It’s About Salad

I blogged yesterday, and was planning to take today off, but I’ve changed my mind because something needs to be said. So I’ve opened the Mac and here it comes. Please forgive me in advance if this terse and vitriol monologue offends.

It’s about salad.

I thank God for all I have, and I have a lot, especially when it comes to food. The refrigerator stays full and the pantry has all kinds of cans and boxes and bags of stuff. Again, I’m grateful.

The problem is that I’ve been undisciplined and given to sloth over the past few months. The results:

  1. By not working out I’ve lost some flexibility, energy, and basic strength.
  2. By indulging in the wrong foods, I’ve gained weight.

I can get to the gym, that’s easy enough, and it’s really good for me. But the food? Aye, there’s the rub. So I’ll be minimizing the carbs, maximizing the veggies, and balancing with some healthy protein. No fads or gimmicks, not even twelve weeks of watermelon, but sensible, healthy foods in appropriate portions.


The above description of healthy almost always includes salads. I have issue with salads. You might say I have salad issues. Here are some of the reasons:

  1. Jaw exhaustion: I always get tired of chewing before the salad is finished.
  2. The temperature: salads are usually cold.
  3. The grilled beef or chicken added to the salads are good, but never enough.
  4. The seeds, nuts, fruits and stuff added to mask the blandness of lettuce.
  5. The low fat, low sodium, low cholesterol, low taste dressings; they’re awful.

Okay, that about does it. Sorry, but it had to be said. Please refrain from comments, emails, texts, letters, or phone calls arguing with me about the value of salads. I’ve had it with those bowls of rabbit food, and that’s all there is to it. I’m putting my foot down, so no more, I’m done, finished, kaput. Rick votes NO!

This is one man’s opinion, a cranky man, but still.

Thanks for reading. Look for better blogs to come.

PS: My wife just informed me that we are having salad for dinner.




Two Memorable Women

Luke 7 reveals a remarkable, pop off the page story, about a prophet named John. However, his story was sandwiched, like book ends, by two other stories, each about a memorable woman. On one end, was the story of a widow, whose only son had died. Jesus performed a compassionate miracle, a miracle of life, resurrecting her son and giving him back to her.

widow of nain

On the other end was Mary, a sinful woman with a broken spirit and a penitent heart, who was humbly seeking forgiveness, which she found in Jesus. I imagine both women to be hurting, weeping, and fearing for their futures.


But in between these stores of memorable women, there was the pop off the page prophet named John the Baptist. He successfully evangelized all of Palestine, baptizing nearly everyone, including Jesus. The nation thought of him as Elijah reborn. On one occasion, Jesus spoke about John, quoted Malachi, and confirmed him as the one preparing the path for God’s anointed. Then Jesus asked the crowd these questions:

  1. Was John a reed that swayed with the wind? (A weak willed populist?)
  2. Did John wear royal attire and live in a palace?  (An untouchable aristocrat?)

Jesus affirmed John as the greatest prophet of all time, and most of the people believed in John. They were the commoners, some of whom were disenfranchised, like the defiled tax collectors. But others rejected him and harangued the believers, attempting to paint the prophet a fraud. They were Israel’s elite, the Rabbis and Pharisees.

Try to grasp it, the most significant moment in Jewish history, the revealing of the Messiah, and Israel’s leaders said no. Those same Rabbis and Pharisees would later lead the celebratory parade, the prejudicial renouncing of Christ. In fact, theirs would be the vitriol voices calling for his crucifixion.

I wonder if, at Golgotha’s place of suffering and shame, there were two memorable women. Maybe they stood as bookends with the cross between them. One would be a forgiven sinner: loved, set free, and befriended by the King of Kings. The other would be a widow, living in loneliness, but a loneliness assuaged by the son restored to her by the author of life. Were they seeing the nails that fastened him to the roughly hewn wood? Did they notice the blood dripping from his head, hands, and feet? Or were they only captivated by Jesus completing his ministry, fulfilling his purpose, and preparing his return to the Father? Either way, they owed him everything.

Mary and the Widow; memorable, and forever changed.


What Jesus Called Great

The strongest faith I’ve ever encountered wasn’t in Houston, or Dallas, or even in Nashville. Nope, it was in Fuzhou City, the capitol of the Fujian Province, in China. It surprised me too. It was the last place, and frankly, the last people I would’ve thought to have great faith. But they did. They had an amazing connection with Jesus.

Fuzho City.jpg
Down town Fuzhou City

After leaving the desert, Jesus moved to Capernaum and began making disciples, and was soon beset by critics and cranks. He didn’t mind. They couldn’t thwart him. Just ask the citizens of his home town Nazareth, who failed in their attempt to kill him.

