part, we didn't mind a lick. We connected with people who we'll consider partnering with in future ministries at FBC - more on that later. Julie and I ate supper with Eddie Hilburn last night, sharing a meal as well as hearing stories about many of you (not to worry - all pleasant ones). It has been well worth our trouble to get here. We'll leave for home right after lunch - we'll see you soon.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Good news today!

First of all, Jesus is Lord! What more good news do you need? You say you need evidence to that effect? Here's a story to evidence the grace of the Lord. While the Southern California wildfires rage (hopefully, they'll be out soon), thousands of evacuees are staying at Qualcom Stadium, home of the San Diego Chargers football team. In what may sound like a potential repeat of what we saw in New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina, volunteers came by the hundreds to prove there are people who care about others and love humanity more than self. Listening to their stories brought such a joy to me - people just using their skills to the glory of God and, somehow, it's enough.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Schedule your picture appt for the FBC Directory!

Okay, as faithful readers of this nonsensical diatribe, I've got a reward for you - the opportunity to schedule your pictures before we announce it in church tonight (Wednesday).
Here's the link!
When you go to the site, you'll be asked for your contact information and your phone number. Let me know if you have problems - we're doing this as an experiment for Olan Mills, so we'll see how it goes!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A terrible idea

Perhaps you've read about the school in Maine now providing condoms and birth control to their junior high students. Here's a link to the story. I don't care what the reasoning for doing this - it is truly an awful idea. Ask yourself this: Did you have the maturity, intelligence or judgment to make such crucial decisions when you were 11-13 yrs old? Me neither. At that age, all I could think of was how I could become a stuntman. :-) If someone tries to convince you this is a good idea, compare it to Scripture - that will help you decide that this is a terrible idea.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The power of fire

Perhaps you saw the story about the fire they recently had at the Palace of Wax in Grand Prairie. (In case you didn't, here's a link to the full story). Of all the places one could have a fire, I'd have to say a wax museum would be among the worst. When I was in college at Dallas Baptist University in the late 1980's, the original Wax Museum, on the same spot as the Palace of Wax, burned to the ground. I remember it well - how stinky the fire was; how black the smoke; how some idiot went home to get coat hangers and hot dogs for a weenie roast over the burning museum; how ironic it was that there was a firefighting museum just a few hundred yards away (I don't think it's there anymore). The passion of the fire consumed everything, leaving nothing but a black, sticky, smelly mess. As far as I remember and can research out, they were never sure how the fire started. My suspicion is that it was a failure of diligence as most things such as this are. They failed to wait to discover a problem. Perhaps they even confessed it like some do - "We'll deal with it when it comes up." Dealing with problems like that only aggravate the situation, like waiting to see a doctor for medical attention. Some things, however, are meant for patience. Waiting on the power and presence of the Lord to resolve our dilemma. Psalm 27:4 says it this way: "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” While patience can lead to destruction in some cases, it's the only way to find the strength and passion needed for daily life.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Mr. President?

Here's a frightening thought: Stephen Colbert as President of the US! If you're not aquainted with his satirical style and hillarious perspective, here's an example.

"After nearly 15 minutes of soul-searching, I have heard the call….I am hereby declaring that I will enter the presidential primary in my native South Carolina, running as a favorite son," Colbert said on his show Tuesday night. "I defy any other candidate to pander more to the people of South Carolina — those beautiful, beautiful people." - Stephen Colbert
Here's a link to the full article.

Some people are good at somethings - others should just leave them alone. We'll discuss this issue again later.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Applications being received for MISSION FRANKSTON

In Matthew 25: 40, Jesus said "Whatever you do the least of my brothers, you're doing it unto me." With serving Christ by serving people in mind, we're taking applications for MISSION FRANKSTON, a week-long opportunity to do missions work right here at home! We've been on mission trips to Mexico, southeast Texas, the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and Corsicana - all that in just the last few years. Now, we're looking for projects, large or small, right here at home. If you know of someone who needs help with general maintenance on their home, needs a wheelchair ramp, needs their leaves raked, needs attention given to whatever projects they might have, recommend them to us and we'll check it out! We're planning to begin on Saturday, November 17th and work throughout the week of Thanksgiving as people have time.

Would you like to volunteer? We need those too! Please send our church office an email (take the spaces out of the following to send an email fbc @ and we'll send you the details as they come available.

A Personal request

Friends, please lift up Dr. Gary Cook, president of Dallas Baptist University and a man who made an enormous contribution to who I am today. He was diagnosed last week with severe leukemia and is beginning treatments immediately. Ask the Lord of all grace and mercy to heal Dr. Cook. Pray for Sheila, his wife and their grown sons. Pray for the DBU family. I promise to keep you updated.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Is there a diference?

