Wednesday, October 31, 2007


For the most part most of the time we think we are in control. This is important to us. We like to know how things are going to go. We rarely know such facts with great detail; yet, even just a few nuggets of "what's happening now" and we feel we are in the driver's seat of life. On occasion we take our turns at approaching a curve and finding we were totally unprepared for the next hill. Does God happen to have you there this week?

What are we to do when we think we have expended all we had to offer a situation only to discover we weren't even at the right ballpark; let alone the right game? What do we do when we feel desperately undone? Where do we turn when we no longer have a feel for direction? How shall we move when completely paralyzed in attempts to move forward?

I would direct you to a truth which might have slipped by. Do you recall that a part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit is self-control? Does it seem odd to you that the love of Christ controls us (II Cor. 5:14) and yet a part of the Spirit's role in our lives is to help us with self-control? What's going on with this?

In my shallow way I'll share with you that one of the things it may mean is that when we feel life is unravelling out of control, the Holy Spirit bears a fruit in us to put control back into our system. When God does any work in us, it is very difficult for us to grasp (or accept) because we like to have full analysis and final explanation. God won't tell us the "how" part. He reveals "He does" part and we are expected to believe it....without charts and media presentations as to how it works.

When you are stumped and don't know where to turn I believe you can expect to hear from Him. What shall you do next? Be responsible and let Him flow into and through your dilemma. He will give you the control to hold on. He will see you through it. You'll succeed, but never because of your own "fix-it" knack. He will take care.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Speaking words of encouragement is not a gift. It's a command. Expressing support is not an option. It involves submission. Cheering the world on is not the job of a few. It's to be the tongue, the lingo, of the Christian.

Like anyone, I have always been interested in happiness. However, I was never acquainted with being positive or optimistic until I ran into a man named Jesus. He turned my world incredibly upside down. Even when I was converted and soon rushed off to preaching school, the legalism among us taught me to be mean and suspicious...right in line with my former life. I began preaching as a harsh man....and still have to fight off the demons on occasion.

But Jesus came along much later in my ministry and I began to notice his style...and became intrigued by it. He taught me to believe with nothing in front of my eyes. He showed me acceptance when I felt decayed. Jesus gave me purpose when I was meandering indifferently through the fields of getting by. He lifted my vision. He showed me what faithful words would do to people in the church and out.

I heard him say through Paul to be certain our speech was seasoned that it might give grace to those who hear. Such isn't for the few and the proud. It's for the entire Christian race. We are to speak life into one another. We each need to be cheered on and up. Silence (no comment) is not good enough when His soldiers are battling for their lives on the fields of increasing darkness and destruction. We must become positively, faithfully vocal.

While variations of gifts apply generally to the overall body of Christ, being willing to speak support and hope into our fellow comrades is not an elective. We are called to do it. We are expected to do it. The reason it is so ultimately important is because just as the Creator, we created ones bring good things into existence by our speech. May we become increasingly vocal in raising our voices in support and promotion of one another.

When I really ran into Jesus I found my language had to be transformed. I wasn't speaking curse words, understand. I just wasn't speaking life into people. I left that up to the chatterboxes. WordPower, however, takes no consideration as to whether one has the gift of gab or is fearfully shy. It's a matter of submission to the call of Christ. Don't let unwholesome words come out. Speak life into the ears of so many who are about to give up and give out......Eph. 4:29. We are called into action. May we enjoy the work of giving grace through our raised voices of hope!

Monday, October 29, 2007


Such a topic was requested a couple of days ago. I most likely will not address future requests unless I sense it something God is putting on my heart. However, I'll take a shot at this first one.

Are we an asset or a liability to the church of Christ? I'd say we are! Furthermore I'd say whatever we are...we all are! By these two admissions, I mean the following:
  • I Corinthians 12 discusses we are all important in the body. Too, it points out that those we deem less important (maybe even liabilities) are of key importance. We don't know the person in Christ's church who is unnecessary.
  • Paul warns us clearly of assuming self-importance/dangerous self-estimation in Romans 12.
  • Jesus encountered one Pharisaical setting after another quirky challenge where religious leaders assumed themselves to be God's tool and a weeping woman with expensive perfume or a dinky man in a tree as unworthy. Jesus reversed the faulty assumptions.

