Monday, December 22, 2008

Under the heading "are you kidding me?"

My favorite part is when the ball skips.

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I need your help!

I know this is a crazy week with much on everyone's plate - but I'm going to ask anyway! :-)

For a sermon illustration, I'm looking for some family pictures taken this year. Not the kind you put in a pictorial directory but the kind you put in a photo album. Pictures from vacations, birthdays or anniversaries or even Christmas! So long as it has you in it, I'm looking for it. If you've got one or two you'd be willing to send, please send it via email to my email address (you can find it at the church website). THANKS!

Monday Morning reflections

Christmas week is here! If you missed yesterday, you missed one of the best musical services we've had since I've been here. Our choir's special, Jennifer Rhoades song and the music of Hank and Todd Hinkie was awesome! I was only half joking when I suggested letting the music continue instead of preaching!

The Christmas choir / cast party last night was great! Thanks to Kern and Barbara for hosting the party and to each of you who brought the wonderful food!

It's a quiet Monday here at the office - while some of our normal activities roll on (like sermon prep!) but it's "Holiday" quiet. Most everyone is either on vacation or soon will be. It's my prayer you'll enjoy a wonderful and worshipful Christmas. May the grace of Jesus bless your day and your celebration.

Monday, December 15, 2008

In case of ice, don't follow this example

I heard on the weather forecast they're predicting ice and freezing rain for our area this week. Hmmmmm. I've done enough driving on that sort of surface to know that I shouldn't do any more! :-) I've always harbored the misconception that people who live where it freezes regularly get used to driving on ice and therefore are better prepared than we sun-baked southerners. Such a theory has been blown apart as the video shows. Taken in the Portland, OR area, check out these vehicles in classic examples of what not to do when driving on ice.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

From a mean-spirited angry bigot

That's me - your pastor. I'm a mean-spirited angry bigot. Why? Because I believe the Bible speaks for itself and doesn't need to be a "living" document (whatever that means) to be authoritative for our lives. I believe the Bible is clear on the plan and expectations for humanity and provides an avenue for obedience if we choose to accept it. I believe the Bible expresses marriage clearly as one man-one woman for a lifetime. I believe homosexuality is an affront to a Holy God who doesn't "understand" such sin anymore than he "understands" any other sin. The Bible teaches acceptance, grace, mercy and love - qualities we all need - but never backs down from calling evil and injustice out. Furthermore, those who want to read the Bible as all grace, mercy, forgiveness and acceptance have missed much of the Bible's teachings about justice and righteousness. Finally, I believe there are many who will use the Bible for their own ends, desiring to twist it in knife-like fashion to eviscertate the Bible from it's true meaning. Beware - there are people who claim to understand the Bible but don't want to embrace the full message. Here's the best example I've seen in a long time of such poor understanding. Published in Newsweek, Ms Lisa Miller writes a column (Here's the link) that is so Biblically misleading it borders on slander. Beware of people who want to tell you what the Bible says without expressing it clearly. Beware people who want to twist the Word of God to meet their own ends - it will be their downfall. Beware people who admonish believers for embracing the Word of God and it's message while demanding tolerance for whatever view they espouse. It's a slipperly slope.

Monday, December 08, 2008

A warning to those of you considering ministry

Sent to me by one of my smart-aleck staff members, this lighthearted video is a great example of what I try NOT to be. And no, I don't have a picture of Billy Graham on my bedstead. :-)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Update on Myron Rolle

Some of you asked me what happened to the guy I referenced a few weeks ago in "A role model we need!" Here's the skinny - Myron Rolle was named a Rhodes Scholar on Nov 22. He is set for a three year scholarship to Oxford University beginning this next May (here's a link to a blow-by-blow account of the day - well worth your time, I assure you). Furthermore, his team plays highly ranked Florida today. Maybe he'll win the game, but he's already won. Here's to finding more men like this one.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thanksgiving Message this week - the intro

As readers of my mad ramblings, you deserve some gratitude. I know many of my readers don't get to come on Sundays. You use this site to keep up with us. This Sunday, I'll be doing a Thanksgiving message discussing how many times we're not ungrateful on purpose but rather just because we're busy. So busy, in fact, that many times we miss the beauty God puts before us. Sometimes, in our rush to be busy in God's kingdom, we miss it! Our video, seen below, reflects that.
World-renowned violinist Joshua Bell took part in a social experiment. If he dressed as a street performer, took out his instrument and played in the atrium of a busy subway station, what would happen? Would people stop to listen? Would the beauty of his music draw a crowd? The incident was captured on video - watch it a couple of times. The thing you'll notice is that few if any even took notice. Almost 1,100 people passed him in the 45 minutes he played. Most were so consumed with their own lives and agendas they completely missed the oppotunity to hear one of the world's best violinists. Take a look.

What you can do Pt II

I had the opportunity to visit with Frankston PD Officer Jason Ward this week. You'll be pleased to know Jason is in good spirits and is scheduled for surgery to take place on Friday. He's doing well although he's still in ICU. Please continue to pray for Jason, his wife Leslie and their two children.
Here's where you come in. This Sunday, we'll be partnering with the churches across our area in taking up a love offering for Jason. This Sunday and the Sunday to follow will be your two opportunities to give a love offering for Jason and his family. Yes, they have insurance and yes, it will cover his medical costs, but there are things not covered like holiday things and school clothes, incidentals of the sort you and I give no thought to - we just do it. Prayerfully consider making a contribution to the fund for Jason. If you want to make a gift but you can't get here either of the next two Sundays, call the First State Bank of Frankston (903-876-2212) and make a contribution the "Officer Jason Ward Assistance Fund". May the Lord bless Jason as he heals.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What you can do

I've had the opportunity today to visit with Frankston Mayor James Gouger about the well-being of Officer Jason Ward (for those who aren't already familiar with the incident on Thursday of last week, here's a link to the whole story). He informed me Officer Ward's family needs some help - quickly.

Officer Ward and his family have worked here only a short time, essentially just since school started. Their 6 yr old daughter and 10 yr old son are in school, but need additional clothing immediately. At the church office and at City Hall, you can obtain the children's sizes and needs - please call to assist with this pressing mater.

Not a clothing purchaser? With Thanksgiving and Christmas upon us and the likelihood Officer Ward will not be coming back to work anytime soon (although he will be moved to a private room soon), they also need some financial assistance. Our own First State Bank of Frankston has set up an assistance fund for Officer Ward and his family. If you want to help there, go to the bank and ask for the "Officer Jason Ward Fund" - they'll help you.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

This is the kind of roll model we NEED!

Perhaps you've never heard of Florida State University's football starting cornerback Myron Rolle - but I bet you've heard of the Rhodes Scholar program. Mr Rolle is up for the scholarship - literally, a once in a lifetime opportunity - but it's on the same day as his football team plays against the University of Maryland. Normally, at least nowadays, the football player would skip the interview and forgoe his opportunity. Not Myron. He's chosen to try for the scholarship and I say good for him! Even his head coach, Bobby Bowden, and his teammates are all for him. The NCAA is still trying to decide if they'll allow the university to charter him a flight to get to the game, but it doesn't really matter - he's already chosen well, win or lose. Link to the full story.

FHS vs Elkhart - Final game of Season

I'm proud of our team - our guys tried hard and gave a solid effort, winning the game against Elkhart. Although we didn't make the playoffs, I'm still quite proud of how our boys played. Here's the last regular highlight reel. We'll do an end of season one later.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Under the heading "Morons on Parade."

Perhaps you've seen the ad campaign beginning in the D.C. area soon - "Why believe in a god?" Their emphasis is to help people who don't believe in any god to feel better at Christmas time.

Fred Edwords, spokesman for the humanist group putting out the ads says this: "Our reason for doing it during the holidays is there are an awful lot of agnostics, atheists and other types of non-theists who feel a little alone during the holidays because of its association with traditional religion."
Link to the full story at Foxnews.com.

HELLO! CHRISTMAS EXISTS BECAUSE OF CHRIST! I can't help it if some feel left out, but they're welcome to come in from their agnostic viewpoint. There's no reason for them to feel alone. If their viewpoint brings them grief or sadness, then why not abandon it for something that doesn't break their heart.

