In his own eyes

The time of the judges is neatly summarized in Judges 17:6 — “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.”  Similar thoughts are repeated several times in the last few chapters of the book.  But just in the first part of the first story we see several issues that a godly king such as David, Jehoshaphat or Josiah might have been able and willing to stave off.

Read More

Blood

My father is losing blood at the time of this writing.  No one knows why.  No one seems terribly worked up about it, though; doctors are on the case, he is well supervised, the issue (accidental pun alert) is being addressed and will soon be resolved.

I’m not worried.  Really.  Not worried.  The face I am wearing now is the face of me not being worried.

Read More

Brisket

My beloved Texas A&M University puts on an annual two-day barbecue seminar.  “Camp Brisket” shows a fortunate few dozen participants the finer points of trimming, preparing and serving the best barbecue in the world.  And here I am in Pensacola, Florida, drooling, surrounded by well-intentioned but sadly ignorant folks who think “good barbecue” used to oink.

Read More

Why we left Egypt

Throughout the Old Testament, “Egypt” is used as a metaphor for slavery.  The Israelites spent 430 years in Egypt, much or most of which was spent under the Egyptians’ thumb.  The kind behavior shown to Joseph and his family was not continued by the Pharaoh “who did not know Joseph” (Exodus 1:8).  Life soon became intolerable for the nation, even to the point of being forced to kill their own male children.  But God was watching over His people the entire time, even and especially during the worst days.  And when the time was right, God intervened.  Pharaoh was humiliated, Egypt was crushed and looted, and Israel emerged on the other side of the Red Sea as a nation to be seriously regarded and respected.

But the story was not yet over. 

Read More

Gymnastics

If you want to see the glorious difference between men and women (and have everyone keep their clothes on, mostly), you need look no further than a gymnastics competition.  Myself, I am not particularly a fan; I haven’t even watched Olympic competition for almost a decade.  But I know, for instance, that women do not perform on the pommel horse, parallel bars or rings.  And after watching Olympian Shawn Johnson attempt it, I know why.  The same reason I don’t.  It’s impossible.  The upper body strength is just not there.

The men don’t perform on the uneven bars or balance beam.  And I know why.  The same reason I can’t watch them try.  Physiology.  Let’s just call it physiology.

Read More

Reasons to Complain

Having lived in the middle of SEC country for nearly seven years now, I thought I had seen the worst examples of “Can’t take L for an answer.”  But two New Orleans fans have taken it to a whole other level.  They are actually suing the NFL over the result of the NFC championship game, in which their beloved Saints lost to the Rams — in no small part because of an admittedly horrible non-call near the end of the game.

They want the commissioner of the NFL to do something about it.  Ideally, replay the entire game (or at least the last few minutes of regulation), or just flat-out reverse the game results.  Nothing unreasonable.

Read More

Lobsters

Lobsters are not immortal.  You may have heard otherwise, but it isn’t true.  They do have a remarkable way of reproducing cells that retards cell death indefinitely.  But turns out, getting old brings on a host of health difficulties, each of which may eventually become fatal.  They ward off the natural processes better than most species, granted, but death will inevitably get them in the end, as it will all of us.

Read More

Carrot cake and the body of Christ

I took Tracie to my favorite restaurant on our second date, way back in the day.  It was my favorite restaurant for a number of reasons, but high on the list was their carrot cake.  I have never been one to order dessert with dinner (I’ve been reluctant ever since I realized they would charge me for it), but for some reason I had had the carrot cake at this particular establishment.  And it was wonderful.  Moist cake, and plenty of it.  Plump, juicy raisins throughout.  A delicious cream-cheese icing, but not too much.  Perhaps the best dessert I had ever eaten that had not come out of the kitchen of my mother or grandmother.

Dinner went fine.  I was funny.  I was engaging.  The food was delicious.  Things were going so well.  And then I suggested dessert.  “You have to try the carrot cake,” I said.

That’s when she told me she didn’t like carrot cake. 

Read More

Blindfolded

I have not seen Bird Box, the Sandra Bullock film on Netflix everyone seems to be talking about.  And maybe it’s just as well.  Because there seems to be a trend of people trying to drive blindfolded.  After all, Sandra Bullock did it.  And she’s a movie star.  Surely that makes it a sensible thing to do.

