Sunday, February 28, 2010


Don't lose faith in your fellow man because of sin.

Don't lose faith in yourself because of the same.

Use both diseases to lift your spiritual soul to the fine art of the Jesus style.

Don't dishonor God by falling for the age-old trick of seeing man's blemishes; therefore, doubting God. Such is proof of God. Such is the necessity of God.

Don't lose faith in trials. Use them as your fuel to believe bigger than ever before.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Have you been bent out of shape lately? Do some just bug the tar out of you? Have you just about had it with the general human race? Specifically, do you wish church people would grow up?

Ah, that can happen to us. We are a funny sort; expecting more of others than ourselves. Some are too hard on others but not sefl. Yet others are hard on self and still hard on others.

What might be a better route is to realize we all take two steps forward and one step back. None of us are exempt from devastating accusation of sheer failure...none.

So how do we live this grand life well? I don't claim to be an expert; but I know the Expert. As we grow in him we will do his life better. Jesus is the one who scrapped our old lives in order to give us great new terrain. We will fumble and fall. He edges us closer to becoming the best us yet.

Concentrate on everything you can that goes right. Don't accentuate the hiccups along the way. Don't miss a good message because you caught "sefl" misspelled somewhere (like I planted in the second paragraph). Lift your eyes to see the radiance of your each moment! Don't miss out on beauty by focusing on the ugly and picking it apart.

Live your gift-life brilliantly! Live it well!

Friday, February 26, 2010


I doubt most would carry a burden I do. Not that mine is superior in any way, but there is a sight unique to my work which undoes me every time. My stomach does flips. I speak of driving by a funeral home. It is even hard for me to write this and not cry.

I speak not from lack of confidence in His resurrection power. I am as certain as you that such is reality. I speak from the anguish of heartbreak that takes place in such institutions; mommas being torn from child, child being ripped from a momma.

The wailing...oh the unbearable hours of holding others while they wail. Mouths go silent. Tears stream. Hearts crumble to the floor.

While this isn't my usual morning pep talk, in a strong way it is. Don't waste your day by missing the treasures of the moment while planning for an significant encounter with job, family, or pleasure six months from now. When you get there enjoy it, too. And do prepare for such an event well....but do not fail to note the wonder of it all at the present.

I've been in death situations where I felt my lungs could not hold up any longer. Grief is a devastating desert. The pain of it insists we lean upon the strength of God for no man or woman can endure. So we do....we do move about as normal as possible. Yet because we are acutely aware of the temporary we will not forget to say "I love you" more.....whenever now happens to be right now.

I love you.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Well....I'm guessing I have the attention of all elders just about now! Yet, elders are not my target; young leaders are. Whether a young minister or a young member in the church, you will want to give heed to what I'm about to say.

Over half of my life ago I was frustrated, perpetually so, with my elders. Why oh why were they so slow? Were they shooting up on molasses? Sometimes I've made proposals where Halley's Comet passed....twice....before I got a response.

It occurred to me at about my umpteenth irritation with them that there was a defect in my approach. I would conclude an idea that "would work" having pondered it for maybe three years or three months. I would get my recommendation together and shoot my idea....expecting them to make a decision in twenty minutes (mixed in without about eight other external ideas others were floating).

How unfair. Moreover, how unwise.

So I learned to sow seed. This is the kingdom way. I now make seed introductions and watch (fairly contently) to see which ones sprout. It took me over 25 years to finally get a lawn sign communicating we are a place to start life over...and immediately a couple saw that logo, were baptized, and now are a part of our family.

However, I think my 25 year proposal of renaming us the Airport Church of Christ since we are at "747" S. Memorial is dead seed. That idea has been rejected so many times....I don't even care for it anymore.

So what's going on young preacher? Rejection of our ideas is a secret yes of God. He is training us to yield to the Holy Spirit as we must have His fruit of love, joy, patience, etc. When our urgent ideas are neglected good is going on. We are learning to depend on Him....not our ingenuity.

Oh, but how do the elders ever learn love, joy, patience, etc?

Ah, God gives them us!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Jesus had a problem on his hands. The lawyers were on his case for not keeping the law. He rejected their notion saying he didn't come to destroy the law but to fulfill it.

What's the beef? The Law the lawyers had in mind and the one Jesus had in mind were two separate entities. The Pharisees are including all the rules man's tradition added; Jesus did not. He would fulfill God's law.

