Saturday, December 19, 2009

What Does Christmas Mean to You?

The Christmas season is a special time for our whole family, even me. I was a hum-bug for several years, but I have come out of it during the last 5-6 years. I know that Jesus was not born on December 25th. I know that Roman Christians changed from a pagan observance in early 300 A.D. to celebrating the birth of Christ. I know that the world has increasingly commercialized it over my whole lifetime. Need I go on and on?

Whether we celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25, or in the Spring, or even in the Fall, we still need to celebrate His birth. I am not seeing a substitute date any other time of the year by folks who do not celebrate Christmas. We need to celebrate the birth of Christ because if there had not been a birth, there would not have been a resurrection. I guess I feel sorry for Christians who refuse to celebrate Christmas because of its pagan beginning. We may be throwing the baby out with the bath water.

A long time ago Patti did something really special for our family. She gave us each a small gift every day in December. It was something like a small package of coated paper clips for me. The kids and I never forgot how Patti did that for us for several years. I don't know where the tradition came from, maybe Hanukkah. I don't know. All I know is that it was meaningful to us. It didn't matter what the gift was, we knew it came from Patti.

This year I picked up the tradition or whatever you want to call it. I decided to do the same thing for Patti during the six days leading up to Christmas Eve. I had an absolute ball deciding on what to buy and then what day of the six to give it on. Then I wrapped the gifts and put a sticky note on each with the day it would be given. Talk about fun!!

Today is Saturday, December 19 and the Christmas season moves into full force in a family sense beginning today. Tonight Miranda, Steve, and the kids will be spending the night with us. Tomorrow we will all eat lunch at Tiffany and Jared's house. Tomorrow night our extended family (Leroy and Sharon) will be with all of us at our house. I am not sure that it will really stop after that.

You see, Christmas is first and foremost about the birth of Christ. Secondly, it is about family being together to celebrate that birth and what that birth means to us. The presents that seem to take over Christmas, if you let it, are down the list for us. We all enjoy picking something out for another family member, but being together is way ahead of that. We enjoy playing games together, listening to each other, and hearing laughter more than anything else.

I've only written one blog this quarter. I've let other things crowd out my time to write. I'm going to do a little bit better these next couple of weeks while I am enjoying the Christmas season.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Passing of the Shoes

I don't have much time to write anymore, at least this kind of writing. My days are filled with writing curriculum, PowerPoint presentations, and preparing lectures, but I had to make time to write about this little topic.

Tonight I threw out a pair of shoes that had given all they had. The shoes were Rockport penny loafers that I bought in June 2003. A friend and I each bought a pair of shoes and had them shined right on the spot. They were my favorite shoes ever.

The shoes began wearing out last Spring, but I could just not part with them. Patti bought me two new pairs of loafers, but they sat in the closet. Sunday morning I spent part of the morning in the church parking lot while it was raining, My feet were soaked by the time worship began and I knew that these precious shoes had just walked their last mile.

Tonight I gingerly placed them in the garbage and brought out the two new pairs. I am one of those who believes in putting polish on new shoes. Now they are back in the closet, ready to wear tomorrow morning. I know that my feelings about those shoes will pass.

Those worn out shoes still looked good on the outside, but the soles, heels, and insides were deteriorating. I could have had them resoled and added new heels, but then I would have invested some dollars in a really old pair of shoes. Discarding the shoes was the right thing to do.

The old Rockports represented the past six years of my life. I know that sounds a little over the top, but they represented a transition from the early 2003 to late 2009. A lot has happened in the past 6-7 years. I think in many ways those shoes represent the passing of one period into another. Maybe you have something like that going in your life right now. You know exactly what I'm talking about.

Our Journey of a Lifetime involves throwing away old "shoes", putting on the new ones, going about our business even if they have to be broken in, and leaving that part of life behind us. Tomorrow morning I'll put on my new shoes and take the garbage out, which will include the old shoes and leave it at the curb. New life will begin! I just don't know what all is involved in that at this moment, but God knows and that is all that matters.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tomorrow Is Labor Day

Many people say that Labor Day is the end of summer. They are probably correct, although there will still be many days with temperatures in the 90's.  We are still a couple of weeks away from the official first day of Fall. I still understand why people feel like tomorrow is the last day of summer.

It seems like only yesterday that it was the 4th of July and Memorial Day was the day before yesterday. The summer went by all too quickly. Now we are going into the third week of school, Alabama has won it's first game, and Big Brother is coming to an end.  Even the days are getting shorter. It must be the end of summer!

So, our family will celebrate Labor Day tomorrow. I will probably cook something on the grill tomorrow, but don't know what that will be as I'm writing this post. Patti has made a chocolate chip cake, so I know the dessert that is on the menu. Whatever it ends up being, it will be good. 

Jared and his family will be here and if Steve and Miranda stop by on their way back to Lake Jackson, we'll have the Corns with us too.  It is Miranda's birthday. If we don't celebrate it tomorrow, maybe we will celebrate it next weekend.

On Tuesday it will be back to the school and church schedule. I don't think we will have another break until Thanksgiving. By then we will know if Alabama is going to the SEC Championship and if Pearland H.S. is in the state playoffs. It will all be about football this Fall.  Not really, but that is what some people think. That is what some people live for during the Fall. There really is more to life than football. I'm watching Friday Night Lights for the umpteen time. They think it's all about football.

Next month our church has set aside about a week in early October.  We are going to have what we're calling a Thirst Conference.  A team of 28 is coming in to spend at least four days with us. We have a tendency to "substitute" in our Christian lives and that is the main cause of dryness in the Christian's life. We see how otherwise good things, such as work, hobbies, entertainment and food, become substitutions for our main source of fulfillment and joy, the source of living water,, Jesus Christ.  These should be life-changing days throughout our congregation. It will be the highlight of 2009.

