Friday, June 29, 2007
While his colleagues carried six-shooters at the hip (remember Peter, the sword, the missing ear?), he was like Andy Griffith with no gun. When the opposition decided to ridicule, he let them. When they spat in his face, he merely wiped it off. When they clocked him with a right to the jaw, he offered the left side of his face. Jesus fought; not by passivity, but by aggressive restraint.
He lowered himself lower than the angels which is a mighty stretch from whence he came. He was such a lowly man his resume includes capital punishment between two thieving thugs and then he had to borrow a grave. The latter was a good move because he was seldom home those first three days....and then he permanently moved on making the borrowed tomb merely a brief stay at the Residence Inn.
You need to be reminded of Jesus' lowliness as you feel similar emotions at times. Surely some of you feel crappy. Surely you wonder if you are doing any good as darkness seems to always win. It should not surprise you to discover your role seems meager as the odds are stacked against you. Yet, what are the odds of life springing from death? You possess...not those odds...those facts. You are to live in resurrection power.
Such odds/facts reverse your move, your plan, your approach, your day! Be aggressively restrained from putting on the gloves and entering the ring ready for a good fight on their turf. Absorb their jabs. Die right in front of them. But determine to arise ever ready to rescue the ones who just took you out.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:3-7).
This.....this my friend.....is the pattern of the lowly disciple.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
In Thornton Wilder's play, The Angel That Troubled the Waters based on John 5, the angel says, Without your wounds where would your power be?....In Love's service, only wounded soldiers can serve. Do we find ourselves living in times of knee pads, elbow pads and head helmets as protective gear to keep ourselves from church injury? Have we denied the cross by veering off to the right or the left which keeps us in mistaken but comparative debate with those on the other road; but nonetheless, both failing to concentrate on the acute mission of the cross?
I believe Christianity has lost its teeth having intentionally aborted sacrificial living and simply observing "the sacrifice" with a sip and a pinch during the Lord's Supper. We are left gumming our way through life with the same words we had with teeth, but there are few taking us seriously. It isn't smarter church organization we must attain. It's the participation of God as He graces His wounded soldiers we really need.
Been hurt lately? Don't flinch. That was supposed to happen to you. It wasn't intended to put you down. Its purpose was to open your heart and build you up. We are on a rescue mission of the severest level. It's no place for mamma's boys and daddy's girls. It's full of meanness, cruelty, and slaying injury. In addressing the graduating class of the Sunset School of Preaching a few years ago I told the graduates, The church is going to kill you and you've got it coming.
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth; and while being reviled, he did not revile in return; while suffering , he uttered no threats, but kept entrusting himself to Him who judges righteously; and he himself bore our sins in his body on the the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by his wounds you were healed (I Peter 2:21-24).
Feeling a bit cowardly lately? Welcome to my crowd. However, let's be attentive to God's call for He will draft us for future service. Die well......and heal many. When (but not until) this happens you will find real purpose in believing/following/serving God.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
You may be strong in one or more of these. The overall best quality of a believer is we know how to really live. We know how to maximize life eternal...both for earth and later for heaven. We know God knows us. Jesus came that we might have abundant life. Then? Live abundantly!
Whether rich like Solomon, graced like Mary, or disgraced like Job, God's people do the best job of living on earth. It doesn't matter who we know or wish we knew or never met, we really live because our God is all about life. From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks and every time God speaks, life comes out. We are in His/Their image. We are all about life!
So many are still looking for their break in life. They can't see it's going on now. Some aren't married and want in. More are married and want out. Some are too short and others are too heavy. Regardless of the income, outgo seems to win by a nose every week. Life has become far too tangled and God didn't design it to be such.
We are no longer dependent on circumstances, inheritance, or good breaks. We live in the very center of every kind of day in simply MARVELOUS AND GIGANTIC WAYS. Therefore, stop the sweat. Curb the fret. Awaken to yourself.....your real self. The one who can shatter roadblocks intending to shut you down after the divorce is you. The one who shrugs a shoulder at a bad medical report is you. The one who smiles in the center of persecution.....is you, my friend. Determine to carefully cultivate awareness of blessings of now. Otherwise, you will be destined to focus on the wrong things and will end up dead while you try to live.
