Monday, August 31, 2009
I love working beside these men. They have visions and dreams of what could be which are bigger than their know-how. They don't know how.
This morning we were discussing possibilities of establishing churches; one per nearby apartment complex. We would just set up church within their confines. That idea may never leave the launching pad. The fact imaginations have been and are swirling is too thrilling. We are seeing grown people in our community to whom we minister now become baptized believers sitting and serving among us. God is blessing.
The church is backed by the Creator. So guess what the church will reflect? Creativity. Shame on the church leaders making a living speaking against change-agents. When did any of us ever arrive at completion? The church must continually adjust to the needs of the Christ among us to connect to the populace among us.
To shepherd a flock with eyes on the rear-view mirror and a foot on the brake is not leadership. It is killer-ship.
I'm not sure of where we are going. Abraham wasn't either (Hebr. 11:8), and he IS the father of faith. But I know this for certain, we are watching with a close eye on signals from God as to how He would use us to reach our world. How fun is that? What a great agenda.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
The Truth will not be turned aside by the strongest rules of men. That's why the Church of Christ is in perpetual stirring because the Word refuses to be denied. It sets people free.
Man-made laws have imposed themselves as the True Grid. Those hawking the Bible as the Standard with warnings of Do not add to or take away from the Word are very likely to impose the True Grid to keep the Bible saying what tickles their ears. BTW....we are as guilty of having our ears tickled as any religious brand I ever met. We've used that Timothy passage to apply it to our denominational friends when we are the ultimate abusers.
True Grid says things to the Bible which did not come from the Bible...but it sounds so.....biblical.
Here are two examples of True Grid: (1) our hermeneutic never came from God; but from man's judgment, and (2) when that grid won't quite do it for us to get our way we impose the flag of all flags....Well, it just isn't expedient. Really?
Take a look. Hermeneutic and expedient are not Bible words. Yet they serve as the True Grid to do what? Both are supposed to allow us a clear conscience to continue to tickle our own ears. This is a blatant violation of the use of the Word of God. "Truth" is what will set us free. "True Grid" is what will keep us captive.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Well....a week ago we had a family visit who decided to drop in because of the sign.
Tomorrow---as the sign has advertised for three weeks---we are conducting a two hour Back-to-School Blast. We will have kids' rides, face painting, free food, free hair cuts, and a free clothing give-away. This huge event has been displayed proudly on our new sign!
So....two times this week strangers from the community stopped by our office with bags of clothing....to contribute to the give-away. Not only will our neighborhood be blessed by the many free things tomorrow; but our community is even joining us by adding items to the collection.
Now I think that is a good sign!
Mr. RushThanks for the clarity and examples of some things you were talking about. As one who is at sort of a "bridge" age (mid thirties) between the older and younger generations and seeing some of this unrest/conflict played out (the leaving of "our" churches), as well as being parent to two young ones, I agree with you. We've got to get honest and act with more integrity in areas such as these. You mentioned not bring them up and dealing with them in the body because of potential conflict...it's even harder when the same can be said for your own family! Thanks for your thoughts. Jay
Here is precisely an example of the kind of person I think is reading this blog...and why I try to write with intricate assistance and encouragement. Jay has a heart for Truth and finds it a strong challenge to know how to maneuver between the way we are and what God wants.
Therefore, I encourage you to continue to strive for His excellent way. In the kingdom there was, is, and will be heavy conflict. We don't have to march the streets in protest; the closer we become as Him, the more the stress increases. When you read the NT it is loaded with opposition. In America we don't do opposition. We will run to safety. Safety is the church motto.
So good for Jay and good for you when you wish to serve faithfully and acknowledge the challenges in front of you. We've submitted our energy to too many skirmishes which weren't worth fighting over; Bible versions, music preferences, etc. While some have armed themselves with delight the church's children were killed in the uneventful process of boredom. This is shameful.
So good for Jay and good for you when you can awaken to the cruel reality that to submit to a religion which does not call for our growing adaptability to His ever-revealing Truth will result in that other thing He declared would happen....stolen, robbed, and killed by the Thief...Jn. 10:10.
Work on the things which really matter. Keep smiling when approached by the things which don't....but don't surrender your children in the process.
Wednesday, Tony and Lea Anne and Mary and I headed for St. Louis to a ball game. We were organized in that we new the road map as well as the clock schedule in which to encounter our day destined to see the Cardinals play. We were not organized in how God would work...but we fully expected Him to as our discussions confirmed.
We had a bit of a problem. Carole Buck promised me eight weeks ago Joe's elite tickets behind home plate. Five weeks ago her house burnt....and her phone melted...and I've not been able to reach her.
We are sitting at 9:00 a.m. at Cracker Barrel in Joplin when Carole Buck calls. Terry, today's the day! I'm working on the tickets (which burnt) and I'll call you back. I love you! Ah, that helped. We were dumbstruck at the timing. Carole later called giving me instructions to go see Aggie (Jack's right arm for years) in her stadium office mid-afternoon.
I got lost looking for Aggies door as I'm yet to get used to the new stadium. In getting lost I ran into one of the Cardinals newest acquisitions, John Smoltz, and we spoke. Yippee! I found Aggie and told her who I was; however she knew nothing about the tickets. Ooops! She called Joe Buck and left a message saying Terry Rush is here to get the tickets. Joe called back in sixty seconds and told her how to arrange for new ones.
