Saturday, January 31, 2009
Psalm 46:10, Be still and know that I am God, breathed new life into me. Be still is not exactly what Mr. Ants-in-his-pants found to be a lifestyle. But God does know how to move us throughout each day.
Who didn't like me today? Who did I offend today? Why doesn't the church wake up (and see it my way)? Yes, I could talk an ice cream cone into going sour. What's up with that?
I did not visualize by faith that God participates in my life. He is the "doer" of my life. He works in me; opens doors, fulfills missions, and accomplishes success when and if I will be still.
One reason this threw me for such a large loop in my beginning days of Christianity is because I heard so much emphasis upon works. It was denied that we were working our way to heaven; yet such is precisely how I took it. We weren't allowed to say God operated directly in a believer's life; so it really was up to us to start it, work it, and finish it. No wonder nervous days were enacted.
Learn to like right now. God works directly in a Christian's life. The Word teaches such. We can count on things going right when God is in charge. For us, things could be better and several could be worse. But God is the glory of the world and right now is the place we are called to shine.
Friday, January 30, 2009
A major thought-shift took place in my walk. I can't recall where or why. It could have been over a series of encounters. But, I believe every person we meet wants to know about Jesus. I'm not imagining this. It is a truth. People want to know.
They don't necessarily know how to tell us. They may not be aware of their personal spirit vacancy. But they do want to know him at some point(s) in their lives.
I saw it when visiting Jim MacArthur of Hawaii 5-0. I saw it in my neighbor, Becky Fulton. I saw it in a young single gal twenty-five years ago. I saw it in my Chiropractor's assistant. People want to know why this gap in their corporate person seems so absent of fulfillment.
I love the church. I am blessed God would find me and let me be in it. Our range for improvement continues to expand at a pace equal to our learning more about Him. I believe we are face to face with poor and rich who need Jesus, want to know him, and would be grateful to learn of him. People want to know.
Please if you can't study with them, invite them to class or to church. Church can be intimidating. Visitors are uncertain what will be required of them. Will they stand at the wrong time, stay seated at the wrong time, etc. So beware of your friends' intimidation.
Finally when you invite, offer the gesture without cornering them. Rather than ask them if they can go with you next Sunday, you might first offer, One of these days I wish you would consider bringing your family to our church. And, sit with us. Don't sit by yourself. I don't want you to be alone.
The main call in the blog is to re-awaken your senses to the truth that every hair-dresser, every cashier, every bank teller, and every client have moments (private moments) when they are wondering if this idea of God could be true. Your invitation could be just the move God uses to draw them to Him.
People want to know....every one of them!
Thursday, January 29, 2009
The church is gaining momentum in key areas. The battle of Divine vs Divisiveness appears to always be our Goliath. There is a reason for such a war; the world will know Jesus by our love for one another. As long as Satan disrupts our love the world will not know Jesus. Yet, consider some of the many things going on which indicates health and progress:
- There is a renewal for the Word. This has caused stress in the church as too many will no longer parrot that which they had been told came from the Word. There is a healthy multitude remaining hungry for the Bible to set us free. We are continuing to learn. We are not abandoning the Word; but are abandoning tradition which was told to be from the Bible, yet was not.
- There is hunger for His mystery. The "decent and in order" ruling of the body only remains true when when the Bible addresses it. It is no longer respected as the verse to kill any and every move some might make which disturbs others. For example, one can clap their hands, bounce on their toes when they sing, and applaud at a baptism because the Word has set us free to do such in great spiritual joy. For those who don't like it; they are free to refrain. This brings harmony.
- There is participation in worship. Worship is not a Sunday morning hour. It is a lifestyle. Oh how many praise God from their pews and then from their autos and then from their offices or other places of employment. Experiential worship is replacing rote recitals of church checklists.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Faith in the Holy Spirit working among us is what every successful servant has going. It is never due to personal cleverness or good breaks. We each are gifted to the extent others could be envious of something about us. But everyone I know is more ungifted in many things than they are gifted in a meager few.
What we do is watch for God to break into our day, our path, and do that stuff which causes others to shake their heads in wonder while we praise Him for His wonder.
When I moved to Memorial it had a few strong traits and more weak traits. There new preacher wished he wasn't as them.....but he was every bit equal. I marvel at how God would dare allow me to get to do what I do because I am one of the dumbest guys you'll ever meet. This fact caused me to hide in fear even while standing in public noticabilities.
