Monthly Archives: November 2015

Daily Affirmation: 1 Peter 5:7

Your theological understanding or perspective on if there is a God and who he is makes all the difference in the world. If you believe a creator exists but he set the universe in motion as the ultimate reality television program to set back and watch it unfold for his own devilish entertainment, you would feel like victim on the floor of the Roman coliseum fighting for your meaningless life for the entertainment of the fickle crowds.

Strangely enough the spectator god has a great deal in common with a universe without a creator which came into existence with a bang and evolves based on the odds of Las Vegas. One’s life bounces along like the little black ball on the roulette table waiting to finally come to rest in a black or red square to the celebration or dismay of those watching while it all is meaningless to the victim. No god or the spectator god makes life nothing but a spectacle to be endured.

Of course the modern world with twenty-four hour news cycles has vividly revealed the bloody vengeful good of the extremist who should “God is great” as they slaughter innocent people and end their own lives with an explosion of sacred hatred and hope of paradise for the martyr. To those in the decadent in the West, these jihadist seem to be out of their minds, but likewise they see people living in sensual sin under the watchful eye of a judgmental god just as crazy if not blind. Through the centuries blood has often been spilled to satisfy and appease the gods of judgment, and even modern advances in technology and philosophy can subdue and silence this primordial urge to seek the favor of the blood gods with scales in their hands.

Interestingly enough Christianity has a touch of the blood god because it holds to the reality of the fallen nature of the human race, and actually takes sin not a entertainment for the gods, but rather the plight of the human existence and that which separates the human race from its creator and the lover of its soul.

There is no Christianity without the issue too of blood, but not the shedding of the blood of innocent men and women, boys and girls at the edge of a sword or cowering under a blast of bullets from an AK47. No, the blood of the cross makes life and hope possible. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ on a dark Friday outside of Jerusalem as he downed the cup of the wrath of God against all sin, wickedness and evil revealed the heart and holiness of God in once transforming act. The sinless Son of God dying for his creation to open the way back to the garden for those created in his image. His resurrection from the dead sealed the victory over darkness and opened a new way to God and introduced God to his creation in a whole new way as he reached out with nail-scarred hands.

Yes, Christianity offers the world a vision of a God who cares and loves, who “so loves the world.” Peter, one of Jesus’s closest friends, spoke of this vision of God in the closing words of a letter he sent to some of his closest friends. He wrote:

“…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 ESV)

I choose to believe and trust in my creator who has a name and a plan and purpose for my life and existence. I believe his name is YAHWEH–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I live under the banner of Jesus my LORD.

I have not outgrown the words of my childhood, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so, little ones to him belong, they are weak but he is strong…yes, Jesus loves me…yes, Jesus loves me…yes, Jesus loves me–the Bible tells me so.”

When I worry and fret, I step out of the light of his love and grace and return to the shadows of gods who do not exist. God really cares about you and me. Believe this theological truth and it changes everything. It adds power to your prayers. It gives meaning and purpose even to the senseless twists and turns of life knowing the circumstances of life are not random but measured.

We give thanks to God because we know he cares, and have experienced his goodness among the living. So choose this day to “cast all your cares upon him because he cares for you….”






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Thanksgiving by the Numbers

The Psalmist handed us the keys to the throne room when he penned the following words:

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name!

 For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100:4-5 ESV)

Since thanksgiving and praise usher us into the very presence of our creator and LORD, I thought I would begin this Thanksgiving morn by praising God by the numbers!

1–One God and King, One Savior and LORD, one grandson named George and one wife I call “Rai” because since 1980 she has been my “Raibo–like rainbow” my personal reminder of the promises of God

2–Two parents who have loved me from the first breath of my life and who continue to show me the way by the love and devotion to God and to each other, of course I cannot forget to mention my two eyes, two ears, two hands and two feet. Oh I almost forgot Philip and Jordan, my two son-in-laws who now make football on Thanksgiving day possible!