This is what you can expect when we allow others to define (or in this case, re-define) a holiday, event or traditionally accepted qualitative norm. This group and other like them want to redefine things so they aren't required to change or they don't feel bad when the subject comes up. Tolerance is their preeminent characteristic and they demand the same from others - except usually they're not tolerant of any view that disagrees with theirs. Watch out - more of this is coming.

Monday, November 10, 2008

In Honor of our Veterans

Since I was quite young, I've had a fascination with the military. Perhaps its because my father was an US Army Drill Sergeant when I was born and a Vietnam Vet. My dad was in the US Army and served in post-war Germany in the 1950's. My grandfather was a member of the US Army Air Corp in WWII. I've got a cousin in the Navy and another cousin in the Marines.
I was taught a perspective that sees the power of our veterans service, a respect that runs deep within me for their hard work and sacrifice. With that in mind, I offer you a pair of links on this Veterans Day.
The first link features the Gray Eagles Foundation. A group of P-51 fighter pilots from WWII who are refurbishing some of the P-51s they used to fly. The link I'm providing is specifically about a grandfather fighter pilot. His grandson was a part of the group to renovate the grandfather's P-51. Wonderful story.
The second link I'm providing is the story of an infantryman from Bentely, LA.. Meet Mr. Willis Prather, part of the invading force on D-Day. Assigned to the US Army 82nd Airborne Division, he landed in Normandy in a glider. Mr Prather went on to fight in the Battle of the Bulge and the march toward Berlin. It's men like Mr Prather and the Gray Eagles to whom we owe a deep debt of gratitude. May the Lord bless them and remind us to express our gratitude to them.

Football Season is over

Our beloved FHS Indians won last Friday night over the visiting Elkhart Elks by a score of 28-10 but it didn't matter. We needed Troup to lose to gain access to the playoffs and they won pushing us out. While we're saddened to not get to keep playing, we're pleased at the season we had. Now, we turn our attention to basketball! Here's a warmup of NBA bloopers to get you in the mood!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Pray for President-Elect Obama

Romans 13:1b says this: "The authorities that exist have been established by God." Later in the same chapter, verse 7, it reads this way "Give everyone what you him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes. If revenue, then revenue. If respect, then respect. If honor, then honor." Clearly, the Apostle Paul was fully convicted about the role of government in his life and his response to it. Such words might be surprising when you consider Paul lived during the reign of the Roman dictator Nero - an man of insanity by every account. Yet Paul stands by his statements that all authorities are established by God. Those words still apply today.
Perhaps you voted for President-Elect Obama. Pray for him fervently as he prepares for the first steps of his historic presidency. Pray for his protection and for his family. Pray for God to bless him with wisdom far beyond his years.
Perhaps you voted for Senator McCain. Pray for him as he returns to the Senate. But I admonish you to still pray for President-Elect Obama. He will need it in ways we simply can't imagine.
Most of all, pray for our nation to cease this petty partisan-ship that has embroiled us for most of my adult life. Much of it is self-inflicted, but most of it can be set aside if we choose to do so. When President Clinton was in office, I heard many say "He's not my President." I heard the same from a different crowd when our current President was elected. I contend BOTH are disrepectful and a violation of Scripture. Make sure you see government the way the Scripture does - as an envoy of God, at least allowed by God to have that position.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

FHS vs Garrison

FHS Indians 48, Garrision Bulldogs 35. Here's this week's installment on the FHS Football Highlight Reel. Our boys played well and it showed! Now comes the biggest game of the year. Friday night's game at home against visiting Elkhart will determine what happens next for us. If we win (and a series of other things come together), we'll advance to the playoffs. If we lose, our season is over. Come out and join in supporting our boys this Friday at Austin Stadium at 7:30 PM. In the meantime, enjoy the highlights from last week. (BTW, for those of who aren't a part of FHS Football, please ignore the last few words!).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fun with Bulletins

Once in a while, I get an email with bulletin mistakes. Invariably, I find them more than slightly amusing considering that they are published and handed out on Sunday mornings when "good" people wouldn't dare laugh at such a thing. Personally, I believe the Lord has a great sense of humor as reflected in these outtakes. Enjoy!

~ During the absence of our Pastor, we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon when J.F. Stubbs supplied our pulpit.

~ Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person(s) you want remembered.

~ Attend and you will hear an excellent speaker and heave a healthy lunch.

~ The church will host an evening of fine dining, superb entertainment, and gracious hostility.

~ This afternoon there will be a meeting in the north and south ends of the church. Children will be baptized at both ends.

~ Tuesday at 4:00 pm there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk will please come early.

~ Wednesday the Ladies Liturgy Society will meet. Mrs. Jones will sing “Put Me in My Little Bed” accompanied by the pastor.

~ This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.

~ Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 pm--prayer and medication to follow.

~ The rosebud on the altar this morning is to announce the birth of David Belzer, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Julius Belzer.

~ Weight Watchers will meet at 7 p.m. Please use the large double door at the side entrance.

~ The 1997 Spring Council Retreat will be hell May 10 and 11.

~ Pastor is on vacation. Massages can be given to the church secretary.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

FHS vs Arp

We played the No. 1 team in the state last week, the Arp Tigers. Although we lost 34-6, the boys fought hard and gave a solid effort. You'll see some of that in the video below. We still control our own playoff destiny - win out and we're in. We'll know soon!

My favorite coach

With regard to leadership and coaching, one of the most influential characters in my life has been the timeless Coach John Wooden. I keep a copy of one of his books close to my desk as a reminder that sometimes, nice guys don't finish last. There's a great article on today's ESPN website about Coach Wooden you ought to read. Here's the link.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sealed Deal

Yesterday, Julie and I spent an hour or two signing papers and finalizing our deal on the house we've bought. After all that signing and signing and signing, we're done! We spent last night sleeping in the living room so we (truthfully, Julie) could steam the carpet in our bedroom. By so doing, we're enabling Duane and Mary to move in right behind us. So we're all set and plenty excited about it. Our dog, Dodger, is a little confused. He seemed genuinely concerned last night about why we were sleeping in the living room! Keep praying for our move. The process has been great and the people we've worked (Myriah our realtor, Derek our mortgage guy and the Boren-Scott Title Company) have been awesome. Best of all, the people we bought the house from have been great. So good in fact, we're getting in early. We'll begin moving tomorrow morning with the knick-knacks and tchochktes. The movers will be there first thing Saturday morning and by Saturday afternoon, we'll be all in. Please pray for everything to go smoothly for us and the NeSmiths.

Monday, October 20, 2008

FHS v West Rusk

Despite our boys best efforts, we lost last Friday vs a salty West Rusk Raider team. 28-10. Nevertheless, our boys played hard and made some wonderful plays. Here's evidence to that effect.

For my friends in law enforcement

This is probably NOT the way you want to handle getting a speeding ticket.

http://view.break.com/584896 - Watch more free videos

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A little love from my Longhorn friends

Sent to me this week from some kind people in Austin - and I thank them!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Welcome Rev. Steve and Wendy Palmer


Welcome Steve and Wendy and their children. Steve is the new pastor at Hilltop Baptist Church here in Frankston. Voted in this past Sunday, Steve is already on the field. I had lunch with Steve today and have found him to be a wonderful man of God with a passion for reaching people with the Gospel. Pray for Bro. Steve, Wendy and their children as they begin their new work at Hilltop!

This week in FHS Football

HOMECOMING - Frankston, 24; Troup, 12 - Final Score.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Welcome to Kathy Parrish and Bertha Newman

We welcome our two newest members! Kathy Parrish, wife of our own Dwayne Parrish, has recently gotten married and come to be a part of our fellowship. Welcome Kathy!

Bertha Newman is no stranger to us - she's been a part of Ruth Dark's Esther class for several months now. She came forward to rededicate her life! Praise the Lord!

Pray for these decisions and others that need to be made - the series we've just finished is as hard-hitting as any I've ever done. Pray for the next series - "The Dangerous Arts!" We'll begin that Sunday, October 26.

Square Fair Thanks


I owe a BIG thanks to the people in the picture (except myself, of course!) and the photographer. From left to right, Sally Bradley (husband Bob is taking the picture!), Jerry Hinkie, Julie Wood, Ann Thomas, Flo Bussey (kneeling), Billy Bussey and on the back row, Will Hinkie, myself and Franchot Thomas. Also not picture, mascot Dodger who barked away all the threats. These folks took on the tough job of setting up our Square Fair booth Friday night. Thanks!