I would gage myself to be an asset in the church Jesus is building because I am such a massive liability. I most likely feel stranger in the church than most. I am precisely as Paul; one untimely born. He and I were thrust into the limelight way ahead of our skills, talents, and abilities. He believed himself to be the chiefest of sinners.........but he obviously had not heard of me. Dare I compare myself to this apostle? Only in the sense of me understanding his emotional attachment to his own and obvious weaknesses.

I indeed feel strange as God lets me get to lead in the most amazing stuff; yet I never "feel" the part. I never feel up to the task. I trust Him immensely. I wouldn't trust me as far as I could throw me. Are we assets or liabilities? My best guess is we are all loony liabilities just hoping Jesus will transform us into useful assets by His Holy Spirit. Fortunately, hopefully, mercifully, gracefully....HE DOES!!!

One of the things I love about the kingdom of God is it has such a special place for the misfits. I get to be a part of the greatest movement on earth. How about you?


There's a lot of bad stuff going on. Darkness is being intentionally dispensed throughout. Negativity presses against the heart-walls of random and many victims. We must counter with godly brightness at every turn.

I cheer you on to cease skeptical sighs and pessimistic utterances which dampen the flaming and hopeful interiors of the hundreds who come into contact with you during the week. Your phone calls, your notes, your remarks, your instructions.....each should be packing a hefty amount of good-news light. Applaud and praise. Express your pleasure in other's efforts. Support everyone who tries...whether they succeed or fail....they tried.

Jesus is the Light-out-of-heaven! He left every setting in better condition than when he had entered. Every coffee shop, every encounter at the water fountain, each awaiting in line at the check-out counter or the tag agency, all greetings at the business entrance should be charged with our high voltage shining from the Spirit of Christ operating through us.

Don't hide your light under the bushel of frustration or irritation. Shine on. Lift your spirit in order to lift the spirits of others. We live in dark times. We are not called to curse the darkness; but rather, to dispel it by our brightness. May we so shine before men that we do not glare...but that we do give sufficient hope to transform the ugliest of days.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Our family laughs.....a lot! We don't tell many jokes. We simply report life. We see/hear humor in so many things and love to repeat it. My three kids are hilarious. I relish being in the room and listening to them describe the funniest scenarios that, frankly, many others missed.

Our grandson Hayden is a funny little man. He's four. Recently Wendy overheard Hayden singing the Lord's Prayer: Our Father....who is in heaven....Hal....why be thy name? Great question. Why is God's name Hal, anyway?

Yesterday, Hayden got into trouble. His mom told him three times to quit jumping on the living room pillows. He chose to ignore her plea. She took him upstairs to his room for his punishment and she said, Hayden, I told you three times to quit jumping on the pillows. How many times do think I'm going to have to tell you that before you quit? In a most serious and thoughtful tone he gave his best estimation. I'm guessing four.

I'm off to Monroe, Louisiana this morning to link up with Dusty, A Cappella, and Watershed at the Discover youth rally. A grandpa speaking at a youth rally? There's some funny stuff just at the thought of that.

Hope to be back with you next week!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Jesus didn't come to give us religion. He came to give us life....John 10:10. Religion has become obese. It waddles into one event after another drawing the disdain of skeptics. Fortunately, religion is losing weight. It's shedding unneeded pounds which had been taken on by decades and centuries of man-made doctrines. Churches of all brands seem to be entering this spiritual weight-loss program.

What's the cause of such a turn to better health? There seems to be both a united admission and renewal. The admission is that each denomination has sadly assumed itself more faithful to the Word than its competitors. The renewal is Jesus is gaining popularity in the church.

Isn't the latter a stark realization? It's true of us? The church I am in is increasingly losing weight by being less the competitive Church of Christ and becoming more aware of the biblical world-view church of Christ. For years we have denied ourselves being a denomination and the louder we voiced it, the more we became it.

The good news is the Spirit of Christ is entering through the closed doors of many churches of many brands and quietly leading individuals/congregations to simultaneous renewal. God is increasingly glorified; not our works. God is wonderfully praised; not our form. God is loved; not our rules. Churches are shedding awkward and ill-fitting armor handed down while growing in the true Spirit of Jesus which has always been promoted by a few.

I am just beginning to begin to see the true church arise in this multi-distractional life called ministry. Being the church instead of The Church is much more faithful, freeing, inclusive, exciting, and productive. Congratulations to all churches who are more interested in the name of Jesus than in the name of your denomination.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Resentment and bitterness bully some by bullying through others. The Hatfields and the McCoys are infamous for their perpetuated barbs and threats. Living selfishly is not a good thing. A shift needs to take place....and, fortunately, it often does.

