May the Blessings of 2009

Be yours in abundance! It's hard to believe that we are at the very end of 2008--seems like just yesterday we were all fearing "Y2K" and everything on the planet coming to a "stand still."

Of course, that didn't happen...and we are all very grateful--at least I am.

Tomorrow we embark upon a New Year....with the challenges, tasks, appointments, and blessings this New Year will bring.

I promise to "blog" more in 2009.

Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas from my Alma Mater

Lee University is one of the finest Christian universities anywhere in the world.!

And their music is the best! Take a listen..

And have a Happy Holiday season!

Here's some humor...

A sixteen year-old boy came home with a new Chevrolet Avalanche and his parents began to yell and scream, 'Where did you get that truck???!!!'

He calmly told them, 'I bought it today.'

'With what money?' demanded his parents. They knew what a Chevrolet Avalanche cost.

'Well,' said the boy, 'this one cost me just fifteen dollars.'

So the parents began to yell even louder. 'Who would sell a truck like that for fifteen dollars?' they said. 'It was the lady up the street,' said the boy. I don't know her name - they just moved in. She saw me ride past on my bike and asked me if I wanted to buy a Chevrolet Avalanche for fifteen dollars.'

'Oh my Goodness!,' moaned the mother, 'she must be a child abuser. Who knows what she will do next? John, you go right up there and see what's going on.'

So the boy's father walked up the street to the house where the lady lived and found her out in the yard calmly planting petunias! He introduced himself as the father of the boy to whom she had sold a new Chevrolet Avalanche for fifteen dollars and demanded to know why she did it. '

"Well,' she said, 'this morning I got a phone call from my husband.. (I thought he was on a business trip, but learned from a friend he had ran off to Hawaii with his mistress and really doesn't intend to come back). He claimed he was stranded and needed cash, and asked me to sell his new Chevrolet Avalanche for whatever she could get for it and send him the money."

"So I did."

Happy 26th Anniversary to Chris and Andrea Fabry

Even though I've never met them, I feel as though Chris and Andrea Fabry are long-term friends of mine. They will be celebrating 52 years of marriage tomorrow---26 years for Andrea and 26 years for Chris!

Nine children later, this couple is still actively serving Christ, and loving people in His name.

I first became acquainted with them through the ministry of Moody Broadcasting Network, when I was a student at Lee College (now University) in Cleveland, Tn. We received the Moody programs over WMBW-FM in nearby Chattanooga. WMBW is still my very favorite Christian radio station....

Now, I try to listen to "Chris Fabry LIVE!" every day at 2 p.m. Central Time. I also listen to them, along with Dr Gary Chapman, every Saturday evening on "Building Relationships" on the Moody Broadcasting Network.

I feel like I know these two...and nope, we have never met.

Maybe, someday we will.

Anyway, Happy Anniversary to the Fabrys.

It's snowing here...

And we are supposed to get between 6 and 8 inches of snowfall today, before it "slacks off."

It's been more than a week since I've "blogged"...but I've had so much going on here in my life.

Last weekend is now a "blur" for me, simply because of the FURY of activities in which I involved myself:

An "Evening in Bologna" Christmas celebration in Wheaton for my friends, The Brucatos
Supervising/Coordinating the Men volunteers for the Women's Ministries Christmas Luncheon at the Moody Church;

Preparing a homemade meal for 35 volunteers at the Church for Sunday afternoon;

Participating in the International Friends luncheon
Assisting some friends in preparing for their Reception of 100+ people at the church;

Making sure the caterer delivered the ordered food for the 200 people involved in the Christmas Festival this past Sunday evening.

I'm tired...but God helped me through it all.

"Righting the Wrong" for General Eric Shinseki

As President-Elect, Barack Obama has made another stellar choice for his Administration, and for the American people.

In a rare Sunday press conference, Obama named retired Army Chief of Staff, General Eric Shinseki to be the new Secretary of Veterans' Affairs. This is a brilliant move on the new President-Elect's part. No one knows the anguish and heartache better associated with the current military forces than retired General Shinseki.

Shinseki rose to famous when he was basically dismissed by the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld regime back in late 2002/early 2003 for telling the truth to the Senate of the United States concerning the numbers of troops that would be needed to stabilize a soon-to-be wartorn Iraq. He very accurately stated that 'several hundred thousand' troops would be needed...

In less than a blink of an eye, the Rumsfeld machine made sure that General Shinseki--the Army Chief of Staff, was forced to retire. He told the absolute truth to the Congress and the American people--and the watching world--and was summarily punished for doing so.

History and unforgiveable tragedy has proven that Shinseki was "spot-on" with his information. The failed Rumsfeld machine could not have been further from the truth, or more dangerous. Now, more than four thousand American lives later (and countless Iraqi lives), we regret, rightfully so, not listening to this brave military man.\

General Shinseki brings great credentials to the table:

First Asian - American Four Star General in the United States Military
Viet Nam Veteran, Injured, losing part of one foot.
Former Chief of Staff, United States Army
Truth Teller.

As a military veteran (with considerably LESS credentials than Eric Shinseki), I am delighted beyond words that Obama has selected this truly great American for this position.

While the Bush Administration was very quick to release a statement saying that the "President's support for veterans has been unprecedented"---I can agree to a point: NO ONE has dismissed and ignored veterans' concerns in modern day more than the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld regime.

No administration, that I can remember anyway, has sent our brave military personnel to war without the proper equipment, and without adequate supplies of the same proper equipment. No one has ever UNDERESTIMATED the cost of war like the outgoing administration has done.

So yes, the Bush administration is right in one point--and one point only--their "ignorance" of the military needs and concerns has been unprecedented.

Hopefully, the incoming Administration will do it's best to "right the wrongs."

This appointment is a very good start.

We have much to be thankful for in these United States

As much as we gripe and whine and moan and complain about all the "stuff" going on around us, we Americans have much for which we can be thankful.

I want to list a few things:

1) Freedom of religion. Any person abiding within the boundaries of the United States has the privilege/right/responsibility to worship as their conscience dictates...or not worship at all.

2) Freedom of speech. This one tends to get people in a lot of hot water....but we are free to speak our minds (and sometimes such "speech" shows how empty our minds may be).

3) Freedom of Assembly. Yep, even the illegal/undocumented folk can congregate in these United States. They can even hold up amateur signs telling how "unfair" and "inhumane" we Americans are to those who were not born here....whether it's true or not....and normally it isn't true at all.

Thank You, President Bush...

Mr President,

It is no secret that I didn't vote for you in either 2000 or 2004. My conscience would not allow me to cast that ONE ballot for you in either election. However, on the first occasion the voice of the Supreme Court declared you should assume the Oval Office, and the second occasion, the majestic voice of democracy declared that you should remain in that office for another four years. Now, you are preparing to return to "private life." I wish you the best.

You come from a fine heritage. Your father, George Herbert Walker Bush, is one of the finest men to ever live in Washington DC. I was privileged to serve in the United States Air Force while your father was the Commander in Chief. I voted for him in 1988, and again in 1992. We all know the results thereof.

Your mother, Barbara Pierce Bush, has been my hero for as long as I can remember. She reminds me of one Clara Elizabeth Hoover (my paternal grandmother) who raised me. As a matter of fact, she is the "spittin' image" of my grandmother! Her quiet strength, great sense of humor, and devotion to family are a tremendous example to this nation in so many ways.

Your wife, Laura, is the epitome of grace and character. It has been wonderful to have a schoolteacher/librarian at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the last 8 years. She has been the voice of "reason" and "common sense" to a lot of us Americans, when we've most needed her to be just that. She is not only a beautiful woman, but also a great woman.

And while I have disagreed with you on so many issues--tax policy, and your Iraq non-strategy--you have represented your heritage in a good man. You have the reputation of being a fine husband, a loyal and faithful son, and a great father. In the long run , that is all that really matters.

In our Sunday School class, we've been studying the life of King David, verse-by-verse, from 1 and 2 Samuel. We have seen all that has occurred in David's life: from the field where he was tending his father's sheep to the throne of the nation of Israel. David was a great warrior, but a miserable father.

You, Mr President, have been a great father--from all the accounts we have on record. And in the long run, even though I have disagreed with most of your policies, I fully applaud you for the way you have loved your wife, your parents, and your extended family.

That means more than anything else, in my opinon.

President-Elect Obama, I am very impressed already!

Months ago, I said that whomever won the Presidential race should keep Secretary Robert Gates as the Pentagon chief. This very morning President-Elect Barack Obama has announced that Secretary Gates will be asked to stay at the Pentagon.

A simply brilliant move! Brilliant beyond brilliant, in my opinion.