Another BIG thanks to Duane NeSmith for supervising the tear-down Saturday afternoon. He took that job to allow his pastor the luxury of watching the Texas-ou (otherwise known as "o-who?) game. Thanks D- I owe you.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Why I don't do more weddings

Weddings are not a part of my job that I find fun. The best part is seeing the bride come down the aisle. The worst part is running the rehearsal with five hundred bosses telling the pastor what he needs to do. (BTW, I listen very politely and nod accordingly - then when I do the service, I do it how I like!) At any rate, I found this video and found it more than a little amusing.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

As quickly as they came, they're gone

For those who haven't already heard, the children who've been in our care since June have returned to their biological parents. Please join us praying for them and their future as well as their parents. Indeed, they were a blessing to us for their time spent here. Thanks to each of you who loved on them while they were here.

As for us, we're doing well. We have spent the last two evenings in our quiet house. We've decided foster parenting isn't for us, so we're now pursuing adoption. Please ask the Lord to lead us to children who need a home.

FHS vs Hemphill

Here's this week's video. Frankston 28, Hemphill 12.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

FHS vs Alto

Here's your reward for making your visit to my site. The team won't see this until tomorrow morning but you see it now! (at least as soon as YouTube finishes processing it - it should be ready by 7 PM Thursday night).

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A wild ride

Like most of you, I've watched the events of the last several days with great interest. The wild fluctuations of the stock market do more than lead newscasts - they're a de facto consumer confidence poll. People will make long-standing financial decisions based on the latest reading on the Dow Jones. No wonder so many people are worried about their futures! Wouldn't it be great to live without that kind of worry? Wouldn't it wonderful to find peace in the midst of all this turmoil? We're offering a couple of things to help.
(1) The peace of God that can only come through a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Your hope doesn't need to be in the stocks - they'll always let you down! Instead, place your hope and trust in the compassionate nature of the only one to die for you - Jesus Christ. In him, you'll find the peace you need.
(2) Recognize your role as a steward. God delights in us taking good care of his blessings (1 Corinthains 4:2). A steward doesn't possess the things in his hands - he's merely the caretaker. Make sure you understand the difference.
(3) Make sure your financial house is in order. We offer a helpful class - Financial Peace University - to help you be better equipped to make financial decisions. They're still early on for the fall session but if you want a taste of what they're doing, check this website.
(4) Above all else, pray. Ask the Lord of all resources to provide for his children and to grant wisdom to those who need it. Pray against greed, avarice and economic injustice. Ask the Lord to balance the scales in accordance with his authority.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Our New Home



After much deliberation (there were only two houses that met our criteria) and many times of name signing, we've got a contract on a house! It's in a great neighborhood - 11 children live there, most of them under 10. The Bizzells live there as well as the Ramseys (both families church members). It's a great place and we feel like we got a great deal on it. They wanted to sell and we wanted to buy! One of it's best features is a the high ceilings throughout! I've always wanted that! We're closing on October 22nd with a targeted move-in date of Saturday, October 25. Some of that is tentative since Heather Bruton is getting married that day, but it's our best option. Keep that day open for us!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Please pray for the Lade family

I've just received word that Mr James Lade of Lade Ford here in Frankston has passed away. This comes fast on the heels of his son's murder last Thursday night in Longview. Please pray fervently for this family. We've been in touch with their church and offered our services and promised our prayers. Ask the Lord of mercy and comfort to carry this family forward.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Man's best friend

Man's best friend indeed!

Feeling Brave?

Okay, I've got a challenge for you. I just got a call from my buddy Dr. Chris Moody, pastor of FBC Beaumont. He's extended an invitation and a challenge. The invitation is come to Beaumont - now! They need help and need it in the form of people who are ready to work. Mud-out teams are desperately needed. If you'd be interested in going, call me at the office or on my cell.

The challenge Chris offered was simple: get as much bleach as you can gather and haul it Beaumont for distribution. We need someone to take the bull by the horns here. Anybody feeling called by God to lead this? Call me!

For more info, go to http://relief4ike.org/

Thursday, September 18, 2008

FHS vs Quitman

Here's this week's video - don't tell anyone I posted it before the kids saw it. I usually premiere it for the coaches first, then the kids, then let you in on it. However, tomorrow is insane and I was worried I wouldn't be able to get it posted. Here it is early.

FHS 21, Quitman, 7 - Final.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It seems they travel in groups

Our prayers are needed for two families with connections to our church.

Yesterday afternoon, Mrs. Bobbie Swearingen passed away after a lengthy illness. Her services have not yet been scheduled but they will be at the First Baptist Church of NOCONA, TX. After speaking with the family this morning, they've requested in lieu of flowers, a memorial gift in Bobbie's name be made to the Kinsman Hospice of Gilmer, TX.

Around midnight, Mrs Adelaide Milner passed away. For most of her life, she has had a connection to our church and she was my across the street neighbor. She had been suffering from various maladies in the last several weeks and had been in and out of the hospital several times over the last month. Her services are scheduled for Saturday afternoon, 2:00 PM, here at First Baptist in Frankston.

Please pray for both of these families during this time of loss.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Reflections on the weekend

Now that Hurricane Ike has passed, we've had some time to consider his impact. Did you know, if you're a resident of our county, you live in a disaster area? My mother used to tell me that when she wanted me to clean my room, but now it's really true! It's almost embarrassing to say we didn't receive any damage from the storm to our home or our trees - hardly even any branches fell - but we're grateful to say no serious injuries occurred as a result of the storm.

The worst of it was in north Frankston where a stately old oak was pushed over and a roof on a mobile home was lost. We're working with the family in the mobile home, in concert with Roy Brown, mayor of Berryville and the Frankston ISD to help those folks as best we're able.

What is really needed right now is a chain saw crew. Is that your specialty or do you know someone who does that? We need you! Another home has a tree leaning near it and, left unattended, it could fall on the home. We need someone to come and pull it off! If you know someone who does this kind of work, call me at the church office.

In the meantime, while our lives returns to something like normal, please pray for those who suffering the damaging effects of the storm. The recovery process will be long. Pray especially for the people of Galveston - they'll need it.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

FHS - Week 1 Highlights

Sorry I forgot to post this yesterday. I had it ready on Wednesday but I like to show the coaches and athletes first. Not to worry - I'll continue to link here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Visions of my childhood. . .

I found an amazing video today when I was posting the newest FHS video (can't post that here till tomorrow - gotta let the kids see it first!). It's about 10 minutes but here's to America's Team!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A nice surprise

Getting back to work after a long weekend can be a drag. It's nice to come back and have some good news! Some was waiting for me at the office today. Our church received recognition for last Christmas' Lottie Moon Foreign Missions Offering. You'll remember the Lord really blessed that offering in our church, so much so it surprised almost all of us - not the Lord of course.

Really, we don't need a pat on the back to keep us going in the right direction or to continue giving, but it's reassuring to know our gift to the Lottie Moon Offering was a part of a greater effort for mission across our nation and around the world. It's amazing - the money we gave goes to places most of us will never go and to many places we've never even heard of - but the Lord knows them all well and blesses His work whether we know it or not. Thanks for being visionary people who see the Kingdom of God in a stark light.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A sad duty

Most of my work as pastor is a joy. I love what I do, most of the time. That said, when I have to lay a friend to rest, like we did today with Luther Ray Doughty, it's a difficult and sad duty.

Luther Ray was one of the first visits I made when I got here. He and I became fast friends, esp given that he reminded me so much of my dad. I never told him that, a fact I wish I could change. As Luther Ray's health deteriorated, the once strong, independent man who loved to fish and mow his yard got to where breathing was difficult. When I saw him last on Friday of last week, quietly I asked the Lord to let him come home. Mercifully, the Lord answered that prayer the next day.

