Thursday, July 31, 2008
Our tendency is to believe there should be some move we can make which will derail consternation and uphold wise input. Yet, many presentations continue to baffle rather than enhance personal confidence. Maybe someone would reference a book of solutions? Meditational concepts? Large wads of money? We continue to peek out for "it" to show its face of enlightenment which will present the answer-all, cure-all for present day ailments.
However the real answer; the real cure, is neither a plan nor a project. It is a person. His name is Jesus. Jesus is always the way, the truth, and the life. Such isn't just a passage to be quoted. It is to be believed by being practiced. Our Jesus can take on any bewildering strain and align it to productive blessing. Jesus never misses. He never bails. Our confidence is rightly avoided toward ourselves and properly placed upon his name.
What will work where you live? The same thing that worked where Peter, Stephen, and Paul lived......the name of Jesus. How many times does scripture refer to "the name of Jesus"? Why? Because to speak his name in anticipatory belief is to find the one thing which works where we all live.
For those who don’t know me well, these three would be of endearing importance to me. I don’t like trouble.
So what am I doing in the church? The bigger question is what am I doing as a leader in the church? This zone is the most targeted for disruption and upset of any system on the globe. Oddly, this happens to be the system of greatest meaning. The word “purpose” in scripture is nearly always in the context of suffering. We are caught between the cross and a hard place and the more we find ourselves stranded in this area, the more we will have a sense of meaningful purpose.
My message to you is that while you bear the sweet fruit of the Holy Spirit, don’t back down front tangles which are kingdomly important. It isn’t about you (or me). It’s about invading a dark and stubborn world with the “releasing the captives” mentality into a new land of light and opportunity. The church is struggling against the high tides of darkness, my friend. Many are being peeled away and sinking to their demise. It’s courageous ones as you who hold the name of Jesus high above the crowds to draw a few toward him. You are caught between a cross and a hard place. Usually that cross is set on a hill….to be seen.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I am looking forward to speaking at the Prayer Seminar in Calhoun, Louisiana which begins September 12. Keith Roberts and his crew have served an enthusiastic brotherhood well by teaching faithfully and thoroughly about prayer.
Come to think of it, most likely you and some around you need to get out of town. As a matter of fact I imagine some in the church wish you would get out of town. Well, why not round up a group of two or twenty-five and hit the highway for Calhoun?
Mountains? Oh, I was just kidding. But I'm not kidding that this Prayer Seminar might just be the ticket for a boost in the work where you serve.
Where is Calhoun, Louisiana? I would say it is fairly centered between New York, Los Angeles, and Cozumel. Not sure.....but might be.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen
The Barbarian Way by Erwin McManus
Waking the Dead by John Eldredge
Many others rank a close 4th.
MY FAVORITE JOURNAL: THE MORNING STAR
375 Star Light Drive, Fort Mill, SC. 29715
Issued Quarterly, $20 per year
Contains some articles I question and always articles which inspire of God’s teaching.
MY FAVORITE BROTHERHOOD PAPER: THE CHRISTIAN CHRONICLE
Keeps us informed of broad range of church activities and missions; more than any other work.
MY FAVORITE WAY TO GET SERMON IDEAS
Listen to those who hurt throughout the week.
Study the Word to see how Jesus would rush to their aid.
MY FAVORITE FREE INTERNET STUDY HELP http://www.biblegateway.com/
MY FAVORITE MINISTRY MOMENT OF THE WEEK
Meet at 7:30 in the auditorium every Sunday morning with any who want to pray.
Al Maxey offers viewpoints necessary for us to break through to life in Christ….my opinion.
Monday, July 28, 2008
What do we do? We take faithful action. We don't run. We don't quit. And, for heaven's sake, we don't act as if we have a God who is hand-cuffed. We become pro-active in our pursuit of the greatest work on earth; God's kingdom. Therefore, consider ideas of which some might work where you live.
Realize that your work does not depend on whether one or a group of men change their ways. Your success depends on whether God works. Focus on God. Jesus pleaded we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things would be added to us. This is true. We get so tired of fighting gossip wars and opinion polls that, if not careful, we divert our attention from the real work. We become obsessed with winning instead of serving.
This may sound terribly simple buy I must tell you I've experienced the joys of this practice: believe God will work. How easy it is to slip into wishful management mode: get an elder to move away here, get a sister to back off there, get a donor to cough up funds over there and then I believe the church will flourish. No. No.
Each obstacle is there for your personal training. I've had elders that didn't like me and worked intentionally against me. I would not quit. I cried a lot; but I would not quit because I truly believed God would work. And, He did. I've had elders misunderstand me. I would not quit; but I've learned to communicate more efficiently. I've had members threaten me (call meetings to get me fired) but Memorial's work was never dependent on that group or on me. It was always the Lord who could move mountains and I simply decided to believe He could do it.
Crying some lately? Developing bitterness? You have my sympathy. But here are two things to give you guidance: intentionally determine to not quit and equally determine that you will not waste this valuable experience; but you will learn from it. We are not perfect, either. We must keep this in mind. "They" aren't the issue. Believing God is the real issue. If you give up because of a person(s) it will be your lack of faith; not theirs.
Be highly encouraged. Jesus walked on water, healed strangers, and raised the dead. He is not stumped by your riddle. He knows the perfect solution to your work dilemma. Yes, the church can be a head-ache. Keep in mind the cross was for dying upon and not for sitting on church roofs. Don't be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you as if some strange thing were happening to you....Peter said in his first volume.
You have a great calling. It's worth the heat you take. Let's build momentum by deciding together we will not run; we are going to take the heat!
Sunday, July 27, 2008
I wonder if we have a grasp of how far off we are from what God expects of us. Holding the Bible up to our most liberal or most conservative friends finds gaping holes in both groups. We are nowhere near what God thought we should be in our practices. Our only hope is to rush to hide in Jesus for we must find salvation in order to escape from ourselves.
If we could get things done right we would have been given progress sheets; not Bibles. Our people have mistakenly assumed that if we would lock in on five strong items (and for the zealously faithful, nine) then we will have pretty much covered the zone of religious requirements which please our Lord. He is so holy. We are so not. To prove the latter all we have to do is read of our righteousness coming from Jesus and not from ourselves.
If we will drop our screeching claims to doing God best and realize we are all but a pitiful people in need of redemption, perhaps then we will experience the unifying thrust of Holy Spirit life in churches. As it is, we are losing ground in the land of darkness because the light we are trying to offer is phony. If the light were to come from the reflection of Jesus in us, we would surely be offering a powerful hope to those in our midst.
Unity? It's one of those major church components which is not out of reach. We must do our part to see that we are not out of touch with the glorious call of God. We have not mastered church. We have been invited to open the door. He stands and knocks. Shall we continue to run church the way "we" want or humble ourselves implying what little we know isn't much?
