Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I'm in one of those zones where I don't feel like I'm getting much done. That's weird because I just finished a manuscript to a book I've worked on for five or six years. And, I'm now rewriting the Holy Spirit book; just cleaning it up a bit.
But I feel duddy.
You ever feel that way?
When I hit such times two things overwhelm me; the size of God and the amount of people who need to be reached. I can't seem to connect the two and they need to be connected. God is remarkable and amazing. People are valuable but basically indifferent to His existence. I have the knack of drawing the two together and lately I'm off.
I'm not discouraged with the church. Memorial is the ideal place to get to be. I'm just poopy about my load; it doesn't seem to move. I'm not overworked in the least. I'm underaccomplished.
What I'll do is the same thing I always do when these times come along. I'll wait. I learned a ways back I can't do anything apart from Him....so I'll wait. He'll show up.
Disappointed you didn't read this today and find a great bit of earth-shaking inspiration? Well....me too. Yet, even in our weakness I sense some readers would be encouraged to know that not every day is a mountain top for me. They aren't. Now you know....again.
Be encouraged. God will break in and when He does....yippee!
Their #2 story is, Excluded from 21st Century Christian's 2009 edition of Churches of Christ in the United States were the Richland Hills church in Texas and 20 other congregations that use instruments.
The #1 story? The number of men, women, and children in the pews dipped to the lowest level since a comprehensive effort to count members began in 1980.
I wonder if it occurs to anyone that the brotherhood's critical and judgmental attitudes toward those involved in the #2 story might be the cause of the #1 story. A proud and divisive spirit will not be conducive to church growth.
Blessings to every autonomous congregation for doing the best you can to reach as many as you can as fast as you can....including Richland Hills and the 20 other congregations listed at #2.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
There He was....God. Little, innocent, helpless....God in a baby body. Of all people, Herod seemed to have as great a faith of what this child could become as anyone on earth. He issued a decree to execute out of panic all the male children under two. Why? He believed what Jesus would become. That's pretty amazing faith.
But the scene repeats itself. Oddly, it is innocent enough that no one would guess it a replica of the original manger posture. Today's scenes are little congregations sprinkled throughout each community. If they aren't in the thousands, to me they/we are little.
And here we are.....tiny churches gathered with little recognition from society around. Just as the baby Emmanuel, we have little money, little political clout, little community pull, and little reason to believe we can make a difference.
Yet, we can. We are Jesus' body. We can believe we can become highly impactive just as he was. We can believe we can take control via the same means as he; the cross.
Our challenge is also our pathway. We will increase by the same means he did; prayer, prayer, prayer, and more prayer. Most likely the reason we have been babified for decades is because we have mopped our egos with chants of being the true church while failing to go near the prayer path of the real, authentic church.
Our hope....is seen in that little baby in the manger. He grew up to be the Main Player. We must not settle for living life from the cribs called church buildings. May we note from his great display of faith in the Father a way for every congregation to hit 2010 even more prayerfully prayerful.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Last week I experienced another form of strain on humans; materialistic obesity. Why do I have so much...the best of so much...the most of so much.....and still want more? I fear I have gangreed.
Materialistic obesity is not everywhere; but it surely is among many of us.
When we have so many packages to unwrap that we can hardly enjoy one gift for the next five coming at us, we are threatened by materialistic obesity. When children have so much given they find it difficult to live in ecstatic appreciation, we may have a case of materialistic obesity.
Forgive me for sounding old, but when I was six I got a toy John Deere tractor and a jacket. I was thrilled for I hadn't received a gift since June 18....my birthday. Now I give myself so much throughout the year my kids and grand kids are forced to really think it through because I've spoiled me all year....and had a very good time at it!
It could be we should evaluate another facet of the need for The Biggest Loser. It could be we need to push away from the table of materialistic gain. Maybe we need to awaken to our overindulgent nature which has grown so out of hand it harps that too much is yet not enough.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
David and Lisa Combs moved to Tulsa a few years back initially requiring some of their furniture to be stored. Once they secured a house, the items were moved in.
