Wednesday, December 31, 2008
New is a thrilling theme for anyone and everyone! Join in the fun! Join in on the greatness of God's Glory!
New again this year....II Cor. 4:16-18! We will not lose heart!
Happy New Year!
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I don't know how Memorial has held on to me these many years. I've done an awful job at moments...at many moments. I've preached sermons that were what I thought were the worst. But, I was wrong. More worst came! I've been blind, faithless, and faulty. For those who wouldn't know behind the scenes I have been a lousy leader. Yet, my enthusiasm to improve continues to burn.
Oddly, I'm no different than others. We simply have light-years of improvement to make. Memorial has allowed me to improve in some elements for over three decades. That, my friends, is an exorbitant amount of patience. Yet, it is precisely what it takes.
Memorial didn't believe in me, per Se. They believed in God. I am most fortunate.
I would encourage all to do what we can to believe those around us will improve because we have placed our faith in the Father. He knows how to build strong hearts and sound talent. May we hold on to one another tightly while we grow up in Christ together.
Jesus has always defied the world. He upsets its leaders because he refused to march to their imposing cadence. We are to face our days as he did his. If attitudes are low what should ours be? Soaring in faith. If money is tight what should our giving be? As stable and confident as ever.
Norman Vincent Peale always told his board of the famous Marble Collegiate Church, Whatever funds you must cut during hard times, do it. But don’t touch my advertising funds. He felt that the rougher the times such days only increased the need for advertising the church. Riding near the coattails of his statement, I would argue that whatever you cut in hard times; do your best not to cut your giving. It is in this precise zone God finds out what/who it is we trust; God or mammon.
Be encouraged. If days get tighter may your purse strings grow looser. God provides. He promises. Defy the world’s wisdom!
Monday, December 29, 2008
The publisher sent word back that the material lacked focus. The comments said all is not lost, but it needs work.
Ah, this idea struck me. The book is about not giving up; about believing that even if found rejected, victory is down the road. What an awesome thing to happen to me. The very thing I have written about is being acted out in the process of its printing! Can you believe it? It lives!
I don't know how this thing goes. I've had some books published and some rejected. Realistically, it is much tougher to get books out there than in days past. All the more exciting.
For now the score is 0-1. However, I think the game is going my way.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
This morning I preached my heart out. The church seems to be doing so well. Yet, when I got done (as is usual from Sunday to Sunday) I felt like I had missed the mark. It is the weirdest feeling---for me anyway---to be involved with the God of all life. I am just too small to pull off my part. I do believe He works in spite of me, but the feeling of failure travels the high road on most days.
I think elders, staffs, all leaders in the church must feel this way as well. It isn't that we can't get anything good done. But when we are working for the all-powered, all-intelligent God, how are we to observe our efforts but simply lacking?
Therefore I cheer you on; those who are doing your best to serve. I'm not sure if it's all right to tell you I go through the stuff as above. But, I do. When you have the sinking feeling you didn't teach the best class or preach the best sermon or offer the best counsel, all I can say is a group of us live in your shoes. I hope that helps.
We want to do better than we can do because we have a God who is bigger than we can imagine. Blessings as you give it your best shot; even when you know you came up short once again! You are good enough. It's just that He is the only One who can make us complete.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Pride ruins all of us. I suppose it is mankind's true nemesis as pride insists upon hitching a ride to every event. Two guys were praying. One was tickled to death--- possibly died in it---that he was not as bad as the other while they both prayed. The other knew his counterpart wasn't lying. He was bad. Yet, God justified the humble one and would not do the same for the one full of self-satisfaction.
Have you ever been proud you are Church of Christ and not Baptist? Have you ever been proud you are not like those in the certain-kind-of Church of Christ? Have you ever thanked God you aren't as dumb and foolish and ridiculous as others? We see this trait as a terrible mistake in political government. The audacity that others are fools when we are not finds politicians in need of a good dose of eggshell walking. The same mistake is made in the church....any brand.