With his apostles, Jesus began visiting the villages and seeking the synagogues; he preached good news, helped the helpless, and healed the hurting. He was the Messiah, anointed to preach, to help, and to heal.

One day some Jewish elders approached Jesus with a request. A Centurion, who lived in the area, sent the elders to plead with Jesus to heal one of his ailing servants. As Jesus approached, the Centurion’s friends met him to say he needn’t go any farther. The Centurion recognized his authority, and if Jesus would just give the word, his servant would be healed. Jesus gave the word.

It was unusual for a Roman to ask something from a Jew. But he was not the usual Roman. He valued and cared for his Jewish servants, and had even built their synagogue. But what really set him apart was his faith. He understood Jesus; and he understood how authority worked up and down the chain of command. He acknowledged that Jesus was at the highest level of authority.

Our Messiah was amazed at the Centurion’s faith because he had not found that kind of faith anywhere in Israel. Where would he find it today?

The Chinese Christians were mostly converted atheists. They lived in a city of six million and were overwhelmingly outnumbered by the unbelievers. They daily faced ridicule, rejection, and persecution. Yet hundreds gathered every morning to pray for souls and open hearts. They evangelized in the downtown streets, in the shadows of the steel and glass towers. The Fujian disciples were devout and committed to the Lord of Good News. I was amazed by their great faith. For in spite of their trials and tribulations, they served with glad and sincere hearts.

Amazed, Jesus said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”

Or Nashville, or Dallas, or Houston?

It’s The Water!

My first ministry was serving as a Campus Minister. The college campuses were challenging, but fruitful. I was soon teaching an unchurched sophomore who was seeking God, but knew little of His word. He came to faith and was born again. He had some maturing to do, but didn’t we all?


He soon received a letter from the church asking him to help serve communion one Sunday. The letter instructed him to wear a tie, a sports coat, or a suit; none of which he owned. On that Sunday, he reported to where the servers gathered prior to the service; but he was met with disdain. It was his clothes. He wore jeans, sandals, and a t-shirt that had the name of a domestic beer company; something about the water. It offended the communion coordinator who told him he would not be serving, nor would he ever serve unless he conformed to the dress code. My new convert left confused, disappointed, and hurt.

He shouldn’t have worn that shirt. But he really didn’t know any better, he wasn’t raised in church. My guess is that he picked a t-shirt that was clean. I don’t think he noticed and I know he didn’t mean to offend anyone.

Jesus ran into similar problems. Some of the people he was teaching were offensive. They were sinners, tax collectors, even prostitutes. Jesus was confronted for having them in his ministry, for forgiving their sins, and for embracing them in fellowship. He even ate in their homes. Jesus was called a blasphemer, a hypocrite, and a false teacher. I wonder if some of his disciples wore offensive t-shirts? Jesus wasn’t bothered by their criticisms. The people he was serving were those he came to seek and to save.

It can be hard to be like Jesus. It’s odd, but I really like the way Jesus helped those people; but I struggle to like being like him. Actually, I sometimes relate more with those who were his biggest critics. I’m not proud of that, but it’s true.

The student shouldn’t have worn the offensive shirt. But the real offense was in how he was treated. He was made to feel ugly and worthless. It could have been handled with love and sensitivity. But it wasn’t. The modern Pharisees chose to jump down his throat and stomp all over his young faith.

Oh well, I guess the church didn’t really want people like him.





God’s Gift of Grace

This blog post will be short. And it won’t be about chicken recipes.

Please respond to the following:

The Best Thing About Grace Is:

  1. It’s unending power to cleanse our sins unendingly .
  2. That from the beginning of time, Grace was meant to be His gift to us.
  3. That Grace is never free, but it is freely given.
  4. That Grace releases us from the curse of perfection, blame, and self pity.
  5. The beauty, harmony, and glory that Grace imparts to us.

The list could on and on and on. But of those listed above, is there one you resonate with the most? If not, feel free to comment below and give me your favorite thing about Grace.

Or send it to me on Facebook.


