Sunday, August 31, 2008

New York, New York

Well this past week we had the opportunity to travel to New York to watch the US Open tennis tournament. Luana and I went with my tennis buddy, Bill Koziol and his wife Lana. Bill and I have been playing every Wed. afternoon for over 20 years, so it was fun to go with him. We stayed at the Wellington Hotel at 55th and 7th, about 4 blocks south of Central Park. I got to run in Central Park a couple of mornings which was fun. The rest of the day was full as we left at 9:30 each morning to take the subway to Flushing Meadow and the US Tennis Center. It is a beautiful place and is huge. It sits adjacent to Shea Stadium, where the Mets were actually playing the Astros, but we did not make that game. The general admission tickets allow you to watch any match except Center Court and court 2. Since that is where all of the top stars play, we did not see any of the big names but got to see a lot of very good tennis, and on the outside courts you are right there.

The evenings were spent eating, strolling and shopping along 7th Ave, Times square, Broadway and the like. We did make it to ground Zero but there was not much to see. One night we made to the Yankees and Red Sox game in one of the last games at fabled Yankee Stadium. It was a blast and especially since the Yankees lost. The saying is tiresome but true: New York is a great place to visit but i would not want to live there.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


I hope that I can express this as well as it is in my mind. I was reading in I Cor. 10 and came across something new to me about Communion. As a former Baptist, I grew up where Communion was something you did once a quarter and it was purely symbolic and nobody made much of a deal about it. I have also been in Catholic and Episcopal churches where it is done every week but it is so routine that there is no power in it. Surely there is something more.

Well in I Cor. 10:2-4, Paul talks of the Israelites in the desert and being fed by the spiritual food manna and the spiritual drink which was water from the rock. He then says that the rock was Christ. It dawned on me that this was a type of Communion and that the people partook of the food and drink and participated in the substance of Christ. In verses 14-22 he emphasizes the idea of participation. In so doing they identified themselves with God, agreed (or covenented) to follow God and to worship Him alone.

There are three views fo the nature of Communion. One is that the bread and wine literally become the body and blood of Christ. A second view is that the bread and wine are purely symbolic and have no inherent power. A third view which I think is more realistic is that it is somewhere in between. I think that there is something mysterious and powerful when we come together for Communion that is beyond symbolism. That is why Paul is so emphatic in 11:27-32 about being careful when you partake. I cannot explain exactly what happens but I feel that when we partake that we too are identifying ourselves as God's people, we are agreeing to follow only Him and we are committing to worship Him alone. One imperfect analogy might be wedding vows. When we state them, they are more than just symbolic jestures, but a real commitment to the other person, and in a real mystical sense (Eph. 5:31-32) they are joined together as one.

The Greek word for Communion is koinoneia which means to hold in common, to fellowship with or to share. So when we partake Communion we are sharing in the person of Christ and fellowshipping with Him. So next time you take Communion, pause to reflect on the profound mystery that it is and glory in the fellowship with the Son.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


This last weekend we had the second annual Sudan Family Reunion. We had a lot of fun but it was sobered by a couple of events. The first was the death of our oldest brother a year ago and the hole that that has left. The second was the recent MVA that my neice, Carly, was in where she fractured her C-6 vertebrae and had to have surgery. She is recouperating in Houston with her father, Phil, and that whole branch of the family was unable to make the reunion. Fortunately she is doing well and should not have any long term deficits. God truly had mercy on her even in the midst of a tragic event.

Despite these things we gathered at our Lakehouse on Cedar Creek Lake, though because of numbers some stayed at a hotel in Gunbarrel City. It started out on a bad note as it rained all Friday morning (though certainly hard to complain when you get rain in Texas in august). We were able to visit, eat some pizza and then the sun came out and it was beautiful with perfect temperature, and we were able to get out on the boat and do some tubing and wake boarding. We capped it off with some juicy cheeseburgers and lots of googling after grandkids.

The next morning we had the Sudan version of the Olympics with darts, game of washers and a new game of golf rings. It was a lot of fun and of course we Sudans are all competitive. Then it was back on the boat for the youngsters and some lounge time for the rest of us. Late that afternoon we donned our new Reunion T-shirts and posed for the Reunion picture. Asetting on the dock was chosen and after a few pics with one more left to go, we suddenly found ourselves on the bottom of the lake. The dock collapsed under the weight of all of us and we fell in. Fortunately nobody was hurt badly (my mother had a hematoma of her leg) but it was a little scarry as my mother does not swim and hates the water, and Jayden went under with Jordan holding on to him. It will be a fun memory in future years.

