Some things that I've learned....

H Jackson Brown Jr has compiled a terric little book, Live and Learn and Pass It On.

Here are some things that people from ages 5 to 95 have shared about life, love, and other stuff. I've only chosen a few:

I've learned that old women can get away with just about anything.

I've learned that failures always blame someone else.

I've learned that the important thing is now what others think of me...but what I think of me.

I've learned that my worst decisions were made when I was angry.

I've learned that meeting interesting people depends less on where you go than on who you are.

I've learned that no one is ever so powerful or successful that they don't appreciate a sincere compliment.

I've learned that comfortable shoes are a MUST..always.

I've learned that a woman would rather be complimented about her intelligence than her looks.

I've learned that you can never have too many smart people in your life.

I've learned that I still cannot eat an Oreo without first opening it up and licking off the filling.

I've learned that the best tranquilizer is a clear conscience

When it's all said and done....

2005 has been a remarkable year in so many ways.

As a nation, we have:

Watched the horror of almost 1/4 million people rush into eternity from the death-wielding power of the tsunami in Asia.

Watched several million people become homeless (though temporarily for many) on our own shores here with Hurricane Katrina--who didn't bother discriminating on racial, economic, religious, or educational terms.

Watched the face of the United States Supreme Court change: Welcoming our new Chief Justice John Roberts, bidding a very sad adieu to the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and the soon-to-be retirement of the first lady to ever don the robes of the Nation's highest judiciary, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Watched the indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the Chief of Staff for the Vice President of the United States on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.

Mourned the death of Peter Jennings--one of the truly great journalists and news anchors of my lifetime.

Mourned the death of Pope John Paul II--one of the truly marvelous religious and political figures of my life time.

Watched the selection and coronation of Pope Benedict XVI-- God's "rottweiler" has now become the German Shepherd. And time will tell...indeed.

Mourned the death of more than 2000 uniformed service personnel who have answered the call of the Commander in Chief--whether rightly or wrongly.

Celebrated the CHICAGO WHITE SOX as the 2005 World Series Champions in Baseball--the first time in 88 years!

It's been quite a year. And when it's all said and done, what will all this mean to us?

Time will tell, I'm sure.

The end of an era: PETRA retires...

Petra Retires

Christian Rock Pioneers Say Goodbye After 33 Strong Years

Nashville, TN - After 33 years of music and ministry, Christian rock pioneer PETRA will come to a close. December 2005 will mark the end to a ministry that has boldly and consistently proclaimed the gospel in the United States and abroad. The decision to retire the band was mutual by all members.

"It has been a privilege and honor to represent our Savior and participate in His Great Commission. We have nothing but thanks to God for all He has done," says PETRA founder, guitarist and primary songwriter Bob Hartman.

"God used PETRA in my life in so many ways, as He did in so many other lives," says lead singer since 1986, John Schlitt. "I am truly thankful for having been part of PETRA. We've had a good long run and have seen so much. We've seen God's hand at work in our music on every continent and in every language," he says.

The band has impacted generations of musicians and fans alike over the years with over seven million CDs sold, four Grammy Awards, 10 Dove Awards and an induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. PETRA, initially formed in 1972 by Hartman on vocals and guitars, paved the way for the rock genre perhaps more than any other in the Christian music industry. Though a rotating cast of musicians comprised PETRA's lineup over the years, the band is closing 2005 strong with over 20 albums to its credit, the latest being the 2003 Grammy-nominated Jekyll & Hyde.

At present, Schlitt and Hartman have made no immediate plans for the future.

"I'm not sure what the future will bring for me," says Schlitt, "but when God chooses to show us His will, then we just go in faith and walk in faith toward Him. He has never let us down, and He never will."

There are currently talks of a live album or box set to release in the future. Final PETRA tours in the United States and Europe are in the planning stages. There will be no further concerts booked after this year.

"PETRA has always been one of the biggest names in Christian rock," says Inpop Records President Wes Campbell. "PETRA's contributions to our industry are innumerable, and the band was very instrumental in the beginning stages of newsboys career. We are honored to have supported PETRA in its ministry and music," he says.
Taken from their website :

One of their greatest songs, in my opinion became popular when I was a teenager (back in the late 70s). It is taken from Romans Chapter Eight. The title, "Why Should the Father Bother"

Why should the Father Bother to call us His children?
Why should the Spirit Hear it when we pray?
Why should the Father Bother to be concerned with all our needs?
It's all because of what the Son has done.

Once we were lost out on the ocean
With no direction or devotion
Tossed about by every wind and wave
Now we are in the world, not of it,
And we can surely rise above it
Because the Lord has risen from the grave!

And we cry, 'Abba, Father'
'Abba, Father', 'Abba, Father'
'Abba, Father', 'Abba, Father'
'Abba, Father'

Once were strangers from the promise
We were doubters worse than Thomas
'Til the Spirit opened up our eyes
Now He has offered us adoption
And we have taken up the option
To be His family eternally!

Thank you PETRA for ministering to my heart multitudes of times through the last 30+ years. Only Heaven will reveal how the Father used you to speak His truth to me.

An 'Uphill Climb"

My great friend singer/songwriter Janet Paschal has battled breast cancer this year. I've posted updates on her a few times here. And according to her website, it seems like she has "beaten" it. Praise, Praise! (

In one of her latest recordings, she sings a song that she and Joel Lindsey wrote, entitled Uphill Climb. Here are the words:

She's sitting by the window when he walks into the room
Holding twelve red roses in full bloom
He puts them in her arms and says, "I love you so..
Happy Anniversary from sixty years ago..."
She turns to softly ask him for his name..
A tear rolls down his check and then he whispers it again...

Sometimes love is an uphill climb
It's a lonely road to follow
It's a heavy load to bear
Sometimes love is very patient and kind,
But sometimes love is an uphill climb.

He made it look so easy, he made his coaches proud
He played his best and stood out from the crowd.
They gave him every honor
The highest to be had..
And he'd run home excited to show his Dad..
But some things he would learn to live without..
Because love just wasn't something his father talked about.

Sometimes love is an uphill climb
It's a lonely road to follow
It's a heavy load to bear.
Sometimes love is very patient and kind,
But sometimes love is an uphill climb.

Winners and losers,
The used and the users at the edge of the town
Fathers and mothers, sons and brothers
gathering around...
Some were there to mock the Stranger
Some were there to mourn the loss
But everybody watched as He picked up the wooden cross.

Sometimes love is an uphill climb....
(2004 by Maplesong Music/ASCAP).

Janet got it right....because God showed us His great coming to live among us, and showing us what "life" really is like. He then climbed a hill--and gave us the eternal opportunity to really live.

We can do no less.

Blessings this day.

I'm thankful.....

For a loving, ever-merciful Heavenly Father who continually shows me what "real love" looks like--through His children.

For wonderful friends--all over the world--who continually humble me when they call me "brother" and "friend."

For a precious grandmother--now in heaven--who loved me enough to make sure that I had a home, and when others abandoned me (as a small child) took me in, and raised me.

For a great job...a wonderful boss, and some of the most fun people I've ever worked with. Coyne American Institute is a truly great company here in Chicago (

For peace of mind, and stillness of heart---even when both have been shattered by outward circumstances.

For David, Michael, Timothy, Stephanie, Phil Jr, Christian, Sarah, Jonathan, Matthew, Mitch and Lisa, Kevin and Monica, Dianne, Kyella and Glenn. These people are so very precious to me...even though I've not given their last names. They are a small representation of many, many more people who mean the world to me.

For a wonderful home that I can now call my own.

For the promise of Christ to never leave me alone. I depend on that daily.

For Dr R Hollis Gause is my "father" in so many ways. He will never know how much he means to me.

For Reverend Leonard Kendrick--a friend for more than 30 years--who is also a father to me in so many ways. God knew that I would need more than one.

So what are you thankful for?

A serious mistake....what else is new from the Bush Administration?

President Bush has accepted the withdrawal request of his latest Supreme Court nominee, Harriet Ellan Miers.

In my opinion, this is a serious mistake.

It is definitely Ms Miers' perogative to request a withdrawal of her name from the nomination.

But the President should have insisted on her receiving a hearing from the Senate Judiciary Committee. After all, the hearings were set to open on Monday, November 7th.

I understand her desire to "keep the peace"--what little may be left.

Whomever the "new nominee" may be, I sincerely hope that Jim Dobson (Focus on the Family) will keep his "inside information" to himself...and not breathe a word to anyone for any reason.

After all, Dr Dobson is not the President of these United States.

At least, not the last time I voted, he wasn't on the ballot.

A Brief Testimony

Just felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to share this brief account of God's gracious hand in my life:

About 20 months ago I began a severe bout of depression that I had never encountered before. I was using some prescription medication, but it seemed to have little effect on me--and the effect it did have wasn't for the better either.

