Our Military Veterans...

As you may have guessed by now, I'm not exactly a HUGE fan of the current Bush Administration...but I do pray for the President every day...and I do mean every day...The Scriptures command me to do so.

HOWEVER, with all the fumbles this administration has committed, I'm convinced that the "mess" exposed by the Washington Post concerning the abysmal treatment of our military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan was the WORST example of poor management and negligence imaginable.

I'm thankful that Defense Secretary Gates had the fortitude to start "cleaning up" this mess...largely ignored by his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld.

As a military veteran myself, I was horrified to read and see the awful conditions we expected our service personnel--most, if not all severely injured--to endure and live through.

We owe our service men and women the ABSOLUTE BEST medical care that money can buy! No exceptions. This nation has called them to go to other countries and risk their lives--not to mention the more than 3500 military personnel who have given their lives---and then return home to "substandard" treatment.

We should be ashamed!

1.5 million military personnel have served at least one tour in either Iraq or Afghanistan, and one out of six come home with some type of serious medical condition.

We must take care of our own! This is not optional...it's not even a suggestion...it is a MUST!

Credit and Blame...

On some issues I can be justifiably classified as "very open." On other issues I am proudly labeled as "very decided."

Also, as a single man, I don't have the wisdom and perspective that alot of my married friends may have on the "social issues" that continually bombard us in contemporary American society.

The reason I mention all of this is because I'm concerned about how Christ-followers are so quick to "point fingers" and place all the "blame" on everyone for every social ill possible...except where it really belongs. And most of the time, we can't accurately pinpoint where "the blame" belongs, not to mention credit for the good things.

A case in point:

Last Sunday morning, my pastor [Dr Erwin W Lutzer, The Moody Church] was preaching a powerful message on "When Loyals Collide: God and State" from Matthew 22. The main points were what we, as believers, owe to "Caesar" (the government) and what we owe to God. It was a great, great message.

However, I was a bit disturbed when Pastor Lutzer started talking about the "public schools" and how children are "brainwashed" and "deceived" by some of the things taught in the public school system. (I am not defending the public school system, and particularly not the Chicago Public School system). What really bothered me was the fact that many parents are ready to "blame the school system" for not "raising their children."

The school system should not be charged with the responsibility of "raising" anyone's children. Those children were given to parents...as an act of God's love and benevolence. Those children were not ever given to the public (or private) school system to be raised.

Teachers have more than they can do already. No schoolteacher should have to "raise" someone else's children. I'm very thankful that most all my schoolteachers were loving, gracious and caring people who had my best interests at heart. But my education began at home...and my 4th Grade-educated Grandmother Hoover did everything in her power to raise me "right."

After the morning service, I had a brief opportunity to speak with my pastor. I always feel as though it's a privilege when I get a chance to speak with him...he's a very busy man, with lots of people wanting to talk to him. I mentioned to him that parents should be held responsible for raising their children--not the public school system. It does take a village--but the parents are the "chiefs" in their own personal villages. When parents insist that "others" raise their children, then they have no right to complain when they start "reaping the whirlwind."

My parents abandoned me when I was a baby. And I can look back now and thank God that many, many people loved and cared about me. Schoolteacher were (and still are) very, very important in my life. But God never commanded them to raise me.

So, let's give credit where credit is due. But be careful when blaming the school system/teachers, or anyone else when we "pass off" our responsibility to another entity.

Those "other entities" can always be helpful, and most of the time, they are indeed beneficial and helpful. But, let's not blame them for "botching" up something they should have not attempted in the first place:

Raising our children.

Deeply troubled by this...

I moved to this great city of Chicago almost seven years ago. It has been quite an adventure, in every sense of the term. This is the first time I've ever lived in a "big city" for this length of time. The last time was when I lived in Oslo, Norway for two years. Oslo is considerably smaller than Chicago.

This is my quandry:

I am constantly being approached by people wanting "money." I can hardly get on the bus every morning without being approached by at least one person telling me that he/she is hungry and wants something to eat. The evenings aren't always as bad, but sometimes it can be even worse in the afternoons/evenings.

Panhandling is supposedly illegal in the Windy City...but nothing is done about it...but that's another post.

