Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Church signs, though, are an irony to society. While they speak of something pertinent to the church located at the site, too many in our communities can read between the lines. What we don't see (but they do clearly) is this message: "Stay Out". Only the churches Jesus builds truly say welcome.
And which are the churches Jesus is building? Well, not necessarily those who say Church of Christ or Baptist or Catholic on the front lawns but those who say "We Love You As You Are" Church or "Jesus Judges; We Won't" Church.
I believe there are many times more wonderful people willing to be a part of the spiritual system Jesus desires if it weren't for us church people. Our congregation is constantly working on such a transformation. We have not arrived; but that's a key part of what I address. No one arrives....ever. Jesus alone makes arrival possible because he is our only hope....always.
While churches don't realize it, we may have collectively developed so many religious hoops to jump that our communities have thrown up their collective hands and said, "Stop the insanity! We can't take this any longer!"
What they can take is understanding, possibility of recovery, intentional courtesy, the pure Word of God, and authentic love....the heart to heart kind. We live among a menagerie of people who have tremendous treasures of God buried deeply within. We must find them in order to discover gifts toward us He has waiting.
Welcome to his kind of church. May those who attend in a few days on Easter walk away saying we read between the lines and "God likes me!"
Monday, March 30, 2009
My youngest son, Tim, has a blog and I made a comment about three years ago to his theme. My daughter, Wendy, called immediately afterward and inquired about "me" having a blog. I told her I didn't. She assured me I did. She explained that when I responded to Tim's post I accidentally set up my own blog. R U kidding? But she said my blog didn't have any words on it. Of course it didn't. I didn't write any.
So I checked out her theory and sure enough I had a blog! Naturally I put words on it. Somebody must have read it so I wrote another story....and another. My hometown newspaper started printing one of my blogs in their weekly.
This past weekend we cleared 200,000 hits.
Let me explain what that means. My mom looked at my blog 200 times a day every day except Christmas and Easter over the last three years! She's got to be honored for making my blog count rise. Thanks mom....and the other six people who accidentally looked at it when they were trying to find Cardinal memorabilia and got this by mistake.
There is one thing I wish for mankind. I wish every person would realize how loved, important, and coveted each is by the King. Our friends and even our selves tend to buckle to sub-par mediocrity because we've hung around our standard of love so long. Our standard? You know, loved when you do good; rejected when you do bad?
But God is so crazy about us He proxied us on the cross in the form of one named Jesus and had the living fire beaten out of him....because the Father regarded him to be us. Amazingly, Jesus took it.....gladly. Now we each get to be the darling of the Father's eyes because our older brother took the whipping for something we did wrong in order that we wouldn't be touched.
Great success isn't about how good you are doing as much as it is how much you believe Jesus has given you a successful life. I wish all would believe him....John 6:29.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
The crowds were enthusiastic. Some of the new classrooms were too small as many couldn't get in to hear the speakers. The booth vendors said it felt like the good old days. One singing group said they made more sales Thursday alone than any three-day combination in workshop history. The speakers were a hit. And the weather was spectacular as about 8 inches of snow fell Saturday.
Walling and Atchley and McLaughlin and Fudge and Pence and Mead and others simply thrilled the packed classes. Marvin told me he raised over $12,000 in one of his classes for the hungry in Africa. A lady in our small group this evening raved about Truitt's class on the greatest conversion stories.
One of the great wonders of the workshop was the collection. I borrowed a Jerry Rushford (Pepperdine lectureship director and my good friend) tactic and told the Thursday evening crowd we would raise $42,000 in 14 minutes on Friday night and would not take up a collection Saturday night if we didn't get it. We didn't get it.
I announced at the conclusion of Friday evening's session that we lacked $13, 771; that we would not take up another collection but any who saw me the next day could give me additional funds if they liked. I told them God would take care and I intended to go home and get a good night's sleep. I had promised God I would not ask anyone for funds. I would let some approach me but I would not organize or arrange for the money to be collected.
By Saturday noon I had collected $13, 772.
God blessed our time at the Tulsa Workshop. It is gaining momentum....and still focuses on winning broken hearts to the saving power of Jesus the Lamb.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
So here's where I've had my "reactionary skill" tested:
- Wednesday night's guest speaker's plane was delayed three times and instead of arriving 5:30 as scheduled he made it here at 8:30....one hour past when he was to speak.
- In the midst of taking calls of updates from him from DFW, I am told that in the process of feeding hundreds of guests we are out of food....and I'm assumed to be the one who will do something about it. I've never had that happen to me before.
- We needed to raise $48,000+ to pay for the event and we raised $35,000.
- The weather is neurotic and the forecasts are moreso. It's rained hard and long. Yesterday we were hearing six inches of snow for today. Some in the herd were beginning to panic. Then the forecast shifted to a Saturday morning of one inch of slush. Ah, we'll be fine.
As I write this blog we have a snow storm on our hands. The prediction is 2-4 inches The people from the South are frightful and from the North are going "what snow"?
So, here I am working on a sermon on reaction. I've had plenty of practice so far. I shoulda seen it coming.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Classes are full and overflowing in some cases. I talked with one speaker who isn't accustomed to having a packed classroom. He said, "This is fun."
One vendor who has been here for years told me this morning it reminds him of the good old days when the classes were full and still hundreds roaming the booths...even during the classes.