Unresolved hurts, injuries, and disappointments were keeping me in emotional and spiritual bondage--and I was convinced that I could be "free" whenever I wanted to be--and that wasn't anything close to the truth. Only the power of Christ could set me free, and help me love and trust Him and those around me again.

I performed all my duties (at work and elsewhere) out of pure obligation--and all the while keeping the fact of my depression as quiet as I possibly could. I even participated in local ministry meetings, and other Christian functions without letting anyone in on the fact that I was devastated on the inside of my heart.

One Sunday morning, at the end of the morning message, my Senior Pastor's wife (Chrissy Toledo) sat down at the piano and began singing this song:

In prisoners' chains
With bleeding stripes
Paul and Silas prayed that night
And in their pain began to sing
Their chains were loosed
And they were free!

I bless Your Name!
I bless Your Name!
I give You honor, give You praise!
You are the Life, the Truth, the Way
I bless Your Name!
I bless Your Name!

Some midnight hour
If you should find
You're in a prison in your mind
Reach out and praise
Defy those chains
And they will fall
In Jesus' Name!

Before Chrissy ever finished singing the song, I found myself in the front of the sanctuary, spread out on the floor, weeping uncontrollably--knowing that only God Himself could heal the hurts that I had carried--or that carried me--for so long.

The "prison of my mind" was more than I could bear!

It was that very phrase, "some midnight hour if you should find, you're in a prison in your mind, reach and praise..." I just had to surrender the pain in my heart and mind to Him--and believe that He could bring me to a place of deliverance and trust.

I just felt the Holy Spirit wanting me to share this very personal account with all of you. You can find this song on the latest CD of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, "I'm Amazed....Live."

You can also go to their website:

Praise His name today!

Psalms 34:4

Hispanics to Bush: "You owe us one..."

And all I have to say to that absolute "nonsense" is "Oh really?"

That is almost like me calling the White House and telling the President, "Oh by the way Prez, I endorsed such and so...and you owe me one..."

I was reading a rather lengthy article in the Chicago Tribune on Friday, and the author was quoting several well-knowns in the political world (mostly Hispanic, I might add), and they were carping about how President Bush had "let them down twice." This being, he let them down because he did not nominate a Latino for the nation's highest judiciary.

Well, couldn't just about every "group" say that someone in Washington DC owes them something?

What about all those "evangelicals" who voted for the current President because they thought he would "kowtow" to their ever-changing agenda?

Sometimes the "religious right" can be oh, so very wrong!

As much as I respect James Dobson (a good Nazarene by the way) and Focus on the Family
I am greatly disturbed when Dobson and those associated with him express their displeasure at someone they do not know (Harriet Miers, in this case)--and believe the President "short changed them."

George W Bush is the President of the entire United States.

Not just the "evangelicals."

And yes, I'm a Bible-practicing, Bible-believing Christian. But I don't believe the President "owes me anything."

A Justice Harriet Miers?

President Bush has fulfilled his Constitutional duty in sending the nomination of Harriet Miers to the United States Senate for their consideration to fill the seat of retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor--the first woman to ever sit on the United States Supreme Court.

Ms Miers has the confidence of the President of the United States of America.

But sadly some of the "Pharisaical" extremists don't have any confidence in the man they voted into the highest elected office of these "Nifty Fifty" United States.

This dear lady hasn't even had the FIRST hearing yet, and some of the modern-day Pharisees have already loosed a barrage of innuendo and presuppositions that have little, if any, truth to them.

Folks, you cannot have it both ways.

President Bush nominated, and we now have, Chief Justice John G Roberts Jr sitting as the Seventeenth Chief Justice of the United States. He, by all accounts, will do a superb job.

And hopefully so, for years to come.

But this lady--simply because she has refused to "kowtow" to the extreme fringes of the so-called "conservative right" of this nation--is being crucified before she ever has been heard.

From what I've read, I believe she is a stellar candidate, and will be one terrific Justice on the Supreme Court.

I'm personally glad the President did consult 80+ Senators, and listened to his wife as well. We do not need a bruising fight in this nation over such an important position.

From this point on, we should let the Senate Judiciary Committee do its job.

After all, we are paying them to do something other than take foreign trips and long vacations.

Chief Justice John G Roberts Jr

Well friends and neighbors, the world has seen history in the making today.

John G Roberts Jr was confirmed by the United States Senate with a vote of 78-22 to become the seventeenth Chief Justice of the United States of America. He is the youngest (at age 50) to hold that exalted position sense the appointment of John Marshall in 1801--who was a whopping 45 at the time.

We Americans have EVERY reason to be proud of the way we have seen the peaceful transition of leadership and power in the nation's judiciary.

The highest court in the nation will take on a new look, and indeed embark on a new path--with Chief Justice Roberts leading the way. We are indebted to pray for God's wisdom to clothe him every day as long as he holds that position.

The resignation of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor--whom Justice Roberts was to originally replace--will be far more contentious than was this nomination and confirmation.

Being the graceful lady that she is, Justice O'Connor has consented to remain on the Supreme Court until her replacement has been nominated and confirmed.

Chief Justice Roberts, we welcome you. We salute you!

And most importantly, we pray for you!

"Commander in Chief"--I Liked it!

I'm probably the only person in the entire United States that has never seen a single episode of "Survivor" or "Fear Factor" or hardly any of the new "melodramas"--regardless of how slick their advance advertisements have been.

But I have been absolutely "enthralled" with ABC's new show, Commander in Chief starring Geena Davis.

I have waited all summer for this one....and it finally came to fruition.

Last night.

I think the plot was terrific, and the acting was superb.

Of course, being somewhat open-minded (others would call me a "flaming liberal"--but I'm really not anything close to that), I think the United States is well overdue a woman as the President of these "nifty Fifty."

Or at least in the role of Vice President.

I didn't vote for Geraldine Ferraro in 1984--and I think Walter Mondale made a colossal mistake in selecting her as his running mate. But I'm not sure he could have won that election regardless of whom he had selected for his VP mate.

But I do believe that now, 21 years removed, we are ready to have a strong, sensible, creative, and powerful woman in one of the top two slots in Washington DC.

So, who will it be?

And when?

"Whatever Happened to Class"

A good friend of mine, Dr Stan Blevins (Senior Pastor, Highland Baptist Church, Lubbock, TX) wrote this almost ten years ago in their weekly church bulletin:


There is a difficult to define quality about people and society, that makes them concerned for the well-being of others and the country as a whole. Because it's hard to specifically define, it's sometimes called "class."

Americans used to have a lot of class. They were a people proud of their country, their community, and themselves. But somewhere in the last thirty or forty years, class has gone by the wayside.

Here are a few examples:

**When I was a boy we'd play on the lawn around the courthouse. Prominently displayed were signs that read, "$200 fine for spitting on the sidewalk." Yet today I constantly pull up behind someone in a pickup truck, stopped at a light, who opens his door and deposits the filth of his chewing habit in the middle of the street, often right where people must cross.

No class.

I'd favor restoring the fine system: "$1000 fine for depositing your germs in the middle of our community."

**It seems I often stop at a light and a vehicle pulls up beside me with speakers larger than the back seat. The sound is turned up as loud as it will go, blasting every person in every surrounding vehicle, not to mention anyone walking along the street.

How pathetic that our society has produced people so desperate for attention that they can only get it by making a public nuisance of themselves.

No class.
Perhaps there ought to be a fine for that as well.

I'll not go futher in detail, but one could pursue such issues as smoking in enclosed public places, cutting in waiting lines, being rude to customers, and the ever-present threat to sue.

No class in any case.

By the way, don't give me any of the popular baloney about "rights." Always remember that the rights of one individual end where they begin to intrude on the rights of another individual.

I liked our nation much better when we all had some class.

Let's each one do our part to restore what we can before it gets any worse.


Amen, Dr Stan, Amen!

Unnamed and Unwanted....

I wrote this a few months ago. I wanted to share it here:

I recently heard someone give their testimony of God's faithfulness in their life. It moved me beyond what words can describe.

This person told of how his mother became pregnant as a teenager, and later abandoned him after his birth in the hospital of one of the nation's large cities.Many years later, he went to retrieve a birth certificate, and was startled at what he found.

The official document recording his birth labeled him "unnamed boy" and in the notations near the bottom, "unwanted, abandoned by the birth mother."All of his life he has wrestled with these "judgments" from the moment of his birth.

Even after he came to Jesus Christ for salvation, he still struggled with the issues of having been "unnamed" and then "unwanted."

I can identify with him in alot of ways.

Even though I was named at birth, I was later abandoned by the very two people responsible for bringing me to natural life. I have felt "abandoned" more than once since entering adulthood...yet I know these words are true:

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.

