Monday, December 26, 2011

Plague of the Gnats

[On December 26, 2011 and January 1, 2012, I'm going to be running my two top viewed posts for 2011. I hope you enjoy these once again--or for the first time.
       Today’s blog I first posted in 2009. Every year this has been the top rated post. ME]

A plague of gnats struck ETCA a week or two ago. Mrs. Munoz would be teaching her second grade class when, suddenly, out of nowhere, a gnat would fly toward her face. Strange. Gnats had never been around the building before.

Next door in her first grade class room, teacher Holly Shultz would find periodic irritation from these pesky insects. Likewise, first graders were constantly swatting the gnats that had begun attacking her classroom.

To the south, in the cafeteria, fifty yards and a courtyard away from the first and second grade classrooms, gnats occasionally made an appearance.

On the other side of the building, administrator Brenda Craig faced an occasional battle with the kamikaze creatures. What’s going on here? ETCA never had a problem with gnats before.

Brenda took the initiative to call the exterminator. “Sorry, Ma’am,” came the reply, “our contract with you does not cover gnats.”

And so the mystery deepened. Where had the gnats come from? What had ETCA done to offend a holy God?

And then it happened. Last week, as her students worked, first grade teacher Holly Shultz was digging through a locker in her classroom when she spied a lunch box. Whose was it? She faintly recalled seeing it before. She opened up the lunch box.

Avalanche! Look out below! All hands on deck! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Attacking Mrs. Shultz was the greatest clouds of gnats ever seen by man. She danced, and hollered, and swatted as if she were awash in a swarm of killer bees.

Students screamed and scattered. At last, order was restored. Enough so that Mrs. Shultz was able to investigate, further, the lunchbox. In so doing, she solved the mystery. The lunchbox had been long forgotten, and then suspected lost. Inside, were just enough remains of—a banana—to allow Mrs. Shultz to deduce that said banana had been the source of attraction for all of the gnats. (My personal opinion is that the insects violating everyone’s personal space were teeny-tiny fruit flies; however, I will hopefully never be able to prove my premise.)

After presumably all items involved were destroyed, order was restored and ETCA has reestablished a sense of order. And the owner of the devious lunchbox? One Timothy Edge.

When contacted by the press, Timothy’s father issued only a one-lined statement, “At least it wasn’t his underwear in the lunchbox.”

Donald Miller

Thanks to Jeff Christian and my friends at Glenwood, I had a chance Wednesday to eat lunch with Donald Miller and approximately thirty or so preachers and community leaders. If you have read my blog, you know that Miller is one of my favorite authors. He has begun a mentoring program for boys that he hopes to partner with churches nationwide in the near future.

Miller grew up without a father, so he knows firsthand the impact that void can have on a young man. Miller reminded us that 94 % of all U. S. prisoners are males. Of these, 85% grew up without the presence of a father.

Miller is serving on a presidential task force investigating this problem. The government’s conclusion—and I know this will be music to the ears of many Tylerites—government is not the solution. The federal government believes churches can do the best job of addressing this challenge. Miller is looking for ten male mentors in every church to spend a few hours a week with targeted young men. I think Miller is on to something, and I hope Shiloh can participate in this process.

Wednesday night Miller spoke at Glenwood. I thought he did a great job. He is hilarious, yet thought provoking. He proposed that the “God-shaped hole” in the human heart is an ill-conceived idea that is not biblical. Rather, he says, even in the garden before the fall, before Eve, Adam did not have his “God-shaped hole” filled by God. Something was still missing from Adam’s life, and she was Eve. I’m not sure I agree, but I am going to think about it.

Having read Miller’s BLUE LIKE JAZZ, SEARCHING FOR GOD KNOWS WHAT, and THROUGH PAINTED DESERTS, I am looking forward to reading his latest work, A MILLION MILES IN A THOUSAND YEARS. I’ve already read the first couple of chapters. Miller made me think and he made me laugh—out loud.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Girl Who Sobbed