I guess this pride thing will be a burden for me all the way to my grave. But I don't want it to be. We must be alert to the sting of this villain who insists upon driving our lives. And should you be one who is proud that you aren't proud, you too need good eggshells. Pride: a real problem for believers. Walk more carefully.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
It is for this reason I like the church. It is more family. Jesus spelled it out saying everyone who leaves father or mother for his sake would have many more fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters. I recently attended a family reunion in Arizona for my uncle’s 80th birthday. Nine cousins were together; some from Oregon and California and others from Illinois and Oklahoma. It was spirit luxury to go from one relative to the next and fit hearts together. It reminded me of church.
When we gather at the Tulsa Workshop, it is sheer family reunion. We can hardly believe we get to be us and know who we know! When we gather at Pepperdine? The same thing happens. Soon I’ll be a guest speaker at Highland Oaks in Dallas. Among the many blessings, reunion time will be prominently influential and inspiring!
One of the things I really like about family (church and otherwise) is the eye we have for those who don’t have family. Not everyone is swarmed by a crowd of hugs. Some have no family; no friends. This is when we become more like Jesus. So even through this blog, if you happen to be sitting at home quietly without a lot of fuss and mess going on, know that you are “in”! You are in the mix of blog-family. You are embedded into the Christ group. You belong. Everyone belongs! Everyone is important!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Today, though, has had its moments of tugs upon my heart. First, I visited by phone with my new friend who is very ill with AIDS. I am trying to get him to help me start a new ministry for others struggling as he. We are to meet next week. He is down to 88 pounds and his voice sometimes fades out. Our conversations are both well-connected while concerning, of course.
Second I went to see Blanche, one of our elderly members. Hospice is there. She visited with me well, but has little time on earth left. While sitting at her beside, I inquired as to how she was dealing with everything. She was quick to let me know she didn't have long left on earth so we discussed the reality of fear and security to hope. I regard moments like these as extremely special and important. Yet, my heart is too weak to endure the tugs which are firm.
Just now I called California to console the momma to my friend dying of cancer. The family's hopes are she can make it through Christmas Eve and Christmas. The mother cried and I cried with her as she told me how she is cooking for the entire family their traditional Christmas Eve dinner for the last time with her. Too, she shared how her fourteen year old granddaughter sang a special song for her mother at church Sunday.
Heartugs are weighty; yet so important in hope. If we did not agonize with those who suffer we would be of all people calloused in heart. The church is a nation full of softies, huh, and I'm glad. It lets me fit in!
Some of you are moving through the week with the world on a string. Good for you. Take it all in with gusto. Others are happy with a trickle of sadness forming a slight shadow. For you, we all tell you that it is true, you do not stand alone.
I was telling God mid-morning just going through routine stuff, God thanks so much! No heart attack this year. No stroke. Both legs work. Both arms. My eyes focus. And, I can still think. Thank you God while it surely is a great day! Heartugs hit us. We all deal with them. Our God puts each into perspective and shines the Light as to the way through every bit of it. Wahoooo!
Why not consider getting bus load and making the trek to Tulsa? You could charter a bus from your place and make another stop along the way to pick up another group from a church on your route. In addition to the workshop experience being out-of-sight wonderful, the fellowship on the trip itself is worth the effort.
There will be classes on worship experience, missions, addiction recovery, vision, money management, divorce recovery, motivation, classes for children, for teachers, for song leaders, for….the list goes on and on. If it has been a few years since you attended the workshop, maybe it is time to start a new tradition by bringing some rookies with you. And, if you’ve never been to the Tulsa Workshop, don’t tell anybody…..just get yourself here!
Watch for new information concerning speakers and topics beginning soon! www.tulsaworkshop.org
Monday, December 22, 2008
In talking to Wendy as they left Atlanta she shared that five year old grandson Hayden walked in with my bubblegum card as they were packing. Do you think Pop Terry would autograph this for me? Do you know what an autograph is? Yes. Well, I’m sure he would be glad to. As they crossed into Tennessee Wendy looked back and Hayden had my card in his hand….waiting for a signature. As they got closer to Tulsa she checked again. In one hand was a stuffed animal. In the other was my card.