After the six-year disaster of Donald Rumsfeld, I would have been happy with just about anyone. I have been absolutely thrilled with Bob Gates--who has had a royal mess to clean up once he was confirmed.

Senator Hillary Clinton's nomination as the next Secretary of State will guarantee that a well-known face is on the world stage, and that world leaders will have a "tough woman" and a courageous woman representing these United States. While I have disagreed with many of her policies, I have always been impressed with Mrs Clinton's intelligence and abilities.

Another brilliant choice in a key position.

Retired General James Jones, a former Commander in Chief of the NATO Supreme Allied Command is being named as the White House National Security Advisor. His family has served this nation in the military uniform since the late 1930s. He has a long heritage of serving this nation. He is a retired Marine, and will be a terrific national security advisor.

So, yes, I am very impressed with the national security choices of our incoming President.

A Prayer for the "Stressed Out" Christian

I am adapting this from an article I found in the weekly newsletter of Holy Name Cathedral here in Chicago:
Heavenly Father,

Help me remember that the jerk who cut me off in traffic last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry, and spend a few precious moments with her children.

Help me to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who can't make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans for the next school year.

Remind me, Lord, tha the scary looking bum, begging for money in the same spot every day (who really out to get a job) is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares.

Help me to remember, Father, that the old couple walking annoyingly slow through the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week, this will be the last year that they can go shopping together.

Heavenly Father, remind me each day that, of all the gifts You give us, the greatest gift is love. It is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. Open my heart, dear Lord, not to just those who are close to me, but to all humanity. Let me be slow to judge, and quick to forgive, show patience, and empathy, and love.


Rescuing the Big 3...

It seems like every "large industry" in the United States now feels entitled to be "rescued" (aka bailed out, resuscitated, etc) by the Congress of the United States of America. Where does the "Congress of the United States of America" get all that money for the various and assorted "rescues" that have taken place recently?

From me. From you. From every taxpayer in this nation....we are the ones "rescuing" all of these "industries" that are you "too big to fail."

But why should we rescue Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors? When the average Chief Executive Officer at the "big 3" make in excess of 20 MILLION dollars each year, why should I rescue their "company"?

I'm very puzzled about this one...truly I am.

It's that time of the year again...

So what plans do you all have for the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's holidays?

I plan to be "serving" and "hosting" people in my home this year. Our local church is part of an "International Students and Scholars" ministry---people who are living, studying, teaching here in the United States, from other countries. I am inviting several of these wonderful people to my home for each of the holidays.

I want them to feel 'at home' and part of all the activities here in the United States while they are here.

I remember, very well, what it was like to live in other countries during those holiday seasons, and not knowing what to do, or where I would go.

So what are you doing for this holiday season?

Thank you, Attorney General Cuomo!

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo says Citigroup executives should forgo their bonuses this year after the company announced massive layoffs.
Calling the layoffs of 53,000 people "disturbing," Cuomo says top executives shouldn't get bonuses while investors, taxpayers and employees suffer.

Cuomo adds that other companies should consider doing the same, including American International Group, which has received billions of federal bailout dollars.

In October, Cuomo's office asked nine banks to turn over information on bonuses. He wants to ensure none of the $125 billion the banks received from the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program will be used on executive pay.

Goldman Sachs Group announced Sunday its top executives won't get bonuses this year.
From me:

The bonuses that these "executives" have received over the last many years are vile, and horrendous. While many, many employees are laid-off (many with families to clothe and feed), these "high-powered people" often leave with Hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses, stock options, etc.

It has never sat well with me. We are indeed the laughingstock of the world when we treat our work force with such disdain and disregard. Look at the airline industry. United Airlines went bankrupt, and their top CEO left the company with a huge bonus.

For what??????

The tired, old excuse of "we have to attract and retain good talent in those spots" is nothing more than old and tired. It's also untrue.

Thank you, Attorney General Cuomo for serving the people of the Great State of New York with such integrity and care. You do this nation proud.

The Colonoscopy: A First-hand account...

Someone wrote this wonderful "account" about a colonoscopy. This was SO funny, I just had to share it here:


I left the docs office with some written instructions, and a prescription for a product called 'MoviPrep,' which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven. (I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of America 's enemies).

I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous. Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began my preparation. In accordance with my instructions, I didn't eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less flavor. Then, in the evening, I took the MoviPrep.

You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is about 32 gallons.) Then you have to drink the whole jug.. This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes - and here I am being kind - like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon.

The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it, 'a loose, watery bowel movement may result.' This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground.

MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don't want to be too graphic, here, but: Have you ever seen a space-shuttle launch? This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle. There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You eliminate everything. And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.

After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep. The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic. I was very nervous. Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of MoviPrep spurtage. I was thinking, 'What if I spurt on the Doc?' How do you apologize to someone for something like that? Flowers would not be enough.

At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and totally agreed with whatever the heck the forms said. Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts, the kind that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked.

Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand. Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was already lying down. Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep. (At first I was ticked off that I hadn't thought of this, but then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode. You would have no choice but to burn your house).

When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where the Doc was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist. I did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but I knew they had it hidden around there somewhere.. I was seriously nervous at this point.

They had me roll over on my left side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand. There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was 'Dancing Queen' by ABBA. I remarked that, of all the songs that could be playing during this particular procedure, 'Dancing Queen' had to be the least appropriate.

'You want me to turn it up?' said the Doc, from somewhere behind me.. 'Ha ha,' I said. And then it was time, the moment I had been dreading for more than a decade. If you are squeamish, prepare yourself, because I am going to tell you, in explicit detail, exactly what it was like.

I have no idea.
I slept through it.

One moment, ABBA was yelling 'Dancing Queen, feel the beat of the tambourine,' and the next moment, I was back in the other room, waking up in a very mellow mood. The Doc was looking down at me and asking me how I felt. I felt excellent. I felt even more excellent when he told me that It was all over, and that my colon had passed with flying colors. I have never been prouder of an internal organ.

Man Rules...I repeat myself...

These are so good...and so funny, that I had to "re-post" them. My great friend, Pastor Travis Johnson (Florida) sent these to me a couple of years ago....I repost them here:

1. Men ARE not mind readers.

1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

1. Sunday sports. It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be..

1. Shopping is NOT a sport. And no, we are never going to think of it that way.

1. Crying is blackmail.

1. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!

1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1. A headache that lasts for 17 months is a problem. See a doctor.

1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 days.

1. If you won't dress like the Victoria's Secret girls, don't expect us to act like soap opera guys.

1. If you think you're fat, you probably are.. Don't ask us.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.

1. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done, not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.

1. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials..

1. Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions and neither do we.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

1. If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," we will act like nothings wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.

1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect an answer you don't want to hear.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear Is fine...Really.

1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as baseball, the shotgun formation, or golf.

1. You have enough clothes.

1. You have too many shoes.

1. I am in shape. Round IS a shape!

1. Thank you for reading this. Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight; But did you know men really don't mind that? It's like camping.

So, what say ye?

Congratulation, President-Elect Obama!

Mr President-Elect,

While I did not vote for you to move into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, I have always admired you. I did vote for you to become our United States Senator in 2004.

You have genuinely won the affection of many, many Americans, and I congratulate you for that marvelous accomplishment. You have instilled hope and good will in people who have often seemed hopeless and forsaken. Again, I commend you for these actions.

However, I am concerned. As you so wonderfully stated last night, some of these mountains will not be easily conquered. I fear that far too many people have looked to you as their "Messiah" without realizing that you, too, are only human, even though this is something that you have readily admitted on more than one occasion.

You are only one year older than myself. Please know that I admire you, and will be praying for you every day. Please surround yourself with people who have the nation's best interest at heart. Please keep your family your very first priority--making them a wonderful example to so many who live in dysfuntion when they really have other choices.

Please find yourself a great church where you can worship God, and get to know Him better. Other presidents have regularly attended church while occuppying the White House. I'm encouraging you to do so, as well.

You've made alot of promises to a lot of people. Now you will be expected to start keeping those promises....Be a man of your word.

The world is watching you. You now represent not a "white America" or a "Black America"--but the United States of America.

God bless you.

Madelyn Dunham--Senator Obama's Grandmother has died...

What a sad time this must be for Senator Barack Obama.

At 86 years old, Madelyn Dunham went into eternity today. She died of cancer this morning. She was largely responsible for raising this great man into the person he has largely become.

While I will not be casting my one vote for Senator Obama to be our next President, I can't help but sympathize and feel his grief in this time of loss.

My Grandmother Hoover left this world almost 17 years ago. I miss her more every day. I often feel her absence very keenly.