In the seven years that I've lived here, I have:

*offered to buy them food, and have them reject my offer.
*offered to buy them food, and then watch them throw it away as soon as they could once I've given it to them;
*offered to get them to a homeless shelter (usually Pacific Garden Mission), and have them make excuses as to why they can't go there.

I've never given them money--and right now, I have no intentions of doing so.

I'm particularly troubled by the words of Jesus as He instructed His disciples in the Gospels concerning those in need. I don't want to be classified with the "goats" in Matthew 25.

I am truly concerned about those in need. I will buy food for just about anyone--if I have the money to do so. I've been hungry, and it's not a good feeling. But I also don't want my generosity to be abused, and I've seen that it has been on more than one occasion.

I'm in a quandry over this...What say ye?

The Dangers of Spiritual Privilege

If you haven't already found out, I'm been a Christ-follower ever since I was a small child, and have been around "organized religion" all that time as well. I firmly and wholeheartedly believe in the "Church"--God's vehicle to accomplish His purposes here on earth.

I was converted in the Church of Christ, and later filled with the Holy Spirit in the Church of God, eventually joining the Church of God of Prophecy where I was a member for almost 30 years.

I learned some wonderful lessons about the "church" while I was active duty in the United States Air Force. One of the most valuable lessons was that I can ill afford spiritual smugness. By "spiritual smugness" I am describing those situations where other Christ-followers may have differing ideas, viewpoints, and methods than I possess, and subsequently I view them as "less" or "inferior to" my way of thinking. I grew up in an environment where our "brand of religion" viewed itself as superior to all the other Christ followers who were not our "brand." I'm not sure this was ever intentional, but it was reality anyway.

God performed a marvelous deliverance in my life: I became acutely aware that other Christ-followers know and love the very same Saviour that I know and love. How did I find this out? God put me in a place where my "brand of religion" wasn't accessible or available.
I was specifically stationed in places where I would need to "give up my smugness" and learn how wonderful it is to live in community where I had to accept others as Christ accepts them.

I worshipped among the Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, and Nazarenes. I was active in the Navigators' military ministry, and in base chapel programs. I truly discovered that Christ redeemed wonderful, wonderful people all over the world. All different colors, shapes, sizes, and socioeconomic brackets. As my friend Naomi Ghandia would say, "A sheep is a sheep regardless of where they pasture."

Spiritual superiority (aka "smugness") doesn't wear well on Christ-followers. It doesn't look good on them at all. It's only by the grace and mercy of Christ that I have the privilege of following Him.

It's not by the type of music that I sing: hymns, choruses, or scriptures. It's not by the style of preaching that most appeals to me: lectures, passionate dialogues, or severe dramatic presentations. It's not whether I'm "seeker sensitive" or "something-else sensitive."

What truly matters is am I "Christ-sensitive." Am I looking to the Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) to lead me, guide me, and redeem me? Or am I looking, as the Pharisees did, to my own "spiritual tradition" to guide me and connect me to God's people?

Spiritual traditions are important---as long as we honor and worship God the Spirit. He is the Spirit of Truth, and Christ Himself promised that He would indeed lead us.

And He knows where the dangers are. Maybe we should listen.

Matt Bohlman...my buddy...

It was my wonderful privilege to have a dear, dear brother in Christ in my home as a guest last weekend. Actually, Matt Bohlman arrived at O'Hare Airport on Friday morning, and left on Monday evening...so it was about four days...and what a great time it was!

Matt had never been to the Windy City before last weekend, and he fell in love with this great town almost immediately. I knew he would.

Matt is 15 years my junior. We met some ten years ago when he was a student at Lee University, and I was a student at the adjoining Church of God Theological Seminary.
It was a rather unusual--actually it was God--way of meeting. We've both been very eager to tell this story over the years.

It was a Sunday afternoon, and we were both in the Squires Library, which both the seminary and the university share. We were downstairs, using the computer labs, and the power went out all of a sudden. I was sitting at the computer next to Matt--having never seen him before, and knew nothing about him. All of a sudden, I distinctly heard the LORD speak to me and say, "His name is Matt, and tell him he is going to South Africa this summer."

