Saturday, January 30, 2010


Faith is a marvelous segment of humanity. It reverses life's course. His withered hand was healed by Jesus. Fumbling and impulsive Peter walked on water...for awhile. Oddly---yet maybe not---the chains fell off of Peter when in prison and if you should think that amazing, wait 'til you read what God did when Paul and Silas were impounded.

Faith is a precision tool in the workshop of the Christian worker. As a key, it unlocks rusted doors. As a heat-lamp it thaws frozen hearts. And as a saw it cuts through the toughest struggles.

Faith is not a Sunday slogan for pew sitters. It is a part of people like arms and eyes and lungs.
Faith is a profound factor. One without it is limited as if to have no feet or hands.

What does faith do? It is the believe part of men and women. If one can't believe then such a one is stuck with whatever is. But faith can look over a condition and believe such can change.

Faith has resurrected my life. That's what it does. As we believe Jesus was raised from the grave---by faith---we believe many matters assumed to be the way it must be can be reversed. Faith puts the Yes in life---II Cor. 1:18-20---whereas with no faith one is forced to live a No.

How do we believe well? When we believe God can use a harsh cross and cold tomb as His billboards to save the world, we can believe that the impossible is possible. If death can be defeated (which is man's largest enemy), then anything else of threat can be reversed.

Have a new life!

Friday, January 29, 2010

"Empowering the Ordinary" revised

I have been working about a year on revising the book Empowering the Ordinary (originally "The Holy Spirit Makes No Earthly Sense"). I asked a couple of study groups to give me input regarding confusion and lack of clarity. I am very encouraged by their input. The new revision is now published. Below is the Conclusion.

When it comes to the study of God's Spirit, I will always be in kindergarten. This book is meant to encourage. It is not the Alpha and the Omega of Holy Spirit facts. I do not regard myself as having laid hold of a mere fraction of the existence and function of His Spirit. This book is intended to aid and enlighten. Hopefully, it will reveal that the Holy Spirit is involved in the life of the common man. He was sent purposefully to empower the plain and ordinary individuals.

There is only one Spirit. He worked with Jesus, James, and John and will work with us. His mystery is His indwelling, which enables us to bear fruit in simplicity. Only our own misunderstandings and fear portray the activity of this spiritual guide as disorder. However, true Holy Spirit participation brings about order rather than reckless religious jerkiness.

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one. Jesus prayed of their oneness. Man tries to separate the three in order to explain; not realizing his own extensive limits of logic. Yet, the Three are gloriously united. We are the ones who try to divide them for our own explanation and comprehension. The truth is the Godhead cannot be explained. They can only be believed.

The prayer of John 17 tosses us into Their arena. this unity will cause the world to believe. Distributing Bibles is not the conclusive display of Christian compassion. Walking in oneness is the grand and ultimate communication. Unbelievers will convert if they discover true harmony of faith. Jesus said the world would know by our love and it is impossible to live anything but fragmentation and argumentation without the Holy Spirit.

The world basically does not believe because those of us who own Bibles have failed to accept one another in love. We have refused the harmony of the Spirit while seeking to invite all the children to drink our Kool-Aid.

The Spirit of God is moving upon the face of the earth. There are many books on this subject, but they didn't help me grasp His working. It wasn't that all of the books were inferior; I am. Lord willing, this book will serve to inch those who stand upon the same ground as me toward a clearer focus of the Spirit. This material does not "wrap it up" as far as studying the Holy Spirit. I just want you to know I know that.

Jesus set the pace. He never mis-stepped. He was as common as a Missouri farmer. He was as good as a New England fisherman. And until he linked with the Spirit of the Father, he was only a man. But upon the re-union, the greatest revolution began. And the revolution continues to advance. This volunteer man (Jesus) received power.

May our human intrusion and manipulation upon this topic begin to fade. May we be able to discern according to Spirit evaluation. The Holy Spirit makes sense---heavenly sense. His very nature baffles sights set upon the visible....and we are perpetually bombarded by the visible.

"Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept them for they are spiritually appraised (I Corinthians 2:12-14)."

As it turns out, the Holy Spirit was not as expendable as we once believed. Wonderfully, we now see knowledge of Him is quite the opposite...expandable. Welcome to a new world of living for the ordinary. God is active among us....and within us.

Through the grace of God, may you find it to be true: He is EMPOWERING THE ORDINARY.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Faith isn't easy. In case you missed this fact over your spiritual tenure; faith isn't easy.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for; the conviction of things not seen (Hebr. 11:1).

The two definitive truths of faith are the two reasons it is such a difficult process; its goal is not yet present and its reality does not at first show itself.

