Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito

Justice Alito has been confirmed and sworn in as the nation's 110th Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

The 58-42 vote is one of the closest in judicial confirmation history. The rancorous debate is now over, thank the Lord.

He is replacing the now-retired Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor--the magnanimous, dignified, and marvelous lady whose legacy as the first lady to serve on the nation's highest court is now firmly minted.

She was often considered the "swing vote." I remember very well when the late President Ronald Reagan nominated her to be the first woman on the Supreme Court. She has served with clarity, dignity, and infintissimal sense of personal responsibility and class.

Now, let's pray that Justice Alito will follow in those same gracious, responsible, and dignified footsteps.

Let's pray that God would grant him the wisdom of Solomon, the patience of Job, and the clarity of Jesus in all that he is called to do.

He will need it, for sure.

Caffeine Free--30 Days and Counting...

My good friend, Pastor Travis Bodden (we were Air Force buddies together in West Texas, aeons ago), challenged me--back in 1994--to give up Caffeine.

Now almost twelve years later, I've taken him upon on the challenge.

I am now 30 days without caffeine in any form. No coffee, no Mountain Dews--which I dearly loved, and no chocolate--what was I thinking? LOL

I feel great. I have lots of energy. I am sleeping very well.

I am saving money, and I've dropped a few pounds.

Actually, I'm pretty amazed that I've lasted this long, and pretty proud of myself.

Thank you, Tony Campolo!

In my opinion, Dr Tony Campolo is a real "prophet" for this generation. I have read almost all of his books, have heard him speak a couple of times, and have grown tremendously in my worldview. He recently spoke at some type of Presbyterian meeting in Mississippi. Here's the report of what he said:
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal:

"What should you buy for someone who has everything? Nothing!" Dr. Campolo said in the keynote address at St. Andrew Presbytery's "Tapestry" training event. "But we just came through Christmas, and you didn't have the guts to pull it off, did you?"

"A whole generation is being seduced by consumerism into a lifestyle diametrically opposed to Christian values," he said, lamenting that even education is sold as a way to make more money to buy more consumer goods."No!" he thundered, invoking Paul's admonition to Timothy. "An education is 'to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

Campolo challenged audience members to aim for doing the most good, not having the most comfortable life. He recalled a former student of his who announced she had won a teaching position in a rich suburban school system over 200 other applicants."That's too bad," he told her, noting thousands of students in Philadelphia would fail because their inner-city schools were 600 teachers short. "Why would you spend your life where you aren't needed?"

Comfortable religion joins consumerism in killing the passion of youths, Campolo said. He told the largely Presbyterian audience that their denomination "is dying - losing its young people - not because we've made Christianity too hard for them, but because we've made it too easy.

"Youth was made for heroism, not pleasure," he said. "Jesus calls people to die to self."One of the ways he challenged those present to "die to self" was by not attacking worship music that appealed to others. A change from traditional to contemporary praise, Campolo said, had mushroomed attendance at Eastern University's chapel services. "I don't understand praise music. I don't get it," he said. "But those kids get it. Don't criticize what you don't understand. We've been singing your stuff for a thousand years."

Campolo said some critics have labeled the Christianity he preaches - that eschews war and supports the poor and demands a life sacrificed to the service of others - "dangerous.""When did Christianity cease being dangerous?" he asked.

"That's when it ceased being Christianity."

Dr Campolo, you've given this child of God much, much, much to think about!

Thank you! Thank you!

A Passion for the Church....

Dr Erwin W Lutzer, Senior Pastor, The Moody Church here in Chicago has been preaching from 1 Corinthians 12-14 on the theme "A Passion for the Church."

It has been very informative, very inspiring, and very edifying.

Having been part of the "church" since I was only 6 years old, I feel that I can write and speak with some degree of credibility and experience on what it means to "be the Church."

It seems that everyone is up in arms about how we "do church"....worship styles, preaching methods, assimilation techniques, evangelism infinitum.

But how many of us really think about how to "be the Church" to each other, and to a watching world that pays more attention to us than we are ready to admit?

What does it mean to "be the Church" in 2006?

