The "Gospel" in all it's simplicity.

Back in 1963, Gloria Gaither penned some of the most profound words I've ever read. I will privileged to hear this wonderful song (in person) sung by the Gaither Vocal Band at the Gaither Christmas Homecoming Concert last Saturday night.


Love has always been here,
in the chaos of our world.
It was the WORD that echoed through the formless void.
And whether in the universe or worlds of our own minds,
It's love that turns our chaos into joy.

His love went on longing,
And His love went on reaching
Right past the shackles of my mind.
And the WORD of the Father became Mary's little Son,
And His love reached all the way to where I was.

The WORD that formed creation
Man just couldn't understand;
Its sound was muffled by his wars and strifes.
And man destroyed resources
God intended just to be
the lovely backdrop for abundant life.

And so this great Creator
Who'd been reaching all along,
This GOD who formed the worlds
With His own hands,
Made LOVE become a BABY
One of our very own.
And spoke His WORD
So we could understand.

His love went on longing
And His love went on reaching
Right past the shackles of my mind!
And the WORD of the Father became Mary's little Son
And His love reached all the way to where I was.

New Year's Wishss....

It's that time again. So here are my "wishes" and "hopes" and "plans" for 2010:

1) Get myself back down to 175 lbs--I've gained a few pounds since the Kidney Donor's time to take that "extra weight" off..again.

2) Learn additional computer skills. I need to learn PowerPoint, and some of the other MicroSoft programs....I've put this off for far too long.

3) Visit friends in Texas, North Carolina, and California that I've not seen in WAAAY too many years. I have three weeks it's time to travel some...and I need to start planning immediately.

4) Read my Bible regularly and daily. I'll confess: There have been many days when I just didn't take the time to read God's Word. I'm ashamed of this...and it will be remedied in 2010. As a matter of fact, I'll start today.

5) Save even more money....the LORD is making a way for this to happen, and I plan to take HIM up on His provisions in my life. Not going to horde, or be a stingy man, but I do want to save more.

6) Give more away in 2010. I want to always be a "giver" and not just a "taker" or an "observer" but a GIVER...

Our "credibility' deficit..some thoughts...

I can't remember a time when the United States has been more partisan, more divided, and more "unrealistic" in our approach to civilized society. Sadly, some "christians" have done little (if anything) to help remedy these maladies.

I grew up in a very conservative (fiscally, theologically, socially) environment and local church setting. I'm very, very grateful for my "upbringing"--even though I was poorer than overused soil. I was pretty much raised to see issues "one way"...and that was the 'way our church' or 'our culture' viewed them. Rarely, if ever, did I think there just might be more than "one side' to any given issue. While very "narrow" indeed, this training saved me a lot of heartache, grief, and trouble that might have otherwise destroyed not only my "faith" but my person, as well.

When I entered the "real world" (after college), I found out that there is often "many sides to any given issue." While I firmly believe in the BIBLICAL ABSOLUTES, there are many things that we considered "absolute" that I would later learn were anything BUT absolute.

I'm deeply troubled when CHRISTIANS 'swallow' everything that any particular "political" or "social" media feeds them--without the least bit of discernment. Example: Some folks will believe every bogus email about President Obama or Madeline Murray O'Hair or Mickey Mouse that is circulated--and particularly those of defamatory character. This is not only reflects POORLY on those who claim the name of our great Saviour! Some of these same people swallowed every 'spiritual tale' that was spun concerning former President George W Bush (praying for a guy in the Grand Canyon, feeding a hungry child in truck stop, et al)...when such "tales" were proven to be false. While I want to believe the very best about our former President's "heart" toward those who are less fortunate than himself--there's no need to make things up. We lose our credibility when we insist on manufacturing untruths--no matter how well-intentioned these 'untruth' may have been. They are still false.

Not all gay men are rapists, child molesters, drag queens, exhibitionists or philanderers. Some may be guilty of one or more of these awful things. BUT, to paint every person with such a broad stroke is wrong. Morally, ethically, legally, mentally, spiritually WRONG. ( I have an openly gay friend who is a theologian...and none of the above would apply to him.) But labeling people with such defamatory accusations when there is NOT ONE SCINTILLA of truth is not only unkind, it is UNCHRISTIAN.

A very wise pastor once told me, "Remember every piece of bread, regardless of how thin it is, always has at least two sides...and then some edges..." That is advice that I do my very best to remember...every day. I may see one side of the issue...and I may not agree with the "other side" of the issue---but just because I don't agree with it, doesn't mean that it CEASES TO EXIST.

I am not talking about Scriptural absolutes (I wanted to repeat that before anyone reading this decides to label me a "liberal heretic worthy of being burned at the stake"). But Scriptural absolutes and cultural trends/activities are often two birds of "very different feathers."

Jesus Christ is not a White, Anglo-Saxon, Conservative Republican. He is not a "bleeding heart" liberal Democrat either. While I'm all for the political process...the church...and CHRISTIANS in particular must lead the way in restoring civility and credibility to how we view those with whom we disagree--regardless of the issue on which we disagree.

I received a mailing from PLANNED PARENTHOOD the other day (so there really IS a first time for everything). I didn't call their office, ranting and raving. I simply returned the envelope and requested that I be taken off their mailing list. I disagree with 99% of what the organization stands for. Their letter, requesting money, offended me. But I found no need to be "offensive" in return.

I hope I can treat all those with whom I disagree with the same dignity.

Four Weeks Ago today....

at this very hour, I was in the Recovery Room of the University of Alabama-Birmingham hospital. The LORD had just performed a marvelous "surgery" in both my body and my heart.
He used Dr Jeremy Goodman to do HIS bidding. But it was GOD's work...I fully realize that.

The nurse practitioner had told me (the day before) that I would be "woozy" and wouldn't feel like talking to anyone....but nothing could have been further from the truth. When I arrived back in my hospital room, I saw people rejoicing, and praising God for what had happened! I remember asking someone, "Am I in the hospital, or am I waking up in heaven?" My good friend, Pastor Charles Butler (who came from Chicago to be with me during this event) said, "Brother, you are in the hospital." (I was tempted to ask them if we could "try this again", but I knew better). I was wide awake!

Robert Daugherty, Anthony and Marti Stone, Pastor Charles Butler, Kevin Brooks, Ted and Judy Gee, and a host of other people were in my room, praising the LORD, and rejoicing in what HE had done. I was WIDE AWAKE! And I was ready to "hear all about it."

Pretty soon, I discovered that I had tubes running out of my IV flowing from my left arm, and a foley catheter flowing from my bladder--that catheter was my BEST friend that night....I had a very, very dry throat--the surgeon had intubated me so I could breathe during the procedure...and I had a couple of swollen places on my lips...but it was over!

I started "itching" some, and discovered that half of my otherwise hairy chest had been shaved...why on earth did that happen? Did I 'consent' for them to "shave my chest"? Well, obviously I had given my consent....and yes, the hair would grow back...eventually (I'm still waiting for that...LOL)

About 4:45 p.m. that afternoon, my friend Pastor Charles helped me get up and walk...without coercion from the nursing staff! With the IV pole, the Catheter bag, and a wheel chair in front of me (to steady me), I walked around the corrider of the nursing floor...and felt great....I was also very glad to get back to my bed!

That was FOUR WEEKS ago today....and it seems like only yesterday. Praising God for His favor. Bill George now has a new lease on life...the kidney is "working like a racehorse" (his words, not mine), and we are both recovering nicely.

Praise the Lord!

I'm Thankful for....

1) the special brother/friend who was in my hospital room at the University of Alabama-Birmingham FOUR WEEKS AGO today--when I returned from the "recovery" and offered to "rub my feet." I let him rub my feet. He is an elected Representative in the State of Tennessee...but he wanted to come PRAISE THE LORD with me during this event. I am so humbled and grateful for this wonderful man in my life!

2) a job..a career...where I can see people starting to get a grip on their future....and trying to turn things around for themselves...and the people who depend on them. It is always "better late than never." I just hope that I am leaving some good things in their hearts and minds.

3) a church family that truly and profoundly loves me. I can't remember any local congregation loving me as much as The Moody Church loves me! I am overwhelmed every single service by how these people show their love and care for me.

4) the privilege of being part of The Moody Church family. Every time I walk in the building, I am awe-struck, stunned, and amazed that God would allow me to be part of such a historic and magnificent group of people. This place has been celebrating the "joy of changed lives since 1864"...and this is "my family." I still can't wrap my mind around all of that! Never, in my wildest dreams, did I think I would be privileged to call this local congregation my "home church." But it is...and I'm so humbly grateful....more than I can express.

5) people who love and care about me...through it all....sometimes it gets "thicker" and sometimes it gets "thinner"...but through it all....I see Jesus in their lives.

Twenty-Two Days later....

I'm seeing the "goodness of the LORD in the land of the living" (Psalm 27:13).
Being a kidney transplant donor has been one of the most 'dramatic' things I've ever done in my entire life. I am recovering at wonderful, remarkable pace...and for this, I am most thankful.

All of my body functions are performing as expected...normally. My chest hair (which was shaven off HALF of my abdomen and chest) is returning....thanks alot, doctors! The laparascopic incisions (all four of them) are practically healed and unnoticeable now. The larger (4 inch) incision is healing very nicely, and itches just a bit. I can deal with it!

