Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I love American Idol. It's been good for me to practice not hating Simon. I actually like him, now. The past couple of weeks have been tryouts.

H-O-R-R-I-F-I-C. Some are stars-in-the-making and some will need counselling after the brutal and sarcastic treatment they received. But I saw something in the negative part of the program which awakened me to one of our hidden riches.....REJECTION.

Rejection is a test which leaders and children must learn to pass. No one climbs any ladder in any field without learning to handle rejection well. For me, this was one of my weakest links. I was raised rejected. All I did with it was learn to hate it.

Jesus, though, is the epitomy of this issue. He is the rejected cornerstone. If we are to follow him, we are to be certainly rejected. Therefore, we must arise into the realization that being disregarded in opinion or in idea or in person is a hidden richness from the walk of Jesus.

Sunday I was invited to speak in chapel at the Cardinal's baseball camp. I had acute laryngitis. My own body rejected an opportunity dear to my heart. I stood in my room on Sunday morning with hands lifted and whispered to God how much I praised him for this problem....that even it would be credited as honor to Him. I did not speak in chapel and I was content.

"Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." II Cor. 12:10

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I spent five days last week in Jupiter, Florida at the St. Louis Cardinals Spring Training complex attending my annual Legends Camp. We play ball each day and listen to the old-timers rehearse their legendary lore of their playing days.

Lou Brock told how the Cardinals constantly studied the opposition to gain some slight advantage. The Cardinals knew picther Don Sutton of the Dodgers was obsessed with keeping his uniform clean so Lou would begin the game as lead-off hitter by approaching the plate, picking up dirt and rubbing it in his hands, making sure Sutton saw him do it. Then Lou would bunt, run down the base line and as Sutton covered first base, Lou would swipe his dirty hands on Suttons clean uniform the very first inning.

They told how they study the catcher as well as the pitcher. They know if there is a certain pitch the catcher has trouble hitting, he will call for that pitch in a tough setting believing the batter to have the same weakness he has.

What's the weakness you study in a non-believer that gives you kingdom advantage to draw them into His fold? These ball players knew something about their opponent. I know something about every person who opposes (or is at least indifferent to)the name of Jesus. Every one of them has traits of insecurity and, too, a real need for purpose. Whether celebrity or homeless, I know these traits are present and I work from there with everyone I meet. That's why my life is marked by encouragement. Every range of social class is plagued by the same disorder: each is battled discouragement over some circumstance or person.

Knowing the players on our field advantages us for the transfer of the good news. It lets me in through an otherwise closed door.

BTW...for those Cub fans out there...Whitey Herzog believes this is their year. And I say, "Hey, all of us can make room for the Cubs once a century." Don't you agree?

Monday, January 22, 2007


First, I am headed out to baseball camp with the St. Louis Cardinal old-timers early Wednesday morning and won't be back 'til Sunday night. This will it for my posts this week.

Second, what's your take on the younger generation? Defined, the YG would be any group younger than you. Are we in trouble? Good hands? Do they seem to be lazy or committed to kingdom matters?

I love what I see. True, there's laxness in every generation. The ones (plural because I'm old enough to talk in plurals these days) I see are richer in Christ than me. They are deeper, they are authentic in hunger to grow in His love and grace and mercy; so am I, but they even more. I believe the church will change a lot for the good.

I see a healthy bravery to stand for the things that matter: to grow deeper in the things God expects, and to dismiss the cheap man-made traditions which pose re-slavery in spirit. The thing I hope they continue is the growing effort to break from trying to live like Old Testament people in a New Testament frame. The YG smell the need to be NT people in the NT frame. Hallelujah...or how ever you spell it!

I am sold on the new ones coming along. I must be careful as I can tell the "weak me" is only progressing in even more lack. Thus the truth, I must decrease that those stronger in Him may increase.

I am proud of how the younger look! I'm simply wowed!

Sunday, January 21, 2007


The template of Oklahoma weather is snow on Thursday and 60 degrees on Friday. It's that fickle. This winter has been different. We got over 4 inches of ice last week and it's still on my driveway. Basically, the community was 70% house-bound from Saturday to Thursday. Friday found some peeking out to see if the sun was shining or if there'd be the feeling of six more weeks of house-boundery.

I love such a time. People slow down....they have no choice. Even those who do get out find the streets depleted of traffic and the coffee-shops basically bare of customers...if they are even open for business. I love it that the hustle quits.

Women have cleaned drawers, cabinets, and closets and found things they had forgotten they possessed. I'm sure some are now well-prepared for a Spring garage sale. Men have caught up on files and correspondence and even cleaned off their work benches. "Ah-ha, so that's where my pliers have been!" "Under the lid of the left-open paint can I didn't put away because I decided on a dime to change the air-filters."

