Nonstick

Three eggs, scrambled, with salt and pepper, tucked into two flour tortillas.  That has been my breakfast of choice since I (1) decided to increase my protein intake and (2) heard eggs weren’t as unhealthy as I had been told.  What a beautiful day that was!

But I’ve finally given up on my skillet of choice.  I prefer nonstick cookware for reasons that speak for themselves.  But this particular surface was starting to erode, making “nonstick” a bit of a misnomer. 

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"It is wiser to find out than to suppose"

We all love the story of Naaman from 2 Kings 5.  We may even get a chuckle or two out of the great Aramean general’s assumptions about how God’s prophet would cleanse him of leprosy, and how he appeared willing to go home in a huff rather than reconsider his preconceptions.  “Behold, I thought” — it has made for many a sermon title over the years, including one or two from me.

But are we that much better than Naaman? 

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"A classic -- something that everybody wants to have read and no one wants to read"

My podcast listeners will remember I made reference recently to a collection of quotations from Mark Twain, perhaps the most beloved of all American writers.  Although he was a masterful storyteller and social critic, he is perhaps best known for his quippy one-liners and witticisms.  He knew better than most that truth gets through hard skulls better when accompanied by a bit of humor.  We all (well, most of us) instinctively are inclined to laugh at ourselves; when we give ourselves a chance, we may motivate ourselves to grow.

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Glasses

I’m pretty sure I lost my reading glasses this week while running through a parking lot in the rain.  Anyway, I had the glasses, then I ran through the rain, then at some point later I didn’t have my glasses.  Such things happen, I suppose.  And as long as I can get an article out of it, I suppose I can survive.

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The Spirit of aBsTRActioN

During a search for activities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that might not appeal to my mother-in-law (just joking, Ginny!), I stumbled across the website of the Museum for Biblical Art.  I like art, and I love the Bible.  So I figured checking it out for free might convince me to spend $15 to see it in person.  Verdict: probably, assuming Tracie can be convinced.

One part I found a bit perplexing, though, is an outdoor exhibit called “The Spirit of Abstraction.” 

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The Preacher's New Groove

My girls are obsessed — obsessed, mind you — with The Emperor’s New Groove, which by conventional standards is a mediocre (at best) film in the middle of a mediocre (at best) period in Disney history.  So I take a weird sort of delight in sharing with you information they almost certainly do not have, and do not want, about this film.

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Reply

Do you ever text or Facebook message and wait around for an hour or two for a reply?  I like to think of myself as being rather secure with myself, but I have to admit — that messes with my head.  I’m not talking about waiting for their take on the meaning of life or the status of their dad’s cancer treatment, mind you.  I’m talking about questions I have asked that require a yes/no answer.  Of course, if I just got a yes or a no, I’d probably think that was rude.  But at least I would have a reply.  That’s something.

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Stories from the Road: Twenty Years of Growth

I finally convinced Tracie to take a drive past our first house during our latest trip to Texas.  We were in the neighborhood, literally driving within a stone’s throw of it.  Just a slight detour, and we could see what had become of the place since we sold it almost 20 years ago.

I expected it to be different.  I did not expect it to be that different.

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Armadillo

Finding a dead armadillo on the side of the road is about like finding bad salsa in Florida — unfortunate, objectionable, but hardly worth extensive comment.  However, the one I saw this week was (as far as I could tell at 40 miles per hour) unmarked.  It just lay there on the shoulder of the road, four legs reaching to the sky.

This posture reveals the defensive shortcomings of this particular example of God’s creativity.

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Ice cream, walks, and personal growth

When we lived in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, we lived a short walk from a major intersection, 91st Street and Aspen Avenue.  I would often take Samson, the Brittany spaniel we owned at the time, for walks around the neighborhood, and occasionally I could convince the girls to come with me.  Yes, they loved their daddy.  Yes, they loved Samson.  But mainly, they loved ice cream.  And on the opposite corner of the intersection of 91st and Aspen, there was a Braum’s ice cream parlor.  Samson and I would cross both streets with the girls and then wait on the sidewalk and watch through the glass door as two little girls, not ten years of life between them, walked up to the counter with a $5 bill and ordered some ice cream.

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Stories from the Road: An Internet-Free Zone

I got behind in my work during my recent vacation.  That may not sound strange; getting away from work is kind of what vacation is all about.  But my “vacations” are not entirely work-free, in most instances.  I usually have a few articles and a sermon or two that need to be ready to go before I get home, plus I have my various online obligations and my regular, run-of-the-mill Bible reading.

Some of that had to take a vacation as well, though.  My parents’ internet service was basically nonfunctional. 

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Coincidence

Gail Borden was an early Texas land developer — what they used to call an empresario — in the early part of the 19th Century, before the Davy Crockett and Sam Houston years.  His cattle empire took a bit of a step forward when he developed a process for condensing milk and putting it in a can where it would keep awhile on the grocery store shelf.  Yes, that Borden.  The county seat of Borden County in West Texas is named Gail.  Not a coincidence.

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Stories from the Road: Deer Without Fear

My mother’s relationship with the deer in her community has been fodder for a great many of my articles over the years.  She has named half a dozen of them.  They give birth in her yard.  They eat out of her hand.  They watch her from outside her kitchen window and start gathering in the back yard when she approaches the door.  Cattle feed and watermelon rinds will do that, apparently.

My mother is the gentlest soul I know.  Seeing her interact with the deer kind of makes sense, in a weird sort of way.  Dad’s relationship with them is somewhat more puzzling.  Although certainly a gentle soul himself, Dad was the one who taught me to aim a rifle at one of these creatures and shoot to kill.  I spent my entire childhood staring up at the mounted head of a deer the size of a small cow.  My dad’s work.  I ate many a mess of chicken fried steak made with venison — cooked by my mom, so I guess she is complicit as well, in a way.  And now the great deer slayer is feeding them cantaloupe — not to fatten them up, but just because it is pleasant, peaceful way to pass a decade or two.

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Stories from the Road: Hotel Breakfast

It was not the greatest hotel.  Stains on the furniture, elevator buttons that did not work, and an odd, indistinguishable smell in the hallways were enough to convince Tracie we would be staying elsewhere on our next trip to Houston.  For me, I tend to brush off such things when the price is discounted deeply enough and they give me a free hot breakfast.

        Ah, yes.  Breakfast.  Let’s talk about the breakfast.

The potatoes were gone.  The sparse smattering of eggs was dry and tasteless.  “Hot” might qualify as false advertising.  Even to the eye, it was clear the juice was watered down.  It might have been the worst meal I’ve ever been served that did not make me physically ill.

But my story only starts here.

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Zebras

Every time I drive to my parents’ house in central Texas, I tell the family to be on the lookout for zebras.  The hot, dry environment is similar to the African savannah, making it perfect for exotic game ranches.  Of course, wild animals prefer to avoid open spaces in general, and noisy areas such as highways in particular.  So our vigilance — well, mine — went for naught.

Guess what we saw Friday, not 100 yards from the highway?  Four zebra, big as life. 

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Carob: The food of repentance

Isaiah 1:20 provides a warning in the context of the more familiar phrase in verse 18 — “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow.”  If the nation would refuse to repent, God says, “you will be devoured by the sword.”  But one passage in the Midrash, a collection of rabbinic writings, translates it quite differently — “if you refuse and resist, carob pods you shall eat.”  James Moffatt apparently was quite impressed with this view of the text and rendered the verse accordingly in his translation, although every other Bible translation I could find reads essentially as the New American Standard Bible does.

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