I have some ideas, and I don't think they are too far off-base at all:

1) It means that we get to the place where "great grace is upon them all..." (Acts 4:33).

2) To "be the Church" today means that we are more concerned about being a "community of faith" instead of just a "collection of individuals."

3) "Being the Church" means that we are less concerned with our "power struggles" and how much "authority" we may have...and more concerned with how God is forming us for His glory, so that He can fill us with His power for His purposes.

4) To "be the Church" means that we give people "due process." We protect those we like, and those we may not be so fond of...and we do it with an openness and evenhandedness that favoritism can never become part of the equation.

5) To "be the Church" means that we become people of God's Word. We study it, live it, rightly divide it, and hide it in our hearts.

So what does it mean to be the Church, in your opinion?

So, what are you saying?

Dr Gary Chapman, noted author, psychologist, and minister released a book several years ago, "The Five Love Languages".

What is/are your love language(s)?

Do you know?

Here's the website:

Check it out.

What say ye?

This thing called "Love"

A good friend of mine compiled this list of "love" characteristics. He compiled them for use in a men's small group setting. I wanted to share them here:

Love must be observable
John 13:34 - "A New command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
Continuing, consistent love results in joy

John 15:9-13 - "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command in this: Love each other as I have loved you."

Love admits or takes one another in, includes others
Romans 15:7 - "Accept (receive) one another, then just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God"

Purification precedes sincere love
1 Peter 1:22 -"Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart."

Deliberate love does not expose someone else's sin
1 Peter 4:8 -"Above all, love each other deeply (fervently), because love covers over a multitude of sins."

Love includes mutual affection
2 Corinthians 6:11-13 -"We have spoken freely to you Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange I speak as to my children - open wide your hearts also."

Love is not exclusive, our hearts can expand to include others, Love expresses approval, Love desires to be with the loved one
2 Corinthians 7:2-6 -"Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds. For when we came to Macedonia, this body of our had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn - conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever."

Love is verbalized
2 Corinthians 2:4 -"For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you."

Love worries
2 Corinthians 2:12-13 -"Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-by to them and went on to Macedonia."

Loving the world leaves no time for loving others
1 John 2:15-17 -"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of the eyes and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever."

Your love reveals your father
1 John 3:10 -"This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are; Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother."

God's presence is in our love
1 John 4:11-12 -"Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."

If you don't love your brother, you don't love God
1 John 4:19-21 -"We love because he first loved us. If anyone says "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother."

Love considers how to love even more, Love equals Time
Hebrews 10:24-25 -"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

Love is sincere, committed, humble
Romans 12:9-10 -"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves."

Christ bought our freedom to love
Galations 5:13 -"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather serve one another in love."

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

I made a big mistakes several days ago.

Someone whom I consider a friend (and Christian brother) read a post from mid-November, and he didn't like what I had written about a very ugly and unkind encounter at Chicago Tabernacle, where I was part of the congregation for more than three years.

This person is now on the pastoral staff of that congregation.

I saw him, by accident on Christmas Day, at a mutual friend's home. The first thing he said to me was that he was "upset" about my blog, and that I should delete the post about my ill-treatment from the Senior Pastor. I told him that I would delete the post.

I never should have made such a commitment.

I deleted that post, even though every word of it was true.

That person, hasn't made any movement towards contacting me since that day, even though he said that he wanted me back in the congregation, and that this "situation" could be resolved.

I was hurt, accused, and mislead---with no truth being represented anywhere on the part of the ones who mislead, accused or injured me.

So what am I to do?

It's much easier to:

Make hasty judgments about brothers and sisters in Christ than it is to get to know them well, and find out that your "judgments" were wrong.

Do your "work" from home: Shopping, Bill-paying, emailing, etc than it is to actually have to "deal" with real human beings who have real faces, real emotions, and real personalities. After all, isn't it "all about you" anyway?

Preach a powerful message on the love-relationships that Christ calls us to in His Kingdom, but far more difficult to "live out" those same relationships--particularly with folk who don't always "march to our drumbeat."

