Wednesday, January 30, 2008


The thing we mostly don’t like about us turns out to be the very thing we fiercely offer devotion to preserve: SELF. God calls us to lose self and we nearly resent Him for it. Absolutely, we resist Him on it. Yet, as we keep self around we complain about it, fight with it, and oft times curse it. We get sick of self, but think of it always with emphatic priority. We dream of victory for self, attention for self, and popularity for self. When we are the most selfish we are the most miserable and we don’t need professional analysis to chart it.

Self has to be one of the greatest ironies. Keep me in front of the line, but don’t let anyone see me. Do things the way I want, but don’t call on me as I’m far too weak to lead. I’ll quickly and confidently point out what others surely lack, while self is absorbed in the highest of restraining insecurities. I am capable of living in assertive criticism of others while scared to death of my own shadow. I’m a bully in attitude and cowardly when it comes to needed action. Self goes with me everywhere I go and often ruins everything. We carry on a ridiculous romance with a self we often find we very much dislike.

Take courage. Leap. Throw self away so the person you wish to be can be handed back to you by God. If one loses his life he saves it and if he saves it he loses it…..every time. You are good enough for God to choose. He picked some weird nutcases to work His kind of field. God defies what we regard as normal or even revered. From cover to meandering biblical cover, God selects the oddest kind to do His most powerful work. Cowards hid under vines while red-necks wore wilderness garb…all preparing the path for the One who would not fit the human code of success.

Jesus is brilliant! He ruined ruin! He slaughtered slaughter. He reversed an irreversible course. Of all the odd ducks, we get to walk in the aftermath of His genius. God gave us Jesus’ mind. We have it. We are enough in Him. This Self who wants to hide in career and remain unaccountable to any who might slightly suggest needed alteration is the very Self God ordains to beat Hell with a stick and lead masses to Heaven; never realizing we made any move worth reporting. We simply believe as Obadiah and Esther and Silly Peter that the living God works marvel in the weird and most unstable zone called Self.

Self….lose it or lose it. Lose it now or lose it later. It’s simply got to go.


From pulpit to dugout

BOBBY ROSS JR. / Courtesy Jose Oquendo (left), the third base coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, offers tips to Terry Rush after a game Saturday at the team’s fantasy camp in Jupiter, Fla. Rush, the senior minister of Memorial Drive Church of Christ in Tulsa, played on a team coached by Oquendo and the former major leaguer Cal Eldred.

A Tulsa pastor attends the St. Louis Cardinals' fantasy baseball camp in Florida each year, to play and to pray.JUPITER, Fla. -- After a performance praised by former baseball manager Whitey Herzog, the hotshot center fielder brushed off fans as he left the field at the St. Louis Cardinals' spring training complex. "I can't sign right now," he proclaimed. "I'm sorry." Then No. 14 burst out laughing at his own joke.
The Rev. Terry Rush of Tulsa swings a 34-inch Louisville Slugger and believes in a mighty God. Although he had to wear bifocals that he said turn every pitch into a "bump ball," Rush, the senior minister of Memorial Drive Church of Christ, had just raised his batting average to .333 at the Cardinals' annual Legends Camp last weekend. Named after the late Terry Moore, the captain of St. Louis' 1942 and 1946 world championship teams, Rush, 60, is a lifelong Redbird fanatic and a 25-year veteran of the club's fantasy baseball camps. As much as he enjoys putting on the white home jersey of his Cardinals and lacing up his red, size 9 rubber cleats, Rush returns each winter not for the sweet smell of leather, grass and infield dirt, but for the opportunity to minister.
Rick Horton, who organizes Legends Camp, said, "There's a ministry everywhere you go in life, and Terry understands that every rela tionship you have is somebody you can care about and be concerned about and help." Horton, a Cardinals broadcaster and former reliever, also directs the St. Louis-area Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Rush said the 500-member congregation where he has preached since 1977 pays his way to Legends Camp as a mission trip. The 2008 cost, including room and board, equipment and instruction by former major leaguers: $3,995. "At first, even close friends said, 'You're only going because you love to play ball,' " Rush said. "But I knew what I was doing. And then we started having baptisms, and we started seeing impossible things happen."
At one of his first camps, Rush met Curt Flood, a retired Cardinals outfielder who won seven Gold Gloves in the 1960s. After Flood asked Rush to pray for his mother, children at the Tulsa church made her two tissue boxes full of birthday cards. She "adopted" Rush, as did her son. When Flood died in 1997, Rush and the Rev. Jesse Jackson preached at his funeral. In 1992, Rush was invited to deliver a "Sermon on the Mound" at the Field of Dreams baseball diamond in Dyersville, Iowa. The sermon was filmed for an ESPN documentary. The only drawback for Rush: He had to wear a Chicago White Sox uniform.
Another fruit of Rush's Cardinals ministry came after the death of the veteran St. Louis broadcaster Jack Buck in 2002. At the urging of Buck's widow, Carole, Rush wrote a book, "Voice of Silver, Heart of Gold," which he described as "loaded with God-isms." The club gave away 20,000 copies at its Fan Appre ciation Day in September 2003.
Rush was one of 95 campers, divided into eight teams, who played Legends Camp games Thursday through Sunday on the fields where the Cardinals have spring training. Among the obvious differences from real major leaguers: the pudgy bellies, the gray beards, the four outfielders, the routine throws that regularly hop over first base and the occasional pinch runners -- for the batter.
Rush's preacher status affords him respect, but not immunity from the constant, good-natured ribbing among teammates and coaches. As Rush visited with a reporter outside the dugout Saturday, he reached up and grabbed a foul ball that sailed his way. "That's the first ball he's caught all year!" teased Cal Eldred, a former Cardinals pitcher who coached Rush's team with the club's third-base coach, Jose Oquendo. After the game, a player on the opposing team complained about an umpire's call and asked with a smile, "Terry Rush, did you threaten him with eternal damnation?"
Be it a conversation in the dugout or an after-game trip to a bar (Rush never orders anything stronger than Diet Coca-Cola), the minister said he looks for opportunities to tell his teammates and baseball heroes about Jesus. But he's far from obnoxious about sharing his faith. "He don't act like a preacher," said Herzog, who managed the Cardinals to the 1982 World Series title. "I mean, he's an awful nice fellow, but when he's down here and he's got that uniform on, he's a baseball player."
By BOBBY ROSS JR. World Staff Writer

