2006...it was a good year....

WOW, it's almost over...and I'm just now getting the hang of writing "2006" on everything.

It's been a decent year. Let's see if I can recount some of the highlights for me, personally:

1) Caffeine Free. Up until December 30, 2005 I was a huge Mountain Dew man. And I decided that I need to "kick the habit" for 2006. I have been very successful in kicking the caffeine habit. I've had nothing with caffeine in it, except for a couple pieces of chocolate.

2) Flu/Cold Free. I need to count my blessings on this one. I almost always develop bronchitis, or a cold or some other upper respiratory ailment at least once every year. I've managed to avoid that this year. I'm thankful. My wallet is also.

3) Reconnecting with friends. I've done quite a bit of traveling this year--more so than in recent years. I've been to:

Huntsville, Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama
Tomah, Wisconsin
Belleville, Illinois
Lexington, Kentucky
Atlanta, Georgia
Greer, South Carolina

Getting away from the hustle and bustle of the Windy City is a necessity sometimes. I've been very fortunate in the fact that I've gotten to visit friends and family that I've not seen in many years--some of them as long as 20 years ago. It's been great.

4) Sunday School at The Moody Church. I've gotten involved in the Moody Business Network (MBN) Sunday School Class at The Moody Church (www.moodychurch.org) where I worship regularly every week. This has been so encouraging and refreshing for me, after having been away from Sunday School for more than three years.

These "things" may seem little to alot of folks who will read this post. Yet, these "little things" are very, very important to me, and what God is doing in my life.

And I will look forward with great anticipation to 2007.


I'm beginning to wonder why we all have so much "stuff."

While I'm very appreciative of every gift I've ever received, I often muse about how much "stuff" I have, and why I really have it.

I have plenty of clothes, and lots of friends. The first will eventually wear out, while the latter is eternal.

I have good health, and a good strong mind (and there are views to the contrary on the latter, I'm sure).

I have the promise of a home in heaven, and the grace of Jesus Christ while traveling here on this side of eternity.

So what about all this "stuff"?

What do you think?

Thanks a million!

This is the first time I've had the opportunity to thank my good friends Pastor Byron and Cindy Morrell in Greer, South Carolina. I was their house guest for the Christmas holiday weekend.

It was wonderful!

Byron and I have been pals for more than 26 years now--we met when we were college freshmen in Cleveland TN in August, 1980.

We've been "buds" ever since.

He pastors a wonderful congregation in Greer--and they love him dearly. I can see why. I had the great privilege of sharing God's Word with this congregation last Sunday morning. What a precious group of people!

Byron and Cindy are two of the kindest and most gracious people that I know.

It was joy to be with them, and their two sons Zachary and Ezekiel.

It was a delight to be with Byron's family on Christmas Eve (all 20+ of them), and to be with Cindy's family on Christmas Day. I ate way too much, and received such warmth and kindness--far more than I deserved.

I just wanted to say "Thank You" publicly.

What will you bring to Christmas? Part II

Yes, we have worshipped Christ, the newborn babe in the cattle stall. But He didn't remain there...

The Scriptures tell us that Jesus grew in stature, and in favor with both God and man. God the Son became a fully grown man! That boggles the mind for most, if not all of us. I often wonder if He had to "take out the trash" or "do his own laundry..."--after all HE was a man, huh?

Some thirty-three years after this wonderful birth in Bethlehem, we see a different gift that requires our response.

Jesus has quite a reputation now. He has:

Turned water into the BEST vintage of wine at a wedding
Healed the sick
Raised the Dead
Told a Samaritan Woman everything she had ever done
Paid His taxes from the mouth of a fish
Feed thousands with five loaves and two fish
Walked on water

Just for headliners. But now, He offers us another gift. He rides into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey. He cries over this city. He overturns the moneychangers in the temple, and instructs His disciples to prepare a meal in an Upper Room. This meal would be the last one the Twelve would have together. Jesus explains exactly why this meal was necessary. He describes the "Cup of His blood"...and insists they all drink from it. This was a common cup--and it represented the communion that Christ wanted to have with them, and that Christ wanted them to have with one another. The Gospels of Luke and John both tell us as much.

After this event, we know that Christ went into Gethsemane's Garden, and prayed "If It be Thy will, let this CUP pass from Me....Not my will, but Yours." In other words Jesus "prayed through."

He prayed through to the place where He (fully God and fully man) could say, "Father, Your will, not Mine." He knew the suffering that He was about to endure. He knew that it would be bitter, but He also was ready to do whatever His Father saw fit to happen.

So, we must ask, now that we are seeing this gift of "His Cup"--what do we need to bring to our Garden of Gethsemane? What do we need to look deeply within ourselves and find--and then bring it to the "Garden"?

Maybe it's that disappointment of someone betraying you. Maybe it's the unreasonable family member whom you just don't know how to reach? Maybe it's a wayward child, or a person that is far too distant, and you were once close. Maybe, just maybe it's a financial situation, and you just can't seem to gain clarity on it?

Are you ready to pray through..."Father, Not my will, but Yours"?

We are partaking of this CUP of His surrender to the Father's will. Every time we partake of the Lord's Supper (Eucharist), we are saying, when we drink the fruit of the vine, "Lord, not my will, but Yours."

This too, is a gift of Christmas.

What will you bring to Christmas? Part I

One the things that has always bugged me about going somewhere, particularly to the family, for the holidays is that someone will always ask "Well, what are you bringing?" Well-meaning though they are, I am just annoyed that we automatically assume that someone MUST bring something...

When the angel appeared to Mary, and later to Joseph, they both knew what this "baby boy" would bring: Salvation. Matthew 1:21 tells us "You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins."

So, now we will come to Christmas....that most blessed of all nights, when God took the form of man, and came to live among us. We first come to the "cradle" and see a tiny baby, in a barn with straw in his hair, laying among the cattle that surrounded him. We hear a different announcement now: "Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward all men." That "goodwill" would be GOD'S will toward the sinful creatures who had rebelled against Him. It's important to remember that GOD lay in that cattle stall...Fully God and Fully Man. We can sing with the legions of saints who have gone before us:

O Come Let Us Adore Him!
O Come Let Us Adore Him!
O Come Let Us Adore Him!
Christ, Our Lord!

Now this is funny.....

Or at least I thought so. My friend Tim (a pastor in Florida) passed it on...

This is the time of year when we think back to the very first Christmas, when the Three Wise Men -- Gaspar, Balthazar, and Herb -- went to see the baby Jesus and, according to the Book of Matthew, "presented unto Him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh."

These are simple words, but if we analyze them carefully, we discover an important, yet often overlooked, theological fact: there is no mention of wrapping paper.

If there had been wrapping paper, Matthew would have said so: "And lo, the gifts were inside 600 square cubits of paper. And the paper was festooned with pictures of Frosty the Snowman. And Joseph was going to throweth it away, but Mary saideth unto him, she saideth, 'Holdeth it! That is nice paper! Saveth it for next year!' And Joseph did rolleth his eyeballs. And the baby Jesus was more interested in the paper than the frankincense."

But these words do not appear in the Bible, which means that the very first Christmas gifts were NOT wrapped.

This is because the people giving those gifts had two important characteristics:

1. They were wise.
2. They were men.

Men are not big gift wrappers. Men do not understand the point of putting paper on a gift just so somebody else can tear it off. This is not just my opinion, this is a scientific fact based on a statistical survey of two guys I know. One is Rob, who said the only time he ever wraps a gift is "if it's such a poor gift that I don't want to be there when the person opens it." The other is Gene, who told me he does wrap gifts, but as a matter of principle never takes more than 15 seconds per gift. "No one ever had to wonder which presents daddy wrapped at Christmas," Gene said. "They were the ones that looked like enormous spitballs."

I also wrap gifts, but because of some defect in my motor skills, I can never completely wrap them. I can take a gift the size of a deck of cards and put it the exact center of a piece of wrapping paper the size of a regulation volleyball court, but when I am done folding and taping, you can still see a sector of the gift peeking out. (Sometimes I camouflage this sector with a marking pen.)

If I had been an ancient Egyptian in the field of mummies, the lower half of the Pharaoh's body would be covered only by Scotch tape. On the other hand, if you give my wife a 12-inch square of wrapping paper, she can wrap a C-130 cargo plane. My wife, like many women, actually likes wrapping things. If she gives you a gift that requires batteries, she wraps the batteries separately, which to me is very close to being a symptom of mental illness. If it were possible, my wife would wrap each individual volt.

My point is that gift-wrapping is one of those skills like having babies that come more naturally to women than to men.

That is why today I am presenting: Gift Wrapping Tips for Men:

* Whenever possible, buy gifts that are already wrapped. If, when the recipient opens the gift, neither one of you recognizes it, you can claim that it's myrrh.

* The editors of Woman's Day magazine recently ran an item on how to make your own wrapping paper by printing a design on it with an apple sliced in half horizontally and dipped in a mixture of food coloring and liquid starch.

They must be smoking crack.

If you're giving a hard-to-wrap gift, skip the wrapping paper! Just put it inside a bag and stick one of those little adhesive bows on it. This creates a festive visual effect that is sure to delight the lucky recipient on Christmas morning:

YOUR WIFE: Why is there a Hefty trash bag under the tree?

