Rev. Phil is a passionate follower of Jesus.
That was not always the case. Growing up, he went to church early and often — his dad was a Christian Education pastor. All he remembers learning was that he was to love God and love other people. Given a choice in high school, he happily dropped out of church. He could do those two things on his own — love God and other people — and get to sleep in on Sundays. Yes!
At the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign he met some people who talked about religion in a new way to him — about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It was not just a bunch of do’s and don’ts. They showed him where the Bible said that Jesus, God’s son, came to earth to die for him so that he could know God personally.
This was different. He talked about it and argued with them (he was a political science major). “So you mean to say,” he asked a friend, “that if I don’t believe just like you do I will not get to go to heaven?” “Yes,” they said, “that’s what the Bible clearly teaches.” Without thinking, he replied, “That’s a hell of a choice.” They both laughed.
At the end of his freshman year at the University of Illinois, he finally came to the understanding that he could — and wanted — to know Jesus personally. So, he asked God to forgive him and make Jesus the boss of his life. No lightning bolts came. Nothing. Until a few days later when he went to a church service with some friends. The Bible was alive! It all made sense. It was relevant to his life.
He was now a child of the living God. Not because of his good works — God’s standard is perfection, he is nowhere near it — but by receiving the free gift of God in Jesus.
Turns out he didn’t get a religion, he got a relationship with the living God. It’s way better.
So, he believes that the Bible is completely true (Download the excellent and free [no cost, no ads] Bible app – YouVersion. Choose the New Living Translation.) He believes that a person can only be made right with God by trusting in His one and only son, Jesus, who died for our sins (Jesus did not have any) and rose again (what we call Easter). Jesus is alive at this very moment. Now, Rev. Phil does things hoping to please God out of gratitude for the forgiveness he has given him by his faith in Jesus. It is a life of freedom and purpose.
Pamela, who was later to become his wife, studied the book of John (the fourth book of the New Testament) at a different dorm her freshman year at the University of Illinois. Within months of him, she too came to put her faith in Jesus.
Getting married to Pamela is the second best decision he has ever made in his life. Trusting in Jesus is number one.
By the way, your ceremony can be as religious or not as you two want it to be. Most couples he marries have some kind of religious upbringing but are not so practicing. (If they were, they would get married in a church or other house of worship.) That’s OK. He will not force his “religion” (actually, his relationship with Jesus) on your ceremony.
The script you get in advance will prove that to you.
Want to Know More?
This is worth investigating further. God can withstand the scrutiny and questions. Actually, He is glad you’re thinking about Him.
Click to see a short video presentation on Steps to Peace with God by the Billy Graham Association. It will tell you, in just a few minutes, what the essence of real faith (not religion) is all about.
Think church is boring and irrelevant? I know a place that is anything but. They have a terrific worship band, humorous skits and a message from the Bible that is practical and relevant to your life — really. Check out Willow Creek Church with 7 locations around Chicagoland. They have 18,000 people every weekend and 100 ministries — you can try it out and remain anonymous in the crowd. Their seven locations:
- S. Barrington — main campus — Saturday and Sunday services
- North Shore
- Crystal Lake
- Chicago – Auditorium Theater
- South Lake — Lincolnshire
Read the Bible for yourself. Time magazine, in a cover article, noted that “polls show that nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the Bible holds the answers to ‘all or most of life’s basic questions,’ but pollster George Gallup has dubbed us ‘a nation of biblical illiterates.’” Don’t let that be you.
Oh, you don’t understand all those “thee’s” and “thou’s”? Neither does Rev. Phil. Get the easiest-to-read Bible, the New Living Translation. Download the excellent and free (no cost, no ads) Bible app – YouVersion. Start reading the book of John, the fourth book of the New Testament. Use the index to find it. To try and read the Bible from front to back is to set yourself up for a frustrating experience.
Call Rev. Phil. He would be delighted to discuss issues of faith with you. He has a Masters of Divinity degree, so he is educated. But he is a regular person who struggles through life, too. His cell phone is 630-664-3500.
He gets asked if he is the pastor of a church now. No, he is not. Since he is a full-time wedding minister (marrying 125 couples a year) he does not have the time to be the pastor of a church. However, he is a leader at Harvard Avenue Evangelical Free Church in Villa Park. Some of what he used to get paid to do, he now does for free. He is just that excited about living out his faith in Jesus.