For Memorial and their cowardly timid preacher, God broke in. Be of good cheer. He is willing to do it for you. Should you have an elder in you sight or a member in mind who needs to change, let me encourage you they are no weaker than yourself. The good news is God uses weak people; there are no other classifications in the kingdom. The sooner we each grasp this fact the sooner we can get our wings to fly in great force to do big work.
The work that gets done is God's; never mine. If He doesn't do it....it simply doesn't happen. This allows us room for ourselves and for others. We all fit. Yes, we deem some as unnecessary and God upsets our applecart wisdom by declaring they are even more important!
Who can do the job? The Holy Spirit can......in you. Afraid? Ah, I still find my knees knocking. But be encouraged.....so did Paul.....I came to you in weakness and fear with much trembling...I Cor. 2:3. Now wasn't Paul one of the bigger boys?
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Mainstream isn't in the Word. Yet, it is carefully sought by a host of claiming believers. Lukewarm is in the Word and we all know how that goes. Mediocrity and safety have become two of mainstream's icons. Don't look out of step. By all means don't become the C word; controversial.
Staying out of trouble is the goal of mainstream. Not too radical and not too anemic Baby Bear's porridge seems to fit in the church; just right. If we get communion just right, worship just right, and baptism just right mainstream regards us as in like Flynn. Dying for others, teaching others, giving to others, standing up for the whole truth, rescuing the injured, and freeing the imprisoned; this is optional to mainstream while central to Main Street.
I don't like trouble. I'm too big of a chicken to want it. Yet our Jesus certainly called us to Main Street where the weird, the disoriented, the poor, and the imprisoned walk. His was not a ballot cast by church attendance but rather a ditch where the wounded met the Healer. He has requested and required we do the same.
I find in the church blind roosters and hens whose feet and hands are lethargic with disinterest. They aren't in trouble; they are safe. The church has atrophied and can't help but decline. The trouble with this pattern is the mainstream Church of Christ has taken on characteristics of cowardice entirely different from what the Christ expects of us.
Main Street; that's where we want to set our sights. Live or die, we will try to walk in his shoes with the understanding we will take substantial hits. Jesus is not the agreeable politician many in churches wish to make him. He turned his back on mainstream and they ripped it with whips. If we think we will escape ridicule and attack we may be hiding in the stream rather than marching on the street.
Monday, January 26, 2009
If you think you are a follower of Christ and will receive some form of excuse from your Father in order to skip the rough days.....think again. The kingdom of God is the funnest place on earth. It is also the meanest. I love being in the church. But I don't love the cross parts. They are brutal.
We must consider the fierce determination it will take to see ourselves through to the end. It is right that we weigh deep and stressful moments for the purpose which they serve. Such days bless us to become more mature with each skirmish. Trouble is not our enemy. It is our tutor. Through stress we learn to endure.
I am saying to any Christian regardless of whether paid or volunteer in service, we tend to quit too soon. We must learn to last longer. I speak not of serving in an area and moving on to another with complete effort to serve from that point. I am addressing the temptation to quit; to call out as Jesus did and ask for a pass. He didn't and we can't. Others who need to meet him cannot afford for us to buckle under the stresses of kingdom service.
Fierce determination; it isn't a style but a heart of a fighter.
We were sitting in an open air picnic area with a roof above at 7:00 a.m. The weather was fascinatingly warm and still. Maybe forty gathered for this chapel service. As Mike spoke about relevant spiritual matters something began to evolve but could be seen only from the seat I was in. Mike was clueless. It was 7:00 a.m. and the sun was rising directly (I mean squarely) behind Mike's head. As he first spoke I could hear him but could not see his face. His head was nothing but a shadow.
As time passed the sun rose just a bit which left Mike's face still shadowed; yet now streams of brilliant light flowed from the top of his head and down over the center of his body. These beams danced as if they were bright neon strings atop metered frets on a guitar tied at the top like a necktie. As they moved downward over his body, the beams widened. I could hear him, but could not see him for the brilliance overtaking him.
The scene appeared as a painting one would see in a Christian book store or possibly imagined in Revelations. Mike continued to speak with no awareness of the scene unfolding in front of my eyes.
When all was over I shared with him what I had just experienced:
- God is always doing with us beautiful things when we are completely unaware. Mike had no idea of the scene appearing before me.
- God does more with our efforts than we will ever calculate.
- We carry a message from God and it goes so much better when we are out of the picture so the hearers can think of Him.