YOU: It's a gift! See? It has a bow!

YOUR WIFE (peering into the trash bag): It's a leaf blower.

YOU: Gas-powered! Five horsepower!

YOUR WIFE: I want a divorce.

YOU: I also got you some myrrh.

In conclusion, remember that the important thing is not what you give, or how you wrap it. The important thing, during this very special time of year, is that you save the receipt!

Abusing this drug....

I was watching an interview with someone on public television two nights ago, and the person being interviewed mentioned a phrase that immediately "drew me in." He's somewhat famous because of the family name, but he has had a real battle with drugs, alcohol, and depression.

The phrase he used was "the narcotic of being noticed." It seems that many people have developed a habit of "abusing" this drug....the "narcotic" of being noticed.


I guess I have my theories...since I've been guilty of such abuse. Not too many years ago, I desperately wanted to be "noticed" for all the "stuff" that I had accomplished, or the talents which I thought I possessed, etc.

Folks are constantly thinking they will be "discovered" or "noticed" for whatever it is they feel themselves worthy of being noticed or discovered.

Time and experience has taught me that being "noticed" isn't so important, in the eternal scope of things. God requires me to do the very "best" that I can do in everything I do, and that HE alone keeps an accurate account of my life. HIS account is far more accurate than the one that I or anyone else can record.

He doesn't miss a thing.

Fame and fortune...or recognition can be a good thing.

But life has to consist of more than just fame, fortune, recognition.

I remember Jesus telling a group of people "A man's life doesn't consist of the abundance of things he possesses."

What happens so often is that we get "noticed"--and being noticed once is never enough.

Never. Then we have to make sure that we are "noticed" again and again.

But then we must ask the question: "How much is enough?"

And a very smart man once answered: "Just a little bit more."

That's greed. Plain and simple.

Sure, I'd love to be recognized as a smart, generous, gracious, and solid person. I'd love to see my name in "lights" or in "print" once or twice...

But in the scope of eternity, what would it matter?

Am I doing all this "stuff" just so I can be noticed?

What about you?

"I Will Go On"

Bill and Gloria Gaither are two of the most prolific songwriters of our time. Their music always speaks to the real "issues" of life for me.

I remember hearing this powerful piece more than twenty years ago, and I've been wanting to post it for a long time. Now is that time:

I repent for moments I have spent
Recalling all the pain and failures of my past.
I repent for dwelling on the things
Beyond my power to change
The chains that held me fast.

I will go on
My past I leave behind me
I gladly take His mercy and His love.
He is joy and He is peace
He is strength and sweet release
I know He is, and I am His
I will go on.

I give up the bitterness and hate
And blaming men and fate
For all my discontent.
The guilt and pain I empty from my cup
So God can fill it up
With peace and sweet content.

I will go on
My past I leave behind me,
I gladly take His mercy and His love!
He is joy and He is peace,
He is strength and sweet release.
I know He is, and I am His,
I will go on!

Many thanks to this legendary duo for reminding us of how great our God really is, and that He is and I am His....

There are days..sometimes many of them, when I have to be reminded of this powerful, powerful truth.

I will go on.

And a Happy Holidays it is!

I have every intention of celebrating CHRISTmas...realizing that without the Birth of Christ, there would be no need for this holiday, or any other holiday for that matter.

But I refuse to get my "nighties in a knot" over how people use the season to issue greetings of one type or another.

The word "holiday" is actually derived from the phrase "holy day"--so no reason to be all paranoid and cantankerous.

I honestly believe that far too many CHRIST-followers get their blood pressures elevated when "lost people" behave like "lost people."

We want everyone to be "Christian-ized" whether they really do follow "Christ" or not. Or at least that's the impression I've been getting lately.

There are certain societal mores that should, need to be, and must be respected.

However insisting that everyone say "Merry Christmas" isn't one of them.

Unless I now live in the Vatican City.

And I don't.

The day I've waited for....

The Iraq Study Group, co-chaired by Former Secretary of State James A Baker III, and Former Congressman Lee H Hamilton (Indiana) released their 142-page report to the President of the United States today.

I've even downloaded it, so I can read it tonite. I watched the national press conference this morning. I was impressed by the depth of their 79 recommendations, and also the seriousness with which the report was issued.

Now, if the President of the United States will get equally serious, and realize all the blunders that have been committed in the last 3+ years since our invasion of Iraq, maybe we can see something productive take place.

This commission was bi-partisan and consisted of some of the great minds in the political life of our nation:

James A Baker III
Lee Hamilton
Lawrence Eagleburger
Leon Panetta
Vernon Jordan
Dr William Perry
Edwin Meese
Sandra Day O'Connor
Bob Gates (until he was nominated as the new Secretary of Defense, at which point he resigned the Study Group).

It's time for all the ballyhooing of both major political parties to cease, and for the "hard work" to either start or at least be accelerated. Our United States House of Representatives works less than 150 days a year, and needs to be held accountable for their "slack."

The same can be said for the United States Senate.

This Study Group did the job they were assigned.

I only wish our elected public officials would follow their lead.

Stubborn Obstructionism, oh really?

So President Bush now has to nominate a new United States Ambassador to the United Nations, since the newly minted Senate (come January 2007) will absolutely refuse to confirm John Bolton as the American representative to the U.N.

Anyone surprised?

The Republican-controlled Senate refused to confirm Bolton some 18 months ago, and the President insisted on giving him a "recess" appointment anyway.

So who is the "stubborn obstructionist" in this matter?

It's not the Senate, that's for sure. Those fine men and women did their job in refusing to advise and consent to a nomination in which they vehemently disagreed.

I said it then, and I say it again now, "Mr President, send a worthy nominee to the Senate for confirmation." It's time to stop playing the ideological games, and to send a qualified, confirmable candidate to the United States Senate for confirmation as Ambassador of this great nation.

There are plenty of qualified people out there.

And, even though he did an admirable job in his time at the U.N., Mr. Bolton, overall, was not one of them.

Send a good candidate, and please hurry.

My Christmas "sermon"

I've been invited to be the guest speaker in a local church on Christmas Eve Sunday morning for the regular worship gathering..I'm excited.

My pal, Pastor Byron Morrell, has invited me to fill his pulpit in the Greenville, South Carolina area for that special occasion. Actually, Byron and I have been buds since our college days more than 25 years ago. We were both VERY VERY young when we started our collegiate studies...LOL

I'm working on my Christmas message even now...some three weeks early. This is the thought I have running through my head:

The Questions of Christmas

Without tipping my entire hand, I've been thinking about four main points in the life of Christ--all starting at the birth in the manger: His cradle, His cup, His Cross, and His coming. I believe that all four events hold a profound and lasting meaning for Christ-followers. I'm convinced these events are not only powerful in the life of the individual follower, but in the community of followers, even more so. So, I want to find the right words, and convey just the right things to think about on this very special morning, celebrating the time when God stooped down to become a man.

Any ideas? I'd like to hear/read them. Go ahead, give it to me.

My friend....John Donnerberg...


I was listening to the Sunday Morning worship service of the Denver First Church of the Nazarene on cassette tape a few days ago. I was a regular attender of the Denver First Church when I was in the United States Air Force, and stationed in the Denver area. Loved that congregation then, and still love them now.

Much to my surprise, the speaker was Reverend John Donnerberg. I first met John when he was the Senior Pastor of the First Church of the Nazarene in Lubbock, Texas. That was the first church I visited when I returned back to the United States after three years in Asia and Scandinavia. I worshipped among the saints at First Church for more than six months. They were (and still are) a great group of people.

I am thrilled to (re) commend the powerful ministry of John Donnerberg. He served as pastor for more than 26 years in three local congregations. He's a passionate, gracious, and godly man--who loves God and God's people.

Check out his website. Be sure to pray for him.

On Signs and Wonders...

I received this in an internet devotional today. I thought it was wonderful! See for yourself:


Signs and Wonders Today

TGIF Today God Is First

Os Hillman

The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. - Acts 15:12

"I was a pastor for 19 years before I went into business," said the man sitting across the table from me as we were sharing lunch together. What led him from being a pastor to a businessman was both a move of God and an attack from the enemy.

"I was a pastor of a particular denomination that did not embrace all of God's Word. It was a time in my life when I was experiencing many physical problems. I was on the verge of being admitted to the hospital. I had been seeking God about whether He was truly a God of healing and whether His Word was applicable in all areas of life as it was in the early Church. I was to go into the hospital the next day.

That night I cried out to the Lord. I confronted God about His Word. I asked Him if He still did miracles today. Just then, I turned on my TV and saw an evangelist preaching. At that very moment, he stopped preaching, looked into the TV camera, and said these words: 'There is a man in the viewing audience who has been a pastor for many years and is struggling to know whether God heals today. His own denomination does not believe He does. [He even named his denomination.] God is healing you right now to demonstrate to you that His healing is for today, and you are to know that His Word is true for today just like it was for the early Church.' "

My friend was shocked. The TV evangelist could not have described him more accurately if he had been sitting in the same living room with him. God healed him that very night. He was not admitted to the hospital.

He was forced to go before his church and witness to God's power in his life. He was soon fired as pastor of this church, and this is what led him into business.