[This is an edited version. I forgot when I originally posted this to credit Alexander Wolff's article in the Dec. 12, 2011 issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for the Pat Summitt story. My bad.]
            In 2008, the University of Tennessee Lady Vols’ basketball team prepared for takeoff on a chartered jet. They were traveling on an SEC road trip.
            Pat Summitt, Tennessee's head coach, took her seat on the first row, as she always did. The flight attendant took the jump seat across from Summit. She began to sob.
            Summit inch forward and asked, “What is it? Tell me, what's the matter?”
            Pat Summitt is the winningest college basketball coach of all time. She has won more college basketball games than John Wooden, Adolph Rupp, Dean Smith, and Mike Krzyzewski, her fellow award winner for this year’s Sports Illustrated Sports [Person] of the Year award.
            If you are a woman playing high school or college sports, you owe a great deal to Pat Summit. If you have a daughter who has played sports, you owe a great deal to Pat Summitt. Pat Summitt, as much as anyone else, has made women's athletics popular.
            But Pat Summitt also has a compassionate heart. Not everyone sees this.
            A few years ago, the Lady Vols were playing a game at Louisiana Tech. After the game, when Summitt was leaving the floor, she saw a girl in a wheelchair at the mouth of the coliseum tunnel. Kneeling down beside her, Summitt said, “… You can overcome anything if you work at it.”
            That girl took Summit’s words to heart. She, one day, left that wheelchair. She decided to become an airline attendant. I suppose, among other motives, was the motive to travel, which would make sense for someone wheelchair-bound for so long.
            She did so well as an airline attendant that, when the University Tennessee athletic department requested an attendant for their charter flight, the company they contracted with chose their best–the once wheelchair-bound girl.
            And now, she found herself sitting across from Pat Summitt. She was so overwhelmed; she could not help but begin to sob.
            I think something else Summitt told her that long ago day in the flight attendant’s childhood made an impact upon her. She told her, “Don't let the way you are now define who you will be.”
            In John 21, Jesus invited Peter and the other disciples of Galilee to leave behind, once and for all, their fishing business. They were called to truly follow Jesus and become fishers of men. You cannot encounter the risen Christ and return to business as usual.
The disciples accepted Jesus’ challenge and left behind their old lives. I'm sure these poorly educated men of Galilee had no idea they would change the world forever. I am equally sure Jesus did.
The risen Christ calls each one of us to leave our old lives behind. It is for our best, and He believes in our future.
            I believe that Pat Summitt mouthed the words that Jesus would love to whisper to each one of us, “Don't let the way you are now define who you will be.”
Five Things I Think I Think
(with a nod to Peter King for this idea)
1. Okay, the Cowboys won on Saturday night. I still think if Jerry Jones would fire himself as general manager and hire a good one, I predict that Cowboy fans would one day build a huge statue in his honor—the Cowboys would win enough Super Bowls to inspire that gesture.
2. My first Christmas with a college daughter home for the holidays. So far, I really like it. And it makes me feel mature.
3. Wow. If Newt Gingrich receives the Republican nomination for president, it will sure bring an interesting challenge to conservative Christian voters who believe their president should live a life that reflects family values.
Who to vote for? A man who loves his one and only wife, is faithful to her, and is a good father to his two daughters?
Or a thrice-married man who twice left wives for women with whom he was having affairs—not to mention a man whom his own party forced to resign during the Monica Lewinsky scandal because he was maintaining an affair himself.
            Don’t get me wrong. It’s probably no secret I am a conservative Christian and believe in family values. However, I am wondering if I should offer more grace to those who disagree with me politically.
            It appears to me it is hard to vote for anyone in the political process who is not flawed in some way.
4. I like Christmas falling on Sunday. It is a great evangelistic opportunity in the nation with the fourth largest unchurched population on the planet.
5. Rest in peace Hazel Cross. You were a godly, Proverbs 31 woman.

Monday, December 12, 2011

“I Like Ike”