The dining table had a particular cough during the six months of storage. Originally, two leafs went with it. But....only one was in place and the table developed a distinct bias against the orphaned leaf. It would not budge that the leaf could be added. Strong men tried. Stronger men said they could pry the table open in order to insert the leaf alongside its older brother.
For months and months the table would not say "Ah" that the spare leaf be added. Clammed tightly shut, the table refused hospitality to it most useful sibling.
On Christmas Eve David and Lisa were preparing to open their home for guests the next day. Lisa was sitting on the floor by table. In frustration she mentioned to God that she knew Him to have bigger fish to fry, but she really needed that extra leaf in the table....and would He please fix it.
She then stood to give the table a tug. With ease it cooperated. David called to her asking if the table just moved. It had. The table opened its mouth wide to receive the once-abandoned leaf. Everything was now in place. The guests were all seated.
Now you know the parable of the Dining Table. How did it happen? Lisa believed God.....is all I know to report. Claim it to be weird or absurd...whatever you wish. She prayed. It happened. I love it!
Friday, December 25, 2009
Well....I have an excuse. My house is so crowded with kids and grandkids I thought I better check on my blog-family.'
We have had a blizzard. No, really! It is perfect....so exciting. Chris and Wendy left here at four yesterday (they are from Atlanta) to get with his family for Christmas Eve. It was sleeting magnificently as they left. The sleet converted to snow about 5:30 and by the time they began their trek back here, it was a gigantic blizzard. I think we have about 6 or so inches of white fluff just calling for someone to make snow ice cream. How fun.
But....Chris and Wendy couldn't get back home last night. They made it here this morning. How fun is that? Can't get around town because the roads are so bad! Great!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
One man regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind....Romans 14:5.
I have Christmas every day. Why not? Packages every day? Shopping every day? No to both. Celebrate every day? Like right now every right now with eager anticipation of what surprise package will God deliver next? Absolutely.
God has converted me. I am a new creation. I think every day is a holiday. While non-believers dumb down to performing dailiness with drudging ritual, believers get to smart up by awakening to the wonder of God's intriguing moment by momentness!
For the Christmas season I can't wait. I start a count-down in the office August 1 as to how many days 'til October 1....the day we draw name for Christmas. I begin Christmas shopping October 1 and finished (on purpose waited this long) December 23rd.
Who doesn't love gifts and great surprises? So why dumb down for eleven months? Why not smart up? Believe in something spectacular, marvelous, stupendous! Believe it is authentically the Christmas season year round. This would be one way of putting the Christ back into Christmas, don't you think? If the Christ-followers celebrated every day in every circumstance.....don't you think the dumbed down version would pale in comparison?
That's how I see Romans 14:5.....I regard every day alike.....always Christmas!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
One indictment against us, however, is our perpetual operation under the umbrella of fear. There is great need for our people to break the bonds of living on eggshells for fear God will put out our wick. Two or three texts of God zapping those who didn't do everything exactly proper have bred a psychological misfire in His people. In general we are afraid.....afraid of silence, afraid of new, afraid of old, and afraid of not being acceptable to God.
When the eggshell element is present, worship goes out the window. Our gatherings are not monitored by the heart involvement; but rather by the dumbing down to the common denominator of "was anyone offended". It matters not whether God had any feelings about the matter. Fear leads us to gatherings of both rigidity as well as frigidity.
I remind you that Jesus is the Lord of Life. Satan is the master of robbery. Fear is more than the opposite of love; it is the opponent.
As we among many strive to become more like Jesus, one of the great hurdles for the Church of Christ is to clear the high step of fear. It strangles the church when it has no idea it might be suffocating. It is. Jesus alone sets us free.
May our courage increase.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Discipling is the win-win action of the church's operating system. When we do the work (whatever it is) by ourselves, we short-sheet God's intended design of efficient functionality. When we become disciplined enough to train others to train others to train others, we have the true church operation. And the good news is? This method is highly productive.
Because of my tenure and my age, I am more aware than ever in ministry of the importance of empowering others. The more souls empowered, the greater the productivity among us. When the empowered learn to empower, a very exciting dynamic strikes every congregation.