Be a "collection of individuals" than it is to be a "community of faith." Being a "community of faith" means that we actually have to create commonalities, and be committed to one another--And not just on Sundays either.

Interact with someone in the "worldwideweb" than it is to actually "face" that person, and encounter the emotions/will/physical form and real presence of another human being. After all, we can just "click" or "delete" or "forward" whatever we don't like, right?

Some of my favorite lyrics...

Gloria Gaither continues to be one of my favorite poets of all time. She, along with her husband Bill, has penned some of the most powerful songs in the last fifty years. And almost thirty years ago, Gloria penned these timeless words:

Hold tight to the sound of the music of living
-Happy songs from the laughter of children at play;
Hold my hand as we run through the sweet fragrant meadows,
Making mem'ries of what was today.

Tiny voice that I hear is my little girl calling
For Daddy to hear just what she has to say;
And my little son running there down the hillside,
May never be quite like today.

Tender words, gentle touch, and a good cup of coffee,
And someone that loves me and wants me to stay;
Hold them near while they're here, and don't wait for tomorrow
To look back and wish for today.

Take the blue of the sky and the green of the forest,
The gold and the brown of the freshly-mown hay,
Add the pale shades of spring and the circus of autumn,
And weave you a lovely today.

For we have this moment to hold in our hands,
And to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand;
Yesterday's gone, and tomorrow may never come,
But we have this moment, today.

- Lyrics by Gloria Gaither. Music by William J. Gaither. © 1975 William J. Gaither.

We do indeed have "this moment today." I'm often reminded of what James 4 tells us that our life is but a vapor, and then it is gone.

So what kind of vapor is my life? Just what scent does it emit? What fragrance (or stench) would someone encounter when they interact with me?

Yes Gloria, I do have "this moment today."

Thanks for blessing my life, and our world with your extraordinary gifts.

Living Free....sounds good to me!

My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit. Then you won't feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don't you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?

It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.

This isn't the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God's kingdom.

But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard--things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good--crucified.

Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.
From The Message, Galatians Chapter 5: 20ff

Truly Gifted Communicator: ANDY STANLEY

The first time I ever heard Andy Stanley preach was more than 20 years ago when I was visiting First Baptist Church, Atlanta--and his father Charles Stanley was out with a sprained back.

I had traveled more than 100 miles and wanted to hear Dr Stanley....again. I was very disappointed.

But once this great "youth pastor" got up to preach--I almost forgot that it was his dad that I had come to hear! "Andy" just knocked me over with a feather! What a great preacher.

Fast Forward some 17 years later, and Andy was one of the featured speakers for 2003 Founder's Week at the Moody Bible Institute here in Chicago. And WOW! What a great sermon...what a great message...what a great communicator of the greatest message ever told: The Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Andy Stanley is the Senior Pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia. Here's the link to their website:

Several of my friends from the college days (now more than 20 years ago) are faithful members of North Point Church.

I can easily understand why.

2006: The Year of the "Real Deal" or Is it?

Two-Thousand Five was quite the year:

The "Ladies' Trio" (Katrina, Rita, and Wilma) all slamming into the southern shores of this nation, and showing America (and the entire watching world) how woefully unprepared every level of government in our magnificently blest country is for such catastrophic events.

Indictments from just about every corner of the country--conservatives, liberals, in-betweens, and all the rest. So maybe the "Holier-than-you" crowd wasn't so holy after all, huh? We will indeed reap what we sow. At least that's what Galatians Chapter 6 said when I read it recently.

And so, now we have to ask "What is the real deal?"

And I'm still asking that.

I sat under the ministry of a person who was fond of using the phrase "the real deal" quite often. I even labeled him "the real-deal Pastor" one time when describing him to a friend of mine.

Recent events have caused me to journey along the road of "uncertainty" again--and particularly where certain persons are concerned. I'm not convinced they are the "real deal" after all.

And if they are, their actions--and lack of action--have certainly betrayed them.

Yet we know that our Heavenly Father sees everything, understands everything, and will ultimately judge everything.

At least that's what Hebrews Chapter Four tells me.

And when that time comes, it will be