Regardless of how one feels about Senator Obama's politics, let's make sure that we pray for him, and his family in this incredible time of loss.

The "liberal media"...not buying it...

I have heard so many so-called "conservatives" blame the "liberal media" for the point of nausea, on my part.

I'm just not buying it. I never have...and I probably never will.

Now, I'm not the gullible one who believes everything that is reported on the television, radio, internet, or otherwise.

But I refuse to blame the "liberal media" for everything in our society.

Most of these men and women (with some glaring exceptions) are honorable people who simply want to "report the news."

I know, I know...EVERYONE has a bias. Even the "conservative" hounds who insist that everything (that doesn't go their way) is the fault of the "liberal media."

Come on, folks: GROW UP!

Do some of your own research. Try to see more than just "one side" of whatever issue happens to be the "hot one" at the time.

I'm just not buying the whole "blame the liberal media" diatribe...

Of this much, I am certain...

I know that my Redeemer lives,
O the sweet joy this sentence gives.
He lives, He lives, who once was dead.
He lives, my Everlasting Head.

He lives triumphant from the grave.
He lives eternally to save.
He lives exalted, throned above
He lives to rule His church in love.

He lives to bless me with His love,
And still He pleads for me above.
He lives my hungry soul to feed.
He lives to help in time of need.

He lives, my kind, wise, constant friend.
Who still will keep me to the end.
He lives, and while He lives I'll sing
Jesus, my Prophet, Priest, and King!

He lives, all glory to His Name;
He lives, my Saviour, still the same.
What joy the blest assurance gives!
I know that my Redeemer lives!
Text by Samuel Medley, tune "Duke Street".

Of this much we can be certain, our Redeemer lives! When all around us is uncertain, unsure, and unsteady, we can know that our certain, sure, and steady Lord is still alive, and in control. Yes, I know that my Redeemer lives!

100 Potential Interview Questions... came up with these potential interview questions. I sincerely hope that NO one will ever subject me (or anyone else) to these types of questions....but I should be ready to answer them, anyway. Here they are:

Tell me about yourself.
What are your strengths?
What are your weaknesses?
Who was your favorite manager and why?
What kind of personality do you work best with and why?
Why do you want this job?
Where would you like to be in your career five years from now?
Tell me about your proudest achievement.
If you were at a business lunch and you ordered a rare steak and they brought it to you well done, what would you do?
If I were to give you this salary you requested but let you write your job description for the next year, what would it say?
Why is there fuzz on a tennis ball?
How would you go about establishing your credibility quickly with the team?
There's no right or wrong answer, but if you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?
How would you feel about working for someone who knows less than you?
Was there a person in your career who really made a difference?
What's your ideal company?
What attracted you to this company?
What are you most proud of?
What are you looking for in terms of career development?
What do you look for in terms of culture -- structured or entrepreneurial?
What do you like to do?
Give examples of ideas you've had or implemented.
What are your lifelong dreams?
What do you ultimately want to become?
How would you describe your work style?
What kind of car do you drive?
Tell me about a time where you had to deal with conflict on the job.
What's the last book you read?
What magazines do you subscribe to?
What would be your ideal working situation?
Why should we hire you?
What did you like least about your last job?
What do you think of your previous boss?
How do you think I rate as an interviewer?
Do you have any questions for me?
When were you most satisfied in your job?
What can you do for us that other candidates can't?
What are three positive things your last boss would say about you?
What negative thing would your last boss say about you?
If you were an animal, which one would you want to be?
What salary are you seeking?
What's your salary history?
Do you have plans to have children in the near future?
What were the responsibilities of your last position?
What do you know about this industry?
What do you know about our company?
How long will it take for you to make a significant contribution?
Are you willing to relocate?
What was the last project you headed up, and what was its outcome?
What kind of goals would you have in mind if you got this job?
Give me an example of a time that you felt you went above and beyond the call of duty at work.
What would you do if you won the lottery?
Can you describe a time when your work was criticized?
Have you ever been on a team where someone was not pulling their own weight? How did you handle it?
What is your personal mission statement?
Tell me about a time when you had to give someone difficult feedback. How did you handle it?
What is your greatest failure, and what did you learn from it?
What irritates you about other people, and how do you deal with it?
What is your greatest fear?
Who has impacted you most in your career, and how?
What do you see yourself doing within the first 30 days of this job?
What's the most important thing you've learned in school?
What three character traits would your friends use to describe you?
What will you miss about your present/last job?
If you were interviewing someone for this position, what traits would you look for?
List five words that describe your character.
What is your greatest achievement outside of work?
Sell me this pencil.
If I were your supervisor and asked you to do something that you disagreed with, what would you do?
Do you think a leader should be feared or liked?
What's the most difficult decision you've made in the last two years?
What do you like to do for fun?
Why are you leaving your present job?
What do you do in your spare time?
How do you feel about taking no for an answer?
What was the most difficult period in your life, and how did you deal with it?
What is your favorite memory from childhood?
Give me an example of a time you did something wrong. How did you handle it?
Tell me one thing about yourself you wouldn't want me to know.
Tell me the difference between good and exceptional.
Why did your choose your major?
What are the qualities of a good leader? A bad leader?
What is your biggest regret, and why?
What are three positive character traits you don't have?
What irritates you about other people, and how do you deal with it?
If you found out your company was doing something against the law, like fraud, what would you do?
How many times do a clock's hands overlap in a day?
How would you weigh a plane without scales?
What assignment was too difficult for you, and how did you resolve the issue?
If I were to ask your last supervisor to provide you additional training or exposure, what would she suggest?
If you could choose one superhero power, what would it be and why?
What's the best movie you've seen in the last year?
Describe how you would handle a situation if you were required to finish multiple tasks by the end of the day, and there was no conceivable way that you could finish them.
What techniques and tools do you use to keep yourself organized?
If you could get rid of any one of the US states, which one would you get rid of, and why?
With your eyes closed, tell me step-by-step how to tie my shoes.
if you had to choose one, would you consider yourself a big-picture person or a detail-oriented person?
If selected for this position, can you describe your strategy for the first 90 days?
Who are your heroes?
Tell me 10 ways to use a pencil other than writing.

Redistributing the wealth....

A pastor friend of mine sent this to me. I wanted to share it here:

Today on my way to lunch I passed a homeless guy with a sign that read 'VoteObama, I need the money.' I laughed.

Once in the restaurant my server had on a 'Obama 08' tie, again I laughed as he had given away his political preference--just imagine the coincidence.

When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that
I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept. He stood there
in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to
someone who I deemed more in need--the homeless guy outside.

The server angrily stormed from my sight.

I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10 and told him to thank the server inside as I've decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy was grateful. At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the money he did not earn, but the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn even though the actual recipient deserved money more.

I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application.

An Interview with Sarah Palin...

Dr James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family (Colorado Springs) does a marvelous interview with Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska.

Listen in...this is very inspiring, and heartwarming.

Christians and the Upcoming Election.

My best friend on this earth (at least that's how I view him) emailed me this afternoon, and asked the following questions:
Are you concerned about the potential lack of Christianity in the White House? What role do you think Christianity plays? How should a Christian vote?

Here was my (lengthy) answer to him:

First of all,

We are electing a president, not a pastor or a pope.

Now, I truly would like to see a committed and CAPABLE Christian in the top two spots in our government. "Committed" and "Capable"....those are the two "qualities"...but I can always hope....

I think George W Bush is a wonderfully committed Christian---but I have questioned most of his "capabilities" from his days as Governor of Texas (I lived there through two of those years). Characterwise (other than an occasional foul word), I have no problems with him. He made two good Supreme Court appointments (after abandoning one that he should have never made in the first place, and subsequently abandoned).

Former Secretary of State Powell (also a retired Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff) stated my positions about as clearly as anyone ever has...on Meet The Press. HOWEVER, I will not be voting for the Obama/Biden ticket. Our foreign policy and military policy cannot, in my opinion, withstand another "training wheels" President--like the one who is moving back to Crawford, Texas in January 2009.

I love what Pastor Jack Hayford said several years ago--almost 20 years ago now, that just because one is a Christian doesn't mean they will be a good leader...but he desires that every good leader be a Christian.....That's the real paradox for those of us who follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

I believe that "Christianity" plays as important a place in our national life as we on the "local level" want it to play. Example: My father professed saving faith in Christ in November 1974 at a Billy Graham Crusade in Birmingham. He was contented in following Jesus until it cost him $$$, and he knew that if he continued following the Lord, that he would have to become an honest businessman, and make alot of things right. He chose MAMMON over God. He's dying with colon cancer now (I found out a few weeks ago).

