Saturday, August 30, 2008
A few days later the unexplainable happened. Even though the doors were closed and without them being opened, he walked right in. Of course it took them by surprise, but he actually did it. He walked right in. That entrance changed entire kingdoms on earth. He rocked the very world which just a short time ago had tried to confine him forevermore behind a rock. He was up! He was out! He was back!
We at Memorial believe he will walk in again tomorrow. Four or five of us believe that when we gather at our usual 7:30 a.m. hour-long prayer time, he will have already walked in and be waiting. Jesus will sit with us tomorrow. The most exciting news is he'll have just been sitting with a few in a county jail in Tennessee, an emergency room in Tallahassee, and later a small church in Tucson. He will note the saints in China, the blind in the home in Germany and the family reunion being carried out in South Africa.
Jesus walks into our settings. He is the main guest. When you gather tomorrow wishing for better sermon or singing or crowd, don't forget to be glad the Guest walked in. Celebrate the fact he is still up, still out, and still back!
God, would you bless the readers for believing an invisible world to be true?
Does anyone remember when to change a television channel it was accomplished by getting up from the couch and walking across the room? And, do any recall that there was a time when we actually dialed a phone....just after we rang up our neighbors? If the Lord tarries there will be more discoveries and more inventions than have been found. What in the world could they be? How fascinatingly will they impact mankind? What will medicine and fitness and education offer?
I encourage you to look creatively at the day(s) in front of you. See beyond the ruts of non-growing minds. See into possibility. Wonder what God has wanted from one believer that no one has thought about yet. Peer into newness backed by God's resurrection power. Ponder outrageous movement of God upon the world's populace.
I was a kid when John F. Kennedy declared we would put a man on the moon. Not thought of! Not possible! Incredible. Old hat today. Enjoy the good from your heritage God has allowed and use that building of faith to impact life in unimaginable fashion. Do it!
Friday, August 29, 2008
Encountering very vocal critics has been a huge challenge. I mean this one facet of ministry has been most rugged. For me to stand up to friend or foe in their presence is something I've had to force myself to learn to do. But, I've done it. I decided early on that there were many things I did not know how to do or even where to start. But one thing was certain, I would not cower to the most intimidating personality. Nor would I let a strong-willed friend lead me to believe what my heart didn't really believe. This is important if we are planning to listen to God's voice.
I've clashed as well as occasionally cried, but I've not cowered to overbearing leaders. There is One who runs the show and no other. His name is Jesus. We can take that to the bank. A man many years ago was giving me his weekly tongue lashing as he stood at my office door and said, "You stand for nothing...absolutely nothing." I said, "Friend, if I stand for nothing, why am I standing here toe to toe against you?"
There are young leaders out there just as I was; scared silly over how to handle so many stressful and difficult problems and people. Power is perfected in weakness, so we all qualify. We won't get everything right. We will make progress if we will stick to the real Leader and refrain from being intimidated by men or women who feel they can push hard.
We church leaders are incredibly weak men and women. Add to our uncertainty our insecurity and the church has a real challenge on its hands. Yet if we will keep our own feet to the fire, God will in due time raise us up to be strong. Difficult days are always ahead. Such will be our blessings. Death works in us that life can work in others. Don't tuck your tail and run from anyone. Joshua didn't. Caleb didn't. Young David didn't. Jesus wouldn't.
People are merely people including the bullying kind. Why some feel they need to force their rule, I'll never understand. But don't be afraid. Your work can get lonely and your path can seem unfair, but don't flinch. Hang in there. Don't give up. Don't quit. God is simply training you for the next level of kingdom races.
In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Christ!
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Here's what I wasn't getting. If I had such vision to see what the church could/should be then why wasn't I doing something about it? I don't know how I saw this glaring flaw in myself. I don't remember if an elder or another friend or the Word pointed it out, but it was there. I pass it on to you.
Anybody can be critical. Anybody can talk a big talk about ideals. But deep intentional faith stares into the abyss of discouraging settings as well as negative individuals and believes life can arise from such rubble. Critics who complain that the church doesn't do enough or reach far enough usually don't do enough or reach far enough to lead others by faith. It's a cheap shot to crab because the church isn't spiritually minded enough. It's a faith leap to believe God could help us change us.
That's why I don't run away from the church. I'm as flawed as the next guy. I see plenty of things to be critical about in the church and in me. But I see with resurrection-power eyes and believe God can put life into even cemeterially bound churches.
So don't be too vocal about how bad the church is without your voice as to how you believe the people can rally. Any dog can bark at a passing car. Anybody can bark at a church and its leadership. I decided I wanted to see one succeed and it was me that needed to repent. I want to do more than note our blemishes. I want to inspire to successes. Anybody can see what's wrong. Only faithful followers can see how God would put life into such a mess.
Yes, I see the church not perfect. After all, I'm in it. I see a mountain range of needed improvement. The church cannot afford for us to live in denial. The truth is I live able to know there is another side to the coin. I also see our Living Lord who has yet to be stumped by anything and anyone. Our hope is in Him. Such sure hope runs deep....and wide....and long....and strong. We will follow His direction. We will not lose heart. We will note we need to make incredible improvement. But the good news is we don't have to run to a greener grassed pasture to get it done.