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


When speaking at Stream in the Desert a couple of years ago my repeated question of, Don’t you love right now? received enthusiastic response because few had really given it much thought. We are busy doing what we do and being who we are to the point we may have lost the moment while trying to snare some semblance of overall life.

Have the hearts of men and women basically become declawed? Have we lost our passion for the wonder of dailyness? Has habitual repetition of schedule wrung us dry of adventure, journey, and exploration? Has your approach to the office or the lunch meeting or the return home found itself depleted of ambition?

Howard Macey wrote, The spiritual life cannot be made suburban. It is always frontier, and we who live in it must accept and even rejoice that it remains untamed. How do you think the Jesus-life of abundance becomes so easily discarded? The question isn’t about one going to church. It’s regarding one who should still be infatuated with life, but such no longer exists. The wild heart wants more than happiness. It yearns for excitement!

Perhaps we suffer from a self-imposed safety measure of control due to fear. Could it be we are so filled with pride we’d rather be miserable not trying than to risk failure? Could it be refraining from embarrassment has replaced effort to launch into areas we want but don’t control? Could it be that getting the right breaks isn’t what life is about, but daring to leap into the possibilities God always intended for our lives is your call? Regardless of age, weigh every reason you can say you love right now.

Monday, January 28, 2008


I am so sore! Even the tops of my feet hurt. I believe I have Jr. Rigarmortis. After sitting in one cramped position on the plane for hours last night, my bod' would hardly unlock.

Last week was awesome! I saw God working day after day. I love doing what counts in life. What counts? People need to be loved. People need to hear encouragement. There is so much stress, so much hatred, so much angst. Having the mind of Christ and loving people whose paths intersect is the God-call. There is no law against love and everyone I meet could use just a little more.

More tomorrow....but letting you know I'm back AND VERY HAPPY!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

This is starting to show up on some blogs around the world....well, maybe Brenda Hughes' anyway. When Jeff and I are speaking at the same time, I try to urge most people to sacrifice by going to hear him. It just makes me feel better knowing I tried. But...crowds are crowds.

Speaking of Walling speaking, check out the workshop website at Lots and lots of special things going on for families, children, teens, missionaries, and leaders.

I'm headed for Cardinal Legends baseball camp in Jupiter, Florida early in the morning. Pray for this effort. Lord willing, I'll be back at Blogville early next week!

Monday, January 21, 2008


Memorial's bus minister, Norman Slate, and I traveled years ago to the East Coast workshop in Richmond, Virginia. Point out Terry Rush when he walks in, said one woman to Norman. That's him over there. Where? Right there in the coat and tie. That's Terry Rush?, the woman asked in disbelief. Well, I've listened to his tapes for years and I thought he was a large black man.

Years later and early one morning while in Nashville to speak at Jubilee the stranger on the elevator said, Man I'm not believin' it. What's that?, I asked rather shyly. My wife's your first cousin and she's wanting to see you. She is? I didn't know I had any cousins in the church. Yep, you sure do from West Virginia and she's sure excited to see you! Really? I didn't even know I had cousins in West Virginia. Well, buddy you do and if you got time I'm takin' you to meet 'er right now! Off we went and he kicked the door open to find his wife with hair in curlers, I brought 'eem! You brought who? Your cousin Terry Rush! No, she snipped, not Terry Rush!!!! I said Jerry Rushford!!!

But the biggest indication of who I really am is what the little eight year old boy wrote in my Bible immediately after I had signed his and then I asked if he'd sign mine. With great effort to make a commanding statement, the young man penned, Dear Mr. are an anonymous preacher. Oh, he didn't know I had already learned that in Richmond and Nashville.


Dear blogger friend,

Would you pass this schedule along in your blogs, to your congregations, and around the world? I need to get the word out and you are a tremendous resource!

How do you like the line-up?