Saturday, July 26, 2008
The Word says we are to be filled full of God (Eph. 3:19) and that particularly He works within us more than we can imagine (:20). The Word says we are co-laborers with God (II Cor. 6:1). The Bible says the Word is the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17). Why, then, is there such hunger and fear among us that God will work? Some hunger because they are desperate to see Him provide while others work at quenching Him (and His followers) from fear He will do something we can’t control or explain.
One of our missteps in refusing to allow the Living God to fill our lives is that due to our obsession with control we have reversed one of the above truths. Modernism in the church has reversed Ephesians 6 and taught that the Spirit is the sword of the Word. Not so. The Word doesn’t wield the Spirit; the Spirit swings the Word. The Word can be seen. The Spirit cannot be. Yet again, we’ve opted to go by sight (the Word) rather than faith (the Spirit). It must be considered, I believe, that the Word gets it’s slicing and penetrating power from the muscle of the Holy Spirit. The Word is powerful only due to the Spirit's strength; not the reverse. The Bible did not create the Spirit; the Spirit wrote the Word to inform us of the Spirit of Christ.
A matter which helped me shift from thinking the Holy Spirit was some gray mist among us with little meaning is to realize the Personhood of God and that God is spirit. His spirit is holy…the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit (God) is revealed through information in the Bible for our enthusiasm about His dwelling and working from within. Some want to stop the Spirit at the door and say, “Look, you can walk through here but don’t touch” as if believers were some sort of museum to be preserved. We are not for preservation. We are for spending. We are God’s money and He desires to spend us for kingdom use.
What’s going on around here? God is always willing to break in and work. One of the things we pray for regarding our Sunday assemblies is that we plead with God to please participate. We do not want Him to leave us by ourselves. We will ruin everything. God working inspires worship. Worship is what’s going on around here….every day.
Friday, July 25, 2008
After a while, one thing helped me immensely in establishing my own faith. I learned to have confidence by questioning the challenge before me by simply asking myself, “Did God say that?” I learned to listen to specific accusations or declarations and search the scriptures for where God said that exact phrase. If someone said, “You know you can’t take the Lord’s Supper on any day except Sunday and be saved”, I would search for where it was God said it. If another said that it was not right to have a church sponsor a Mother’s Day Out program, I learned to have the confidence to go to the Word and see if God taught such. Quite often matters of extreme are voiced which have only one part truth mixed in with many more parts opinion.
I believe much of our division is based on cowardice; not laziness, but cowardice of members who don’t want to defy the faith of the herd mentality. “Whatever our friends tend to believe so do we”, is not a faithful way to live in the kingdom. The many sects we brethren have created to biblically divide scream of insincerity. We have not parted factional ways due to study as much as we have desperately preserved a few (usually five) sacred cows in our past to keep the herd from stampeding.
The thing I admire about the Campbells and the Lards and the Stones is they were bent on getting back to the Bible. The Church of Christ would do well to get back to the Bible. We’ve called people back to Campbell, Lard, and Stone of which none had a Mother’s Day Out program….I don’t think. Those guys and others were right when they loved the concept of the Word and they would be ashamed that a movement paraded after them seeking to make them Engineers of the Pattern.
So for those of you, young or old, who are weary of church hassle, don’t run away. Don’t quit the church and don’t give up on us. Do calm down and decide to simply base your faith on what God said He said and not what selfishly ambitious ones as me say He said. Like us, but don’t buy into us. Hold us when we are failing, but don’t build your faith upon our feet. Be careful not to esteem yourself higher than you should; this will allow stable judgment. Build your faith on God’s two feet. He knows how to stand the tests of time!
The salesman, reaching for his handkerchief to swat at gnats, said he just heard down at the barber shop that this guy was on his way to a nearby town and would be passing through ours sometime between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. As the word spread we could all sense something strange in the air; tempered excitement coupled with intrigue and curiosity. It was amazing how rumor could seem to change the complexion of our little town. A man with no name? It would seem that if maybe the President or some dignitary were to visit our bump in the road this could more likely be explained.
The man came walking down main street. Those who knew him called him Jesus. It was odd: the common folk nearly worshipped him but a few of the local preachers and elders made sarcastic remarks. What’s that all about? The guy seemed to really take to us. He was in no hurry. I overheard Cybil, the bank clerk, tell Marge she was going to invite Jesus over to dinner…if he would stay. Lo and behold, he said yes. What in the world?
As pessimistic as some of you know I can be at times I couldn’t help but get caught up in the frenzy. This Jesus seemed to be unusually honest and most incredibly sensitive to every kind of pained and down-in-the-dumps individuals. Plus, he seemed up on the latest world concerns. He knew a lot about everything yet never boasted about any of it. He treated us as if we were the stars; not him.
He told my friend Bailey that he was on his way to the hill to be killed and raised up in three days. What’s that all about? I told Bailey that better not happen. I’d only known of him for about seven hours, but good grief, who’d kill a guy like this? I later learned more of this man Jesus. What he said eventually came true. Sure 'nough he was crucified a couple or three days back. It killed our hearts. The word, now, is that something weird has happened over at the cemetery. I’m gonna run over and see what that’s all about.
I’m not sure yet what all this man Jesus must be about. But I know this; I really like the fellow and something’s going on that's sorta out of this world. I wonder if their a brochure or anything on this guy. I bet Cybil might know.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Is there a solution? Of course there is! Once again, though, it will be the backward answer to what earthly wisdom would assume. Meaning in life is not found in what one likes but what one doesn’t like. This is precisely why so many are moving up in years and disappointingly frustrated with how their lives are going because they aren’t going anywhere. They are stuck. Hopelessness continues to creep.
Here’s the problem. Those who fit this region have many likes. They like cute people. They like shopping. They like jobs with potential. They like friends. They like sports. They like travel. They like money. Their problem is their obsession with what they like. Their drive is to obtain more of it. The problem is a spiritual one and this is why their spirits are depressed. These wonderful people are obsessed with attaining things which please themselves and these can and will only result in boredom. Meaning in life is illusive in such zones because each appeals to the flesh, but not the spirit. It is the spirit within a person which is, therefore, unhappy.
Here’s the solution. One needs to find the main thing in life which pains them with intent to do something about it. A huge problem with meanderers is they have no interest in pains of others. They are indifferent and numb to the needs of others. Why is that? For some reason they have been sheltered from pain. Now before you jump to a wrong conclusion, I know many who are going nowhere who have suffered pain; but it has been pain over themselves and not over another.
When a person grieves over the conditions of other people, an immediate solution to the meaning in life is staring them in the face. Do you know what drives me to “can’t wait to get to work” everyday of my long life? As a kid I hated church. I could not stand the politicking, ritualistically dead system which implied God was being reflected. Tell me this isn’t so. From day one I have wanted to bust church ruts which have caused millions to walk away as they mistakenly believed what deadness they too experienced was an image of a most boring and silly God. I ache for any who find church to be dead. I’m obsessed with it. I find enormous meaning for me in helping people believe God works higher than man’s imagination.