Now, I am absolutely convinced that God gives such words of knowledge/prophecy to His followers today--even though it's not an everyday occurrence. Before this ever happened to me on this day, I knew that God worked in these types of ways, using His children with spiritual gifts as He so desires.

But still, I was a bit nervous. I kept looking over at Matt, and wanting to say something, but being very hesitant. I kept hearing the Lord say to me, "His name is Matt, and tell him he is going to South Africa this summer." After hearing this for the third time, I decided that I would just tell this "complete stranger" what I felt the Lord was telling me.

I leaned over and asked if I could tell him something. He said, "Sure." I asked if his name was Matt or Matthew, and he said "Yes, it is. Who are you?" I gave him my name, and said that I felt the Lord wanted him to know something, and I wasn't sure how to show it. I asked him to discern what I was about to tell him, and that if I was completely off the mark, for him to just ignore me as another "charismatic kook."

That very morning Matthew had been praying and weeping before the Lord, wanting direction as to what he should be doing when the semester was over, and he would be on summer break. He felt that South Africa was in the plan, and was praying towards that goal. But he wasn't sure when, or how this would all happen. He was asking God to give him some clarification. And the Lord was using me, as scared as I was, to confirm His call to Matt's plans for South Africa that summer.

After I told Matthew what I felt the Lord wanted me to say to him, he was almost weeping. I also said, "your plans are not going to come together right away--as a matter of fact, it may be at the last possible moment, but the Lord will make a way, and everything, including your finances will fall in place for this trip."

While Matt was here in Chicago, we had a couple of opportunities to fellowship with some of the people that are very dear and special to me here in the area. Matt shared part of the story that I had never heard until this past weekend:

One day before he needed to buy his ticket to South Africa for this trip, he was weeping and telling his mother how he needed $1000 dollars to finish all the expenses--he was working three jobs at the time, and just couldn't seem to come up with the cash that he needed.

His mother was tutoring a 12-year old Korean boy in her home at the time. This young kid heard Matt's story being told to his mother. That night, this young boy called his father (a surgeon in South Korea) and told his Buddhist father about his friend who needed $1000 dollars for a trip to South Africa to help people in an orphanage for the summer.

The Korean doctor couldn't sleep at all that night--and wired the money to the United States the next day....to his son, to take to Matt Bohlman's mother.

Matt comes home that day, and the young boy (with his aunt) is waiting for him to arrive. He hands Matthew an envelope with TEN 100 dollar bills in it, saying "My father in South Korea wants you to have this. He could not sleep last night, and God told him to send you the money."

I'm almost in tears just relating this wonderful, wonderful story of God's leading and provision in my precious friend's life.

Since that time (some ten years ago) Matt has graduated from Lee, and also from the seminary at Liberty University in Virginia. He has also ministered in Israel, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and in Jordan among the Iraqi refugees. He served in the barrios of New York City for a while as well. For the last year, he has ministered as a fourth grade teacher in a Christian school in Bangkok, Thailand. He went for two months, and stayed for twelve months. He is in the United States for a few months now, and will be returning to Thailand in late July/early August.

He's my hero in many, many ways. He's a faithful friend. He's a wonderful, godly, gracious, praying man. And I continue to thank God that our paths crossed one stormy Sunday afternoon when the computers went down in a college library.

When you pray, please pray for my great friend Matt Bohlman. I will be so thankful, and I'm sure he will also.

Precious in the sight of the Lord

"is the death of His saints." That's what the Psalmist tells us in the Old Testament.

I've been away from the "worldwide web" for the last four days, so I've not been able to "blog" any, even though lots has happened that has caught my attention.

Two events that have taken place since my last post are worthy of my attention today. Both of these are the "home-going" of precious, precious people.

The first person I want to honor is the late Reverend Dr Cecil B Knight, who went to be with the Lord last weekend at his home in Cleveland, Tennessee. Dr Knight was a true Christian gentleman. Having grown up in a Pentecostal denomination, Brother Knight's name was well-known, and well respected.

