Saturday, February 28, 2009
I find this a most interesting development; especially since last Sunday I announced during my sermon that in two weeks I would be preaching about contentment. The first oddity is when have I ever known what I was speaking about two weeks down the road? The second, not so odd, is that it is just like God to work in these illustrations.
When you pray, I would ask this of you. First, I would say to you thank you for praying. Second, I would ask you to not ask for my good health as the primary goal of such prayer, but that you would seek Him to use whatever the results to have an impact on those around.
I never know what He has cooking. Who would have guessed God was up to something inside of a man stranded in a lonely dessert for forty years....as Moses? Who would have dreamed God was setting a brilliant stage for a young innocent kid plopped into a nasty pit by his bullying brothers...as Joseph?
So once again I say to you everything we go through is a kingdom issue as well as opportunity. To me this makes everything exciting. I recall years ago our car being stolen. I told people then a good thing had happened; but we'd have to wait for the rest of the story. As it turned out State Farm paid me $700 more the very same week the mortgage company was drawing up papers for our new house and calling to say we were short $700 on the closing costs.
While I wait I am pretty confident God is up to something...and how fun could that be?
Friday, February 27, 2009
One thing that I believe will transform every congregation in one Sunday is everyone greet everyone they encounter; friend or foe, neighbor or stranger. We still can't get our members to speak to all of the members. This is not only too simple, it is the fabric of church revolution.
I would like to think that if you visit Memorial everyone will greet you, but it won't happen. The eyes of fifty year Christians will see some of you and dart away as if you are invisible. The power of greeting not your brothers only fits perfectly in His plea for us to become complete as our heavenly Father is complete.
We aren't in desperate need of funds or vision or mission statements. We are in dire need of all who regard themselves as faithful to first lay down the sword of every doctrinal debate and simply act like we are glad to see every visitor (as well as each other) God sends to our assemblies.
When we weigh obedience to the Great Commission how can we have much momentum for all the world when so many can't make it to the foyer to greet people just like us? All the world comes to us before we ever think about going. It is immensely important to see the people...and say some profound thing like Good morning. Thank you for being here today.
If everyone spoke to everyone it would bring revival to every heart....including ours!
Thursday, February 26, 2009
First, Jesus was remarkable at his ability to keep from fumbling, cowering, and/or exploding when under strenuous pressure. I admire that about him as well as fellow humans who have such admirable character. I don't possess it naturally. If it shows up in me, it is because He overrides my impulsive (quick) and defensive disposition.
I watched an Obama tax advisor be grilled today by an aggressive talk-show host. While I understood the reason for the stern examination, I could not help but admire the sweetness of the one who simply tried to give straight-forward answers. I thought to myself, I wish I could be that calm and gentle under stress.
You know where we get our calm under pressures don't you? It is from His wisdom which comes down from above...James 3:13-18. It is both unifying and peaceful....Jesus over and over.
To be able to love under indignant strife can only be in-sourced by the Holy Spirit. It doesn't come from anything earthy.
I want to grow up in Christ. One of those ways will be in attentive retraining of staying calm in the many opportunities to serve a large world which is under significant pressure.
The editorial in March's edition of the Christian Chronicle (p. 32) is titled Decline demands biblical preaching. A cartoon is in the corner of a man in a suit and tie standing on the Bible and holding up a sign, Spirit, in one hand while the other sign in the left hand dropping down is marked Truth. There is no caption so interpretation of the artist's intent is up for grabs.
Due to mail I get I know there is a battle for the Holy Spirit to be legalized among us. However, my point in seeing the picture and reading the article is to remind us the two are indivisible. The Spirit wrote the Truth through the inspired instruments called men. The Truth is the Spirit is a central element to church life, kingdom life, and the Christian life. It is not and can never be an either/or proposition. Some want to be on one side or the other to make one dominant.
The battle is not for one or the other. The war is for both for they are one. To separate is to sever spiritual truth. There remains an ongoing battle for truth. If it isn't Spirit-led and Spirit-moved...........it isn't the Truth. It is simply a counterfeit calling neighbors to join a team to see who can get the most points at the lectureship or the workshop.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Yesterday I had my routine five-year colonoscopy. The doctor's findings were different than usual. Rather than getting the Hey, we clipped a few polyps; see you in five years, I got Hey, uh we found some rather large polyps that are a concern. There may be nothing to them but we have taken biopsies and we will know by Friday. Everything may be fine or we might have to so a little surgery on you.
