Wednesday, December 29, 2010


It seems occasionally I
Have flashes of inspiration.
Insights worthy of saving
For some future generation.

They frequently seem to happen
At times most inopportune,
Like two o'clock in the morning
When I should be snoring a tune.

You'd think after all of this time
I would have learned to prepare
And keep a pad and pencil
On my bedside table there.

But, no, I think I'll remember
Anything worthy of claim
But, when I wake in the morning
I can barely remember my name!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's a Process

What I am
Is not what I was.
It is not what I will be.

Inside I'm still
What I've always been.
But, there's been change in me.

Why am I
There must be something more.

Or, why would I
Keep seeking
What I haven't sought before?

Is something deep
Inside of me
Desiring the unknown?

It must have started
As a kernel
And with time became full grown.

I think that we
Are wired
To rise above our self;

To seek a thing
Much greater
That draws us to Himself.

Matthew 11:28-29

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

Monday, December 27, 2010

An Impulse for Resolution

As we approach the New Year, the thoughts of many turn to Resolutions.  Such resolutions often include things like losing weight, exercising more, saving money, or any of a million other things directed at "better" behavior.

What drives this impulse for Resolutions?  Is it a knowledge that we are less than our best?  Is it a result of fear that our unchanged behavior will result in unpleasant consequence?  Is it something deeper?  Is it an impulse ingrained deeply within that tells us we can rise above our current nature?

Beyond the drive for improving oneself, however, must be a force in opposition to that impulse.  Why else would we almost universally fail in our endeavors?

That isn't to say that there aren't victories.  But, it has been my observation that a victorious resolution is almost always accompanied by failure in a new and often unexpected area.

Is it merely human nature that gives us both the impulse to improve and yet causes us to face new and unexpected challenges?  I don't think so.  I think that we are so absorbed by "ourselves" that we fail to see a much bigger picture.  I think it is part of the cosmic battle between good and evil, right and wrong, growth and decay, God and Satan.

Could it be that God plants in our human nature a desire to be like Him?  If so, it is only expected that Satan would oppose that desire. 

Some belief systems would have us accept that there must always be a balance between opposing forces.  I've never been one to accept the status quo.  I believe in victory.  I believe good will ultimately defeat evil.  I believe that right will overcome wrong.  I believe that each individual can grow as long as they are nourished properly.  I believe that life can overcome death.  Fortunately, the Author of Life has provided the way.

John 14:6

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me...."

John 16:33

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Preparing for a New Year

I looked into the future
And I DID NOT like it.
There was no kicking and screaming;
Merely a sedentism leading to decay;
The narcotic of success
Draining the energy for survival.

The chains of choice
Constrain the captive
Whose life lies entwined
With the sticky web's deception.
Truth's tarnished reputation
Enslaves unaware.

I choose a different path.
I choose the light.
I choose the burnished armor
And the whetted sword.
My Captain leads
Into a future changed.

Psalm 25:4-6 (New International Version, ©2010)

4 Show me your ways, LORD,
teach me your paths.
5 Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
6 Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Dunny Saves Christmas!

Sammy Kershaw did the song "Up on the Housetop."  I have modified it for a Cowboy version of the song.

Out by the Barn

Out by the barn the horses pause
'Cause here comes good old Santa Claus
Draggin' his reins and makin' noise
But, no sight of sled all filled with toys!
Ho, Ho, Ho, how could he know?  Ho, Ho, Ho, how could he know?

Reindeer antlers go click, click, click
Now, Santa's afoot and lookin' sick.

It seems he was flyin' across the sky
Makin' his rounds and feelin' spry
When along comes a big ol' jumbo jet
It spooked ol' Comet, he's runnin' yet!
Ho Ho, Ho, how could he know?  Ho, Ho, Ho, how could he know?

Reindeer antlers go click, click, click
Now, Santa's afoot and lookin' sick.