Restoring The Ancient Ways

A few nights ago, I posted on Facebook that my wife had made a chicken for dinner that was “out of this world.” I meant it. What ensued was a bevy of friends asking for the recipe. “What’s her secret?” they asked. Some said, “Share the recipe.” So I’ve decided to share Danielle’s chicken secret; you might want to get your pen and paper ready.

free range chickens

But first, you need a little background on Rick and Danielle. When we were married back in July of 1978, she was already an excellent cook. She had several dishes that were as good or better than anything I had ever eaten. She knew I was especially fond of chicken, so early in our newlywedness, (not a word) while grocery shopping at Furr’s, our local Lubbock grocer, she brought home some chicken. She was going to fry chicken that night and I was very excited. As she began making dinner, I could see that she was doing it wrong. I told her how I liked it, how I had always liked it, and asked if she could please try it my way? Being the wonderful wife that she was, and is, she replied with, “Okay, I’ll give it a try.” It turned out just as I hoped. And for 37 years it’s how she’s cooked it for me. She has experimented with different seasonings and such, but the basic recipe has remained the same throughout our chicken years.

Then Thursday night, just out of no where, she winked at me and said, “Rick, I’m going to do something with the chicken that you have never had before.” I was instantly on guard and a little frightened. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of chicken change.

fried chicken

Well, she did it; I should have trusted her, and I have to say that it really was excellent! What did she do? What was her new chicken recipe? Well, before the cutting, dipping, and the frying, she plucked it.

It made all the difference.


The Truth About Lying

Being the youngest of three boys I was naturally the favorite, the best behaved, and the most loved. It didn’t hurt that I was also the cutest.

I was: (1) the favorite  (2) best behaved  (3) most loved  (4) and cutest.

Was any of that true? Well, I was the youngest of three boys. Is lying saying things that aren’t true or not saying things that are true?

My mischievous brothers were always having fun and doing it without me. So with a resentful heart, I found ways to get them into trouble. They would deny it, but they were often tagged anyway since it was their nature to mess up. I would sit on the couch, smiling, and enjoying the sounds of sweet revenge. It wasn’t a perfect crime since my brothers would inevitably get even. The truth was sometimes a sliding scale for us.


One day Mom went into the kitchen and discovered that her freshly made chocolate cake had been invaded. “Boys,” she yelled, “get in here.” Thus began the grueling interrogation. “This cake was for tonight and now it’s ruined. Who did this?” We each denied it. “Well, it’s amazing that none of you touched the cake and yet it has a big piece missing. I guess it ate itself.” This line of reasoning was hard to escape, but ultimately failed to get a confession.

Parents want their kids to tell the truth. Even when they know who is guilty, they still want a confession. Things always go easier on the perp if he fesses up. Eventually, my oldest brother got the heat. Not because he was oldest, but because he stood there lying with frosting on his face. This was going to end badly for him, but he still lied. Go figure. Mom obviously saw the frosting, but she wanted a confession, she wanted the truth.

eating cake

Kids and people lie because:

  1. The feel bad and hope by lying it will go away.
  2. They fear the consequences so avoid detection.
  3. They don’t want to hurt others by telling the truth.
  4. They think if they don’t get caught, they aren’t really guilty.
  5. They lack integrity and personal responsibility.

As a sitcom character once said, “If you believe it, it isn’t really a lie.”

Jesus once said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Truth thrives in the light, has nothing to hide, and stands up to scrutiny. Truth doesn’t feel embarrassed; it’s not intimidated, threatened, or diminished by falsehood.

Paul wrote, “Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ,” (Ephesians 4:15).

As believers we are called to speak the truth and to live the truth. Jesus is truth.


Getting the Call

In July of 1975, I had the unique experience of going through a week of intense spiritual challenge. It resulted in deep conviction, a tearful repentance, and the seeking of God’s cleansing and forgiveness. He provided both. Within a few weeks I had also received my life’s calling, the fusing of my heart to the service of His Kingdom. The responses were mixed from my family and friends. Some doubted. Others gave a soft, “Isn’t that nice.” One relative asked,“Why do you want to throw your life away?” My parents were very supportive.


The calling wasn’t an audible voice, or an angel’s appearance, or even a dream. But it was a powerful and clear realization, leading me in a singular direction, with clarity and purpose. Forty years have passed and I’m still faithful to the calling; I’m still striving to serve.

After  performing the miracles in Capernaum’s synagogue, Jesus began to find and call men to discipleship; to follow him as their Rabbi. He called men that no other Rabbi would think of calling; or would want if they had thought of them. He called Simon, Andrew, James, and John. They were men of nets and fish, and he called them to become fishers of men. His calling was simple, “Follow me.”


Those disciples didn’t hold advanced degrees; they weren’t the A students, and they were never the brightest kids in the class. No one expected them to rise very high. As a tax collector, Levi already had three strikes against him. Jesus called Simon the Zealot, and the words describing the hatred a Zealot would have for a Jewish tax collector are too many to write. Then Jesus called a man from Jerusalem, the only one of the twelve who was not from Galilee; his name was Judas. Those were the men Jesus wanted; the ones he chose.