Luther Ray's passing was sad and a difficult part of my job - but made much easier in knowing he's no longer suffering and no longer sick - he's at home with the Lord and all the other fishermen. Please pray for his wife, Lorraine, his daughter, Cindy and his son, Todd as well as their families.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mission Trip Meeting this Sunday afternoon

We're calling a mission trip meeting for this Sunday afternoon to get our heads together about Mission Frankston for this year. It'll be here before we know it! We've got five potential projects to choose from and at least one them is a matter of urgency. I hope you'll consider taking part in Mission Frankston this year. We're scheduled to work from Friday, Nov 21 until Wednesday, Nov 26. Check your calendar!
In honor of mission work, here's the video (can't remember if we ever showed it before) from Mission Trip 2008 to Harlingen. Make sure to stick around for the end with the footage of Hurricane Dolly!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Church Persecution is alive and well

Church persecution is something many people think is dead and gone. According to this story, you'd better think again.

Once an Apple guy, always an Apple guy



For those who aren't aware of it, I'm an Apple "Mac" Computers guy. In 1995, I started a job that demanded I use a Mac. I've not been without one since then (except for a short time when Mac was struggling in the late 1990's). I've soared recently as they've done better and better with the iPhone, the iPod and, of course, our beloved Mac laptops and desktops. Is there anything more comforting than sitting down to a Mac? Not to me! It's come as no surprise, therefore, as Mac has taken more and more market-share from iconic Microsoft that they're battling back and spending big bucks to do it, even hiring Jerry Seinfeld as their spokesperson (here's the link to the full story).





What's their selling point? We're cheaper! When I was growing up, my parents taught me that cheaper isn't always better. Sometimes, it's worth it to purchase something that costs more to get the quality you need. In my estimation, Apple Computers are worth the extra money! Go Apple!
Signed,
the Apple fanboy in me

Update on Luther Ray Doughty

Many of you have inquired as to Mr. Doughty's well-being. He's resting comfortably at the Home Place Hospice Center near the UT-Tyler campus in southeast Tyler. I spent about an hour with he and his family yesterday and found him to be alert sometimes despite the medication they're using to keep him comfortable. His illness will be his gateway to the presence of the Lord, but clearly the Lord isn't ready for him yet.

I've heard a rumor the family doesn't want visitors. I'm not sure who started it, but it isn't true. They welcome friends, new and old, to share time with Luther Ray. If you go, however, please refrain from speaking about people who have died from the same kind of illnesses (yes, I've known people who are that insensitive). Go and show love to Luther Ray, his wife Lorraine, their daughter Cindy and their son Todd. Pray for this precious family during this difficult season of life.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cha-CHING!

That's my response to the previous post "What to do?" Speaking strictly for myself and not as pastor, I would take the $600,000 offering and put it WORK for the glory of God. The heart intent is God's greatest concern and clearly the giver in that story was trying to express his gratitude to God for the financial windfall. My thought is that I don't want to be the Pharisee who tells him God doesn't want his dirty money.

Furthermore, as someone noted in one of the comments, if we begin asking questions like that, do we have to keep asking them? Where did this money come from? How did you get it? Was it legal?

At the same time, it seems to me the Apostle Paul encountered this question in 1 Corinthians 8 dealing with meat sacrificed to idols. Paul employed what we now call "the weaker brother" principle meaning don't act in ways that might cause another to sin. With this in mind, I'm not sure what I would do. Would accepting the money be condoning the lottery? Perhaps we'll never to answer these questions, but, as Scripture says, "He who needs wisdom, let him ask of the Lord who gives richly."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What to do?

A church in Florida has created quite a stir recently. It seems one of their church members won a $6 million dollar lottery. Being a good church member (other than playing the lottery of course), he wanted to tithe on his winnings - a tidy $600,000.00. The church declined. (Here's a link the whole story). What do you think? Should the church take the money and use it for benevolent purposes? Or do you agree the church should refuse it? Lemme hear you on this one. I'll tip my hand later.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Arrangements for Bettye Bitz

The funeral services for Mrs. Bettye Bitz are as follows. Visitation tonight from 6:00-8:00 PM at Autry Funeral Home here in Frankston. Her services will be held here at FBC tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 PM with myself and Bro. George Folmar officiating. There will be a funeral luncheon for the family at 12 Noon. If you didn't sign up to bring something, bring it anyway. We'll be ready for you by 8 AM tomorrow.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Prayer needed for the family of Bettye Bitz

Mrs. Bettye Bitz, longtime member of FBC and friend to all in our community, went home to be with the Lord last night. Please pray for Ben, her husband of nearly 62 years and their three children, Ken, Stephen and Becky as well as their families. I spent some time with the family this morning and they are doing well. May the grace of Christ rule with peace and comfort over their hearts today.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Sunday Reflections

Yesterday, the first Sunday of the month, is, as always, furiously busy. The morning service - I struggled all week with that message. I was concerned I might be misinterpreted or misread. I finally decided to let the Holy Spirit do the leading. I'm glad I did. The freedom I felt from the Lord to speak was a wonderful thing!
Our nursing home service was a blessing! Special thanks to Chuck Goocher for his admirable leadership in our song service. Janelle Morris did a pair of specials and did an amazing job with both. My personal favorite was her song "Wore Out."
Last night's service dealt with the Authority of the word of God. I love teaching about the word of God and especially when it's so clear!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Home

Sorry it took me so long to get back with you. It's been a busy weekend and you know how it is when you've been gone a week - everything just sort of piles up on you. I finally got back to my blog. To say last week was an adventure would be an understatement. We posted a few pictures on our website, but even that doesn't do justice to the events of the week. Even though our plans got altered by Hurricane Dolly, I don't believe the plans of God were altered. He knew exactly what He was doing when He sent us there. Any regrets? Only that we didn't get to finish what we started.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A morning report

Dolly has come ashore and is rolling hard! She's poured down rain on us all night and will continue all day. Her winds are flirting with Category 2 (96 mph) but we're doing fine. We're in an exceptionally secure building and living on the second floor so we're fine. We're to be joined tomorrow by the Texas Baptist Men Disaster Relief Team here at FBC Harlingen so we'll either leave tomorrow or we'll work with them. Pray for our work. Pray for a safe trip home. Pray for the Lord's blessings over our day spent here at the Family Life Center. It's not what we planned - we came to work - but it seems clear that the Lord's wisdom is here for us.
On a humorous note, it's nice to know the Lord has a great sense of humor. Sarah Thacker just read her devotional for today: Psalm 69:1-4 - "Save me, o God, for the waters have come up to my neck.. . ."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Harlingen, Day 2

Today we spent the day finishing the painting we began yesterday. We framed an addition onto a house desperately in need of more space. Effectively, we doubled their square footage in a single day. Our VBS went off as planned and was a wonderful experience! The kids were excited to have something other than the storm to talk about.
Now - as for the storm - subtitled this "Hello Dolly!" For those who might be worried about us, don't be. We're doing fine. The storm is rolling off-shore and we can feel it's effects - increased wind, clouds and slightly sprinkling. But it's not here yet. We're staying on the upper floor in the FBC Harlingen Family Life Center and have a plan in case it floods. We've prepared our vehicles and got our plans together in case we lose power. We're just waiting with plans to sit the day out tomorrow here at FBC. They've closed their offices tomorrow as has everyone else around here. We've got a problem with the van (A/C is out) that we're going to try for repairs before we come home, but we'll have to wait and see. Pray for us. Ask the Lord to clear our path so we can get home. Pray for the families we're ministering to here. Pray for Indian Hills Baptist Church and Pastor Steve Rodgriuez.

UPDATE: 11:19 PM - She's here. We can hear her pounding against our windows and roof.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Harlingen, Day 1

A fast and furious day! We began early, painting a house in the Mercedes area. We're all set to finish it up tomorrow. Part of our crew then went to work another house nearby. We'll probably finish it too tomorrow. VBS ended our day. We had planned to have about 30 students. We had 45. Great problem, but we had to scramble up a new plan of action to provide for it. No problem! It was awesome!
Now - to answer the question I've been asked about 100 million times today - What about Hurricane Dolly? Our plan right now, by consensus, is to ride it out. It'll probably mean a whole day lost, but we'll be able to connect with people on the clean-up side that we might have missed otherwise. We still plan to leave for home on Friday, but we'll see. Check back soon for pictures - it's too late for those tonight.

To the moronic troll commenting on my blog. . .