It took me years to see this. I knew it in my head, but did not realize the power of its intent. I was doing my part of the work by myself. But as I realize I'm in the phasing out segment of my life (meaning I'm past 60), I see the value of mentoring as never before.
Our elders have seen it longer than me. Memorial Drive is highly energized because the elders backed away from being permission givers. They lead by finding champions of any and every cause. If they can't find a champion, they don't start the work. But a key to their effective (efficient) leadership is empowering ordinary and devoted members of the flock.
You should see our auditorium this Christmas season. Brad and Diann Coggins and Richard Lovett did it.....because Linda Scott empowered them. She had enough work to do and then accomplished more because she gave others room to show their gifts. J. D. and Cindy Hatter direct the member involvement ministry, PLACE, because Jason Thornton guided them. The elders didn't give permission for such a move because they already turned the responsibility over to Jason.
The win-win method of God is discipleship. Church leaders are making a big mistake when they have to have their hands in every pie. Such is a matter of egocentric control in the name of shepherding or ministering to the flock. When we let go of the reins we become enthusiastically astounded at how He reigns.
When we hit the win-win process, life in the kingdom happens so fast and so strongly we cannot chart all of its wonder.
Monday, December 21, 2009
It is remarkable the amount of kindness and goodness embedded into society.
Yes, the media (including its ticker-tape at the bottom) tell of the bad guys. But have you noticed they have to repeat it for there isn't enough to keep it new? They'll repeat it for hours on end because there is a void of badness and a glut of goodness.
I'm not making this up. I know the government is working on ideas to serve our country. While they work on their various political plans...and I hope they work out....America is busy being the good guys in such mass there are hundreds of volunteer organizations already cooking; plus the zillions of churches doing what they should have been doing all along.
People serve people. They go out of their way; even sacrifice. Humanity is not a lost cause. Rather, it is a found culture. It looks to me like Jesus may have had greater impact than some of us once imagined. A ways to go? Of course. Failing the world? Hardly.
The good guys compared to the bad? I think they are outnumbered!
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Does any of us approach our Sunday gathering without custodial assignments? Not a church meets with trash strewn through the lobby and about the auditorium as if it didn't matter. Windows are washed, restrooms are tidied, and the carpet is vacuumed. We are ready.
So why is we think the external matters are to be in tip-top shape and that the internals matter little? How can we be so trashy in our approach to sing songs if we want and if we don't? Well, who cares? You're not my boss.
How is it we can clean the outside of the cup in properly grooming for church attendance with the assumption the inside of of the vessel can go without study, prayer, and devotion throughout the other six days?
What goes on with us that we can move about our streets in complete silence about the love Christ throughout weeks, months...even years....but talk as if an expert when in Bible class discussing evangelism?
Tomorrow will be another opportunity for us to have visitors. If one thinks they will be impressed because we don't have a piano and we do have communion, think again. They will be watching the hearts....that element the whole church just can't hide. The heart is that invisible neon sign of the spirit which forces our mouths to open in praise to God as well as actively greeting our visitors.
From the abundance of the heart....THE MOUTH SPEAKS. Will the visitors experience worship with us tomorrow? The tell-tale sign is whether we gush in love for God and people....by speaking openly.
People WANT to know God.
When I didn't know that factor, I spent my evangelistic efforts measuring prospects. It was like mining for gold; I had to go through a lot of terrain before I made a strike. Such an approach resulted in guilt more than anything else because I wasn't good at prospecting.
People WANT to know God.
And then when I realized the factor, the entire community changed in front of my very eyes. Every person contemplates the reality and the will of God. Sure, most may be fuzzy in their thinking...but who isn't while in search of the Liveliest One?
For instance, how much seed do you think is sown by all denominational and Catholic VBSs combined? How much seed is sown by children playing church at home? Finally, how many children attended some sort of Christian event over their years? 56%? 97%? I would venture the count would be high.
In all of these contacts--and there are so many more to raise one's awareness (Christian concerts, camps, etc.)--the seed has been sown. Today is sits poised with in prisoners, gangsters, CEOs, Rock Stars, and truck drivers. The seed of goodness planted by Kool Aid ladies with high-topped shoes remains in place waiting for sprouting.