March 27-29, 2008

8:00 Booth Area Prayer Garden Participartory Prayer

9:00 Pav Don McLaughlin UNchristian: How the World Views Us
Pav “A” Francisco Davila Sabes Que Dios Tiene Un Propósito Para Ti
UpEx Marvin Phillips Let's Restore the Passion!
LoEx Lee Keele Becoming a High Impact Teacher
Cafe Lee Porter/Mike Brown Youth Leaders’ NCYM Forum

10:00 Pav Tim Luster Does a Struggling World Have A Prayer?
UpEx Jason Thornton…God, Save Us From Ourselves
LoEx Sara Barton Knowing Jesus
Cafe Patrick Mead ReImaging the Church
KidZone Misty Matthews God: My Rock

11:00 Pav Rick Atchley The Church Has Left the Building Pt. 1
Pav “A” Deaf
UpEx Terry Rush The Future Direction of the Workshop
LoEx Albert Lemmons The Most Encouraging Teachers of Prayer
Cafe Judge Morris Living with the Odds

2:00 Pav Edward Fudge Discovering the Secrets of God’s Guidance
UpEx Josh Graves Praying Like Jabez
LoEx Sara Barton Living Jesus
Café Lee Porter/Mike Brown Youth Leaders’ NCYM Forum

3:00 Pav Buddy Bell Jesus’ Surpassing Path to the Abundant Life
Pav “A” Deaf
UpEx Keith Roberts Why God Waits For You to Pray
LoEx Mac and Mary Owen The Compassion of Witness
Café Joe Almanza Evangelism by Prayer

4:00 Pav Rick Atchley The Church Has Left the Building Pt. 2
Pav “A” Jason Thornton Guided Prayer
UpEx Don McLaughlin UNchristian: How We Are to View the World
LoEx Jackie Chestnutt How To Improve the Church Back Home Pt. 1
Café Francisco Davila How Churches Can Reach Our Hispanic Friends
KidZone Eric Brunson…How To Improve Children’s Worship

7:00 Pav. Josh Graves/Patrick Mead/Free Indeed Praying with Courage

8:00 Booth Area Prayer Garden Time of Prayer

9:00 Pav Rick Atchley The Church Has Left the Building Pt. 3
Pav “A” Francisco Davila Dios Te Quiere En Su Reino
UpEx Rubel Shelly How Jesus Feels About Divorced People
LoEx Josh Graves Praying Like Jesus
Café Lee Porter/Mike Brown Youth Leaders’ NCYM Forum

10:00 Pav. Terry Rush How to Inspire Your Congregation to Win Souls
UpEx Rubel Shelly How Churches Should Treat Divorced People
LoEx Sara Barton Joining Jesus
Cafe Mac/Mary Owen When the Church Heals the Wounded
KidZone Misty Matthews God: My Fortress

11:00 Pav Edward Fudge Discovering the Secrets of God’s Guidance Pt. 2
Pav “A” Jason Thornton Guided Prayer (Repeat)
UpEx Mark Moore Top Ten Rules for Interpreting the Bible Pt. 1
LoEx Albert Lemmons The Most Exciting Trials of Prayer
Cafe Patrick Mead Christianity At Ground Level

2:00 Pav Jeff Walling How To Get Today's Culture to Listen to the Ancient Gospel
Pav “A” Deaf
UpEx Dusty Rush I Heard God Crying
LoEx David Skidmore What We Can Do From College Campuses
Café TeenSurge with Don McLaughlin
KidZone Eric Brunson…Puppets for Children

3:00 Pav Pam Cope w/Terry Rush From Rescuing Orphans to Appearing on Oprah
Pav “A” Joe Almanza El Poder de Dios para Salvacion
UpEx Buddy Bell Prayer: The Greatest Act of Surrender
LoEx Lee Keele High Impact Methods of Training
Café TeenSurge

4:00 Pav Randy Harris Staying Sane When Everyone Else is Crazy Pt. 1
UpEx Wade Hodges The Perfect Prayer
LoEx Jackie Chestnutt How To Improve the Church Back Home Pt. 2
Café TeenSurge
KidZone Magician Mike Kids of Wonder!

7:00 Pav. AIM
Mark Moore/Jeff Walling/Memorial Singers Praying with Faith

8:00 Booth Area Prayer Garden Participatory Prayer

9:00 Pav Randy Harris Staying Sane When Everyone Else is Crazy Pt. 2
UpEx Jeff and Taylor Walling It’s not your Grampa's church…But It’s Your
Grampa's Bible!
LoEx Pam Cope Hear the Cry of Children Everywhere!
KidZone Magician Mike….Training Adults for Creative Teaching

10:00 Pav ZOE God’s Scandalous Grace
UpEx Wade Hodges Knocking Down Heaven’s Door
LoEx A Albert Lemmons The Most Enthusiastic Testimonials of Prayer
KidZone Misty Matthews God: My Salvation

11:00 Pav Edward Fudge Discovering the Secrets of God’s Guidance Pt. 3
Pav “A” Deaf
UpEx Buddy Bell I Die Daily
LoEx Dusty Rush I Learned to Love Prayer

Noon-1:30 Pav. Free Indeed

2:00 Pav John Smith What Is A Restoration Church?
UpEx Lee Keele The Leadership Genius of Hezekiah
Cafe TeenSurge
KidZone Eric Brunson….More Puppets for Children

3:00 Pav Mitch Wilburn Developing Leadership for the 21st Century
UpEx Keith Roberts Praying the World Upside Down
LoEx Marvin Phillips Getting Excited About World Missions!
Cafe TeenSurge
KidZone Magician Mike Kids of Wonder Pt. 2

4:00 Pav Mark Moore Top Ten Rules for Interpreting the Bible Pt. 2
Pav “A” Deaf
UpEx Joe Almanza Spiritual Secrets to Effective Evangelism
LoEx David Skidmore How College Kids Can Impact the World
Cafe Mac and Mary Owen The Concentration of Witness

7:00 Pav. Randy Harris/ZOE Praying with Anticipation

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Some of you reading are the preachers. For many of you this is Sunday. Thus an exciting combination. Whether you stand in front of the church or view those who do, what's it like to be the preacher?