I first became very personally acquainted with Brother Knight and his wonderful wife Evelyn back in September 1992 when they came to Oslo, Norway to attend the Pentecostal World Conference being held there. It was my grand privilege to give them the "tour of Oslo" and to enjoy their company while they were in Scandanavia. I was stationed in the United States Air Force there at the time. Brother and Sister Knight treated me so wonderfully well on this visit, and he encouraged me to stay in touch with them.

Some four years later I had decided to leave the Air Force and to attend Seminary. I remembered that Dr Cecil Knight was the president of the Church of God Theological Seminary, and so I contacted him. He asked me to come for a visit, and to check out the seminary. I did just that, and made up my mind that I should be a student at the seminary. In late August 1996, I became a first-year Seminary student. Again, Brother and Sister Knight received me so graciously and warmly. Lots of stories abound concerning Brother Knight. But his legacy is that he loved and served the Lord Jesus Christ with all of his heart. He was by no means perfect, but he was a faithful servant of God. He will be tremendously missed by all who knew him. He was that kind of man.

The second person whose death I mourn is someone I never met, but whom I've loved anyway. That is Ruth (McCue) Bell Graham, the late wife of Evangelist Billy Graham. Everyone knows who Billy Graham is--well just about everyone. And anyone who has ever heard Dr Graham speak, or read any of his written works has heard him talk about his precious wife Ruth.

Mrs Graham was a wonderfully wise, gracious, and gentle woman. She and her husband raised 5 children to love and serve God, as well as loving and serving humanity. Anne, Gigi, Ruth, Franklin and Ned had a marvelous mother--one who passionately loved her God, her husband, and her family.

I remember reading a book about Ruth Graham a few years ago, and just doubled over in laughter. Mrs Graham had a tremendous sense of humor, and didn't mind playing practical jokes on anyone and everyone--her husband included!

I vividly remember an interview the Grahams did with David Frost some years ago, and the Mr Frost asked Ruth about her marriage. His question was along the lines of "You've raised these children without the help of your husband, and I know you've been very lonely at times....did you ever consider divorce?" Ruth Graham was very quick, very firm, and very funny in that she said, "No, I never, ever considered divorce, but MURDER did cross my mind many times."

I was in the Billy Graham Museum at Wheaton College yesterday, with a friend who was visiting Chicagoland. I stood near the exhibit where Dr Graham's family was featured, and the wonderful pictures of him and his precious Ruth. Dr Graham said that "Ruth is my most trusted spiritual advisor. She has a tremendously deep relationship with the Lord, and her knowledge of the Scriptures is amazing." I couldn't help but wipe tears from my eyes.

This world has lost two wonderful servants of the Lord. And indeed "precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints."

Even though we mourn now, when God calls it "precious" it is indeed a "precious thing."

Happy Birthday, Ann Downing!

My friend, Ann Downing, celebrated her birthday yesterday. So this is a tad bit "belated"...

Her website is www.anndowning.com

Ann, and her late husband Paul, formed the wonderful singing group The Downings many, many years ago. Of course Ann had been singing a long time before "The Downings" ever came to be, having spent time in musical ministry with The Speer Family, and singing on that cotton farm in Mississippi where she grew up.

I have wonderful memories of "The Downings" when I was growing up. I remember my first "Downings" concert at the National Guard Armory in Huntsville, AL in the very early 1970s. What a wonderful, wonderful night of music that was. It was so great that I still remember most of the songs the Downings sung that night.

Some of my favorite Downing songs were:

Gettin' Ready Today
I Feel So Good About It
God's Wonderful People

And I still love those songs today. I find myself singing "Gettin' Ready Today" quite often...and it always encourages my heart.

Paul went to heaven some 15 years ago, and Ann, with God's grace and help, has carried on in ministry to people across the globe. She and Paul had a dream of a Middle Tennessee Women's Retreat, and this year's retreat was just the greatest from all the reports I've read.

Please visit her website, and let her know that Phil in Chicago sent you.

Happy Birthday ANN!

Enforce the Current Immigration Laws...

As usual, the Senate of the United States has done basically nothing about comprehensive immigration reform. Not that I expected them to, though.

I have tremendous respect for Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina...However, on this issue, he was just terribly wrong. The so-called "agreement" hammered out with the White House was horribly flawed from the beginning.

We need to simply enforce the current laws of the nation concerning immigration.