God is blessing....and I've got to get back!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
And...just for encouragement for the kids we are bringing in some snow for the Southerners! We mean to please!
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Let's get this part clear. Religion killed Jesus; it nailed him to the cross with the greatest of obnoxious pride. Religion rides on the coat sleeves of the church and does great damage as soon as Christianity enters any room. We must be aware of ourselves.
Did Jesus come to give us religion and religion abundantly? Or, does the Bible say he came to give us life and life abundantly? The latter. How often I've had "I can't stand organized religion" thrown in my face. Well, I'm a step ahead my friend. I can't even stand unorganized religion. God didn't give us religion. He gave us Jesus.....and Jesus give us life.
Now at times Jesus must be understood to be stiffer than religion. For instance, how do you think his good friend felt when Jesus said, "Get behind me Satan"? Rather frank, don't you think? So Jesus isn't a pushover; but he pushes back.....against religion. That's why they had to kill him. He was exposing their fake and phony ritualistic ruts.
If you struggle with being close to God or knowing about God there is great reason. There is abundant religious venom out there which attacks the nerve endings of the heart. It hides in preachers like me and churches like mine. However, please believe me when I tell you that a great amount of people are doing our best to climb out of this hell-hole called religion and offer the entire world the bright shining light of the uplifting son of God.
And quite frankly...we could use your help instead of your criticism.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The pressure could be intense; but it isn't. Yesterday morning our four elders and five staff members met for our usual 6:30 meeting. It was enjoyment as usual. There is no fretting. There is plenty of responsibility accepted and concern regarded; but zero panic. No personality was having a fit because of stress...and there is plenty to go around.
The workshop is a major undertaking involving the rental of three large facilities at the Tulsa State Fairgrounds, $20,000+ for curtains/tables/chairs and $25,000+ for sound and lighting. That scratches surface. We have 106 classes conducted by 79 speakers as we foot the cost of many to travel and to house.
In other words, it's a big deal!
Yet, our meeting was as normal as ever. Complete support. The elders are so good to let us do our job. They like to let us do our job and it gives our entire team great confidence that they don't hover in fear. Instead one finds jabbing at one another in jest. Expressions of faith and hope. It was another normal Monday meeting.
I love it that God seems to specifically share a Spirit of peace for this flock. We'll have our moments where we aren't sure how some matters will work; but we are sure He will take care.
Monday, March 23, 2009
My life is like walking in a fairy tale. There's one great difference. It is the kingdom of God instead of a storybook. I walk in a land filled with mystery and wonder which can only be funded by the Living God. No one could make this up. I live Acts 2:43....awed of His production all around. It is beyond......belief.....yet that's exactly what I choose to do....believe it.
When you look at my world from the outside, what do you see? I see it as being the luckiest man I ever met. I shouldn't be in the church, but God found me. I shouldn't get to preach, but God trained me. I shouldn't get to see so many things open in such fascinating ways, but God provides. I shouldn't get to know such a great people, but God has given me many fathers and mother and sisters and brothers on this earth and eternal life.
It is so exciting living in the Productive Lord that I don't have a family tree; I have a family orchard!
But here's what I want you to get from this. I'm simply one of thousands living out His promise to provide when He sights mustard seed faith. That's all I've got; but I've got it. It's just a speck of faith. But I know a secret that President and Kings don't know; He works! That is what every person needs to believe; God works. He hasn't met the dead church He can't resurrect nor the torn heart He can't heal if He can find a people still faithful in their belief system. God works.
I've been in the church now since conversion when I was 22 years old; 39 years. I've been at Memorial over half of my entire life. I'm learning more week by week about myself and about Him in me. Why do you think I write so many blogs...and about encouragement? I can't quit thinking about His heart.
My mind races with gratitude, conviction, and hope that every person would want to be their own luckiest person they ever met. The difference between fairy tale and the kingdom of God is the one we really live in is more outrageous in real wonder than the imaginary toy one!
I had thought I lost my soul because I have become weary doing good works.....It was not good works but the "man thing" of pleasing everyone.
Now I can go on-----
(Signed by a visitor yesterday)
Notes like these please me and sadden me all in the same reading. So many of you are bone- weary as you run from phone call to email to hospital to many other assisting ministries all in the name of the love of God. Add to your noble effort, then, those who manipulate through guilt to get your attention. I'll continue to say.....walk away. Such isn't just biblical. It is Jesus-like.
For the lazy and the loafers of the church? Well, first they most likely aren't reading this. Second, it most likely isn't you. Learn to pace yourself in the Spirit. It still is not up to man who runs or up to man who wills....but up to God who has mercy. Sacrificial service? Continue. Living under the guilt of the self-absorbed? Be free to let your yes be yes and your no be no.
Usually your spirit senses what your lips should say.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Last Tuesday I gave Shane what I thought would be my sermon topic. I researched and studied for the next three days. By early Friday morning I saw Shane and apologized but told him I did not sense that sermon was living and I was switching to one that I could tell would. He said he had arranged the song service based on my topic and it was the worst job he had done ever. He said it was just flat.
So, we struck out on a new theme and within minutes we knew we had it. God had rescued the church from us!
This morning was a home-run morning. It was full of God-life. Shane and I could tell the church had been rescued from us and we were happier than all! What a great day!
