I must confess....

This has been one "eventful" year for me...in many ways.

I made it through another year of my very engaging (and exhausting) work at Coyne American Institute here in Chicago (www.coyneamerican.edu).

I finally became a member of The Moody Church--where I've been worshipping for quite a while now (www.moodychurch.org).

I lived through a serious bout with the flu, and later bronchitis (February/March) with subzero temperatures being the norm here in the Chicago area.

I survived the "subprime mortgage" debaucle, and took a great loss on my condo--which I no longer own. I am now, very happily, renting again.

I attended several weddings of friends who decided to "tie the knot"--and happily so. My friend Aaron Kuglin (in Decatur, GA) had a short engagement, and asked me to be part of his wedding...I was delighted, humbled, and honored.

I visited my old stomping grounds in Cleveland, TN during the weekend of Lee University's homecoming (www.leeuniversity.edu). God allowed me to see many, many people whom I've not seen in a long time...some more than 20 years. This caused my heart and soul to rejoice.

But not everything has been "so rosy":

I've fallen behind on my tithing and giving to the Lord. I don't like this feeling at all.

I've willfully sinned against God due to my own selfishness, and internal turmoils. Instead of running to Him, I've often run FROM Him. And I do honestly know better. I'm thankful for a Heavenly Father who loves me, draws me to Himself, and restores my soul. (No further details will be discussed here).

I've forsaken the wonderful Wednesday Evening Prayer Meeting at my local church. But no more...I will be there in 2008, regularly.

There is plenty more to confess, but this post can only be so long.

What "tomorrow" brings....

Well, it's New Year's Eve, and in less than 12 hours, we will be starting the calendar year of 2008.

My, oh my, how time flies....

But we have "this moment today." While I look back on all the successes, failures, wishes, dreams, nightmares of 2007--I can't do anything about them. All I can do now is to commit them to the hands of an all-wise God....who sees the end from the beginning anyway.

As Gloria Gaither so wonderfully said,

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.
We have this moment, today.

May I remember those profound, yet simple truths in 2008.

Youth With a Mission--Pakistan

In light of the tragic assassination of Benazir Bhutto--former Prime Minister of Pakistan--I wanted to post the link to a wonderful organization who is preaching the gospel of Christ to the people of this terribly divided nation.


We are commissioned to "preach the gospel" and sometimes this requires us to sacrifice everything.

In this time of unspeakable tragedy, let us pray for the spread of the Gospel in Pakistan.

Let us pray that God will "send forth more laborers." Pakistan needs more laborers.

Is God calling you there? Is God calling me there?

Ron Paul for President: A RESOUNDING "NO!"

I woke up very early on Monday morning (like 3 a.m. central time), and just happen to stumble into the living room, and turned on the television. Much to my delight, Channel 5 (NBC) was re-airing Sunday's MEET THE PRESS with host/moderator Tim Russert.

His guest was Dr Ron Paul--the obstetrician-turned-Congressman from Texas.

I was sorta glad that Congressman Paul was on...so when I would eventually "go back to sleep" I knew that I wouldn't be missing very much.

The man's insanity--for some strange reason--fascinated me. He was "railing" against government--while he's been on the Federal payroll for more than a dozen years.

He was "railing" against foreign policy--yet his GOP has had control of the White House for the last 7+ years.

He was "railing" against federal taxes (which I could partially agree with him about), but he had no plan to pay for "anything"...

This man was very unprepared drama at it's worst.

And how anyone could possibly consider supporting him or giving a dime to his campaign is beyond me.

It is a resounding "NO" to Ron Paul...and particularly not for President of the United States.

We must do more!

National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" program is doing a special report on our military veterans who are suffering from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)--a very serious problem for thousands of men and women who are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The link is http://www.npr.org/

Click on the left-side scroll that is labeled "All Things Considered."

My heart breaks to hear of the awful way this nation is allowing our military service personnel to be treated. Any person who is diagnosed with PTSD or TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) should be eligible to receive full medical benefits and treatment. No questions asked.

May God have mercy on our service personnel. May we learn to do the same.

Some wonderful music from yesteryear...

I first heard of Cynthia Clawson more than 25 years ago, when I was just a sophomore in college.

A friend loaned me an LP album entitled "You're Welcome Here."

I fell in love with this woman's minstry from that point on.

She has recently re-released some of the wonderful, vintage music of her earlier ministry years.

Check it out here:


My very favorites of Cynthia's music:

It Won't Rain Always
I Heard about a Man
You're Always Welcome Here
The Best if Yet to Come

You will be blest and encouraged by this magnificent voice and the message she sings.

Just in! My "evaluation"...

I received a holiday greeting from a long-time friend a few minutes ago, via this wonder called the "world wide web." I want to share it with all of you:

After serious and cautious consideration…your contract of friendship has been renewed for the New Year 2008 !

It was a very hard decision to make. So try not to screw it up !!! (smile)

My wish for you in 2008:

May peace break into your house and may thieves come to steal your debts.

May the pockets of your jeans become a magnet for $100 bills.

May love stick to your face like Vaseline and may laughter assault your lips !

May you clothes smell of success and may happiness slap you across the face and may your tears be that of joy.

May the problems you had forget your home address!

In simple words……………….

May 2008 be the best year of your life !!!

Thanks Al, I really, really needed that one today...and it has already encouraged me.

And I wish that for everyone who pays me a visit here in my "corner of the world."

Integrity and Accountability...in Ministry...

Noted author and evangelist, Carl Richardson speaks clearly, yet boldly to the current "crises" facing "Christian ministries" here in the United States.

Read this article:


Here's a good one...

Someone shared this on another forum. I think it's great:

'Twas The (Politically Correct) Night Before Christmas:

'Twas the night before Christmas and Santa's a wreck...
How to live in a world that's politically correct?
His workers no longer would answer to "Elves".
"Vertically Challenged" they were calling themselves.

And labor conditions at the north pole
Were alleged by the union to stifle the soul.
Four reindeer had vanished, without much propriety,
Released to the wilds by the Humane Society.

And equal employment had made it quite clear
That Santa had better not use just reindeer.
So Dancer and Donner, Comet and Cupid,
Were replaced with 4 pigs, and you know that looked stupid!

The runners had been removed from his sleigh;
The ruts were termed dangerous by the E.P.A.
And people had started to call for the cops
When they heard sled noises on their roof-tops.

Second-hand smoke from his pipe had his workers quite frightened.
His fur trimmed red suit was called "Unenlightened."

And to show you the strangeness of life's ebbs and flows,
Rudolf was suing over unauthorized use of his nose
And had gone on OPRAH, in front of the nation,
Demanding millions in over-due compensation.

So, half of the reindeer were gone; and his wife,
Who suddenly said she'd enough of this life,
Joined a self-help group, packed, and left in a whiz,
Demanding from now on her title was Ms.

And as for the gifts, why, he'd ne'er had a notion
That making a choice could cause so much commotion.
Nothing of leather, nothing of fur,
Which meant nothing for him. And nothing for her.

Nothing that might be construed to pollute.
Nothing to aim. Nothing to shoot.
Nothing that clamored or made lots of noise.
Nothing for just girls. Or just for the boys.

Nothing that claimed to be gender specific.
Nothing that's warlike or non-pacifistic.

No candy or sweets...they were bad for the tooth.
Nothing that seemed to embellish a truth.
And fairy tales, while not yet forbidden,
Were like Ken and Barbie, better off hidden.

For they raised the hackles of those psychological
Who claimed the only good gift was one ecological.

No baseball, no football...someone could get hurt;
Besides, playing sports exposed kids to dirt.
Dolls were said to be sexist, and should be passe;
And Nintendo would rot your entire brain away.

So Santa just stood there, disheveled, perplexed;
He just could not figure out what to do next.
He tried to be merry, tried to be gay,
you've got to be careful with that word today.

His sack was quite empty, limp to the ground;
Nothing fully acceptable was to be found.
Something special was needed, a gift that he might
Give to all without angering the left or the right.
A gift that would satisfy, with no indecision,
Each group of people, every religion;
Every ethnicity, every hue,
Everyone, everywhere...even you.

So here is that gift, it's price beyond worth...
"May you and your loved ones enjoy peace on earth."

This marvelous piece of poetry says so much about our culture and how far we have either progressed or drifted. I'll let you make the decision on the direction.

My Spiritual Home...The Moody Church

For the first time since 1973, I have become a member of a non-Pentecostal/non-Charismatic church...a true-blue, card-carrying member.

I remember hearing the worship services of the historical Moody Church in Chicago for many, many years before I ever actually moved to the Windy City. Thanks to the Moody Broadcasting Network (and WMBW-FM, Chattanooga in particular), I was able to join in the wonderful music, and the tremendous preaching from the sanctuary of The Moody Church on many occasions.