What's going on in this culture of people? They secretly wonder if there is a God and how to go about knowing him. When I was searching as a college student, I would read three verses a night....three. Of course beginning with Genesis 1:1.......it was an impossibly slow process which ultimately faded.
Then I shifted to the back of the Bible where it had questions. I hit the one on why Christians couldn't dance. Well...I didn't want to dance but I sort figured I'd like to know what God said about it anyway. The reference sent me to four different guys named John; John, John Jr., John II, and John III....quite a generational heritage I thought.
I wanted to know God. I still want to know. And you can count on it...your doctor, your neighbor, your relatives are asking questions to themselves to keep from looking foolish in your eyes as to what might be cooking with this God stuff. Keep knocking on doors of hearts. You'll likely be surprised that when those around find the opportunity open about God, they will jump in....gladly.
Friday, December 18, 2009
I'm quite comfortable with responses that don't agree with me. You just would not believe how many times I get out on a limb and find I don't agree with me.
The response which came in (above) regarding a recent post is interesting for certain. I think it is a good response as it goes against the grain of what I wrote and clearly some good soul disagrees. Disagreement isn't the end of the world. It can be the beginning of a marvelous relationship.
First, my ideas expressed in the article were simply ideas. They aren't laws. They aren't necessarily great ideas. They are simply.....concepts some might consider.
The passage Anonymous references is really crucial. It is a freeing Bible verse. I believe that same passage and sense he or she may be violating it. Therefore, I would like clarification from Anonymous. There are many readers out there. We are learners. I've gone over my ideas presented and I don't understand where you are coming from.
Would you mind sharing what you mean?
It would be good to have a name other than Anonymous so we can know you aren't just taking a shot. But....that isn't mandatory. What do you mean by your statement?
Would you mind going over your concerns as sometimes we are saying the same things, but from differing viewpoints.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Children are amazing; magnetically interesting. The pure fascination of children impresses upon our hearts the God-nature implanted into human beings from the get-go. One of the great sweetnesses of little children is their oblivious willingness to care-freely give.
Kids don't know a dollar from twenty. But in their early stages they are willing to give it all away. If not careful, we parents will train them to hoard.
I saw this in my three when they were 5, 6, and 7. God was grooming them. Plus, their mom took them with her every Sunday morning at 7:20 and every Wednesday night at 6:15 on the Joy Bus to pick up the poor children in housing projects. The kids came home telling tales of stark sadness of their little friends on the bus who didn't have enough of something....usually food.
This experience caused my kids to want to give things, including dollars, away. I tried to never train them to restrict their hearts. I would let them give what they thought. It would be important to let them grow up believing giving hearts were to be a necessary part of adulthood.
It is more important to teach children the value of giving than the value of a dollar. Adults need to learn from the kids in many situations....not the reverse.
Children have an ability to sense need of the moment. They see opportunity and delight in participating. On our annual Missions Day at Memorial every first Sunday in May, one of my favorite times is watching all the kids flock to the stage to empty their coins into the shiny red wagon. They are overjoyed to make their contributions.
The child-heart is a wonderful thing. It is that part of divinity in men and women God is perpetually urging to transcend us backward....to be more like we once were. The child-heart is that golden moment of time where we remember one more time---whether 19 or 91---to revert to that pliable thinking that people matter more than possessions.
Good for us when we feel seven again!
For God so loved the world HE GAVE His only begotten son.
We love BECAUSE GOD FIRST loved us.
God's method is not a plan; but a style....one style....one consistent style....reach.
We are called to fit God's style. The reason this is important is we tend to compensate for failure in this grooming by developing outreach plans. I know. I lived there way too long. I couldn't see it differently. Out of a combination of responsibility and guilt, I made intentional effort to do something that appeared to fit under the umbrella of evangelistic. However....it was a dead effort.
God's style changed my approach. No longer do I evaluate prospects according to my mission plan. I extend my love to them...as God did...with awareness there may be a casual, informal, wonderful response. God's style is making the first move and then waiting on our response. That's to be our same style.