Aggie and I talked and I mentioned I had written a book about Jack which included a story about her crippled grandson. The door flew opened. She honeyed me. She sweetied me. She said she would give anything if she only had that book present for an autograph. I told her I would mail her one. The doors flew wider.
Would you like a new Cardinal cap?, she offered. Of course, so she raced to a private stash. Then she told me to be back at 5:00 for the tickets.
The game didn't start 'til 7:00 so Tony and I left Mary and Lea Anne at the hotel and walked to Aggie's office. Her office is the one the media and VIP enter. I told Tony as we walked that I was proud to take him into this zone and I was sure God would be working. I wanted him to be quiet and I would see that he met some special people...but at that moment we didn't know who or where. I geared him up in expectation of not "if" but "when" doors open. Tony was eager and appreciative.
Cardinal broadcaster Dan McLaughlin passed through. I introduced myself (we had met a couple of times) and asked if he would sign our caps. Of course he did and Tony was getting the jeebies. Then Dan said, Would you like me to take you two down on the field when I go? Well....that would be good.
Tony and I were ushered through the tunnel onto the field where an area was roped for about 50 to observe the Cardinals taking batting practice. I looked at Tony and said, Friend, this is how it goes. Hold on. Rick Ankiel was taking batting practice; yet we were given instructions by the guard not to call out their name for distraction's sake. So we didn't.
But....the team photographer, whom I've known for 25 years, walked right past us. Hey Jim, we can't yell at Rick to let him know we are here. Would you tell him? Sure, Rev. How are ya? Hey, I got those DVDs on natural evangelism and I looove 'em. I'm passing them around to my kids now. Good job....and he left.
Moments later Rick by-passed 48 others to shake hands with Tony and me. We talked while he autographed Tony's brand new ANKIEL jersey. He was so pleasant. Later Matt Holliday was signing at the other end of the rope so I told Tony to go down there and see what happens. Matt signed Tony's cap.
Al Hrabosky came by and started griping at me. That's his nature; but he's kidding. Evidently it offended the lady beside me...I didn't see it. He barked about my new card leaving his quote (of me being the worst ballplayer he ever saw) off. Then he put both hands on my shoulder and apologized for not endorsing my new book. He said he just doesn't know how to write on matters like that. I get it. When Mark McGwire wrote for my Jack Buck book, I had to interview him on the phone, write it for him, and send it to him to make minor adjustments.
Ending the conversation Al said, Hey, I want you to come up into the television booth anytime during the game. Always good to see you. And----hey lady----I DO like him! Tony and I went up into the booth for an inning; related more to Al and to Dan and returned to our seats.
I'm back home and my mind is racing with assignments of follow-up. We went by faith. We returned with enlarged vision for continued outreach.
We began our day at 7:00 unsure if we would get into the stadium. When all was said and done....we did sorta get in, didn't we?
Thursday, August 27, 2009
I was taught (by example) that harshness and rudeness was a sign of power-preaching. I put people in their place because it was a sign I "stood for something". Cowards didn't stand for anything...and I was not going to be a coward!
Oh how I don't blame any who would not walk across the street to hear me preach. I whipped, blistered, screamed, and pounded....with great pride in my "stances". Call me ignorant, but don't call me coward.
But.....Jesus broke me. He showed me myself. I turned out to be a goof-ball bully. I had been bullied and I bullied back....and it felt....strong. I was no different than those I opposed.
But the Holy Spirit doesn't bear that kind of fruit. He just doesn't. It is a curious thing that the topic "Holy Spirit" causes the crowd to panic. The crowd wishes to run from the very thing we really need...more patience, more kindness, more gentleness.
How could I have borne the fruit of the Spirit? I didn't even believe in Him. Yet when He came in, the dark sternness and anger began to subside. I began to want to listen more than shout. I became a new man.
Politics? It is getting ruder and louder and, from experience, I know it will not bear our nation rock-solid health. Shouting matches will not give life to the populace....ever.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
When we love like Jesus we may kiss or we may not. Getting to hold another may be appropriate;but is not the issue. What we do is we give without regard of a receipt for our efforts. We love powerfully and freely because the one in our sights has a receiving bin in their heart....waiting to discover God's love still exists. Love is needed....by all.
When we love we believe in the other when such can't believe in self. We have a hope for another when their candle of hope burnt out long ago. We endure with the struggles of clash and even of love because our new love knows no conclusion....the deep Christ-love has no dead-end alleys.
When we love we put the life of God in others because what we received directly from Him came with orders to give it away. Therefore, in case you didn't know it....I love you very much today!
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Last week Connie Reed forwarded me the "Starry, Starry Night" song and God showed me instant things about the church and about the hurting world.
I think you will like the links below. Every one of us needs to know Van Goghs are all over the place. Some how, some way, they must hear the voice of Jesus addressing them that each is a remarkable, valuable individual.May this sermon inspire you to see the world of colleagues and neighbors with an entirely new set of eyes...Eph. 1:18.
My sermon ("Reverence to God... And One Another") from Sunday, 08/23 has been posted to our web site: http://www.workshopmultimedia.com/index.php?subpage=memdrive [Note: New link!]. We posted both 32kbps (5.2MB) and 128kbps (20.7MB) bit rate versions. The Scripture references from Terry's lesson this week are: Luke 18:9-14 Matthew 5:21-22 Matthew 5:43-47 1 John 4:19-21And here is a link to the lyrics to the Don McLean song Starry, Starry Night (a.k.a. Vincent) about Vincent Van Gogh: http://lyricwiki.org/Don_McLean:Vincent_%28Starry,_Starry_Night%29.