What would puncture the balloon of living out of sorts and being irritated toward others which would bring about needed deflation? Expensive gifts? Counselling? Separation? Move to another state? Avoidance? While many other possibilities loom at dismantling our uglier side, there seems to be one major source proving most effective. Impending death.

A recent Oprah guest is dying of pancreatic cancer. He explained that one of the marvels he's noted is how good people are. He said his neighbors are bombarding his family with generosity and gestures of deep kindness. Why this sudden bold move? Death looms. This dying man is noting the goodness in people. People are noticing this good dying man.

Harsh words seem to have a better chance as long as extended life is assumed. Isn't that a shame? Wouldn't it be better if we could speak words of life and hope as an every day pattern? Why do we have to wait 'til death begins to raise its head to let others know of our approval and sheer delight in them?

I have a friend in her mid-fifties dying of cancer. She has lived a life of steadily being upset, bent out of shape, and being easily offended. Now she's dying. Guess what she told me when we last visited? I'm finding it much easier to say I love you to those near me.

May we each get on with appreciating the abundant life God has afforded and extending kind words in every direction.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Dusty wrote about it on his blog, so I know it's okay to say it out loud. I am speaking at the Discover Youth Rally in Monroe, Louisiana next weekend. Really, I'm just a fill-in which explains a few things. Dusty and Walling were scheduled but Jeff backed out. I'm 60 years old! I haven't spoken at a youth rally since Cabbage Patch days.

I was very reluctant to "fill-in" for Walling. I mean that's sort of insulting to the kids. However, I am pumped about stuff God has given me. I really look forward to seeing what He has to say through us and what He does. It will be fun to experience A Cappella, Watershed, and Unbound.

It will be extremely privileging to work with Dusty. When the boys were in grade school I'd take them over to the building and have them preach to me. We'd go over how to read the text, how to illustrate, and how to apply God's Word. It was fun then and it'll be fun this weekend.

If you could be me, what would you want to say at a youth rally?

Friday, October 19, 2007


God's grace is a marvelous interactive kingdom wow! He spends it on us. We spend it in ministry toward others. Grace (God's favor) is the greatest term to note God's power and unexplainable awe residing in the believer's life. Did you know there are three things we do to pull His grace toward us, through us, and into our ministries? Most likely there are more than three. These are the ones I can define at this point in my life.

We draw God's grace to us as a magnet when:
  1. ...WE LEARN TO GIVE. ...for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed....II Cor. 9:7-8.
  2. ...WE LEARN TO SUFFER UNJUSTLY. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, it finds favor with God....I Peter 2:19-20.
  3. ....WE LEARN TO BE CLOTHED IN HUMILITY. ...clothe yourselves in humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Grace and favor are interchangeable. Some of the things we can know about Mary, the mother of Jesus, is she evidently was quite generous, could suffer unfair insult quietly, and was exquisitely humble. Mary was greatly troubled at the announcement she would bear God's child. The angel explained why she had been chosen, Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God...Luke 1:30. Mary possessed gracitational pull.....and so do we!

Thursday, October 18, 2007


For many years of my ministry I thought God couldn't/wouldn't speak. I'd had training. One of the major things taught was much of the good stuff about God had ceased. I understood I had basically been booted from the nest and it was up to me to sink or swim, soar or crash. I thought I had it clear that we talked to God, but He no longer was on speaking terms with us.

Today, I think my understanding was wrong.

God has plenty to say. We just feel weird in discussing it among us because we have a heritage primed to react without giving this concept fair evaluation. God speaks to me. The very admission could throw some into convulsionistic claims of arrogance, ignorance, or foolishness. However, in this case I claim only the latter. (The Word says God works through the foolish and I hope to be included...I Cor. 1:26-29)

I've learned to wait on God and to listen for Him. When I hear from Him, it isn't an audible voice in English. All I can say is it is an awareness. What I once would have claimed as my own imagination or ingenuity, I now claim is God giving me ideas. Not all of my ideas are His. Only the ones from Him are His. He meets me most in three places: showering, shaving, driving. It should be noted that each of these three is while I am still.

In none of the three settings do I consciously say to myself, Now God will be speaking soon so conjure up some spiritual thinking processes. Ideas simply fall out of the heavens when I'm least expecting them. Of course an unbeliever's response is usually something like, How do you know it isn't the devil talking to you? I have to discern the message which is a biblical instruction. But I ask the doubter, why is it doubters believe Satan speaks to us directly, but not the Living God?