If we insist on "Christian principles" in our society, then we must be willing to abide by them--even when we stand to "lose" something due to those same Christian principles: including our own lives. A lot of the people that I have encountered want "Christian principles" until it actually costs them something: time, treasure, talent. Then, they tend to think again about what they are asking.

Our own greed: power, position, possessions, has been our undoing. I've been guilty a few times, myself. We want "power" in the "powerful places"....but we often abuse it when we get it. And we often "neglect" those who have no power, and can't use their own influence. I think of the elderly, the disabled veterans, and the unborn....but just like Mike Huckabee said so many times, "Life begins at conception, but it does not end at birth." We must value all of life...not just the ones that we find "socially acceptable."

Position: I'm reminded of the story that Jesus told in the Gospel of Luke about the "rich, young ruler"....and Jesus made sure that he identified him as a "ruler"...or in the "ruling class" of contemporary society of that time. Far too many people (Christians included) are worried about "position."....and they become addicted to the "narcotic of being noticed" . Whatever happened to "service over self" and "doing the right thing because it is the right thing" regardless of what one stands to gain or lose? If I die doing the "right thing" then I really haven't lost...and my reward isn't here anyway.

Jesus said it well, "Whomever wants to be the greatest among you must first be your servant." We've forgotten what it means to "serve" in this nation---on so many levels. Maybe the "Christ-followers" need to show the way in what it means to truly serve. After all, if WE can't "show the way" then who can?

Possessions: I could write entire volumes on this subject. I have too much stuff. We all do. But the real question becomes "does our stuff possess us?" Our corporate greed only reflects our national and personal greed. I continually hear people, in my own congregation, talking about "helping the poor"---until someone actually challenges them to do it. I struggle with this one also.

I am approached at least twice a day asking for "change" of some kind or another from someone on the street, near the train stop, etc. Every time, I wonder "what if that were ME?" But I also remember the times when I've given the person asking for "change" (usually for food) some food, and watched them throw it away as soon as I turned my head. It's a real paradox...and it's something with which I continually struggle. Just how much of my possessions have I really given to God, so HE can use them however best pleases Him? And I have no good answers for that most serious question.

How should a Christian vote? Million dollar question....and I'm not sure that I have a definitive answer.

Change to "what"?

The great, almighty buzz-word: CHANGE.

Senator Barack Obama has built his entire Presidential campaign on the theme of "CHANGE." This seems to have worked for him, now that he is the nominee of the Democratic Party. He has a very good chance of winning residency at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

But my heart and head keeps asking the question: "Change to WHAT?"

I know what everyone wants to "change" from...but no one--including Senators McCain and Obama--have given even a hint of what we are "changing to."

CHANGE for the sake of "change" is not a satisfactory answer, in my opinion. And it's certainly not a strategy for leading the world's most wealthy nation.

Constantly amazed.

I work in adult career education....where I've been very happy for the last almost FIVE years. While the career is very stressful at time (dealing with adults is sometimes WORSE than dealing with children or teenagers, believe it or not), it can also be a very rewarding part of my life.

A few minutes ago demonstrated this very clearly for me:

One of the students whom I enrolled in school just finished his last class in the Electrical Construction and Maintenance program that he pursued. He came out of the program with a 4.0 grade point average. He never missed a day of class. He 'aced" every exam and quizz. He was a wonderful student.

He is also 47 years old, a native of the Philipines, and had to work very hard to learn/master English when he arrived in the United States a few years ago. This good man took full advantage of everything that was offered to him in pursuing a rewarding career. He didn't skip school, or blame everything on "issues" or someone else.

Another of my students who graduated a few months ago:
A wonderful man who immigrated here from IRAN about five years ago. His english skills were marginal, but passable. He pursued a degree in Heating, Air Conditioning, Refrigeration....and left here with a DEGREE, and a 4.0 grade point average....while working a full time job at night, caring for his family, and going to school.

One more example:

My new friend Tony. His story: He was born in the USA, but his Italian parents relocated back to ITALY shortly after his birth. He had never lived in the United States, and had never visited here. But he knew he had family here, for whatever that is worth.

Tragically, Tony's parents were both killed in an accident earlier this year. Tony had to relocate to the United States to live with a paternal uncle. Tony and his uncle come in to see me several months ago, to investigate the possibilities of career training in our institution. Tony barely passed the English proficiency, but he did pass.

He enrolled in school. He is going to night classes, while working three jobs in the mean time. He also has a 4.0 grade point average thus far. He has proven that he can "do it."

What kills me:

The people who will come here to school--realizing they must do something worthwhile in their life at some point--but who think they can't "do thus and so" because it will take effort on their part.

A certain person has dropped out of two programs now. He really didn't put any effort into studying or tackling the schoolwork. He thought that something would be "handed" to him.

In short, he made excuses for himself, and he quit. The first time he "quit"--he was only in class for less than 1 hour, and decided that "this was just too hard for him."

Sometimes, I wonder what we are producing in this nation. And the answer really, really scares me.


Is God on America's Side

My pastor, Dr Erwin W Lutzer has released a sobering new volume, Is God On America's Side? The Surprising Answer and Why It matters during this Election Season

Here is a short excerpt from pages 76-77
First, we must choose the right battle.
I've already stressed that our real conflict is neither cultural, moral, or political, but doctrinal and spiritual. We can argue that Christian morality is better; we can try to clean up our culture by legislation and boycotts. But our efforts will often by like trying to mop up the floor with the faucet running. We are trying to convince citizens of earth to live as though they are citizens of heaven. And they are not buying what we are selling.

The central message for us is always the lordship of Jesus Christ and the gift of salvation He came to bring us as sinners. The Cross must always stand alone, unopposed by competing loyalties. Its message must never be sacrificed on the altar of our own political or social agenda, or by which political party is in office. Of course political policy has an effect on our lives, but right laws are limited in their power; they cannot make people good, nor can they make godly families.

Our message must be more radical than any governmental policy could possibly be. It is a message that must penetrate the depths of the human heart.
(Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008).
All I can say is "Amen, Pastor, Amen!"

Three weeks from tomorrow...November 4th...

The citizenry of these "Nifty-Fifty" United States will go to the various voting places around our country, and cast their ONE vote (each) for the 44th President of the United States.

I really wish we had better choices....

I've always liked Senator John McCain, but he is just not showing that he has any ideas to communicate to those of us who really want to vote for him, and support his efforts to move over to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

I'm really just tired of this whole process. Why isn't Senator McCain telling us why he wants to be President? Why does he beat the same old tired drum, and not give his supporters anything to be excited about?

"CHANGE" for the sake of "change" is not a very good idea. What are we "changing" to? That's the question that Senator Obama still hasn't answered for us.

And Senator McCain needs to do something to energize those of us who really want to see him in the White House in a few months.

But alas, he hasn't.

Last night at dinner....

This really, and truly happened:

I was invited to a going-away dinner for some dear friends of mine who are moving to Moscow, Russia as SBC missionaries. I've known them ever since I've been in Chicago...they arrived about 1 month before I did--some eight years ago. There were about 17 of us at the table in this nice, but crowded Italian pizza place.

One of the gals, in charge of the event, looks over at me and says, "Phil, please pray over the food." I was glad to oblige. One of the guys at the other end of the table, (who is known for having a sharp wit, ) after I had finished praying, said, "Phil, I didn't hear you." Before I knew what I was saying, I blurted out, "I wasn't talking to you."

The whole table roared in laughter.

HEAVEN! It's a real place!

With all the "stuff" that seems to consume us here, we often forget that we are really citizens of "another world." HEAVEN is a real place!

I just got an email from a precious friend who must live through these upcoming holidays without the presence of his earthly father--who went to HEAVEN just a few short months ago.

But HEAVEN is real. It is more real than ANYTHING that will ever exist here on this earth.

In a time when the Dow Jones Industrial Average is sinking like the Titanic, and hearts seem to be "failing with fear" (that comes out of the New Testament, by the way), we must "look up" because our Redeemer has promised to "keep us" and eventually "carry us" to our Eternal home...

Heaven is that place!

Oh NO! Sarah say it "ain't so!"

An Open Letter to Governor Sarah Palin

Dear Governor,

First, let me confess: I think you are just HOT!

Second, there is something that terribly troubles me, though. In last week's debate with Senator Joe Biden, you made the very "folksy" statement of "Oh No, Joe, say it ain't so" concerning his rehashing the "past few years" of the Bush Administration, and it's plethora of failures and flaws. You wanted to talk about the "future."

Yet, on the evening news last night, you were in California, digging up the past of one Mr. Aires (from right here in Chicago), and his terroristic leanings/history from more than 40 years ago.