I don't know about you but I still live in that world where the big stuff hits the other person. So, what's my week like 'til I get to Friday? Well, that's what I want to write about.
I'm not naive. Cancer kills. I might have it; and again I might not. God knows for now. But the thing I want to encourage you about is either way it is all right....really. You see, God is far too smart; too quick for us to take in His thinking prowess....Isa. 55:8-9. Maybe He needs me to find all this is benign just to see my reaction in the meantime. Or, maybe there is someone I need to meet in a waiting room six months from now who is also waiting for treatment similar to mine.
God hears individuals praying about so many people from all over the world. He is constantly organizing the intersections for Christians to meet non-ones. He spends our lives to benefit others. If something is wrong with my health, my health is not the dominant issue. Who He leads me to meet or minister to will be.
I do know this; God wastes no crumbs of illness, accident, confusion, or death. He is found to be productive in every setting. Does anyone remember the Paul and Silas incident when they were having their (two or three gathered together) small group in that tiny prison cell one evening? God knows how to set us up for success. He is the pro at this sort of stuff and we get to partner in His brilliant schemes.
How am I doing? Better than fine; I am excited. I either find out I am all right or I discover the need to walk a new path foreign to me thus far. But if it is the latter; I promise you it will be for a very good reason. God wastes nothing! Facing life's challenges with a ministry in the center always gives us purpose.
And, how are you doing?
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
What a burden when I began. Finding three points with fitting intro and conclu were clock-eating, time-consuming burdens. It was really a struggle for me to learn to preach. I didn't lack energy nor ambition. I lacked connectability with the audience.
Looking back, I wasn't preaching to people. I was preaching outlines. It didn't matter to me if it had a message. My one goal was to be interesting.
What changed and when did it change? Both are answered in connectability. I wasn't connecting with the audience because I was spending zero time connecting to God. Really, I'm going to tell you the way it was; when the guy got up on Sunday morning to offer the opening prayer, that was the first time my sermon had been involved in connecting to God.
Today one of the things I request most from God is, Please don't leave me up there by myself. He must participate and I expect Him to every time.
Don't preach outlines, my friends; preach life!
Monday, February 23, 2009
I'm not saying a preacher should never move. I'm not implying a member doesn't heed a feeling to move to a place where the Spirit breathes. I am saying do not miss the beauty of the Living God in the center of trauma and struggle even if one makes necessary transition.
I am a man of many failures. I have no successes unless God did/does them for me. Such isn't a humble saying. It is full of fact. I know it hurts to be us at times. But the sun keeps shining and so does the Son. The clouds in our day are witnesses as endurers who reached victory. Our clouds cheer us on.
Above all things, don't give up on God and on His people. We've said things we didn't mean just as soon as they slid from our mouths. We've done things we didn't intend and guilt immediately issues notification.
We are so often a mess and Jesus is the Supreme Janitor. He receives no pay except to be proud of those accepting his amazing, fascinating work. May we not argue. May we be free from religious arrogance. May we realize we need each other to get through the most innocent of days. And victory is ours to treasure because The Janitor has been at work again with his bucket and mop.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
We have a lot to think about; the sound system, the website, the magazine, booth rentals, funds, speakers, topics, and the attendees just for starters. I love the workshop! It is a favorite event.
I don't work on this project without perpetual appreciation for Marvin Phillips. He and two others were the brain trust behind this idea. Of all men I have been fortunate to work beside him in the trenches. I still let him buy my lunch on occasion.
There is a massive amount of work and consideration which goes into this project. But one will always stand head and shoulders above all others regarding their contributions; it would be Marvin. So while preachers and leaders and children and visionaries plan their trek to Tulsa, Oklahoma, we enjoy the anticipation and the productivity of the workshop. One thing is certain, God gave Marvin an idea and we are still being blessed after three decades +.
(All area churches are invited to Memorial Drive next Sunday night (March 1st) at 6:00 for Workshop Roundup as we get ready for company coming to town March 26-28.)
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Strength is in being together. Understanding is firmer when we are together. Mercy breathes because we get together.
