Thursday, December 11, 2008


The words to one of my favorite Christmas songs say:

“It’s that time of year when the world falls in love; ev’ry song you hear seems to say, ‘Merry Christmas, may your New Year dreams come true.’ And this song of mine in three-quarter time wishes you and yours the same thing, too.”

But as that song keeps running through my head, the lyrics change to: “It’s that time of year … when the world goes crazy … every neighbor tries to out-decorate his friends …”

Yep, it’s that time again – time for decorating for Christmas. I have to admit that the older I get, the less excited I am about pulling down all the boxes (about 30—not exaggerating!) from the attic and then untwisting Christmas light strands and trying to get them to work.

I think simple is better. There’s no way I’m going to put out thousands of lights that are computer-controlled to pulse in time with music. I have a friend in Tyler who does that - of course, their neighborhood is clogged with dozens (hundreds?) of cars trying to see the show. You can save yourself the drive and watch his light and sound show on youtube or click this link.

FYI, nobody is going to post my decorations on you tube, so don’t waste time looking!

Cindy and I have survived 34 years of marriage by agreeing that she will decorate the inside of the house and I will decorate the outside, and never shall the twain meet! I wasn’t able to get the jump on the Christmas lights until this past week. I was gently reminded that “all the other neighbors have their lights out.” So, I bent my back to the job – literally.

For me, decorating our front yard means lining the sidewalks with C7 lights (all you men will understand my decoration-code-speak). That involves spreading out the lights along the sidewalk and then inserting plastic light holders into the ground and then clipping the light into each holder. It’s a long way down to the ground these days – in fact, I had one older gentleman tell me that it’s so hard to bend down to tie his shoes that when he does it, he looks around to see if there is anything else he can do while he’s already down there!

So, since I used approximately 9,000 lights (my estimate), I spent several hours bending down and bending up repeatedly …. Only then to find out that I had the plugs at the wrong ends ….. so I got to do it again! Oh Joy to the World! The sound I keep hearing wasn’t a crackling fire, but a crackling spine! And those weren’t chestnuts popping—those were my joints! Do You Hear What I Hear? It wasn’t a Silent Night as I groaned into a hot bath later!

Okay, when the sidewalks are lined, then I get to put fake garland around the outer and inner front door (we have a porch) – and then I string miniature lights through the garland – that’s a pretty simple task.

The hardest job is stringing hundreds of miniature lights on the two 10 feet tall Christmas-tree shaped holly bushes that frame our front door. They’ve grown so tall and broad that it’s gotten harder each year to string the lights around them. And invariably after I placed the lights, one or more strands of lights would decide to stop working. So this year I came up with the brilliant plan of using those “light nets” which are lights that are connected to form a net that simply drapes over bushes. Thus began my Four-Wal-Mart-Afternoon adventure. Ho Ho Ho.

On the way home from church, I drove to the Troup Highway Supercenter and found the clear light nets. (That’s trip #1) I had no clue how big the nets were so I estimated two per bush. I got home and started putting them on and found that one bush is much wider than the other, so I was one net short. So I drove to the South Broadway Supercenter and fought the traffic and crowds and purchased one more box of net lights. I paid my $8 and drove back home (that was trip #2). Laughing all the way ….

I got back to my house and opened the box only to discover that I had mistakenly bought multi-colored lights instead of clear! I uttered a pleasant interjection at this point and got back in my car and drove back to the South Broadway Supercenter since I recalled they had plenty of lights. The parking lot was almost full by now so I drove around searching for a parking space in Smith County. I finally found one about 6 miles from the front door. Park! The Herald Angels Sing!

I walked up to the cashier in the Garden Center and told her of my mistake. I asked her if I could simply swap it out for the clear lights (I had the receipt). She explained that it would mess up their inventory, so I had to go to customer service. So I walked all the way through the crowded aisles of the store and got in line at customer service. I’ve never seen so many people in line. I’m sure that there were even Angels From the Realms of Glory there.

I finally got my $8 back and then returned to the Garden Center to buy a box of clear net lights. Of course, you can probably guess by now – they had dozens of boxes of multi-colored light nets, but not one single box of clear lights! So I left that Wal-Mart (that’s trip #3) Oh, Come on all you faithful! I even stopped by the Lowe’s down the road to check to see what they had … nada. It was a ghost town on the Christmas aisle because they had reduced all their decorations to 50% off.

So, I drove across town back to the Supercenter on Troup Highway, and voila! If you’re thinking they were out – you’re almost right. I searched among the dozens (hundreds?) boxes of multi-colored light nets and found the last two boxes of clear light nets hiding behind several stacks of multi-colored boxes on a center display. I grabbed them and held them over my head in victory like I was lifting the trophy for winning the Master’s Golf Tournament. “Yes!” I screamed as I headed to the cashier. The little lady next to me who heard my yell looked at me and asked, “Aren’t you that preacher I see on TV?” I was dressed in my sweats and cap and didn’t look very ministerial at that moment so I replied, “Joel Osteen? I get that a lot! No, I’m not him. Merry Christmas!” And I quickly moved to another line to check out. (And that was Wal-Mart trip #4). Tyler has grown so large and the traffic is so bad that I was wishing I lived in Oh Little Town of Bethlehem!

So as the winter sun was setting, I returned home and finished placing the light net on the holly bush (with one extra box left over just in case), and when I plugged everything in, it worked!!!! So what should have taken me about 45 minutes to do ended up taking almost four hours and I used up about 20 gallons of gas!

Oh well, Merry Christmas to you. When I was sitting at a traffic light on one of my many Wal-Mart trips I saw a hand-lettered cardboard sign nailed to a telephone pole that said, “We hang lights” with a phone number listed. I wrote the phone number down.
God Rest Me Merry Gentlemen ...

Comments? Email me at david

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I’ve reserved my comments about the election to allow all the post-election hype to simmer down. I certainly wasn’t surprised when Barack Obama was elected by an overwhelming electoral majority. All the major polls had predicted that this was the trend. As I watched the television coverage of the victory celebration in Grant Park, I became aware that 90% of the crowd seemed to be under the age of 30. Exit polls revealed that young voters both black and white overwhelmingly supported Obama.
You can argue about the issues that affected the outcome of the election: race, the economic crisis, liberal vs. conservative, etc. But I sense that it was more of a generational choice than anything else.

Both Obama and McCain are reformers in many ways, and both agree on the need for change. However, I believe age was an important factor in this election. Obama is young and McCain would have been the oldest president ever elected. In the end, I think it was the simple fact that Americans, especially younger Americans, believed it was time for a younger generation to have a chance at bringing about change. Obama represents the hope of a younger generation. He’s the first president in my lifetime who’s younger than I am, which only makes me feel a little older!

If he had been elected, John McCain would have been the oldest elected President in history (two years older than Ronald Reagan). At age 47, Obama is young, but he’s not the youngest president. There are four Presidents who were younger when they assumed the job. The youngest was Theodore Roosevelt (age 42). Of course, he wasn’t actually elected. He was serving as Vice-president when William McKinley was assassinated. John F. Kennedy was the youngest man to be elected president (age 43). And both Bill Clinton, and Ulysses S. Grant were younger than Obama when they became President.

Texas, and especially Smith County where I live, supported McCain by an almost 2-1 margin. And there were many Texans disappointed by the outcome of the election. Some people have already taken “the-sky-is-falling” position. I’ve gotten emails claiming that Obama is actually the anti-christ. (Don’t be surprised if/when someone uses the letters in his name in some obtuse mathematical formula to claim that it adds up to 666.) Others claim that we are headed toward becoming a socialist state. Actually we’ve already taken a huge step in that direction in the unprecedented financial “bail-out” legislation that was just passed! (I agree with my Congressman, Louie Gohmert, who opposed the bail-out on the grounds that it would move us toward a socialistic form of economy.)

But before you give up on America, let’s give President-elect Obama a chance to prove that he can lead us effectively. As I write this blog I’m in Sao Paulo, Brazil to participate in an EQUIP training event for pastors. I asked the two pastors who picked us up at the airport what they thought about the election, and they said that almost everyone in Brazil was happy that Obama was elected because they thought his election would improve American relations around the world. Go figure.

This election reminds me of the election in 1960 in which JFK defeated Richard Nixon. JFK was the first (and still the only) Roman Catholic to be elected as President. I can remember my parents saying that because Kennedy was elected that it would be the end of the world and that America would become weaker.

