Saturday, December 29, 2007

How to Love Life

"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For,
'Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from deceitful speech.
He must turn from evil and do good;
he must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil'" (1 Peter 3:8-12, NIV).

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Prayer Warriors and Prayer Worriers

"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:6-7, NASB).

Some people are prayer warriors; some are prayer worriers. Thankfully, God has room in his kingdom for both.

Some approach prayer with confidence; some approach prayer with anxiety. Thankfully, God cares for both.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

God Sent Us A Savior

If our greatest need had been information,
God would have sent us an educator.

If our greatest need had been technology,
God would have sent us a scientist.

If our greatest need had been money,
God would have sent us an economist.

If our greatest need had been pleasure,
God would have sent us an entertainer.

But our greatest need was forgiveness,
So God sent us a Savior.

---from a Dayspring Christmas card of the 1990s

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Doing Good

"Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

"At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone" (Titus 3:1-8, NIV).

We do not get the full story from what we read in the newspaper, hear on the radio, or watch on the television. In the news media, we tend to get the ugly side of life. We see the problems, the evil, and the heart-breaking stories in heavy doses. The news is real, but it is only a part of what is going on in this world.

Throughout the world, people are being impacted by the Spirit of Christ. How many people are seeing the injustices and doing something good about them because of trust in God? How many are stepping up to abusive people in order to protect innocent victims? How many are learning to honor their parents despite their failings? How many are helping people in need without any fanfare? How many are extending forgiveness and seeking reconciliation with people who have been estranged from them? How many are deciding to embrace sexual purity? How many are extending mercy and friendship to people who have made a scandal out of their lives? How many prayers are being said by men and women who genuinely care about someone who is in trouble? How many are sharing the reason for their hope despite the risks of rejection or opposition? How many are keeping their promises despite the difficulties?

How many people have been changed by the mercy, kindness, and grace of God? How many are eager to do good in this world because of their hope in Christ? We may never know the numbers, but we see many of them all the time. Let's look for them, allow them to inspire us, and look past them to the God who motivates them to do good.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Anniversary of Janet's Baptism

"Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38, NIV).

Yesterday marked the 31st anniversary of Janet's baptism. (She was only 11 years old when she started following Jesus Christ...and she has never stopped!) Happy anniversary, Janet!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


"The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 'Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.' But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD" (Jonah 1:1-3, NIV).

While reading that passage tonight, it occurred to me that another missionary to non-Jewish people faced his bigotry at Joppa also. Unlike Jonah, the apostle Peter did not run away from the opportunity to bring God's message to the Gentiles (see Acts 10). From Joppa, Jonah fled from God and his mission to save his enemies. From Joppa, Peter embraced God's vision to bring his enemies into the kingdom of Christ.

We must learn the lessons of Jonah and Peter. We need to see people as God sees them. People who are very different from us share one thing in common with us: we all need Christ.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Panthers for Christ

Sometimes I like to quote from Ron Babbit's newsletter to supporters of his ministry. Ron is one of our ministers in the Contact Church of Christ. He and our other ministers receive support from other Christians and congregations in order to serve the Contact Church, a ministry to the urban poor in Tulsa. (Thanks to everyone who supports the urban ministry!)

In his recent newsletter, he wrote about Panthers for Christ, a club that the Contact Church started at Clinton Middle School. He said,

"Panthers for CHRIST continues to grow. Panthers for CHRIST is GOD'S challenge for us to go to a Middle School and love some clowns and darlins. Recently this school was an at risk school---low grades, whatever it takes to be placed on that list. But, Good News! The Clinton Middle School is no longer on the at risk list! Recently, Panthers for CHRIST was complimented by the Clinton Middle School Principal, Mr. A. He wrote a letter to the Tulsa Public School Superintendent stating that one of the reasons Clinton Middle is off the at risk list is because of the largest organization in the school---Panthers for CHRIST! We continue showing up with healthy donuts purchased by a godly brother who believes in serving and loving others. The challenges come when some bad clowns show up and are ready to 'dance' (translated---let's start a fight). My constant prayer is that I don't knock one of them naked! I'm not ready to do prison ministry! GOD is great!"

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Jesus: The Baby Who Was God

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:1, 14, NIV).

What was it like for Jesus as deity to become human? In one moment, he was present everywhere; in the next, he had limited himself to the form of an embryo. In one moment, he knew everything; in the next, he was learning everything. In one moment, he had all the power in existence; in the next, he needed to be cared for by his mother.

Within a few decades, Jesus Christ would experience every aspect of humanity (with the exception that he never sinned...he always lived in complete harmony with God). He would experience loss. He would know rejection. He would enjoy a good meal and good friends. He would suffer opposition. He would depend upon prayer. He would feel the effect of sin, and it would kill him. He would go through the resurrection that his followers long to experience someday.

God became an embryo, a baby, a toddler, an adolescent, and a man. He knows humanity. With the apostle Paul, we can say,
"Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great:
He appeared in a body,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory" (1 Timothy 3:16, NIV).

Joseph: A Man of Quiet Righteousness

"Joseph her husband was a righteous man" (Matthew 1:19, NIV).

The Bible does not record a single word spoken by Joseph, the husband of Mary and adoptive father of Jesus Christ. But his actions speak volumes.

Joseph was a man of faith, trusting the word of God as it was delivered by an angel in his dreams. He was a generous man, willing to accept his pregnant fiancee even though he knew that he had not been involved in the child's conception. He was a responsible and brave man, risking his reputation and his life to protect his wife and Son.

Joseph was a quiet man, but a righteous man. He was determined to do right. He lived in a right relationship with God and the people around him. Joseph was an ideal father for the young Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Mary: The Sentimental Mother

"But his mother treasured all these things in her heart" (Luke 2:51, NIV).

Without a doubt, Mary was a special young woman. The Scriptures paint a picture of the mother of Jesus Christ as a woman of strong faith, humility, and willingness to serve. When God chose Mary, he honored a young woman who could be trusted with nurturing and guiding the development of the Son of God.

The Bible reveals another interesting aspect of Mary's personality; she was a sentimental mother. She treasured her memories of Jesus' childhood. She remembered the surprises with fondness:

*the angel's appearance
*Joseph's acceptance of her and her Son
*the unusual location of Jesus' birth
*the responses of the shepherds
*the words of Simeon and Anna
*her Son's words and actions as he grew into manhood.

Each memory touched her heart. Her Son had changed her life in profound ways, and she would be forever grateful.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Biblical Parenting 101: Discipline

Assuming that Tulsa has recovered sufficiently from the ice storm (and we do not get hit hard by another one before Sunday), I will be finishing my class on biblical parenting this coming Sunday morning at the Contact Church of Christ. These are my notes:

*Every child needs discipline in order to make it in life. In order to become godly men and women, our children must learn to submit to proper authority.

*Tommy Nelson tells this true story: "In the early 1970s I was the chaplain of a high school football team. And on the team I served was a young man who was the finest high school player I have ever seen. He was one of only three athletes in the history of Texas to be a three-time high school all-American (meaning, he was a high school all-American as a sophomore!). When he was ready to graduate, he had his choice of colleges...The question was not whether this young man would be good, but whether he was going to win the Heisman. After he made his decision, I said to his high school coach, 'What do you think? Will he win the Heisman someday?' His coach replied, 'He'll never carry the ball in college.' I was shocked. 'What do you mean?' I demanded. And he told me this young man had a character flaw that would eventually disqualify him...Well, this young man ended up attending four different colleges---he quit two and was kicked out of two. He finished without a degree...What was the character flaw that the coach saw? 'He cannot submit to authority. He cannot submit to his parents. He cannot submit to an employer. He cannot submit to a teacher...We've carried him along for the sake of the ball club. But I assure you, he will not submit to his college coaches. His football career is done'" (The 12 Essentials of Godly Success, pp.81-82).

*The Bible tells us, "He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently" (Proverbs 13:24, NASB).

*We must care enough for our children to discipline them.