- We carry such a strong light. We must believe it is true even when we cannot imagine how brightly He is shining. Over us is the beauty of the Spirit Light. We must be encouraged of His radiance descending from our presence. Others can see it; but we can't.
The message was equally good. Yet, the scene was one so amazing it could not have been planned by man's orchestration. So keep pedaling in God's kingdom, my friend. He is doing more with and through you than you would ever guess! Keep the whole world shining!
Friday, January 23, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
It was a good day of working into players' lives. Too easy. Counseling and sharing the life of Christ is a natural part of each day.
We had a baseball player's draft today and I believe I was selected 80th. I would have really felt badly to think I was 81st! I didn't get a hit....but I didn't get hit either!
I got to visit with my friend Rick Ankiel. It is always good to visit with him and I see him at every camp as he is working out early.
Our team lost today 3-2. However, we were the last ones picked and to lose that closely is like winning....in a way. Everything is a yes because our team seems destined to make the other teams feel good about themselves!
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Today is a great time of renewal as well as thanksgiving. We can find reason to be proud of the incomer and the outgoer if we so choose. I think we so choose.
Any president, or any political system for that matter, clearly carries influential weight. Let it not be forgotten the big picture is controlled by the Big Picture Maker. It is the believer in God facing the unbeliever of God which finds the fundamental battle lines being drawn. Lest we forget our responsibility, I remind us to be a nation packed with hope because Jesus is the renewal Standard day by day.
He is the bright hope. Policy will trickle down from Washington. We will high-five over some decisions and cringe at others. But Jesus is the beacon of light which tempts humanity to hope beyond all measure.
Celebrate and celebrate great big! We can be impressed with our God in the very center of our country's transition. May we honor those honored while we reflect the greater light...I mean the Greatest Light!
Monday, January 19, 2009
Today I reflect on my good friend, African-Amercian, Curt Flood. This St. Louis Cardinal center-fielder of the 1960s was my boyhood idol. During my tenure Curt and I became as brothers until his death about ten years ago. Curt, you might recall, refused to be traded from the Cardinals to the Phillies as he regarded such a move as the sentiment of slavery.
In 1985 Curt and I had been in Cardinal camp together; he as one of the former pros and me as a fat old man not good enough to be a professional ballplayer. The week of camp was over and I had boarded the plane for Atlanta headed eventually for Tulsa. Curt walked onto the the plane.
During the flight I approached his seat and the person next to him offered to trade me places. I was delighted. I had something on my heart. I wanted to talk to Curt about slavery. He had endured much of the racial bias during the 40s, 50s, and 60s. I told him I wanted to know about it because I was concerned about the slavery going on in churches. He said he sensed such from me and we built a brotherly relationship that concluded with me participating at his funeral. I sat on stage in a huge church in Los Angeles with ten black men. Jesse Jackson sat three to my left.
Some things aren't funny. Slavery in the church is the lowest. Where the blacks had to deal with "Whites" and "Coloreds" at every turn, some believers have to deal with "No Clapping" "No raising of hands" type of imprisoning doctrine. While on the surface this seems anemic enough, the insistence in the church that this is illegal and is breaking the law, the results of such trivial stances build cases for the killing of the spirit which violates God's will.
I've laughed at many things. But one thing which will go forgotten or unnoticed is how many bullies I have had to battle in the name of freedom for the children as well as the unchurched in our midst. Legalism isn't funny. It is unholy, ungodly, and unbelievably stifling. It kills hope and life and great dreams.
For each of us, may we learn to enjoy the love and glory God places in our paths. May we realize that in our profession of faith, slavery doesn't belong to blacks....or whites. Jesus died to set us free. He meant it. For any band of leaders to curb the spirit of a faithful people out of bias and fear has simply over-stated their importance and over-stepped their bounds.
Praise be to God for those soldiers among us who will not let the blood of the cross be buried amidst the rubble of fearful and imposing slavery. We will not stand for it.....ever!
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Bottom line: has anyone been baptized due to this effort? Well, I will share just a smidge of what I know. As far as I can tell the first baptism came in October the first year, 1984. My shortstop's wife wanted to come to chapel at the hotel in St. Louis with a bunch from Memorial in August. She was baptized two months later. We baptized the camp's after-dinner speaker about six years into the camp.
I got an idea to develop a film to reach unbelievers by interviewing celebs which included two baseball stars, Curt Flood and Al Hrabosky. At that time we produced High Hope for the Human Heart. People were baptized all over America as a result. Joe Almanza was converting friends like crazy through the use of that film.