Being us is much more than addressing assemblies. It's walking through the halls and going crazy over who you get to see once again. Being the preacher is like having a complimentary ticket given you every day to attend the State Fair. Nothing is funner. It's FABULOUS

Being us is like being pulled over by the Highway Patrol. Passage through the hallways are not always smooth traveling as several pull us over to give us and update to their plague. We find we are often needed to be ears and nothing more. It's FABULOUS.

Being us is a sure destination to the cleaners. Little kids with donut fingers tug at your slacks and ladies with a bit of make-up leave a portion of their creativity on your lapel. And, it's FABULOUS.

One of the most powerful FABULOUSES is we get to believe in people; all ages, all philosophies, all sizes, and all backgrounds. We get to see in others the good they just can't see in themselves. We find ourselves in the wonderful position of needing to point their goodness out to them. Our "Say So" carries weight. To note members beginning to live out the positive information you've fed them is guessed it (See how discerning you are?)....FABULOUS!

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Check with young mothers. Mommy, I poo-poo. Mommy, I hungwy. Mommy, wherwes my blanky? Mommy, can I go owtside? Mommy, can I come in? Mommy, can I go in and owt? Mommy...mommy...mommy!?!? Oh how Mommy loves it when a grown up drops by or Daddy gets home from work to have grown-up discussions for just a little while. Just talk big talk, that's all she asks!

How do you speak to God? Baby talk or grown up? Is it, God, I poo-poo, God I hungwy so-to-speak? Or, is it God-talk: trying to pray working from His standpoint and tapping into His supply house?

I encourage you God loves a good challenge. Due to our prayers, when does He ever get to flex His God-muscles? When does He get to show His stuff? Could it be we talk baby talk incessantly to Him? Could it be we pray with our view of possibility as the prayer's boundary? I think we have small-prayed so long we have forgotten His call to just try to imagine. Dream when you pray.

I remind you He said He could do more than we can imagine or think. Therefore, pray beyond your assumption and realm of your own imagination. Thrust your prayers into your highest possible imagination and expect God to respond exceedingly beyond that. I think we pray too low. Let's begin to talk God's language giving Him opportunity to show His robust and creative powers.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


CHARLIE KYMES IS A GREAT PREACHER. He works with Tulsa's Crosstown congregation and I heard him preach Joy Keesee's funeral today. Charlie is the real deal. The reason? He passionately cares about people. The guy just seems to have a genuine sense of connecting God and people.

I'M HEADED TO MY ANNUAL CARDINALS BASEBALL CAMP IN FLORIDA NEXT WEEK. I did 80 flights on the StairMaster today, plus a few other little weights and stretches. Being age 60 changes a few things for me, baseball-wise. I no longer round the bag. I sneak up on it. Last year in the big game, when I came up to bat, the outfielders laid down! It gets worse! I have a DISHONORABLE MENTION: In two of the last three years I have won the No Where To Go But Up Award. Obviously the achievement is an intended insult. The award itself? An autographed picture of three Cubs players. I gave one to David Kellams and the other to Shawn Mayes.

THE TULSA SOUL WINNING WORKSHOP SCHEDULE is now posted on the workshop web. It's about 98% complete. Once again over 25% of the speakers are rookies. It's always good to see a new crop mixed in with the oldies but goodies. Thursday night's keynotes with PATRICK MEAD and JOSH GRAVES promises to be a great beginning for the evening events.

DON McLAUGHLIN is scheduled to be the evening speaker at Memorial's Workshop Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


In my pre-Memorial Drive days I was just beginning to receive invitations to speak at workshops and meetings. To a young man who felt he wouldn't even be invited to most of his kids' birthday parties, it was surely a charge! One can hardly imagine my thrill at being called to speak at the workshop in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. I was so pumped....for a bit.

Friends rode with my family and we stayed at a widow lady's house who was a member of that local congregation. David Powers (famous David Powers) was the main speaker in the auditorium while I was the main speaker in the church basement. I stepped up to preach and there they were.....everyone who rode up in the car with me and the lone widow lady.

Since that experience I have been sensitive to opposing speakers' lists. I got my Pepperdine Lectures booklet today. I noted a big mistake. Jeff Walling and Don McLaughlin speak opposite me every morning for three days in a row. I bet when Jeff and Don read the schedule they'll be heartsick to find they are on the same time as me. No telling just how many people I will draw from their crowds. I hate it, but that's the way the schedule crumbled.