Which is it, Governor? Do you want to talk about the past, or do you want to talk about the future? Dragging out every association that Senator Obama has with anyone on the south side of Chicago is not "talking about the future." It's trying to drag up the past.

And it's also hypocritical.

So which will it be, Governor? The past or the future?

Make up your mind, stick to your story, and tell me about the future.

(Disclaimer: I have no plans to vote for the Obama/Biden ticket. But I also want some integrity in the McCain/Palin ticket. Mr. Aires, and his troubled past, are exactly that: the past. You can do better).

Gwen Ifill: I think you are terrific!

An open letter to Ms Gwen Ifill:

I have watched your career on television for many years. I remember when you were at NBC, working for the late Tim Russert (whom I still miss terribly). I was delighted when you were announced to be the new moderator of "Washington Week in Review." You garnered such glowing praise from the regular panelists on the show, and we, the consuming public, were assured that you would be the "belle of the ball" when you moved to the Moderator's chair.

And that, you have been.

I almost never miss "Washington Week"--and your moderating skills are the main reason that I stay tuned in.

NOW, the extreme "right" (religious or not) have gotten their "nighties in a knot" because you are writing a book to be released in January 2009. Supposedly, the book is in favor of Senator Obama being elected just 33 days from now.

That is basically nonsense, in my opinion. I believe that you have EVERY quality to be a fair, just, and non-biased moderator of tonite's debate between Governor Palin and Senator Biden. Both of these distinguished Americans are seeking the seat of Vice President, when January 2009 rolls around.

Gwen, Please don't let me down. Please be as fair, non-biased, and thorough as possible. You will do GREAT...

The nation is counting on you, Ms Ifill.

TELL THE TRUTH: What are your "main concerns" for 2009?

I'm tired of this election season and can hardly wait for 33 more days to pass, and we will know who moves into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue next year!

I've heard the so-called "Christian Right" (who often resembles the "conservative Republican, not-so-christian extremes) and the so-called "Liberal Left" throw verbal daggers at each other in the past 19 months.

But what are the issues that most concern you, when you step into your voting place in 32 days?

What really concerns you?

I really do want to know.

Five Wounds Men Must Face

This Thursday, October 2nd will be the 4th session of our Men's Fraternity: Quest for Authentic Manhood at The Moody Church. And this session promises to be a "doozy." We will be discussing "Unpacking". We will specifically be talking about five wounds that men must deal with in their lives:

1) The Absent Father Wound
2) The Overly Bonded with Mother Wound
3) The All Alone Wound
4) The Lack of a Manhood Vision Wound
5) The Heart Wound....

This will be a doozy, because last week's session, "Looking Back" brought many of us in the room to tears. I saw lots of strong men wiping tears from their eyes...I was ready to bawl at just any given moment.

I can identify with at least three of those wounds: Absent Father, All Alone, and Heart wounds...and I'll write more later, I'm sure.

My ONE experience with Senator Barack Obama: A Personal Testimony

In May 2005, I was having a horrible time trying to secure a VA Loan to buy my first condo.... The Veterans' Administration had several things on their "files" about me that were patently untrue, and I had no idea where they came from. I had solid evidence to the contrary of everything the VA supposedly "had" on me.

After the voluminous phone calls, and the elevated blood pressure, I called Senator Obama's Chicago office. His administrative assistant in that office, asked me to fax a letter, with all the appropriate documentation to the office, and that it would receive immediate attention. Best I can remember, that was on a Tuesday.

Two days later, I received a telephone call from Senator Obama himself, asking me to explain a couple of details to him. He also served on the Veterans' Affairs Committee at the time (the main reason I contacted his office, by the way).

The following week, I got a call from his administrative assistant here in Chicago, saying that the issues I had raised had been resolved. She gave me the name and number of someone at the VA that I should contact to verify the resolution of the matters at hand.

I contacted the VA representative, and indeed, the issue had been rectified, and corrected at the Senator's request. My personal testimony.

DISCLAIMER: Long ago, I felt that Senator Obama should not run for the Presidency...and as of today, I have no plans to cast my ONE vote for him.

So what are we "in for"?

Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulsson claims that we, the taxpayers of this nation, should bail out "Wall Street" to the tune of 700 Billion Dollars.

The House of Representatives has said "no"...and I just may agree with them.

The President of the United States, and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve has said that our economy is in peril, and that we are risking an era worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s unless we "do something and do it quickly."

I'm just not sure about all of this. We are spending 10 billion dollars every month in Iraq. We have terribly inferior support-systems set up for our returning veterans--and for veterans in general. We have a serious healthcare crisis in this nation--one we've had for as long as I can remember. We have a serious educational crisis in this nation--but yet we want to throw more money at the school systems, instead of requiring absolutely accountability from the parent's house to the school house.

We are allowing Governor Palin (and her God) to be mocked and blasphemed...and we might even laugh at Tina Fey's parody (though I don't watch Saturday Night Live).

Our society seems to be running amuck, and we just don't care--unless it touches our wallets, and reduces our savings/401k plans, etc.

So what are we "in for" in these United States? Anyone have any ideas?

The Four Faces of Manhood
We are embarking on the 3rd week of Men's Fraternity: Quest for Authentic Manhood at The Moody Church. We meet every Thursday morning, beginning at 6 a.m. and finishing at 7:30 a.m. We have a 45-minute video presentation, and then 45 minutes in our small groups, discussing the materials, sharing with one another.

Last week, we discussed the "four faces of manhood." These are King, Warrior, Lover, and Friend. WOW! These were very "telling" and "revealing" for all of us guys--many who have never thought of these "faces" before.

One of the discussion questions at the end of the video was: "Which of these 'faces' do you most closely relate to?" And a follow-up question, "Which of these faces do you need the most help in relating to?"

I'm a terrific friend. I'm not much of a King, an okay "warrior" (I personally would have found another term to use, instead of 'warrior'), and well, "Lover"---haven't been in much for that.

The guys in my small group agreed that I'm a very, very good friend. And in a time when most men have few, if any, friends--I consider myself very fortunate indeed.


So, my ABC-induced "drought" for entertainment has finally come to an end.

DANCING WITH THE STARS began it's SEVENTH season last night, and it was spectacular.

This time I'm not sure who will come out the "champion" for the coveted mirror-ball trophy, but I would guess either Warren Sapp (whom I had never heard of until last night) or Brooke Burke (again, never heard of her before last night).

I can't dance my way out of a very soggy paper bag....that's the reason I love watching other people "learn" and "perform."

The most entertaining performance, of course, was Cloris Leachman. I'm surprised this 82-year old rector of "Our Lady of Geriatrica" would put herself through such torture.

But, she was funny. Now, I'm just waiting for her to pull out the oxygen tank...

When it rains, it more ways than one.

I'm only 46 years old...and I can't remember "times" such as we are witnessing these days:

Record flooding in various parts of the country.
Record financial collapses of MAJOR financial institutions, some of them household words.
Record fundraising/fund-spending by political campaigns for the White House

These are indeed "perilous" times. The Apostle Paul warned young Pastor Timothy (some two thousand years ago) that he was living in "perilous" times. And those times are still with us.

I was thinking about this at lunch today: Many people trust in their riches, whether it be their retirement accounts, their 401ks, or their other "investments." The skyline on Wall Street is much bleaker than it was a few days ago. So, what we can surmise is that our "financial systems" are not fool-proof, nor fail-proof.

Are you scared?

Where do you place your "trust"? Is your confidence in the "economy"? Do you really believe the new occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (next January 21) will make a significant difference?

I'm just crazy enough to believe that GOD HIMSELF holds the future. That He really does care for those who are in relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. Riches and wealth WILL fail--just look at Wall Street today. How the mighty have fallen!

But we know this much: God never fails.

Overcompensating....That's me...

This is such a complicated, and drawn-out area of my life. I've wanted to share about it for such a long time. And I've never been sure of when the 'right time" would present itself.

I guess now is "that time."

As I've mentioned in some earlier posts, I grew up without my biological parents. They abandoned me when I was a baby, but hung around "in the neighborhoods" both emotionally and physically. When I started college (at age 18), I decided to 'change neighborhoods'.

I never went hungry. God always provided. I always had clothes to wear, even if it meant wearing the same three outfits for a long time. I never went naked.

But I also went "unloved" in many ways.

My precious Grandmother Hoover did her best to raise me--and she deserves unending applause for her efforts.

But I wanted to be loved and accepted. I wanted to "belong" to someone.