Today we intend to have an autograph session! Do you suppose the line will be very long?
Sunday, December 21, 2008
When I first began to preach I took the baton from Him and ran my own independent race. The messages were shallow as well as distracting. The Word continues to express His desire that we team-teach. For years now, I have studied more intensely. The difference is I learn with an ear for His input.
Today I have a message which is quite different in form than my usual three or four biblical texts and subsequent points. I'm slightly nervous about me....but not about Him. I would never have thought of such a presentation on my own. This causes fleshly nervousness and spiritual excitement.
The joy I find in preaching escalates week by week. He is so sharp I feel I am just getting started. God has groomed me to understand that on my own I am an embarrassment to the church and to myself. With Him, though, I am an acceptable and useful vessel. Success is not dependent upon my personality. It is totally dependent upon the truth that in all we try to do God participates.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Hearts have a tendency to lean one of two ways; tender or hardened. I don’t know how hearts decide or if it just happens. It would seem choices are made. To be fair, I’m not sure.
Heartbreak is a killer for me. I still cry when Charles Engles is moved on Little House on the Prairie. He and I were made from the same mold. Charles cried over every little thing. I have the feeling Michael Landon did so in real life as well.
The holidays are especially tough for some. Tragedy and trauma abruptly impose themselves while most unwelcome. Death and dying are tough enough for those remaining behind any time of the year, but Thanksgiving and Christmas seem to me to make such occasions doubly difficult.
This morning Laura Murphree will be buried. In her late 50s, she died last week of a sudden heart attack. She leaves behind a mom and dad, husband, and two children. Debbie is dying in California. She is doing her best to make it through Christmas one last time with her family. She is a preacher’s wife and has been most graceful and faithful in the final few months.
I point this out to remind you not to complain when the package doesn’t arrive on time or the ham is too fatty. Let it go! Trauma and tragedy are playing havoc with some and losing power for two hours isn’t one of them. Be grateful for what/who you have. These are wonderful days for most. Treat them as such.
Friday, December 19, 2008
I wrote a young man who is deathly ill with the AIDS virus. I've only recently met him. I sent a note to him in the mail this morning asking him to consider helping me begin a new ministry for AIDS patients. Why not give him a purpose and see if God might break in? Maybe he would be converted to Christ as he helps me reach others who need the love of Jesus.
Then I learned of one of our own stuck in a quagmire of sin. Oddly, emails and phone calls have all been returned pronto once discovering my love is unconditional; just as much today as ever. Great pain seem to be at the center of Jesus' attention.
And then I opened the mail; a letter from the son of my late friend Richard Haley. Richard died of cancer a few years back, but was buried in Christ just before. Rich poured out his heart as he has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. He is terrified to the extent of fearing he will lose his mind. He is so open to God's heart. I will do what I can to help; I talked to his mother in Chicago moments ago.
This is ministry folks! When the church focuses on the stark pain of people two things happen;
(1) we find ourselves thrust into the sandals of Jesus, and (2) we have no taste for pitiful church talk which has no direction but circular argument. We are on a mission and our mission has the wounded in clear sight.
Do your congregation a favor. Keep looking for the devastated and cheer them on with what you have. This is called ministry worthwhile. It puts the pep in your step and the skip in your walk.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I think the elders set the tone. My work, as well as attitude, very much reflect the disposition of our elders. Every week I do my part with this congregation which reflects totally what I see and hear from my friends, the elders. I personally receive too much positive credit for the good things which go on at Memorial. Such is nice; but undeserving. I believe it is still true that the elders have the authority over the flock. I have never felt the need for authority. However, it is crucial that I receive signals from them of close support.
If the elders are nervous control freaks, the preaching can be persuasive but the flock will take on the fear of the shepherds. The sheep will develop an unhealthy hesitancy if they sense it would be better to be safe than sorry. However, if the elders applaud the flock for its courageous imagination and admired zeal, great works will multiply. The growing tone of the church comes from the elders...my opinion.