It couldn't have happened to a sweeter friend!
Saturday, August 08, 2009
Things Your Doctor May Neglect to Tell You About a Hemorrhoidectomy
Monday, August 24, 2009
I've heard about truth from the very first occasion to study the Bible as an adult. I love it. I hunger for it. I want to develop into the understanding of it.
The word "Truth" has been used by some as a big stick and by others as harshly-toned threat. It fits neither. It is beautiful, decent, impeccable, and freeing; it is Jesus.
Upon being the recipient of many squint-eyed reprimands by Truth-holders over the years, I'm coming to a new conclusion. Truth isn't the main thrust of our leaders. Peace is. There are new things to know about God which comes from His Word; yet it is easier to let such slide if we can maintain peace among us in the meanwhile. Corrections from and by the Bible are needed among us; but if any would rattle the proverbial church cage many leaders give it a wink, a nod, and shrug and keep the new information at bay.
This is killing our people. It isn't that this new generation has gone liberal as some love to contend. It's that many have encountered deaths to their spirits because we as leaders felt the urge to keep peace in church. I'm not as mistakenly nor inappropriately brash as I once was. Nevertheless, I am convicted that roots of error still need an axe; not a toothbrush and Ivory soap.
I'm not for inducing upset. However, I clearly sense many of our good leaders have sold out to keeping the boat from rocking. While this keeps those of us who are past 50 somewhat settled, the younger are opting for something away from us? What's the point? Some key matters the church likes to believe is Truth isn't.
It is really only stuff we like....so we label it Truth.
There was a parental rule we had with our three. As are all teens, each of these three were different in personality make-up. Not all systems worked at all times for any of the three. But what I'm about to share with you did because I said so....I was the dad.
I had noticed over the years that the church's high school students began to diminish in number in both attendance and activity involvement during their Junior and Senior years. I noted that the decline correlated with obtaining driver's licenses.
Now, I wanted my kids to work. It was important to me that they learn to work in jobs they wouldn't like, with people they don't care for, and under managers who are unfair. So, each will go to work.
And....we had a rule: your employment will not ever be on Wednesday night, Sunday morning or on any Saturday there is a youth event. Dream world? No....real world. I wanted them to be in on significant spiritual development which included employment....but not employment which would disconnect their relationship with God and the church.
Now, all of that was for the Rush household. It may never work for you. But I have the feeling there are some reading this who don't even have children that will one day find today's blog useful.
God bless as you raise your kids the best you know how. I'll tell you again, I think the best years are the teen ones.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
I hope you don't mind if I share this with you. I remember it very well.....of course. I'm delighted as well as amazed it has shown up at this late date.
Should you wonder why I am obsessed with encouraging others....it is because I have benefited from so much coming my way.
Cheer someone on today. It makes a powerful difference....for good.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
One of the reasons is God remains such a great mystery. We can't coordinate the working of the Spirit. He coordinates us. When we try to approach any work of His, we are immediately behind; lacking in understanding.
Who could calculate that Jesus would be back in three days? His closest friends didn't when he repeatedly made effort to tell them. Who would have figured twelve could communicate to thousands of multi-languaged groups and upon the inaugural church sermon 3000 would be baptized? 3000? The number still staggers. And....who could have gaged that if two prisoners would sing I Come to the Garden Alone (or some sort of song) that not only would the jail house fall down but the guards would step up....the be converted? Who can calculate this stuff?
So it behooves us as leaders of the church to wade into the crisp waters of opportunity with absolutely no clue as to what we are doing. The church has mistakenly become a populace of "if you can't explain it, don't be trying it". This is one reason the church lives more like a scared turtle than a running rabbit.
Our job is to go and trust. Go trusting He will do what He promised....be with us. I praise God for the few on the narrow road who find life in the mystery of God which cannot be calculated. I want to continue to be a part of a people forced to praise (not just sing a Capella) the living God for no one could do among us what gets done....unless He is the One doing it.
Our goal of going to heaven may have honorable meaning; yet if that's one's only goal it short-sheets the one God intended. His plan is---according to Jesus' words---for us to experience life and to experience it abundantly. The Word verifies we have eternal life now.
I see too many who believe they will really and only live past physical death....later...when reaching heaven. God clearly calls us to die to ourselves now and experience brand new---created new---walks for the present. This is why some who claim to be the NT church are far from it. They aren't alive at the moment; but rather are hanging on by a thread of hope that He will save them in that Day.
Jesus awakens us to live from heaven now...our citizenship is there says Paul. His will is found on earth as it is in heaven just as Jesus taught the men to pray. Heaven is later, certainly, but it is also right now. So the question to me is not will you go to heaven when you die. But rather, will you die to yourself in order to experience heaven while you live the new life now?
Friday, August 21, 2009
I think He and we have a good case of contagion going.
Pass it on! Keep it going! Give credit God for the glory of life....and a life of glory will be in our paths....as well as in our hearts.
And.....from the abundance of those God-filled hearts.....what? The mouth speaks....what? Praises...and there the cycle continues.
Maybe if it never ends it could be called....eternity.
I love that quote. It is the mark of God. Surely we realize earth's measuring system of greatness and success is tied directly to flesh's hip. Earth's marks operate by comparison; beauty contests, sales strategies, educational progress....each includes the very trait God warned causes people to live without accurate understanding...II Cor. 10:12.