You can see that this Fall will be a busy time, but a profitable time. I hope your future is just as bright!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

One Scary Place

We really like our house. It had to be a gift from God. We are just taking care of it for Him. We are purely stewards of what He has entrusted us with at this point in our lives. One day someone else will live in it, but right now we are the occupants. Thank you Lord.

My favorite rooms in our home are the den, where we spend most of the time, followed by the master bedroom, bath, and kitchen. We don't eat many meals in the dining room and I don't get to the other side of the house very often, except when I am emptying trash cans. I used to spend some time in the office, but since I bought the laptop, I'm not back there very much. But, there is another room that I want to tell you about.

We have a walk-in pantry that Patti really enjoys. I was standing in it the other night and I thought, "This is one scary room." I try to stay out of that room, but sometimes you can't avoid it. What is wrong with it? It is jam-packed with a year's supply of everything. I probably don't know everything that is in there. The scariest part are the shelves right in front of where you are standing. It is a giant "seasoning" area. There is every kind of spice you can think of. They are able to "walk off" the shelf so easily. Have you ever seen a floor full of red pepper mixed with all-spice?

Most people whose lives are out of balance, or who may not be living up to the Christian life that they could be living, all have a room like the pantry. It looks like a pantry, it smells like a pantry, and it is arranged like a pantry, but something is scary about the room. Maybe it needs to be re-organized and some thing thrown out. Maybe there are old things in there that need to be replaced with the things that would seem new. Sometimes our lives need a fresh spring cleaning where we get rid of the old and replace it with the new.

The "room" in our lives is turned into what it should have been all along.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Couple of Goals Before School Starts

School starts Monday. At last count I will have 77 students and saw some of them at "Meet the Teacher Night" this past Thursday night. Most looked like they had grown 3-4 inches and looked older facially. I look forward to seeing then in class on Monday morning.

I had three goals the past three weeks. One was to be ready for school to start, the second was to read Daniel Silva's new book, The Defector, and three was to finish designing a new assimilation thrust for the church. Let me tell you how I've done.

First, I've spent hours creating a six-year Bible plan for our junior and senior high classes. It begins with three basic courses for seventh graders, progresses to Bible book studies through eleventh grade, and culminates with a special year of course for seniors.

I designed a Biblical Backgrounds class for our new seventh graders, planned special projects for junior and senior high, and completed all the administrative start-up duties. I think I am close to being ready.

Second, I read The Defector, by my favorite author, Daniel Silva. Lest you think that he is the only one that I read, these are my other favorites as follows:
Vince Flynn
John Lescroart
Robin Cook
David Baldacci
Stephen Coonts
Steve Martini
Robert Ludlum
Jack Higgins
Patricia Cornwell
Allan Folsom
Patrick Robinson
I have just started The Assassin by Stephen Coonts and one of Patrick Robinson's books is waiting in the wings.  I try to read most of these authors each year.

Anyway, back to The Defector by Silva. It is the best Thriller that I've read in the past two decades. It is Daniel Silva's best yet obviously. I am not one of these armchair critics. I don't even deserve to critique any of these writers, especially Daniel Silva. I 'll just tell it from the heart.

Silva always does a terrific job of researching for his books. It is so obvious that any reader just knows it, even if it never crossed your mind when you read another author. I am also amazed at how he develops his characters. They come to life and have great depth. Silva spins a story that will keep the reader spellbound and not wanting to put the book down. I feel like I know his characters and can picture them in a movie. His settings are so real that they can likewise be visualized easily.  Daniel Silva is one of those rare mystery authors who really pulls the story together in the last 75+ pages. Most authors seem to rush the ending and sometimes it is so abrupt it leaves you in shock. You will we amazed at what the author does with two main characters  during the last few chapters. It is just one of the best novels that I've read in recent years.

If you want to have a good read this fall, pick up a copy of The defector and you will not be disappointed. You will probably start reading Silva and may even attend his book signing next July in Houston. It was a great way to end the summer.

Third, I did the basic design of our new Assimilation Thrust while I was on vacation, but now I have it all on paper. This thrust will affect how we relate to guests, regular attenders, and potential members. It will lead us into our discipleship program for spiritual growth.

Today I wrote up final drafts of the communication tools we will be using with our new targets. Now they will be put on the computer for easy access. Then we will need to enlist some needed workers and get ready for implementation the week of September 13. I am pleased with the way it looks on paper, but workers and implementation will be the key to success.

This has been a good summer, but it is just about over. New challenges and opportunities lie ahead.  The same holds true for you. Keep your eyes open.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The journey today took me to the pool.  I had been walking on the beach 2+ miles a day, but today was our last day and I decided to devote all day at the pool.

I took my new novel, The Defector, by Daniel Silva, with me to the pool.  I would read for awhile, speed some time in the pool, and then lay in the sun.  It was great.

We met a couple from Texarkana this afternoon.  They grew up in Texarkana, so it was like 'ol home week around the pool. It was a wonderful time talking about our time there from 1982-1990, people that we both knew, and what was going on there since we left.

We are just about ready to leave for an early dinner.  It is our last night in Orange Beach.  Tomorrow I head home.  Patti will stay until Monday morning.  Our family has had a great time together. It just went by way too fast. Wish I had one more week of this, but I do feel rested and ready to begin teaching again.

I hope you have a chance to take a break sometime soon.  At least make it a long weekend away from the everyday grind.  Get your batteries recharged and maybe you will even look at things differently.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Need for Change

If you are over 40 years of age and still functioning, we've got a problem. If we don't do something about it, we will end up leaving it for our grandchildren and I'm not talking about our national debt.