If anyone had even hinted, one year ago, that I would be an organ donor, I would have laughed them out of the room! But, the LORD knew that I would need this experience in my life...and that I would become a kinder, wiser, more obedient son through all of these "events."

The LORD knew that I would need this experience to help me develop a "compassion" that I had often read about--and had even spoken about--but had never experienced first hand.

This was a "life-changing" experience for me. As my great friend, Pastor Charles Butler, so accurately reminded me, "You were not a patient man, but the LORD is developing that quality in you..." And yes, HE did...and is still completing it.

Back at work, hoping to get my appetite back in full force (eventually), and learning to "trust and obey"....waiting for God's next assignment in my life.

But it won't be a kidney donation. That one is behind me.

A Prayer for today

O Father,
I magnify Your name this wonderful day! I rejoice in the fact that I can call You "Father" and know that I am Your child. My heart is overwhelmed when I contemplate all that You have done for me, through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

I am so completely helpless on my own...but You haven't left me on my own. You have sent Your wonderful Holy Spirit to fill my lift my head, and to restore my soul. You have made a way through the wilderness, and have provided refreshing streams in every desert of life. You have given sight to my blinded eyes, and courage to my fearful heart. All of these things, Lord, I realize and acknowledge have come from the goodness of Your hand.

I want to ask You, Lord, to touch people this day. Lord, my friend Melanie, whose son has been diagnosed with brain cancer....touch him this day, I ask of you. Show Yourself to be the HEALING JESUS that Your Word proclaims You to be, and that all the evidence proves You are, indeed.

Lord, I am specifically asking You to touch people concerning organ donation. O God, if You had not touched my life, I would never have experienced the THRILL and BLESSING of being an organ donor. It was YOUR hand, and YOUR grace, and YOUR provision...I can't thank You enough, precious Lord.

Help me to love you more this day. Help me to worship at the feet of Your Son, Jesus. Remind me to "rest my case at the Cross"...knowing that everything I need has been provided in that wonderful place.

In the powerful name of Jesus,


I Am A Man

Sung to the tune of Finlandia

I am a man created in God's image
Of Adam's race, now marred by pride and sin.
But through God's Son, Lord Jesus Christ, my Saviour,
I am a man who's now restored to Him!
The Mighty God who made me has redeemed me,
Now I'm His man, for Jesus reigns within.

I am a man appointed by my Saviour
To show His love in all I do and say!
His Holy Spirit is my source of power,
To live in light and point to Christ--the Way!
Lord, fill me now, and help me seize this moment,
As as Your man, I'll serve your cause today.

I'll be a man who walks with God in worship,
I'll be a man who walks with men as friend.
I'll be a man who loves and serves God's family
I'll be a man on whom God can depend!
Lord Jesus Christ, my King and my Commander,
I'll be Your man until my life shall end.

**Thank you, Pastor Jack Hayford for giving us such an inspiring and anointed text. This is a great challenge in my life.


I was in my friend Kevin's van, taking a "road tour" of the fabled University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa campus yesterday, when I heard the awful news concerning the tragedy at Fort Hood, Texas. A mental health worker--a psychiatrist--killed 12 military service personnel who were preparing to deploy in service of this nation.

Why? WHY?
Have we become such a nation of "disgruntled" people that we can no longer follow the instructions of those we have SWORN to obey? Are we so BRAINWASHED with our own ideologies (terroristic tendencies are what I'm referring to here), that we can never see another point of view--without resorting to some type of violence?

Why did this military officer KILL those he was charged to lead and care for? Has the United States of America deteriorated to the place that NONE of our "freedoms" (religion, press, speech, etc) are worth defending anymore--not to mention "exporting"?


God knew...

that I would

1) Need to develop much, MUCH better eating habits than I was currently using in the late Spring/Early Summer....

2) Get to the Cardinal Fitness Center (1/2 block from my apartment) and use that gym membership I had not touched in almost 9 months...but was paying for every month...

3) Lose 14 pounds...and get not only my body, but my mind ready for "the event"...

4) Lean on HIM and HIS wisdom, instead of my own--and I consider myself a pretty wise fella most of the time (therein lies my stubbornness)...

5) The surgeons that Bill George and I would both need...the nurses who would need to be on duty, and the people who would need to "be with us." He even knew that we would need to share a hospital room that first night, in preparation for our surgery....

I'm thankful that HE knows it all. Nothing escapes Him.

Expectations...Exceeding them...

I fully expected to be a "kidney donor" during the summer of 2009....certainly not in October 2009. God knew that if I had "my way about it" there would have been nothing but trouble. The last seven days have been almost blissful. Even during the "recovery period" from this procedure. The love and joy of God's Holy Spirit filled my hospital room, and I saw the "kingdom of God" at its very best....what a thrill to my soul. This is something I will never forget.

I fully expected pain after surgery....but not the joy that only Christ and being part of HIS WILL in HIS TIME can bring. God knew which surgeons Bill George and I would need. He also knew the nurses that would be so important to our "care" on Spain South Tower, Seventh floor.
All of these people were magnificent beyond description...many of them were the "face of Jesus" to me in the middle of the night--reminding me that GOD was in all the details of what happened.

I fully expected people to be around. What I didn't expect were the calls from all over the country...from Hawaii to Maine, and even from England, and the Middle East. People I knew, and haven't heard from in many years....and some I don't know, and will probably never meet...but all were overwhelmed by God's Spirit...and encountered Him in a significant way through "this event."

All I can say: To God be the glory, great things HE has done! I'm so humbled, amazed, and stunned that HE loved me enough to allow me to participate in what HE was doing. May it ever be so.

The tangible love of Christ...I have experienced it this week...

I have experienced the amazing, unequaled, immeasurable love of Christ this week.

Dr Bill George and myself both arrived in Birmingham, Alabama on Monday evening. We showed up at the UAB Hospital Admitting Office almost simultaneously. God made sure that we were in the same room for that day...because He wanted us both to see how MIGHTY and POWERFUL He was and is!

We had a parade of people on Tuesday...from around 9:30 a.m. until well after 10 p.m. that same evening. People from Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and all points in between...most of them knew Bill, and many knew me...but all of them knew and loved JESUS...that is all that mattered.

On Wednesday morning, I went into the Pre-op around 5:35 a.m. I was in surgery around 6 a.m. I woke up in my room around 1:15 p.m. with Marti and Anthony Stone, Pastor Charles Butler, Dr Robert Daugherty, and Tennessee State Congressman Kevin Brooks at my bedside...rejoicing in the LORD...and worshipping God for His marvelous hand in all of this!

Person after person was hearing how GOD had orchestrated the whole event, and how HE made sure the surgery was as textbook-picture perfect as it could be. I was completely awake...and realizing what a life-transforming event had just transpired...and how the LORD had been glorified in it all.

The people of God around the country, and around the world have been magnificent in their prayers, love, and good wishes and greetings to both myself, and our precious Dr Bill George and his wife, Nelda.

This was truly the Body of Christ--the people of God--at their finest....

I am humbled and exhilirated to be part of such a wonderful kingdom.

It is truly about HIM...His love, His will, and HIS glory.

From my heart: "What would you do?"

So TODAY is the day I've waited for almost six months now....I'll fly to Birmingham, Alabama this evening...spend the night with my friends (from college days) Dr Tim Stone and his wife Tammy (and their adorable children). Tomorrow morning, I will get up, shower/shave/dress myself, and go over to the University of Alabama-Birmingham Hospital/North Pavilion. I will then check in as a patient (just confirmed that I already have a 'bed reservation').

On Wednesday morning, October 28, at approximately 7 a.m., I will be transported into the Surgery ward of UAB hospital, where I will willingly give my left kidney for transplant into one of the finest men I know.

The Lord's hand is in this...I'm not afraid of the pain, the recovery, any possible side effects, or the complications which (in all likelihood will not, but) could occur.

I am very, very, VERY excited about this "assignment from the Lord." I'm thankful that God spoke to me more than six months ago, on a Tuesday night when I was "surfing" FaceBook.

If you were aware that someone you knew needed an "organ" donation--and you could do it...would you?

Why? Why not?

I've lost my cell phone...HELP!

For the first time in EIGHT YEARS, I have lost my cell phone....I had almost 300 numbers in that little contraption. I am LOST without it...(I don't have any of those numbers memorized)...

So, if you would be so kind as to call me...or email me, or something, I'll have you number again...


My Hero: Virginia Horton

Very few people in life bring the class, dignity, and grace that Virginia Horton brings to those who are blest enough to know her. She is in a class all by herself!

I first met this wonderful lady when I was a transfer student into Lee College (now University) back in 1983. I happened to wander over to the "Old Music Building" (yes, that place really, really did exist), and heard her lovely voice during a rehearsal. I couldn't wait to meet her--even though I was NEVER a music major. She has been one of my very favorite people ever since.

When I was active duty in the United States Air Force, one of the great joys of my life was getting to stay in touch with Virginia and her wonderful husband David. Talking with them--even though I was sometimes on the other side of the world---always lifted my soul, and encouraged my heart. When my Grandmother Hoover passed on to heaven back in 1992, I can remember Virginia sending me the nicest and most beautiful card. It brought such joy to my heart, and I probably still have it those unpacked boxes of mine!