You see something lacking in the church? Lead out in hope. We will not only believe in God, but we will continue to believe in His people.
Tired of church sluggishness? Not in 31 years at Memorial! Just getting started!
My faulty description isn’t grace. It’s putty. Grace is 100% of God’s participation as none of me carries talent. Anything effective about me is due to His gift; not my skill. Any part of me which shines is not due to one particle of my brilliance for I possess none. It is all about Him/from Him/due to Him.
John White wrote, “Most of us, you see, think of God as a ‘God of the gaps.’ We don’t intend to, but we do. Having been educated in the West there is a deistic twist to our thinking, causing us to view a tree as growing by natural laws. We fail to see God everywhere (God pulling and shaping each leaf, each blade of grass) even though we may subscribe in general to the notion. We are affected by our knowledge of science…..The God of the Bible runs everything. He created Nature and Supernature which are actually all of a piece with no division between them. Nothing in Nature works by itself. God ‘works’ it.”
Adjusting to believing God works 100% in and from us shifts the load. It is on Him. We are more wonderfully graduating to the real roles of God’s intention; vessels. We contain Him. He does the work. He has rented our space and chooses to do Life from our shells. God does the work. He is not grace-putty. He is Life Abundant from within and all around. Step back that He might get a Word in edgewise!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I opened his package and in it are three slim journals stapled along the spine in what appears to be brown paper bag material. Each has printing on it. One is printed “Scribble Notes”. Another is “Exercise Book” and the third is “College Exercise Book”. All three have the Swaziland Government logo stamped. He has printed in ink across the top of each, “Once you finish send them back is only I have.”
His pages are filled with careful penmanship as to thoughts he has gained from scriptures. A lot of work has been put into this. He is asking me to proof his work and to get it published. While the writing is in simple journal style, the heart of this man is adorable.
As he requested, I will send his works back to him. However, I want to do more for him. At first glance I thought there was nothing I could do. Yet, I wonder. I wonder what you would do with such a request landing in your lap. While he is out of sight, he is not out of mind. This is an important young man who carries the Spirit of God within. He, too, lives in a land that needs encouragement from God's other family members.
What would you do?
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
It isn't how amazing certain people are. It is amazing how strong God is in certain people. It is not fascinating that particular situations produce kingdom results. It is fascinating God uses particular situations to demonstrate His power. Such a view separates faith action from flesh calculation. We can be most confident, not in ourselves but in our highly and holy Spirited God. Nothing with Him is impossible. This truth still stands!
It is far too easy to look at ministry and set out to function within the scale of human possibility. It is quite another to launch into an area that has already been fished and assume there will be a certain gigantic, incalculable catch. It's one thing to line out church plans. It's the real deal to anticipate God will work when one has no concept of how such will go.
I encourage you to gage your work with the hope level of Romans 4:17 and not the level of your human perception. Anticipate God to do more than your best imagination; Eph. 3:20. Set out on your mission full of God (Eph. 3:19) rather than full of research.
America is hungry for God. It is not necessarily desiring more church. There is a lot of that. It is parched for impossible results becoming possible and abundance from the hand of God being immeasurable. Community is neither intrigued by the flannel-graph Jesus nor the dashboard one. It craves the Living One; the One who baffles human ingenuity and manipulative order.
Be charged by your calling whether full-time, part-time, or volunteer. Give your neighbors and colleagues something to be wowed by.....the continued handiwork of God right where you live, right where you work, right where you.......believe!
Monday, August 25, 2008
Here's what I see. Note the speakers. What is their main job? To inspire! What is one of our great works? We lead to inspire the church. Therefore, we will do well to pay attention. How do they do it? What do they say? What is the setting?
These conventions are designed to inspire, promote, and to persuade. Are we not about the same task; yet with even greater significance? Then watch with intrigue and even hunger to see how we might become even more effective. Study those who connect well and those who don't. Learn from their successes and their failures. Hone in on the successful traits.
The conventions are presented by enormous energy. Why should the church take the back seat to enthusiasm and drive? Why should the kingdom of God be assumed to possess smaller vision? We are God's. He knows how to do things. May the church continue its legacy of believing nothing is impossible to God. May earth's conventions pale to the gathering of the church whenever we choose to meet. May we be THE convention!
Study the events at Denver this week, my friend. God is there!
In visiting my hometown, the idea of ministering to others is non-stop. Everywhere I turned very common (many unchurched) are seeking answers to ordinary and routine questions. The news that Jesus is a man of too-good-of-news-to-be-true remains the originally intended...good news! Wonderfully I'm am able to share that in more places than the pulpit. The message fits the coffee shop as well as the town square.