Truthfully, I could be all wet about any of this. I know that. What I want to tell you is I experience God. I like it. He has given me ideas I could never come up with on my own. He has done things for me for decades I could never have provided on my own. He's such an active Sort.

I believe God is not mute. I believe He loves to interact with His children. We might do well to develop prayer time where we talk.....and we listen. We speak to Him....and I believe wholeheartedly He speaks to us. Shame on us for believing we can talk, but the Creator who spoke the world into existence is no longer able.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Over these 30 years at Memorial Drive I've seen a few things work well. Some didn't. I share ideas in hopes that some of them might shed possible light on encouraging/improving your work.
  1. We moved to small groups on Sunday night. We felt Sunday evenings were simply Jr. Church. Our small groups have not captured the hearts of everyone in the congregation. We do find them attended better than Jr. Church. And, the fruit of the small groups enhances the family atmosphere a church of 500 needs to assist in maintaining close relationships.
  2. We ended the Wednesday evening devotionals consisting of a prayer, a mini-sermon, and an invitation song. We were simply going through dullifying motion. A few balked at it's dismissal; not very many. It gives us fifteen more minutes for classes or an event we have every other quarter for adults called PowerSurge.
  3. The elders formed a finance committee comprised of accountants. No one in the church, on the staff, among the elders can spend money unless the finance committee okays it. The elders shed control over the money. They successfully empowered very capable people to handle this important role. It has been a powerful move.
  4. The elders ended their weekly and often agonizing meetings which went unnecessarily well into the night hours. They meet with the four male staff members every Monday morning from 6:30 to 8:00. No agenda. No old business. Just random talk which may cover old and new business. We get together for an informal time of listening to our hearts. It's a great part of my week.
  5. Four to six of us get together every Sunday morning at 7:30 for 45 minutes to an hour of prayer. I used to do this by myself. I don't recall how it shifted but others began to join me and now this "is" the best part of my week. We pray regularly for God to be honored an praised seeking His participation and leadership in our day, thanking God for those who are moving to Memorial who don't know we exist but are so burdened over finding out they have been transferred, for the next elder(s) He chooses to add to our guys in His timing, for the one(s) who will eventually replace me tomorrow or years from now, and for special needs we know of among the flock.
  6. We let everyone place membership. This changed things at Memorial. Membership isn't a Bible term. Someone made that up somewhere in our past. We have seen denominational friends as well as Catholic ones eventually be buried into Christ as He touched their hearts while being in friendship, workship, worship and fellowship with the small portion of His worldview body at this place. How we celebrate how God moves among us!
  7. We celebrate! Some raise their hands. Some don't. There are no rules. Some applaud. Others don't. There are no rules. Some stay an hour after services. Others race for the doors. There are no rules. Don't criticize. That is a biblical rule. We simply urge everyone to celebrate God....that is our goal.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I've been working on a dream for over twenty years. What could I do to bring my St. Louis Cardinal connection to Tulsa? When Cardinal broadcaster, Jack Buck, passed away five years ago another huge door of opportunity opened our way. I could see 2/3 of a puzzle....but not the other 1/3. Then Memorial became highly involved in adopting local Lindbergh Elementary a year ago. Thus, the final piece.

We announced Sunday to the congregation that, Lord willing, we are having a Jack Buck Celebrity Golf Tournament October 6, 2008. Our goal? We want to raise $1,160,000.00 in this one event for 58 Tulsa Public Elementary Schools' ($20,000 per) art, music, and PE departments.

What? Are we crazy? We just as well have announced we intend to get congress to give us the money. There's no way. This is such a big number that every time I go to type it in I have to study the zeroes to be certain there are enough. This is a huge project. However, volunteers are coming out of the woodwork. Excitement is fervent among so many who don't play golf or like sports. They like school teachers and children.

Our goal is to signal the community that area churches who know God serve. I hope when this project is done that God comes out being the centerpiece for all to acknowledge. Would you, wherever you live, build a prayer team for this event? Tell me if you are in. If you are in a small group out in another territory, would you ask your group to pray for us? We can't possibly pull this off. Nobody raises a million dollars in a golf tournament. I guess we'll raise the bar!

Monday, October 15, 2007


People get cross ways with one another. Church division is among the ugliest forms as it is assumed the be the very place love would dominate. Yet, at times, such isn't the case. Friends, neighbors, and families get revved up over what to them is a most important issue. Words are tossed. Tempers flare. Blood pressure rises. Attitudes boil.