So often when we experience God in greater and deeper ways, the persecution comes not from the world, but from those who are closest to us. The religious community persecuted Jesus. He was betrayed by one of His own disciples. However, we must realize this betrayal was necessary for God to accomplish His work through Jesus.

God will bring each of us to a crisis of faith to test what we really believe. For my friend, he had to experience God in a new way. Then he had to be tested in that belief to the point of losing his job.Have you experienced God in all of your life? Are there areas in which you believe God does not operate today? Before you discount God, seek Him with a whole heart. You might be surprised at what you will find.

All I can say is "Amen."

Book Review: The Audacity of Hope

The Junior Senator from Illinois, Barack OBama has completed a second book, and it's substantial. I picked it up at O'Hare International Airport last Wednesday while awaiting my flight to Lexington, Kentucky for the Thanksgiving holidays.

It was money well spent.

The chapters are listed as:

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Values
Chapter 3: Our Constitution
Chapter 4: Politics
Chapter 5: Opportunity
Chapter 6: Faith
Chapter 7: Race
Chapter 8: The World Beyond Our Borders
Chapter 9: Family

Since I left my copy at home (I'm typing this review at the office), I will work from my memory of what I read--what I was impressed with, and what I was not impressed with.

Senator Obama did a marvelous job in presenting many sides of the main issues that he addressed. As a Democratic Senator, he wrote this book long before the "take over" that occurred in the recent midterm elections. He spoke from one who has served in the "minority" status in the United States Senate.

But he still spoke very eloquently and graciously about some of the major issues facing this great nation of ours.

I was most impressed with the chapters on faith, values, opportunity, and family. His story about meeting the legendary Robert Byrd, Senator from West Virginia, almost brought tears to my eyes. I have tremendous respect for Senator Byrd's longevity, integrity, and willingness to do what is right, regardless of public outcry.

Senator Obama's telling of his own faith journey was particularly inspiring and informative in many ways. He is a member and regular attender of Trinity United Church of Christ, in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago's near South Side. His faith is important to him, his wife, and their lovely daughters. Even though he grew up with a skeptical mother, he found God to be vital and real in his own life's journey. That was particularly heartwarming for me.

His recounting of the romance he has with his wife Michelle was particularly engaging and inspiring to me, and it will be to everyone who reads this portion of a very well-written book. Michelle has been the "stabilizer" and the voice of reason in this man's life. That, according to Obama, has made a tremendous difference for him. I remember when he won the Senate seat in November 2004, that he immediately made a commitment to being a husband and father--and then a United States Senator, in that order. I have tremendous respect for his courage to make such a commitment a public statement.

I was less inspired with his chapter on "race." He speaks from the viewpoint of Chicago's South Side. Anyone who has ever been on the "south side" realizes that poverty is in full bloom, and that many, many have been left behind in this "boom economy." It was true in the Clinton days of wealth and prosperity. It is still true in these days as well. In my opinion, Senator Obama almost congratulates and rewards the "victim mentality"--particularly of the poor blacks in the aforementioned area of the city.

He didn't address all (or any) of the successful "black" stories that have come out of Chicago's South Side. He didn't address the "rightness" of what Bill Cosby and other black spokespersons have vocalized over the last several years. I wonder why? I'm sure that other readers of Audacity wonders the same thing. At least I've put my questions in print.

His views of the Mexican immigrants are noteworthy, in that he is painfully aware of their current and potential future effects on this nation, if the situation isn't remedied, and that very quickly. Maybe he can help lead the Senate into effect and meaningful legislation on immigration reform. Lord knows, someone needs to do so.

Overall, the book is tremendous, and will be a good reference. Senator Obama does a magnificent job of presenting the issues, and giving enough information where the reading public can see more than just "one" side of some serious concerns that will affect every American, and Americans for many generations to come.

To Celebrate the "Season"

As I've mentioned before, Bill and Gloria Gaither are my absolute favorite songwriters alive today. These two humble servants of the Lord compiled a wonderful musical more than 20 years ago "We Are So Blessed"....and these words have been swimming around in my heart this week. I want to share them here for all to see:

We are so blessed, by the gifts from Your hand
We just can't understand why You loved us so much.
We are so blessed, we just can't find a way or the words that can say
Thank You, Lord, for Your touch.

When we're empty You fill us 'til we overflow

When we're hungry You feed us, and cause us to know.
We are so blessed, take what we have to bring,
Take it all, everything, Lord, we love you so much.

We are so blessed by the things You have done,
The victories we've won and what You've brought us through.
We are so blessed, take what we have to bring, Take it all everything,
Lord, we bring it to You.

Yes, we are indeed a blessed people. Everytime I think of all the things that I "want" I am reminded of all the wonderful blessings that I "have." Most of them are completely intangible--and eternal.

Happy Thanksgiving!

What was she thinking?

Okay, okay...I'll admit it. I'm getting older...

Here's what happened. This past weekend, my "adopted niece" Julia Stone (along with her parents Anthony and Marti) were here for the weekend. Actually for less than 48 hours.

I have begged and cajoled and pleaded...and they finally came up.

I had warned both Marti and Julia that Chicago would be "chilly, if not downright cold." I implored them both to dress warmly, and to bring comfortable shoes. I told them we would be walking, walking, and walking some more.

I was SO excited about them coming for a visit, since neither of them had ever spent any time in Chicago....

Well, wouldn't you know it?

My sweet "niece" Julia whined about it being cold the entire time she was here. And if it wasn't something about being "cold" it was something about we need to "find a Starbucks quickly."

I didn't realize this sweet eighteen year old, blonde bombshell would be caffeine addicted already!

She's precious. She's beautiful. She's smart. She's charming. And she's addicted.


We had a great time at the "Lighting the Magnificent Mile" Parade. Julia had a great time in Macy's, Nordstrom's, and Coach.

But, sweet niece of mine..."please dress warmly the next time."

Visit this guy, please...

My fellow Lee University alum, Nathan Bradfield. His blog is entitled "Church and State".

You can find him at www.nathanbradfield.blogspot.com

Now you want to get someone who has a completely different "angle" on most of the subjects (or at least his angle is different from the one I prefer to take) you will find just that in Nathan's place.

Leave him a message or two.


Okay, I'll admit it:

I love DANCING WITH THE STARS! It's one of the better shows on television, in my opinion.

And this third season was just spectacular! I never missed an episode.

And last night...wow, what a night! Former NFL superhero, three-time Super Bowl winner, EMMITT SMITH (of Dallas Cowboys fame) was declared the winner to this great, great contest.

Mario Lopez, the runner-up, did a fabulous job of giving Emmitt some "competition."

But the judges (Carrie Ann, Bruno, Lynn) spoke their minds, and so did the viewing public.

This man....this man can "dance the night away!"

And now, that I have NOTHING to look forward to every week, what shall I do?

Hmmm...anyone got any suggestions?

Some things never change....

The very first song I sang in public after I entered my freshman year of college (Fall, 1980) is the following:

Someone who'll go the extra mile,
Just like a mother caring for her child,
Someone who'll stand through thick and thin
No matter what you've done or where you've been
Just like one great big family,
A stronger, older brother He will be..
So quick and ready to defend
the younger, weaker to the end.

And He's ever interceding
To the Father for His children
Yes, He's ever interceding
To the Father for His own.
Through Him you can reach the Father,
So bring Him all your heavy burdens,
Yes, for you, He's interceding
So come boldly to the throne.

Just like sheep, we've gone astray
Struggling beneath a debt, we could not pay.
Not ever hoping to renew
the love and fellowship that we once knew.
But He began to intercede,
Crying "Father, please forgive I plead..."
And as the nails pierced in His hands,
God once again, reached down to man.

As I sit hear in my office, I'm so grateful that Christ continually intercedes for me, and that He loves me, in spite of all the millions of times that I've sinned against Him, and have broken His heart.

I'm so humbled that this One--who holds the Universe together by the very words of His mouth (Hebrews Chapter One) would choose to redeem me, love me, care for me, and trade my broken life for one that is new.

It brings tears to my eyes to think that God--the Great Jehovah I AM, would walk with me, and talk with me, and tell me that I am His own. His very own!

He hears the intercessions of His Beloved Son!

And I'm so glad that He does!

It's not a "Do-It-Yourself" Project...

We had a great discussion in our Adult Bible Fellowship last Sunday Morning. We were discussing Pastor Erwin Lutzer's morning message from the week before, when he preached on "The Devil we abhor."

Pastor Lutzer preached on the character of Satan, how he fell, and what God allows him to do on this earth. It was a powerful and very sobering message.

So our ABF decided to talk about the message during our time together.

One of the things I can remember someone saying was "sin exposed is sin that is weakened. Sin that stays hidden retains much of it's strength."

I know how very true that is, and I speak from personal experience.

As much as most of us want to separate ourselves from anything seems contrary to Scripture, confession shouldn't be one of those things from which we run. This is so for two reasons:

First, confession is completely Biblical. Just read James 5:13-20. James (the half brother of our Lord Jesus) goes on to instruct us to "confess your sins one to another and pray for one another, so you can be healed." He connects confession of sin to healing. All kinds of healing.

Second, when "sin" is confessed, we are admitting that we have violated a Holy God, and that we want to align ourselves with the character of His Son.