I experienced such a stark difference from one town where I visited with church members (and understand not all were negative) and another where I connected in in heart with the market place. Here's what I wonder: I wonder if we have become so focused on the formation of the two hours on Sunday we have assumed that's the entire range and life of the church. It seems to me that in general those who are most disgusted with what goes on in our buildings on Sunday mornings are simply not aware God is just a focused and we are just as much a part of the church action on Tuesday mornings and Saturday afternoons.
God went to desperate measures to reach the Monday people and the Tuesday neighbors. Our concerns for improving and stabilizing the church will always be key. It will help if we remember God's people are on duty all seven days.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Like finances or faith it would most likely benefit us to view the political realm with a bit more information than emotion. Emotion is necessary else we be dull and zombilistic perhaps. Yet to be able to make decisions based on additional information is always a plus.
I liked Rick Warren's Civil Forum. It let us meet the candidates without rebuttal and rebuttal of rebuttals. Obama and McCain were given room to flex there positions as they weighed in on key components of social structure and need. Obama seemed to circle the wagons as he conscientiously weighed various possibilities. McCain, on the other hand, led out with more abbreviated responses. I sense both to be men of intelligence and compassion.
I know that politics is a hot and ultra sensitive topic. I find it to be in the dangerously threatened zone as that of what we live for....faith. Faith would be more accepted if more of the populace would take the time to consider God's information rather than running with the snow-balling community emotion of pessimism toward the topic. Therefore, I urge you to love this precious experience of choosing the next President. Men and women over several wars never got to come home to tell their mothers or spouses good-bye one last time. Rather they died that we could enjoy this mighty freedom.
Now that, my friend, does call for some emotion! Wake up to the wonder of our political race. It is a privilege not to be taken for granted. And faith belongs in the center of it.
When I began preaching I was a bombastic soldier cowerfully hunkered behind a pulpit launching grenades of loud claims caring little for who got hit. Damage control was a challenge. I believe now I had a great misconception of what ministering to people through the Word could and should do. I didn’t believe so much in God’s power nor in people’s potential. We had shelved the passages where God works in the Christian’s life and, therefore, declawed Him of activity among us. To stir the flock, then, was pretty much up to my talent…..and I had none, but thought I did.
Of course the critics were many because legalists are fueled by feud. I was a tremendously arguable topic! Debate ensued as to my value, but I was of quite little. My sermons were about brotherhood issues. They were not about Life, Love, or Jesus. I preached Church of Christ but not Christ. I was constantly corrected, admonished, and rebuked. However, I wasted such kingdom time as I brushed it off as “They can’t take good preaching!” The madder some got the madder I got and we developed one gigantic contest of madness. That pretty much sums up my first ten to fifteen years of preaching....madness.
I began to realize I was not the super-star I pseudo-humbly assumed. I realized my weak knowledge of God was weaker than imagined. The world was in trouble. The church was in a mess. I was contributing to nothing useful. I needed to change (repent, I think the Bible calls it)….and did.
Today? I’m still changing. I’ve learned a few things; but fortunately for the church I now know I haven’t learned many things. Ministry is wild with opportunity to reach people of every brand and group. Jesus defies earthy boundaries and takes us with him. I’m so far behind I now get it that I’ll never catch up. Rather than bemoan my own ignorance and lack, I find pleasure in his skill. He is the great mystery of which I will never master. Yet, how much more fun and exciting to be knitted to a work grander and bigger than life. Count me in. I hope he and the church will continue to hold on.
I am grateful.
Monday, August 18, 2008
So waves of various sorts have been around. I'm starting one with this blog; not to imply it has never happened before for it surely and wonderfully has. I'm starting another wave of encouragement. I want you to join in. List the one or the ten or the twenty-one things you believe to be key as to why you see such hope for the present and future church. What causes you to have gigantic, irreversible hope? I'll start the list. You please add your thoughts.
- The resurrection power God has placed in His common children.
- The fact that God can breathe life into every dead congregation or individual.
- The growing tendency of members to live in the Holy Spirit.
- The increasing confidence the church finds in the Word of God.
- The deteriorating confidence the church finds in man-made, sacred-cow traditions.
- The continual effort to truly worship.
- The continual compassion of hearts interested in so many mission points.
- The erosion by darkness to make it clear the need for Light.
- The shrinking of the world more reachable by the immediate-connecting tech community.
- Everything is a "Yes" according to the promises of God.
Join the wave! You would agree or add?
Sunday, August 17, 2008
The Restoration Movement in its early stages brought authentic hope of going back to the Bible for both God's wisdom and will. One of its tremendous strengths is it calls all back to the Word. But somewhere about a hundred years after its beginning a subtle transition occurred which has taken the movement from life to death. In the latter time emphasis shifted from returning to the Bible to returning to the Restoration Movement. Efforts are now made to restore the Restoration Movement. Campbell and Stone would be ashamed of us.
Included in this shift was the reversal from seeking and adjusting according to the Word to defending aggressively conclusions reached by the early restorationists. The problem with this is three-fold: (1) it violates the very principles the restorationists proposed, (2) competitive pride rather than humble search began to develop the very ugliness of religion Jesus opposed, and (3) one has to jump several hoops to determine just exactly which part of which man on which day believed what he did because they were wonderfully ever changing their minds according to learning new portions of the scripture to which they were returning.
