Sunday, December 21, 2014

FAITH. JESUS. SERIOUSLY.

Being a part of a church is not at all what I had expected.  My assumption was it was a once-a-week club where we should feel good when we leave.  And honestly, I did feel pretty good when I left because, mainly, I was just glad it was over.

I must say that I don't think the church was off as much as I just wasn't getting it.

Today?  Well, it surely is a bit different.  While all congregations have those, as in my earlier days, who count their attendance as a blessing to God, there is an entirely new world going on here.

I think the greatest surprise that I found is the life of the Bible.  It is wonderfully weird in that it knows the intents of our hearts as we read.  I find it to be of faith, of Jesus, and quite serious.  Church is neither to be played nor manipulated.  It is to be experienced daily as God runs the show and we perpetually adjust to follow.

The follow part is quite the challenge.

Me?  When I got serious about it, my plan was to attend faithfully on Sunday mornings.  No evening services.  No Wednesday night classes.  No volunteering.  No participating.  My plan was to do the Sunday morning thing.

My heart wouldn't/couldn't stop entering into faith and Jesus seriously.

So these forty years of ministry I find to be unbelievably believable!  And the biggest surprise I find so far is that I thought after decades of involvement, study, and assertion that I would, understandably, possess a better grasp of the kingdom life.

Not.

As God gets bigger in my heart, I grow necessarily smaller.  As He widens opportunistic paths, my confidence in self narrows.  Faith.  Jesus.  Is a serious walk.

I urge you not to dismiss the call of God.  It will scare you probably.  But watch for Him. Listen for Him.  Want Him.  You will not be found to be a professional understander of God.  You will be, however, found to need more humility as His leading will be so unexpectedly enormous.  But, you can do it.  We can do it.

Faith.  Jesus.  You and me in it...seriously.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

RELIGION: THE PAWN OF SATAN

I don't know factual percentages, for who could, but my feeling is that religion has done more damage to mankind than any other entity.  It has inflamed, injured, and incensed.  Of course, fascinating wonder has come from it as well.  Yet, we must be aware of which portions are of God and which are of dark forces.

My concern is twofold; (1) the blinding of God's wonder because of our own spiritual blindness, and (2) the billions of souls who have shrugged at the idea of God because of religion's bigotry.

Very dear and wonderful men and women give little thought to the truth of the Living God because they have noted for all of their lives our self-centered, self-serving mannerisms.  They like us.  They don't get in our way.  They tolerate us.  But, they don't believe us.

Is this all our fault?  Not all.  But we must carry the burden that Jesus has not been our prominent portion of our spiritual walk.  Organization, promotion, and stubborn theology have.

Even those of us who deem ourselves as deeply committed to learning the walk and talk of Jesus are quite susceptible to perpetual distractions.  To focus upon him and his lifestyle cannot be done with a shrug of volunteerism while taking mild stabs at faithful attendance.

The very thing that took Jesus all of the way to the hill for execution caused by trumped up charges was the lead of the religionists.  These were the ones who mapped the plot of execution.  Matthew 12:14, But the Pharisees went out, and counseled together against him, as to how they might destroy Him.

These church leaders could not stand Jesus.  Why?  He was a threat to their organized religion.  I am deeply enmeshed in organized religion.  We tell ourselves we would not do what they did.  Yet, it is very possible we prefer to have our ears tickled (II Timothy 4:1-4) than to be challenged to strive more clearly to walk his walk.

Jesus brought two things with him that led to his brutal torture upon the most hideous executionery stands of all time; nailed to a roughly sawed, upright cross-beam.  Those two elements were (1) new, which led to (2) change.

Jesus ushered in a new system of spirituality.  To enact such there was a necessity of changes.  Sacrificing farm animals would shift to sacrificing the Lamb of God once and for all.  Rules would transition to relationship.  Management and control of man would be shifted to one known as the Holy Spirit.

Yet, the religionists of his day had their day in court.  The saw that this assumed (by them) impostor would succumb to their constant chirping.  Death would overtake him. He would be no more.

But Sunday morning came.  New had never been newer.  Change was forever changed. Religion met its match and it did not like it...one bit.

