Friday, July 30, 2010


For those who love Jesus---which are many---it is easy to find many reasons Jesus is cool.  But so many can't reach such a conclusion.  Why?

Jesus doesn't resonate with hip.  He identifies with the underdog.  He isn't big on possessions; but rather guides all to rid ourselves of them. 

Jesus isn't politically correct; nor is he so socially bent.  His bluntness upset even those enamored with spiritual jargon and hypotheses. 

But I think the main reason Jesus isn't cool among many is his lifestyle of suffering.  He suffered.  His life is one of intensity of struggle, disappointment, and even grief.  His talk as well as walk are ones of suffering. 

Yes, Jesus promises a life of abundance...and he wasn't kidding.  But abundant life breaks out when any follow his steps in giving our lives to others.  For unbelievers not only is this pattern disruptive and isn't cool.


I've always been enamored with icons of prayer like George Mueller, E. M. Bounds, and Alexander Campbell.  Their faith and their endurance time of prayer aroused my admiration but not my motivation.  I haven't followed in their exemplary steps.  Wishful?  Yes.  Actual?  Not even close.

I do share a part of walking with God that has become delightfully habitual...and I believe useful.  I mutter to Him all day long....I offer mutter prayers. 

When I go to bed at night, I praise Him for watching over people and work.  Especially this week I have prayed for the receptionist at the tire store and Elizabeth Cheek because she asked me to pray for her in her response (see Tuesday, July 27 blog). 

As soon as I wake up, I begin bringing people and situations to Him.  While I shave I listen for Him to interject His ideas into mine.  Driving for early coffee, I mutter more stuff regarding my delight in Him; His goodness, His creativity, His size.

Throughout each day....I mutter gratitude and call for assistance.  Just like Jesus, I can do nothing without Him.  You may be tempted, as was I, to feel somewhat sheepish about your prayer life.  But maybe you could begin to mutter.  What may happen is you'll find yourself carrying on conversations with each other for as we walk with God we will find He mutters back.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


God works.  We simply knock, sow seed, water, and harvest where we can.  God works.  It isn't up to us to manipulate the playing field for we can't.  God works.

I knocked on some hearts in Sunday's sermon from Philippians 4:4-8.  Where God takes it is up to Him; not me....Romans 9:16.

A recent high school grad from Shawnee was in a golf tournament in Tulsa this past weekend.  This up-and-coming golf star was killed in a car wreck on his way home to Shawnee Monday.  I didn't know him or any of his family....I assumed.

Today I received a call from the minister who will conduct the funeral.  He told me the couple I met Sunday morning before church was this young man's mom and dad.  I had no idea.

He continued, What you wouldn't know is the dad told me today in funeral preparation that he had been to hear you preach on Sunday and that he couldn't explain it but that sermon was what was getting him through this ordeal.

Me?  I broke into quiet tears.  How amazing the intricacies of our God.  How orchestrational He is day after day and decade after decade.

I'm so glad I went out of my way to meet these visitors Sunday morning.  I really liked them immediately.  But I had no idea they were present for a reason.  Of course, I should know by now we are wonderfully made in His design. 

Who can fathom?  Not me.  But I so enjoy the God-stories which illumine a struggling world.

Keep knocking on hearts.  God's on the other side.


(Yes, Elizabeth, I will pray...did last night and once this morning.)

So the service man, Jody, came to change the tires on the tractor.  My immediate query to myself was, Is there room to reach to this guy today? 

Arms tattooed like hams hanging from his sleeveless shirt, Jody slaved away in 94 degree heat wrestling two rear tractor tires.  Sweat poured from his face.  He was a friendly sort.  I stood by with few words just surveying the opportunity like a horse coming from the back of the pack at the derby. 

I asked about his family and age and how long he had done this kind of work.  He is 32 and has been in prison three times.  Now there's a major breakthrough; an ex-con right before my very eyes.  That tells me a lot.

Jody told me the stories for each sentencing.  Humble and remorseful, he felt the need to rehearse his failures.  This is what I was seeking.  I now could move the horse to the head of the line; Well, let me tell you how proud of you I am.  When you've gone through the pain you've endured and come out a responsible man, you've accomplished a lot right there.  From then on all I had to do was listen; he overflowed with details about how he hadn't been in trouble for ten years, is making strong efforts to provide for his wife and kids, and how he won't make the same mistakes ever again.