Forgets himself into greatness? Forgets? Isn't that a weakness? Wouldn't "nameless" and "unnoticed" or "forgotten" be possible cousins of "forgets"? Shouldn't greatness be pulled back when using that term and maybe insert goes nowhere? Forgets himself and goes nowhere?
Yet the nameless woman at the well forgot herself and led and entire city to the Friendly One. A small sort stranded in a tree was called down to become chief host at a private party for Him. The out-of-sight out-of-mind prodigal has aroused millions to respond to the Lord's call to return home.
My experience in the kingdom causes me to highly regard Jones' wisdom. Church isn't about us. It is all about Him. It isn't about budgets, and goals, and events. It is all about Him. Now and again we hear of fantastic moves of God among us. Every time it will be said that it was able to happen because the people involved regarded others...never themselves.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
There are those places and groups who feel stuck. There is a feeling of going nowhere and barely keeping the church going. It is this kind of setting I address hoping to offer....hope.
There is hope in every situation. What is needed is one believer; just one. I think one believer transforms a church. One believer can dethrone forty doubters. One believer can defy a hundred wrong decisions made by fearful and/or closed-minded leaders. It can be a young woman or an old man or one in his teens; a believer can turn the tide.
Walt believed in Disneyland and Disney World before anyone ever suspected such a thing possible. George Pepperdine built a little college on a hillside north of Los Angeles. What vision! Rosa Parks single-handedly broke a major racial barrier. And....Jesus took twelve rejects and rocked the world so strongly it still shakes.
We are constructed after the pattern that one in the hand of God is better than forty in the bush of fear and nervousness. A believer can turn the much-needed tide of any failing congregation. That's why there is no need to seek greener pasture. Notice the hope in your own field. It is full of potential.
If you don't believe me, read again that OT story of the one believing prophet standing up to the 450 false prophets of Baal. Yes, there are many moves which can be made to boost fatigued congregations. I think the first one is to find just one person who believes the possibilities of God.
While the book of James cautions us against unwise and painful words as they are as a match in dry timber, what if we reversed the thought for good? What if we set the church on fire in a positive way? I think we can....and do.
Our words are small sticks of dynamite. They are charged with life. As the Creator created with words...and the Son became the Word...we are capable of reversing negative tendencies among us by our super hot....words!
Last night I interviewed our elders, for one fundamental reason, before our Wednesday night class. I wanted the church to hear their words. That's it. Why? Our guys speak life. What happens when your shepherds speak words that give life? The church is set on fire.
I work with two remarkable secretaries. I "tell" them every day in some way how they are the best. I want our staff to believe they could not find a place more appreciative of their strenuous labors. How do we accomplish such? We "tell" them how good they are.
Do this today; go around being Smoky the Bearable. Speak words that sets others' lives on fire. Catch them doing something right and then "tell" them so. After all....isn't even the Great Commission's strength in the "going and telling"?
You are a good egg....so tell of your joy over others!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
How many of you read this blog feeling that "if people only knew" who you really are and what you are really like....you too would be rejected?
Two things need to happen:
- We need to realize we are all rotten and that's why it took an innocent death upon a cruel cross to make the supreme sacrifice for each of us. Jesus didn't pay our parking tickets. He paid our can't-get-out-from-under sin debt.
- We must take into account there are those looking our way to see if we notice and then accept them. Even the beautiful live lives of feeling secretly unworthy and rejected. We've all got the disease. Jesus, once again, transforms us into a new creation.
We fit in with God because in all of His outrageous goodness....He chooses to like us. Our job is to take Him at His word and put a huge smile across our faces. We are loved...very much so!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
This is a stern illustration of becoming the very thing we are against.
In our drive to press others to be open to Truth we are likely to block that same Truth by our untruthful, man's-tradition standards. In our clamor to enforce worshipping God the right way, we are very likely to worship the worship structure instead of the Father. How many insist we sing in our churches without instruments and yet don't open their mouths to sing?
God has revealed great, strong, mighty Truth. We must continually run wide-open to it; for if not we will be just as the Woodstockers......becoming what we protested.
Monday, August 17, 2009
The computer used to reveal this blog is brilliant....yet merely a creation of many men and women pooling brain-power....and the result is awesome. So how much more so are you having been created by the God of combinational brain-power?
Good is being done all around us. Courtesy, kindness, and ambition shift and leap and jump at chances to get involved. Risk and try hurry to participate in the progress of a decent society. Love, involving the hero forgiveness, makes work and play more than tolerable; it makes it all delightful.
Look around. If you just obeyed that thought....you are a miracle on feet. You can both read and turn your neck and adjust your eyes. How we don't take our lives for granted. How we are revved for another day.
You and I....we are like cell phones. Much communication comes and goes but at the end of the day the batteries run low. How do we recharge? We believe much awe is going on while the nasty stuff gets the headlines the blessed and generous stuff is much more massive. Those of us who have eyes to see and ears to hear know this is true.
Congratulations. You are one who likes the hour God has given you. Thank Him for it. Awesome indeed!
Sunday, August 16, 2009
I've never witnessed anything like it. It was bizarre and it was risky.
After preaching from "The Lord's Prayer" with a focus on "Give us this day our daily bread," I ended the sermon by pointing people to the communal function of this prayer. We've often interpreted this phrase as a call to personal reflection about our willingness to trust in God to provide. There is a sermon there; it just isn't the way this prayer functions.Jesus teaches us to pray, "Give us..."Jesus teaches us to pray with the world.
