A blast from the past...

For some wonderful reason this great song from my childhood came to my heart this morning. I was actually showering, when these words came to my mouth:

Hear the blessed Saviour
Calling the oppressed
"O ye heavy ladened,
Come to Me and rest.
Come, no longer tarry
I your load will share
Bring Me every burden
Bring me every care."

"Come unto Me
I will give you rest!
Take My yoke upon you,
Hear Me, and be blest!
I am meek and lowly
Come and trust My might!
Come, My yoke is easy,
And My burden light."

I can well remember this wonderful song, written by Charles P Jones, being sung in our country church back in north Alabama, more than thirty years ago.

That was back when we really did believe that we could "take our burdens to the Lord and leave them there."

But now, in 2007, I still hear the Savior say "Come unto Me, I will give you rest...Take My yoke upon you, HEAR ME and be blest!"

When my heart is heavy, and I'm falling beneath the load, I need to remember these precious words, and this precious promise. And even more, I need to trust the ONE who made the promise in the first place.

So do you!

Pray for me today....

I have been invited to a job interview for a high-level position for the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs. I did not go seeking this position--it came seeking me.

I will be interviewing today, and should know the results of the interview in a week or so.

I'm very happy in my current job, and have no reason to leave. However, my current supervisor told me that I should "always explore other options"--and I agree.

I'll let everyone know how it goes...

Dear Senator Obama

First, please allow me the opportunity to say how very proud all of us here in Illinois are to have you serve in the United States Senate on our behalf. At one time I would have vigorously supported your Republican opponent in the 2004 election (Former Ambassador Alan Keyes), but he made that nigh to impossible. I was happy to cast my vote for you.

Second, I was quite dismayed that you voted against both Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court. And unless I'm missing something, you've never told the good people of this state why you cast the "No" vote against these two public servants. Don't you think we deserve some type of explanation?

Third, I have read The Audacity of Hope once, and am now re-reading it. You articulate some very worthy ideas, and have started a "deep conversation" in which all Americans need to participate. Sadly though, I'm not sure that many of my fellow citizens want to think "beyond themselves" and to see what could lie ahead for this great nation. We are a "self-consumed" nation, even if I must say so myself. You give us much to think about in your excellent volume--it's so good that I am having to re-read it, just so I can digest it more fully.

Fourth, even though I think that Oprah Winfrey is a great person, don't take her press releases concerning you too terribly seriously. You, as well as anyone in public life, know that you are "never as good as the reports" and that you are "certainly never as bad as the reports" make you out to be (or become). Oprah's opinion does carry alot of weight with alot of folks--as well as it should--she's earned her right to voice her opinion on the issues. But remember also, Senator, that Oprah is one vote...just like everyone else who is eligible to participate in the process.

Fifth, you've made a commitment to your family. Your beautiful wife, and those two darling little girls (Malia and Sasha) are your FIRST priorities. In the long run, what happens in YOUR HOUSE is far more important than what happens in the WHITE HOUSE. God has favored you and Michelle with two precious gifts--and those gifts are sacred trusts which must be nurtured, guarded and guided with all that you have within you. God knew that He could trust those two girls to the two of you--don't betray His trust of your daughters to you. There are plenty of other people who can run for the Presidency. But only YOU can be the father that God intended for your daughters, and the husband for your wife.

Finally, Senator Obama you are a good man. You are called to be "good" and to be "faithful." Make sure you that you lean on this Christ whom you trusted years ago. Follow Him wherever He leads.

Dear Senator Clinton

First, let me say "Congratulations" on your decision to seek the Presidency of the United States. I hope that you will find much encouragement and many supporters as you pursue the nation's highest elected office. I was so hoping that you would enter the race, because America needs to see just what you are made of--and those "building materials" are much stronger than many will believe, I'm sure.