A few years ago, Virginia was accompanying her wonderful husband, Dr David Horton and the Lee University Campus Choir on a summer tour of the Bahama Islands. Dr David, very suddenly and unexpectedly, went to be with the Lord. This precious woman has shown the grace and peace of God through all of the times since then. She still teaches full time at Lee University...

She still inspires people to give their "all to the Lord." In so many ways, Virginia Horton is my hero!

Mr President, Be careful.

Mr President,

The "Human Rights Campaign" is not interested in "human rights." They are more interested and concerned with "special rights." Please stop legitimizing their "pet projects."

I agree with you, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is a flawed policy. But until the Joint Chiefs feel that it should be discarded, leave it alone! Get Secretary Gates' opinion and feelings on the policy, and act accordingly. Remember, the men and women in military uniform are depending on your good judgment. Don't let them down. You can afford to let the "special interest groups" (of every political hue) be disappointed. None of those groups are defending this nation...the military men and women are....don't let them down.

Senator Feinstein was exactly right. Give General McChrystal what he wants, and do it expeditiously. You were the one who appointed him to the war in of your campaign themes was that we must "win in Afghanistan", let's make sure we do. Others may disagree with the good general...but he has given you his best take it. Don't RUMSFELD Afghanistan (to quote Senator Graham from South Carolina).

Keep being a great father to your two beautiful daughters, and a good, faithful husband to your lovely wife, Michelle.

I deeply applaud your efforts in the healthcare reform battle in this country. We must do something. Thank you for stepping up to the plate. Don't be dismayed, discouraged or dissuaded.

May God be with you.

This has blest me so much today...

I Rest My Case at the Cross

There's a covenant sweet, it was written for me,
it's a promise that I could be healed..
from All my sin and my shame,
even heartache and pain,
it was signed and confirmed on a Hill.

So I rest my case at the Cross,
for now I have Someone to champion my cause,.
I've been justified, satisfied, oh, I have it all,
so I rest my case at the Cross.

Don't feel sorry for me when you see I'm in need,
there's a Judge who grants mercy and love.
All my burdens He lifts,
All my sin He forgives,
Every time is won through the blood.

So I rest my case at the Cross,
for now I have someone to champion my cause,
I've been justified, satisfied, oh, I have it all!
So I rest my case at the Cross.

In the Cross, in the Cross... be my glory ever,
This covenant is binding by His blood and His word,
every trial and trouble... my case will be heard,
I've been justified, satisfied, oh, I have it all,
I rest my case at the Cross.

What were THEY thinking?

As much as I admire President Obama's personal accomplishments, and his tremendous intelligence with an ability to grasp/dissect very difficult issues...I have to wonder what the NOBEL PEACE PRIZE Commitee was thinking when our President was given the PRIZE..?

He's been in office less than one year...he has world-wide name recognition and popularity (but after the last Administration, just about anyone other than Bush-Cheney would have been seriously considered for the award), but he has done NOTHING, in my opinion, worthy of the $1.5 million dollar Nobel Peace Prize.

This reminds me of the award going to Mikail Gorbachev in 1990....and the man had basically done nothing to deserve the award.

I think the Scandinavians are great people. I loved living in Oslo for two years....and these people were always very kind and gracious to this American. They were terrific friends to me.

But, this award has now been cheapened...and has lost much of its significance. While I'm sure the President is flattered, and in his own words "humbled" by this is tremendously PREMATURE, in my humble opinion.

I'm about to become a KIDNEY DONOR....maybe I should make sure the Nobel Committee is aware of this next February.

My hero: Dr R Hollis Gause

More than 25 years ago I encountered a brilliant man who would let me "bite off more than I could chew" academically-speaking. He could give a 'fill-in-the-blank' exam that would make a "preacher cuss..." (well, that was a saying when I was growing up...LOL)...

After passing at least four of his courses (Revelation, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Romans and Galatians, and I can't remember the last one...but it was a book study), I knew that Dr R Hollis Gause would be a 'distant' memory for me...even though his scholarly abilities and all-around superior intelligence was incomparable. This was 1985...and I thought I knew it all....

In 1996, after ten years in the United States Air Force, I sensed the LORD leading me back to Cleveland, Tennessee where I would enter the Church of God School of Theology (which would become the Church of God Theological Seminary, and has recently renamed itself the Pentecostal Theological Seminary...) One of the first people I would see would be this "giant" of a man, Doctor Gause. His humor, his kindness, and his brilliance had, by and large, remained untainted by either time or circumstances.

Now that I was somewhat older (and wiser), I was anxious and excited to get into one of Dr Gause's classes...and drink deeply from all that he would teach me.

But the most important lessons I would learn from this precious man would be outside of the academic classroom, and more in the auditorium of life. I watched him care for his completely bedridden wife, Sister Beaulah Gause, as she withered away from the plague of Alzheimer's disease. He cared for her continually, and rarely left her side for anything more than his professional responsibilities at the Seminary. He demonstrated the absolute LOVE OF CHRIST where all of us could see it, and see what it should look like in every day life.

I'll always remember Holy Week, 1997. I was working the night shift at Bradley Memorial Hospital....I received a call that my favorite aunt had just passed on to heaven. I had just talked with her the day before on the phone. I was devastated. I called Brother Gause...and this sweet, kind man prayed for me...over the telephone, and was just the "face of Jesus" for me in this terrible shock.

Every time I have "an issue" that I need wisdom, clarity, and truth spoken into my being, I know that I can call two people. Dr R Hollis Gause is one of those two people. He is such a father to me in so many ways. My heart is always enriched every time I hear his voice, and my walk with Christ is always encouraged with his wisdom and kindness. He has been BEYOND GENEROUS to me in so many ways.....with his time, his love, his wisdom, and with himself.

He is a supreme treasure in my life. He is everything I want to be when I grow "older": A sweet, kind, loving man who is the "face of Jesus" to many who encounter him. He is my hero!

My hero: Jane Pearson...

Jane Ford Pearson is the most amazing woman I know! I will attempt, in a few paragraphs, to tell you why this WONDERFUL woman is my hero.

I first met her when I was in the fifth grade. Her son, Jim(my) was in my class when I transferred from Brownsboro Elementary School over to Central Middle School. But she wouldn't become an important person in my life until just a few years later....but that's for another time.

Many things stand out about "Miss Jane" to me. First, the professional stuff:

1) She taught elementary school for more than forty years, and her students actually 'learned' what was required of them. She was (and is) a lot of fun, but also very serious when it comes to the business of "learning.

2) She is tremendously accomplished. She taught Home Economics early in her career...she played the violin in the Auburn University Orchestra, and she still has a great love for music.

The personal stuff:

1) Everything I know about class and style, I learned sitting at her kitchen table. She taught me how to properly fold a napkin, and how to properly place the table settings. I learned how to 'steam vegetables' (where they were edible, but not mushy), and to make a good glass of "sweet tea." I learned how to properly iron a table cloth, and how to select flowers for a center piece.

2) Since we didn't have a car (my grandmother couldn't drive), Miss Jane made sure that if we ever needed anything that she was available. I would often walk the mile down our country road just to spend time at the Pearsons. My Grandmother Hoover knew that if I were at "Miss Jane's" that I was in good hands, and no-risk of ever getting into trouble. That was more certain than the sun going down in the West.

3) When I was a senior in High School, Jane Pearson convinced me that I was smart enough to go to college, and that she WOULD NOT let me "not go to college." She helped me fill out all the admissions packet materials, and constantly encouraged me. She made sure that I had plenty of clothes to take to school with me when I left for college more than 29 years ago. I felt like a 'rich man' when I arrived in Cleveland, TN for my freshman year of college!

4) When my precious Grandmother Hoover died in May 1992, "Miss Jane" was there by my side through the whole weekend. I would have never made it through this "loss" without her. She came to the funeral home, stood by me, and took my hand to let me know I was not alone. The next morning, she came to the funeral, and sat near me...I'll always remember that. That Friday evening, I was at her home and we had pizza for dinner...we talked about my Grandmother Hoover, and what a special lady she was...and that night "Miss Jane" became the "greatest living woman" in my life....without even knowing it.

5) Now she is a bit older (late 70s) and is beginning to experience some dementia...but she still has a wonderful sense of humor, and still calls to 'check on me' regularly. She reminds me that I always have a "place at her table" and a "bed at her house."

I could write BOOKS about this wonderful, wonderful woman. She's my hero!

My hero: Gary R Langley

I wasn't sure where to start, so I figured "Pastor Gary" would be as good a place as any. I've known this good man for more than 35 years...and he still calls me friend....He was my youth leader back at the West Huntsville Church in the mid-late 1970s. At the time, he was working full time as a graphic artist in the Huntsville area...and wrestling with God too.

He is a tremendously gifted musician. A very thoughtful, creative artist. A military veteran, and one who loves His God, his family, and his world with a passion that is rarely duplicated anywhere.

