Friday, February 19, 2010


TEXAS MONTHLY is not a pro-life magazine. However, to their credit, they offered a very detailed account of the experience Abby Johnson claimed pricked her conscious and motivated her to resign from her position as director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, Texas. In covering Johnson’s decision to walk away from her job, TEXAS MONTHLY questioned Johnson's integrity.

Johnson's account states that on September 26, 2010, she assisted a doctor, in her Planned Parenthood clinic, who performed an abortion on a woman who was thirteen weeks pregnant. The following is quoted directly from the TEXAS MONTHLY text:

The doctor asked Johnson to hold an ultrasound transducer to the woman's stomach as he performed the operation. Johnson [said] she had never seen this done before, since ultrasound machines are not commonly used for first-trimester abortions, which make up the vast majority of abortions done in most clinics. What she witnessed on the ultrasound monitor, she said, horrified her. The fetus seemed to be moving away from the doctor’s probe, which was clearly visible on the screen as it entered the patient's uterus. Johnson thought of all the patients, whom she had told that their fetuses wouldn't feel anything during the procedure. Then, as Johnson watched, the doctor turned on the suction....

For about the past decade, the only thing I have asked of the media is to be as descriptive reporting the facts of abortion, particularly in regard to the procedures of abortion, as it is with reporting events of war. In this instance, I believe TEXAS MONTHLY has done so. I applaud the editors for this.

FOX Proves Yet Again To Be Fair and Balanced

Unrelated to the previous story (although somewhat ironic), I saw where an episode of the FOX NETWORK’S program, THE FAMILY GUY, took a cruel shot at Sarah Palin’s son, Trig. Trig, in case you do not remember, has Down’s syndrome.

In the episode, a character in high school develops a crush on a girl, who has Down’s syndrome. While on a date, he asks the girl what her parents do for a living. The girl answers, “My dad’s an accountant, and my mom is the former governor of Alaska.”

This is the most egregious slam on a public figure’s child that I can remember since Saturday Night Live lampooned Chelsea Clinton in a skit when she was in Junior High. It proves FOX has the ability to insult people on both sides of the political spectrum.

I don’t want to tell anyone how to vote, but I do believe that networks should show at least a shred of decency toward politicians, even one who is an atheist, Muslim, and communist. To start, they should leave the children alone.

And here is free advice to politicians. As NBC and FOX have demonstrated, never suffer under the illusion that the media wants to be your friend. No matter how much they share your views, they will gladly “throw your children under the bus” for a good rating. Ultimately, a network’s first priority is not sharing truth or presenting art to the general public. These may be desires; but the ultimate priority of a network is to make money.

David, How Could You?

Last Sunday morning, I preached on David’s sin with Bathsheba. While I only looked at II Samuel 11, our adult classes included chapter 12, as well. The thing that struck me about David’s sin was the Bible’s emphasis on David’s abuse of power. That seems to provide the basis for the parable Nathan offered David when he confronted David with David’s sin.

Connected to this thought, one of our elders, J. B. Berry, told me Monday morning that his class discussed how murder and adultery were symptoms of a deeper issue—David’s had violated his relationship with God. In light of David’s beautiful prayer to God in II Samuel 7 ("Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”), who is this man who so callously disregard’s his benefactor?

I think J. B. and his class were spot-on. As bad as sexual sins and sins of murder are—and they are bad—the story of David and Bathsheba is not a story emphasizing the importance of sexual purity or violence-free lives. It is the story of man who utterly disregarded the grace God had extended to him—a sin we are daily susceptible to as well.

It’s Monday, but Sunday’s Coming!

“The decision of the judges is final.”

After much consideration and study, I have decided change move my weekly blog to Mondays. [I also prayed about this, but I am not sure I have enough readers for the Lord to care. :) ]

To those of you who read this blog on a regular basis, or who drop in from time-to-time, thanks, and I hope you will continue to read on Mondays. And for those of you who read my daily blog, TELL ME A STORY, I will continue to post the stories on a daily basis—Monday through Friday.

My next posting of this weekly blog will be Monday, March 1, after I return from Washington D. C. Who knows, maybe I will have some wonderful adventures to report such as the President’s request to consult with me privately in the oval office, Congress’s petition that I open a session in prayer, and the Chief Justice’s appealing to me to meet with him off-the-record.


Five Things I Think I Think (with a nod to Peter King for this idea)

1. I have managed to catch some of the Olympic Games and have enjoyed them.

2. Best wishes to Tiger Woods. I don’t know how to improve his apology. I hope he is able to continue his process of repentance. As he himself stated, what matters now are his actions.