We realize that "confession" and forsaking, and healing is not a "do-it-yourself" project. We can't cleanse ourselves of sin. But we can brings ourselves to Jesus Christ and allow Him to cleanse us. We can confess--and we should do so, regularly--to those brothers and sisters in Christ who can love us in security, help us find grace and the process towards healing, and hold us to the biblical standards for living.

None of us can do "these things" by ourselves. It's just not a "do-it-yourself" project.

Not now, and not ever.

Why the "Church" matters...

Dr Erwin W Lutzer, Senior Pastor, The Moody Church here in Chicago is nearing the end of a wonderful series entitled "What We Believe"--and today he preached on the subject: "The church we love" from Ephesians 5 and Revelations 19.

He clearly and carefully explained the great love and purpose of the Church from Christ's point of view. He explained God' s plan for her, according to the New Testament.

Tonite, he talked about why church membership is important. I can't remember ever hearing such clear biblical teaching and preaching on why the local church is so vitally important.

Thank you, Pastor. I am encouraged, enlightened, and strengthened by God's Word today.

Now this one....

really takes the "cake"--as my sainted Granny Hoover used to say, before she went on to glory some fourteen years ago:

Yesterday was a "day off" for me, and I had big plans to go see my buddy Mark Brucato out in Wheaton--he's been my pal for almost 6 years now. He's a wonderful, godly, man...and I love him dearly.

Okay, so I get up, iron some clothes, and clean up the kitchen. Or at least I thought I did.

I was loading the dishwasher, and saw that I had NO dishwasher detergent (the powder in the box kind), and was a bit perplexed.

So I put just a little of the concentrated dishwashing liquid in my dishwasher.

I went in the bathroom to shower, shave, and get ready for the METRA ride out to Wheaton.


When I came back into the kitchen, I had about seven inches of soap suds covering my kitchen floor...

I guess I really didn't learn anything watching "I Love Lucy" all those years, did I?

Go ahead, laugh.

Everyone else has.

Belated Birthday Greetings.

America's Pastor, Dr Billy Graham, turned Eighty-Eight years old this past Wednesday!

More than any other living American, this precious, precious man continues to live, love, and inspire humanity around the globe.

I'm 110% sure that he doesn't blog, or read any blogs, but I wanted to take this opportunity to say


And one year later....

One year ago today, my world was shaken to the core. I was hurt (by someone whom I never thought would hurt me), and I wasn't sure the pain from this injury would ever subside or go away.

Now, while the memory is still painful, I can honestly say that my heart is strong, and that God has shown Himself to be faithful through it all.

Now I have to pay close attention to the writer of Hebrews who admonished me to "not let the root of bitterness take hold."

That's the real challenge for me.

And alot of other folks too.


If any of my readers want to search the archives, I called for RUMSFELD's removal back in October, 2004. I decided to not vote for BUSH-CHENEY 2004 because of "The Don" being the Pentagon chief.

Of course, the Secretary of Defense told the press he had offered his resignation to the President three times, and it was refused each time.

Shows us all how "smart" the Commander-in-Chief either is, or isn't.

Secretary Rumsfeld is a throw-back from days of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He was less than stellar then, and nothing much has changed.

I was stunned in December 2000 when then President-elect Bush even bothered to nominate him as the current Secretary of Defense.

In the words of our now re-elected Governor Rod Blagojevich: "What was HE thinking?"

So bye, bye Mr. Secretary.

The power of "the family"

And I'm not just referencing the "biological relatives" in this post, either.

A good pal of mine, Joe, came over for a short visit last night. Joe and I have been buds now for two years--if not a little longer. We met the first time he visited Chicago Tabernacle in Fall, 2004. We've been friends ever since. We've both been through some tough times...and we are always there for each other.

We were discussing alot of the fall out from the recent scandal in Colorado Springs involving former Pastor Ted Haggard--who was also the President of the NAE (National Association of Evangelicals) which constituted some 34 million Christian believers here in the United States.

We both agreed that this wasn't just a "current" thing that happened to Ted Haggard. From his own admission in a letter read to New Life Church (which he started and had pastored for many years) last Sunday morning, Haggard had battled some very dark and repulsive issues for a long time.

But now as Christians, we need to ask some questions:

1) Why did Pastor Haggard have to "hide" his issues for so long? Was there no one he could turn to, confide in, or seek out to get the help he so desperately needed?

2) What good is the "family of God" if we aren't a place for healing, hope, and help?

3) How many good men (and women) sit in our pews every service--week after week--and battle in their own souls, but know without a doubt that "if any one finds out" they will be completely destroyed?

4) Are we, as the Body of Christ, so possessed with the idea of "the show" that we can't really be the "family of God" to each other anymore? Must "the show" go on at all costs--even if those costs are eternal?

5) What will it take for us to become the "family of God"--where we are truly "family" and not just a bunch of "power brokers" concerned more with image, status, and position, than we are with the spiritual well-being of our fellow "family members"?

I'm heartbroken over this sad, sad situation. What is God trying to tell us? Are we even listening? Are we only "hearing" what we want to hear?

What say ye?

The Holy Spirit brought this to mind...

Some twenty-three years ago I was a student at Lee College (now University www.leeuniversity.edu) and was a member of the Lee College Campus Choir. We sang some wonderful stuff, under the direction of Dr David Horton--who was promoted to glory back in May of this year. One of the songs the Spirit just brought to mind says this:

We stand here together,
As God's family, we've joined hands together
Lifting praises to the Father above
For sending His Son.

We've chosen together
As His family, we'll serve Him forever
Knowing nothing else will matter in time,
We've made up our mind.

Through the heat of the day
We will join in the fight
Until He takes us away
Until our faith becomes sight
As for me and my house,
We will serve the Lord.

Choose you this day,
Tell me who will you serve
Let nothing stand in your way
Give the praise He deserves
As for me and my house
We will serve the Lord!

In a day plagued with scandal, public disgraces, private agonies, and widespread heartache, let us remember our commitment to "serve the Lord." Let us remember our pledge to love Him with everything we have, regardless of what it may cost us.

But let us also know that He is ready, willing, and faithful to forgive, restore, and heal our broken lives--for His glory and for our eternal good.

He's just that kind of God.

A gentle reminder...

I was watching Kirk Talley give part of his powerful testimony on LIFE TODAY--yesterday's broadcast. Kirk is a marvelously multi-talented singer, and has blest people around the world with the gifts God has planted within him. He has also battled some very powerful forces of evil for most of his life.

I remember one of the songs that Kirk, along with his brother and sister-in-law, Roger and Debra Talley sang in the early 1980s:

Red can't explain the beauty of a rose,
White can't tell the magic in the air when it snows;
Marvelous can't half convey the grace of the King,
The only word for grace is amazing.

There's no other word for grace but amazing,
No other explanation will do;
Unmerited favor, the song that I sing,
No other word for grace but amazing.

In my own life, I'm constantly being reminded of just how "amazing" this grace--this wonderful, saving grace, really is--every moment of every day. I am astounded that the infinite All-wise, all-powerful, Everliving God would stoop down to such a sinner as myself and flood my soul with His grace.

Only Jesus could do something like that.

Praise our living God for His marvelous grace!

What is your theological worldview?


What did you score?

I scored 92% as Evangelical/Holiness/Wesleyan

To which I would reply: "Guilty as charged!"

Maybe I'm more "holy" than I thought...even as a Pentecostal...LOL

Take the quizz, and tell us all what you scored. After all, you are still our brothers and sisters in Jesus.

The Essentials: Grace and Truth


My good friend, Tim Coalter, Senior Pastor of the Peerless Road Church in Cleveland TN has recently preached a powerful message on "The Essentials" from John 1:1-14.

Go ahead and take a listen.

Some Advice for Senator John Kerry...

Senator Kerry,

As someone who voted for you (even though it was a very reluctant vote on your behalf), I have some very sound advice that you would do well to heed:

First, call your office! Inform them that you want to have a PRESS CONFERENCE immediately...today...within the next hour.

Second, APOLOGIZE for your verbal gaf last night...or whenever it was that you put your foot in your mouth. You cannot tell a joke, and humor is not your friend...so apologize, regardless of what you meant--or meant to say.

Finally, just SHUT UP! The Republicans are doing a fine job of self-destruction...you do not need to attempt to add fuel to an already blazing fire. Take a cue from Senator Clinton--let them make their own mistakes. You have already run for the Oval Office, and you narrowly lost. Now, concentrate on being the best Senator from Massachusetts that you can possibly be.

Leave it alone, Senator. Apologize, practice silence, and do the work you have been hired to do.

Prove that you can do it!

For today....

May all our alleluias
When spoken and heard
Be heartfelt thanks to Thee, dear Lord
And not just lovely words

And may each passing moment
Till the ending of our days
Be filled to overflowing
With our never-ending praise!


I first heard these marvelous words (set to music) some thirty years ago, when The Speer Family (one of Southern Gospel Music's premier singing families) recorded in on their album "Promises to Keep".

Larry Gatlin, along with his brothers Rudy and Steve, sing this also. Larry wrote this marvelous poem and the melody to which it is sung.

I woke up with this song in my heart today. May it be my motto and anthem today...and tomorrow.