And then we hit another vein of good-grade ore.  Say....are you interested in baseball by chance?  Again he launched into his love for and participation in the game.  He told me about his card collection....of which gave me delight to hand him my card!

So what's next?  I have little idea.  I've prayed for him and will.  But I don't have to see a next thing to feel fulfilled over the moment.  Jody and I went from complete strangers to good friends within an hour all because God says there is no law against showing love and patience and kindness...the fruit of the Spirit.

What happens next?  I'm clueless.  The important thing to me is to have noticed the moment right then.  It was for God!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Everywhere we go Jesus goes.  We take him with us to the dentist and to the grocery store.  We must walk about alert and alive to the moment for it so often holds kingdom opportunity.

Such happened today.  I ordered a new tractor tire and was making arrangements for the delivery and installation.  In speaking to the receptionist on the phone it became time for me to puncture the conversation with a test to see if kingdom work might be needed.

So I mentioned to the one with the courteous voice on the other end of the phone that I was a minister and my work is close by so she can call me when the service man is on his way. 

I mentioned my work on purpose.

A lot of people don't like ministers.  I don't blame them.  Others could care less.  I hold no grudge.  But I toss out this concept whenever it fits to fish for a response.  So...I told her I was a minister.  She went on with the business at hand. 

At the conclusion she brought it up; You are a minister?  Yes.  Would you pray for me?

Are you struggling with health or pressure?

Friend, I'll pray.  And let me tell you that if you ever need to just sit and discuss any of these challenges just remember you are talking to one person interested.  Okay?

Yes, I will.

So I've prayed and will again.  What happens from here?  I'm contentedly clueless.  I knock on doors.  Sow seed.  Water in prayer.  And let God break forth in areas where He needs my participation.

Kingdom life; knocking on hearts is a great experience!

Monday, July 26, 2010


My good friend, Whitey Herzog, was inducted to baseball's Hall of Fame yesterday in Cooperstown.  I was filled with intrigue as he spoke.  The White Rat, as he was nicknamed, spoke his usual Herzogese.

He referenced---as I had heard often---his great gratitude for what Casey Stengel taught him.  Whitey is Casey reincarnated. hat's off to this man who was a managing guru of baseball's elite.  He is surely worthy of the honor.  Knowing Whitey, this won't change his demeanor one bit.  He'll continue to thrive in life as one of our very sharpest story-tellers.

Congrats, my friend.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Sometimes we learn through books.  Sometimes through experiences.  Often by both.

Counselors who really understand seem to be the ones whose lives have been laid bare and in the process met Jesus.  Why is this key?  This Healer was laid bare on hill for all to mock.  He understands betrayal, humiliation, and woundedness.

Jesus didn't become a sinner on the cross---remember---but he became sin; the actual yuck of which God insistently rejects.  Jesus didn't become a casual violator on the cross; he became our violations.  Big difference.

Yet, we are to learn his pattern.  His capacity to reach the entire world is due to his sufferings and we are to follow in step....I Pet. 2:21-24.  In order to be an effective counselor one will do well to realize the necessity of personal woundedness as well as the Master's healing touch.  Some who counsel are ineffective for they are in it because the are wounded.....and angry....but never were healed.

Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, Do not believe that he who seeks to comfort you lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good.  His life has much difficulty and sadness and remains far behind yours.  Were it not otherwise he would never have been able to find these words.

Wounded healers are valued.  Bless others with your healed heart as you quietly understand their stress because of your own deep pain. 

Friday, July 23, 2010


Fear is most natural to the human spirit.  For some---like me---it has been an extremely detrimental factor.  I have let it boss me around. 

How can this be?  Fear has no body of its own.  It is a demon hiding out in people (like me, for instance) and circumstances always using the voice of another for it has none.

Fear especially freezes members of the kingdom by making one afraid to learn.  I believe there are many who would like to know what God teaches regarding the Holy Spirit; but will never learn for fear.  Fear won't let some explore for they could possibly change their minds.

Following Jesus is risky business.  To play church in safety is to play in the wrong church.  To believe what we have always believed about everything we've ever believed is to confess we have grown in nothing over the past years and decades.  If we are learning about Jesus he will change our minds; otherwise, why study?