My next door neighbor was Rob. He and his wife visited church. We soon baptized her and they continued to attend. Returning from church one Sunday at noon they had parked their car in the drive and left the garage door up. As I was turning into my drive I took a sharper right and pulled into their garage. I went to the door and Rob answered.
I said, Hey, do we need to get together and talk about this church stuff? I will always remember his response. Soberly he said, Our day will come. I drove off. I later baptized Rob and today he is an elder for a huge church in Dallas.
I didn't have a plan. I had God's style....reach.....in hopes their will be a response. God's method of reaching the world isn't a project. It is a style.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
- Develop a prayer team to meet in one of the classrooms during Sunday morning or Wednesday night class.
- Develop a prayer group to meet in the auditorium for an hour, before Bible class begins, to pray for your day.
- When praying spend more time praising Him and thanking Him than pleading with Him. Tell God you know He is the one running the show and thank Him for His skill and provision.
- Study the "One another" passages in the N.T. We scheduled such a class at Memorial...a one time event...when I first moved here. I announced from the pulpit we would have such class a next Friday night at 10:00 believing only the seriously interested would attend that late. Twelve showed...each explaining they would need to leave by 11:00 or 11:30. I just smiled. No one left until 6:00 a.m. We studied all through the night.
- Learn to anticipate the Holy Spirit living among you; within you. My book on Empowering the Ordinary is one guide to the Holy Spirit's activity among us.
- Break the tradition of church assemblies for the benefit of children. Cancel Wednesday night or Sunday night to offer a party for your children and neighborhood children. Have a County Fair in your parking lot for the neighborhood.
- Ask the song leaders to quit talking and lead. The more a congregation can go from song to song without interruptions the more it seems to have a positive worship affect on the spirit of the church.
- Begin a contagion of discussing informally about God moving among you. Be living testimonies of praising God for the wonderful...even seemingly small....things that happen to you. The more you praise Him it seems the more He gives you to praise Him. He works. Say so wherever you are with any in the body...tell of His greatness and those who hear will be inspired.
- Read books about Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God working. Randy Harris' new book, God Work, is a place to start. Henri Nouwen's The Wounded Healer is exceptional. Fill your mind with news about Jesus. This will permeate the congregation.
- Refrain from worrying over a brotherhood you know little about. Take care of the menial tasks and daily grind at home. Fill those knitted next to you with love in grace-filled words. We have enough to do on our own plates without wondering and doubting things of churches miles away.
We have work to do...great work. Jesus said THE WORK that was to be done was to believe in him whom God sent. That's our job...believe Jesus. Charts won't encourage. Plans from the business management perspective won't cut it. Jesus does. Jesus will. Believe him.
Monday, December 14, 2009
I was oh so enthused to get to preach. I believed it to be a fascinating venture and still find it so. The nerves? Never do they calm. One would think they would but trying to convey Him between prepositional phrases is fearful to the soul.
I'm convinced of one necessary change in all preaching; we are called to preach Good News and it should be done. The Word is Good News; too good of news to be true. Preachers (like me) have humanized the message to a sin management seminar. Whatever the sin, grace abounds....the Word says. But we want to curb the good news for fear it become too good of news...you know the kind where individuals step up their sin to capitalize on more grace? The Word addresses such in the same text.
To keep from abusing grace the church's tendency is to not believe in it. Enter sin management. Enter mediocre news. Enter boring, dull, sophisticated, formal, rigid church. Enter death to joy.
Watch the Word anew. Watch its grace oriented good news. Watch the woman at the well get off the hook with no follow-up. Note the Prodigal coming home and the church watch-dog on the back porch pouting away the glory of the Father's love. See the victim in the ditch as well as the nameless stranger's second mile benevolence.
When these and other acts of God are absorbed our hearts are filled with concentrated and obvious....too good of news to be true.
So what do we have to preach? We can forgive every sin. We can heal the sinners by forgiving them. We can give repeated offenders; not three times, not four....but 70 x 7. Oh how this fits so well in Bible Hour for the wee ones, but when it comes to adult sin we balk.