Great, Great Words...

Forever King!
You're ev'rything My heart has need to know!
My first, my last, my future, my past,
The strength of all my hopes!
You're the Rock of all the ages,
Eternal timeless Savior
Forever King,
You're ev'rything forever!

Before the kingdom, You were the King
And when there was nothing
You were everything!
Before foundations stood,
Before evil, before good,
You were forever!

Before the night, before the day
Before the man was formed from clay
Before life, before death
Before the first breath,
You were forever!

After the stars desert the sky,
After the rivers all run dry
When the earth is no more
And the heavens roar
You'll be forever!

Then we'll gather around Your throne,
Of ev'ry nation all Your own
And in one accord
We'll praise You Lord
You are forever!

Author: Eddie Carswell Copyright: 1986 Songs Of Promise (a div. of EMI Christian Music Publishing) Lowery Music Company, Inc.

I first heard this song about 19 years ago when I was stationed in the Denver area, and worshipped with the great congregation of Denver First Church of the Nazarene. The wonderful in-residence men's trio (Brotherhood) sang this song one Sunday evening, and the power of the Holy Spirit moved marvelously in that church facility. The altars filled up with people seeking the Lord and surrendering everything to Him. These words have filled my mind for a very long time now, and I wanted to share them with my "Something to Consider" readers.

From the Pen of Maya Angelou

Thanks to Brent Young for sharing this in a forum where I participate:

I Am a Christian by Maya Angelou

When I say... "I am a Christian" I'm not shouting "I'm clean livin."
I'm whispering "I was lost," Now I'm found and forgiven.

When I say..."I am a Christian" I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble and need CHRIST to be my guide.

When I say... "I am a Christian" I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak and need HIS strength to carry on.

When I say... "I am a Christian" I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed and need God to clean my mess.

When I say... "I am a Christian" I'm not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible but, God believes I am worth it.

When I say... "I am a Christian" I still feel the sting of pain,
I have my share of heartaches So I call upon His name.

When I say... "I am a Christian" I'm not holier than thou,
I'm just a simple sinner who received God's good grace, somehow.

That pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?

What say ye?

Free Hugs....what a great idea...


Just saw this fella (Juan Mann) who came all the way from Australia to Chicago--to be on the OPRAH Show (www.oprah.com) to advertise his "free hugs."

What a great idea!

Just about everyone I know loves to be hugged...I know that I do.

So why don't we all go "hug" someone today....it will encourage them, and it will do worlds of good for you also.

So who can I hug?

This is a crying shame...

It seems that our BAPTIST brothers and sisters in Christ have lost their minds...again.

SBC Seminary President Defends Campus Ban on Charismatic Practices
By Allie Martin and Jenni Parker,

A spokesman for a Southern Baptist seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, is defending the public stance that the theology school has taken against certain contemporary charismatic Christian practices or beliefs.

In late August, Pastor Dwight McKissic of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, preached a chapel message at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, during which he spoke of having experienced a "private prayer language." That reference to what some charismatic believers describe as speaking or praying "in tongues," prompted the seminary to pass a resolution stating that it would neither endorse charismatic practices -- including "private prayer language" -- nor employ those who promote such practices.

According to a recent Christian Post article, McKissick, who is also a newly appointed trustee at the seminary, was aware at the time he gave his sermon that many leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) disagree with speaking in tongues and a number of other charismatic beliefs. However, he has commented that he believes God gave him that specific message to preach that day.

The message sparked debate throughout the Convention, with some Southern Baptists saying that encouraging Christians to speak in tongues conflicts with the policy of the SBC's International Mission Board, which prohibits appointment of missionary candidates who practice a private prayer language.

And now, some two months after the inciting chapel sermon, trustees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), have voted 36-1 not to tolerate any endorsement or promotion of the practice on the school's campus. McKissick himself cast the dissenting vote and commented afterward on the "charisphobia" of the prohibition. However, he told the Christian Post he praises God for the "clear, forthright, honest" statement from SBTS, which he hopes will lead to further clarification of where the SBC stands on this issue.

Seminary Head on Charismatic Christianity: Let Baptists Be Baptists Paige Patterson, president of SBTS, defends the seminary's ban on private prayer language, saying it was important for the school to remain faithful to Baptist witness and distinctions. "We do believe in absolute religious liberty," he observes, "but we also believe that if you're going to be a New York Yankee, you shouldn't wear a New York Mets uniform."

In other words, Patterson explains, "We believe Baptists ought to be Baptists and charismatic folks ought to be charismatic. We simply felt that at this point it was necessary to indicate the trajectory of our school." He characterizes the seminary's ban as a move to affirm the Convention's doctrine and its distinctiveness.

"We recognize that our charismatic brothers and sisters are just exactly that -- they're brothers and sisters in Christ," the seminary president points out. "We honor that, and we do a lot of things with them; but we're Baptists," he says. "We are concerned about the confusion that often exists now as to who's what and where."

Patterson says SBTS adopted its firm stance against Pentecostal or charismatic practices, in part, in the interest of maintaining the school's focus on the denomination's primary concerns. "The emphasis that we want to have here at Southwestern Seminary," he asserts, "is on the evangelization of the lost and the international mission enterprise."

Meanwhile, McKissic has mentioned that he plans to ask the SBC to take up the issue officially, as the Convention has yet to adopt a formal position on spiritual gifts. The Texas pastor is "absolutely convinced," he says, that while many of the leaders and "the elite" in the denomination may disapprove of speaking in tongues and other charismatic practices, a majority of those in the pews of SBC churches would look favorably on them.

(Source: Agapepress)

I have a couple of questions for the good "BAPTISTS":

1) Why don't you try being a good Biblical Christ-follower, first and foremost?

2) Do you believe that "Baptists" have the full revelation of all that God wants to do and intends for His children?

3) Are those "charismatics" inferior to you--or your inflated sense of spiritual superiority?

What say ye?

When I'm RIGHT, I'm right!

I honestly and sincerely do not want to sound like an egotistical bragadocio in this post.

Really, really I don't.

But I recently read something in Robin McGraw's (Dr Phil's lovely wife) new book, that hit a chord with me. She has a chapter entitled, "When I'm right, I am right..." And while it was funny, inspiring, and informative, it caused me to think.

It made me think about the time more than two years ago when I posted the reasons that I would not vote for "Bush-Cheney 04"--and now, if I'm not mistaken, all of my reasons have been proven true.

Robin's writing made me think about a couple of relationships that have exploded in my face--because I dared to stand up for the truth, and not back down. These explosions have been painful, but now I find out that the stands I took were correct. Time has proven this to be so.

I'm the first one to admit that I do not like a "Know-it-all" person--who can never admit their mistakes, misjudgments, or misgivings. And the reason I don't like them, is because I used to be one of those kinds of people.

My friend Kevin Bussey over at "Confessions of a Recovering Pharisee" http://kevinbussey.wordpress.com/ has a fascinating personal account of how the Lord is continually delivering him from some inbred Pharisaism. And if we are really honest about the situations in our life, most of us have strong propensities toward being first-class Pharisees.

But, again, let me say this--as modestly and as humbly as I know how: When I'm right, I am right...

Thanks Robin, for reminding me.

Not now, Senator, not now!

In the microscopic chance that Senator Barack OBama, or any of his staff read my blog--which I 100% seriously doubt--let me weigh in here on the "presidential possibilities" for the Junior Senator from Illinois.

NOT NOW, Senator, NOT NOW!

Personally, I think you would make a terrific holder of the Oval Office...but not now. In six years, definitely, but not in 2008.

I have followed your career very closely since you won the Senate seat in November 2004. I visit your website often, and read just about everything I can find about you.

You are a charismatic, gracious, engaging, intelligent and thoughtful person. I have no doubt you are the very same in the Chambers of the United States Senate. Or at least you should be.

But "now" is not the time to make a run to occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

I watched your interview on Meet the Press yesterday with Tim Russert. I only wish you had stayed true to your original answer from February of this year. You should fulfill your six year commitment to the people of Illinois. End of discussion.

You do not have the "legislative" experience needed--but then again neither did the current President. And you certainly have at least two years more than he had when he entered the White House, and at least four years more legislative experience than he will have when he leaves in two years. But that is beside the point.

The people of our great state need you to represent us, and to voice our concerns in the Senate.

It's just not time for you to run--not in 2008.

However, if you do run, I will seriously consider voting for you.

When you ran for the Senate seat--that was an easy decision---look who was running against you.

If you run for President of the United States, I will consider all of the candidates.

So Senator, now is not your time.

For Today...."All things are possible..."

I'll confess:

I'm not a huge football fan. Yet, living in the city of Chicago, I do follow the Chicago Bears--even though from a distance. They won their game against the Arizona Cardinals last night....even though it took the 4th quarter to get there...

But more than the football game, my heart has been meditating on what we "win" when we commit everything in our being to live as Christ-followers. I just want to make sure that I am following Christ with far more fervor than I am following a sporting event.