Faith won't cooperate with Missouri; it will not show you anything until you dare believe a matter true before the fact. Faith sees what isn't as will be. Faith stands blindfolded and becomes convinced of actual development before there are any signs of such a matter coming forth.

God promised the Egyptian captives a Promised Land. Some could see faith. Others couldn't see it. And what was the first test of their faith? Immediate trouble; wilderness. Trouble persuaded the majority this was a bad idea. Faith reigned in the hearts of a few and for those troopers, they entered the Land.

Paul and Silas were on a mission of faith when beatings and imprisonment asked if they were certain they preferred to believe this was the correct course. They did. Although extremely challenged, these two behaved as if they were delivered....and they were.

Faith is not step two of a salvationalistic catechism. It is a rigorous element of the heart eye; that skill to perceive when the rug has been pulled from every rational explanation. Faith is one of the most remarkable wonders of the kingdom process. It awakens us to possibility, takes us where men would usually fear to tread, and delivers the most astounding true stories.

The good thing about faith is it is not a dime-a-dozen fluff ball of meandering principle. It is the David to Goliath threat. It is the Job to the twin bullies of pressure and stress. Faith is Jesus doing what can't be done in front of a people who don't want to see it.

Faith is challenging because is the very kingpin of Life in the Son; and it will not fit the standards of flannel graphs or silly fables.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


You know what is good for a congregation? A road trip. I think the time on the bus or in the van to and from any event is as valuable to a church as the event itself. So I toss out two trips to Tulsa to help you get!

Liz Pence will be conducting a Mind Makeover Saturday, March 6, at Memorial for men and women. Liz is brilliantly effective as earlier in her life it became imperative for her to transform her mind from darkness to His light. She was an ultra-devout, mean-spirited well as suicidal at one point. God broke in. Today this servant knows how to help all of us maneuver through dark times by adjusting our thinking mechanics.

The Tulsa Workshop is March 24-27. "Our Journey" offer challenges to effective service as well as inspiration to reaching more of the world's populace. Jason Thornton and Shane Coffman are the directors and they have put together a dynamic program.

Think about it. Why not bring a busload. Of course if you live in Germany or Japan, you may think about it a little longer. But I did get an email this week from two in Australia saying they will be on their way!

Groups traveling together are a great way to build up the connection factors for a harmonious work. Think about it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I'll be brief....I'm back. I've missed writing. When I went to write a blog today from Atlanta it had been so long since I had written a blog....I couldn't remember my password.

So, I went to baseball camp last week in Florida and then participated Monday in my cousin's funeral.

For now....I merely want you to know one thing.....I now recall my password!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


If you are like me you want to see things accomplished in the kingdom. You are ambitious, diligent in your service, and you want to see results. I want to see God's creation notice Him instead of passing by unaware He is the one running life's show.

I want to see the name of Jesus praised in television interviews and world news reports. I want to hear celebs speak of God with respect and humility. And....such is happening.

But a problem I have is I want to cause this to happen....and I can't. I hunger for kingdom productivity; yet I possess not the skill nor talent to cause one meek squeak. I'm nothing.

Therefore, I pray. I pray thanking Him for working; thanking Him for setting the stage. God knows how to get things done. He knows how to bring about marvel and mystery. My job is to know God.

Therefore, walk with Him. He will run the show. He will deliver the goods. My job is to believe Him and to thank Him.....and I do.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Busyness is not the sign of a servant of Christ. It is a sign of American meaning; look busy even if you aren't. Busy equals success or profits to most. But it isn't the sign of a kingdom slave.

Commitment is ruined because of overcommitment to too much. We don't know how to say no so we mask it with a lie; yes. We said yes when we meant no. Jesus said let your yes be yes and your no be no; but we have so restored the New Testament church that we have overridden his assertion with no conscience of wrong.

Overcommitment is ruining marriages, families, and churches. Don't we want the members engaged in the work of the church? Yes, we plead as well as plan for it. But we don't want our people knowing work and not knowing Jesus. This is happening.

Overcommitment isn't a sign of a worker in the kingdom. It is a sign of a liar who is covering up a lack of study and of prayer. It is a sign of appearance bent on approval when the grace and mercy of God is not trusted by that individual.

How do I know? I lived there. I lived in both exhaustion and guilt. I thought the visible services mattered and I was especially one who needed to be seen. And....I could never say no. I wanted to and resented that I couldn't.

But I learned. I learned God does His work. Yes, I am to respond to His call; but not every call the brethren make. There is a difference. We can try to please men by our actions just as much as by our teachings. We can tickle the ears of the one on the other end of the phone by committing to a work we shouldn't just so they will approve of us. Sinfully wrong.