Second, I have admired you ever since you become our First Lady in January 1993. I didn't vote for your husband in either 1992 or 1996, but I prayed for both of you often, as you sought to serve the people of this great nation. I want to say that my "admiration" should not be translated as my "total agreement" with you, or some of the positions that you held on a number of issues. But, admire you I certainly did. I was in awe of your intellect, your ability to grasp details, and to understand as well as sort through some of the most complex issues in our contemporary society. I still admire you.

Third, this nation owes you a tremendous debt of gratitude for all the hard work you performed in 1993-1994 in bring the "health care" issues to daylight for all Americans. Even though your plan and proposals were defeated, in reality you (and those who worked with you) did this nation a great favor. You spotlighted health care and what it should mean to every citizen of this great land. You are to be profusely thanked for doing such a deed.

Fourth, while you are seeking the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, and should you get it--and be elected to fill the Oval Office in January 2009--please don't forget your own "living history." Please remember all the working people in this nation who have prayed for you, admired you, and listened to you. I've learned a great deal, simply by listening to what you have to say. I've not always agreed--and you probably didn't expect me to always agree. As someone once said "if two agree on everything, then one of them is unnecessary." You have been blest and privileged to hold a great amount of power and influence over significant numbers of inhabitants here in the United States. You have almost had "Rock Star" celebrity status in other nations. Please don't squander that.

Finally, Be honest and ethical in all that you do. Love your husband and your daughter more than you love power, position, or possession. Love your God, and follow His commandments. This life is short, and we only have a limited amount of time to do the very best that we can to honor God and please Him. Be one who forgives, who reconciles, and who builds bridges instead of burning them. We've had enough "burning bridges" already.

The world is watching, Senator Clinton. America is watching. And so is God.

Do it well!

And BABY makes three....

A couple of days ago, my great friend Mark Brucato broke the news to me: He and his gorgeous (and wonderful) wife Ruth are expecting their first child!

I'm gonna be an uncle (again)!

Mark and I have been friends now for six years. We became pals during my first year here in Chicago, when he was a freshman at the Moody Bible Institute. We actually became acquainted at the Senior Recital of our mutual friend Tim Stafford, where I was attending the reception after the concert.

We became "buds" then, and have remained so over the years. We've had our ups and downs like every strong relationship has--but he's been a marvelously committed brother in Jesus, and that always encourages my heart.

Mark is the one of four boys born to Andrew and Linda Brucato, who are currently serving as missionaries in Italy. They have been there now for more than 20 years.

Ruth is the "California girl..." Gorgeous, charming, wonderful, and a marvelous person all around. Her parents have also been missionaries. She is currently a school teacher in the Oak Park area--a western suburb of Chicago.

I'm excited....VERY VERY excited.

Congratulations, Mark and Ruth!

All the way to Miami: GO CHICAGO BEARS!

Yes, the "monsters of the Midway" have proven they can win the NFC Championship, and go to Super Bowl # 41 in Miami!

"DA Bears" put a royal whuppin' on the New Orleans Saints yesterday. And boy, was it a good one!

As someone at church said,

The saints will come marchin' in,
And they will go limping out...

Amen, Amen!

And I'm not even that much of a sports fan, either!

But the Chicago Bears need to just go win it all!

Lovie Smith is a gracious and great man. He is a superb coach, and deserves to win it all!


There was a time...

There was a time, not too long ago, when Christ-followers were readily distinguishable from the "rest of the world." We looked a certain way, had a different disposition, and lived with the expectation of the "blessed hope" that Jesus would soon return.

But now, we pretty much just "blend into the landscape." I honestly wish that I couldn't say that--but it's so true.

Or at least it has been from where I'm sitting these days.

I remember when:

1) We sang about Heaven and Eternity in our local churches. We rejoiced because of the great promise that Jesus made when He said, "I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go, I will come again..." (John 14). Now, I'm not sure exactly what we sing about---but heaven seems to be an afterthought with far too many of us.

2) We lived as though Christ would come today--tomorrow, at the latest. We worked feverishly at our jobs, and lived with the great expectancy that Jesus would split the skies wide open, the angel would give the trumpet blast, and we would leave the ground in a shout! Now, we are still pretty certain that Jesus is coming--but we want to do all the stuff (get married, have a home, a successful career, and 2.5 children), thus we hope that He will wait awhile.