On my way to work this morning, this song kept running through my heart:

Almighty God, my Redeemer, my hiding place,
my safe refuge
No other name but Jesus
No pow'r can stand against You

My feet are planted on this rock
And I will not be shaken
My hope, it comes from You alone
My Lord, and my salvation

Your praise is always on my lips
Your word is hidden in my heart
And I will praise You with a new song
My soul will bless You, Lord

You fill my life with greater joy
Yes, I delight myself in You
And I will praise You with a new song
My soul will bless You, Lord

When I am weak, You make me strong
When I'm poor, I know I'm rich
For in the power of Your name
All things are possible!

Yes, with Christ all things are possible...even in football!

Facing the Giants: GO SEE IT!

Okay, okay, I'll admit it here and now:

I'm not much of a "movie" person. I have to really, really be interested in the "subject matter" or one of my absolute favorite actors has to be starring in it. I've never been diagnozed as ADHD--but that can be a very good "cop out" for me, if I don't want to sit through two hours of something or another on the big screen.

But Facing the Giants was well the time..and the effort. The website www.facingthegiants.com will give you all details about this terrific film.

I can't remember when I've seen a clearer presentation of the power of Jesus Christ than what I saw in this movie.

My good buddy Larry Ohannes and I drove more than 60 miles (round trip) out to the "burbs" just to see this movie. I'm glad we did.

None of the cast were "big name" actors per se, but the story they told was riveting and inspiring. It made me rejoice more than once.

Strengths of the movie:

Great presentation of the gospel. Great reminder of what "life" used to look like. The rural Georgia setting (and all the Southern accents) were amusing.

Alot of humor that was used well in this film. I laughed out loud more than once.

Weaknesses of the movie:

It was a "low budget" film. I read somewhere the budget was less than $250K. I'm not surprised...and the producers should have spent alot more on the film. No need to present the "gospel" in a cheap fashion. The world will notice that--and we believers should too.

"All well that ends well"--and that's not always the fact in real life. While the leading character (Coach Grant Taylor) got everything he wanted--after a battle in his mind and soul--real life doesn't always play out that way. Sometimes God does leave the "question marks" in place in our life. That's when we have to trust Him the most--even if the "?" never goes away.

I would encourage folks to see this film.

The 2006 Mid-terms....

Oh well, the "midterm" election season is upon us...and we are all victims of the horrible mudslinging that is pouring through this nation like the furies of Hades.

I'm not sure that I've recovered from the 2004 Elections enough to even care about the ones that will take place in less than 30 days. Many people who claim to be "Christ-followers" were down right ugly and mean-spirited because "other Christ-followers" didn't vote for this person, or that person. I hope that doesn't happen this time.

But I do hope this much:

No church will endorse a candidate from their pulpits.

No Christian will judge the integrity or spiritual fitness of another Christ-follower because of their "vote".

That every eligible American citizen will exercise their obligation to VOTE.

I'm not particularly crazy about these choices either---and haven't been for almost 20 years now...but I will be voting.

It's my obligation as a citizen, it's my duty as a taxpayer, and it's my privilege as a Christian to vote.

I will vote.

Not sure whom for...but I will vote.

You can count me in.

"Deal or No Deal"

One of the most profound passages of Scripture in all of the New Testament is a simple, but convicting verse from the Gospel of John:

"By this shall all men know you are My disciples when you love one another." (Chapter 13, I'll let you look up the exact verse...).

Jesus had just finished what many scholars will call the "Upper Room discourse"--the last meal before His betrayal, trial, murder, and Resurrection. He had invited them to "eat bread" and then showed them how to "wash" each other's feet. These activities are far more than just symbolism to be preached on once a quarter. These were commands of Christ that we should be observing, and better yet, fulfilling.

One of the reasons I wanted to write about this command/admonition is because it has been so easily and often ignored by those who claim to be Christ-followers.

Some things that I've observed in "church" for the last 38 years:

1) We want to have great music, and good participation. (I love great music, and I always want to participate...one reason I am not a Catholic, I'm sure)

2) We want to have great preaching and teaching, and we want people to "grow" in their knowledge of God's Word and God's ways. (No argument from me here either...I'm all for it...absolutely. I need to grow in God's Word and in His ways.)

3) We have bought into the idea that "another conference" or another "advertisement" or another "method" of evangelizing will reach people, will get them in the "door" and will win them to Jesus.

So here's what I think:

Do what Jesus said. Love one another. Love one another so fervently that this same "love" will spill out on the streets--where the unloved, the unlovely, the unchurched, the unbeliever all dwell--and will reach them. No one has ever loved us like Jesus has, did, and still does!

But how do we truly "love one another"?

This "love" that Jesus was talking about must extend far beyond the sanctuary, and the Sunday School room. This "love" that Jesus was talking about must be visible and functioning Monday through Saturday--long after the songs have been sung, the offering has been counted, and the parking lots are empty.

I'm convinced that Christ was absolutely correct when He said, "By this shall all men know..."

Not by anything else...not our slick advertisements, evangelistic campaigns, or our "new and improved" methods.....

What say ye?

Happy Birthday, Tereasa Rollings!

God always brings along very special people in my life. Tereasa Rollings is one of the most special people I've ever known.

We have quite a history over the last 30 years.

I was first introduced to "Mrs Rollings" when I enrolled in the Freshman Biology class at Madison County High School, in Alabama in the Fall Semester, 1976. The class was overcrowded, and Mrs Rollings asked if anyone wanted to transfer to the "other section" of biology--and since she was already writing my fingers off anyway--I raised my hand.


For some reason, Tereasa became a dear, dear friend of mine at that point. I clung to her as my new friend, and she was more than happy to give me some "guidance." This wonderful relationship continued for the next several years. She was as tough as nails in her classroom situations, but was a wonderful, gentle, and godly influence in every situation. She helped me sort things out in life on more than one occasion.

There are so many, many marvelous things I could say about her...and all of them would be true. But this is a "blog"--not a book.

She makes the best chili I've ever eaten.
She encouraged me to become a good writer and a better musician.
She has introduced me as "Doctor Phil" before..and I blushed..and accepted the flattery.

She is a wonderful, gracious, godly lady who has loved so many "confused" kids just like me...and it has made an eternal difference in my life.

Happy Birthday Tereasa!

"Stop Dating the Church"....

One of the books that I plan to read in the next week or so is Stop Dating the Church..and fall in love with the family of God by the same dude that wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye--Pastor Joshua Harris.

I ordered a copy from Amazon.com and I can hardly wait to get it in my greasy hands.

The Executive Pastor at The Moody Church (Dr Hutz Hertzberg) strongly recommended this volume to me last Sunday, and I want to read it.

I have a passion for the church, for God's plan for His Church, and for God's people.

Have any of you read this book?

If so, what do you think?

Happy Birthday, Vicki House

My precious friend Vicki Dean House is celebrating her 43rd Birthday today!

She and I became good friends many, many moons ago in college. We have remained good friends ever since.

She and her husband Gary live in the Abilene, Texas area.

I just wanted to wish her a wonderful, wonderful birthday today!

Mark Foley...so what else is new?

The Apostle Paul gave this very significant and sobering admonition to the Christian believers in Corinthian more than two thousand years ago:

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. (1 Cor 10:12).

I am sickened by the revelations of former Congressional Representative Mark Foley (R-FL) and his "issues" while serving in the United States House of Representatives. I am deeply saddened that this public servant did not receive the help (emotionally, professionally, and spiritually) that he needed.

But what is more alarming is the fact that so many of the "Religious right" have bowed their knees to the "Baal" called the Republican Party--swallowing just about everything the GOP tells them--about anyone.

A gentle reminder here: GOP does not stand for God's Own Party. Anyone associated with Foley's "problem" and took no action should be held accountable NOW and at the Ballot boxes in November. This country deserves no less.

As the "Foley scandal" unfolds (even more than it already has), Christians (Christ-followers) will do well to remember the words of Paul. He was admonishing a church well known for it's "freedom" concerning sexual matters....a sinful freedom, though it was.

As a Christ-follower, I am convinced that I belong to Him. But His possession of me, doesn't mean that I cannot sin again. It does not mean that I will never be tempted again. And it certainly doesn't mean that I can "live above it all" in my own power and strength.

Before we point fingers at the "liberals" the "Democrats" and everyone else with whom we may disagree, maybe we should realize that Paul was "on target" and that we have enough to do in "maintaining" our integrity, sexually and otherwise.

So many in the "religious world" are ready to point out, target, judge, jury, and execute "those people." And then we find those "skeletons" that just refuse to stay in the closet anymore.

We all need the grace, forgiveness, and mercy of God. And what goes around comes around.


One Hundred Thirty-Five years ago yesterday...

The great CHICAGO FIRE burned hundreds, possibly thousands of acres of the Windy City. More than 300 people lost their lives during this tragedy.

One can visit the Chicago History Museum (formerly the Chicago Historical Society), and see all the events in the sequence of their occurence.

Of course Mrs O'Leary--and her cows--have taken alot of "heat"--all puns intended, for this awful event in the life of the City with Big Shoulders.

Out of this fire comes alot of things that have profoundly affected not only Chicago, but the nation as well:

Strong labor unions
Structured emergency systems

A seriousness about personal evangelism that affected the church here in Chicago.

D L Moody vowed to never again insist that someone "go home and think about receiving Christ"--because so many perished before they were offered the opportunity to give their hearts to Jesus.

Larry Severa, MD...here he is!