Due to my experience in that filming, I was asked to host a nationally broadcast television talk- show, CrossView. In three years' time, God converted hundreds and hundreds.
A state prison in Texas had me come in to play ball and then speak to the inmates. 300 inmates gathered after the game. I preached a sermon, You Need to Know This Man Named Jesus. Of the 300 in attendance, how many would you guess were baptized? 61. It was such a sea of African-American men responding I could not find any of my teammates. All of these men didn't sit to fill out cards; they wanted to stand and tell me their stories....one at a time. What a thrilling scene!
Even this week I have seen doors continue to open. Baseball Evangelism is one of the oddest mission concepts I have ever heard of. But it has opened doors to hearts just as I had guessed....only more.
This morning as I was working out at the gym I started talking to the lady on the treadmill beside me. I told her I was going to the Cardinal camp soon as I have a ministry with the Cardinals. That statement is like a pop opener to a Pepsi. Out comes the immediate interest.
She wanted to know more. I talked to her for four miles! She is trying to find a church and had a million questions....well, maybe twelve. She wants to help serve at the food pantry. She wants to get my book Empowering the Ordinary as she feels she has a hole in her heart for God and needs study direction. She will be visiting us.
Baseball Evangelism....it keeps opening doors. People are converted to Christ. It is a mission; not a toy.....but I must admit....it surely is fun!
Heather Thornton recently introduced the concept of a University of Financial Peace class beginning soon at Memorial. At first the class was going to be in the Memorial Room. Then it grew so much they took over the Rainbow Room forcing PowerSurge to move to A-2. Now the class has grown so that they have also bled over into A-2 forcing PowerSurge to move again to the auditorium….plus….after overloading the class with more participants than allowed, she is now building a waiting list for a future class!
What’s the deal? It is this: we give God glory for this and nothing else. God causes blessings! The more we speak of God working around here, the more He does. It is clearly noticeable. So it is with our preaching and teaching possibly?
Do the speakers who have something to say find an unusual backing and participation from the Living Lord? Is it that those who fill our hearts with life from the Word are found to be full of God themselves…Eph. 3:19? Could it be that from earthiness there are gifted speakers both believers and non, yet those who believe God works seem to find coming from their mouths a new range of depth and purpose of Life?
From experience, I think there is something to this. I once preached lessons and outlines. I knew how to craft such a series of comments. Now I make concentrated effort to hear His voice. And, when I do the sermon lives. When I don’t, I take up the time with Bible information but what seems to be missing is the quickness of the Holy Spirit. The more we accentuate the Spirit working among us, the more He seems to be willing to do His work.
Could it be that the Holy Spirit is the freshness to the Bread of Life? And, if we are not anticipatory of His involvement then we simply offer stale bread to the flock?
What thinketh ye?
Friday, January 16, 2009
Why do some speakers connect and others don’t? Another way, why do speakers sometimes connect and at other times the same speaker doesn’t.
I’ve pondered this for a long time. If I could figure it out, I could bottle it possibly? I see smart guys and less smart guys both totally wasting the audience’s time. Words are said…many words….but meaning isn’t said and interest fades.
When a teacher or preacher truly connects to where the hearer gets it, what is going on? Is it style? Personality? Spirit? Passion? Enthusiasm? Humility? Confidence?
My desire is to work with my usual handful of preachers who meet in my office on Thursday morning of the Tulsa Workshop. I want to encourage them to do what they can to connect with deep meaning with their listeners, but I don’t know what it is.
I weigh my favorite speakers and their styles are far from similarity in many areas. What do you think makes a presenter effective? I really want to know.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
I think that to be a rather strange assessment. It is Jesus who shifts the doctrine. As I see it we do not have either or; doctrine or Jesus, but we have the right doctrine because of Jesus. Isn't that right? Didn't he speak of specifics? Love others. Be merciful. Don't lay up for yourselves treasures except in heaven. Seek first the kingdom of God. On and on he went.....still goes.
Are these not doctrines he anticipates to be among those of us who follow him? It seems to me that doctrine is important because he emphasized it. What might be the rub is there were favorite hang-ups some churches/members had in the past that didn't come from the Bible and were never expressed by Jesus. If these are the ones being pendulumized then ah......this explains the disturbance.