Sadly, we may have waited too long. To those who want to come into this country (like the two people sitting in my office yesterday who have "overstayed their visas") and stay here, illegally, our laws mean nothing--and we are the ones to blame! We must insist on our duly enacted laws being enforced! No debate, no questions, no exceptions.

For all 12 million-plus, I would be in complete favor of buying one-way airline tickets back to their native lands. I would inform those governments that the United States will not accept these people inside our borders unless and until they can come here legally.

This is a costly proposition, but I am worried that "doing nothing"--which we have been experts at for the last 20 years--will be far costlier in the long run.

An "oldie" but "goodie"

The ministry of Bill and Gloria Gaither has blest my heart for many, many years. As long as I can remember, these two "giants" (in my eyes, at least) have enriched the Christian community with their prolific and powerful songwriting. Here is one of those grand treasures from years gone by:


I thought I had to see and feel
To prove that what I loved was really real
As passion turned to ashes, things I held to dust
I found reality in simple trust

My faith still holds on to the Christ of Calvary
Oh blessed Rock of Ages cleft for me
I gladly place my trust in things I can not see
My faith still holds on to the Christ of Calvary

I tried to find life's mysteries
Just by the reason of my mind to see
But void remain between me and where I longed to be
Till childlike faith there built a bridge for me

And oh what joy to walk His way
I followed nailed-pierced footprints all the way
Though the end of where I'm bound I may not see
I choose to place my trust in Calvary

Thank you Bill and Gloria for ministering to my heart for so many years!

An Open letter to Paris Hilton

Knowing that she will NEVER read this post, I still want to speak my mind here. (And in the off-chance that she does read this post, then "good for her.")

Dear Paris,

Forgive me for not calling you "Miss Hilton", but I have almost 20 years on you, and probably have clothes in my closet that are older than you. Not being snotty, snooty, or mean...just stating the obvious.

First, you have been "over-exposed"..and that for a very long time. I do not begrudge your money, your heritage, nor the "wealth" that you have at your disposal, regardless of it's form(s). I'm glad that you haven't had to "struggle" like we "commoners" or "little people" as your "Aunt Leona Helmsley" once called the "working class." But now you are old enough to make "wiser" decisions than you have recently.

Second, did anyone ever tell you that if you are driving while intoxicated (and I really don't care how many beers, cosmpolitans, martinis, sangrias, or anything else alcoholic you may have had) that you are committing "attempted murder"? You should have been charged as such. The license to drive an automobile in this country is a PRIVILEGE--not a right. In my humble opinion, you have forfeited that privilege for a very, very long time. You intentionally put yourself in a place where you could have taken a life. And sadly enough, once those lives are snuffed out...they are NEVER returned.

Third, we are all learning from your "mistakes." You obviously aren't learning anything from them, but those of us "little people" who must see your face in the headlines are learning more every day. And the lessons are not pretty. And after awhile, neither are you. "Pretty is as pretty does..." And right now, you are not pretty.

Finally, your parents have failed you. The authority-figures in this country have failed you. And it's time that we face up to the consequences of our failures. The fact that we must "face our consequences" by no means let's you off the hook from facing yours. And face them you should...the sooner the better. Hopefully the time that you will spend incarcerated lets you see that "life really does have consequences"--and yours definitely does.

I can't help but wonder if there had been "consequences" earlier on in life for you, if things would have been drastically different now.

Advice to a brother...

A good friend of mine decided to enter the United States Army active duty more than a year ago. As a matter of fact, he wanted me to write one of the letters of reference for him to the Officer Candidate School board. I gladly recommended him.

Right before he left for the "Army" I sent him this email. I found it a while ago, and felt like sharing it here:

The next six months will be some of the most challenging of your life--not to mention your spiritual experience. You will meet some wonderful people, and some not-so-wonderful people. God will use both groups to help you see as He sees, even though your vision will be limited.

But also remember that God does indeed look on the heart--and sees much more than we humans see when we scrutinize the "outward person."

Athleticism, physical fitness, physical prowess, sharp intellect, keen senses of humor--we humans tend to evaluate others by these artificial standards. Yet God evaluates people--made in His image--by their hearts. He evaluates them by their willingness to live holy and humbly before Him. God never turns the brokenhearted and contrite person away. Instead, He draws them close to Himself, and heals their wounds.