If you are over 40 years of age, we all have something in common with each other. It is how we relate to a world that is living increasingly without Christ.  Sometime in our lifetime we were exposed to the church being in a building and a popular movie told us to "build it and they would come".  We've been waiting ever since!

Around the same time in our lives we were exposed to Relational Evangelism, but we said, "If Evangelism Explosion was good enough for the 70's, it's good enough for the 80's and 90's."

By the 90's we thought that a vital Children's Ministry would bring them in and it did, but we didn't know what to do with the parents, except put them in an unpopular Sunday morning study, or put them to work helping out in what??? The Children's Ministry.  We thought the parents had not had enough of the kids during the week and surely would not want some adult time. Maybe we just needed vast numbers of parents to make it work.

Now, I've said a lot of this with "tongue in cheek". I wish it was as simple as I've stated it.  A whole book could be written about our transition from the 70's to late in the first decade of the 21st century.  What bothers me is that the gap between us Christians and the world is widening!

Today there are a lot of 20 and 30 Somethings who have never been to church. Their children will not go to church unless something profound happens.  If they are lucky, maybe a high school campus ministry will reach them, but if we wait for them like we've done for so long, our churches will not reach them. 

We, the over 40 crowd in our churches, have got to change. We have got to start going to them.  We need to know how to welcome people to our churches, but that is only if someone is coming, or there is a chance that someone will come.  As my son-in-law, Steve Corn, would say, "We need to become "The Welcomed".  That will only happen if we are going out into the marketplace and creating such a love that they will be glad to have you around them.  

I'm sure I'll have more to say about this in the days ahead.  Until then, think about what the lost around you need. Obviously, it is Jesus, so don't go there. That is a given.  Don't tell me church.  They don't know that they need the "family" and there are some families they would do better without.  The question is--what do they need and how do we get an audience to be the provider??

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Life Is Often Not As It Seems

This is vacation week at Orange Beach, Alabama and today was golf day at Craft Farms. My son, Jared and I had a reservation for an 8:00 tee time.  We had a great breakfast in the club house before we went out. It was a wonderful start to a day on a resort golf course.

[You may remember that one of my summer goals was to play golf with some regularity to see if I could improve with at least two rounds a week.  I can't say that I really improved this summer like I expected to do. I always wondered what kind of a golfer I could be with some kind of regular play. Disappointingly, I think that I know.]

Jared and I went to the driving range and hit a few balls to get warmed up.  I was hitting a utility club like I owned it, straight as an arrow.  I felt pretty good, even though I had not played in 2-3 weeks.  I was ready to tackle a course that was in absolute top condition.

I hit my opening drive down the middle. My second shot dribbled into a fairway bunker. The third shot made it to the front of the bunker. A fourth shot within pitching distance to the green and a fifth shot to the apron of the green. Add two putts and you've got a triple bogey 7!

The next seven holes were more of the same with triple bogeys on six of the seven. I never played the ninth hole, but with a triple bogey on it, I would have shot a 62.  I could not stop from picking up my left foot during my swing. I struggled with it all summer. My highest score ever was a 63 when I was 12 years old.  I "caddied" for Jared the rest of the way around.  I can't ever remember quitting in the middle of a round...ever!

Maybe 52 years of not being able to play golf regularly is enough. After playing this summer, maybe regular play would not have improved me either. I always pictured myself in retirement like these old men that you see hitting the ball about 150 yards straight down the fairway, never getting the ball more than 50 feet high. They would usually score bogeys, with a few pars and a double bogey.  I no longer see that. Maybe I just need to find something better to do with my time and money.

It was bitter sweet leaving the golf course today. It was sort of like leaving a job on the last day. You knew what you had experienced, but did not have a good, clear image of what was to come. Now I'll have to find something that Jared and I can do together. I'm sure we will find something.

What I experienced today is part of the journey that we call life.  I will miss the idea of playing golf, but not like I was playing. I can leave that behind. What about you? Has anything in your life changed this summer and you know that it will never be the same again? But, need I remind you that it can be better!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Passion of Silva Followers

I attended the Daniel Silva book signing today at Murder By the Book bookstore in Houston.  It is usually SRO at one of these events, so today I arrived one hour before Mr. Silva would speak. The place was packed out one hour before the event time. I could not believe it.  

I bought a book and was given #77--meaning I was the 77th book they had sold and there would be 76 ahead of me for book signing. There was a maximum of three former books and as many of the current as you purchased.  Looked like it could be a long wait when we got to that point.

I found a fairly good place to stand, but it was still 50 minutes before the start time. While waiting, I found out that people started gathering three hours before the event.  The room could have been filled in the first hour with two more hours to go. That was amazing to me that people would gather for a seat three hours before Daniel Silva would arrive.

Who were those folks that got to the bookstore so early?  They were educated, fairly affluent, well-read (besides mystery novels) highly communicative, and very knowledgeable about the writing of Daniel Silva.  They were "disciples" of the author to the utmost degree.  I felt at home amidst these folks because we all had something in common.

I am not sure if I have ever witnessed Christ followers arriving for Bible study or worship three hours in advance. I know what you are the church we always have adequate seating. No, it was more than that. They love Daniel Silva.  He's my favorite author, but he has not changed my life! I enjoy reading his novels, in fact I will take the new one with me on vacation, but it is a far cry from God's Word.

The Silva followers love to have their books signed by the author.  They thank him for a certain character in his books.  I don't think I've ever heard anyone pray, "Lord, thank you so much for giving us Peter. You will never know the impact he has had on my life."  They buy multiple books as gifts.  Many had three and four new books at about $29 per book.  I wonder how many people in my church bought a hardback study Bible this week for one of their family members or friends?

The folks that I've been talking about would make great believers.  We, the church, are missing out on that kind of passion.  How can we ignite those around us to have that kind of passion?  It would change our world.  