By the way, it is a doctrine of Jesus to cause disturbance. He will separate father from son; mother from daughter. Pendulum watchers imply the right place is in the middle. Wrong. The virgin birth isn't a middle concept. The cross is not a middle-of-the-road event. The resurrection did not please the middle-of-the-roaders.
Nope, the wisdom of the pendulum is a faulty source. Stick with Jesus. He will give you doctrine from above. Doctrine definitely matters because Jesus taught it. And make clear note, what Jesus did and taught was extreme. It was never mediocre nor middle-ground safety.
Last night a celebrity spoke at Memorial Drive. His name is Ron Babbitt. He is on staff at the Contact church here in Tulsa. He shared for forty continuous minutes about God working through plain people to plain people making both God's celebrities.
I could never be as good as Ron. He simply is Jesus to his community. While I wonder if he ever gets tired; he seems tireless.
Let me tell you how far off base I am. When his class was over (he is so supportive of my work) I headed back to my office to give him a complimentary copy of our new 100% Natural Evangelism DVD. Then I smiled inside. What would he need with my DVD? Ron is more aggressive in reaching out than I could ever imagine being.
I will not soon forget the compelling example of this man simply being Jesus to his community. Some might have tended to scald us for our lack of outreach; but he even had the nature of Jesus to be careful with us while he spoke of the outrageous works of God.
A celebrity spoke at Memorial Drive last night. He is one of us!
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I encourage you about your leadership.
- DEVELOP CLOSE FRIENDS who will allow you to make enormous mistakes and yet love you just the same.
- LEARN TO SAY "NO" even when the weak in the church believe you are the answer-all to every dilemma. You are not; He is, and they will kill you if you don't train them better.
- CHANGE YOUR PRAYER LIFE by learning to tell Him "Thank You" more than offering up your shopping list.
- TRUST HIM WHEN YOU CAN'T ANALYZE HOW He will work. His ways are not our ways, yet we set out trying to convince Him of the reverse. Trust Him more than yourself.
- ASSUME YOU ARE FLAWED which will cause you to seek His grace and mercy for yourself while allowing room for it in others.
- STAY ENTHUSED OVER THE SMALL STUFF because too many need to see someone is happy about air, eyesight, and dental floss. Appreciate life.....right now!
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
My last thing today was to visit Mary moments ago in the hospital. Mary is fairly new at Memorial. A couple met her at the food pantry one Tuesday evening months ago. They began bringing her to church on Sundays and it wasn't long until David baptized her into Christ.
This lady could be classed as poor as far as material wealth is measured. But I visited a saint this afternoon. There she was sitting on the edge of her hospital bed; hair a mess and all teeth missing....delightfully happy. Mary lives with gratitude.
She began telling me about the first time she became homeless. She shared her gratitude for Todd Box of the Contact church who gave her great encouragement. When I prayed with her I mentioned to God that we owe Him for all He does for us day by day.
When I ended the prayer Mary said, That's right! We owe Jesus everything. There ain't a day goes by but what we don't owe him everything. There was something about that toothless statement which was perfectly powerful. What a picture of a poor lady sitting in satisfactory gratitude over Jesus. She is rich.....and, for one, I know it.
This is ministry at its meaningful delight, I think.
Monday, January 12, 2009
The days of friendly confines where churches dismissed at Sunday noon to have a picnic under the shade of the Oak trees is slipping away. Believers are going to find ourselves being increasingly pressured by opponents who are vocal and nasty. It will not be a matter of where we stand. Such religious lameness with be purified only to wonderfully force us to determine rather will we hold fast to our commitment to the name of Jesus. This is coming in America.
I watched Oprah for fifteen long minutes today. I like her; especially when she works on health issues as well as displaying extreme and admirable generosity. But theologian, Oprah is not. I sense she is reacting to a negative childhood which had its betrayals and pains...including a closed-minded belief system with a Christian name tied to it. Millions of us carry similar baggage.....some left the church while others stayed in it.
The portion of today's program was rehearsing the recent statements by Rev. Ed Bacon of Seattle that gays are blessed to be gay by God. Their exchange (Rev/Oprah) was smug under the guise of openness to truth. The irony is their intolerance of their assumed intolerant. It is one message of scripture to love your neighbor which very much includes every gay person. Christianity could use great improvement in applying this command. It is in the same package that same sex desires is not God's will nor blessing. Oprah dug at the "right-wingers" (her terminology) as if our position is stupid and way behind in understanding of God.
