Tuesday, October 21, 2014

WHY NOT RECYCLE OUR TRASH?

Have we not heard what God does?  Do we not know His great dynamic?  Did we not get the message that God does the amazing?  Still today?

I remind you of something you've always known but tend for forget.  God recycles the things that pull us down and makes fuel from those things that we can give aid to others.  Nothing is a waste.

Isaiah 53 is known as the Suffering Servant chapter.  It promotes Jesus as coming to earth to suffer enormously, immeasurably, so that indecent sinners (which would be all of us) could have life; both now and in heaven.  Suffering; the very thing no one wants.

But, we get the idea of misery....in abundance...don't we?  Pain is everywhere we turn. If we don't have it at the moment we can immediately list twenty people we know who do.  The world is in a world of hurt.

God is brilliant.  He shares His plan via the perception we see in Jesus.  He suffered for a reason.  He suffered to take on our sins and to set us free.  That's a huge secret. Jesus used his hurt to help others.

When we regard pain only as something from which we must find quick relief, we live in constant hunt.  But when we take the very thing that tends to shut us down and transform it into useful purpose, it suddenly becomes our fuel.  We take advantage of the very thing that meant to take us out.

So how does that work?  The most helpful friends you have are those who have lived in your shoes by experiencing hurt where you are injured.  The recovering alcoholic offers superior assistance to the those who hurt over their addiction.  The woman who lost a child of eight years old is far more productive in ministering to the next young momma who suffers similar loss.

We can either allow our misery to eat us alive by shutting us down or we can apply God's transforming power by using life's interferences which can thrust us into effective ministry to bless others who hurt as we once did.

Jesus is the Master at ministering to a world filled with agony.  He learned how to help by becoming just like us.  This is our secret as well.  Trials are not a waste.  These are our permeating fuel to offer strength to the weary.

May we have the will to let God recycle our pain-trash.  May He make us Suffering Servants since we will suffer anyway.  May we let our struggles be used to bless the entire world...now!

Monday, October 20, 2014

IF IT ISN'T YET, IMAGINE WHAT CAN BE

Sometimes....well often....many things aren't the way we wish them to be.

So what shall we do?

We have a choice of voicing irritation and complaint.

Or, we can express possibility and hope.

Both are effective; one may quench the spirits of others and the latter most likely will inspire.

We....shall decide to talk about potential and probability of good outcome because we can imagine.  We can't necessarily imagine what we can do; but we can fathom what He has the skill to do.

That....makes a difference in our day!

AS YOU WALK THROUGH THIS DAY

As you walk through this day be sure to tell God, Thank You.

Let neither discouragement nor celebration go by without telling Him you are thankful for His love and guidance within the very center of both.  Only believers would thank God for our times when they aren't going our way.

To express gratitude to God in all things is a powerful way to declare, Not my will but Yours.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

WHY EVERYONE SHOULD LIKE CHURCH

 I don't fit the mold of churchness.  Neither do I mind.  I didn't want to be a part of one.  It never crossed my mind that I would attend; let alone lead in any church settings.  And...I just love it!

I list my reasons for being crazy about church hoping it would encourage some who are contemplating or rethinking previous stances against it.  I hear ya.

  1. There is no greater system where one can engage in productive rebellion.  True faith is a rebellious one; not a tamed one.  Our Leader lost his life when starting the church.  We in it may appear quiet or weak when the opposite is true...if we dare move out in faith that bucks the cronie-ism scene.  A world is in gigantic hurt.  It needs help.  Daring believers endure to bring hope.
  2. One never quits learning.  When the Bible speaks of us being new in the Spirit day by day, it is very true.  I love the new reasons to hope, the new reasons to believe, and the new reasons to be needed.
  3. There is no deeper solution for the deepest pain.  People hurt.  We especially hurt over life's temporariness.  Eternal life is a fact.  Yet, the masses dismiss the idea and put off investigation regarding the most serious factor about them; their souls.
  4. It is engaged in the greatest power on earth.  Education, science, money, and political pull cannot/do not equal the power of the resurrection.  Each of these elements are significantly important.  Yet, they pale in comparison when it is faith (Romans 4:17) that can believe that the dead can live and that what isn't yet can be.  This is huge!  
  5. Every day is a personal challenge to make the church better by believing God deeper.  Each day is a new one.  Because Jesus is no longer confined to the grave and because his Holy Spirit gives plain people a new kind of unmatched power, we have reason to start over one more time and then again when need be.
Certainly there are things you don't like about church.  Me, too.  But the dynamic of the living God measuring out our days in defiance to generational habits, business odds and dark news is thrilling...simply exciting!  As long as mankind has existed, it has not discovered all there is to know about Him.  That's why He gets to be God.