We live under similar circumstances. Some believe I (and others) are trying to destroy the church. My goal is to fulfill it. I love it. But the debate is over two separate entities; (1) the Why You Are A Member of the Church of Christ, or (2) the church that Jesus builds. I want to be a a part of the latter for the former has both added and embedded man's tradition calling it Bible.

My problem is I am not yet like Christ. Therefore, I'm just as likely to slip something into the church philosophy that also came from man's thinking and not God's.

Yet, our goal is to fulfill the Builder's desire. May we be filled with the Spirit of Christ that the world may have opportunity to participate in the church Jesus builds.


What is it like being a minister? For that matter, what is it like being an elder or teacher or a member? From this perspective, all are the same; we should be in over our heads.

The longer I'm privileged to be in ministry the more I am filled with unanswers.

I applaud you if this fits your zone. To live in the territory of not knowing the direction, the outcome, nor the answers indicates we are serving beyond our comfort zone. I point out at this moment that those of you who are not in over your head may need to seriously re-evaluate. You may be trying to do your work in the name of God rather than yielding to His work.

Living over my head scares me. Two things set the stage for misfire: (1) I don't know what to do, and (2) I don't know how to do the what that I don't know.

But, think with me. Do you really think Noah had a grasp of the Ark instructions? Did Moses know what he was doing as he led a fleeting crowd right into the center of the Red Sea? Did the priests have a solid understanding of how the Jordan would change its mind when the souls of their feet touched the high waters?

One would think (I would have thought) that after being at one place for over three decades, a man would have more answers than I have. Not. I can't say I'm more clueless than ever because I began basically clueless. Fortunately, God lets me operate from that mode because He is well clued.

Not sure where to turn? Not sure how anything will work out? Unclear as to sober decisions exactly which direction to move? Be sure: (1) you don't, and (2) He does.

When we are not in over our heads, we many not be in the correct kingdom.

I believe, knowing God, someone really needed to read this today. Great!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I meet with 15 ministers each Workshop Thursday from 6:30 to 8:00 a.m. On a first-come-first-serve basis, I give away 15 tickets. It is a special gathering of men who serve in various parts of the country. We may discuss sermon preparation or attitudinal adjustment or some other matter. We never know 'til it gets closer to time.

Of the 15 tickets, 7 requests have already been made for reservation. If you would like one of these, email me at I'll be happy to save you a place.

Tulsa Workshop....March 24-27....Our Journey....

Monday, February 22, 2010


New day. New hope. New job. New car. New house. New coat. New. We love new.

Why is that? Don't you know? It is God; it is the very nature of God. He is the Creator. Don't you get it? Creators create what? New. Come see the new creation; whether it be sculpture or menu or Lego design.

The Word says we are a NEW creation. It also vows we are NEW everyday. New coordinates and parallels.....God.

Leadership will be on the cutting edge of God-stuff when it is sought in the realm of the new. Henri Nouwen said, "Christian leadership is a dead-end street when nothing new is expected, when everything sounds familiar and when ministry has regressed to the level of routine. Many have walked into that dead-end street and found themselves imprisoned in a life where all the words were already spoken, all events had already taken place, and all the people had already been met."

What I look for in sermon preparation week by week is what God is saying which is new to my heart. Not that I didn't know the fundamental truth beforehand, but what does He say to me I didn't quite see that way before? Every week He affords me a hint of something new in His Word. I have years and years of it yet to learn. And when I see something new to seems to cause the light to go on in others. will always fascinate because it is the nature of God.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Frenzied chatter has escalated recently over two sports icons; Mark McGwire and Tiger Woods. Both have fallen from fan-grace it seems. The cry is a wearying one of, "What kind of examples are they to the kids?"

Shall we investigate?

Mark McGwire violated his sport by using drug enhancers which were improper for a professional athlete. That's bad. When he testified before a congressional committee he refused to comment; thus refusing to lie. That's good. Recently...and repeatedly, I might add...he has admitted his mistake, confessed his sin, and apologized for his failure. That is a very good example.

Tiger Woods' image tanked at the news of infidelity. That's bad. He sought immediate help through rehab. That's good. He appeared before the media--thus the world--with self-humiliating confession of his sin coupled with a deep expression of penitence and sorrow. That is a good example.