So, I learned to do alot of things, and to do them well. I learned to play the piano (cutting grass for two dollars an hour so I could pay for lessons), I learned to write and communicate in my writing. I learned to express myself.

I learned to cook great meals. And today, when someone mentions my name, the next thing I often hear is "Yeah, he's that guy who is a wonderful southern cook. Great biscuits, if I remember right."

Okay. Okay.
I learned to make homemade biscuits from the very best teacher: My grandmother.

That seems to be my trademark in many ways, whether I like it or not. I still have folks that I've not seen in many years who will "email" me and ask, "Can I have the recipe for those biscuits of yours?"

Sure. Except for one small problem: There is NO recipe. I just use self-rising flour, Crisco shortening, and some buttermilk (or regular milk).

I guess what I am trying to say is this:

One of the major flaws in my life is that I want to do everything PERFECTLY (and sometimes I even succeed). But I also realize that my inner drive to be "the best of the best" is nothing more than emotional overcompensation. My security, emotionally and relationally, is in my performance.

I asked someone, not long ago, what they would remember most about me, if I were to suddenly move away or die. Their immediate answer was, "I would remember you are a wonderful cook, and how much I like to eat at your house."

I hope my legacy is not that I am a good cook, or even a great cook (and trust me, lots of people are much better in the kitchen than me). I hope my legacy is that I am a man who loves his God, and loves people.

For all the lack in my earlier years, I've more than compensated...I guess.

But why the "game"?
What about you? What do you "overcompensate" for you in your personal life and habits?

I'm still struggling with these "issues."

Sobering News..Father Wounds..

My stepmother, Marie, called me last night. She and I have been very close for a long time. I adore the woman. She is a great mother, a superb grandmother, and just an all-around terrific person.

She and my biological father divorced about 20 years ago, after more than 20 years of marriage. She couldn't take the physical and emotional abuse from him anymore. And I certainly don't blame her.

Her reason for calling me: My biological father has colon cancer, and has less than three months to live.

My biological father, Bobby, abandoned me when I was just a baby, dropping in and out of my life at his own convenience until I was old enough to go to college.

I've not seen him nor heard his voice since 1992--at his mother's funeral. My precious Grandmother Hoover raised me, and did so without any help from either of my parents.

I'm pretty ambivalent about both parents at this stage in my life. I neither love nor hate them. And I'm not sure how I should feel.

Any ideas?

Why I will not vote for BARACK OBAMA for President in November...

I enthusiastically supported Barack H Obama for the United States Senate in 2004.

However, I early on stated that I could not support him for the Presidency, simply because he doesn't have "what it takes" at this present moment to move into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Here are my main reasons for not casting my ballot for the McCain/Biden ticket:

First, his campaign has spouted the slogan, "Change We Can Believe In"...but hasn't bothered laying out the specifics of the "change"--so I can decide whether I want to believe in it or not. It's okay to champion "change"...but then the question becomes, "Change to what?"

Second, Senator Obama has ZERO military experience and policy knowledge. That scares me. That always troubles me for every person who wants to be the Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces. While I don't believe that extensive military knowledge and experience GUARANTEES success, it certainly doesn't hurt one's ability as the CIC.

Third, while the rhetoric has been lofty, (and often inspiring), I wonder if Senator Obama knows how the country will pay for all of the "stuff" that his "changes" will super-impose on the nation. Democrats are often accused of being "tax-and-spend" liberals...and while that isn't always true, I wonder how the Democratic Party will pay for all the "changes" that seem to be in the political air.

Fourth, for someone who wants to "change Washington", he picks a 36-year veteran of the Washington establishment, who has been in the Senate his entire political career...and has had two failed bids for the Presidency himself. That isn't much of a "change" in my opinion.

Fifth, the people of Illinois sent Barack H Obama to the United States Senate in 2004. He hasn't fulfilled his first term as our Senator--and now he is seeking the highest political office in the land, and possibly the most powerful office in the world. How can I be sure that he can do the job?

Sixth, the people of the United States NEED and DESERVE a person occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue who knows how to definitively answer basic moral questions. Particularly, "life issue" questions. These are not above "his pay grade"....These are things he must know.

What CNN had to say about Governor Palin's Religion....

WASILLA, Alaska (CNN) -- For more than two decades, vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin was a practicing Pentecostal.

Sarah Palin asked church members to pray for $30 billion natural gas pipeline in Alaska.

She belonged to the Wasilla Assembly of God church in her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska. But though she attended the church from her teenage years to 2002, the Alaska governor hasn't talked much about her religion since joining the Republican ticket.

Palin's former pastor, Tim McGraw, says that like many Pentecostal churches, some members speak in tongues, although he says he's never seen Palin do so. Church member Caroline Spangler told CNN, "When the spirit comes on you, you utter things that nobody else can understand ... only God can understand what is coming out of our mouths."

Some Pentecostals from Assembly of God also believe in "faith healing" and the "end times" -- a violent upheaval that they believe will deliver Jesus Christ's second coming.

"Our basic belief is that God is God and he knows where history is going and he has a purposeful plan and within the middle of that plan we live in an environment in our world where certain events would take place," says McGraw. "Sarah wasn't taught to look for one particular sign -- a cataclysmic sign. She knew as every Christian does ... that God is sovereign and he is in control."

The McCain campaign says the governor doesn't consider herself Pentecostal. Watch Palin's father talk about her religious upbringing »
McGraw says Palin's Pentecostal roots may be being downplayed for a reason: "I think there may be issues of belief that could be misunderstood or played upon by people that don't know."

Don't Miss
AC360 Blog: Palin's pastor speaks
Palin's rise is talk of her town
iReporters: Is Palin held to an unfair standard?

When asked by CNN about Palin's beliefs, campaign spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton would only say the Republican vice presidential candidate has "deep religious convictions." Watch how Palin's religious roots formed »
But how might her religious beliefs impact policy in Washington if the Republican ticket is successful?

Palin's former pastor says he has no doubt her religious beliefs will influence her decision making when it comes to government policy. Regarding her desire to build an Alaskan pipeline and explore for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, McGraw told CNN, "Sarah knows that in Genesis, God creates the world and it's very good and that we're supposed to be caretakers in terms of not destroying the environment, so there's no way that Sarah is going to exploit or damage the Alaska tundra in the name of getting gas if she doesn't have to."

Palin's neighbors react to her swift rise
Six years ago, Palin left Assembly of God to join the non-denominational Wasilla Bible Church. But the Assembly of God says she still returns for special conferences and events, such as the graduation of ministry students in June. Video of a speech she gave at the church just two months before joining the Republican ticket is making the rounds on the Internet.

Speaking of the troops in Iraq, Palin says on the video, "Pray for our military men and women who are striving do to what is right. Also for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for -- that there is a plan, and that plan is God's plan." Watch Palin speak at her former church »

Her campaign says she doesn't mix her faith with government business. But Palin did ask her audience to pray for a $30 billion natural gas pipeline she is on a mission to build in Alaska. In the video Palin says, "I think God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas pipeline built. So pray for that ... I can do my job there in developing my natural resources. But all of that doesn't do any good if the people of Alaska's heart is not good with God."

McGraw, who was her pastor until 1998 and while she was mayor of Wasilla, says that Palin attended discipleship classes to strengthen her Pentecostal faith and that he counseled her on how to become a better leader.

"Everyone has a way of viewing the world and Sarah does too and hers would be shaped by the common-sense practicality of how she's been shaped by the Bible -- which is basically the world view that says God loves people, people can access him and he's given us wisdom for living," McGraw says.

He says Alaska has seen Palin's faith play out. As governor she passed ethics reform and took on what she's referred to as a "good-ol'-boys network." However, she has said she would not seek to impose her religious views on others. "I think one of the most obvious ways it plays out is what you've seen -- is being courageous enough to deal with deception and corruption," McGraw says.

Palin now attends the Wasilla Bible Church. She was there on August 17, just days before entering the national spotlight. David Brickner, the founder of Jews for Jesus, was a speaker. He told congregants that terrorist attacks on Israel were God's "judgment" of Jews who haven't embraced Christianity. Brickner said, "Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television. When a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment -- you can't miss it."

The McCain campaign says Brickner's comments do not reflect her religious views. Palin's spokeswoman says she is pro-Israel.

Pastor Ed Kalnin, the senior pastor of Palin's former Pentecostal church, has also come under fire for his comments. In 2004, he told church members if they voted for John Kerry for president, they wouldn't get into heaven. He told them, "I question your salvation."

The Assembly of God issued a statement online in response, which said Kalnin was "joking" when he suggested "Kerry supporters would go to hell." The statement went on to say: "We do acknowledge in hindsight that it was careless, and we do apologize for that. This statement is not written as a defense, but as a clarification."