Live....not just later after death....during life. It's far more enjoyable and certainly reflects the participation of The Presence. Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:11-13).
Let's talk.....and then walk.....as if we are sure these things are true.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Let's work at making it clearer. From Baptist to Presbyterian to Catholic to, yes, even the Church of Christ some of the pertinent issues of Christendom seem to have grown cold. Some question their faith even to the extent they wonder if they have or even want faith any longer. What's going on? God is working. He is upsetting our traditions right and left. He's leaving no Christian body out.
During biblical times the wine making process involved pouring the new wine from vat to vat as sediment settled. Each transition shook up the sediment, known as lees, so that as the vat was tipped fewer lees would transfer as they would stick to the bottom and the wine became purer and finer at each new pouring. So it is with us. Christians are being tipped over in order to get the old crud out. We are not becoming more confused and less interested. We are having the dull stuff strained from our spirits in order to be renewed........upset by upset.
Moab has been at ease since his youth; He has also been undisturbed on his lees. Neither has he been emptied from vessel to vessel, nor has he gone into exile. Therefore he retains his flavor, and his aroma has not changed. Therefore behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I shall send to him those who tip vessels, and they will tip him over, and they will empty his vessels and shatter his jars (Jeremiah 48:11-12).
Don't be discouraged if your spirituality feels challenged. It most likely is. But, such a sense is not without God at the root. Too many faiths look more like flat tires. They are out of air, out of punch, and a total drag to the system of daily living. God is rocking our boats. Be glad. He still cares. You are not becoming duller in your faith. You are on the brink of breakthrough. Don't give up!
Monday, June 25, 2007
The elders had Mary and me stand at the front of the auditorium at the close of services. They asked the small group leaders to come forth with their gifts. Each had a sack containing a gift card or cash and some contained other items; one present for Mary and one for me from each group. The number of small group leaders approaching the front was amazing. And, the hundreds and hundreds of dollars in gifts are simply too much to take in.
And then, the church stood in line to hug us and individually share a special message from their heart. We are awesomely blessed to be a part of such a fascinating church family. I should never have been considered for this job in 1977. There was no reason, except by His mercy and grace, I should be selected by the elders to work here. But, it happened and I am the luckiest man I ever met.
Thank you Memorial Drive for keeping me and thank you many readers who have been so good to cheer me on along the way. I'm just getting started!
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Friends say I am always reading. There's a reason. I'm a very slow reader. Therefore, it takes me longer to get through even the simplest books. I'm not well educated; yet, I so enjoy the education I continually receive day by day. I study----a lot----everyday.
One truth I learn and re-learn is to let go and let God. Control, whether well-educated and whether well-organized, is a roadblock to kingdom progress. I love taking a singular passage of scripture and placing it in the crock pot of study, prayer, and ponderance during the week. I marvel at what God does to connect the dots of magnificence when and as soon as I retract my assertive ingenuity of study. He shows up! He leads me to information which does not come from flesh and blood. It comes from seeing and hearing His leadership.
I know this sounds funny, but for years I've hardly been able to wait for my turn to preach to find out what I will have to say. I go into every delivery with a loose plan. I expect Him to work with me. In years gone by we often heard our men pray, God, give Terry a ready recollection of the things he's about to say. Most of those men, I soon discovered, didn't believe what they prayed, but I do. Often I've taught true things which had never occurred to me 'til the moment of delivery. I'm not operating on automatic pilot of no need to study and just pray He'll show up. It's different. I expect God to take the many things He's tried to teach me during the week and co-labor with me. I anticipate He will put complete form to my sketchy skeleton of preparation.
I encourage you in both your study and your performance responsibilities to anticipate the touch of God in your work. If you'll keep moving forward in expectation; yet let go of the handle bars and guard rails, I think you, too, will discover a most amazing adventure. If the world thinks it's got wow by parading it beautiful islands, mountain regions, and Disney World, wait 'til it sees the hand of God working in our lives. The church? The funnest, most exhilarating enterprise ever!