While we continue to believe we are a part of the Restoration Movement we have to choose which part. The part which believes there is yet unexplored oil which can be tapped or the zone of continually drilling only the same wells we've drilled for the last fifty to sixty years? The divide over this one is as big as Congress. The aisles are wide.
I'm on one side of the aisle; not both. I love the early part of the Restoration Movement and deeply desire to continue its love and hunger for more of the Word. I am not for continually drilling only in the same places some have roped off as permissible. I love the exploration and discovery of the pure Restoration Movement. I defy the calloused, fearful part which lives only to preserve what little we have thus far brought to the surface. The church is in need of more and more energy. It's buried in the Word. Keep drilling!
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Political, financial, educational, emotional societal train wrecks are the church’s (our) fault. No one else's. The highest power on earth has abandoned its mission to save a lost people in the name of establishing religious Olympics. Seekers are lost in our cloud of “who does church best and right” competition. We shift His mercy and truth from the ditch people to the Lectureship and Workshop Gurus. America has divvied up the believers, raised our church colors on the flagpoles of our church lawns and began bidding for persuadable passersby.
We’ve developed passwords to tip off our brand. Catechism? Auditorium? Pray Jesus into your heart? “Baptism for the dead”? These tell-tale signals are dispensed while the glory of Jesus vanishes by the clouded skies of “we each and we only have the truth”. Pulling prayer out of public schools or removing God from the pledge isn’t the main culprit. Our dividing the flock into codifying lingo and perpetuating church brands is.
Are there biblical truths? Yes. Are there religious errors? Yes. Name the group who has successfully laid claim to them all and I’ll show you the group who just failed due to pride. If this is the case, and I believe it is, we must awaken to the truth that we each have a few of His callings in line while several parts of His will, we simply don’t yet get. Our pride over a few stones in the wall has misled us into believing we possess the entire fortress. We don’t. Instead of hopping into the ditches to relieve nasty and helpless strangers we have directed our focus on Sunday school studies which usually leads us to conclude we were right after all. Of course they do. The studies were written by us. If these are sending us to the ailing, I say, awesome. If, however, they are building our case against the other religious brands, we have surely abandoned the faith Jesus establishes.....all in the name of Truth.
The Bible still claims we can know the truth and it will make us free. When I find members of churches tied up on knots without freedom to love others, care for others, and believe in others, I have not encountered the true church. I’ve happened upon one steeped in denominational code-language, but scared to learn that there is more to Christianity than entering the doors of the right building.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Hi Terry, Vasca Beall here from Weatherford TX . My husband is one of four shepherds at S Main . He and I lived in China for 2-1/2 yrs...teaching conversational English but quietly teaching about Jesus. God led many people to our door and thankfully we were able to teach many and baptize twelve. One entire family...father, mother and teenage son. We return often...usually twice a year. Michael and I were 72 when God called us to China ...now we're 77/78 and still called. Prior to our return home to Texas in Dec/2004, we were able to help the Chinese establish an underground house church. God continued blessing the group and gave us the opportunity to bring our first Chinese children (His first-fruits for us in 2002) to Sunset's two year program in Texas...just began the 2nd year. They are fully supported by our home congregation. FYI...The Texas school discouraged us from the get-go, saying they were not able to have any Chinese approved for Visa's. We persisted and finally the school did their portion of the necessary paperwork. At last, the couple had their appointment in Beijing at the Embassy for their Visa interview...nervous is hardly the word for their feelings...but they have faith. They were going through the short interview when the interviewer said, "You seem to have a lot of connections in the U.S. , what about China ?" Our "daughter" replied that they had no home, no ties, etc. The interviewer asked, "Where is your home?" A surprising reply, "We have no home...our home is everywhere." The interviewer laughed, typed a bit and then said, "Okay, you have your Visa's...I believe you." They were the only Chinese approved that day...everyone else was rejected.
I don't want to bore you (I get excited about heart stuff) but I'd like to relate a couple of other incidents. Michael and I didn't indicate any preference as to where we'd like to be assigned in China ...just put us where we could be used. The University that we were initially assigned to, rejected us due to their concern about our advanced ages. We were immediately assigned to another school. Three days after our arrival, a school staff entourage visited our apartment to become acquainted...one was a young female Chinese 1st year Univ. English teacher. She sat down beside me and said, "I think you're a Christian, aren't you?" Well, yes. That was the end of that.
She returned the following day, alone...with an English textbook for us to look over for teaching purposes. I will always have the picture in my mind...always. She stood beside our dining table and announced, "I know why you're here." When that hits you, your first thought is "Uh-Oh...trouble's here." I replied, "Oh, why is that?" I was totally zapped at her reply ~ "God has sent you, I've been waiting."