So I want to say a word to some readers who are of some fame.  I get it when you would feel stirred to know about God.  You may wish to inquire but you don't want the word bandied about that you are searching.  I have worked with celebs for a long time.  You may email me at trush@memorialdrive.org.  Others will not know of your inquiry.

Please feel free to move into a seeking mode.  God has already died for you and is seeking you out.  I will be happy to cheer you on.


Friday, October 17, 2014

GROW IN PRAYER

Church members have run hurry and scurry for decades in service and ministry. Always hustling, these who are active are often viewed as the faithful.  We take faith matters seriously.  We care about church.  We care about people.  We want to see growth.  We are devoted workers.

However, a fundamental trait of Jesus seems to be easily side-stepped in some of our busyness.  That characteristic is devoted prayer.  Jesus wouldn't start anything, endure anything, nor finish anything without ardent time talking with the Father.

Mountains of books and articles address the subject.  It is central to the kingdom mechanism.  Yet, basically, our people don't.  We are highly opinionated.  We fume and panic over the actions of others.  Yet for the most-part, there isn't enough conviction in one's superior-sensed faith to be groomed in prayer.

This is surely an attack of Satan upon the very root of our faith.  We have fallen for the lie to base our success upon the visible; the things we can see and handle.  He will distract.  Irritate.  Annoy.  Disappoint.  And frustrate.  Anything he can do to keep us away from spending time with Father.

Satan will even allow us to succeed as long as we do not develop time in dialog with the Divine.

I encourage you to pray.  Pray with thanksgiving.  Pray in repentance.  Pray believing. Pray.

Talk with God as He is Father, Counselor, and Friend.  Visit with Him.  Tell Him your concerns.  Brag on Him....about Him....to Him.  Ask Him to take over your frets and fears.  Thank Him for street lights and rabbits that dart across a neighbor's lawn.  In other words, become comfortable with being on speaking terms with God.

Of course you will fumble in your wording.  Surely you will feel inadequate.  Do you think He does not understand us?  Our lack?  Our insecurity?  Our being...us?

Father isn't wanting to hear the many words we can compose in formal, stiff, and empty prayer.  He wants to walk with us.  He delights in hearing from His kids.  Prayer isn't rocket science.  It is relationship.  For heaven's sake, if you can't think of anything else, tell Him you don't know how to pray well.

If the time spent in worry and bother could be equaled in praise and prayer, lives would change immeasurably for the good.  May we be a people who spend more time learning to pray than dissecting the hang-nail matters which so easily torque us.

Grow in prayer.  Let it be a joy to spend time with the One who keeps your life moving forward.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

WALKING WITH GOD DAY BY DAY

And....He walks with me and He talks with me...and He tells me I am His own.  Oh how we would raise the roof at my grandparents little Baptist church in Hitt, Missouri and later in Arbela when I was a young boy.  The grace-filled words we sang are always needed in our daily walk with God.

How do we approach the concept of walking with Him?

First, the very idea is a challenge because we can develop a rules mentality rather than relationship experience.  If not aware, God will become a game or a contest where we find ourselves trying to give all of the correct answers to a religious quiz rather than knowing Him personally.

So how are we to carry on a relationship; Him being divine and us being human?

Our best clue is found in Jesus.  He was both divine and human.  How he did and what he did gives us our best insight.  Let's see if we can pick up on a few traits which might be of help.

  1. Jesus prayed as a connecting relationship with Father.  Prayer was not a duty; but rather the means of dialog between the Two.  It was Their in-touch synchronization.  This spending time together kept their heart-connections in tact.  
  2. Prayer evidently wasn't a grocery list of needs.  I want.  I need.  I would like.  Please bless me this way.  And that way.  Jesus prayed about what God wanted and what others needed.
  3. Jesus taught that we are free to ask for what we would like on the basis that we yield to Father's will...and not our own.  
  4. A bond with God grows tighter the more we live thankfully.  Praying with thanksgiving is both meaningful and effective.
How do we transition from prayer rules to prayer relationship with God?  The possibilities are numerous.  Personally, I've moved from not caring for prayer (as a minister) to walking in contact with Him.

Progress in prayer increases as thankfulness increases.  When prayer isn't necessarily an official time but a way of life it seems God/man conversations take place rather than offering wishful words to the nearest ceiling.  God is very real; very alive.  He hears and He responds.

When I talk with God, I brag on Him to Him.  I thank Him every morning for street corners, for businesses in operation and for people...everywhere there are variations of good, hurting, lonely, or celebrating people on their way to work or to school.  Each day I list before Him the 47 neighbors that I have met so far in my three years on this street where I live.  I know them by name.  Only a handful know that I am praying for them.