My heart is driven to think of ways to reach the masses who have been blocked out by Satan's trickery.  We must not take our faith lightly.  Church isn't a matter of jumping enough hoops to keep the cynics  happy.  It is a matter of constant appraisal of how we are doing individually and collectively in being formed into the image of God's only begotten.

This is serious matter.  I am light-years behind.  However, I want to improve day by day.  The seekers are struggling to find reality in God.  We followers are naive as to just how much we have allowed the religion of man to infiltrate the raw courage of intended discipleship.

There is great hope.  It won't be when the seekers wake up to His wonder.  It will first be when the church wakes up to our incessant need to hear the call of God.  We are to be ever new; ever changing.  The problem with religion is that it organizes each generation to eventually defend rather than reach, to guard rather than to sow, and to act rather than to listen.

A thing that richly inspires us is to learn of churches that are experiencing God.  I want in on that.  I want in on that a lot.  I've done my share of barking and bragging.  All was a waste.  I want in on deeply Spirit-led mobility that I can't understand and I dare not try to control.

Satan tries to freeze the church in fear; afraid we will do something wrong,  Jesus warms our hearts to come unto him.  Fear or faith.  I want to experience the walk and the talk of the latter.

Friday, December 19, 2014

I LOOK SORTA....LITTLE?


























This pic after the big game was over in Jupiter, FL. Cardinal camp.  This is Andy Benes       congratulating me on the hit he let me get off of him.  He can strike me out anytime he determines.

A BIT OF MY MEMORABILIA





      SIGNED BASEBALL


Autographed baseball by author

          and sent to me by

         JOHN GRISHAM

THE DOCTRINE THAT EVEN THE LEGALISTS DON'T WANT

God is glory; not routine.  God is fascination; not boredom.  He is active; not retired. And God is serious; not joking.

The church is to practice a doctrine that will rattle earth.  I specifically speak of how we are to view the concept of enemies.  We quote Jesus in reference to those in general who oppose society at large; yet, I find that we are seldom so driven to forgive when it comes to our personal ones.  This is a major source of breakthrough....if we will allow ourselves to...break through.

Enemies schmenemies.  Everyone's got one (some).  Shrug.  So?

We think when we have an enemy these are to be regarded as idiot-rejects, mean-spirited, and total-trash.  What we don't realize is that how we feel toward some, others feel similarly toward us.  But we don't believe it, however.  Not of ourselves.  I can explain and justify myself because...well...I love me.

It is the real sinner that we feel permitted to dismiss.  Not.

God sent Jesus to earth to rescue the very people who insult Him, abuse Him, ignore Him, and misrepresent Him.  For decades I honestly didn't think that included me.  Oh sure, I sinned, but then, who doesn't?  The cross-torture redefines the depth and brutality of Terry's sin....and yours.

We put him on the Cross.  Not the terrible others; but the equally flawed and rebellious us.

Until we conclude that those we would regard as enemies are mere reflections of ourselves, we will fail to grasp one of the central doctrines that impacts each person at the judgment seat.  So speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.

Set free in front of the Judge.  Dismissed.  There is no case against you.  Next verse as to how we find such a declaration; For judgment will be merciless to the one who has shown no mercy.  Mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:12-13).

I say that there are few doctrines more difficult than this; to forgive another for wrongs that are clearly wrong.  Even those bent on quoting book, chapter, and verse, find it easy in practice to hate others.  This is one doctrine at which even the legalists find permission to offer a wink.

We tend to indoctrinate ourselves to believe sins come in shady, dark, worse, and worsest.  We don't get it.  (And yes, I know there is no such word as worsest.)  Jesus doesn't seem to note sin degrees.  Sin is devastating to the heart of God; commission or omission, public or private, major or minor (to us), sin is the human train wreck from which only one perfect and innocent Savior could redeem.

And pay the price, he surely did.

Mercy is a tough doctrine, folks.  I don't deny it.  Yet it is one of the most liberating opportunities in our path.  James wasn't fooling.  Mercy carries an innate law.  It is called LIBERTY.  Free from fear, free from worry, free from bad reputation, free from our own rehearsing minds, God says to all of us....Come.  Freely drink.  I'll change your demeanor, your outlook, your life.






