Friday, September 22, 2017

FAITH: THE GIGANTIC FALL FROM GRASPABILITY!

Ephesians 3:20 is ungraspably graspable!  We are to get it; to understand it.  Yet, its content and context is so magnificent that not only can we not grasp it, we aren't supposed to.  That's the point of the verse.  We are to get it that we can't get it.  We can only believe it.

Yes, we are to believe it.  This is a wild train wreck to the minds who only believe God as far as we can throw Him (explain, understand, express Him).  In essence church has become the product of the best, or most respected, thinkers among us.  Yet, leadership must be presented under the mantle of faith--a purely unprovable, unexplainable, unthinkable dimension of which usually bugs the spiritual tar out of us.

The key to faith is to yield into it being graspably ungraspable!  Faith truly is one gigantic fall from graspability.  It is within these unborders that the impossible becomes possible; that the can't become actually becomes.

The Spirit of Christ reigns over a systemic factuality that will not submit itself to the highest scientific borders nor the strongest mathematical restrictions.  He does this through one quality available to all mankind; faith.  Read the Word.  Story after story after story; what couldn't possibly happen did.  What held His people in fierce bondage couldn't.

Church is destined to be platitudinously dull?  Oh....I don't think so!  Not with a beyond our imagination God like ours!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

CONSERVATIVE-ITES AND LIBERAL-ITES ARE CUT FROM THE SAME CLOTH

There is such a strangeness about you and me.  We have our likes and dislikes.  There are those topics we find controversial on one hand while others note the same discussion is loaded with intrigue.  The strangeness is how we seem to assume that we are in one camp or another when, in reality, we are very much alike.  

Liberals view conservatives with a rolling of the eyes.  Conservatives squint through theirs as they smirk the Liberalites.  Yet, truth be told, we are all exactly alike.  We are correct in our judgment in places.  And then, we (all of we) hold errant positions....of which we do our best to deny.

Each group thanks God they are not like the other.  Profoundly, God says we are just alike; that we seem to plod through this wonder called life with a bee in our bonnet at how off-base they are.

Here's the sticky wicket.  Liberals are conservative in areas.  These may be open to new ideas yet stingy in their giving.  Conservatives are liberal in areas.  These most likely hold to strict view of scriptures while liberally dismissing those teachings which don't float their boat.  This goes on day by day...in both camps.

God declares that we are to drop the perpetual drive to live by comparison.  Our position is never to be how well we are doing compared to another for we are all alike.  Each of us possesses both tendencies; liberal and conservative.  It just depends on the topic at hand.   

For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.
                                                               II Corinthians 10:12

Yep!  Conservative-ites and Liberal-ites are just like each other...and this really seems to get under our skin.  But if we could see it (admit it) about ourselves, the harmony and unity driven by the Spirit just might be significantly refreshing....for all of us!


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

HOW TO OVERCOME THE "QUITTERS" MENTALITY

Much damage is done, it seems, everywhere we turn.  From natural disasters to human casualties, pain reigns in, oh so many, hearts.  The toughest is death; not just the physical death of a loved one, but the relationship death when we walk away from one another.  One of the strongest destructions within the framework of humanity is the "Quitting" factor where we give up on others and walk away.  Family?  Church?  Goals?  Career?

Something happened along the way of my walk at the Memorial Drive congregation that turned my world upside down...in a positive way.  Before Tulsa, I'd been at my first church one year.  My next two years.  And then Tulsa forty years.

Memorial was significantly discouraging in 1977.  Having just fired the preacher in a brutal battle within the congregation, I found myself to be the target of much congregational Hatfield vs. McCoy-isms....caught in the middle of a church whirl I knew nothing about.  An unlikely scenario came into simultaneous play.  I began receiving multiple inquiries as to whether I would consider relocating with other churches.  (I joked that if any such invitations for me to move were to come from outside of Memorial, I might consider it!)

In the middle of church hostility, I made a decision that has turned out to bless my heart deeply.  I share it should such do the same for you.  I decided two things: to stop the pattern of quitting and moving on, plus I determined to learn what it was God was trying to teach me with all of these trials.  My conclusion was that I wasn't going to learn what I was supposed to learn in year three of a local work if I kept moving away by year 2.  I made the decision to learn what it was that hadn't developed within me yet.