            General Dwight Eisenhower was named commander of “Operation Torch” in 1942. Under his leadership, the Allied forces attacked the German troops in Africa.
            Ike did not want the job. He wanted to lead men into the field of battle. Nevertheless, he performed well as commander.             
             On Christmas Day, 1942, Eisenhower was informed that President Franklin Roosevelt wished to award him the Medal of Honor for his success.
            Eisenhower was shocked and angered. He sincerely believed that the Medal of Honor should be awarded only to the men who were fighting in the horrific conditions of the Tunisian hills. He considered it an insult that the Army would award a medal to a general “safe in headquarters–or a warm Villa–far to the rear” and away from battle.
            He told the messenger that he had a message for the president, “I don't want it [the Medal of Honor] and if is awarded I won't wear it.” He would not even keep it.
            From this story one can gather why Eisenhower, a man of war, would ultimately become one of most respected and beloved men in the entire world. He had a ready understanding of his role in any endeavor; and he held deep appreciation for the roles of others. However, watch out!
            It is tempting to think that Eisenhower was a man with little regard for his own ability and efforts. What one must understand is that Eisenhower's intense modesty held in check his large ego, which was necessary in order for him to lead the Allied armies. Eisenhower was charged to command generals such as Bernard Montgomery and George Patton—a difficult task to say the least.
            Large egos have never been a disqualifying factor in God's service. In scripture, men like Moses, David, and the Apostle Paul had sizeable egos.
            By in large, they were able to submit those egos to God’s service. Indeed, I would argue that the biblical word “meek” would especially apply to those who have large egos and have placed those large egos under God's control.
            Still, that is easier said than done. Yet, when one succeeds in subjugating his ego, people appreciate it. After all, millions proclaimed, “I like Ike.”

Source for the Eisenhower story: Eisenhower by Geoffrey Perret

Five Things I Think I Think (with a nod to Peter King for this idea)
1. Congratulations to Robert Griffin III for winning the Heisman Trophy. Here is a guy: who graduated early, is about to complete his Masters Degree, and if he stays his final year of eligibility at Baylor, will begin law school!
2. I saw last night’s game. How bout them Cowboys! Early in the game, I told some friends, “I’m concerned about Demarco Murray. I don’t remember him ever completing a season at OU. Seems like every year, he got hurt."
            Shortly thereafter—boom! Murray goes down. Fractured ankle… with a high ankle sprain for good measure.
            Needless to say, my friends were not pleased with me.
3. I like the singer Adele.
4. I find myself wanting to watch Meryl Streep’s new movie THE IRON LADY.
5. I have never done anything courageous… except—ride in the front seat while a teenager daughter is learning to drive.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Man of Vision

                  Through the ages, hundreds of engineers died trying to invent a machine that would fly. Orville and Wilbur Wright succeeded. However, the highest aspiration they had for their machine was that it would become a recreational vehicle.
                   When I read that piece of information, I was astonished.
                   The contemporary scientists of the Wrights’ day were in agreement. In the first decade of the twentieth century, American Scientific Magazine disparaged the idea that the airplane could impact everyday life. Shortly thereafter, the United States began to trail other countries in the airplane industry—such as it was in that day.
                   The Wright brothers never saw the implications of their flying machine. Their imaginations failed to help them understand how their aircraft could be used in business and military. Consequently, you have never flown on a “Wright” airplane. But if you have flown on an airplane, quite possibly, you have flown on a Boeing.
                   In the year 1910, William Boeing lived in Seattle, Washington. In that age, he was isolated, both geographically and metaphorically, from the primary locations of aeronautical research along the East Coast.
                   Boeing did not know how to build an airplane. Boeing did not know how to fly an airplane; he had little technical knowledge concerning aeronautical engineering. However, he had the one vital element that was missing from practically any other human being in the Western Hemisphere–he had a vision; Boeing understood and could visualize the potential of the airplane.
                   Boeing could see in his imagination that airplanes could become commercially successful in the transportation of passengers and goods. His problem was that technology had not yet caught up to his vision.
                   Boeing did not just stand around and wait. He invested virtually all of his resources seeking to create the technology that would put his vision into place. He moved to form a company that would find success in this new field of aeronautical transportation.
                   Boeing encountered obstacle after obstacle. One of the first arrived when the United States entered into World War I in 1917. This would be the first war in which airplanes would participate.
                   The U.S. military was looking for planes. Boeing had a new design that he envisioned the U.S. military using, but he had to confront the fact that the military was testing new planes in the state of Florida. That was over 3000 miles away from Boeing's project site in Washington State.
                   The distance was too prohibitive for flying Boeing’s tiny planes. So his team took the planes apart, packed the parts in boxes, and shipped them across the country. They were put back together in Florida, tested, and later used by the military.
                   Technology and income opportunities slowed development in the aeronautics field. Boeing made do by using his airplane factory to make boats and furniture. Nevertheless, he stuck to his long-range plan.
                   Seventeen years after Boeing first dreamed of airplanes, Charles Lindbergh made his historic flight from New York to Paris. Finally, the airline industry saw a boom. Boeing was ready, and he dominated the industry.
                   William Boeing—a man who initially knew nothing about flying or making airplanes—changed the world because he had a vision.
                   Behold the power of vision.