Even though I've not seen him in person for more than 27 years, we talk often, and I've been able to share things with him that I've told very, very few other people. He has often prayed with me, cried with me, and shared his heart. His faithfulness to the Lord continually inspires and encourages me. He is also a loving husband to his wonderful wife Amy, and a doting father to both of his children, one of whom is not married. Josh and Torie have a wonderful father.

After many years in the both the business world, and the church world, Pastor Gary took the great leap of going back to school and pursuing a Masters Degree (Fuller Seminary) while maintaining his ministerial HAWAII, of course. (If you are going to be OVERWHELMED in life...Hawaii is the place to do it...or so I'm told).

Yes, Gary Langley, you are one of my heroes. That's not gonna change any time soon.

My heroes.....Special, Special People....

For the next few blog posts, I'm gonna write about "my heroes" in life.
I'm a firm believer in giving people their "roses while they live." I'm convinced the heart of God is pleased when we love and acknowledge others who mean so much to us. There have been so many, many people in my life who qualify as HEROES....I just hope I don't leave anyone out in the next few weeks...months...however long I am writing about these great friends. So, here's your assignment...

THINK about the people who are "heroes" in your life...make sure you tell them how special they are, and what they mean to you now...and have meant to you in the past.

This is my testimony...

written by Bill and Gloria Gaither:


Don't ask me to explain to you how one could start again
or hardened hearts could soften like a child.
Don't ask me how to reason out the mysteries of life
or how to face it's problems with a smile.

Go ask the man who's found the way through tangled roads
back home to stay when all communications were destroyed;
Go ask the child who's walking now who once was crippled
and then somehow her useless legs were made to jump for joy.
Go ask the one who's burned out mind has been restored
I think you'll find the questions not as important as before.
Don't ask me if He's good or bad I only know the guilt I had is gone
and I can't tell you any more.

Don't ask me how to prove to you why I know God is there
or how I know that He would care for you.
And don't ask me why someone so great would chose to walk with me
and trade my broken life for one that's new.
Go ask the child whose got a dad to love away the hurt he had
before this man called Jesus touched their lives.
Go ask the one whose fears have fled whose churning heart was quieted
when Someone whispered "peace" to all her strive.
Go ask the man to tell you more whose life was just a raging war
inside himself until the Savior came.

I don't pretend to be so wise, I only know He touched my eyes
and nothing else will ever be the same.

THANK YOU (conclusion)

After ten very interesting and exciting years in the United States Air Force, I deeply sensed it was time to return to "civilian life" and to get some more education. I returned to Cleveland, TN to attend the Church of God School of Theology (which would become the Church of God Theological Seminary, and is now the Pentecostal Theological Seminary).

I returned to the "church of my heart"--the Peerless Road Church with Pastor Tim McCaleb and his wonderful family. Lots of things had changed in this congregation, and I'm not sure I was ready for all the "stuff" that had changed during my ten-year absence. I stayed in this congregation for one semester (from August 1996 until December 1996), and then felt that it would be best to find another 'church home.' I should have been upfront when I decided to 'change churches', but I wasn't...and to this day, I regret not doing so. Pastor Tim McCaleb and his wife, Sheena, are still very dear and precious to me. They treated me so wonderfully well and I owe them a debt I can never repay.

My new local church would be the North Cleveland Church of God, with Pastor Mitch Maloney. This historic congregation is possibly the oldest continuing Pentecostal congregation in North America, if not the world. Pastor Maloney and his wife, Sharon, were wonderfully kind and gracious to me. This good man prayed for me in some really tough and trying times during my 3.5 years as one of his members. He loved and cared for me in ways that I can't explain. I'm very, very grateful for his gentle, shepherding heart towards me.

August, 2000 would find me moving ONE MORE TIME--this time to the Windy City. Chicago, Illinois would be my home indefinitely. I wasn't sure of all that awaited me, but I knew that GOD was in the decision to relocate. After a few bumps and bruises (some of my own doing), I landed at the historic Moody Church, where Erwin W. Lutzer has been the pastor now for more than 30 years. I had listened to both "The Moody Church Hour" and "Songs in the Night" for many, many years before I ever dreamed that I would even visit Chicago--not to mention, live here. For two years, this would be my home, and my family.

In October 2002, I would visit the newly-established Chicago Tabernacle on Chicago's northwest side. Pastor Al Toledo and his wife Chrissy (eldest daughter of Jim and Carol Cymbala) had started this congregation a few months earlier, and I was in "on the ground level" watching the mighty hand of God as He performed what only He could do. The Toledos were kind people, and multi-gifted with more talent than should be permitted in a single family. For three years, this would be my "spiritual home" Pastor Toledo was (and is) one of the most inspiring preachers/speakers that I can ever remember hearing. He always brought something "fresh" from the Scriptures, and fed me the Word of God. However, my membership there would last only three years, and in November 2005, I would return

The Moody Church, Dr Erwin W Lutzer as my Senior Pastor. I'll always remember what this wonderful, wonderful man said the first Sunday that I was backing worshipping among the saints. He came up to me, and said, "It's about time you came back home." After the events surrounding my decision to leave Chicago Tabernacle, such a warm welcome brought tears to my eyes. I was glad to "be back home."

THANK YOU (continued)

My life would change DRAMATICALLY on September 22, 1986: I would enter the United States Air Force on active duty...and preparing for an adventure for which I had less than a clue!

Once I finished entry-level training, I was stationed at the Presidio of Monterey, California. I attended the Post Chapel there, where Chaplain Schmidt would be my "shepherd" for the brief stay/assignment on this gorgeous seaside Peninsula. This godly and gracious Assemblies of God chaplain preached the Word boldly, and encouraged me to use all the gifts God would ever bestow upon me. I'll never forget him calling me one day, asking me to direct the music for the post chapel one Sunday. That was the thrill of a lifetime for me. He and I would stay in touch for the rest of his military career. I often went back to the Presidio to be a guest soloist for him.

In March 1987, I relocated to Lowry Air Force Base, near Denver, Colorado. I had never been in Colorado before, even though I knew several people there. I visited a few churches, but finally settled on the Denver First Church of the Nazarene, where Dr W Donald Wellman was the Senior Pastor. There are so many wonderful things to say about Denver First Church--and I still have several friends in that congregation, more than 22 years later! Pastor Wellman and his wife Pat became dear friends. I remember having to be hospitalized for two days while there. Somehow Pastor Wellman found out, and the two of them came to see me in the hospital. He was a giant (in stature) and a wonderful, wonderful preacher. The last time I saw him in person was on March 13, 1988 (my 26th birthday) when I was visiting back in Denver, and worshipping with my "DFC family" again. (I moved from Denver in June 1987).

Chaplains Chris Losey and Travis Robinson became my "pastors" during my almost 3-years at Beale Air Force Base, California. I moved from Denver back to California in 1987. Beale AFB is located out in the middle of NOWHERE. The nearest "city" was the state capital--Sacramento--some fifty miles away. There were a couple of small towns near by, but nothing to write home about. I became very active in the Base Chapel program. For almost three years, I was often a musician in one of the two chapels on the installation. Many times I was a soloist, offering my vocal praise to the Lord. Chris Losey and Travis Robinson (and their respective families) are still very dear and precious friends to me---to this day. Both have retired from the United States Air Force, and are in civilian pastorates. These families became "my family" in short order, and have kept me close to their hearts. I am eternally grateful for both of them.

January 1990 would find me moving to another hemisphere: Kunsan Air Base, South Korea! This would be an entirely new adventure for me. Chaplains Larry Hendon and Gary Piepkorn (among others) would be responsible for helping "guide" me spiritually in this new assignment. Larry was an independent Charismatic, and Gary is a staunch Lutheran-Missouri Synod. I've lost touch with Larry, but still maintain close contact with Gary and his wonderful wife Judy. I learned more about myself, about God's family, and how to live out "God's Word" in my life from these two men during this very, very busy year of my life.

January, 1991 I moved to the other side of the world again. Oslo, Norway would be my home for the next twenty-two months. Pastor Ivar Ovegaard (now deceased) and the congregation at Misjonkirke Betlehem would become my spiritual family for all intents and purposes. I learned to speak Norwegian in church--of all places. This would really be a "stretching place" for my spiritual walk with the Lord. I was very fortunate in that the Piepkorns would follow me to Norway, and become even closer family to me than Gary had already been during our assignment in South Korea. God knew that I would need them...badly. The people of Misjonkirke Betlehem were lovely and kind. I still have friends there...and many of those saints are now rejoicing around the throne of God.

The day after the general election (here in the United States) in 1992, I moved from Oslo, Norway to my new assignment at Reese AFB near Lubbock, Texas! WHAT A SHOCK! But I also knew the first thing I wanted to do was find a good local church. Someone recommended the First Church of the Nazarene with Pastor John Donnerberg. From the first Sunday of November 1992 through the end of April, 1993, this was my church home. Pastor Donnerberg was a great preacher--and he never spoke more than 20 minutes. He loved me, encouraged me, and helped me adjust to the "culture shock" of returning back to the United States after almost three years on opposite sides of the world.