Here's one thing I saw unfold.  Endurance is a biblical theme which carries a sober message much needed by all of us every day.  I learned things in year ten at one church that I wouldn't have learned in two five-year terms elsewhere.  I experienced the revealing of God in year thirty-six that I may not have seen within nine-year terms at four different congregations.

Do not misunderstand.  I'm not saying that one does not naturally learn simply through the measure of time as we age.  But what I want to convey is that I began to wonder if I were to move on after two years, would I carry to the next job two years worth of sermons and experience that would not afford me the insights gained from longer tenure.

Now, for those who have served ten churches in ten years, I'm not saying your labor doesn't matter.  The Apostle Paul never lasted a whole year and he served God fairly well, don't you think?  No, my emphasis is not in the number of years one rings up at one location.  My goal is to get you to personally make a correction in your walk that is a threat to every one of us; stop the quitting.  Learn, rather to learn when under fire.  You may choose to move on (for God may be calling you to such); but learn from your struggles rather that run from them.

Throughout the Scriptures, the disciples encountered rough stuff.  Such is the core design of the church.  We are called to "take up" our crosses.  I'm watching too many throw them down in frustration.  The Cross IS frustration...the intentional pain for which we volunteer so that the hurting ones out there can find reason/hope to come alive.

We are to die that others might live....so don't quit.  Learn to learn what it is you lack in order to reach the whole dying world.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

GOD'S LOGIC IS DIFFERENT THAN OUR LOGIC

Now when God as "Logos", meaning, or logic (not logic in the rational sense, but logic in the patterns of reality) is missing, there is no meaningful direction or purpose in our lives...To put it plainly, change, death, and transformation are part of the deal!  Resurrection and renewal are the final goal and results...There is no renewal without loss.
                                                                        Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance

Have we not turned the fabulicity of God on its head?  Have we not reversed His intention and logic to fit man's lower genius?  Do we not spend much of our time fighting change, dreading death, and blocking transformation?  These opportunities are all around us everywhere we turn.

I urge you to dare enter the throes of death that He could lead you to emerge in the powers of life.  The great stuff is usually threatened head on by the the dreaded stuff.

One of my fiercest battles was leaving Quincy, Illinois and moving to preach for Memorial Drive in Tulsa.  I died a thousand deaths.  But looking back on the past forty years, I was rebirthed a thousand times.

And yourself?  You are facing what?  Uncertainty?  Fear?  Dread?  In the words of Jesus, Do not be afraid.  It so often turns out that we are not the boss of self.  Fear is.  Fear not only imposes itself upon us personally, but we even transfer it over to those around us.  Our counsel to our loved ones is oft to be found, not in the realm of logic defying faith but, within the scheme of luring dread.

Logic is the way to go.  But, it must be of God for His....is different than ours.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

WHEN THE "IM" IS TRIMMED

The world around us contains incredible fascination; immeasurably so in numerous places.  Too, our very same world suffers disarray due to the insyncrinization of oh so many simultaneous conflicts.  We have reason to celebrate on one hand and to be dismayed on the other.

What is one to do?

One is to learn of the game-changer, the difference-maker, which is the simplicity of faith.  Faith has been reduced in our culture to wait n see.  If what we had hoped happens, then we label it faith.  If it doesn't happen, we call it a lack of faith.  But faith is to be in the lead; not trailing from the back of the activity, result-oriented, pack.

Romans 4:17 is one of the difference-maker passages.  Faith believes.  Faith believes that even dead and hopeless settings can possess life within.  Too, it firmly believes that something can come from nothing.  This is profound!  Awesome!  Unordinary!

Much of what we call faith may be nothing more than a working rote.  Faith blows the mind of the practical for it effectively reaches into the impossible and eliminates the im.

I have no idea how many times I face the perfect opportunity to exert faith only to fail due to my own timidity and fear.  Yet, I cheer you on (me on) to grow in faith that we might change the things needing change; that we might dream beyond our short-sighted habits of religious routine.

Jesus changeS the world.  He isn't just historical.  He is legitimate Creator of new possibility!


Saturday, September 16, 2017

ExerShopping: Working Out the Body while Building the Economy

ExerShopping is a combinationalistic workout that's just too fun, too easy, and all-the-while eliminates the dreads of getting started on any given day.  ExerShopping is the new trend to put enthusiastic pep in your step.