3–Three brothers who got into my stuff, messed up my room, clutter my childhood home, and who to this day hold an incredible place in my hearts, there may be a friend who sticks closer to a brother, but brothers make life fun and worth living

4–Four daughters, from Kalie’s first cry to Madison’s latest cuddle, Kalie, Lorin, Jamie and Madison have filled my life only with joy. Words are inadequate to tell the treasures possessed only by a father of beautiful young women

15– My team at First Baptist El Paso (Bob, Dan, Elvin, Edgardo, Martha, Rick, Erick, Josh, Nataly, Gayle, Julia, Juan, Nikki, Leslie, Maria) All I can say is I am humbled to serve with them

33–Thirty-three years and counting of love amazing with Robyn

55–Fifty-five years of life and learning to enjoy every breath as a gift from God



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ABC’s of Thanksgiving

Growing up I learned the classic hymn “Count Your Blessing” composed by Johnson Oatman, Jr in 1897. I can still remember the chorus by memory:

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

Every Sunday night at the North Fort Worth Baptist Church where I grew we sang this chorus and then had a time of thanksgiving where members stood and expressed their gratitude to God. I suspect now that this “attitude of gratitude” explains the sweet spirit in this great church.

Years ago, I discovered the wonderful idea of making a thanksgiving list using the alphabet. Here’s my list for this year, let me encourage you and your family to make your own.
A-apples, automobiles, angioplasty
B-Bible, books, bananas, bread, banana bread
C-chocolate—enough said!
D-dogs, donuts, deacons, Dad
E-emergency rooms, eggs, exercise, El Paso
F-food, fun, fellowship, family, football
G-God almighty, and Prince George
H-Holy Spirit, homemade anything!
I-ice cream, instant pudding, internet
J-Jesus—enough said! Jamie and Jordan
K-Kalie, Ketchup, kites, kindness,
L-Lorin, love, laughter, light, Little Debbie,
M-Madison, money, mushy movies, Mom
N-nuts, Nutella (fake chocolate), night sky
O-ovens, olives, outdoors
P-Philip, Paris, peanuts, peanut butter
Q-quiet, quiet times, quarters
R-Robyn, rest, rules (I am a first born), rain
S-spaghetti, soup, spiritual disciplines
T-Texas, tacos, tomatoes, tamales
W-West Texas, watermelon, wise counsel
X-x-rays; Xerox, X-chromosome
Y-Yams, yellow roses, Yahweh
Z-Zoo, zippers, zip codes

Try it at home this week and see how you do. It’s more fun and better for you than a New York Times Crossword Puzzle.

I have always loved Psalm 100. I appreciate that it is short, sweet, and to the point. The Psalmist wrote:

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

One of the great lessons to this hymn points out that we enter His very gates through thanksgiving. Yes, thanksgiving ushers us into the very presence of the LORD.

Dr. Robert Emmons and Dr. Michael McCullough develop what they called “Gratitude lite” which encourages people to start a gratitude journal. In the journal individuals were encourage to write down five things they were thankful for at least once a week. Remarkably after only two months those who kept the journals were much happier and optimistic than a control group who did not journal. In addition, at night they fell asleep much quicker. “If you want to sleep more soundly, count blessings, not sheep,” suggests Dr. Emmons.

I can affirm this proven reality myself. Three months ago, I began starting each day by writing down at least three things I am thankful for. This simple practice of gratitude has brought great joy to my life even in trying times. So this week let’s “enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise!”

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Daily Affirmation: Psalm 63:3-4

Being loved changes everything. When I embrace the steadfast and unfailing love God has for me–His love changes me and opens my eyes to an unseen world all around me covered with His fingerprints.

The Psalmist wrote:

Because your steadfast love is better than life,
    my lips will praise you. (Psalm 63:3 ESV)

Life without love barely resembles life at all. Life without love boils down to nothing more than heartbeats and nerve synapses firing without meaning or purpose. This morning embrace the steadfast, unfailing love God has for us. Run toward His embrace.

Today, we embrace His love for us. We gaze upon the nail prints which tell the story. We choose to find life alone in His unfailing love and not in the temporal and tantalizing temptations luring us to unfaithful lovers who only use and toss aside. We confess His love gives life its meaning and purpose so praise naturally and fully pours from our lips out of the overflow of souls deeply satisfied.




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Daily Affirmation: Psalm 119:11

One of the first Bible verses I ever memorized was Psalm 119:11 which reads:

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

This simple yet profound verse captured my imagination even as a child, and inspires me to continue to hid or store the Word of God deep in the recessive of my mind, heart, and soul. Memorized verses can serve like “white blood” cells in the body ready to fight of the infections that can so quick poison our spiritual lives. Quite often a scripture I hid in my heart pops into my mind at just the right time to save the day or at least to warn me to make the right choose in a time of testing and temptation.