The appointed three times a week which most churches observe may find us gathering, but not together other than to gather, sit-a-bit, and dismiss til the next appointed time. Most aren't this way; yet each of us can find this pattern developing if not careful.
We just completed a Ladies' Appreciation Banquet at Memorial Drive tonight. It is one of our more valuable assemblies. It is so completely fun. It is so perfectly the church. Laughter, tears, tears of laughter, songs, food, intimate moments of the heart drenched the packed room of Memorial's women treated to a sit-down dinner and awesome, home-provided, entertainment by the men.
Greg Perry and Richard Jestice champion this event. I could not help but be reminded tonight of the early church being together. When God's people get together it is usually true that an increase of love and appreciation and understanding break out!
We look a lot like how the church began. A long ways to go? Oh, we will ever be learning and growing. That's the nature of the church.....and it's our pleasure to possess such a nature.
But let me tell you something I note about a maturity among us regarding our gatherings. When we gather I seldom hear comments any longer questioning why some weren't present. You know that was once the trademark of our people; griping about who didn't attend this event and that.
We've grown up. We assume the best about our wonderful church family. We assume they are someplace else and doing just as an important factor as the gathering we are in. For many such an event may be staying home and resting without interruption. I don't blame them.
Good for us, church! We can assemble and have a terrific time without snarling at the absence of some. We've learned not to for they will be at the next event, perhaps tomorrow, when others of us won't.
When the church began it got together. We still do and we love it. For any who missed tonight's bash.....good for you as we are sure you were doing something else kingdomly....like resting a bit. You need it...we need it. This makes us family...with good room to breathe!
Are there any cyber-churches established? eChurches?
We have at our fingertips the broad range of every nation. Compu-Churches need to be considered.
What do you know about their development thus far? And, should we establish another?
Talk to me.
Friday, February 20, 2009
I encourage you to memorize the last part of above like you have the first part down pat. Then, realize that both parts together do not comprise the entire (one) significant and profound sentence.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
This is not easy, have you noticed? If we gain confidence, we are quite apt to slip into ego. If we improve in humility, we are threatened with becoming passive. Should we be blessed to realize significant changes can/should be made in the kingdom, we run the risk of slipping into arrogance. The Christ walk is not at 1-2-3 exercise and then, boom, you have it. It is a tedious work to develop the Jesus style.
A lot of trial and error takes place as one grows in the nature of Christ. This is important. Too, it is important to realize every one of us is found repeatedly in error while we go through the learning process. For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith....Romans 12:3.
Each of us is capable of realizing ways the church can improve. This is always a good thing unless we also develop a weed of superiority in the center of it.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Have we book, chaptered, and versed ourselves out of mutual partnership with God? I mean have we failed to act because we couldn't find a backing text?
What was it that assured Elijah he could face down the 450 prophets of Baal? Where did he get the information to move forward on that project? Where did young David hear from God the permission to drag God's name into the Goliath episode?
Faith, once again, challenges us to know God; to walk with God in order to know some of the moves of aggressive courage to make for the cause of Christ. Yes, Noah was given precise instructions as to how to build the ark while the Great Commission is basically "Go" with little regulation.
I am wondering (and I simply love to ponder God's style and will) if we each move about in a Spirit connection too deep for words. I wonder if a lot happens in the kingdom because we "sense" from God to take action while there is nothing but faith to lay claim to any such direction.
Furthermore, due to such a respectful fear of getting some (or many) things wrong, I wonder if God's people have fundamentally shut down godly activity because they did not read, "Go to Japan". The many have, understand, made or are making such bold treks but I wonder if something is holding a great number of our people back because we have Chapter 11-ed them; we have book, chaptered, and versed them into freeze rather than action.
My point? I think there is more to faith for each of us. I'm just fascinated by it and would welcome your exploratory input.
An important element of every servant is our ambition factor. James 3:13-18 speaks specifically about it. If selfish it is evil; demonic James specifies. If surrendered it is divine. And so we go about tossing the coin and jumping some of our hoops hoping/desiring/preferring to get it right.
Ambition can be tough to hold still. From one angle it can wreck a church because one begins to use his ambition to manipulate and restrict the rest. On the other hand we can be critical of any who don't possess it accusing such as lazy and lethargic.
Correct ambition must necessarily be couched in wisdom prayed for from here and delivered from heaven. It cannot be processed from any earthy philosophy or whim. Only from above will such be acceptable.