The church is petrified in those places where fear rules.  It is so subtle we can even regard our stances as being faithful.  A symptom of this frozen posture is to continue to say we go by the Bible but do not study it or pray over it.  Fear freezes.  Love for God thaws our brains.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Why can't every day be Christmas?  Well....if it were it would ruin Christmas.  One long mountaintop with no valley eventually becomes boring and routine.  Waiting....ah, now there's a significant element.  Waiting for Christmas for kids and those of us who are still kids is filled with anticipation because we don't have it every day or even every month.

There is something magic about specials.  Life exists in specials....births and birthdays, anniversaries, championships, passages, etc.  We experienced Christmas-like magic last night at Memorial.  We had VBS!

Our VBS is one of those specials.  If we had VBS every night we would die...I think...for sure I would go completely deaf.  But when we have it once a year the church rallies to serve in ways not normal.  Linda Scott is a genius when it comes to designing our July VBS!  God blesses her with an enormous amount of workers.

"A Night at the Museum" was one of my favorite VBS themes ever.  It was just remarkable.  A fun thing to me wasn't just the zoo of kids.  We had three zoos in one; a zoo of kids, a zoo of members working, and a zoo of visitors.  I get more excited over seeing the involvement of the adults and the amount of visitors and the outrageously wonderful decor than the kids....who are all so spectacular!

Not every day is Christmas.  And not every day is VBS.  But I'll tell ya, I really think Linda Scott does such a great job with this special that---for me---VBS is Christmas in July!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Why does the world struggle so avoid the most wonderful man to ever walk in sandals...Jesus?  This is of greatest irony.

One of the biggest problems is Jesus won't let us continue to think highly of ourselves.  When it gets down to brass tacks, this is a huge rub against the ego-mania of.....each of us!  None are exempt.

It is for this reason we must lose our lives.  Jim McGuiggan once said something like, Everywhere I go...I go.  And everywhere I go...I get in my way.  We are in our own way.

Martin Luther wrote, The glory of the grace of God is to make us enemies of ourselves.  Insightfully brilliant...yet, so difficult to translate into realization.  Tougher still to remember!

William Willimon bravely declared, We have met the scoundrel, and he is us.  Our face is all over the story.  We really are a moral mess.  We really do need someone to save us, someone who is not too respectable, for we certainly are not.  We could use a crook like us.  And he was.  He broke the Sabbath.  He consorted and partied with crooks and harlots.  He outraged the scholars in the department of religion.  He died, a criminal on either side, as a crook himself.

A respectable savior could never have loved and saved a crowd of rogues like us.

Therefore, Willimon is correct when after this portrayal he points out that the gospel doesn't come naturally.  It comes as Jesus.

Monday, July 19, 2010


I have learned to see God's kingdom possibilities through funnel vision rather than tunnel vision.  God's hand is explosive with hope, dynamic in purpose, and beyond imagination in range.

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of sitting with three women in Longmont, Colorado.  They have a weekly Bible study.  I was so impressed with their devout hearts for God's rich presence.  In our discussion we were contemplating the wonder of their small group and emphasizing God has what.....a million other unknown to us China, and Russia, and Mississippi....etc? 

Our point was while we delight in learning of a pocket of believers here and there it only magnifies the possibility of what God has going on globally.  Who can imagine?

Then today I opened my office mail.  There was a letter from a young woman I've never met; I've never heard of her.  She is an inmate in Kerr Country Jail in Kerrville, Texas.  Where is Kerrville?

With great handwriting and greater disposition this lady wrote of her delight over one of my books.  She didn't say which one.  The library cart had come by and she selected my book.  She said that she now can lift her head up rather than looking at the floor.  She went on to speak of how she was referencing the scriptures for a test she was taking.

She just wanted to say thank you.

I didn't know one of my books lived in the Kerr County Jail.  Hmmm....I wonder who planted that one by faith and doesn't know I got such a precious note?

Here's what I want you to get for I am so enthused about us being included in His ministry.  God uses you in ways you can't fathom.  I preach this constantly.  Our people have no idea how valuable they are nor how far they reach.  It isn't a matter of humility as much as it is a matter of limited imagination....but it is the truth...each of us influences more people for God than we can calculate.

So be proud of the Spirit for He roams regardless of where barriers might wish to impose...or discourage.  You....are making a difference right now while you assumed you were merely reading a blog.  No...there's more to you than you.  There is you, with you, through you.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


So last week much of it was filled with the funeral of the unchurched man who died in a motorcycle accident.  We had the funeral Friday afternoon after a week of preparation and attentive ministry to the family. 