Palin has done little while in office to advance a social conservative agenda. She told The Associated Press in an interview in 2006 that she would not allow her personal beliefs to dictate public policy.

"I've honestly answered the questions on what my personal views are on things like abortion and a lot of controversial issues," Palin told AP. "I won't hesitate to answer those questions about what my personal views are, but I am not one to be out there preaching and forcing my views on anyone else."But in the last week, her religious background and outlook has certainly spurred debate far beyond Alaska.

I'm excited...

About the McCain/Palin ticket for President and Vice President.

I was a "McCain man" back in 2000 before the hyperactive "Bushies" did their "hit-and-run" on the former Prisoner of War, and current Arizona senior Senator.

I've always had tremendous respect for his political positions, and for his wonderful service to this country.

And what can I say about Governor Sarah Palin?

First, she's just HOT!

She has more executive experience than Obama, Biden, and McCain combined!

And she's a Pentecostal! Can't go wrong there!

Eight years ago today...

I moved from my comfortable surroundings of rural Cleveland, Tennessee to the raging metropolis of Chicago, Illinois!

That was EIGHT YEARS AGO today! Wow, what a ride it has been.

I feel like I have lived here for much longer than just eight measly years!

God has been good! Life has been "interesting"--for lack of a more "bland" word that doesn't insist on further description.

Yes, it's "my kind of town."

Church Issue #3: Non-Abusing Churches

I wish I could say that my journey as a Christ-follower has been flawless, or almost near-flawless.

Alas, I cannot.

And neither can you.

One of the things that deeply troubles my spirit is the way some "local church" leaders carry out their "ministry." I have heard and seen way too many situations where the leadership was downright abusive to the parishioners under their care. I know of one pastor who absolutely will 'trash' anyone who dares to disagree with any given point that he proposes.

It is truly sad. Many good people have left that congregation, because they did not have the freedom to "disagree" with anything. I made the mistake of telling this pastor that I was responsible for maintaining my own household, paying my bills, working a full-time job, and making sure that "personal things" were accomplished. This pastor couldn't understand why I did not spend "every single available minute" at the "church doing things."

And I caught the "wrath" when I just couldn't take the abuse and deception any more.

I've seen it happen to many people in FAR TOO MANY places.

I've also seen "abusive congregations" who are terribly difficult on every staff person who ever comes to serve them. I've seen congregations who will withhold their offerings and tithes just because they don't like the pastor, or something the he/she has said, or supposedly done.

I've seen congregations who absolutely didn't want "those kind of people in our church"--and refused to entertain the thought that maybe GOD HIMSELF had brought the "undesirables" (in their estimation, not mine) to them.

It's time for the "church" to stop abusing itself. It's time for pastors and others in leadership to think about "God's sheep in their care"--not their sheep...but GOD'S SHEEP.

It's time for local churches to stop abusing the "shepherds" whom God brings to them. This is GOD'S SERVANT....not "your hireling."

A couple of years ago I was privileged to speak in a local congregation where a friend of mine is the senior pastor. Afterwards, one of the parishioners cornered me to tell me about how certain "people in this church" had abused their families, their positions, and their reputations.

I hurt for that person (whether they were telling me the truth or not), and I hurt for that local church.

I've been around 'the church' all my life. I know how wonderfully helpful and healing the "local church" can be. And sadly, I have experienced how very harmful and damaging and abusive the local church can be as well.

So one of the great "Church issues" in my opinion, is that we (the church) become "non-abusive"--and we can do it.

I know we can.

Church Issue #2 Authenticity and Integrity

I believe that "authenticity" and "integrity" go hand in hand. They really can't be separated, in my opinion. "Sista" OPRAH may not join these two terms together, but Scripture does.

We only need to look at the New Testament models of the Church (in the NEW TESTAMENT, of course) and we will see what it means to be truly "authentic." Authenticity isn't a difficult concept to understand. But, to hear contemporary culture tell it, "being authentic" is a tremendously difficult principle to live out in daily life.

What made the New Testament Church(es) models of authenticity?

1. They gathered together regularly (that "community" phrase again) for worship, prayer, meals, fellowship among other things.

2. They (the New Testament followers of Christ) were continually learning and growing in their ability to "follow the Lord". Their entire "relationship" with Christ was one of "following Him" and doing it with absolute obedience. Of course there are numerous examples of those who didn't "follow Christ" with absolute obedience--one need only read the Book of Acts, and the rest of the New Testament.

3. These Christ followers realized that their lives were not their own. Living in "community" was more than just being a "collection of individuals." It was "being the people of God"--people who are called out, and called together, and called heavenward. It meant realizing that we really are just "pilgrims and strangers" here on this earth.

4. Integrity was a way of life. And when any "follower" compromised their integrity, it was the responsibility of the church to gently, yet firmly called that Christ-follower back to the place of authenticity and integrity. Church discipline was not a "novel concept" that leaders were afraid to use.

What troubles me now is the very feeling/idea/concept that the "church" is nothing more than a very religious social club, and we like to welcome people in when we get bored with each other. It's a nice social club, but nonetheless a social club. Nothing tremendously different, or life-giving, or life-transforming.

Instead of having altars of repentance and weeping, now we just have "prayer partners" in case someone has a "spiritual issue that you want to talk about." Instead of preaching against greed, hording, selfishness, gossip, and personal sin, it's just so much easier to talk about the "national issues facing us in this election." (And I firmly believe THOSE ISSUES should be preached from the pulpit and preached ONLY from the biblical perspective.).

Instead of accountability, we really want people to "mind their own business." And the sins, struggles, failures in my life ARE "your business" if I am part of your family.

Whether I like it or not.

It's time be people of integrity and authenticity again.

Church Issue # 1: Community...

I've been in "the church" all of my life. Really, I have.
I came to Christ as a small child, and have faithfully desired to follow Him ever since that time almost 40 years ago....I've not been anything close to "perfect"--many times failing and falling from the "way"...but God in His grace has always seen me through.

One of the things that I glean from the Scriptures is that we Christ-followers really do belong to each other. This is not a difficult concept to "understand"--yet it seems, in our contemporary culture, supremely difficult to "live out." And I'm not even sure that I "understand" it as fully as I should.

We are "called out" from the world of sin, and transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God's Son, the kingdom of light. This makes Christ-followers a very special breed, indeed. It also means that Christ-followers have a new identity, a new family, and a new blood line. We really do belong to each other.

But, one would hardly notice this "belongingness" in contemporary society. Some of us are contented (or maybe a better word is "resigned to") seeing So-and-So on Sunday mornings, and exchanging small talk. We never really have a "connection" with them any of the other 166 hours during the regular week. We know little, if anything, about them. We continually exchange our "pleasantries" or our "politenesses" every week...

And we think that we are "community."

Maybe, we are more "good, occasional acquaintenances."

To face all that the people of God will be challenged with in the coming days, we must become MORE than just casual commarades in the "church family." We must become tightly-knitted together. We must know more about each other.

We must weep with those who weep. We must rejoice with those who rejoice!

We really do need each other.

More than 20 years ago, then-Pastor Chuck Swindoll preached a powerful message entitled "People of Refuge."

While I won't rehash the entire message here, let me say this:

We are all we've got. The family of God is the most precious possession in my life. Fame, fortune, recognition, ability, or anything else will NEVER replace the preciousness of this "family" in my life.

We really do need each other. And in the coming days, we will see just how much.

The State of the Church in 2008

Not too long ago, I wrote several posts about what I consider to be the "major national issues" facing the United States in 2008, as well as in the near future. While some folks agree/disagree with me, I just wanted to go "on the record" with how I feel about some of the more "pressing" items in the life of this nation.

But now, I want to explore the "state of the Church in 2008." What are the "real issues" facing the "Body of Christ"--those redeemed, blood-bought Followers of Jesus Christ in our contemporary society?

This post won't be as long as mine usually are (not that I'm ever overly wordy, by the way). I just want those of you who read my "blog" to respond on what you consider to be the "major issues" "challenges" facing the church now and in the very near future.

I'll write more...this week...I promise.


A few years ago, someone gave me one of the most valuable gifts I've ever received. My good friend presented me an autographed copy of Healing the Masculine Soul by Gordon Dalby. And I'm still trying to process many of the concepts that Gordon presented.

On my way to the gym this morning, I was thinking about some of the "wounds" in my own soul--and how my life has been influenced by these "things" or "scars" or whatever else one could call them.

And sitting here today, I've been thinking about how most people have "wounds" in their lives...and the real issue becomes not the "woundedness" but what one does once they are in "recovery."