The church in Acts 2 and Acts 4 seemed to have been formed by these words of Jesus. They met each other's needs by selling land and homes. They grew because they knew how "to do" compassion. My prayer this week was that Acts 4 would come to life at SVC today. And...it did.
We had two baskets up front. Mark Taylor (a good friend and a minster at SVC) was holding one and Stoney Ramsey (a dear friend and a man of compassion) was holding the other. God provided me with $3200 in cash, and I had divided it into 4 piles of $800--2 for the 2 baskets in early service and 2 for the 2 baskets in late service. Then, I invited people to give whatever cash or change they wanted to give, because today we were going to take care of one another.
Then, it got bizarre. Very bizarre.We have members like many of you do who are struggling with needs. Do they pay for healthcare or do they buy food? Do they pay off credit cards or do they pay the utility bill? Do they buy school supplies or new clothes for the kids?I invited all who were in need to come and to take handfuls of money. (I know...it sounds crazy, right? I know of a couple of churches who have done something similar, and I was inspired.)
I rebuked the spirit of pride, embarrassment, fear, and shame. We have created a culture where we are unable to say, "I am in need." Needy people are often looked down upon as if they don't work hard enough, or they haven't managed money well, or they just haven't been blessed by God.I begged those in need to not deprive people from the joy of giving. I pleaded with them to not deprive God of providing for their daily necessities.
And, it happened.Within the first verse of the first song, people were waiting in line to drop money in the baskets. I was shocked to witness how many people were carrying cash. I had people coming up to me afterwards saying things like, "I never carry cash, but for some reason I went to the ATM yesterday."I will never forget the lady who came forward with a handful of change and said, "This is all I have, but I want to give it." It was the story of the woman who gave her two coins lived out right in front of me.
We had people dropping checks in the baskets with the "Pay to the order of" left blank. These checks were for $50, $500, $1000 and the memo read, "Acts 4".As people were putting money in the baskets, others were coming to take money out. There were plenty of tears and even more laughter. Widows were provided for. The needy were taken care of. The people who cried on the way to church today because they didn't know how bills were going to be paid went home rejoicing in the providence of God. We witnessed the power and activity of the Holy Spirit.
We gave away every single penny. We refused to count the money, but I'm assuming we gave away close to $10,000 today. I sent the basket of change home with a 20-year-old college student whose grandmother needed the money.I am so proud of our people at SVC. I get to preach in front of people every Sunday who have surrendered their lives to the Jesus-story. They teach me something new every week.
Today, at SVC, it was a day of Jubilee. We were leaping for joy because the presence of God was alive and active.
Now, I'm drained. I'm going to sleep.
PS--I wish you could have been at the bank with me when I cashed a $3200 check. I handed it to the lady and I said, "Mam, I need a bunch of cash, preferably in all 20's." She laughed. I told her that it was for a day of Jubilee.
Before I knew what was going on, I was explaining to the workers at Bank of America what Jubilee meant for God's people. They couldn't believe that there was a church that was going to give money away to people on a Sunday morning. The workers at the bank went home knowing about the power of God in Acts 4.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Frustration always asks one question: Do you love the frustrator? It doesn't ask the question of whether you are right or they are right or are both right. It will always ask the direct question when conflict involves another, Do you love the frustrator?
If love for the others is not present then the real issue is not yet what we have assessed it to be. When love kicks into gear the frustration may not yet be dissolved. But it will be certain we are in better alignment with the will of God to fix the problem.
Not all frustrations involve people. Sometimes they involve flat tires or failing air conditioners. Whenever such has another person in the picture, we can be assured the question is going to be asked....and we want to grow to give the proper answer. Frustrations are God's MRIs to get us to grow out of childishness into His Son's pattern for life.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Yet, there is very strong need for us to be prepared for highly difficult situations. We are not exempt from train wrecks. Muslim terrorism is coming over the horizon at an alarming rate. Little is being done about it. The 90% good Muslim factor can't/don't seem to have ability to reverse this aggression from within their own.
Add to this the deadening things we do in the church; those things which quench the Holy Spirit among us leaving us with only our own fleshly expertise. This church style does not display the abundant life Jesus expressed; but rather a drudgery reflective of increasing weights at a tractor pull. Eventually, too many give out and give up for they become weary of carrying a load intended for the Spirit to shoulder.
What are we to do in facing a future which appears to have both religious virus and spiritual contamination? One of the things we must provide is training to always testify that Jesus is our Lord. We must not bow to false gods or intimidating religions. Jesus must reign supreme in our hearts.
Yes, there is a great chance those of my generation will not encounter such extreme measures as I imply. However, it is my conviction (and that's all it is) that the future we face is going to carry the blessing of calling Christians to really stand strong for the name....the Name above all names.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I once lived as a professional pit person. I took up living quarters in this abusive compartment house and seemed to have even rented extra rooms at times. But God helped me break the depressing pattern. I share some ideas which possibly would fit your complexities. These helped me...no...transformed me:
- I saw Joseph in a pit once. Joseph could not have imagined at that moment the Lord meant that for good. Later he saw it. Later he relished in God's marvel. I've developed an assurance that if not now then later God will turn my stress into good.
- I know God disciplines me. At one segment of my life, I didn't know that. Now I do. When things won't go my way I eventually discover God is coming my way. He won't let me get my way because I, one more time, need to grow up. Stress is always a disciplinary opportunity to extend our faith-roots deeper for while we cannot see how this could be a good thing, we develop a trust in God that He is dependable.