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Mary and I were married in her Catholic church and that was odd. I attended with her faithfully for a couple of years. To me it was the same ol' same ol' but with fancier churches, gaudier robes, and a lot of ups and downs that I couldn't figure. I couldn't wait for it to end, but noticed I felt better for going.
Later we began seriously studying the Bible with a church group down the street. Neither of us knew much about the Bible. I thought its main purpose was to be given as a gift at Eighth grade graduation. When I began to read it and understand it had a message for living today, I have never looked back.
But Jesus is why I am in ministry. It's not that he prodded and goaded me into it. It is the opposite. His tenderness toward the down-and-out drew me into it. How much...how very much...our world needs ones as Jesus to simply notice plain people exist. The homeless folk say the number one thing they need from the homed ones is to be looked in the eyes.
Jesus looked every harlot, every leper, every thief in the eyes. He saw beauty. He saw glory. He saw what people could become; not what they were. He made apostles out of book-cookers and still makes preachers out of fraidy cats.
I am a minister because Jesus showed me something I'd yet to see; a hope for every beaten and battered person to believe they, too, are worthy of endless love and grace. Never a cafe nor a store do I enter but what I see what Jesus was talking about....neighbors deperate for love in the form of acknowleding they wonderfully exist and are important.
I am a minister because I like people....Jesus loved me into it.
Friday, March 20, 2009
There is one area I wonder if America has negatively developed; that of independence. While independence is our battle cry (Give me liberty or give me death), society may be suffering by allowing a spirit of detachment from our fellow man to be viewed as unharmful.
My concern is over very good people no longer getting along. Independence can sound so good that it can eventually lull us into believing we don't need each other. Does anyone recall a song, Take This Job and Shove It? It is that attitude which I discuss. The American church is a mess in places. Yes, yes it does a lot of good. I am happy to be a part of its mission. But we should and could be more. But we won't because we are too independent.
If churches could be one as He is One, we would put ourselves out of business. We would have a new business....our Father's. A spirit of defiance, disunity, and discouragement lives as a plague upon our land and in all of our communities. We groan for life; but we struggle for we are surely divided from one another and in the name of independence some believe we don't need each other.
Do you know how I consider this? Americans of both major political parties are so unhappy with Washington and Congress. Yet we can't do a thing about it because we are unorganized and ununited; we are splintered independently. What we could do as a unit!
That's how I see the church. Yes, we are many deeply involved in things that matter while the life of the world slips away through expressions of selfishness; acceptable selfishness called independence.
It is an irony that independence unites a nation; but when abused divides its families, it neighbors, and its religious groups with an attitude of we can do without you and get along just fine. Everyone counts. Every class is important. Every level is necessary to the whole. Dependence (needing one another) is not a bad thing.
We would do well to seek the unity God seems to desire from us. We are independently free to become dependent upon Him as we learn the value of being connected one to another.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
A very kind man called me today from New York. Heather said he had a question but didn't want to bother me. She wanted to know if I wanted to take the call and Of course was my response. He began by saying something like, I don't mean to bother you. I am a nobody.....and into his question he went. We took our time and had a meaningful conversation...at least it was meaningful to me to get to hear from one of God's workers.
It was very kind of this man to treat me with respect. I'll take that. I'll give that as well. But I am burdened by the thousands among us who feel they are not someone important and significant. I was teaching at a Stream in the Desert event at ACU and was reading II Cor. 12 to the college kids. I still remember where I was standing as I read to them verse 12 where Paul said he wasn't inferior to the most eminent apostles even though he was a nobody.
I stopped in my tracks and asked if they just heard what I just saw! If Paul was not inferior even though he was a nobody.....what were the apostles? Nobodies as well. We are all important nobodies. One is the Head. One is the Leader. We have various skills, callings, and opportunities. But who decides who/which is the most important?
You (Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms.) are quite important. You are most significant. You will do well to remember that if you sense you are nobody all others with whom you speak are the same. Everybody is somebody worthy of respect and attention because we are all nobodies...every day.
I'm very glad the humble man from New York called me today and was willing to let me talk to him. I found him to be an important person in my day.
We are like God's Eagles setting our wings to be lifted by stormy winds. Storms advantage wise fliers like us. We have know-how which baffles the weak of heart. We are strong and what a time to respond to negative reports regarding any sort of threat.
We do not flinch; we fly.
We have connections; I mean Connections. We know People; three of them as in Father, Son, and Spirit. We have great confidence; not in ourselves but in Them. We know People.
Live like it. Look like it. Love like it. We will not be stuck in the traffic of panic. Our hearts are strong because One died very well on the cross to eliminate all future threat. He won and passed the trophy on to us....that it serve as our very own. We are driven by hope!
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Our Sunday evening small group has launched a new crop dusting through prayer. We are asking the Spirit to sweep across fields intended for drug use. Only, for this cause, we want that which is dropped on the poppies, etc. to be damaging insects to eat the crops. We want to see crops in Afghanistan, Brazil, America, or where ever to be tainted by this prayerful crop dusting.
We are praying the dusting ruins the taste of the processed drug to the point those who use it will not like it and it will lose its ability to addict.
Maybe you would like to spread the word. Let's build another prayer army. Join us in prayer as we dust the drug crops world-wide with plagues of worms and insects to the extent news reports spring up declaring the money is drying up in this bad business.
