Tuesday, January 27, 2009


My brother, Raz's, first coaching job was in Gibsonville, N. C. In fact, I remember it quite well. My brother is thirteen years older than me and I was in the 6th grade. I went to live with him and his wife, Ireni, for most of a school year. My Mom had gotten really sick and so it seemed to be the best option for me to be assured that I toe the mark and do what I needed to do. It was a good time, even if I did occasionally chafe under the discipline. And, from this aged perspective, what a wonderful charitable act theirs was.

And, while in Gibsonville, a youngster just a few years younger than me was already a budding athlete, Kay Yow. My Brother recognized early on, how super she was and in the parlance of today's speech, became her mentor. She died a couple of days ago. Kay, having gone on to achieve all kinds of honors in her sport, Olympic gold metal, successful coaching career; but, maybe her greatest success was in living for over twenty years with breast cancer. I think I read somewhere where she was in remission for half of her time. Good for her. Eventually, however, she had no choice, the insidious disease took her.

Below is an email, my sister-in-law forwarded with a wonderful link of Kay's testimony to her faith. I know my brother is very sad but without sounding too much like a know it all preacher, she truly is in a better place and the suffering is at an end.

Hello, all --

Many of you know about the death of Kay Yow. When I was in college, I would go to FCA meetings with Amy in the hopes that Kay Yow would be there. When famous folks die, we usually don't know the status of their spiritual condition but I have no doubt -- from the many testimonies about her faith and my own personal take of what we knew of her -- that today she is cancer-free and in the presence of the Lord. I wanted to see if her personal testimony was published somewhere online -- especially as public as she was with her faith and I found it. I thought you guys might also be interested in reading it...it certainly was an encouragement to me. The YouTube clip on the side of the page is also an encouragement as she talks about success from a Biblical perspective if you have 5+ minutes to watch it.
K and K Hilliard


Saturday, January 24, 2009


There's a saying among preachers, "He who prays much in private, prays little in public, " I don't think Rick Warren and Reverend Lowery got that at the Inauguration. Reverend Lowery gets a "pass." He was there in the beginning with MLK. Based on the historic event of a new President who happens to be African American and the good Reverend's age, he is authorized to be and say what he wants. Personally, I kind of liked the ending of his prayer, the sing song way of it. There's a name for it, mostly originating in the South, "Whoop," a kind of cadence, a sort of poetry of preaching. MLK used it almost always and definitely in his, "I Have A Dream" speech.

Now, Rick Warren is another story. His prayer bordered on egomania. I was fearful that his prayer was going to be longer than the Inaugural address. It came close. To be honest, nobody would have expected a "quickee" prayer but come on, Warren was over the top. And, what is it with us Evangelicals (My Church is the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and my Presbytery is in Denver) that insist on praying In Jesus Name. It is like some mantra that we must do in public to proclaim our allegiance. For our churches, this may be OK but for a world stage, this simply reinforces often what many believe: that we are bigots and exclusive at worse and at best, egomaniacs. Well Warren confirmed it. I don't get it and never will. Next case.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What are your thoughts on this, Chaps.  I am in favor of ending “don’t ask, don’t tell.”  My gay friends pay their taxes, serve the community, etc.   Most of us are old enough to remember the predictions that integrating the military services would bring chaos.  Didn’t happen.  Just require the same discipline of gays as we do of heteros. 


Lamar, I take a little different tack. For instance, if gays want to marry, no sweat. I voted NO on Prop 8 which really was a "yes" that they could marry. As a Bible thumper, there's simply not enough Biblical admonition against it and, of course, Lesbians get a pass. But, love is all over the New Testament and I can't imagine Jesus being less than accepting. But, then again, the very word, marriage, traditionally connotes a union between man and woman. This sounds like double talk and so have to say for me, in light of many thing, if they want to marry, fine with me. I liked the civil union idea. And, I admit some homophobia. I get a little tired, especially here, of pandering to the gays. And, constantly have to clean up my language in reverting to NC talk and saying "fruits" etc. I do have several gay friends. Well, acquaintances but my"girlfriends" as Jackie calls them and they are a typical bunch of old farts who deride gays and my language is generous compared to what they would say. 