- I keep learning to wait....with a smile in my heart. The pits were once a roaring lion in the attic of my mind. I wasn't happy with the church, I didn't like many of the decisions, and I was disappointed in me. But, I've learned to wait. I've learned to wait and then run with the eagles as Isaiah wrote.
Stress is very stressful. Here's how we handle the pits. We count them our blessings....at that moment they begin to work for us instead of against us.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Reports say the terrorists are poised for another attack intended to produce upheaval. My word to you is get our people ready. If we are found to be under attack again, and if our brains are scrambled in chaotic messes, be assured our doctrines are being refined by such fire to once again lead us closer to God.
Do you really think six armed masked men will stand at your door and force you to fork over information as to whether you support the workshop or don't? I think not. The forces will ultimately question whether we believe in Jesus. Our response will be, "MORE THAN EVER!"
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Memorial Drive has a talented staff. In the mix we have one secret weapon who can do it all; Jason Thornton. When my son told me about Jason being a possible contact to fill a youth minister vacancy years back, Tim said, It's not fair that one person be so talented in so many areas. Tim was so right. Jason can teach, preach, lead singing, handle Bible Hour, work with teens, and organize like crazy. It's not fair.
Most of the members would never guess all this man gets done. I know only a part of it and I work next door to him. Jason is in the lives of hundreds in very deep, important ways. He's a workaholic which is never shown by outward huffing and puffing. He works both in front of and behind the scenes. We are so richly blessed and he is often under-appreciated.
If Jason were not on staff at Memorial all the other ministers would feel immediate stress. This guy covers more church body aches and pains without fanfare than any would guess. His role is one of connecting the body. His effectiveness will not be really known until one day he moves on....which I hope is not for a long time.
So to my colleague and friend whom I love....thanks for being Memorial's great secret weapon!
Go to the link below and find two parts:
- August 9....It's All A Part of the Plan by Jeff Gentry and me.
- August 9....Sermon: Healing Power
I believe you will be encouraged at the wonderful world of God directed toward you.http://www.workshopmultimedia.com/index.php?subpage=memdrive
Monday, August 10, 2009
Chaos could be a matter of fact any day or any month now. The statement isn't meant to alarm; but to awaken. How does an individual or a country prepare for attacks which cannot be imagined? Where do people go for shelter?
There is a place to escape chaos and conflict. It is in Jesus Christ. Everyone is called to hide in him. Caves won't suffice. Remote forests are no better. Mankind is in danger. Jesus preserves it from extinction. Enemies may do away with our bodies, but not our souls. We hide in Jesus.
How does it all work? How does any of it work? Who can figure? Romans 6:3-5 expressly says when one is baptized he is baptized into Jesus' death. Why there? Because Jesus' death could not contain him. His death was severely flawed and yielded to resurrection power. We want to be buried into that dynamic death.
Tell everyone to be buried in Jesus. Tell those who don't even like church stuff. They will want to know. Jesus is our shelter. He is our escort into an entirely new arena. Don't miss out. Tell others not to miss out.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
This surely doesn't speak well to those enamoured with organization; and many in church leadership roles are zeroed in on this one speck. But I must remind you that the guy tagged as the very Father of Faith---Abraham was his name---is reported in Hebrews 11 as going out not knowing where he was going.
You see, when we always know we are in grave danger of knowing because we've shot too low. We've melted to the weaker wisdom of manageable men. When we know what is going on, we will usually find ourselves stuck with something which fades in effectiveness.
On the other hand, when we try in areas which we can neither measure nor project there is such an opening to the Spirit of God to do what He wishes with our efforts.
We have great harmony among our leadership because the biggest trait we can must---even together---is weakness. We are dependent upon God. We are wishing big, dreaming big, and wanting results. But we are burnt out bt our own efforts. We get fatigued over church labor without God's leadership.
We are united; not because we are brilliant. We are foolish.....I Cor. 1:20-31. The good news is we know it. Harmony in the Spirit work is so much more productive than the frustration of trying to herd the cats via man-organization.
Saturday, August 08, 2009
One of those issues is major; the Holy Spirit activity. Two-thirds of God (Father and Jesus) is not the complete God of the Bible. The Holy Spirit is vital as His participation is essential to the continuation of the true church Jesus is building.
Yes, I know several brothers who felt they had fought and weeded out this doctrine from among us. But they haven't. They mustn't. They won't. Their influence is broad and their voices intimidating. Nonetheless, the truth is the Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit and such inspiration still declares without obscurity the Holy Spirit operates in today's Christian.
Two-thirds of God among us is not enough. He will not work divided. He will allow Himself to be quenched among us; but He will not operate with the Holy Spirit tied behind His back.
I'm quite saddened at those who mock the truth of the Holy Spirit. They believe they are merely picking at those as myself. But we are not significant. To belittle one-third of God out of sheer ignorance and man's reason is worse than a bad idea. It is disastrous.
Welcome to the land of vision. And....welcome to the freshman class of Church Struggles 101.
I have some good news and some good news. First, some of our ideas are legit' and others are duds. God knows the difference. Second, God's vision is better than ours on any day. So relax. He knows how to move us whether our senses are on track or short-sighted.
Twenty-five years ago I had this great idea. Highway 169 was being completed by extending south past 31st street. I checked on property and found the church could buy the NE quadrant of an unpopular intersection at 169 and 71st street for $350,000. I proposed we move the church there to draw from the main corridors of Tulsa. That bright idea died and now Target sits there.