What shall we do? We shall trust God that when we say no to a very good project that He knows exactly who can and will be able to carry it out. Our ability to say no appropriately gives someone else an opportunity to serve. But what if no one else takes it?

I don't know. It won't get done by me if I don't sense God's involvement in the invitation. He either knows the one who can/needs to get it done....or possibly it was never a work of His in the first place.

Romans 9:16 is very good for those of us tempted to live in overcommitment. It isn't up to us to run or to will; but it is up to God. Let Him worry over it. It is His work.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Men and women are seriously roughed up by our haphazard neglect of doing what is right. No one is exempt. Every person, prince or pauper, experiences the spiraling decline of a life stricken in the heart by sin.

A grand mistake each tends to make is to live by comparative sin. This mistaken method allows us an avenue to salve our consciences because it is easy to look over at the bigger sinner (?). Such a street is really a dead-end alley.

How do we forgive others? It is very difficult as long as we see ourselves as clean on our own. It is very easy once we see we are clean only because he died on the cross as the expense of self sin was auctioned off to the highest bidder and Jesus won the bidding.

It is easy to forgive others when we see ourselves as equal or worse.

It is easy to forgive others when we hear God say He will forgive us on the basis of how we forgive others.

If we can't forgive everyone of everything.....we have simply forgotten who we really are....the chiefest of sinners.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


The Bible is clear in its warning: do not add to or subtract from the Word of God. This clarion call has sent the religious world a-spinning. True, some in the Christian realm have no interest in operating from the Bible. They have traditions, are bent on them, and promote them without blush as to the Bible's disregard.

But fundamentalists care in the name of the Word about the Word. The result is an embarrassing and splintering quagmire of push and pull. Argument, debate, and division have set up shop in the names of Methodists, Quakers, Baptists, Catholics, Church of Christ...on and on the list goes.

How do we do faith and can we do faith while clearly different; yet in perfect harmony? I think the Word answers that. Hands aren't feet and interpret no task from the same concern nor skill. The Eyes Church regards scenes while the Ears Church responds to noise. Faith's complete formation is allowed when the body parts are free to interpret those areas they are called.

Adding or subtracting is a Bible concern. As the Elbow Church must allow the Knee Church grace to operate in the overall body, we must not be so quick to yell Foul! because some are different.

When the great commission says to go into all of the world, are we subtracting from the Word when the most of the disciples never go into 1/8 of the world? Did Paul subtract from the Word when he called for a putting away of childish things when Jesus urged we become like children?

From experience I believe the rudimentary structure of Christianity has divided over adding or subtracting from man's tradition more than violating the Word. Man's tradition is a clear violation of the Word and from this we denominations give it the smug shrug and continue our discourse as to why we have biblical reason to refuse to function as one faith body.

Heaven help us. I mean....heaven help us....for we can't do spiritual life without it. The entire lifestyle of Jesus seems so much more simple than my hop-skip-and jump interpretations. Jesus remains the only one who can set us free to the free indeed extent. May we grow in experiencing that part of the kingdom truth.

Friday, January 15, 2010


The eyes really do have it. As if lawn signs for the face, eyes send unmistakable messages; I lost. I won! I forgot. You ate the last cookie, didn't you? Eye billboards announce long before the lips have a chance to join in.

I write with concern over a couple of generations who were groomed in the church, killed in the church, and have walked away from us. They aren't evil people. They are good...really good men and women...who missed the message that Jesus lives to give abundant life.

Yesterday I sat (once again) with a good man who was raised in the church and then bolted as soon as he left home. His God-senses are dead. He didn't hear of mercy and grace and life. He was unintentionally killed in the line of friendly fire by those in the church who themselves were not equipped with the good news of Jesus.

I ache for his mother and father for they only passed along what had been handed down; that three-times-a-week scenario coupled with rigidity and unintended arrogance. It is interesting how Catholics were criticized years ago for the Pope keeping the Bible from the people. Yet, we have exited an age where Bibles brought were counted as we raised them in the air for all to see; but for a few the pages were no more read than if Catholic.

Those sad eyes---I recognize them immediately---haunt my heart. You see I am one who killed some good people off with my rapid-fire sermons which, arrogantly delivered, put people in their places. Such messages rarely pleased God; but did tickle the ears of a few who liked others to be told off while it gave me a false sense of power. Guys like me have caused hope and life to collapse inside the shells of men and women who may not have realized it as they assumed they were journeying toward the Light and Life of the Christ.

