Sunday, June 18, 2006



I’ve experienced Louisiana for the first time in my life. We left Vernon, went through Dallas/Fort Worth, and traveled along the freeway through a part of Texas I had not seen yet. We stopped for gas shortly before crossing the Texas-Louisiana border, and I could not understand what the people at the gas station were saying. It was a cajunesque drawl. Very interesting to listen to.
We made it to Shreveport fairly late. I was surprised to find Shreveport as a city that never sleeps. It was at least 1:30 when we pulled in, and the neon lights of the casinos were brightly burning. I noted that there were an awful lot of motorcycles. Shreveport is like Vegas for bikers. As I went down to the car after checking in to the hotel, people were still pulling in from the casinos, and leaving for the casinos.
A word about gambling. People are free to do whatever they want with their money. States are free to make casinos legal if they want to. They can also organize lotteries if they wish. However, I think all these things are unwise, especially in states suffering with poverty. Does the extra revenue really outweigh the dangers of the poor gambling away their last cent? How many kids are left outside casinos while mom or dad or grandma or grandpa spends the rent on slot machines, roulette wheels, and blackjack? It’s a dangerous thing. I was pleased to see billboards with phone numbers for gambling addicts, but are any of those who need to call going to call?
OK, enough of that.
The next morning, we decided to attend the Presbyterian Church in Minden, which is where one of my dear friendss in ministry moved from Ohio a few years ago. He was absolutely shocked to see us in the pews and asked me to do the benediction.
Gary is one of my favorite preachers to listen to, and he did not disappoint that Sunday morning. Hearing him preach is like going for a walk with him. He unpacks everything he can in the text. He meanders through, sharing incredible insights and interesting observations. He is at the same time gentle and admonishing. Fortunately for us, we’re going to hear him preach again this Sunday morning.
Gary never knew he was a mentor of mine. I’ve never told him. But his writing, conversations we have had, sermons I have listened to, all helped to shape my theological thinking and pastoring style. So Gary, if you are reading this, thanks. And thanks to you and Terri for the wonderful hospitality.

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