I shared my concern with Dusty and he reminded me that a couple of years ago when at Pepperdine he and Rick Atchely must have had about a thousand attend between them. That's amazing. What a crowd. I just hope against hope that Jeff and Don don't carry hard feelings. I would imagine in my class alone there will be somewhere under 860 in attendance.

I just hope they won't be too hurt.


Human Beings must be the strangest of all sorts. We are happy to be a person rather than a parakeet. Yet, we bemoan much of our existence. We'd prefer being a human than a dandelion and would be highly disappointed if we were to find such a swap was coming. Yet, we flounder in our us-ness.

We are a strange sort because we pack such an opposing philosophy in our carcasses. On one hand we basically believe ourselves far too inadequate to speak up in public, direct a ministry, lead out in planning and organizing. We play the "ah, shucks" game and retract from so much of God's plea for us to move out and move on. Much of the time we sit with self-assurance someone else could do it better. We feel our blessing to the work is to keep away.

On the other hand, we carry extreme assumption that we are right about everything. We are right on how to handle a marriage, ideal in how to raise kids, certain on financial issues, and bull-headed about faith brands. The same ones of us who cower to the point of non-participation are dually obnoxious that our opinions and styles are "the" way to approach life.

We are dumb....just like sheep. We want it both ways on our terms when in reality we must have the Shepherd race to save us and those around us....from us! We are a complete mess with the blessings of God to enjoy abundant life! The thief among us is pride. Pride protects self from humiliation and thrusts self into imposition. Pride hides in public cowardice except when it foolishly bullies.

Would that we could become the real us: not afraid to give efforts a shot while certain that the views of others are very likely an improvement upon our own.

Now....this is a good article! We are simply.....sheep!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


According to some God has gone mute since the days of the early apostles. Wanna know what He thinks? What He wants? Read His Word has often been the charge. This leaves a believer stuck, uncertain, and completely interactionless with their living, breathing God. Relationship is forced to dumb down to reading material.

Agreed, the Word is alive. It declares such. Yet, it also speaks of His Spirit working with the inner man. It speaks of His Spirit power being directed to our inner man. Finally, the Word calls for those of us who lack wisdom to ask of God and He will send it in…..promise. The Bible says wisdom from above comes down…not came down.

God is on speaking terms with His disciples today. What does He sound like? How do we know He is speaking? While I feel sure I am in kindergarten on this subject, one of the ways He speaks to me is during my quietness ideas pop into my head. That’s all I know to say. All have ideas. The practicing of discerning which are from God and which are from earthy manipulation is essential. Weak argument! you say? Ah, I shall not blame you. We are weak in every aspect of our experience with Him. Yet if guided by the Word, He insists we can ask for wisdom and He will send it in.

When you pray for your offspring to find the perfect mate, are you asking for a random roll of the dice? Or, are you anticipating God’s active participation? I believe the latter. As one voices her dilemma in prayer as to which job to take (the one at Target or the one at Starbucks), is she to expect a personal guided response or should she read her Bible, throw at a dartboard, and leap headlong into what she really wanted to do in the first place?

Our God is a talker. He verbalized creation. His small talk created a Canyon that’s still Grand and a Niagra which continues to Fall. He desires fellowship with His created humanities. We are free to seek His counsel and expect an answer.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


I'm dumbfounded. Friday night and Saturday morning we filmed the 100% Natural Evangelism Seminar in Monroe, Louisiana. You may have seen a brief comment from Mike Riley on my last blog. The task was overwhelmingly successful. Wait 'til you see what God has put together to inspire churches to reach out. The film, we hope, will be ready in time for the workshop.

The reason I'm dumbfounded is a result of the team that went with me from Memorial. I needed them. 32 of us chartered a bus. First, I couldn't imagine anyone wanting to go. I always travel by myself, do some fun and amazing stuff, and travel back home once it's completed. Eight on my Advisory Board (helping with the film approach) went along plus a host of other Memorial members.

My Advisory Board gave themselves/poured themselves into this project. While Mindy Willman couldn't travel due to knee surgery she, Lea Anne Ward, Lee Wills, and Tom Ezell assembled a prayer team comprised of some back home to be praying every minute for 24 hours during this project. David Combs, too, is one who can't enjoy Life in Christ enough! He is inspiring to be near as he is so appreciative of the God experience.

Then there're Marcy Martin, Theresa Underwood, Brooke Kasbaum, and Angela Rampey who are now labeled my groupies. These four were in charge of seeing the set design was set up, (tastefully and beautifully) and then disassembled in quick fashion so we could get back on the bus. I was so moved by their enthusiasm to serve....and they simply saw that I had no concerns but to focus on my material to be presented. I'll never get over how charged they were to help make this project live!

I think this effort is possibly the most significant of all the exciting things God has let me do. I've ridden in the family limo with my African-American Flood family as I was adopted by Curt Flood's mom and called to speak at her funeral. To stand on the mound of the Field of Dreams in a Sox uniform and preach at a non-denominational service in Iowa was such a privilege. To see thousands holding my Jack Buck book at Busch Stadium as it had been selected by the St. Louis Cardinals to be given as their gift to the fans on Fan Appreciation Day was beyond imagination. But, to have the opportunity to inspire thousands to let God use their "everydayness" to reach others has to be at the top.