Think about Michael Phelps. YES, THAT MICHAEL PHELPS!

This marvelous athlete didn't grow up in the "lap of luxury" from all indications. He grew up in a single parent home (which is better than a NO parent home), and was diagnosed early on with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Many folks thought he would be mediocre at best.

And he's ANYTHING but mediocre. He can now claim the title of being the BEST OLYMPIAN of all time! He has exhibited that attitude of humility, confidence, gratitude, and great poise....all at the same time. And he's one INCREDIBLE swimmer on top of all that!

But we don't have to look to the field of "star athletes" to find "wounded" folks. I can start by simply looking in the mirror (which reminds me of another story, but then again MOST things remind me of a story). The "wounded" man I see in the mirror can overcome the worst obstacles that are placed in his path. But he must want to overcome them. Simply wishing it were so---or even wishing it were different, accomplishes nothing.

The Lord helps us overcome...because HE has overcome death, hell, and the grave. We can overcome the "wounds" because He was WOUNDED for us.

Starting today, I plan to "overcome" all the wounds I find in my life.

Starting today.

Yes, I'm getting back into shape....

I decided (a while back, actually) that "round" is not the SHAPE that I wanted to define my life.

Six days ago, I started getting back "into shape" i.e., getting in a good exercise routine/workout. Strengthening my cardiovascular organs, strengthening my legs and arms, strengthening my back/chest/abdomen, and trying to look younger than I am.

Yes, I'm sore.

Very sore. I woke up this morning, and had to make REAL effort to get out of bed, and into the hot shower, to warm up my sore muscles.

I'm no athlete...but I do want to get myself in much better physical condition than where I currently find myself.

After all these years, it's ABOUT TIME...

that I get my flabby self back into shape.

And I started this morning. Really, I did! I actually got up and was in the local "gym" before 5:45 a.m.

A new "Cardinal Fitness" center opened one block from my apartment. I watched it go up several months ago...and when they had open membership registration, I was one of the first to "sign up." And the gym actually opened today.

I was there early...and I got a pretty good workout (for beginners, of course). I stayed until 6:30 a.m. I spent about 20 minutes on the treadmill, about 10 on the elliptical, and did some of the weight machines.

I'm actually very pleased with myself so far. I have committed to go to the "gym" five mornings a week--Monday through Friday. I might go on Saturdays, and I'm definitely NOT going on Sundays.

But this is the first day of a "brand new me."

So, here's what I want ALL OF YOU to do: Keep me accountable! Make sure that you ask if I have been "faithful" in my commitment to "fitness."

I need this to be a reality in my life.

Just because I am 40-something doesn't mean I have to look the part.

Well, not THAT part at least.

Mr and Mrs Jeff Knapp: Congratulations!

A first for me:
Last Saturday, I had the awesome responsibility and HIGH privilege of being the "food manager" for the wedding of my great friend Jeff Knapp and his new wife, Melody.

Jeff and I have been friends for almost 8 years now. He is now 40 years old, and happily married so far!

The wedding was performed at The Moody Church (, where Jeff and Melody are both active members. It is also my home church as well.

About a month ago, I offered my cooking skills and services to this wonderful couple--just a way of showing them how much I love them both, and how thrilled I am for their decision to "unite."

It was alot of work...ALOT of work, saints!

It was alot of fun too.

Whatever could go wrong in the first floor kitchen at the church--it did!

But the Lord helped me (us) through it all, and the Reception Buffet was flawless and seamless. I praise the Lord for that!

Someone came over and asked, "Phil, if you get married, who is going to cook for you?" My immediate answer, without even hesitating, was, "We'll all go to Cracker Barrel."

But I want to congratulate my wonderful, wonderful friends, Mr and Mrs Jeff Knapp.

May the Lord bless your marriage in every possible way.

Living SINGLE in a "Doubles Church"...

I am a "never married, no kids" very educated, military veteran. I'm very, very single--and have no "aching in my soul" for that "ideal woman." While I wholeheartedly endorse the institution of marriage, and believe that God created a wonderful thing in the marriage relationship, I am happily single.

In another forum, I posed this topic: "Living Single in a Doubles Church"....Here is just one of the responses that I received:
Ninety eight percent of the churches you see do NOT know what to do with a single individual. You let a Barbie and Ken couple with two or three kids drive up in a mini-van and three kids bail out-they will be all over them-the church is designed for them.

Go over a pastor's preaching schedule and you'll find at least half of it devoted to The Christian Home, raising kids, family day, Back to School Day, a Big Family Christmas sermon, Church Family Thanksgiving Supper. Then there's Father's Day-where they recognize all the dads and Mothers Day- and it goes on and on.

Since I left my pastorate and I don't have duties on Sunday AM I've taken occasion to visit a couple of churches incognito-and you would be SURPRISED at the reception I get as a single man coming in, compared to the reception I get when I carry a wife and two teenage daughters in with me. It's just the way it is-at most churches.

Families are the dual-income tithers, they are the ones who pump the numbers and only take up one parking space. They look better on State Reports, speaking of which actually call Wednesday night Family Training Hour.

Basically Phil-a single is a pariah. We don't want you in our church because you can do little for us.
While I understand that the last statement was "tongue in cheek"...I often wonder how many "local churches" really do feel this way about their single congregants.

Here is my response to this person:
I'm glad that you labeled me a "pariah"....even though it is NO WHERE near the truth.... "you can do little for us"---oh, is that a fact?

Who else is going to head up the kitchen committee for the Sunday evening fellowship time after service (i.e, this means being at the church ALL day on Sunday...and spending the afternoon preparing for the "fellowship time" after the service).

Who else is going to help "give out a bottle of cold water" in the name of the Lord to all the "joggers" and "runners" who pass by the church neighborhood on a hot Saturday, or early Sunday morning?

Who else is going to take "vacation time" and work in Vacation Bible School five mornings a week...serving almost 300 kids?

Who else is going to help organize the "food and social time" after a large men's gathering of some 400 people on a Friday night in the dead middle of winter?

Who else will step up and fill in the last male part of an ensemble at the last minute on a Sunday that is already crammed full of activities--and lunch is probably NOT one of those activities..

Who else will be there to make the coffee for the entire Church (or those that will get there for Sunday School) at 6:15 a.m. on "Chicago Marathon Sunday"--the marathon runs right in front of the getting to the facilities early is a MUST.

Yep, that is me...."Brother Pariah"...oops, aka Phil...and other single people that serve the Lord and their local churches faithfully, week in and out...

The only ones bothered by "singleness" seems to be those who are not single anymore.

Go figure.

What do you think?
A hand of fear gripped the crowd that dayAt Jairus's home
When the doctor shook his head
And said, "She's gone"
And, you could feel the mother's heart break,
and you could hear them cry and mourn
Their little girl was only 12 years old

Somewhere in the distance,
Outlined against the sun,
There came a Man with a mission from the Throne
They said, "Look, somebody's coming"
But, what they did not know
It was their Promise coming down that dusty road!

There's a Promise coming down that dusty road
From His Holy hands healing virtue flows
He's got the key to what you need
Death and hell He will defeat
There's a Promise coming down that dusty road!

The one who turned to mock Him
When Jesus did speak
He said, "your daughter's not dead,She's just asleep"
Then He turned to the unbelievers
And He told them all, "Go home"
They heard Him say, "Leave me and death alone"

Then He laid His hand upon the child,
He looked death right in the eye
He said, "All power in Heaven and earth belong to me"
And, with a voice that sounds like thunder,
He hurled death asunder,
And, then He said, "Little girl, rise and be healed!"

There's a Promise coming down that dusty road
From His Holy hands healing virtue flows
He's got the key to what you need
Death and hell He will defeat
There's a Promise coming down that dusty road!
I am so thankful that I have experienced the "healing hands" of this Promise...that I know our God still heals and delivers today. I'm so humbled that God would reach down and heal someone like me. He is the healer of sick bodies, mender of broken hearts, and restorer of troubled souls.

Praising God for His healing power!

Some of my favorite words...

In times like these you need a Savior
In times like these you need an anchor;
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

This Rock is Jesus, Yes, He's the One;
This Rock is Jesus, the only One!
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

In times like these you need the Bible,
In times like these O be not idle;
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

In times like these I have a Savior,
In times like these I have an anchor;
I'm very sure, I'm very sure
My anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!
Even though these words were penned many, many years ago...they are oh so true today! I am constantly reminded that I am living in the "last of the last days"...and that I must have a sure foundation in my life. That foundation is Christ Himself.

I heard someone say something very profound the other day: "There is a ROCK between me and a hard place." That Rock is Jesus!