Now, I'm certain an "Anonymous" will hurry to let us all know Jesus sets the tone. Yes, he most certainly has such a desire. We understand such. Yet, we have the ability to get in the way. Jesus can't set the tone if the elders or the preacher block him out.
Finally, how is the tone set? We either present the unifying life of Jesus or the divisive and robbing death of Satan. One gives and the other steals (John 10:10). Much is dependent on whether leadership is approached by excitement for or hesitancy from.
I applaud our shepherds. They don't know how to do many things. They are mere men. Yet, one thing they will not relinquish is operating from the Word. Many a debate and church argument are avoided because they simply try to adapt to what the Bible explicitly expresses without wandering around in the endless zones of what it doesn't say.
Maybe we preachers do more to set the tone for congregations than I think. My belief is the men in the pulpit are a reflection of their men over them. My hope is that any elder reading this will come to realize (or be reminded) the flock reflects the shepherds. Do your best to reflect the Shepherd. At that point, Jesus does set the tone.
Most sheep are mild in manner. They abide by what you choose to feed them. If it's hope...hallelujah! If it is fear and full of hangnails, maybe some serious adjustment could be made. The flock will follow leaders into amazing zones. May all combined develop an atmosphere or a spirit wonderfully full of faith.
Preach the Word. Teach the Word. Its power suffices. The Story does things to the hearts of hearers/readers because it lives and breathes hope, assurance, and direction. Trust it.
As preachers and teachers, worry less over your illustrations and your three or four points. Trust more His quickening power. God does something to hearts when we tell His story. Be as creative as you want in delivery, but foremost of all, be extremely Word confident. Life will happen as a result!
Monday, December 15, 2008
When God parted the Red Sea and then the Jordan He was just warming up. His opening acts in the book by the same name were not the apex of His arm. It isn't that God was 28 in the New Testament and now lives in His early 90s. God does not weaken.
We must stop the drift of letting faith slip into expectant flesh-capable routine. We must continue to call on the active, heroic, creative, and wild God. I keep asking Him to do things which can't be accomplished by my/our human formulas and equations. He keeps responding.
I want to see God do the God-stuff. I want to see Him defy our minds and our wills by expressing His strength in the very center of our efforts. I like to work in the kingdom where the results are so good friends say things like, "You are kidding!" and "You are not going to believe what I just saw!"
Don't let your faith drift into the mediocrity of man's best standards. Anticipate God delivering the goods beyond the wonders of the O.T. and the miracles of the N.T. He loves to show His stuff. We should want to see His glory in all we do!
I believe the church has become stuck in arguing Bible instead of living in the raw anticipation of faith it wishes to develop within us. May we lose our taste for winning arguments and keep building a hunger for winning souls. The best way to do it is to pray for Him to work in our lives.
There is the frail us trying to do good work...and then there's God!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Perhaps you need a good book recommended for a Christmas gift. I list my favorite five and if #s six and seven jump out….so be it.
1. The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen
2. The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen
3. Wild At Heart by John Eldredge
4. The Anointing by R. T. Kendall
5. The Barbarian Way by Erwin McManus
6. The Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter Scazzero
7. The Empowered Leader by Calvin Miller
8. The Rabbi’s Heartbeat by Brennan Manning
9. Waking the Dead by John Eldredge
Okay, so there were nine.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
The church growth artillery at our disposal is great. The tech world, the book world, and the seminar world surely load us up with valuable information which gives all a much needed boost. Add to these the testimonies of congregations experiencing increase and a fire of hope begins to build.
Church growth is happening. The good news is that much of it is not transplants but a combination of recovery as well as conversion. Several congregations experience straying sheep returning to the flock. They may have been away for years and yet that Holy Spirit microchip God placed in them years ago helps them find their way back. Especially those who find themselves in crisis continue to be buried in Jesus as he is the only true place to hide. He alone is safety.
But my bottom-line word to you regarding growth for the congregation you serve is to build a band of praying members. Time in prayer won’t cut it. While time is certainly central, I encourage you to encourage your group to pray with the following ingredients:
I’ve spent time praying. I (and others with me) simply put in time praying. But when we hit upon expecting God to work, thanking Him ahead of time for the way He is working, and actually believing He will work, matters at Memorial reversed…..for the good.