After we hung up last night the story of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son from Luke 15 weighed heavily on my heart. Particularly so in the latter parable, because there was more than one prodigal son. The "elder brother" who never left the farm was just as prodigal (if not more so) than the younger who spent his inheritance (which he had no right to ask for at the time) on "riotous living."

The "elder son" never realized that everything in his father's possession was there for the asking. When the younger son returned, the father threw a party---but the older son could only point the accusatory finger and say "that son of yours...." It sorta makes me wonder if the older son wasn't glad, after all, that the younger one had left--and worse yet, hoped he would stay gone and never return.

You will meet alot of "younger sons" in your journey through military life--and life in general. They will be consumed with "riotous living"--sex, relationships, climbing to the top, fame, being the "best of the best.." (and let me say there is nothing wrong with being the best or striving for excellence, as long as it honors God) regardless of whom they have to avoid or step on....

Yet those "younger sons" will always come up empty....

But you will meet alot of "older brothers" too. This is the "I-told-you-so" crowd. This is also the "I've- never- been -the -slight- bit -disobedient- yet- you- never -do- anything- special- for- me" bunch. Their evil twin is the "Well, why don't you honor me" folks....

And we've all been there....many, many times. I know I have...and if you live long enough you may get the opportunity to become one of those kinds too....

Don't do it.....ever!

One of the kindest men I've ever known is a retired Four-Star Army General who once told a group of us, "I've gotten everything I've ever wanted out of life because I have always made sure that others get everything they have wanted out of life."

Jesus was less wordy when He said, "Greater Love has no man than this: That he lay down his life for his friends."

With that, I'll close. Serve the Lord fervently, serve this country passionately, and I know you will.

I'm here for you...always.

Rules of the North

In all fairness, I wanted to collect these rule for the North....some of them are my own creation, and some of them were contributed by those who shall remain nameless.

1. Yes, we are developing stereotypes about you...

2. Biscuits are not a separate food group.

3. We do not have to eat GRAVY with everything...

4. It's not cold, you are just not insulated for our weather.

5. Grits? If I want to eat hominy, I'll chew it myself, thank you.

6. You lost the war, we won it. Get over it!

7. We can't understand a word you are saying...we don't think you are speaking in tongues, and besides you are scaring the children.

8. When you are told, "Don't travel because of the snow" you might want to listen...next time.

9. Yes, Starbucks are welcomed here..don't mess with it. Or we will MESS with you!

10. The word "marathon" does not mean an extra long church service.

11. Look, I asked where McDonald's is located, that doesn't mean I want your entire family history, while you are trying to remember where Mickey D's might be.

12. If you want to see your next birthday...or anyone else's, you will stop at the sign.

13. Vote early and vote often: Not a suggestion...A Commandment!

14. Alligator isn't a big snack commodity up here. Quit asking for it.

15. We spell "taters" with a "P"...as in Potato.

16. "Bagel" is not a long word...it's also not pronounced as two words.

17. Get to the point...I asked a simply question, and all I want is an answer...not a novel.

18. There are lots of things to see here...."The mall" wasn't what I had in mind.

19. You are in a traffic jam with 23, 432 other people on this mile. Stop crying, your mascara is running.

20. It is a shopping cart...not a "buggy."

What say ye?

Dangerously close...

I was fascinated with CNN's "The Situation Room" broadcast last night, featuring Senators Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and former North Carolina Senator John Edwards. The theme of the evening was "Faith and Politics." Soledad O'Brien moderated the discussion, which was more in the format of three 15-minute interviews, with each of the three special guests appearing one at a time on the platform.

It was a tremendously informative program--or at least I thought so.

What fascinated me was the way that each of the politicians handled questions about their own faith journey, and how "faith" informs public policy, and how "faith" would inform their public policies if they are elected to the Presidency of the United States.

I was particularly interested in Senator Clinton's response to the questions forwarded to her. She spoke of how she learned to pray as a child, and that prayer has always been an important part of her life. She assured the audience that she would have never survived all the "stuff" in her husband's administration--including his moral indiscretions--if it had not been for her relationship with God through prayer.