Occasionally parting of the ways is the only way to bring relief to either side. Separation sometimes is the best move. The unnecessary hatred developed from these strange incubators is both vicious and foolish . Hate grinds teeth and makes inward vows to never ever ever acknowledge anything good about the other....EVER!

By the grace of God and over time it seems hate loses its strength. Really it caves to the true nature of humanity: kindness and compassion and love. Those who choose to live in bitterness forevermore are simply wasting good energy. To fail to forgive anyone and to live in resentment toward them is like drinking poison and hoping the other guy dies. Hate is a momentary facade which will hopefully be replaced by our good senses.

Our country is fed a steady diet of assumed reasons to part ways: politically, theologically, and monetarily. Therefore, we must guard against this darkness which prowls around tempting each to live vindictive and silly lives of disliking others. Such childishness may be understood when arising in the terrain of grade school, but not in the lives of grown up, well-educated, intelligent adults.

Hate is a liar. It cannot hold up under the scrutiny of good hearts which choose to bless instead of curse. One thing we can all count on is we have a choice to see the good in others....and intend to keep doing so.

Friday, October 12, 2007


An area which congregations can be found asleep at the switch is extra-curricular giving; giving beyond the weekly budget. The double edged sword needing sharpened is: (1) we need to provide a place for extra giving, and (2) our people with extra money need a place to give. Our people have money. They have unexpected money. I know that the large percentage of the church does not experience sudden cash flow. Precisely, that's why we miss this blessing.

Budget committees lay out annual plans and the congregations belly up to the bar in willing support. Yet, we miss another zone. We need what I will term as "special needs" to fulfill those sprinkled among the congregation who have extra money. In the early 90s I was pressing for $82,000 for a film project. I'll never forget the time and place an unassuming member handed me a check for $30,000. I had no idea his family had money. Where would his money have gone if not this church project. The answer is not to this church.

Every so often a member encounters a nice inheritance, has a cushy insurance settlement, or receives a plush bonus. Because 95% of the members don't have such occurrences, we behave as if big money doesn't exist. It does. A few people throughout the year have surprise money. We need to be positioning ourselves with special projects to help them be good stewards. I challenge church leadership to be good stewards of our good stewards.

While our people in general are very good givers, we aren't forking over all we can. I can raise $700 to $1500 at Memorial on any given Sunday for someone or something needed. What this tells us is extra giving will not dent the stability of the weekly budget.

The reason we are asleep at the switch is so many of those in church position to okay such a funding drive are among the 95% who never have extra. I never have extra. I stretch in my giving and have never understood extra to give. However, after years of experience, I think I know what I'm talking about. Various pockets of members have money (for whatever reason) and they are quite generous. We are failing them when we don't have special high-dollar items calling out for a contributor.

I encourage you to put before your congregation a specialty item costing anywhere from $500 to $50,000. Write me back and tell me you received no funds toward that project. It won't happen! Create. Dream. Imagine. Provide avenues for more giving to encourage the entire congregation. Sharpen the sword on both edges. Arise to leadership responsibility of imagining beyond your personal means. Enjoy the promises of God.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


For those who have a heart for evangelism, get the book UNchristian. Run! And, get a couple of highlighters while you're at it. You'll need them for nearly every page. David Kinnaman is the president of The Barna Group. He offers the results of thousands interviewed regarding why they distance themselves from churches. I want to know what they are thinking. He and Lyons will tell us. Their work is brimming with key points of mistaken moves on our part and what we can do to correct them. For now, I address one of those matters.

Christianity seems to be paying a price for its evangelistic "get saved" tactics. Kinnaman and Lyons point out that while revivals and crusades do find some souls "won" the caluculation of how many more were driven away by our imposing rudeness and pressure is never considered. The in-your-face-make-your-decision-now approach has delivered a few while serving as an even greater wedge for more. Their idea to correct this is to continue enthusiastic outreach through the means of slow and methodical discipleship. Research points to the church's "save'em and on-to-the-next drop 'em" process which eventually adds many of the "newly saved" to the loss column and widens the gap of those yet remaining on the outside.

When you're talking dollars, there is no price too high for a soul. But the problem isn't just cost. In our research with some of the leading "mass evangelism" efforts, we found that often these measures create three to ten times as much negative response as positive. In other words, imagine your church is considering mailing Bibles or videos or other Christian materials to homes in your community. Our research shows that the "collateral damage" of doing so---those whose impressions of your church and of Christianity would be more negative as a result---is significantly greater than the positive impact on those who will respond favorably to these efforts. Moreover, such mass evangelism efforts are most effective with marginally churched adults, while outsiders are usually the ones who respond most negatively.