September 1993, I decided that I wanted to get back into a Charismatic/Pentecostal congregation...and Trinity Church (Randal Ross was the Senior Pastor) would fit the bill for me. There is so much than can be said about Trinity Church--most of it very, very good...and some of it, not-so-flattering. I made many friendships there, and the LORD brought me into a much deeper, abiding relationship with Himself and His people during my tenure there. Pastor Ross, along with the rest of the pastoral staff, were very kind to me. He always preached the Word of God, and treated me with the gentleness of a shepherd. He is not senior pastor at Calvary Church in surburban Naperville, Illinois, just west of Chicago where I live. I've seen him one time in nine years of living here.

August 1996 would find me returning to Civilian life. I'll write more about that in the next post.

Thank You!

I want to say "Thank You" to some people who have shaped and formed me in ways they may not have ever realized--but they did. These great people are the "shepherds" that have helped guide and guard my spiritual life. I can't name them all, but there are some who are particularly noteworthy, and I want to honor them.

Tommy Rosenbloom was the Senior minister at the Greenfield Church of Christ. On a Tuesday night in June, 1968, I went forward in the "Gospel meeting" and gave my heart to Jesus. I repented of my sins--the best a six-year old would know how--and asked Christ to come into my heart. He did. I followed Him in obedience to His command and was baptized in water that same night. (That was also some of the Coldest water I can ever remember being in.) He was my "pastor" for about two or three years after that event.

Pastor Dewey Smith was my pastor during my very early teenage years at the Virginia Boulevard Church of God. That congregation is now "Life Church International" in Huntsville, Alabama. Brother Smith was just a giant of a man to me. A great preacher, and just a very kind, warm man. His late wife, Christine, was one of the kindest people I've ever known. She treated me as one of her very own children. I'll always remember that.

Pastor Billy Nettles was my pastor at the West Huntsville Church of God of Prophecy in the mid 1970s (around 1975-1977, if my memory serves me correctly). What a kind, gracious, gentle man! What a great preacher! The first time I ever heard someone "sing in tongues" it was Brother Nettles. It was such a moving, spiritual experience for me. I knew this man was full of God's Spirit and power...He had such a kind, generous heart. He treated me as the "son he never had." But then again, he treated all of us younguns' like that. He made sure that I went to my very first youth camp when I was fourteen years old---an experience that helped ground me in my walk with the LORD like few other things ever did. He came to visit us, even though we lived WAAAY out in the 'sticks" when I was very sick...and I'll always remember what a tender, kind shepherd he was. He is now in glory. His widow, Beth, is still one of my dearest friends on this earth. She keeps me 'thinking right" even though we often disagree on political matters. She is my "mama" in so many ways, and I adore her.

Pastor Raymond Wallace followed Pastor Nettles at the West Huntsville Church. Even though he was only my pastor for a year, this gracious man was so very good to me. He was kind in every possible way. He had a great sense of humor, and was just a terrific person.

Pastor Mildred Roden was my shepherd at the Rock Cliff Church of God of Prophecy--about three miles walking (around a country road) from my house (in the sticks). It may surprise some of you, but yes, I FULLY support women in ministry. If God calls them, WHO am I to deny them the freedom that God has given them--as long as they are preaching and teaching God's truth as revealed in God's Word. Sister Roden was just a terrific pastor. She was a great preacher, and had the kindest heart of anyone I can think of. She faced multitudes of persecution and hardship, but there has never been a more faithful person to lead a congregation than this giant in the faith. She tolerated me more than once when I just didn't know what I was doing. (I was also the ONLY teenager in her congregation for the two years I was there under her leadership). We had a revival meeting going on the very week of my high school graduation (I was also the first one to graduate while a member of this church), and she excused me for graduation ceremonies on that Friday night. Sadly, this precious saint of God left us (and the church who loved her) for the City Whose Builder and Maker is God, that same summer in 1980. She's been there now almost 30 years, and I still miss her.

Pastor J E Brisson was my pastor during my first two years of college at the Peerless Road Church in Cleveland, Tennessee. He will go down in history as the very best pastor--in every sense of the word--that I ever had. Tremendous preacher--and I do mean TREMENDOUS! A wonderful shepherding heart, and a great sense of humor. I still remember things he preached some 28-29 years ago--and I can't remember what I had for dinner last night. Sister Brisson is one of the most talented and gracious people I've ever known. What a precious, precious couple.

Bishop Sam Clements followed the Brissons at the Peerless Road Church, in the summer of 1982. He, his wife Linda, and their three boys were our new "parsonage family." It was a bit of an adjustment for me---because I adored the Brissons--but these people soon won my heart. A completely different style, but some of the kindest and most gracious folks would could want in their "spiritual family." Linda and I are good FACEBOOK friends, and I treasure them to this day. I last saw Bishop Clements, who is now at the denominational headquarters in Tennessee, in November 2007. He is the same jovial, good-natured, humorous man he always was as my pastor. I was part of his congregational regularly until September 1986.

At this point, I entered active duty in the United States Air Force in September, 1986, and moved around quite a bit in the ensuing ten years.

My next blog post, I'll continue saluting these wonderful people who have meant so much in my life.

Remember this...

While walking by the sea, "Come and follow Me" Jesus called.
Then all through Galilee, the sick and the diseased,
He healed them all!
Jesus hasn't changed, His power is still the same
As when He walked the shores.
This God of yesterday is still the healing Jesus
Now and evermore!

What a healing Jesus I've found in You!
What a healing Jesus, You refresh, restore, and renew!
You're my healing Jesus for such a time as this
Arise on healing wings, O Sun of Righteousness!

The Spirit of the Lord now is upon Me, anointing Me
To heal the broken heart, open prison doors, to set captives free.
To comfort those who mourn, and fill their lips with praise
To pour the oil of joy...
That we may be called "the trees of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord."

What a healing Jesus I've found in You!
What a healing Jesus, You restore, refresh, and renew!
You're my healing Jesus for such a time as this!
Arise on healing wings, O Sun of Righteousness.

**Thank you, Mary Brown, for allowing the Holy Spirit of God to inspire such a wonderful song, reminding us of the healing powers of our great Jesus! I've sang this song many, many times--watching God restore hope and life to those who have needed to hear that JESUS still heals today. Your ministry has blest the Body of Christ all over the world.

"Red Flags You Probably Missed"...

A Classic sermon on "marriage" by my senior Pastor, Dr Erwin W Lutzer. Here it is...He preached it last Sunday morning...

It was gripping, enlightening, entertaining, and sobering.

Listen to it....a couple of times.

My heart is breaking....

Six and one-half weeks ago, a precious gift from God arrived here in Chicago. Asher Samuel Ramirez (nicknamed "Bear" by his father) arrived about 4.5 months early to his wonderful parents, Vince and Lark Ramirez. He was less than 2 lbs, and just a very, very tiny little fellow.

A few days later, I had the great joy of visiting him in the NICU at Northwestern Hospital...with his absolutely joyous Mom and Dad showing me his perfectly formed fingers and toes. I stood there, silently asking God to bring this child to his full and natural birth weight and growth. I knew that Asher was receiving the very best care he could get.

You can read about him here:

Last Sunday (four days ago) I was able to pay my second visit over to Asher--now at Children's Memorial Hospital in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. His condition had worsened...considerably.

I just received word that this precious child is now in the arms of the LOVING SHEPHERD JESUS. I can't begin to imagine what Vince and Lark are going through right now. I'm wiping tears from my eyes as I am typing this note......

Before I left the hospital on Sunday afternoon, I put my arms around Vince and could hardly hold back the tears...not knowing how close to "going home" this adorable little boy would be.

He is now perfectly formed. He is now perfectly safe...He is now perfectly at rest...and waiting for his parents to see this wonderful place Whose Builder and Maker is God.

Please pray for my loving friends, Vince and Lark Ramirez.

I can't help but cry now.

A blast from the past...

Tears often fall from my face in sorrow
As I walk on thru the long lonely night.
So often I cry and it seems no one hears me;
Then thru the shadows I can see the dawning of light.

The shadows may fall and my cross gets heavy,
Sometimes it seems that I'll never see another day dawning.
But I remember His words though the night finds me weeping
He promised me, and surely there'll be joy in the morning.

Soon this old life and all of it's trials
Will be left behind for there's a new day a dawning.
And the shadows of sin will vanish forever
forever I'll find the sun always shines
Joy in the morning!

I remember hearing this wonderful song more than 30 years ago. If my memory serves me correctly, Aaron Wilburn wrote it. The first time I can remember hearing it was when Jill Kendrick (Stone) came and sang it in our local church in Huntsville, Alabama. I've gone back to the message of this song many, many times.

The LORD does give us joy in the morning. Sometimes those nights are VERY, VERY long...but He brings peace and joy like no other. He brings victory and freedom. Praise His name!

Healthcare Reform: The 'forgotten factor"

It is no secret that I firmly believe that we need TRUE and REAL healthcare reform in this nation. I have many friends who are medical professionals (most of them very, very conservative in their thinking) who believe that we are YEARS behind where we should be in reforming our healthcare systems in this country.

But there is ONE factor that hasn't come up in the debate: Personal responsibility.

As I stated somewhere else (can't remember exactly where), NO HEALTHCARE REFORM will be effective, lasting, or worthwhile if the mindset of the "American consumer" is not considerably altered in how and why and when they access their "health care" options.