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Family Makes the Difference in Life

What got me hooked on conspiracy mysteries?  I read part of Seven Days in May many, many years ago and then saw the movie.  I was immediately absorbed in political intrigue and any story that dealt with Washington, D.C.  Then, about 15 years ago I began to read novels and it was all a result of Seven Days in May.

If I started writing a non-fiction piece tonight, it would probably be titled Five Days in July, because I just had five wonderful days this week. 

On Tuesday I took my grandson, Reid, to the Houston Zoo.  We had a ball and Reid knew exactly what he wanted to see.  The weather was hot, with a slight breeze, but we started the day at 9:00 a.m.  We saw lazy lions, sleepy tigers, elephants getting a bath, monkeys eating breakfast, and so much more. We ended out day out at Chick-fil-A.

On Wednesday Miranda, Steve, Kason, and Kesleigh spent the night with me.  We had a great time.

On Thursday, the Corns, the Mathews, and I went to the Circus.  We took the kids for an up close and personal look at the animals before the circus performance.  Then we watched a great two-hour presentation by Ringling Bros./Barnum and Bailey.  We all felt that we really got our money's worth.  We went to a late lunch at Moonya's.

On Thursday night everybody was at my house for dinner.  I cooked steaks with a special Caribbean rub and Miranda fixed the rest of the dinner inside.  It was good, but the time together was even better.

On Friday Steve ran errands with me most of the afternoon.  Miranda  had a GNO so the guys had the children.  We ate leftover steaks and the trimmings, put the kids to bed and watched a movie.  Miranda and her Girls Night Out gals came home about 10:00.  We stayed up until  after 11:30 just talking.  It was all good!

Today we got up and Miranda supplied us with Shipley doughnuts.  Everybody left around noon and now it is sooooooo quiet!  It was five really great days though.  Now I am doing a little catch-up and it is all good too. 

Tomorrow my favorite author will be in town for a book signing.  Guess where I will be going?  To Murder By the Book, a bookstore in the Rice U. area.  My favorite author is Daniel Silva.  He always spends about an hour sharing info about his new book and following is the actual book signing.  It is strictly standing room only, so I am going early to get a seat. I always look forward to Silva's down to earth presentation about his preparation, research, characters, and other wonderful tidbits.

So much about is your week progressing?  I hope it has been as good as mine!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What Keeps You Going?

I have been discipling folks since the late 1970's. My first recollection of ever using anything published by The Navigators was in the late 80's and it was called The 2:7 Series. At one time I had five groups going at the same time, all using different courses. My week was full, but it was amazingly fulfilling and over a few years I saw hundreds go through the course.

One of the basic tenants of the introductory course of The 2:7 Series was to incorporate The Wheel Illustration into one's life. The lordship of Christ, making Christ central in your life, is paramount to going further in your faith walk. If Christ was the center of your life, then there were four spokes that showed the evidence of your Christianity, each of which were vital to the Christian Life.

The four spokes were The Word, Prayer, Witnessing, and Fellowship. The Word and Prayer were depicted on a vertical plane, while Witnessing and Fellowship were shown on a horizontal plane. When all four were operational in one's life, it produces a balanced Christian life. The 2:7 Series would say that those around us see "The Obedient Christian in Action".

The Word is crucial in our daily lives and prayer becomes the overflow of spending time in the Word. Prayer produces power and the result is victorious Christian living. Fellowship is vital because we should always be learning from each other and encouraging those around us. If that element is missing, we become "loners". Witnessing is the natural by-product of a vibrant life in Christ that is attractive to others. You can see how the four fit together and how crippled we become if one is our of sync.

Anyone who has ever gone through, even the introductory course of The 2:7 Series, cannot forget the amazing Wheel Illustration. It is a checklist and evaluation of your Christian life. Now I learned that almost 30 years ago, hasn't the world changed tremendously in the last three decades?

The world has definitely changed in our lifetime, but the spiritual principals remain the same. If a person is not getting into the Word today, they are probably not praying and fellowship/witnessing takes a back seat whenever spiritual nutrition falls by the wayside. The result is a Christian who is out of balance and trying to live to the best of their natural ability.

I guess this post begs the question: "Have you ever made Jesus the Lord of your life?" That is the starting line for the Christian Marathon of Life. Isn't a marathon about 26 miles, 385 yards? It is a long way and so is the Christian life. Many runners "hit the wall" at about the 18 mile marker when every muscle in their body wants to quit. Sometimes that happens to us in life, when we don't think we can take one more step. The Wheel Illustration will keep us going when continuing looks impossible.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Friends Are Paramount to Life

Last week Patti and I visited some dear friends in Naples, Florida. We have known Rob and Charmaine for 15 years, but they moved away from this area almost six years ago.  We have not been able to visit them during this time, mostly because of my work schedule. We finally made it!

Naples must be one of the most beautiful cities in the United States. It lies on the west coast of southern Florida with fluffy white beaches and beautiful gulf waters. It is a real paradise. They say that there are more retired CEO's in Naples, per capita, than anywhere in the nation. I can see why they want to live there! 


While we were in Naples, Patti woke up, on her birthday, with a migraine. That ruined the day for her, but she was up and moving by the evening. Talk about missing one's birthday...Patti did! She made up for it on the beach looking for seashells. Patti thought she had died and gone to "Seashell Heaven".

I am not a fisherman. I never grew up around the water, so the most fishing I ever did as a kid was at a pond.  I went deep-sea fishing once on the morning after our high school graduation. The last time I remember fishing was on a lake outside of Texarkana in 1982-1983. Well, Rob and Charmaine took Patti and I fishing off the coast of Naples.  We do quite well "bait fishing", but never got a strike when we went off a reef for the game fish.  It was mega fun.