So, he saddled ol' Dunny with a borrowed rig
Who was feelin' his oats and dancin' a jig.
Then he headed south, a sleigh to catch
Hopin' ol' Comet had met his match!
Ho, Ho, Ho, how could he know?  Ho, Ho, Ho, how could he know?

Reindeer antlers go click, click, click
No longer afoot, Santa's on the stick.

Over the hill with ears layed back
They spot that sleigh just layin' a track!
With Dunny a flyin' the loop he lay,
Dallied his rope and stopped that sleigh!
Ho, Ho, Ho, how could he know?  Ho, Ho, Ho, how could he know?

Reindeer antlers go click, click, click
Christmas is saved by Santa's rope trick.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Perfect Christmas Gift

Shopping is not something that I do well.  Buying, yes.  Shopping, no.

If I know what I need and intend to buy it, I go do so.  I hate going and looking without knowing what it is that I am looking for.  You know, that perfect gift for someone who really doesn't give you any clues about what they want.

I'm never satisfied.  I find something and think, no, surely I can do better.  I agonize over it.  I second guess.  I procrastinate thinking that I will receive some revelation.  Arrrrghhh!

Why do I do this to myself???!!

But, when it comes to what I want for Christmas it's easy.  I just want some small something simple or, honestly, I'm happy with nothing at all as long as everyone else gets what they want.  But, if you have to get me something, a book is always good.  Or, a shirt.  Maybe some new guitar strings.  Or, best yet, something homemade.  Hmmmm.....that's about it.

But, the best gift is for family to be together.

Some of the best memories are going to Grandma and Grandpas's for Christmas.  We would play dominoes or Spades half the night.  Sometimes the guitars would come out and we would sing.  The house was always full and the smell of Grandma's cooking would fill the air.  The kids would run wild and Grandpa would get onto them.  But, best of all, was Grandpa, like a kid, anxious for the Christmas Eve gift exchange.  The kids would hand out the packages and Grandma would always apologize that it "wasn't much" but, it was always good.

Everyone is scattered across the country now.  Some aren't around anymore.  The younger ones now have families of their own.  It is harder and harder to stay connected in spite of the "connectivity" of this technology filled world.  Maybe it's time to focus on real connections again.

God in His infinite wisdom knew the importance of connections.  That's what Christmas is all about.  God connecting with His creation in a way that bridges the gap between us.  Keep your focus on that connection and the rest will be OK.  After all, this world is only a temporary stop on our way to something better.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How Do You Decorate Your Tree?

I enjoy seeing the different ways in which Christmas trees are decorated.  There are even contests held to see who does the best job of decorating their tree.  Some trees are extremely elaborate and most have distinct themes.

One version of the tradition of Christmas trees is connected with Martin Luther.  It seems that he was walking in the forest one starlit evening and looking up through the trees he noticed how the stars appeared to twinkle among the branches.  He sought to immitate that glorious sight by placing candles in a fir near his home.

There are other legends and stories surrounding Christmas trees.  Some go back to pagan practices long before Christ came to earth.  It seems that evergreen trees were worshipped by the Egyptians during winter solstice as a symbol of life's triumph over death.  Ancient Romans celebrated the feast of Saturnalia at the winter solstice.  It was in honor of Saturnus, the god of agriculture.  They used evergreen branches as decorations for the festival.

Christmas trees probably came to the United States along with the Hessian troops who fought in the American Revolution, or possibly as a tradition of early German immigrants into Pennsylvania and Ohio.  The practice was slow to spread and was even banned in parts of New England as late as 1851 by the Puritans.  The trees were thought to be a symbol of pagan rituals.

Whatever its origin, Christmas trees are now common.  How they are decorated is a matter of taste and personal expression.  For some it is show.  For others it is more personal.

Our tree is among the more personal.  Each year the number of decorations grows.  Some have adorned trees since our very first Christmas.  Others commemorate special events.  Many are handmade by our children.