As I spoke with this friend yesterday, his eyes had a similar look to those we see being reported from Haiti; lonely and hopeless. There is no light coming from the billboard. Friendliness is present as well as courtesy. Yet, there is a sense of complete vacancy in his spirit totally unnoticed by himself.

This explains why the theme 25 years ago of Memorial being A Place to Start Life Over. It is this kind of person I so want to reach. I want them to learn what I finally got to learn; there is reason to hope and reason to believe we really are abundantly saved. Everyone deserves to hear the gospel. I see a couple of generations who were among us who didn't get to hear it. Jesus offers the outrageously impossible....a second chance times 70.

May we see possibility in those sad eyes for they, themselves, have not the ability to see anything. There really is a life in the church they have yet to experience. They never knew it was possible to find the church magnetic, electric, and full of celebration.

We have ample opportunity to heal the blind. May our eyes have the light in them to help those stuck in an awful darkness.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Be prepared to not understand this blog. I write as if I'm clueless myself as to what I'm about to say. I think, though, it is an important point.

Who are you? Who are we in the deepest regions of reality? What are we really like?

Who you really are is a person very much like Christ. Your flaws aren't the main you. Your sins aren't you. Your body (as is) will not enter heaven due to sin, but the you you will. The you that is strong, that is faithful, that is respectable...that you will slip through the veil into the invisible wonder of wonders.

You are fascinating. The main part of you is deliberate, responsible, and pure. The guilt part of you...that offensive not who you are. You are saved from your sins. Salvation is the you; not the disappointment and treachery.

No, I'm not sending you on an ego trip. I'm introducing you to the main part of you; the righteousness of Jesus that you now possess...II Cor. 5:21.

Humanity lives on a cynical and critical edge. We judge when we have little knowledge about that which we judge. We are quick to put down and slow to build up. As a result, we live assuming the biggest part of self is rotted.

Not true.

The main portion of a person is that saved soul which feasts upon the magnificent table of abundant life Jesus promised. We don't barely get by. We don't eek our way through the pearly gates. We step in firm cadence with head held high in honor because we believe Jesus makes us something so great even we can hardly imagine how marvelous we really are.

Ego? No...not near. Faith? Intentionally so.


How much more can I possibly want? This has gone on for years; if I just had that one thing, I would be set. But then another and another and finally so many anothers has accumulated to quite a collection of "more things". I'm storing some really good stuff in the garage attic and a storage barn. It's great stuff.....crowded out by greater stuff.

I made a tough decision last night. Recently I bought at an online auction two plaques awarded to my dear hero and friend Curt Flood. Lately, I have been bidding on his glove. I've been around that glove many times. I really wanted it because.....I really wanted it. I needed it.

I bid up to $267. It is worth much more on the memorabilia market. But if I got it I wouldn't sell it. While the bid was wrapping last night, news from Haiti was showing. That's not a good thing for a consumption addict to see.....yet it is the best thing.

I let the glove go. I really think I could have benefited from owning that glove. It sold for $584. But.....a man can't own everything.

From the clearly deep devastation in Haiti and inside many of the walls up and down my street, I must continually increase in giving my dollars away rather than spending them on more stuff I need.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I'm just like you. Just like you. I want to influence as many people as I can for Him....and everywhere I go there are more people. The question is, what am I going to do with them? What can I do about them without coming off as a Bible-pouncing radical who doesn't understand peoplehood?

Yesterday I was in the clinic for a treadmill test. The technician was 43. She was polite enough and I was wondering how I could break into this stranger's world. I asked how long she had been doing this work. She responded with 23 years. Ah, I've been a minister at my church for 32 years....time sure flies doesn't it.

That's how I know your name, she fired back. I used to go to Garnett. You wrote a book once because I bought it in the gift shop here in the hospital.....and off we went; talk, talk, talk. In this case all I had to do was knock on the most innocent of doors and they flew open.

Today I was in for an eye exam. Again a technician is working with me and I told her how glad I was to have someone who is so kind.....has she been doing this job long? She had only been there two months. She was from Atlanta. Her first husband died five years ago and left her with two children 6 and 3. She had remarried last Fall and moved to the strange city of Tulsa.

So I knocked on a door one more time and it flew open; Tell me about your first husband. I doubt anyone asks her that question much. She opened up. He died at age 41 of a heart attack. No warning. I could tell I had asked her a most honorable her mind anyway. I asked about one she still loves. The conversation worked its way to church with my offer for her to call on me anytime she just needed to talk. A kingdom connection was made. She hugged me when I left and told me she loved I did her.

I share these stories not to say that every time we open our mouths....glory of His work pops. Many times I knock on similar doors and no one answers; potential response lies mute. My message to you is that although doors don't always open it doesn't stop me (us) from tapping.