The reason? Too many try to get right with God. We can't. He makes us right. II Cor. 5:21, He made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God. We are right with God, never because we get right, but because Jesus became wrong on the cross. God traded right Jesus for wrong Terry and made the trade complete once for all.
Maybe four years ago Hombre Liggett wrote, We must not make the mistake of trying to develop our lives into a condition that we feel is worthy of approaching God. There is no such condition.....We are not trying to change ourselves in order to come into God's presence, but by the blood of Christ we should come into God's presence in order to be changed.
Oh we'll sing Get Right Church, I bet. And, I'll survive.....really. I make a bigger deal out of that song than necessary. Matters could be worse. I just want to encourage the world the way to be right with God is through Jesus' work and not our own. Too many Christians live depressed lives because they are trying to save themselves....something only Jesus can do.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Ask a few here and there and they believe me to be teaching false doctrine about God. Of course I resist the accusation. I believe it has been acceptable in the church to live afraid of God yet have so much company such a system feels safe.....and right.
Members of the church are afraid of God in Spirit form (and He is in no other form). As long as He stays "up there" and the Son stays "up there" and the Holy Spirit stays "up there", all theory to the fearful is well aligned. But find the man or woman who believes God is "down here" in Holy Spirit indwelling and the same members become nervous of such proponents.
Believing the Holy Spirit lives and works in a Christian's life is far too elementary to be having modern day battles over such biblical truth. But Christians are afraid; afraid of what they don't know, afraid of what they can't explain, and afraid of what might leak into the church so it is just safer to them to leave the Father, Son, and their Spirit in tact.....in heaven. Safety for all.
Why is it so threatening to begin to believe the Holy Spirit bears His fruit from the inside of us; that fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, etc.? Why is that so threatening? It is because God is bigger than man. Man likes to have a distant God with the remote in our hands so we can do the saying and the leading and the directing.
Why is it so terrifying to be under the control and influence of God? Is it because we can identify random kooks who claimed God causes irregular or hokey actions so we best keep such silliness from approaching and the best way is to make Him illegal from entering His own church? Oh, I think that's precisely it. Plus, it just feels good to go out after church with unbelieving believer cronies and discuss the ridiculous assumptions of what "those Christians" view as the present day activity of the Spirit among us.
Too many who talk a big talk of following the Word are clueless about the Holy God working in one's life. If our people ever learn to read the Bible in a fashion where it gets to tell us what it wants, we will be forced to believe the Spirit's participation. However, if we keep reading the text from the position of we will tell it what we believe, the Spirit will remain in the background.
It's just easier to be "agin" it. It's just much easier to live acceptably afraid of the Living God.
We better get over it.
Brad Palmore said...
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Monday, March 16, 2009
....and then Rick Atchley is our guest speaker. I can't wait. Our own Lee Wills is one of the presidents of the Rick Atchley fan club so he is the designated introducer of our guest.
Rick is one I highly admire. In my opinion he seems basically shy. Unlike me, he has a quiet demeanor. Yet, he is one of the most honest searchers of the Word I know. I love it that while he is popular, friends to many, this man is truer to the Bible than his critics would guestimate. He is a great example of being truer to the will of God than personal fame. He has been maligned and jeered. The man doesn't flinch. He is a hero in Jesus' clothing.
Each time I hear Rick speak it is clear he has been spending time with the Father...literally. He doesn't seek his own. He does not retaliate. He simply moves through the kingdom life with courage and grace that can only come by fellowship with the Spirit.
Bring your friends to Memorial one week from Wednesday night. It will be another Fourth of July celebration in March as hearts explode with wonder at the marvel and majesty of God.
See you.....in nine more sleeps!
Sunday, March 15, 2009
I've run into something quite intriguing. The brotherhood has various and strong opinions. No kidding! The question is what do we do about it? The response is very simple. We look to Jesus to see how to draw the world to him....no one else.
I can't wade into the ins/outs and druthers of a fickle and self-serving brotherhood. That's for someone else to spend their time doing if they want. Maybe they could chart it, track it, or explain it. That's not my calling. My job is one: to inspire the church to see the world with the eyes of Jesus.
Therefore, my approach to the work this year is what is was six years ago and 29 years ago: inspire the church to see the world with the eyes of Jesus. Church pet peeves have no place in the strategies of evangelism. Pleasing men has always been a no-no from God, even if they are men with big names or large printing presses.
I admire the Rick Atchleys and the Jerry Rushfords and the Jackie Chestnutts of our day who simply keep moving out to reach as many as they can while they live. I want to do the same. I am sympathetic to concerns. But I cannot be distracted by the fifteen pressure points wishing to give the body of Christ fearful arthritis of the nerve.
We must try. We must recover from mistakes. We must not abandon the war and bring the troops home where it is safe. Millions of our friends don't know if they are good enough to go to heaven. They don't know if God sees any value in their worn out and dilapidated hearts. Yet, we will raise up a generation of believers who will surrender time and money and convenience to convince our friends and neighbors of just that; they are worthy of God's love.
Opinions are abundant. The real soul winners are those who can hear various concepts, sort through the truth of them all, and continue to march for the Master of all masters. That's how I think we handle opinions. What thinketh ye?
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Truth found in the Bible is as right as right can get because it is inspired by the Holy God's Spirit. Jesus said truth would set man free. However, a significant portion of the Truth I hear about isn't total Bible Truth but a favored portion of the one(s) marking another as false.