Five Things I Think I Think (with a nod to Peter King for this idea)
1. The NFL announced that Madonna will be the half-time entertainment at the Super Bowl. Nothing says entertainment like a 53-year-old woman singing “Like a Virgin.”
2. LSU vs. Alabama for the National Championship… yawn.
3. Poor OSU. Like the Texas Rangers, you have to ask, will they ever receive this opportunity again?
4. I took my son, Timothy, hunting on government owned land Saturday near Alto, Texas. We did not see a soul in the woods, and only a handful of people on the roads. I was pleasantly surprised, and I want to take him there again.
5. I don’t know about where you live, but at last, here in East Texas, we’re starting to get a little rain—for that I am grateful to God.

Monday, November 28, 2011

I Broke my Brother-in-law's Collarbone for Thanksgiving— What Did You Do?

           “So what did you do on Thanksgiving?”
            My answer would be–break my brother-in-law's collarbone. Let me explain.
            For some reason, early Thanksgiving week I had the bright vision of playing a touch football game on Thanksgiving. I envisioned all of us old uncles playing our young nephews. Most of our nephews are in high school or in college. I figured we old folks could take them on. I miscalculated.
            First of all, most of the old uncles did not want to play. They all wanted to sit, digest their turkey, and wait for the Cowboys to come on TV.
            Only one fellow competitor dared to dream as I did. David Denman, my wife's brother, had been thinking exactly the same thing I had. He thought it was a marvelous idea.
            The other problem was this–only two of the young whippersnappers wanted to play. The others muttered excuses such as, “I don't want to get hot and sweaty and come back and watch the ballgame.” So, it was my brother-in-law, two faithful and godly collegiate nephews-- and my wonderful, loyal eight-year-old son, Timothy, who finally motored over to the Cleburne High School practice field to play.
            It was a nice day for football. The wind was blowing pretty hard, but that did not seem to be much of a problem. We did note that our footing was not sound, since the field was very slick after some recent rains. That fact would come back to haunt us.
            Since there were five of us, we decided the two old guys would take on the two young guys, and Timothy would play center and pass receiver on both teams.
            The slick field gave us old guys an advantage because the speed of the younger folks was somewhat negated. However, I probably should have sensed we were in trouble when, after the first pass play, my brother-in-law came back and said to me, “I think you need to run a pattern. I twisted my knee.” Plus, he was pretty tired.
            I ran two patterns. After the second pattern, I returned to the huddle drenched in sweat. I practically looked like Jennifer Beals in FLASHDANCE after she poured a bucket of water on herself. Walking on the treadmill does not equate to running pass patterns against college kids.
            In order to prevent our lungs from exploding, David and I decide to take turns playing quarterback. It also helped that Timothy could catch and run well.
            I must confess, initially I viewed him as our liability. Ultimately, I viewed him as our salvation.
            We had a nice game going, and except for those passes that I threw to the ground when David and Timothy were open, I felt I threw the ball fairly well. (Strangely enough, I seemed to throw better when the receiver was covered.)
            This leads me to our finest hour, or our moment of tragedy, depending on how you want to view it. David decided he would run a “streak” pattern down the left sideline. (A “streak” is running in a straight line as fast as you can toward the goal line.)
            He was well covered by one of our nephews, so I threw the ball about the only place I could throw it. It was catchable, but it was by necessity pretty far ahead of David. This kept the ball from being intercepted. David, running full speed, made a great catch. Unfortunately, his momentum carried him to the ground.
            He rolled on his right shoulder. He came up and very calmly said, “I think that's it. I think we're going to have to stop.” 
            I asked him if it was his knee. He said, “No, I think I broke my shoulder.” Considering how calm he was, I was hoping that he had misdiagnosed his injury.
            We immediately got inside his vehicle. I drove us to the emergency room of the hospital in Cleburne. Incidentally, if you ever need to go the emergency room, go to that one in Cleburne on Thanksgiving Day. There was absolutely no one there when we arrived except for hospital personnel! 
            David was immediately escorted to the x-ray room. We waited there for x-rays to be processed. Medical personnel cut David's shirt off for him. This caused me to experience a flashback:
           When I was a sophomore in high school, I was headed for a touchdown when a linebacker caught me from behind, jumped on my back, and rode me to the ground. (I never said I was fast.)
             I saw a bright light and heard my collarbone break. One of our coaches and a player helped me walk off the field to the bench.
            The coach asked me where I was hurt.
            I told him, "I think I broke my shoulder. You're going to have to cut my jersey off."
            With deep compassion, my coach said, "Edge, that jersey cost a lot of money. We ain't cutting that jersey off."
            By golly, they didn't either. They tugged and pulled until that thing came off. 
            The diagnosis was that David's collarbone had a terrible break. The ends of the bones were shattered. They had to do surgery on Friday. He has to miss six weeks of work.
            David has been a real trooper throughout this ordeal. He does not blame me. In fact, he says I threw a good pass to the only place I could have thrown it.
           The doctor told David to retire from football; he cannot afford any more broken bones. While I have not heard him say he considers himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth, I have heard him say he has no regrets.
            Besides, David says the doctor has not told him to retire from basketball….
            What have I learned from this? I don’t know.
            I don’t want to be stupid, but I don’t want to quit living, either. Seems like when people start trying to live cautiously, the process of dying accelerates. Most people I know who have broken their hips have done so trying to be careful.
            I just hope my exit injury is less catastrophic than David's—like, say, a pulled hamstring. Maybe there is something to be said for getting so old, no one picks you to play on their team. That's it--forced retirement!