My very first visit to The Moody Church was in September 2000, less than one month after I arrived in Chicago. I fell in love with the place immediately. I made the decision (after much prayer and contemplation) to call "Moody Church" my home for the time being.

In October 2002, I felt the Lord pulling me elsewhere, and so I followed. For three years, I was a "card-carrying" member of another congregation in the city of Chicago. But I never forgot the wonderful "family" down @ 1609 N LaSalle Street.

As providence and circumstances would have it, I returned to The Moody Church in November 2005. It was an easy decision for me, once I decided to leave the former congregation.

Some two years later--November 2007--I became an official member of this wonderful historic congregation.

I am delighted...thrilled, honored, and humbled.

Check out the website: www.moodychurch.org

One More Day...

Famed author Mitch Albiom's book "For One More Day" is a profound gift to our nation and to humanity at large. It's such a profound work that OPRAH has made it into a primetime movie--to be seen this Sunday evening on ABC. And I hate this phrase, but it's apropos here: "Check your local listings."

But now I want to ask YOU a question.

If you knew, 1000% certain, that you had only one more day left, what would you do?

Who would you spend it with?

I'm absolutely certain there are some things I would NOT do:

Check my bank account balance
Mow the lawn (not that I do that anyway...my landlord does!)
Worry about what is in the kitchen cupboard
Check all the sports scores
Argue theology with those who don't see things the way I do exactly
Worry about who will occupy the Oval Office in January 2009
Worry about email or voice messages
Complain about the weather, traffic, or rude people.

What would you do if you only had "one more day"?

Living among Spiritual Giants: Leonard Kendrick

Part three of my series on "Spiritual Giants" details my great friend, Retired Pastor/Denominational Official, Bishop Leonard F Kendrick.

I first met this wonderful man some 30+ years ago, when I was just a snotty-nosed teenager in the West Huntsville Church, and he was the visiting minister from Cleveland , Tennessee. I immediately fell in love with both he and his wife, Joyce.

I've never forgotten them, and they have always been like parents to me.

His grandson Curry calls him "Dadda"--so that's what we have all started calling him--whether we are related or not.

He was born and raised in the far southern part of Illinois, in a wonderful godly home, where his parents were devout Methodists. He still honors their place in his life.

I want to write more about him tomorrow. It's getting late today, and I've been in this office without lunch for more than ten hours now.

Right now...it's Huckabee in 2008!


More than anyone else in the "waaaay too early" Presidential Race for the Oval Office, I am more inclined to support the former Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee.

I am impressed with his integrity, his sensibilities, and his humility.

So, my primary vote will be cast for the "man from Hope."

Another "giant" of a man: Kevin Brooks

I first became acquainted with State Representative Kevin Brooks, when he was just a student working in the Office of the President at Lee University about 15 years ago. I was stationed in Norway at the time, and had sent some correspondence to Dr Paul Conn, the President of Lee University (www.leeuniversity.edu). I called to make sure that it had been received. Kevin Brooks was the one to answer the telephone, assuring me that Dr Conn had indeed received the correspondence.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that this "Kevin" and I would become the friends that we are today. He is a real treasure in my life.

Our paths would again cross as he assumed the position of Director, Alumni Relations at Lee University, and I would be a student at the Church of God Theological Seminary (www.cogts.edu) adjacent to the Lee Campus. He and I hit it off immediately. He was always the kind, gracious, and wonderfully warm man that so represented the University extremely well.

And he represented the Kingdom of God very well also. He still does!

In the wisdom and plan of God, Kevin would accept a position at the International Offices of the Church of God (www.churchofgod.cc) in the Communicactions Department, working alongside a friend of mine, Scot Carter--who was a freshman at Lee when I was a Senior....a definitely small world.

But on a personal level, there are so many things I could write about Kevin Brooks:

1) He and I became very close when I was a seminary student, and even closer when I became an employee at Lee University in the Department of External Studies. When I left the University to make the move to Chicago, this precious man gave me a wonderful "Lee Alumni" sweatshirt--and I still wear it faithfully.

2) In the last 7+ years, I've been able to call Kevin just to say "hi" or to share something that has happened in my life. During a very dark and tumultuous time, I was able to call him and ask him to "pray" for me...and I know that he did. The Lord answered those prayers.

3) Kevin Brooks is the same gracious and godly man--regardless of where he is, or whose company in which he may find himself. Power, position, and possession has never gone to his head. I have every reason to believe that it never will.

4) When my wonderful friend Beaulah Gause went to glory almost five years ago, this precious Kevin attended the funeral in Cleveland on my behalf. Sister Gause' husband, Dr R Hollis Gause is like a father to me....and he was so glad to see Kevin, and to know of my concern and love. Now that is a "true friend."

5) Now he is serving the Lord and the good people of Tennessee in the State Legislature. I could not be more delighted for him....because I know that his PRIORITY is to serve God and to serve people.

I had the wonderful, wonderful privilege of spending a couple of hours with Kevin just a few weeks ago...and it was one of the highlights of my trip to Tennessee.

Kevin Brooks: A giant of a man....

Living in the land of Giants: Kevin Moses

Just as I promised in a previous post, I am starting a series of posts on people whom I consider "spiritual giants" in my life.

I first encountered Kevin almost eleven years ago--in a historical theology class at the Church of God Theological Seminary (www.cogts.edu) in Cleveland TN. He was in his first semester of graduate studies, and I had just started my second semester.

Shortly thereafter, Kevin and I became pals. I think it all "really" started when he came by my apartment (I was living in seminary housing at the time), and needed some help with some of the study material the professor had assigned up for an upcoming examination.

There are so many stories I can tell about Kevin. All of them good...and many of them very humorous. We lived together almost three years, and I got to know him pretty well.

But what I want to share here is why I consider him a "spiritual giant" in my life:

Kevin is a man of prayer. There were many nights that he would spend a great deal of time in prayer and consecration to the Lord. I could tell that he had "been with Jesus."

Kevin is a man of the Word. Many times when I just wouldn't open my Bible, I would find Kevin buried in his. He would read and meditate on long passages, and let God's Word soak deep into his head and his heart. I only wish I had done the same.

Kevin is a man of integrity. He truly exemplifies what it means to be a man of ethics, honor, and stature. If he makes a promise, he keeps it. If he says something is true, you can always take it to the bank, and deposit it.

I watched Kevin work a full time job at the Bradley Memorial Hospital, work as a Teaching Assistant in graduate school, help lead a youth group, teach a Sunday School class, and still stay happy and positive. (I would never recommend all of those things at once--and looking back, neither would he).

I remember when I suffered from such severe depression that I couldn't even cry--and yet this precious, precious man would sit there, pray for me, and many times cry with me.

He's a spiritual giant in my eyes. And a good one at that!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

I want to take this opportunity in my little "corner of the cyber world" to wish everyone a marvelous and gracious Happy Thanksgiving!

We have so much for which to be thankful. I have WAAAAAY more to be thankful for, than what I can possibly "mourn" over.

Starting next week (or maybe this weekend) I want to start writing on "living among the giants"--some of the wonderful people who have so blest and graced my life, and I want to honor them--because they are truly giants in my eyes.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Men are just HAPPIER people...

A wonderful lady, whom I've known for more than 25 years now, sent this to me earlier today:



--What do you expect from such simple creatures?

Your last name stays put.

The garage is all yours.

Wedding plans take care of themselves.

Chocolate is just another snack.

You can be President.

You can never be pregnant.

You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park.

You can wear NO shirt to a water park.

Car mechanics tell you the truth.

The world is your urinal.

You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky.

You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt

Same work, more pay.

Wrinkles add character.

Wedding dress $5000. Tux rental-$100.

People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them.

New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet.

One mood all the time.

Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.

You know stuff about tanks.

A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase.

You can open all your own jars.

You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.

If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend

Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack.

Three pairs of shoes are more than enough.

You almost never have strap problems in public.

You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes.

Everything on your face stays its original color.

The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades.

You only have to shave your face and neck.

You can play with toys all your life.

One wallet and one color for all seasons.

You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look.

You can "do" your nails with a pocket knife.

You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache.

You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.

No wonder men are happier.

Thanksgiving Table Manners....

Dr Jack Hayford, (better known as "Pastor Jack") has inspired me for many, many years. Until a few years ago, he was the lead pastor at Southern California's "Church on the Way" in Van Nuys. He is a prolific preacher, wonderful writer, and gifted musician. His best-known song would be "Majesty."

Here is a link to a marvelous message he has prepared about "Thanksgiving Table Manners."