You may remember just this past Sunday night we discussed the stark difference between Christianity and Muslim theology. I found a helpful comparison chart illustrating the sharp differences and why the God of the Bible and Allah of the Quran / Koran cannot be the same. Click here to go to it. Released today was a statement from 138 Islamic leaders warning "the survival of the world is at stake" if Christianity doesn't cooperate and find familiar ground with Islam. Even President Bush has jumped in stating we have a "common ancestry." Don't be deceived! The Word of God warns of "hollow and deceptive philosophies" that will lead men astray. Just because people want to believe it's true and can offer justified arguments that it's true doesn't mean it IS true. There can be only one truth: Jesus Christ!

Perception is a powerful force

"When I say 'Dang it, I'm scared to send my kids to church!' that's so relevant! All you hear about are priests molesting kids and all those right-wing Bible thumpers! I love Jesus, but I'm scared to send my kids to this organized religious bull." - Kid Rock

I found this quote in one of my newsletters this week and realized how little involvement Mr. Rock (aka Robert Ritchie) must have with Christians. You can't say you love Jesus and hate his bride. But the perception the media drives ahead is definitively anti-Christian. If there's an issue with a church, no matter the size, it will be magnified by the anti-Christian cadre. They are driven, in my estimation, by Satan himself. Is it any wonder people no longer trust the church? Or her ministers? I'll confess that many times when I meet a stranger and they ask me what I do, I'm hesitant to tell them for fear of the judgmental condemnation that is sure to come. The real problem for many is they've confused the messenger for the message. People will infallibly let us down but that doesn't negate the message.
So what can we do? Recognize the privileged role God has given us as messengers of hope, grace, mercy and love and pour ourselves out making a mockery of the straw-man the media wants us to be.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A trip I wish I'd been on

Instead of going to Arlington, I wish I could've gone with these guys to Patmos, the famous island where the Apostle John was exiled to when he wrote the book of Revelation. A group of scholars has recently returned from there, photographing and cataloging ancient works still found there. An interesting story if you like that kind of thing - you know I DO! Here's the link.

I've been gone - did you miss me?

I spent Mon and Tues of this week at a Youth Pastor's convention in Arlington, TX. I was unashamedly beating the bushes for potential youth pastors. It went well and it was outstanding to see so many of my old friends from days gone by. Many of them I hadn't seen in a long time. Some had sad stories to tell - others stories of joy. Isn't that life? The single sustaining factor in all of it is the grace of Jesus guiding us through. If you haven't done it today, take time to thank Him for carrying you through.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

A few notes on football

I don't often discuss sports. Not because I don't love it, but because it's not the passion of my life. That spot is already taken. But I've got a few things on my mind this miserable afternoon.
OUTCOACHED - again. Stop me if you've heard this before. I'm a big fan of coach Mack Brown and his style (my wife calls me a "Mack apologist), but let's be honest. Mack Brown and the UT coaching staff were (again) taken to the woodshed by Coach Bob Stoops - again. Talent-level, it was just about even. Yet for the 6th time in 8 years, our coaches found a way to lose a very winable game. Intolerably frustrating is a fair description. Combine that with poor decisions by (I believe) an injured quaterback and you have a loss. Another year of just hoping we can make it to the Holiday Bowl. Don't get me wrong - San Diego is not a bad place. It's my favorite vacation spot to tell you the truth. But that's not the goal. Nor is 2 conference losses before October 10. Ugh! In case you're counting, the Longhorns are 25-6 in the 2000's for the month of October. All 6 losses are to OU.
As for our beloved Frankston Indians, there are a few things I haven't told you. This year, I've been serving as team chaplain and general go-fer. I've also been serving as one of two team videographers. As such, I get to stand on top of the press-box with my partner. Can't ask for a better view, home or away. It's not all good, however, as last night proved definitively. We played at Mildred, near where we lived for more than 7 years, Corsicana. I was genuinely looking forward to it, win or lose. As it turns out, we lost a hard-fought game, 21-14. I can live with that - our kids played hard - it just didn't work out this time. What bothers me was some of the things I heard from the Mildred coaching staff. I don't know those men, but it always concerns me when I hear men who are charged with helping boys become men use "salty" language. Furthermore, at one point, one athlete was clearly not in the game mentally. One of the coaches, from the roof of the press-box over the crowd for all to hear, shouted down to the athlete telling him "I'm up here! Come up here if you don't like it!" I was embarassed for him. A grown man talking to a 16 yr old boy. Unacceptable. Is it a wonder many of our boys are confused as to what a man is supposed to be about?
In closing, I've just one thing to say - GO COWBOYS!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

C.F.D. Moule - The Passing of a Legend

Christian scholarship has lost a true legend, a giant in his field. Dr. Moule, or "Charlie" as he was known to friends, went home to be with the Lord this week. Perhaps you've never heard of him - here's a link to his full obituary. Throughout my studies, I encountered Dr. Moule and his writings such as Birth of the New Testament and An Idiom Book of the Greek New Testament. What I didn't know as much of was his work within the church. A committed churchman, Dr. Moule was sought after as a speaker on special occasions and ordination services. A true gentleman, Dr. Moule's work as both a scholar and a churchman is the kind of mold I hope for the Lord to fit me into. Lord, thanks for sending us men like Dr. Moule to imitate.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Unbelievable - in a good way!