The point isn't that some are simply going to reject Jesus. That's not it. Our approaches are unnecessarily damaging when we are on a mission to reach out without thought of the slow and tedious care it takes to let our neighbors know we love them, stand by them, believe in them. We are to extend our love for God to others by loving the people. We are to value our friends over our rehearsed evangelistic tactics.

As Christians, we have to keep in mind that response rates are not the ultimate goal but rather the wise and careful stewardship of the image of God......If you create more barriers with outsiders because of your tactics, you have not been a good steward of the gospel. How we choose to share Christ is as important as our actually doing it.

The authors make good points. The book is well-balanced with honest evaluation of our mistakes coupled with corrective possibilities which will eventually draw more outsiders into the transforming nature of Jesus.


The first half of Acts 2:43 could have been thought to have died off when "the perfect came". And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe. While it seems legit that some things did cease once the church got its bearings, I don't believe being in awe of God or His works are among them. For many congregations, though, it seems like it.

I love the church's Awe Factor. I enjoy the sheer wonder of walking through our halls at any gathering. I am rich in who I get to know. I know so many enthused, grateful believers...and these numbers are certainly not restricted to our corridors. They are everywhere! You all are everywhere!

It wasn't always that way for me at Memorial. My role was interesting and the benefit of maintaining close ties was certainly rewarding. To say we lived in awe was really only true on random and distant occasions. Not so today. It's perpetual awe. Why?

United expectation. We anticipate God involving Himself in our usual routines; thus, transforming them into utter thrills and excitements. We live in a time of inexpressible joy, as the New Testament puts it. How did we get there?

We got out of His way. It began when the elders went deaf to critics. Critics have no ear from our leadership. If you believe they need at least one, I could give you a list of congregations to call where the critics have plenty of attention.....but there is no Awe Factor living among them.

The staff got out of His way. We still go by the Book which surprises many. We place emphasis upon forgiveness 70 x 7, starting life over, challenging members to freely use their talents, and looking for the handiwork of God to continue. We, as the elders, have developed an ability to not be afraid to let go of the control buttons. We, as the elders, trust the Holy Spirit to run a freer and more productive ship than we could do corporately.

The congregation got out of His way. We called a halt to our criticism of one another. We've learned to speak grace filled words in support. We as a congregation work as a team. There is increasing love and respect at every turn. Competition has become shadow. Harmony dominates center stage.

The result is the church's Awe Factor is a perpetual topic of discussion among our amazed and amazing people. We are more than productive as a result. We are so happy during this process. We live the Awe Factor and only want more of it. We keep having this feeling of awe!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Whether you are employed by the church or highly active in your role from a business person's perspective, I know many of you are enduring pressing (and maybe some depressing) days in your labor in His kingdom. What do we do during the rough times?
  • Realize rough times are the signature of the kingdom. Yet, they are merely a part of the overall fabric. The real icon of Christianity is the empty grave, but we don't know how to wear empty graves around our necks nor do we know how to attach empty graves to church steeples. The rough is only the road. The glory is the assumed destination.
  • Determine to see the hand of God in all settings. Our God is at work. He'll show up in the oddest places at the oddest times. Jesus' delay in going to Lazarus is pregnant with "God will deliver" expectation. We have the privilege of such anticipation in our work. God let me sit in my own misery for a long time as I tried to organize and fix one event after another crisis. I learned this truth: I can't fix squat. If it is to be it is up to Him....Rom. 9:16.
  • Do your work believing in the good people. A mistake I made in my early years is I gave too much attention to the naysayers when there were so many believers vying for my participation. They hungered for good news while I fed them a steady diet of wormy debate. I decided to preach, teach, and reach to those who indicated they just might want to know about the Living, Breathing God. I was robbing the church by continually addressing the critics from the pulpit. When I quit preaching brotherhood issues and began sharing the hope found in Christ, many peeled away. Some of those I desperately loved. But, the more I preached believing in believers it seemed God was doing His thing with those who struggled in doubt and even they began to take on the Spirit of Jesus.
  • Trust Him more than you trust yourself. I began as very little and, to my surprise, discovered that the way to grow up in Christ is to grow down. As was true for John the Baptist, it is true of us: we must decrease that He might increase. My ministry remains embarrassing that so much of me continues to run to the front of the line. Yet, I will not give up. Jesus is the thriller. I am not. Jesus is the giver and the hoper and the promiser.....we are not.