Thursday, December 18, 2014

IT'S OBVIOUSLY A JOKE TO TRY TO MAKE ME FEEL BETTER


I had forgotten that someone sent me this picture years ago.  Maybe Mr. Walling sent it?  Nah.

WHEN WE TALK WITH GOD

Surely one of the grandest transfers God has made in my life would be that of prayer. Don't misunderstand, I am not the great example of a praying person.  As a matter of fact, I would be noted as the opposite.  Yet, I encourage you about this topic because He has led me into a new dimension.

First, I would want you to know that as a minister I did not like times of prayer.  They were boring, time-taking, and basically useless.  I had better things to do with my time than to speak words to the ceiling so that I could salve my conscience that I did at least say a prayer.

It seems I was a man, trying to be of God, who believed in Jesus; but not the mode of prayer.  Strange, don't you think?

A thing that needed to be adjusted was my mental vision of the prayer setting.  I saw me standing upon flooring speaking words into the air.  The words would wind their way up to God who sat upon an over-sized armchair.  He was to make note that I took the time to remember to take the time.

Too, as long as we held to an old doctrinal stance that the Holy Spirit had wrapped up his work and dissipated into thin air, we had no Helper.  He had been retired by the legalistic mobsters who took over by the dispensing of church rules that were based on lots of reason; but very little mystery.

When I began to realize God was not overlooking Heaven's balcony, but was here among us in Spirit form, prayer took on an entirely different perspective.  I began to see God was, now, at my elbow and in my heart.  He wasn't up there.  God was down here.

Prayer is no longer a formal (and boring) amount of time spent religiously.  It is a visiting conversation between four beings; Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and me.  We walk and talk as good friends should and do.

Prayer is not church formality.  It is personal relationality.  We think together.  We exchange notes.  We co-labor (as II Cor. 6 states) with God.  Interaction is much different than sending a message up the prayer chain with no response from the Balcony.

Prayer means two parties are on speaking terms; God and us.  He awaits our communication.  He loves to hear from His kids.  I encourage you to visit with God as a person and not as if He were an unapproachable icon who is indifferent.

Our God is a not only welcoming, He reached first.  He has signaled, Hey, wanna be friends?  We say, Sounds good to us!




Wednesday, December 17, 2014

UNVEILING OF MY 2015 BUBBLEGUM CARD!!!!


ADVANTAGEOUS PERSPECTIVE OF BEING A NOBODY

....even though I am a nobody has to be one of the more could-you-repeat-that comments Paul ever penned.  This apostle was at the top of the charts according to any Bible student.  He was bold, persecuted, faithful, and wildly effective for the glory of God.

However, Paul understood a secret within the backward system called the kingdom of God.  

Nobodies function well in God's realm because these are dependent upon the Holy Spirit.  Their own manageability, organizational vision, and social resources pale.  Man can't orchestrate the majestic moves of God.

When God was born on earth, He began as a nobody; just another squalling infant of a family too poor to get a room at the hotel.  He lived a nobody; no street address, no security.  Jesus then died a nobody; executed in public shame with two other thieves. 

The Apostle (nobody) Paul followed in sync.  He wasn't magnificently who he was due to pure doctrine nor squeaking pedigree.  He was who he most efficiently was because he grasped the main thing about the main thing; if one is to serve God well, being a nobody is the beginning, middle, and end.  

God's servants are advantaged by this bewildering strategy.

This concept slaps the faces of any who wish to feel that we are somebodies in order to minister effectively.  This, too, explains why so many get so little done.  We are attending to the wrong end of meaningful progress.  

We naturally assume that our ladders are there to climb up.  Not right.  We are given ladders to climb down; down into the pits of the pitiful, into the darkness of the lonely. Serving others, being least, admitting nobodyism is not only the Master's call; it is his own very lonely road.

If you think you are nothing, try not to escape.  This is divine territory.  This is holy ground.  Shoes are off.  We are stopped in our tracks.  This is the place God gets His chance to actually live within a person(s) who isn't filled with himself.

