Friday, April 28, 2017

LIVING WITH OPENNESS TO WONDER

Life is surely curious, huh?  It keeps repeating itself.  This is the final April that I will be 69; well it's the only April really.  In June I'll get to be 70.  Life is a unique realm of humanity.  While it's supposed to be really lived, the living often control it as if it has already passed.  We reach a given point and then we want to embalm it; keep things they way they are because this particular moment (age of children, opportunity at work, moment of success) is what we wanted for all moments.

That isn't living.  That's more like a breathing death.  A breathing death?  From this perspective one is always traveling; but going nowhere, always thinking; but producing little, and always reaching; but never grasping satisfaction.  I was always so engaged in liking tomorrow that I had overlooked the beauty and awe of loving right now.

On July 16 we will have a big celebration at Memorial Drive as I will be promoted to a new level of ministry.  How it goes, what it looks like, and where it is effective, I'm not really sure.  The hours required?  I dunno.  The measurement of success?  I'm clueless.  Do I feel a bit lost and vague in destiny?  Uh...pretty much.  But, I also know that this is precisely the kind of scorecard God uses to pull us into His moment of impact for others.

People!  We are all so weird!  We want what we don't really want.  And we don't want what we really do.  I reversed my perspective on receiving personal criticism when I determined that a lot of deaf would love to hear just a twenty-four hour discourse of complaint.  They would regard such as a miracle when I was bemoaning it as abuse.

How many parents wish that their child could move off to college; but their precious one has a debilitating disease and is confined to an oxygen bed?  Yet, so many of us thought we would die when we dropped ours off on that first day.  The former would give anything to have such an experience of wonder.

If not careful, my friend, we will develop a life of persistent complaint within the very center of what is really a grand wonder.  Being in demand is a compliment; not a curse.  Yes, it's permissible to say no to barking schedules.  And, yes, it's alright to admit to being overwhelmed.  But in doing so, try to note the evident glory handed you that others restricted and confined would love to have such pressures for just one day.

You and me?  We walk in the Garden of Wonder.  I encourage you to be open to it.

Can you drive?  Can you at least ride?  Can you see?  Can you read?  Can you eat?  Are you a success when in the bathroom?  (Well...maybe I shouldn't have made that point, but many have testimony of remembering the good old days which we may be taking for granted.)  Are you able to turn the channels, see the broadcast, and cheer on your team?  Are you able to imagine, to dream, to hope, to desire, to accept opportunity rather than bemoan a stuck sort of lifestyle that goes nowhere?

Then maybe you are having a very privileged sort of day.  Don't.  Waste.  It.

Living with openness to wonder really is for the living.  Really live!  If you go to a cafe today and the meal served is unacceptable, stop for a moment before you blow your stack (insert short-stack right here).  Think how many millions of prisoners wish that they, too, could have gone to a public cafe and been served a bad meal...and they haven't gotten to do so in decades...and many won't ever again.

Like life!  Love life!  Like and love....yours!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

ARE YOU WORKING FROM GOD'S SPIRIT OR FROM YOUR OWN STEAM?

I am sympathetic to any who feel you are wearing down...and out.  Such will naturally take place in and with the flesh.  But such isn't to be happening to your spirit.  Thus, I ask us to reflect upon our energy source.  I ask the question, then, whether you are working from the Holy Spirit of God or are you functioning upon your own strength?  There is difference; a huge and lasting one.

From the flesh, I see obvious tendencies seem to consistently arise.  We feel disappointed that doors won't open or else doors which were opened seem to have closed.  Exasperation develops when we can't seem to get others to do (to behave) as we deem wisest and most efficient.  The temptation becomes oh so strong to toss in the proverbial towel and call it quits.

Yet from the Spirit, obstacles are converted into opportunities.  Prayer is an actuality rather than a classroom topic.  And, hope....oh my....hope really lives!  From the Spirit, what can't happen bows to what can.  Doubt surrenders to faith.  And most of all, when we shed the bossage of the flesh, newness (perpetual brand-new-again us) comes into experiential view.

Of course the challenge to all of this is that the inadequate flesh strongly desires to be the Head Coach.  It most desperately wants to be the decider of things.  The flesh wants explanation, verification, and destination.  The Spirit quite often offers none of that.  He simply calls us to believe Him, trust Him, and follow Him.

The flesh has its day; but it will eventually submit itself to the grave as a wanna-be ruler of man's kingdom.  The Spirit, on the other hand, brings the Kingdom to us and says words like, Enter in.  Participate.  Imagine.  Allow me to energize you.

In my earlier days, I believed that I was smart enough, sharp enough, and good enough to conquer the world...or at least prove to be better than most.  Such a quagmire of thought came from warped flesh evaluation; as sorry as that may seem.  Fortunately, I repeatedly experienced failure.  From these heavy darknesses, disappointments, and disillusions, I saw God display His famous Arise Power.  