Several wise and aged believers read this blog, I feel certain. Would you make yourself vulnerable, perhaps, by sharing your insights as to what you discovered in trying to get ministry to live....and what eventually helped you turn a corner?

Monday, October 08, 2007


My joy of the kingdom right now is off the charts. It cannot be measured by humanity's weak calculation. Church is fun. The Kingdom is productive. The future is bright. The present is rich.
Getting to this stage carries a deep and dark secret most important to every minister; whether paid or volunteer.

Hell's role in our service must not be ignored. It is the testing grounds for oh so many. My first twelve to fifteen years at Memorial were riddled with rugged days. It was so bad I most likely can't really recall the depth of the pain. (Let me insert that there is no leader among us without sinful lack and flaw. Therefore, I do not assume I was exempt from such a fitting label.) However, the first decade plus was full of daily pain. We had a hand full of elders who were law-driven and control-oriented in their demeanor. The Word says the law kills. Memorial lived in killing fields. I could see it. But I didn't know if I could survive it.

At one point the deacons rose up and asked the elders to step down en mass. Those of humble hearts did. The others tried to wage war with the threat of taking me out with them. It was a time of dark and depressing days. Two more stabs at adding elders proved to deliver more of the same. We kept shooting ourselves in the foot by putting men in to lead who had a hankering for control. My days were miserable. I didn't know if I could survive.

About the last three sets of elders have been rewards for the church's endurance. It's a glory to be a part of such a happy and productive congregation these last fifteen to eighteen years. And, we are just getting started.

For the young leaders who catch this blog, I must insist you take a look at your work and realize you've most likely got Hell coming. Don't flinch. Don't quit. Don't be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you as if some strange thing were happening. Don't assume you'll die. Moses spent forty years in exile with little hope of hearing from God again. His hellish and lonely endurance built him into the leader we now know he became. Joseph spent time in an abandoned hell-hole. That was his beginning. Before it was over, he enjoyed the pleasures of leading a huge nation.

I am convinced each of us must go through times of severe testing. Will we quit? Will we give up? We will surely be tempted. But, we can't stop. When you take a look at Jesus he no more than completed the torture before and during the cross than he found himself roaming the corridors of hell frantically setting the captives free.

In my early years here I felt the church was being held hostage and someone had to try to set it free. I cried and worried myself sick trying to learn how to dodge the painful flaming missiles of legalism. Get it; a disciple in the twenty-first century still pays the price for faith in the Life-Giving Savior. There is no other route by which one can learn to minister.

Don't quit. Don't read the harsh meetings where you are creamed once again as God abandoning you. He's grooming you to endure the tough stuff. You will live. You'll not barely live. You'll really live because He will see you through to the land of productivity and joy. Hold on.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


I've completed half of the Catalyst Seminar for 2007. To see 11,000 Christians gather in one place to contemplate world outreach is still too thrilling to my heart. Erwin McManus is due up tomorrow so I have to wait to hear my favorite. Yet, I heard and saw wonderful things.

Catalyst brings in many of the top-dogs, so to speak, and it's the only time of my year that I get to hear them. Andy Stanley was his usual on target with the Word as he effectively connected it to us....or us to it. A young woman, once a Wall Street mogul, discussed her leaving everything to move from NYC to Texas to work with prisoners helping them rehab with marvelous success stories.

Francis Chaing hit my heart so strongly. He is the only man I've heard address the feeling of sheer weakness while being convinced God is actually speaking through us. The trip was worth it to me to simply hear that someone understands how I feel. I'm assuming many feel as I do; you know, the "Go Moses", "No, I can't" discussion. But, this guy put my feelings in his words and it was such an encouragement.

Overall, I am convinced we are all simply on the hem of believing even greater things to come. I love what God has done; but the is doing and the will do carry intense hope. And....I've even made some new friends along he way. Life is still good and the kingdom is still fun!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


I'm going to Atlanta tomorrow to the annual Catalyst convention for young leaders sponsored by John Maxwell's Injoy group. The crowd is primarily comprised of young men and women thirty-five years my junior. However, I go because I want to see what's working for some who are not Church of Christ. And, 60 is still young compared to a lot of older folks.