I am not one to judge Senator Clinton nor the other two guests on last night's program. Former Senator Edwards confessed how he grew up in the Southern Baptist Convention, strayed away from the Lord, and found his way back to Christ when his first son was killed several years ago. Senator Obama's "testimony" was less riveting, because he didn't talk about his "conversion."

Yet, as one who believes the Scriptures, and believes that Christ is the ONLY way to God the Father, and the Christ is the ONLY Saviour, I want to hear what these (and the other) political candidates have to say about "their faith."

I know many, many godly people who vote for the Democratic candidate--every election! I have ZERO reason to "question" or "doubt" their relationship with the Lord God. One of these leaders once lead a major conservative Pentecostal denomination. I've known the man personally for almost thirty years. He votes for the Democratic candidate...and I have no problem with it.

I'm grateful that CNN had the foresight to have this discussion on the air in the first place. I'm grateful that Senators Clinton, Obama, and Edwards were willing to share part of their lives and views that we might have not heard otherwise.

And regardless of whom is elected, we will need the Lord to help us in these great United States.

Wounded people...God can bring healing to them.

I was invited to a cook-out last evening, hosted by one of my long-time friends from The Moody Church, where I am a regular parishioner...it was a fun evening.

And while I was there, I began thinking about "wounded people" who sit in local sanctuaries every week. And there are hundred of thousands, if not millions of them.

I know this is true. I've been one of them before. It's not a pretty sight.

Now, thank the Lord, I can honestly say that I am on the way to "healing" and health. It's certainly a process, and one that is never pain-free.

Almost two years ago I was wounded, and wasn't sure that I would ever "trust" again...even though I desperately wanted to...

The Moody Church has been a wonderful place of healing and wholeness for me. I have found people who are in love with God, with His Word, and with His people.

Of course The Moody Church isn't the only place people of this quality are found...but these folk are really, really special to me.

This congregation has always been a great "informational" and "evangelistic" place, and rightly so. But as we all know, the Gospel not only calls us to evangelism and information, but also to relationships. The whole of the New Testament emphasizes our relationships.

The most important relationship we will ever have is our connection to God the Father through His only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ by the power of His Holy Spirit. This relationship is the ONLY sound, solid foundation for all other relationships on earth, and particularly in the family of God.

But then, our relationships to other Christians--blood-bought, blood-washed, believers--is definitely important. The Scriptures tell us how important these relationships are now, and for eternity. We belong to one another. We need each other, and the world can see that we are HIS disciples by how we relate to one another (John 13:32-34).

Sadly enough, I've been places where the only value I had was when I was "doing something" for "the cause"--whatever the cause happened to be at the time. I even had one leader tell me that I was of "no value to this congregation" unless...and then he ticked off a list of things.

I'm thankful that God views us as valuable to Him.

I'm thankful that The Moody Church views me as a valuable part of the family. I love them dearly.

There's always next year...CUBS' fans!

I'm a rather new convert to being a Chicago Cubs baseball fan...well, about 6.5 years ago at least...

I never was an Atlanta Braves fan, or a Baltimore Orioles fan (Don Bowdle, I know you are shocked to read those words..LOL). But, since I lived about 1 mile from Wrigley Field for almost four years, I did finally "see the light."

And it's always an on-coming train--or so it seems.

Like my friend Joe Misek says (www.joemisek.blogspot.com) "300 Million dollars can't buy what it used to buy..."

The Tribune Company (owners of the Chicago Cubs) spent a boat-load of cash this year to buy some decent "players" for their 100-year losing team...with some years, better than others.

And all these men, hmmmm...males...can do is fight. Friday is a prime example.

Two of the players were resigned to the fact they couldn't beat the Atlanta Brave (my Grandmother Fields FAVORITE baseball team, incidentally), so they decided to start pounding each other.

In the dugout...and later in the lockeroom....

What were these "boys" thinking? Did their testosterone levels hit an all-time high, or something?

And then the manager...Mr Lou himself--became the "Drama queen" of Wrigleyville on Saturday...what was HE thinking?

Now, when does this season end?