May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration this year!

Classes Just for Women!

Before anyone get's their "knighties in a knot"--I didn't come up with this list...I'm not that creative. I can thank a "nameless" pastor in the Midwest for sharing these:

Easy Training Courses for Women

1. Silence, the Final Frontier: Where No Woman Has Gone Before

2. The Undiscovered Side of Banking: Making Deposits

3. Parties: Going Without New Outfits

4. Man Management: Minor Household Chores Can Wait Till After The Game

5. Bathroom Etiquette I: Men Need Space in the Bathroom Cabinet Too.

6. Bathroom Etiquette II: His Razor is His

7. Communication Skills I: Tears - The Last Resort, not the First.

8. Communication Skills II: Thinking Before Speaking

9. Communication Skills III: Getting What you Want Without Nagging

10. Driving a Car Safely: A Skill You CAN Acquire

11. Telephone Skills: How to Hang Up

12. Introduction to Parking

13. Advanced Parking: Backing Into a Space

14. Water Retention: Fact or Fat

15. Cooking I: Bringing Back Bacon, Eggs and Butter

16. Cooking II: Bran and Tofu are Not for Human Consumption

17. Cooking III: How not to Inflict Your Diets on Other People

18. Compliments: Accepting Them Gracefully

19. PMS: Your Problem . . . Not His

20. Dancing: Why Men Don't Like To

21. Classic Clothing: Wearing Outfits You Already Have

22. Household Dust: A Harmless Natural Occurrence Only Women Notice

23. Integrating Your Laundry: Washing It All Together

24. Oil and Gas: Your Car Needs Both

25. TV Remotes: For Men Only

To America's Veterans: THANK YOU!

Even though we officially celebrated Veterans' Day Sunday and Monday (November 11-12, 2007), I just wanted to take my little "corner of the cyber world" and say a profound and heartfelt THANK YOU to all the men and women who have served this nation in the military services.

You are truly the best!

I served among you for ten years, and was thrilled and honored to do so. The sacrifices that you made for all the freedoms we enjoy can never be adequately compensated.

You are the best. I truly mean that.

What is a VETERAN?

Someone posted this elsewhere, and I wanted to put it on my blog:
What is a Veteran?

Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye.

Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg - or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul's ally forged in the refinery of adversity.

Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem.

You can't tell a vet just by looking.

He/She is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn't run out of fuel.

He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.

She - or he - is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.

He is the POW who went away one person and came back another - or didn't come back AT ALL.

He/She is the Quantico drill instructor who has never seen combat - but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each others backs.

He is the parade - riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.

He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.

He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean's sunless deep.

He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket - palsied now and aggravatingly slow - who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.

He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being - a person who offered some of his life's most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.

He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.

So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say Thank You.

That's all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded.
Two little words that mean a lot, "THANK YOU".

"It is the soldier, not the reporter, Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.

It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag."

May I offer my deepest and most sincerest expressions of gratitude for the brave, wonderful men and women have served this wonderful land we call "AMERICA."

1Lt Nass, off to Iraq...

Sunday afternoon, even while I was rejoicing in the greatness of God allowing me to be among those people whom I have loved for years (and who have loved me for years), it was also a tremendously sad one for me.

My precious friend and brother, 1Lt Christian Nass called to say "goodbye" before he deployed to the Middle East today. I handled the conversation pretty well until I started praying for him. Then, I lost it.

Really, really lost it!

I can't remember praying with such passion, and such pain in my heart--for someone who was going to war. I started praying, and I wound up praying some of the Psalms and crying...and crying...almost to the point of not being able to stop.

I am grateful to God for the privilege of prayer. I'm thankful for the blessing of tears, and emotions that we can lay bare before the Lord Jesus.

Pray for my buddy, Christian Nass. He is scheduled to be gone for some 15 months. His precious wife Sarah covets your prayers as well. She will be returning to Moody Bible Institute in the Spring to continue her studies.

I miss Christian already.

The greatest treasures of life...

As I mentioned in a previous post, I spent a few days in Cleveland, TN this past week/end. My visit there was two-fold:

First, I wanted to see some of the precious saints of God who have grown older, and many of them are getting ready to leave this world for their eternal residence in Heaven. Too many of them have passed into eternity without me having the chance to say goodbye, or at least seeing them. I just could not let that happen again!

Second, Lee University (www.leeuniversity.edu) was having it's 2007 Homecoming festivities, and I knew I would get to see lots and lots of people--many of whom I have not seen in at least 20 years....it was just great!

On both fronts, I can humbly say "Mission Accomplished." The Lord, in His infinite grace and goodness, allowed me to see so very many people who have enriched my life simply by "being there." Many of these people are now scattered to the four corners of the continent--and the globe even--but we still have this "connection" that says we are family. The family of God.

While I am bound to leave someone out, I want to mention some folks that I didn't mention previously:

My wonderful friend Kevin Brooks
A long-time friend, Byron Medlin
A classmate, Jeff Sargeant
Dr and Mrs French Arrington--I worked for her, and he taught several of my classes.
Lydia Culpepper--we sang in Campus Choir together--one of the most talented women I know.
Steve and Laura Allen--he is now the Minister of Music at Westmore Church.
and the list goes on.

All of these people are so special to me for several reasons. First, they are the 'family of God'--we have a blood covenant that "relates" us. Secondly, in one way or another, we have all been connected to Lee College (now Universit) in times past. And third, they have profoundly touched my life in ways that matter to me.

These are just some of "life's great treasures." And I'm a "rich, rich" man because of God's generosity of putting them into my life.

Old Friends...

WOW! Yesterday was such a "refresher" for me...and a real "refreshing" as well.

I landed in Nashville, TN on Wednesday evening, and took the ground shuttle over to Chattanooga...my friend, Dr Jimmy Harper, Campus Pastor at Lee University picked me up.

He, his wife Sharon, and wonderful children (Jamie and Jessica) have been so kind and gracious to me. They have attended my every need (and want.)

I was blest to see a long list of wonderful friends yesterday. Some of the people I have regular contact with, and many I don't. But here's just a few:

Dr R Hollis Gause (my "father" in so many ways).
Dr Bob Crick
Tim Burdashaw
Dr Donald Bowdle
Dr Jim Burns
Dr. William Lamb
Dr Cheryl Johns
Dr Jackie Johns
Dr Steve Land
Dr Kim Alexander
Dr Andrea Dismukes
Dr Brian Alderman (well, he's almost finished with his Dissertation) and his wonderful wife Monica--who had me as a dinner guest last night--it was delicious!
Chaplain (now retired) Ben Perez

And so many more. The problem with listing names is that you are predestined to forget someone...and I'm sure that I have.

It's been great so far...getting to see many people whom I have loved for years...and more importantly who have loved me for years.

I'll write more...later.

Slandering Jesus

My pastor, Erwin Lutzer, has written an incredible book that is a MUST read:

Slandering Jesus

I remember when Pastor Lutzer started preaching this series several years ago. It was powerful, and much needed.

Even more so is it needed today.

Please buy yourself a copy, and get one for a friend. Let's know the truth about God's Son!

To the land of "Biscuits and Gravy"

In about 24 hours, I will be headed to Midway Airport here in Chicago (south side), on my Southwest Airlines flight to Nashville, Tennessee. From there I will take a shuttle over to Chattanooga, TN...and my friend Dr Jimmy Harper will be picking me up, and taking me to his home in Cleveland TN--some 20 minutes north of Chattanooga. This is the "land of biscuits and gravy"...or at least one of them.

"What's the occasion?" you ask...wayul, lemme tell you all about it!

I'm really returning (temporarily) to the South for two wonderful reasons:

First, I am going to see some wonderful saints of God who have loved me (and whom I have been blest to love and know) for more than 30 years, before they graduate to Heaven. Far too many of these precious people went on to glory without me having the chance to say "Look for me." I can hardly wait to see these precious people...far too many to list here.

Second, I will be participating in the Homecoming events at my alma mater, Lee University (www.leeuniversity.edu). I'll get to "reconnect" with alumni from all over the country, and with many of those great folk that I treasured when we were students at Lee--and treasure them even more now, some 20+ years later.

Of course, the South is known for it's wonderful "comfort" food.....and I plan to partake with great gusto and vigor.

Yep, it's the "land of biscuits and gravy" for me...

But I'll be back in The Windy City in no time...

What I would like to see in America...

It seems that this nation barely survived the tumultuous election of 2004 (Bush Vs Kerry), and then the mid-term elections ( Republicans lost, and Democrats won--however temporary that may turn out to be), and now the 2008 Election Season is already in full swing! How can it be?