Very nice young people are wandering aimlessly with a goal for finding something which would please them. I know a secret buried within each heart. What would really please them is to find a zone in life where they feel useful but they have been unfortunately groomed to focus upon their own pain instead of the pain of others. They struggle because they basically hurt for no one more than self. If they will but begin to hurt for others they will become informed of their tangible and realistic purpose in life. When they begin to minister to others who hurt, their own spirits will become wonderfully driven with that terrific possession called meaning in life.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
There may be those gifted in this particular work, but I’m not sure I have ever met such a person. Even the most outgoing freeze when it comes to sharing the hope found in the new Life. The reason too many give up is this is one ministry which takes a lot of trial and error. Have you ever heard of an obstetrician who didn’t need extensive training to become a doctor? Even those with what we would regard as evangelistic hearts live in great fear. We find ourselves in need of being trained to get past the fear as much as learning what to say.
I felt sure I would die (and at times wished I could) of embarrassment due to faltering in my soul winning approach. Failure is prominent; even after feeling fairly established in such work. To get started one thing which needs to change among us is to relinquish the “saving of ourselves” mentality by not trying to study with another for fear of embarrassment. This is hard work; but is worthwhile work. Don’t fear failure.
Know that all people want to know God. It may not be on your timetable, but you can be assured plain people want to know about God. You need to know that most will draw more to spiritual interest the more their world crumbles. You want to have built a respectful connection during their successful seasons to be trusted in their breakdowns. Do it. Sow seed and wait.
Not everyone seeks God from the same base but all can be reached by the same Word. Therefore, don’t pre-package your presentation and drop it on your friends like little Bible bombs. Back off. Listen to their hearts; their stories. Let God’s Spirit work with your spirit by giving you recollection of stories and passages from scripture. Learn to say things quickly like, “I don’t know” or “I once believed a certain facet of faith and realized I was wrong because….” This lets the one with whom you are working realize you don’t know everything and you trust them enough to admit it. Showing you trust them is key.
I think this type of interaction is a combination of most threatening and most exhilarating. It scares me so badly I hope they forget the appointment and thrills me so much I can’t understand why I dreaded it. This moment is precisely where their flesh is often confronted by the Spirit and we are sitting there in the battle room with them. It’s another delivery room scene of screaming pain just before the glorious re-childbirth. Rugged and awesome all in the same movement, we help people do the most important thing in life, be born again! The delivery rooms are all messy. Afterward we are worn out happy!
I’ve changed my approach to studying with others 180 degrees. I don’t worry about what I’m going to say. I am concerned that I can discern what they are really saying. I no longer feel the need to close the deal….or to win. I’m not selling God and we are not in a contest. I’m sitting in a room with a most revered and important individual for which Jesus left heaven and died a treacherous death on the cross. My job is to minister with the Word; not insensitively manipulate through canned verse order. Helping a grown person through the birth canals of God into new life is surely a masterful occupation!
(Man, self, this is a good one!)
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
I’m wowed. I live where many of you dream to live. Some of you got there before I did. The good news is you will live there, eventually, if you haven’t yet reached that stage of feeling productive right now. What’s neat is we all know how to get to the location in life we thoroughly enjoy. It’s a Bible truth which will not be denied: what we sow we reap. Therefore, sow kingdom seed like crazy. Let it get into everything you think about, talk about, do. Sow seed, good seed, and crops of that seed will appear. Crops are much more than seed sown. You know that.
I plant crops in increments of years. Sowing seed now for what can become in ten, twenty, and thirty years is slow at first; but excitingly productive later. I’ve been doing this for….years and years. It actually begins to live with compound interest. God is faithful to His promise. I am not without distress and frustration over how to do certain tasks, etc. However, I am overjoyed at His working well beyond ways I had dreamed but could not produce on my own.
The seed I believe we should sow is the same as Jesus. Love people. Nothing more. First and foremost because we love God, we love people.
The First Corinthians 13 stuff comes into direct play as to where to sow the seed. Love people without calculating what they will do for you. Love people when they are bull-headed stinkpots. Love people when they don’t love themselves. Love people when they can’t pay you back. Love people when others want to discard them. Love people when they oppose you. Love people as they kill your reasons for trying to love them. Love people you don’t know. Love people. Love people who give you quotes on jobs. Love people who are entering your marketplace. Love people. Love the divorced. Love the married. Love gay people, brilliant people, lonely and forgotten people, working people, plain people, complaining people, and interrupting people. Love the stable as well as the moody. Love all people.
Sow your love into others just as Jesus did into you. Lean into society by blending the Holy Spirit’s fruit into their systems. Assume the best. Hope the most. Anticipate success. Await victory. The words “will reap” are His at the conclusion of “sow”.
Plant a lot, my friend. Plant a lot of love in others. It will come back at you in crops full. What you sow in seed comes back in tons. Get going!
Second, any wishing information about any of my books may email me at email@example.com.
Third, today’s topic: What Keeps Us Fired Up? I can only give you one response; mine. Others have their bias which works for them. I’ll give you mine hoping it will be added to your arsenal of endurance.
I cannot wait to wake up and get going as God works and I can’t wait to see what it will be this time. I love knowing what He is doing. But by faith, I know He is doing more than I can know. This blows my mind! God is so strong, so visionary, and so mysterious. While you read this He is lifting oceans from four corners to cause perpetual, ceaseless waves to lap shores from miles and miles out. Niagaras are falling and falling and falling. Stars are glittering in more galaxies than ramped technical sight can capture. And then there’s the compassion for people factor He has going.
While we slept last night souls were being baptized in Beirut and Boston. Angels were rushing in to minister to stranded ones in Australia and Amsterdam. Abandoned children were being rescued in Uganda and Utah. He was listening to prisoners in New Zealand and New York. Our God is still operating off of prayers offered by the apostle Paul, Abraham Lincoln, Hannah Hurnard, and Henri Nouwen. Though these and millions of others died, their kingdom seed effort remains eternal which includes having impact on any day called today.
We truly are what the Bible declares: partners/co-laborers with God. If we are just partners with each other without the touch of the King, we would be most frustrated. But with the King, then let us celebrate! We are influential.
What fires us up? God working. Who can imagine? Who can report? Who can believe? On the latter one, we can! And……we do. What a day already!
Monday, July 21, 2008
Would you do something for me today? Would you simply put your name or initials and the place (city or state or nation) where you live?
You don't have to comment. I would be encouraged to get a slight picture of who all is out there.
Some of you are office workers. Some are retired. Others are missionaries. Who am I talking to out there?
