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

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, 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 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 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 apologize, regardless of what you meant--or meant to say.

Finally, just SHUT UP! The Republicans are doing a fine job of 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.