Be that as it may, there are some things I would love to see become "commonplace" in the United States of America:

1) A sense of civility returned to our society:

A) People with manners, both spoken and unspoken. "Yes sir" "No ma'am" and "Thank you", accompanied by "Please" and "How may I help you?"

B) Neighbors who remember they have neighbors. This includes, but is not limited to, playing electronic equipment of all kinds (that includes the Television) at a reasonable level, where no one else outside the confines of one's space can hear it. This also includes the kindness of checking on one's neighbors to make sure they are alright, and see if there are needs of any kind.

C) Employees (and employers) who realize that work is a privilege and responsibility in this nation. We are all better when we "work."

2) A sense of morality in our society again:

A) RESPONSIBILITY seems to be an awfully long word in a terribly foreign language lately. Everyone demands their "rights" but precious few want to own their "responsibilities" as well.

Where is the responsibility we all have for a safe, healthy environment? What about the responsibility to raise children in the fear and admonition of the Lord? What about the responsibility of "contribution" and not just "consumption"?

B) Our society has gone crazy sexually--and otherwise. We need to practice self-control and temperance again. Our appetites and desires are the force that "makes the world go 'round." Regardless of what the "tube" or anything else tells us, we must be a society that values "self-control" once again.

3) We must be a society that devalues "greed" in all it's forms:

A) I remember hearing someone say that "money is a great servant, and a horrible master." But it seems that "greed" is the new badge of honor. Recently someone told me that their boss only sees one color: GREEN. There is something terribly, horribly wrong with that picture.

B) Less is more. And if you don't believe me, trying "moving" your entire household--packing everything, finding boxes, and paying with it in blood, sweat, and tears...and backaches, etc. Do we really "need" all this stuff? I've decided that I don't.

These are issues that "politics" alone will not solve...and more than likely will never be addressed from the "stump."

But these are foundational issues...and our foundations in this nation seem to be crumbling...now is the time to stop the "rot."

Friends...and then there's SOUTHERN FRIENDS...

A wonderful "southern lady" sent this to me. It is so very, very true!


FRIENDS: Never ask for food.
SOUTHERN FRIENDS: Always bring the food. And lots of it.

FRIENDS: Will say "hello".
SOUTHERN FRIENDS: Will give you a big hug and a kiss. More than one.

FRIENDS: Call your parents Mr. and Mrs.
SOUTHERN FRIENDS: Call your parents Mom and Dad, and often.

FRIENDS: Have never seen you cry.
SOUTHERN FRIENDS: Cry with you. And for you.

FRIENDS: Will eat at your dinner table and leave.
SOUTHERN FRIENDS: Will spend hours there, talking, laughing, and just being together. Then do the dishes before leaving.

FRIENDS: Know a few things about you.
SOUTHERN FRIENDS: Could write a book with direct quotes from you. And most of the time know you better than you do yourself.

FRIENDS: Will leave you behind if that's what the crowd is doing.
SOUTHERN FRIENDS: Will kick the whole crowds' back-ends that left you. Then walk beside you in the front of the crowd.

FRIENDS: Would knock on your door.
SOUTHERN FRIENDS: Walk right in and say, "I'm home!" If you are not home they will wait.

FRIENDS: Are for a while.
SOUTHREN FRIENDS: Are for life. And then some.

FRIENDS: Might ignore this.
SOUTHERN FRIENDS: Will forward this to all their Southern Friends.

California Burning---Not good!

Like the rest of the nation, I watched in absolute horror last night as Charlie Gibson brought a "Primetime Special Report: California Burning" right after Dancing with the Stars...

Having lived in Northern California for three years, I feel a very deep sorrow and grief for those wonderful people in San Diego County and the surrounding areas who have lost everything they owned to these wild fires.

These tragedies only remind me that we "can't take it with" us--regardless of how valuable it is.

The Scriptures tell us that God creates wealth, and He also brings disaster (Read Isaiah's prophecy), and in this awful time, these people must look to the God who never slumbers nor sleeps.

Now is the time for the people of God to be the "hands and feet of Christ" to more than one million people who have been affected by this disaster.

What can you do? What can I do?

Where are the PARENTS in this nation?

I am continually shocked/amazed/alarmed when I see what is happening in contemporary American culture!

Now, I'm only 45 years old (will be 46 in March, 2008), but I remember a day back when:

Parents knew where their "underage" children were. (By "underage" I mean anyone less than 21 years old--and even those over 21 if they still lived in the parents' home.)

"Yes Ma'am" and "No Sir" were the only accepted answers to questions that required "two word" answers. (What happened? WHAT HAPPENED?)

Parents didn't have to worry about their ten-year old son being gunned down two blocks from his home by a stray bullet from "gang wars"....this just happened last night on Chicago's South side.....my heart breaks for that family.

Parents knew BETTER than to buy an arsenal of "anything" for their child that could harm someone else--but a mother in Pennsylvania bought an arsenal for her son to potentially harm an entire high school. The only reason the father didn't buy the boy a gun was because "Daddy is a felon"....What on earth?

I'm just wondering where the "adults" are in American society?

Have we abdicated the responsibility of civility to someone other than the "adults"?

Have "personal rights" become more necessary and absolute than "personal responsibility"?

Where are the parents/adults in this nation?

The Problem of Pain...

I'm not really sure why this "title" has been swimming around in my head all morning, but it has.

And it seems as though we Christ-followers aren't always ready to "answer" why we have the problem of pain.

And yet, so many of us really do deal with incredible pain:

Pain in our bodies
Pain in our relationships
Pain in our local churches
Pain in our job situations
Pain in our families

Pain, pain, PAIN!

I'm not sure of the exact source, but I do remember hearing someone quoting C S Lewis, "Pain is God's megaphone." Whether the late and great Mr Lewis said this or not, I'm not able to verify right at this moment.

But this much I can verify:

Pain is a part of life. There is no such thing as "Pain-free" living. Of course those who want to live "pain-free" can certainly do that...while they are living in absolute denial also.

What do we do with "the pain?"

Some answers are very simplistic:

"Give it to the Lord, and let Him take care of it."

I agree, and I often want to do just that.


"Just forget about your pain, it will go away."

Yep, bet you've done that a bunch of times, huh?

So how do we Christians handle the "problem of pain?"

Congratulations to Aaron and Kristie

I am flying to "Hot"lanta tonite...(that's Atlanta for all the non-Southerners among us) to participate in the festivities of my great friend Aaron Kuglin. He and his wife-to-be, Kristy, will be exchanging their wedding vows on Saturday. I am so excited for them.

I first met Aaron back in 2001, during a morning service at Founder's Week--a bible conference sponsored and hosted by the Moody Bible Institute here in Chicago.

He and I went to lunch (at Portillo's if my memory serves me correctly), and we have been pals ever since. I assisted his mom and dad with the "details" of his junior recital, and again for his senior recital in 2004.

He has been closer than a brother to me, and for many reasons to numerous to detail here.

I am so thrilled for him. I am so thrilled that he wants me to be at his wedding.

It is my honor and pleasure.

Kristie is getting a "saint" of a man. And she's marrying one of my dearest friends.

What are your favorite Scripture verses?

When someone asks you to quote your favorite Scripture verses, what immediately comes to mind?

Here are two of mine:

"Greater love has no man than this, that he would lay down his life for a friend" (John 15:13)

"The Lord is the shade at your right hand. The sun will not strike you by day, nor the moon by night." (Psalm 121:3).

So what are your favorites--without looking them up....

Go ahead, feel free to share them here

To the Chicago Tribune

Last Saturday's Chicago Tribune published a letter in the "Voice of the People" section entitled "The Benefits to Becoming Bilingual"--a direct reference to why we should all learn Spanish.

While I found the letter very well-written, I also found it infuriating. I sent this response to the editor of the Chicago Tribune today:
Regarding Missy Berry's well-written opinion in Saturday's "Voice of the People", I must respectfully and firmly disagree with just about every premise of her letter.

I do not feel threatened by anyone who speaks, looks, acts differently than myself....at least not in my country--the United States of America. I am very thankful for the great diversity of people that are found in this place--the freest nation in the history of humanity. But this is AMERICA...not Mexico, or Poland, or Zimbabwe, just to name a few foreign countries.

I am particularly not threatened by those Spanish-speakers who come here. I am more frustrated than threatened. And what is particularly frustrating to me, and to millions of my fellow citizens across this land is the unwillingness of many of the "Hispanics" "Latinos"--whatever they want to call themselves--to adapt this new country. I keep hearing some of the Hispanics say, "But in my country..."

If this isn't their country, what on earth are they doing here? No one goes somewhere for a 20-year visit.