As I told you a few weeks ago, I'm a huge fan of flight simulators. I've flown all over the world via my little computer at home. The good folks at Google Earth (a free download!) have recently updated their software to include a flight simulator with their unbelievable mapping system. Wow! I took a little 5 minute flight around Los Angeles - you won't believe it. Many of these simulators are expensive and the graphics are only so-so. Not this one. All you have to do is download Google Earth and enter the term "Lilenthal"into the "Fly to" box. WARNING: Don't even think about it if you've got dial-up access to the internet. But if you've got high-speed and any interest at all in geography, here's your chance!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Old books are awesome

One of my favorite things to do is hang out in the archive area of libraries. Call it the scholar in me. I love the texture of old books in my hands and the smell of aged leather and parchment. I love having to squint to make out old handwriting by the original author or owner. I love the dust that gets stirred up opening books sealed for years. It makes my heart beat fast. I know - I'm pitiful. I found a story the brought excitement to my heart! A library of aged books at the New Orleans Theological Seminary Library sat for a long while unnoticed. Finally, someone wondered what they might have in their rare books and archives section so they hired a rare books expert and let her come take a look. WOW! They found treasures galore. Works by authors such as Ulrich Zwingli, Theordore Beza and Martin Luther. Some books had hand-written notes by Charles Spurgeon, a famous pastor from London. An unbelievable wealth of resources, this group of works survived Hurricane Katrina in plastic storage bins on the second floor of the library. It goes to show you, never toss out a book simply because it's old! Here's the link to the story.

Welcome to October - the month of Julie

When you see my lovely wife, make sure to wish her a happy birthday. October 27th is her birthday - generally speaking, I try to celebrate it all month long. Why? We got married (May 6) the day before my birthday (May 7) and every year we take our vacation around that time so we always make a splash with mine by celebrating it somewhere else. In 2001, we celebrated in Houston at Minute Maid Park. In 2002, we celebrated at Turner Field in Atlanta. In 2004, we celebrated at Wrigley Field in Chicago. In 2005, we celebrated it at Petco Park in San Diego. In 2006, we celebrated at Tropicana Field in Tampa, FL. This year, we celebrated at Safeco Field in Seattle. Seeing a trend? Part of our vacation is to visit a different baseball park around the country. No, it wasn't my idea! It was hers! We honeymooned in Boston. You can't go to Boston and miss Fenway Park! Thus, a tradition was born.
So, because I married so very well, I try to make her birth-month an extra special celebration. We're going to a symphony at the Meyerson Symphony Hall in Dallas later in the month. I've got a few other secrets in the hopper, but I can't tell you about them here - she might be reading this! - see me in person for more info!

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Have you ever had an unquenchable thirst? On a hot , dry day there's nothing more satisfying than a cool refreshing drink of water. Spiritually, we face the same need - we need the Living Water! Nov 3-4, we at FBC Frankston are planning a weekend of meeting to meet the need we have for Living Water in our community. Rev. James Lankford, a life-long friend of mine (and best man in our wedding!) has graciously agreed to join us that weekend to lead our meeting. Saturday at 7:00 PM, Sunday morning and Sunday night at 6:00 PM, our services will seek to help people find that for which they've been thirsting.
Rev. Lankford is the Student Ministry and Evangelism Specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. He and his wife Cindy have two girls, Hannah (10 yrs old) and Jordan (7 yrs old). They reside in Oklahoma City. Don't believe anything he tells you about me. :-)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Lack of Vision and Poor Planning

Did you read about the new Bright Lights Football Stadium recently completed in Orlando, FL? A $55 million dollar stadium built to seat more than 40,000 people with bathrooms aplenty and lots of parking, wonderful seats and outstanding playing surface as well as video board to see the game as if you were home. They forgot (or purposely left out) one key ingredient. They didn't put any water fountains in the facility. None. Not one. Anywhere. This absolutely had to be intentional. Through a lack of vision and incredibly poor planning, the University of Central Florida, by their own admission, "underestimated the need people have for water."
When I read this, I thought how much a church could make the same mistake - the truth is we're in the water business too! Only we're offering LIVING WATER! While many churches underestimate people's need for LIVING WATER, we're not going to make that mistake! We're going to show them the Savior in love and grace, with gentleness and patience. We live in a society literally dying of thirst while churches debate the color of the sky. Let's make sure our vision is clear - we want to see the lost come to faith in Christ - and our planning specific - let's hold nothing back in our pursuit of helping people come to faith in Christ!