A troll is someone who lurks around anonymously commenting on blogs, usually with insulting or off-topic comments. In recent days, one has surfaced here. I'm serving notice, troll - whoever you are, that I'm ready to turn comments off. I love letting people respond, but correction of my grammar or style, off-topic remarks or links to other sites will not be tolerated. This is private property I allow you to share with me. In other words - GO AWAY TROLL! I don't have time to keep deleting your comments so go find someone else to bother.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pray for Julie and myself today

Friends who read this blog - please pray for Julie and I. Health-wise we're fine and the children are too. But the fact remains we need your prayers for Lord's counsel, wisdom and passion. That's all I can say right now.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Stupid Good!

While feeding the baby last night, I turned on the Home Run Derby on ESPN. I'm not a big fan of the event, especially since the era of steroids and such has struck, but I wanted to see Josh Hamilton of our own Texas Rangers. Wow - did he ever reward my dilligence. If you didn't see it, Josh took 54 pitches from his batting coach and bashed 28 of them out of the ballpark. Some of them, he literally nearly hit out of the ballpark. His story is one of redemption and grace and worth reading. Here's a link to a great recap of last night and Josh's story overall. One last thing - Go Rangers!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Where I DON"T plan to visit when I vacation

You might have seen the article over the weekend about the pastor in Frankfort, KY who was arrested by wildlife officials for illegal possession of snakes (Here's a link to the full story). The pastor was gathering them for a worship service in what we call a "snake-handling church." Based on Mark 16, some churches believe you can handle deadly snakes, and even get bitten, and not suffer the consequences. Although Scripture does indicate that as a possibility, it mentions only the Apostle Paul as having taken advantage of this (See Acts 28:1-6). I'd rather not take unnecessary chances - snakes are easy enough to find when I don't want them! Rather than tempt the Lord, I believe I'll simply believe His word and rest in His promises instead of testing them out with snakes.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A fun but fruitless morning


Early this morning, a friend (I'll let the guilty remain nameless!) and I got up and left our families at home in a the primordial search for the newest gadget! Chockful of the latest technology, I've long pined for this device! After scratching nickels and pennies and not playing golf for a whole month in preparation for today, we left my house before 7:45 AM, a time I usually only get up to go play golf. But today was different. Today, we were in search of the newest iPhone, released at 8 AM this morning. We drove to Tyler, arriving at the AT &T store just as they opened. Taking our place at the end of the line, we were numbers 86 and 87 respectively. We waiting until about 10 AM when they warned us we might not get a phone today but we waited anyway. About 11 AM we got into the store and were told we had missed it by two people! If only we'd left thirty minutes earlier! It's just as well - we were given the opportunity to do orders for them and we'll have them soon.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

My Great-Aunt Helen

My great-aunt Helen passed away today. She was 79 yrs of age and suffered from a number of ailments, each limiting her body more and more. She as a kind, tender lady with a gentle smile and a soft word for all whom she knew. She had a deep love for Jesus and is, at long last, home. In the fall of 1999, she came to the church I was pastoring, cornered me, and said "I'm not going to live much longer and you're going to do my funeral!" She was not a bossy or pushy lady, so I was a bit surprised. When I agreed to do so, she reverted to her sweet, gentle temperment that I had always known growing up. She knew what she wanted and was so certain of it - I really respect that.
We'll honor her life at her home church tomorrow in Hubbard (east of Waco). Please pray for that important time as we celebrate her new home.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Prayer needed for Shelley White

Shelley White, daughter of Judy and Johnny Burks, is in need of our prayers today. Shelley, suffering from MS among other ailments, passed out at work today and has been taken to the hospital near her home in Dallas. Please pray for Shelley, her husband Greg and their children. Pray also for Judy and Johnny as they travel to be with their daughter.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Gotta post this

A father and son running a tri-athalon together. Did I mention the son is a quadrapledgic? Take a look.

Officially speaking. . .

Officially, I'm on sick leave today. After church yesterday morning, my fever began to shoot skyward. It finally topped out at about 8 PM at 104. Sometime last night, it finally broke. I feel much better today, but I'm not getting carried away. I'm home today - Julie and the children went to Tyler to do some shopping. It's the first quiet I've had at home since they arrived three weeks ago today. Pray for an end to all this sickness, won't you? I know I'm ready for it to end.

Monday, June 23, 2008

VBS is here!


Okay - we hit the ground running this morning with the crank-up of our annual Vacation Bible School. This was the first major event I was here for last year, so it seems right to get it back up on it's feet this year! A special thanks is due to Katrina Holmans, our VBS Director. It's hard work to put all the pieces in place and then hope you've hit the right combination. We'll be posting pictures on our website so check there to find your kid!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

An act of Congress

I've always been told it's difficult to get an act of Congress done. While I've enormous respect for work our lawmakers do and the difficulties involved, I wonder if they've lost connection with those of us who live in the "real world." Little things, like the lightbulbs I use in my home, are now issues Congress wants to dictate. Hmmmmm. I'm not sure the framers of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence had this in mind. Watch the video below from Rep. Poe, proudly serving the state of Texas with a good health dose of common sense.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wisdom from my teachers

When I was a student at Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth, TX, I was privileged to sit under the instruction of Dr. Jack MacGorman, longtime professor of New Testament. A man of passion for Christ and his kingdom, his class made me want to serve Christ more fully as opposed to some classes that just filled my head. He was a learned man with two earned Ph.D.'s. Why someone would need two, I don't know! Unfortunately, Dr. MacGorman informed us, he earned those degrees at the expense of family time. He was quite an old man by the time I knew him and here's what he told us - "Gentlemen, I would gladly trade both of my PhD's for the opportunity to go back and be a better D.a.D." I've thought often of Dr. MacGorman and his wisdom - and I appreciate it more now than I ever have.

I've been blessed with the educational opportunities the Lord has provided me. I've been trained in 5 languages and picked up a couple more along the way. I spent more than 3 years reading Clement of Alexandria's writings, sifting out the core of his New Testament - I know him as well as anyone can know someone who died in 205 AD. I cooperate with an International Greek project, attending sporadic meetings about issues related to the Greek New Testament.
But reality dictates, at the end of the day, that I'll be measured by how I've poured my life into the lives of others for the sake of Christ. I'm just a vessel - nothing more. In humility, it's time to consider others better than myself.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Boys will be boys

Under the heading "Now THAT looks like fun" I present my Rangers at Shea Stadium in NYC. During a rain-out on Saturday afternoon, Ian Kinsler, Josh Rupe, Michael Young and Milton Bradley decided to have a little fun. Using the infield tarp for a giant slip-n-slide, they got down and soggy!

A new way of thinking

I'm a techno guy, in case you hadn't already figured that out. One of the things I enjoy about tech stuff is the constantly changing face of it. There's always something new coming out or a new way to think about things. That's almost always good - except when technology is used by the unscrupulous to carve deeper into your wallet. Take for example the recent decision by the Associated Press. You remember them - newspapers across the country have bought their stories and published them for decades. With the advent of the internet and technology, however, fewer people are purchasing newspapers since people now typically get their news online. The AP decided getting their slice isn't enough. Now, they desire to get paid if you link to their stories no matter of you're a news service or a blogger (like me! It's reminiscent of the Recording Industry and Movie Industry, but that's a blog for another post. )The Washington Post has a response to this new ideology: BAN THEM! The Washington Post will no longer link to the AP stories, quote from them or cite them in any manner (Here's the link to their story). Maybe hitting them in their pocket book will help them see the light!

While we're on the subject of technology, did you happen to see that iPhone 2.0 is coming out on July 11th? And it has my favorite feature - GPS (one of the reasons I choose the Blackberry oer the iPhone in the first place!).

Friday, June 13, 2008

Brag time

My sisters, Karen Cotter and Winona Wood, are amazing ladies. Each quite successful in their fields - Karen in nursing and teaching and Winona as a medical trainer. I'm so proud of the lady each of them are and will be. Recently, Karen was honored for her teaching work at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, OK where she's an assistant professor of nursing working toward her PhD. Here's the link to the story. Congrats, Karen, and keep up the fine work!
Winona, on the other hand, just returned from a medical conference in (get this) Hilton Head, SC. For those of you who aren't golfers, let me just tell that where golfers hope to go when they die. At least this golfer hopes Heaven is like that!
Welcome home Winona and keep up the good work!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Sgt. Craig Morvant

Sgt Morvant was deployed to Iraq this past Saturday - for the second time. His mother is a member of FBC and quite proud of her son. I'd like to honor him today for his service. There's a great article about him in this week's news. Here's the link.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Getting pushed out of your box

I've reflected all week on the message I presented Sunday - about allowing the Calling of God to guide you, even if you don't think you're properly equipped. Moses certainly felt that way - ill-equipped for the calling God had placed before him. Aren't you glad it's not about you? Aren't you glad it's not about how qualified you are or how gifted? It's not a matter of performance as it is a willingness to be used by the Lord.