Five Things I Think I Think
(with a nod to Peter King for this idea)
1. Was that Case McCoy I saw lead the Texas Longhorns to a big win in the last minute of the ballgame against A&M Thursday night? Or was it Colt McCoy?
2. I finished reading over the holidays the book America's Quarterback: Bart Starr and the Rise of the National Football League by Keith Dunnavant. I am normally a big fan of Dunnavant-his biography of Bear Bryant was excellent-and I enjoyed this book. However, I found this work at times to be more hero worship than biography.
            Don't get me wrong; I love Bart Starr. I find him to be as decent a human being as there is, but he is human. Indeed, Starr himself went into much more detail about his humanity in his autobiography than did Dunnavant. Nevertheless, Dunnavant did break new ground--thanks to the dozens of interviews he conducted.
            Best of all, I think Dunnavant provides intriguing statistical material making the case that Bart Starr is the greatest NFL quarterback of all time. Some of the material was gathered by resources such as
            This book is available on Amazon and in Barnes & Noble stores.
3. Making a movie? Want to get the best bang for your buck? Well, according to the latest FORBES magazine, Shia Labeouf is your guy. For every dollar you pay him, he will bring in $81. Anne Hathaway is next: $64 for every one dollar you pay her. The worst deal? Drew Barrymore brings in forty cents for every dollar paid. Incidentally, I was surprised that Will Ferrell was third on the worst list: $3.50 for every dollar paid.
4. Why did I get suckered into watching the second season of 24 by my oldest daughter? We have a few episodes to go, and we will have to wait until Christmas before watching them because she had to return to college.
5. I enjoy religious author Calvin Miller's non-fiction writing more than I do his fiction.