Pardon me for this notification, but in the interest of clarification of this blog's purpose. . . Although this blog is connected to the website of First Baptist Church of Frankston, the views expressed herein are mine and mine alone. This blog is not hosted on the same server as the church website nor will it be. Likewise, the links I've suggested or provided are neither endorsed by FBC nor are they to regarded that way. With that out of the way, now we can continue on with life!

Monday, September 24, 2007

You never know who you'll be kin to. . .

Last night in our evening service, I used my great-grandfather, James "Jim" Hudson, as an example of man many have never heard of but was powerful in the hands of God. After the service, two of our FBC members, Joe and Edie Lilly, told me they were kin to him as well! I'll admit, at first I was a bit skeptical, but they delivered a geneaology to me today connecting all the dots. UN-BE-LIVABLE!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Suing God

Perhaps you read where one of our illustrious Senators has staged a lawsuit naming God as defendant. Here's the link. A genius move to say the least! God can't say he wasn't there and he can't say he didn't know. He can't say he was incapable of doing something about it. Really, he can't help but be liable for the actions named in the suit, whatever they may be! The problem might come in collecting the funds from God, even though he has all resources and created all that exists. I hope the suit gets thrown out, but you watch - some judge will convict God on all counts! I'd like to see him enforce that!

Sunday, September 16, 2007


I'm always glad to come home after a long day, even more so when I feel like we took a positive step tonight. I don't necessarily mean about the building - as I said, I couldn't care less one way or the other - but toward unity of the spirit. The body of Christ is best demonstrated when the body stands together. I hope you'll pray with me that such a harmonius attitude continues.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Do you hate phone menus?

I had to call our satellite company today - we had reached the end of our free preview of the movie channels and we didn't want to pay for them. I tried to cancel them when we first got connected to the service back in June but they charge you a bonus to cancel the free preview. What in the world is that about?!? But I digress. So I called them. Immediately I was greeted by a kind voice letting me know all kinds of things about my account. After running in circles with this computerized knucklehead for 10 minutes, I finally was able to get a live person - a luxury these days. By the time I got to a friendly lady named Kris, I was aggravated through no fault of Kris. I thought to myself about the phone menus and what that means. While it makes good business sense, it makes very little sense to distance yourself from personal relationships. Hmmmm. . . sounds remarkably like some churches I've visited. They have all the right things in all the right places, but have forgotten the church is about personal relationships and the fact God has called us together as a family! Family is meant to be a connective word describe an intricate weaving of our lives together. That's why I HATE phone menus!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

One not-so-little word

I'm wrong. I'm wrong. I'm wrong. When I'm wrong, I'll admit. I'll admit it publically Sunday. I had no idea how strongly my "freaking" word would be received. Where I'm from, that's just another term. When I uttered Sunday, I was greeted immediately afterwards that here it's a substitute for another "f" word. Let me assure you that was NOT how I used it! I've used it previously in other places and never had it received that way. Let me also assure you I'll drop that term altogether. Please accept my apologies for using a term that clearly was offensive.

Tony Dungy - more than a coach

It's not often I endorse books, but there are times when it's easy. I just finished reading Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy, coach of the Indianapolis Colts. To say it blew me away would be an understatement. In his exceptional work, he presents himself and his coaching style in a powerful and passionate way, underscoring all of it with his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He draws back the curtain on the integral role of faith in his life and the life of his family allowing us to see a side of Coach Dungy not everyone has observed.
I've been a fan of Coach Dungy since the mid-90's when he was the defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. I saw a program on ESPN about the Vikings preparation for an upcoming game and was struck by how different Dungy's life was as compared to the other coaches. I became a Tampa Bay fan when he was there and a Colt's fan now that he's there. It's not the successes that got my attention as much as the struggles - struggles he shares in the book in detail. Losing his son to suicide; getting fired by Tampa Bay; the "inability" to get over the hump against the Patriots. It's all there, the good, the bad and the ugly. Take time to read what I believe is one of the best books I've seen in a long, long time.

Monday, September 10, 2007

How to really make a mess

For those who know me, you know I LOVE football season. If I weren't in ministry, I'd probably be in sports journalism covering a football team somewhere. Nevertheless, I see athletics as a metaphor for life in many ways. Success are hard-fought. Victories are short-lived. Hard work makes a difference. Little things make the difference. Everyone must be like-minded and focused or mistakes come often and quickly. A prime example was yesterday's Cleveland Browns game. The Browns are not very good and it shows. On one particular play, they were penalized four times. That means at least four different guys, individually, had to make a different mistake in the span of about twelve seconds. I'll let the referee speak for himself. The following was his call to the audience: "We have four fouls on the offense: illegal formation, offense, No. 56. That penalty is declined. Holding, No. 90, that penalty is declined. Holding, No. 35, that penalty will be enforced, 10 yards from the end of the kick. We had an ineligible downfield on the kick, that penalty is declined." Sounds more like a preseason game than a regular season. As I said, when you're not clear minded and focused. mistakes will hit and hit hard. Let's not follow that example.