God brings certain people into your life, and they profoundly affect it, enrich it, and bless it. Larry Severa...ahum...Dr Larry Severa, is one of those people.

Here's the link to my buddy Larry's practice in MONTANA:


Larry and I became great pals when we were both stationed at the 51st Training Squadron at Lowry Air Force Base, Colorado back in the mid 1980s (1987 to be exact). He is such a wonderful man...a great, gracious, and godly man.

I remember when Larry came out to California to visit me (Christmas 1988) when I was stationed at Beale AFB, just outside of Sacramento. He was stationed at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque at the time. He had never been to California before, so it would be my HIGH privilege to show him around the Northern part of the state...or at least BEALE, and the Bay area afterwards. What a great time we had. We went over to San Francisco, stayed in this somewhat cheesy hotel for an evening right in "Union Square" and just had a wonderful time enjoying each other's fellowship, and the blessings of the Lord.

I distinctly remember how beautiful the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge was decorated that particular night.

I had the wonderful honor to visit him several times in Albuquerque---and he will never know just how much those "visits" meant to me. I still have the t-shirt he bought me the first time I came to visit. (Okay, so I don't throw things away very easily).

Now he's a physician. I am so proud of him. Just seeing all that God has brought into his life brings tears to my eyes. Knowing that God has indeed been faithful to Larry, his wife, and his children is causing me to get very misty-eyed even as I'm typing this post.

Larry, in case you are reading this:

You are supremely loved. You have blest my life in ways that only eternity will reveal. You have been the face of Jesus to me so many, many times. Your friendship and brotherhood are precious treasures to me.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

So what's up?

I love "blogging."

Except for today....and days like today. There is so much going on in "my world" and in my life...that I'm not sure where to start.

Or even if I should.

I'm trying to clean up my credit report....wanting to sell my condo, and even considering the possibility of refinancing. I've got to do something.....fast.

I'm silently grieving over the needless killing of a high school principal in Wisconsin, some precious young girls in the Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I'm both enraged and offended by the senseless, uncontrolled behavior of a former congressman in Florida--who has disgraced himself, his family, his nation, and his God.

I have an enlarged prostate gland (I know, TMI--too much information), and my physician wants to do some more tests to see if I need to have surgery. It's painful, and I'm beginning to get scared. I'm only 44 years old, and "cancer" should be happening to me--if in fact, it is.

I want to draw close to my Saviour right now, and to hear His voice...above all the fray of everyday life. What is He saying to me? How can I better hear Him?

Pray for me, please

I want to sell my present home. It is a two-bedroom condominium. I am the first owner since it is a new rehabbed unit. It has hardwood floors, beautiful new appliances, central heat and air, and washer/dryer in the unit.

I am just spending too much money on this place, and I want to simplify.

I want to have more money to invest in the Kingdom of God--instead of paying a high mortgage every month. And association fees. And property taxes....

So, please pray that God will give me divine wisdom, and that I can simplify my life as soon as possible.

"Kingdom People"

My good friend Rod--a preacher in Alabama, my native land--will be one of four guest speakers for a "revival" meeting with the theme of "Kingdom People."

I encouraged him to use the Book of Acts (particularly chapter four) to illustrate what "kingdom people" looked like in the early Church. I am particularly struck by verses 32, 33, and 34. The phrase "great grace" is used only here in the entire New Testament. And that "great grace" isn't only describing the quantity of grace in the church, but the quality of grace as well.

Verses 32, and 34 are almost identical. Yet Acts 4:33 tells us about the "quality" of community and relationship and witness this group of people experienced. I do not, for one moment, believe that the writer of this epistle (Luke the Physician) would have just thrown in what we know as "verse 33" because he didn't have anything else to write about. I also do not believe that he would give us verse 34, simply because he needed to repeat himself.

We are told (in Acts 4:33) that great power was given to witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ...and "great grace was upon them all." What was this "witness" exactly?

I have some ideas.

Could it have been the great praying in the midst of the persecution that is mentioned earlier in Acts 4?

Could it have been the miraculous signs and wonders in Acts 2, 3, and now in 4?

Could it be the fact that these Christ-followers took the instructions of Jesus very seriously--namely the ones we find in John 13:30ff.

Particularly that one where Jesus said, "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you love one another."

Great love...great witness...great grace.

The three do fit very well together, don't they?

Pastor Marty Baker..Stevens Creek Church..


Now, this is a novel idea, indeed! Marty Baker is a fellow graduate of Lee University (it was Lee College waaaay back then), and now is the lead pastor for a nice congregation in Augusta, Georgia.

This congregation is reaching people who are far from God, and who want to know the power of Jesus Christ. Not only do they want to know his power, they want to experience His love.

Marty is there to show them how to do both.

Blessings to you, Pastor Baker. May God continue to multiply His goodness to you and the people at "The Creek."

Is it me or what?

I guess I am just a "child" of my times...and environment.

I have been asked to "head up" the company picnic again this year where I work. When the President of the School/company owner asks for this to be done, I have a difficult time saying "no"--even though I have already informed him the Christmas party this year is someone elses' opportunity to "shine."

I've sent out an RSVP request through this miracle we call "email" to all the employees. Most of them have responded, and are willing to bring whatever I ask for them to bring.

There have been those few...however....I want to ask them: "WHAT are you thinking?"

These are the two or three or four people who will make a Himalayan mountain out of a microscopic molehill...

Every time. Every time....without fail.

Since "simplicity" is one of those virtues that no one should "leave home without" I'm doing my best to keep this picnic/bbq very simple. This small handful of people want to complicate it, if at all possible.

Well, this time.....just like last time....they will not prevail! I will make sure of that.

Which brings me to the next thought on my mind:

Since when do we tell our "hosts" (when we are the guests) that we do not like whatever they are serving for the meal to which we have been invited?

Maybe I'm the "odd man out"...but I was raised to "eat what is put before you..." and to be gracious about it. What happened?

Am I still living in a "time-warp" and haven't quite caught up with the thinking that we can be bossy, choosy, and just all around "hard to please"?

Did I miss the "memo" or something?

We just have to know that HE IS GOD...

I can't remember a time when people have had some many forms of communication, but have been so utterly disconnected from one another. Sometimes that "disconnection" seems to spill over into our spiritual lives, and those wonderful spiritual relationships that we should be possessing.

I can remember those times when we did not have:

Fax machines (which seem terribly antiquated by today's technology)

The Internet (and it wasn't that long ago)

PDAs (which I still don't have one)

Blackberries (Well, my Granny used to make blackberry cobblers, but it's not the same)

Cell Phones (Oh my word, how did we ever live without the hallowed little thing that rings at the most inopportune time?)

But we managed. We actually talked to one another, instead of talking AT one another. We actually cared that people had sensitivities and feelings, emotions, and emotional concerns. We seemed to actually care about being in fellowship and relationship with those around us. Their joys were our joys. Their concerns were our concerns.

What happened?

Did I just "grow up" and discover that "life" never was like that at all?

Is it me?

Or am I on to something here...namely that we are a "dysfunctional, disconnected" group of people in a society that is spinning far faster than most of bargained for--at any price?

So what say ye?

This was hilarious!

A friend sent this to me in an email last week...I think it's hysterical!

*Food Spoilage Tests For Bachelors*

THE GAG TEST: Anything that makes you gag is spoiled (except for leftovers from what you cooked for yourself last night).

EGGS: When something starts pecking its way out of the shell, the egg is probably past its prime.

DAIRY PRODUCTS: Milk is spoiled when it starts to look like yoghurt. Yoghurt is spoiled when it starts to look like cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is spoiled when it starts to look like regular cheese. Regular cheese is nothing but spoiled milk anyway and can't get any more spoiled than it is already. Cheddar cheese is spoiled when you think it is blue cheese but you realize you've never purchased that kind.

MAYONNAISE: If it makes you violently ill after you eat it, the mayonnaise is spoiled.

FROZEN FOODS: Frozen foods that have become an integral part of the defrosting problem in your freezer compartment will probably be spoiled - (or wrecked anyway) by the time you pry them out with a kitchen knife.

EXPIRATION DATES: This is NOT a marketing ploy to encourage you to throw away perfectly good food so that you'll spend more on groceries. Perhaps you'd benefit by having a calendar in your kitchen.

MEAT: If opening the refrigerator door causes stray animals from a three- block radius to congregate outside your house, the meat is spoiled.

BREAD: Sesame seeds and Poppy seeds are the only officially acceptable "spots" that should be seen on the surface of any loaf of bread. Fuzzy and hairy looking white or green growth areas are a good indication that your bread has turned into a pharmaceutical laboratory experiment.

FLOUR: Flour is spoiled when it wiggles.

SALT: It never spoils.

LETTUCE: Bibb lettuce is spoiled when you can't get it off the bottom of the vegetable crisper without Comet. Romaine lettuce is spoiled when it turns liquid.

CANNED GOODS: Any canned goods that have become the size or shape of a softball should be disposed of. Carefully.

CARROTS: A carrot that you can tie a clove hitch in is not fresh.

RAISINS: Raisins should not be harder than your teeth.

POTATOES: Fresh potatoes do not have roots, branches, or dense, leafy undergrowth.

CHIP DIP: If you can take it out of its container and bounce it on the floor, it has gone bad.