So, later I had another brilliant thought. A mall on the Broken Arrow Expressway at 145 had failed. I took some to look at the property. We could make a church building out of it and the cost was a meager $600,000. (Since then we have spent that much on our old building....twice.) Again, my big idea bit the dust. Today a huge church lives there.
Today? By God not letting me have my way our church home sits in the middle of a run-down, decaying part of Tulsa. Houses are sagging. Businesses are leaving. Three churches have moved out. We are stuck. We are stuck right in the center of the best opportunity yet!
Years ago we ran buses into the poorer parts of town to reach what families we could. Today? The poorer part of town has moved next to us. What a God-vision. Need is all around. We are in one of the perfect places in Tulsa.
My two earlier ideas would have worked. I believe God would have been willing to work with us in those zones. I still do. However, I didn't have to panic (and I didn't when my bright ideas succumbed). I knew way back then that God would make things work. He has and He is.
So when you set your heart on a dream that just has to be....always remember it doesn't have to be. God may see something coming down the pike in ten or twenty or thirty years you just can't yet grasp. Work in increments of decades; not months. Imagine for Him and with Him. Don't sweat the rejections. You've simply eliminated another "No" and the odds of "Yeses" are increasing.
Love your work. Don't flinch when your bright ideas are rejected. God runs the show.
Friday, August 07, 2009
First, with such a personality one has to be ever-so-careful to not imagine some think things they simply aren't thinking. Immediately you can see this is certainly a sticky wicket.
So what do you do with those personalities who just don't like you. If you are in ministry this sort is present. Here's what I think you do; learn to not care. If they like you fine. If they don't fine; move on. What's your job? Love everyone....including your enemies. Your job is to love everyone. If they choose to not like you this isn't your responsibility. Neither is it your job description. Let them not like you.
Jesus would possibly call this a knocking the dust off of your feet. Move on. I've got some around me that regardless of how much I try, I can't gain their approval. The greater effort I made the less they respected me for my assertiveness. I quit trying. I quit. If they want to like me, fine. If not, fine.
My value is not found in others' assessment. It is found in God's. This writing might cause consternation with some. But I needed to reach a point I quit obsessing with seeing that everyone approved of me. I think Jesus addressed this as well.
So if you are one of those who can't seem to shift into the high gear, possibly you are still living in Jr. High style wishing everyone loved you. They don't and they won't. Your role is to love those who love you and love those who don't.....and move on. This was most unnatural for me to learn. It took practice. Everyone I know is valuable. But not everyone I know finds me to fit their mold. So...I just don't fit.
May God be glorified as we move forward without being gripped by the disapprovers. There is far too much need in the world to be shut down by a tiny few who can't get happy.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
But I learned something in watching Jesus. He did not gear his effort toward those who didn't like his moves. He focused on the believers. When I repented of my preaching to correct those I assumed guilty and began to convey good news to those who wanted to know what it might be, God seemed to move us as a group from failure to success.
Soon afterward the elders at that transition seemed to make the same move. Never was it our plot nor plan. It just seemed to happen by the Spirit. The elders reached a point where they quit gathering to figure how to keep the naysayers pleased. Instead, they began to move according to what they deemed would fit the faithful.
The church gained a momentum that has never looked back.
This might seem too simple or too obvious. Yet, I can tell you many congregations don't find the room the breathe in profound liberty because the leadership is focused on the doubters rather than the believers. Doubters are unnecessary roadblocks to kingdom construction. They have stood in the way of many churches for many years. Many gave up and walked away (including their own children).
Should you need to be reminded...then be reminded. Preach the Word and gear it by faith with direction toward the faithful. That's why Jesus said, For those who have ears, let them hear. I spent a lot of pulpit time preaching to too many who didn't have ears.
Regardless of leadership role, when we focus on the believers and dreamers good things begin to happen. One of the biggest changes is even many of the doubters will shift to believing status. They just needed to see it start.
We can do it. We can see sluggish churches begin to arise and produce. Don't give up on people. Do redirect your efforts. Many things will change...for the good.
In the beginning he made a couch. Because he was a furniture artist he built the perfect seat of luxury. Finest oak was cut, trimmed, and shaved. Next it was covered with perfect padding and eloquent velvet. The finished product was stunning in both simplicity as well as intricacy.
And then something went wrong. Some sort of virus attacked the very core of the sofa. Its stability began to weaken and its color started to fade. Something radical had to be done for this expert craftsman had never constructed anything with flaw.
The only thing he could do which would reverse the damage done would be to become one of his created parts and apologize to the whole for the error. He sent himself to the couch in the form of a staple. The other staples, nails, and even glue regarded him as just another one of them. But this staple was different. He carried a message of hope of recovering the couch once built without blemish.
Who could believe such an amazing message? Could there really be a carpenter who worked from such a heart that we would transfer himself from behind the hammer to become the hammered? And this creator would apologize to the created for the flaw that wasn't his?
Is this a most impossible story of rescue and recovery? The master would recover the sofa? It would become so new it would live on as if never flawed? Is this not the perfect carpenter?
What a story! What a God! What more could He do? Nothing. He did it!
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
One of the things coming from this is the good news that the church has great opportunity if it will operate with eyes opened. We have communities in need. People are pleading for help. A few years back a nearby elementary school asked us (a church) if we would help them. We do.
Further back a few of our members saw the need for a food pantry. This ministry has led to many hungry families having food on their tables. Plus, it has been used as the tool to lead several to be baptized into Christ.