Example: My mother is a chain smoker. Has been all of my life, and I suspect YEARS before I was ever born. Her personal physician has warned her for years that the cigarettes would eventually kill her. She has suffered with many, many health problems--directly related to her nicotine habit. She REFUSES to stop smoking. Yet, she is seeing her doctor all the time to see how he can medicate her for various breathing/health ailments--all related to her cigarette smoking and self-abuse of her own health for more than four decades. Where does the insurance company, and the primary care physician say, "We aren't going to spend our resources on this patient who refuses to take responsibility for her own health"?

Example: I am preparing to be a kidney donor for a wonderful, wonderful friend who desperately needs a transplant. The surgical team performing the procedures have basically already given me instructions for "after-care" and what I can expect once my left kidney has been removed from my body and transplanted into the recipient. What if I completely IGNORE the advice and warnings and instructions...and later run into SEVERE medical/health problems because I didn't follow "medical instructions"? What kind of obligations does my health insurer have to me in this case? What repercussions must I assume, since I am the one deliberately not following professional, medical instructions after major surgery?

Example: I have worked in two separate medical facilities (smaller hospitals) in two very different settings (Cleveland, TN and Chicago, IL) as an Emergency Room Clerk, and on a medical-surgical ward. I've seen all the "repeat offenders" coming through both departments of the respective hospitals. Most of these people have some type of insurance--either private insurance, or one of the "public options" (Medicare, Medicaid, or Public Aid) that is already in place in both states. Ninety-Nine percent of these patients who present themselves to the Emergency Room(s) do so late at night, on a weekend, when their primary physician(s) are normally on call, or out of reach. Most of these situations are not "emergency" fact, most of these people refuse to see their own primary care physician, for whatever reason.

I remember one such person, who had just been discharged from the hospital in Tennessee, and about 20 minutes later was in the Walgreen Parking lot smoking a joint that someone had brought to him when they picked him up from the hospital. Later that night he was b ack in the Emergency Room of Bradley Memorial Hospital....complaining of severe breathing problems. What should be done in this case?

The forgotten factor, in my considered opinion, in this whole debate is how the American consumer should adjust to accessing their health care systems once the reforms have been passed and enacted. There is WIDESPREAD abuse in the health care systems, simply because NO ONE is being held accountable for abusing the consumption of services, unnecessarily.

This is the forgotten factor...the 8000 lb elephant in the room. He's not going anywhere as long as he's being ignored. Someone must realize he is there.

Think about this.....

I first heard Geron Davis' fabulous music some twenty-four years ago when "Holy Ground" became such a "popular" song to sing in Christian circles. I've admired him ever since.

I went back through some of the taped services from Denver First Church of the Nazarene ( from years gone by...and found one where Geron, his wife Becky, and their friend Wesley Pritchard were ministering at DFC. They sang this wonderful, wonderful song:

When I stop and see,just where I've been
I'm really amazed I made it thru this place.
And I can honestly say
without a doubt in my mind
It's only because my life has been
Covered by His grace.

Is it any wonder they call it, "AMAZING GRACE?"
Great and small, every wrong erased.
When we were guilty as sin,
Jesus stepped in
And offered to take our place
Tell me, "is it any wonder they call it "AMAZING GRACE"?

All the debt was mine,
Jesus said "I'll pay"
A love so divine, has shattered both time and space.
And forevermore, hope had been reborn
For all of the world
had been introduced to God's Amazing Grace.

Indeed. We must never forget that Jesus did for us what we could never do for ourselves. We were not only lost in our sins...we were DEAD in our sins. God's only Son gave us the ability to "live again." I'm thankful...I'm humbled, and I'm amazed at His grace. We all should be.

I'm not going...

I'm not going to Mark's ordination tomorrow (Sunday, September 6th). While I would love to support someone who has meant a great deal to me for more than eight years now; someone who lived in my apartment for two summers, and someone that I love as much as any one I can think of...I'm just can't make myself go to his ordination tomorrow evening.

I don't want to be bitter, angry, or even hurt. I'm not bitter...and I'm definitely not angry. I do feel some hurt...and this too shall pass.


I don't want to set myself up for something that I am not expecting, for something that could be very difficult. I just hope I made the right decision.

This classic...

from the ministry of the late Dottie Rambo has been on my mind all day long:

I didn't come here to ask You for anything
I just came to talk with You, Lord.
You've answered a million prayers or more
That I forgot to thank You for,
I just came to talk with You, Lord.

Maybe tomorrow, there'll be trouble and sorrow
And a thousand tear drops may fall.
But until I face tomorrow's task
There is no special favor to ask,
I just came to talk with You, Lord.

It seems like we Christ-followers have a "wish list" or "request list" every time we want to talk with the Lord. Why is that? Would YOU want to talk with someone who never acknowledges/communicates with YOU unless THEY wanted something from YOU?

Quite honestly, NO, I wouldn't. I've gone so far (in the not too distant past) as to let my friends know that if the only time I hear from them is when they want something, then I'd rather not hear from them. I would hope that our relationship(s) are valued on the person(s), not just what someone can do for us.

I am beginning to feel the same way about my Lord Jesus. I want to love Him because HE IS....because I am so enamored and enchanted, and overwhelmed with HIM...not just what HE can do for me...

My friend Alex and I were talking about Matthew 6:24-34 again recently. We want to know Christ and the righteousness of God...not just for what HE can do for us...but because HE IS.

"So until I face tomorrow's task..."

What should I do?

This has troubled me for a day or two now. Let me see if I can lay all the information (in an understandable, coherent manner) out for you. I really do need some feedback on this one.

I have a friend...we'll call him Mark...he and I have been friends for more than eight years now. We can became good friends shortly after we both arrived here in the Chicago area. He is considerably younger than myself. A fine Christian, and just a good all around person.

We've been through a lot together. He's stayed in my home on two different occasions for a good length of time, and I was delighted to have him there. He knows more about me than most of my closest friends know about me. I've shared things with him that I have never shared with most people.

A few years ago, my friend got married, had a child (#2 is on the way), and started pursuing his dream of going to the mission field in full time ministry.

He lives out in the suburbs...but easily within a 30-45 minute commute.

He has basically ignored me for the last nine months. Pretended as though I either didn't exist, or just wasn't important enough to stay connected with...or maybe a combination of other things. The last time I saw him was at an event where I wound up being the pianist for the evening...completely unplanned...because the scheduled prepaid musician never showed up.

Ever since that time, I've almost been a non-entity.

I received an email (a couple weeks ago) telling me of his ordination examination at his local church...and how he wanted me to be there if at all possible....I received the EMAIL late one Saturday night...and the event was the very next day...and I already had obligations that couldn't be changed. He has all of my contact information (phone numbers, etc). I'd like to believe this was an oversight...but I'm having a hard time convincing myself of that.

His formal ordination into professional ministry is this Sunday, September 6th. In a very roundabout way, I've been invited to attend the ceremony. That means I'll have to get on the METRA, go out to the suburbs, attend a ceremony, and then come home. This was a last-minute, roundabout invitation that I received...

I'm very tempted to not go to the ceremony at all. While I love my friend dearly (I really, really do), I'm beginning to feel as though I'm disposable, and that I should let him "move on"--in other words, find the nearest "exit" out of his life. This possiblity causes me pain beyond description.

Or I could go to the ordination ceremony, keep my mouth shut, smile warmly, get back on the train, and return back to the city.

I'm just not sure. But I've got to make a decision soon.

Why did you do that?

I was talking with a precious friend last night...about some deep stuff. This great brother in Christ is such a blessing in my life. The LORD knew exactly when this man should become a part of my life--and also how to bring him in. We actually became friends in the kitchen at Moody Church one Sunday evening, when I was preparing the "snacks" after the Sunday evening service. (I seem to develop a lot of friendships in the church kitchen.)

We've been praying for each other, and keeping each other encouraged in the dailyness of life. He's a gifted athlete, and aspires to be a college basketball coach some day. Now, he wants to be part of a "coaching team" admirable goal.

But as I was reading last night, the Lord brought him to mind. So, I called him. I wanted to share with him some of my life experiences about the "spotlight."

There is nothing wrong with having high aspirations and great goals in life. Nothing troubles me more than someone who never aims high at anything--because they will always achieve it, sadly enough. Yet, in our 'reaching for the top' we have to examine our motives. I always have to ask myself, "Why am I doing this?" Am I doing this because I want someone to see how 'accomplished' I have become? Am I doing this because I feel that I deserve the 'attention' that will come my way? Just why am I doing this?

About four years ago, I remember hearing someone famous person (can't remember their name for the life of me this morning) mention their personal addiction to the "narcotic of being noticed." And for those who think they are not addicted....I would encourage some close examination.

Why do I do what I do? Is it because I am personally gratified with a "job well done"? Is it because I want my "superiors" to promote me, or give me a raise, or elevate me? Am I performing because I want to "impress" someone, somewhere?

Honestly, I still struggle with "motives." We all do. That's where the power of God's love and acceptance...and His grace and glory come into play. My earnest and deepest prayer is that I will perform "well" because I want God to be pleased and glorified with the results of whatever I am doing. So "why did you do that"?

The challenge is on...

My friend Alex and I are challenging each other to memorize this very powerful passage from Sermon on the Mount:

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek.