We just can't escape the Good News. We must preach it for it is on every page of the New Testament. We aren't the New Testament church if we are preaching the Old Testament law of bad news.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
The size of our work is, therefore, always over our heads. I don't possess a gnat's whisker of influence or management skill. He is the One. He is the One who knows all the ins and outs to the trickiest and stickiest of moments. I increase in cluelessness.
The size of our work and the size of us is quite significant. We must maintain our decomposure. We are nothing unless He enters the scene.
Whether elder or minister or momma, each of us will be in the game....effectively in the game...if we will remember that this all powerful One draws to our humility. We don't have all the answers. We don't even hold the best ideas. We are lucky skunks to wake up finding ourselves involved in the greatest show on earth...the God-walk.
It is by His mercy and grace we get to be a part of this grand fascination. Therefore, be encouraged not to promote yourself to any level beyond gratefully most fortunate. I love being a part of the church. I'm still in awe that He found me. I'm more in awe He lets me hang around the work force I get to be near.
The size of our work is not to be measured by the size of us....but rather by the size of Him.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
We want the gain life part; yet do our best to skip the lose part in order to reach His gain portion. It is not surprising our adjusted efforts don't work out. Stubborn as we tend to be, we still try to force His hand by showing him if we could just have a few more days or dollars, we can make our equation work without having to suffer the threat of His.
His way works. Ours doesn't.
So how do we lose our lives. One way is to do as He desired, care for one another. In caring for another (His way) we lose our lives when we do what we can to see attention is give to another. We lose our lives by bragging on the other staff members, or the other elders, or the other servants, but not ourselves. We live by using our light to shine toward others and their accomplishments; not our own.
When we lose our lives by giving generous applause to everyone in our path, reciprocation in gratitude will begin to return for we build up good people. We believe in people by giving to them compliments and assurances. In turn, our life begins to breathe deeper because we see strugglers beginning to develop into someone new.
Lose your life. Others will come alive. And you will be blessed. Jesus gave his....and we express gratitude for such a move day by day.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Tim, Kim, and their three little ones have lived by the generous support from various individuals and churches over these six years. Due to the economy they have lost combination of approximately $1000 per month in support. When funds weren't abundant originally, a hit like this is significant.
Memorial Drive sponsors this couple. If your congregation would be interested in picking up part of their support through an annual pledge or a one-time contribution, it would be of huge encouragement. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
God knows exactly how to see them through in their work. It could be He will use some of you to be a part of His labor in Guadalajara. I'm appreciative of your consideration.
Thank you for everything you already do to care for the broad range of missionaries serving in the global vineyard of the King.
At Thanksgiving a member at Memorial Drive told her family that she wanted me to do her funeral when the time came. Jane Ferrell, 74, later told a friend about a specific dress she wanted to wear at her own funeral.
Two weeks later Jane was driving to stay with a dear friend who was dying. She intended to spend the night. However, Jane was killed in a freak car wreck on a street near her home.
When the family entered Jane's house to begin funeral preparations they found on her bed a note with funeral details. It makes one wonder, after hearing so many similar stories, how much communication from God's invisible realm takes place among us.
By the way, Jane's dying friend? She passed away the next day. Both funerals will be held on the same day. There's more to our world than what we see.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
I didn't get the show at first. Really, I didn't like it for I felt it was degrading and mean. But the transformation of these people was addictive to watch. Congrats to local guy, Danny, who won it all! He lost over half of himself! Amazing!
What I like about the program is it serves as a visual for what we do as Christians. We introduce them to Jesus and he helps them discard all the baggage. What happens is the literal metamorphism from caterpillar to butterfly experience. We help old people become new.
We help the tired and the weary find new energy. We train them to be new just as we are new. Living in the kingdom doesn't get old....it gets wild with wonder!
The Biggest Loser regards weight loss. To me? It means moving from lost (loser) to saved (gainer). It was Jesus who said the way to be the biggest gainer is to become the biggest loser.
When that happens.....watch out.....a new you is now on the scene!
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
There's something else we should see. In the eyes of each one might be detected old life; old, haggard, fatigued life. They need a boost; a new start.