For I am the LORD your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I gave Egypt for your ransom,
Ethiopia and Seba in your place.

Since you were precious in My sight,
You have been honored,
And I have loved you;

Indeed, the Lord God, who spoke the universe into existence, and who sustains it by His own power, all by Himself, has called me by my name.

And I am His.

A Letter to President Bush

My precious friend, Philip C Morris, Jr--Senior Pastor of Parkway Church of God in Sevierville, TN recently sent this letter to President George W Bush. I want to post it here:

September 18, 2005

President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, D.C.

Dear President Bush:

I honor you as our nation’s president and want you to know that you are constantly in my prayers, especially in light of the catastrophe involving Hurricane Katrina. I have heard you in recent days as you have addressed the nation and pledged to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. I commend you for your response to those victimized by this horrible tragedy. However, as a citizen of the United States of America and as a Christian, I do have some concerns about how our tax dollars will be spent in the rebuilding process.

There are many industries and businesses in the Gulf Coast that are worthy of rebuilding. Others, in my opinion, are not. I urge you to please spend our tax dollars wisely as you help to rebuild the Gulf Coast.

Rebuild schools, but not the scandalous New Orleans establishments.

Rebuild industry, but not the sex industry, which exploits women and teenagers.

Rebuild hospitals, but not the bars and brothels which promote alcoholism and promiscuity.

Rebuild businesses that will build up our communities, not gambling casinos that only take things away.

Rebuild people’s houses, but not the whorehouses of prostitution that are a reproach to any nation.

Rebuild government, but not the kind of corrupt government that enslaves people in poverty and turns a blind eye to injustice.

Rebuild health clinics, but not the abortion clinics that have massacred children with brainwaves and heartbeats.

The name “Katrina” means “pure and clean.” Please use our tax dollars to rebuild those pure and clean establishments that will better our nation, instead of the establishments of vice and corruption.

We are praying for you. We are watching you. Please only rebuild those things that you will be proud to leave as your legacy as a strong Christian president.

God bless you,

Philip C. Morris, Jr.
Senior Pastor

It's always reassuring to know that God's people are indeed "thinking Christians." Not just someone who will blindly follow any leader, regardless of their political affiliation.

Phil, I've always loved you. You are a precious man, a wonderful brother, and a tremendous pastor. Know your buddy in Chicago is 1000% behind you.

A Thought for Today...

From Max Lucado's Traveling Light

"You need only pause at the base of the Cross and be reminded of this: The Maker of the stars would rather die for you than live without you. And that is a fact."

May we be constantly reminded of His love for us.

I know that I will need it today.

And all the other days as well.

"Angry White Man" and "Hyphenated Patriotism"


Yes, I'm not exactly singing the Doxology right now.

Here's why:

For the last three nights in a row, the Hispanics in my neighborhood have gone absolutely crazy after the sun has gone down.

Something about "Mexican Liberation Day" or something to that effect.

These "immigrants" have spent most of the dark hours driving like maniacs and honking their horns loudly for long periods of time, while waving the Mexican flag all over the street.

I'm the least "racist" person you will ever want to meet. But I'm also an angry white man.

If all these folks are so in love with "Mexico"--then please let's encourage them to return to Mexico--and the sooner the better.

We are in the United States of America. They came here of their own free will. So, now we should insist on these things:

1) You will learn to speak English, and you will use English in your dealings with commerce, every governmental agency, and in public life.

2) You will teach your children to speak English--first and foremost. Sure, teach them your native language--but if they plan on living here--in the nifty fifty--they will learn to speak English fluently.

3) You will respect "public peace" and "public decency." Period.

That includes my right to have a peaceful neighborhood, devoid of your stupidity and "hyphenated patriotism."

Yes, I'm angry...and I should be.

So should every other person who lives in this country, and wants to be an American.

40 Best Christian Places to Work....

From a February Issue of Christianity Today, I found this list...and I think it is very interesting indeed.

What makes a "great place" to work? And particularly one who exalts the name and power of Christ in the labor environment?

Maybe we should ask these people. Here's the list:

Small Service and Product Organizations
Christian Medical and Dental Associations • Bristol, Tennessee
Council for Christian Colleges & Universities • Washington, D.C.
Whitehead, Phillipi & Harris • Penndel, Pennsylvania
The DeMoss Group • Duluth, Georgia

Large Service and Product Organizations
Evangelical Christian Credit Union • Brea, California
Association of Christian Schools Intl. • Colorado Springs, Colorado
DaySpring Cards • Siloam Springs, Arkansas (tie) Shepherds Ministries • Union Grove, Wisconsin

Small Missions and Parachurch Organizations
Medical Ambassadors International • Modesto, California
New Mission Systems International • Fort Myers, Florida
Team Expansion • Louisville, Kentucky
Partners International • Spokane, Washington

Large Missions and Parachurch Organizations
Coalition for Christian Outreach • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
SIM USA • Charlotte, North Carolina
Bible League • Chicago, Illinois
International Bible Society • Colorado Springs, Colorado

Small Colleges, Universities, and Seminaries
Phoenix Seminary • Scottsdale, Arizona
Beeson Divinity School • Birmingham, Alabama
Assemblies of God Theological Seminary • Springfield, Missouri
Denver Seminary • Englewood, Colorado

Medium Colleges, Universities, and Seminaries
Dallas Theological Seminary • Dallas, Texas (tie) Multnomah Bible College and Seminary • Portland, Oregon
Western Baptist College • Salem, Oregon (tie) Bryan College • Dayton, Tennessee

Large Colleges, Universities, and Seminaries
Whitworth College • Spokane, Washington
Spring Arbor University • Spring Arbor, Michigan
Moody Bible Institute • Chicago, Illinois
Cedarville University • Cedarville, Ohio

Small Media Organizations
Howard Publishing • West Monroe, Louisiana
Paraclete Press • Orleans, Massachusetts
InterVarsity Press • Westmont, Illinois
Far East Broadcasting • La Mirada, California

Large Media Organizations
Group Publishing • Loveland, Colorado
Zondervan • Grand Rapids, Michigan
Tyndale House • Carol Stream, Illinois
Multnomah Publishers • Sisters, Oregon

Private Christian Schools
Covenant Christian High School • Indianapolis, Indiana
Christian Heritage Academy • Northfield, Illinois
High Point Christian Academy • High Point, North Carolina
King's Way Christian School • Vancouver, Washington

"Evangelicals and Catholics Together"--Eleven years later

I recently finished reading the marvelous "festschrift" edited by Chuck Colson and Father Richard John Neuhaus. I have renewed respect for my Catholic friends who love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ to the best of their knowledge and ability.

We have much in common--and many differences.

We must acknowledge and respect both!

Pastor Travis Johnson...visit his place!

Here's the link:

Travis and I have a "history." He was my single's leader at the North Cleveland Church of God in the late 90s. He has been a friend now for a long time. And he's got a wonderful wife.

Visit his "place" and take a look around. Tell him that Phil Hoover, in the Windy City, sent you.

God bless WALMART.....

The WalMart Corporation really does look out for their associates. This is from their website,

Initially, more than 34,000 Wal-Mart associates were displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
Our goal is to help associates get back on their feet and move forward with their lives. The Wal-Mart Emergency Information Line, established to answer associates questions and concerns, has fielded more than 12,200 calls.

Any displaced associate can come and work in any other U. S. Wal-Mart store.

Displaced associates are eligible for up to $1,000 from our Associate Disaster Relief Fund if their homes were flooded or destroyed. We have already provided cash assistance to more than 6,100 associates.

The on-line Emergency Contact Service placed on and for use by associates and the public to locate and communicate with their friends and family members has received more than 9,600 postings and more than 960,000 hits.

How many other large companies have made such offers to their displaced employees?

Operation Compassion: I know these people....

This organization is the compassionate ministries of the Church of God, Cleveland TN.

I know these people personally and very well, at that.

Please feel free to contribute to them, as generously as you possibly can!

You can help...Here's how.

All of these agencies are bona fide emergency relief services. Please feel free to give generously to any or all of them:

FEMA listed the following agencies as needing cash to assist hurricane victims:
* American Red Cross, 800-HELP-NOW (435-7669) English, 800-257-7575 Spanish.
* America's Second Harvest, 800-344-8070.
* Adventist Community Services, 800-381-7171.
* Catholic Charities USA, 800-919-9338.
* Christian Disaster Response, 941-956-5183 or 941-551-9554.
* Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, 800-848-5818.
* Church World Service, 800-297-1516.
* Convoy of Hope, 417-823-8998.
* Lutheran Disaster Response, 800-638-3522.
* Mennonite Disaster Service, 717-859-2210.
* Nazarene Disaster Response, 888-256-5886.
* Operation Blessing, 800-436-6348.
* Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, 800-872-3283.
* Salvation Army, 800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769).
* Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief, 800-462-8657, Ext. 6440.
* United Methodist Committee on Relief, 800-554-8583
* Avoid Katrina-Related Scams and Hoaxes (Security Fix Blog)

Hurricane KATRINA...what a mess!