A stern and accusing voice does not a truthful man make. The Pharisees were all about truth and they killed Jesus (the Truth) because he was marked by them as a false teacher. Stephen was stoned to death because he was marked by the same batch of believers as a false teacher. Saul of Tarsus was a religiously stern and accusing sort out of control because he had the truth.
Even Jesus disciples who ate and walked with him did not catch the significance of the truthful things he was teaching. Get this: they didn't get it. We don't get it; me included. We religious leaders are an embarrassing foolish mess much of the time. We parade our pet doctrines as the whole of Truth when I am convinced by this age we are more clueless than clued.
Here are some things I found myself teaching falsely over the years:
- We (whoever "we" are) are the only ones right with God.
- The Holy Spirit is active from the Word only.
- Silence of the scriptures is a God-authorized doctrine.
- Women cannot pray with men.
- Those who raise their hands in worship are ungodly Pentecostal types.
- The Lord's Supper can only be observed on Sundays.
- The sermon is the main part of church.
- My convictions make me right.
- To be selectively biased regarding scripture is permissible.
- It is all right to judge others for I see better/am more sincere than they.
- False teachers are always someone else; but never myself....ever.
- It is permissible to have church with no praise of God but simply check off the list of do's and don'ts during that hour and be satisfied in my self-righteousness.
My point is I have taught many things wrong. I've been wrong. I'm sure that as the Lord grows me I'll discover even more areas where I misunderstood His Word. This doesn't bother me in the least. I am a learner. I want to know. What bothers me is that those bellowing charges of false teachers never seem to consider they are as well....in some areas....which they, too, will discover as they continue to learn.
I'll say it again. Church leaders are guilty of talking a very big talk while the world has no idea we are around. This simply does not reflect the abundant life of Jesus. And remember, he was such a false teacher (in the authoritarian religious leaders' convictions) they nailed him....and didn't care.....for they were....right, of course.
Some are so burdened about being right because they refuse God's righteousness that they are absolutely miserable in the church. Truth has become their idol. Jesus has seemingly taken a back seat to our faith but will surely be handy at the Judgment....we hope.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Glenn Beck has a 4:00 p.m. (CDT) program on Fox News which is like none other. I marvel at what I'm hearing. Yeah, he can be disappointingly sarcastic. What I like about the man is he pleads for America to return to God. This is a secular television news program!
I have prayed for years that God would show up in the media. He has. He really has on this program. Beck presented 9 Principles and 12 Values in his 912 Project. The second principle is to love God with all your heart; to believe Him.
Of course I can't know the direction this might take. It could become something to which I am simply not envisioning. However, because this man is promoting God and seems so emotionally passionate about the welfare of mankind, I draw your attention to him and his program.
They brought in the biggest server they could obtain for those who wanted to respond to his presentation. During the program the server went down due to the avalanche of responses.
You might want to be aware of this development. For now, I think it is one of the more positive things going on in our nation.
- WORKSHOP ROW. We are no longer using the huge Expo (QuikTrip) building. We have created Workshop Row due to newly constructed facilities. Central Park was still wet behind the ears when you were here last year. Between Central Park and the Pavilion is the newly constructed Exchange Center. Three classes will be in the ExCtr as well as all of the booths, KidZone, and evening Bible Hour. CntrlPk will have three classes as well as the Pavilion's usual one.
- THE BUDGET WILL CLEAR $150,000. We will not take up a collection all three nights. On Friday night we will raise in the neighborhood of $50,000 in 15 minutes. The workshop is a gigantic undertaking of many facets. The cost is enormous. We have fought off for years the idea of a charge per person. We continue to make this workshop available to every person for free, trusting the composite of those gathered to help us as they so wish from the heart.
- PARKPLACE. There will be plenty of newly created parking spaces. No more orange barrels and blocked off entrances. Parking places will be level, smooth, close by, and ample.
- NEW EVENING KEYNOTERS. Loyd Harris of Little Rock is an outreach guru. This man is a strong voice to thousands every week. Joe Almanza of Abilene (did a keynote years ago, but to many he will be new) was converted while in prison. His family owned Texas via the Mexican mafia and has lived much of his Christian life in danger from hit men. Steve Jackson of Atlanta was once Muslim. He is a happy, friendly man who loves to tell people what God has done for him and will do for us.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
I wonder about this constantly.
Are we dreaming of ways to let the world know the true Jesus or are we mostly looking over our shoulder to see if the religious believe we are in line. The reason Jesus was such a good Jesus is he understood the heart of God would not fit within the demanding and degrading borders of religion and its restrictive confines.
Jesus would not be as thrilled over the current Christianity as we might like to believe.
We have played church safe and such is so against the fundamental nature of God's son that the bulk of humanity has rebelled. It is not that humanity isn't good or knows little good. It is that it can sense there surely must be more to God than us.
Therefore, it is not so much us figuring a better way to reach the world as it is us contemplating a courageous spirit to lead ourselves to become more like the Christ. If we will do a better job of raising him up it would seem our friends and neighbors would be more likely to be drawn to him.
Our goal is not to become the best church in town or the most dynamic one in the community. It is to become more and more dependent on the Spirit of Christ than upon our own ingenuity and engaging mission.
Monday a lady called. She is a member at Memorial but not one person, not one elder, not one staff member other than me knows this woman. She does not engage in the church family and hasn't over the last twenty years. She called expressing her husband (whom I have never seen) is having heart failure and needs to see me in the hospital now.