My what pastor?

On one of the preaching sites I frequent, I found something so absolutely other I had to share it with you. A pastor has decided to let us into all parts of his life, morning-noon-and-night - at least for a few days. Pastor Troy Grambling has set us cameras throughout his home and office and launched himself as "" emphasizing absolute transparency - as if he were naked. It's not terribly intersting - mostly the mundane parts of life broadcast live for the world to see - but it brings up a good point. Absolute transparency - no secrets - no hidden parts of life - no skeletons in the closet. I want my life to be that pure!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Academic Freedom at Baylor University?

Darwinism - the theory that all species of life have evolved from a simple organism to a more complex organism to a more complex organism until we've reached the pinnacle on which we now stand as humans through a process he called "natural selection" or "survival of the fittest." Created by Charles Darwin and published in his 1859 work On the Origin of Species, Darwin's thought has permeated our thinking in the U.S. that it is now regarded as fact, not theory, despite it being incapable of being replicated or the clear facts (such as the Second Law of Thermodynamics) that lead directly against Darwin's thought. We teach it to our school children and quash all other voices. Anyone who disagrees with Darwin's "LAWS" is either a "flat earth" thinker or a religious fundamentalist, both of whom should be regarded as academically inferior.
In recent years, another movement has arisen. Known as Intelligent Design, it holds that creation demonstrates a design so complex, so creative, so intricate that there simply HAD to be a master creator, even if it wasn't God. The Discovery Institute has led the charge for this option, despite the fact some, such as the U.S. National Academy of Science have decried it as "not science" or "junk science" (By the way, anything they're opposed to is probably a good thing - they're a sister organization to the U.S. National Endowment of the Arts - the people who brought you the crucifix in a jar of urine and called it "art."). I would expect that in a public school setting - heaven forbid we should allow our children to bow down to anything other than the altar of Darwinism!

The surprising thing is that Baylor University, the oldest university in our fair state and, at least traditionally, a school of religious heritage, has engaged in a war against Intelligent Design. (here's the link) I was always under the impression that one of the fundamental purposes of higher education was to teach one to think critically. To do so means to critically evaluate all possible options. Of course, to do that means one has to have all the options available! To discredit one is, definitively, NOT academic freedom.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

CORRECTION for the Thomas Cook Visitation

Yesterday, I listed Thompson Funeral Home as the location for Mr. Cook's visitiation tonight from 6:30-8:30 PM. That is INCORRECT - the correct location is Autrey Funeral Home in Jacksonville from 6:30 - 8:30 PM. Sorry for the error!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Funeral Details for Mr. Thomas Cook

Although most of you probably will find this elsewhere, Mr. Cook's funeral is set for Thursday , September 6, at 3:00 PM in the First Baptist Church auditorium. Nursery will be provided for childcare for 4 yrs old and below. If I were planning to come, I would plan to come early to secure a seat. I believe it will be a full house.
Visitation will be Wednesday evening at Thompson's Funeral Home on Hwy 175 in Frankston.

Thomas Cook

For those who haven't yet heard, Thomas Cook passed away last night. Funeral details are forthcoming. We know this much - the service will be here at FBC. Bro. J. A. Griffin, a long-time friend of Mr. Cook, will offer the funeral message. Bro. Olin Boles (retired minister) and Chris White (principal of Frankston Middle School) will offer testimonies.
Mr Cook made an investment in so many lives there will be many who want to honor him. You can be sure of this: Mr. Cook lived a life worthy of honor. His investment in the lives of the students over the last 40 years will continue to pay dividends. His passion for students is what set his work apart. It was definitely not a job to him - it was a calling. Thanks, Mr. Cook, for showing the love of Christ through your work and for demonstrating a passion for seeing lives changed.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I lowered my IQ by at least 25 pts

After we got home from church last night, I abused my wife in a shameful way - I forced her to endure "Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector." If you've not seen it, let me warn you - it is a really stupid movie - and I like stupid movies! It had almost no plot - just one-liner after one-liner. The story was beyond unbelievable - Larry as a health inspector at 5 Star restaurants? The characters were poorly constructed. . . . But I laughed until I was nearly sick! If you're in the mood for a stupid show with no story, no characters and no plot, here's your show!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

It occurs to me. . .

In my reading today, I found a list of things to do to simulate living in a third-world country, far less prosperous than our own. Sometimes, I need a reminder of just how fortunate I truly am to be in a country with such privilege and wealth. I thought I'd share the list with you - if you're an FBC member, don't read it too carefully - I may use it on a Sunday morning!
Identifying With the Poor: 9 Steps to Third World Living

First, take out the furniture: leave a few old blankets, a kitchen table, maybe a wooden chair. You've never had a bed, remember?

