Monthly Archives: September 2007


Baseball's Greatest Moment

For baseball fans the stuff of dreams begins tomorrow. How can you not like Colorado’s push the last three weeks, winning almost every game to force a playoff for the wild card tomorrow evening in Denver? No offense to my San Diego friends but I hope they win. In fact, I hope they win it all. It would be such a huge story and is so unlikely. But then Arizona is a team almost no one knows. Who are their stars? Except for Brandon Webb, the reigning Cy Young winning pitcher, who are these guys?

Many friends assume that I must be rejoicing over the Chicago Cubs success. That assumption is far from the truth. I am NOT a Cubs fan and will, in fact, root for the Diamondbacks in the opening round. My reasons are numerous, none of which have to do with personal friendships with friends who are die hard Cubs fans. I have not been taken with Cubs fever, which is akin to dengue fever or something, since I arrived in the Windy City in 1969. As I watched the

By |September 30th, 2007|Categories: Baseball|

Upset Saturday

College football fans were treated to more upsets in the Top Ten yesterday than I can remember in years. Five teams lost to lower ranked, or in most cases unranked, opponents. And USC narrowly escaped in Seattle against the resurgent Washington Huskies.  In the Top Ten Oklahoma’s loss shocks me the most. I did not think Colorado was nearly this good. Was OU looking ahead to Texas this week? Maybe, but then Texas lost to Kansas State, less of a shock to this fan since Texas has not looked all that good for several weeks. Then there was Florida’s loss at home, in the "swamp" no less, to Auburn. This should not have been a huge surprise. Tommy Tuberville can really coach with the best and he seems to always get Auburn ready when people count them out the most. (He also loses games that he should win far too often, except to Alabama who he owns right now.) Was Florida looking ahead to LSU this coming week? (Don’t forget, these are still college students playing this game!)

Then there was West Virginia

By |September 30th, 2007|Categories: College Football|

Expository Preaching is Still My Preference

I have been out of the pastorate of a stated congregation, except for eight months as an interim, since May of 1992. I am sometimes asked, "What do you miss the most?" (There are several things about pastoring I do not miss at all, I assure you. One is the warfare that swirls around people’s dissatisfaction with the pastor, which is common to every church I know.) But there is one thing I miss very profoundly and I was made aware of this again when I preached in the pulpit of my "home" church this morning, First Reformed Church (RCA) in South Holland, Illinois. I miss doing faithful, regular exposition of the biblical text.

Now I do preach a lot. And I do still preach expositions, in fact I do this primarily. But I also am asked to tackle subjects, themes and special events a lot. What made today so different was that I was asked to consider preaching from one of the Lectionary texts of the day. I chose Jeremiah 32. I chose it, I think, because I too rarely choose an

By |September 30th, 2007|Categories: Homiletics/Preaching|

The ACT 3 Roman Catholic and Evangelical Dialog, Part 3

The ACT 3 Catholic and Evangelical Forum provided a wonderful opportunity for four of us, representing two different Christian approaches to faith and life, to have an honest dialog that was gracious and winsome. The tone seemed right, at least to most of us, and the subject matter, though weighty in many cases, was handled in ways that allowed non-theologians to grasp some of our agreements and disagreements. I will address some of these in forthcoming blogs.

P. Andrew Sandlin gave the opening word from our side of the dialog about the good news. He stressed the evangelical Protestant concern that it is the gospel that defines and creates the Church. He asked: “What is the bad news?” His point was to help us understand that the really good news is not good until we have understood the bad news about our sin and God’s broken law. He called our sin both a moral rebellion and a disease. “Sin sets man not just against his fellow man and against his environment, but also against himself. Man is at war with himself because

By |September 29th, 2007|Categories: Roman Catholicism|

The ACT 3 Roman Catholic and Evangelical Dialog, Part 2

The Catholic–Evangelical Forum began with a welcome and opening statement by our moderator Alan Krashesky, followed by a prayer by Father Wilbur Ellsworth, the chairman of the ACT 3 board. Each of the four of the speakers gave an eight-minute opening.