Frankly, at times, it DID seem like the end of the world was near with missiles in Cuba pointed at the US. I was part of the generation of elementary students who practiced bomb drills. We were taught to “duck and cover” by hiding under our desks. Since I lived only 40 miles north of Eglin Air Force Base, I doubt that “ducking and covering” would have made much difference in the case of a nuclear attack. But JFK proved to be a strong leader by staring down the mighty Soviet Union and not blinking first.

So, although my candidate of choice wasn’t elected, what am I going to do? Three things:

FIRST: I’m going to PRAY for President-elect Obama and his family. The Bible says, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Timothy 1:2) It’s important to remember that Paul wrote these words at a time when “the King” (the Roman Emperor) was persecuting and killing Christians! I challenge you to join me in praying for President-elect Obama, his wife, Michelle, and his two daughters Sasha and Malia. I’m praying that God will protect them and that the job of President won’t be a tool for the enemy to drive a wedge between him and his wife and between him and his two daughters who need a daddy during this time of their lives. I’m praying that God will turn Obama’s heart toward heaven and that he will truly fall in love with Jesus and be a man who seeks God’s face for wisdom and direction. If you think that’s too hard for God, just read the book of Daniel and see how God turned the heart of King Nebuchanezzar toward heaven!

SECOND: I’m going to RESPECT the office of President and the man who occupies it. I will probably disagree with President Obama on issues, but I will disagree respectfully. I have bristled over the last eight years whenever someone made a disrespectful remark about President Bush being “stupid” – or even worse. I’ve asked God to give me the same negative reaction to anyone who maligns the next President. Some malicious attacks are already happening because he’s black. I grew up in South Alabama during a time when there were water fountains labeled “whites only” and public bathrooms that said “whites only.” It is an amazing accomplishment that America has elected an African-American. As I’ve said before, I’m color-blind, and I would have loved for a black female to be elected (but Condoleezza Rice chose not to run!) We must guard against the temptation to make remarks about the President because of the color of his skin. I agree with Beth Moore who has written that “as Christians we must have zero tolerance” for prejudice or prejudicial remarks. So, if you hear a racial slur poised as a “joke,” may God give you the fortitude not to laugh and perhaps to gently respond to the person who told it to you.

THIRD: I’m going to REJOICE that my true King is Jesus! I can never become consumed or obsessed with “politics” in this world because I am first and foremost a citizen of heaven! My King is Jesus, and I didn’t elect Him, He chose me! Kingdoms of this world will come and go, but the Kingdom of God will last eternally. God is still on His throne. Remember Romans 8:28 and believe that in ALL things, God is at work for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. I’m praying that America WILL experience change –a nationwide spiritual awakening that will shake our nation from the White House to the Church House!

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Thursday, September 25, 2008


Today, there are forty days left until the election on November 4. I have committed myself to pray specifically for this election every day for the next forty days. I am also going to be fasting and praying for several days during this period.(I won’t tell you when or how often I’m fasting, or I’ll forfeit the benefit of fasting according to Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:16-18.)

While I would never publicly endorse a candidate from the pulpit of Green Acres, most people know that I’m personally voting for McCain and Palin. I believe their positions on moral issues most closely reflect those in the scriptures.

However, I recognize that there is a distinct possibility that Obama and Biden may be elected. Our nation is currently in such an economic mess that people are starving for a change. If Obama is elected, I will pray for him and support him just as I have done for President Bush.

Whomever is elected, we must remember the words that Daniel spoke to a godless king, Belshazzar, many centuries ago. He said: “The Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone he wishes.” (Daniel 5:21)

He spoke those profound words just before he translated the writing on the wall, “Mene, mene, tekel, parsin.” God’s message to Babylon, the world’s super-power at the time was, “You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Your kingdom is divided…” (Daniel 5:27-28)

The same can be said for our nation today. We’re the world’s strongest super-power, but we have not measured up to God’s standard of being a beacon of righteousness to the world. To say our nation is divided is an understatement. Just wait until November 4, to see the red states and the blue states. However the election turns out, it will be a close call, reflecting a deeply divided nation.

God help us. Only He CAN help us. But only He WILL help us!

I’m going to be asking the membership of Green Acres to spend the next 40 days in fasting and prayer. If you would join us, please do.

If you would like an online guide to spending the next 40 days in prayer which includes daily devotionals, then click on this link:

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Monday, August 25, 2008


The People’s Republic of China has successfully used the Beijing Olympics to demonstrate to the world that they are an economic and political super-power. Since a large part of my heart is in China, and I love the Chinese people for Jesus’ sake, I’ve been proud to see the quality of their planning and implementation of even the tiniest details throughout the games. They enlisted and trained over 70,000 official Olympic volunteers, which is a massive accomplishment in itself! I think they have been successful in accomplishing their desire to show China to world.
In contrast, Adolph Hitler failed miserably in his attempt to use the 1936 Berlin Olympics as a platform to promote Nazism and Arian superiority. The Olympics were held on the verge of World War II, with the city and stadium covered with red and black swastikas flying everywhere. German soldiers goose-stepped and saluted the ever-present, posturing Hitler.
By the time the Olympics were over, Jesse Owen, an African-American son of an Alabama sharecropper had crushed Hilter’s myth of racial superiority. He won five gold medals. In addition, he humiliated Hilter through a brief but unique friendship with a Nazi poster boy. More on that in a moment.
Jesse Owens was born James Cleveland Owens in Oakville, Alabama on September 12, 1913. At the age of nine, his family moved to Cleveland. When a new teacher asked his name, he answered “J.C.” in his quiet southern drawl. The teacher misunderstood and called him “Jesse.” He was too shy to correct her, so he was Jesse from then on.
After a stellar track career at Ohio State, Owens arrived at the Berlin Olympics facing intense opposition because of his skin color. In Germany, Nazis portrayed negroes as inferior and ridiculed the U.S.A. for relying on what they called “black auxiliaries.” One German official even criticized the U.S. for allowing “non-humans, like Owens and other Negro athletes” to compete.
Owens, a quiet, humble man, took it all with dignity. During the trials for the long-jump, Owens came dangerously close to not qualifying. He fouled on his first two jumps, and was stunned when officials counted a practice run down the runway as one of his attempts. He had only one jump left to qualify for the finals. It was at this point that Luz Long, a tall, blue-eyed, blonde German long jumper stepped in and introduced himself to Owens. Long was Germany’s best and was expected to win the gold, with Owens being his stiffest competition. Luz Long suggested that Owens make a mark several inches short of the takeoff board and jump from there to be safe. Owens took his advice and easily qualified. He went on to win the gold medal in the long jump and Luz Long took the silver. Long was the first to embrace Owens and congratulate him on his win. Long looked the part of the model Nazi, but he wasn’t.
Later Owens would comment: “It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler. You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn't be a plating on the 24-karat friendship I felt for Luz Long at that moment. Hitler must have gone crazy watching us embrace. The sad part of the story is I never saw Long again. He was killed in World War II.”
Owens returned to America as a hero, but he still wasn’t exempt from the racial discrimination that existed in his home country. He received a ticker-tape parade through the streets of New York City, and there was a reception held in his honor at the top of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. However, in a sad ironic twist to his story, this “hero” was forced to ride the freight elevator to attend his own reception that evening.
Lucrative sports endorsements were rare during the Depression and Owens struggled to have enough money to eat. He resorted to participating in events like racing against horses and dogs. He would later say, “People said it was degrading for an Olympic champion to run against a horse, but was I supposed to do? I had four gold medals, but you can’t eat four gold medals.”
It wasn’t until the 1950’s that Owens attained financial security by becoming a public speaker for corporations and public relations events. Owens died at the age of 66 in Tucson, Arizona in 1980.
His success in the 1936 Olympics far surpassed the impact of simply winning a race or jumping the farthest. His masterful performance was a political and racial statement that was heard around the world. Finally, ten years after his death in 1990, our country gave Jesse Owens a fitting reward for what he really accomplished. President George H. Bush posthumously awarded Owens the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award in America, calling his accomplishments, “an unrivaled athletic triumph, but more than that, a triumph for all humanity.”
This is a great reminder to me that as followers of Jesus Christ, our greatest reward will be given to us posthumously - when the nail-scarred Hands pass out the crowns of righteousness at the Bema - but we'll be more alive than ever before as we cast our crowns at His feet!