Here's a link to the Washington Post story from this morning:

This will turn out to be one of the most costly and destructive of any natural disaster in recent memory. The people of southern Louisiana, and southern Mississippi have a long road of retrieval, renewal, and repair.

Let's do everything we can to help them. That includes prayer.

This one "takes the cake..."

Of all the idiotic things our Federal Government attempts to do, this one certainly takes the cake for supreme stupidity. Read on:

The Air Force's new guidelines for religious tolerance will discourage public prayer at official functions and urge commanders to be "sensitive" about personal expressions of religious faith, according to a draft obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

The draft directs chaplains to "respect the rights of others to their own religious beliefs, including the right to hold no beliefs."

The guidelines, which would apply to the entire Air Force, were drawn up after allegations that evangelical Christians wield so much influence at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs that anti-Semitism and other forms of religious harassment have become pervasive.

An Air Force task force concluded that some students and staff at the school have the perception that the academy favors evangelical Christians and is intolerant of those who do not share their faith.

The draft was provided to the Associated Press by Mikey Weinstein, an academy graduate and persistent critic of the school's handling of religion. Air Force spokeswoman Jennifer Stevens confirmed the accuracy of the draft and said it was expected to be officially released later Monday.

The draft does not ban public prayer outright and says short, nonsectarian prayers may be included in special ceremonies or events, but only to lend a sense of solemnity and not to promote specific beliefs.

Nor does it bar personal discussions of religion, including discussions between commanders and subordinates. It cautions Air Force members "to be sensitive to the potential that personal expressions may appear to be official expressions."

The draft states that members of the Air Force "will not officially endorse or establish religion, either one specific religion, or the idea of religion over non-religion."

It also says that "abuse or disrespect" of Air Force members based on their religious beliefs, or lack of such beliefs, is unacceptable.

Funny, but in my ten years of military service--Air Force, at that---not once did I see anyone "disrespected" or "abused" because of their religious beliefs, or lack thereof.

The absolute insanity of our government officials astounds me sometimes.

As well it should.

Happy Birthday to my former friend....

My former friend, Chris (in Minneapolis) is celebrating his 35th Birthday today! I wish I were there to celebrate it with him, and to let him know just how special he is to so many people.

But alas, that won't be the case.

Sadly enough...because Chris no longer considers me to be his friend, or even his brother in Christ.

Innuendoes, gossip, suspicions, and alot of loose-lipped people made sure this friendship wouldn't last. Like I said earlier...sadly enough.

I really didn't think that we followers of Christ could or (worse yet) would behave as we have in our relationships with one another...

But we do, we did, and we have.

Maybe someday, we will realize just how much we are grieving the heart of God in how we are treating and responding to one another.

Happy Birthday Chris Martino!

For Heaven's sake, PAT...SHUT UP!

Every time M.G. "Pat" Robertson opens his mouth about governmental policy in this nation, he seems to INSERT BOTH OF HIS FEET.

In the meantime, he embarrasses the rest of the followers of Christ in this country. And this isn't the first time. Read on:

CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuela's vice president accused religious broadcaster Pat Robertson on Tuesday of making "terrorist statements" by suggesting that American agents assassinate President Hugo Chavez.

Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel said Venezuela was studying its legal options, adding that how Washington responds to Robertson's comments would put its anti-terrorism policy to the test.

"The ball is in the U.S. court, after this criminal statement by a citizen of that country," Rangel told reporters. "It's huge hypocrisy to maintain this discourse against terrorism and at the same time, in the heart of that country, there are entirely terrorist statements like those."

The State Department distanced itself from Robertson's comments.

"We do not share his view, and his comments are inappropriate," spokesman Sean McCormack said.

There was no immediate comment from Chavez, who was winding up an official visit to Cuba on Tuesday. Scores of journalists awaited Chavez at the airport, where he was to board a plane for a trip to Jamaica to discuss a Venezuela initiative to supply petroleum to Caribbean countries under favorable financial terms.

On Monday, Robertson said on the Christian Broadcast Network's "The 700 Club": "We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability."

"We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator," he continued. "It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

Chavez has emerged as one of the most outspoken critics of President Bush , accusing the United States of conspiring to topple his government and possibly backing plots to assassinate him. U.S. officials have called the accusations ridiculous.

"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Robertson said. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."

Rangel called Robertson "a man who seems to have quite a bit of influence in that country," adding sarcastically that his words were "very Christian."

The comments "reveal that religious fundamentalism is one of the great problems facing humanity in these times," Rangel said.

Robertson's remarks appear likely to further stoke tensions between Washington and Caracas. Chavez has repeatedly claimed that American officials are plotting to oust or kill him — charges U.S. officials have denied.

The United States is the top buyer of Venezuelan crude, but Chavez has made it clear he wants to decrease the country's dependence on the U.S. market by finding other buyers.

Chavez has survived a brief 2002 coup, a devastating two-month strike that ended in early 2003 and recall referendum in 2004. The former army paratroop commander, a close ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, is up for re-election next year, and polls suggest he is the favorite.

Would someone please tell Pat to put a "lid on it."


My precious friend Gail!

Gail Lemmert has been a friend of mine now for many years. What a gracious, godly lady! And what a wonderful lady to call "mom"--among the many "moms" that I'm blest to have.

For many years she was the Director of Counseling and Testing at Lee University ( in Cleveland, TN. Now she is the Pastor of Spiritual Formation at the Westmore Church of God in Cleveland, Tennessee. Her Senior Pastor is an old colleague of mine from college days, Bishop Kelvin Page.

This indeed is a small world.

From the mouth of children

A friend sent these to me:
A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales.

The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was very small.

The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale.

Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible.

The little girl said, "When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah".

The teacher asked, "What if Jonah went to hell?"

The little girl replied, "Then you ask him ".

A Kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while they were drawing. She would occasionally walk around to see each child's work.

As she got to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was.

The girl replied, "I'm drawing God."

The teacher paused and said, "But no one knows what God looks like."

Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing, the girl replied, "They will in a minute."

A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds.

After explaining the commandment to "honor" thy Father and thy Mother, she asked, "Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?"

Without missing a beat one little boy (the oldest of a family) answered, "Thou shall not kill."

One day a little girl was sitting and watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly noticed that her mother had several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast on her brunette head.

She looked at her mother and inquisitively asked, "Why are some of your hairs white, Mom?"

Her mother replied, "Well, every time that you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white."

The little girl thought about this revelation for a while and then said, "Momma, how come ALL of grandma's hairs are white?"

The children had all been photographed, and the teacher was trying to persuade them each to buy a copy of the group picture."

Just think how nice it will be to look at it when you are all grown up and say, 'There's Jennifer, she's a lawyer,' or 'That's Michael, He's a doctor.'

A small voice at the back of the room rang out, "And there's the teacher, she's dead."

A teacher was giving a lesson on the circulation of the blood. Trying to make the matter clearer, she said, "Now, class, if I stood on my head, the blood, as you know, would run into it, and I would turn red in the face."

"Yes," the class said."

Then why is it that while I am standing upright in the ordinary position the blood doesn't run into my feet?"

A little fellow shouted,"Cause your feet ain't empty."

The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school for lunch.

At the head of the table was a large pile of apples.

The nun made a note, and posted on the apple tray:"Take only ONE. God is watching."

Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies.

A child had written a note, "Take all you want. God is watching the apples."


Laughter is, indeed, the best medicine.

When you have it all...what then?

As I was watching some late-night political television this week, the Holy Spirit seemed to drop a thought in my heart. What I heard in my heart was, "When you have it all...what then?"

Let's see if I can simply this in writing, as well as I have simplified it in my head...

In my short 43 years of living, I have:

1) Graduated high school, college, and seminary.

2) Traveled 34 countries on 4 continents, seeing much of the world that I would have never seen, except for the blessing of God.

3) Served honorably in the United States Air Force

4) Been blest with scores of wonderful friends, just about everywhere!

5) Never gone naked, hungry, or homeless. Even bought my first home one month ago!

6) Almost always had a decent job

7) Acquired musical, writing, speaking, and other skills that can be used for the betterment of my environment (hopefully), and for my own enjoyment.

As one close friend said not long ago, "Phil, you have done more in your 43 years than most people will do in 82 years."

While it was meant as a compliment, I found it be more sobering than flattering. It was Jesus who said, "for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses" (Luke 12:15).

Looking at all that I have, I can only ask, "what now?" Or better yet, "So what?"