While McGwire and Woods should be embraced for their example of courage to admit in brutal honesty their mistakes, the general populace wishes to second guess and call for more public humiliation. This example on the part of fans is bad; it is wrong.

What kind of a message are we sending to our kids when one who messes up can't be reinstated? What kind of examples are we when those among us has the audacity to clearly state they made a horrible mistake and we won't accept their confession? Do we really believe kids aren't watching our rejection of these men?

Just who are the examples here? Well, more than Mark and Tiger. The role models are also moms and dads, neighbors and coaches, talk show hosts and news reporters. It is one thing to insist we walk an upright path. It is quite another to continue to kick at those fallen while pointing our narrow and judgmental fingers assuming we are not hurting our children by our lack of grace and mercy.

When these kids grow up and fail....for fail at several things they will....what will they recall regarding the treatment of Mark and Tiger? Abuse or forgiveness? Hate or mercy? Chide or applause? Believe me, it matters. The icons in sports aren't the only examples to kids. The two sitting in the front seat driving to church are overheard whether we believe it.

May we be determined to treat our wounded better.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


God. Who can fathom? Who can manipulate? Who can understand? Who can know Him?

Granted, God is the Genius of systemic processes. He creates brilliance just by saying so. It is God who can put a message into one average-sized volume which breathes so full of life that men who have devoted themselves to eradicating earth of its presence....died first.

God. Who can gain understanding of His boundary-less and time-less presence? Who?

Along comes Jesus to reduce the quandary and increase the un-answers. If we have seen Jesus we have seen the Father. Well that surely helps....yet holds us at bay for who can grasp the injury of the cross or the vacancy sign over the tomb. So we are back to square one.

Therefore, the simplicity factor raises in substantial value. Simplicity? Believe Him. We are to believe. We can't explain. We can't prove. We can't win on our own. We can simply believe.

Jesus was asked by the reporters in John 6 what they should do to do the God-kind, God-sized works. His response. The work expected of each is to believe the one whom God sent.

Now to my point: because of our American performance-based culture, we tend to make things too difficult. Believing seems to leave the hard worker at a silent loss. Yet, we are surrounded by very hard working members who have little patience, little vision, and very little faith. Their religion is at the ends of their hands and their feet...what they can do to serve.

The complex simplicity of God is that we let Him handle the complex while we do the simple....believe Jesus. This is a winning combination which can't be explained...because it is too complex for the simple to grasp. Yeah God! And, yeah us!

Friday, February 19, 2010


The church suffers from leprosy. It cannot feel; its heart has grown numb. Instead of passion for the unruly and sinful, resentment for their actions builds. The style of Jesus extending a hand and kind word of hope to the most aggressive rebels is desperately needed among us today.

We are at our best when we are broken. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, Oh God, Thou wilt not despise." (Psalm 51:17)

When we are broken we are free to move without thought of fear. What worse could happen to us if already broken? We are free to love; we won't be caught off guard. We are free to imagine for nothing can embarrass us. We work at our best from the pit of thorough brokenness.

Henri Nouwen wrote, "What keeps us from opening ourselves to the reality of the world? Could it be that we cannot accept our powerlessness and are only willing to see those wounds that we can heal? Could it be that we do not want to give up our illusion that we are masters over our world and, therefore, create our own Disneyland where we can make ourselves believe that all events of life are safely under control? Could it be that our blindness and deafness are signs of our own resistance to acknowledging that we are not the Lord of the Universe? It is hard to allow these questions to go beyond the level of rhetoric and to really sense in our innermost self how much we resent our powerlessness."

Yet, powerlessness (due to brokenness) thrusts us to the platform of being at our best. Jesus' most masterful move was when he was in the grave powerless and the Power of the Holy Spirit quickened him. We are at our best in our most dreaded state; our worst.

Be encouraged. When you feel beaten, battered, and broken, you are just getting started in the grand scheme of kingdom productivity. This is why we must never, never give up. Take the hits, endure the slams, hold up under disappointment. All of it is for the world's benefit.....through the crucified you.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Do you recall how some teens fret (or refuse) over carrying a Bible to class because it isn't cool? What would the cool kids who didn't carry their Bibles think? Would one be labeled for looking interested? And how about the pressure to sing during church? Will others think I'm....spiritual?