*"Discipline your son while there is hope, and do not desire his death" (Proverbs 19:18, NASB). We must act while we can. We do not want to see our children die in gang violence or from AIDS, because they never received appropriate discipline at home. They must learn to respect authority if we ever want to see them learn self-discipline and submission to God's standards.

*Discipline needs to vary depending on a child's temperament, age, and nature of the wrong committed. However, breaking the rules must be punished. Sometimes a verbal reprimand is sufficient; sometimes spanking is necessary; sometimes privileges must be taken away. However, something must be done to stop what would eventually become destructive behavior. If something is not working, add another punishment to it until you get the child to see the seriousness of the situation.

*While stopping inappropriate behavior is essential, discipline also includes working toward developing positive qualities in our children. We should want our sons to develop the character qualities of an elder or deacon (see 1 Timothy 3:1-13), and our daughters to become women of noble character (as described in Proverbs 31:10-31).

*We must point out positive role models (like members of the local church or celebrities like Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy) for our children to admire. We must discuss life issues with our children. We must guide them in selecting good entertainment choices. If we can help them to want to do good, we have won the war even if we lose a few battles occasionally.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Prince and the Kingdom

"For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this" (Isaiah 9:6-7, NIV).

"Christ is the Prince of Peace,
the Church of Christ is the Kingdom of Peace" (Barton Warren Stone).

Friday, December 07, 2007

Biblical Parenting 101: Acceptance and Affection

These are my notes for my parenting class for this coming Sunday at the Contact Church of Christ:

*In our last lesson, we talked about developing esteem (or a healthy sense of self-worth) within our children. We discussed the idea that we must love our children for who they are.

*In this lesson, we will focus on acceptance. We will love our children no matter what they do. Then we will concentrate on showing affection to our children.

*The Bible says, "A friend loves at all times" (Proverbs 17:17, NIV). In this sense, parents need to be their children's friends. We need to love them at all times.

*Accepting our children is very different than merely tolerating them. Each child must feel that we love him or her genuinely. They must be celebrated.

*God loves us even when he is not pleased. In the same way, parents need to love their children.

*In The 12 Essentials of Godly Success, Tommy Nelson warns, "When a child senses that his parents' love ebbs and flows based on what he does, he eventually becomes a neurotic child. A son will always be left wondering whether he has done enough this time to earn the attention and affection that he craves. A young daughter who can't find acceptance and unconditional love at home will look for places where she feels loved no matter what she does" (p. 186).

*One of the strongest bonds in life is family. Affection builds strong families. Children need hugs and kisses from parents. Girls need hugs, even when they are older. Boys need to wrestle with their dads. We need to show affection. Children with affectionate parents will grow up with a good sense of their value and an understanding of love.

*Parents need to "love their that the word of God will not be dishonored" (Titus 2:4-5, NASB). When we are parents who show affection to our children, the word of God will be honored. Our children (as well as outsiders) will view God's way with respect.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

What Love Is

"I'm not a smart man, but I know what love is" (Forrest Gump).

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers" (1 John 3:16, NIV).

Sunday, December 02, 2007


"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities---his eternal power and divine nature---have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse" (Romans 1:18-20, NIV).

Todd Box, one of our ministers in the Contact Church of Christ, preached today.

About five years ago, Todd was a homeless man staying at the Salvation Army shelter. He had recently returned to serving the Lord after a number of years of running from him. Today, in his sermon, Todd mentioned that he would ask the guys at the homeless shelter every Sunday, "Hey! How about coming to church with me today?" Many would respond, "No thanks, man. I'm busy today." He always thought, What? You're homeless. How could you be too busy to come to church with me? What in the world do you have to do?

I thought, excuses certainly sound funny except when I make them.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Mike Huckabee

"Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men" (Titus 3:1-2, NIV).

I have decided to vote for Mike Huckabee in Oklahoma's presidential primary. A former Baptist preacher and Arkansas governor, Mr. Huckabee impresses me as a man of good character, wisdom, and experience who would surround himself with excellent advisers to form a very good administration.

I have included two quotes that demonstrate the character of Mike Huckabee. The first is from an article in Newsweek magazine describing how he has dealt with racism. The second is from his web site describing his pro-life views. After reading both, I think you will understand why I intend to vote for Mike Huckabee for president of the United States.

"Huckabee took the pulpit of a small but growing church in Pine Bluff, Ark., and started a Christian radio and TV station, which aired his Sunday sermons. One day a listener contacted him. He was a black teenager and was interested in attending services at Huckabee's church, but worried he wouldn't be welcome; Immanuel Baptist Church had been all white since its inception in the 1890s. 'Of course you can come, I told him,' Huckabee recalls.

"The minister prepared his flock. 'I hope that nobody has anything except warm feelings,' he recalls telling them. 'In fact, if he is not welcome, I don't want to be here either.' The speech didn't go over well among some church elders, who threatened to fire him. Several members quit in protest. But most of his parishioners stood with him, and in the years that followed, the church slowly integrated. 'I grew up with a lot of people who really resisted integration,' Huckabee tells NEWSWEEK. 'The more I listened to them, the more I became convinced that racism was an incredible evil.' Rex Nelson, who worked for Huckabee when he was governor, says his racial awareness 'comes from being raised poor...He knew what is was like to look up at other people who were looking down on him.' (Huckabee later carried these lessons to the statehouse, where he pushed to end racial disparity in drug sentencing and urged compassion for the children of illegal immigrants---a position that put him at odds with some in his party.)" See for the full article.

"No candidate has a stronger record on the sanctity of life than I do. I have always been actively and aggressively pro-life. I first became politically active when I helped pass Arkansas' Unborn Child Amendment, which requires the state to do whatever it can to protect life...To me, life doesn't begin at conception and end at birth. Every child deserves a quality education, first-rate health care, decent housing in a safe neighborhood, and clean air and drinking water. Every child deserves the opportunity to discover and use his God-given gifts and talents." See for more details about his pro-life convictions.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Biblical Parenting 101: Esteem

These are my notes for my parenting class this coming Sunday at the Contact Church of Christ:

*In previous weeks, we have looked at the importance of having peaceful homes, spending time with our children, teaching biblical truth to our children, and being good examples to our children. In this lesson, we will discuss helping our children figure out who God made them to be. We will try to help our children find their sense of esteem or worth by loving them as God made them.

*For our children to develop into godly men and women, they need to keep a sense of passion and ambition about life. They need to retain the ability to appreciate and enjoy the life that God has given them.

*The Bible says, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart" (Colossians 3:21, NASB). We do not want to raise children who have lost heart. We want to enable them to live life with passion, love, and courage.

*In order to do that, we must avoid creating an environment in which our children feel like they can never live up to our expectations.

*Tommy Nelson wrote, "A child needs to know that he is loved and accepted for exactly who he is. This is how he gains a proper understanding of who God has made him to be" (The 12 Essentials of Godly Success, p.184).

*Our children are not likely to be just like us. We can't expect them to be our carbon copies. I was a compliant and shy child. My son is an assertive and self-confident child. I liked to draw pictures. He could wrestle all day long. Even when we do not fully understand them, we must appreciate them for who they are. In one episode of King of the Hill, Bobby Hill wanted to play soccer, while his father opposed the idea. An exasperated Bobby said to his father, "You hate everything you don't understand!" His father replied, "I don't hate you, Bobby." We must value our children's differences.

*Our children are not going to be like their own brothers and sisters. One child may prefer music. Another may love sports. Yet another may be drawn to academics. We must value each child's differences.

*Of course, this does not mean that we should value their sinful choices. Angry outbursts, disrespectful language, sexual immorality, drug and alcohol abuse, and other sins should be confronted. But we must continue to respect their value in God's eyes. We must remember that their sins cannot define them in our opinion, just as our sins do not define us. With love, let's help them overcome.

*The Bible says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6, NASB).