Read More

Peach cobbler and the body of Christ

Every Southern household has its own recipe for peach cobbler.  They differ widely.  Personally, I like a lot of peaches, a nice goopy consistency with the filling, and a crispy, sugary crust.  Others may prefer a more biscuit-like pastry, or a deeper pastry level than I like.  That’s fine.  Some prefer to make theirs in a casserole dish in the oven, some like the Crock Pot, some go old school and use a cast-iron Dutch oven over an open fire.  Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.  But we all absolutely must agree on two bits of business: it must feature peaches, and it must be a cobbler.  It’s right there in the name, after all.  Peach.  Cobbler.

Read More

Reason

Because I love torturing myself, I occasionally use social media to check on some of the Christians I have known in the past who have shown signs of faith slippage.  Invariably I find what I expect.  It’s a sickness.  I need to stop.

Anyway, one lovely young girl from our past got a tattoo on her foot awhile back.  It reads, “Everything happens for a reason.”  She has a beautiful baby girl now.  Never been married.  I doubt she sees the irony.

Read More

S'mores and the body of Christ

The whole point of s’mores is fireplace, firepit or campfire entertainment with the family.  You roast the marshmallow on an actual flame, then use the residual heat to melt a chocolate bar, grip the gooey goodness between two graham crackers, and go to town on it.  Making them is far more enjoyable than eating them.  Watching your children make them is even better.

You can do it in the microwave instead, if you like.  But the crackers lose their crispiness, the marshmallow slides everywhere, it’s just a mess.  There is, however, a device that will make the best microwave s’mores ever. 

Read More

Klobosniky

Purists insist that a “kolache” with sausage inside is actually a klobosniky.  And strictly speaking, it is not Czech in origin, as is the kolache.  It is a native Texan.  Word has it the klobosniky was invented in West, Texas (which, ironically, is not in west Texas) at the Village Bakery in 1953.

If you are not from Texas, you don’t care.  If you are from Texas, you probably still don’t care.  Frankly, I’m not sure how much I care.  I just like saying klobosniky.

Read More

Kolaches and the body of Christ

I love my life in Florida.  But I must say, trips back to Texas remind me of what I have left behind.  Bluebonnets in March, and prickly pear flowers in May.  Beef brisket barbecue so good that is actually better without sauce.  Two dozen varieties of peppers in your local grocery store.  Mexican food that is worth eating.

 But one of the least-appreciated Texas delights is a pastry called a kolache.

Read More

A possible root of the problem

When Paul said goodbye to the Ephesian elders in Miletus, he told them he knew he would never see their faces again (Acts 20:25).  However, his dealings with the church at Ephesus were not entirely completed, according to 1 Timothy 1:3,  If we believe Paul was guided by inspiration in Miletus, we have to take him at his word.  That means the church at Ephesus during Paul’s third preaching tour was dramatically different from the one with which Timothy was working just six or seven years later.

What happened?

Read More

Delete

December has five Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays this year.  That’s unusual, as you might expect.  Pointless and uninteresting, sure, but unusual.  In fact, it was suggested on Facebook (yes, I’m railing on Facebook again today) that it only occurs once every 823 years.  OK, that might push it past the border into Interestingland.

Except it’s not true.  And when you think about it, it can’t be true. 

Read More

My gift to Jesus

This time of year, most of us have cultural, familial, and guilt-induced obligations to bestow gifts on various ones near and (to one degree or another) dear to us.  For the Hammons family, thankfully, our holiday shopping is just about concluded.  (I deceive.  Apologies.  Tracie’s holiday shopping is just about concluded.)

But I keep hearing talk about Jesus being “the reason for the season.”  I like Kylie’s response to that saying — “That’s ridiculous,” she says.  “Jesus is the reason for everything.”  (They do make you proud, don’t they?) 

Read More

Chickadees

A flock of what appeared to be black-capped chickadees descended on the church property this week.  (Forgive me, Mom, if I’m ornithologically incorrect here.)  Tiny little things, just hopping all over the place looking for seeds.  Peck.  Hop.  Peck.  Hop.  Peck.

Read More

The aftermath of sin

On April 27, 2017, off-duty border patrol agent and expectant father Dennis Dickey fired a high-powered rifle at a target packed with an explosive known as Tannerite.  It exploded in a huge ball of blue smoke, indicating to the delighted crowd of friends that his child would be, in fact, a boy.

To put it mildly, things went downhill from there.

Read More