I learn a lot from our guys and continually reap the rewards of great speakers among us. But, it's good for me to hear a little of what else is going on. Catalyst has emphasis on cultural shifting and I want to try to keep up. Andy Stanley, Erwin McManus, and Donald Miller top my list of highly challenging speakers.

In thinking about really good motivational or instructional speakers/teachers of our past, it occurs to me that I've heard a few my kids will never enjoy as I did. The speakers were maybe in their prime when my kids were little. And, what speakers did I miss because I had not yet been converted?

Here are some of the best speakers I know of today...not necessarily in any specific order:
  • Craig Hicks
  • Marvin Phillips
  • Mike Cope
  • Randy Harris
  • Rick Atchley
  • Jim McGuiggan

Here are some of the best speakers of the past...some have passed on and others I just haven't heard in years:

  • Charles Coil
  • Jimmy Allen
  • Charles (the guy from the Banks of Onion Creek that everyone loved...but I can't think of his name)
  • Richard Rogers
  • Mid McKnight

We have been blessed over the years with very good, effective servants who preached/taught. List some you have in mind that we may have forgotten over the years. I feel sure some I will never have heard of. My loss. And, share a few names of the new up-and-coming speakers who you find to be extremely powerful.


The Gospel of Jesus is good news! The irony is its ancientness is so starkly modern. It's good because in it is revealed the right way to get right life moving in the right direction. It's news because it isn't common knowledge. Most Americans don't know about this good news. Frankly, I doubt I do.....and friend....such a statement makes the good news even better good news.

My doubts are not about Him; they are about me. As much as I love the nature of God and relish in the riches He presents, I feel I must surely be blind to the height and the depth; the entire range of God. I don't think I get the term salvation. I don't think I relate to His security. Forgiveness 70 x 7 doesn't chart. Three violations and either I am sunk or they are sunk; whoever the offender is. I don't think I get the cross. Of course I have words for it and thoughts deeply implanted in my spirit. But, I don't think I get it.

Being ignorant of the explanation and analysis of God's handiwork does nothing but escalate the beautiful essence of Truth. If He can work beyond my imagination then I must necessarily be thinking deficiently in every spiritual zone. This is not a slam against me as if I'm lazy or indifferent. It's a glorious credit to the undiscoverable and inexpressible nature of our Living Lord.

Only the foolish-minded can begin to see the DayLight of God. Compared to God, all are foolish-minded, but some are slower in such admission. The good news is we just can't imagine how good the news is!!!! Who can fathom being born into and adopted into a family and yet we are both. We must really be IN THE FAMILY OF GOD to have entered twice.

I cheer you on. Evaluate the miracles of Jesus. Watch him move through the streets and then the hillside. Note his studying eyes. Be impressed at his gravitated body; yet his levitated spirit...always able to receive his truth from the clouds (so to speak) while he is committed to earth walk. Jesus does this kind of defiant life for you and me. We are rewarded day in and day out by the good news of Jesus to the extent we basically know nothing about it....except how to spell it.

The good news of Jesus is too good to be true. Our voices and our prayers and our greetings and our dealings should reflect one thing all day long: our simple Wow!

Monday, October 01, 2007


God has a way of signaling individuals when it's least expected. I believe there are some reading this today which will be so astonished as if God is reading your mind. It is time for some who have pondered the question of being baptized to do it. It is time to move on it.

In his final decree in the book of Matthew Jesus sent his disciples out with a message. Tell everyone you meet to be baptized. Why? Why did he pick that one message for all of the people to focus? It's the place we meet Jesus. Romans 6:3-5 and a host of other passages refers to our going to pre-cemetery efforts of dying to ourselves ahead of time by being buried. We are to be buried in a grave of water. Sins are washed away.

Read Act 2:38 or I Peter 3:21 or Titus 3:5-7. Note the cleansing for a new start. Being buried in Jesus is the only safe place to be. Being immersed into the the one who has already conquered death by rising again connects us to the one who has defeated death.

Have you been baptized by bringing your life intentionally to an end? Have you made pre-cemetery arrangements to beat the earth grave? I encourage you to hear God's knock at the door of your heart.

If you have more or even the simplest questions about this idea, email me at for a one on one discussion. I struggled with this for years. I'd been baptized as a teen, but surely didn't have even the slightest grasp of scriptures regarding the topic. Baptism is on so many minds. I've been there done that. Later in life I was baptized for the reasons I could read for myself from the Bible.

Many of you are quite secure with all of this....and should be. For those who aren't, maybe God is calling you to His safe place.