Christianity is being forced by a darkness hovering the world to shine brighter than ever. Our petty in-fighting will ultimately and rightly die in the mud of fear and ignorance. Voices of brand-name church competition along with which version one reads will wilt in the face of issues which matter. We will find ourselves pressed from more opponents we thought possible only to find our faith ignited like a torch for the cause of Christ which we haven't gained thus far through conventional church practices. We like what we are doing, I like what we are doing, but a new era of faith is approaching.
Get your people ready. Train them for combat. Persecution is coming from the cynic and the the religious airhead alike. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ for handing the American church her greatest threats in decades. We will work to keep from being swayed by the popular talking heads of fame as well as the undermining threats of religious imposition. We will note the approach of current waves slamming the nature and name of Jesus; but we will not go away. Neither will we hide. Finally....church....finally the mission field is rushing at us and we are forced to throw up our hands in praise of God as we say to our opponents, "You found us and have cornered us. Are you ready to surrender?"
Do not forget Jesus arrested the entire world.....from the cross so powerfully.....as he more than conquered.
I sit in a room on purpose and never realized it until just recently of my strange patterns. In Bible classes I sit on the outer edge of the seats as I don't want to be noticed. I know...odd because I act up all of the time which certainly causes notice.
An hour later in the worship assembly I intentionally...mandatorily a law to my own self...sit in the center so I can be as close to everyone (the whole group en mass) as possible. Yet, at airports, I sit always on the edge of the rows of seats. A few months back Mary and I sat over against the wall at church and I felt far removed from those on the other side of the auditorium.
On Monday mornings the elders and staff meet at 6:30 surrounding a long table. For years I sat at the end of the table nearest the door. But I decided that was the head of the table so I moved to the other end to remind myself during our meetings that as opinions and power are valued, I am at the foot. No one would know (until now) that I have a method for sitting in a room.
So I'm weird! What quirky thing do you do that makes sense to you....and nobody else?
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Chris and Liz Moore picked me up at the Taylor's house in the afternoon and became my weekend shuttle team. What a special couple they are to my heart. I love them big time!
I preached at Plano and then Dallas this morning and was fascinated by running into friends I had not seen in years (like John Mullican) and, too, making so many new friends like Christopher and Pam Green. My niece and her family visited the Plano services and it was special to see them.
Rob Pine showed up at the Dallas segment. He is an elder at Saturn Road and God is doing phenomenal things with him and his wife. We converted them as they were our next door neighbors in Quincy, IL.
I really enjoy speaking around the nation. I am inspired at watching so many become so enamoured with the word that God works. It is fascinating, huh? Basically, I tell churches how it ought to be done, give them examples of my failure at it, and then reveal how God worked anyway. The story just keeps going.
Thank you Dallas-ites, Plano-ites, and Highland Oakies! I had a wonderful and memorable time being with you this weekend!
Friday, January 09, 2009
Why? Why is it that the only relationship any modern has with the Father and Son is via spirit form and yet suffocating dread forms at the sheer mention of the Spirit.
Here’s my take. The Holy Spirit will never do anything contrary to the Word for He guided the writers in putting the books in print. The issue is control. Man likes to impose his self-assumed intelligence. Too, he hasn’t been fond of those who make radical and mistaken claims of the Holy Spirit. So the best and safest route has been, not to seek the truth but, to eliminate any and all present-day involvement with Him. The Holy Spirit has been tossed out of the baptism water.
Man has wanted to reduce the Holy Spirit concept to both discussability and manageability. The Holy Spirit, therefore, is restricted to man’s highest manageability. Anyone who can give book, chapter, and verse that He works directly in believers today is often labeled as a radical…..and radically wrong at that.
What happens is members and congregations become tied up in inadequate knots which give no joy, purpose, or hope. People, very good people, go to church like they are in prison. Yet, the fruit of the Spirit is one of those areas I yearn for all to experience. While there is no law against love, joy, and peace, the very church He birthed on Pentecost has made it illegal for Him to participate.
The church needs to repent of being afraid of Him. False spirits? The Word teaches such. But not everything of the spirit-world is false. Blocking Him out is to practice another form of falsehood. May we be open to what He said about Himself and let Him work with us, in us, and through us.....just as He promised.
You can check for pertinent information like housing, hotels, etc. at www.tulsaworkshop.org.
Why not rent a booth or two to share your ministry efforts and needs?
If you would like a free two-minute DVD to share with your congregation, email your mailing address to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Plan on bringing a van or bus load!