Americans have every right to celebrate Independence Day because that is OUR national holiday. The Liberation of Poland, Mexico, or any other nation (outside of the USA) is not our national holiday, nor should it be.

As a military veteran, I am deeply disturbed by the fact that we Americans have become so "culturally diverse" and "openminded" that we forget we are Americans. I have no hyphenated patriotism...I am an American. It doesn't matter what the lineage is...what matters is that I am an American.

The benefits of people learning to speak the English language, should they decide to live here permanently (and having lived here for more than several months, I do believe that is their intentions) are manifold: Better chances for productive employment. Better chances for educational opportunities, and far better chances to climb the economic ladder.

The benefits of people learning to speak English here in the United States are also longlasting upon all who pay taxes to the local, state, and federal governments. Translating all those forms is expensive--and someone, somewhere has to pay the "fiddler" after the dancing is over. I pay my share. But I would have to pay less if we insisted that people adapt and assimilate into this country and to learn the prevailing language of commerce and society.

Wave the Flag of the United States, learn to speak English, and get on the path to becoming an American. No need to hyphenate your plans. Just do it.

So what about your level of "commitment"?

I recently read a post on a forum where the pastor was all upset and out of sorts because his congregational members could only commit small amounts of time to local church activities each week.

I've been actively involved in the ministry of every local church where I've been a regular parishioner since I was a small child. But there are times when I have to say "no."

I don't like saying "no"--but I do have to work a full-time job. I also have to run my own household, and when something needs to get done "in my life" it's my turn.

So...what do you think? Are the expectations of "leaders" in church just waaaay too much, or are we "parishioners" just not involved enough?

When the "front runners" aren't in front...What's up with that?

I watched the "Republican Debate" on PBS last night, hosted by Tavis Smiley. It was good, it was engaging, and it was informative.

The only problem: The four Republican "front-runners" didn't come to the show, for whatever reasons.

I can't believe, not for one New York second, that Senator John McCain, Former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, Former Governor Mitt Romney, and Former Senator Fred Thompson all had "scheduling conflicts" and couldn't appear at this historically black college (Morgan State) in the Baltimore area for a 90-minute debate.

This debate was one of the better ones that I've watched, save for the pontificating of perennial candidate Alan Keyes, Former Ambassador to the United Nations.

Why would McCain, Giuliani, Romney, and Thompson all "diss" the majority Black audience? This was their chance to show an otherwise "skeptical" group why they should be President.

You can't "show" if you don't "go."

Each of these candidates, in my opinion, have forfeited the opportunity to win the nomination of the GOP, and no American voter should even consider casting a vote for them.

And on a less "spiritual note"...

DANCING WITH THE STARS begins tonite...ABC, 7 p.m. Central time.

It should be "quite the line-up" this time. Not sure whom I will pull for. My heart is still broken because "Laila Ali" lost the last season....

So, you all watch this time, okay?

Absolutely Amazing!


The world-renown National Christian Choir (from the nation's capitol) was in concert here in Chicago this past weekend! All I can say is "WOW..."

I first remember hearing the "choir" when I was stationed in South Korea, and would hear some wonderful christian music occasionally on the Armed Forces Network. I remember hearing them sing one of the great hymns of our faith, "Saviour, Like a Shepherd Lead Us..." Even though that was more than 17 years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday.

And then, several years later, I was stationed with the United States Air Force in west Texas, and was scheduled for major surgery. I happened to be listening to the Christian station there in Lubbock very early one morning, and this wonderful choir once again ministered the love and grace of Christ to me during my time of need.

How thrilled I was to learn (a few months ago, actually) that Senior Pastor Erwin Lutzer of The Moody Church (www.moodychurch.org) had invited the National Christian Choir to come be with us here in Chicago for the weekend.

In conjunction with WMBI-FM, the flagship station of the Moody Broadcasting Network, the Choir did a marvelous concert of their music on Saturday evening to a full sanctuary at The Moody Church. This was the world premier of the choir's new recording, "People Need The Lord."

What was even more special was the Choir led us in worshipping our great God yesterday in the morning worship gathering. Once again, this ensemble of some 138 voices helped us court the presence of Christ as we gathered in His name.

One very special thing also for me, the pianist Mrs Kathy Bowman--who has been their only pianist for the last 23 years--once taught at my alma mater, Lee University (www.leeuniversity.edu). It was such a joy to meet her and to reminisce about all the wonderful people that we both have known over the years.

Visit all of the websites here, and particularly the one for the National Christian Choir! You will be glad you did.

Healthcare...why it matters...

For all the many "issues" facing this country, I do believe the most important "internal" issue is healthcare, and how it affects every person living here in the United States.

I was watching a special on PBS last night that featured five of the Democratic hopefuls for the nomination. The main topic of discussion was Healthcare...and what it means to America.

Senators Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Hillary Clinton, former Senator John Edwards, and Governor Bill Richardson were the guest panelists in this 90-minute forum hosted by PBS' Judy Woodruff.

I'm glad that "healthcare" is once again taking a prominent place in the "national conversation."

While I was going to seminary, I worked in a local hospital on two different occasions. I witnessed, firsthand, just what healthcare and access to such care means in our society.

The fact that we have almost 50 million people in this country--the richest on earth and in the history of humaity--is almost unthinkable...and definitely unconscionable.

Do any of the aforementioned politicians have all the answers? Of course not.

Is insuring 50 million people in this country an "easy" accomplishment? Of course not.

But we need to do something...and I'm glad that the Democrats have at least started talking about it.

I'll write more later.

The Parable of the Bird Feeder...We must pay attention.

Manifold thanks to Pastor Gary Piepkorn (retired Air Force Chaplain, and personal friend for many years) for sending this to me. It makes LOTS of sense:

A man bought a bird feeder. He hung it on his back porch and filled it with seed. Within a week he had hundreds of birds taking advantage of the continuous flow of free and easily accessible food.

But then the birds started building nests in the boards of his
patio, above the table, and next to the barbecue.

Then came the poop. It was everywhere: on the patio tile,
the chairs, the table... everywhere.

Then some of the birds turned mean: They would dive bomb the
man and try to peck him even though he had fed them out of his own pocket.

And others birds were boisterous and loud: They sat on the
feeder and squawked and screamed at all hours of the day and night and demanded that he fill it when it got low on food. After a while, the man couldn't even sit on his own back porch anymore.

Well, the man took down the bird feeder and in three days the
birds were gone.

He cleaned up their mess and took down the many nests they had
built all over the patio. Soon, the back yard was like it used to be...quiet, serene and no one demanding their rights to a free meal.

Now let's see . . . . .

Our government gives out free food, subsidized housing, free
medical care, free education and allows anyone born here to be an
automatic citizen.

Then the illegals came by the tens of thousands. Suddenly. . .
Our taxes went up to pay for free services, small apartments are
housing 5 families:

You have to wait 6 hours to be seen by an emergency room

Your child's 2nd grade class is behind other schools because over half the class doesn't speak English.

Corn Flakes now come in a bilingual box; I have to press "one"
to hear my bank talk to me in English, and people waving flags other than "Old Glory" are squawking and screaming in the streets, demanding more rights and free liberties.

Maybe it's time for our government to take down the bird

It absolutely is time to take down the "bird feeder." It was time many, many years ago...and we are fools if we continue to "feed the birds" the way we are currently doing.

Now that General Petraeus has spoken...

I listened to as much of General David Petraeus' testimony as I possibly could earlier this week. He is a deeply committed public servant and, from all accounts, a terrific military leader.

I'm troubled that so many in Washington DC--including the President and Vice President of the United States--have really not heard what the General seems to be saying.

We are making "some" progress in Iraq. Not as much as we would hoped to have made...and not as little as the "naysayers" claim either.

While I was all for the Bush Administration's decision to "go to war" I was absolutely horrified that so little planning went into this "effort."

Retired General Eric Shinsecki warned both the Congress and the White House of what would be needed to bring about the desired results in this conflict. Less than one month later General Shinsecki was relieved of his duties as the Chief of Staff, United States Army.

Now retired, Former Secretary of State, (Retired General, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff) Colin Powell also candidly and clearly advised the Bush Administration of the obstacles and hurdles that would need to be crossed and cleared. But alas, Rumsfeld and Cheney--neither of them war heroes in the stretch of anyone's imagination--thought they knew better than the "proven heroes." Secretary Powell, however, had been the brilliant architect of the First Gulf War in 1991. But he too, was pushed aside and silenced by this brain-dead Administration.

Now, almost 4000 American service personnel have given their lives. And the talking heads in Washington still aren't listening too closely.


The "OPRAH" factor for Senator Obama...