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Jade met with me during Bible class this morning. Her marriage is suffering strain and she wanted to talk to me. We began by talking about the hope God offers to start life over. She was glued. The idea of meeting Jesus in his death and being raised to walk a new life was one thing she wanted. She was hungry to start life with God. He had recently gotten her attention. The study went well and she told me she wanted to be baptized someday soon.
At the invitation our eyes met. She smiled but didn't move. I know one thing most likely going on; she is afraid. The song ended and we were gathering cards of those who had prayer requests and I went out and sat down beside Jade. "Are you wanting to be baptized today or are you simply waiting for a later date?" "I want to be, but I'm scared" was her immediate response. I said, "Then I'm here to walk with you. Let's go."
I baptized Jade and she was/is so excited. The church loves her as she had been visiting for about a year. Sometimes in the soul winning process we must be aware of the simplest things like being afraid to move. We can help by asking what it is they wish to do and then partner with them as the make tremendously daring steps.
I Pet. 3:18
Spirit: loves adventure
Flesh: hates mystery
In case one of you can't get your lesson together, here are my notes should this be a help. I've never thought about posting them; but here 'tis. The idea is the battle persisting in trying to live an active spirit-evaluating life from within the confines of the flesh-bod'. Just as sin has been watered down, so has salvation. We can't reach the depths of either. Sin is worse than we credit and salvation is surer than we can interpret.
Isa. 50 is a neat text in that when it goes dark there are those plenty willing by faith to take God's hand and be led to safety. Others, non-faithers, won't accept the hand of God but will say, "No, I can strike a match, light a torch, and see my way clear" without God. The Spirit loves to operate where it can't see, but trusts God to provide while the flesh hates mystery and wants to know exactly how things will work before he sets out of his trek. One is acceptable to God; the other is labeled of Satan....Mt. 16:23.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Jesus was the most wonderful combination of brave, kind, sweet, and astute. He wasn't a fool and he wasn't fooled by things seen. Threats didn't bug him and big talk of promises never impressed him.
Fill your place with news of Jesus. We've a long ways to go to get to his level but it is the most meaningful trip a human can experience. When your people gather tomorrow fill the place with the contagion of Jesus the Life!
A mistake I made in my younger years was I was terribly mean-spirited. I had that non-Holy Spirit and rough-edged nature of believing pounding and loudness equated strength of sound doctrine. Simply wrong. I, as a result, inflicted many unnecessary wounds and perpetually aggravated sores among the flock.
A thing I did right was dare challenge the status quo regardless of who quo was. Try to only be dependent upon Christ; not your role, not your position. Things can get downright scary being in ministry. I think that is by Divine design. We do face moments as did Abraham where we must make the move of faith and no one on earth would believe us to be in our right mind. At times we are the ones blazing the trail for the future church families (even future preachers) to enjoy the wonderful works of the Spirit of Christ.
Now, once you understand I am with you and quite sympathetic, the next step is the toughest of all. Die well.
A commenter ask on a more recent blog what books I would recommend. I share my response to him with you all. These works help me continually develop the spirit of a servant:
- The Wounded Healer....Nouwen
- The Return of the Prodigal...Nouwen
- In The Name of Jesus.....Nouwen
- Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ...Piper
- The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus...Manning
- Empowering the Ordinary...Rush (Even if this one is mine, it is being used by so many to enter the slightest work of the Holy Spirit.)
Sunday is coming and if you should die....die well.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Somehow Sunday schools have mopped up the mess down through the centuries. To study the topic of the cross is much cleaner than the original. We don’t seem to flinch when the scene is reviewed. Our slick little quarterlies remove all disgust of the actual event. Our hands are clean and the roast is in the oven. If we would have been at the crucifixion there is a good chance we would have passed out from the unfolding trauma. Historical records reveal the cross to be the most debase and torturous procedure of all capital punishment methods. It was this one the Father chose for the innocent son.
So what does it say for Christians today who are called to take up their crosses? Such an appeal has parallel implications. We are called to take up our cross which means there will be grief, not ritual; agony, not convenience; and hassle, not discussion questionnaires. We have lost the truth that we are to be greatly pained so that even those who are our enemies might have opportunity to run into the unfathomable love of God. A world isn’t without God simply because it is too naive to get it. It is without God because believers have laid down their crosses and taken up their coffee mugs. Church has become far more social than intentional. We have shifted from dying for our enemies to barking at a dark world from our padded pews.
A stale, argumentative, dysfunctional congress isn’t America’s tallest hurdle. The hope of the entire world is always based on the reality of the old and rugged cross. Jesus’ was first. Ours is to follow. Both are the hope for any who are in crisis. Even enemies were loved by God. Ours is the call to see that the lineage of the cross doesn’t stop with our generation. True church was never defined by where we attend. It was always marked by dying to self for others’ sake in the name of Jesus. It is a serious matter.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
We are assumed by the Creator to each have a personal cross. This tool of God's design is ours to make headway into the stressful land of treacherous caverns and mountainous terrain. And, we make it. Even though some die along the way, all contribute to the progress of the kingdom of God.
When we die, we must die well. It is to be noted Jesus emphasized no one would ambush him. He would intentionally lay down his life for others. Now the others, it must be remembered, were enemy others. The church is its most restored when it finds those few male and female soldiers who will stick with the plan and lay down and die that their enemies have opportunity to start life over.
I know it hurts you. Suffering hurts. I know you had hoped for smoother roads and fewer curves. But don't be discouraged with the harshness some seem to enjoy placing upon you. Rather, die to yourself for others well. If we are going to make progress in a nasty world of church ugliness, the only way we can function effectively is to keep marching forward with our crosses strapped across our backs.
Don't forget that enemies count. They are souls Jesus had in mind for us to save. Everybody is important to God. It could be that our communities are greatly suffering because the church gave up on the enemies.
I met Mr. Linkletter about twenty years ago when he spoke at a fundraiser for Green Country Christian Academy here in Tulsa. I was in the line to pass by and shake his hand. When I got to him we shared the usual niceties to the pace of keeping the line moving. But I asked him a question that stopped the line. I asked if I could have his mailing address to write his wife to thank her for the years she had sacrificed him being gone so people like us could be blessed. He quickly, and seeming to be pleased, scribbled down the address.
I wrote Mrs. Linkletter expressing my gratitude for her giving up days and nights from her husband so he could do his motivational speaking. Too, I shared my hope that she felt useful and important for she surely was. A few days later a hand-written note came back from the Mr. saying in all of his years he had never had anyone ask about his wife and it meant so much to both of them.
Seven years ago I had the privilege of emceeing a similar fundraiser in Louisiana following a day of filming two television programs for CrossView. Mr. Linkletter was a guest on one of the programs and then my job was to sit beside him at the head table (me being the emcee) that evening as he was the noted speaker. He is a remarkable, funny, sensitive, man. He is like a next door neighbor who is warm and caring.