I'll never get over being on a team with one I've so admired as Marcy, or noting the servant heart of Theresa while we filmed. I'll not get over noting the tears in David's eyes while I spoke or of Lee hugging me and repeating in my ear "Thank you soooooo much." I'll never get over catching it that even the camera crew and the film director were visibly moved by the message. I'll never get over this experience. How in the world did I ever get to be me? It's His nature to show us glimpses of His handiwork. Will we be able to stand it in heaven? I'm so blessed to see heaven in those around me. I am dumbfounded at how many times I've done this seminar and, wouldn't you know, the one time we decide to put it on the best!

Thursday, January 10, 2008


I check in with you periodically to seek your ideas regarding various workshop concepts. This year we will go back to reading each evening response at the invitation as one of you pointed out the need. Upon weighing your argument, we agree. Thank you.

Too, one thing which will be different at this year's event is the singing groups will be allowed to sing at their booths compared to last year's design of one stage where the groups take turns. We tried such last year because some of the booth representatives complained about the noise level of the singing groups. However, we don't think such proved beneficial. Furthermore, last year could have used some noise.

Now to my new question. We are developing a Saturday night tradition for missionaries on the order of our Friday night tradition of AIM's Flag Presentation. Randy Halstead recommended a couple of years ago the idea of recognizing missionaries one evening. We could have them register at workshop central: name, location, etc. and then read their names from the stage and have them stand until all missionaries are standing. We could, then, have those who would like to lay hands on the missionary while one prayed from the stage area.

That's one possibility. What ideas would you add to the mix?

On another note, I leave in the morning at 7:00 a.m. with about 35 Memorialites for Monroe, Louisiana where I will film a 100% Natural Evangelism Seminar. I've done this series for 25 years and it's proven effective in motivating congregations to reach out. Lord willing, we'll film two sessions Friday night and two Saturday morning and then ride the charter bus back to Tulsa.

The four sessions will be approximately 40 minutes in length; useful for Bible classes and small groups. The Calhoun Church of Christ is meeting us at the filming to comprise a part of the audience. I hear some from White's Ferry Road and Forsythe Avenue will be participating as well. Evangelism is always a part of the body of Christ. Hopefully, this series will be of great encouragement. They will be available at the workshop.


I talk with people from all walks regarding ministry. Some feel frustratingly lost in their endeavor. I mean I get calls from total strangers simply wanting to visit about their sagging work in the kingdom. Today I got a lengthy email from one soldier of the cross expressing open discouragement over her particular work. She was asking for direction, suggestions, or criticism. While I’m responding to her email a call comes in from someone, who heard me speak once twenty-five years ago, with a question about ministry.

While there are several who have a great grasp of their calling and are able to walk with complete vision, others are fatigued from exerting energy seemingly to no avail. Such ones have my heart. I have been there, done that, and at times return there again. It’s not fun. The good news is our God is not stumped. He knows life! He knows how to do life….in and through us.

May I offer an idea or two which might help when you hit such zones? First, as we apply ourselves there will be constant temptation to become distracted. That’s part of my point in the previous blog. An area where we might check is to ask if we are building the church or are we being built into Christ. If we are being built into the form of Christ then the church is being developed. However, if we are building the church one might find it completely and biblically organized without the Spirit of Jesus. Simply put, but always a possible threat.

I wonder if we find ourselves beating our heads against some walls because they never were God’s walls. To evacuate a great cause simply because it isn’t easy is not what I’m suggesting. Could it be that we get some ministries set in our minds but such a goal gradually becomes a contest to see if we can conquer it? Could it be we are serving without the Spirit’s participation?

What shall we do? Look for His fruit. Look for the Spirit to bear fruit. One reason some of our work is too hard might be because it has been our work from the git-go. It was never His. Never fear genuine evaluation of a ministry. It belongs to Him to keep it going or to bring it to a conclusion. It might give you angst or heartburn to let it go…..but it might be time for such a consideration. I believe there are many instances where the best progress for a congregation is to kill off the non-productive events which drain us of time and energy. After all, did He have something to say about pruning the vine? And, for good reason?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Monday morning's usual 6:30 meeting with the staff and elders took a turn for the best this week. Initially, it didn't necessarily sound the best (for me), but I found it to be of specific importance. Before I go into brief detail, I must convey the incredible harmony and partnership 100% of our crew genuinely feels week after week. We are a team committed to one another.

We were discussing the workshop. One of the staff members commented that my sermon topics at the workshop for the last three years have been stuck on criticizing the church which does not reflect my normal walk. (Now that's all fairly brief, but the message was certain and I verified it with him later.) Then, I mentioned my plan for 2009's keynoters and all present expressed it simply wasn't a good plan. All of them! I must emphasize there was much discussion, debate, and consideration. But, the message was clear on two fronts: I needed to re-evaluate my approach both personally and directionally.

Here's where you as a leader fits in: never assume you have a feel for the present due to your credentials and experience in the past. God's work is too big, too expanding, and too spiritual for any of us to sink our roots into earthy leadership style. We must abide by John 3:8 in grasping those genuinely led by the Spirit have one major constant.....flexibility.