I told her he is a most valuable man, but I couldn't do it. Knowing the importance of this man and the situation I told her I had four other very capable men on staff and I would send one immediately. She curtly replied, No. He wants to see you. I explained I just couldn't get there; yet I understood the urgency and would send someone now. She said, Tomorrow will be all right and I reluctantly, guiltily agreed.
After hanging up I realized tomorrow is just like today....still packed. I called back and left a message on her cell phone saying, Friend, I tried to say it earlier, I just can't get there. But your man is very important. I will send one of the other men to see him. She called my secretary and said, Tell Terry we will find a minister who cares.
Such digs sting....deeply. You go through it. I encourage you about something I saw Jesus do. No flesh and blood told me. I saw Jesus do it. I saw him once heal every kind of disease in a local community. It reached a point where he was spent by the Father and he began to retreat to escape the crowds. They were still pressing in on him. He turned his back, got into a boat, and rowed away. He couldn't do it---for the moment---anymore. He walked away from continued and important healing opportunities for he was flesh and blood fatigued.
My job here is to keep smiling, keep loving, keep caring, and maintain the permission that I know when my spirit is running on empty and I must not try to minister to every person regardless of their demands and insults. Don't let guilt be your motive for ministry. Trust God that while you can't be everywhere, He knows those who can.
Keep in mind you are a vital part of His body....but you are not the whole body. God has other (many other) capable men and women to assist in important service. Neither are you the savior of the community. You are one who is connected to The Savior.
Romans 9:16...(it is not up to man to organize but up to God in His mercy).....once again....keeps me wildly enthused about ministry after all of these years. Being a minister is like being on vacation all the time. However, it takes discipline to maintain the joy level decade after decade. Refuse to let those who are selfish or simply don't understand take over the helm of your ship. The waves sometimes stack high. It gets tough....but is always manageable because of Jesus who runs the show and not us who wish we could please all the people.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
I didn't want a cell phone. Finally I got one but wouldn't let anyone have my number for two years. I don't like being on the phone.
Blogs came along and I thought that was shoes for a dance. I'd heard of some friends in Illinois who learned, I understood, to blog and went on blogging trips and contests. Turned out it was clogs. I accidentally backed into blogging as I simply responded to Tim's blog and inadvertently set up my own. We are about to reach 200,000 hits and I know 180,000 have to have been mom.
Then came Bluetooth and Twitter. Who comes up with these names and why? About the only thing I know about either of them is I don't have them....do I?
So I said to myself last night in my spare time, why don't I create the next new quicker-than- lightning communication wizardry? So I have. I have come up with something which beats fax machines and texting in one heartbeat. I am starting (and you are in on the ground floor/ribbon cutting announcement) a new company product called GreyCyb.
GreyCyb is where you send brainwaves of thought through space to your intended receiver; your boss or your spouse or whoever. It's up to them to pick up the vibes from cyberspace. This should be a hit as there are no tools or machines to buy. There is no expense so every office complex will want GreyCyb. Washington D. C. will flourish once GreyCyb hits town.
You just think it forward. But here is the big plus. If your boss or your spouse should ever begin to question you for not telling them an important detail, you simply reply, Did you check your GreyCyb? I thought it over to you the minute I thought of it. If you don't take the time to check GreyCyb......what you don't have GreyCyb? Oh no wonder you are out of touch. It isn't my fault. I GreyCybed it over. You need to step up into the 22nd Century field...it's that advanced!
He husband left the room so the two of us could visit about the nuts and bolts of death. I asked in the early part of our conversation if she was uneasy about whether she was saved. That question broke open an hour long discussion.
She had a dream while in the hospital that she died and went to hell. She would not describe it's ugliness; but referenced it often. We talked about Jesus; how he paid the price, what they did to him on the cross to pay that price, and how her work is to believe him...John 6:29. The latter part was significant because she kept feeling frustrated that she needed to get up and witness to people when she can't even walk.......as if this would earn a bit of grace.
For an hour I would simply tell her about the efforts of Jesus. Her job was done. She surrendered to him years back and she needed to rest in him. At one point she pleaded, Do you promise I'll be all right? Do you promise? Assurance in Jesus is the most perfect security to offer. Friend, if you can't promise in Jesus there is no useful conversation to be experienced.
Later she said something I want you to take in because it will tell you something of what your lambs might have rattling around in their so-much-time-on-their-hands-to-think minds. She whimpered slightly and said, I just need people to come by here and talk to me about Jesus. My husband doesn't. My brother's family are unbelievers so they don't. When Christians come by they don't say anything about him and I really need to hear him discussed. After a while the way Jesus handles things gets forgotten.
When I left I told her husband I think he should consider bringing her to church. I think the goal would give her something to reach for. She might have much more work of comfortable believing to do before she crosses the border.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
A mass of unbelievers are now discovering their stabilizing factors are eroding. Public confidence is suspect. Don't forget Jesus shines brightly in such circumstances.
The old way of doing church may not meet the needs of the day. Don't be afraid to lift the veil by being aggressive in the good news zone. The multitudes are hurting; some as never before.
The church must guard against bemoaning the day. Of all people, we must convey our treasure is quite safe; we have trusted in Him all along. Say so...with compassion...but say so. Others want such security.