I told you the story about our three days in Naples as a lead-in to the subject of Friends. No, not the TV sitcom, but the concept and importance of friendship.  We met Rob and Charmaine when we moved to Tomball. In fact, they took us out to lunch on our first Sunday.  Rob was an elected leader in the church and Charmaine was involved in everything.  They were both natural leaders and as far as I am concerned, being a natural leader is far more important than holding an elected position.

Rob and Charmaine were real people.  They lived in the real world, had real challenges, made real decisions, and were wonderful role models for a number of people.  As we go through the journey of life, if we are fortunate, we will develop friends along the way.  I respected both of these people for eight years, but they also became friends.  I cannot imagine what life would have been like without them.

The other day I went shopping for a novel.  I went into Half Priced Books and as I was browsing around, I saw one of those Mystery Murder Dinner games.  You invite eight guests for dinner and they portray the characters during the evening, including dressing up for the part.  As soon as I saw the game I thought of Rob and Charmaine.  They had one of those dinners and we were invited.  That they did something unique like that always stayed in my mind.  They are two people who just do things like that.

Don't take friendships for granted.  Friendships have to be fostered.  They will grow if you will give them a chance. Some of the friendships that we make in life can remain for a lifetime. They are a gift from God and I think Rob and Charmaine are one of those gifts---not just to us, but to everyone they touch.  Rob seems to be really laid back, but there is more there than meets the eye.  Charmaine seems to be "the life of the party" (the ultimate hostess, the fun person that we all want to be like), but if this is all you see, you will miss the serious-minded,, thought-provoking person who is deep in many different ways.  You can see how they fit together.

I know that Rob and Charmaine will remain our friends for the rest of this earthly experience. We all need relationships like these in our lives.  Take an inventory this week and see where you stand. If the evaluation disappoints you, do something about it. If the end result is satisfactory and you are being honest with yourself, just thank God.

The journey thru life is full of relationships. How full is your life?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Weekend Was Wonderful

It really was a great weekend. I played a round of golf on Friday with Jason, our Student Pastor. He played bogey golf. I, on the other hand, did not do so well, but I learned a lot about why I was doing so poorly. Now I can make some corrections. It was fun being with Jason and playing golf early in the morning.

On the 17th hole we found out that Julie, our worship assistant, was going into the hospital as soon as a room was ready. She finally got a room about 5:00 p.m. So she spent the day in pain waiting for a room. I saw her that evening, but now she is doing much better and hopes to come home tomorrow or the next day.

Saturday our whole family went over to our friend's home--The Krolczyk's. We have known Leroy and Sharon since the 70's when our children were quite young. Jared had not even been born yet. Their daughter and husband, plus four daughters, were home on furlough from Jordan, where they are missionaries. It was great visiting with them. They will be in Texas until September when they will return to the mission field.

On Sunday morning I preached at our church. Pastor Sonny was gone to Israel and three other pastors were on a mission trip to Denver to help plant a church. It was a good day, although attendance was way off. Preached about Abraham on Mt. Moriah with Isaac and used some visuals that worked out well.

Went to lunch at a new hamburger place, called something like Moonya's. Don't know if that spelling is correct or not. They have the best hamburgers. Jared brought the grandchildren over and we had a relaxing afternoon until I went to visit Julie in the hospital again. The rest of the night was good. The kids spent the night with us.

Got up shortly after 6:00 this morning, shaved, and took a shower. Found Kallie awake about 7:00, just laying on her back singing. I changed her, fed her breakfast, and just had her to myself until about 7:50 when I woke Patti up because I had to leave for work. Reid was still asleep when I left, but it was really a great time for Kallie and me.

I hope your day is as good as what I have described.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Journey Into the Unknown

I just saw on television that NASA is gearing up to send astronauts back to the moon sometime about ten years from now. After that it will be beyond the the moon. That part of exploration is the journey into the unknown. We have never been there before. What new challenges will NASA face in going beyond the known? I am sure that they have it all planned out, but it is still the unknown.

Yesterday Tiffany, our daughter-in-law, had her gall bladder removed. It was a simple procedure, but the doctor filled her in on everything he was going to do and all about the recovery period. She came through it with flying colors, just a little sore this morning, but it was still a journey into the unknown. It was he first gall bladder surgery!

I am sitting here in front of the computer at 8:40 a.m. and don't have a clue about what could happen today. Yesterday we had a rail tragedy in Washington D.C., more protesters were killed in Iran, and they tell us that the recession is deeper than expected and the stock market dips 200 points. It is all about a journey into the unknown.

Journeying into the unknown can be a little intimidating. Notice that i did not say fearful. God is not the author of fear. When a person gives their life to Christ and there is a change withn, an about face as it were, the unknown following that is another one of those journeys into the unknown. The new believer does not know what to expect. You can prepare them with insight, but they have never been there before. You can share with them what they need to do to begin the spiritual growth cycle, but it is pretty much greek to them. They need someone to walk with them. We call the process discipleship and we call the mentor the discipler. It is all new, but just remember the unknown factor the next time to come along side a new Christian.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

June 21...A Special Day

Tomorrow is the longest day of the year. After Sunday, the days start getting gradually shorter for the next six months. I think there will be about 14 hours of daylight tomorrow. The sun has been rising earlier every morning and setting later each night. Therefore, the days have been getting longer.

But, the first day of summer is not why tomorrow is so important. Tomorrow is Father's Day. The Mathews clan will be meeting at our home for lunch, so it ought to be a great day. I love it when everybody is together. Now we have three dads--myself, Jared, and Steve. As little as three years ago it was just me. How quickly life changes. I am going to really enjoy being with everybody!

But, as good as Sunday will be, Father's Day is not why tomorrow is so important. Tomorrow is our 34th wedding anniversary.