The military is another story. I like the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. Mainly, it allows gays to serve without having to put up with the homophobia of the soldier. And, let's keep in mind, the military is designed to fight and win wars. It is not a social organization. And, openly having gays, especially in combat units, will create trouble and take away from the mission, I think. I know that other countries have successfully integrated gays but they are not combat oriented as we are, I don't believe anyway.  I just think it takes away from the mission. But, I also think that since we have a Volunteer Army, there's a difference too. It could be part of the "contract. " When they sign up, they accept the idea that gays will be serving alongside them. Will it solve the problem? No, just as integrating the military has not done away with racism, doing away with "don't ask, don't tell" is not going to do away with gay bashing. 

I think the new president will end, "don't ask, don't tell" but I think it is a mistake. So, there you have it. 


Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Chaps, we are having our 3rd service of anointing and laying on of hands for the sick this coming Sunday. The service has been remarkably well received.


My real feelings are that the oil and laying on of hands is not going to hurt. If it comforts someone, super. If, however, you claim this literally does something, hmmmmm. Making God too much in our lives reduces Him/Her to arbitrary, i. e., who should be healed. Too much of a problem.

If I were back with a congregation now and thank the Lord, I'm not, I would be wanting them to deal with the Gaza conflict, the Biblical interpretation of all of this, i. e., did God really give the Jews this land? And, how literal can we deal with the Old Testament with the Christian idea that God will always do what is right.

Also, My experience as a pastor was that few Christians were willing to probe the greater truths but rather opted for very surface stuff. Maybe what you see you are doing is trying to move them to greater depths. More power to you. Power in the blood. God bless you in your ministry.

This is just feedback and opinion. You are out there in the "arena" fighting away and I affirm you for it.

It does something, Jerry!  At our first such service I asked Merle to anoint and lay hands on me for the anger I have held against Alan for ruining his life.  Grew to almost hate him.  I am at peace with that now.  What was it, the oil and hands, or me naming my problem and seeking God’s grace.


We do this only after we have prepared the folks.  It is low key.  I tell the folks that God’s word won’t return void, that no obedience to God will ever be wasted, however they must understand that God will give them what he knows they need.


Example, the friend who had her nurse call asking me to talk with her husband and help him to let her go.  I stood on one side of her bed and Dave stood on the other.  I felt in my spirit that I needed to tell her that she would have to accept whatever God gave (Dave was listening intently), that he would give something.  Later, I realized that the grace God gave was to Dave, helping him come to peace about her going.  Yes, I believe that it is real.  What we do is not Oral Roberts, but we reach the point of anointing after hymns and liturgy lead us to the point of faith.  It is working, Jerry.  With my Pentecostal background I have shunned such things, but it is in the Bible.  This UCC congregation and co-pastor are seeing good things happen and asking that this service be quarterly.  And our adult Bible teacher lives quietly and faithfully with his male partner.  Can you believe it?  We have arrived at a good point, not by reducing our faith to mere nothing, but by showing love and acceptance in Christ’s name.


Eileen was remarkably improved, sat up the next day, had four good days at home, then the infection came back.


Shirley and I visited Eileen this afternoon in Hospice, sang to her and prayed for her.  She is on her way out, but I don’t fell that our efforts were wasted.  She had four more days at home and Dave is now at peace with her going. 


I am a better pastor now than ever.  Why did it take me so long?

MORE RESPONSE: Lamar, you are having a wonderful ministry with your healing services. How do you pray for people? Do they come forward and ask for specific healing? I have done it different ways. After they kneel I have asked them in private what it is they need healing for and I have had them fill out cards and hand them to me as they kneel. I don't think we offer this healing service enough in our churches. People have deep needs that they don't know what to do with and a healing service gives them an opportunity to name them, be anointed and prayed for. God bless your ministry.  Bernie

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

HEROES-email exchange

I love the last line of “Band of Brothers” where the real life surviving ranger is asked by his grand-daughter if he was a hero in the war? His answer, “No, but I did serve with the real heroes of the war.”

I love that line as it says so much about the military.

Though some of us did not see combat, or experience any hostilities, we were fortunate enough to serve with those heroes that did!

I've thought lots of heroes and bravery. Surely lots are, soldiers who are in combat or even the threat of combat; but, I will have to say that over the last couple of years I've been involved on being basically the driver for Rose, fighting breast cancer for 10 years: diagnosed at 30, died just shy of her 41st birthday, my views have changed. I watched her die slowly and during the time I was with her, met lots of cancer survivors. Now, with soldiers, sometimes it's hard to gage. But, with Rose and these many that I met, from my perspective, there is no doubt, we are talking bravery and real heroes.