Jesus revolutionizes life. We can rock our world with the infusion of Jesus into....people...the everywhere we turn people.
Notice the clerks. They've had a bunch of sassy customer talk again this season. When you turn toward them at 2:37 one afternoon, try to remember they have been standing there since 8:00 and they've heard our rude moans.
We, though, have life. We have something to say to them and those quite weary in line with us. What a day! What a privilege! A lot of people in nursing homes and rehab centers wish they could stand in long lines and pay high prices!
Get a life....and carry it into the community. Don't tell your Sunday school during class about how you know the Bible. The world could care less if you know your Bible. They want to know if you know of anyone who can get them out of this terribly disappointing life.
You do. His name is Jesus. Merry Christmas world! We share him!
Yet, we all know the Word speaks of each member being both sufficient as well as necessary.
So what can anyone do to build up the body of Christ? Catch people around you doing something good and point it out. Say so.
The more we point out the good traits in one another the higher we strive to live. The more we speak of the good life we see in another the more enthusiasm seems to develop. I love Memorial Drive....I'm crazy about 'em. They do so many important things in so many random ways, who could know all of the good we get done? The more we brag on God for working among us...the more He seems to give us to note His glory with, in, through, and among us.
Everybody counts! Everyone is necessary! Everyone!
We can make a difference because we believe in one another. We live near and among the best. Catch everyone doing something right!
Monday, December 07, 2009
Whitey Herzog is one of my favorites of the Cardinal organization. He is one of the funniest men I ever met. More importantly, he was a brilliant baseball manager.
The new Hall of Famer has been good to me over the years. He was my shuttle driver when I tore my knee in camp three years ago. Two years ago he stood in the team meeting on the last day with tobacco juice flowing and said, Hey, I just want to say something. Everybody knows Terry Rush is the worst ballplayer in camp...shoot he's always picked last because no one wants him....but I'll tell you that man can hit the ball....every time I've turned around this week, he's on base.
Should I have applauded or cried? That made me feel sort of good in a bad way. What an honor to be dishonored by someone....so famous?
I finished a new manuscript Saturday. MVP (Why You Are Most Valuable in God's Eyes) is ready for the publisher. One of the very special parts of the book is the endorsement of my good friend...Whitey Herzog....that I now have to change the wording to Hall of Fame, St. Louis Cardinals manager.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Today? Well, I'll not forget it. He shared with me that I ought to look at Acts 2:38 again....that because we have mistakenly pounded out the forgiveness of sins part, and ignored the Spirit reception part, we are left with a membership which obsesses over sin forgiven without caring whether there is any involvement of God in our walk. We basically want to know one main thing as a person dies...were they forgiven? We care not what they accomplished for him...sin resolve is our beat because that's the part we extract from Acts 2:38.
The message resounded. Our people got it. As we then evaluated the rest of the chapter we could see the awe-ha moments which were a great part of the church because in those days they were filled with the anticipatory Spirit of God where awe and additions were the nature of the church.
The Church of Christ is going to look more like the true church when we preach the full message of Acts 2:38. As long as we ignore the Holy Spirit our only alternative is to squeak by in life hoping we aren't lost at the moment we die.
Saturday, December 05, 2009
My old nature is a worrier, an attempted controller, and then more of a worrier. While I was insufficient at managing much, I tried to manage everything....and everyone. I was lousy at it....but such surely fueled my obsession to worry and try to control.
I've learned from the Jesus style to let go and relax. I talk about this a lot because too many live tied in knots. Things will work out. All will be all right. Operate in terms of decades if you can't do it in months. Let go. Relax. God knows how to do life for us.
We tend to make life too hard. We try to think ahead of both circumstances as well as people. I did for years. It doesn't get us anywhere except to turn our mattresses into racks of torture. When nothing is wrong, we wonder what might be. If someone wants to bless us, we wonder in turn what it is they are up to.
But when I learned to relax I learned to enjoy the life I have right now. I like right now. I'm not to heavy, too short, too poor, nor too busy. I like now. If I think I look bad now....in ten years I'll wish I looked this good....so how about a wow for now!