Oddly, when it is from above peace and productivity seem amazingly simple as well as unexplainable. I urge you to seek to place each ambition within the treasured wisdom sought in prayer. Sow life into your work by tilling your fields with prayer plows. Ambition is remarkable when authentic in motive and received from above.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
This has affected me. I desperately needed to see leaders exemplify patience, peace, and calm when under stress. I did not come to town with such attributes. I needed to learn this. Their examples have reversed my temperament to a point we could all say at least I've improved!
I'm not saying they or I never gulp wondering how God will work some things out. Neither am I stating I work beside a group who find little to be bothered about. I am saying I continually notice myself not reacting as extremely to some incidents as I once did because I observe a group of men whom I regard as close friends talk and walk as if everything will be okay.
Each of us is blessed when we get to be around leaders who are so anchored in Christ that they can be fun to be around even when the going is bumpy.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Occasionally I hear of some which are sagging in interest or attendance or both. About three years ago I had an idea and began a new group. When we gather we do one thing; we pray. We don't sing. We don't study. We don't view a film series. And nothing is amiss with any of the aforementioned. But I wanted to see what would happen if we prayed.
At first we had a few reluctant while others would not even attend though their spouses did. They were afraid. But we patiently continued and after awhile those distancing themselves began to gather round and eventually began to pray; men and women together.
We have been so blessed. Our group is not the best one or the most important one. But praying together has become a hunger to us. We pour over the needs and both cry and laugh with joy over the fruit.
If your groups ever hits a slight snag maybe a time of simple prayer together would give it a solid boost.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
In two weeks we are having the second annual event. Carl Harris of Collinsville, Bob Herndon of SouthBrooke, and Dan Langdon of the Open Door church in Broken Arrow will be the guest speakers. Others from area congregations will be involved in the leading of worship that evening.
At the conclusion of the evening the guests will have the opportunity to sign up for various works as it takes such a force to pull the workshop off. The evening is fun. The work is fun. Life in Christ is fabulous!
The world will know Him by our love. We want to do everything we can to build up the knowing factor which impacts the world! I hope to see many of you Sunday night, March 1, 6:00 at Workshop Roundup.
God has more cooking than we can imagine stoves!
You make a different to the least suspecting. So much good is coming from you that I believe if you could see it you would faint from its magnitude. I think about you constantly while in reality I don't know 95% of those who read this blog. I simply believe by faith you are there and you are encouraged.
You realize I am not aware when/while one person reads this blog. That's my point; you are my point. I think about you constantly; wondering how to best encourage. By faith I believe you are. Such a belief system is reality and I would pass out if I could see when and where you sit and how much you needed to hear a message inspired by God.
You do more than you can imagine because He works in you. He said so...Eph. 3:20!
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Should you have missed it this is February 14th. Everyone knows the significance of such an American date. It is the opening of MLB's Spring Training. So guess who are reporting to the same clubhouse I was in? The St. Louis Cardinals.
And just how have I impacted these prime athletes as they report? Well, hang on and I'll tell you.
On my second day in camp I was dressed for the morning workouts and in the trainers room checking on teammates as well as the four trainers. One of my teammates had been hurt as he twisted his knee and evidently tore his ACLU.
While all were engaging in multiple conversations at a time, I was deep into the mix as well. Medical supplies; tape, tools, pills, etc. are scattered throughout the room available for treatment of sore muscles and assorted injuries. I walked over to the cabinet with the sunscreen on it. Several brands were there from which to choose. I was talking to some guys and grabbed a bottle of Flex-All; a muscle lotion which heats upon application.
As soon as my hand passed my nose I knew I had the wrong thing; but my hand applied the lotion anyway. Naturally, in trying to quickly rub it off I merely rubbed it in. Boy, it was hot.
I was afraid once I got in the sun I might really burn because my face was on fire.
The guys got a huge charge out of the incident. Word spread throughout the clubhouse about my mishap. The trainers worked on me twice before I headed to the field to apply a cooling treatment to my face. It felt much better.
The rest of the week the pros would call out, Hey Terry, is your face good and loose? Is that why you keep smiling; you're face it so loose?
So now on the white-board above the sunscreen cabinet for those reporting to camp are the words, "The Terry Rush Rule: Sunscreen is in the sunscreen bottles. Flex-All is not one of them."