This has been an interesting week for me, challenging me on a number of levels. It's funny when you commit to following the Lord's plan - you never know where he's going to take you. Pray for us as we seek the Lord's direction as a church.

Monday, June 02, 2008

An amazing kid!


Meet Adam Bender, an 8 yr old little leaguer from Lexington, Kentucky. Adam plays catcher and hits - all with only one leg. You've got to read the whole story for yourself. Here's the link to it. An unbelievable inspiration to all of us! I coached High school basketball for three season and I'm coaching T-Ball this season and I've enjoyed it throughly. But a few of the kids I've coached in the past have been a little weak in the work ethic or passion department. I'd take an army of Adams and whip the lot of you!

If you're an FBC member, I can promise you this is a kid you'll be seeing as an illustration.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Open Season

Generally speaking, I leave politics alone. I was always told growing up don't meddle in politics or religion and since my job is religion, I try to leave the other alone. BUT, this is too much! I read this morning an excerpt from Scott McLellan's book on the White House and President Bush. While I'll readily admit he's made more than his share of mistakes, the excerpts I read make him sound down-right treasonous (It looked all the world to me like someone trying to sell books!)! If there's information to make McLellan's charges true, then impeach Bush! If there isn't, then., at least by virtue of his office, respect him! While I'm singling out McLellan, I see it all over the place - comedians, political talking heads on TV, the news media. All of them ridiculing the President. You may not like him and may wish we had another president - I understand that. But according to Scripture, by virtue of his position, God has at least ALLOWED him to be in office, for good or bad, and our part is to faithfully pray for him, respect his office and encourage others to do the same (Romans 13). When Paul wrote these instructions, it was under Nero, one of the most despotic dictators history can reveal so please don't reply with "It's different now." Join me in calling for a "cease fire."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

We're home

We bid a sad farewell to our vacation and came home yesterday. We got home about 3 PM - 30 minutes ahead of our scheduled arrival time. That's never happened before! Honestly, Continental Airlines had lost me up till that point. I still don't think I'll fly with them again (their planes are just too small! Easily smaller than American or United with regard to leg room) but they did a great job in getting us home.

I highly recommend Nashville as a "family-friendly" city to visit. We roamed the streets and saw some amazing sites, all in a quite clean city with loads of people who were helpful. We'll go back! I want to see a show at the Grand Ole Opry!

Standing in Ryman Auditorium was really a thrill. They have a video loop that plays over and over with clips from their glory days with Roy Acuff, "Cousin" Minnie Pearl, Flatt and Scruggs (pictured) and the myriad of special performers. It made the Auditorium "ring" with their sounds, making it feel like they might just step out from backstage and perform for us. If you've never heard of the Ryman, it was the home of the Opry from the 1950's until 1974 when they moved across town to their new state-of-the-art digs where they still operate. But in leaving the Ryman, they left more than a building. They left a part of their heritage. The building has acoustics that are impossible to replicate. To think they nearly tore it down in the 1980's. . . .

So we're home and I'm back at work. If you need, you know where to call!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Our last couple of days before. . .


After we left Asheville, we decided to go through the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. I've driven around them in the past, but I never (to the best of my knowledge - I don't remember all the routes we took when I was a kid) drove straight through it. It was unbelievable! The above pictures is a mountain stream we found - it was FREEZING but the water was so clean and fresh, we took some of our old empty water bottles and filled them with water from the streams. I loved it!

To celebrate our recent anniversary, Julie and I agreed to wait until our trip to have our "special meal." Once we got to Nashville, we went to Opry Mills Mall - one of the biggest malls I've ever seen. There was a wonderful restaurant there - "The Aquarium." Here's a couple of shots from our anniversary meal last night. It was good food - if you like seafood. I'm not such a fan, but my wife definitely IS! She loved it and that was the point.

Today (Saturday) we went to the Country Music Hall of Fame here in Nashville. We met a wonderful tour guide who took us through the RCA "Historic Studio B - Home of 1,000 hits. Elvis recorded there as did Charlie Pride (a big Texas Ranger fan!), Dolly Parton, Roy Orbison and "Gentleman" Jim Reeves. The piano Julie is seated at is in that studio - Elvis played that piano as did a number of other well known artists.


The picture above here (where my stupid head got cut off by our knuckleheaded photographer!) is us with David Lee, a song writer from Wichita Falls, TX! He's written a number of songs you might know - "Letters from Home", "19-something", "This one's gonna leave a mark", and my favorite of the lot - "Lucky Man." He played his music for a small group of us in the Ford Theater connected to the Hall. We got to meet him (obviously) and re-connected him with his Texas roots!
Tomorrow, we'll go to church at Two Rivers Baptist Church, right up the road from our hotel. Our last day off, we'll head home and be back at work on Tuesday. It's been an outstanding trip, but for the first time, I dreamed of home, our dog, and you, our FBC family. I'm ready to come home.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Our last day in Asheville

It's 10:00 AM our time, and we're about to leave Asheville. By 1 PM, we'll be on our way again, having enjoyed our conference and our golf. Read Julie's blog for info about the conference and you've already read my comments on the amazing golf. But as I got ready this morning, I couldn't help but think about home.

To be honest, ever since we left, I've done considerable praying for our FBC family and where we're headed. I've thought about the last year and how crazy it all is that we came to Frankston at all. I've considered how the Lord's leadership, putting us together as he did, and what the Lord has in mind for us to do. I know those of you who read this are those who are those most interested (or tech savvy) - please know how much I covet you prayers.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

One last round before we leave North Carolina

I'm flipping through my latest "Golf Magazine" issue. I turn to the "Travel Golf" section just to dream a bit when I spot "Mt Mitchell Golf Resort - 1 hour from Asheville." I called and set a tee time as soon as I found out how much it cost (cheaper than a round at Pine Dunes back home). What the ad didn't say was the path to get there. It's not neccessarily hard to find - it's just that you have to cross three mountain ranges (one of them twice) to get there! I never gotten motion sick when I was doing the driving but I was near that today. It was like a stinkin' driving test. You know - the kind where they test your driving acumen: turning, braking, speed, etc. As I drove, I thought to myself "this had better be darn good." I wasn't disappointed.

The picture you see here hardly does it justice. This was Hole #14, their signature hole. What you can't see are the mountains framing this hole. I gave up trying to get them in and get a good shot of the hole. The one below is #15 - yes, there were trout in that stream - as well as a couple dozen golf balls. Click the pictures and they'll zoom out to their proper format - it's worth it if you like golf or beautiful places. As it turns out, the course was definitely worth it - something I had to remind myself often when I drove that same route back to our hotel!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Golfing in the WIND!