He promised that He could make something from nothing and I bought into it.  Well....really I had no other choice.  Right?  And so it is with you.  You have no other choice...either.  We are all alike.  Our own steam eventually subsides.  At this juncture we can believe that we are finally on the right road to engage in His success which is a far distance from our own.

We....eventually....choose His!  When we do this, we don't wear out.  Our hearts become younger with Kingdom thirst...day...by...day!


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE FIRST GARDEN

Sin is catastrophic.  From its inception in the Garden of Eden, sin's rugged influence impacts and affects every person...like in every.  Debris of human hearts is strewn across the landscape as far as the eye can see; even as far as memory can record.  Hurt, anguish, pain, struggle; these four and more plague the best of the best and the frailest of the frailest.  We are all in the same boat; no exception.

Therefore, I cheer you on about the new which God most definitely promotes; new hope, new concepts, new beginnings, and new life.  Church isn't sitting in pews only.  It is awakening to the refreshing wonder God has embedded within each of us.  We are designed for more than broken hearts and weary spirits.  We are created to walk in victory while striving in the very center of tempting and negative interruption.

The psychology of Adam and Eve, due to sin, was to hide.  Each of us carries that same baton down the road until...until Jesus gets through to us that we are free from the need to live in seclusion.  He recreates us; restores us.  As long as I have been a minister, and even longer as a believer, I still marvel x marvel at the wonder of new Kingdom life!

Originally, I was filled with fear and hesitation.  I wanted to preach Bible lessons and teach Bible facts.  But, I didn't find it easy to interact with people.  Odd, I know, for even from the time I was just a kid I was outgoing and personable.  Yet, Christianity did a number on me.  I soon heard from the church that we were the only ones right and that we only did things right; believed things right.  I transformed immediately into a fearful man.  My goal was one: don't get anything wrong.

From experience I found that the Spirit of Jesus broke me free from perpetual nagging fear.  It wasn't easy and I haven't arrived.  I am, though, making progress.  Where I once convinced myself that I was simply always going to be introverted, I found through (odd as it may seem) my own failures that His grace infused a confidence that I had known nothing about.  I learned--not inherited--confidence to be found in Jesus.

The working of God is just too weird; so contrary to what I had assumed.  The tough stuff blesses.  The disappointments bring about spiritual formation.  Insults and injuries, originally designed to make us cave, bring about a launching of new conviction of potential and possibility.  Fear tries to persuade us not to risk...so that once again we won't be found to be wrong.

The psychology of the first Garden was to impose a very natural kind of hiding for any born into humanity.  But the psychology of Jesus is to walk by faith of what can be rather than by fear of what can't.  Thank you God!  Thank you for rescuing us from our self-arresting and backward thinking.  Thank you...for giving us the mind of Christ.  May we win the world by following His victory laps!

Monday, April 24, 2017

POSITIONED FOR SUCCESS

As long as we esteem ourselves above others, we will fail to accomplish that which God has in mind.  It is when we humble ourselves that He has our permission to take us where He wills and do with us as He has always planned.

Positioned for success is never to be found at the top; but rather, is always encountered along the valleys of lowest terrain.  Jesus not only came "down" to earth, he lived a perpetually, as well as an increasingly, "downward" lifestyle.  But me?  I always wished to be big.  It was my goal.  It didn't happen.  Surrender to God's grace, God's mercy, God's supply is the trail that all believers must, will, and can follow.

His ways are higher...than even my best gesture toward getting things done.  Giving God our best is a man-invented saying.  Giving God our weaknesses and letting Him refine them into effectiveness is a move of incredible faith.

Positioned for success?  Oh, everyone is; or least can be.  But it won't be where the carnal mind assumes.  The servant-heart has always been the theme of God for His children.  May we dare risk finishing last (at the bottom) that we may experience His promise that those who do so will finish first (at the top).  Only by faith in God's most backward ways will mankind enjoy the partnership with the non-understandable ways of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

TRY NOT TO WASTE YOUR BAD DAYS

Things don't always go as planned.  This is true for everyone we know.  There is no exception.  However, there is a segment of society which should be aware and prepared for such occasions.  It should be followers of Jesus who are in tune with this reality.  Yes, we should have it embedded within our most fundamental framework that we are to offer blessings to others, even as did Jesus, even when hanging from our most uncomfortable crosses.

The matter before us is to remind us that the waitress-world dreads Sundays over all other days simply because churches eventually dismiss and we hit the diners.  It has always been rumored that Christians are the toughest to keep happy, to serve, and to endure.  This should not be the rumor about us.

Really, Terry?  With a world in dire need of good news, you want to pick on how we believers go out to lunch?  Yep, I surely do.  If we can't offer the simple form of courtesy when being poorly served at a restaurant, how do we expect to win hungry souls across the street or in Africa?  Such inconsiderate behavior is a sign of heart decay; insensitivity toward others.  This...is always a major task for improvement among us.