Friday, February 13, 2009
I haven't liked moments of skirmishes and battles in my work. But I can say I really needed them. While I haven't become calloused or insensitive, scuffles and strains are fundamental in constructing disciples. They were significant for Jesus' growth: although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered....Hebrews 5:8.
Some of the things I've learned (which don't make me look so good, but here are a few):
- Some I thought didn't like me came from my insecure imagination.
- Some of the most important people in my circle are those who don't think at all like me.
- When entering a full-blown crisis, God shows you a strength you possess that you had never needed until then and you are amazed at how sharply you can operate.
- It is a glorious time to be at the end of your rope with no more answers; no more plans.
- If one will wait for Him, we will encounter great surprises; we must not give up too soon.
- 90% of the time things aren't as bad as I assumed.
- Many more things will work out if I wait in prayer instead of reacting in ambition.
- God doesn't waste one crumb of our life; even what we don't want fits His success recipe.
- If we run from the hard times we will remain little thinkers; toddlers in faith.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Do any of you remember the movie Fear Strikes Out with Anthony Perkins and Karl Malden? Perkins played a baseball player who lost his mind because his dad, Malden, put excruciating pressure upon him. It was a true story; Perkins was playing the role of Jimmy Piersall.
Jimmy was a fantastic talent. He played for the Indians, Red Sox, Senators, Mets, and Angels. During a couple of games with the Yankees he suffered a breakdown. Sadness covered the fans.
Jimmy was a tough man when I met him as one of my coaches in the camps I attend. For some reason he adopted me throughout the week. For one, I was named after Terry Moore who was Jimmy's hero. And, maybe a glimmer of talent showed through....not.
While he was a weathered man, I loved him. He said the best thing that happened to him in baseball was when he went nuts (his words) because until then no one had ever heard of him. In camp he declared we were all crazy but bragged he was the only one who had papers to prove it. I still laugh when I was a kid I saw him hit his 100th home run. He circled the bases while running backwards!
Our lives are so good; so rich. We don't just envision the future or relish the moment. We have so many memories in which we treasure. I encourage you to ponder some of the wonderful paths God has led you. Don't you love being who you get to be?
The death toll is usually culminated in the name of Truth. Just a few of these battles encountered have been:
- Truth against versions of the Bible other than KJV
- Truth against congregations offering a Mother's Day Out program for their communities
- Truth against the Holy Spirit working
- Truth against the divorced community
- Truth against several coming down front to comfort a responder to the invitation
- Truth against solos and duets and praise teams
- Truth against listening to those outside of our brand speak when we all read their books
On the list goes in a consistently positioned againstism.
The Truth is and always will be ultra-significant. I wonder why the againstism party cannot see the Truth that Jesus faced their crowd centuries ago. He was against the againstism group. Their reaction was what any good and faithful Truth Seeker would do.....they killed him in the name of Truth. The pattern continues. Truth is killed by those wielding the sword of Truth. These plot and plan and they get their way. Our cities and suburbs are strewn with deadened souls as they once sat among us; but againstism finally took its toll.
Such a lifestyle comes from a wisdom that is earthy; but not from above. It's backing is selfish arrogance. We all must avoid such dangerous doctrine: Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing...James 3:13-16.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
I was thinking today about my kids and recalling repeated times of prayer I spent with God over them. When they were in grade school I would thank God for the job interviews they each would one day have; maybe ten to fifteen years down the road.
I thanked Him that they were capable of having such an interview. I thanked Him for the training He had provided by that time in their lives. I talked to God about the rooms they would sit in and the individuals behind the desk as they would speak. I thanked Him that the interviews went so well. I thanked Him for keeping them from getting work which would not be good for them or the kingdom.
Things I pray forward now continue to be presented to God in the form of thankfulness. I thank Him for the success of the book I am writing, for the effectiveness of the Tulsa Workshop approaching, for the man who replaces me one day at Memorial Drive, and the new elders God eventually adds to the ones we now treasure.
Such prayers can go forward as far as we can imagine. I often thank Him for people and their works which have yet to be born. I praise God for conversions which have not yet taken place. Our imaginations are free to run wild as we pray it forward!
Praying forward is nothing new to our people. This note serves as an encouraging reminder to express great gratitude to God for things which have not yet happened; yet you believe they will.