Like those early disciples, Jesus didn’t call you into his Kingdom based on your intelligence, education, or level of success. His blessings were lovingly given because you chose to believe. His calling shapes and defines your life, it provides purpose. You are exactly who Jesus wanted serving in his kingdom. You are the chosen ones, the ones he chose to serve.

Serve him well. 


Where Is Jesus When You Need Him?

Without exaggeration, I can tell you that each day of my week contains news about someone who is deathly ill or has just died. As of this writing, I have conducted seven funerals in the last four weeks, and I have another one in a few days. Where is Jesus when you need him?

After leaving Nazareth, to avoid the town’s efforts to kill him, Jesus went to Capernaum to teach in their synagogue. There he saw a demon-possessed man and he healed him. Later that evening, at Peter’s house, the people brought all who had various kinds of sickness. Jesus healed them all. I guess they knew where Jesus was when they needed him.

The ancient Capernaum Synagogue and School

The next morning he went out to a quiet place, to commune with his Father. But the people found him and begged him to stay; they even tried to stop him from leaving. But other towns and synagogues needed his ministry. Where was Jesus when they needed him?

There are days when I wish Jesus was here, not in Israel, but in Houston. I would take him to M.D. Anderson to cure cancer. I would take him to hospitals, nursing homes, hospice centers, children’s burn wards, centers for abused women, Psychiatric wards, emergency rooms, urgent care clinics, and to the homes of those who are suffering. There are some graves I’d like him to visit. I might even ask him to fix me up a little.

But he isn’t here, and he isn’t coming. The miracles, wonders, and signs he performed were purposed in creating belief, so the Jewish nation would embrace him as the Anointed of God. Many did, some didn’t, and some who didn’t killed him.

Jesus was all about a different kingdom, one not of this world. He ascended not to give us heaven on earth, but to give us hope for heaven above. We live in a dark, and broken world, filled with sin, suffering, and sickness.

Where is Jesus when you need him? Well, he is always here, always near, and always available. Not to transform our world into a perfect Garden of Eden, but to give us the strength to keep going and the peace to sustain us. Heaven above is later.

Each day we face a troubled world, but take heart, for he has overcome the world!

Key Steps To A Better You

I’m pausing my regular blog to offer these four easy to becoming a better you. Please note that these are key steps, as opposed to non-key steps. Your non-key steps can be useful, but not very.

Get Committed to Dedication

First Key Step: Have exercise equipment delivered to your home. It doesn’t matter what it is, just order it. Commit to a ninety day goal of getting  committed, like the infomercial said. After ninety days, return the exercise stuff, or eBay it. Clearly it doesn’t work. FYI: you probably should have removed it from the box. (just a suggestion)


Only The Most Expensive Will Do 

Second Key Step: Arrange your life to get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, nine is better. Buy a foam pillow and the most expensive mattress you can find, and sheets with at least a 9,853 thread count. Drink no liquids after 10:00 A.M. Commit to sixty minutes of  meditation before bedtime. If you are married with children, have your spouse keep the kids quiet and into bed by 7:30 PM. Wear a sleep mask. Play music of the rain forest with gently falling rain and weird bird calls. Get ready to wake up feeling refreshed and energized!

small food plate
Maybe Just Go Off Food

Third Key Step: A better you is only obtainable by eating organic, free-range, uncaged, home grown, whole grain, all natural, healthy food. Make sure it’s lactose, gluten, peanut, additive, preservative, and hormone free. Have no sodium, fat, or calories of any kind. The portions should be no larger than a quarter. In fact, it might be simpler to just go off food.



These People Must Be Avoided

  Fourth Key Step: Do a stress cleanse. Remove all anxieties, fears, frustrations, irritations, annoyances, disturbances, interruptions, moodiness, rudeness, ugliness, and inconveniences. Insulate yourself from noisy, inconsiderate, ill-mannered, self-centered  humans. Separate from all stress inducing people and places as if your were separating yourself from the plague. I can’t stress this point enough.


 Lets review: The key steps to a better you are: (1) a ninety day commitment to becoming dedicated to the idea of fitness. (2) Sleep like the dead. (3) Get off all food, now. (4) Relocate to a distant, unpopulated, oxygenated planet.

I promised you four easy steps to a better you, at no cost. So be inspired to begin immediately. The thousand mile journey begins with the first step; and a job once begun is half done. So let me encourage you to get going and get half done!

Good Luck

(Look for the Messiah to be back in my next blog)