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Being wrong frightens those professing to believe in Christ so much that to do nothing, at least, mistakenly satisfies their fear of doing something and getting it wrong. Which wrong is worse; trying and failing or never trying?
It is a great responsibility to move from passivity to activity. But dear friends, responsibility is our great charge. I don't know of any leader among us who has not failed as much as he has succeeded. I think I may have failed more. Of course we don't like this. But the greatest failure, in my mind, is to have the power tools of God at our disposal and refuse to move onto the court and get into the game. That's cowardly and the Word says the cowardly will be lost.
Love is the ultimate. The opposite of love is not hate; it is fear. Being afraid and being in the kingdom is a contradiction. We may get many things wrong; but we must make concerted effort to try. Get it wrong? You can count on it....and you can count on God to use you anyway.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
I think it odd that we miss this with casual assumption we (whoever “we” happen to be) have cornered the market on truth. Some will raise the question, Are you saying we can’t know the truth? My response is of course as the Bible says we can know it. I am saying we don’t…not all of it.
Why can we not recall quickly the Pharisees who had the same attitude and, uniquely the same problem? They always assumed they knew the truth. They paraded their knowledge, their loyalty, and their behavior. Yet, they wouldn’t know the truth if He were standing in front of them!
I remind us of such unawareness about ourselves. We can get so ingrained, even hooked, on our biased traditions that we defend it as if it were God’s truth. This leads well-meaning folks to become unconsciously dishonest. Parroting the Word while omitting the parts we don’t want and adding in parts reflective of our religious preference is dishonest.
Churches will be inspired by the Inspired. Any serious student of the Bible cares what it says. I urge us to approach the Bible as learners and well before we become defenders.
The good news is great things ARE going on!
Sunday I told Memorial Drive about an attorney (whom I didn't know) from another city calling me on Friday. She had been depressed and went to a psychologist for help. The counselor gave her my book, Empowering the Ordinary, and it changed her life. It changed so much she and her family are starting a new publishing company and are offering to rework/upgrade the book and promote it for free. Strange call, huh?
Too, I told the story (which is old hat to some having been here 31 years and fresh to many others who are new) in the same sermon of James MacArthur who played Dan Williams (Danno) on Hawaii 5-0. We became friends in the Denver airport 25 years ago and then he came to church here one Sunday morning. This past Sunday evening, just out of the blue, Jim emailed me. Weird.
I’ve recently finished a new manuscript for a book I’m quite excited about. My son-in-law is talking to me about going a different route from the publishing routine and developing an on-line download. As low-tech as I am, this has great possibilities.
The good news is great things ARE going on….for all of us!
My point is you. With all of this high-tech capacity, God insists that each day lasts a brief 24 hours. Do your best to keep in mind God is running the show and we are not. He knows how to get things done and how to cover the things we can’t/don’t get to. We are weak. He is not stumped!
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
This sentence is not natural for me. I have had to suffer through learning of both its strength and truth. What a valuable statement for those of us who worry and fret over air and anything else in our path.
I don't know how the church, which claims to know all about God, can live so up-tightly and nervous. I'm amazed at how we continually dismiss His call. The words of Be still are translated Let go and relax. We simply need to do it.
Control is a big factor among Christians. It is a mistaken factor on the level of pride; but nonetheless, is a prominent characteristic we seem to polish and prize. Control is a mistake. We will do better to relax and let God run the course the way He has planned.
I'm far too skilled at ruining a good plan or plot He has going. I have that knack of doubting good moves into oblivion! If you want to make significant progress in your spiritual growth today, note the number of times God gives you opportunity to let Him take care of things....and then let Him.
Blessings as we move from tense days to peaceful ones.
Sunday, January 04, 2009
This was a tough hurdle for me to overcome because I am by nature a people-pleaser. I don't want anyone disliking me. Memorial has become an encouraging place to work because basically none of the leaders respond to guilt-manipulation. We pretty much don't/won't work under it.
I learned from jumping hoops to keep people pleased that one eventually reaches a hoop that is just too high. And, as soon as you miss it....they are unhappy and out. If you don't know by now, all those hoops you jumped for all those years no longer count. You'll be dropped like a hot potato. It took me a few times to realize what was happening; but I was in their good graces as long as I performed as they wanted. That's not a good relationship. That isn't a relationship. It is slavery.