Be encouraged. Make someone’s day by preparing the event with your unseen, unnoticed, and invisible prayers.....even years ahead of time.
Peter honestly thought he loved the Lord more than the other followers. He could see “them” failing but not himself. You know how the conversation continued. Jesus retorted, before the cock crows you shall deny me three times.
Peter could see it in others but had no awareness of his own weakness. We can see it in Peter but do we have awareness of our own?
Every servant must walk upon his or her own eggshells lest we, too, believe we are more committed to truth, more wise in perception, and more effective in work. We are all terribly marred by sin. We are cowards who tend to talk big in meetings. We are visionaries with spiritual glaucoma when it comes to evangelism.
Yes, Peter never dreamed he was as small-minded, small-committed to Jesus as everyone else. He was a brave imaginer in coward’s clothing. So it is with me…and you….and all.
Take on the great opportunities which lie in front of you with awareness it is not a wise thing to work critical of any other. Each of us will fold under pressure except by the grace and mercy of the One who strengthens.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Our minds are the base from which spiritual living is exercised. Do not be conformed to the things of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…Paul wrote in Romans 12.
How many times my mind has hosted the tennis tournament of spiritual warfare. How many times have I had to talk myself into life or out of defeat. For me the spiritual life is a constant tournament of excellent thinking. Perception and vision are two key coaches I want on my side.
Ministry and momentum’s success depends upon the willingness to venture into the spirituality of using the mind for fruitful kingdom harvest. He said He would do more than our minds could imagine….Eph. 3:20.
I can misread and misreact all of which will send the mind a-whirring in a downward spiral. Or, I can believe and hope which will cause my ascension into effective work. Spirituality lives in the recesses of our thought-files. The mind; it links to/draws from the Spirit forming spirituality.
Sunday, February 08, 2009
That is a stunning statement. I would imagine his research and evaluation is fairly accurate. But has he not noticed that Churches of Christ are declining because of American antisupernatural rationalism? Is he not aware that the very change he fights is a change for supernaturalism to be allowed among us? Is he oblivious to his promoting of the very element in our churches that he criticizes about the universities?
How can there ever be a venue for supernaturalism when the Holy Spirit is told to stay out? Such a move forces us into rationalism and such will always lead to......stagnation/no change.
Saturday, February 07, 2009
The reason I write about this is for those of you who would feel this isn't right (skipping sermon time to honor people). Let me tell you why I think it is very right:
- The sermon isn't the centerpiece of Sunday morning. Jesus is.
- It tests leaders like myself to learn to yield when we really don't prefer to in the beginning. This is very good for us to experience.
- The breaking of norm-form is good to cause worshippers to maintain a freshness in spirit rather than a dullness of routine.
- The process signals with firm attention how important various groups in our church family are.
- Such a move is good for those who feel this isn't according to the Bible. It requires them to find a church service in the Bible which reveals the pattern they/we think God enacted.
Now, "sit down and be still" is never an act I relish. I would rather keep moving. But days like what we anticipate tomorrow are clearly one of the reasons Memorial is alive. God moves in many facets. There will be those who prefer the sermon. It will be good for them to miss it. Others will be wishing we honored babies weekly to keep from hearing me.
Friday, February 06, 2009
Three times in one day this week (Tuesday) people told me of exciting growth in their works. Each not knowing the conversation of the other (and each lived miles/states apart), their words rang with similarity when I asked what was causing such marvel; We've learned to get out of the way.
Today I was blessed by an email informing me of a gift coming in my direction which I sorely needed. I meet with fifteen preachers at random in my office in the early morning of the first day of the workshop in March. I spend an hour and a half listening/speaking to these good soldiers. Each year I always have a stack of books as encouragement to hand them.
But this year, funds are more careful and I had only one book to hand them until........until the email today stating of one's appreciation for being in that group year's back and he would be sending fifteen copies to give to this year's class. I marvel.
Later today I received a call from a colleague who is obsessed with reaching the Spanish community. He is more than ambitious and a visionary. He has the financial backing, the staff aligned, and the plans to establish Spanish speaking congregations throughout the Southwest. While I can't go into detail, this man actually has a plan in proportionate scale to the influx of the Spanish population. It is more than a dream; it is happening.