He runs the show. It is our job to mine for the gold. Often it is buried in the people around us.

Our job? Try.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Mark McGwire came out with a statement today admitting he used steroids during his playing days. Up to this point, he had denied it. I'm glad he reached a point he could come clean. I wish he could have done so years ago.

Mark is special to me. We've worked together briefly on a project via phone and email. I email him about twice year and he responds about once every two years. When the Cardinals announced hiring him as the new batting coach, I shot off a congratulatory note. He responded favorably and immediately.

Knowing he would be entering Spring Training with the team in a few weeks and knowing, too, the media would crucify him, I sent him a lengthy email Saturday urging him to have the confidence and courage to say anything he needed regarding his past that he be able to start life over. I risked in sending it for I surely hoped it did not hit him wrong. But....I really felt the urge to let him know he is loved because he is a good man....not because he hit baseballs far.

Ironically, six of us prayed for an hour yesterday morning beginning at 7:30. In that span we included McGwire; seeking God's love and direction for him.

When I saw this afternoon's news regarding Mark's statement, I could not help but wonder when he made this decision? I'm not meaning he made it due to my note. I assume he's had this in the works for maybe a month or so. But what I'm elated about is the timing of my note. For in it I told him I had been praying for him. Could it be that he needed the support such a letter just the right time...and he noticed God had provided?

Here's what I know about celebrities and fans. Celebrities are normal people who need understanding just as much as the fans. Fans tend to think because they are celebrities, they have no troubles, no concerns, no flaws. Both are alike....and mercy is appropriate for both.


That's a rather strange heading don't you think? I mean who just jumps out and compares himself to one of the more notable biblical characters? Yet, I've been pondering him and me lately. I find some similar pockets of likely comparison.

For one, Paul said he found himself doing the things he shouldn't and not doing the things he should. Ah ha, that would also be me.

For two, the apostle said he was least in the kingdom; that he was nobody. That's strange; I am precisely as he.

For three, this giant leader expressed (and I think in all sincerity) he was the chiefest of sinners. I would receive the same grade.

Because of these self-awarenesses, I believe he was led to write that therefore power is perfected in weakness. I experience the same.

It is a strange feeling preaching for a congregation like Memorial as well as often standing in front of our brotherhood events. The reason? I never feel more than (one) as failure in more areas than a success, (two) never feel I am somebody, and (three) always find my sinfulness is ever present wherever I travel. The good news side of this spiritual coin is the fact that in spite of myself, Jesus seems to choose to work through me anyway.

By His grace and mercy....I get to be among you.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


What will go on in church today? Will we sing? Will we pray? Will we serve communion? all of those....yes. Whispers go on in church as well.

I speak of the the inspiring whispers of God as He motivates His flock unto love and good deeds. Songs will be sung, greetings exchanged, and the Word heard in some fashion that hopefully God will whisper to the masses; you can make a difference; you can do this.

Mommas and Daddies will determine to dedicate their children to His cause. Business execs may be inspired to begin a prayer group in their office complex. Retirees may be awakened to a needed place to serve....all because God continually and perpetually whispers ideas to His children.....during church.

We are called by scripture to gather to build up one another. Why? For great works. The fun part about this is we are clueless as to how it happens and usually as to when it happens. What He said would happen...does. So be prepared!

...let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25).

We are a part of a difference-making body! We have a role (men and women), so let's do a good job assembling today anticipating the whispering of God.

Saturday, January 09, 2010


The Church of Christ has accepted one of earth's most grievous sins into its camp. It has been here from day one of my introduction into this church that I love. We accept it because it is odorless. We are able to move about every continent while anesthetized by this cunning and sinful habit. I speak of pride.

We don't talk of pride much because it doesn't tickle Church of Christ ears....unless we are referencing someone other than ourselves. But it is a major problem about us. Ironically, while we don't detect it, the world smells it.

We look like one of the two guys praying in the temple; grateful we aren't like those denominational sinners. Yet, that sort was rejected and the humiliated one accepted. What's the deal?

In general, we are full of ourselves. Not coincidentally, the world goes basically un-evangelized. Yes, we make attempts...many and expensive...but our deep sleep causes us to be completely unaware of an invisible banner read by far too many which communicates this religion is for us...but not for them. Our failure to connect to the needy world is not due to lack of imagination and effort. It is due to our ignoring God's implicit plea for humility.

Our craving for being right and then repeating to the world we are the only ones right has caused the project to unravel on one end while we keep knitting on the other. The world wants and needs Jesus but it can't find him because we don't look like him. We are proud of being us.

