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Felt Board Basics

This Sunday I’m beginning a sermon series entitled, Felt Board Basics: Rediscovering the Tales Told to Jesus. The impetus for the series comes from reading Old Testament Bible stories to my two young daughters, Malia and Katharine. Indeed, these are the same stories that shaped a young boy named Jesus who couldn’t get enough of hanging around the temple. Sadly, other than sitting in Old Testament survey classes in graduate school, I had not heard some of these stories (Jonah, Neduchadnezzer, Abraham and Issac, etc…) in many years. As I read these stories to my daughters and listen to their interpretation of their meanings, I’m amazed at how deep and challenging the narratives are. And it shocks me how and when the echoes of these stories resound in the life and teachings of Jesus.

I remember my faithful Bible teachers as a child placing figures on felt board and bringing the stories to life. I am grateful to those women. Now I’m grateful to my girls for showing me the life in those stories.

It appears to me that familiarity breeds familiarity, but not necessarily understanding. That’s what has happened to the great stories of God’s faithful, reluctantly faithful, and unfaithful people chronicled in the Old Testament. My hope is to reclaim the very stories that informed the mission and ministry of a young boy in Nazareth named Jesus. If you’re in Houston, come by and join us!

It’s Official!

The number of celebrities that think my kids are cute is growing. Now, all readers of this blog (the 5 of you) know how beautiful my girls are, but now it’s official: Hollywood celebrities think they’re beautiful too.

First, a few years ago in the Continental President’s Club at LAX, I found myself sitting next to Dave Foley debating whether to watch the hockey or basketball playoffs. When he saw my daughter, Malia, he went on and on about how beautiful she was. I already knew Malia was beautiful, so I wanted to ask Dave what it was like working with Tiffani Theissen during her guest appearance of NewsRadio or what having Lauren Graham on Celebrity Poker Showdown was like. But, no, he was taken with Malia.

Second, last week while dining at Marmalade Cafe in Malibi, Dennis Haybert, star of The Unit and AllState commericials –not to mention Pedro Cerrano from Major League–stopped US and began talking about how beautiful Malia and Katharine are. He looked at me, smiled and said, “You have beautiful daughters.”

The verdict is in. My girls are beautiful. But I think we knew that already.

Loving Day

I was away teaching and enjoying the Pepperdine Bible Lectures last week, so I am remiss that I missed a special occasion. Last Friday, Mildred Loving, 68, passed away. Mildred Loving, born Mildred Jeter, began dating her husband, Richard Loving, when she was just 11 years old and Richard was 17. In the early years of their marriage, Mildred and Richard were arrested several times together. The reason? Mildred was black and Richard was white. And in 1958 it was illegal for them to be married in the state of Virginia. Apparently, Virginia has not always been for lovers.

Threatened with years of imprisonment, the Loving’s changed history when they challenged the Constitutionality of Virginia’s marriage laws and in 1967 won the day when the Supreme Court upheld their right to marry. From that day forward, every state, including those in the south which had laws forbidding it, were required to recognize interracial marriage.

Mildred has lived a quiet life since Richard’s death in a car wreck in 1975. Not one for the spotlight, Mildred said of her life, “I never wanted to be a hero, just a bride. It wasn’t my doing, it was God’s work.”

Each June 12th, couples across America celebrate “Loving Day” which celebrates the legalization of interracial marriage.

So for marriages like mine and kids with mocha colored skin and long, curly hair I say to Mildred and Richard, “Thank you for Loving.”


The Coolest Thing

I’m doing the coolest thing right now, I’m hearing my wife speak at the Pepperdine Bible Lectures. She’s great!

Tax Time

As you know, tax time is upon us. I don’t think I know anyone who “enjoys” paying taxes, even though we all use tax dollars — streets, infrastructure, national security, schools, police enforcement, etc — and the headache of having to comb through your receipts and bills from last year make the process even more mind-numbing. Yet there are some interesting things to ponder as you prepare your  W-2.

1. The number of people who will be waiting in line to file their taxes on April 15. Surely these are the same folks who go shopping on Christmas Eve.

2.  89% of Americans give less that 2% of their after-tax income to charity. So much for all that pretense from people who say they tithe.

3. A tax attorney friend of mine says that Pastor’s income tax returns often raise eyebrows at the IRS because they give away a disproportionate percentage of their income (more than 2% I suspect).

4. Americans who make more that $150,000 on average give 2.2% of their income to charity.

5.  The landmark case regarding minister’s housing allowance was The IRS vs Rick Warren. Warren won! Warren is a man of integrity, and his uprightness allowed those of us who don’t make millions from ministry to keep our housing allowances. Thank goodness it wasn’t The IRS vs. Paula White or some other religious swindler. We’d all be in trouble

6. Thank heavens for little deductions!


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