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Here are a few hints:
(1) He was born and died in China.
(2) He won an Olympic gold medal in the 400 meter.
(3) When he died his body was placed in the Masuoleum of Martyrs in Shijiazhuang, China.

If you guessed Eric Liddell, you’re right. He was China’s first Olympic hero.

With so much attention being directed at Beijing during the 29th Olympiad, we might forget that China has only recently come to the Olympic stage. They didn’t compete in any summer Olympics until the 1984 games in Los Angeles. The precision and pageantry of the Opening Ceremony is symbolic of the quantum leap that China has made over the past twenty years!

But China has had an Olympic Hero since the 1924 games. The first Olympic gold medalist to be born and die in China was Eric Liddell. Although he competed for Scotland, he spent most of his life in China and China has claimed him as their first Olympic hero in their earliest Olympic literature.

Eric Liddell (rhymes with “fiddle”) was born on January 16, 1904 in Tianjin, the child of Scottish missionaries. He later attended school in Scotland where he excelled in rugby and track. He qualified for several events, including the 100 meter dash, in the 1924 Olympics in Paris. Contrary to the movie, Chariots of Fire, Liddell knew months in advance that the qualifying heat for the 100 meter would be run on a Sunday. Because of his personal convictions against competing on the Lord’s Day, he arrived in Paris knowing he wouldn’t run on that Sunday. He had also been selected to run in the 4x100 meter relay and the 4x400 relay, both of which were run on Sunday as well. His decision could have cost him three gold medals – not just one. But obviously, Eric was interested in another better kind of gold.

There was great pressure from friends and other athletes for Eric to compromise his convictions. The Prince of Wales personally begged Eric to reconsider and run on Sunday, but Eric politely refused the Prince because of his commitment to his King.

As the starting gun sounded that Sunday morning for the 100 meter qualifying heat, Eric was giving his testimony at a church in Paris not far from the Olympic stadium.
Eric captured an unexpected bronze medal in the 200 meter, and worked his way through the qualifying heats for the 400. His qualifying times were much slower than the best runners, and few people expected him to even win a medal in the finals.

On the day of the race as Liddell prepared to position himself in the starting blocks, an American trainer slipped a piece of paper in his hands with a quotation from 1 Samuel 2:20, “Those who honor me, I will honor.”

Eric exploded out of the blocks with that paper crushed in his fist as if it was a 100 meter sprint. Observers expected him to fade, but he threw his head back and ran. He had commented to his sister once, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”

Liddell's unorthodox running style as portrayed in the movie, with his head back and his mouth wide open, is said to be historically accurate. At an athletics championship in Glasgow, a visitor was watching the 440 yard final in which Liddell was a long way from the leaders at the start of the last lap (of a 220 yard track). He remarked to a Glasgow native that Liddell would be hard put to win the race. The Glaswegian native merely replied, “His head's no' back yet.” Liddell then threw his head back and with mouth wide open caught and passed his opponents to win the race.

In a similar fashion, Eric crossed the finish line with his head held back, breaking the tape five meters ahead of the second place runner. He had won the gold medal in 47.6 seconds, setting a new world record!


After winning the gold medal, Eric Liddell was a celebrity and could have chosen any job he wanted back in Scotland. Instead, he chose to return to China, the land of his birth, and share the good news of God’s love with the Chinese people. He spent several years teaching at a college for Chinese students.

In 1943 when the Japanese occupied China, Liddell was imprisoned in the Weifang Interment Camp. For the next two years he worked in terrible conditions to maintain the morale of the other prisoners.

Winston Churchill arranged a prisoner exchange with the Japanese and because Liddell was a famous athlete, he was on the list to be liberated. However, at the last minute, Eric arranged for a pregnant woman to take his place and he chose to remain in the prison camp.

The prisoners were given enough food and water to barely keep them alive, and on February 21, 1945, malnourished and sick, our Olympic champion died … and crossed the FINISH LINE with his head held back in victory. He captured the real gold!

In 1991, a memorial plaque was placed at the site of Eric Liddell’s death in Weifang. The inscription is taken from a simple verse in Isaiah that says, “They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary.”

So in the midst of this Olympic competition, in which the talented Chinese athletes will certainly win many medals, perhaps even more than the U.S., let’s don’t forget CHINA’S FIRST OLYMPIC HERO.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008


This post is a little different. Instead of weighing in on a topic, I want to direct you to a youtube site. This represents my first feeble attempt to add images to one of my favorite songs, "Every Heart That is Breaking Tonight" by Twila Paris. I woke up one morning about two weeks ago with that song going through my mind. I had never tried to use the program Windows Movie Maker, but I accessed it and figured out how to build a music video or make a movie, then I posted it on you tube. This is my first you tube posting - yeah! So I'd like for you to watch it. You can cut and paste the url below into your browser and watch it. (update: Or just click the link directly below...I'm learning new stuff all the time!)

and let me know what you think.


Monday, July 14, 2008

BACK TO "THE SHACK": now #1 bestseller

The controversial Christian novel, THE SHACK, is now the #1 bestseller on the New York Times Paperback Trade Fiction list. It is the overall #2 bestselling book of ANY book on (I blogged about THE SHACK on April 15, if you care to scroll down to read my earlier comments.)

Since my earlier blog, readers continue to be sharply divided about its value. Most readers rave about how the book empowered their understanding and love for God. However, some notable Christian leaders continue to take THE SHACK to the woodshed and decry that it is full of heresy.

I deeply respect the intellect and integrity of Dr. Al Mohler, President of Southern Seminary (where I earned two degrees), but I humbly disagree with his evaluation of THE SHACK. He devoted an entire weekly radio show to the book calling it “deeply subversive,” “scripturally incorrect” and downright “dangerous.”

The main character in the story, Mack, was a seminary graduate who at one point says that he now understands that everything he learned at seminary was basically all wrong. Understandably, that kind of statement would put ANY Seminary President on the defensive!

The controversy has even touched Lifeway Christian Resources, the retail giant that supplies books and literature to churches in America – but primarily to the 45,000 Southern Baptist Churches. After some complaints from a few influential pastors (probably some seminary presidents and a few Lifeway trustees), The Shack was briefly pulled from the shelves of Lifeway Bookstores. However, I commend the Lifeway leadership for reconsidering that knee-jerk reaction. The book is once again for sale with a “Reader Discretion Advised” sticker on it. (Go figure! I've always thought we should use discretion when we read ANY book except the Bible!)

Let me share with you one of the main criticisms of the book (don’t read this next line if you haven’t read the book and plan to – it might spoil it). During part of Mack’s “interaction” with God, the Father is portrayed as a kindly, humorous, African-American woman who goes by the name “Papa.” This image is what gives the 21st Century Pharisees apoplexy! Is God really an African-American woman? Is that what the author is saying? Of course not! No more than Jesus is really a powerful, noble lion named Aslan! But you don’t hear many (although there are some) who are criticizing the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis.

Again, my love for the The Shack is based upon my appreciation of it as a wonderful Christian allegory. I thoroughly enjoy reading about the easy, loving interaction between the members of the Trinity, and I was drawn to the God of grace who is portrayed in the theme of the book.

William P. Young, the author, wrote the book for his two children. Only after it was picked up by a couple of West Coast pastors was it published to a larger audience (and the audience continues to grow). How does William P. Young (who goes by his middle name, Paul) respond to this overwhelming barrage of theological smart-bombs? In a recent interview ( Young observed that in America, where only about 3 in 10 people attend weekly worship services and millions are ignorant of the Bible, his readers struggle to find a good God amid their pain.

He says, “I don't want to enter the Ultimate Fighting ring and duke it out in a cage-match with dogmatists. I have no need to knock churches down or pull people out,” he says. “I have a lot of freedom by knowing that you really experience God in relationships, wherever you are. It's fluid and dynamic, not cemented into an institution with a concrete foundation.”

So while some uptight theologians condemn their perceived jots and tittles of spiritual error in The Shack, it will continue to reach an audience of people who have been turned off by the "God" who has been neatly packaged and confined by the traditional church. So what do you think will happen if Oprah chooses to endorse it – heaven forbid!