While the Catholics build the hospitals and the Lutherans build the foreign schools and the Baptists scour for souls, we thank God we aren't like them. I'm not saying we do nothing of value or significance. I'm saying in general we have Church of Christ houses filled from Sunday to Wednesday with hearts brimming in pride that we know the Truth when we don't know any more than others. And it is quite clear we have ignored the part about pride.

We try to talk in classes as if pride is sinful; but our street talk betrays us. May we awaken to our great misdeed of blatant pride. My sin is ever before me.

Friday, January 08, 2010


In study this morning I came across a most fascinating point by Eugene Peterson (Working the Angles). The idea hinges on the fact that God spoke first and as a result, creation became. Henceforth, the dynamo of the language process is that we learn to speak by having language spoken into us. Language is a response to what is learned by first hearing...over and over and over. No one learns to speak Spanish without first hearing it spoken into the student.

...language is spoken into us; we learn language by being spoken to. We are plunged at birth into a sea of language. We swim in words. We are soaked in nouns and verbs. Gradually we realize that some of these words are directed to us---personally targeted words that name, love, and comfort. Then slowly, syllable by syllable, we acquire the capacity to answer: mama, papa, bottle, blanket, yes, and no. Not one of these words was a first word. Hundreds of thousands of words, for days and weeks and months, were spoken to us before we began to answer, to speak our own words. All speech is answering speech. We were all spoken to before we spoke.

How did we get where we are in our church talk? We received it. This is both fascinating and concerning. We speak what we have taken in. We learn to say what has been passed on to us. Before we learned to speak the language of faith or of doubt; it was first spoken to us.

If we received a dented and damaged faith, such is our language to speak. If we happened to absorb graceful and merciful faith, again we speak in that tongue.

For me, I had to go to language school after I had been in ministry about twenty years. I was reciting skinned and dented faith. I've learned a new language because the Word and people of the Word have spoken a new language into me.

Parents, bosses, and teachers especially have to be on high alert to this for the subjects' language reflects what we have groomed them to say. Faith language is an important tongue. It isn't what comes out that is first. The words going in are once again the powers of creation.

May we swim in faith words such as possibility, apology, and hope. May we learn well the nouns and the verbs of the Jesus-style since what we learn to say will be repeated by those who overhear.

Thursday, January 07, 2010


I sat in on a gathering today that was astounding. I was at our Preacher's Luncheon held this month at Garnett. It is just so wonderfully different nowadays compared to my earlier years of such assemblies.

There we over two dozen in attendance. At times I would sit silently and just scan the room of its remarkable power. Some to my left were Tracy Ellis, Wayne Pope, the new guy on the block Johnny Hinton, Greg Taylor, and across the way was Joel Osteen Osburn. And then on around included Mitch Wilburn, Judge Morris, Mark Crain, Bob Herdon and a bunch of others including my own teammates. All these are truly heroes of mine.

I could not help but note how humble these guys are. Don't you know Wilburn and Herndon and crew could go on and on about some work of faith they have engaged in? Yet, no bragging. No ugly innuendo about another or of someone not present. But more, the discussion was so focused on the poor in Tulsa and what we should consider.

It was a great time of food, share and prayer. It was a time to be glad for right now. I was. I am.

I was really blessed to sit in such a room. I have such admiration...such respect for these guys and gals. I doubt they know it to the extent I feel it. I started to say something about them during the gathering...but I had already talked. I should have told them, though.

While we each could tell of places we've been and people we know, today I was in a great room with royalty. What I like about I knew it! For me...around these guys....the grass is greener right where we are.....together.


Everything will work out all right.

I have to say that to others and myself on a weekly basis. Challenges, conflicts, and perpetual distresses pound kingdom people. We should know this by now. It is the nature of walking in Jesus. It was his path as well.

When I caught Romans 8:37, But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us, my world changed for the great. The context is tribulation, distress, persecution, life and death. I win in any setting. Everything in life is win/win. Everything will work out all right.

This was a major breakthrough for me. I resisted this teaching. My mind constantly fretted both the small and the big stuff. I worked, arranged, and rearranged in my mind how to get my work accomplished. I had discussions in my head. I replayed them trying to sleep. Frankly, I was a sinful worry-wart. I couldn't let God run the show.

Yet, the Romans passage says I am a conqueror "in" all these things; not after, not beyond, but "in". I am a winner in the middle of any and every "right now" I should face. I win. The kingdom wins. We win.

So....we are not losers. We can absolutely trust He knows two things in every circumstance; we have blurred vision and He doesn't. But we have perfect knowledge; we win because of His 20/20 vision.

