Sunday, January 25, 2015

BROADEN OUR REACH

I study constantly.  I love it.  I need it.  Put me in the room with most preachers and I assume to be among the least equipped as well as least informed.  There is so much to know.  Oddly, with God the more we learn the more we find there remains to learn.  He keeps expanding on us.

This would be one reason the legalistic side of the church is so vocal.  It does not want to be bothered by facts.  Neither does it want to be pressed to learn new ways that would actually come from God.  Personal growth seems to carry acute discomfort.

We are not to be a people who are only on the go (for Him); but on the grow.

The growing of faith takes us places.  It will not allow us to sit in pews to participate in belly-button religion.  Growing faith will call us, challenge us, and convert us again and again.

I've said all of this to get us to awaken to something that, at least for me, I had never given thought.  The Muslim faith is full of individuals who are as lazy and indifferent in their religion as some are in ours; not more so than us, but just like us.  This means an open door for the name of Jesus.

When we hear of any of an entirely different faith perspective, we tend to see them as devout, strong, aggressive in/for their belief system.  But this isn't the case.  They have the very same indifference levels that we in the Christian circle note.  They have their legalists, their liberals, their moderates, and their "in name only".

Many of these, therefore, are open doors to the message of Jesus.

When encountering any of a completely different faith base, do not assume they would have no interest in Christianity.  They not only would, many already have.

May we broaden our reach by opening our minds of what can be.  Let others be the judge of whether they accept the nature and message of Jesus.  May we not pre-judge causing millions to never get to hear of the God of the Resurrected Jesus and His Holy Spirit.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

DO YOU EVER FEEL DOWN....BUT DON'T KNOW WHY?

I don't know if I'm weird or if I'm normal (no voting please).

I hit occasional down-spots where I feel discouraged and simply haven't a clue as to why.  It's one thing to feel empty because of conflict with a person(s) or an event(s). Yet, to come over the horizon of a moment in time and sense depression for no clear reason seems...really weird.

For one, working with God seems to be somewhat of a conflict.  I must continually remind myself to believe in His ability; not in mine.  Inadequacy has always been my strong suit so that part is most natural.

The friction may be that I'm trying to constantly yield my inadequate self of me to the quite adequate Holy Spirit...within me.  I don't know if you all find this to be a snap. Me?  Not so easy.

So you say, Terry, what seems to spark this struggle?

I say, There is so much to be done and so many who are better equipped than me to do it.

You say, Don't you remember your Philippians 4:4-9 teaching of shift our minds to think on the right, excellent, trustworthy, and then the peace of God will guard your heart and your mind?

Then I say, Oh yeah.  I forgot that part.  I will choose to think on what is going right more than what coulda/shoulda/woulda.

Then you say, You know, Terry, we are all so much alike.  We struggle with the desire to be more than we are.  But we are more than we are through the Spirit of Jesus.  He indwells to take us places we could never go on our own.  You must remember that if it is to be, it is up to Him to work it out.  You, Terry, are to be inclined to wait for Him and then move for Him that He might be glorified.  

My response is, But I'm this age and still so nothing.  

Your response to my response insists, Yes, but being nothing means there is great room for Him to fill you with His presence.  

Me.  Good point.  I get discouraged with my lack...but He seems willing to use me anyway.

Oh.  I feel better now.  Thanks for the talk.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

OBLIVIOUS

Have you ever preached for a rigid legalistic church?  Do you know what it's like to try to survive in this when the Bible says that the Law will kill; but the Spirit will give life? Few realize the killing fields of Law.  The weight of legalism is threatening and staggering.  Good people wither and die under such regime.

Yet, God calls us to survive; even learn in the center of it.  Don't be oblivious to hope.

For those who feel they are about to die; I encourage you that due to the resurrected Jesus you have reason to live right in the center of anything that wishes to entomb you. Breathe.  Relax.  Believe.  Admire.  Focus.  Dream.  Wait.  Where you live in this invisible prison of yours has kingdom keys which can unlock the sturdiest of prison cells.

Just how green must be the grass where we live?

Very!  Certainly!  Absolutely!  Unequivocally!

Regardless of pressures, frustrations, and deep troubles, the grass which we tread is fundamentally quite green.