3) We lived as though this world is not our final home. Of course, we were busy about our daily chores, but we kept that "heavenward gaze" firmly fixed in our souls. We were convinced that a world, far better than this one, does indeed exist. We were people who were humbled by our privilege to go to that City Whose Builder and Maker is God (Hebrews 11). Now, it's pretty hard to convince some "believers" that Heaven is infinitely superior to the finest this world could ever offer.

Maybe my Grandmother Hoover (and all those other wonderful saints who have gone on before) was right after all: We have more, much, much more to look forward to than just this "stuff" down here!

Could it be that we need to "get back" to those times?

A book recommendation...

Who Are You to Judge? Learning to Distinguish Between Truths, Half-Truths, and Lies (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2002).

By Erwin W Lutzer, Senior Pastor, The Moody Church, Chicago.

I well remember when Pastor Lutzer preached this incredible series of sermons in the Fall of 2002. In the Introduction, he states that this book is about "discernment, the ability to distinguish the false from the true, or better, the false from the half-true."

Here are the Chapter Titles:

Why Are We Afraid to Judge?

Judge Not, That You Be Not Judged

When You Judge Doctrine

When You Judge False Prophets

When You Judge Miracles

When You Judge Entertainment

When You Judge Appearances

When You Judge Neopaganism

When You Judge Ghosts, Angels, and Shrines

When You Judge Conduct

When You Judge Character

One doesn't always have to agree with everything that any writer states, pastor or not, but Dr Lutzer's messages will definitely open up these subjects for discussion, debate, and the search for scriptural truths.

You can also contact Moody Church Media Ministries (1-800-215-5001) and get this series on CDs. The staff at Media Ministries will be glad to help you with your order.

I want to highly and heartily recommend this great volume.

Another confession...

Someone once said that "honest confession is good for the soul..."

Not sure to whom that should be attributed, but here goes anyway:

1) I am in an emotional/spiritual battle right now. The emotional side of it has been waging on for a while...and I need to get "spiritual victory" in my mind over some very personal things.

2) I am beginning to wonder if the "church" as we know it here in America is really a "congregation of saints" or just a "collection of individuals." I've wondered that for a long time.

3) I am sometimes really bored with all the "christianese" that I hear--particularly when it's an isolated language that Christ-followers use among ourselves....and often doesn't relate to anyone outside of our "clan"--and many times to no one inside the clan either.

Pray for me. I need a spiritual "break through."

When the truth hurts...and sometimes it does...

Pastor Charles Butler read this in our weekly prayer meeting last night:

Then he said, "There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, 'Father, I want right now what's coming to me.'

"So the father divided the property between them. It wasn't long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.

"That brought him to his senses. He said, 'All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I'm going back to my father. I'll say to him, Father, I've sinned against God, I've sinned before you; I don't deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.' He got right up and went home to his father.

"When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: 'Father, I've sinned against God, I've sinned before you; I don't deserve to be called your son ever again.'

"But the father wasn't listening. He was calling to the servants, 'Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We're going to feast! We're going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!' And they began to have a wonderful time.

"All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day's work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, 'Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.'

"The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn't listen. The son said, 'Look how many years I've stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!'

"His father said, 'Son, you don't understand. You're with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he's alive! He was lost, and he's found!'"

This is the story of the "Prodigal son" as Jesus told it in Luke 15. This happens to be from THE MESSAGE which is a translation that I love to read regularly.

Several things did stand out for me though, about this story. These are things that are not normally considered:

1) His father saw him when he was a long-way off. The father didn't go looking for him, and didn't cajole, badger, or harrass him into coming home.

2) His father didn't have any obstructions that would prevent him from seeing the wayward child when he was still "a long way off."

3) The "prodigal who stayed home" just didn't get it. While the "sins" of the one who left prevented the "one who left" from being in fellowship with his father, the "self-righteousness" of the one who stayed home prevented him from enjoying and benefiting from all that was already his.