We all need "shut-down-time" to clean up the clutter accumulated in our hearts. We forget the simplest beauties of life because the loudness of hurry and pressure insisting we move to the next leap of activity.

Whew! It surely feels good to touch base with ourselves and find out what it really is we want to be about. Slow down this week. Pray. Or, don't pray. Just be still. God has bigger plans and dreams than our hurriedness will allow.

I like right now. Tomorrow may be great, but right now is simply adorable.....and I'm going slowly enough to realize it.

Friday, January 19, 2007


Is believing easy or hard? Do you ever feel the shackles of doing faith? I mean, do you ever get frustrated with wanting to possess simple faith only to find it so complex? I do. So, today I want to be supportive of your faith trek.

Faith isn't a sheet of ten or fifteen instructions one picks up at Mardels. Relax, it's a lifestyle of fluidity due to perpetual growing, increasing, strengthening, and adjusting. Faith won't work for the lazy of mind and heart. It just won't because the mind that wants all matters set in stone is called to operate in matters set in Spirit.

I used to have a faith as frustrating as herding cats. I was spending all my time trying to keep every i dotted. I was nervous and neurotic. Such a life is wearying; eventually depressing.

I discovered I was trying to control God...and others. Romans 9:16 forced me to hand back the badge and the whistle. Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know I am God" was like shock to my not-be-still antsiness in the church.

Take a look at your day...and your schedule. Dismiss the things you've cooked up as "musts" and relax. Cancel some meetings. Stop the madness. Give yourself and others a break. Back off. Enjoy your Living God, His Living Word, and walk as if you are full of Him....Eph. 3:19.

Let's vow to really like today!

Thursday, January 18, 2007


I received the following note yesterday regarding the (shoe)SHINE post from one of my seriously-greatly-highly treasured friends.

"I would've posted a comment but was too ashamed for others to see it. Conversation seems to come so easily for you. I always assume that no one would want to talk to me, or that I'd say something stupid. Sometimes I just don't want to be bothered, so my nose is in a book. I so want to be like you when I grow up."

I love her! Such wording is what ignites my fire for cheering on the world. If you could meet the woman who wrote this, you would not believe (you just wouldn't believe it) that she made this comment. She is magnetic. Everything about her seems ideal: she is picture perfect in health, appearance, demeanor, attitude, intellect, and spirit. For being human (meaning we each have flaw and sin) she is one of those you'd say is as good as it can get. You'd wish you could be like her....I do.

Yet, her response to yesterday's blog expresses so much of how we all feel about ourselves. We'd rather spare ourselves and everyone around us by pulling inwardly.

My point with all of this is what my friend has said about herself is what each of us feels in some zone. I battle enormous inferiority...yet I've made it my secret power. Not all of us are magnetic like her, but each has major strong points which we tend to hide "so that we don't say something stupid".

What's my secret? You see, I know a secret about everybody I know. Everybody has this lady's fear in some pocket of their being. That's why I can sit on a tour bus for hours with Loretta Lynn and be so comfortable that she ends up asking for my counsel....because I know she is world famous and still doesn't get past the self-flaws she feels certain stand out in public. That's why I can visit with Swindoll or McGwire or a homeless person....all of us are the same.

What can we do to break out? BE FREE TO SAY SOMETHING STUPID! I do. (Isn't that hilarious?) I do. I figure if I happen to say something stupid (just by accident, understand) it will let others in...because they are locked tight in some fear. My preaching has power in some areas because I'm not afraid to say "I was wrong" or "I did this poorly" or "I failed". It let's people in.

So? You are fascinating in places. You are strong. You are a blessing. Don't hide under a bushel (or a book, as she wrote). Risk. You'll make a difference for someone.

Finally, if you were in an airport and met the one who wrote this comment to honestly would marvel at someone so beautiful would think you were worthy of her conversation. You'd feel honored!

Build up someone by telling us where you get afraid to try.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


So I'm flying out of Tulsa Monday morning and have the time to get my shoes shined before my flight leaves. I'm perched high overlooking the crowd as a man about my age approaches the area to be next in line for the shine.

The nice man working on my shoes inquired as to my destination. I told him Lubbock. The man waiting asked me if I lived in Lubbock. I told him that I lived in Tulsa. He said he lived in Lubbock, but is moving to Tulsa Thursday (lights go off in my head to bend this conversation to THE MEMORIAL DRIVE CHURCH OF CHRIST!)

So I inquired as to where he would live and he said Glenpool. He wanted to know where I lived (perfect door I was looking for). I said, "Well, I preach for the MEMORIAL DRIVE CHURCH OF CHRIST AT 9TH AND MEMORIAL, and I live about 17th and Memorial area."

His eyes lit and he began telling me that he was supposed to look up a Church of Christ preacher when he moves here but he couldn't remember the name. He said he was a Methodist and in a Bible study back home with a Nazarene, two Baptists and two Church of Christ preachers. One the the Church of Christ preachers told him to look up a guy who preaches in Tulsa and he paused...and he began fishing through his billfold to find the name. He couldn't find it.

