November, 2010 Archives

22
Nov

Erma Bombeck was right

posted in Jim's Blog by Jim Denison


Thanksgiving celebration at First Baptist Abilene

First Baptist Church, Abilene Thanksgiving Celebration

Last night it was my privilege to speak for the Thanksgiving banquet of First Baptist Church in Abilene, Texas.  Their pastor, Dr. Phil Christopher, is one of my favorite ministers.  Their congregation is investing millions of dollars in meeting the physical and spiritual needs of their community.  It was a great honor to be with them for the evening.

We quickly proved the wisdom of the great theologian, Erma Bombeck.  She once observed: “Thanksgiving dinners take 18 hours to prepare.  They are consumed in 12 minutes.  Halftimes take 12 minutes.  This is not coincidence.”

Continuing our theme, she also stated, “I am not a glutton—I am an explorer of food.”  Her description might be helpful for some of us this week.  For many of us, diets start after the holidays.  Ms. Bombeck noted, “In two decades I’ve lost a total of 789 pounds.  I should hang from a charm bracelet.”

It’s not always easy to be thankful.  If you’re having a hard time thinking of reasons for gratitude today, remember the first Thanksgiving.  Colonists gathered in 1621 for three days of celebration, after half of their community died the previous year.  They were thankful simply to be alive.  For what should you be grateful this week?

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19
Nov

How our planet will die

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison

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an artist's impression of HIP 13044 b, the first planet of extragalactic origin

Credit: European Southern Observatory

Here’s good news no matter what else is going on in your life this morning: your planet is not about to be eaten by its sun.  That’s more than someone living on HIP 13044b could say.  According to today’s Washington Post, this planet has been discovered orbiting an unusual star.  This star and its planet originated in a separate galaxy but were cannibalized by the Milky Way some six to nine billion years ago. Read the rest of this entry »

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18
Nov

Seeing forever

posted in Jim's Blog by Jim Denison


Empire State Building East View

Empire State Building East View

The Empire State Building was the tallest structure in the world when it was completed in 1931.  The first building to top 100 stories, it stands 1,453 feet tall.  More than 110 million people have made the trip to the 86th floor observation deck.  When Janet and I visited the building as part of our New York City tour last week, we stood in line with most of them.

I took the picture at the left of this blog as we looked over the East River towards Brooklyn and Queens.  Buildings that scrape the sky when viewed from the street look minuscule from this height.  The higher we climb, the smaller the world becomes.

If we could see our  planet from the sun, we’d been even more impressed with its tiny size.  Imagine boring a hole in the sun and filling it with 1.2 million earths.  You would still have room for 4.3 million moons.  The star called Betelgeuse, 880 quadrillion miles from us, has a diameter of 250 million miles–greater than the earth’s orbit.

God made all of that.  In fact, he measures the entire universe with the palm of his hand (Isaiah 40:12).  Now, what’s your problem?

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18
Nov

Airplane bombs, bird flu and God’s grace

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison


File photo of an Air Berlin plane taking off at Berlin's Tegel airport April 20, 2010

Credit: Reuters/File photo of an Air Berlin plane taking off at Berlin's Tegel airport April 20, 2010

Let’s try a little quiz this morning.  How do the following news items affect you as you read them?

A detonator, batteries and a ticking clock were found in a suitcase checked onto a German airplane this morning.  Today’s BBC reports that the bag was detected before it could be loaded on a flight bound for Munich from Namibia. Read the rest of this entry »

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17
Nov

A walk in the park

posted in Jim's Blog by Jim Denison


NASA satellite image of Manhattan

Central Park is visible in the center of this satellite image. Manhattan is bound by the Hudson River to the west, the Harlem River to the north, and East River to the east. Courtesy: NASA/GSFC/MITI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

Central Park on Manhattan Island is appropriately named.  The island is a little more than 13 miles long and 2.3 miles wide.  As you can see from the picture at left, the park is almost exactly in the center of perhaps the most congested island on the planet.  As Janet and I observed when we visited New York City last week, Manhattan streets are crowded with buses, cars, taxis, and people at all hours of the day and night.  The park is a refuge from all of that, and one of the most beautiful spots I’ve ever seen.

I took the picture on the right when we were walking through the park last Friday on our way to the Metropolitan Museum.  It is just one of hundreds of spots in the park worthy of reflection.  Even now, looking at the photo speaks to my soul unlike nothing else we saw on our trip.  The Statue of Liberty is awe-inspiring; the Empire State Building is majestic; Times Square at night is spectacular.  But being in the world as God made it stirs something within.