*Tommy Nelson says about that verse, "Help your children see themselves as God sees them by celebrating who they are...A major aspect of this verse is often misinterpreted. Some take it to mean that you need to teach your children the right thing, and when they grow older, they will do it. This verse means much more than that. We need to raise up a child in his particular bent, being sensitive to his particular uniqueness. The verse literally says, 'Raise up a child in his way'" (p.185).

*Let's celebrate the uniqueness of each of our children. Tell each child, "I love how God made you. I'm proud to be your parent. I thank God that he brought you into my life." God made them especially for us. Let's appreciate our gifts from heaven for who they are, and help them become everything they can be for God's glory.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ugly and Attractive Christianity

On the way home from work earlier this week, I heard a portion of a radio program with Richard Land called For Faith and Family. Dr. Land was discussing major barriers that are in the way of people becoming Christians. He said that the behavior of many Christians is a major barrier, because so many are living in conflict with the teachings of Christ.

Dr. Land mentioned that several years ago, a group of missionaries was attempting to establish a church among a tribe in the Amazon. No church had ever existed in this tribe even though surrounding tribes had been receptive to churches for years. The missionaries discovered that a few years before their arrival, a man from the tribe had left. He returned to them with the announcement that he had become a Christian. Unfortunately, he was a terrible representative of Christianity. He was arrogant, unkind, and dishonest in his interactions with tribal members. So when the missionaries arrived with the good news of Christ, they found an extremely resistant group of people. It took three times longer than normal to establish a church among the people, and the church never really thrived among them. One man who claimed to follow Jesus hindered the acceptance of the gospel among an entire tribe.

Dr. Land made an interesting observation. He believed that the apostle Paul was such a successful evangelist because he went to people who had never heard of Christ or known a Christian. If those people had been exposed to some of the unethical, unloving, or arrogant members of the church in Corinth (for example), he would have had a much more difficult time spreading the message among them.

The apostle encouraged Christians to live honorably "so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive" (Titus 2:10, NIV). It makes evangelism much easier when people see followers of Jesus Christ as people of justice, kindness, mercy, and humility.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Honoring Your Father and Your Mother

"Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you" (Deuteronomy 5:16, NIV).

This morning I was teaching my class on biblical parenting at the Contact Church of Christ. I was emphasizing the need to be good examples for our children, when I introduced a topic that brought out some opposition from my class. I asked, "Do your children see you treat your parents with honor? How do you speak to and speak about your parents?"

The reaction was something like this:

"But my parents are irritating."
"You don't know my mother. She picks on everything I do. I have never been able to please her."
"I can't stand how they treat me."

I realized that I needed to work on this topic with my class. God wants us to honor our parents. We need to obey God and trust that our efforts will be blessed in some way.

Next week, in addition to my scheduled lesson, I plan to print and distribute the following articles to my class:

"How Can You Honor Parents When You Feel They Don't Deserve It?" (

"How to Write a Tribute to Your Parents" (

I understand that telling my class, "Just do it," will not work. They were not convinced that they needed to do it, and they did not know how to do it even if they wanted to do it. I'm hoping to be able to help them overcome this obstacle to living God-honoring lives in their families.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

International Adoption Workshop Announcement

If any Christian family reading this blog is interested in adopting a child from another country, Dillon International adoption agency will be conducting a workshop next Saturday, December 1, 2007. It will take place at the Church at BattleCreek in Broken Arrow from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm. The agency works in China, India, Vietnam, Korea, and Haiti. The cost is $100 per couple. I found this information at This could be a great opportunity for everyone involved.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Biblical Parenting 101: Example

These are my notes for the parenting class that I am teaching this Sunday morning at the Contact Church:

*Nothing can give greater comfort to a Christian parent than the assurance that his or her children are following Christ and are destined to enjoy the presence of God forever. Nothing can break a Christian parent's heart more thoroughly than knowing that his or her children have rejected Christ and are destined for hell.

*Our examples have a tremendous influence on the choices of our children.

*According to Dr. Ken Hemphill, 70 percent of people who grow up in Christian families will leave church after high school. He states that the major factor in them leaving the church is the example of their nominally Christian parents. Nominally Christian parents are not merely parents who attend church services on Christmas and Easter; they may even be involved in the church as teachers, elders, or deacons. The problem is that their Christianity is confined to the church building or church activities. They do not actually live their faith in everyday activities. As a result, he says, "the greatest at-risk teenager in America (is) not the teenager whose parents (are) atheist or agnostic, but the greatest at-risk teenager (is the one whose parents) were nominal Christian" (FamilyLife Today broadcast, October 18, 2007). In other words, nominal Christians (those who do not live out their faith and love) are more damaging to their children's faith than are atheists and agnostics.

*Here are a few questions to ask yourself in trying to determine if you are providing a positive example for your children:

1. Have you turned away from sin to follow Christ? Have you been baptized? (Acts 2:38)

2. Have your children ever caught you helping someone in need, reading the Bible, praying, or fasting when you thought they were not around? (Matthew 6:1-18)

3. If your children looked through your home, would they find pornographic magazines, videos, or DVDs? Would they find pornographic files or web sites that you have visited on your computer? (Matthew 5:27-30)

4. Do your children ever hear you giving thanks to God in song or prayer outside the church building? (Colossians 3:15-17)

5. Do your children see you treat your parents with honor? How do you speak to and speak about your parents? (Deuteronomy 5:16)

6. Do you treat your employer, employees, and customers with respect on the job? How do you talk about them at home? (Ephesians 6:5-9)

7. Do your children see you treating people with respect, regardless of their income, race, education, intelligence, looks, or other superficial factors? (James 2:1-13)

*If you find yourself failing to provide a good example for your children in any area of life, please do whatever is necessary to change. Our children are looking to us for direction. Let's give them good examples, and ask for forgiveness when we fail to live up to biblical ideals. Then, let's make things right.

*The positive influence of a parent or grandparent can be more powerful than we imagine. Listen to these words about the infamous murderer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer: "Later in life, after heavy drinking caused Dahmer's discharge from the military, he lived with his grandmother who was a lifetime member of the church (of Christ). Her faith intrigued him, but he failed to take that opportunity. Instead, he descended into the deepest kind of darkness...Following his arrest, Jeffrey's tortured mind turned again toward God...he acknowledged his sinfulness and his need for God's forgiveness" ("Can God Save This Serial Killer?", Mickie Kennedy, Action, November 2007, pp. 1-2). He was contacted and taught about Jesus Christ by members of the Church of Christ. Soon, he was baptized into Christ. Would he have become a Christian without his grandmother's faithful example? Maybe, but God used her positive example to save her grandson.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Scripture for Thanksgiving Day

"And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, 'Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen" (Revelation 7:11-12, NASB).

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Athletes and Strip Clubs

"Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love" (1 Corinthians 16:13-14, NASB).

Last Tuesday, the cover story of the sports section in USA Today focused on professional athletes and strip clubs. Many pro athletes have ruined their lives at strip clubs in recent years. They have destroyed their marriages and their reputations. In a few cases, people have been injured seriously and killed in the violence. Amazingly, many athletes and sports media personalities defended the self-indulgent, irresponsible, and immature actions of their colleagues.

One paragraph in Michael McCarthy's article caught my attention. John Sally defended the athletes at strip clubs. Mr. McCarthy wrote, "Or, as John Sally, the former Detroit Pistons forward and now co-host of FSN's Best Damn Sports Show Period, puts it: 'Where do you take warriors? To church? No, you take them around a bunch of scantily dressed women who make them feel like stars" (C2, Tuesday, November 13, 2007, USA Today).

I have several thoughts about Mr. Sally's perspective.

First, I realize that some churches may not appeal to men, because they have emasculated Christianity. Men are not encouraged to be strong, to be heroic, to be brave, to be protectors and providers. However, Jesus Christ modeled those qualities as well as compassion and gentleness. He calls us to follow his lead. Churches need to encourage selfless risk-taking for the sake of others.

Second, athletes are not warriors. They play games for a living. They do not fight wars. Athletes who have grown up will be responsible men who love and respect their wives, take care of their children, and build honorable reputations. Athletes who remain in adolescence will be the childish men who frequent strip clubs in order to receive attention from loose women who want to stroke the egos of make-believe warriors.