Retract the fear controls. Expect the Living God. Toss the boredom! Accept the joy!!!! I can't wait for tomorrow!
Friday, June 22, 2007
Good news? Yes, I believe it to be some of the best news. I don't believe I'll ever arrive and, now, have no interest in accomplishing it. It seems that biblical maturity may be that we do not grow up with age, but we grow down with youth....II Cor. 4:16-18. I will always be in kindergarten as a church leader. I desire to remain green and wide-eyed versus growing protectively dull and squint-eyed. I hope He lets this happen to me.....to us!
Even after several undeserved scoldings over many years, I can name more deserved reprimands I should have received....and didn't. Of the encounters where church colleagues' skills fail us, my misfires outnumber theirs. I will not ever arrive....not because of choice, but because of stark weakness. Jesus must arrive for me. I can't.
This frees me up to keep trying to be a leader when everyone knows the church (and in my case, the workshop) deserves a deeper, smarter, and more gifted man. I don't have to hide in shame nor live in jealousy. I get to dream because I am only in kindergarten. I am in the secretly successful process of growing down and young!
Will things get easier once you do arrive? My guess is that whenever a follower reaches arrivation (a self-dependent and independent focus and consequential assumption of stability) there is total disalignment with God and His working putty called grace.
Failing to arrive does leave us out on many limbs and God will personally hand us a very sharp saw. He will ever be noting whether we depend on Him or ourselves. We'll forever be tempted to do the work without Him. The good news is that as we grow down and young, instead of up and old, He seems to respond with more and more of His equipment to get the job done right.
But by the grace of God, we'd be paranoid leaders scared of our own shadow. With Him, all things are possible. I like the idea of always being in kindergarten in the kingdom of God. Leadership? Welcome to the world of more to learn than what we already know.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
The spacious meeting room was perched atop of a gleaming tower overlooking innumerable solar systems. Royalty reigned. The carpeting was plush, the drapes were bright fiery red, and the table was massive extending seventy-four feet in order to sit the sixty-six dignitaries of Satan's most honored troops. Each a regional officer had been called in for a most dramatic conclave. The topic? How to thwart church growth on earth.
The Son of God had broken the impenetrable barriers of death three years earlier. Hell's Celestial Council was fit to be tied. They were peeved at God's unperceived and unimagined tactics. The Lord of the Souls had slipped through the back door of the grave and smashed Hell's overconfident gates. Things got ugly and opposing troops were bent on revenge.
"Let's get right down to business", declared the handsome leader dressed in an extravagant pin-striped suit, bright red shirt, and gaudy tie. The arch-reps referred to him as Sir D. "Let's hear ideas to shut down this newest uprising called The Body." Random ideas were tossed about for weeks:
- "Make the church illegal", piped Rodney.
- "Distract them with inner division", was Auria's plea.
- "Perform operations on every Christian", erupted Alfonzo, "that they might be blind while believing they see."
- Ernie and Earline, twins from an orbital system three terrestrials over, commented they'd like the assembly to consider creating attention-getters like sports or resorts.
The meetings continued with great power-point presentations. Slight-of-hand "Now-you-see-it, Now-you-don't" specials were offered at breaks in order to keep the minds refreshed. Coconut pie and watermelon centers on chocolate trays were everywhere. Huge tanks of iced Dr. Pepper were available to all as the heat was fierce.
On the sixty-sixth day, which was Hell's most famously celebrated holiday, Mercury Rising, the mini-congress was pulled back into session. Dotel of the Land of Estrada made a most memorable presentation. "What if we let them have church", she explained, "but we slightly adjust their system in a way they will feel blessed instead of restricted?" "Continue on, please", Sir D beckoned. Dotel believed if there was a way to get the Christians to have a meeting place of their own and could call it church it might be possible for believers to actually focus on the events at church. Thus, the church would forget its original power of connecting to their communities.