The reigning Queen of Talk Shows...Oprah Winfrey...has unabashedly thrown her entire reputation and support behind the political campaign of the junior senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.

Miss Winfrey, as a law-abiding American, has every right to support whomever she wants to support for whatever political office someone wants to pursue. This time, OPRAH has decided that Barack Obama--a good man, with a beautiful wife and lovely daughters--should be president of the United States, come January 2009.

I personally disagree with Oprah on this one.

She has always seem to be one of the "voices of reason" concerning most issues in contemporary society. On many occasions, I have found myself agreeing with her. I have deeply appreciated her philanthropic efforts around the world. I have admired the fact that she is a hard-working, tremendously gifted, and gracious woman.

I even admire the fact that she has decided to get involved in the political process.

What bugs me though is the fact that she has now alienated millions of her viewers who have decided, deep in their heart of hearts, that Senator Obama is not ready for the Oval Office.

At least not yet.

I Then Shall Live...

I've often stated that GLORIA GAITHER is probably my favorite living poet/songwriter. In response to a book written by the late Dr Francis Schaeffer in the 1980s, she penned this wonderful poem, set to the music of Jean Sebelius's FINLANDIA:

I then shall live as one who's been forgiven;
I'll walk with joy to know my debts are paid.
I know my name is clear before my Father;
I am His child, and I am not afraid.
So greatly pardoned, I'll forgive another;
The law of love I gladly will obey.

I then shall live as one who's learned compassion;
Ive been so loved that I'll risk loving, too.
I know how fear builds walls instead of bridges;
I dare to see anothers point of view.
And when relationships demand commitment,
Then I'll be there to care and follow through.

Your kingdom come around and through and in me,
Your powr and glory, let them shine thru me.
Your Hallowed Name O may I bear with honor,
And may Your living Kingdom come in me.
The Bread of Life, O may I share with honor,
And may You feed a hungry world thru me.

What a powerful song/prayer/statement of commitment.

I sang this song 23 years ago...

And I still love it:

Down from His glory
Everliving story,
My God and Saviour came
And Jesus was His name.
Born in a manger,
To this earth a stranger
A man of sorrows, tears, and agony.

Oh how I love Him!
How I adore Him!
My breath, my sunshine
My all in all!
The great Creator
Became my Saviour!
And all God's fulness
Dwells in Him!
And that is no less true today. I love this God-Man, Jesus Christ! I adore this God-Man, Jesus Christ! In Him dwells all the fulness of God.

That's something to consider.

Something to remember here...

I first heard this great song when I was a student at Lee College (now University) back in the early 1980s. Gary McSpadden is one of the co-writers of this great reminder:

Above His name there is no other name
The one who is eternally the same

There is no other name

The first and last, beginning and the end.

He was the King who made

the common man his friend

there is no other name.

let every tongue proclaim

And sing the name of Jesus


Magnify and praise the name of Jesus

No other name but Jesus

There is power in the precious name of Jesus, Jesus

Messiah King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus

Verse #2

He created all there is with his own hands

And yet our smallest need He understands

There is no other name

The one who said "I am the great I AM"

and then He gave Himself a sacrifice for man

There is no other name, let every tongue proclaim

And sing the name of Jesus


Magnify and praise the name of Jesus

No other name but Jesus

There is power in the precious name of Jesus, Jesus

Forever He shall reign as King of Kings

He's Lord of all, and every Living thing

Yes, from now on we'll worship Him and praise

the name of Jesus

Magnify and praise the name of Jesus

No other name but Jesus

There is power in the precious name of Jesus, Jesus

Forever He shall reign as King of Kings

He's Lord or all, and every Living thing

Yes, from now on we'll worship Him

and praise the name of Jesus!

Praise the name of JESUS!

Bill Cosby Is Right...Here's the speech...

This speech was delivered by Bill Cosby, EdD at the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Brown Vs Board of Education. He was right then, and he is still right today:

Ladies and gentlemen, I really have to ask you to seriously consider what you’ve heard, and now this is the end of the evening so to speak. I heard a prize fight manager say to his fellow who was losing badly, “David, listen to me. It’s not what’s he’s doing to you. It’s what you’re not doing. (laughter).

Ladies and gentlemen, these people set, they opened the doors, they gave us the right, and today, ladies and gentlemen, in our cities and public schools we have fifty percent drop out. In our own neighborhood, we have men in prison. No longer is a person embarrassed because they’re pregnant without a husband. (clapping) No longer is a boy considered an embarrassment if he tries to run away from being the father of the unmarried child (clapping)
Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic and lower middle economic people are [not*] holding their end in this deal. In the neighborhood that most of us grew up in, parenting is not going on. (clapping) In the old days, you couldn’t hooky school because every drawn shade was an eye (laughing). And before your mother got off the bus and to the house, she knew exactly where you had gone, who had gone into the house, and where you got on whatever you had one and where you got it from. Parents don’t know that today.

I’m talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit.
Where were you when he was two? (clapping) Where were you when he was twelve? (clapping) Where were you when he was eighteen, and how come you don’t know he had a pistol? (clapping) And where is his father, and why don’t you know where he is? And why doesn’t the father show up to talk to this boy?

The church is only open on Sunday. And you can’t keep asking Jesus to ask doing things for you (clapping). You can’t keep asking that God will find a way. God is tired of you (clapping and laughing). God was there when they won all those cases. 50 in a row. That’s where God was because these people were doing something. And God said, “I’m going to find a way.” I wasn’t there when God said it… I’m making this up (laughter). But it sounds like what God would do (laughter).

We cannot blame white people. White people (clapping) .. white people don’t live over there. They close up the shop early. The Korean ones still don’t know us as well…they stay open 24 hours (laughter).

I’m looking and I see a man named Kenneth Clark. He and his wife Mamie…Kenneth’s still alive. I have to apologize to him for these people because Kenneth said it straight. He said you have to strengthen yourselves…and we’ve got to have that black doll. And everybody said it. Julian Bond said it. Dick Gregory said it. All these lawyers said it. And you wouldn’t know that anybody had done a damned thing.

50 percent drop out rate, I’m telling you, and people in jail, and women having children by five, six different men. Under what excuse, I want somebody to love me, and as soon as you have it, you forget to parent. Grandmother, mother, and great grandmother in the same room, raising children, and the child knows nothing about love or respect of any one of the three of them (clapping). All this child knows is “gimme, gimme, gimme.” These people want to buy the friendship of a child….and the child couldn’t care less. Those of us sitting out here who have gone on to some college or whatever we’ve done, we still fear our parents (clapping and laughter). And these people are not parenting. They’re buying things for the kid. $500 sneakers, for what? They won’t buy or spend $250 on Hooked on Phonics. (clapping)

A\Kenneth Clark, somewhere in his home in upstate New York…just looking ahead. Thank God, he doesn’t know what’s going on, thank God. But these people, the ones up here in the balcony fought so hard. Looking at the incarcerated, these are not political criminals. These are people going around stealing Coca Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake! Then we all run out and are outraged, “The cops shouldn’t have shot him” What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand? (laughter and clapping). I wanted a piece of pound cake just as bad as anybody else (laughter) And I looked at it and I had no money. And something called parenting said if get caught with it you’re going to embarrass your mother. Not you’re going to get your butt kicked. No. You’re going to embarrass your mother. You’re going to embarrass your family.

If knock that girl up, you’re going to have to run away because it’s going to be too embarrassing for your family. In the old days, a girl getting pregnant had to go down South, and then her mother would go down to get her. But the mother had the baby. I said the mother had the baby. The girl didn’t have a baby. The mother had the baby in two weeks. (laughter) We are not parenting. Ladies and gentlemen, listen to these people, they are showing you what’s wrong. People putting their clothes on backwards. –isn’t that a sign of something going on wrong? (laughter)

Are you not paying attention, people with their hat on backwards, pants down around the crack. Isn’t that a sign of something, or are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up (laughter and clapping ). Isn’t it a sign of something when she’s got her dress all the way up to the crack…and got all kinds of needles and things going through her body. What part of Africa did this come from? (laughter). We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans, they don’t know a damned thing about Africa. With names like Shaniqua, Shaligua, Mohammed and all that crap and all of them are in jail. (When we give these kinds names to our children, we give them the strength and inspiration in the meaning of those names. What’s the point of giving them strong names if there is not parenting and values backing it up).