Finally, John Sally co-hosts the Best Damn Sports Show Period. I remember a few years ago when, after Ohio State University won the national championship in football, the coach called the team "the best damn football team period." To paraphrase Jesus: If you are a part of the best damned anything, but lose your soul, what does it profit you? It is time for everyone to re-evaluate what is important in life.

Biblical Parenting 101: Truth

These are my notes for the class that I will be teaching tomorrow at the Contact Church of Christ.

*In our previous sessions, we looked at the importance of raising our children in peaceful homes and spending time with our children. Both of those concepts are crucial for developing godly children.

*Today, we will discuss the importance of personally teaching biblical truth to our children. The Bible stresses the importance of this in passages like Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Ephesians 6:4. (Take time to read these verses.)

*When we make the effort to teach our children the truth of the Bible, our kids have the potential to grow up with a strong faith and commitment to serving the Lord. It happened with Timothy, one of the great leaders in the early church. He was taught the Bible from infancy (2 Timothy 3:15). Who was responsible for his knowledge of the Bible? His mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5). Our little boys and girls could become great servants of God for decades with our help in teaching them the truth.

* While our Sunday school classes and youth ministry can help us in teaching our children, we must not rely upon them as the primary teachers of our children. We parents are responsible for our children.

*So what do we do? This is what Janet and I do:

At one meal a day, we take time after the meal to have a devotional. I will read a devotional article from Our Daily Bread. Then we will give Christopher a memory verse. He repeats it. We discuss what it means. When he is able to quote the memory verse on his own, he will get a new memory verse the next day. Depending on the difficulty of the verse and Christopher's enthusiasm, he will memorize it in a few days or a couple of weeks. Then we will pray.

*Tommy Nelson has good advise about praying with children. "Pray intelligently with your children at meals and at night time. Pray with them theologically---they won't even know they are getting good teaching. Don't just say, 'Thank You for the burrito. Amen.' You can do better" (The 12 Essentials of Godly Success, pp. 182-183).

*At our son's age, we can still rock him in a rocking chair before he goes to bed. At that time, we read a story from one of his Bible story books. He gets some exposure to Adam, Eve, Samuel, David, Esther, Mary, Joseph, Jesus, Paul, and other great men and women of the Bible. Then we sing a few hymns (like I Stand in Awe of You and How Great Thou Art) with lyrics about the greatness of God.

*When occasions arise, it is good to point out biblical principles in our routine lives. When you notice something positive in your child, you may say, "You were very kind to your sister" or "It took a lot of courage to stand alone like that."

*When you are watching television, listening to music, or working on homework together, you may be able to discuss a scene, lyrics, or a reading assignment from a biblical perspective.

*With our teaching, our children have a better opportunity to become who God wants them to be.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Have You Read the Obituaries Today?

I am not making this up. This is an actual sentence from one of today's obituaries in the Tulsa World:

"An enthusiastic, though independent, member of the Park Plaza Church of Christ, Elizabeth was a T-Totaler, most likely in response to her husband Frank, who was the opposite."

A Highly Recommended Radio Program About Orphan Care

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27, NIV).

Please listen to (or at least read the transcripts of) these broadcasts of FamilyLife Today. Rick Warren of Saddleback Community Church is the guest. He speaks about caring for orphans around the world. It is one of the best things I have ever heard on the radio.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Millennium

"Blessed and holy are those who have a part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years" (Revelation 20:6, NIV).

The Christian Standard has published two articles which explain two of the most common views of the millennium held among members of the Churches of Christ and Christian Churches. "Why I Take a Premillennial View" ( explains the classic premillennial perspective (as opposed to the dispensational premillennial perspective with its secret rapture theory). "Why I Am an Amillennialist" ( explains the amillennial perspective. Both authors did a good job in making his respective case, but I will need to research this topic more before reaching any final conclusions about it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Birthday

I have been waiting weeks to repeat the rant of Oklahoma State University football coach Mike Gundy: "I'm 40! I'm a man!" (There...that felt better.)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Boring Sins

"Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to" (1 Timothy 5:13, NIV).

How often do we get into sin and trouble because we are bored? How often does an idle conversation turn to speculation and then to slander? How often do we cause arguments because we are not being productive and feel like we need something to do? How often have we been misled into thinking that we are doing something productive for Christ when we are engaging in arguments over trivia instead of spreading the gospel or helping someone in need? How many false doctrines have arisen because someone was bored with teaching from the Bible? How many churches have stagnated because they have become bored with Bible teaching and worship and service? How many crimes have been committed by bored people? How many people get drunk or high because they are bored? Could boredom be the most overlooked cause for sin in the world? I do not know, but it must be a contender for the title.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Cry of the Orphan

"Learn to do right!
Seek justice,
encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow" (Isaiah 1:17, NIV).

During the week of November 12-16, 2007, three popular radio ministries will be promoting adoption and orphan care ministry. FamilyLife Today, Focus on the Family, and Money Matters will devote their daily broadcasts to advocacy for orphans.

In the Tulsa area, FamilyLife Today may be heard at 9:00 am on 970 AM and 95.1 FM each weekday morning. It is my favorite program.

Focus on the Family may be heard at 5:00 am on 970 AM, 7:00 am on 95.1FM, 11:30 am on 970AM, and 12:00 noon on 95.1FM.

Money Matters may be heard at 2:30 pm on 95.1FM.

If you live outside of the Tulsa area, you may visit their web sites for times and stations in your area. You may also listen online.

FamilyLife Today
Focus on the Family
Money Matters

These should be excellent programs (especially on FamilyLife Today). Please check them out. They should be Christ-honoring and life-changing broadcasts. Hopefully, many children will be helped.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Biblical Parenting 101: Time

These are my notes for my class this Sunday at the Contact Church:

*On Thanksgiving Day 2005, Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy spent the day with family, fellow coaches, and friends from church. In his autobiography, he wrote, "During the (football) season, holidays are always bittersweet for me. I'm always happy to spend time with family and friends, but I'm also reminded of how much I'm not around" (Quiet Strength, p. 246). A little over a month later, his oldest son Jamie committed suicide.

*Although Tony Dungy is a good and decent man who loves his family and God, he lives with regrets about how much time he has missed with his children.

*In 2 Samuel 14, the Bible describes another good and decent man who loved his family and God. Even more than Tony Dungy, King David must have regretted how much time he had lost with his children.

*David had a number of children by a number of wives. Deuteronomy 17:17 forbids Israelite kings from taking numerous wives, but he failed to obey, and it caused problems for his family and his nation for generations.

*In 2 Samuel 13, David's son Absalom murdered another son named Amnon. Amnon had raped Absalom's full sister. After Amnon's murder, Absalom fled. David appeared to be detached.

*In 2 Samuel 14, David sent for Absalom to return to Jerusalem. However, "Absalom lived two years in Jerusalem without seeing the king's face" (14:28, NIV). In other words, David continued to play the role of a passive father too busy to spend time with his children. Perhaps he thought that it was appropriate punishment for Absalom. Or David may not have felt that he could handle seeing his son after what he had done to his brother. As a result, Absalom grew resentful and rebelled.

*Our children need time with us. If they do not receive it, they are much more likely to turn to alcohol, drugs, crime, and other rebellious behavior. They are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, and poor grades in school. Most importantly, they are more likely to reject our God.

*If children live with parents who spend time with them, they grow up knowing that they are valued. They will feel less inclination to rebel. They will enjoy better emotional health. They will find it easier to connect with our God.

*In future weeks, we will see how children need parents to teach them biblical truth, to be good examples, to show affection, and to discipline them. But before we can do any of that, we must be there for them. We must spend time with them.