It all officially started on June 21, 1975 the day Patti and I got married. I remember playing golf during the day, getting home mid-afternoon and taking a nap. I almost didn't wake up in time to get ready for the wedding, but I did arrive about the time Patti wanted me there. I remember a "ball and chain" being secured to my leg, so I had to duck walk to the car. I remember hiding out at a retired preacher's home, the drive to Pensacola, where we were surprised again, followed by the honeymoon to Disney World.

A lot has happened in the past 34 years. Would I do some things differently? You bet! Yet, I would do the primary things all over again. I must be one of the most fortunate men alive to have Patti by my side after 34 years. I've got two of the best kids anyone could ever hope for. Today we have a daughter-in-law and a son-in-law, who we deeply love, plus four grandchildren. They are all the most precious people in all the world.

If I had not met Patti in 1974 and married her in 1975, none of this would have happened. There would be no Jared and Miranda. There would be a Tiffany and a Steve, but we would not know them as family. There would not be four adorable children that are our grandchildren.

So, tomorrow when we acknowledge fatherhood in our worship service, when we share lunch with each other, and when it is 8:30 when it starts getting good as all that will be, I'll be thinking about June 21, 1975 and the effects of that day in 2009!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cleaning...A Necessity

It is Spring Cleaning Day at our house just a few days before the first day of summer. Patti and I went for a walk after breakfast and then started moving furniture. Baseboards have been cleaned, carpet vacuumed, and upholstery cleaned.

I noticed a rubber band behind the couch, small patches of debris, misplaced miniature toys, and just your normal everyday dirt that you would expect to end up in a vacuum. We have probably not moved furniture like that in a while.

We all need a spiritual Spring Cleaning of sorts. I hope it comes more often than in the Spring though. I was cleaning off my work bench in the garage yesterday and the top back of it was full of cobwebs. Sometimes that happens in our daily lives. "Cobwebs" accumulate around our hearts from a lack of communication with the Father. We live in a fast-paced world and allow it to dictate what we do. As a result, our prayer life becomes stagnant and the "cobwebs" accumulate.

Sometimes we allow debris to accumulate as well. Maybe it is unconfessed sin. It is easy to see, but we ignore it as if it was not there. It breaks our relationship with the Lord and we wonder why we feel so empty. We wonder where the purposefulness went. We wonder why nothing seems to be going our way. Maybe we need a general cleaning and Spring time is never enough. It is a daily cleaning like taking a shower. You wouldn't think of skipping a day bathing our bodies, but we view spiritual cleaning as different.

Well, I've got to get back to helping Patti with this Spring Cleaning thing. I can help her do that, but the spiritual cleaning is a personal thing. I'm the only one that can do that. Think about it!

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Hot Day Can Teach Lessons

Sunday, after church, Jared and I hurried home to change clothes and eat a quick lunch before heading for the golf course. We had a 1:36 tee time and there were some dummies just like us out there.

The light breeze kept it relatively cool until about 4:00 and as one of our playing partners said, "If we didn't think it was hot before, it sure is now!" He was so right. I don't have a clue how hot it got, but it had to be around 97-98 degrees.

We only got to play 12 holes because I had to be back at the church for a program. But, I shot a 47 on the first nine holes. Earlier in the week I shot a 53-53, then a 51-50; and then on Sunday a 47. It is showing some improvement. I hope to shoot a 47-48 this week.

Yesterday's round reminded me a lot about life. We put on sun screen to protect us from the Sun's rays. You would be foolish not to use it. Likewise, it is stupid to try to live life without the armour of God to protect you. We would force fluids about every other hole to keep from getting dehydrated. It kind of reminded me of spending time with the Lord so we don't cave into the problems of the world. We wore golf gloves to keep the club from turning in our hands due to perspiration. It reminded me of listening to good Christian friends who can keep us from turning toward the world.

I hated to leave the course at the end of the 12th hole. It was like the round was not finished. Yet, duty called. There will always be this week. Maybe that is like being appreciative to the Lord for the day He just gave you. You need some sleep, but there is the grace of God.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Summer of 2009 Is Special

This has been a special week. Our entire family has been with us for at least part of this past Wednesday-today (Saturday). Yesterday I started off the day with a 6:20 tee time. I played with two other men, who are in the food service industry. They usually play early on Friday because around 11:00 their orders start coming in and it is controlled chaos the rest of the day. I had a good time with them.

One of my life buckets is to break 85 on the golf course. I've been playing since I was twelve, but have not been able to play regularly over the past few decades. I remember one time playing between 85-90, but I've not been back there yet. I'm planning to play with regularity over the next eight weeks and just see if I can do it.

Why do I like golf so much? I think because it is outdoors in a beautiful atmosphere, but most of's just me and God. That's how I felt this week. I'll let you know if I real my goal by the end of the summer.

Yesterday I cooked dinner on the grill. It consisted of 2-3 different kind of steaks and pork chops. Patti did the rest of the meal inside and she did a marvelous job. Everybody liked the food and there is plenty left over for the weekend. No more cooking, I guess, over the weekend.

We ended the day by attending a Cancer fund-raiser at Tiffany's (daughter-in-law) high school. We left there around dusk to get the kids home and to bed. The grandchildren ran all over the football practice field. They had a ball!

My life-long dream has been to retire and play golf several times a week. About six years ago I would drive past Southwyck Golf Club and see the men playing and I think I knew that it was never going to happen for me. I was working at Best Buy at the time and retirement/golf seemed like it was in the next galaxy. I believe I gave up on that dream, which I very seldom ever do, but it is sort of happening this summer. I should get a taste of what it is like. Maybe that will be good enough for me.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Summer Is Here

I have had a great year teaching, but sometime during the last two weeks, I knew it was time for a break. Now the break is here. I am still working at the church two days a week, but to have Wednesday-Saturday off is magnificent.