This fear of what others might think moves right on up the age scale. Yet, the question isn't as minuscule as toting a Bible or singing songs. This terrain is over what one will admit they believe in front of their peers.

I believe churches experience pressure to believe or not to believe certain matters. There is great pressure (I know from experience) to go with the herd and disregard the activity of the Holy Spirit. Fear on many levels overrides honest doctrine.

As fear escalates into our later ages, carrying our Bible is no longer the threatening restraint. Opening and studying it is. We are in danger of believing what our friends believe more than what the Bible teaches.

I know what it's like to be "written up" for my stances. I know the personal pain that most onlookers would shrug their shoulders in indifference and move on. Yet, when it is is painful.

However, we are not of the spirit of cowardice. It takes courage to believe God...even in the church. I urge you to keep your friends only to the extent they let you form your views from your understanding of the scriptures. Do not let their rejection of you determine how much of God you will ultimately believe. If you do, they are your god....not Him.


One of the kingdom's more intriguing traits is that of newness. The Start-Life-Over factor is unknown in all other circles. To be Newer-Day-by-Day is literally out of this world. What is going on and how does this apply to our routine? Is this a feeling? Is it a law?

Newness is, first, a promise of God. He strongly emphasizes the new birth and the new creation. The very nature of repentance is to determine to start again.

Growing old versus growing up surely belongs in this discussion. The reason? Whether flesh or spirit, parallels exist. The one I see clearly this morning is that of flexibility. A child is flexible. A Crappaw isn't so much. A Great Crappaw just isn't. And a Great-Great Crappaw? Ah....where's his walker?

In the kingdom growing old versus growing up is consistent with the above consideration. The very nature of the Spirit (John 3:8) is flexibility. To find a young/youthful disciple in their 50s/60s/70s+ is to find one flexible in mind. In others words, they are not set in their ways.

Rigidity has become the framework of all sorts of churches. Rigidity is followed by irritable followed by grumpy followed by deadness. This isn't a kingdom pattern.

Calvin Miller wrote, "Always abandon unnecessary rigidity for God can only direct the flexible."

One of the issues I face in being 62 is I must continue to do my stretches. For how many times have I already discovered it is easier to retreat to my tried-and-true approach to the church rather than consider new possibilities.

May we assert ourselves in the region of growing up.....that we never grow old.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


A major thing happened to me on my way to heaven. I learned a hard lesson. However, once I learned it I can't (won't) let go of it. Oh, I am not the ideal icon of its truth....I just know it is true.

Here's my elemental discovery which affects everything I approach in kingdom matters: God operates off of incredible mystery. Jesus praised Him once for revealing such to babes. How does one remain in the church for years with a perpetual smile stretched between his or her ears? Love the mystery of God.

I can't explain everything. Now I get it I can't explain hardly anything; and this is the nature of faith-full leadership. Jesus said (Mark 4:26-27) "The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts up and grows---HOW, HE HIMSELF DOES NOT KNOW." The very sower of the seed operates in ultimate clueless-land.

In Acts 12 the revelation of Peter tightly locked down in prison persuades all on-lookers that the best of escape artists could not break such bonds. The matter is reasonably impossible. Yet an angel of the Lord shows up with neither explanation nor description and releases the supposed felon. Of Peter going through the reality it is said, "he did not know what was being done".

And then the leader of the term called faith, Abraham, began to follow the call of the Lord. Of this great adventurer of faith it says in Hebrews 11:8, "and he went out not knowing where he was going".

The flesh part of Christians wants explanations and oft demands understanding. Thus, we often go nowhere because we are still waiting on some divine GPS to give us respectable and reasonable guidance. We are stuck.

The breakthrough comes when we "go" not knowing how or where or why to go. We sense His call and can't explain it. Often it will feel to be against our gut insight. For me to pack up and go off to preaching school was absurd...even in my own mind and surely in those of all of my friends. It was a ridiculous move.

Later, to move to Memorial Drive was against everything my being could arouse as wise except for one thing; I believed God was calling me. My faith won over my fear.

One of my biggest joy factors is trusting God when He knows full-well I don't have a clue about the map nor the instructions that accompany it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


"I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling." Rather strange of Paul to say, don't you think?

I was pondering my own work and realized how afraid I get to speak and yet I don't worry about it. I evaluated whether I was naive or dishonest or mistaken. Yet, I perpetually feel the fear of stepping up to the mic each Sunday whether class or sermon; but I'm not worried.