Bring your issues to the table of distress.  Hold them.  Stroke them as you absorb the difficulty of your particular demise.

Reflect upon the pre-teen slave boys, pried from their Mommas and Daddies, in the Middle East who are awakened at 4:00 a.m. daily to hit the fishing waters to make money for the Power Agents of the region.  Some will die again today because they are so young and cannot withstand the duties assigned.  Others among them will wish they were so fortunate to die.

Ponder the young and beautiful teen girls who are made sex slaves of Drug Lords; once again extracted from their parents and siblings.  These of hopeful future, today, are drugged into submissive stupor.  They are real, authentic, wonderful girls whose lives are trashed by senseless egotists who care for no one other but themselves.

Sit for a moment at the kitchen table with the couple who discovered it was their son in the fatal wreck at 2:00 this morning.  What would they give to have your worries? What would they trade to study his handsome face while listening to the utmost privilege of him telling of his plans for college?

Try to sense the sheer stun of the family of seven as we hear the news this morning that their trailer home--and everything in it--was destroyed by fire last night. Everything is gone.  It's just stuff we point out; yet our stuff seems to carry immeasurable value.

Finally, as one account after another of actual horrid living conditions could be expressed, consider the multitudes who hear from the doctors this morning of their beloved, Hopeless, Malignant, Brain-dead, or Will be as a vegetable.  

Are these what you are facing?  Would you trade your stress for any of the above?  It's doubtful.  Please be encouraged.  I am not naive to radical difficulty.  Neither am I naive to the fact that much of what fills our minds is a thief with designing tactics to rob us of gratitude from the green grass of right now.

While we all hurt....while we each take our turn in varying levels of direct pain....we must not live oblivious to the sweetness that also fills our days.  Regardless of those serious troubles which take our breath away, there are deeper and darker conditions that would cause us to volunteer to keep the ones we have.

Thank you, God, for my right now.  Please, please reach into the many camps of torture, homelessness, and lonely...and give them the joys like I have.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

THE CHURCH ISN'T A LECTURE HALL

I sit at this computer day in and day out.  My first agenda is to post something real for where you live; for who you are.  That's an exciting challenge in itself as numbers say there are over 1600 of you out there reading these words.  What an exciting and wide array of personalities and prejudices.

So I often sit, as in this morning, just staring at a blank screen.  I wonder two things: what does God want you to consider and how do I communicate it in such a way that the message will resonate with the multitude.  Every post has the two of you in mind; God and you.

Church has been sideswiped by an innocent mislabel.  Church is not a framed building with stained-glass architecture where people flow in and out on schedule.  Rather, the real meaning of church is the people.  Church isn't a lecture hall.  It is a systematic arrangement of God-people who live bigger than they can imagine because He is.

We are a vibrant combination of where we have been, who we are, and what we will become.  All three ingredients formulate a fantastic combustible combination of vision and hope.  To focus on one or only two of the three will leave us deformed....or possibly unformed.

The church isn't a lecture hall where good people file in, sit still, look at their watches and file out in relief that it's finally over.  Church is life with meaning and purpose. Believers don't just acknowledge doctrinal codes with a shrug of indifference.  No.  We believe...we believe God will do amazing things through us that will glorify Him and bless so many others.

The church isn't a lecture hall.  It is a great gathering of people who finally find that illusive, What is life all about?, answered.  Pills and addictions are mere signals that the spirit of man is authentic as well as in the hunt for a satisfaction that is bigger than one can construct on his own.

The church isn't a lecture hall.  It is a wild life of what's happening now.  Yet, to be honest, this is not the vision communities have of churches.  Strong (but sad) impressions have been left that we are narrow, edgy, and highly squint-eyed in our judgment.  Our judgment isn't necessarily wrong; but we have failed to include ourselves in the mix of much needed improvement.

I would want every person who has found it very handy to dismiss church to rethink your conclusion.  Open up the religious can of worms you once set aside because you could see the holes in guys like me.  Look for a people who love God and who love others.  These will be alive; not just when they die and go to heaven....BUT RIGHT NOW.