Second, throw out your clothes. Each person in the family may keep the oldest suit or dress, a shirt or blouse. The head of the family has the only pair of shoes.

Third, all kitchen appliances have vanished. Keep a box of matches, a small bag of flour, some sugar and salt, a handful of onions, a dish of dried beans. Rescue the moldy potatoes from the garbage can: those are tonight's meal.

Fourth, dismantle the bathroom, shut off the running water, take out the wiring and the lights and everything that runs by electricity.

Fifth, take away the house and move the family into the tool shed.

Sixth, no more postman, fireman, government services. The two-classroom school is three miles away, but only two of your seven children attend anyway, and they walk.

Seventh, throw out your bankbooks, stock certificates, pension plans, insurance policies. You now have a cash hoard of $5.

Eighth, get out and start cultivating your three acres. Try hard to raise $300 in cash crops because your landlord wants one third and your moneylender 10 percent.

Ninth, find some way for your children to bring in a little extra money so you have something to eat most days. But it won't be enough to keep bodies healthy--so lop off 25 to 30 years of life.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

My Waterloo

By now you've probably heard about my experiences last Saturday at Lake Palestine. Damon Hopkins and his family threw a wonderful party at their home on Lake Palestine. They had several Sea Doo Jet Skis which if you've never ridden one, they are a blast! Julie and I have ridden them before without incident. This time, however, would be different!
There I was, riding along at around 30 MPH about to take a left hand turn to head back toward shore. Les Hopkins had warned me "That one's a little squirrely!" Oh that I would have listened! As I made my turn, the jet ski turned - I didn't. I continued in a straight line, right off into the water! Fortunately, the key came with me so it didn't keep running right toward shore. I swam and caught up to it (now without my sunglasses which the lake ate when I fell!). All I had to do was get back on, right? Right! . . . .Uh. . . Houston, we have a problem. Either I was too heavy or the jet ski was too light or my legs were too long - No matter how you frame it, I couldn't get back on the stupid thing! After flailing at it for 10-15 minutes, Andy and Chelsea McLaughlin had pity on me and came to help. After three or four tries and dumping myself back into the lake at least one, I made it on board. I couldn't drive it back to the dock fast enough! In spite of that, we had an amazing time - it was a blast! Glenn Holmans brought his ski boat - we hooked a tube to it and took everyone (brave enough to go) tubing. It was awesome! Thanks to the Hopkins for hosting such an amazing party and for being so very generous with their blessings. Next time, I'll try not to embarass myself! :-)

Frankston ISD Appreciation Sunday

This Sunday is Teacher / Staff / Administration Appreciation Sunday at FBC. We'll be honoring all our guests with a gift and a luncheon following our morning worship service. If you're a part of Frankston ISD, please accept this as a personal invitation to join us! We'd be ever so happy for you to come and allow us to honor your service to our most precious asset: our children.

Monday, August 20, 2007

You need permission for that?

Here's a new one. It was recently announced that China now forbids Tibetian monks from being reincarnated without permission. Here's the link:
Pretty ridiculous, no? I don't mean the permission part - I mean the reincarnation part!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

One of the best parts of pastoring

One of the best parts of pastoring is connecting with children. Ryan and Jenzy Bizzell were kind enough to invite us for supper on Thursday evening. We had an amazing time! The Bizzell's oldest, Brink (4 yrs old) had created a masterpiece for me to commemorate the occasion. It's a wonderful rendition of he and I standing together. Not bad likeness, no? He certainly got the height differences correct. And I really love the height markers out to the side! As any great artist would do, he signed it for me and even made an envelope! Thanks Brink!

A curious find

First a confession - we're M&M people in the worst way. We keep some around our house for rainy days. . . or sunny days. . .or snowy days. . .okay, any day at all will really do! :-) We found something curious in the last package. An M&M representative of the Trinity!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A treasure trove

Yesterday, we began clearing a room for the music office to use for their extra music copies. After about an hour of dragging junk out, we discovered some amazing things in a file cabinet. We found Sunday School records and church ledgers from years gone by - many years gone by. The earliest records we found were from May 1919. Needless to say, we examined them carefully and placed them back with care. It was a little like holding history in your hand to consider the faithfulness of those who came before us, serving FBC during their lifetimes. It's a reminder that the calling God has placed on our lives is to be passionate - life is short!


Sorry for the delay in getting this good news to you - Wednesday is always busy. Our AC man came to the house on Tuesday night and installed a new unit for us. We're back in the cool again! Thanks to Brent Hoffman of Hoffman Heat and Air for the fine work.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Sometime Saturday night or Sunday morning, the air conditioner at the parsonage died a quiet death. Peacefully, it passed from us, its passing unnoticed until it was needed later Sunday afternoon. When it's demise was discovered, we lamented its loss with grief and great wailing. :-) The air conditioning man came to the house yesterday to tell us that was gone for good, not to be resurrected. After a brief prayer of repose, we relented and called the deacons. They've got the situation well in hand. A new unit has been ordered, ready for delivery and installation today.