Sir D led an arousing standing ovation for Dotel. Many of the other ideas were passed simply as riders to the main bill. Article 666 was unanimously put into law: Plan a global take-over by allowing believers to have a location demanding their focus which will distract them from souls.
It might just work.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Sin is ugly, rugged, indescribably offensive to the heart of God. It has spread like wildfire. All are contaminated; ruined by it's ambitious attachment. No psychology, no therapist, no amount of jumping through religious hoops can curtail such leproscopic aggressiveness.
Awareness of the magnitude of sin should alarm each as to how much we intentionally fellowship it. While murder or adultery may be far from our activity, Jesus said anger with a brother and lust are equal. Often we wink at his frank points. Church squabbles erupt over worship styles while personal blindness to how much we have been spared regarding sin handily escapes us...which, in turn, makes any worship effort quite anemic. Piano or no piano is not the urgent question. The question is are you worshipping the God who single-handedly brought you out of your own sin quagmire? Are you pouring your heart out to Him because you know the depth of your forgiveness or do you merely join in on the church celebration because it meets your needs?
So, are we to walk guilty of sin or liberated from it? Liberated without forgetting from whence we come...each day...is my take. Jesus taught that the one who is forgiven much loves much. Evidently such a person lives in excessive gratitude by recalling what he has been spared. Unloving brethren or opponents have forgotten one thing when they/we take our great stances. We have forgotten how much of a guilty mess we would be in----over our head in shame----if it weren't for the blood bath Jesus endured up to and on the cross. He took the beating we should have received.
It is true, we are not condemned if we are in Jesus (Romans 8:1-11) because Hell's bullies unrestrictedly beat the living fire out of him to a point beyond recognition (Isaiah 53) due to our sins. If you think you know someone who is vile in sin, you may be making accurate assessment. However, it might do you well to drop the stone you are tempted to toss. You'll find reason to give assistance toward miraculous reconciliation rather than typical condemnation if you can immediately recall deep gratitude for the three-day-dead man named Jesus because of you own guilt.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
The Word calls for us to mimic him. If not careful we'll continue that old line of thinking that he is too far beyond our reach. Thus, we dismiss our responsibilities because we settled for a lesser goal. We are to be like him, look like him, care like him, and sound like him.
I am certain I don't imitate him fully. The overall global body of Christ does that....of which we are included in his walking body. Specifically, I go through every day mimicking Jesus in that every person I see I intentionally pass by offering a healing touch.....I speak to them. Jesus, in his ordinariness, moved about from day to day in sheer simplicity. People called out to him and he addressed them with at least the touch of his word. And.....they were healed.
Every person I meet is in need of the touch of at least a word from someone acknowledging they exist. We cannot imagine the loneliness our communities feel, even if they are in a crowd. Remember the book, Lonely People in Crowded Pews? Complete strangers entering the same door you are, at Wal-Mart, are needing to know someone notices they exist. Say something healing like, Good morning friend. I doubt they'll drop to their feet in tears, but I believe God's healing touch transfers to their aching heart.
I cheer you on. Roam earth today, whether it be office corridor, the mall, or airport terminal with awareness of the power of Jesus you carry. You, my friend, are a ticking healing bomb called to go off at every turn. The check-out cashier at your favorite grocery store will find her feet ache just a little less if you could put a little enthusiasm into your greeting today.
Let's do a good job of walking like Jesus. We'll heal the world!
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Let's get to it. What did you get me? eAir Rifle? eGolf Clubs? eNew Car?
Thanks for attending my eParty. And, ahead of time, thanks for the thought you put into my eGifts!
Happy sixtE to me!
Friday, June 15, 2007
Hell marched onto the scene with multiple soldiers in proud array. Curiosity seekers were sprinkled among the crowd. Intimidation was in the air. For Heaven's side? Well, only one representative entered the arena wearing a torn robe already matted with blood mixed with his own tears. The crowd began to wonder if Heaven sent a soldier or a dog? Heaven barely limped onto the scene already beaten to a pulp overnight back in City Hall's dimly lit rooms by Hell's underground thugs . Winning psychology? One blind could at least smell Heaven was not favored. Really, he had been brutally whipped before the fight was to begin. Hardly fair.