Saturday morning Dale and Mary Combs found that one of their week long guests and such close friend died in their home in the night.  So by 9:00 a.m. I'm with this family and the police in a setting, once again, so bizarre, stunning, and surreal.

And then this morning...this morning Legrand and Carrie Strickland visited our assembly.  Legrand, you might remember, is our man who was hit by a bomb in Pakistan after the first of the year.  All others in his company were killed.  He alone survived.

He spoke from his he now has no legs.  He shared how his heart is full of gratitude.  Legrand noted how other soldiers in the hospital complained and fretted as they had lost fingers or even one leg; but he would not be down for he had lived.

If we will but awaken to the pain around the world and right next to our paths, maybe we might be a bit more like Legrand?  Might we find reason to be grateful for what we have instead of disgusted at what we don't? 

Envy, jealousy, greed, and self-centeredness serve to wreck our thinking processes.  Gratitude and thankfulness launch us into a theme of exuberance and over-joy!  We know what to let's get on with the being happy!

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Anonymous said...

"Sometimes one just has to stand alone by themselves and learn to not be depressed."

Can you tell me how/when you learned this? I need to!


Jay's question comes from a couple of blogs ago.  While I usually let the comments be the comments without response, he has hit on something we might want to pursue.

I don't know that I can design a sufficient answer.  Maybe you can add significant elements to my mixture and come up with a fulfilling concept. 

Standing alone was not my old-life nature.  I am a people-person and I need to be hunkered down in a crowd.  I need people around me to the extent I was seldom alone.  Stuck by myself tended to be found only when I was blue.  To be clearer, in my first ten to fifteen years of ministry I spent about a third of the time severely discouraged and depressed.

For some reason by His marvelous grace, I have learned to be attentive to our Joseph's Pit experiences for God is using these moments as training to take future hills.  I don't know why....but I knew I was in the doldrums to learn something special about kingdom life.

What I learned in these depressing moments is God wastes nothing including the time I waste.  He uses everyone of my scraps to build a kingdom moment.  God never fails....never. 

I learned to believe He was working when I was completely clueless and this gave me purpose, meaning, and enormous hope.  A major point of conversion to this idea was when I read E. Stanley Jones' little book (big message) The Divine Yes.  This book was written after suffering a paralyzing stroke.  Jones lived out his final fourteen months showing the world that even though half of his body was painfully, shamefully withered....with God everything is a Yes....II Cor. 1:18-20.

EVERYTHING is a Yes....not most....not a few....not some.  Eventually I realized I was spending time discouraged over matters which were a Yes in His sight. 

A few examples?  When my car was stolen.  A Yes.  When my office was robbed?  A Yes.  When my house was robbed...nine times...a Yes.  Health challenges?  Yes.  Threatened to be fired about four times by unhappy groups...very tough...but Yes.

Regardless of the pain or the disorientation or the cluelessness or the threat....everything in our midst is a God-Yes....and I believe Him.  I really believe I went to school in the pits that one day I could encourage others living in the same place a way of escape.

Live free!

Friday, July 16, 2010


Morning Rush cleared the 300,000 hit mark this week!  How did my mom rack up over 250,000 of them....when she doesn't even have a computer?  Thank you---all---for your kindnesses through this 4 year period.

My new book---MVP---is coming out next month.  You can read a blurb below.

This afternoon I have a funeral of the man killed in last week's motorcycle accident.  He was rude and crude and ran with a crowd that did life hard.  This place will be packed with hundreds who most likely have no church and no interest.  I can't wait for this occasion for my goal is for all to feel they ran head-long into a church that loves them.  It will be a good day!

Turn all of the lemons into lemonade and hydrate the world for it is so thirsty for someone who can see possibility and potential instead of complaint and defeat.  Be a voice....a winning voice....for family and neighbors.  Their ears are ready.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Thirty-three years ago the Rush couple and their three little kids moved westward to a new frontier...the Memorial Drive Church of Christ.  It took us two days and one sleepless night to U-Haul our way through the Missouri Ozarks to enter the land of toll roads and orange barrels.

The first eighteen years were pretty rough.  The next fifteen years have been the opposite.  I had to grow up to get the point through my head that I will always be trying to grow up.  I had miscalculated.  I had not arrived as I had assumed.  I did not come to Tulsa as a favor by me to them....but of God to me.

I needed the rigors, the challenges, and the many blessings.  It isn't a matter of what I have done for the church but what the church has done for me.