EMPTY CONTAINERS: Putting empty containers back into the refrigerator is an old trick, but it only works if you live with someone or have a maid.

UNMARKED ITEMS: You know it is well beyond prime when you're tempted to discard the Tupperware along with the food. Generally speaking, Tupperware containers should not burp when you open them.

GENERAL RULE OF THUMB: Most food cannot be kept longer than the average life span of a hamster. Keep a hamster in or nearby your refrigerator to gauge this.

Network Television gets it RIGHT--for a change!

The new network CW (the old UPN and WB now combined) has made one of the best decisions that "network television" executives have ever made:

They are bring the CAMDENS back....7th Heaven returns next Monday night, September 25th!

Check it out here:


I have been a huge fan of 7th Heaven for almost six years now, and find every episode fascinating. I am particularly happy that the "WB" showed a minister's family as they really can be...and often are....dysfunctional, like the rest of us.

Eric and Annie, Matt, Mary, Lucy, Simon, Ruthie, Sam and David.....all nine of them. Except now we can see Matt and his wife and their children. Lucy and Kevin, and their two children, and anyone else...

And every one else.

I can remember lots of important things being discussed: child abuse, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, unwed mothers, orphans, the Iraq war, and lots of other "moral issues" that we must pay attention to..or else.

Each issue was discussed with class, grace, and without alot of undue emotionalism. I thank this cast and this show for that.

I'll be glued to my television set next Monday night.

I hope you are too.

Welcome Micah Levi Merwin..my "newest nephew"


Since I don't know how to "post pictures" here, I hope this works.

My good friends Mitch and Lisa Merwin (in Portland, Oregon) have welcomed their first child into the world last Friday evening, September 15th. Micah Levi Merwin captured his parents hearts long before he weighed in at 7 lbs, 6 ounces. He stands (or lies) tall at 22 inches right now.

Mitch and I have been friends for more than three years. He and I became very close while he was a student at the Moody Bible Institute here in Chicago, and attended Chicago Tabernacle at the same time that I was attending there.

Mitch is a very, very special man. He served in the United States Air Force for several years as a reservist, and was deployed to Iraq twice. He has served both God and country with distinction, humility, and a great passion.

He and Lisa feel God's call to be missionaries somewhere in the near future. They will be wonderful--wherever they serve, and in whatever capacity they are called to serve.

And now we have a new "nephew"--little Micah.

Ain't he adorable?

The Suburban Christian


I was listening to this author, Albert Y. Hsu last night on OPEN LINE, a call-in talk show of the Moody Broadcasting Network. I listened on the flagship station, WMBI here in Chicago.

It was, to say the least, a fascinating interview.

I live in the city. I am delighted to live in the city. I have always wanted to live in the city. And I realize that "life in the burbs" is very different from life in the city.

Mr Hsu has a great blog, and I would encourage you to go check it out.

I plan to buy the book as well.

Thirteen Years ago today....

I was scheduled for colon cancer surgery. I was stationed in West Texas, serving Active Duty in the United States Air Force.

About 3 weeks earlier, I was experiencing some pretty severe problems with my lower colon. After multiple visits to the physician, it was decided that I would need a battery of tests on my intestinal tract.

These tests revealed that I had a large lump on my lower colon. Further tests showed the lump to be cancerous.

On Sunday, September 12, 1993 I was part of the worshipping congregation at Trinity Church of Lubbock. Senior Pastor Randal Ross--who is now senior pastor of Calvary Church, Naperville IL--asked those who needed prayer for healing to come forward.

This was a large congregation--about 4 thousand that morning, as I recall.

I went forward, and several brethren anointed me with oil, and prayed for my healing.

That Sunday evening, I called a good friend in Cleveland TN (who shall remain nameless, because I wouldn't want to embarrass her) and asked her to pray for me.

She asked, "Are you afraid?"

Up until that moment, I had not been afraid. But as soon as she asked the question, I was horrified!

She prayed for me, and I felt better.

For a few minutes, anyway.

I fell on my face before the Lord that night, and cried like a baby. I so felt the power of God's Spirit near me. About 4:30 in the morning I finally fell asleep.

I had to be at the Base Hospital at 6:30 a.m.

I"m such a sucker for anesthesia, that just the sight of it "puts me out." LOL

About 9:30 a.m, the nurse who was handling my situation woke me up, and said, "You are not going to believe this, but the surgeon couldn't find anything. Not a thing!"

Of course we had the medical records showing all the findings up to this point. We knew the cancer was there...

And now, we knew that it wasn't!

What a Healing Jesus!

America's "girlfriend"

Is now "Robin McGraw"--wife of Dr Phil McGraw.

Here's the link: www.drphil.com

She has just finished writing a wonderful book, Inside My Heart.

I've admired Dr Phil, and even more so, his wife Robin. She has raised two wonderful sons, maintained her faith in God, and nurtured her husband, the now-famous (thanks to OPRAH) Dr Phil McGraw.

Get the book, read it, and pass it on!

Five Years Ago today....

The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, lower Mahattan, NY burned to the ground.

This was no freak accident.

This horrible event that took the lives of 3000 people was perpetrated by radical Islamic fascists who hate freedom, and freedom-loving people.

This was the worst "tragedy" that has been thrust upon the United States since the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941.

I remember exactly where I was when all this happened. I remember the horror I felt sink deep into my soul.

I remember calling my friend Lillie Knauls out in California to see if she were okay, and what was happening on the West Coast.

I also remember the morning worship service at The Moody Church (www.moodychurch.org) the following Sunday when Senior Pastor Erwin W Lutzer preached the message "Where Was God When New York burned?"

The sanctuary was packed...standing room only.

How easily we seem to forget that God was there, and that He is still there.

We will not forget what happened to the nation...and the world....

Five years ago today.

Outward clothing...or inward filling

One of the most powerful books written in the last twenty years is a short, terse volume entitled A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. Edwards weaves a heartsearching narrative around three kings of ancient Israel: Saul, David, and Absalom. Here is Chapter XV:

What kind of man was Saul? Who was this one who made himself David's enemy? Anointed of God. Deliverer of Israel. And yet remembered mostly for his madness

Forget the bad press. Forget the stinging reviews. Forget his reputation. Look at the facts. Saul was one of the greatest figures of human history. He was a farm boy, a real country kid. He was tall, good-looking and well-liked.

He was filled with the Spirit of God once he became king.

He also came from a good family, that is, in his lineage were some of the great historical figures of all mankind: Abraham, Israel, Moses, these were his ancestors.

Do you remember the background? Abraham had founded a nation. Moses had set that nation free from slavery. Joshua gave those people a toehold in the land which was promised to them by God. The judges kept the whole thing from disintegrating into total chaos. That's when Saul came along. It was Saul who took these people and welded them into a united kingdom.

Saul united a people and founded a kingdom. Few men have ever done that. He created an army out of thin air. He won battles in the power of God, defeated the enemy again and again, as few men ever have.

Remember that, and remember too that this man was immersed in the Spirit.

Furthermore he was a prophet. The Spirit came on him in power and authority. He did and said unprecedented things and it was all by the power of the Spirit resting on him.

He was everything men today are seeking to be:

Empowered by the Spirit
Able to do the impossible..for God
A leader, chosen by God with power from God.

Saul was given authority that is God's alone. He was God's anointed and God treated him that way.

He was also eaten with jealousy, capable of murder and willing to live in spiritual darkness.

Is there a moral in these contradictions? Yes, and it will splinter alot of your concepts about power, about great men under God's anointing, and about God Himself.

Many men pray for the power of God. More every year. Those prayers sound powerful, sincere, godly and without ulterior motive. Hidden under such prayer and fervor, however, are ambition, a craving for fame, the desire to be considered a spiritual giant.

The man who prays such prayers may not even know it, but such dark motives and desires are in his heart....in YOUR heart.

Even as men pray these prayers, they are hollow inside. There is little internal spiritual growth. Prayer for power is the quick and the short way, circumnavigating internal growth.

There is a vast difference between the outward clothing of the Spirit's power and the inward filling of the Spirit's life. In the first, despite the power, the hidden man of the heart may remained unchanged. In the latter, that monster is dealt with.

Interesting about God. He hears all those requests for power, which fervent men pray (in every generation) and He answers them!

Very often He grants those requests for power, for authority. Sometimes in answering them, he says "yes" to some very unworthy vessels.

Why does God do such a thing? The answer is both simple and shocking He sometimes gives unworthy vessels a greater portion of power so that it might eventually be revealed for all to see the true state of internal nakedness within that man.....

If you are young and have never seen such things, you may be certain that sometime in the next 40 years you will see.

Highly gifted and very powerful men....reputed to be leaders in the Kingdom of God, do some very dark and very ugly deeds.

What does this world need: Gifted men, outwardly empowered?

Or broken men, inwardly transformed?

Keep in mind that some of the men who have been given the very power of God have raised armies, defeated the enemy, brought forth mighty works of God, preached and prophesied with unparalleled power and eloquence....

And thrown spears,

And hated other men.

And attacked other men

And plotted to kill,

And prophesied naked.

And even consulted witches.

That's enough to make me want to fall on my face in repentance, crying out to God to completely transform every part of me.

How about you?