Here's how it works.  First of all, this workout can be done in any store or may also be acclimated to a mall.  The good news is that the expenditure of energy is not restricted to the walking portion; of which there is a great amount of such.

In addition, ponder the stretches involved.  The core workout of reaching and lifting the item one may, indeed, want to purchase eats away the calories.  Simultaneously, muscle mass is on the increase.  Next consider the stretches of reaching for your billfold, handing the clerk your money and, of course, reaching again for the receipt.  The limber-effect is maintained.

ExerShopping is more than merely maintaining flexibility as well as stamina via walking the entire range of the mall.  It builds more than the body.  It builds the economy.  Yes, ExerShopping extends employment to sales personnel and stock boys and janitorial services not to mention manufacturing jobs and delivery requirements.  The impact that an ExerShopper has on the welfare of the local economy is certainly in domino effectivity.

Get your workout.  Spend money.  You'll be happy while you make others so happy.  It's yet another win-win situation.  Go.  For.  It.  You'll be in better physical health.  Your community will be in better financial health.  And, you will enjoy every moment of it to the extent that you'll want--you will want--to ExerShop multiple times per day.

You are welcome.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

THE ART OF HELPING OUR CHILDREN LOSE

Parenting is a tedious, glorious, heart-warming, and tedious privilege.  And, did I mention tedious?  I wish to encourage parents to reclaim a grace in the family system that is ordinarily tossed out on its ear as useless; as a loser with no value.  I speak of when matters do not go the way the child wanted whether grade report, gift received, or rejection in general.

Anyone can cheer their children on in victory.  It's the ugly defeating moments which are also impregnated with value; extremely useful.  Usually, though, such moments are quickly covered up with some smoke-screem reward so that hopefully son or daughter doesn't remember long the suffering of their disappointment of being rejected.

But what if these moments are, instead, useful?  What if we don't rush to cover up so that the defeated will soon forget?  What if, rather, points of victory are found in the center of defeat?  Isn't that what Israel encountered when they were being driven toward the sea with assumed ultimate drowning?  Isn't that what Jesus discovered upon the Cross?  Isn't that what Peter found when he failed the Son of God?  Isn't that what Paul found when imprisoned?

In each case, God did the remarkable to the extent that if in these four occasions there had not been turbulantic stress and confusion, there would have been no occasion for elaborate and perpetual celebration...to this very day!  So it is with our children's bad days.  Each experience is infused with life-lessons of awaiting wow and awe for the next God-story.

I cringed, often wept, at each of my three kids' demise.  But I also learned that such moments were opportunities for timely training.  Find the value in suffering.  Yes, your heard me.  God doesn't waste any moments and neither must we.

We must for the Kingdom trek is all about---all about--suffering according to the pattern.  When we don't train in the midst of trial, we may rear a bunch of talk-big, attend-a-lot-of-things quitters.  If not groomed to suffer and keep on going, stresses and disappointments will likely quench the fire in what was supposed to be strong and vibrant hearts.

In general, today's society doesn't do struggle.  We excuse.  We cover.  We blame.  We run.  I know the temptation.  I know the pain.  I have failed and been failed.  I have hurt and been hurt.  Yet, I always somehow knew to go to school during the rough times...and learn...learn deeper the ways of Jesus.  It is in the, what we would call, trenches that anyone grows.

It isn't in the squeaky-clean atmosphere of sweet church; but in the crushing blows of hurt feelings and deeper offences that our boys and girls become men and women who refuse to tuck tail and run.  Rather, these learn bravery through the training...the repeated training of spiritual endurance.

When your child has a bad day, try to remember that he or she is in a special school learning how to reach the multitudes of rejected ones who are have their bad days and will one day could be their converted friends; their neighbors.  We don't win souls by lecture....nor convenience.  We win by living from the Cross He handed us...and it must not be projected as an easy, no-bother path.  Children are to be trained as children not to just go to church...but be the church where it isn't always a ballgame of sorts; nor a picnic.

Therefore life in the church will be both troublesome and rewarding....both...not just the one we prefer.  May we be attentive to the specifics of training our children to experience victory...even in the losses.