As the economy declines for a bit, tempers and raw anger will escalate. Crime will rise. Remember, through every dark day, the light of Jesus. He knows how to deal with our woes. He knows how. Trust him. He died to bring life to such people of this day. Do your best to look like it.
Monday, March 09, 2009
Did you read the Chronicle about Scott the Skater? Did you know that was going on? What about the work Shawn Gary did for the kingdom over the weekend in Mexico? Any idea how to measure the good he did? How about Eric Magnusson in Detroit? Who did he greet? Who did he encounter? Who was built up by his labor quite tremendously last Thursday...or Friday?
What about Mr. Dabbs? Did anyone get a read on his productivity in February? No? You were busy with your own kingdom assignment? As for Jeannine Reese or Marca Young or Emily Lemley? No? Not aware of the progress they made in the kingdom? And Dr. Jeff? Arlene Mayes? John Taylor? Michael Taylor? Betty Smith? Kevin Skidmore? Ronda Davis? No? You aren't really aware of what God did through them?
Friend, they aren't either. The work God does in His people is so fascinatingly lit with possibility we can't even keep track of the sparks! The kingdom isn't in neutral or decline.....should you have feared it was. Millions of cells known by personal names we regard as just normal acquaintances are formed into His one body, the church. The stretch and the capacity and the blanketing progress being made is not small.
He is in China and Rhode Island and Ft. Wayne and emergency rooms touching other hearts with words of encouragement....striking and profound encouragement. The life of Jesus is. He is the I Am not the I Was. Therefore we are known as the We Are not the We Wish.
CNN and FOX combine a group of very nice professionals. But God's people are the ones who have the clues. Live like it!
Sunday, March 08, 2009
My old nature was one of no backbone. It is a miracle I have survived the church.....and that it has survived me! I had no grit; no confidence to stand alone if necessary. I moved with the herd and made intentional effort to move with the most popular faction of it. However, ministry with God won't allow one to move with the popular. Jesus warns against having men speak well of you; yet we wilt if some do.
I once would say "No" to some asking me to serve in areas and they would talk me into it. I couldn't bear to stand alone with my decision. Now, I've learned to say no. But it isn't just saying no to others that I have had to learn. I have had to learn to say no to so many good opportunities which come my way. Simplicity is a good thing.
Our minds are terribly divided over so many interests....so many. We will want to keep working on the fruit of self-control to affect our walk and talk so we can weed out the many unnecessary out-of-control-works we find ourselves involved in. Self-control is what God hands back once we yield to His Spirit.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
To put dreams and intentions down on paper is "our" earthling way of doing things. But the Spirit functions in such different and fluidic ways for effectiveness. Ask about God's battle tactics when Gideon was General. Ask Joshua about that day they attacked Jericho. How did any of these ploys look on paper?
Ask yourself how the IRS is doing with its nearly 9000 page income tax code. That's pretty much down on paper. Ask congress how they are doing with Social Security and Medicare plans? These two divisions exemplify sizeable organizational construct.
Here's what I want you to gain from this writing; be confident God knows how to organize when it is down in nothing but spirit. The church appears to be unorganized. From town to town, church varies from church. More so, church varies from church within town to town. Wild and unmanageable (as in bad hair day) autonomy has struck! The organization has collapsed....it would appear.
Yet mark this down...on paper...because individual churches are allowed the room to express their creative abilities without restrictive unimaginative hierarchy holding formal structure over their heads, these churches are getting more done successfully than reporters can enter into their public journals. Furthermore, individuals within such congregations are accomplishing so much good that even their leaders can't keep up with all the amazing works going on.
I would say this Spirit thing God had working centuries ago is still culturally current for the church Christ is building in this century. What do you think?
Friday, March 06, 2009
Made me think about an occasion years ago in my earlier life when I was trying to sell an insurance policy to man who had been drinking a bit. I made the sale. I never realized until just now writing this how suspect my selling technique sounds! Anyway, when I asked him a series of health questions, we hit one and he said, Now about them tumors. My wife had one but nothing to worry about....it was belligerent.
Finally, I have had a belligerent tumor of my own!
Five year old grandson, Hayden's, response when his mom informed him this week that in heaven he would not have to take naps; "You-have-got-to-be-kidding-me!"
Seven year old grandson, Mason's, response as his dad was combing Mason's hair getting ready for school and asking his dad if he wore cologne everyday. "Yes, I do. Would you like me to put some on you?" "No. No. I have hand sanitizer."
In taking youth minister Bobby and involvement minister Jason with me this week to Owasso to visit General and Bernadine.....they were like little kids taking turns as to which one got to sit alongside me in the front seat this time!
Mary called the office from home and we have a new office phone system with caller ID. So Sherri, the secretary, saw it was my number thinking it was me calling decided she would pop off with a funny. Her greeting was a gruff, WHAT DO YOU WANT? Timid Mary said, Ummm...is this the church office? (Would someone pick Sherri up off of the floor?)
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Voices are flexible and we must operate with intentional selectivity as we (and others) become what we speak. Voices influence. Voices create success, fear, devotion, divorce, endurance, quitting, love, hate, opportunity, pessimism, development, retardation, inspiration, ruin, hope, and imagination.