Monday, November 21, 2011

“Unity–not uniformity” or… What Gay Marriage has to do with the Church

           Okay. Just so you’ll know. My wife hates this title.
           She thinks I ought to dump it.
            I hope by the time you read this blog you’ll know why I chose it.
            A phrase I have heard all my life has been this, “Unity–not uniformity.” Usually, 
that statement is said in the context of passages such as Ephesians 4:1-16 or Rom. 14-15 
that talk about the importance of church unity.
            What this statement means, of course, is that members of the church do not have to 
look alike, act alike, or even think alike. As a matter of fact, the appeals in Scripture for unity 
imply that Christians are often extremely diverse, different, and divergent in their cultures, 
attitudes, and views. Otherwise, there would be no need for a call to unity.
            I am fascinated by how we accept that humanity’s most fundamental relationship-
outside of one's blood family-is based upon the biblical presupposition that two humans 
will enter into it as different. The two will enter into it totally distinct in terms of genetics, 
culture, and gender. I am of course talking about marriage.
            In marriage, you have the union of a man and woman. Typically, this is a collision of
temperaments and hormones, ambitions, and hobbies. Anatomically, they were even built by 
God to be fundamentally different.
            Yet, a man and woman in marriage are called by God to build unity through their 
relationship with Christ. Is this difficult? Well… yes! In spite of this, God builds this challenge 
into His call to creation.
            When a man and a woman pull marriage off, it is a beautiful thing. And the more 
diverse, the more beautiful.
            Again, we Christians assume the difference of the sexes, but it is fun to see a couple 
harmonize hobbies and sleeping schedules, thermostat settings and toothpaste caps (on or 
off?). I especially enjoy watching a couple cancel out each other’s vote in an election—each 
one a member of a different political party.
            An even more critical community is the church; for it is within this community that 
Jesus has chosen to express His saving work (Eph. 1:22-23, Col. 1:25-28.) Keep in mind, 
before God established the church, he established the community of Israel to call lost people 
all over the world to find a relationship with Him through His group of “called-out” ones.
            God specifically instructed the members of His community to be a light to the world. 
They were called to call foreigners to join their community and find God.            
            But foreigners were so enormously different! Yes; still, God issued that call.
            Unfortunately, Israel would not tolerate the difference. To put it in fancy terms: Israel 
did not want heterogeneity; Israel wanted homogeneity. That is to say, Israel would not 
accept diversity. Israel insisted upon uniformity—to her own peril.
            Sadly, early in the first century, the community that we know as the church suffered from
 the same problem. Jesus told his disciples that they were to take His message of reconciliation
 to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to all corners of the earth. God had to allow persecution to 
arrive before those Jewish Christians would be willing to begin doing His will.
            Even after that, the Gentiles entering into the Kingdom created a crisis for the Jewish 
Christians. Many seemed culturally and temperamentally incapable of welcoming Gentiles, 
unless the Gentiles agreed to buy a view exactly like the Jews. This especially meant Jewish 
customs such as observation of the Sabbath and diet.
            Now, don't miss this. In the critical communities-marriage, Israel, and the church-
God consistently calls his people to relate in community with those who are different. 
Behold – the pattern!
            Paul fought many battles against those who refused to fellowship with Christians who 
were different. Again, to put it in fancy terms: many Christians, especially Jewish Christians
did not want heterogeneity; they wanted homogeneity. That is to say, they would not accept 
diversity. They insisted upon uniformity—to their own peril.
            It was this battle that motivated Paul to write letters such as Galatians, Ephesians, and 
Romans. Over and over again, Paul argued that through creation and community, God has 
called people to engage in relationships that create unity in spite of diversity.
            Indeed, God’s presupposition was that there would be no uniformity, only unity (see 
Eph. 2:11-22.), just like in marriage.
            It's funny, today so many in the Christian world disagree with gay marriage on a 
fundamental level. I certainly join with them in this opinion.
            Gay marriage goes against the creative work of God. In gay marriage, people do not 
seek heterogeneity; they seek homogeneity. They celebrate homosexuality instead of 
heterosexuality. This is wrong.            
            In gay marriage, two people are attempting to construct the most fundamental of 
relationships on the basis of uniformity. This move is a perversion of God's creative work. 
Anatomically, they are uniform. Hormonally, they are uniform. In terms of the culture of gender, 
they are uniform.
            This was not the way God intended it. We get that.
            Nevertheless, some church members who blanch at the subject of gay marriage, 
without irony, fight tooth and nail for uniformity in a community in which God did not call for
uniformity–the church. These members want homogeneity not heterogeneity.
            God calls people of different races, languages, cultures, genders, and political positions 
to come to the cross and form a unified community. Yet, there are Christians who would pervert 
the gospel by insisting that Christians eliminate differences.
            In some extreme cases, the call is to eliminate different races within the same church. 
In other cases, and this is more prevalent, it is the insistence that members hold the same 
positions on as many issues as possible—even those that are opinion issues. ESPECIALLY 
            Uniformity! With it–there is no need for unity.
            With uniformity (homogeneity), Christians are attempting to enjoy the love of God as 
expressed through people in His church in a way that is artificial. Anytime we force members 
to be uniform, we do not experience the real thing. It is a shallow, sad imitation.
            Many Christians, who are physically repulsed at the thought of same-sex marriage are 
totally oblivious to the fact they are trying to achieve the same thing on a spiritual level: they 
are trying to force community through uniformity (forcing homogeneity instead of heterogeneity.)
            I wonder if God is spiritually repulsed by that?
Five Things I Think I Think
(with a nod to Peter King for this idea)
1. For some reason, I can’t get fired up about college football this year. The BCS race just 
doesn’t do it for me. Maybe it has something to do with the Southeast Conference West having 
the top three teams.
2. Still, I wish I could have seen the Baylor/OU game Saturday night. Robert Griffin III is a MAN.
3. Nice to see Vince Young enjoy some success again. That was a crucial drive he led against 
the Giants last night.
4. Haleigh is in town, so we started over the weekend watching the second season of 24 on 
Netflix. What do I do this? I’m going to bed so late every night. I can hear Haleigh’s voice 
reverberate in my head, “Oh, come on! Let’s just watch one more episode.”
5. Have a happy Thanksgiving. Be safe.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Serendipity of Compliance