*In The 12 Essentials of Godly Success, Tommy Nelson wrote, "(A child) needs a father and mother to look at him full in the face and listen to him. There are times when a child needs to be lectured, and there are times when a child needs simply to be listened to and loved and valued. Unfortunately, one of the most terrifying things for many children is to spend time with their fathers. Either their father ignores them and acts like they are not there, or their father takes them on a three-hour car ride, locks the doors, and preaches to them. Nothing could be worse for your relationship with your child. A child needs time where he or she is getting our full attention...Spend time with your children. Don't lecture your child unless there is the need. Love him and laugh at his jokes" (pp.180-181).

*We do not know how much time we will have with our children. So let's enjoy our time with them, and let them know by our presence in their lives that we value them.

*At his son's funeral, Tony Dungy said it well: "Parents, hug your kids---every chance you get. Tell them that you love them every chance you get. You don't know when it's going to be the last time" (Quiet Strength, p. 254).

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Biblical Parenting 101: Peace

These are my notes from the class that I started teaching at the Contact Church of Christ last Sunday morning:

*Every Christian parent wants to raise godly children. Of course, we want them to succeed in every area of life, but we are especially concerned about their spiritual development.

*I was asked to teach a class about biblical parenting for several reasons:
1. We all need help, and the Bible provides a great deal of wisdom in helping us to raise our children.
2. I have a little experience in raising our son.
3. I don't have so much experience that I have given up on raising children.

*I heard about a preacher who conducted seminars on parenting. At first, he had no children of his own. His seminars were called How to Raise Children. Then he and his wife had children. His seminars were called A Few Principles for Raising Children. By the time his children were teenagers, his seminars were called A Few Hopefully Helpful Hints for Raising Children by a Fellow Struggler. I am teaching this class fully aware that I have much to learn, and that we can help each other as we look to God's Word for guidance.

*The first principle for raising godly children that we will explore is peace. Proverbs 17:1 states the principle in these words: "Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife" (NIV). In other words, peace in a family is far more important than wealth or poverty. It is better to live in a peaceful poor family than in a strifeful rich family.

*A child who lives in a violent or hostile home finds himself damaged. He or she is always walking on eggshells, afraid of setting off another explosion. The child becomes timid and easy to intimidate, or he becomes a violent bully. In either case, the child grows up damaged relationally, unable to relate to people in the healthiest way.

*Without a peaceful home, the child will likely leave at age 18 with minimal contact with his or her parents.

*A peaceful home is founded on a husband and wife who love and respect each other. It forms a sense of security in a child when he sees his mom and dad in such a relationship with each other.

*If you are divorced, treat your ex-spouse with consideration and respect. Try to reconcile and re-marry if possible. If not, at least speak about your ex-spouse with respect in front of your children.

*If you and the other parent are not married but are living together, either get married or move out. Your children need the stability of a married father and mother. If you don't love each other enough to get married, don't pretend to be married. Don't have a sexual relationship outside of marriage. It is inherently unstable.

*If you are married, don't get into heated arguments in front of your children. They don't have the emotional maturity to handle seeing parents yelling and insulting each other. Don't sulk. Do not hit or threaten to harm each other in any way. Don't make your children live in fear.

*Work through conflict in a calm manner. If your emotions are getting to you, take a time-out or go somewhere to discuss it privately.

*When you make a mistake or sin, apologize to your spouse and children. Ask for forgiveness and do everything possible to change for the better. Humility, confession, and repentance build peaceful homes.

*Our children are going to face hard times in their lives. It's inevitable. We all face hard times. But when they look back at their childhoods, we would like for them to remember growing up fondly. These should be the good old days for our children...the years of peace, security, and love that will help them and strengthen them for the future.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Mercy and Justice

"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8, NIV).

How can we be people of justice and people of mercy at the same time? John Piper shares some great insights in his sermon, "When Is It Right to Repay Evil with Pain?" It may be read or heard at It is worth reading and considering.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever" (Psalm 136:1, NIV).

Last month, Canada celebrated Thanksgiving. This month, the United States will celebrate Thanksgiving. As far as I know, no other country in the world has an annual day of thanksgiving.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am mentioning a few things for which I am thankful.

I am thankful for my job. When I graduated from college, I did not know what I wanted to do. I had a degree in education, but I knew that I did not want to teach. Then, God opened up a door of opportunity for me to work in the U.S. Postal Service. Now, I work with some great people and enjoy a decent salary with good benefits. God has given me the ability to provide for myself and my family. In addition, he has given me opportunities to help people on my job and to share some of my resources with others in need.

I am thankful for my wife. Janet has been a great blessing from the first time I talked with her. She is a very sensitive and caring woman. She is a great wife (and I'm sure Christopher would add "a great mother"). She loves me, and I love her. What could be better than that?

I am thankful for my son. Christopher enjoys life, and he wants to include me in all of it. "Dad, can we play now?" must be his most repeated sentence (even when we have just finished playing so that we could have dinner). He brings a great deal of laughter into our lives.

I am thankful for Jesus Christ. Because of him, I live with hope. I could not make it through life carrying the guilt of my sins and mistakes, and I certainly could not stand before God in that condition. I am thankful that he took my guilt and died for me. I am thankful for his resurrection and for his promised return. I am looking forward to the new heavens and new earth, a new creation without the plague of selfishness and pride, because of what he has done for me.

I am thankful for the Contact Church of Christ. They may not realize it, but I look at the members of the Contact Church as heroes. While others avoid problems, the ministers and members of the Contact Church run toward people in trouble. They are always helping people with drug and alcohol addictions, financial problems, homelessness, relationship issues, and other problems. They inspire me to take risks and to care more than I would otherwise. Through their examples, they have done much more to help me than I have done to help them.

I have so much to be thankful for that I could go on for days, but I should end it here for now. I need to get some sleep.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Thoughts About Being Offensive

"And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful" (2 Timothy 2:24, NIV).

After thinking about some of my posts on my blog over the last year, I realize that some people may have been offended or irritated by my thoughts. I have opposed abortion, pornography, divorce, homosexuality, the prosperity gospel, and many other sins. I have supported trans-racial adoption, reconciliation among the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, and expanding evangelistic outreach to Hispanics. I have affirmed the existence of hell, the wrath of God, the existence of Satan, the creation account of Genesis, and the sinfulness of humanity. I have taken positions that put me at odds with the culture around me. I have taken positions that make fellow Christians uncomfortable (and I know this because I have been uncomfortable taking such positions at times).

However, I have tried to avoid being unnecessarily offensive, while being faithful to the will and intent of God as I understand it from reading and thinking about the biblical message. If I am offensive, I want it to be because I am following Jesus Christ, not because I am an arrogant jerk. I know that I will make enemies, but I want enemies to form as a bi-product of my faithfulness to Christ. I do not want to make unnecessary enemies.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me" (Matthew 5:10-11, NIV).

Thursday, November 01, 2007

National Adoption Month 2007

"Rescue the perishing;
don't hesitate to step in and help.
If you say, 'Hey, that's none of my business,'
will that get you off the hook?
Someone is watching you closely, you know---
Someone not impressed with weak excuses" (Proverbs 24:11-12, The Message).

Since this is National Adoption Month in the USA, I hope to be able to link to several articles with adoption themes during November. I'm sure it is no secret that I love being an adoptive father, and that I would love for others to enjoy such a blessing, too.

In this week's edition of World Magazine, Clint Rainey has written an excellent article about several families in central Texas who have adopted orphans from around the world. His article is titled, "Twelve is not Enough." It may be read at

I was especially impressed with members of the Church of Christ in Hearne, Texas, who adopted several Ethiopian orphans when others turned away from helping those children in need. The members of that church have honored Christ in their faith, attitudes, and actions.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Biblical Parenting: Peace

"Better a dry crust with peace and quiet
than a house full of feasting with strife" (Proverbs 17:1, NIV).

I plan on starting a class on biblical parenting with the Contact Church of Christ this coming Sunday. When I was asked to teach the class, I asked, "Are you sure you want me to do it...with my four and a half years of experience of being a parent?" I was told, "Absolutely! You have enough experience to know some of the difficulties, but not enough experience to have given up and thrown in the towel." Good point, I guess.

