"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?

Keeping First things FIRST...

In all the "blog blather"--and I read alot of it, and enjoy a lot of it--I hear the Holy Spirit gently whispering these precious words in my heart. These words were penned by the late Ira Stanphil many years ago, and the title of his song/poem is "Follow Me":

I traveled down a lonely road,
And no one seemed to care,
The burden on my weary back,
Had bowed me to despair,
I oft complain to Jesus,
How folks were treating me,
And then I heard Him say so tenderly,

"My feet were also weary,
Upon the Calvary road;
The cross became so heavy,
I fell beneath the load,
Be faithful weary pilgrim the morning I can see,
Just lift your cross and follow close to Me.

"I work so hard for Jesus,"
I often boast and say,
"I've sacrificed a lot of things,
To walk the narrow way,
I gave up fame and fortune;
I'm worth a lot to the Thee,"
And then I hear Him gently say to me,

"I left the throne of glory,
And counted it but loss,
My hands were nailed in anger,
Upon on a cruel cross.
But now we'll make the journey,
With your hand safe in Mine,
So lift your cross and follow close to Me.

Oh, Jesus if I die upon,
A foreign field some day,
'Twould be no more than love demands,
No less could I repay.
"No greater love hath mortal man,
Than for a friend to die,"
These are the words He gently spoke to me:

If just a cup of water,
I place within your hand,
Then just a cup of water,
Is all that I demand,

But if by death to living,
They can Thy glory see,
I'll take my cross and follow close to Thee.

Precious words indeed. In a time when people want to follow just about everything under the sun, and will buy just about any idea that someone will feed to them, our Lord still calls us to "follow" Him. He tells us that we will die, that we will suffer, but also that HE will raise us up, and that HE will be glorified.

O God, grant it be so!

For today....

It is no secret here. I LOVE music...and I particularly love GOOD music. I was born and raised on the "two types" of music in the South: COUNTRY and Western....lol. And through the grace and mercy of God, I was able to branch both "out" and "away" from that particular genre.

I love good CHURCH music.....not just the "ditties" that so many in the post-modern contemporary religious culture call "music."

One of my favorite hymns is by the famed Isaac Watts...a legend in his own right.

Here it is:

I sing the mighty power of God
that made the mountains rise!
That spread the flowing seas abroad,
and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained
the sun to rule the day.
The moon shines full at God’s command,
and all the stars obey.

I sing the goodness of the Lord,
who filled the earth with food!
Who formed the creatures by His Word,
and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed,
where’er I turn my eyes.
If I survey the ground I tread,
or gaze upon the sky.

There’s not a plant or flower below,
but makes Thy glories known!
And clouds arise, and tempests blow,
by order from Thy throne!
While all that borrows life from Thee
is ever in Thy care.
And everywhere that we can be,
Thou, God art present there.

So, go ahead and "sing His mighty power" today.

I dare you!