The scene was so extremely imbalanced Hell began to take jabs with one hand tied behind his back. The Cross, though, was more than timbers taking on descriptive formation. It was the locale where Heaven and Hell would meet to have it out...once and for all. Hell came well- prepared. Its Goliath presence would intimidate anybody.....anybody except Heaven, that is.
When the final round began, Heaven had a plan to undo Hell. Heaven would die so Hell would lose. The plot was amazing; yet, was not detected until days later. It was creation's most outlandish slug fest. It was a bloodbath. Hell walked away without a scratch. Heaven couldn't walk or talk. Heaven died. Hell lived.
However (and with Heaven there is the perpetual promise for everyone to own a "However"), Hell was blindsided by Heaven's astute scheme. Hell did not see his imminent fatality as he was too busy bullishly bragging to all creation. While he paraded his troops through the streets of Jerusalem in assumed victory, Heaven was rummaging through Hell's storehouse freeing prisoners like mad. When Sunday got here the headlines were more shocking than Truman pulling out the election.
"HEAVEN DEFEATS HELL....TOTALLY!"
What a knock-out scheme. Heaven went to Hell. He died to get to Hell's core and deliver the fatal punch! Such bravery cannot be understood. Dark parking lots scare us. We win, world, we win. On M-Day---Day of Misery---Hell forgot to sign the scorecard. Heaven only looked defeated. It was, however, merely fulfilling its V-Day plan.
We will never be the same....because Heaven met Hell and Hell was introduced to Heaven.
Thank you God, for your brilliant plan for Victory!
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
It must be true for the most of us that dying to self has to be re-reintroduced to our thought processes as our hearts drift quickly to find narrow escape. We don't want to die to ourselves. We just want to rehearse the call to do it. From the nearby stands, we admire his battle.....to the end....on the cross. We'll sing a song about it on more than one occasion.
The church seems bent on rushing to substitutional systems where the talk seems serious; but the action is far from sacrificial. Such a statement is not intended to be critical of a branch of us or of an odd offshoot from us. It is geared to awaken me/us to the constant need to live like Jesus. We tend to want our way.
While our divided camps convince themselves they are winning arguments against ourselves, we are collectively losing the war. Soldiers have been replaced by campaigners. We have traded the voice of prophets for the evaluation of therapists. Visionaries have been replaced by casual sight-seers. We've become more expectant to have our needs met and less inclined to have our skills stretched. Comfort in one-size-fits-all is happily accepted over individual challenge to risk when there seems to be no hope in hoping.
I believe it is a scary thing to be linked to our Man whom the unbelieving world marks as their most unpopular villain. Jesus remains the scandal of life. We wear him as our own armor. We haven't been called to march in the band. We have volunteered to steady the troops as we continue to find ourselves entangled in a serious war far more conflicting and confusing than what we see in earthly Iraq.
On occasion we have gusts of conviction to surrender upon our own cross. Such is very needed...now. May we bolster our courage to stand for the things which matter, die for the things which respond to His higher calling, and experience the abundant life in the process.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Colson was about his usual, never-failing brilliance. The man is such a testimony of conviction and a greater source of faith. He has the broadest grasp of worldview of anyone I know in the Christian field. Ravi Zacharias would come a close second.
Mr. Colson spoke for about an hour and every statement resonated with reason to pay continued attention. Afterwards he responded to maybe a dozen questions. Two answers especially stood out to me:
- In response to the stability of the President, he said, Look folks.....on 9/12 (the day after 9/11) who would have forecast that at the end of the next six years there would be no more attacks on American soil, unemployment would be 4.5 and the stock market would be strong?
- When asked about his view of the situation in Iraq: We must stay. If not, Iran will take 2/3 and Turkey 1/3 and then Iran will attempt to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. However, I will tell you one thing I see developing. China has an estimated 100 million Christians underground. I believe the Chinese Christians will be the ones who hold back Islamic extremists.