Today, activate the verses hidden in your heart by faith and seeking the filling of the Holy Spirit who makes the Word of God come alive.

We can overcome the sin crouching at the door of our hearts by relying on His Word planted deep in our hearts and minds.

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Daily Affirmation: Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

As Solomon concludes his rambling thoughts about the meaning and purpose of life which he had gathered along his journey. He observes and declares:

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.—Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

At the end of the day, life turns out to be far less complicated and complex as one might suspect. He challenges his readers to simply: “Fear God and keep his commandments…for this is the whole duty of man.”

When one lives in awe and fear of the Lord of the heavens, his or her life takes on a healthy perspective on life with all its twists and turns. When one fears and trusts the Lord obedience flows naturally like a child following the instruction of a loving parent. One obeys because God’s love creates the very atmosphere of life and loving God becomes as natural as breathe.

Today I choose to fear the Lord and live in the magnificent awe of His presence and power. I choose to obey His directives knowing His will for my life will lead me down the narrow path to life in a world of countless detours leading nowhere.

Don’t complicate it too much today. “Fear God and keep his commands…”





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The Gasp

I never wanted to be labeled a hypochondriac. You know the kind of person who always seems to be complaining about this ache and this pain. However, over the past forty days I found myself seeking medical attention and missing work with strange physical symptoms and fevers too often.

I diagnose and treat my own ailments, and for the most part I have been relatively successful in my medical career even though I have the wrong kind of doctorate to practice medicine.

However, a few days ago, I found myself driving to the ER after prayer meeting. Over the past thirty days after a long road trip to Brownwood and back, I had not felt good. I thought I had a touch of pneumonia or acute bronchitis, but when I checked into the urgent care clinic the doctor on duty ruled my condition to be a urinary tract infection and put me on a round of antibiotics.

Over the course of the next week, I felt somewhat better and the severe back and shoulder pain related to deep breathes subsided, and it appeared all was well, except the fact when I exercised I continued to have shortness of breath and an accelerated heart beat. So after a couple of weeks of not feeling right, I went to my primary care doctor and she determined I may have a case of congestion and the onset of allergies, so she treated me in line with her assumptions, but I still did not feel right. So I consulted with a doctor friend whose persuasion may have saved my life.

When I arrived at the ER, I must confess I felt a bit dumb. I had no fever, no shortness of breath unless I was running, and only a dry cough, but I decided to trust my friend and rule out any serious complications. Upon arrival, I waited– which is why you are called a patient in a hospital, because you will need patience to be a patient! When I made it back to the examining room and Robyn arrived, a series of tests and blood work ensued. (By the way, I now have nightmares of smiling lab attendants bearing needles seeking my blood!) All the tests, and x-rays appeared normal confirming my feeling I was wasting time and money until I had a scan of my lungs. Robyn and the technician took me to radiology and I laid flat on the machine awaiting a shot of dye in my IV to expose any possible problems.

Since x-rays were to be used, Robyn joined the technician in his office to watch the results on the screen. According to protocol he assured her he could not reveal the findings of the tests but she would watch and make her own assessment. Momentarily, he informed me he was shooting the dye into my veins and I should expect a warm sensation. Just as the dye entered my lungs he gasped and said, “Oh my… his lungs are full of clots!” Quickly blood drained from Robyn’s face and when I saw her I knew instinctively something was terribly wrong.

Needless to say, I did not get to go home that night with the satisfaction of having been right, I spent the next couple of days in the hospital receiving treatments for pulmonary embolisms and giving blood to the vampires in the night.

It all hit me about three o’clock in the morning when I did a Google search on my iphone to read about my diagnosis only to discover that nearly 20% of those with this condition DIE! No wonder the doctors, nurses, and technicians marveled that I was still alive, but I was in good hands all along…not mine, but HIS—His nail-scarred hands.

Yes, this Thanksgiving I have much to be thankful for. This year I will head the list with life…simply being alive. Sadly, too often I take life and health for granted. The Psalmist declared: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases…” (Psalm 103:2-3).  What are you thankful for this year?

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