I will be sharing some of the principles from The 12 Essentials of Godly Success by Tommy Nelson. In my first lesson, I will be emphasizing the need for peace in our families.
These are some of Tommy Nelson's words on the subject:

"The most valuable thing I provide for my children is to consistently demonstrate love for my wife. A child can forgive almost any sin so long as his parents love each other. Peace and affection between parents provide a stable foundation for your children. They need their home to be a safe haven from the storms around them. Your first responsibility is to create an environment of peace.

Never heatedly argue with your spouse in front of your children. Watch your tone of voice. Don't be condescending or harsh. Discuss the issues while treating your partner with respect. It's good for kids to see parents work through conflict, but if you feel the need to raise your voice or get overly emotional, then go back into the bedroom to talk it out. Don't rob your children of the peace of their home. They are not ready to handle adult emotions.

Don't play the part of a spoiled brat, freezing out your spouse instead of working through conflict. Children pick up on these patterns. They feel the tension just underneath the surface. They also don't learn healthy patterns of dealing with conflict in their own lives" (pp. 177-178).

Of course, Mr. Nelson's thoughts will need to be adapted to individual circumstances. Some of our families consist of a father and a mother. Others consist of single mothers or single fathers or grandparents raising grandchildren. However, the idea of making our homes as peaceful as possible will benefit the children of the Contact Church. They may live in dangerous neighborhoods and attend schools with violent students, but if we can provide them with safe homes, they will benefit greatly.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Ruth: A Shining Star

"Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe" (Philippians 2:14-15, NIV).

Throughout the book of Ruth, Ruth faces problems and obstacles. She lost her husband, brother-in-law, and father-in-law to death. Her mother-in-law discouraged her from staying with her and from following God. She immigrated to the land of Israel without resources and without much knowledge of the country's customs and laws. She had plenty of reasons to whine and pout, but she never gave in to the temptation.

She refused to leave the true God. She would not return to Chemosh, the false god who demanded child sacrifices in order to be pleased. She would not abandon her widowed mother-in-law, but was determined to do everything she could to care for her. She never resorted to anything immoral in order to survive in her new land. While she could have engaged in stealing or prostitution, instead she found a low-paying but honorable way to support herself and her mother-in-law by picking up leftover grain in the fields.

We do not know how attractive Ruth was physically, but we can see why Boaz was attracted to her in other ways. Her attitude, her faith, her sense of responsibility, her work ethic, and her sense of honor made her stand out as a shining star in a dark universe.

Some scholars believe that Proverbs 31:10-31 was written to honor Ruth. It is certainly an appropriate passage to describe this outstanding woman of the Bible.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Boaz: In Him is Strength

"He erected the pillars in the front of the temple, one to the south and one to the north. The one to the south he named Jakin and the one to the north Boaz" (2 Chronicles 3:17, NIV).

In the footnote at 2 Chronicles 3:17, the New International Version reads, "'Boaz' probably means 'in him is strength.'"

When King Solomon erected and named the pillars of the newly constructed temple of God, could he have been thinking about his ancestor Boaz, the husband of Ruth? How could he have named a pillar Boaz without thinking of him?

During the days of Boaz, the Israelites occupied the promised land, but God did not occupy their hearts. With a few exceptions, even the judges who led them did not exemplify godly behavior or wisdom. They fell into idolatry time after time. They did what was right in their own eyes, but failed to live right before the Lord.

However, Boaz was an exception. He was a man of faith and character. He lived up to his name. In him was strength.

When Boaz spoke, the Lord was on his mind (Ruth 2:4, 12). He was a generous man who was willing to share (2:14). He protected Ruth's dignity (2:15-16). He protected her virtue and reputation (3:8-14). Boaz dealt with people honestly and wisely (4:1-10). In marrying an immigrant who had become a believer in God, he did not fall victim to ethnic prejudice (4:13).

Boaz was a pillar in his community. When much of his society had grown corrupt, he stood out as a man of strong character, a man of reliable integrity.

In later years, the name of Boaz became associated with a pillar in God's temple.

Today, Christ calls upon his people to imitate Boaz's faith and character, to be strong in our commitment to our God. As Jesus promised, "Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God" (Revelation 3:12, NIV).

Friday, October 26, 2007

An Interesting Conversation with Christopher

"But everyone will be raised to life in the right order. Christ was first to be raised. When Christ comes again, those who belong to him will be raised to life...But listen, I tell you this secret: We will not all die, but we will all be changed. It will only take a second. We will be changed as quickly as an eye blinks. This will happen when the last trumpet sounds. The trumpet will sound and those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we will all be changed" (1 Corinthians 15:23, 51-52, NCV).

This is the conversation I had with my 4 year old son tonight:

Christopher: "Dad, where is God? Can you show me where he is?"

Me: "We can't see God. He's invisible."

Christopher: "But I want to see him."

Me: "When Jesus returns, he will change us, and then we will be able to see him."

Christopher: "How will he change us?"

Me: "I don't know, but we will be like Jesus. We'll be able to see God."

Christopher: "Will I still be black?"

Me: "I don't know what color we will be."

Christopher: "I hope I'm not dark white."

Me: "I like your color just like it is."

Christopher: "I like your color, too, Dad."

I never know where our conversations are going with a 4 year old, but it's a fun trip.


Normally, I avoid any movie that has won an award at any film festival. However, I have listened to actor Eduardo Verastegui and producer Leo Severino being interviewed on the FamilyLife Today radio program over the past 2 days. Their new movie sounds like something that I would like to see. It is a story of redemption with a pro-life theme. The interviews may be read or heard at
Also, a good review of Bella may be read at
Unfortunately, Bella is not showing in Tulsa yet. If it never appears in theaters here, we will rent it.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What Attracts Muslims to Christ?

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV).

Christianity Today has published the results of a survey of Muslims who have converted to Christianity. The survey conducted by Fuller Theological Seminary points to several factors that have led Muslims around the world to follow Jesus Christ.

Primarily, two factors attract Muslims to Christianity: the lifestyle of Christians and the biblical message. Muslims are affected by Christians who live with integrity and kindness. They appreciate Christians who will reach out to them by adapting to their social customs. They appreciate kindness. They are impressed with strong Christian marriages.

The biblical message of Christ has a great impact when it is shared. The Gospels are powerful, when they are read or studied. The concept of grace is a welcome idea. Security in relationship with God is very appealing.

In other words, Muslims are attracted to Christ when Christians live like Christians and are loyal to the Bible's message. We can do this, and it can make a great impact. The article may be read at

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Two hundred years ago, Christian Churches and Churches of Christ in the United States formed as a result of a multi-denominational revival in Cane Ridge, Kentucky. Until the Civil War, we were the fastest growing group of churches in the country. Then, growth occurred slowly and eventually we stagnated.

Over the past twenty years, a revival among the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ has been taking place. In the recent edition of the Christian Standard magazine, Bob Russell reviews what has been happening among us ( and why it has been happening ( Bob Russell is a retired minister and pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Both of his articles are worth reading, but the second is the most useful. In it, he encourages us to be open to new methods while remaining faithful to the original message of the Bible. He encourages us to be bold and unashamed of the gospel while reaching out to people who need Christ.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Christians Adopting Rwandan Orphans Part II

In The Oklahoman newspaper today, Carla Hinton has written a good article about the Henderson family of Oklahoma City. Mark and Sharon Henderson recently returned from Rwanda with their newly adopted sons. Mark is a minister with the Quail Springs Church of Christ in Oklahoma City. The article may be read at

Raising Godly Children

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up" (Deuteronomy 6:4-7, NIV).