Brown Versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person’s problem. We’ve got to take the neighborhood back (clapping). We’ve got to go in there. Just forget telling your child to go to the Peace Corps. It’s right around the corner. (laughter) It’s standing on the corner. It can’t speak English. It doesn’t want to speak English. I can’t even talk the way these people talk. “Why you ain’t where you is go, ra,” I don’t know who these people are. And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk (laughter). Then I heard the father talk. This is all in the house. You used to talk a certain way on the corner and you got into the house and switched to English. Everybody knows it’s important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can’t land a plane with “why you ain’t…” You can’t be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth. There is no Bible that has that kind of language. Where did these people get the idea that they’re moving ahead on this. Well, they know they’re not, they’re just hanging out in the same place, five or six generations sitting in the projects when you’re just supposed to stay there long enough to get a job and move out.

Now look, I’m telling you. It’s not what they’re doing to us. It’s what we’re not doing. 50 percent drop out. Look, we’re raising our own ingrown immigrants. These people are fighting hard to be ignorant. There’s no English being spoken, and they’re walking and they’re angry. Oh God, they’re angry and they have pistols and they shoot and they do stupid things. And after they kill somebody, they don’t have a plan. Just murder somebody. Boom. Over what? A pizza? And then run to the poor cousin’s house. They sit there and the cousin says “what are you doing here?” “I just killed somebody, man.” “What?” “I just killed somebody, I’ve got to stay here.” “No, you don’t.” “Well, give me some money, I’ll go…” “Where are you going?” “North Carolina.” Everybody wanted to go to North Carolina. But the police know where you’re going because your cousin has a record.

Five or six different children, same woman, eight, ten different husbands or whatever, pretty soon you’re going to have to have DNA cards so you can tell who you’re making love to. You don’t who this is. It might be your grandmother. (laughter) I’m telling you, they’re young enough. Hey, you have a baby when you’re twelve. Your baby turns thirteen and has a baby, how old are you? Huh? Grandmother. By the time you’re twelve, you could have sex with your grandmother, you keep those numbers coming. I’m just predicting.

I’m saying Brown Vs. Board of Education. We’ve got to hit the streets, ladies and gentlemen. I’m winding up, now , no more applause. I’m saying, look at the Black Muslims. There are Black Muslims standing on the street corners and they say so forth and so on, and we’rere laughing at them because they have bean pies and all that, but you don’t read “Black Muslim gunned down while chastising drug dealer.” You don’t read that. They don’t shoot down Black Muslims. You understand me. Muslims tell you to get out of the neighborhood. When you want to clear your neighborhood out, first thing you do is go get the Black Muslims, bean pies and all (laughter). And your neighborhood is then clear. The police can’t do it .

I’m telling you Christians, what’s wrong with you? Why can’t you hit the streets? Why can’t you clean it out yourselves? It’s our time now, ladies and gentlemen. It is our time (clapping). And I’ve got good news for you. It’s not about money. It’s about you doing something ordinarily that we do—get in somebody else’s business. It’s time for you to not accept the language that these people are speaking, which will take them nowhere. What the hell good is Brown V. Board of Education if nobody wants it?

What is it with young girls getting after some girl who wants to still remain a virgin. Who are these sick black people and where did they come from and why haven’t they been parented to shut up? To go up to girls and try to get a club where “you are nobody..,” this is a sickness ladies and gentlemen and we are not paying attention to these children. These are children. They don’t know anything. They don’t have anything. They’re homeless people. All they know how to do is beg. And you give it to them, trying to win their friendship. And what are they good for? And then they stand there in an orange suit and you drop to your knees, “(crying sound) He didn’t do anything, he didn’t do anything.” Yes, he did do it. And you need to have an orange suit on too (laughter, clapping).

So, ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank you for the award (big laughter) and giving me an opportunity to speak because, I mean, this is the future, and all of these people who lined up and done..they’ve got to be wondering what the hell happened. Brown V. Board of Education, these people who marched and were hit in the face with rocks and punched in the face to get an education and we got these knuckleheads walking around who don’t want to learn English (clapping) I know that you all know it. I just want to get you as angry that you ought to be. When you walk around the neighborhood and you see this stuff, that stuff’s not funny. These people are not funny anymore. And that ‘s not brother. And that’s not my sister. They’re faking and they’re dragging me way down because the state, the city and all these people have to pick up the tab on them because they don’t want to accept that they have to study to get an education.

We have to begin to build in the neighborhood, have restaurants, have cleaners, have pharmacies, have real estate, have medical buildings instead of trying to rob them all. And so, ladies and gentlemen, please, Dorothy Height, where ever she’s sitting, she didn’t do all that stuff so that she could hear somebody say “I can’t stand algebra, I can’t stand…and “what you is.” It’s horrible.

Basketball players, multimillionaires can’t write a paragraph. Football players, multimillionaires, can’t read. Yes. Multimillionaires. Well, Brown V Board of Education, where are we today? It’s there. They paved the way. What did we do with it. The white man, he’s laughing, got to be laughing. 50 percent drop out, rest of them in prison.

You got to tell me that if there was parenting, help me, if there was parenting, he wouldn’t have picked up the Coca Cola bottle and walked out with it to get shot in the back of the head. He wouldn’t have. Not if he loved his parents. And not if they were parenting! Not if the father would come home. Not if the boy hadn’t dropped the sperm cell inside of the girl and the girl had said, “No, you have to come back here and be the father of this child.” Not ..“I don’t have to.”

Therefore, you have the pile up of these sweet beautiful things born by nature raised by no one. Give them presents. You’re raising pimps. That’s what a pimp is. A pimp will act nasty to you so you have to go out and get them something. And then you bring it back and maybe he or she hugs you. And that’s why pimp is so famous. They’ve got a drink called the “Pimp-something.” You all wonder what that’s about, don’t you? Well, you’re probably going to let Jesus figure it out for you (laughter). Well, I’ve got something to tell you about Jesus. When you go to the church, look at the stained glass things of Jesus. Look at them. Is Jesus smiling? Not in one picture. So, tell your friends. Let’s try to do something. Let’s try to make Jesus smile. Let’s start parenting. Thank you, thank you (clapping, cheers)

All I can say is "Amen"

'Bill Cosby Was Right'

Inspired by the outspoken comedian, journalist Juan Williams offers a bold critique of black America. His message: There's a crisis in the community, and all of us—especially the church—have a role to play in healing the damage.

Interview by Edward Gilbreath, Online Exclusive with Juan Williams

Three years ago, comedian Bill Cosby set off a firestorm of criticism and debate with his speech about black America's failure to fulfill the promise of Brown v. Board of Education. He addressed the sad state of African American literacy and the growing percentage of dropouts. He talked about the epidemic of out-of-wedlock births and the black community's lack of shame over it. He spoke of the senseless criminal behavior that puts too many black men in prison—or the grave: "People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake!" And he denounced the tendency among blacks to blame racism: "It is almost analgesic to talk about what the white man is doing against us, and it keeps a person frozen in their seat."

Inspired by Cosby's controversial remarks, National Public Radio senior correspondent and Fox News commentator Juan Williams wrote a book that adds journalistic weight to the comedian's fiery wake-up call. Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America—and What We Can Do About It, just released in paperback, made Williams the target of the same critics who lambasted Cosby. But it has also kept people engaged in a much-needed conversation. Williams, who is also the author of This Far By Faith: Stories from the African American Religious Experience, spoke with Today's Christian editor Edward Gilbreath about Enough and why America should take Cosby's words to heart.

"Phony leaders." "Dead-end movements." "Culture of failure." I think it's safe to say you brought some strong opinions to this book. When did you know Enough was something you had to write?

I've been a reporter in Washington, D.C., for a long time, and lived through the Marion Barry years where you had a corrupt, drug-addicted mayor who played on his civil rights credentials to make himself a hero to people. He led a city government that lacked accountability and failed to deliver on its promises.

In the '80s I covered Jesse Jackson's two campaigns, where arguably it wasn't about winning the presidency but about raising issues that were of concern to people of color and the poor and forcing the mainstream political parties to pay attention to those who had been left behind by Reaganomics. In the years that followed, I looked back at the phenomenon of Jackson's presidential bid and his ensuing work and the question occurred to me, What has he accomplished? He was supposed to raise issues of justice for the poor and disadvantaged, but ultimately what his campaigns amounted to were an airplane for him to fly around in and jobs for his friends and political cronies. His campaigns seemed to have accomplished very little in terms of changing the condition of the disadvantaged.

Both Jackson and Barry led me to wonder, what had become of the civil rights movement and its struggle to achieve American ideals and Christian values in our nation? I just didn't see it. Instead, I saw a lot self-serving people who were posturing as advocates for the poor, but who really, it seemed to me, were enriching themselves.

So you were thinking about the book even before the famous Bill Cosby speech?