I checked the weather yesterday and noticed it was hovering near triple digits. Sounds tough. I was gloating in the fact was 72 degrees and PERFECT here! I should've known I'd regret that. I got my work through this morning, so I snuck off to play golf at the same local place I played yesterday. While the temperate was just about the same, it was WINDY! Wow. My pants legs sounded like flags flapping in the breeze. There was a storm brewing somewhere and it did rain right around supper time - but I did get my round in! Shot a 90 today. Playing it twice helped enormously!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Golfing - take 2

Today is a stunningly beautiful mountain Monday here. As such, I couldn't stand the thought of not playing golf today. So I slipped away and found a gorgeous little course hidden in the hills here - Black Mountain Golf Course. LOTS of hills and water on numerous holes. Their signature hole is #17; Par 6, it's 747 yards long. I got an 8 on that bad boy and I was proud to have it. I hit my longest drive of the day on that hole and a decent second shot and I was still more than 200 yards out! I didn't think I was ever going to get to the green! Fortunately for me, I played the back nine first (due to a senior men's tournament this morning) so that was #8 for me.
I shot serviceably well - 96. For me, that's pretty good. If I could shoot that consistently, I would be delighted. I started to go another round, but then I remembered why I'd come, so back I came.
We'll bring pictures back with us, but I don't think they'll do justice to the beauty of this place. I've never stayed more than one night at a time in North Carolina, and when I did that it was always with getting up early to make my way further on. But I can certainly see how this place grows on you. Billy Graham's home is in this area and I certainly understand why.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday in Asheville

For the first time since I came to be pastor at FBC, I wasn't in the pulpit this morning. It always feels strange to not preach on Sunday morning - it's a part of me I can't turn off. Yet it is strangely refreshing to have the opportunity to take a short Sabbath rest - even the Lord rested (Genesis 2:1-3). But resting doesn't mean we didn't attend church today. We try to go to churches different than our own. We found one in Asheville that just fit the bill. "The Rock of Asheville" Church was where we attended today. In fact, because worship started at 10 AM our time (Eastern), we began worship before you began Sunday School and finished before you started worship!

I firmly believe that taking a vacation OUGHT to include worship. Find a church, wherever you are. As I've been told, we've got branch offices all over the place! Vacations are coming soon for many of you - when they come, and if you can't get back to FBC before Sunday, find a house of worship and celebrate the Lord's goodness to you.

As I write you, Julie is in her conference. She's an exceptional writer - if you've read her blog, you already know that. It's my hope that this conference will sharpen her skills and allow her gifting to bless countless others. Golf for me tomorrow!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

An easy Saturday


Today we took a day to just rest. Our conference begins tomorrow - we'll have a schedule to keep. But today was all ours so we took it. After sleeping late, hanging out at the hotel and a leisurely breakfast (included in our room was the best "free" hot breakfast I've ever had a hotel!), I looked up the local municipal golf course and went to play! To describe it as "hilly" would be to denigrate the hills. The famed golf architect Donald Ross (designed of the famous Pinehurst #2 here in North Carolina) designed this municipal course in 1927 - it's still in use. It beat the hound out of me and fooled me a number of times with it's visual trickery - like #18, pictured here below. The tee box is on the same plane as the green but everything else is set at about 15 degrees. At 210 yards, it's not long - but I still made a 5 because I out-thunk myself.
It was a great time and I made some memorable shots but mostly forgettable ones. I'll not soon forget playing here, however, and the fine experience I had in spite of one of my partners (I got thrown into a group) who believed he was Ben Hogan. While he was certainly old enough to be, his game wasn't nearly as good as he was fussy about it. I was forever too close, in the wrong place, out of turn, etc., etc., etc.. I'm not a newbie at this, but this guy was a prototypical home course player - fussy. I hope I'm not that way on our courses at home!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Asheville at last!


We arrived here in Asheville Friday morning after a quick stop in Mt. Airy, home of Andy Griffith and the basis for his fictional "Mayberry." Mt Airy isn't the small quaint place we had envisioned - even less so with so many trying to profit from the popularity of Andy's shows. We hadn't planned to stay long and believe me we DIDN'T! It wasn't long until we were back on the freeway headed for Asheville.

When we got to Asheville, we drove stright to it's most famous landmark, the Biltmore Estates.It's that little shack behind Julie. 250 rooms, 43 bathrooms, indoor swimming pool, two lane bowling alley, 15 foot ceilings - all of it built by George Vanderbilt (yes, that same one as in Vanderbilt University, Health Center, etc) before 1896. Stinking unbelievable. I'd show you pictures from the inside, but they don't allow indoor photography. 45 bucks a head and you can't take pictures. Hmmmmm. Ah well. It was a pretty exceptional time to be honest. The house is overwhelming and the gardens are as well. We had a great time and it was as worth as an empty house can be. The picture of me on the tractor was allowed at the Farm area of the Biltmore - one of the best parts that a lot of people miss. We met an exceptionally friendly woodworker and a very entertaining blacksmith. I enjoyed the time at the farm best. Saturday is supposed to be an easy day for us - I'll let you know!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sorry for the delay in posting

Sorry I didn't get posted yesterday - it's a long story! We spent Wednesday morning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and I gotta say it was amazing! They were supposed to be doing track practice in preparation for the Memorial Day weekend Indy 500 Race. That's me kissing the 1 yard of bricks that marks the start-finish line. It's supposed to be good luck. I knelt down to the cold ground in the pit area of the track. I'd seen it on TV all my life but it's MUCH bigger than my mind envisioned it. We parked on the infield, walking Gasoline Alley and the pits, strolled the Hall of Fame Museum and watched the trucks go round the track drying it out from the morning rains. They ran the track dryers and they were LOUD!!!! Fortunately, my lovely wife had brought ear plugs for both of us. It rained out practice and it was stinking cold (50 degrees, maybe, with a stiff breeze.) but overall a wonderful experience.
Next, on to Cincinnati where we saw the Reds-Marlins game. The stadium is unbelievable! A riverfront setting, the stadium made a great place for us to spend the evening. The people were very friendy, even though we had a small problem with our tickets (we had placed the on will-call in March. Discover card changed our card number in April. They couldn't find us since that's what they use to track everyone.) It was a little cool and we had some obnoxious drunks behind us, but once we moved, it was wonderful!
We stayed in the Terrace Plaza hotel in downtown Cincinnati (found a deal online! Sweet!) on the 16th floor with a lovely view of Cincinnati. Everytime I looked out the window, I could see the antenna tower from the old sit-com "WKRP in Cincinnati".

So Thursday morning, we got up and left Cincinnati, driving along the Ohio River Scenic Byway. It tracks the Ohio River, the border between Ohio and Kentucky. It was a beautiful! A little overcast, but not too bad. Although our gas mileage suffered from the small towns along the way, we saw some amazing countryside, President U.S. Grant's birthplace and barns with quilt pieces on them providing a "map" for the Underground Railroad to use!

John Denver said West Virginia was "Almost Heaven." I'll have to take his word for it, 'cause here's all we saw.
Not so great, huh? It POURED on us the entire trip through WV. I've got family in WV and we came here several times when I was a child. This was my first time back as an adult. It may be my last. I've got fundamental issues with being charged a toll for driving on Federal Interstates. Didn't I pay for that road with my tax dollars? It wasn't much, but it ticked me off! Cheapskates! And there's no good alternative route from north to south! Okay, enough grousing.

We spent last night in Cincinnati. Tonight, we're less 15 miles from North Carolina. See you tomorrow from Asheville, NC!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

If today is Tuesday, this must be Indianapolis!

We left Louisville this morning after we visited the Louisville Slugger Baseball bat museum. It was really exceptional! We didn't take the whole tour since they had some wonderful windows into the factory. We checked the place out (they had numerous bats you could handle copied from the bats of well-known players like Babe Ruth, Alex Rodriguez, Jackie Robinson and Brooks Robinson (the last one only for TRUE baseball fans!). It was great! I've always loved baseball and had a great respect for those who play it well.

We left Louisville and headed north into Indiana, land of the Hoosier! We drove into Indianapolis and visited the home of Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President of the USA. Wow! Nice shed! And the house was nice as well.

After seeing the President's home, we toured downtown Indy, seeing the RCA Dome (past home of the Indianapolis Colts), Lucas Oils (future home of the Colts), Conseco Fieldhouse (home of the NBA Indiana Pacers and Victory Field (home of the Indy Indians, a AAA minor-league team), the NCAA national headquarters and we tried to visit the NCAA Hall of Champions. It seems they've had a fire. It wasn't all sports. We visited the National Congressional Medal of Honor site here in Indy as well as their version of the San Antonio Riverwalk. Tomorrow, before we leave for Cincinnati, we're headed to the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We drove past there tonight to check it out and it's quite a sight. We'll post some pix tomorrow.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A wonderful Monday

We got up in Bowling Green, bought a camera and headed out! We visited Western Kentucky University (the Hilltoppers!) and rode the Duncan Hines Expressway (the original corporate headquarters for the baking giant is now a funeral home).
The highlight of the day was definitely the visit to Mammoth Caves, the largest cave system in the world. We took a 2 mile walking tour plunging us more than 300 feet below ground and causing me to hunch over due to low ceilings (even Julie had to hunch over!) It was one of the coolest things I've ever done. We had a blast.
After we left there, we visited Abe Lincoln's birthplace and boyhood home (not the same site - his father had a meandering spirit that ultimately took he, Abe and the rest of the family to Illinois.). Julie and I both hold President Lincoln in such high regard, it was only natural to make this a part of our trip. Here's a shot from the memorial at his birthplace.
So we finally arrived in Louisville this evening where we're staying the night. A lovely place, right on the Ohio River. A lot more charming than I thought it might be. We've visited the Southern Seminary (the sister school to Southwestern where I attended), the Papa Johns Cardinal Football Stadium (home to the University of Louisville Cardinals), and, of course, Churchill Downs. It was closed, so don't go popping off about how much money we lost at the track!
It's been a great start - check back tomorrow as we head to Indianapolis!