On the FamilyLife Today radio program this week, Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine interviewed Ken Hemphill, an official in the Southern Baptist Convention and the author of Parenting With Kingdom Purpose. Dr. Hemphill made several good points about raising children in a godly way. He emphasized that we cannot make decisions to follow Christ for our children, but we can point them in the right direction. He pointed out that the least likely children to follow Jesus are children whose parents do not actually live out their faith, although they show up at church every week (sometimes even serving as elders and Sunday school teachers). Parents must live with faith, integrity, and love for God and for people if they want to give their children a better opportunity to know Christ. Dr. Hemphill also emphasized that Bible classes, sermons, and youth ministry cannot take the place of parents in teaching faith and biblical values to our children. While those aspects of church life can be helpful, godly parents who intentionally teach their children the principles of God are far more important.

The interviews may be found at and At those sites, you may either listen online or read a transcript of each program. Both programs are worth reviewing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


In 2006, a concerted effort was made by many members of Christian Churches and Churches of Christ to re-establish the cooperation that had existed among us in the 19th century. From the North American Christian Convention to the International Soul Winning Workshop, we were encouraged to pursue unity.

I support the reconciliation of Churches of Christ and Christian Churches. Both groups have a high degree of respect for the Bible, accepting it as inspired and accurate. We have a common desire to understand and follow its teachings. We accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We acknowledge our need to learn from him and to follow him. We know that we can be saved only by God's grace through trusting in Christ and what he has done for us in his death and resurrection. Both groups teach that the proper responses to God's grace are faith, repentance, and baptism (immersion) in the name of Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. Both networks of churches are evangelical in that we want the whole world to know what Jesus Christ has done to save us from the punishment that we deserve. The basics are in place for a high level of cooperation among us.

For the sake of Christ, we should reconcile whenever and wherever possible.

The apostle Paul wrote, "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit---just as you were called to one hope when you were called---one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all" (Ephesians 4:1-6, NIV).

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pray for the Fish

I enjoy Randy Travis' song "Pray for the Fish," written by Phillip Moore, Dan Murphy, and Ray Scott. These are the lyrics:

Everybody gathered where the river runs wider at the edge of town
To see if that Eddy Lee Vaughn baptism was really gonna go down.

Folks bet hard-earned money that water wouldn't change a thing.
They set the odds at a hundred to one,
his soul would never come clean.

Then the preacher said, "People take a moment or two.
There's something we need to do.
Pray for the fish.
They won't know what's comin'
When the sin starts rollin' off the likes of him.
Lord, be with 'em , they ain't done nothin'.
Please won't you leave 'em just a little bit of room to swim?
Pray for the fish."

Well, the preacher dunked him under that clear cool water. Then he did it again.
Eddy came up yelling, "Oh Lord in heaven, Hallelujah! I'm a brand new man!"

Well the water got to bubblin', the sky got to rumblin', and the thunder backed up the choir.
The fish started jumpin'. It was like they were swimmin' in a lake of fire.

Then Eddy's mamma stepped out of the crowd and started yellin' out loud,
"Pray for the fish.
They won't know what's comin'
When the sin starts rollin' off the likes of him.
Lord, be with 'em. They ain't done nothin'.
Please won't you leave 'em just a little bit of room to swim?
Pray for the fish."

He said, "Everybody cross your fingers and fold your hands.
Pray for ole Eddy, but before we say 'Amen',
Pray for the fish.
Lord, be with 'em. They ain't done nothin'.
Please won't you leave 'em just a little bit of room to swim?
Pray for the fish.
Lord, pray for the fish."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

How to Pray More Powerfully

"Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us (1 John 3:21-23, NIV).

"Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers" (1 Peter 3:7, NIV).

These verses indicate that the way we treat other people (specifically fellow Christians and our wives) plays a role in God's willingness to pay attention to our concerns. If we trust in Jesus Christ and interact with others from a position of love, consideration, and respect, God is willing to unleash his power in answer to our prayers.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

An Opportunity to Help Disabled Iraqi Orphans

The following article is from the September 2007 edition of National Right to Life News. "Rescued from Near-Euthanasia, Iraqi Orphans Need Loving Homes" was written by Joleigh Little of Wisconsin Right to Life. I am hoping that someone may read this and be able to help. This is a portion of the article, but more information is available at the end of it for anyone who would like to help.

"Euthanasia, regardless of where it rears its ugly head, is a vicious killer that preys on the weak and vulnerable, seeking to destroy anyone and everyone in its path.

Recently, that path wound across the globe to an orphanage in Baghdad where 24 disabled boys ages 6 to 23 were found literally starving and dehydrating to death. The children were lying naked in pools of their own filth, covered with biting flies, 'guilty' only of being orphaned and unable to care for themselves.

Some have cerebral palsy, others were born with Down syndrome, while still others suffer from disabilities not yet diagnosed due to a lack of resources in a country struggling desperately to achieve democracy. No one knows what circumstances brought them to that place.

We only know what we have learned since they were discovered by American soldiers on a routine patrol and rescued by those soldiers in concert with local Iraqi officials who were horrified that such a thing could happen in their backyard...

After viewing the story (on CBS News), (Scott) Southworth immediately contacted military colleagues and both the U.S. and Iraqi governments to seek permission to bring the boys to the U.S. for medical treatment...With the full cooperation of both governments, he has received permission to do just that...

However, loving homes need to be found for each of the boys---and Southworth believes the pro-life community can be of help...In fact, one of the families already lined up to take in two of the Iraqi boys---six year old twins---are local chapter chairs for Wisconsin Right to Life.

'What we need are more people like this,' Southworth said...

'Families who consider this should realize that they are likely in this for the long haul,' he said. 'There will be frustrations, but I want to find families who will view these children as a blessing...never as a burden. I want people who, even during the toughest times, will remember that these children are a gift from God.'

If you, or someone you know, might consider providing a home for one or more of these precious children, please contact us at or call (715) 378-4302 for more information. You could change the life of a child forever and enrich your own in ways that can only be imagined."

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Problems of Pornography

"May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
A loving doe, a graceful deer---
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be captivated by her love.
Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress?
Why embrace the bosom of another man's wife?" (Proverbs 5:18-20, NIV).

While reading Phil Ware's blog (, I came across a post titled "Major Oops!" It was posted on October 4, 2007. It dealt with the problems of pornography.

Thinking about it, I realized that pornography contributes to many problems among us: discontented marriages, divorce, adultery, pre-marital sex, homosexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, abortion, rape, incest, child abuse, etc.

It opposes God's intentions for sex: a husband and wife who become one, and who can enjoy each other without guilt.

Help may be found for pornography addictions at

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Pay It Forward

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable---if anything is excellent or praiseworthy---think about such things" (Philippians 4:8, NIV).

The Tulsa World published a good article today about some citizens of Owasso (a Tulsa suburb) who have created "Character Coins." When they see someone doing something good for someone else, they give that person a coin and ask him or her to notice someone else doing good so that it can be passed on to another person.

I like the idea for 2 reasons:

1. People are encouraged in doing good.
2. It creates a mindset in which we are looking for the good in life rather than the negative.

The article may be read at

The Anger of Jesus

"Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, 'Stand up in front of everyone.'
Then Jesus asked them, 'Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?' But they remained silent.
He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus" (Mark 3:1-6, NIV).

Most of the time, when I think of the character of Jesus, I think of his compassion or his courage or his faithfulness. I seldom think of his anger, but his anger gives us some insight into his character, which we are called to imitate.

On this occasion, Jesus became angry when the Pharisees were more concerned about their rule-keeping than about a hurting man. He became furious at the virtuous men who had become blind to the needs of the people around them.

I have some understanding of the Pharisees, though. Sometimes I become so task-oriented that I lose sight of the people around me. How often have I become so engrossed in preparing a Bible lesson for Sunday morning that I have become blind to my wife's need to help with the dishes or my son's need for attention? How many times have I not even noticed that a co-worker's life is falling apart a few feet from me because I am obsessed with meeting a deadline? I have no idea, but I have some idea of how it can be easy to miss the needs of people while focusing on a task. The Pharisees were focused on the task of keeping the Sabbath, but they could not see a man in need among them.

Sometimes like the Pharisees, we make up rules in churches. For example, we may have a rule against cell phone usage during worship assemblies. It's a good rule most of the time. It keeps us from distractions. However, when it gets in the way of human needs, I know that it makes Jesus angry as much as the Sabbath rules of the Pharisees made him angry.