Each year one or two new ornaments are added.  Sometimes they are removed.  When our daughter married and set up her own household she was given her ornaments -- those that commemorated special events in her life.  They now adorn her tree.  Some day my son will take his ornaments to his home.

I'm curious.  How do you decorate your tree?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It Might Be All It Takes.....

It is interesting to me how Christmas has such an impact on people in so many different ways.  For some, the world more-or-less stops between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.  The holiday is an extended period of little work and much play.  For others, nothing seems to change but possibly their frustration level with those in the first group.

There are those who, through a sense of joy, take on the Christmas season with gusto.  They purchase and wrap presents, they cook, they clean, they make special things, they are constantly buzzing with activity.  They are the ones in charge of the Christmas pageant at school.  They make the costumes.  They select, address and mail the Christmas cards.  They are activity personified.

There are others who feel a burden to do all of those things but, it comes from a sense of tradition and the expectations of others.  The tasks are the same but, the joy is somehow muted by a feeling of obligation.

Then there are others still who want the benefits, but, expect others to make everything happen.  Husbands are frequently accused of this particular attitude.  We usually are lousy shoppers.  We are nearly worthless in the kitchen.  We expect someone else to wrap the presents -- except possibly that one that we feel obliged to wrap ourselves.

There are those whose jobs don't stop for Christmas.  They work in grocery and department stores, gasoline stations and restaurants.  They are out feeding cattle and milking the cows.  They are doctors and nurses, policemen and firemen.  They are the ones who keep the lights on and the other services working.  They are the people who are on call in whatever industry, making sure that the world runs smoothly in spite of the holiday.  They are expected to do their job while others go blindly about their celebrations with no thought for them.

Christmas is about service to others.  Think about it.  Why did Jesus come to earth?  He came to pay the bill for our selfishness.  He was the ultimate gift.

As you go about your Christmas activities, pay attention to those around you.  Be a gift to them.  Give yourself that they also might experience the joy of Christmas.  It might be that all it takes is a hug and thank you.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Carols Behind Bars

Yesterday, I went with my friend Bob to do Prison Ministry.  I have a lot of respect for Bob.  He's a rancher and works hard.  He is very involved in the community.  He does a lot of things behind the scenes of which people aren't normally aware.  He also does Prison Ministry.

Last Sunday, Bob asked me if I would bring my guitar and go with him for Prison Ministry the following week.  He wanted to do some Christmas Carols for his group.  I went.

I had been to Prison Ministry with Bob before, but, not to sing.  He had previously tried to recruit me to be a part of the Prison Ministry group to which he belongs.  I didn't feel that it was something God was calling me to do.  So, I had not been back.

That first visit, several years ago, was very rewarding.  The inmates who came to the brief Bible study were very appreciative.  They also shared their prayer requests.  Some of them were heart-wrenching.

This time the format was a little different.  We started off with me playing the guitar and leading them in singing "Jingle Bells."  Interesting.  Some of these guys were pretty hard cases.  Some were in on drug or alcohol related issues.  I don't really know and it's not something that you can ask.  But, to see this dozen plus guys in their stripes and tattoos singing "Jingle Bells" was something.  They were a little tentative, but, almost all of them joined in.

Bob led them in a lesson about the Christmas story as related both in Luke and Matthew.  He didn't pull any punches with them.  He pointed out that Mary's "crime" of being pregnant out of wedlock made her an outcast.  It also was something that was punishable by death in her culture.  But, Joseph stepped up and handled it like a man.  He did the right thing.  He encouraged them to be man enough to "do the right thing."  He told them that they could bring cheer to their families at home by how they handled being locked up behind bars.  He also encouraged them that when they got out, they could change.

Bob does a great job telling these guys like it is.  They seem to respond well to him.  You could see them visibly relax and open up to the message.  Oh, there were a couple that weren't as open, but, you could tell they were listening attentively.

One individual in particular caught my attention.  He sat at the back of the group -- as far away as he could.  He seemed to have a scowl on his face and he kept his arms crossed in a guarded position.  He didn't smile.  He just stared intently at the floor.

