Sunday, May 30, 2010

More value

Today I was doing my usual Bible study and I have been doing Matthew this year. I was looking at chapter 12:1-8 and this is what I wrote.

b. The second situation is similar and involves a man who has a deformity which more than likely makes it difficult for him to work and make a living. This time they ask Him directly if it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath. Jesus again deflects the specific question and turns it to one of compassion. He says yes it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. In fact it is always lawful
and we are encouraged to do good at all times. Again He shows them how disconnected their laws were from the true intent of God. They had written into the law that it was okay to pull a sheep out of a ditch (financial loophole). Jesus then states the obvious but what they had blinded themselves from, that people are much more valuable than sheep. But here is where it really hits home for us. We would instantly agree with this, as I’m sure the Pharisees would. But the real issue is when it comes down to our sheep (money) versus some poor person we do not know, do we really live like people are more valuable?

I hope you picked up on what I was trying to say and what the Holy Spirit was trying to implant into my heart. Theologically no one would really argue about the premise. But practically we often live our lives going after every lost sheep (here I mean money/possessions and not lost souls) rather than what we can do for those in this world who are hurting. He just pricked my heart with this today so I do not have it all figured out as to what He wants me to do and I would appreciate any thoughts you have as well. I also suggest you pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what He wants you to do.

Here are some early thoughts. When a bill comes up in congress do I care more about how it affects my retirement account than I do about people who are in need? Does my checkbook (or Quicken account) reflect hoarding or consistent giving to people or agencies who are working for the poor and marginalized? This has nothing to do with conservative or liberal political philosophy. Is my prayer life devoted to my needs (spouse, family, friends) or am I standing in the gap for those on the wrong side of injustice? I could go on and on but I want you to reflect on your own ideas. I hope I have not ruined your day.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A tribute - 33 and counting

This past Friday (the 21st) Luana and I celebrated our 33rd anniversary. We had a great time, nothing fancy but a lot of time together, and fortunately we still enjoy being together. So in light of this great event i thought I would post a little tribute to my wonderful wife. It may be a little difficult as my sweet daughter just did one for Mother's Day. So here it goes!

Anybody that knows the two of us would readily agree that I married over my head. Most people also wonder how she was able to stay with me for so long, especially the early years. I have matured a bit in more recent years. My siblings have forever been amazed at how she has endured me. Be that as it may, I knew early on that I had a jewel and I have not been disappointed over the years.

So what is it about her that makes her so special? She has always supported me in my decisions, has encouraged me repeatedly and has been my biggest supporter. She has allowed me to take the lead in our family and been incredibly submissive, while at the same time expressing her thoughts and ideas when needed.

Then of course she has been an incredible mother to our four children. It was just so natural for her and she loved every bit of it. And she still has such a great relationship with each of them - it is almost as if there is not enough of her to go around. It was such a blessing to me knowing that that part was taken care of. And now those same traits are coming back out as a grandmother (Mimi). Her grandkids just love their Mimi and she is happy to drive to Dallas every week or two to babysit them.

And to others she is the kind of friend everyone needs. She will listen to others for hours - she truly is able to rejoice with those who rejoice and to mourn with those who mourn. She always gives people the benefit of the doubt, thinks the best of them, does not talk bad about them and is optimistic to the end. I have never met anyone who did not like her.

I have never known someone who is as truly pure as Luana is. She loves Jesus and desires for others to do so as well. She is indeed the embodiment of the fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self control.She carries herself with true humility.

If I knew then what I know now, would I still marry her? In a heartbeat. I can truly say that I am a better person because of her in my life. And the more I get to know her, none of these attributes seem to diminish. It has been an incredibe ride and I praise God for bringing Luana into my life.

Monday, May 17, 2010

My job is done

This past Saturday my youngest daughter, Mary Beth, went across the stage at the Ferrell Center at Baylor University to receive her diploma and finish the task. That marks the end of formal university education for my children and also marks the end of my job as a parent. They are now all able to go out into the big wide world on their own and face the excitement and dangers that brings with it. They are all well trained and I am confident will do well in the exam of life.

Not that my job as a parent is really over. I still am Mary Beth's covering until she meets her knight and I am sure I have not doled out the last Shilling. But for the most part my job now is one of counsellor (only when asked) and encourager. Then of course there are the grandkids - that is another life in itself. Still, as I sung "That Good Ole Baylor Line" for the last time, I was nostalgic thinking that all four of my children graduated from Baylor; but then also thinking back to 33 years earlier when Luana and I walked across the stage as well ending a wonderful chapter in my life.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Climb every every stream...

A wet trail.

Artie crossing the river

Jason crossing the Little Missouri

A nice view from on top

Small but pretty falls

A lot of force for small falls

Jason wet from hiking in the rain

Pretty river

Fog in the early morning from a nice overlook

Jason holding our precious map

And so the song goes from the musical THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Well we did not actually climb the mountains of Austria, but we did climb over the hills of the Ouachita National Forest. Last weekend my son, Jason, and I drove to northwestern Arkansas to do a three day hike in the above mentioned forest. The hike is called Eagle Nest Loop and is 26.8 miles (basically a marathon). It is called by the local hikers the most strenuous hike in Arkansas and a real test of one's hking skills. I can certainly see why.

We started out at about 2:00 Friday and the first part is straight up and down four hills (500 - 800 ft. each). And I mean straight up - no switchbacks. It was especiaslly difficult because of all of the gear we were carrying. After finishing this part we set up camp for the night and then the sky opened and it poured all night. The next morning we started out and it continued to pour for the first two hours. Then miraculously the skies cleared and it was beautiful. This part of the hike was 15 miles along the Little Missouri River which was a bear as all of the rain had caused it to be more full than usual and it was moving fast. We had to cross it a half dozen times and in all we probably crossed 75 creeks, streams or rivers, most of them wet crossings. It was a beautiful hike with lots of running water, a waterfall, variations of pine and deciduous forests, some overlook vistas and lots of quiet conversations with my son. We finally pitched tent again, exhausted from the hike, and lo and behold, the heavens open up again with severe thunderstorms, which we later learned spawned a number of tornados. The next morning we got up to clear skies and hiked the last 8 miles back to our car, going over two more hills.

All in all it was a great time and I learned some new things about Jason. First is that he is incredibly observant. We would be walking and he would see all sorts of thing that I missed. The second thing is that he has a very keen sense of direction and is amazing at being able to follow trails. I have hiked for a lot longer but he is better at keeping on the trail and kept us from getting lost a lot of times. Then of course there were all of the other great things about him that I already knew - he is kind, compassionate, loyal, humble, lover of God. I am truly blessed by this young man.