3. Congratulations to the ETCA Girls’ Basketball Team. They lost last Saturday in their playoff game with Dallas Covenant. (That WAS the team that defeated another school last year 100-0.) ETCA played well. Wait until next year!

4. So long, Jeff Christian. We’ll miss you here in Tyler, but I know you will do a great work in Houston.

5. Tomorrow, Lord willing, I leave with my daughter, Abby, for an ETCA class trip to Washington D. C. I am thrilled to be going. In honor of my trip, each story in my daily blog TELL ME A STORY will be about a U. S. president.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, February 12, 2010


David and Bathsheba– that's the story I have for my Sunday morning sermon. That ought to have everyone's attention.

A couple of weeks ago, I told you that, in my opinion, the audience at graduation is the toughest audience for a preacher to address. The students are not there to hear a word from God, they are there to get their diploma and celebrate.

It is not that students are necessarily thinking, “I want to leave God..." or “I don't want to talk about God right now—leave me alone…" The fact is we do not reflect on God all of the time. We don't walk around thinking, “God. God. God. God. God…” Rather, many times in our lives, hopefully influenced by God, we address important concerns. Graduation is one of those times.

Here is the risk. In times of triumph, success, prosperity, and blessing, it becomes easy to string together more and more moments absent a focus on God. We pray to him less, we read less about Him in His word, we meditate upon him less.... Before long, these lost moments add up like beads on a string—and a day has passed. A day turns into a week, and then, before long, this absence of focus on God leads to sin.

It is no accident that you do not read of David inquiring of the Lord in the time leading up to his sin with Bathsheba. This is symptomatic of a deeper heart problem. David has become complacent in his success.

We are called to focus on the Lord, to relate to him, and to walk with him. We stand with God; we walk with God, but the key word, is the word "with." Whether we are moving or still, we are WITH God.

One of the most important things I learned about relationships, I learned 30 years ago. Relationships grow closer or they grow more distant, but they never stay the same. Our relationship should grow WITH God.

Marriage and Children in the U. S.

Susan Olasky had an interesting article in the February 13 issue of WORLD magazine. Entitled, "marital divide," it tackles the issue of women earning more money than their husbands and marriage. Olasky was influenced by Brad Wilcox's essay, "the State of our unions: marriage in America 2009," which focused on the impact of the latest recession on marriages.

She had noted the impact the recession has had on men, since more working-class and poor men have lost jobs than women. Consequently, "Husbands are significantly less happy in their marriages, and more likely to contemplate divorce, when their wives take the lead in breadwinning." The divorce rate continues to increase, while the amount of people living in marriage continues to decrease.

More startling to me is the analysis that we have, in the U. S., become a less child-centered society over the past 40 years. While I knew this fact to be true, the statistics were sobering. "In the middle of the 1800s, about 75% of households contained children under the age of 18. By the mid -- 1900s that percentage had dropped to just under 50%, and in 2000 it was 33%....” Therefore, "neighborhoods are less likely to contain children… and children are less likely to be a consideration in daily life. [This study] suggest that the needs and concerns of children -- especially young children -- gradually may be receding from national consciousness."

If we are not careful, the United States will become like France—slowly dying. The only dynamic that keeps France going today is immigration.

How To Get Rich

Wow, I saw that Mehmet Ali Agca was recently released from prison. Remember him? He was the man from Turkey who shot Pope John II in 1981, critically injuring the Pope. Even more disturbing, I found that he was freed after having completed another prison sentence, this one, for murdering a journalist in 1979.

It gets worse. Agca wants millions of dollars for personal interviews and book deals. Evidently, since he has been ambiguous concerning his reasons for the attempted assassination of the Pope, he believes there is a market out there for his thoughts and motives.

Here is even more fodder to fuel the fire of cynicism. Want to make millions? Attempt to assassinate a world leader, discipline yourself through a couple of decades or so of prison, then secure your release and capitalize on your opportunities.

Five Things I Think I Think (with a nod to Peter King for this idea)

1. What? The Winter Olympics begin Friday? I have hardly noticed. Don’t know if I will watch much. I remember when I loved the Olympics. Now, I hardly have time to view them.

2. Correction on last week’s death of a tree rat. The dogs never touched his body. I think he died of a heart attack.

3. I have really been enjoyed reading LETTERS FROM THE LAMB, by Tim Archer and Steve Ridgell. They have whipped up my enthusiasm for Revelation. So much so, I am considering preaching from Revelation.