While he still serves on some 70 boards and travels to speak at several events, this man's earlier days began as he was left by his mother on the doorstep of a Baptist preacher’s home. In his adolescent years he became a hobo hop scotching America by the rhythm of the rail. H. L. Hunt was a co-hobo. Yes, he's done a lot in this life...or shall we say God has done a lot through him.
Today Mr. Linkletter is 96 years young. Happy Birthday to another real American hero.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Two years ago I was sharing with my elders a plan to create a Click-it-Forward message by creating a colorful minute and a half video which could be passed to the masses from email to email. The theme would be to draw people to Jesus. I was working on developing multiple messages with various languages to be drawn up and spread around the world in a click.
While I was working on that concept, I responded to my son's (Tim's) blog. I wasn't blog savvy and in commenting on his I inadvertently set up my own. It had 184 hits in the first day and there were no words as I didn't know I had a blog. Today 138,500 hits later, you read it. I find myself talking to the whole world; the very thing I dreamed of but in a different format. Readers are on many continents. Just last week a native from India informed me he is translating this blog into their language and sending it out. God works ahead of us....even when we think we are being visionary.
Some of you would remember the story of my friend, Richard Haley. We were classmates growing up. He never went to church...ever. He was found to have a brain tumor and in reaching to him, God converted this man. I told him when I baptized him that he would be used by God to reach the world by me simply telling his story. He wept in sheer joy. That thought stuck with my friend all the way to his death a short few months later.
This week I received a letter from one of his sons. I've not heard from the family since Richard's death a few years back. His son wants me to help him with his faith. Wouldn't it be something if one of the people Richard reaches is his own boy? Having mixed my tears with Richard's over such a concept, the thought of this possibility fits into a region where I have no words. Wow!
Yesterday and today I spent part of the time helping a preacher in Virginia (who I don't know) help a terminally ill member figure a way to make it to Yankee Stadium while her health is stable for just a few more weeks. Yes, there are many things important to think about and right now this (unknown to me) woman has a family and a minister trying to offer a few days of earth joy. Therefore, she is most important. People need and deserve encouragement.
Be encouraged. You think you are working on specifics when He may have something entirely different in progress. Don't get tied up in knots over your dreams and plans and schedules. Give stuff a shot and relax. Our God knows how to use our fumblings and confusions. He knows how to use our half plans and dream-wishes.
Peter and Co. had fished all night; but Jesus instructed him to try it from one more angle. God had a better idea. Peter was in jail and his house church was praying for him. Angels let him out but Rhoda wouldn't let him in. God stymied those praying by delivering beyond their wildest imaginations. Believe wildly!
God is a God of surprise. Be surprised! Give ministry your best shot day after day. Then rest most assured God has trumped our play and will display results which will shock and thrill us all.
HE IS MIRACULOUSLY SAVEFUL. To believe we could be used and called when in disrepair and sinful breakdown is impossibly amazingly possible! The wonderful words in the Word are those hanging around the “God did” statements: “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did (Rom. 8:3).” “But by His doing…..(I Cor. 1:30).” Our boots have no straps by which to pull ourselves up. He is the marvel and the mystery that we ever get to one day, one moment, be referred to as leader. As sinful as we are, His grace always has the longer arm.
WE ARE WONDERFULLY POWERFUL. We are the stars reflecting the Son. We are not amazing at anything. He is within us. We are not called to shine before men for we simply can’t. We are called to LET our light shine before men because Jesus is illuminating us and we are to let such be seen. We are powerful people only because His Spirit provides. Nothing, nothing is ever from us (II Cor. 3:4-5).
Monday, July 14, 2008
- God Works.
- I am more sinful than originally imagined.
- Power is perfected in weakness.
- "I'm sorry" and "I'm wrong" are important phrases for a leader.
- Everything is always a "Yes".
- People need at least one person to believe in them.
- God's Word really is like a River.
- Unbelieving people want to know God.
- Pain lasts longer than the initial incident.
- The church craves freedom.
- Every member is essential.
- Weddings and funerals are wonderful times of evangelism.
- Men and women need hugs.
- Because one disagrees with me doesn't mean he is my enemy.
- Enthusiasm is contagious.
- The giving of money is God's great secret to success.
- Some conservatives are quite liberal when it comes to adding rules to the church the Word never revealed.
- The Holy Spirit is active among us.
- Jesus is our answer to getting right with God.
- Resurrection power ruins everything negative.
- The mysteries of God will never be grasped by man's best logic.
- Trying to please members who try to guilt us into action is an impossible task.
- We have only begun to learn the the tiniest of truth of our Majestic God.
- The worst of enemies find reason to be lovingly civil at funerals of mutual friends.
- The church does better when we restore people instead of the church.
- When our backs are against the wall, God is not the least bit stymied.
- Every person I know (common or celebrity) possesses significant reservoirs of self-doubt and inferiority.
- I'd rather try and fail than to never try and brag that I never made an error.
- There is more dynamic good going on in the kingdom every hour than man can report in a month.
- The Bus Ministry was one of the best seminars/workshops I ever attended.
- We are not the only ones who get a few religious practices right.
I don't take my work for granted. I haven't forgotten other good men tried out for the position in 1977 and for some weird reason Memorial hired the least qualified; no degree, a Christian only seven years and preaching only three. I've changed. I'm not as mean as I once was. I have been blessed by patient elders, staff, and members to get past a lot of baggage. While on occasion I get pounded by a brotherhood paper or sermon, I've learned to love right now....and I do!
Thank you Memorial Drive. Due to your kindness, I've learned a little along the way.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, ME!
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Bobby Murcer was a star with the New York Yankess and later a broadcaster. Mickey Mantle was retiring and Murcer was the next big ticket. A few years after his retirement I was preaching at the Quail Springs Church of Christ in the Oklahoma City area. Bobby and his wife were there. I was amazed at his extended effort to offer considerate comments following the morning assembly. A few days later a packet arrived including an autographed 8 x 10. I have kept track of him during his illness. He was serious about his faith and his God.
Dave Ricketts was with the St. Louis Cardinals as a catcher. He played several years with the team and was a part of a World Championship team in the '60s. He later became a coach, and finally was a minor league instructor. For a few years I played at Busch Stadium over a three day weekend during the summers in our Legends Camps. Dave would pitch batting practice and I would be his catcher. He loved people as well as, obviously, baseball. The Big Leaguers are making strong comments about how special this man was. It warms my heart to be included in his circle of friends.
What I liked about both of these men is they were a success in their field; but they lived with their feet on the ground the their hearts alive in appreciation for the talent God had given them.
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The above notice was awaiting me this morning on my email. The message isn’t very believable. It awakens me to the passage which says we are read by all men. We want to be sensitive to the reading material we hand out through our walk. Are we alive or are we dead? Are we sold on God or sold on ourselves? Are we at peace due to Jesus or in turmoil due to our neglect of reading the Word?