But the greater the press of things going economically wrong, the pace seems identical to the opportunity the church has to minister. Our neighbors are in a world of hurt. Financial Peace Seminars (such as the one we just did with Dave Ramsey or will do with Steve Diggs) is a perfect work for today's culture. The church in Jesus touches the economically blind and lame.
The community is looking for help and it is looking in our direction. Furthermore, the church has discussed moving into the ditch for years. Now there seems to be a divine connection as we can actually see the ditch possibilities.
What perfect timing! What an ideal moment in which to live and to dream. The unbelieving world is about to run out of dead-end roads and the believing church is poised to move beyond its Sunday School chatter to hands-on encouragement. The connection of both is needed by both. We live in a very good time.
Monday, August 03, 2009
Are they? Yes, many are. By spiritual, they have significant interest in the Divine. They believe in God. But at the moment church isn't a part of their style. Nevertheless, I find them to be respectable and important facets to the kingdom life.
For some of them, church has been a train wreck. They were deeply injured by some past moment. To their credit, their heart never left their Lover.
What I would want them to know from preacher-boys like me is that they are a very special sort. Furthermore, each is carrying a special blessing of God He has placed within them for the church....and those like me are missing out until they find their way back. I am hindered when spiritual ones withhold their commonality of serving beside me. They possess something special of God that is most unique only from them....with a destiny assumed to be me.
So I would say to any reader out there who is spiritual, but not presently attending a church, we need you. We need you to stand beside us. We need you to sit with us. We need you to hold our hand when we feel like giving up.
And you need to know something else. We understand your disappointment in us. We are really sorry. We can't make big promises we won't mess up again...and again. But we can say with assurance that we are sure we will be better with you knitted into our walk.
For any who fit the above description, you are a blessing right now as you are. And we wait in hopes that one day you might be able to look past our gnarly and faulty Christianity to see the One....the One named Jesus who really is what all of us spiritually-minded people strive to know.
Sunday, August 02, 2009
We are content if some want to teach us for such surely is His will. Learning is a marvelous kingdom procedure. However, we don't need men's rules as a safeguard that we keep from learning wrong things. God's rules? Yes. Men's? No.
Our corner of the denominational world has suffered (just as others have) from the assumption on the part of some that the rest of us were too weak and silly to discern Truth. Bad mistake. A woman from Colorado wrote recently that she was so happy to hear someone teach about the direct activity of the Holy Spirit; that she had believed such secretly since a little girl. Our people are thinkers; good thinkers.
Can we misunderstand? Of course. Don't be silly. Misunderstanding accompanies any kind of direction and instruction. What I like about people who are earnest about study of the scriptures is the learning process will pretty much assure (even demand) we change our minds as we continually add new Bible information to our understanding.
The danger in any research is the mind frozen in time. We have huge burdens strapped to our backs as we open the Word when we enter the process with man-made habits and practices. With these, we find ourselves unable to enter the riches deeply embedded in God's heart because we are applying a film or screen which blocks the rays of His good news.
Think, my friends, for yourselves. Peel away the fears of what others will think and think for yourself. Trust Him. He has information, I'm convinced, that no man or woman has yet discovered in His trustworthy love letter.
Blessings.....as you think for yourself.
Saturday, August 01, 2009
What will we who preach say?
We will tell the entire congregation some of the best news we can think of.
Some are assembling tomorrow full of sadness; others of celebration. Some will be searching; other running away.
We will open up the Bible anticipating He will open up our hearts to the wonder and majesty of things so easily overlooked.
Tomorrow we will assure those who may question; God will deliver.
How grateful we are for God's superior love and extensive concern.
That's what we'll say.
Having said all of that the actual wording, We go by the Bible, is an honorable quest. We should. This is what still causes such a stir among Churches of Christ. Some among us are blamed for ditching the Word when our hunger is to rise up to it. We don't believe the Word of God has been completely obeyed nor has the church arrived at full restoration.
To go by the Bible is right on. However such a statement has been short-sheeted by looking at the 1950 American church and proclaiming, This is exactly what God had in mind. It wasn't. We still aren't. Yes, we have many wonderful things about us. The discrepancy between divided groups, however, is those who want to preserve and those who want to proceed.
Have you noticed a lot of discussion coming from Washington regarding greenhouse gases and the urgent need to preserve the earth? Not from any of their conferences have I heard a discussion about eliminating the tobacco industry....which the government subsidizes. Man is a vital part of earth and yet Congress is blind to such a simple truth.
Have you noticed we snarl at churches who minimize the art of baptism by reducing it to sprinkling? That isn't the Bible way. Yet, we who push out our chests that we take communion every Sunday (when those false churches don't), practice the same principle in that we have taken a very powerful, meaningful meal and reduced it to minimal representation during our very decent and in order assembly. Our whimsical practice of quick, short, and simple is not observing the Lord's Supper if we were to go by the Bible.
So what shall we do:
- We shall find ways to increase our faithfulness to the Word of God.
- We shall be patient with every one among us for each of us is both struggling and striving to reach God's level of intended discipleship.
- We shall learn to love those we don't want to in the name of going by the Bible.
- We shall not accept the seeming urgency to keep the church looking as it has in the last two centuries as our standard. It is not.
- We shall believe that we are not only not perfect; we aren't close to His wish to clone us as the ideal church. Therefore, we will keep learning by His marvelous grace.
- And, we shall be assured that our brain-power is no match for His style. Thus we will do our best to see that the concept of going by the Bible remains a wonderful and enthusiastic call for our days ahead.