We taught and baptized her...she had already introduced us to her boyfriend who spoke a tiny bit of English...we taught and baptized him. The night of her baptism...going home by taxi, he grinningly told us, "I was and am so excited...last night I dreamed in English." The night he was baptized...going home by taxi (for people who can't speak, read or write Chinese...we wisely took taxi's everywhere) he said, "I'm a NEW MAN, I'M SUPERMAN." This couple has stayed with us...they married and they are the couple studying at Sunset...goosebumps!!!
Trivia? Yes, but it reminds us to always reach out...to stir hearts...to make a difference for Him. Your blog has contributed greatly to the excitement we get out of ~ what else? Making a difference!!!
Michael and I have plans to leave DFW Oct. 7th for China...returning 29th Oct. We have accepted an offer to use a friend's apartment while they are out of the city and our Chinese family is eager to see us...they more than love "old people." That would be Michael and me...we more than love them, too.
Finally...wow! Back to the subject of the DVD's. Please send info. I promise not to write anymore epistles. Thankfully His, Vasca
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Sure. Baptism counts. The Word concludes such. But so do more items than we can imagine. I want to encourage you that things you do count in the scheme of kingdom labor. We are the body of Christ; not just a slim-few Big-stuff Christians scattered here and there are the only ones doing things that matter. We are in the body and the body of Jesus roams earth doing stuff that counts. Here are a few you might note where you live:
- Being patient when standing in a long line at Wal-Mart.
- Giving up your seat to a lady in the doctor's office.
- Leaving a nice tip for the single mom working double shifts to support her kids at home.
- Baking a pie for the grumpy widower next door.
- Assuring an insecure school child you believe great things will soon be coming from him or her.
- Reminding co-workers you don't know so much yourself.
- Appearing to know God will make everything work just right.
I'm convinced the subtle moments of assertive joy and kindness go a long way and they count. This morning I had breakfast with a young woman I had never met. She agreed to meet with me to work on a project that has me in over my head. It was very good of her to take the time to go over some matters which are key in planning this venture.
We were having breakfast and she was talking about important stuff. I said, "You know what?" She stopped and looked at me somewhat puzzled as I interrupted her train of thought. She waited for me to answer my own question. I said, "I really like you!" She paused and then sent a huge smile as if I had broken into her heart.....and she went on with her explanation. Five times later she remarked, "I think I need to visit your church." I agree. But I never asked her to consider such. I simply did a thing that counted. I told her I liked her. There is no law against liking!
Lots of stuff counts.....so get on with it. Whatever you do in word or deed, do it for Him. It counts!
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
If we are fundamentally the church only when we are inside the building, we tend to lose the real heart for life. We dumb down to winning arguments and choosing sides. When we hit the streets the life of Jesus buried in our hearts has a place of fulfillment….sharing. Too many believers may not be believers. They may be habitual attenders hoping this life-after-death thing turns out to be true.
When we enter our buildings to fulfill the attendance-chart religion, our faith basically has nowhere to go except back home ‘til the next appointed time. But when our faith has a place to go---which is outward---then fulfillment of faith is natural. Our hearts are built for expression of our Living God. Just as cars are not built for showrooms, but for carrying passengers, our hearts are not built to register at the door but to carry the good news of Jesus to common, normal acquaintances.
We fear this isn’t true and that no one out there really wants to know. But they do. I was as shocked as anyone when I discovered this, but be encouraged, people want to know about Him. Go out and see people. Move out and sow seed. If you haven’t gotten our newest 100% Natural Evangelism DVDs to show in your classes, you may want to obtain a copy because they are the real deal. They inspire members that they can move out effectively; one of the things they always dreamed about, but feared they could not accomplish.
The darker the times, the brighter the Christ. We live in the perfect moment. I urge you to discard the rote religion of intake without output. This leads to stagnation with certain frustration. Keep trying to move out where the risks, and the unknowns, and the mysteries are. It will scare you but how exciting to find God will be with you.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
There appears to be a significant trait for success missing on both sides of the aisle: humility. The power of winning seems to have replaced the need for the nation. The art of political maneuver trumps compassionate service. Hatred and bitterness recklessly drip during the rude one-up-manship of the blame-game.
Such can be the case in the church arena as well. For those of us not in national politics but in community ministry, we must continually check ourselves for such ruthless weaponry. Are we continually learning? Are we perpetually growing? Or, are we slinging mud? We want to be positioned to be used by the Living God. He is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
In the immediate days following 9/11 we found our national leaders standing arm in arm on the steps of congress singing in harmony together. That picture remains etched in my mind. What a glory for plain, common people. But argumentative legislators are not the biggest ailment of America today. The biggest illness in America is not aisles which divide, but streets….streets which separate us into opposing brands of religion in the name of “doing God right”. While we debate, oppose, and argue, America grows dimmer day by day.
Humility of heart will open the Way back into our midst…..He says.
Monday, August 11, 2008
- BACK TO SCHOOL BLAST This Saturday afternoon we will throw a party for our adopted Lindbergh Elementary. We have booths, ponies, hair cuts, clothes give-aways, and lots of food. It is a hoot and it's all, by the school's request, sponsored by us and at our building.