For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Nine Years Ago today...August 27, 2000

I moved from the safe environs of rural Cleveland, Tennessee, and moved to the windy city of Chicago, Illinois. I knew that God was in the move...even though there were many, many uncertainties that I would face.

These last nine years have been FULL of adventure. Finding jobs, changing jobs...finding a local church where I would be a parishioner, and even changing local churches at one in FOUR different places...having a roommate on two different occasions. Writing a manuscript that I haven't published (which now needs some major revisions), getting involved with several worthy and worthwhile organizations that assist this nation's military veterans. Meeting great people all over the city...and from all over the world.

Living through the tragedy of September 11, 2001--I was working in an Emergency Call Center that day--and fearing that Chicago would be next. Thanking God for protecting this city on that fateful, awful day. Asking God to be with this nation, and particularly with the people of New York City as they sought to "recover" from the horrible pain inflicted upon them...and the nation.

Eating all the great "Chicago" food: Pizzas, Italian Beef Sandwiches, buffets, etc.

And becoming part of The Moody Church family ( which is one of the very greatest joys in my entire life. Having listened to the "Moody Church Hour" for many years before moving here, I am still in awe and amazement every time I walk in the front door of my local church facilities. I feel so undeserving, and most definitely unworthy, of being part of such a historic, and wonderful place. This is God's plan in my life for this part of my life.

Yep, after nine years, I can say that I agree with these guys. Take a listen:

They've got it just right. Come find out for yourself.

Happy Birthday, Chris...

I know that I treasured your friendship, and our fellowship dearly. Something happened more than five years ago to our friendship...and we've not spoken since. I also know that today is your thirty-ninth birthday! I want to wish you a "Happy Birthday."

More than anything else, I'd like to see us make "right" what ever went 'wrong." As brothers in Christ, that is what we are called to be doing.

I pray for you often, and I think of you almost every Sunday evening...remembering how we once used that time to share our "hearts"--even though we were separated by many miles. Now I just talk to the Lord every Sunday evening at 9 p.m.

You are deeply and profoundly loved. Happy Birthday.

Happy Anniversary, TRAVIS and KELLY JOHNSON

Two of my great friends, Pastor Travis Johnson, and his INCOMPARABLE wife, Kelly Webb Johnson, are celebrating their TENTH Anniversary today.

These two are tremendous servants of God, and wonderful, wonderful people. There is SO much that could be said about both of them...but I'll leave that for my appearance on OPRAH someday...or at the very least, my interview with Barbara Walters...LOL

Thirteen Years ago today...

I said "goodbye" to the United States Air Force. After TEN good years, it was time to hang up the uniform--and to face what the future would hold.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I had spent the night with my great friends, John and Laverne Dutkowsky (Laverne was active duty at the time) in Lubbock, Texas. Reese Air Force Base was my "last permanent duty" station...and four years in West Texas was MORE than enough for me.

I had a final breakfast with my great friend, Pastor David McQueen, from Trinity Church in Lubbock. David was (and continues to be) one of my very favorite people.

I flew from Lubbock, Texas to Chattanooga, Tennessee on that fateful day: August 20, 1996. I was headed back to the foothills of the Smoky Mountains so I could embark on the next "phase" of my life: Seminary.

Now, some 20 pounds heavier, and a lot less hair, I can look back and see the faithfulness of God in it all. I'm excited to see what the next 13 years (and hopefully more) will hold.

Of this I am sure...

"I know that my Redeemer lives:
What joy the blest assurance gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my Everliving Head!

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

He lives and grants me daily breath,
He lives and I shall conquer death!
He lives my mansion to prepare,
He lives to bring me safely there!

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!

Smartest thing I've read yet...

Brian McLaren writes a powerful, thoughtful, and considerable essay/open letter regarding the health care debate/war/challenge that is currently sweeping this nation. This is, by far, one of the best things I've ever read....

What happened?

It seems like SO many in "my generation" (the crowd in their 40s now) have just 'done their own thing.' And I'm tremendously saddened and perplexed.

I was talking with a really close friend the other day about this. It seems that this crowd--raised in godly homes, good Pentecostal churches, and with good educations--has found no need for God or the family of God.

Especially the family of God.

A good friend of mine, whom I've not seen for more than 20 years...(but we've found each other on FaceBook recently)..raised in a pastor's home...great, godly people....has decided that the whole "organized religion" is not for him. He and his wife were raised in the church...and they know better. They suffered a couple of disappointments and just "left the whole thing."

Another friend of mine--from college days--has decided that GOD IS SILENT in his life...mainly because he has had some difficulties jobwise. At one point this man was a licensed minister...powerful, POWERFUL Pentecostal preacher...walked closely with Jesus...but has decided that since God won't "give him everything" he wants, that he will just leave God alone. He and his wife were raised in wonderful, godly homes, and in strong local churches. They have two teenagers....

Yet another friend, from youth camp days (back in the 1970s) has decided, in recent years---after a divorce for which he was mainly responsible---that he can "go it alone." In a recent conversation, he as much as told me, "I'm sick of the church folks...I'll stay at home, read my bible, and listen to the radio. I'm done with those people."


The Healthcare "Debate"...some considerations

It seems like all the "blowhards" and "talking heads" just don't want to stop and think about what "health care reform" COULD and SHOULD look like in these United States. The President, on more than one occasion, has tried to state what requirements any meaningful legislation must contain. While I didn't vote for Barack Obama to move into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, he is now our leader, and I have tremendous respect for his willingness to tackle this (and other) issue(s) head on. Here's what I see as the major "adjustments" and "considerations" for meaningful health care reform:

1) Preventive Maintenance. We Americans, for the most part, are just not "maintenance-minded." We far prefer to "repair" a health situation than we are disposed towards preventing the crises in the first place. A nurse practitioner recently told me that it is much easier (in the long run) for me to avoid diabetes and obesity than it is to "repair" myself if I come dangerously close to said conditions. But, in contemporary American thinking, "why should I avoid something that the doctors can fix anyway?" And thus, most of us are not disposed towards healthy preventive maintenance. It's far simpler to take a pill, or an injection, or an IV than it is to exercise more vigorously than we do (and for some of us, ANY exercise would be more vigorous than what we currently do--which is NONE.). Healthier lifestyles is the FIRST STEP to meaningful health care reform.

2. Importance of Primary Care. Far too many people still use the EMERGENCY ROOM as their "primary care facility." Many people (my observation from working in two hospitals in two different parts of the country) will go to the Emergency Room for things that are not even close being an "emergency." Many--both the privately insured, and the publicly insured--don't want the responsibility of seeing a regular they just show up at the Emergency Room whenever they jolly well feel like going. And current FEDERAL LAW states the ER personnel must give them medical attention. The Emergency Room is the MOST expensive and least effective means of continual medical care. The consuming public MUST stop abusing the Emergency Room facilities. These facilities are meant for EMERGENCIES only.

3. Insurance Reform. I am sick and tired of some non-medical professional at the insurance company telling MY primary care physician what treatments he can render on my behalf. While I understand the insurance companies must remain financially solvent....their SOLVENCY is not the first health is! I fully understand where the "concern" is about abusing the system...and that's where 'self-policing' and putting "restraints" on the medical facilities will come into play. We must curtail the abuse--HOWEVER, the insurance company CANNOT be allowed to dictate the level and quality of treatment my MEDICALLY TRAINED physicians can render on my behalf. Let the physicians do their jobs....

4. Tort Reform. Over the last 30+ years, the United States of America has become a LITIGATION-addicted nation. Doctors, nurses, and the rest of the medical professionals are HUMAN...just like the remainder of humanity. Mistakes will happen. Let me say that again: MISTAKES WILL HAPPEN. Having said that, every effort...ABSOLUTELY EVERY EFFORT must be made to minimize medical errors....and we must RESIST our urge to just "sue the daylights" out of everyone who unwittingly makes a mistake. These people (who make mistakes) should be held accountable...but running to the nearest ATTORNEY to file a lawsuit should be the ABSOLUTE last thing a Christian should be doing....We must have meaningful, workable tort reform where medical issues are concerned.

5. Lower the temperature. I remember someone saying (maybe it was from seminary days) that we need to have more "light than heat" in these debates. TOO MUCH HEAT from people who are swallowing all the misinformation that they can find. Too many people upset about things that have never been proposed, and will never be proposed. Too many people RUNNING OFF at the mouth instead of using their brain to think/process...or using their keyboards to send thoughtful/reasonable emails to their elected officials. A dear lady at my local church was all up in arms about "Obamacare"--and then when I asked her exactly what "Obamacare" would include, she had NO IDEA...but she was upset! She was downright frothing at the mouth...almost delirious...but had no idea what she was supposedly upset about....Needless to say, her credibility sunk like the Titanic...and much more quickly, I might add.

Like the rest of the nation, I am waiting to see what the proposals are for health care reform. I am convinced the BEST, most effective way to get good legislation and meaningful health care reform is to be involved in the process.

NOT frothing at the mouth, acting like an idiot, and behaving childishly. Every congressional representative (House and Senate) has an office with staff who answer their telephones. They all have email addresses. And if you are really old-fashioned, sit down and write them a reasonable, well-nuanced letter.

And turn LIMBAUGH/PALIN and Company off for a change. The silence will do you good.