Colson's breadth of information/experience is fascinating. The first time I met him....I apologized for arrogantly believing his conversion to be a "handy sham". This man knows the Savior. I now know God a little better because I learned to listen rather than spout pious judgment against this born again man. The world is full of hope. Jesus is drawing more to himself...day by day. We have reason to be enthused.
And....100 million Christians in China? Thank you, God!
Yesterday morning we sat in our weekly 6:00 a.m. meeting....staff and elders. I so enjoy it and yesterday seemed exceptionally rich. I had little to contribute as discussion flowed for two hours with no agenda. Wonderful concepts were tossed for honing. I soaked up the wisdom God had spewing from every person in the room....with the exception of one; me. The guys were on a roll. Mostly I made notations from their comments which inspired me to think about ideas they didn't even realize God was saying through them.
In this setting, and nearly all others, I feel the fool. I have very little to add. Yesterday the most I could muster in comment was a couple of goofy comments that got good laughs. That was it. I get discouraged with my seeming lack to be an effective communicator of serious matters. Mine is usually the joke part...which sometimes does keep the room from being tense. Sometimes I so wish I could get to say the deep thing which would wow at least just one somebody. Do any of you know what I mean?
So, for those of you who feel embarrassed about your leadership lack, maybe it would be good to hear from one who's been around awhile. I still feel the pangs of wishing I could say deep stuff like others. I know He uses me. I feel confident of such. But I still hit those many moments where I feel far removed from effective leadership style.
My hope is in the fact I am just getting started and one day will become more effective. The same holds true for each of you who similarly battle.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
I've got another reversal in the works. You don't know it, but the 18th of June (one week from Monday) is my 60th birthday party. So, let's throw a big eParty! I'm arranging it. But don't tell me....it's an eSurprise!
We'll have eCake and eIce Cream. I need some of you to work on the eDecorations, others get the eSupplies and one of you be in charge of eClean-up. Of course eGifts are acceptable and eXpected!
Don't you think this will be fun? I think it might just be a first. HappE eBirthday to eMe!!!!! On that date....Monday the 18th....you can comment on my blog what you eGot me with your eMoney of which I will be most eXcited!
(Oh boy, spell check just lit up like the 4th of July. How about that? eCandles before I ever sent it out!)
Saturday, June 09, 2007
For those of you too young to know who Jackie Gleason is, it would be similar to discovering Rosie O'Donnell or Paris Hilton have deep inclinations to study the life and times of Jesus. One just wouldn't have suspected their respect or interest in such a subject. And, that's my point.
I believe every person at some point(s) in their life has strong inclination to search for God. Therefore, I simply remind you today that every obstinate and offensive individual who crosses your path must not be checked off of your list regarding the question, Would they be interested in God? Of course they would....maybe not on your clock at your designated soul winning night.
Be assured everyone you know wonders....they wonder if there is a God and if there is, would He be willing to include them? Wherever you are, whoever you know.....you can count on it....somewhere along the way, they have a heart to learn of Him. That's precisely why we scatter seed to the wind. It often lands where we had least expected!
I would love to hear of your conversion story, or of another's you know, whom you would have least expected.
Friday, June 08, 2007
I'm finding myself living in a wonderful state of so much needing to be done and overwhelmed at the possibilities. Here's what cooking. Some of it will come about:
- I LOVE WORKING WITH MEMORIAL DRIVE: We have numerous and varying ministries popping with effectiveness. Memorial is freer today than it once was. People believe Jesus saves maybe more than we once did. He paid the price. He experienced our hell. He makes us victorious. I enjoy the fact Memorial lets me be in on its development in Jesus. I am most fortunate to be allowed to have office space and be a part of such a place.
- WRITING OF FIVE BOOKS COOKING AT ONCE: I've never had this go on before. Each is within a stone's throw of completion. However, in writing this daily blog and having a church to tend, the books take a low priority. God is working overtime in my heart.