- ERIC BRUNSON AND BURFORD SUNDAY Eric is a hit, along with his puppet, with the children's classes at the workshop. On Sunday, September 7th, Eric and Burford will lead a Teacher Training Program for teachers of children's classes and then the two of them will preach the next hour. We think the area school kids will love visiting us that day!
- STEVE DIGGS' "NO DEBT, NO SWEAT" FINANCIAL SEMINAR. We anticipate providing a great tool of assistance to those of our congregation and in the community October 19 and 20. Many who have been to the first three events will hear about this most special opportunity to learn how to manage finances. Steve Diggs is an exuberant expert in this field. This will be a wow weekend.
- ANNUAL FALL FESTIVAL This is always held the last Sunday afternoon in October. All the kids (including the big kids) dress up in costumes and enjoy a great time of going from door to classroom door for treats and playing on the Jupiter Jumps....AND taking rides on the hayride is very exciting indeed. Area families pour in for this great event. Linda and Brad Scott put on a fabulous event and the church works like an ant farm to pull it off!
- MARRIAGE AND RELATIONSHIP SEMINAR Rudy and Sandra Wyatt will lead a group of marrieds as well as singles in a Friday night Saturday morning (November 7 and 8) communications extravaganza. We are hopeful that some of those who have been visiting with us in previous events will capitalize on this community opportunity.
- BAPTISM SUNDAY We have baptisms on any given Sunday throughout the year. But for about five or six years we have randomly announced such a Sunday is coming and every time there are several who begin to think about it as we simply give them a goal. We will begin promoting this special day in early October. Aaron Henley will teach a class for three weeks culminating on Baptism Sunday, November 9th.
This is our plan. It is not the only thing we have going, but each of these is aligned on purpose to provide us opportunity to say to the community we are here with you in mind. Memorial Drive is "A Place to Start Life Over" and we expect many will do just that by the time we have allowed God to move among us.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Today was wonderful. It was full of human error and divine glory. I couldn't get the announcements to come out in sentence order, so we laughed. Our communion guy didn't know how to get said what he wanted to say best, so we remembered Jesus quite well. The invitation song was filled with confusion as there were so many responses we could not tell who was requesting prayer and who was sitting beside the responders in loving support. What glorious chaos!
When all was said and done, we loved our time together. How can such work? It's about Him, not us. We had another very good day!
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Who thinks up this stuff? What kind of person creates a computer chip? Or, a laser beam? Who invents spark plugs and automatic washers? Brilliance surrounds us. How does spellcheck know me? Isn't it weird that I say print a part of this sentence in italics or bold or ALL CAPS IN BOLD ITALICS and it does?
I don't know the "who" of these brilliant creations. But we all know the Who behind every who. Isn't it something that man can become so impressed with so much he actually begins to think "we" did this? Tomorrow when you gather with your church family....applaud God. He alone is impressive.
- Taking a college exam
- Filing reports with the government
- Raising children
- Being an employee
- Buying a house
- Checking in at an airport
What’s one of the greatest desires for each? Will I be able to do this with ease? We don’t like hassle. We get flustered over wrangle. Delay drives us to the brink. And, repeating stressful moments sends some over the edge. Simply put, some just don't like anything called work. Have we missed something wonderful in the midst of these and other daily routines? Yes. We have missed the truth that all difficult things are productive.
J. Willard Marriott wrote, “Good timber does not grow with the ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees.” Paul wrote that affliction produces eternal glory. We live in a land of quitters. We quit families, jobs, and projects for one fundamental reason: they are too difficult. If we learn one great thing from Jesus it is to never give up. He was always in a tangle with religious leaders. He was blamed unfairly, beaten unmercifully and died; yet God raised him from the dead.
If life is treating you unfairly you have two choices; wilt from it or grow from it. Life isn’t for wimps. It works best for any who struggle because the result on the other end is even greater strength. Our failure isn't that some things hitting us are unfair. Our failure is we don't realize these entities are necessary for our growth.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
The lady's mother, father, and young niece had been in Tulsa (from out of state) during her last few days. Many tense moments had been spent as family gathered at the hospital. In sadness the three returned to their home up north to gather a few things and then come back. Upon returning this afternoon for tomorrow morning's funeral, all three were killed in a car wreck.
This is a mess to the heart.
The family(s) is stunned, shattered, and completely numb as to what has just hit them. More than ever, I am glad I have been asked to do this funeral. Of all places on earth, I am called to minister to the heartbroken and, indeed, this is such a setting.
What shall I say? Who could know? I'll not make a conclusion until I get there in the morning. At this moment I think my intention is to discuss two things: I want to communicate I really love them (although we have not known one another) and I would like to discuss how Martha and Mary were shattered when they thought Jesus should have done something to save Lazarus.
For those young ministers out there who will encounter moments of ministry being in over your head, I encourage you that I am in over mine. Yet, (and this is an important yet) God knows exactly how to care for those in front of you and He knows how to do it through you. It isn't up to us to feel we are in control. It is up to us to draw attention the One who really is.
