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"?