While there are several entrusted people who keep me "in check" and "grounded," the "heart of the matter" becomes very quickly, and very succinctly "the matter of the heart."

I remember hearing a lady who was dying with breast cancer say (many years ago) that "the only things we can take from this life to the next are 1) our relationship to God the Father, and 2) our relationships with other people." And thinking about it, those two elements fulfill the "Great Commandments" as taught by our Lord Jesus.

I'm often reminded of the "elder brother" in the story of the Prodigal son in Luke Chapter 15.

The most convicting, heartbreaking part of the elder brother's whole paradigm was the fact the he obviously never "came to himself."

The younger brother had insisted on taking what was not rightfully his (yet), squandering it on hellish living, eating from the pig's pen (a good Jewish boy, now...), and then "coming to himself" and returning home...

The elder brother--who never left--had it all....but what he didn't have, sadly, and many of us fall into this trap, was the "heart of his Father." Oh yes, the Father cared about him deeply, but the elder didn't take on the "heart qualities" that so defined his Father.

I've often wondered if I am possessed of the "elder brother" syndrome? We never found in the Scriptures where the "elder brother" came to himself and realized that he had everything at his disposal.

What about us? "When you have it all...what then?"

"Weatherproofing"--not a good idea.

Taken from Don't Sweat the Small Stuff...and it's all small stuff Richard Carlson, Ph.D. (New York: Hyperion, 1997) pg 105-107.

The idea of weatherproofing as it pertains to peaceful living and friendships is a metaphor to explain one of our most neurotic, ungrateful tendencies.

Just as we can weatherproof a home for the winter by looking for cracks, leaks, and imperfections, we can also weatherproof our relationships, even our lives by doing the very same thing. Essentially, weatherproofing means that you are on the careful lookout for what needs to be fixed or repaired. It's finding the cracks and flaws of life, and either trying to fix them, or at least point them out to others. Not only does this tendency alienate you from other people, it makes you feel bad, too. It encourages you to think about what's wrong with everything and everyone--what you don't like.

So rather than appreciating our relationships and our lives, weatherproofing encourages us to end up thinking that life (and our relationships) isn't all it's cracked up to be. Nothing is ever good enough the way it is.

In our relationships, weatherproofing typically plays itself out like this:

You meet someone and all is well. You are aware of his/her appearance, personality, intellect, sense of humor, or some combination of these traits. Initially, you not only approve of your differences with these people, you actually appreciate your differences. Often, you have an affinity for the person because of how different you both are. You have different opinions, preferences, tastes, and priorities.

After a while, however, you begin to notice little quirks about your new friend(s) that you feel should be improved upon. You bring it to their attention. You might say, "You know, you sure have a tendency to......" Or , "I've noticed you don't ......very much." The point is, you've begun what inevitably turns into a way of life--looking for and thinking about what you don't like about someone, or something that isn't quite least not in your eyes and by your all-wise estimation. And often it's not very wise..

Obviously, an occasional comment, constructive criticism, or helpful guidance isn't cause for alarm. It's even welcome most of the time. I have to say, however, that in the course of working with thousands of people over the years, I've met very few people who didn't feel that they were being weatherproofed at times by their friends. Occasional harmless comments have an insidious tendency to become a way of looking at people...and life.

When you are weatherproofing another human being, it says nothing about them--but it does define you as someone who has an insatiable need to be critical of them.

Whether you have a tendency to weatherproof your relationships, certain aspects of your life, or both, what you need to do is write off weatherproofing as a very bad idea. As the habit creeps into your thinking, catch yourself and seal your lips. The less often you weatherproof your relationships, the more you'll notice just how super your life really is."
A very wise person once said, "Pick your friends....but not to death!"

So what do you think?

It "rocked" my world....

I received word last Saturday morning that a dear friend of mine (two years my junior) died suddenly last week from a Brain Aneurysm. He was only 41 years old, and had no previous health problems of any type. He thought he was suffering from a sinus headache--until he collapsed on his kitchen floor and had to be carried to an emergency room.

His wife Susan, and their three precious daughters are now coping with this horrible series of events in their lives. Let's keep them in prayer.

And by all means, see your doctor. I plan to see mine tomorrow.

Update on Janet Paschal...Please Pray

Thursday July 7, 2005


Hey Everybody,
It's Thursday morning, I'm sitting in the screened porch with coffee, laptop, and today's newspaper. Life can be so good sometimes.

As expected, you all proved an invaluable source in response to my last newsletter. As a result, I've been in touch with oncology specialists from every major cancer center in the nation - MD Anderson, Mayo, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, to name a few. I've spent days poring through websites and forums; I've had continual sessions in prayer - both praying and listening; and have decided to go ahead with the additional chemotherapy.

I had my first of twelve weekly treatments yesterday and I have felt no effect from it whatsoever at this point; in fact, John and I played a game of tennis earlier and I felt as strong as ever. John cautions me not to get my hopes up (I lean in that direction) thinking I'll sail through this without some discomfort, but, so far, very, very good.

My probing has shown that most people do not have permanent side effects with the medicine as long as it's monitored closely. I guess they have to give you the worst case scenario and hope you are pleasantly surprised.

I also discovered that the reason I need this additional treatment is because my particular brand of cancer "overexpresses" the Her2 protein. (My friends had a chuckle at that.) It is also considered high risk for recurring and metastasizing. Once I jump through all the hoops (Taxol, Herceptin, radiation) I'll have a less than 8 percent chance of recurrence. Those are odds that make sense to me.

The worst part of this is that we've had to cancel our concert dates until next year. That means I won't have an opportunity to thank you in person and to hear your stories as soon as I'd hoped. I guess that also means it will be even sweeter when I do get to tell you what you have meant to me.

We continue to see the Lord in the details. My oncologist reminded me that had we not done the original chemo before the lumpectomy, we wouldn't even know that my cancer had not responded to it. I also think it is not coincidental that the Taxol/Herceptin combination was announced in May - and is considered the biggest advance in breast cancer in 50 years. I also know that God has been listening; maybe Mark Lowry was right when he called to say that God was getting so inundated by prayers on my behalf that He likely turned in frustration to Michael and asked, "Janet who?"

Thank you for your encouragement, and your stories of how the music has made a difference in your lives. That still overwhelms me.Thank you for writing. Thank you for praying. Thank you for forwarding my letter to friends, relatives, medical specialists, and prayer warriors. I have heard from them all, and have appreciated every effort spent in getting information and experiences to me. They have all played a part in my decision.

I'll keep you updated as we progress. I'll also keep you posted on what I'm learning through this as a way to repay your kindnesses, although it will surely fall short of that.

You are a gift to me - and I am deeply grateful.

We love you - we'll be in touch.


Please continue praying for my good friend Janet Paschal. She is such a wonderful minister in so many ways.

Worship and "Higher" Politics...

From the July issue of Christianity Today:

Worship as Higher Politics

Political priorities for citizens of the kingdom.
A Christianity Today editorial posted 06/23/2005 09:00 a.m.

George W. Bush is not Lord.

The Declaration of Independence is not an infallible guide to Christian faith and practice.

Nor is the U.S. Constitution, nor the U.N. Universal Declaration on Human Rights. "Original intent" of America's founders is not the hermeneutical key that will guarantee national righteousness. The American flag is not the Cross. The Pledge of Allegiance is not the Creed. "God Bless America" is not the Doxology.

Sometimes one needs to state the obvious—especially at times when it's less and less obvious.
Say What?Understandably, megachurch pastor Rod Parsley (World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio) has had enough of America's moral confusion. But in his newly published Silent No More: Bringing Moral Clarity to America … While Freedom Still Rings (Charisma House, 2005), he writes (not so understandably), "I can be silent no more. Not until the land of our fathers' dream arises. Not until we become the truly kind and noble society we were fashioned to be. Not until the commitment of our fathers truly does become the calling of our times."
And here we thought the Ten Commandments and Sermon on the Mount held the key to a "truly kind and noble society."

Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, spoke recently about the serious problem of judges legislating from the bench. He also said: "We want to return to a nation governed by law, rather than a nation governed by judges. This is a major issue to us. We know for evangelical Christians to function, we need the rule of law."

The remark implies unintentionally that the church needs humble judges who submit to "original intent" if it is to function. Tell that to the church in Africa and Latin America, where corrupt judges and wild dictators reign, and where church growth approaches the miraculous.
Family Research Council (FRC) Action is a lobbying arm of FRC, and as such it is not explicitly religious in its public presentation. But it is known far and wide as an outpost of the Christian Right. So it can only reap confusion when it posts this endorsement from former U.S. Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire: "Just beneath our superficial prosperity is a moral and cultural center that is in serious disrepair. We have the tools to fix it: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution … and a people whose hearts, courage, and dedication have never been questioned."