In my previous blog, I asked for your impressions. I didn’t receive a single negative response, and here are a couple of the comments I received:

I found The Shack to be a fascinating piece of work. I loved it too. I've already given away two copies. I really appreciated Young's images of things like forgiveness (letting go of another person's throat), the Father (Papa, first a woman, then a man), the unique relationship of the members of the Trinity. I too was reminded that the Lord Jesus lives in the present more than the past or future, and that's good for me today. That the Father would also have scars on his wrists was an interesting twist for fiction and allegory----- It was good to be reminded of Papa's desire: "I want all of you and all of every part of you and your day." "Rules and principles are simpler than relationships" was a great reminder, too, of how easily we slip into legalism, judgments. I too loved Sophia!
Anyway, I'm impressed with Young's abilities with words, and I'd highly recommend this little volume to anyone who asked.God bless,-- Jerry

Bro. David- I read The Shack a couple of months ago, and am still contemplating and experiencing the implications of it in my life. If I had to pinpoint the over-arching effect it's had on my life, I'd say that my admiration of Papa has been heightened, my love for my Savior has grown deeper, and my legalistic tendencies have been diminished. I've recommended it to just about everyone I know, and most have responded in a similar fashion. The depiction of the Trinity is so profound, and so "different" from what most people have come to think. This really is a paradigm-shifting book! --David

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Sunday, July 6, 2008


As I was researching how America has forsaken the foundation of faith that made us a great nation, I came across a new discovery for me. On June 6, 1944, the evening of the Normandy Invasion, Franklin Delano Roosevelt went on national radio and led the nation in a six-minute prayer. He didn’t simply ASK Americans to pray, which many presidents do; he prayed this prayer over the airwaves.

So on the day in which the Greatest Generation stormed the beaches of France to liberate Western Europe, our President was leading our nation in prayer.

What struck me with sadness is that 64 years later, if our President led us in prayer on television or the radio, there would be immediate threats of lawsuits from the ACLU. And the American Atheist Association would be crying “foul!”. Oh, how far we have fallen.

Whoever, he or she may be, wouldn’t it be wonderful to elect a President this year who would do more than ask us to pray for healing in our nation, but would LEAD us in prayer?

Here’s the entire text of FDR’s prayer:

My Fellow Americans:
Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.
And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:
Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.
Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.
They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest — until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.
For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.
Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.
And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.
Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.
Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.
And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.
And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment — let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.
With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace — a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.
Thy will be done, Almighty God.
Franklin D. Roosevelt - June 6, 1944

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

MERCY SHIPS--Hope and healing in Jesus' name

As I write this blog, I’m aboard the H/V Africa Mercy which is docked at Freeport, Liberia, just outside the capital city of Monrovia. in Africa. The International Operations Center for Mercy Ships is located in Garden Valley, Texas, just outside of Tyler, and it has been my joy over the past few years to get to know Don and Deyon Stephens. Don is the founder and president of Mercy Ships.
I’m part of a group of about 20 folks from Green Acres who are volunteering aboard the Africa Mercy for a couple of weeks. Our folks are doing everything from practicing medicine to peeling potatoes in the kitchen (the non-medical folks). But for all of us, it’s a tremendous experience.

The Africa Mercy is the largest hospital ship in the world. It sails to impoverished countries to offer free medical care to the suffering people. The ship was previously a ferry which could carry entire trains, so it’s enormous. It has been completely retro-fitted to accommodate the crew and workers (about 400 people). It has an entire deck devoted to surgical suites, labs, and hospital wards. All the medical personnel on board are volunteers who pay their own way to enjoy the privilege of delivering health care in the name of Jesus.

The Africa Mercy has been in port here in Liberia for the past 18 months and will stay here until December. Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world. I’ve traveled to many parts of the world in my lifetime, but I’ve never seen the level of poverty seen here. The unemployment rate is about 75%. The country was torn apart by 14 years of civil war until 2003. The country is slowly but surely improving and stabilizing, but it still has a long way to go. Mercy Ships is here to offer hope and healing in Jesus’ name.

In case you don’t know the history of Liberia, the nation was established in the mid 1800’s as place for former American slaves who had been freed. The first boat of freed slaves arrived here in 1821 under the auspices of the American Colonization Society. The first settlers named their city Christopolos (city of Christ), but it was changed in 1824 to Monrovia after James Monroe who was then the U.S. President. There are American-sounding cities and counties in the country like Buchannan, Virginia, Maryland, and Paynestown. Although these American-Africans were the minority, they controlled the government until a coup in 1979 in which the tribal forces overran the country and caused widespread death and damage. The country is just now rising out of the devastation caused by the bloody civil war.

In spite of the bloody wars and the poverty, there is a spirit of hope and positive expectation in the eyes of the people. The nation is led by the first elected female president in Africa, Ellen Johnson-Serleaf. I had the privilege of meeting her along with other Mercy Ships leaders a few days ago, and she demonstrates a wonderful spirit of wisdom and patience as her country rises from the ashes of civil war. She is a committed Christian and I was able to pray for her. I encourage all believers to pause as you read this and pray for President Johnson-Sirleaf. She is a friend of America and is a key player in establishing stability on a continent where Islam is making aggressive inroads.

This week I was able to observe a couple of the life saving surgeries that doctors performed in one of the 6 operating rooms on the Africa Mercy. The first was a bilateral club foot release. That surgery isn’t performed much in the U.S. because when a baby is born with clubbed feet, they are immediately put in casts to correct the angle of the feet. But this little 8-month-old boy needed surgery to straighten out his feet. Because of this surgery, he’ll be ready to walk normally in a few months.

The second surgery was a cleft palate/lip/nose repair on a beautiful little girl who was only three months old. She was as tiny as a newborn because her cleft palate prevented her from receiving good nourishment. Dr. Gary, the chief of surgery (who has given 22 years of his life to this work), told me that he had performed somewhere between 1,500 to 2,000 cleft palate repairs. Because he was able to close up the opening in the roof of her mouth, she will begin to grow as she takes nourishment. Toward the end of the surgery, there was a problem as the patient gagged and her tracheotomy came out. The heart monitor alarm went off as her heart rate decreased dramatically. A couple of us began to pray as the surgeon, anesthesiologist, and nurses started scrambling. After a few tense minutes, the monitor because to record a regular heartbeat again. I must admit when she came out from the anesthesia and started crying, it was one of the most beautiful sounds I’ve ever heard. Dr. Gary commented that even the sound of her cry was more normal than the pitiful sound she had made before the surgery.

These wonderful people are MAKING A DIFFERENCE one person at a time, and they are sharing Jesus Christ with these patients. I consider it a blessing to be a small part of what Mercy Ships is doing in Liberia.

For more information about Mercy Ships click on:

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

MISMATCHED SHOES - God's perfect timing!

In March I brought a message at Green Acres from the passage in 2 Corinthians 6:14 that says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” Since not many of us live on farms anymore and don’t have a clue about what a “yoke” is, I chose to use an example of “mismatched” shoes to illustrate this truth. During that entire message, I wore a running shoe on one foot and a dress shoe on the other to express God's warning about staying out of mismatched relationships.

A few weeks ago, I received an interesting letter from Claudia Florian. When I read it, I laughed and could only shake my head at God’s timing and His sense of humor. ENJOY:

Pastor David,

I just had to relay to you what I call a "God Stop". It happened several weeks ago; but I am just now getting around to tell you about it.

A few Sunday's ago, my husband and I were getting ready to start to church. We come to the early service and drive from Rusk. As usual, I was running a little late. The week before had been quite unsettling as my husband, who has struggled with health problems all of his life (and never complains) had just been diagnosed with a melanoma on the bottom of his foot.

So this particular Sunday we especially needed lifting up from our Lord and brothers and sisters at GABC. So we made the trip and I dropped Sam off at the main entrance, as I always do (as he wears leg braces) and go park our vehicle.

I get out and start down to the church and look down and discover that I have on one black shoe and one brown shoe. Not even the same style (but similar). I was SO embarassed. What do I do? Sam is already in the sanctuary, so I have to go in. I hurredly made my way in, holding my umbrella in front of me trying to cover my fashion mistake.

Once in the sanctuary and revealing my snafu to my husband, we decided to go ahead and stay for the service and I would just kind of stay in my place and not "visit" too much and then just dash out to the car after the service. Well, we sang, we prayed and then you get up to speak and the first words out of your mouth were something like........"Do you notice anything strange about my appearance? I'm wearing two different kinds of shoes."