Yesterday was my first summer day off. I got up at 5:15 to play golf. I had a 6:18 tee time. It was the first time in my life that I was the first one to tee off. There was nobody in front of me and after the first hole, there was no one close behind me. I had never experienced anything like that. I saw a Marshall a few times and an employee on a tractor fertilizing, but that was it.

Yes, it is light out at 6:18 if you were wondering. I finished the round in 2:48 which is unheard of for the course that I played. I've been in a tournament when it took over six hours to finish a round. I don't know if I have ever played 18 holes in less than 3 hours! As you could figure, I got through playing just after 9:00. One of the Marshalls told me that I could keep playing if I wanted to, but the funniest thing happened that didn't allow me to take him up on it.

Around the 8th hole I noticed that one of my soles was flip-flopping back and forth. I wondered if I would be able to finish. By the 12th hole it was getting much worse. I walked onto the green on #14 and walked out of the sole, leaving it on the perimeter of the green. Now I am practically walking on nothing, but the worst part was that now I was higher on one side than the other.

I made it through the 18 holes. While driving home I realized that those golf shoes were probably 11+ years old. I've got another pair, but they are about the same age. I have not been able to play much the past six years, so those shoes have just been sitting in the garage. Yesterday's pair was just rotted out I guess. Maybe I should check the other pair too...what do you think?

I've got a lot of things to do this summer, but I just wanted to enjoy this first week. I've got a lot of work to do to prepare for next fall's school year, many honey-do's to complete, and assorted other jobs. I think I will enjoy this time of being off. Life really is a journey isn't it!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Letters from Dad Is A Must for Men

We are midway through the Letters from Dad course. We have about 28 men who are participating in the four sessions that meet every three weeks. The purpose of this course is to unlock the hearts of fathers. The theme is taken from Malachi 4:6.

Letters from Dad leaves a legacy of faith, hope, and love through the lost art of letter writing. The men have already written a letter of blessing to their wives and are in the process of writing letters to their children. These letters will be delivered before we meet again. A third letter is a letter to parents (maybe even deceased) and the fourth letter is a "Final" letter to be given to the family at the writer's death.

Letters from Dad is so much more than the opportunity to learn to open up and express ourselves to those whom we love the most. If that was all it was, then it would be worth every moment of investment, but it is also a bonding time for men. They learn from each other and hold each other accountable. LFD is a growth time when men take off their mask and just be themselves. It may end up being one of the most profound men's events of the year. It can't help but change lives.

One of our men finished the letter to his wife early last week. He was excited about it. On Friday his wife walked out and he had one of those grieving weekends that most of us have encountered. On Sunday night I saw something that left me in awe. At the end of our LFD session, the men gathered around this hurting man and prayed over him. I felt like I was in heaven and I know that many of the men felt the same way. It was an awesome time that came out of the offering of Letters from Dad. I won't forget it.

As you can tell, I would wholeheartedly recommend Letters from Dad to anyone. We will probably repeat it this Fall. Men from other churches are already asking for it. The producers of LFD have just finished a course for women as well. If you would like more information, go to .

Sunday, April 19, 2009

It Has Been Awhile

It seems like forever since I last wrote something on here. I guess it has been over two months. Most people will have forgotten that I even have a blog, but I guess I deserve that for my inattention.

So much has happened. We had our fourth grandchild since I last wrote something. Her name is Kesleigh Anne and she was born on February 23rd. Miranda gave birth to her at Texas Women's Hospital and it was a great day. I got lost that night between the Medical Center and 610 trying to get home. I know it is hard to get lost down there, but if anybody can, it is me.

Then my card went out on the laptop. It was so easy to write while watching television, but I still have not replaced it. I guess that is the main reason that I've not written, but maybe thinking I've been too busy would rank up there too. I guess anything sounds good if you're looking for an excuse.

We did start Letters from Dad. About 30-35 showed up for the enlistment (informational) dinner and we ended up registering 30. We had our first session two weeks ago and it went real well. We come back together again next Sunday to see how we did that last three weeks and get ready for the next phase.

The men are writing letters right now to their wives and should present it to them sometime this week. They are also reading the book Letters from Dad and a couple of other assignments. The next assignment is letters to their children. That should be an awesome adventure. Then there will be a class on May 17 and we end on June 7. I would highly recommend this study for anyone and a class for women is about to begin. For more information go to

Have a great week and really make it count for something!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Letters from Dad Coming

We will be offering Letters from Dad beginning on April 5. LFD teaches men how to express themselves through writing. It has healed some husband/wife relationships, improved the way dads relate to their children, and has revived many adult/parent relationships. It is a great program for men,

We will have a free BBQ Informational Dinner on March 9. Men will have a great meal and learn what LFD can do for them. Men will have an opportunity to register for the four-session study that evening and order the materials they will need for the study. It should be a great evening of being together and deciding to do something special for those we love the most.

Recently, there was a Baptist church in north Texas that had about 1,400 in worship attendance, but they had a terrible time getting men to turn out for anything. More than 240 men attended their dinner and about 120 registered to take the course. After LFD was completed, the men divided themselves into 6 groups and started a Men's Ministry!

If you are reading this and want some more information, type in and you will gain more information than I am writing in this space.

I'll keep you up to date as we progress in this new endeavor to help men.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Abundant Life University Has Begun

Abundant Life University got off to a great start last night as 101 people attended four courses that were offered during the Winter semester. We offered Fireproofing Your Marriage; A Bible Study on Romans 8:28; The Theology of Israel; and The Life of the Cross (an evangelism course).

Three out of the above four courses will run eight weeks and one will be a six-week course. All of them will conclude by March 29. On Sunday, April 5, we will offer Letters from Dad, which is four sessions offered three weeks apart. I'll be surprised if this course does not have a higher attendance than any courses we've offered during the last three semesters. It is a hands-on, practical study that produces results that can be seen immediately.