Then I realized the apostle knew such mental gymnastics. He, too, experienced the same.

A secret for Paul (and therefore of us) is he could realize he didn't have the skill to pull off the assignment. Yet, he was most confident in the Spirit of God. Consider his next sentence following his admission of fear and trembling. "And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God."

A mistake I made in my earlier years of teaching/preaching was my awareness of my absolute lack; yet, I tried to compensate by mustering fleshly delivery technique. I didn't trust God's Spirit with the ability to connect my English words with their spiritual ears.

Now I've learned to live with my fear. I've accepted the trembling which doesn't dissipate over time. How? Because I am sure of the Spirit's activity. I am free to be afraid; but I don't have to worry. He will connect the message deliverer to the message receiver.

This is a preaching/teaching secret. Until we get it, we will do our best to make ambitious presentations while those listening will walk away bored....untouched and unmoved.

When I prepare to approach an audience, I plead with God not to leave me up there alone. I beg Him to stand there and say something. I am merely a pipe. He is the supply of life. I may be afraid.....but I'm not worried. He knows how to effectively communicate.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Truth is divine. Truth is of God. Truth is Jesus. His Word is Truth.

Being conservative or liberal won't work when it comes to Truth. We think we will get by with our pet stances; but we won't. The Bible makes a perpetual call for renewal of minds that we can know the true will of God. This will require adjustment and change rather than protectionary status quo.

Pure Truth is too liberal to the conservative. It is too conservative to the liberal. Neither have it if adding due to fear or subtracting in the name of open-mindedness.

The world is in a huge hurt because we have built our denominational forts and yelled our particular slants to those who drive by seemingly unaware. The world wants to know God and God wants all reached. Truth will set men free; not perpetuated bias of brand name churches.

Surely we can see that life in Jesus is refreshing to both the church and the community. His is a drawing doctrine....not a distancing one. I want to know the Truth of Jesus. He knows things I don't. I want to know more about Him; what made him tick, why he had such courage, and how he learned to move with such power.

I pick up truths here and there....and how grateful I am. But I must admit I had to let go of the once prideful stance that my kind was the only kind that knew the Truth. My kind has and does know some of His truths and we grow to know the Truth; Jesus.

Distorted Truth isn't we must discontinue our passing it off as if it came from heaven above. Truth is rich and we want to gain momentum in it. May we do so without conservative or liberal pride. May we be simply Christians hungry to learn.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


If you happen to have people in your life that rub you the wrong way, pay attention. These are in your life to mature you in the very nature of Jesus.

The truth is God loves everyone and we don't. We remain selective. Yes, we know the verses about loving your neighbor, loving your enemies, and that love never keeps score. But....that isn't us.

It should be.

We are given the Holy Spirit to treat others as would God. While Romans 2:1-5 will not budge from its accusation that whatever we are critical of we are guilty of ourselves, we still find justification with our inner-explanation as to why we don't care for certain individuals.

Each of these "individuals" is in our path for a reason. They are testing grounds to see how we are progressing in the areas He expects to be coming from His authentic disciples; love for others.

Why do some people, at this stage of our lives, still bug us? We still have that offensive childish nature to label others according to their behavior. We are often still in kindergarten where we are irritated by both the sin and the sinner. May we grow to realize the reason people bug us is one of the purposes of God.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


All Bingo cards have a Free Space. Not all Christians do. A strong and positive response to kingdom opportunity will occur when more believers possess that Free Space.

I speak of that place where strangers are free to enter our space with room to be themselves without pressure to become as us. Oh how we talk big church talk. We oppose this and sigh over that. I think the most inspiring trait of any congregation is to know those who give strangers Free Spaces. We have those who are always taking someone in, keeping them for the night or a week. I'm talking about strangers; not friends. We have those who see homeless people and go back to give them assistance. These are Free Space offerers. So I quote Henri Nouwen....

"Hospitality, therefore, means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines. It not to lead our neighbor into a corner where there are no alternatives left, but to open a wide spectrum of options for choice and commitment.....The paradox of hospitality is that it wants to create emptiness, not a fearful emptiness, but a friendly emptiness where strangers can enter and discover themselves as created free....Hospitality is not a subtle invitation to adopt the lifestyle of the host, but the gift of a chance for the guest to find his own."