I've learned a few things along the way....well 24 ideas just fell out:
  • Power is perfected in weakness.
  • The sermon isn't the main thing about the assembly....God is.
  • Sometimes one just has to stand alone by themselves and learn to not be depressed.
  • If you want to see a church come alive do two things; develop worship in song and build a children's ministry.
  • The name of Jesus is more than signing off on a prayer.
  • Forgiveness is what I needed more than what they needed.
  • God works.
  • Everybody is important.
  • Shouting and pounding don't make an effective sermon.
  • Bragging on the church inspires its members more than insulting it.
  • God still does impossible things.
  • Children will grow to do more than we can imagine if we will cut the guilt/fear strings.
  • I'd rather operate from God's unknown mystery than my assumed understanding.
  • One of our more urgent works is to believe in others.
  • When you can't figure how, everything will be okay.
  • Don't get discouraged when it seems things aren't working out for those will be the very paths God uses to work it out better than we had assumed.
  • Patience always produces.
  • The Holy Spirit isn't for sissies.
  • Prayer is meaningful when we learn God is active.
  • Don't be pressured to sacrifice your time for others just to keep them happy for the day is coming when that kind of person will move on unhappy with you anyway.
  • God will get the work done; my job is to believe Him.
  • Some in the brotherhood will pat you on the back as long as you are faithful to their traditions. 
  • The church is the most exciting system on earth.
  • We carry resurrection power....and we've got big work to do!


I don't write this to gain sympathy.  I don't need any.  I speak of it to address an area which probably strikes you at times.  I merely want to give you ideas about God's system to consider.

I'm doing a funeral Friday afternoon for a man killed in a motorcycle accident Saturday night.  He was 54.  His family has no church.  Most of his friends have no church.  Hundreds will attend. 

I'm sick over much of this development.  This kind of situation weighs on my heart much harder than most. 

Simultaneously, there is good news in the mix.  That this family would choose our church, for it is big enough to handle the crowds and (as the minister) I am little enough to not get in the way, is a magnificent blessing.  I fear approaching the pulpit for I am so emotional; yet, can't wait to get there because God will bless these people with His kindness and love.

In dealing with the family I am so aware of both their pain and their need for someone to notice them individually.  I will do a good job---I am confident He will in me---while I will cry on the inside the entire time and on the outside part of the time.

I will not preach a gospel meeting.  I will let them see the gospel shining from our entire church for in various little things we will preach strong and subtle sermons like providing food, undoing all our VBS preparation for the family to have the funeral here, the visits, calls, prayers....on and on....this family will walk away knowing they have encountered the lovely Spirit of Christ.

My heart is heavy....very much so....but for a perfect cause.  May He be glorified for how He works well in the very center of death....and in the very center of our entire Memorial Drive team.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Everyone is you know....important.  I don't know about you, but I really wanted to be important when I got big.  I had a problem though.  I didn't have important credentials; high IQ, looks, talent, political clout.  I was a runt in runts clothing...well okay not that bad. 

But I wanted to be important.  I wanted to be more than I was.

It is a strange thing---or is it---that the Bible never speaks of being important.

It does speak a lot of something which has not come natural for me; contentment.  In whatever circumstances, He says, be content.  Not me.  I needed the day to lean a certain way for me to be satisfied...and that was that I was important.

One of the things I really like about God is He is loaded with secrets for our benefit.  One of His more risky ones is if we will lose ourselves we will find ourselves.  If we are to be important; we will need to lose the importance of being important. 

What we are to do is let go of it.  Let it fly off like a loose kite.  Farewell hunger to be somebody!

Our job is not to become anything....but just be mindful of God and others.  Our job is to pay good attention to others; not what I want, I like, or I need.  When we take care of others; love with come back....and we'll be content. 

We don't really want to be important.  We want that God-nature about us to be satisfied.  We want to be loved.  So how do we acquire that element?  Love others.  Show interest in them.  It isn't a matter of you receiving love.  It is a matter of one thing which satisfies the Father; give love to others.  That's our job. 

Regardless of the rate of return, we are content.  Importance is a poor goal.  Meaningful life is a higher calling.  So when we are content....we won't have the hunger to be important. 


They effectively taught us at the Preston Road School of Preaching to use illustrations in our sermons; that these are the windows for the church to see into the truths we would present.  Great point.