Well, you can image that we had to pick our mouths off the floor. After the service, I must say that I walked out proudly with my different shoes. If anyone noticed I'm sure they most have thought that I had some inside information on the sermon that day.

Well, Sam and I have talked about how God was definitely trying to tell us something from this. I have never gone out with two different shoes on in my life; and for me to do it on the very day that you spoke on this. WOW! I feel like one thing that He was trying to tell us was that He sees what's going on in our lives and He's always there. You have mentioned that in many sermons.

Maybe he was trying to tell us how much stronger we are being yoked together to fight this battle that we are facing with Sam's melanoma. But I do know that He definitely was sending us a message through one of my favorite messengers. I just wanted to pass this on and tell you that these past few week when we've been to one doctor after another and down to MD Anderson......I tell myself, "remember the shoes".

Thank you. It is an honor to have you for such a great teacher of the scriptures and a wonderful pastor. God is good.


Claudia Florian
GABC Member
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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

AMAZING GRACE on a softball field

I shared this story in a recent message entitled "Grace-full Living." There were so many favorable comments I want to repeat it here for those in the blogsphere.
In a time when many of our sports stories are about steriods or high-profile arrests, it’s good to hear a sports story that stars grace.
It happened a few days ago at a woman’s college softball game in Ellensburg, Washington. The two teams, Central Washington and Western Oregon were playing for a spot in the league playoffs. It was the most meaningful game of their careers.
There was no score in the top of the second inning, when senior Sara Tucholsky stepped to the plate with two runners on base. Sara was a substitute outfielder who stood only 5 feet 2 inches tall and was batting only 3 for 34 for the season. Sara had never hit a home run in high school or in her four years of playing in college.
She was an easy target for the home-team hecklers who sat behind home plate. She took the first pitch - a strike. Then she swang at the second pitch and when she hit it she knew it was out of the park. She looked up to see the ball sail over the center field fence.

Sara was jumping with joy as she rounded first base - so much so that she missed the bag. So she reversed her direction to return to tag the base - and that’s when disaster struck. Sara’s tendon in her knee snapped and she collapsed on the field.

The two players on base had already crossed home plate, leaving Sara as the only offensive player on the field. She was crumpled on the ground a few feet from first base and a long way from home plate. The rules of the game stipulated that if any of her teammates or coaches touched her on the field of play that she would be called out. Sara was weeping as she painfully crawled to first base. Her coach thought the only option was to substitute a pinch runner for Sara, but since she had only touched first, that would take away the home-run and change it into a single. So, it looked like the only home run of Sara’s career would be canceled.

That’s when grace showed up. As the coach was preparing to substitute a runner for Sara, Mallory Holtman, the first baseman for the opposing team stepped up and asked, "Excuse me. Would it be OK if we carried her around and she touched each bag?" Mallory was the star hitter for the Central Washington team. She was also a senior and had been putting off a couple of knee surgeries herself until the season was over. Now with her post-season career on the line, she offered to help a player who she only knew as her opponent for the past four years.

The umpires conferred and agreed that while none of her teammates could touch her on the field of play there was no rule that prohibited the opposing team members from carrying her around the bases.
So Mallory enlisted the help of her shortstop, Liz Wallace, and the two girls gently picked Sara up and started carrying her around the bases. As the home crowd realized what was happening they started standing to their feet and cheering this act of graceful kindness.
As she talked about what happened Mallory said, "We all started to laugh at one point, I think when we touched the first base. I don't know what it looked like to observers, but it was kind of funny because Liz and I were carrying her on both sides and we'd get to a base and gently, barely tap her left foot, and we'd all of a sudden start to get the giggles a little bit."

When they arrived at home plate, Sara’s teammates met her with tears in their eyes as they congratulated her for her first and only home run of her career. The fans were standing and cheering as they carried Sara back to the dugout.

Then Mallory and Liz returned to their positions to try to win the game that would extend their softball careers into the playoffs. If Hollywood had been writing the script, then Mallory and her team would win and go to the playoffs, but they ended up losing the game 4-2 and were eliminated.
But Mallory didn’t regret for a second what she did. In fact she told a television reporter, "In the end, it is not about winning and losing so much. It was about this girl. She hit it over the fence and was in pain, and she needed help."
What a display of grace-living! My definition of grace is "God giving me what I NEED rather than what I DESERVE." Mallory and Liz didn’t give Sara what she DESERVED - a single and a record without a homer. Instead, they gave her what she NEEDED. They didn’t give her justice, they showed her grace.
Do you think that would have happened in a Yankees/Red Sox game? If a professional ballplayer was injured while running a base the opposing team would tag him out in a heartbeat and say, "he got what he DESERVED!"

I when I first saw the story of Mallory and Liz carrying Sara around the baseball diamond, I couldn’t help but think what a perfect illustration that is of God’s grace.
Like Sara, each of us has been tripped up and injured by our own sin. None of us could make it home on our own because we’re all sinners and fall short of the glory of God. The law is like an umpire that says, "You’re OUT!"
But Jesus Christ, full of grace and truth, came to us and extended nail-scarred hands, and said, "Excuse me. Would it be okay, if I carry you home?" And it is because of His grace, and His grace alone, that we can arrive safely home.
As the beautiful old song says, "In loving kindness Jesus came; my soul in mercy to reclaim; and from the depths of sin and shame; THROUGH GRACE He lifted me! From sinking sand, He lifted me; with tender hand; He lifted me! From shades of night; to plains of light; oh, praise His name, He lifted me!" (Words by Charles Gabriel, 1905)
And that's just another reason why God's grace is so amazing!
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Monday, April 28, 2008

MICHAEL REAGAN: Keeping the Legacy Alive

Michael Reagan is the oldest son of our 40th President, Ronald Reagan. I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing him last week when he was in Tyler to speak at a luncheon for Arrow Child and Family Services.

Because I don’t really listen to talk radio, I was unfamiliar with his influence among conservative Americans. His radio broadcast airs on over 200 stations in the U.S. and is heard by a daily audience of 5 Million Americans. He is also heard around the world on

Michael’s latest book, Twice Adopted, describes his life growing up as the adopted son of Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman. His “second adoption” was when he was adopted into the family of God as a follower of Jesus.

I found myself bonding with him almost immediately because we both share a similar experience. I was sexually molested by a high school boy when I was in the third grade. I never told a soul, and I completely blocked out that painful memory until I was in my forties and found myself sharing it with people in my church. My willingness to share that painful experience empowered other people in our church to feel safe in sharing some of their hurts and hang-ups. Like me, Michael was sexually molested by the owner of his after-school day care center when he was in the third grade. He kept that information buried inside his soul until after he became a Christian in his forties.

The most poignant memories he shares are about when he first discovered that he was adopted. At first he was proud that he had been “chosen.” But after the kids at school started calling him a bastard, it damaged his self-image. Even as a young child he knew that there was something bad in the Bible about someone who didn’t know who their real dad was. When he found the verse, it shattered his world and turned him against God for the next 30 years.

In Deuteronomy 23:2 he read, “A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord.” And yes, that’s the exact word that’s found in the King James Version.

As a child, he knew nothing about the Old Testament or the New Testament – and about how Jesus removed the curse of the Law. To him, it was just the Bible, and it turned Him away from God. From that day until he was saved he believed that God hated him and that everything bad that happened in his life was God just trying to make him more miserable.

From that point on, Michael incorrectly believed that God would never accept him, so he set off to do everything he could to “earn his way into hell.” When he used that phrase, I fully expected him to say, “earn my way into heaven.” But I guess when a guy thinks there’s no hope of heaven, he goes in the opposite direction. To get the whole story of his conversion, read his book – it’s WELL worth the price.

As I listened to Michael share his testimony, I couldn’t help but wonder, “How many hundreds (thousands) of people are there in East Texas who have the same mistaken ideas about God because they read a Bible verse out of context or someone told them something that turned them away from God?”

His journey back to God started when he married a Christian woman who prayed for him. She convinced him to go to church, which he did. But he attended for years before he gave his heart to Christ. He was at a church in California when his dad, Ronald Reagan, was President. People would always ask him, “How’s your dad?” Or “How’s Nancy?” Michael said not once did anyone at church ask him, “How’s Michael?” People just ASSUMED he was a Christian because he was sitting in church and opened a Bible – but he wasn’t there yet.