Shame on you, Sarah Palin!

I was thrilled when Senator John McCain snatched you out of the anals of obscurity last year, and gave you a platform.

I even voted for you. I deeply and sincerely hoped the McCain-Palin ticket would be in Washington, DC in January 2009. Even after you were such a hypocrite concerning "Oh no, Joe say it ain't so." I still believed you had good leadership abilities from which this nation could benefit. How wrong I was!

But your actions as of late have been disgraceful! Your lies and innuendoes concerning the healthcare debate are "beyond the pale." You insinuations about the "death panel" were so far beneath the dignity of thinking Americans, that I am completely embarrassed for you.

The entire nation applauded your decision to keep your precious little boy, even though he was diagnosed with Downs' Syndrome. You practiced what you preached concerning the "value of life." You endeared yourself to many people--even those who had no intention of voting for you.

But since the election, you have shown yourself to be less than professional. You quit a job that the people of Alaska hired to you do. You have added NOT ONE THING constructive to the healthcare debate that is currently going on (long overdue, I might add) in this country. Your vitriol is down right embarrassing to those of us who voted for you.

Sarah, OH NO, say it ain't so! But sadly, it is.

What should I have done?

On August 27, 2009, I will celebrate my NINTH anniversary of being a "Chicagoan." It has been quite the say the least. It has been an education--that I would have not acquired any other way....

It is just a "normal day's routine" to pass five, ten, twenty people who are asking for money, making claims of being homeless or hungry or both. I usually just walk on by.....and have done so for many years....with a few nonmemorable exceptions.

However, last Sunday evening, I was in Millenium Park for the FREE concert by the United States Coast Guard. I had stopped by the local SUBWAY sandwich shop, and taken advantage of the $5.00 footlongs (love those things!) so I could have something to eat before the concert.

I only ate half of my sandwich, putting the remaining half in the backpack...fully intending to take it home, and eat it for breakfast Monday morning.

As I was leaving the concert, I saw a man sitting on the sidewalk, holding a sign saying he was hungry. This time, completely out of character for me, I stopped, and gave him the half sandwich. I told him that it was good, that it was somewhat fresh, and that if he were really hungry that he should eat it.

I'm wondering what he did with the other half of that sandwich. I'm wondering if he really ate it, or just throw it away as soon as I got out of eye sight.

I've bought people food before, and watched them throw it in the garbage can as soon as I got out of eye-sight from them. Most of them never knew I was watching them...until I confronted them.

I know what Jesus said about feeding the poor, and clothing the naked, and tending to prisoners....but what about the "abuses"? That part still bothers me...

Confession time: All I ever wanted to do

I have two "dreams" in my life...and sometimes, I am near tears wondering if these things will ever come to pass..again.

First, I love to sing. Nothing stirs my soul, and causes me to praise God like good singing. I've been privileged to sing all over the world...and I thank both the Lord and the United States Air Force (in that exact order) for giving me that privilege. I am fully convinced the Lord can use the words and music to good singing to powerfully reach someone's heart...because He has done that just for me. As one great gospel song from my childhood says, 'I was there when it happened and I guess I ought to know.' My absolute favorite devotional/worship tool is my worn-out Nazarene hymnal that someone gave me about 22 years ago when I was worshipping at Denver First Church. That hymnal goes just about everywhere with me.

Second, I love to encourage people through preaching and teaching. I've not done nearly enough of that for a very, very long time. Somehow, I got sidetracked...or more accurately, "off track" with these things, and have never 'found my way' back to using these desires and gifts. I love to see the transformation that God works in someone's thinking and life through the power of His Spirit and His Word.

If I had the opportunity to go into full-time "Christian ministry" right now, I'd go...without a second thought. But, alas, now I want to make sure the Lord Himself has opened the door...and sometimes while we wait for the "assurance" of open doors, we miss the door altogether.

I'll confess more later....I promise.

One more small detail....

and I will be cleared to give a kidney to my precious friend, Dr Bill George. I found out today that my 24 Hour Urine/Creatinine Clearance test was perfectly normal...Praise the Lord....I have, personally, botched the last three of those myself---I simply overhydrated. This time I followed the "letter of the law" to the nth degree. It came out as it should.

I take my last round of shots tomorrow morning, early...very early. My doctor will send a professional statement/opinion to the Surgical Team at University of Alabama Renal Transplant Center before 3 p.m. and we should have a final decision sometime on Thursday morning.

I am getting more excited about this now. I am convinced that I heard from God back in early April...even though this entire process has been frustrating to no end. If you want hear the testimony of how God spoke to me, follow this link:

Scroll down to June 10th, and listen to my conversation with Chris Fabry for the first 10-12 minutes of the broadcast. (That very afternoon I flew to Birmingham, and underwent RIGOROUS medical procedures the next day to determine my suitability to be a kidney donor).

Now, we are seeing the "all clear sign"---almost....please continue praying over this situation. I want to make sure that I'm doing exactly what I need to be doing to be obedient.

This has been a real learning experience...and a great education for me. It has been a learning experience in that I've had to rely on the wisdom that comes only from God....and to follow His leading....however imperfect my following has been.

I am getting excited again.

Whatever happened to:

1) Professional courtesy? When you call an office, or a place of business, you should ALWAYS identify yourself. NO ONE should ever have to ask your name before you start into your "35 questions". If you aren't willing to "identify" yourself...then don't use the telephone. It's that simple.

2) Being Punctual? Your appointment is for 10 a.m. You show up at 10:15, with no real reason for doing so. You have a cell phone, but you didn't bother calling to inform the person WAITING FOR YOU that they must wait a little while longer. The "10:20" appointment has just shown up, and so did you. Should the "10:20" appointment wait because you were late? Not in my office. You were late....I'll get to you as soon as I can.

3) Using decent English? "Naw" and "Yeah" are not acceptable in my office. "No" and "Yes" are perfectly acceptable and expected. I keep reminding students, who come in my office, that we are professionals, and that we will comport ourselves as professionals. "Gnaw" is what a rat does...and I don't keep cheese in my work space.

4) Turning your iPod down? If I wanted to hear your music, I'd let you know. There are reasons these gadgets have headphones, and you plug them in YOUR ears. Not mine. I don't want to hear your turn it down. And do it now!

5) Keeping your eyes and attention on the road? I was absolutely horrified to see some young female riding her bicycle down one of Chicago's busiest streets, with no helmet, had an iPod plugged in her skull, and then talking on a telephone as well...ON A BICYCLE, no less.
Where were the Chicago Police when this was happening? This person should have been arrested...yes, ARRESTED, for reckless endangerment.

more later.

Why we MUST have healthcare reform!

My friend Joe Misek ( tells me that I am very passionate about some things.

Joe is right. Health care reform is one of them. While I may not agree with a lot that is in the current plan making its way through Congress, we have ignored this problem long enough.

Of course, there are so many angles to real, effective Health Care Reform. Everyone must be involved:

1) First and foremost, the American populace. How does the "public" get involved?
We start with preventative measures: Leading healthier lifestyles, watching our over-consumption of just about everything, exercising, etc. NO amount of medical care in the world (free or otherwise--and someone will be paying for it ALWAYS) will take the place of good health habits.

2) The Medical Access Act of 1981 has turned on us. When I was a teenager, one dared not go to the Emergency Room unless said person had adequate health insurance, or adequate cash. While it wasn't always fair (and I almost died of an illness when I was 15 years old), hospitals and doctors' offices were not overwhelemed with "non-payers." Thanks to President Reagan--who meant well--every Emergency Room in the country must now treat whomever presents themselves to an emergency "facility." With or without insurance. With or without the means to pay for services rendered.

Unfortunately, far too many people living here in these United States have seriously ABUSED this well-intentioned law. Now, instead of going to their regular family physician, many just show up at the ER for whatever happens to be ailing them at the time. With or without ability/means to pay for services rendered. The Emergency Room is the least effective and most expensive form of medical care, on a long-term basis. The Emergency Room is meant for EMERGENCIES only. Aunt Sally's runny nose is NOT an emergency. Neither is the headache that you've had for the last 4 most instances.

3) Physicians must be encouraged AND allowed to be the "caregivers" and "healers" for whence they have trained for many years. NOT just a paper-pusher, or a servant to the insurance bureaucracies. Too many insurance companies are calling the medical shots...and they are NOT QUALIFIED TO DO SO.

more on this later.

The Kidney Transplant Donor Update...

I'm hoping that I can see the "end" or the "clearance" from here...I'm taking shots for an infection that I had a LONG TIME ago, but that still shows up as "reactive" when a blood strain is done.

I'm very grateful for the wonderful medical staff at the University of Alabama-Birmingham Renal Transplant Center. These men and women are being SUPER CAUTIOUS, and I'm thankful for this---as tedious and wearing as it is. If I were the one "receiving" the kidney, I would certainly want this same type of caution.

As of right now, it looks like the transplant will be in Mid-late August at the very earliest. God is in control of all these things, and I'm going to trust it into His loving, careful hands. (At this point, I really don't have a choice anyway....not that I ever did).

But please keep praying over this situation. I am still excited...I just need to stay that way. I need to keep trusting that the Lord will bring it all to pass...