A couple of Sundays ago David and Lisa Combs were on their way to Bible class. They noticed a woman standing at a major intersection holding a card foraging for help. While David and Lisa turned around to go back for the woman they saw two other cars from Memorial Drive pull alongside to hand her money.

David and Lisa took the woman to breakfast; yes, they skipped class. Not everything in her story seemed to match. But the right thing about this occasion is David and Lisa offered her a rare and important moment as God searches for her. They offered her a Free Space.

It is the vision of ones as David, Lisa, and those passing along the money at an intersection that I think really make our congregations what He wants us to be.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


We have two simultaneous problems. We are loosing more preachers than we are gaining and congregations are struggling for growth. I believe the two problems are connected.

Ministry is not easy. Neither is being a congregation. Therefore, consideration for both calls for precisionistic as well as faithful love.

Two basic elements are hurting both causes. Young ministers just getting started are basically immature. We just come packaged that way. In addition and regardless of size, most congregations come packaged with at least one guardian-grump who assumes more authority than the other elders or the rest of the church. This is a catastrophic combo.

From experience, learning to fit the ministerial role is terribly difficult. Filled with embarrassing inadequacy and inferiority, taking weekly shots from the self-appointed authoritarians leaves most of us disoriented. It isn't a natural time to develop and mature. Then, if the powers-that-be move there little man on down the road as they wished, guess what sort they bring in next? A green little man full of....of the same lack as the one just fired.

So how do we help? How do we mature the preachers and build the churches?

Both groups will be advantaged to learn to be still and bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit....patience. Things will work out. We tend to give up on our people---either group---way too soon. Goodness is in both. And not so strangely, fiery ordeals are to be found among us...I Peter 4:12. Neither group has valued the wonderful weight of struggle and trial.

We are given great stress to learn to be more dependent upon God. Young preachers have trouble learning this because they, once again, are packing and moving on down the road to the next group who just let their man go six months ago. Congregations fail to mature because it's just too easy to have mob-rule and run the little devil out of town....much easier than patiently waiting for him to catch on the the larger value and components of kingdom life.

I am unusually blessed. I've been provided the abundant room to fail. Yes, there has been severe struggle as well as threat. But God has held on to me as have elders and members that I could be privileged to have a shot at growing up. I'm still in the growing up stage.

My word to all congregations is this: do what you can by faith to see past your man's flaws. He's got 'em and he's aware of several of 'em. But you've got 'em too...and you've got 'em bad. If we could replace the hiring and firing formula which stifles both groups and, instead, develop a nurturing and believing system we might see maturity and growth in both areas.

May we save ourselves from ourselves by bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit right in the center of us. Thank you, Memorial Drive, for believing in me when I couldn't believe in myself.

Monday, February 08, 2010


Any who care to minister from some plot on earth encounters immediate consternation. How do we go about avoiding the pitfalls of peer pressure and yet delicately care for all people. It isn't unusual to find one who has great sympathy for many; but who is also caught in the snare of trying to please all of them. Or, one may find the guy or gal who refuses to get caught up in such a trap so their solution is indifference to the needs of others. They just don't care.

But Jesus....Jesus had that right knack. He surely is reflective of the Father. Jesus had the ideal personality; he could love the sinner, hate the sin, and maintain a faithful posture in front of his Father. Jesus could stand toe to toe with a legalist and then turn around and die for the guy. The Son of God loved everyone without melting into the "being accepted at all costs".

As a result, Jesus was not a politician but rather a true Savior. He cared that people loved him but not at the price of self-glory. Jesus loved friends and enemies; yet he remained true to who he was without being bullied or seduced into being someone or stating some thing he didn't believe.

We are challenged day by day to walk this path. It is easy to yield under pressure. It is just as easy to develop a "who cares" disposition. Jesus did it right. He cared so much he would die....but he would not bend.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


The fields are white unto harvest. Yawn. Many want to know God. Yawn.


Except the fields are white and many want to know. Our culture is uncertain churches know God. Could their suspicions be warranted?

How does God say one can know His people? "The world will know by your love."

It is a wonderful experience to be in touch with those of the community whether it be at a local cafe, or at a regional sporting event, or connecting with those in blog circles. I know one thing for certain; people appreciate being loved.

The world still asks that question. Love is the signal from outer space that spirituality remains a key ingredient among the variable lives of mankind.