My nothingness is His glory.  The same is for you.  We can't explain it.  We can only believe it.  This is the advantage; in order for us to get anything done, God must work for we are surely but a speck in the scheme of meaningful life.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

HOW TO HANDLE THE STORMS

Stormy days and howling nights try to disturb the equilibrium of the heart.  Hard times take a swipe at each of us with insult, disappointment, or very bad news.  And we are supposed to shine on how?

Matthew 14 contains that famous story of Jesus walking on water.  Really, two walked on water that day; but one of them (Peter) could not keep it going.  He eventually began to sink.

Peter was on stride to meet Jesus upon the fragile impossible sidewalk of water. Weird things happen when strolling in Jesus' direction.  We must watch for him.

Peter's sinking feeling came onto the scene simultaneously as his eyes wandered toward the storm.  He was going under because he was attentive to what was going wrong rather than who was standing upright.  This is a serious matter for us for we surely need/want to know how to master the rocky waves of our days.

When we give diligent focus to the complications which are discouraging and distracting, we must remember instead to continue our gaze upon Jesus.  He is the unexplainable mystery to our fundamental real-life stories.

No one can yet prescribe exactly how Jesus did it; nor for that matter, how Peter briefly took a few gigantic steps for mankind.  To walk upon water carries even more fascination that walking upon the moon.  Both are incredible, huh?

Knowing Jesus does not assure us that there will be no more storms.  For us to be stormless is not what believing in him is about.  Knowing him changes the way we handle them.  Our look is upon Him; he will calm the traumatic winds.

So really, what will this do?  Our looking at him instead of the storm?  What should we expect?  How will this work?

When we look at him, he calms the storms and lifts us.  Storms come and storms go. Jesus is our stability.  Whether we live or die, our eyes are to keep him in view.  We can be assured that we will be just fine because, after all, this is the man who shattered the bonds of death.

With Jesus we can do nothing but win.

How do we handle the storms?  Don't spend time staring at them.  Rather, look for him.  He's the calmer of the uncalm.  He can settle both the distracted individuals....and the storms.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

OUR IMPOSSIBLE TASK THAT IS POSSIBLE

God.

God is real.  He is true, authentic, compassionate, brilliant, ever-reaching, all-knowing and....well...

....He is....God.

How can one prove there is a God?  We would seem to think that if we could prove Him we would believe Him.  That's the rub, isn't it, for many?

I don't blame the doubters.  I get their feed; both of question and complaint.  To believe Him takes daring faith.

Churches, filled with us, believe deeply that the God-idea is true.  We think it takes as much faith to not believe Him as to believe Him.  And, we have evidence to believe.

I think what guys like myself may be doing to hurt the cause is that we try to build churches that think on the high-end of humanity instead of the Holy Spirit.  We see ourselves as generous.  Compassionate.  Sensitive.  Workers.  Etc.

I know.  I know.  The doubters who just read this thought immediately of 35 people who go to church who are nothing like the above adjectives.  I get that.

But what doubters don't get is that we are also scared, lonely, insecure, and sometimes doubtful ourselves.  This is why we need God.  We are inadequate on our own.  You may not think we know it....but the most of us know it.

We want the whole world to know about the love of God.  But we are fiercely inadequate to fulfill such a mission.  We, therefore, are so sorry you would easily (and I get it) judge God from our crumbs.

He is glory.  He is honor.  He is radiant.  He is ever.  He is the doer of the impossible by, through, and with an impossible sort...believers.  He is not dull; yet churches communicate that He is, not by our lingo only, but by our lack of enthusiasm.

To represent God is both difficult and easy.  The difficulty is that while we are representing Him, we are trying to mature in His nature ourselves.  So we communicate contradiction.  The easy facet is that God uses broken vessels to transport the news that He accepts all.

I urge any to keep from dismissing God due to silly guys like me.  I get it.  I wouldn't blame you.  But please don't.  Your soul is on the line.  You are headed for the grave; really.  But that doesn't need to be assumed to be THE END.

Heaven is for real.  None of us are good enough to have a ticket punched.  Jesus was the only one.  Yet, he had such a vision for the puny, the shy, the ego-manics, the larger-than-life, and the common.

It is impossible to express the need to believe in God strong enough; yet, He seems to have a way of getting it done anyway.