Society is poised to read all about it every morning in the newest daily publication known as YOU.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
In my earlier days of preaching (you’ll be ashamed of me) I preached to the sour-pusses. I charged the naysayers head on. The problem with this was…..a problem. I was not preaching the Good News. There was nothing good about it. I was giving nothing of food value to the earnest believers who assembled to be built up in love for good deeds. And, I was no different than those I was attacking; I was just as negative and blind.
Matters changed when I began preaching Jesus Christ instead of Church of Christ. Preaching our denomination will harden hearts. Preaching Jesus will tenderize them.
What kind of leader will your church find tomorrow? Let’s do what we can to let them rub shoulders with one who is full of gratitude, full of smiles, full of resurrection power, and full of life! Tomorrow we will spread a contagion of darkness or a contagion of light. As for me and my congregation, we will spread an epidemic of life!
Friday, July 11, 2008
Second, what many wouldn’t know is that a dozen to fifteen years ago Memorial was nearly going under. We had no children’s program. We had very few children. Families were peeling away because their child had no one in class with them. One of the two halls was dark on Wednesday nights because there were not enough kids to have classes. So when you read of our VBS being great, don’t brush it off as, “Well, that’s what big-city churches do.” Sorry, but it wasn’t always that way. It should have been what we were doing, yet we were in big trouble.
What changed? A lot of things; for me to name them is possibly unsafe as I will not have totally clearly seen the handiwork of God in front of me. Yet, here are some developments which took place:
· A group of women began studying Blackaby and Kings’ EXPERIENCING GOD. The news of seeking God where He is instead of creating works and asking Him to endorse our ideas began to permeate the Memorial family.
· We were well into beginning to believe the Holy Spirit of God worked actively among us.
· The elders reached a point where they determined to have no ears for the critics.
· A large group of those who didn’t agree with Memorial’s leadership moved to where they felt they could be better used. At this juncture, to be honest, it did not look like we were gaining ground.
· Simultaneously, the elders reached another point of freeing the congregation to articulate and practice their God-given gifts without having elders’ meetings to discuss if such was acceptable. If our members had an idea and it did not conflict with the church calendar or the budget team’s arrangements, they were permitted to move full steam ahead, immediately. And, they did!
· The elders brought on a worship leader full-time and later added Linda Scott as part-time Children’s Minister. God seemed to be leading the way as the congregation made a complete turn-around. Contributions, which had been in trouble, suddenly arose. The number of children increased to the point Linda had to add Stacey Kendall as the second part-time children’s staffer.
In pointing out any of the above it must be clearly understood the fundamental reason anything worked (works) is only due to the Spirit of God moving among His people. Yes, we made a few decisions here and there and I share them so you can possibly put legs on your plans, but it must be repeatedly reiterated it is God who builds; not the ingenuity of man or a team of men. God works beyond our imagination, He promised, and He has. It is all about Him. Our job is to believe Him.
So when I say we had a big VBS I want you to hear it with the backdrop of a church going nowhere but down, down, down. The above listed items are not a formulaic method to church growth. It is merely a thumbnail sketch of what one small brain can recall as a part of the scenario leading up to this week. My point is I feel sure many readers are trying to work in a setting which could use a spiritual B-12 shot. Turning a congregation around is one business God is in. Look to Him. Pray for Him to show up. Delight in His touch. Testify to others of His glorious entry into your ministry. Then, and this one is a big one, GET OUT OF THE WAY.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
But how do you focus so as to live in the Spirit's power? I am still trying to figure this out.
I’ve not forgotten this comment of a few blogs back carries significant importance. How many of us continue to probe the realm of Holy Spirit power?
When I moved to Memorial Drive in 1977 I soon found myself teaching a class on the Holy Spirit. I did an awful job. I knew nothing about Him and it beats me as to why I would dare pick such a topic. We increased only in confusion. I took two more stabs at the subject over the next couple of years and the results were the same. I was humiliated and embarrassed at failing to teach this subject well. However, a fourth try changed Memorial and me forever.
I proposed to the class that we had failed three previous studies because we kept discussing what the Holy Spirit did not do. This fourth-time-around class would not be allowed to discuss what the Spirit does not do….we had covered that thoroughly. We could only talk about what He currently does. I was astonished at what the class contributed in discussion which I didn’t see coming. I made notes each session as they pointed to something newly discovered. This study changed us, our church, and our spiritual world. And keep in mind, it all came from the Bible.
Soon after I wrote a book, The Holy Spirit Makes No Earthly Sense (now reprinted as Empowering the Ordinary) discussing the fact that we could not previously understand the Spirit because we kept trying to understand Him by earthly measures. Now, to answer “Free’s” question, the way to come upon the power of the Spirit is to read about it from the very Word He inspired. Mine is not intended to be a cliché-ick answer. It is the answer.
Refuse to study what He doesn’t do. Look at the Word to see what He says He does do. Just do a cross-reference study on this. I’ll give you two texts to get you going: II Corinthians 3:4-5 and Ephesians 3:14-21. Let this Word look at you and study you (Hebrews 4:12). Look at the Word. It explodes with news of the Holy Spirit empowering plain people….today.
Don’t be afraid to fail as you wrestle with this study. I am still in kindergarten in it; but how I enjoy learning that the Living God not only resides in us, but also works from within us!
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Jesus is so not like our original nature. Because of this we find ourselves constantly being recalled, repaired, re-instructed, remodeled, and restarted. I seem to be losing ground. The closer I get to God the bigger He becomes while the dinkier I am found. He becomes more brilliant; not me. He is clueful while I increase in cluelessness. It will always be the challenge of mere men to grow into the Jesus-heart of God. Yet with determined devotion, we will continue to try.
Jesus was marvelously pliable. He could bend with the punishing blows of hatred and insult. He would not give up on the most notorious of sinners. Furthermore he sought them out, went home with them, and hung out with them. There was one conspicuous sort he would not accommodate with leniency in word or deed. Against this brood he stood toe to toe and would not bow. You know the type; and how easily we can fall into it. He consistently rejected anyone who was a critic. He would protest against a crowd to protect a harlot. He befriended thieves and social dyfunctionalites. But he would not give the critic a break. Why this one sort?
Simply put, Jesus does not want humans being critical of each other. The reason? We are each over-the-edge ridiculous and small. Critics were the only sinners targeted by his direct and personal criticism. Why did he spend so much time emphasizing the sin of judging? Criticizing is sin. We just have no room to do it because we each carry failure and guilt of our own sin in front of all; especially do we parade it in front of the Judge.
The only way one can forget himself into being critical is to simultaneously forget himself regarding his many failing grades as a Christian. When we are critical we are at our worst behavior. Nothing threatens our salvation as this one trait. Uncontrolled tongues will cost hard-working, Bible-believing, church-serving souls. When we criticize we have forgotten our deep and personal sin; our great failing to hit the many marks God desires. When we are critical we speak as if superior to another….of which we never are.