He said, "Well, I just can't remember his name. I'll have to call Wayne and get it. I know he has a ministry with the St. Louis Cardinals and he directs some sort of big workshop that Wayne and I are going to attend."

He paid for my shoe shine and we sat together on both flights to Lubbock!

Saturday, January 13, 2007


How is a plain person supposed to fit into this church stuff? Listen to us. Deep need to express opinions find instant opposition, but no one individual seems to have most issues right. True, many believe our own stances to be of the One True Way, but even a child can step back and see each one of us has a common glaring lack about something...about many things.

How many find themselves firmly committed to a thriving ministry only to have onlookers see a spiritual, even critical, smugness has equally developed? How stable is our stance to reach the world with the Good News only to find some aren't feeling so good about the church? How many parents are devoted to seeing their children "raised in the church" to build a dynamic faith only to jerk the rug from them when their developed faith makes the parent fearful?

I find myself tossed to and fro due to my own misaligned systems of faith and effort. My stances keep unravelling, but my desire to build kingdom muscle continues to thrive! What's a plain person to do in determining his/her faith position?

Isaiah gives us a pretty good frame of reference: undone and in awe. Famous and inspiring chapter 6 shows this great prophet ruined into glory....his theological position was he had become so aware of his complete uselessness that his God seemed breath-takingly glorious! That's me!

That's my position!

I'm not and He is I Am!

Friday, January 12, 2007


Fiery Friday is a day I've designated to counteract all the insensitive cold-water-throwing upon great ideas, wonderful projects, or amazing people. We choose to toss gasoline words upon greatness to see increased explosion of hope and joy. We build up by firing up!

Today let's heap gasolinic words onto Mike Cope. He's rehabbing from knee surgery. Let's pelt him with explosive phrases of cheer.

Mike is way too cool. He blesses the Kingdom everywhere he turns. A lectureship, workshop favorite, he has a knack of being genuinely normal. How many times is "Cope" quoted and he hasn't the foggiest he'd been honored? How many million times is "Cope" read from the pews of Blogville Church? How many times do we encounter him and our common vocabulary gasps for oxygen as we so wish we could say better what our minds already believe about his touch upon our happy hearts.

My heart desires to pour flamable wonder upon his life today that he might be made aware of at least a small smidge of the greatness he is to us. I want him to tuck our comments away for those dreary days when he wonders if he does any good for anybody anywhere.

What would you pour upon Mike Cope?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


I believe I may have missed much of my life.

I didn't realize for the longest time that Jesus said he came to give us life; life abundant. I merely possessed "getting by", "making it", "same ol' same ol'" kind of existence. God wants us to really live!

When we really live we don't sweat the small stuff, but we praise Him for it. If your shoes wear out, you must have legs and feet which are not crippled. If your eyes are strained, evidently you are not blind. If your back aches, the assumption is you are able to sit up on your own. If you have too many people clamoring for your attention, you must be either popular or in an important position or both.

Wax museums are full of "life-like" figures who look so real....but have no life. Streets and cafes and even churches have the same kind of inhabitants: people who appear real but have no life in them.

I'm on a campaign to love life right now! I tell God thank you that both arms work. One day a stroke might change that. I tell God thank you for headlights approaching me and taillights leading me...for the time might come I can neither drive nor see.

I tell God thank you that I am so mobile I am very tired at the end of the day. The day may arrive when I can't get to be as busy as I am now tempted to complain about. I tell God I am so happy He lets me read about Him via writings of Yancey and Nouwen, etc. Evidently my brain is still engaged in learning.

I'd hate to never realize the privilege of getting to be my many assorted wonders until it was all stripped from me. Liking myself has nothing to do with ego. It has everything to do with appreciation and gratitude.

I like right now! I won the lottery....and I'm it. How about you? Do you get it you've won the lottery and discovered He lives where you do?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Baseball's Hall of Fame voted in Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn. Mark McGwire didn't make the cut. I feel sympathic toward him, not because I'm a Cardinal fan but, because I am a Mark McGwire fan. I like him. He is a normal person comprised of the same confidences and insecurities many of us hold.

If the voters are right and he should not be in the hall, that's the way it goes. But, I draw your attention that while millions, literally, view this public rejection as the news flashes across tv screens in thousands of bars, airport terminals, and in homes, there is a valuable and lonely individual who feels the rejection.

I know full-well this is a touchy subject. My point is this: how touchy of a subject do you think it is that God elects us to the Halls of Heaven? I think it scandalous! Yet, we seem to be accepted. I think I am a most fortunate man! How about you?