4) The "one who stayed home" never came to his senses--or at least we are not told that he ever did.

So who was the real prodigal?

When God comes to Church...

Last Sunday Dr Erwin W Lutzer, Senior Pastor of The Moody Church here in Chicago began a wonderful series preaching through 1 Thessalonians, entitled "When God Comes to Church."

We at The Moody Church are excited about 2007! We are praying for the prodigals on Wednesday evening, praying "one hour with Jesus" every week, and watching God do marvelous things in our midst.

I want to ask everyone who visits this site to breathe a prayer to the Lord for His guidance this year. Please intercede for your brothers and sisters in Christ here at The Moody Church.

Check out our website too:


I'll be posting more as time goes on.

Life's Little Instructions...

I was searching the Borders Bookstore for a flip-calendar Saturday night. Of course, since there were 50% off, I decided that I could buy more than one.

So I have one at home, and one at the office. The one here in my office is from Jackson Brown's
Life's Little Instructions series.

I want to share some of them here:

Never enter your boss's office without a notepad and pencil.

Learn to say "no" politely.

Don't forget that contentment is the greatest wealth.

Don't feel you have to express your opinion on every subject. (Ouch!!)

If a friend offers you a breath mint, take it.

Remember, there is no substitute for getting started.

Don't intentionally embarrass anyone...even your enemies.

Refrain from envy. No one has it as good as it seems.

Don't be reluctant to say to a salesperson, "I'm sorry, that's more than I wanted to spend" and then just walk away.

"Super-size" meals only if you want to be super-sized yourself.

Always stop at kids' lemonade stands. You might be the only customer they have all day.

Say nice things about people. You'll never regret it.

Don't buy cheap drapes; it's better to live with bare windows. (Busted, again).

Never complain about a meal you are eating--that someone else is paying for.

Remember that no one is perfect, and that no one needs to be.

My buddy Paul...off to Iraq

I have a wonderful, wonderful friend who serves in the United States Army. His name is Paul. He and I have been "pals" now for several years, and he is very much "family" to me. He feels the same way about our relationship, and I am grateful.

He called last night to tell me that he is being deployed to Iraq--maybe as soon as this weekend. He will be gone for at least a year, possibly longer.

Paul is one of the most gracious and godly people that I know. He has a heart of gold. He is one of those people that I feel signally blest to call "brother" and "friend" and "family."

He and his wife have one teenage son in their home. Their teenager is getting ready to graduate high school this summer--and really does need Paul to be there, which doesn't look likely right now.

I'm asking all my readers and friends to please pray for Paul, as he does his country's bidding.

Pray for:

His safety, peace of mind, and effectiveness
His wife and son, who will be remaining here in the USA
His parents who live here in the Midwest
His siblings who are scattered around the country.

Due to security issues, I can't say much more about my buddy. But I will miss him dearly and think of him daily.

What ever happened.....

to "Christian civility"?

Maybe I'm a bit outdated, but I can remember--and remember well, at that--when Christ-followers treated each as "brothers and sisters" in the Lord--even when we disagreed with one another.

That doesn't seem to happen much anymore.

And it's sad.

I was sitting here at my desk remembering how I was vilified and demonized more than two years ago--by people I've known a long time--because I refused to vote for the re-election of the current President of the United States and his ensuing administration.

I was made out to be some "monster" that would destroy the United States--just because I didn't vote for Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld, et al. I was called just about every name in the book, and some that I had never heard of before. All because I exercised my legal, lawful, Constitutionally-guaranteed privilege of "freedom of speech."

Of course some of the same people who have "monster-ized" me claim to be Spirit-filled believers. I have no doubt in my mind they are indeed.

But what bothers me--and I may wax lengthy, if not eloquent here--is that too many Christ-followers now allow little room for diversity and difference in points of view when it comes to non-essential matters.

We Christ-followers have gotten mighty hasty in labeling people...believing that if we can "label them" that we fully understand them.

Nothing is further from the truth.