4. Ah, the wonders of modern technology. Monday, in my weekly blog, I wrote a story about Don Henley of The Eagles:

Some website called THE EAGLES FORUM picked it up. Consequently, people from most of the world’s continents have read it—and it did not cost me a penny to publish it.

5. An exciting win by the ETCA girls Tuesday night—69-48. Here is the story from the Tyler paper:

The girls’ work is cut out for them in this next round. Kandus Hines, who is their second highest scorer, was lost Tuesday night due to a probably torn ACL. Still, this is a young team with a lot of Freshman. They should only get better.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Making Peace with Failure

Sunday is the Super Bowl. Each team’s offense will run anywhere from 60 to 80 plays. Most of them will end in failure. Yet, I suspect no player will quit during the game due to discouragement.

I love to play golf. Don’t play much anymore because my kids don’t like to play, but I love the game. It is addicting. Part of the pleasure is the challenge. It is hard to play golf consistently well. Even the greats misplay some shots every round. Still, one presses on.

I like to fish. Again, I don’t do much now, because the kids don’t like it. But I spent many hours in Junior High and High School casting lures trying to catch bass. On most of my casts, I failed. Yet, I continued casting. I enjoyed the thrill of the anticipation of a strike. I enjoyed the peace and quiet of the outdoors.

In sales, the rule of thumb in cold-calling is this. For every one hundred people with whom you have face-to-face contact, three will allow you to pitch your product, and one will actually buy your product. That is a 99 % failure rate. The good salespeople accept the odds and press on.

When it comes to the great expanse of life’s experiences, I have found most people’s expectations are too high. Most people anticipate feeling happiness—whatever that is—way more than they should.

Part of this is due to the illusion of posterity. Since we are blessed so much materially in the United States, our struggle to survive is less—at least compared to most of the world. Likewise, virtually all peoples throughout history faced greater struggles to live than we do. For the majority, the mantra truly has always been, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

The end result is we expect way too much out of life. These fantasies affect our views of marriage, children, work, and play. No wonder so many are unhappy.

Sadly, too many of us live life hypocritically. We cheer for the Cowboys even though they don’t score on every play. We keep on casting even if we have a bad day at the “fishin hole.” Yet, there are people who experience far fewer incidents of failure in marriage; however, these failures motivate them to bail.

What if we accepted the failures of life—and pressed on?

Jesus never offered us a reason to maintain unrealistic expectations. Indeed, he called us down from mountain top so that we might live life in the valleys.
A case in point is Mark Chapter Nine. Jesus has been transfigured in the presence of Peter, James and John. Peter is so excited he says in effect, “This is great! Let’s stay here.”

Jesus, however, calls them to return to the valley. The valley—the place with all of the problems. People are sick and diseased; the other disciples are powerless to perform the miracles needed. The disciples are experiencing one failure after another. Still, Jesus leads them to the valley.

When you are blessed with a mountaintop experience, enjoy it. But know Jesus will lead you back down to the valley. Stick with the challenge by staying with Jesus.

Five Things I Think I Think (with a nod to Peter King for this idea)

1. I saw PBS’ American Experience episode on Wyatt Earp. Having seen the movie WYATT EARP (I have not seen TOMBSTONE), and having been to the actual OK CORRAL, I found the program fascinating.

2. My dogs killed a tree rat today. That’s what I call squirrels now. With over fifteen trees in our yard, squirrels drive us nuts—no pun intended. They get in our attic, eat wires, and provide a general nuisance. For four years, they taunted our two Labs in the dog-run. I’ve seen those things run through many a time, pausing only to laugh at our dogs. Today, our dogs caught one. Maybe now we can have peace. Nah!

3. Good luck to the ETCA girls’ basketball team. They finished district play undefeated and host their first round play-off game Tuesday night. I’ve been scrimmaging with them to help prepare them for playoff competition. If they happen to face a 50-ish, 6 ‘ 3”, bald-headed man, I think they’ll be ready.

4. I’m toying with changing the day of the week that I write my weekly blog. I do a Monday-Friday blog I call TELL ME A STORY, where I share stories I’ve come across through the years. This blog is more of a processing of my thoughts and then posting them. However, according to Tim Archer— --there is typically a sharp decline in readership on blogs from Friday through Sunday. So, for the 3235 of you who read my Friday blog—give or take 3234—I am mulling over a change.

5. Tonight I spend five hours serving first and second grade children at a lock-in. We will not finish until after midnight. What was I thinking?!

Have a great weekend!