It’s no surprise that Jesus made a habit of retreating from civilization into creation.  After a long day of ministry in the bustling city of Capernaum he got up before sunrise and went to a solitary place for prayer (Mark 1:35).  After a tiring season of ministry he sent the disciples away while he climbed a mountain to pray (Mark 6:46).  The night before his crucifixion he retreated to the Garden of Gethsemane for one last time alone with his Father (Matthew 26:36-46).  After his resurrection he met his disciples in the beautiful hill country of Galilee, far from the maddening rush of Jerusalem (Matthew 28:7).

When was the last time you got alone with your Father in the beauty of his creation?  When will you next?

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17
Nov

Eva Longoria planning to file for divorce

posted in Culture & Faith by Jim Denison

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Original story: CNN

Actress Eva Longoria’s wedding three years ago to NBA star Tony Parker was the stuff of myth.  Now the myth is apparently ending.  After reports appeared this week alleging infidelity by her husband, Longoria plans to file divorce papers as early as today.

James warned us that “each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:14-15).  Sin will always take you further than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to stay, and cost you more than you wanted to pay.  Always.

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17
Nov

Terror plot against Germany?

posted in Culture & Faith by Jim Denison

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original story from: BBC

Germany’s interior minister has announced increased security measures in response to clear indications that al Qaeda is planning attacks against his country.  Thomas de Maiziere said “there are grounds for concern but not for hysteria.”  His country has troops in Afghanistan, which may be reason for the threats.

We live in a fallen world.  If Joseph could find himself in Potiphar’s prison and Paul in a Philippian jail, none of us are safe.  But God redeems all he allows.  He used Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” to draw him into deeper faith, and visited John’s cave on Patmos with the Revelation.  When you find “grounds for concern but not for hysteria,” bring them to your Father.  His will never leads where his grace cannot sustain.

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17
Nov

Lady Diana’s ring

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison

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Kate Middleton, the fiancee of Prince William, poses for a photograph with her new engagement ring

Credit: Reuters/Paul Hackett

It is the ring seen round the world.  In 1981, Prince Charles gave his fiancée a sapphire and diamond ring for their engagement.  Now his son has given his mother’s ring to his fiancée.  Today’s New York Times tells us what everyone who follows the British royal family already expected: Prince William and Kate Middleton are engaged. Read the rest of this entry »

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16
Nov

Car horns and grace

posted in Jim's Blog by Jim Denison


New York City street sign - Don't Honk $350 fineNew York City is an amalgam of sights, smells and sounds.   Times Square at night is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  The restaurants in Chinatown are distinctive for an aroma which attracts passersby like moths to a bulb.  The subways clatter so distinctively that a blindfolded person would know them.

Janet and I returned last Sunday from several days in Manhattan and Brooklyn.  When we arrived there last Wednesday, one thing I quickly noticed by its absence was the car horns which typically reverberate through downtown canyons.  The four million taxicab drivers in Beijing navigate by car beeps which utilize a kind of Morse code all their own.  Drivers careening through the narrow alleyways of central Rome keep their hands on their horns as much as their steering wheels.  Drivers in London are often packed so closely together that they could drive only by the sounds of their horns.  But in five days on Manhattan I did not hear a single car make a single beep.

Then I noticed the sign posted beside this blog and suddenly the behavior of New York City drivers made sense.  $350 for honking is a remarkable fine.  I just checked the list of court fines in Dallas–“attempting to elude a police officer” costs $297.10.  If you are caught in “possession of altered driver’s license” you will pay a fine of $264.10.  Nothing about “honking” appears anywhere on the list in Dallas.  But don’t touch your car horn in Manhattan.

I’m wondering how a NYC officer would enforce this law.  They have radar guns to prove that you were driving too fast; do they carry recording equipment for car horns?  Do they match what they heard with the sound your car makes?  I’m guessing the warning sign is more a deterrent than a guarantee.

It is not so with the warnings of God’s word.  Moses warned the children of Israel, “you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).  The bad news is that the omniscient Lord of the universe knows our thoughts, words, and actions.  The good news is that he forgives everything we confess (1 John 1:9) and forgets all he forgives (Isaiah 43:25).  Do you need to claim his grace today?

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16
Nov

The cure for sleeping in church

posted in Daily Devotional by Jim Denison


sleeping in pewWhat if your pastor could check electronically to see that you are on time for church this Sunday and paying attention to the sermon?  If you were a student at Northwestern, Harvard, Vanderbilt or the University of Arizona, he could.  Today’s New York Times tells us about devices which resemble TV remotes but record a student’s attendance in class.  They are used for responding to questions, answering quizzes, and giving feedback on lessons.  No more sleeping in the back row.

In other news, Iran apparently shipped arms to politicians in Nigeria so they could use violence if they lose upcoming elections.  According to the Times, an Iranian official called the shipment, which had been labeled as building supplies, a “misunderstanding.” Read the rest of this entry »

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