- PLANS ARE IN THE WORKS TO FILM THE "100% NATURAL EVANGELISM SEMINAR": The church at large continues to need prompting about reaching to those without hope in Jesus. This seminar is so fun, so on target, and so effective. I've done it for years...now decades. Because I have curbed my travel, putting this series on DVD seems to be a move which would allow congregations to show a four part series in their Bible classes. The aim is to help congregations realize they already are evangelistic. This thing restores confidence in sowing seed and watching God bear fruit.
- THE CALL OF RESCUING ABANDONED CHILDREN IS INCREASINGLY LOUD: I shared in last Sunday's sermon about the great need for the church to pay attention to the cry of abandoned children...globally. I met with Randy and Pam Cope while speaking in Joplin Sunday night. They are in the planning stages of reaching to orphaned ones...globally. Last night my friend, Dan Swartwood, called so moved at something which happened to him after Sunday morning's sermon. His friend in Minnesota shared he has a group--HOPE UNLIMITED--which is devoted to rescuing street children in Brazil. His friend offered to send me there to see the plight so I could offer input as to how to bring this matter to public awareness. There is discussion among some wondering if we could tap the St. Louis Cardinals' contacts to help alleviate the child catastrophe....globally.
- AND THEN A LITTLE SIDE NOTE FOR A SMILE: I spoke at STREAM IN THE DESSERT in Midland a year ago. During that weekend I continued to exhort the crowd with, Don't you love right now? Someone at the seminar went back to Nashville and told someone who told someone and they told George Jones or Strait (Can't remember now) and he is writing a new song...."Don't You Love Right Now?
- AND WHEN I RETURNED FROM NASHVILLE: An email was waiting from one who was moved by something I said somewhere and has contact with Bobby Knight of Texas Tech, who is a huge Cardinal fan. He wants a Jack Buck book to take to Mr. Knight to see if something might develop between the two of us. I love working that way.
I write this today to tell you I feel certain your plate seems to be too small for the load of opportunity you are carrying. First, wouldn't you rather have this life than the cemeterial boredom of nothing happening? And second, don't you continue to catch yourself noticing 5000 needs with only a sack lunch of skill to get to them? And that's why.....we are transformed in our thinking to believe more than us is working this work. Jesus really is our brother/partner. He is back supplying us with the courage to tackle the possibilities giving us reason to be full of enthusiasm.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
We are not amazing due to self-ingenuity nor self-evaluation. We are amazing because we are direct descendants of His glory, His riches, His power. We shower every morning in His mercy.
Now if we measure ourselves by, let's say our leaders or the congregation as a whole, we might find ourselves overwhelmed by the world's great need. Yet, if we count the number of believers in Jesus world-wide, the works He has going in them, and the strategic missions of so many.....the reportable numbers would be well....unreportable. Only God can calculate all He has going on effectively from continent to continent...from generation to generation...from vision to vision...from dream to fulfilled dream.
Awaken to the Wonder of it all.....I continue to urge. Awaken to the truth that souls are being won today by a faithful few who lived in 935 and 1648 because the Seed sown is eternal in nature. We are soul winners because we are God lovers and people lovers. What a Living God the Living God IS!
WITH GOD.....that's our claim to liking it in the kingdom!
[I'll be leaving in the morning (Wednesday) for Nashville where I'll be speaking that night at Fourth Avenue in Franklin.]
Take a look at the new ad campaign by Travelers Insurance. Clips show bunny rabbits having the ever famous "rabbits foot" re-attached. Scenes of rabbits being x-rayed and receiving surgical implants are adorable. The final frame is a field full of bunnies with successful multicolored re-attachments of the "rabbits foot". One of their front paws green, some in red, others in blue. It's so cute. Furthermore, such a scene is unexpected....and Chip and Dan are right....it sticks. Travelers sells insurance but created a way for me to remember their name because of rabbit foot surgery!
How does this affect us? As leaders we will do well to compliment and encourage and cheer others when they aren't expecting it. I have my secretaries prepare three or four greeting cards a week which are for no special reason to send to members who simply need to know someone notices them for no special reason. I do the same by making random phone calls or sending surprise emails. None were expected and yet to receive surprise cheering sticks. And this kind of sticking builds. It builds connection, confidence....it builds church family.