My comments addressed the ecumenical question from the perspective of my own evangelical journey of faith, revealing how I came to embrace this kind of public dialog and effort for unity among Christians. I shared about my own childhood background in the South, my narrowly anti-Catholic perspective, and then my days as an evangelical minister who made no real public effort at all to converse with Catholics other than with an intention to convert them to my evangelicalism. (There were two exceptions as I recall. As a teenager, one of my best friends was a Catholic and we talked about faith issues constantly, which made me realize that we did share a great deal in common. The other was a rather close friendship with an excellent priest, now deceased, who I got to know during my first church-planting ministry in Bolingbrook,

By |September 27th, 2007|Categories: Roman Catholicism|

The ACT 3 Roman Catholic and Evangelical Dialog

On the evening of September 16 ACT 3 sponsored our first Roman Catholic and Evangelical Dialog, hosted graciously by North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. (I say "first dialog" because we may do more such events in the days ahead but this one was, for us at least, a historic beginning.) This unique event was well attended, with about 200 people in the audience coming from many churches and several colleges: North Central, Illinois Benedictine, Wheaton and Elmhurst. (Students from the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary, also came down for the event.) The moderator was Alan Krashesky, the anchorman for ABC television in Chicago. He served as an excellent leader for the evening keeping it on track and very fairly conducted. Alan grew up a Roman Catholic, converted to Evangelical Protestantism, and is respected by people on both sides of this kind of dialog. In fact, my Catholic friends requested that he moderate our event for three reasons: (1) They knew he is would be fair and generous; (2) He is intelligent and leads such events most professionally, and; (3)

By |September 26th, 2007|Categories: Roman Catholicism|

Seeing the Human Side of the Homosexual Debate

Some newspapers still do a commendable job of putting two opposing sides of a complicated moral issue fairly. I was reminded of this when I read my morning newspaper today. The Daily Herald, a Chicago suburban paper, ran two stories on the issue of homosexuality and Christian faith, side-by-side. Both accounts were written by the same author, James Fuller, a writer for the Daily Herald staff.

One account told the story of a Wheaton College graduate named Rev. Jay Johnson. Johnson, the son of a former Wheaton College professor, believes that he was given an orientation to “gayness” at birth. After many painful years of difficult struggle with his sexual and personal identity, as he tells the story, he decided to no longer fight against temptation any longer. He accepted his “gayness.” He not only “came out of the closet” but eventually became an Episcopal priest, under the oversight of Chicago Bishop Frank Griswold.(Griswold is the same person who led the Episcopal Church USA into its present disastrous direction while he served as its presiding bishop.)

The second account in the

By |September 25th, 2007|Categories: Homosexuality|

An ACT 3 Friends Evening

We have scheduled several special evening events to meet friends of ACT 3 and to express our gratitude to our faithful donors. We also would like to expand our donor base through meeting and making new friends. This ministry depends on "friends" more than issues and hard-sell donor development skills. The only way I know how to find the support that we need to do this work faithfully is by meeting people and allowing them to hear my vision and to know me personally.

To this end we have scheduled two friends evenings in Wheaton. The first was planned for tomorrow night, Tuesday, September 25. Because the publicity for this event was late in getting out the response was too small to justify having this event. It was arranged as an RSVP but if you were planning to attend do NOT come tomorrow night. Further information is on our Web site.

The second evening is still on track for Tuesday, October 16, at 7:30 p.m. in Wheaton. Details are at ACT 3. We would love for any of you in

By |September 24th, 2007|Categories: Personal|

Why Do I Blog?

I am quite sure that blogging has made a real difference in the political realm, for good and for ill, or so it seems. At the same time blogging is the ultimate expression of independence and personal opinion. Anyone can do it thus it invites nuts, cranks and whackos, as well as ordinary and brilliant writers. (I hope I am at least "ordinary" an clearly realize I will never be brilliant.) Most blogging is, frankly, mediocre. A great deal of it is valued by only a very few who know the writer. (This can be a very good thing too.) I read a few blogs, but only a few, one’s that I find useful. In the end, I read blogs in order to keep up with writers I value and some friends I love.

Personally, I find it difficult to meaningfully blog on a daily basis and at times, like last week, I just have no energy or time to keep up with this pursuit. A part of me wants to give this up altogether while another part of me is aware

By |September 24th, 2007|Categories: Personal|

It Always Pays to Be Nice

At a Touchdown Club meeting many years before his death, the legendary Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant told the following story, which was typical of the way he operated.

I had just been named the new head coach at Alabama and was off in my old car down in South Alabama recruiting a prospect who was supposed to have been a pretty good player and I was ‘havin’ trouble finding the place.

Getting hungry I spied an old cinder block building with a small sign out front that simply said "Restaurant."

I pull up, go in and every head in the place turns to stare at me. Seems I’m the only white ‘fella’ in the place. But the food smelled good so I skip a table and go up to a cement bar and sit. A big ole man in a tee shirt and cap comes over and says, "What do you need?" I told him I needed lunch and what did they have today?

He says, "You probably won’t like it here, today we’re having chitlins,

By |September 20th, 2007|Categories: College Football|

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