March 22-24, 2007 assumes to be marvelous. Check out the excitement building at What an array of events being assembled: new classes for kids 8 to 10 years old, Forums for four specialty groups, the old standby speakers while usually 30% of the speakers are rookies!

The Tulsa Workshop is never a dull routine for me. We work on each year two years at a time. Think about it. I am now working on '07 AND '08 both! How fun!

Share with me...I want to hear your heart...what is the Tulsa Workshop like for you? What has it done for you? What does it mean to you?

Monday, January 08, 2007


We have the most wonderful gatherings at Memorial Drive on Sundays! In years gone by we would hit an occasional WOW! But, they seemed far and few between. I'd make every effort to duplicate an awesome format and it wouldn't show. Nowadays, we see such intense majesty and glory of God show up Sunday upon Sunday. What changed?

Several factors have greatly improved. The study of "Experiencing God" awakened us to get on board with God instead of begging Him to endorse our imagined programs. The determination to no longer preach about brotherhood issues and only preach about the hope of Christ, I believe has had its favorable effect.

The one thing from all of it that I observe as major is we have learned to praise God. We have learned by two outstanding workship leaders (Allen French and Shane Coffman) to truly capture the accapella thrill of connecting with Him. And, we've become a church more open; even expecting, to speak of the "God-things" going on in our midst.

The more we praise Him it seems we have more to praise Him about. It's like having good things happen backed by compound interest.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

CHURCH STORIES...She Eventually Arose From the Grave!

When I first moved to Memorial I was 30 and eager to prove to the congregation I had what it took to be "their next great man". They had recently fired the previous preacher and I was bent on impressing all.

It wasn't long until two large sisters responded to one of my mega-powerful pleas for salvation and they were simultaneously moved to be baptized. The first sister fainted once she arose from the grave. The baptistery curtains were already closed and I scrambled trying to figure how to hide the body of the stranger who just now (I believed) had died in my arms. I could not recall us covering this in preaching school. No onlookers would help; each was frozen in stunning shock! Yep, she was dead all right!

Draped over my body, the lady was twice my size and I began to edge her soaked remains toward the steps (I had to dispose of her somehow; yet, she was way too big to hide) as the water began to slosh. In fierce and understandable panic, the noise of sloshing water (I felt) was tipping my hand to the audience on the other side of the curtains that preacher-murder had just been committed. I couldn't keep a simple thing like a baptized woman alive and now I couldn't even keep the fickle water quiet.

Drenched in inconsolable fright, I broke out in uncontrollable laughter because the setting was too much! A dead woman in my arms....I sent her directly to heaven and she never even got to have communion. I felt sure once the elders learned of this lady's death, we'd most assuredly have to have an elder's meeting. I would never be able to explain this one away.

Ultimately, to my great thrill, she came to about ten minutes later. I did baptize her sister next...but not without hesitation....from both of us.

What story do you have to share?


The media is filled with the hassle between Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell. Their voices are loud and their presence is bold.

I want you to study them: study their debate, their demeanor, and their disposition. What is it you see in them which needs to change that, upon reflection, you see in yourself as needing to be adjusted?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

God Works

One of my favorite characteristics of God is He actually participates in our lives; in us. I pray constantly asking him not to leave me up at the pulpit by myself. I expect Him to connect the dots when I don't know who the dots/what the dots are nor how I fit in.

I encourage you that our Living God is an Active God. From cover to cover of the Word, He steadily reveals His love of defying the odds by working wonders for/through/with the underdog.

I fit into the kingdom perfectly because I am so nothing. So do you! "And such confidence we have through Christ toward God, not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.

Feeling a little lacking lately? Good. He's the One who makes life pop!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Kingdom gold is buried beneath every path we tread. It sits waiting extraction from the pragmatic to be drawn into the practical. Seldom do we dig it. The gold I speak of is the enormous value of rejection. Rejection is why preachers quit and elders resign. Too, it's why many potential leaders never start. If anyone is to become all they can be, they must learn to accept the framework of being insulted, abused, neglected, and injured. It doesn't go with the territory, IT IS THE TERRITORY.

Did He go to the cross? Are we expected to take up ours? Everyday? Are we called to count it all joy when we suffer? Really? Are we called to endure harsh treatment? Why are these important questions?

Because the answer to each one determines whether the believer will make it or break it. Too many good leaders quit. They just gave up. The church wasn't too mean. Their ideas weren't too stupid. They didn't understand God way of leadership. It carries the weight of perpetual and persisent burden. Such is our training ground. Many good leaders are in the making. Many will never finish because they don't like conflict; they don't like being rejected. Who does?

It's the path of Jesus....the slaughtered lamb. There is no other route to take. Nada! "We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered." "Death works in us, but life in you" and on and on the text calls forth believers.

If your life is pretty rough at the moment, you have my sympathy and my applause. You may not be doing everything right. You surely are in a postion to discover gold!