Ours is a tough work on occasion, but aren't we glad God would use us to make a difference for those who have deep and desperate tugs of the heart?
These two munchkins belong to Wendy and Chris. I call to leave silly grampa messages in form of song or poem or rap on their machine. When I talk to them in person and do the same they roll with uncontrollable laughter.
My week began in sadness and each day has provided more of the same. Tomorrow I do a funeral for a woman who died at age 58. I've never met her. She had no church. An email came in yesterday of one in Illinois discovering terrible cancer results. Another call from Houston: "Would you please pray for my dad who just had a stroke." This morning I spoke with one of our flock on vacation in Connecticut who landed in the hospital all week. On and on the true life stories unfold.
Sometimes we need to take inventory of the many things going right. Even in the discouraging struggles is buried the genuine life of God. We have reason to smile....even to laugh great big. Children have a way of ministering to the masses when all they thought they were doing was posing for a picture. You are just as magical, my friend.
Take your vitamins today.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
The Holy Spirit is not a Christian freak show. We need to be assured the person of the Holy Spirit is Christian-friendly. The Holy Spirit is not an it but a He. He is a person. He lives and works from within us. He…..is God in spirit form residing in His people. He is God. We don’t receive Him at baptism to take off on flamboyantly odd tangents which cause nervous eyebrows to rise. Rather He permeates through our bodies the fruit, Holy Spirit fruit, which causes mankind to be graced; not grieved. Who does not need love and joy and peace and patience? Name the one who is about to have a breakdown because they are far too admired and approved? There is no law against the fruit of the Spirit. Then why do we get skittish due to His presence in the first place?
The Holy Spirit is a dilemma to the fleshly thinking Christian. Theirs is battle of control and order. To not know is not wise….to the carnal-minded believer. Yet, the Bible says of the father of all faith that he went out not knowing where he was going. The Word further states that one led by the Spirit is as the wind; blowing one direction one day and another the next. This flexibility does not set well with control-seekers. These want to know how, when, why, where, and what. They live as if from Missouri…Show Me. The Holy Spirit will lead us to effectiveness in regions and zones of greater levels than we dare imagine. The Holy Spirit will help us shift from negative to positive; from neurotic to stable. Who wouldn’t want more of Him?
As we grow in the life of the Spirit, we do not find ourselves running headlong into disaster. After all, one segment of his fruit is self-control. Therefore, we find ourselves surprisingly visionary, stable, effective, and full of purpose; all items we wanted on our own but could not attain. The Holy Spirit takes us to these places. Our confidence is in Him; not in ourselves. Our adequacy is in Him; not in ourselves. Our life counts because of His reality; not because we drew up the maps and did life on our own.
Our God is a Trinity; not a Duality. The third Person in the God-head is the vital power residing in the common Christian and is there for the common good of the Body of Christ on earth now.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Today I met with a group of Baptist ministers for our second meeting to pray for revival. Other brands other than Baptists are invited, but thus far I am the only odd one there. While in the prayer time I thought about those praying simultaneously at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. I tried to imagine similar sessions ongoing in Tibet, and Paris, and Sydney, and Lubbock. Very quietly men and women of faith....of all brands of faith....are pouring their hearts out to God seeking His triumphant glory to rush across the whole of mankind.
The media gives attention to much of the battlefield turmoil, economic concern, and the latest missing wife feared dead. These items have recently yielded somewhat to the oncoming political express. I pray God will show up in the media receiving credit for astounding moves made as quiet electric lawn mower. He is very alive and doing quite well. Nothing is being accomplished like that led by the effort of prayer.
I encourage you to be encouraged. Time in prayer is not to receive spiritual credits at the end of the fiscal year. It is to urge the quiet lawn mower to move about changing hearts and leading efforts to rescue the heart of humanity. World concerns may rattle with much more noticeable noise, but your sweet prayers purr and whirr with effective steadiness. Don't quit. Don't give up. When we don't know how or what, we quietly beseech our whisper-quiet God to rock a clanky world with a new noise......peace among men.
Monday, August 04, 2008
How do we handle the stresses which impose themselves upon mankind through sin and self-serving? Weighing every possibility to be fair and dissecting each angle to keep from being improperly judgmental seems to threaten an accurate conclusion. So again we find ourselves needing to be of the perfect mind of Christ and not our usually acceptable daily-grind mind. As mere men we fear our wishful wisdom like Solomon comes off more like the silliness of Silvia.
How do we handle troubling situations which are both complex as well as shadowy? Voices of discernment will occasionally arise as a strong tide only to rescind upon some additional reconsideration. Strong feelings engage other strong feelings in hopes of establishing the Truth. What are we to do when stumped? You surely encounter such settings in your ministry.
These times may be where we lean our understanding upon the very presence of Jesus. He must be the answer. He has that perfect knack of causing tight-fisted fingers to release rocks, sliced ears to be resealed, while taking on the deepest sins of humanity by dying for us. As the culprit becomes clearer in any situation the question will be a new one. Will anyone dare die for him or her....or both?