As important as the Declaration and Constitution are to the political health of our nation, surely nobody at FRC Action believes that these documents are the key to fixing the "serious disrepair" at our nation's "moral center."

And for some time now, we've been hearing from David Barton, Peter Marshall, and James Kennedy, among others, about "renewing the vision of our founding fathers, as expressed in America's founding documents," and the need "to defend and implement the biblical principles on which our country was founded."

The not-so-subtle equation of America's founding with biblical Christianity has been shown time and again to be historically inaccurate. The founding was a unique combination of biblical teaching and Enlightenment rationalism, and most of the founding fathers, as historian Edwin Gaustad, among many others, has noted, were not orthodox Christians, but instead were primarily products of the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment, we should recall, has never been much of a friend of biblical Christianity.

Political PrioritiesIn the heat of partisan politics (out of which many of these overstatements and misunderstandings arise), we are tempted to forget that the most potent political act—the one act that deeply manifests and really empowers a "kind and noble society"—is the worship of Jesus Christ.

In worship we signal who is the Sovereign, not of just this nation, but of heaven and Earth. In worship we gather to be formed into an alternate polis, the people of God. It is here that we proclaim that a new political order—the kingdom of heaven—has been preached and incarnated by the King of Kings, and will someday come in fullness, a fullness to which all kingdoms and republics will submit:

"I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. … The city does not need the sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the Earth will bring their splendor into it" (Rev. 21:2, 23-24).

Nearly a quarter of a century ago, just as the Religious Right was blossoming, Richard John Neuhaus put it this way: "Jesus Christ is Lord. That is the first and final assertion Christians make about all of reality, including politics. Believers now assert by faith what one day will be manifest to the sight of all: Every earthly sovereignty is subordinate to the sovereignty of Jesus Christ. The church is the bearer of that claim."

Theologian Stanley Hauerwas, no political ally of Neuhaus, extended the point in a recent interview: "Christians' first political responsibility is to be the church, and by being the church they should understand that their first political loyalty is to God, and the God we worship as Christians, in a manner that understands that we are not first and foremost about making democracy work, but about the truthful worship of the true God."

Let us be clear: The Christian citizen of every nation has a moral obligation to engage at some level in that nation's political life. We do not recommend withdrawal from the political arena. We admire especially those whose calling falls in this area—mayors, councilmen, senators, representatives, presidents. Theirs is as noble a calling as that of a plumber or pastor.

But Christians who enter that calling, and those who pray for and work with them, must not forget one thing: where hope for this nation, and the world, really lies, and where that hope is most manifest Sunday by Sunday.

Copyright © 2005 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
July 2005, Vol. 49, No. 7, Page 16

Sandra Day O'Connor: Retiring from the Supreme Court

This morning, Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to ever fill a seat on the United States Supreme Court (nominated by President Reagan in 1981) announced her intentions to retire, pending the nomination and confirmation of her successor. Justice O'Connor has left quite a legacy in her ilustrious career. Read more about her:

Perhaps no other jurist could have come to the Supreme Court under greater expectations and scorn. When President Ronald Reagan nominated Sandra Day O'Connor in 1981 to be the first woman justice to sit on the Supreme Court, he did so out of an obligation to keep a campaign promise. O'Connor's nomination was quick to draw criticism from both the political left and right. Conservatives derided her lack of federal judicial experience and claimed she was lacking in constitutional knowledge. They considered her a wasted nomination and suspected her position on abortion. Liberals, on the other hand, could not deny their satisfaction at seeing a woman on the High Court, but they were dismayed at O'Connor's apparent lack of strong support for feminist issues. In time, however, O'Connor has come to answer all these criticisms. O'Connor has emerged from the shadow of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and the Court's conservative bloc with her own brand of pragmatic and centrist-oriented conservatism. Even those liberals who branded her a "traitor" in her early years for compromising on abortion rights, now appreciate her efforts to keep the "pro-choice" message of Roe v. Wade (1973) alive.

O'Connor's success should come at no surprise. From her rural childhood to her career climb through a profession dominated by men, O'Connor often resorted to practical solutions as she worked within the system. This tendency to moderate, in turn, enhanced her importance in an often-splintered Court.

Sandra Day O'Connor was born March 26, 1930, in El Paso, Texas. Her parents, Harry and Ada Mae, owned the Lazy-B-Cattle Ranch in southeastern Arizona, where O'Connor grew up.

O'Connor experienced a difficult life on the ranch in her early childhood. The ranch itself did not receive electricity or running water until she was seven. Since their nearest neighbors lived 25 miles away, the family spent their days mostly in isolation. Her younger brother and sister were not born until she herself was eight years old, leaving her to spend many years as an only child. To compensate for the loneliness, she befriended many of the ranch's cowboys and kept many pets, including a bobcat. O'Connor read profusely in her early years and engaged in many ranch activities. She learned to drive at age seven and could fire rifles and ride horses proficiently by the time she turned eight.

The isolated ranch made formal education difficult so O'Connor's parents sent her to live with her maternal grandmother in El Paso. Sandra attended the Radford School, a private academy for girls, from kindergarten through high school. Suffering from extreme homesickness, she withdrew and returned to Arizona for a year. Still, she graduated with good marks at the age of sixteen. O'Connor attributes much of her later success to her grandmother's influence. She credits her grandmother's confidence in her ability to succeed in any endeavor as her motivation for refusing to admit defeat.

After high school, O'Connor attended Stanford University where she majored in economics. She chose economics originally with the intention of applying that knowledge towards the operation of a ranch of her own or even the Lazy-B Ranch. A legal dispute over her family's ranch, however, stirred her interest in law and O'Connor decided to enroll at Stanford Law School after receiving her baccalaureate degree magna cum laude in 1950.

O'Connor only took two years, instead of the customary three, to complete law school. Along the way, she served on the Stanford Law Review and received membership in the Order of the Coif, a legal honor society. She also met her future husband, John Jay O'Connor, a fellow student, at this time. O'Connor graduated third out of a class of 102. (First in the class William H. Rehnquist who would become chief justice.)

O'Connor faced a difficult job market after leaving Stanford. No law firm in California wanted to hire her and only one offered her a position as a legal secretary. Ironically, a senior partner of that firm, William French Smith, helped O'Connor's nomination to the Supreme Court years later as the Attorney General. Failing to find suitable work in private practice, O'Connor turned to public service. She accepted a job as the deputy county attorney for San Mateo, California. When O'Connor's husband graduated from Stanford a year later, the army immediately drafted him into the Judge Advocate General Corps. John O'Connor served in Frankfurt, Germany, for three years with Sandra by his side. While in Germany, Sandra served as a civilian lawyer in the Quartermaster's Corps.

When the O'Connors returned to the U.S. in 1957, they decided to settle down in Phoenix, Arizona. They had their three sons in the six years that followed.

O'Connor again found it difficult to obtain a position with any law firm so she decided to start her own firm with a single partner. She practiced a wide variety of small cases in her early days as a lawyer since she lacked specialization and an established reputation. After she gave birth to her second son, O'Connor withdrew from work temporarily to care for her children. She became involved in many volunteer activities during this time. She devoted much of her time to the Arizona State Hospital, the Arizona State Bar, the Salvation Army, and various local schools. She also began an involvement with the Arizona Republican Party. After five years as a full-time mother, O'Connor returned to work as an assistant state attorney general in Arizona.

When a state senator resigned to take an appointment in Washington D.C., Arizona Governor Jack Williams appointed O'Connor to occupy the vacant seat. O'Connor successfully defended her senate position for two more terms and eventually became the majority leader, a first for women anywhere in the U.S. In 1974, O'Connor decided to shift gears and run for a judgeship on the Maricopa County Superior Court. State Republican leaders urged her to consider a campaign for the governorship in 1978, but O'Connor declined. A year later, the newly elected Democratic governor nominated O'Connor to the Arizona Court of Appeals. Not quite two years later, President Reagan nominated her as the first woman to Supreme Court as a replacement for the retiring Justice Potter Stewart.

The Senate confirmed O'Connor's appointment unanimously. As if in anticipation of her arrival, the Court abandoned its formal use of "Mr. Justice" as the form of address, opting for the simpler and gender-neutral, "Justice." Early in her tenure on the Court, most observers identified O'Connor as part of the Court's conservative faction. The public often associated her with Rehnquist since they shared common roots and values. However, after a few Terms, O'Connor established her own unique position on the Court. Although she commonly sided with the conservatives, O'Connor would frequently author a concurrence that sought to narrow the scope of the majority's opinion.

To this day, O'Connor's core legal philosophy remains difficult to define. She approaches each case with individual treatment and seeks always to arrive at a practical conclusion. Her moderation has helped her role as the centrist coalition-builder, which has consequently enhanced her influence on the Court.

What a great legacy, what a great American!