That part of his story also made me wonder how many hundreds of people attend our church (any church), and we make the mistake of assuming that they are Christians just because they show up. How many times do we ask hurting people about trivial things when what they really need is for someone to care enough to ask, “How are you doing, really?”

One of the greatest joys of my life is getting to meet really neat people, and Michael Reagan is certainly someone I’ll never forget. I’m thankful to know that we still have a Reagan around who is making a difference!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008


“The Shack” is a Christian novel written by William Young. It’s been quite a while since there’s been such buzz about a “Christian” book. As I read some of the reviews, I am finding that people either love it or hate it.

Eugene Petersen (Professor at Regent College, Vancouver, B.C. and paraphraser of “The Message") endorsed the book with this comment:

"When the imagination of a writer and the passion of a theologian cross-fertilize the result is a novel on the order of The Shack. This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his. It’s that good!"
To read other positive endorsements you can click on:

While some love it, there are some who decry that it is dangerous. For instance, Tim Challies, author of “The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment” writes a scathing review of “The Shack” that concludes:

“Because of the sheer volume of error and because of the importance of the doctrines reinvented by the author, I would encourage Christians, and especially young Christians, to decline this invitation to meet with God in 'The Shack.' It is not worth reading for the theology.”

To read his full review and the comments posted click on:

A couple in our church gave me a copy of “The Shack” a few weeks ago, and I was finally able to read it when I was flying to China. I’ve got to admit that I LOVED it. I gave it to Dale Pond, and he loved it. When we prayed we found ourselves talking to God as “Papa” in a very natural way.

I didn’t try to read “The Shack” as a theological textbook, but rather as a fictional novel that wove a tapestry of spiritual truth according to the creativity of the writer. John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress was a such a fantasy-story that it was a hit-you-between-the-eyes allegory. The allegorical truths in “The Shack” are much more subtle.

For someone like me who has believed in and taught about the truth of the Trinity for 38 years, I was fascinated by the relaxed, loving, inter-relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit which Young constructed. Is it that way literally? I don’t know, but it sure helped me get a better understanding of the love and unity that surely exists within the Godhead.

Several people have asked my opinion about the book, and I told them I loved it. But I always add this caveat: I don’t believe 100% of the spiritual assertions in the book, but this didn’t prevent me from enjoying the story itself. It’s like when I go to Brookshire’s to shop. I can’t stand to eat liver. Just because Brookshire’s sells it, I don’t boycott the store, I just bypass the liver! That works well when you’re reading books, too … especially fiction.

I recommended “The Shack” to a pastor friend of mine recently and I warned him that for those folks who are wearing their religious underwear too tight, it will definitely cause a theological wedgy! By reading the reviews, you’ll see that this is true!

So, I suggest you try the book yourself. See what you think. I’d be glad to hear your opinions.
If I get enough responses, I'll post your opinions in another blog.

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Monday, April 7, 2008


Of course Moses is dead – according to Deuteronomy 34, Moses died in Moab at age 120 and God buried him, and “to this day, no one knows where his grave is.” (Aren’t you glad that when God buries something – like our sins – nobody can exhume it?)

And now the guy who played Moses is dead as well. I liked Charlton Heston. Whenever I imagine Moses standing before the Hebrew pilgrims, I can’t help but visualize Heston’s character. I don’t know if he was a follower of Jesus Christ or not – only he and God know that now. However, he certainly marched to the beat of a different drummer than most of the Hollywood clan. He stayed married to his wife, Lydia, for 64 years and she was at his bedside when he died.

Most conservative Christians are aware that we are in a “culture war” in America. You may be surprised to read the following words from a speech that Heston delivered at the Harvard Law School Forum on Feb 16, 1999 entitled: “Winning the Cultural War.” In this speech, Heston doesn’t profess his personal faith, but he certainly shares some of the values that many Christians embrace. If you don’t glean anything else from this speech, at least you’ll admit that Heston wasn’t afraid to speak his mind! Here are excerpts from the speech:

I remember my son when he was five, explaining to his kindergarten class what his father did for a living. "My Daddy," he said, "pretends to be people." There have been quite a few of them. Prophets from the Old and New Testaments, a couple of Christian saints, generals of various nationalities and different centuries, several kings, three American presidents, a French cardinal and two geniuses, including Michelangelo.
If you want the ceiling repainted, I'll do my best. There always seem to be a lot of different fellows up here. I'm never sure which one of them gets to talk. Right now, I guess I'm the guy.
As I pondered our visit tonight it struck me: If my Creator gave me the gift to connect you with the hearts and minds of those great men, then I want to use that same gift now to reconnect you with your own sense of liberty, of your own freedom of thought ... your own compass for what is right.
Dedicating the memorial at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln said of America, “We are now engaged in a great Civil War, testing whether this nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.” Those words are true again. I believe that we are again engaged in a great civil war, a cultural war that’s about to hijack your birthright to think and say what resides in your heart. I fear you no longer trust the pulsing lifeblood of liberty inside you … the stuff that made this country rise from wilderness into the miracle that it is…
I've come to understand that a cultural war is raging across our land, in which, with Orwellian fervor, certain acceptable thoughts and speech are mandated. For example, I marched for civil rights with Dr. King in 1963 -- long before Hollywood found it fashionable. But when I told an audience last year that white pride is just as valid as black pride or red pride or anyone else's pride, they called me a racist. I've worked with brilliantly talented homosexuals all my life. But when I told an audience that gay rights should extend no further than your rights or my rights, I was called a homophobe.

From Time magazine to friends and colleagues, they're essentially saying, "Chuck, how dare you speak your mind. You are using language not authorized for public consumption!" But I am not afraid. If Americans believed in political correctness, we'd still be King George's boys---subjects bound to the British crown.

If you talk about race, it does not make you a racist. If you see distinctions between the genders, it does not make you a sexist. If you think critically about a denomination, it does not make you anti-religion. If you accept but don't celebrate homosexuality, it does not make you a homophobe.

A few years back I heard about a rapper named Ice-T who was selling a CD called "Cop Killer" celebrating ambushing and murdering police officers. It was being marketed by none other than Time/Warner, the biggest entertainment conglomerate in the world. Police across the country were outraged. Rightfully so---at least one had been murdered. But Time/Warner was stonewalling because the CD was a cash cow for them, and the media were tiptoeing around it because the rapper was black. I heard Time/Warner had a stockholders meeting scheduled in Beverly Hills. I owned some shares at the time, so I decided to attend. What I did there was against the advice of my family and colleagues. I asked for the floor. To a hushed room of a thousand average American stockholders, I simply read the full lyrics of "Cop Killer"-every vicious, vulgar, instructional word. "I GOT MY 12 GAUGE SAWED OFF. I GOT MY HEADLIGHTS TURNED OFF. I'M ABOUT TO BUST SOME SHOTS OFF. I'M ABOUT TO DUST SOME COPS OFF..." It got worse, a lot worse. I won't read the rest of it to you. But trust me, the room was a sea of shocked, frozen, blanched faces. The Time/Warner executives squirmed in their chairs and stared at their shoes. They hated me for that. Then I delivered another volley of sick lyrics brimming with racist filth, where Ice-T fantasizes about sodomizing two 12-year-old nieces of Al and Tipper Gore. Well, I won't do to you here what I did to them. Let's just say I left the room in echoing silence. When I read the lyrics to the waiting press corps, one of them said ,"We can't print that." "I know," I replied, "but Time/Warner's selling it." Two months later, Time/Warner terminated Ice-T's contract. I'll never be offered another film by Warner or get a good review from Time magazine. But disobedience means you must be willing to act, not just talk.

When a mugger sues his elderly victim for defending herself ... jam the switchboard of the district attorney's office. When your university is pressured to lower standards until 80% of the students graduate with honors ... choke the halls of the board of regents. When an 8-year-old boy pecks a girl's cheek on the playground and gets hauled into court for sexual harassment ... march on that school and block its doorways. When someone you elected is seduced by political power and betrays you ...petition them, oust them, banish them. When Time magazine's cover portrays millennium nuts as deranged, crazy Christians holding a cross as it did last month ... boycott their magazine and the products it advertises. So that this nation may long endure, I urge you to follow in the hallowed footsteps of the great disobediences of history that freed exiles, founded religions, defeated tyrants, and yes, in the hands of an aroused rabble in arms and a few great men, by God's grace, built this country.