We're here

A word to the wise - don't fly Continental Airlines. While their employees are great, their planes stink! Too small! "But Darin," you say, "isn't the real problem that you're too big?" It's funny to me the difference between a Continental Flight and an American Airlines Flight - somehow there's more room on American.

We arrived in Nashville, TN last night around 9 PM after a dicey and bouncy flight through a storm. For those who were at church with us yesterday, let me explain why we're there and not in North Carolina where I said we were going. We're headed to Asheville, NC ultimately, but not before we go to see a Cincinnati Reds baseball game! So we flew to Nashville, we're driving to Mammoth Caves today in southwestern Kentucky. We spent the night in Bowling Green, KY a really beautiful city, at least what we've seen of it so far. We won't be here long - just long enough to purchase a new camera. :-(
File this under the heading "Darin is a moron." After taking a couple of pictures of our dog, I set our nice camera down to pet him before we sent him away. I never picked the camera back up. Duane found it right where I'd left it - at home. We're headed to the store to pick up a cheap camera.

There is some good news, however, in being a big person. When we got to the car rental joint, the lady working the desk had pity on my poor pitiful self. If I'd pay for an upgrade, she said, she throw in another one. In common terms, that means a better car with more leg room. We're rolling in a Chrysler 300! Nice!
Pix later after we've bought a camera.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Leaving town

We're sitting at Tyler Pounds regional Airport waiting for our flight. The airport is really small (3 gates), but a real gem. Lovely and fresh and almost brand new.
We've had a small hiccup - I forgot our "good" camera. Perhaps we can work it out. This shot was taken with our Mac laptop, although I'm not sure why they "F" is inverted. We'll let you know how it's going. We're scheduled to be in Kentucky for supper.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tomorrow we leave

We're packing today, getting ready for our long-awaited vacation. We've been planning this trip since January when we registered for the conference. We'll greatly miss you, our FBC family, and our newest family member, Dodger, who's not making the trip (they don't allow dogs at the conference). We'll be home soon and you can check here for updates while we're gone. Making the brash assumption we can connect to the internet with our Macs, we'll be posting while on our journey. Pray for a season of refreshment. Pray for a renewal in our hearts of the passion for obedience to the Lord. Pray for Bro. Duane as he'll lead our services on the 18th and 25th. We'll be home on Memorial Day.

Unbelievably cool

If you have any interest in seeing a 4th century copy of the Bible (portions of the Old Testament only right now), then visit this site. It will requires you to install Silverlight, an add-on for Internet Explorer, but I did it and haven't had any trouble. The site is in German, but not difficult to discern. Take a look!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A requim for my thirties

I'm pleased to say that today is my 40th birthday. Yes, I'm over the top of the hill now and sliding down the other side! In some cultures, you're not regarded as a full-grown man until you reach 40. I guess I made it. When I look back at the friends I've lost over the years and realize how many of them never made it this far, I feel inordinately blessed.

I spent my 30's in two places - pastoring two churches and working toward a PhD. We'll start with the PhD. I was just shy of 30 when I took my qualifying examinations and began my German studies in 1998. I was 31 (one day shy of 32) when I got married - which was at the end of my first year of PhD seminar studies (BTW, don't do that - it's a bad plan. Too much pressure). I graduated with my PhD two days shy of my 38th Bday - the end of a long but impassioned academic journey. Academically, I loved my 30's.

Pastoring - something I never planned to do. I was going to stay in student ministry by teaching at the collegiate level. It seemed like a good plan. Too bad it wasn't what the Lord had in mind. I had just started PhD work when Memorial Baptist Church of Corsicana came calling. The logical part of my brain screamed out NO! but the obedient-to-the Lord part said "Yes, I'll serve as your pastor." Seven years later, I was absolutely convinced the calling of God, at least for now, was to be a pastor - I just had to try it first to find that out. Imagine my surprise when the Lord called us here to Frankston. Now we've been here a year and I'm even more sure this is what the Lord has called me to.

I still wonder why the Lord led down this crazy path to be here doing this. I've got no explanation. I get frustrated with some of the minutua and sometimes wonder if the Lord will lead us to teach someday. But for today, this, the beginning of my 40th year, I say to the Lord "thanks" and "use me Lord, wherever it is you need me to go and whatever you need me to do."

Here's to the next 40! May they be more productive to the Kingdom of God than my first 40.

An ode to my wife

When I was younger, I wondered what kind of raving beauty I would marry. Surely, I would marry a drop-dead gorgeous blond with amazing talents who could cook and hold an intelligent conversation on any subject. I had no idea how right I was. After sorting through the dregs BJ (before Julie), I came to the sad realization that my dream girl might not exist. Then, out of the blue, I met her. We found each with a tremendous crash, but we did indeed find each other! If you visit Julie's blog, you'll find her account of the events of our meeting, but I'll tell you my version (which, of course, is the gospel truth on the matter :-)).

We were at Super Summer (a Christian youth camp) in 1993 at Hardin-Simmons University. I was a brand-new graduate of Southwestern Seminary, she was a college sophomore working for Hardin-Simmons helping with the camp. We were engaged in a game of "mushball" - softball without gloves and a really, REALLY soft ball. I was on second, Julie was playing catcher. A ball was hit into the outfield and misplayed, so in all my great speed (my "speed" is akin to molasses in January), I rounded third and ran home. She and I collided, physically. That much we agree on. Who initiated it and who's fault it was, that we don't know. SHE says I came barrelling down on her, ran her down like a bug on the windshield, ran further, tagged home and then checked on her welfare. I remember it slightly differently, but that's okay.

I didn't see her again until the next summer when we were back there for Super Summer. We were being loud and rowdy and it was late as we watched a baseball game on the dorm lobby TV. This time, she was dorm supervisor. When I got up to get a drink from the water fountain, she came in and read us the riot act. I saw her, but she didn't see me. Why? I hid. Unashamedly, I huddled behind the water fountain realizing this was the same lady I had maimed only the previous summer.

The next summer, now 1995, she came to serve with the program where I had just been named director. She came to work for me and served all summer with our program. There was no hanky-panky that summer because we both were sure the Lord had more important things for us to do during that 9 week period.

At the end of the summer, I called Julie, knowing she was new to Southwestern. I was living in Joshua at the time, just a short 20 minutes away. When I called her one night, I invited her to go with me to the Dairy Queen for a burger. Sitting at the DQ, I realized this lady was not the same one I'd known all summer. Something was different. It took me a few years to figure it out, but figure it out I did.

Four years later, on November 13, 1999 (her grandmother's birthday), I proposed to Julie, holding my breath she would say yes (esp since I had already bought the ring!). Happily she did and I've been all the richer since then. I sold her on marrying me predicated on me teaching at a college or university - anything but pastoring! Even though I was serving as an interim pastor at the time, she still agreed.

We married 8 years ago today at my home church, FBC Joshua. I can't believe it's been that long - it seems like we got married last week. I read about and hear about these guys who don't want to go home or who don't like to spend time with their wives and I scratch my head asking "why didn't you marry your best friend like I did?"

Happy Anniverary, Schatzie. Words are not enough to describe what you've meant to me.
Through the difficult days of PhD work - the long nights of seminar papers, the unending bibliographies, the stress of waiting to hear back on the dissertation, the too-many-to-count meetings, funerals, weddings and services, the drama of just normal life - I've found you to be the raving beauty and lady of grace I dreamed of so long ago.