Get a group of two or three, at least, and believe He is there with you. Four others meet with me every Sunday morning at 7:30 to pray for an hour. It is the most productive part of my week. I would miss many things before I skip this event. The reason this is significant is because for my first twenty years of preaching.......I didn’t pray.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Mr. Rush, for several months now your blog and comments have touched me in a way God needed me to know, many more days than not. While I know you are merely a man, you are indeed one who is in the Spirit and whom God is using powerfully to reach at least this little soul that needs regular encouragement.
The above is the lone comment left on yesterday’s blog. At one time in my past, “anonymous” notes were not so welcomed. But I must admit I am beginning to like the newest version! This one’s comment obviously inspires and motivates me to keep on keeping on. I needed it.
Such is my point. Church leadership is more effective when we point out the good the church is doing. My earlier days as a leader was by pounding and shouting from the pulpit. I thought loud equaled power. It doesn’t. Furthermore, it has a negative effect; not a faithful one.
We will do well to continually let our congregations know how good they are, what wonder they work, and how much they positively impact this and future generations. I perpetually catch our staff doing good things and I point them out. The staff is natural in expressing gratitude to the shepherds while the shepherds are always reminding the staff of their good efforts. Genuine encouragement builds a healthy church contagion. The more we focus upon these aspects it seems to be the more we become it. Our God is delightful and we, of all earthlings, should be reflecting His kind of light.
Thank you, Anonymous, for saying something from your heart that did more for mine than you would imagine. All of us need encouragement…even the devoted encouragers. Each takes turns in the pit or on the mountain top. The pits, by the way, are most valuable as they help us know a mountain top when we see one! Thus, God builds up the body of Christ by our love and support while we are glad to get to be us!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
One reason I feel I will always be in kindergarten is I hunger to learn of Him. The other reason is His indescribable size. How can I ever gain ground on understanding God as the more I learn the bigger He appears? I never seem to close in on Him.
It is crucial we be aware that to grow up in the Spirit of Christ we will, indeed, find many repeated rough situations. These moments are not darts from Satan, but are opportunities to advance. I've not cared for church struggles; nor personal ones for that matter. Hurt feelings and abusive insult take their toll. However when handled well as weights in the workout room, they always serve as tools for our advantage.
Try not to resist every difficulty which comes your way. It may be a tremendous leadership opportunity dressed as a discouraging pit. Remember Joseph? Some mean it for evil....and God means it for good? Don't do ministry by skipping your workout room assignments. They are crucial and if you choose not to grow by them you will eventually quit the kingdom.
Train. Learn. Grow.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
And then God took on a different form; one as a man. Upon such a stark move the Creator also became the created. Now that’s too weird. Such a transition would be as if we actually became a candle, or a greeting card, or pie we had made.
Can you comprehend what it would be like to knit a sweater and then take on the life of being a sweater; dependent upon who wore it and when, unsure of whether you would be worn under a coat, or tossed into the soap suds, or spit upon by a choking baby?
Can you imagine thinking you are going out to dinner only to find your owner passed by the mirror and decided you were the wrong color with the blouse so frantically you are tossed back into the dark drawer only to find a neighbor sweater gets to go out instead of you?
And then God took on another form; that of the church. The church is the new body of His second form. He first moved to one and now resides in several who corporately comprise the church. The church is a composite of Jesus when he was on earth except it is involves a multitude of warm bodies over a period of centuries.
This leads me to us. We must hold dear the truth of our form; the third God-form. We are not natural; but supernatural. We have the mind of Christ. No wonder as the third form of God began the people kept feeling a sense of awe. God was the new Him. Be encouraged. God is so current that He makes anything we would call the cutting edge appear to be antiquity. Let your imagination run. God is still amazing…in you…and in me! We are His latest new form!
Monday, December 08, 2008
There are some men out there who aren't preaching who should. You might be one of them. Maybe a friend or relative will pass this on to you. Good for you! But, how does one decide?