To read the entire speech:

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Dale Pond and I have just completed a successful week in China where we led a conference for businessmen and women entitled, “How to have REAL Success” in a city in Southern China. This material has been developed by John Maxwell (who is a leadership expert and Christian) and is approved by the Chinese government. REAL Success is a business seminar that allows the facilitator to naturally and positively share the life-changing good news of Jesus. R.E.A.L. highlights four key elements in success: Relationships; Equipping; Attitude and Leadership.
As we taught this “business” seminar, I was amazed to see the level of interest and enthusiasm that the Chinese business people demonstrated. In America, we have so many “success seminars” that we yawn whenever we hear about another one. But this was a totally new concept for the Chinese and they lined up after each session to ask questions through our interpreter.
This is my tenth trip to China, and it is thrilling to see how God is moving here. Many of the people who attended our seminar are believers now because of our work in this particular city. There no longer seems to be INTEREST in Christian truth; I sensed for the first time that there was actual HUNGER for truth about Jesus. Every time we talked about how Jesus was the greatest leader of history, I could actually see the people smile and pay closer attention.
After the seminar, we returned to Beijing where I had the privilege of preaching at Beijing International Christian Fellowship. This is a large, thriving church for foreigners who live in Beijing – it was like heaven because believers from dozens of countries around the world made up the congregation. Each Sunday several thousand of these believers gather and joyfully lift up the name of Jesus.
It’s difficult to talk about numbers because so many Christians are still “unregistered” in China. But among the “registered” churches (meaning the government recognizes them), there are about 45 million Christians in China. A conservative estimate of “unregistered” Christians would easily be three times the number of registered Christians. So many leaders suggest that there are AT LEAST 175 Million Christians in China (population of 1.3 Billion).
That means that there are MORE Christians in China than in America! However, the Chinese Christians still believe that America is a Christian nation, but those of us who live here know otherwise.
When a person becomes a Christian in China, he or she runs the risk of losing future promotions in his or her business or organization. The Chinese Communist party consists of 75 Million people who provide governmental leadership at almost every level. The Communist Party is like the Democratic or Republican parties in America. The difference is that there is only ONE party. To be a member of the Chinese Communist Party, a person must pledge to be an atheist. Having said that, there are many Communist members who have come to faith in Christ – but their faith may prevent them from moving upward in their career track.
All I’m saying is that to become a Christian in China requires the person to count the cost and make the commitment. In America, our churches are filled with lukewarm Christians (the ultimate oxymoron) who consider their faith to be on the same level as their membership in AARP or Sam’s Club.
I predict that the time will come when there will be MORE missionaries from China coming to evangelize America than there are American missionaries sent to win the Chinese. Doesn’t our Father have a wonderful sense of humor?
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Saturday, March 8, 2008


Tonight I’ll be giving away my younger daughter, Laura Grace, in marriage as well as performing the ceremony. This makes twice for me because I had this privilege about six years ago when my older daughter, Jenni, married Jason Holman. Some dads say that it’s a bittersweet experience, but as I search my heart, there isn’t a trace of the bitter – there is only the sweet!

Laura Grace has always brought sunshine into my heart, and a smile to my face. Being the dad of such a special girl has been one of the greatest joys of my life - she has always been so much FUN! She was the one who not only memorized her lines in the children’s choir musicals, but everyone else’s as well! She makes me proud of her, not just because of what she has DONE – but because of who she IS. She is truly a gentle soul--a person who fits all the characteristics of love in 1Corinthians 13. She is patient and kind; she isn't jealous or boastful; she doesn't rejoice at wrong but rejoices at the right; she doesn't keep a record of wrongs; she always seeks to see the good in people. She has taught me a lot about life. She’s the kind of gal I would love even if God hadn’t given her to me as a daughter.

When both my girls were little I used to go into their rooms and tuck them into bed by praying for them and kissing them good night. As I finished the spoken part of the prayer, I would always add my silent prayer that God would bless their future husbands. (I was afraid if I prayed that aloud in their presence it would have made them say something like, “Ooohh Daddy, I don’t like boys!”).

So, tonight represents God’s answer to my prayer for Laura Grace, and it’s always a wonderful experience to witness a real, living answer to prayer. Laura Grace met Jim Liner when she started graduate school in the English Department at OU. Jim has since earned his Master’s degree and is a Ph.D. student at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He is one of the smartest, kindest, most trustworthy men I’ve ever met, and I’m honored to have him as my new son-in-law. (Besides, he REALLY laughs at my attempts to tell jokes!) Some dads say that giving away their daughter in marriage feels like a violinist handing a priceless Stratavarius to a gorilla! Not for me - I'm honored and glad to give Laura Grace to Jim. I love and trust him – after all, he’s an answer to prayer!

Tonight after the wedding, Jim and Laura Grace will be dancing together at the reception. This is the message, I want to share with you, Jim. It's expressed in the lyrics of a song by Heartland:

Look at the two of you dancing that way
Lost in the moment and each other's face
So much in love, you’re alone in this place
Like there's nobody else in the world
I was enough for her not long ago
I was her number one
She told me so
And she still means the world to me
Just so you know
So be careful when you hold my girl
Time changes everything
Life must go on
And I'm not gonna stand in your way
But I loved her first and I held her first
And a place in my heart will always be hers
From the first breath she breathed
When she first smiled at me
I knew the love of a father runs deep
And I prayed that she'd find you someday
But it still hard to give her away
I loved her first
How could that beautiful women with you
Be the same freckle face kid that I knew
The one that I read all those fairy tales to
And tucked into bed all those nights
And I knew the first time I saw you with her
It was only a matter of time
But I loved her first and I held her first
And a place in my heart will always be hers
From the first breath she breathed
When she first smiled at me
I knew the love of a father runs deep
And I prayed that she'd find you someday
But its still hard to give her away
I loved her first.
comments? email

Saturday, February 16, 2008

What does John McCain believe?

Since the last time I weighed in with my personal support for Mike Huckabee for President, a lot has happened!
Guliani and Romney have both pulled out the race and it appears certain that John McCain will be the Republican nominee for President.

When asked about John McCain, James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family said, “Speaking as a private individual, I would not vote for John McCain under any circumstances.”

I’ve been searching for comments from John McCain about his personal beliefs, and it’s difficult to find substantial evidence of his faith. Although I didn’t read his entire biography, "Faith of our Fathers," I read sections of it and it appears it could have been correctly entitled, “Faith IN our Fathers” because it’s mostly about the military experiences of his father and grandfather who were both Admirals.

There are some scary statements he has made about moral issues. For instance when asked about gay marriage, McCain responded in an interview, “I think, uh, I think that gay marriage should be allowed if there's a ceremony kind of thing, if you wanna call it that. I don't have any problem with that.” Ouch!

On the other hand, there are some positive hints about his faith. He was raised in the Episcopal Church, but since his marriage to his second wife, Cindy, has attended North Phoenix Baptist Church. He indicated on the video link below that he has recently spoken to Pastor Yeary about being baptized, but has decided NOT to be baptized during the campaign because it might appear to be grandstanding.

During his five years as a POW in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” he was elected chaplain by his fellow inmates. Again, if you watch the video below he humbly dismisses that role citing that he was selected because he had received more religious training than the other POWs.

In an interview with Beliefnet, John McCain responded to a question about whether he would prefer the President to be a Christian: “I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles, personally, I prefer someone who has a grounding in my faith." When asked if America was a Christian nation he said, "I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation."
There is no doubt that McCain is an American hero and the most qualified to serve as Commander-in-Chief. However, I'm still not sure about the depth of his faith. On one of the videos he speaks about reading the Christmas story from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John during Christmas time in the prison. Most folks with a passing knowledge of the New Testament know that only Matthew and Luke have a Christmas story. Hmmm.

If you want to learn more about John McCain’s faith click on the link below and watch the video interviews on Beliefnet.

I’d like your comments on these questions:

What do you know about John McCain’s faith (or lack thereof)?

Can John McCain defeat Obama or Hillary in November?

How would you like to see a McCain/Huckabee ticket?
comments? email

Monday, February 4, 2008


WARNING: This blog is strong and politically incorrect.

As if we needed any more proof that radical Islam is morally bankrupt according to every standard of human decency – last week al-Qaida strapped explosives on two Iraqi women with Downs Syndrome and detonated the bombs in two different pet bazaars in Baghdad. Estimates are that 73 Iraqi citizens were killed in the explosions.