Serendipity—“The faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.”
Compliance—“The act or process of submitting, conforming or adapting to a desire, demand, proposal, or regimen as required or requested”

Yesterday, Steve Ridgell spoke to our church. I first heard Steve Ridgell speak when he came to do a youth meeting at my home church in Winnsboro, TX back in the summer of 1978. 
I must admit, I did not want to go. This took place over the last free week I had of the summer. I had just resigned from my job sacking groceries at Brookshires–a very important job I might add–so that I might enjoy one last week of vacation before football two-a-days started. However, for the sake of compliance, I attended our youth meeting. 
The first thing I heard Steve do was teach a Bible class. I thought to myself, “Okay, this is not so bad.” 
Next I heard him preach a sermon. Then I thought to myself, “Hey, this is really pretty good.” 
Before too long, I was attending, not because of compliance, but because of desire. Through serendipity, my compliance would lead to a life changing experience. My relationship with Christ was restored; additionally, I grew to be very close friends with Steve Ridgell. He became my mentor and began to disciple me. This influence helped me decide to become a preacher, which was to ultimately become my profession. I know many in Christianity are not big fans of compliance, nor should we be. 
Sometimes, though, compliance can be a good thing. I know I am thankful that as a 17-year-old in the summer before my senior year, I was compliant. It changed my life.
Five Things I Think I Think
(with a nod to Peter King for this idea)

1. So, anything happened at Penn State last week?
Wow, how quickly things change. When I was writing my “five things” last week, Penn State was barely on the radar. Now the winningest college football coach of all time has been fired. How tragic it had to end this way. 
I saw over the weekend that Barry Switzer reacted in an interview in this way: “Having been in this profession a long time and knowing how close coaching staffs are, I knew that this was a secret that was kept secret. Everyone on that staff had to have known, the ones that had been around a long time.” 
I never thought I would see the day when Barry Switzer would chastize Joe Paterno on matters of morality—and be right.
I saw a story yesterday where Joe Paterno was compared to a character in a Greek tragedy. That is probably an apt comparison, but the ultimate victims of tragedy are the boys. I know my prayers go out to the families of the victims. 
2. As I've mentioned last week in a tweet, someone had a great idea for Penn State—hire Tony Dungy. That would restore respect to the University. His reputation is impeccable—perhaps greater than Paterno’s was at its peak. Not only that, I see Dungy’s hire as coming the closest to recruiting better football players than any other coach I can think of.
3. I have begun reading Walter Isaacson's biography on Steven Jobs. I say “reading;” actually, I checked out the unabridged audio book from the public library. Let me sum up in one word my opinion about 1/5 of the way through–spectacular! Just an absolutely fascinating and incredible read. 
My favorite unknown tidbit so far–as a young man, Steve Jobs attempted many faddish diets. One of them was a fruit diet that supposedly eliminated any problems with mucus; moreover, it supposedly eliminated body odor. Consequently, Jobs became convinced he only needed to bathe once a week. Furthermore, he was convinced he had no need for deodorant. 
There was absolutely no other human being on the planet who agreed with Jobs. Consistently…constantly… to his face… behind his back, people complained about his body odor. Keep in mind, this was occurring while Stephen Jobs and Steve Wozniak were founding Apple.
You think you've got problems? Consider this–you want to introduce a product that will change the world, and you've got bad body odor.
4. I find myself wanting to see the movie J. EDGAR. Perhaps if I knew more about it, I would not.
5. Thanks Steve and Marsha Ridgell for visiting us at Shiloh this past weekend. Steve, you hit it out of the park in your seminar on “Sharing our Story.” You've got a great ministry at Herald of Truth. Marsha, you've got a great ministry in the Kingdom of God.