And then the other side of this two-way relationship is that God speaks to us.  This action has been discouraged in our society by two factors; (1) unbelief in the Invisible God, and (2) irrational representatives of the kingdom whose talk is not backed by our walk.  Thoughtless chatter gives doubters the verification of our shallowness that they suspected all along.

At one time I doubted the line of God speaking to us.  But I have learned and I experience differently.  His Spirit may not speak in English terms; yet He has a way of sharing ideas and thoughts.  As an example, I have learned to hear from God regarding my sermon preparation as much as I have applied myself in study.  If the Spirit isn't leading, my sermons are boring presentations of a mere man.

When I walked by the visible only, I found ministry to be stifled in the man-made mode.  But when by the Spirit, it seems wonder and over-joy continues to flow.







Wednesday, October 15, 2014

IS GOD A HOAX?

Is God real?  Or, is this a figment of man's needy imagination?  In other words, is this faith in God thing all a hoax?

Shrugs of indifference come from both sides of the question.  Yet, there are those--a very many those--who give this sobering thought; maybe not when in the midst of crowds of friends, but at least when reflectively alone.  Very good people have no bias.

Is there really a true God or has man bought into hand-me-down folklore which is empty, useless, and therefore fraudulent?

I believe He is real.  I'll give you a few reasons and you can add your version as to whether He is.

  1. The fact that there is life after death before our very eyes every Spring noted in flowers and new leaves confirms that things which have died have resurrection power.
  2. Garden seeds are buried as history (it's over/the-end) only to arise in an unexplainable new dimension from the ground/burial plot.
  3. Our calendars are currently dated from the birth of Jesus; not Plato, not Stalin.  He was a real person who truly walked this earth.  Dating each of our documents confesses that the Son of God did exist upon this earth.
  4. God does not insulate believers so that nothing goes wrong for them.  Rather, He transforms them to be able to find hope and life even in dead settings.  
  5. Every trouble is pregnant with a new hope.
  6. The Creator is still gone wild with the creative "newness" saturating society to this day.
I don't know that I was ever really a doubter of God.  I simply was indifferent.  We live.  We die.  We hope there is something afterward (And oh please God, don't make heaven as boring as church.).  Yet, after research, lengthy contemplation, and serious openness, I believe He is.

A thing about mankind hurts my heart...for mankind.  In general we are too distracted to care about our own eternal destination.  No probing.  No inquiry.  No sobriety about the topic.  None.  People live as if they will one day be as dead grass thrown into the fire.

This is life's greatest catastrophe.  Fatal wrecks.  Massive destruction.  Ebola.  None compare to the disaster of individuals who give no serious thought about the true form of spiritual reality.

It is time for the masses to investigate.  Become vulnerable.  Admit that you are not your own god.  Ask for assistance.  Sort through the distracting quagmire of religion.  Belief in Jesus is very possible and quite likely.  You will be so encouraged by him.  He will give you a definition of who you are, what you are about, and what you are to be doing that will...not...quit.

If you have no regard for other believers, fine.  I can accept that for we are a useless sort.  That's why we cast our lot with Jesus for he is the only one righteous.  We are not.  He is.  So good for you that you have figured our lack.  So don't seek him for us.  Seek him for yourself.  

You owe it to yourself to seriously weigh whether you believe God is a hoax.  I think you will like the experience of your honest search.

For those who wish to have private assistance in search of Him, I would be one who is willing to share thoughts.  Email me at trush@memorialdrive.org.  Together, maybe we can open our hearts toward the God who died for us...on purpose.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

THE CHRISTIAN LEADER

As in all ages, leadership is crucial.  One of the threats to any leader's role is that of routine rocking one's imagination into slumbering and thoughtless habit.  This is ever so needed in the church.

Henri Nouwen, one of my very favorite authors, pegs my point more clearly.

A Christian leader is not a leader because he announces a new idea and tries to convince others of its worth; he is a leader because he faces the world with eyes full of expectation, with the expertise to take away the veil that covers its hidden potential.  Christian leadership is called ministry precisely to express that in the service of others new life can be brought about.

While we live in a world crammed full of new (new intentions, new discoveries, new ideas), we in the church must be alert to the wonder of it all.  After all, all of this newness is simply verification that the Creator very much knows how to keep this tired world from running out of new ideas.

I have good news for us; new has just begun!

It will be up to the church, who is God's idea by the way, to stay ahead rather than drag behind.

Yes, many things are going well.  Yes, there is much joy to be experienced.  And yes, there is also much need in a world deep in injury and pain.  We must be sure we are awake for the input of the Living God as we minister at every turn.

If we are going to be leaders, lets be current ones who have high expectations to learn what God has yet to show anyone to this point.  I want in on that one!