When Bob finished the lesson he had me lead them in "Away in a Manger."  Think about the words to the song.  It's about a baby -- "the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay."  Those big old rough guys sang.  They sang from their heart.  There were a few embarassed grins around the table but, they sang.  All but one -- the one who sat at the back of the room.

We then sang "Joy to the World."  They sang even louder.  There in that prison -- Paul and Silas come to mind -- they sang.

Some of the prisoners who had not joined the group for Bible study were in the "commons" area adjacent to the room in which we met.  You could see some of them looking through the glass at this group of guys singing Christmas carols.  Some of them were puzzled.  Some looked as though they wished they had joined in.  Some turned away.

Then Bob prayed.  He prayed that they would find peace this Christmas season.  He prayed for their families.  He prayed that they would know Jesus as their Savior.  Finally, we sang "Silent Night."

"Silent night, Holy night,
All is calm, all is bright.
'Round yon virgin mother and child;
Holy infant so tender and mild;
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace."

There was a lot of emotion on the faces of those guys -- even a few glistening eyes -- and not just the inmates.  It was a very special moment.

All but one of them came up to me afterward and expressed their appreciation for the music.  All but one of them had a smile on his face.  All but one of them had experienced a brief moment beyond the bars.

But, you're wrong.  It wasn't the one who sat at the back with his arms folded, staring at the floor, that missed the joy of the moment.  He was the first one up.  He came to me and hugged me with tears in his eyes.  It kinda made mine glisten a bit.  No, it was one that I hadn't been able to see from where I sat.  Bob mentioned him as we walked out.  He said that he thought he was a new arrival -- still a little strung out on something.  He probably missed the whole thing.  Maybe his buddies in that room will get him headed in the right direction.

Jesus can reach right through the bars of that prison.  He can also reach through the bars of a hardened heart.  He's knocking at the door even now.

Revelation 3:19-20 (New International Version, ©2010)

19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Are You Ready For Some Christmas??!!

Monday night football has become such a part of our culture that when the question was asked earlier, "Are you ready for Christmas?", I couldn't help but hear Hank Jr. singing the theme song to Monday Night football!  Seriously though, how many times do you get asked, "Are you ready for Christmas?"

I suppose it is just an idle way to start (or make) conversation when we have nothing particular on our mind.  But, what if we responded differently?  What if our response was, "Of course I'm ready for Christmas!  Aren't you?"

Christmas is a season of joy! (Hint: It's not about the gifts.)
Christmas is a time of celebration! (Hint: It's not about office parties.)
Christmas is a time to be thankful! (Hint again:  It's still not about the gifts.)

Christmas celebrates the middle of the beginning.


Just think about it.  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Jesus is the author of creation.
Yet, he didn't join us here on earth until much later.
But, His coming to earth was only a part of the story.  He had to live, to teach, to die a human death, and then to overcome that death in order to fulfill his purpose for coming to earth.

Wow!  The God of the Universe came as a baby to save us from ourselves!

Christmas should be celebrated in our hearts and in our lives no matter our circumstances.  Whether we have completed the "obligatory" shopping is irrelevant to our preparedness for Christmas.  After all, it's not about us!

I can't wait to see the end of the story!  Are you ready for some Christmas?

Monday, December 13, 2010

High Finance


Dirty looks




Saturday, December 11, 2010


I puzzle, I wonder,
I don't understand
How some things can happen
Completely unplanned.

I stay in the lines,
I follow the rules
Though sometimes I wonder
If they're made by fools.

I stop and I think,
I stick to the plan,
I look for the pitfalls
And avoid where I can.

But sometimes things happen
Quite out of control
That cause controversy
And disquiet the soul.

And just like the moth
Drawn into the flame
The flickering phantoms
Are so hard to name

That I don't try to do so
And go with the flow
For otherwise how
Will I ever know?