God urges us to guard our tongues for if used unwisely they can burn down a third grader or an entire society. Used faithfully, they can build a great empire of believers. For a long time (even after conversion) I didn't get the big deal about how we are to speak. Didn't we each just talk? But I now see one's speech is a theme to one's life.
Voices are remarkably important; they are a God-thing. Say things with life intended. Ears which hear will form according to the construction of your sentences.
I get my most done being my most nothing because I am nothing best. I am an expert at nothingness! Weakness is my trump card? Any of you ever played Rook? Rook wins! It takes all the other cards. Weakness is the Christian's Rook card. Least is another Rook card. Decrease is yet another.
What I like about the truths above is they defy conventional wisdom. How fun to be permissibly defiant about anything! The Bible is clear. God fools the wise. What will work is not what the wise assume. God is the brilliance in all of this.
Therefore regarding your work, don't short-sheet His work by your efforts to become more than you are. John the Baptist did a mighty deed when he stepped back in order for Jesus to step up. Apply your faith; not your importance. Trust your God; not your skill. Believe God.
Your strengths are never strong....not ever. So don't try....don't wish. Capitalize on His promise. He will do more with, in, and through us than we can ever imagine if we will submit ourselves more than we submit our plans.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Patience is joined at the hip to time. Impatience rushes time while the opposite is a partner of it.
I'm very blessed to get to be on staff at one church for over half of my life. I'm 61 and have been here well over 31 years. I enjoy the fruit of time and patience connected. Being one place thirty years is different than being six places five years each or ten churches three years each. Year seven finds a new zone of discipline year five didn't offer. Year 18 notes something challenging which year 13 didn't bring about.
In year 31 I am noting (no, marvelling) God working in places and people that four years ago I would have aborted of any hope. I'm seeing people mature. I'm seeing me grow up. I've spent 26 years in working with the Cardinals and at the moment I am on the edge of the cliff where I finally may be able to jump with delight over the ultimate dream coming from this ministry....seeing thousands and thousands taught about the grace of God through a new book.
Patience is God's beauty in our walk. From experience over three decades at one place I believe I now can see we may have aborted many of God's best moves because we failed to surrender to Him our time measured in years and decades instead of days and weeks.
We must yield to the Holy Spirit fruit of patience. Great things are on the other side of another day if we will but do as the early ones did at His command.....go to Jerusalem and wait...Acts 1:4.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
What motivates our churches? Our leaders? I wouldn't know how many variations could be listed. Bunches.
The thing that keeps me on my toes of anticipation in the kingdom is the fact that God can create something out of nothing and give life to the dead....Romans 4:17. And exactly what is it that God says triggers this? Faith. Miracles? No. Plain, common, ordinary, Bible faith.
I am motivated because God can; He can do anything. He can create something that isn't yet and He can cause dead things to come to life. Ever worked with a dead church? He can make it live. The fact it might be dead isn't the final straw. That He can't find anyone to believe He could make it live is the problem.
And, He can make something out of nothing. He can make mission support out of no hope. He can make new members out of no publicity to draw. He can connect with neighbors and nations when we can't explain how. It is all mystery; unexplainable, immeasurable mystery.
What keeps me motivated? God's talent within Himself; I don't need to possess it. I just need to believe He has it. Yet, my idea only touches the hem of the garment.
What motivates you about the work of the church? Yours might be what would give another reader hope.
Monday, March 02, 2009
Jesus rocked the world of successful industry, agriculture, and military. He took twelve unlikelies and set a revolutionary movement on such defined course its potency cannot be measured. Yet I fear we have divvied up the Christian ranks, often with our Bibles in hand, to the point we have no punch left.
Leaders have become boisterous, or angry, or just plain goofy. Instead of finding ourselves chosen by God, the Christian life has transitioned into doing the choosing ourselves. Cities and burgs are filled with a smattering of clusters of brand name believers more concerned over keeping their doors opened than shutting down the stark rebellion against Christ.
No wonder so many throw up their hands and walk away from us. We have become the very biblical teaching we have warned others against; church form with no power.
There is significant need to find a people who will continue to seek the heart of Christ. Such is not found by supporting any tradition of men; whether it Presbyterian, Baptist, Church of Christ, Catholic to name but a few........Jesus is an entirely different world. As churches we have pushed and pumped our political agendas to prop up our five or twelve principles long enough.
The world is turning to God. Massive unrest is in kingdom favor. May we not miss the opportunity for revival because we were trying to breathe life into our pre-programmed places and plans. May we lift our eyes to see the fields are white unto harvest and then begin to approach them with incredible joy which comes from that secret we really do know....Jesus the Lamb as he offers abundant life.
Sunday, March 01, 2009
To mention a few of the congregations present would begin with Park Plaza, Jenks, Contact, Open Door, Garnett, Skiatook, Sand Springs, North Sheridan, 29th & Yale, Crosstown, South Brooke, Broken Arrow, Collinsville,.....and....well, you get the picture. Lots!
The value of such a gathering is extreme. Those present are simply happy. I like that. We are richly blessed in Tulsa by so many, many very special servants. The power of His people lives in the commonality and love---just as Jesus expressed---from one heart toward the other.
How amazing is it to be in the church.....and to like it? How awesome is it to be connected with this section of religion on earth and live as if we get younger every year? How glorious to be so enthused over life....the life He hands to everyone through His resurrected son.
Carl Harris, Bob Herndon, and Dan Langdon......admiration from my heart to yours! Good job!