I did not like what I heard Monday morning about my delivery nor my plan. But, I did like it. I am lucky to be in the church. If not careful I'll begin to coast in leadership. If not careful I'll go deaf to today's spiritual agenda. I cannot afford to become indignant over pointed need for improvement. The men at that Monday morning table were not criticizing me. They were partnering with me. I love them for it. They were not making my life difficult. They were refocusing me. Really, I'm not sure they took in what I was taking in. My conclusion is I really needed correction. The scary thing is that until some of their comments were shared, I didn't realize it.

If you are in leadership, be encouraged to be free to be evaluated. Our only goal is to give earth our best shot while here on it. I want to be a leader. I don't necessarily want to stay young. I want to stay useful for God, by God, with God. So do you. Don't let your age nor your time in service develop into resistant plaque of the spirit. Stay fresh and new the best you can. Sometimes you may be informed you are not putting out the best. In the center of such information, may what happened to me happen to you: you feel incredibly supported and loved.

Monday, January 07, 2008


My talent just continues to....well, amaze us all. A new marvel of mine arose today and I'm still pondering my powers. I was crossing the parking lot from my car with intent to enter Walgreens. As I was moving along, just a few feet over, a lady was backing her shiny and expensive red car. Beside her was a parked van blocking her from viewing oncoming traffic. There was a pick-up moving at a good clip (he couldn't see the red car backing) and contact was certain. The speed of both made it obvious they would soon reach impact and collisional damage could be assumed.

Being a combination of Zorro, The Lone Ranger, and Quicks Draw McGraw, I began waving my arms for them to stop. In the urgency of the moment I forgot to quit walking and tripped on the curb. Now that was weird. I went sprawling face down across the concrete. It happened so fast I didn't see anything. It wasn't even a blur. It was just sudden, fast, and splat. It's like everything went dark. Weirder yet, it seemed I didn't fall but that the sidewalk rose up to slap me across the head.

Oh sure my hands were scraped, but nothing serious. I could have called 911 or brought in a helicopter, but I felt getting up and bravely continuing my shopping would be the heroic thing to do. I must say I was amazed at how quickly my hands and arms could think as I was really focused on directing traffic. They (quick thinking arms and hands) protected me from the oncoming concrete slab. But do you know what is really amazing? Both drivers saw me fall and slammed on their brakes! Yep! I guess it might be possible that I saved their lives. I rescued them from physical and financial injury.

State Farm can thank me. Both drivers can thank me. I intervened! Z, LR, or Quicks? Oh, it doesn't matter. Now, there won't be an awards ceremony. It won't be necessary. Shucks, it was just all in a day's work of caring for the many anonymous of my community.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


One of the good news elements I share with you today is regarding the vast talent which abides in our members. I began ministry as I had been groomed. I was a control freak. Now that’s quite odd because basically in those days the preacher understood from the elders he controlled little. However, in my zone I still found multiple ways to keep “matters in order”….my order.

The result was one of restriction. I did not trust the talent of others while failing to realize I had the talent of a box of stale corn flakes. My last couple of elder groups have carefully shown me a better way. One of my bigger jobs is to consciously stay out of the way of God working in members. I’m neither the Alpha nor the Omega of discerning ability. I'm not even the Beta or the Theta. God is the One who gets the work done His way….in His people.

Preachers and elders and business meeting leaders, the people around us are quite capable of doing much more than we give them credit. So what if they mess up? So what if they fail? So what? Have we not done the same by blocking gifted ones from getting to serve? From getting to try?

Open up, church leader. Open up the vault of talent by trusting your brothers and sisters to do some of the good stuff. Oh sure, they might fail at their first couple of stabs at it. But, it just could be such will be their training ground to become an awesome talent among us.

In all of our members…….may we LOOK FOR GOD.

Saturday, January 05, 2008


In one of yesterday's comments, Darin recommended Made to Stick. This is a very powerful volume. Two brothers, Chip and Dan Heath are members of the Church of Christ and they have written this extremely important volume on communication.

One section reflects the thoughts of Stephen Covey's book, The 8th Habit, where he gives statistics gleaned from a poll of 23,000 employees:
  • Only 37% understood the goal.
  • Only 20% was sold on the goal.
  • Only 20% felt they had a clear line of sight for their tasks.
  • Only 15% believed their company backs them.
  • Only 20% really trusted their company.

The Heath boys then wrote: Then Covey superimposes a very human metaphor over the statistics. He says, "If, say, a soccer team had these same scores, only 4 of the 11 players on the field would know which goal is theirs. Only 2 of the 11 would care. Only 2 of the 11 would know what position they play and know exactly what they are supposed to do. And all but 2 players would, in someway, be competing against their own team members rather than the opponent."

Did you catch, Covey superimposes a very human metaphor? Do you understand that's what God did with His Son? God superimposed a human so we would get it! He gave us arms/legs/stomach cramps/and ear wax in human form so we could move from the abstract about God to the understanding of who He is and what His nature is like! This drives me nuts in gratitude! We get it because God superimposed before Covey did!

If we are to improve in communication one place to question is, Are we connecting the Living God to the human heart? Otherwise, we may be giving out chapters and verses or simply filling up the time as creatively as we can with little impact. We want our message to stick.