We are quick to call people "liberal" or "sectarian" or "less-spiritual" or "out-there"---particularly when we don't agree with them. If there are biblical bases for not agreeing, we can do so, but we are still enjoined to use grace and goodness--

Even in our disagreements.

Go ahead, call me a name. But make sure you are honoring the Christ to whom we all belong when you do it.

Mitchell Tolle Galleries...


Please visit the website of my good friend Mitchell Tolle.

Mitchell is one of the premier artist in the United States today. He is a wonderful, godly man--who loves God, God's people, and God's creation.

I was privileged to have Thanksgiving Dinner at his home in Kentucky back in November. His nephew (Kevin Moses) has been a precious friend of mine now for many years. We were even roommates waaaay back when in Tennessee, when we were both seminary students.

Mitchell's work is marvelous. I can stand and look at it for hours. More amazing than the man's work is the man's character. He is a person of integrity, honesty, and quality. He and his wife Linda are precious examples of what it means to be Christ-followers, in all they do.

Please visit his website, and buy a few things. These pieces of art will bless the recipients for years to come.

I promise.

Praying for the Prodigals...

The Wednesday night prayer meeting at The Moody Church (www.moodychurch.org) is focusing on praying for the "Prodigals" in the families of our congregation.

Last night was the first such prayer meeting--and it was marvelous!

And very, very powerful!

I can't remember when I have been in a prayer service where people were crying out to God, and weeping over their "prodigal" family members.

Our precious pastor, Dr Erwin Lutzer, led this gathering in calling on the name of the Lord, and believing in faith that He would hear and answer our cries to Him.

One of my New Year's resolutions was that I would faithfully attend the Wednesday evening prayer service of my local church. With God's help, I'll be there next week too.

Please pray for us.


369 Days ago....

I gave up my "caffeine" habit.

I forsook the:

Coca Colas
Mountain Dews
Three Musketeer Bars
Caribou Lattes

And I have missed them terribly!

I feel much better, sleep much better, and don't have the awful "I-need-a-fix" headaches first thing in the morning...

I'm actually saving money too---and that's a good thing.

This may not seem like too much for some of the readers, but it was a GARGANTUAN thing for me...

And I'm appropriately satisfied with my progress thus far.

Rest in peace, Mr President.

I never had the wonderful opportunity to meet our 38th President, the late Gerald R Ford, but I certainly would have availed myself if the chance had ever arisen.

I was only 12 years old when Congressman Ford became the Vice President and then the President of the United States.

He was truly a "uniter" and knew that "healing the nation" would be a struggle--but one worthy of his efforts.

He died a few days ago at the age of 93. He and his wife Betty have demonstrated what it means to be human, and gracious, and kind, and compassionate.

The nation mourns at his death. But we are all the better because Gerald R Ford was our leader for 895 days.

God, give us more Gerald Fords.

For One More Day....

My friend Laurie Winton (Office Manager for Ann Downing Ministries--www.anndowning.com) sent me a wonderful book as a gift.

It is Mitch Albom's latest FOR ONE MORE DAY and I must say it is a "page turner..." I can hardly put it down. I started reading it Friday afternoon when it came in the mail, and I couldn't put it down.

I first became acquainted with Mitch's work about seven years ago when he released TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE. Other than the Bible, I cannot remember when I have read a more powerful book than "Tuesdays with Morrie." I would highly, absolutely recommend it to every one...and I do mean everyone!

TUESDAYS is a powerful story of love, devotion, dedication, and service. It's not a very long volume, but it speaks clearly, plainly, and loudly to our contemporary, narcissistic, self-aggrandizing society---and yes, even to some Christ-followers who have embraced those dead-end values.

I'll be sure and pass this one on....

Get it and read it.

Happy New Year...2007

Happy New Year to all my friends who stop by and read "Something to Consider."

I appreciate the fact that you take time out of your schedule to see what ole Phil is posting, and that some of you even comment.

I am excited about this New Year, and sincerely covet your prayers as I seek to serve God, His people, and those with whom I come in regular contact.