God bless Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

Buying a New Home: Lessons Learned...

Well, dear readers, I have recently closed on my very first home purchase. It is a lovely condominium (rehabbed) approximately 900 Square Feet, two bedrooms, one bath...and all the amenities--for the most part.

This was the most stressful thing I have ever undertaken....hands down!

And as crazy and egotistical as it may sound, I feel that I should share some "lessons learned" from this whole experience:

1). Get a good real estate agent----I have a wonderful one, Birdie Solti with MetroTech Realty here in Chicago....she was a God-send, in every respect. She answered all my questions, or found the answers to them...and she sincerely looked out for my best interests through the whole process. She wasn't sparse with her opinion about any of the properties we looked over either. I appreciate that more than she will ever know.

2). Get a Lender/Mortgage Broker in your own town---don't go for one that you cannot see and talk to on a regular (for me, at least twice a day) basis. After all, you will be the one paying "the bills"--including their commissions once it is all said and done.

3) Inspect the property from one square inch to the other....and make sure that everything is just the way you want it....or have agreed writing.

4) Get the opinions of a few close, trusted friends. I was smart enough to do this...and it proved to be invaluable--particularly my friend Mike--who was a professional interior designer at one point in his life.

5) Don't believe the "Good Faith Estimates" when it comes to closing costs....these were no where close to be accurate....the REAL costs were far more than the estimates....

The Best Ice Cream in the world!

My good friends Chris Hill and Jeff Wilcoxen started a business more than 15 months ago in the neighborhood where I currently live (and will soon be moving from) called Bobtails.

BOBTAILS is an ice cream/soda fountain/coffee shop...

All the ice creams/sorbets/sherberts are freshly made at their store.

Here's the link:

If you are ever in the Windy City, please stop by BOBTAILS....

It is the best. Tell them "their buddy Phil" sent you.

And get the MANGO SORBET...

It is to "die for."

NBA Pre-Draft Camp..what a great witness....

The Moody Bible Institute here in Chicago will be hosting the NBA's "Pre-Draft" Camp again this year at their state-of-the-art Soldheim Athletic Facility. Here's the story:

June 2, 2005

Home Court Advantage

It’s become one of the most well-known rituals in sports. Every summer, coaches and executives from all 30 NBA teams converge at Moody’s Solheim Center to scout prospects for the upcoming draft. Some of the most famous players in NBA history attend—including Larry Bird, Dominique Wilkins, Jerry West and Isiah Thomas—as does nearly every major media outlet in the country.

Clearly, the pre-draft camp has proven to be a success for the NBA, one of the best opportunities for its teams to evaluate players who aren’t “sure things” in the draft. However, according to Don Martindell, Moody’s Athletic Administrator, the camp also benefits Moody by making good use its athletic center during the slower summer months and by generating positive publicity.

Martindell values the opportunity the camp provides for Moody staff to serve. “The NBA loves it here,” Martindell said, “and we enjoy serving them and reflecting the One who motivates our service.”

The NBA pre-draft camp will be held this week from June 7 to 10. Moody Bible Institute has hosted the camp for 14 years.
What an incredible opportunity to see the love of Christ and the grace of God in action....

What's on your mind?

This is the one post where I will ask my readers to state whatever they want to put in the comments section of this website.

What's on your mind?

Conflict in the Body of Christ...(link)

Dr James McDonald, Senior Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in suburban Rolling Meadows, Illinois is doing a marvelous series on the daily radio program, "Walk In The Word."

Take a listen:

One Senator with Integrity...why not more?

WASHINGTON - In a tense atmosphere, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee debated John Bolton's fitness to be United Nations' ambassador on Thursday. A critical Republican senator, George Voinovich of Ohio, agreed to let the nomination go to the full Senate but he called the diplomat "arrogant" and "bullying."

"This administration can do better than that," Voinovich said in the first big battle of
President Bush' s second term.

Voinovich said he could not vote for the nomination, but would agree to send it to the floor without a recommendation of approval or disapproval.

"We owe it to the president to give Mr. Bolton an up-or-down vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate," Voinovich said.

Despite Voinovich's sharp criticism of Bolton, who now serves as the top arms-control diplomat at the State Department, the White House was clearly relieved that the Ohio senator had agreed to let the full Senate decide.

Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said the White House is confident Bolton will be confirmed by the full Senate. Voinovich called Bolton "the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be."

He said Bolton would be fired if he was in the private sector.

"That being said, Mr. Chairman, I am not so arrogant to think that I should impose my judgment and perspective of the U.S. position in the world community on the rest of my colleagues," he added.

Voinovich later told reporters he planned to vote against Bolton in the full Senate. Will Bolton win eventual confirmation? "I have every faith in my colleagues. No one really is excited about him. We'll see what happens," he said.

Republicans hold an 10-8 edge on the panel. All eight Democrats have said they would vote against Bolton. Thus, a single "no" GOP vote would deadlock the panel and keep the nomination from going to the floor.

"After hours of deliberation, telephone calls, personal conversations, reading hundreds of pages of transcripts, and asking for guidance from Above, I have come to the determination that the United States can do better than John Bolton," Voinovich said

Voinovich had been the only holdout of four GOP committee members who expressed misgivings about the Bolton nomination.

He said he hoped the full Senate, where Republicans hold a 55-45 majority, would reject the nomination.

"What message are we sending to the world community?" Voinovich asked.

The Republican chairman of the panel, Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, defended the nomination in opening remarks, while conceding that "Secretary Bolton's actions were not always exemplary."

Bolton misjudged the actions of subordinates and sometimes clashed with superiors in his current job as the State Department's arms control chief, Lugar said.

But weeks of intense Senate inquiry turned up no evidence that Bolton did anything that would disqualify him as President Bush's choice for the United Nations job, Lugar said.

"His blunt style alienated some colleagues. But there is no evidence that he has broken laws or engaged in serious ethical misconduct," Lugar said.

Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, the senior Democrat on the committee, portrayed Bolton as the wrong choice for the post and opposed sending the nomination to the floor — even without a recommendation of approval.

"I think we have undermined our authority and shirked our constitutional responsibility," Biden said.

"We have already lost a lot of credibility at home and abroad after the fiasco over the intelligence on Iraq, and Mr. Bolton is not the man to help us to rebuild it," Biden added. Later, Biden told reporters he did not know if Bolton's vote could be stopped in the full Senate. "Would I have liked it better to have a 'no' vote? Yes," he said.

In lively debate scheduled to last five hours, committee Republicans and Democrats alternatively praised and denounced Bolton's qualifications and direct manner.

"We are not electing Mr. Congeniality. We do not need Mr. Milquetoast," said Sen. George Allen R-Va., arguing that Bolton would be an effective agent for change at the United Nations.
But Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, last year's Democratic presidential nominee, portrayed Bolton as a loose cannon whose pronouncements would prompt other diplomats to ask, "Who is he speaking for?"

"What is at stake here is our national interest, our security interests, our ability to advance our interests within the United Nations," Kerry said.

An energetic diplomat who pioneered a program to curb the spread of dangerous weapons technology, Bolton has strong ties to political conservatives inside and outside the administration and shares their skepticism about some international treaties.

The spirited debate over the last month, however, has focused mostly on allegations that he berated several U.S. officials, especially intelligence analysts who did not agree with his assessments of Cuba and Syria's military strength.

The White House made a determined fight for the embattled nominee.

Bush, trying to turn the personality issue to Bolton's favor, has called Bolton "a blunt guy" who "can get the job done at the United Nations" and "who isn't afraid to speak his mind in the post of the ambassador to the U.N."

A 56-year-old lawyer, Bolton was senior vice president of the American Enterprise Institute before he became Bush's undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs four years ago.
At least ONE Republican Senator has some integrity.....what about the rest of them?

Pull the Bolton nomination...NOW!

The senseless nomination of John Bolton as the next United States Ambassador to the United Nations should be terminated...and with all due haste!

His horrible hairstyle, and grotesque mustache aside, this growler would be the most pitiful appointment, diplomatic or otherwise from the Bush Administration.

The testimonies surrounding this man's alleged indiscretions are enough, to any thinking person, for the President to ask Mr Bolton to step aside.

When Former Secretary of State, Retired Army General Colin Powell, refuses to endorse the nomination of someone who worked directly for him, then "Houston, we indeed have a problem."

That nomination should be dropped like a scalding rock....

And quickly.

What some people will believe...

Well, it's like this:

Mary, (the mother of Christ) obviously hasn't had anything else to do recently, so she decided to camp out under the Kennedy Expressway here in Chicago. Read it for yourself:

I'm not sure I could call all the "faithful" that have flocked to that busy intersection "Nutty..."--I don't want to insult those who truly are "faithful" and of course the "truly nutty..."

The things some people will believe.