Why is love a signal of God? Because such is the fruit of His Spirit...Gal. 5:22. Anyone can love as long as things go well; but no one can love under pressure unless God is funding it. The truest sign of spirituality is our issuing love to both strangers and to enemies. Such cannot come from one who is not backed by the currency of God.

Love is a spiritual issue. Un-oddly, the more the banks, politicians, and churches struggle, the only signal out of heaven which verifies the love.

The search continues by the millions. May they find it....residing in our hearts!

Saturday, February 06, 2010


Isn't it amazing how exciting it is to be a learner in the kingdom. I don't know about your denomination but ours fed us a diet of "we are the only ones who know the real truth". I believed it. Many believed it. Many still do.

But our fruit from such teaching betrays us. While claiming to be of the Real Truth we are some of the most argumentative, cynical, and fearful people of any religion. The Truth is we have had many things wrong for a long time. When I (or others) point this out, fire-storms erupt.

There is nothing wrong with admitting we don't know everything. Really, it is rather a simple and noble confession. Yes, we do many things right as do other religious groups. No, not anything goes. But that statement needs to land in our own laps...and not toss it to those not like us.

We are guilty of something Jesus pointed out in John 5:39-42. We think we know our Bibles but our fruit announces we don't know the Christ of the Bible. What shall we do? Humble ourselves, apologize for our arrogance, and join in with the rest of the Christian world in trying to discover the intricacies of the amazing Son of God.

I received this note recently. It supports my claims. We are guilty of a narrow and legalistic kind of doctrine; the very kind that sent Jesus to the cross. The good news is there is a better way. The Bible is still the Truth....but we have not cornered that Truth.....there is also room for us in the kingdom if we will humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord.

"You ARE the best!! Thank you so very much!! I do not ever want to be negative about anything (a noble endeavor, huh, but impossible) so I do not "bash" the Church of Christ but I do think some of my "issues" in life come from trying so hard to follow the rules and measure up, unsuccessfully, of course. I think the way I was raised in a little narrow minded, legalistic, judgmental Church of Christ made me hypercritical most of my life. I mean, after all, if I could point out someone else's faults, and they were worse than mine, maybe it would make me look better and feel better since following the rules was impossible and the guilt was overwhelming. It was not until I retired and moved here and had an unbelievable Bible study on the gospel of John with a Baptist girl much younger than me did I figure things out better.
I was free, free indeed!! And born again....again!!

Thanks for your efforts in finding the article and sending it to me. I like it!"

Friday, February 05, 2010


How would you describe what it is like being in the church? I would say it is like being a kid in the candy store. That wouldn't have been the case in my earlier ministry days. My earlier days would have lined up more like a lawyer/judge. And it isn't fun condemning the whole world for their many obvious errors (being oblivious to my own). Being in the church was a burden.

Not the case today!

What changed? I quit obsessing over getting the church right and became enamoured with Jesus getting me right. His righteousness is so much better than my meritorial efforts.

Today I enjoy God. I enjoy watching Him work, watching Him provide, and watching Him keep His promises. Every day is a Birthday Party opening gifts from God. Yes, deep matters burden my heart. True, some days are weighty. Yet, God has such an immeasurable presence that I cannot go long without being "surprised" by His talent and skill.

God is quick! He knows how to get things done. I don't. I want to influence the whole world for good...even those yet to be born. I want to impact those born in 2017; or all future dates. And what do I do to get it done (because I will get it done)? Relax. Enjoy the fireworks. God builds the candy store. We get to walk through to pick this and this and that and that. We can have it all.....and we do!

Let's go shopping.....again!

Thursday, February 04, 2010


Our congregation is stirred over one of ours who has been hurt in Pakistan. LeGrand Stickland's outfit was hit with a bomb. All in the company were killed except him. He is unconscious. When he awakens he will discover both legs are amputated. Too, he has suffered extensive head trauma.

Reports say they are working on his stabilization for transport to an army hospital in Germany.

Do any of you recall the young woman in nursing school in Lubbock a couple of decades back? She had gone to the Public Library on school assignment and accidentally came across one of my books. After completing finals she returned for my book, read it, and was baptized in Lubbock.

I just received an email from that nurse. She is serving our country as a nurse at the military Germany. She sent me a note stating LeGrand has yet to arrive. Linda and her husband will give Carrie a place to stay and a car once she arrives to be with her husband.

