Sunday, December 31

Saying Goodbye

Life's twists and turns inevitably lead to the end of the journey. We say goodbye this week to my aunt, Judie Cockrell Elliott. Her long battle with MS and poor health is over.

We will remember Judie as a loving, generous, fun-filled and appreciative friend. We will remember her almost daily phone calls to us about soap operas, family, computer troubles, the latest and greatest health fads, John Hagee and Charles Stanley sermons, recipes, her dogs, the day's events, plans and hopes.

We will remember the last few years' struggle to reach for a word or thought, undergo three knee surgeries (among others), deal with seizures and trying to keep her balance. These were not good times by any calculation. Pain was her constant companion and nemesis.

So we close this year with a looming sadness and resolve to start the new year with a renewed commitment to hold family and friends a little tighter and longer.

May God so grace us in 2007 as we thank Him for the relationships that matter the most.

Monday, December 25

Christmas Trappings and Beyond

This yearly two-in-one celebration of Christ's birth and getting and giving stuff is wrapping up today here on the West Coast. After the biscuits and gravy, the chicken enchalada and tamales, the turkey and ham, the pizza and Pepsi, the myriad snacks, the cranberry jello salad, the yams and mashed potatoes, the green bean casseroles and desserts galore, there will be a few days respite before dieting is at the top of our wish list.

Most of us know the power of food. God created us to ENJOY it, but not be the proverbial glutton. The veil of guilt descends each holiday season during the year. It disappears into the sea of forgetfulness before long, but emerges as the Creature from the Food Lagoon by the next celebration event.

We've evolved from nibblers to gorgers. The piper must be paid sooner or later. Let's make it after those New Year parties!

Visit for Christmas Eve photos.

Wednesday, December 20

Flying the Friendly Skies

Let's get this straight --- Saudi Arabians can bring their Korans to America, demand places to pray in our airports, have the right to pray out loud during American airline flights, build places of worship in our country, preach their doctrines and try to convert others to their faith --- but a British airline flight attendant can't bring her Bible with her on flights to Saudi Arabia. They equate God's Word with heroin, pot and pork rinds.

May God have mercy on their souls.

Monday, December 11

Why There Won't Be Peace This Or Any Christmas

"You are the salt of the earth." --- Jesus' words from his Sermon on the Mount.

"Now that is not only a description of the Christian; it is a description by implication of the world in which he finds himself. It really stands for humanity at large . . . Here we come to what is, in many ways, the crucial problem of this twentieth century, undoubtedly one of the most interesting periods that the world has ever known. I do not hesitate to claim that there has never been a century which has so proved the truth of the biblical teaching as this one. It is a tragic century, and it is tragic very largely because its own life has completely disproved and demolished its own favourite philosophy.

"As you know, there never was a period of which so much was expected. It is indeed pathetic to read the prognostications of the thinkers (so-called), the philosophers and poets and leaders, towards the end of the last [19th] century. How sad to note that easy, confident optimism of theirs, the things they expected from the twentieth century, the golden era that was to come. It was all based upon the theory of evolution, not only in a biological sense, but still more in a philosophical sense. The controlling idea was that the whole of life was advancing, developing and going upwards. That was what we were told in a purely biological sense; ;man had risen out of the animal and had arrived at a certain stage of development. But still more was this advance emphasized in terms of the mind and the thought and the outlook of man. Wars were going to be abolished, diseases were being cured, suffering was going to be not only ameliorated but finally eradicated. It was to be an amazing century. Most of the problems were going to be solved, for man had at last really begun to think. The masses, through education, would cease giving themselves to drink and immorality and vice. And as all the nations were thus educated to think and to hold conferences instead of rushing to war, the whole world was very soon going to be Paradise. That is not caricaturing the situation; it was believed confidently. By Acts of Prliament, and by international conferences, all problems would be solved now that man had begun to use his mind.

"There are not many people living in the world today, however, who believe that. . . the fallacy of it all has by now been recognized by all serious thinkers. . .

"Now the Bible has always taught this, and it is put perfectly by our Lord when He says, 'You are the salt of the earth.' What does it imply? It clearly implies rottenness in the earth; it implies a tendency to pollution and to becoming foul and offensive. That is what the Bible has to say about this world. It is fallen, sinful and bad. Its tendency is to evil and to wars. It is like meat which has a tendency to putrefy and to become polluted. It is like something which can only be kept wholesome by means of a preservative or antiseptic. As the result of sin [starting with Adam and Eve] life in the world in general tends to get into a putrid state. . . the world left to itself is something that tends to fester. . .

"The question in the minds of so many people today is, What lies ahead of us? Clearly if we do not start by holding this biblical doctrine at the centre of our thinking, our prophesy must of necessity be false. The world is bad, sinful and evil; and any optimism with regard to it is not only thoroughly unscriptural but has actually been falsified by history itself."

---from Studies in The Sermon on the Mount, by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, 1959, London

Monday, December 4

"For Laughing Out Loud"

My grandfather died when I was about 4 1/2, so I can't remember him. I have to rely on pictures, first-hand accounts and imagination.

This picture (circa 1924 or so) betrays a wonderful sense of humor that passed to his two kids and to most of us grandkids as well. He must have been a practical joker who loved getting his better half upset just for fun. That's my dad in San Luis Obispo, ready to get a large dose of grease --- a scenario most likely choreographed by Grandpa. Good for him --- and us.

Have you made your kids laugh lately?