The church isn't a lecture hall.  When you come across such, freely dismiss.  Yet, look for the church; the real one where a people sacrificially adore God and believe in what people can become.  I want in on that one.  How about you?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

FOLLOWING THE SPIRIT OF GOD

The religiously bent have a challenge; a very big one.  We are called to follow the Spirit of God.  This is not a suggestion from heaven.  It is the core response of a following humanity toward a leading Creator; be led by the Holy Spirit.

Even for those steeped in the theological course, this is no easy task.

The reason following God seems difficult is that once man reaches for a territory or characteristic beyond the norm--and get there--we try to preserve our arrival for the rest of our days.  Following God is journey.  Once climbing a mountain in God's kingdom, we will find that there are more peaks awaiting.

Younger generational mankind seems to have a drive of exploration.  As the younger age, exploration shifts to preservation; an adamant one at that.  Because God is big (immeasurable) and because man is small (measurable), we must consistently strive to quench our efforts to make a kingdom take-over.  To yield and submit to Him will be our call in every age we experience.

Following the Spirit of God is life-giving.  It is risky, unsettling, and wild.  These factors pose threat because we like being in control; running our own show.  The kingdom of God will not work that way for any.  To follow His Spirit will of necessity mean we must shift often in direction and mission.

Man tends to not do this well.  However, when we can make the transition, there is nothing like it.  I encourage you to live daringly on the edge of God's wonder.  It may scare you.  It most likely will take your breath away.  But it will lead you to a Promise Land of life experience you would have deemed likely impossible.

Our God is not tired in His creativity.  Neither is He out of ideas.  It is up to man to yield.  It is up to us to say to God, Show me what you are thinking for who I am and where I live.  You will enter into an entirely new kind of life...now.

Blessings as you search.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

IT ISN'T JUST ABOUT WHAT WE DO KNOW

I get to live the oddest life.  I'm surely not alone in it; but my walk is not according to the do this equation that would make life tick.

My life is weird because of our immeasurable God.

You see, I always thought God was about ritual.  That's what made church so boring.  And church, in my mind, was because of God.  He came in neutral colors with nothing to do but sit in a tall armed chair and looks down over Scotland County Missouri where I grew up as a kid.

He didn't seem to do much except crack some sort of spiritual whip when I/we got out of line.  Life in God was basically about right and wrong.  He wasn't much of a help, I figured.  God for sure was not into fun.

But, I've learned. I've learned over the years that man's mind can't take in the wonder and the beauty of God.  He is exciting, creative, imaginative...and very much rooting for me/us.

God and His system isn't just about what we do know so that we are supposed to do the best we can with it.  No.  The kingdom of God is also very much about what we don't know; what we can't explain, what we can't define.  His blessings and riches for us are, in His words, beyond our imagination.

So?  Go for it!!!!

Life with God in Christ is the most amazing concept to try to behold; yet it is so huge we just can't get our minds around it.  If we could, it wouldn't be of God, would it?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

WHAT DETERMINES WHO WE ARE?

You are what you eat is a statement slung here and there; I guess intended to urge hearers to better health.  I would assume there is much truth to be evaluated about this.  I do know that there is yet another factor that is absolutely the truth of how we become who we are.

You are what you think.

Sure.  Even this statement requires monitoring.  A person can think they will get a part in a play and find that another received the assignment.  One can think a vacation will go without a hitch, only to find out differently.

But we are what we think when it comes to the spiritual side of our walk.  Our moods.  Our attitudes.  Our dispositions.  These are quite often subject to what we decide to ponder.

If we think happy, this doesn't mean sadness will never appear.  Yet, to think happy will find ways to see joy in the very difficult moments.  To think success doesn't promise that everything will go as we had planned.  It does, though, cause us to see hope; even in the trying times which would ordinarily pull a negative thinker down.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice!  Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men.  The Lord is near.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things--Philippians 4:4-8.

This text has moved me from fierce insecurity to a new level of confidence.  Tough stuff still goes on.  But God has taught me to see value; even in moments where matters don't seem to be going well.  

God isn't fooling us.  The way we think about anything determines whether we have peace or whether we shuffle through life frustrated, whining, and blaming others for our seeming demise.  The way we think....is always a choice.