Try not to waste your bad days; whether poorly served or a recipient of bad news or being highly offended.  It is at these junctures that true believing us has opportunity to arise.  We shall not go through life assuming that it will go our way.  No, we will go through the harsh times assuming that these, too, will give the Spirit opportunity to care for one who has been neglected and is in need of life from another even if it means through our personal suffering.

Jesus gave his life up...that we might receive it.  He did.  We did.  Others await.  He won by losing.  We win...by the same pattern of true abundant life.  May others be blessed by you today simply because you give up your need for everything to go as planned so that another could receive such an element of grace.

We will not waste our bad days.  No, we will instead use them to bless others.  From such a position...all will have a good day!


Friday, April 21, 2017

WOULD GOD MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

Why is it that day after day so many carry heavy burdens which weight the heart.  And, it isn't necessarily the same people every day.  We all seem to take our turns.  Those at the highest public perspective walk the same earth as those at the lower end of the spectrum.

When I was in my much younger years, a rather common (and seemingly dumb) thing was often to be heard.  Well, everybody puts their pants on one leg at a time.  Oh, thank you.  That remark cleared up so much of life's quandaries for me.  Until then, I'd been sort of concerned.  But when I realize how people put on their pants, it seems that health, financial, and relationship burdens evaporated....NOT!

My point is that stress and struggle are not removed with a slogan.  So what would make a difference that would truly...make a difference?  Enter the contemplation of God.

God is not a figment of our imagination.  We are the creatures of His.  Why is it that, for many, He is so very difficult to accept as real?  Two things come into play: (1) God won't fit any of our descriptive and sub-imaginational sizes, and (2) God is invisible.  These two elements leave the world of true believing hanging on a sheer faith-thread called hope.

God makes a difference.  Personally, I needed to shift from believing in prayer to believing in God.  Oddly, that move has changed my prayer life.  Although I preached and promoted the former, it still left me unprayerful; but the latter finds me praying continually.  The former is riddled with doubt as we basically only feel the responsibility that we ought to actually pray.  The latter, however, fills us with faith for it is this element by which we experience an activated walk in Spirit; not our restrictive sight.

Would God make a difference?  Oh, I highly encourage you that He does.  Yet, it isn't a, Well, it's better than nothing and I don't really have another option anyway kind of thing.  God is certainty.  It isn't God that is here one day and gone the next.  That would be us in the life/death process.

I'm most encouraged by Spring.  The dead didn't really die.  Trees, flowers, etc., were dormant; but not dead.  Give them some time and God's Creative Surge will flow once again.  Cemeteries do not hold dead bodies; but dormant ones.  All will be back.  All will Spring into rebounding glory.

Yep, God surely has, does, and will make a difference!




Thursday, April 20, 2017

....AND THEN THERE'S THAT ELEMENT CALLED DEATH

Why do we live upon this earth with habitual pretentiousness that we will never die; that we are each the exception to this most dominant rule?  Yes, we know it's coming; but it's always out there sort of in a delay mode so to speak.  This is unfortunate.

I don't mean it's unfortunate that we aren't gloomy and fearful.  Rahter, I mean that we are bull-headed, obstinate, and stubborn about the way we treat others.  Wouldn't impending death significantly alter the way we have slouched into trends of hating and despising others around?  Shouldn't the reminder that we are temporary shake our permissiveness of allowing ourselves to treat others with rudeness and religious score-keeping?

How can we have had it with with others whom we have had little dealings when we put up, by comparison, with the infractious nature of the introspective self?  We are a mess.  Not a few.  Not most.  Every person.

For decades I've watched death ravage our people.  There is something cleansing to inner man as we approach finality's conclusive announcement that this friend of ours, too, has passed.  Why can't we recognize the importance of focusing upon the important truths of people the first 99% of one's life?  Why do the disappointments and betrayals have our permission to take center stage, day in and day out, when toward the end we will work to find healing from such deep injury?

We are bigger than this!  We are designed (well, redesigned at conversion) for a new kind of wholeness that wastes not one crumb of life by begrudging, jealousy, nor irritation toward anyone else.  We don't have time for it.  And, furthermore, we don't really mean it.  Hating another is not who we really are.

Impending death, and then the actuality of it, screams for exchanges of forgiveness and mercy from all parties.  Sure, there are many (I'd guess millions many) who don't believe they can forgive another or ever want to do so.  Yet, when the end comes rushing in, I'm convinced that leaning face to face into Him melts every angst we had so committed to ourselves to harbor against another.

That element of death...should awaken us to what really matters.  Relationships restored are far more important than boundary lines, hurt feelings, blatant betrayals, and worst failures.  Mercy transforms all at the end.  Why not experience it in the beginning and middle as well?

(And yes, rather is misspelled in line four.  I put it there to signal that every day is accompanied by mistakes; our mistakes.  Even so, let us remain convinced that we can still get the message of hope regardless of glitches that continue to arise.)