While you might see the obvious flaw in another’s doctrinal position or congregational practice; none of those (whether liberal or conservative) items will cost salvation for those in Christ Jesus. The critical judgmental spirit will. “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. (Jas. 1:13)” Jesus reserved his severest words for the critics. He got it from the Father. We cannot afford to treat another congregation or individual with anything but rich mercy and enduring love….if we expect to receive the same on the Judgment Day.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Maybe one of his more powerful weapons is individual uncertainty. Insecurity is a treacherous menace hiding within the best of leaders. It causes us to become territorial. Criticizing others is Satan’s niche, but surely we admit by now such is an inferior style. I know the ropes of being both insecure and territorial. Really, I’m a pro. I know how to recall the stories of conflict by telling only those which lead to me coming out looking good. I know the need to feel superior at something. This facade is important to me; even if it annoys everyone else. In fooling them (which is in my imagination only, not theirs), I have fooled myself.
One of the things quite important to insecure leaders is we must have victory and we must have successive victories because that’s what holds up our wobbly self-esteem. We become territorial so another cannot harvest credit or accolades from our winning ways. The reason we all need to be forewarned of this sneak in our midst is because territorial systems necessarily shut down other promising leaders. “They” are liable to make “me” look badly. So, snuff them out. Protect what I’ve learned, what I’ve done, what I’ve believed. Consider them not. Keeping our little section winning makes me look good and after all, isn’t life about me?
I encourage you today to let go of the ropes which keep you always in the driver’s seat. Let go of the reports which make you look best. Think of others. Note their need to be boosted; to gain attention. One of the best things we can do as leaders is wisely note the times we should step aside to let the rush of good and talented leaders live in the glory God has designed especially for them.
Welcome to the set of our VBS's "Tune In2 Jesus!"
This over-sized couch and chair are perfect for keeping the kids' attention. Sunday was a time where were thought it might be, "Honey, I shrunk the preacher" Day.
So, to keep the kids interested, I preached from the living room chair! The much older kids stayed awake as well!
Monday, July 07, 2008
My girl is Wendy Michelle. It's her birthday. All dad's believe theirs to be the best girl; but I must admit all other dad's have been sorely mistaken. Wendy raises the bar for daughterhood. I've noted her humility when she was victorious and her determined faithfulness when she suffered heartbreak.
Her first fiance was abruptly removed from life. Wendy watched patiently as God brought her even a neater man. All three of her children barely survived premature births. One didn't make it. I've witnessed her pain which repeatedly experienced horrendous intrusion only to visibly see God rush to her rescue.
Wendy Michelle Rush Chapel is pretty and pretty smart and pretty amazing. A lot of men wish they could be her dad; but only one gets to make such claim. I am proud indeed of such an accomplished woman. She has may salute, my admiration, and my love.
Wendy-the-Pooh, you were the most beautiful baby in the whole hospital ward. Everyone stood at the window to look at their baby and to direct attention to your crib as well. I am the one who took you home. I think you have done well to have kept what seemed to be your destiny: becoming the best girl!
Happy Birthday! Love you!
When Jesus first told he must suffer and be killed, Peter had one big hissy-fit. No way, Jose’! These in-the-loop rascals couldn’t get it into their thick skulls Jesus was paving the road to heaven via a treacherous wooden cross. Dying to live didn’t seem to be rational or feasible.
Has much changed? A well-meaning and envious friend (who thought I had it made) said to me years ago when I had been at Memorial a couple of years, “I wish I could find a church that wanted to grow.” I didn’t comment. But I wanted to say, “Friend, I do too.” “I wish I could find one that didn’t have so many who wanted to kill me.” But I didn’t. I know what he was saying and the good intent behind it. He no longer preaches, but he still serves in a mighty way.
For those of you wishing you could find a church that wants to grow, you are in one wherever you are. Growth comes by finding someone(s) who will take the treacherous-wooden-cross road and not question why. A great many who deeply desire to be leaders will never become such because they have misunderstood the truth that victory and success come by dying. However, a great many who didn’t intend to be leaders will become such because they were simply doing their job in forgetting themselves and leadership will be handed over from above.....as promised.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
He later said that we were to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Mt. 6:33). Why? We must seek His righteousness as His is the only one which will surpass the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. In their minds they were right on every topic. His “rightness” is superior. S & P rightness is man-made and failing.
The only way one can truly get right according to the Bible is to seek and eventually possess the rightness which pleases God; His own. II Corinthians 5:21 is clear that God made Jesus wrong on the cross that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus traded us places. We are not right with God except on the basis of how wrong Jesus became. Because he was willing to become every wrong of ours, we become every right of his; God’s righteousness is now ours!
This poses a big problem for the Churches of Christ and any other religious group who pride themselves in doing everything according to God. We have mistakenly prided ourselves in doing church right. Why is it a mistake? We can't see ourselves; we can't see where we get things wrong. We’ve taught right, worshipped right, and saved right. It’s a tough pill to swallow to admit we do a few things right; just as other religious people. Until we confess Jesus is our only and complete righteousness we are hung out to dry with S & P rightness; and such just won’t cut it. If we are going to go by the Bible (which is a right call) we are necessarily led to accept the fact our doing church right will not reach the standard God desires. We must surrender our pride by humbling ourselves and calling upon Him to make us His. That rightness will be the standard of righteousness God insists upon.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
Today Mary and I went to 31 year old Tim Mahaffey's funeral. The place was appropriately packed. Everyone who led in the Memorial excelled. It was a tough setting and all who participated added honor to God as well as to Tim. He was one lively man who really lived!
I walked away wowed at the people I got to see. I couldn't name them all, but I liked nearly every one of them (for those who don't know me, that was a funny). Tommie and Cindy Gary sat behind us and it was a long overdue time to get to visit. I miss them and getting to share just a few moments filled my heart. Allison Basinger and her husband were nearby. Allison is one of the greatest I ever met or will meet. John Paul Higgins is still smiling as is Connie Stites.
Danny and Marianne, Ron and Debbie, Ron and Linda (who I get to see all the time), and on and on and on the list goes. The people I get to know! It just amazes me at how special every one of them is! I know real winners!
Friday, July 04, 2008
There are those who live with both energy bearing Holy Spirit fruit. Others are committed to going to church; but their attitudes are negative, their prayer life is non-existent, and their faith is dead. How can one study the life of Christ and succumb to the numbing form of godliness with no power as Paul warned? How can this happen?
It may be that a herd mentality (whatever my congregation thinks is what we all think) has developed which expresses that what the group believes is what I believe. Personal Bible study has gone by the wayside and these Christians have actually become what they disdained about the Catholic church; they have yielded to allowing someone in their group to tell them what the group believes. Too, defensive proving has overridden learning. Study continues with the goal of proving what one already believes rather than searching for what has not yet been deduced from Scriptures.