To use unwitting suicide bombers is an act so wicked that it boggles my mind. Some military experts surmise that this proves that al-Qaida is running out of able-bodied men and are becoming more and more desperate. To me, it just proves that the men behind this act deserve a fate worst than having explosives strapped to them and having someone else push the plunger. By their martyrdom, these extremists expect to enjoy paradise with 70 virgins – instead I believe they’ll find themselves dancing with demons.

Where is the outrage in Washington? The only quote I read related to this event was Condoleezza Rice saying, “the bombings prove al-Qaida is the most brutal and bankrupt of movements and will strengthen Iraqi resolve to reject terrorism.”

And still, there are some liberal Washington politicians who propose that we can simply go over and sit down with these lunatics over a cup of strong coffee and discuss an immediate withdrawal from their country.

To me, this is exactly the reason we’re fighting in Iraq. NOT for oil, NOT for revenge, but to prevent this kind of brutal behavior directed toward tens of thousands of innocent citizens living in the Middle East. And if we weren’t confronting them there, we would probably be confronting them in the streets of America.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Whenever I bring a group here to Israel, we always visit Masada. Masada has little Biblical significance. However, I love seeing the fabulous hanging palace that Herod the Great built there (and only stayed in twice). The palace "hangs" on the edge of a cliff, and it gives us more insight into the megalomaniacal mind of the ruler who tried to kill the infant Jesus (and did kill several of his sons and his favorite wife!).
To me, Masada is a must-see site for anyone who wants to also understand the modern issue of Israeli/Palestinian relations. Another advantage of visiting Masada is that it allows our groups to enjoy the unique experience of floating in the Dead Sea. You can’t drown there because the Dead Sea is 10x more salty than any other body of water on the planet. The consistency of the water is more like thin jello than water – you float on top and can cross your legs, fold your arms behind your head and read a newspaper while floating. You can even take a can of coke and enjoy it …. That gives new meaning to a “coke-float!" (Plus those who haven’t ventured into the ocean since they saw the movie "Jaws" can enjoy the water with full assurance that there are no sharks, crabs, or fish because nothing lives in it).
Masada stands as a powerful sentinel overlooking the Dead Sea. Centuries before Herod transformed the top of the rock plateau into a city with lush gardens and a extravagant surplus of water, it served as a perfect fort. It was protected by sheer cliffs on all four sides – and could only be climbed by a snake trail that was easily defendable.
The story of Masada really isn’t about Herod’s palace, but what happened in 73AD. This was toward the end of the Jewish rebellion against Rome that had resulted in the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
A group of almost 1,000 Jewish rebels fled to the desert to escape the Romans. They established themselves on the top of Masada. The Roman army surrounded Masada and decided to just wait until the Jews ran out of food and water. But Herod had stockpiled so much food and water that the Jews would mock the Roman soldiers by pouring gallons of water over the sides of Masada each day. This infuriated the Romans because water was scarce and each solider received only a small ration.
The Romans finally decided to build a ramp on the western side of Masada from which they could attack the mountaintop fortress. When they started the ramp, the Jews tossed huge boulders from the sides of Masada killing and injuring the Roman soldiers. So the Romans countered by using Jewish slaves to build the ramp. The rebels stopped throwing boulders because they recognized the slaves as their own friends and family members.
Finally the massive ramp was completed and a huge wooden war machine complete with a battering ram was raised in front of the wooden gate of Masada. The Jews then packed layers of rocks between layers of successive wooden gates, so the battering ram only packed the rubble tighter. The battering ram pounded away until it was shattered. Then the Romans set fire to the wooden gates. For a moment, it seemed as if a miracle of Biblical proportions was happening because the wind shifted and ignited the Roman war machine! However, the wind then shifted again and the gates of Masada were burned and breached.
By this time, it was late in the afternoon, so the Romans retired to their camp confident that early the next morning they would enter Masada and slaughter the Jewish rebels. After all, they weren’t going to escape.
What happened that evening is based upon the writings of Flavias Josephus. Faced with certain death in the morning, the rebels faced a harrowing choice. Their leader was Elazar ben Yair, and Josephus has recorded the impassioned speech that Eliazer made that night. Here’s an excerpt of Eliazer’s speech:

“Noble Jews, you who decided long ago not to submit to the domination of the Romans or to that of any other nation and to obey only God, Who alone has the right to command men, now the time has come to demonstrate by your acts that your heart truly nourishes these feelings.
The enemy desires nothing more than to hang us alive. As great as our resistance will be, we will not be able to avoid an onslaught. Nevertheless, the Romans cannot prevent us from denying them our lives by giving ourselves a noble death, ending our days together with the people who are the dearest to us...
If up until now, we have been sustained by the hope of being able to take revenge in some manner on our enemies by courageously resisting, this hope has vanished. Why delay running to our own deaths while we still have the possibility and of granting it to our wives and to our children since this is the greatest kindness we can do them? We were born to die: it is an inexorable law of nature to which all men, however happy and healthy they may be, are subject. But our nature does not at all oblige us to suffer the outrage of servitude, to see, in our cowardice, the honor of our wives and the freedom of our children ravished when it is within our power to spare them through death.
After having heroically taken up arms against the Romans and scorned the offer they made us to spare our lives if we would accept it from them, what kind of treatment could we expect from their resentment if we fall into their hands alive? The strength and the vigor of the healthy would only prolong their agony and the oldest would not be pitied less because they would have greater difficulty enduring their agony. We would see our wives carried away into captivity and would hear our children, irons at their feet, imploring us in vain for help. Who is preventing us from saving ourselves from servitude while we can freely use our arms and our swords? Then let us die with the people who are dearest to us rather than live as slaves.”
Contrary to popular opinion, what happened that night wasn’t mass suicide. Jewish law strongly forbids suicide. When you understand how this act was carried out, only one man committed suicide. First, families were gathered together, then ten men were chosen by lot. The father in each family used his sword to slay his children and wife, then one of the ten men came and killed the father and laid him beside his family. Then the ten men drew lots and one was chosen to kill the other nine men. And then that last man fell on his own sword – the only one to actually commit suicide.
The next morning, the Roman army marched onto Masada expecting a final bloody battle, only to be met with the sound of the wind and the sight of the bodies of 960 Jewish men, women and children who chose death before dishonor.
By the way, if you’re unfamiliar with the story of Masada, rent the DVD “Masada.” It’s pretty accurate. If Hollywood gave an Academy Award for “facial expression without speaking” then the look on Peter O’Toole’s face, (who played the Roman general) when he arrived on Masada, would easily win the Oscar!
You may wonder, if they all died, how do we know about these events – and especially the speech of Eliazer? It’s because two elderly women and several very young children were found by the Romans hiding in an enormous cistern. One of the women was educated and spoke five languages. She might have been chosen to record and report the speech and the events. Josephus’ record is supposedly based upon her eyewitness account.
To understand Masada is to understand Israel. The events of Masada are fully woven into the fabric of modern Israel. For the first 50 years of modern Israel’s history, they have almost been suicidal in their protection of their country. If they had lost any of their wars, Israel would have ceased to exist. Israel is still surrounded by enemies. That’s why all teenage Israelis, both male and female, are required to serve in the military (which may be one reason Israel doesn’t have some of the same teenage rebellion issues we have here in America!)
For many years, new recruits have participated in a ceremony at Masada when they finish basic training. They hike 15 miles in full gear and then run up the snake trail to the top of Masada. After camping out, they are sworn in as Israeli soldiers just after sunrise. Afterwards, they march to the southern end of Masada and shout three times in Hebrew: “MASADA SHALL NEVER FALL AGAIN! MASADA SHALL NEVER FALL AGAIN! MASADA SHALL NEVER FALL AGAIN!” That Masada mindset has been the rallying cry for years.
My friend and tour guide, Rueven, has wisely pointed out that while this “die before dishonor” mindset served Israel well through the last half of the 20th Century, many Israeli leaders have been reconsidering the value of the Masada Soulution for this reason: MASADA HAD NO SURVIVORS … and Israel must survive.
Is there any way for there to be peace in Israel before Jesus returns? Only God knows, but more and more Jewish leaders are embracing the thought that the MASADA SOLUTION is not the answer.