Monday, August 13, 2007

High Pointe Church and the Gay Agenda

Perhaps you've read the story reported recently in the Dallas Morning News about Mr. Cecil Sinclair, a Navy veteran and an openly gay member of the homosexual community (if you haven't, here's a link to a summary). He passed away last week. High Pointe Church in Arlington (the old Johnson and Johnson facility at I-20 and 360), where Mr. Sinclair's brother was employed as a janitor, offered to host the service. Only later did the church learn the service was to embrace Mr. Sinclair's homosexuality and celebrate it as a natural way of life. Furthermore, there was no desire on the part of the family for the church to participate in any way other than facilities: no input in the service, no input into what was said or what was shown in the worship center in connection to the funeral. When the church withdrew the invitation since it was going to be an openly-homosexual service, the gay agenda kicked in. The indignity of their comments is predictable. If you disagree with them or decline to give in to their desires at any point, you are automatically an intolerant homophobic bigot.
Let me be clear about our response. Jesus loved all people, regardless of their lifestyle or their backgrounds. Yet even in that love, Jesus DID NOT condone any activities of sin. Rather, he called them toward repentance with the statement "Go and sin no more." As a church, we will always show people love, grace and mercy as commanded by Jesus and, hopefully, as reflected by our character. We will not, however, be backed down by those who wish to force their ideas upon our beliefs. Intolerance is a two-way street!

Congrats to Ben Bostick - be careful!

We got a call at the church office just a moment ago that I wanted to share with you. Ben Bostick has just been named Asst. Principle at a school in the Woodlands! He interviewed for the job while we were on Mission Trip. He's driving back today from Colorado so please pray for his safety and pray for his new work.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A guy who really, REALLY needs to get a life

I was perusing my RSS today and came across what I thought simply HAD to be an inaccuracy. It seems a guy in Denver was so committed to texting on his new iPhone and yet so confounded that his thumbs weren't properly engineered to meet the task, he sought out a plastic surgeon to "correct" the problem. Yup, they surgically remapped his thumbs to allow him to better use his new phone for email, internet and text-messaging. That may be one of the most pathetic things I've ever heard. When interviewed about it, he said he thought he would be able to earn the cost of the surgery back in time saved by 2022 at the latest. What happens if he gets run over by a bus tomorrow?
It reminds me of the man in Luke 12:13-21 who made bold plans with no consideration for the heart of God. The plans collapsed and he died quickly thereafter. It's my earnest hope this gentleman can avoid the same fate.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A day at the links

Here's an honest confession - I'm one of the worst golfers you'll ever meet. But I LOVE TO PLAY! Since we moved here, I've had the opportunity to play only twice, counting today. It's been a wild couple of weeks, so I decided today was a good day to spend playing golf at a wonderful course: Pine Dunes Golf and Resort. Ranked in the top 20 in the state by the Dallas Morning News. With a little cloud cover today, it was an exceptional day for golf. I played acceptably well (96 or 24+ par), although not nearly as well as my partner, Bryson Bean (85!). I hope to bring that number down. My home course in the Corsicana area was short and narrow - I hardly ever needed my driver. Pine Dunes is different to say the least!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Wanted: Passionate Youth / Education Pastor

Our search committee is all set and I'm thrilled with the makeup of the committee: Bryson Bean, Glenn "Coach" Holmans, Cody Bristow, Ann Maxwell, Cindy Wimpee and Janet Smith. We've received several resumes from interested parties and recommendations from some of our friends so it's coming together. Please pray for their important work!

Friday, July 27, 2007

We're back

Wow - what a week! We're exhuberent, but exhausted. We're thrilled with the week of service to the Lord to a dear lady yet glad to be home at the same time. It was a great time and a blessing to all involved - all except for that confounded air-conditioner at FBC Corsicana! More about that later! Now that I've been up for a couple of hours, it's time for a recovery nap!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Mission: Corsicana leaves tomorrow!

This may be my last post until the weekend as I'll be in Corsicana rebuilding homes. Check back here for pix and info next week about that!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

More than you bargained for

Julie and I are working around the house today - most just goofing off really. But in the midst of that, we discovered a couple of red wasps right outside the front door. Being good caretakers of a home, we decided to kill them with wasp spray. I shot what I THOUGHT was two wasps. I noticed a small crack they had come from so I sprayed in there as well and when I did. . . let's just say I got more than I bargained for. I thought it was just two wasps. I was severely mistaken. NINE more came out, angry and looking for trouble. Fortunately, I still had the wasp spray! :-)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mission Trip on the horizon

Yesterday, we (Stile and Zach Denton, Jim Smith and myself) went to Corsicana to make advance preparation for next week's mission trip. The families we're helping were excited to say the least! Believe me when I say there's lots of work ahead - and I do mean lots! For those of you going with us, ready yourself for a blessing!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Freaking unbelievable video

Tomorrow's message is "Talent Show Judge". Here's a teaser video that took my breath away!