The magnetism of God seems stronger than I ever recall in my brief time in ministry. Why is that? I believe the patient and faithful teachings of friends like Albert Lemmons, Keith Roberts, Luther Gower, Randy Harris, and others have become actualized in our faith practice. I believe masses are praying more than ever. I am not implying no one prayed until my generation for I know better. I am saying I believe interest in prayer has even increased.
Why are so many amazing things going on? I think believers are praying for starters. Too, I think we believe God is active among us....and that's for another discussion down the road. Join in the fun; the kingdom of God is near.
Training a people to know scripture the above way (partial truth) is painfully flawed. The entire brotherhood has this glaring contagion. We are in a deep hurt because we have innocently extracted portions of scripture to fit a point desired. It is true that all have fallen. It is also true the fallen are justified by the blood of Jesus.
Why do we not emphasize the last half of the good news sentence? I suppose basically we just don't realize it is there.
What happens when believing half of the above is we become dependent on self to get ourselves right with God. We believe Jesus is the Saviour but we turn to Self and see what we can do better. We toss back and forth as in a bad night's sleep accepting and rejecting His work on the cross because Self continues to pitch in with redemption effort. Jesus is the Saviour; the only one. Not Self.
Grace out-marches sin. Sin does not out-march grace. Because of poor memorization practices, we are not so sure.
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Church autonomy has surely taken a beating. We don't do well at getting along together apart because we want to be apart together. I mean why do congregations who take the strongest and most rigid stance against divorce seem to be first in line to divorce other congregations? This is a mess; a complete unexplainable, disorientable mess.
Wouldn't it be better (even more Christ-like) if we liked the fact we are, in several ways, different? Wouldn't it be progress to recognize there really are some folks who need to worship differently and by the autonomous route, individuals can actually find such a family fit without condemning the rest?
Frankly, I think the church is growing more in this direction. Jesus is still having his way favorable way with his people. Not every liberal or conservative has bailed on the Bible way of doing things. I'm not certain as to just how important the owning of church buildings, the conducting of Bible classes, and the number of cups at communion should precisely be. But I do know one thing; mercy is a mighty big doctrine which no soul can choose to deliberately ignore.
Maybe we can make progress in being alike in allowing differences.
Bobby is not only our youth minister. He is also our preacher training intern. We are intentionally grooming him to be a pulpit minister one day.
Bobby is strong in that he is not a push-over because someone thinks he should move one way or another. He is strong in his ability to think, to act, and to react. I marvel at how wise he is in areas that I am not.
Too, his humility allows him to receive instruction and correction. His face reflects a heart which is eager to learn everyday.
Bobby Smith is a friend to many; including me. I believe he will do well in the kingdom because he has that spirit combination of strength and humility. This is but another servant of Christ whom we can see doing many things right.
Who might you know in your circle who is Strongly Humble?
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
In case you are letting your gusto for God slip, stop it! We are the light of the world. Not maybe. Not possibly. We are called to light up the world. Do it!
The Holy God broke from the Holy of Holies in the Temple when the curtain was torn at Jesus' crucifixion and He raced directly to our hearts. We are the temple of God! He says we never get old. He says we are not to lose heart. He says we are to live life abundantly.
Let a fresh wind of hope and marvel brush across your face. Awaken to the dawn of the Morning Star. Relate to the Living God in you as He reaches nations and generations through the very body people call you.
We are the most fantastic creatures on earth. Created by God and then inhabited by God we are not to be inhibited by God. He's got places to go and we are His wheels. He's got people to bless and we are His hands. He's got a world to reach and we are His vessels!
So.....live like it, act like it, love like it!
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Thank you for a great post Mr. Rush. Would you mind please providing your experience / perspective on something (and anyone else that has advice for that matter)?Regarding [rather Pharisaical] detractors within one's congregation...those that are convinced of their rightness and your wrongness, and make it known, and somewhat antagonize you, proactively seeking to diminish you...what is an appropriate way to handle / respond?On the one hand, it seems rude and impersonal to simply ignore such folks. Yet, engaging them is most often fruitless, and only leads to endless controversy. And "agreeing to disagree" is rather trite, and often does not achieve the intended purpose anyway.Still, one feels the need to defend oneself at times, though must be guided by love and God's call in our own lives.While I know that adhering to God's principles will prevail, in one-on-one interactions, an appropriate response to such folks is sometimes difficult to muster. Please, some thoughts?