Yes, there are abundant upsets. Yes, much is disturbing. If you can fix it, get on with it. If you can't, enjoy the enjoyable things. The day may come when the tumor or the stroke or the final breath ends it all. What have you got to show for yourself?
Well....I think thoroughly enjoying God's moment at the moment is good for starters.
Don't make life so hard. Fears don't belong in your vocabulary so quit reciting them. Live big....and live now!
Friday, December 04, 2009
I would think various answers would be acceptable. Here would be my take.
I want to take him to all regions. How do I share? I don't give them a lecture or invite them to church. I want to communicate life....no Life. My hope is they pick up on refreshing news about their walk.
I see God in them; even if they see or feel nothing but failure and decay. I communicate I see possibility and hope in the very center of their existence. All such individuals need to know there is hope of life coming from them. I see, in their feeling of nothingness, something and, in their deadness, life....Romans 4:17.
I see in these the goodness they cannot see in themselves. Jesus is the one who resurrects the dead and my role is to resurrect self-doubters into God-believers. I get the privilege of believing in those who long lost any ability to believe in themselves.
When we take Jesus to the world one of the things we do is implant the concept of potential and possibility when such ears have never encountered such hope words. When I take Jesus to anyone, what I am really doing is introducing them to a new world of wonder which they can count as their very own.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Over the weekend a single mom found her fourteen year old daughter hanged. The momma discovered her. Trauma set in to say the least. My daughter went out and bought the woman a dress to wear for her daughter's funeral. That's the way she is; that's how she thinks.
But would you guess how Wendy-the-Pooh got such wings? She received them in her own pain. You see the 7th of December will mark 18 years since the murder of her fiance and his brother. Again to say the least, the situation was traumatic as well as devastating. None of us had been so shattered.
The world seemed to bow to the Phillips and Rush families with both generosities and kindnesses. They could not have been of greater help. A few of the young women went shopping and brought by several dresses for Wendy to choose from for the funeral for she couldn't do such for herself. What a remarkable gesture on the part of her friends.
So now 18 years later, when another happens upon ghastly horror, Wendy-the-Pooh knew immediately one thing that could be done. After all, she had received her wings 18 years earlier and remembered God's grace.
Good for you Wendy! You remembered how to do it! I love you today!
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Have you noticed there are more people around nowadays? More than ever before? Have you noticed a correlation with increased population and increased stresses? Have you noticed that surpassing this vast and fast pace is what is known as high- speed Internet? High-speed? Naturally. Everything is bigger, better, faster, and then over-sized super!
Man is about to be swallowed by his own creation. We've gotten out of hand. What shall we do?
We must stick with the Word....not a slogan, not an old-fogey idea. Stay with the Word.
Why? It contains secrets rulers can't know. It contains wisdom of the highest learning...THE highest learning. Romans 12:2....be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Look, don't be as enamored with small phones which can pull up the Internet as much as the faith of plain person calling up the Spirit of God in prayer. Tech doesn't surpass God.
We are still full of hope. Yes the media has some truthful bad reports. Our God has the best yet to come....His Son! Lean toward Higher Learning!
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Starting in Genesis and finishing in Revelation God has one clear and consistent message; God works with those who are under overwhelming odds against them.
- Noah with a message that wouldn't hold water.
- Abraham well beyond his prime.
- Moses running from Pharaoh's army.
- Joseph in the pits.
- Elijah against 450 prophets of Baal and a pile of wet wood.
- Jesus in the tomb.
- Stammering Peter opening the first workshop in Acts 2.
- Paul whose knees shook and knocked.
Throughout the Word the odds were stacked against God's people that His sheer glory might be enacted. We prefer to be on top of things. Yet, if we are really going to serve God's land we cannot expect anything the others didn't get. We are called to exemplify the Living Lord on His terms; not ours.
Be very confident and courageous. We are called by the same One who called those of above fame. We get to be in on the greatest shock in the world; God's arousing victory in the midst of assumed defeat. Do not neglect the faith God has given you. Use it to envision victory in the very center of sneering opponents.
Overwhelmed? Ah, right where we should be. It must be up to God to make it work....and we believe He will.