I remember one time when a church broke the rules because of our needs, and I am grateful for their willingness to do so. The weekend before our son was born, Janet and I knew that the time was near. We knew that Christopher's birth mother was due to give birth at any time, and that her lawyers could call at any moment for us to go to the hospital. We explained our situation to Tracy Ellis, the minister of the Jenks Church. "No problem," he said. He knew our needs and he refused to let the rules get in the way of meeting them. I kept my eyes on our cell phone the entire morning. I believe that Jesus smiled on the Jenks Church that Sunday morning as a rule was broken, but a need was met. (It turned out that we did not get the call during church services. We were able to be at the hospital 2 days later when our son was born. Another day later, we took him home. The adoption was completed a few months later.)

In order to be more like Jesus, I need to learn from his anger. I need to be more people-oriented and less task-oriented. I need to see the importance of people and be willing to get past rules that interfere with doing what God wants to be done. And I must become angry at what makes Jesus angry. "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son..." (Romans 8:29, NIV).

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Living in the Hood

In Ron and Judy Babbit's monthly newsletter, they quote a note given to them by a member of the Contact Church of Christ. It illustrates the difficulties of living in poverty as well as the need for more churches like the Contact Church to reach out to the urban poor. This is a portion of her letter to the Babbits:

"While living at (gives her location) for you and me, it is the hood. It has been very difficult---drugs, killings, violence, all forms of disrespect. My granddaughter (she is 3 years old) walks into our apartment using the 'f' bomb. It is unbelievable and heartbreaking. I watch the men come into our complex; they are here for the women and drugs and if that doesn't happen, then someone gets hurt. I watch how the children are pushed down, cursed at, and hit; never do I see the touch of compassion. The children don't have a chance! Contact has been my stronghold for our LORD'S love to shine. Our LORD has guided me to trust HIM no matter what. And I want to thank Contact Church of CHRIST."

Thank you for praying for our members!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Addressing Our Bad Reputation

"A good name is more desirable than great riches;to be esteemed is better than silver or gold" (Proverbs 22:1, NIV).

This week, I was talking about my faith in Christ with two of my co-workers. Soon one asked, "What church do you go to?" I let them know that I was a member of a Church of Christ. One co-worker responded, "Isn't that the church that believes it's the only one going to heaven?" The other one said, "Well, my sister-in-law is a member of the Church of Christ, and she certainly believes I'm going to hell."

I was ashamed. I was not ashamed of Jesus Christ or his message, but I was ashamed of the reputation that we have earned. The Churches of Christ are known for being arrogant, self-righteous, and judgmental. In choosing to call ourselves "Churches of Christ," we have sought to honor Jesus Christ. In the way we have treated others, we have come close to blaspheming his name (if we have not actually crossed that line in too many instances).

So what do we do about our bad reputation? A publicity campaign would be unconvincing. Claiming that we have been misunderstood would be a lie; we have been understood all too well.
We must repent. Our mindset must change. We need to humble ourselves, realize our need for God's grace, admit our sins and failures, ask for forgiveness, and commit to extending kindness rather than condemnation to other people. We do not have it all together, and we must admit it to each other and to everyone else. We must trust in Christ who alone has it all together.

It took several decades for the Churches of Christ to develop our bad reputation. It will not change quickly. In fact, it will not change at all unless we are changed at the core of our character. (A significant number of churches have realized this problem and are in the process of repenting already.)

Please forgive me for contributing to our bad reputation and for dishonoring the name of Christ by being arrogant, self-righteous, and judgmental. I want to be a better follower of Jesus than I have been.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Blogger Reflection Awards

Allen Hickerson has given me his auspicious Blogger Reflection Award and made some kind comments about my blog and Janet's blog (see By the way Allen, we ran into your parents, sister, and nephews a couple of days ago at the Tulsa State Fair.

Here are the rules for the awards (some of which I will follow):

1. Copy these rules.

2. Reflect on 5 bloggers and write at least a paragraph about each one.

3. Link to this post so others can read it, too.

4. Leave chosen bloggers a comment to let them know they have won a Blogger Reflection Award.

5. Show the Blogger Reflection Awards image in your post. (Sorry, Allen. I still cannot figure out how to post images on my blog. If anyone wants to see the image, please go to the link to Allen's blog above.)

These are a few of the blogs I read:

1. Arron Chambers ( serves as a preacher with Christ's Church in Jacksonville, Florida. His blog usually centers on some good thoughts about his local congregation as well as some encouraging words about following Jesus.

2. Jackie Chesnutt ( is an elder and minister with the Southside Church of Christ in Rogers, Arkansas. My mother, step-father, sister, brother-in-law, nephews, and niece worship with the same congregation. It's good to be able to keep up with their preacher (who happens to be a great speaker and great guy). I like the fact that he says he started his blog as an alternative to therapy. I know that feeling.

3. Tony Dungy ( coaches the Indianapolis Colts. I have followed his career for a few years now, after hearing him interviewed on the FamilyLife Today radio program. On his blog, he focuses on football, but he often mentions family and faith as well. He has made a Colts fan out of me.

4. Janet Laudett ( is my wife. She writes more about our family than I do, but I agree with Allen...she does not post often enough. If you want to know more about our everyday lives, Janet gives much more insight about us than you may find on my blog usually.

5. Bobby and Tamie Ross ( are editors and writers for the Christian Chronicle, an international newspaper for the Churches of Christ. They are also fellow alumni of Oklahoma Christian University. (Bobby and I were in the Class of 1990.) You will find a good sense of humor on their blog. Sometimes you will find something inspirational (especially when Bobby writes about his parents and their 25 years of service as house parents for a children's home). Sometimes you will find something that challenges you (like when Tamie wrote about signing up to be tested to become a bone marrow donor...she inspired me to do the same when the opportunity arose on my job at the post office several weeks ago). Their blog is very entertaining, but like Janet, they need to post more often.

Please check out all of these blogs. I think you will like them, too.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Leading with Integrity

A few weeks ago, the talk of the National Football League centered on one team that had cheated by filming the calls of the opposing team's coaches. One weekly sports magazine ran a headline that said something like "Everyone Does It. It's Only Cheating if You Get Caught." I was disappointed in the coaches and ownership of the cheating team, but I was more disappointed in the magazine that sent out such an irresponsible message on its front cover.

I don't believe the cover of the sports magazine...some (perhaps many) may cheat, but surely some lead their teams with integrity.

Coach Tony Dungy addressed the controversy a few weeks ago on his blog. His comments gave me hope that some coaches and owners lead with integrity. His post may be read at

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Homer Simpson Theology

As I remember the old episode of The Simpsons, Homer was being chased by a ferocious bull. Just as the bull was closing in on him and he thought that he was going to die, Homer cried out, "Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha...I love you all!"

Homer Simpson's theology reminds me of the theology of the Israelites from the days of the judges until the Babylonian captivity. They never abandoned the true God; they simply added other gods to their worship. (However, God saw it as abandonment, and he was right. By adding other false gods, they had forsaken him in reality. They demonstrated that they did not really trust him.) They attempted to use the Lord when he was needed (to win a war or to produce a crop), but when they perceived that he was failing them, they would turn to other gods in hope that the other gods would give them what they wanted.

I understand that Homer Simpson theology is still a problem in areas where idolatry is common today. Some people may claim to believe in Jesus in India, for example, but they may have only added him to their pantheon of gods, making him another idol to use for selfish reasons.

In America, someone may believe in Christ to some extent, but check the horoscope for direction in daily living rather than the words of Jesus Christ. When we engage in such activity, we are embracing Homer Simpson theology. Christ has simply become another idol to use for our personal benefit. We have rejected him as Lord. Our proclamations of love for him ring hollow. Many more examples of Homer Simpson theology could be cited, but the important thing is to heed the words of the apostle John: "Dear children, keep yourselves from idols" (1 John 5:21, NIV).