I was pleased with the 101 adults who chose to take part in the above discipleship emphases. Our Children's Ministry had 53 children in choir rehearsal and another 27 leaders, plus nursery care. That was excellent. Was it a good adult attendance? I think anytime you get 181 people together on a Sunday night it has to be good. That is a large group for us. Our Missions Conference will surpass that figure by quite a bit, but discipleship is new in our church. Maybe we are right where we should be at this juncture of our infancy. I would have thought 140 was a minimal number, but we are not at minimal yet.

Five years from now I hope that we have about 25-35% of our Sunday morning attendance involved on Sunday night. I hope that we will have many of our leaders in that group and Christians who desire to be true disciples of Jesus Christ. Our world is changing at break-neck speed. It is probably changing faster than it ever has in our life-time. The truth of the matter is that in five years folks will probably be meeting every night of the week in some capacity. It won't look anything like it does today. The bottom line is that we are turning believers into disciples!

Friday, February 6, 2009

ACSI Was Excellent

Just returned from Galveston where I attended the ACSI Teacher's Convention. There were about 2,000+ teachers and administrators in attendance. It was my first time to be around that many teachers and they were great!

Josh McDowell was the keynote speaker. He has been one of my contemporaries over the last 35 years, so it was great finally hearing him in person. He as actually been in ministry for 49 years--that is a long time. McDowell probably does more research than anyone I've listened to in my life. I think he has multiple studies for everything he says. He can keep 2,000 people spellbound for 90 minutes and you wonder where the time went.

I attended eight sessions over the day and one half. They were all good, but my favorite was on the subject of how to increase student comprehension. It was taught by a retired college professor who really knew what he was talking about. Now I just need to put it into practice.

I was surprised at what I saw in Galveston. I was surprised at the number of businesses that were open after Ike. I was also surprised to see that places like McDonalds and Whataburger had not opened. Maybe they are not planning on opening. I saw old homes torn off of their foundations in some areas. There were huge piles of materials from old buildings and sailboats sitting on sidewalks. It was all a shocking sight, but it shows that Galveston will come back,. even if it takes a long time.

Now I'll look forward to getting back in the classroom on Monday. I can see a bigger picture than I was aware of three days ago.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Full Speed Ahead

2009 is in full-swing in everything I am doing.

We are offering seven new courses in our Abundant Life University series. The semester will begin next Sunday night. So much for my free Sunday afternoon and evenings.

I completed a 3.5 hour web-based training for a new offering called Letters From Dad. If you are not familiar with it, I encourage you to go to their web site and check it out. It is a needed program for men. We will have our kick-off in late February and offer the first class during the first week of April.

We just completed a Discovery Day event last Sunday. It started off with breakfast before
Bible Study and we planned for 300. I don't know how many we had...probably 200-250. It doesn't sound like much to plan for, but it was more work than most people would think. The main goal was to give people a chance to visit for about 45 minutes and it was successful.

We ended up with the most people in Sunday school than I've seen during the 18 months I've been on staff and the worship service was also the largest, probably outside of Easter. We did a complete stage remodeling, so the look was completely different. It was beautiful. We did a final film clip in a series on the Sonic commercials, changed out announcement to the screens with voice-over, and many other changes. It was a great day!

School is in the second semester and going well. This week we attend a convention in Galveston, so it will be a short week in the classroom. I thank God for my students every day.

I'm busy, but I love it. It is a great challenge and wonderful opportunity to balance both jobs. I'm not sure that my life has ever been any fuller from Monday-Friday. Thank God I have Saturday and I guard it pretty religiously. Something has to be pretty important for me to give up that break time.

Well, today is Super Bowl Sunday. I'm no a huge NFL fan. College football is what I am wild about, but I'll probably watch the opening of the Super Bowl. Everybody goes wild about the expensive life will be no less full if I don't see even one. Many would never miss the halftime show, but I may switch to a movie, if I'm still watching at all.

I hope the month of February brings great blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It Has Been A Month

A month ago it was still 2008. It was three days before Christmas. I can't believe it, but it's been a month since I last wrote a post. People have probably forgotten that I do occasionally write! I can't blame you...nobody takes off 30 days.

The Mathews clan had a great Christmas. We celebrated Christmas on the 23rd, everybody spent the night at our home and then we went in different directions on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning we all met at Denny's for breakfast. Then Patti and left for Mobile, while Steve and Miranda took off to the Ft. Worth area to see Steve's family.

We had a great time with Patti's mother in Mobile. We spent 8 night with her and she cooked some great meals. We just had fun hanging out with her, seeing friends, and shopping. Our Christmas holiday ended in New Orleans at the Sugar Bowl and we headed for home the next day.

School is back in full swing again and going great. It is the first of the year, so the pace at First Baptist Church Pearland and picked up dramatically. We are celebrating "Discovery Day" this Sunday morning, Abundant Life University is in the registration process, and we hope to offer Alpha again. From now until the end of March will probably we quite hectic.

I read a couple of novels over the Christmas holiday. My favorite was written by someone that I've never read before. It was The Collectors by David Baldacci. It was a very good read. I knew I should have read him before now. I've been missing a wonderful writer who kept my attention all the way through. The other book was Crisis by Robin Cook. I always enjoy reading his novels, but not one of my Top 5 authors.

I just started Mark Batterson's Wild Goose Chase. I am offering it as one of the seven courses we will begin on February 8. We studied Mark's first book, which the people loved. I guess the whole country loved it! Batterson's new book looks just as good. I will be facilitating the study when we offer it next month.

I hope your new year got off to a great start and will just get better and better as the year rolls out. God undoubtedly has something special for us in 2009.