The solution to this problem is Jesus. If the manipulated will trust Jesus more than their performance, those needing assistance will have more trust in Him than us. Too, if those who are manipulating will place trust in Jesus instead of a person they will find that as one among them can't serve the family well, someone else among the flock will as Jesus knows how to minister.
I am highly sympathetic to all who have compassionate hearts. You are a target of the selfish. I had to learn to say "No" when I meant "No" and stick to it regardless of insults. We are quite willing to offer sacrificial service but we cannot possibly be two places at once. That is precisely why he sent back his Spirit once he died on the cross. Through his Spirit he could be more places at one time. It remains true today. You are not the saviour of anyone. Jesus is. If any try to place such on your shoulders, hand it back rapidly. Jesus saves. Not you.
Saturday, January 03, 2009
Yet, it is no secret this beautiful congregation has encountered turbulent waters of her own. Indeed she has. Attendance and contribution have hit drastic decline. Critics point fingers of blame and make radical comments which wound and even sever the once undeniable bonds of both family and friendships. Hurt will linger in the air for years like smoke from a fire-damaged house.
Should you feel I’m rather raw and even insensitive to write of this matter, such is surely not my intention. It is the opposite. I desire to point out the God-act in the center of this painful development. I believe God is at work in His usual unnoticed style of perplexing human minds to accomplish divine good.
We have preached a lot from the Church of Christ book, Acts. Seldom do we address Acts 8:1-4 where the robust and mighty-in-example Jerusalem church was broken up. It was scattered to spread the church into other regions. The Jerusalem church probably never would have scattered into the other regions on her own. God broke it by way of persecution….and then converted the main persecutionist, Saul. (What a story and what a God!)
I learned this pattern from my elders. One of the reasons we experience peace and productivity at Memorial is because the shepherds allow those who are unhappy about issues here to move on without disturbance. They don’t chase after nor cater to dislikes for it is clear we can’t please everybody. They don’t carry ill-will toward any for not preferring the way we do things, but they gently refuse to hold court night after night in effort to appease the disgruntled. They strongly believe special ones leaving are called to do so by God to bless, richly bless, other congregations.
The spreading of believers has always been a mark of God’s methodic move in the early church. Why is it we applaud the results of Act 2 likeness among us, but criticize Acts 8 likeness among us as if some strange thing was happening? What’s going on at Garnett? My opinion is God is going on at Garnett. His ways have always been higher than ours and always will be.
Our possessiveness of His people damages our ability to see His glorious activity. God works! My brothers and sisters who left Garnett are valuable cells in His body elsewhere. Surely they have offered gifts and talents to other congregations (including some now at Memorial) which had not been displayed in such vigor before. My family remaining at Garnett has my complete and committed devotion. I believe in them. I admire them for their endurance. I count them as alive and thriving. It’s just that their present state looks a little more biblical than we tend to ponder.
Good for you Garnett! I salute you for where you have been, where you are, and where you are going! I will always be blessed by you!
Friday, January 02, 2009
Reverend? Don't you know that isn't in the Bible?
Church? Don't you know it isn't the building, but the people?
Sanctuary? Don't you know it is simply the auditorium?
You saw God work in your life and you haven't even yet been baptized? I doubt it.
Yes, I could snub and sneer as good as any. But I was wrong. It is not my duty to sigh in disdain when my own puny knowledge of the immeasurable God should keep me in my place upon any subtle temptation to mock. Each of us is growing in Christ. Some have been indoctrinated in grace, others in works, others in baptism, others in expository study, and others in service. Each of us has gifts of faith, but we should never esteem ourselves as better than other believers for only God hands out the gifts....Romans 12:3.
The moment we are assuming dominance over another due to comparison of what they believe compared to what we believe, the Bible says we have entered the arena of lack of understanding....II Cor. 10:12.
We have many stable and valuable traits which, when endorsed and groomed by the living Lord, will prove to be blessings for and in our communities. Religious arrogance of who's right and who's wrong needs to be monitored with extreme care. I remind you of the two guys praying; one was right and one was wrong. The wrong one went home justified by God and the right one did not. It wasn't a tie....Luke 18:9-14.
Thursday, January 01, 2009
A fairer House than Prose---
More numerous of Windows---
Of Chambers as the Cedars---
Impregnable of Eye---
And for an Everlasting Roof---
The Gambrels of the Sky---
Of Visitors---the Fairest---
The spreading wide my narrow Hands---
To gather Paradise---
May our new year find us spreading wide our little hands to gather in the grandeur of God's marvelous Promises and lavish Presence!