We each have a lot going on. Unexpected and no special reason communication is a powerful part of our leadership toolbox. We may make an individuals day when we communicate at time they were least expecting it. I cheer you on......make someone's day....today!
Monday, June 04, 2007
I have good news. No one needs to get away.
Conflict is a strong signal "something matters". There is no conflict in a cemetery. Stress and pressure are a magnificent part of the leadership package. I encounter it every day....every day. I don't enjoy it. However, it is not my enemy. I am a privileged man to get to have the sources of interruption and difficulty in my zone.
I believe we are not called to rename conflict or stress by another name so it is more palatable. We are called to endure. Trouble is the leader's workout gym. We get our spiritual muscles built and subsequently toned by exertion in such areas. Jesus is the Leader. He knows the ins and outs of making it. Once he wondered aloud whether he might want to get away. Fortunately, he retracted.
...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart...Hebrews 12:1-3.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Awaken? Why are some asleep while they walk among the various and many paths of dailiness? Consider Jesus. He lived such LIFE because he was forever connecting with the oppressed. Association with the poor was his LIFE. He had a vision of giving himself away and knew the direction it would take to succeed.
We mask the failure to care for others with substitutes. Consumption and complaint and greed and bitterness rage throughout our systems as we neglect the underprivileged. We compare ourselves to those who have it better than us so that such a comparison will justify our blatant neglect. Misery, boredom, and resentment fill such days.
Awaken to the Wonder of God. Give your money to the poor. Go out of your busy schedule to attend to the need of one who cannot earn your merciful attention. See the pain in your friend's eyes as she says she is fine and embrace her with follow-ups of, Do you need to sit over here and talk?
Our course of action should be full of eager attention as there are so many who need encouragement. Take a bouquet of flowers to your school secretary, deliver coffee and a candy bar to a janitor, send a note to a lonely soul, or phone a neighbor you've needed to check on. Fill your life with Jesus-moments. Offer that God-filling to the dark and weary souls who abundantly surround our paths. Life cannot be dull when we dare touch the sometimes dirty and clammy hands of one who lives day after day receiving no love.
Life is not dull. It is on the brink of greater than excitement can measure. Touch your world!
Friday, June 01, 2007
First, for us to tackle such a quagmire and stratosphere of need is impossible. Therefore, we must operate on the Truth that with God all things are possible. We, as hungry leaders, must identify with the Possibility God rather than the Impossibility Shrugs.
Second, we must increase in practice His clarion call for unity. If you wonder how our church division (us among us and denomination among denomination) has impacted America, take a good look at the disharmonious, bitter congress, racial tension, financial deviation, and moral decline. Our society appears as if the kingdom of God has not hit it....yet. I believe the schools and businesses and families around my locale are negatively impacted because we have arrogantly, smugly regarded ourselves as more spiritual than our religious neighbors on other corners.
Last year I went by neighboring Eastwood Baptist and met their pastor. I talked to him about this very need. He was courteous enough; but he's got the same sickness we have....he's the only one right. Recently I discovered he moved. Last week I went to see the new guy. He was out, but I want to get with him because I believe God wants us pooling our gifts rather than parading our differences. The latter hasn't worked and the former was how our movement began...the Presbyterians and the Baptists and the Pentecostals banded together to form the Restoration Movement! We are them!
Finally, we must, must, must escalate our ability to minister to children. We have two adorable part-time Children's Ministers on staff and a church which is financially and participatorily supportive. Many reading this blog have similar arrangements which brings value and life to your congregation. Still, through this process we are reaching 10 and 15 while hundreds of hungry children....yes even neglected and abused children....go unreached. We must expand our talents and skills to reach more....not by herding to count numbers, but by guiding and carefully redirecting tender souls to the Light.
Through hunger for the lost, a Possibility God, continued efforts to unify, and focus on the children at every turn, I believe we will even more effectively reach our depressed communities with hope and love and light!