I encourage all to keep reading the Word. It will verify some of the things we have thought to be true and it will also reveal matters we have yet to consider. Above all, we must be His people on earth who are not grumpy, but kind; not stand-offish, but aggressive; and not cold to others, but very loving.
He came that we might have life and have it abundantly. May we abundantly be brought to life!
This note will be a fun one....sort of picnic at the blog. Dusty Rush announced last week he was backing off of writing on his blog. So his sister, Wendy, and I took his blog into captivity and made a "commentor blog" of it. It has no theme. People (very odd people) make comments about nothing.
At this point there are over a hundred comments about nothing on this sabotaged blog site!
http://rustydush.wordpress.com/ Maybe you would want to comment about nothing. We reached 100. Let's go for 250!
Be careful on the highways and at the lakes!
Thursday, July 03, 2008
“Is it all right to listen to a Christian song on the radio which has instrumental accompaniment?” was the question posed in the early 70s when I was in preaching school. “Can a church have a Mother’s Day Out program when the Bible doesn’t authorize it?” was another. The correct answer to both was supposed to be a resounding, “No.”
Thirty-five years later we still have similar divisive questions. Why is that? It is because we are learning Christians on the front side of completion. One day this will all be resolved. The bigger question is can we reach a point of unity amidst completely opposing and strong opinions as to what the Bible says? The answer is a resounding, “Yes.”
God has given us the road map. It’s up to us to choose to travel it. Some wanted to eat the sacrificed meat. Other’s didn’t. Some wanted women to keep wearing veils. Others had grown past it. It just hasn’t worked to say to the offended one, “You yield” because both parties are offended. The solution is God’s solution: love. Ironically, even that is a non-solution to some because they don’t love people; they love being right…which clearly leads to more circular traipsing motion.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. We can get happy! We can love one another while we disagree. Our problem is not in what to do about the latest issue arising in one congregation after another. Ours is a lackluster effort to believe the Word of God. We love Truth more than we love People and we are bent on preserving and being faithful to Truth. However, Truth says we will bear up, believe in, hope for, and endure each of our testy moments for the sake of caring about “us”.
What do we do, elders and preachers, when our people can’t agree? We lead out in harmonic example by giving each the room to express their faith where it is at the moment. At Memorial Drive we have some who raise their hands in worship. Others don’t like it. There is no rule issued. Those who want to can and those who don’t aren’t required to raise their hands. However, both groups are required to allow the other preferential expression without imposing their judgment on another. And guess what…..we are a happy, faithful, productive people.
Yes, we are still on the incomplete side of ideal. Still yes, we are able to be greatly enthused by being in one another’s presence….and His!
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Our heritage has been correct in pursuing what God wants us to know. This is an admirable and reachable quest. We have been equally erring in, at times, naming man’s tradition as truth. Some see it. Some don’t want to see it. Those who see it are in danger of creating Compensational Truth by accepting new lines of thinking to compensate for the bull-headed mis-doctrine of old. I don’t know of a generation or an individual preacher who has not ridden the pendulum to one point or the other.
Truth isn’t a Bible thumping point. It is the freeing mechanism of God. Truth isn’t modern psychology. It is Jesus. Truth isn’t reaction or overreaction. It is the Steady Word. We are to adjust to it; not it to us.
There remains great hunger in the church for Truth. The problem is such a hunger is not necessarily for what the past has pocketed as the truth. People want to know what God said; not what men said God said. There is a problem and it has been developing over the past few decades; I guess even centuries. Christians are still reading their Bibles and concluding that in places they don’t agree with themselves. That’s not a bad thing. We are forced to change our minds. That, too, is not a bad thing. We are led into the arena of Romans 12:1-3. It’s challenging, risky, threatening, and can be most uncomfortable.
We are to be cheered to continue to let the Truth look back at us…..Hebrews 4:12. One of the greatest tasks is to be careful to land on The Truth and not on Compensational Truth where we try to make up for bad doctrine in the past by accepting bad doctrine in the present. That’s just new error. The Truth will set us free. Compensational Truth will bite us eventually. May we continue to hunger for that which is on the mind of God. May we be free to let His Word be free to set us free!
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
At this writing I encourage you to be patient. Patience was not a part of my old nature. It is my new. One doesn't work to become patient; but rather one learns to yield to patience. Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. We learn to back off from taking control so He can produce from within us the fresh fruit of effectiveness: the ability to wait on God.
I think too many wonderful elements of life are aborted due to impatience. Preachers struggle with elders and the feeling is often reciprocated in some congregations. Husbands and wives have aborted their children through unnecessary, impatient divorce: quitting. Instead of growing old together in church or family, we have noted a trend of growing cold apart. We are simply giving up too soon. The straw which broke the camel's back is too often not actually the blamed act but, in reality, the lack of patience.
Yes, I love ambition and live an enthusiastic path. But one thing I've learned from the Holy Spirit is to believe God will work when there are no signs....yet. Sometimes it takes years to see dreams develop. Other times it takes decades. But work He does....and oh how mighty are His ways! We simply must keep waiting for breakthrough.
God's major characters were given great promises and on the heels of each was immediate information causing strong doubt. Some never entered the promised land. Really, only two originals out of two million made it. I think it was Max Lucado who wrote that such a ratio is one in a million.
You.....you need to break the code. Stop the insanity of giving up. Stop it. Learn to lead out by waiting. There is so much kingdom terrain to discover and we simply cannot afford to toss it to the winds of indifference because we are tired of waiting. Isaiah 40:28-31....is always true!
I’ve been studying about God and about us today. What a charge! I mean it. When we believe we are brand new again today we have the luxury of tearing head-long into life with assumption we are going to encounter massive discovery as well as unimagined opportunity, then wow! What thrusts us into this zone? And, what keeps us at bay?
The hunger to learn puts us in; the sluggishness of fat conclusions keeps us out.
If we are fat and sassy regarding the Word of God, we are disinterested in all things new. Such are merely a nuisance both to our well-arranged shelves of reference books and our made-up minds. But the thrill of coming around a bend and finding new material---un-thought-of information---about God is like a miner discovering gold. What a find a find is!!!!
My younger days were found to have lived a life the rest of America would have regarded as poor. We didn’t know it at the time. One of the things in those days was my wish for the larger size of anything. I never owned a box of 64 Crayolas…..only the 8 pack and eventually the 16 pack when I got rich. The Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys? Yep, the smallest sets possible is what my brother and I got….to share. Well, I guess we never got the Lincoln Logs. When we went to another kid’s house who had the biggest and the best sized toys….oh my! Heaven!
I don’t have an 8 pack (nor a 16 or 64) Bible. I have the biggest, mostest, best!!! It’s mine for the thrill and the hope and lavish enjoying. It just can’t be true; but it is!!! I have this? I have the biggest sized Word? It promises the biggest sized life!