I mean it. God rocked my world for the good when He transformed me to be able to believe that victory doesn't follow days of stress and concern. Victory is activated and the center of it! Who else but God?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


I'm sore. I've been working out as baseball camp is coming soon. I make my annual trek to Jupiter, Florida to play baseball with former Cardinal players as well as fat boys like me. This will be my 27th year. I never would have guessed I would get to be me.

I hardly know what to think of this venture or how to evaluate it. There isn't a week goes by but a benefit from this effort shows up. Constantly, members of the church (some who have no interest in the game) want to bring friends and relatives by to see my they have been talking to their friends about getting back into church....and these people like they begin with a visit to my place.

I thought God would work if I could go just one time; I never imagined all of this. As a result we've done a major outreach film (High Hope for the Human Heart) and a major church motivational film to inspire outreach (100% Natural Evangelism). God gave me the opportunity to write a book that the Cardinals chose to give away to attendees on Fan Appreciation Day. And, I've just completed a new manuscript endorsed by the Cardinal stars such as Whitey Herzog, Tommy Herr, and Bob Forsch....MVP (Why You Are Most Valuable in God's Eyes).

We've gone into prisons to play ball with inmates and then teach them about Jesus. We had 61 baptisms from one talk. There have been numerous baptisms around the nations as a direct result of this idea. We even converted the guest speaker at one of our camp's banquets.

Of course I'm enamoured with each trek to the camp. I've learned to stretch my outreach efforts by working in bars and one year even at a Buddhist Temple with Orlando Cepeda. Intending to reach out, I've had to learn new ropes; and it's been good for me to see once again that all classes and levels of people still need the one and only Savior.

I've never lost my vision nor enthusiasm for this work. What's weird works!

And then, one of the best things about the camp is it forces me to get in shape. At 62 it gets more difficult to do all that workout stuff. The slightest injury takes longer to heal. I went to the batting cages yesterday and then to the gym. My next stop was the chiropractor. I still hurt.

But how blessed I am. How fortunate to get to build such strong bonds over the years with guys who don't yet know God....but I know the day will come when they want to.


Take a look at any individual---public figure or private soul---and you are peering at one who in ways is making strong effort to build their own empire. Control doesn't just flow down from CEOs. It flows up river when momma isn't happy.

Wishing to take control is as natural as liking chocolate. The problem for all of us is running into another who is determinedly more dominant.

I know a lot about control. I've wanted to be in charge most of my life. How should I have known I was lumped in with a society which is committed 100% to each being in charge? This creates quite a contest!

And in the church? Oh my goodness. My first couple of decades in it were filled with classes and workshops regarding questions of who has authority, who is in charge, and who rules the roost. I found the entire church to have my disease.

But, I've watched Jesus. He had plenty of backbone; so much so he didn't have to come out looking good. He could avail himself to private beatings in back alleys or public humiliation upon the cross without one trivial cheap-shot at any of the unfair and unjust accusers. What I saw is Jesus was very much in control by not taking control. He let the Father handle it....and handle it the Father did.

Be encouraged. A part of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). Odd, don't you think? Just when we learn to yield we discover the Holy Spirit helps us to be in control? No. He doesn't put us in control of people.

Instead He gives us strength to control our tongues, to control our emotions, and to control our egos when we very much would like to go on defensive and/or offensive tirades. Jesus didn't and we will learn not to.....once we grasp the work of the Holy Spirit wishing to bear His fruit in our very ordinary lives.

Wanna be in control? Let go of it.

Monday, January 04, 2010


I wonder how faithful I am to God? Could it be that time has eroded my commitment to Him and I now find myself more committed to the pressures of being us? Are you in a similar quandary? I believe some leaders have bowed to the need to keep the church happy over pleasing the Father. This is no light accusation. Rocking the boat is still not acceptable among us. Yet of all people, Jesus will rock the boat....very much.

I know we still use faithful lingo with scriptural reference. I know we meet on Sundays and observe the Lord's Supper. I know all of that.

But I question how much the church, in general, does because it senses a great calling from God. Or, do we simply move about from one application of ministry to another good idea just hoping something smacks of effectiveness.

I believe we have an invisible Trojan horse in some camps. It can't be seen but it can be sensed. It is filled with imposing regulations which few discuss; everyone just understands the rules.

Are you openly discussing the Holy Spirit among us? Are you hearing testimony of God working? Do you see strangers being immediately welcomed by those other than the officially assigned ones? Are hearts opened to needs of others?

In some places yes. Other places no.

We are being challenged at Memorial by God. He is leading us into our deteriorating community. It is going to take money and heart and faith and patience. Our people can do it. We aren't keeping house.