I address this from experience; not from rule of law. Use what you can.
- I would urge those who hunger to preach to do it. Talent isn't the issue. Education isn't. That will come in time. Talented and being educated does not determine an effective man in the pulpit. I would inquire of your "want to" level? If you can't do anything else because your heart must preach....then preach. The skill and effectiveness will develop by His rich grace.
- I would encourage you to trust God when you can't figure the how and the where of launching into preaching. God knows how to get you where He needs you. Trust Him.
- I want you to know that preaching is the most wonderful work in the world. It isn't the only work. It isn't the only important work. It is a brilliantly spectacular work and I highly recommend it.
- I lead you to realize that to get to do this job you will have to be slain day after day by insult and stress. This is a very important part of the package. Some will feel it there calling to bleed you of confidence. Such will only drive you to trust God more! Do it.
Why shouldn't you preach? This is equally important to consider.
- Don't do it to become famous. Jesus is the only one famous...without exception. That is a rule.
- Don't do it for money. You'll never have it if such is your motive. Stop now!
- Don't do it because you can't do anything else. Hear the call of God or don't start.
- Don't do it if you think the hours are easy and the load is light. The job will break your heart as you will cry buckets of tears before it is over.
Preaching is an unfathomably wonderful experience. It contains heartbreak, heartache, and heartthrill moment by moment. Seeing hurting people get well is a fabulous move of the Great Doctor. To be the Physician's assistance is what preaching is all about.
I say you'll love it!
I must tell you I've had to be taken down a few pegs in the last thirty years. I didn't realize I was living in such territory. Neither did I realize how wrong it was. How could that be? Why couldn't I see it?
I couldn't see it because I just assumed the right way to think was the way I thought. How vain! But I learned it as a kid. I learned it from some of the older folks around me. I had no idea that some (even many) things could be done differently and it would still be all right; that I would still be all right.
The church is this way. Some (even many) have opinions about how a worship service ought to look and have become quite outspoken when the order and events aren't to their specifications. The irony is there is no such biblical description or guideline to do it the way we do it. We just believe it is the right way. To be asked to consider options is offensive to these because this is the way it ought to be done.
Why is this topic important? Too many dear and wonderful people are bent out of shape because of our misguided whims in the name of Truth when nothing of the sort came from the Word. This makes a misery of the people and a mockery of God's revelation.
I found that to express my preferences, with the clear understanding there is more than one way to do a plethora of ministries, makes life flow quite a bit better and a little more in line with what Jesus had in mind. Of course, there a some things not optional to opinion. Yet, the body of Christ is guilty...very guilty....of reversing the way things should go. We have legalized opinions and opinionated God's laws. We have built faulty cases regarding worship styles while dismissing gossip and lack of mercy.
Neither the lost nor the saved can afford for us to clamor for getting our way. It is wrong. Such comes under the umbrella of pride and too many are unnecessarily dying in spirit when we cannot allow room in the spiritual zones God would not curtail.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
I have learned over the years to see God in more than an evangelistic Bible study. Once I felt that if our efforts didn't end with a baptism it wasn't good enough to be considered of much use. When I began to pick up on God'S enormous interests (sparrows and hairs and nameless boys with lunch sacks), I grew to understand everything and every opportunity matters.
Our God is big!
He works. He provides. He supplies. He delivers. He rescues. He saves.
Be encouraged that every effort done in the name of Jesus continues a lineage of God's handiwork which really counts. Baptisms count. So does prayer. So does contentment. So does kindness. So does thoughtfulness. So does mercy. God wastes no crumb. He gives our walk in the garden of His grace incredible delight. We move about in marvel; not of ourselves, but of Him. How can He do so much? How can He be so amazing? Just as Jesus explained, through His Spirit power overwhelms.
Good for God! Happy are we!
Friday, December 05, 2008
I especially liked how they were so tender in their explanations of the work. It was not just a kindness toward the Hondurans who live in rude poverty, but they have a knack some mission-minded Christians can't seem to claim. They had the same kindness toward the American church listening to their report. Some are so bothered by the poverty scene they struggle to remain civil about the spoiled American culture including its church.