"Unnamed" and "Unwanted"

I recently heard someone give their testimony of God's faithfulness in their life. It moved me beyond what words can describe.

This person told of how his mother became pregnant as a teenager, and later abandoned him after his birth in the hospital of one of the nation's large cities.

Many years later, he went to retrieve a birth certificate, and was startled at what he found.

The official document recording his birth labeled him "unnamed boy" and in the notations near the bottom, "unwanted, abandoned by the birth mother."

All of his life he has wrestled with these "judgments" from the moment of his birth. Even after he came to Jesus Christ for salvation, he still struggled with the issues of having been "unnamed" and then "unwanted."

I can identify with him in alot of ways. Even though I was named at birth, I was later abandoned by the very two people responsible for bringing me to natural life.

I have felt "abandoned" more than once since entering adulthood...yet I know these words are true:

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.

For I am the LORD your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I gave Egypt for your ransom,
Ethiopia and Seba in your place.

Since you were precious in My sight,
You have been honored,
And I have loved you;

Indeed, the Lord God, who spoke the universe into existence, and who sustains it by His own power, all by Himself, has called me by my name.

And I am His.

Phil Hoover

For Mother's Day

A friend sent these to me.

Things My Mother Taught Me

My Mother Taught Me About:

1. My Mother taught me about ANTICIPATION... "Just wait until your father gets home."

2. My Mother taught me about RECEIVING. . .. "You are going to get it when we get home!"

3. My Mother taught me LOGIC... "If you fall out off that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me."

4. My Mother taught me to MEET A CHALLENGE. . . "What were you thinking? Answer me when I talk to you! Don't talk back to me!"`

5. My Mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE... "If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way."

6. My Mother taught me to THINK AHEAD... "If you don't pass your spelling test, you'll never get a good job."

7. My Mother taught me HUMOR... "When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me."

8. My Mother taught me how to BECOME AN ADULT... "If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up."

9. My Mother taught me about GENETICS... "You're just like your father."

10. My Mother taught me about my ROOTS... "Do you think you were born in a barn?"

11. My Mother taught me about WISDOM OF AGE... "When you get to be my age, you will understand." And last but not least...

12. My Mother taught me about JUSTICE..."One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you....Then you'll see what it's like!"

Overheard in a seminary....LOL

We're not to go out and sin more so that God will have something to do.

Jesus is bad news for alot of people.

You can't just read the Gospels and get away with it.

You have to judge whether it's God talking or just indigestion.

What we don't know about Paul could fill many books.

These weren't Episopalians, these were real evangelists!

If I were grading Luther's exegesis papers, he wouldn't do very well.

Jesus never got where he was going on time.

I thank God for the rich, for they need rectors too.

Some of you may have found last year to be a constant LENT.

Some dead languages are more dead than others.

If having information about God means knowing God, then a computer can know God better than any human.

We can't think up a new heresy, that's why we study the past.

God is not an Episopalian.

Have sermon, will travel. How much are you paying?

There's a blessing on intelligent guessers.

The Spirit of God is not just any old spirit. It's not some anonymous dunamis.

The ten lost tribes of Israel were not just casually misplaced.

By the 7th time you've gone through the 3-year Lectionary cycle, a new idea is a blessing.

My Bible begins "Once upon a time..."

You can't go home in your kitchen and cook up enough sin to frighten anybody without some help.

Bad biology produces bad theology, but let's not go there right now.

God will sort that out, but let me give it a short try...

The Papal Trail of Benedict XVI...

His first homily in a private mass with the Cardinals who elected him on Tuesday....

Read it for yourself:

So much for 'reconciling..."

We shall see.

Cardinal Pope Benedict XVI

I'm not a Catholic, but I have many wonderful friends who exercise their relationship with the Lord in the "Catholic" tradition.

World history was made today: Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger of Munich, Germany has been elected/selected/crowned as the new Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. He will be the new Bishop of Rome. He will be the supreme ruler of Vatican City--a small political entity of 107 acres...

Soft-spoken, mild-mannered and prolific. A lengthy paper trail....and some Catholics have labeled him "a hard liner..."

John Paul II trusted him for more than twenty years to run a very large part of the Vatican...and now 114 cardinals have trusted him to run the Roman Catholic Church...

I just wonder how he will "relate" to the rest of Christianity....

We shall see...

We shall see...

Pentecostals: A Challenge from Catholics in Africa?

Found this to be most interesting:
SOWETO, South Africa - Mass is so crowded at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church that the parishioners spill out into the courtyard, where they huddle close to the doors to hear and be heard.

Worship here is participatory and joyous, not a staid moral duty performed amid pomp and ritual beneath the stained glass of one of Europe's cavernous and magnificent cathedrals.
The Catholic Church seems young, active and relevant, growing at a rate so explosive — with nearly 140 million Roman Catholics in Africa — that it's a vital part of today's Christian expansion.

The next pope will inherit a vibrant African flock but will also face challenges in competing with Islam and Pentecostal Christian Churches, said Archbishop Pius Ncube.

The church is growing so quickly largely because it has sought to embrace what is good in African culture rather than trying to make Africans into Westerners, Ncube said.
"There is a vitality to the church in Africa. In Europe, a Mass is simply a duty you must go through," Ncube said. "Africans like to feel they are celebrating. They want to rejoice, ululate and dance."

At St. Joseph's the priest gives the homily in Zulu and draws boisterous laughter as his examples strike close to home. With no organ, hymns are sung a cappella while the congregation and choir sways and dances.

The number of Catholics in Africa has jumped about 150 percent since Pope John Paul II ascended to the throne of St. Peter in 1978. Churchmen and academics say the growth, the fastest in the long history of the church, promises in time to change the nature of the faith.
"The Church is based on Western traditions that will come under huge pressure after the African church comes of age," said Paul Germond, who teaches comparative religion at the University of the Witswatersrand in Johannesburg.

For decades Western Europe and North America have been seen as the financial base of the church even while the faithful slip from strict adherence to its teachings. Latin America, which is more than 90 percent Roman Catholic, has been viewed as a bedrock of the faith. But Africa has been seen as the growth market in the competition for souls.

St. Joseph's, parishioners say, is a model of what the Second Vatican Council had in mind when it replaced the Latin Mass with the local language and a testament to why the faith is growing so fast in Africa.

The red and tan ceramic floor tile at St. Joseph's is cracked and shattered, the white and orange walls are adorned with cheap modern prints depicting the passion of Christ and the windows are panes of white, yellow and green translucent glass in no discernible pattern.
But its parishioners appear passionately involved in the Mass.

"Since Vatican II, people can clap, dance and play the drums," said Alson Ntombela, 72, a member of the St. Joseph's congregation. "Africans are very spiritual. They like to glorify. The Catholic Church now reflects and accepts our culture."

Makhosonke Maseko, 30, a medical doctor, said he converted to Catholicism from the Presbyterian Church because Roman Catholics more than anyone else try to make religion relevant to Africans.

Ncube said when he became a Roman Catholic 45 years ago, he said there were only two or three African bishops. Now more than 80 percent of the bishops are African. Once most of the priests were Western missionaries, now Africa sends priests to Europe and America.
"Africa is a continent with a lot of troubles, with wars, strife, starvation, poverty and the AIDS crisis. That causes a lot of people to seek God," said Ncube.

He credits John Paul II with much of the success in Africa. The pope made 14 trips to Africa, more than to any other continent. "He was a pope of the people when so many had been prisoners of the Vatican," said Ncube. "He was a blessing."

Churchmen and academics in Africa said they believe it's unlikely that the College of Cardinals, which begins voting in conclave on Monday, will choose an African pope. But Cardinal Francis Arinze, 72, of Nigeria is considered a possible contender, having risen to the No. 4 position in the Vatican at a time when fundamentalist Islamic and Protestant sects replaced communism as the biggest challenge to Catholic proselytizing.

Germond, the professor, believes the explosion of Christianity in Africa has come partly because the religion is how Africans accepted and made sense of the modern world. When missionaries brought Christianity, they also brought education and health care. About 60 percent of the hospital beds in Congo now are in Roman Catholic facilities, he said.

"Christianity was entrenched by the education system. Many of Africa's leaders were educated in church schools and universities," said Germond.

But while the growth has been massive, Germond said it is difficult to produce precise figures.
"Africans are very pluralistic in religious beliefs. They can be Catholic and still attend Pentecostal services or go to traditional healers," said Germond.

Adapting the church to African culture is changing the nature of the faith, said Germond. For now the changes in how the faith is practiced are within Africa. But as the church's center of gravity slides south, Western traditions will come under increasing pressure.

"The church is the oldest institution in history. It manages change in a gradual way over generations," said Germond.
Kind of interesting to me, since I'm a follower of Christ, who practices my relationship in the Pentecostal tradition.