God.....He just keeps connecting the dots.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


I don't know about you, but sometimes my mind feels the temptation to enter melt-down. I become very sad for the pains of people. Oddly, that's precisely what drew me to ministry...God cares for people.

Yesterday my day ended on a surprise that a dear friend is suicidal. There is grave concern for this one who is so valuable, so important; yet has reached a point of nearly caving in to depression. My heart grieves as I have thought of this one all night and all day today....unable to get a response on the phone.

And then.....this morning our church learned of LeGrand Strickland on maneuvers in Afghanistan across the border in Pakistan. A bomb exploded and all in his company were killed except him. At this point we know he has had both legs amputated and suffers from a traumatic head injury.

My mind pings and pongs between these two friends and their families. They are the ones in pain; not me. They are the ones suffering; I'm fine. But the ache they feel transfers over into my heart....our hearts.

When we are tempted to wilt under the strain of heartbreak we must keep our focus upon the Wounded Healer. He's been there, done that, and knows precisely how to minister to us in the center of our perplexing issues. Praise be to God. He knows how to do insult and injury. He knows how to remain supreme.

May we lift our eyes upon Jesus.


Henri Nouwen wrote The minister is the one who can make this search for authenticity possible, not by standing on the side as a neutral screen or an impartial observer, but as an articulate witness of Christ, who puts his own search at the disposal of others.

Whether a minister or a Christian leader, our positions make us uncomfortably, yet most naturally, vulnerable. The-man-up-front has an immediate problem before he ever approaches the stage. What in the world is he going to do about his image? Most usually he has to fake it for he knows full well he is not made of the shiny armor the church assumes.

Before filing cabinets and Internet we had a system of possessing the correct answers when in preaching school. We had an alphabetized order of answers written on 3 x 5 cards neatly rowed in a shoe box. How to answer Baptists? Look under the Bs. Jehovahs Witnesses? Js. simple.

One of my problems was I couldn't find many who were asking questions to fit my shoe-box answers? When one heads into ministry as a young pup, intimidation reigns. I prayed I would turn multiple corners where people with matching questions would approach.

Image? It is like trying to build a snowman out of warm water.

But I learned something important. I learned to be a learner. I learned that a secret in connecting with community is to say I don't know. Many in the community are looking for God. When they encounter another (like a minister) who is also searching it provides them with an immediate common bond.

I will always be in kindergarten trying to learn the alphabet to the kingdom. It isn't that I don't apply myself in study. It's that the Topic runs so far. So, leaders of the church, I encourage you to toss the image and return to your original hunger for God. In this fashion you will find clusters of friends searching for the same thing....Life in Christ.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


What is the worst news you could hear? Think about it. Bad doctor's report? Negative word from the mortgage company? Death in the family?

While all of the above would be considered serious (even quite painful), there is one bit of news mankind just cannot afford to hear; there is no life after death.

I remind you of the best news which you possess day after day. Death has been killed. Jesus ruined the worst news to hit the ears of humanity. He clipped darkness' peak performance by slaying arising from the grave never to die again.

I encourage you to awaken every morning and remind your mind of the best news one can hear; the worst news is no longer news for the worst news died in a cemetery over 2000 years ago.

In case you wondered if anything ever goes right for already has. Enjoy being you today!

Monday, February 01, 2010


Many really are searching for God. A problem some have is they automatically eliminate one place He might be the church. They don't like church and mistakenly assume He doesn't attend either.

A great bias has built over time against the church. Because we fumble and fight, our good neighbors have opted for godlessness if dullness and argument is the store-front for church. They can get the same at home or at the office. Understandably, they don't need to volunteer for more of the same.

But in reality, the church is the life-center when truly connected to God. This is why Children's and Youth Ministers are so vital. People are looking for life. Of all places the church ought to be full of the most vibrant life in the community.

So I have a message to two groups:
  • Seekers, keep looking. God is available even in churches. Don't write all groups off just because you have heard stories. There are many lively congregations in your area. Find one.
  • Churches, we must awaken that to be a dull congregation with a missions effort in Foreign-ville is abusive to the scriptures. To have a missions program without a congregation in love with the Christ is to lead our neighbors away from Him...not to Him.

There is work to do. Being alive, looking alive, acting alive is surely of the strong nature of Jesus.