I don't know how to help us.....so much of the time. In reality I find myself embarrassed of my little assistance. The anguish I feel for myself and then for those around me trying to do what's best is deep and burdensome. I cheer us on. We are not Perry Mason but Jesus Christ on this earth. Therefore, there are workable, productive solutions....each of them his. We will be on the right path when we can keep in mind that the reason we have crosses and the reason we use them daily is because we have been called to die for some sinner(s). I live today because one after another have died so I could live. May we do our best to keep the call rolling.
When we think of saving souls it is usually from the form of some sort of Bible study. I suggest we add to that line of thought it be in the form of dying on our cross taking on their sins....I Peter 2:13-25.....for by our wounds they are healed. May we be wounded in the line of duty.
One matter stops the pendulum: Jesus. We want to get to the person; not the pattern, not the promotion. The latest fad will pale but not Jesus. When Jesus is our center radical stances and reversal of hot buttons may continue to exist, but our walk finds new stability. With Jesus in the picture one may still be found liberal on some things and conservative on others, but such comes about because he is the steady factor. Before Jesus, our pendulums ruled our moods and sometimes our vision. With Jesus we are capable of encountering one extreme and then another without being burdened; without being rocked.
When the pendulum quits swinging, we awaken to the new life we are no longer monitored by God on the basis of performance. We see His will in the light of relationship. Calendars will be our assistants but not our crowned rulers. Calls and stances and causes will be reason to be motivated but it will be Jesus alone who places complete satisfaction of peace in our desperate hearts.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Tomorrow you are going to encounter your usual 25 or 350 or 800 or 2600 members/visitors who choose to walk through church doors. Let them meet God in the flesh. Let them sense there is something most deep, most high, most meaningful buried in the very center of you. When anyone meets you tomorrow may they see a gleam in your eye that says you believe they are absolutely some of the best people on earth. Don't fail to recognized you'll move through halls and corridors tomorrow with the light and life of Jesus as your cargo being shipped from heaven to them.
Go for it!
What Lee has brought to our attention is key. I have the halls of Congress targeted in one of the phases of this original plan...after working the entertainment field in Hollywood and next New York. However, Lee's would reach deeper into the political system; national, state, county. Way to think, Lee.
Keep imagining. There is no class or rank of individuals who are exempt from the love of Christ; nor our ability to persuade them. We can and must use the brilliant tools God has placed in our hands to advance the Best News in the World.
FYI...I am continuing to speak to Methodist church personnel about using our teaching on baptism in their circles as they are asking big questions. I know of another denominational brand without a preacher and this congregation is stumped as to what to do next since they are small in number. I am going to talk to them about using DVDs of my Sunday sermons. The tools are there to make this work.
Here's what I want you to get today: "Think Souls" is not just a bumper sticker. It's our wonderful way of life. Keep doing it. Thanks, Lee Keele for seeing another zone of people.
Friday, August 01, 2008
Little has changed. Directional division reigns among God’s children today. The battle? There is a battle but basically only one side is engaged. The other side has retreated to their respectable prisons. They aren’t interested in Word research. They aren’t interested in reaching the lost. They just aren’t interested. When one studies one will be led to make changes in his beliefs. The same as yesteryear; some feel safer in the captivity of rules and regulations not imposed by God than to try to live in the invisible zone only sensed by unreasonable and risky faith. The lazy way out (the cheap way out) is still the desire of too many hearts. These do not want to study the Word and possess low tolerance for change.
Faith is not a natural standard. It operates in the spirit realm. It does not come with definition and dimension as much as hope and promise. I encourage you to look upon the unframed hopes of the invisible for this is truly eternal. Disregard the safety net of the seen. This is always temporary.
The famous have a common secret about them and I know what it is. God has blessed me to see clearly their insecurities as well as their great need for encouragement. An immediate problem exists with/for them. They must live on guard from the masses due to fans houndingly wanting something from them. Yet, these are very special, needy ones who hurt like we hurt, laugh like we laugh, and wonder like we wonder….about God.
Twenty years ago I had an idea and Memorial tried it. We took out small ads in two of Hollywood’s industry papers; Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. We offered correspondence courses. I don’t recall getting a response. Such a move wasn’t the greatest of approaches, but I couldn’t come up with a better avenue at the time. However, I did get a call from a young woman who said she could not tell me who she was but just wanted to discuss some troublesome issues. We had a counseling session over the phone.
God has put on my heart an idea to try again. We must not dismiss this elite culture as unreachable. They hurt and every discussion I have with any of them leads to areas of burden they are carrying. Therefore, I am going to pursue building a blog for celebrities called, “You’ve Got A Friend”; meaning people care and ultimately Jesus is the Friend. Then, let’s see what we can do to take out ads in these papers again. Would there be easier response due to the clickability of the computer? There is a great chance.
In weighing this idea it seems ideal in that those we desire to reach will enjoy the convenience of the computer while experiencing the luxury of privacy. Imagine where this could lead!
As you can tell, this is simply an idea in the building mode. What ideas would you add?