I understand the strain. But, it isn't right. I applaud Mark and Lori for their spirit of clear love for both.
As they were talking I thought about the rich American culture. I live as grieved over its people as foreign missionaries do their zones. We may live in a first-world economy but the masses of such a land still live in a third-world mood. Their spirits are impoverished. I don't think this is a trite comment but one of burdening accuracy. Many are so desperately poor in spirit. Those of us remaining this side of the oceans and gulfs have enormous work to do to lead the poor in spirit to the blessedness of Christ. It is not an easy task. No one who really works it takes it lightly.
There are those in the church whose day seems to be made if they can hop on the wagon of church feud. But there is another sort; those who grieve for the hurting. Whether economically impoverished or filthy rich, the spirits of men and women plead for us to keep our vow to the great commission.
Bless someone today with your considerate understanding as their bright world continually has someone or some thing pointing a flashdark on them.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Henri Nouwen said, Still the revolutionary believes that the situation is not irreversible and that a total reorientation of mankind is just as possible as is a total self-destruction. Revolutionaries see the plight of mankind and choose to do something about it. Upheaval may be rampant, but Christian upheaval triumphs over the dark side of things.
Bombings in one land and betrayals in another coupled with fear tactics of many can build a case for fright in the strongest of hearts. The darker the threats build the brighter the promises arise according the Jesus. Don’t forget Paul and Silas were caught in a hard place and revolted. They rebelled with voices of praise in song when none would have blamed them for belly-aching. We want to receive their torch for authentic freedom. We are free to praise God even when shackled by various and powerful miseries. Nothing can take away our spirit of revolution to face darkness head-on and punch it right in the nose….with a glorious song of hope!
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
We must work as Nehemiah; a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other. This man was a giant fellow exemplifying successful focus. We will do well to keep our eyes on the Leader of this church. We must not be duped into distracting debate and what-not insult. We must guard against wanting to defend ourselves against the torrent of gossip and accusation which untamed tongues love to invoke. Yakety yak has always been abundant among the least of the workers.
Jesus was sometimes silent and sometimes leveling with his words. We must keep watching for his kind of work in our midst. Shams will come along to talk us out of helping the needy. Failures will arise causing us to hide in intimidation. We must not give up on God, on others, nor on self. We can get a mighty work done when we intentionally look for God to do so in, with, and through us.
Unintentionally, I believe we have made work in the church far too difficult. We thought we were doing his work properly; yet we left him out. Our organization and subsequent self-approval became more important to our egos than sensing the leading of God's Spirit. Stay focused. Watch him. Look for him. Trust him.
Wonderful things are happening in the church. None of them are because man got smart. It is happening because man got humble. We can't. He can. We choose to believe his ability is more effecient than our own. Good for God.....He still works among us!
Monday, December 01, 2008
We talked. We cried. He asked me to baptize him. I did. Then Richard Haley died a few weeks later.
Today I received a long letter from his indifferent son. Now thirty years old, he is crying out for help. His cry beats his dad's in age by twenty-some years. He is in Cook County jail in Chicago. On December 11th he will find out if he gets a second chance or goes up for six to eight years. He mentioned he cried the entire time he penned his words to me.
Rich wants to know if I could pray for him, if I could tell him about God, and if I would call his mother to check on her. I will to all three.
For now I want you to try to envision this young man a few years ago when I first met him. I want you to feel his smugness; sense his disdainful attitude toward showing respect to any. He was caught up in a blind trust of nothing going nowhere downhill. Look at him. Look again. Study him. Do you see him being interested in just a few years? Do you see him crying over his wreck of a life? We must.
Look at him and then take a good look at the smugness coming from some of your associates. Be there, my friend, with seed-sowing kindness and interest. The day is coming that many in your circle who snub you now will reach back...for your help. God works and troubled hearts want him....on their timetables; not ours.
Look at the room full of people. None you see are exempt from needing God. Don't assume otherwise.