Home again

What a week! It was quite a week at StudentLife camp! Our speaker, JR Vassar, did an exceptional job as did Spur58, our worship leaders. The drama group All Things to All People, were absolutely unbelievable! It was a wonderful way to spend the week nevertheless, we're glad to be home. We've only been up a short while and Julie doesn't feel quite well, so today is a slow and quiet day at our house. I'm doing a little catching up on reading. One thing I've read alot about is Chris Hitchin's book How Religion Poisons Everything. Perhaps you've seen it too. If you haven't, the title tells you everything you need to know about the book. It's noteworthy only because of it's popularity (It's in the top ten of the NY Times bestsellers list). Here's my issue with it. He only deals with religion as if its a homogenous unit, all standing on equal footing. Furthermore, nowhere in the work does he address Christianity as a relationship with Jesus Christ. I would wholeheartedly disagree with that!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

FBC - Student Life Camp

Bright and early Monday morning, Kayne will lead us to Student Life Camp at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, LA. Camp is always an wonderful experience and I expect this week will be no exception. One added benefit of this week of camp will be the ability to see our students while they're at camp via the internet. Pictures are posted daily of activities at the camp. Obviously, we're not the only ones there, but here's the link to check out the pictures:

Happy 4th of July!

Happy Independence Day! May the freedom God has blessed us with bless you today!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Back to normal

Now that VBS is over, life can return to normal - whatever that is. Our transition here has been wonderful, but we're still adjusting to a new place and a new way of life. For example, when I needed something from Wal-Mart in Corsicana, it was a 5 minute jot on my way somewhere else. Now, it's a 30+ minute excursion with numerous lists to insure we don't forget something! Not a big deal in the grand scheme of life, but still an adjustment.
On a related note, we bought the sixth and final season of "Hogan's Heroes", a sit-com both of us dearly love. Wouldn't you know that our DVD player pooped out the day after? It's okay, really. It makes it okay to want a new Xbox 360!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

I forgot something. . .

Sorry about that - I'm writing while watching "The Cinderella Man" which is an awesome movie (I'm such a sucker for happy endings). VBS ended VERY well. A special thanks to Katrina and Glenn Holmans for their amazing leadership throughout the week. Several children invited Christ into their lives - we'll be following up with them in the days to come. Thanks to each teacher, worker, volunteer and students who gave of their time and their very ownselves to the children of our church and our community. Thanks for loving the Lord more than yourselves.

My other great passion

My greatest passion is seeing people come to faith in Christ and see their lives transformed by that knowledge. My other great passion is textual criticism - the process of working with the word of God in its ancient manuscripts. While that might sound as boring as watching the paint dry, it makes my heart beat fast and my palms sweaty. It was the focus of my dissertation and a longtime interest for me. In participating in projects like the International Greek New Testament Project based in Muenster, Germany, I get to stay connected to that work, hopefully for a lifetime. It's a complicated field with lots of room for misunderstanding so I don't often discuss it with people. I recently found an exceptional introduction written by the director of the center where I volunteer. Here's a link to it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I was talking with the Lord today about VBS and I realized something. These children - as amazing, beautiful and, occasionally frustrating as they can be, - these children are our greatest treasure. I've often thought of that placard I've seen: "In 100 years, it won't matter what I had or what I achieved - the only thing that really matters is making a difference in the life of a child." Jesus' words made clear our calling: "Allow the children to come unto me because the kingdom of Heaven is made of such as these". (Matthew 19:14, Wood translation) As I watched the video this afternoon, I thought of that again. They won't be long as we see them now and our opportunity to pour our lives into theirs may not come again. I hope you're praying with me for VBS and for the 122 children who participated today.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Vacation Bible School started today. Ahhh yes, the joys of VBS - esp the first day. Our administrators and teachers had it all together. Even when the rain began to fall, we were ready! Stile Denton (or as I shall hereafter refer to him "The Prophet") had the foresight to rent a bounce house for the week from our bounce house guy, Tony from FunJump. We kept it set up in the gym. When the rains came, all we did was change locations for recreation. All in all, it was an amazing first day. It only gets better from here!
Kudos also the Kayne Parrish who took all our video and photographs today. He had to pull double duty today since we discovered this afternoon the deadline for youth camp is upon us! We got ourselves together and took care of it!
Hopefully, I'll get back to a regular pattern of posting soon - much is on my mind to visit with you about!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

From Julie. . .

Julie is back from her Father's Day trip with her parents. They went to Rogers, Arkansas to visit Julie's paternal grandfather. It turned into a mini family reunion and I'm pleased to tell you they had a great time! Click here to see some pictures from their time spent together!