When we hit such times a good separation takes place; we each find ourselves being pruned yet one more time regarding things that really don't matter on the kingdom side of the ledger.

It is good for us to ask from time to time; am I in this because of God or have I slipped into an unconscious mode of keeping everybody happy.

Saturday, January 02, 2010


I speak to the younger leaders. We have a great crop of disciples coming up; a very rich crop. What I wish to address is how to keep the feeling of freshness after fifteen and twenty years. There are several things to note; first know of the great possibility. Do not be surprised at the gratitude which rushes your way while you are so privileged to work with the church.

One of the questions only you can answer is how will you handle mistreatment?

Your response will affect your view of perpetually enjoying your ministry. We need to understand mistreatment is essential. We are targeted for it. It belongs in our job description. And...we need it.

Mistreatment is tough. It isn't a time for "poor me". It is a time to realize the walk of Jesus is now beneath your feet. You are in his shoes....on purpose.

Anybody can preach. Anyone can lead a committee. Whether we will hang in there when taking another abusive chewing or yet another cutting innuendo is of importance.

This was difficult for me for I wanted everyone to like me. Strangely, I thought I could make it happen; I thought I would be the exception to the rule and everyone would like me because my mom said I was lovable.

In working with a congregation of 450, I haven't been able to keep everyone happy. Before Memorial in working with a church of 100, I couldn't pull it off there either. And finally....when at my first church of 8, I couldn't do it there either...and I thought at least there the odds were so favorable.

It is important that we remember mistreatment goes two ways. I am guilty of the very thing I resent. Nevertheless, when such is coming your way.....accept it. It belongs to you. You have taken up his cross. Being bitten is supposed to be going on while you serve.

Don't be discouraged when in a tangle. Thank Him for it. Learn to boast of your inadequacies. He is serious about that....II Cor. 12:9-11. When mistreatment becomes a part of your work, suddenly you will begin to use the very thing you wished to escape as your fuel to keep you afloat. Blessed are those who are persecuted in his name. It goes on. We can prove it by our tears.

Don't quit. There isn't something wrong with you. It is part of your job description.


I believe the church is operating from lands of darkness. While we have not been taken captive territorially as Babylon, we have been exiled culturally. Our times bear significant darkness; nuclear threat, economic stress, and familial unraveling. Too, I believe our congregations face attendance and contribution challenges heftier than normal.

All of this is said to remind us God works. When do you see Him work if not best in any situation when our backs are against the wall?

When things look their worst---seem the darkest---try to remember God is lurking with hope. This is more than a think positive plea. It is a recapping of something powerful you already know. Through every opposing system which wishes to pull you down and drag you under, God has a surprise route of escape up His sleeve which will baffle all who see.

We saw Him do His stuff when the Israelites were cornered three ways; mountain range, threatening sea, and ensuing armies. What did He do? Well....He did Rock-Paper-Scissors and then said Watch this! He could have split the mountains or squashed the armies. Rather He chose to split the sea in order to nudge His children closer to home.

When the work suffers threat, you can be sure that God has relief rolled up His sleeve. When God does His Rock-Paper-Scissors, it will always be to lead us a bit closer to home. Don't be discouraged. Be alert to His most fascinating moves at the local church where you live. There may be those moments where you wonder if there is any way of hope.....and then recall God will make a way!

Friday, January 01, 2010


It's a new year! How much longer will He let this place linger?

This is the perfect time to be alive. We face heavy-duty obstacles for certain. But we know the Force behind authentic life that can blast through like a plow through snow.

2010 promises to be full of highlights and lowdarks. It is encouraging to me that nations around the globe turned their calendars at midnight in testimony that two-thousand and ten years ago our Lord Jesus was born. I think it is pretty spectacular for the atheists to join in with us on this truthful matter.

The church should be very energized by the opportunities we face. May we put a dent in homelessness and hunger. May we sacrifice our wages and our securities for the greatest cause on earth.....spreading the Word to the world.

I believe the kingdom is the most fascinating system ever. It is full of strangeness as well baffling mystery. Too many claiming to be in the believers circle have settled for a faith which operates off of the clock, the calendar, the checkbook, and the heart's ease. Mystique has been abandoned. Safety and defensiveness have kicked the legs of outreach from too many members...too many congregations.

Our work is wrapped up in the person of Jesus. Should we pray more maybe we will fret less. Should we worship more possibly we will see greater blessings flow from on high. The Father is watching for the code-word. When He hears the code-word, He responds. It is "Jesus". Don't forget it in 2010.

It is now the day after the night before. Some are hung over because of being drunk. May 2010 cause some to accuse us of being drunk in the Spirit of Christ.