Too Jon mentioned in a comment yesterday, the book Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley. I'll be picking that one up asap. Surprisingly to me, Andy recently sent me a little book he wrote called, Making Vision Stick which is similar to Made to Stick but much smaller. I recommend it as well. It's 74 small pages of ideas that stick.

Friday, January 04, 2008


Several public speakers read this blog. Several who are public speaker fans read this as well. Help those of us who are up front with an intriguing area: connective communication. What is it about one who has a solid outline, but no message? What’s missing? Too, what is it about the one who seems to strike at the listener’s heart? Is it the Holy Spirit? Is it “good-ol’-boyism? Is it a gift that can’t be learned? Is it a gift which can be trained? Is it depth of study or length of experience?

Help us who preach to do a better job. I want to know. I study those like Oprah, Larry King, politicians, public speakers, and television evangelists. To me, smooth doesn’t necessarily equal effective. Yet, I do think skilled speakers are smart in their delivery whether they are of high intelligence.

Share what it is you see which might enhance our delivery in ’08. The church is deserving of our efforts to improve. God’s tool for saving the world is to have His message preached.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


Today’s political scene is perched with anticipation to see the results of the Iowa caucuses. Millions of dollars have been spent, thousands of arms have been twisted, deals may have been struck, and the media are launching their trek to Mecca. Each of the leading candidates calls for change. One will become the new President of the United States and in four years there will arise more clarions for….change.

Over the years one can note few changes as far as campaigning goes. I would imagine in 2016 the talk will be a call for change in the Social Security system, education of our children, prescription drug costs, and health care. Why? Oh, just a hunch.

I’m sympathetic to our political governing body. As badly (and I believe sincerely) as they truly want to change America for the better, it seems the system bogs and quenches each leader’s vision. I would guess it feasible the best candidates aren’t running for president because the system shut them down much earlier. I see similarities in the church. It isn’t that many leaders lack championing drive to match their vision, the system of “the way we’ve always done it” seems to box in even the best of visionaries.

While it seems many of us enjoy much more freedom in the kingdom than we once did, I find we (I) still take note of how much easier it is to keep the flesh under law and key rather than swim upstream in spirit. It’s just easier. Whether young leader or old, I urge each of us to keep pressing in spirit. We need not be offensive but faithful. The spirit will want to go where the flesh cannot see. Debate will develop both outwardly and within.

While we are quite capable of rolling our eyes when Hillary or John Mc. or Barrack or Mitt or Mike or John E. make comment, the church might fare well if we could remember those in their teens and twenties may be looking to us to see if we will take them upward improving lives in Christ. This is an important agenda. We must be found ever weighing, sorting, and measuring possibilities, for not only what is but what can be done, that we might build, build, build people into the formation of the Prince of Peace.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


At the beginning of the war in Iraq, I had an idea of building a million man/woman prayer army invoking our living God to provide direction and protection. The goal was that God be glorified even in the center of this earthly struggle. I wrote out the request for others to join this prayer team and sent it to several asking them to forward it on. I'm convinced the request circled the globe repeatedly within the week and such a target was struck.

One forwarded note landed at the desk of a local television reporter. She contacted me asking to do an interview. I obliged and shared with her enormous and hopeful expectations. The reporter was gracious and, as interviews go, I felt this would be a good story.

However, the newsreel was terrible. It was all about me; my office, my idea, my.... There was nothing in the report about God. How can a reporter miss the central theme when it was so thoroughly discussed? How can God not get into a story about God? I was ashamed of what came out. She had to deliberately go to great pains to squeeze Him out.

Two weeks later the same reporter wanted to do another story reflecting something coming out of the governors office. I refused her request explaining my great disappointment in our recent interview. She didn't get it. We did a story about God blessing people and she left Him out.

While we each tackle strenuous and overwhelming tasks, be certain the work is all about God. Yes, He uses people like us to shine. But our shining is to glorify God. Otherwise, we simply glare.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust…II Peter 1:4.

Does partaking of His divine nature ever mess with your thought processes? I mean we are each spiritual Gideons doing more than we can imagine (Eph. 3:20) while being reduced to complete nobodies (II Cor. 12:11). How can such nothingness like us participate with the Complete One in His true and glorious work and stay sane?

He called the foolish, the weak, the base, and the “are not” (I Cor. 1:26-28) to complete His work. So how do you feel participating? I feel foolish, weak, base, and not fit. It bugs me. It increasingly weighs on me. Yet that’s how God used Gideon. God reduced Gideon’s armies that the glory would be of the Divine. I feel so strange being visible in the church. I love the work, adore the people, and move with contagion for His theme. Yet, I feel so terribly and visibly inadequate.

For me, it’s embarrassing to step up in front of workshop crowds being so weak and foolish. I am a saved, gifted, blessed goof-ball. I am shallow, vain, and so far behind the church learning curve. I often wonder if my Memorial friends wince at such silliness which comes from me. I’m guessing they do and love me anyway. Yet, the Word says I partake in the divine nature. How can that be? I have a harder time making introductions and announcements than preaching.

It can only be possible as our confidence is in His Spirit and not in ourselves (II Cor. 3:4-5). It must be true. My role is to believe it. If you struggle with being you…and I’m assuming some are just like me…continue to serve. He is the goal. He is the glory. He is the life. He invited the weak and the base to partake. So? We do…gladly!