I was, but it hadn't formed in my mind how to do it. Then, in 2004, the NAACP invited Cosby to speak in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. The expectation was that he would give the standard "nice" speech, but instead he goes off and says these really wild things that, in the minds of some, took poor blacks to task for not taking ownership of their problems. I had been looking for a structure for the book, and because of Cosby's celebrity and the symbolism of him giving that speech, on that date, before that audience, the pieces all came together in that moment.

Of course, the deeper effect of Cosby's speech wasn't felt until critics from within the African American community began bashing him over it.

That's right. In the days following the speech, the critics launched an aggressive attack on Cosby, including the idea that he was an entertainer who didn't understand the power of systemic racism, that he was a self-hating black man, and that he was someone who was giving ammunition to the right wing.

As I heard all this, I thought to myself, What did the man say? I went back, read the speech, and decided that, while Cosby does speak in vivid, wild language, there's a lot of truth to what he's saying. There was a reason the people in the audience were applauding, giving amens, and standing ovations. Contrary to the response that came from critics later on, that audience knew this was a conversation people have long been having within the black community, and one that needed to be taken further.

Why do you think Cosby was attacked for saying something many blacks already believed to be true?

As an observer of politics, I've seen the way issues of poverty are dealt with today—everything from Reagan welfare reform of the '80s, to Clinton welfare reform of the '90s, and then coming forward to the present and events like Hurricane Katrina. I've discovered that there is a poverty industry. People keep pouring money in, and there are certain people who stand up and proclaim themselves to be the representatives and advocates of the poor. But they never seem to truly help people get out of poverty. There's a poverty spirit that takes hold.
In the book, I call it a "culture of failure," where people get caught up in dysfunctional behavior. They blame racism and other external forces. They make excuses, and then point fingers at everybody but themselves when things go obviously wrong. That's why the title of the book is Enough. I'm saying, "Come on, give me a break here!" It's time to stop making excuses and, like Cosby suggested, take responsibility.

Seeing how Cosby was treated, you had to know you would be opening yourself to those same types of personal assaults. And they certainly came. Did you ever have any trepidation about going there?

I gave very little thought to that. My main concern was about making a substantive and convincing case for the points that Cosby brought out in his speech. I thought if I avoided Cosby's explosive language and simply laid out the facts, then I could make it possible for people to engage the issues in a constructive discussion. I now know I was fooling myself. The critics will launch their personal attacks regardless of how balanced you try to be.

Al Sharpton called me a black Ann Coulter with pants. Jesse Jackson implied I was a bad journalist. Others accused me of excusing racism and blaming poor people for their problems. But I'm simply trying to hold today's civil rights leaders accountable for what's happening in black America.

Because of your roles with NPR and Fox News, conservatives have pegged you as someone who leans to the left on the political spectrum. But after the release of Enough, many conservatives embraced you.

One of the biggest surprises for me was how conservative talk radio hosts picked up on the message and began to tell their listeners that this is an important book.

I think part of the sexiness of the book for conservatives is that it's coming from this black guy that they used to regard as being "part of the problem," and now you're coming out with a message similar to what they've been trying to say for years, except you can say it more boldly because you're black. I listened to one interview that you did with a white host, and at moments it sounded like he was using you to affirm other views he had about reverse discrimination, black underachievement, and the evils of affirmative action. Since the book's release, have you felt as though some white conservatives were trying to exploit you as a black man who now "sees the light"?

I certainly have to consider that. But I think what's really happening is that these conservative talk show hosts didn't feel they could speak loudly on this issue because they were vulnerable to the rhetoric that, as white men who don't have any idea what it's like to struggle as a black person in this country, they couldn't criticize the African American community without seeming to unfairly demonize and attack black people and poor people. They've had some black voices like Thomas Sowell, John McWhorter, and Shelby Steele who have long been ideologically identified as "black conservatives." But now, here I come and I'm identified in their world as much more liberal. That definitely gets people's attention.

To be honest, I don't think anyone who knows me personally would say, "Oh yeah, Juan is the quintessential liberal." If you've seen me on Fox News, where I'm often surrounded by Bill Kristol, Fred Barnes, and Britt Hume, I am certainly more left wing than they are. But the reason I look left wing is because they are so far right! [Laughs.] It's like if I walk into a room of short people. I'm not really that tall, but in comparison I'll probably appear that way.
Does all the talk about liberal and conservative politics bother you?

I didn't write this book to please conservatives or to please liberals. I wrote the book because I think what's happening in the African American community is an important sociological phenomenon. And if you care anything at all about poor people getting left behind in this very competitive economy, where there is a larger and larger divide between rich and poor, then it's critical that we address these issues in a new way. I welcome white voices, Hispanic voices, Republican voices, Democratic voices, Independent voices. I want everybody in on this conversation. As Americans, I don't think we should allow the conversation about race and poverty to be limited by reporters who only call Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton when these issues are covered.

You write about how black America has a rich tradition of empowerment in grassroots leadership, scholarship, and in the arts. Over time, you would think those rich traditions would have been passed down and multiplied. How did the African American community end up passing down more dysfunction than empowerment?

Well, to say we've passed down more dysfunction than empowerment is a generalization. Today, black America is more educated than in any previous era, and we have the largest black middle class ever.

Then is it just the media that hypes the dysfunction over the progress?

No. In fact, I think there's a very real crisis. When you look at the family breakdown, the dropout rate, and the fact that 25 percent of African Americans still live below the poverty line, it's hard not to acknowledge the magnitude of the situation.

When I was in Philadelphia last year the front page of the newspaper listed a running body count, because they have such a high homicide rate. In every major city in America, stray bullets from drive-by shootings are killing young children. So it isn't just hype.

The civil rights movement was once rooted in the pulpit and in the church. It spoke across racial lines with the idea of "let's all stand together in Christian service to do what is right."

But part of the reason things have changed in black America is that the civil rights movement left behind what it did best. I think what originally empowered the movement was its appeal to conscience and the best of the Judeo-Christian ethic. So you saw preachers like Dr. Martin Luther King and Dr. Ralph Abernathy saying, "If you are a Christian, how can you not see us as children of God, also? How can you not see the Spirit of God within us?"

And that was such a challenge to the white segregationists. It cut through to the heart, and I think that is why so much of the civil rights movement is rooted in the pulpit and in the church. It spoke across racial lines with the idea of "let's all stand together in Christian service to do what is right." That message that called us to reach within ourselves and fulfill God's intent for the world is such inspiring stuff. But all of that shifted in the early '70s when the movement was transformed into primarily a political force. Then it became about certain black leaders getting their "cut of the pie." That was such a different message than "We shall overcome" and "We will stand together because God is on our side."

So how do we end this "culture of failure" that has settled over our communities?

To start, we've got to deal immediately and urgently with the 25 percent of the black population that lives in poverty. Poverty is self-perpetuating, so we must find ways to prevent the cycle from taking hold of generation after generation. There are people who don't have the will to take advantage of opportunity or can't find a way to get a grip on that first rung on the ladder of upward mobility. So how do we change this?

In the book, I talk about a government study that concluded if you graduate high school, don't have a child out of wedlock, don't marry until you are employed, and enter and stay in the work force—no matter how small the job—you have an excellent chance of living above the poverty line. I think that's the message we have to convey to young people. You can make it in this country. At the very basic level, you just need to do things that will put you in a position to win. Graduate from high school, and if possible go to college. Stay in the job market. Don't have children before you're ready to care for them. And understand the value of marriage—both in terms of family life and in terms of building wealth and securing a stable standard of living. We need to tell people these basic steps and start talking about how shameful it is to get involved with crime—reintroduce the stigma. Like Cosby said, "They may be building all these jails, but you don't have to go to them."

You mention the church and religion as being a part of the solution as well. Specifically, how do you see churches and people of faith playing a role?

Let's start with Hurricane Katrina. There are still volunteers from every church, every denomination, going down to that Gulf Coast area to help people. Last year, when I was down there, it looked like it was the official vacation spot for many Christian groups. People are going down there to make a difference. In my church, in Washington, we adopted a family of five and made housing available to them on the church property. We gave them the basic necessities, helped them in terms of contacts and getting jobs and all that. And we're continuing to help them now that they've found their own place. This kind of service has been true of churches and religious institutions all across the nation.

The suicide rate and the level of people being emotionally disturbed and upset often spike as a result of natural disasters like Katrina. It's the church that can speak to those different needs and help people cope.

Churches also have a role to play in connecting people across class lines. For example, people who have moved out to the suburbs and who perhaps only come back into their old neighborhoods on Sunday mornings to go to church … Those church members are potential role models and contacts for people who are trapped in those old neighborhoods and need to get out. The notion of a community of faith that can provide a structure of caring and support is a powerful force for helping people. I know, in my own life, I've found this to be true.