That night we were able to get it back together to play Hardhead Squares, Ginny's version of the old game show. It was a blast and Bruce won for the second year in a row. Sunday was a relaxing day with pancakes and then packing up to leave, but not without a few more games of golf rings. I never was able to beat Christy. I am so thankful for a family that truly loves each other and gets along so well. It was fun to have two new babies for the first time, both of whom were answers to prayer. It was last reunion that we all gathered around Erin to pray for her as she was having a hard time getting pregnant. Hopefully there will be more and more as the years move on.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


I was teaching at the Manna House last week on worship and I felt the Lord gave me some insight that I had not really appreciated before so I thought I would share it with you. Maybe you already know all of this but if you do then great for you.

The definition is the honor, reverence and homage paid to a superior being, i.e. God. The word in English means "worthship" and denotes the worthiness of the individual being honored. When used of God, it is an acknowledgementof who God is and what He has done. In Greek there are two words which are used mostly for worship. The first is proskyneo which means to kneel before or to bow down before face down much as a servant does before a king. The second word is latreuo which means to minister or serve, usually referring to a priest performing his duties during the sacrifices.

While we usually equate worship with singing, it really is so much more than that. This was first brought to my mind by Matt Reddman in his song "The Heart of Worship" and I have been trying to understand it more and put it into practice. When we pray, we acknowledge that we are in need and that there is One who is powerful. We also worship when we give thanks to God for what He has done and who He is. Other activities that are worshipful are giving, communion, confession, praise, obedience as well of course as singing, dancing, raising hands ect. I could go into detail on all of them but will not because of space.

The most important verse is in John 4:24 where Jesus says that His true worshippers worship in spirit and in truth. What does it mean to worship in spirit. You could probably write a book on that but I think that it involves our spirit connecting with God's Spirit. It has the idea of where our heart is. We can go through the motions of worship much as the Israelites did in the sacrifices, but God said their hearts were far from Him. Many of us today also go through the motions of true worship but our hearts are not in it and God knows what is in our hearts. We need to get back to a lifestyle where our hearts are in submission to God and have a passion for the person of Jesus. What about worshipping in truth? I used to think that that meant spending time in the Word and knowing the truth of the Scriptures, and certainly that is a part. But I have come to realize that it means that our worship should be real. We do not need to be hypocrites when we worship but we need to make sure that we believe what we sing, our praises are true feelings, our giving is cheerful, and our lives are full of humility and obedience. This is what it means to worship in truth.

So when you wake up tomorrow, begin the day with worship but it does not have to end there but can be a day long affair and a lifestyle. After all, if our purpose in this world is to glorify God then it behoves us to really understand what that means.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


As the temperature reached 105 degrees today, there were plenty of other things to keep us occupied. I have several things I wanted to blog about including worship and communion, but those will have to wait. This week it is on family.

As most of you know, this past Wed. was my birthday (53 for those who have to know). I am not really big on birthdays (which is good since my wife has been gone to camp on my birthday for the past 15 years), but this year was special. The day started with calls from my wife and Amy, then later in the day from Jason and then Alex. Christy and Jordan with Jayden came in to town and we had a great time eating and taking Jayden to the water park. Then this weekend Jason and Alex came in town and we had a great time playing tennis, mowing, doing house projects, Putt-putt, and eating. Did I mention eating - we did a lot of that. Mary Beth who is here already made me a birthday cake and then a big breakfast of gingerbread pancakes. I got more attention than I have had in years. But more important for me was not the attention, but the love of family.

I am so blessed to have four incredible kids (young adults now) who for some reason love their old man. I love being with each of them and they are all different, with so many gifts and talents. For them to take the time and effort to come down here and spend time with me (even with Luana gone) speaks volumes to me. With the institution of the family under attack from every corner, it is good to be reminded of the importance of family. When family works well. there is relationship, encouragement, building each other up, challenging each other, healing, comfort, laughing and crying together and so much more. When it does not work well, it is still needed and important to try to resolve the issues. So wherever you are in your family, put in the time, effort, prayer and whatever else it takes to make it work. It is worth it.