Sunday, November 30, 2008


What can you say about Thanksgiving except thanks. That seems so trite, but in reality that is what it is all about and as long as our thanks is to Whom it is due then it is okay. And I certainly have a lot for which to be thankful. We went up to Dallas where 3 of our 4 children live and had the traditional dinner at my oldest daughter's home. She is a good cook but really everyone chipped in and it was a real feast. She also is quite the decorator and all of the table decorations were so cute. We were blessed to have all four of our kids there which is unusual when 3 are married. It was also a little unusual in that we had Christy's in-laws and Amy's mother-in-law celebrate with us. Being good friends with our kid's in-laws is another reason to be thankful.

Well we did not just sit around eating and watching football. As per tradition, we got up that morning and ran the 8 mile Dallas Turkey Trot. I made it the whole way and felt good but was humbled as I was beat out by my two pregnant daughters. Yes you heard that right. In case you did not know, in addition to my one grandson I have two on the way. Amy is due at the end of April and Christy is due to deliver number two at the first of July. So yes I have plenty to be thankful.

The list could go on and on but I will not bore you with all of them (though I have mentioned them all to our Lord). The point is that it is easy for me to be thankful during this season of our lives. God has blessed us in multiple ways. But Scripture says that we should be thankful in all circumstances (not necessarily for all things) and to rejoice always. That sometimes can be a challenge and I hope and pray that as circumstances change, my thankful heart will not. If you find yourself in a difficult time right now, and have a hard time being thankful, then I have two thoughts. The first is to remember the goodness of the Lord. That is what the Psalmist did when he was down and defeated. Secondly, I would love to pray for you if you would allow that.

May God bless you and keep you and cause His face to shine upon you. Artie

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A listening ear

I am not a very good listener to begin with. Part of it is the fact that I am male, part of it is that I am a type A personality and part of it is I don't like to take the time to listen. My wife, Luana, is an exceptional listener. That is one of the many reasons that people love her. She can sit for hours as people pour their heart out to her and she may barely say a few words. I don't understand it but I love that about her. Well tonight I am going to talk about listening to God. I am not very good at that either, but I am learning and I really want to get better. If anyone has ideas please send them in the comment section.

The first thing is that we need to have correct theology. Don't turn me off here. All I am saying is that if your theology teaches that God does not speak to us today, then more than likely you will not hear Him. I came from a very traditional Baptist background and I am very thankful for all of the things I learned and many wonderful people. But there was very little about God speaking to us personally, other than through the Scripture. There is certainly ample Biblical evidence for it and no shortage of personal testimonies. The second thing needed is to have the proper focus. As we seek to hear His voice, we need to be sure we are true believers, that we are following Christ and fix our eyes on Him (Heb. 12:2), that we are living a holy and godly life and that we are obedient to His commands. And our desire to hear His voice should not come from an obsession to experience the supernatural, but from a desperate need to hear His voice for direction or wisdom or just encouragement.

The third thing is related to this and involves our desire. As we trust Him He will give us the desires of out heart (Ps. 37:4). Have we really abandoned our will and our desire to run our own lives? Are we really open to anything He has for us? If we are not ready and willing to be obedient without questioning to whatever He says, then He is not likely to speak much to us. Do we really trust Him and really believe that He is powerful enough to do what He says and that He really has our bests interests at heart (see blog on agape love).

The fourth thing is wheather we are willing to sacrifice. Are we willing to get up early each morning to spend time with God, allowing time to listen? Are we willing to just wait on the Lord Is. 40:31). Are we willing to practice the discipline of fasting to better prepare ourselves to hear? And are we willing to make the sacrifice to study the Word of God so that we can hold what we hear up to the authority of the Word of God. Fifthly, we need to be willing to seek help. Christianty was not meant to be lived out individually but in community. Ask others who hear the Lord well to help you. (Prov. 11:4). Learn to admit your weaknesses and be vulnerable for two are better than one (Ecc. 4: 9-10).

Lastly, we need to be willing to step out in faith. Take one step at a time. Be willing to risk failure or to be ridiculed. If you are not sure that what you hear is the Lord, hold it up to the Scriptures, seek advice from a friend and go for it. Even if you are wrong, I believe that God blesses the attempt to step out in faith. Failure is the template for future success.

That is the first installment. There will be more later. I am excited about this journey toward hearing the voice of God.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Lasting Friendships

This blog is a tribute to some very dear friends of ours over the years, Larry and Ellen Forrester. Actually I have been friends with them since my sophmore year at Bellaire High School in Houston - 38 years ago. We all went to Baylor together and then ended up in the same Sunday School class at South Main Baptist Church in Houston while I was in medical school. During the ensuing years we had kids together and have stayed close, even after we moved here to Waco. Virtually every year they would come up here to Waco for Homecoming and all of our kids would get together. We would always eat fiesta on Friday night and go to the parade on Saturday morning. Luana and Ellen would dress the girls up in Baylor attire and then we eat lunch at McAlister's. Sometimes we would go to the game, but we always had fun and many laughs. As the kids grew up they went to Baylor (most of them) and the tradition continues.

This year, for the first time in a number of years we had all but one of the kids back, four of whom are now married. It was so much fun to all be together and remember so many stupid things we did. There is nothing quite like having friends that you feel totally comfortable with, who would do anything for you, rejoice with you in the good times, mourn with you in the difficult times, love the Lord and share decades of memories. It was also the first time for little Jayden and a new generation to experience the tradition. It will be fun to see it grow. Thanks for the memories.