Dear Anonymous (Ah, that sounds so Ann Landers-ish),
Who among us doesn't find your question resonating? My experience would align more with your frustration than I would possess answers. This matter often faces any who desire to see the kingdom advance. I've succeeded occasionally and failed repeatedly in handling such people. To my own dismay, on occasion I have been found to be that person.
One of the things I noticed about Jesus is he would sometimes not answer a word. He had better things to do. At other times he would unload; remember the "Woe unto"s? A third option was he would take action anyway. My favorite is Mt. 12 where the scene was riddled with tension as he had been clearly told not to heal on the Sabbath. He looked at the withered hand, looked back at his accusers, looked back at the withered hand.....and bravely did the right thing. It was that move that motivated those trying to stop him to go away being devoted to designing a plot to kill him.
If we think we live in a less dangerous zone, we are mistaken. It is dangerous in the church to do the right thing. I would consider the following when determining when to respond:
- Weigh and re-weigh if you are responding to God's truth or personal irritation. Romans 2:1-5 warns that often what we claim as violation, we are guilty of ourselves.
- Weigh who is being hurt by the present imposition: if you are then stay quiet. God will take care. But, if others are (like your teens) there may be need to stand against publicly.
- John 10:10 is a serious matter in today's church culture. The thief comes to steal. The Shepherd comes to give life. II Cor. 3:4-5 supports such; the Law kills and the Spirit gives life. Sometimes it really isn't a matter of better opinion vs crotchety stubbornness. It is a matter of life and death. At this point it is important to remember it may be your death which ushers life to the next (or even present) generation....II Cor. 4:12.
I appreciate very much your question, Anonymous. In all things be humble for God opposes the proud. Suffering is a huge part of kingdom life. Suffer accurately and skillfully...and prayerfully.
Monday, February 02, 2009
The push-n-shove of religious opinions evidently will never die. Each group (including my own) is in danger of reaching shifting-sand based conclusions do to reactions to others rather than integretive research of the One. Does God have a chance among His own Creation? Or will we be tossed about by every wind of doctrine as we choose the hot-button religion of the moment's mood?
The word disciple (mathetes in the Greek) means a learner. William Barclay wrote, One of the greatest threats to real Christian life is what might be called static Christianity. Christianity is a process; not a system where one(s) establish their twelve best doctrines and spend the rest of their time on earth pushing and shoving others to buy into their preferences.
A disciple is a learner. It might do the church a lot of good if we preachers and teachers of long tenure would toss our yellowed and dog-eared notes in the trash and resolve to once again be learners. The truth is the church is, in some parts, possibly being held back because we do more demanding and defending than we do learning.
The riches of Christ are too awesome for any Christian to bail on the learning process. Guarding the flock has developed into Barney Fife-ing it. Anxious to blow the whistle at any scent of foul, those hungering for the Word find great struggle as church decrees are handed down as to what "we" are to believe.
I applaud all who are still learners. I do caution that truth is not necessarily what we like best or what seems most popular. Truth is based on the writings of God and only the learners will discover the freeing treasure hidden from all others.
Sunday, February 01, 2009
I can't explain it. Years ago if we had a good Sunday I would try to see that it happened the next Sunday and it might be five or six months before another popped up. Now we can count on it Sunday after Sunday. It is a mystery of God; therefore, I can't explain it.
I go from one gathering to the next without trying to preserve the prior week's venue. We are able to enjoy God! We aren't nervous as to who doesn't like something. We assume if they don't like it they'll get over it.....but first and foremost.....we simply assume they'll like it!
J. D. Hatter was gifted today at doing the Lord's Supper. Tammy Bowers, Krista Magnusson, and Alice Coffman's trio added incredible grace to the message. There is a sweet joy and genuine enthusiasm for praising God; none like I ever dreamed as a kid.
I can't explain what God has going on at Memorial. I know a host of churches experience the same thing. I can't explain why we feel so blessed; we just do. I can't explain the grace going on because it is from God and Him alone.....and you know I can't explain Him!
And why is He rejected? Fear.
The opposite of love is not hate; it is fear.
Do not be surprised at the reckless division among us. If we have not the courage to admit God's Spirit is among us we have no alternative but to believe we are stuck with ourselves.
That can get ugly.