Watch Jesus.  Everywhere he taught he pointed to something for a lasting impression; withered tree, lilies of the field, etc.

When we begin to communicate as a novice we tend to find our illustrations and then fit the Word around them.  When we are out of illustrations we believe we are out of messages.  Not true.

Our approach is backward.  Find the truth and illustrate it from Jesus' walk, your walk, or another's walk.  The Bible will even illustrate itself; i.e. Eph. 1:18 on opening the eyes of your heart is supported by II Kings 6:15 in the story of Elisha praying for the eyes of the servant to be opened....and they were.

The use of illustrations---of which Jesus was master---curbs our pattern of projecting rote facts.  Illustrations breathe life into the message....just as Jesus did his.  Critics of this approach ridicule us as messengers who just tell stories.  Not true.  Done right we are messengers who communicate lasting inspiration.

Be confident in the Word.  Then be confident your walk supplies adequate windows for the hearers to connect.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Do the work of God by believing in Jesus...Jn. 6:29.  This means that if we are hard workers in the kingdom, we believe hard.  How shall we do this kind of work?

Believe He can do when we are completely clueless; not only clueless, but we have no way of verifying activity or results.  This is a challenge to us because the American way is that we are performance based.

By this I mean that we engage in kingdom life when we can't fathom destinations or conclusions.  For example, I pray for the people driving beside me that they will awaken to the glory of God.  Yet, they quickly pass by and proceed out of sight. 

What happens to them?  How did God work?  I don't know.  I just know He and I did good while they most likely are oblivious. 

One of the things I want to accomplish on earth is to build crops of faith.  Jesus asked if he would find faith when he returns.  One of my goals is to plant faith crops so he can see there is faith when he gets back.

An earthly anchored one will tend to move about in the church once earthly signs of opportunity appear.  A faith-walker sets his or her eyes upon the invisible and believes God can do....what we can't.  Whether we pass the communion trays or put a check in the collection plate or pray for unknown soldiers, etc, we are perpetuating the faith-crop world with our entering the invisibles.

Oh, I'm not insinuating you have no garden.  Not at all.  I merely want to remind of your garden.  You've done amazing things for Him over the years....simply because you did His kind of work.  You chose to believe in the one whom He sent.

And if you happen to not have a faith-crop in the works....start your garden now!

Friday, July 09, 2010


I like fun stuff!  I like fun people, fun events, and fun life.  I think the kingdom is the funnest thing on earth. Rescuing, risking, and reaching with His participation, we do more than we could have imagined.  To me that is as fun as fun can get!

However, not all things in believership is fun.  It can be grueling; very hard.  This is why the Word speaks of Jesus enduring....Hebrews 12:1-3.  All want things to go well in the church.  Yet, true disciples will encounter rugged terrain where painful endurance is the central thread of hope for the moment. 

And what is a key word in that  Hebrew text when endurance is mentioned three times?  Joy...not fun...not feeling good....but joy....the joy set before him.  This would be us.

It is easy to ponder such actions when in a nonthreatening environment like Bible class.  We can all accomplish so many ideal things when among our peers.  Really, we can conquer the world from our padded pews.....and then go out to lunch after the last amen.

But true followers of Jesus will hit similar stress he did for we are to be following him.  This cannot be avoided if the church is ever to hope for maturity.  So what do we do?  How do we think?  Where do we choose our battles?
  • They will come to you.  They found Jesus in the Garden.  They know how to find you.
  • You don't flinch.  In every situation you can recall you have overwhelmingly conquered through him.  Followers believe this while church attendees don't.
  • God has His plan in order.  It may be their discomfort.  I might be your betrayal and crucifixion. 
  • Let this happen.  Don't run.  Don't panic.  Don't react.  Respond with love for your opponent and devotion to the One who died ahead of you for you that you could die for others.
  • Remember that when you die for the enemy you will suffer and they will be healed....I Pet. 2:21-25.  So don't resist, regret, or reject the blessed opportunity to live from that position you've discussed in Sunday school for years.....the cross.  It is yours.  Use it.
When there is struggle in the church it is often a path leading to higher ground....that kind of ground we've always desired....that next church plateau.  It won't come about just through fun.  Sometimes it comes about through endurance because of the joy set before us.

Jesus is the pattern.  Look like him the best you can...and let God have His way with all of us!

Thursday, July 08, 2010


Learning is a central part of Christianity.   It is the enduring support of discipleship.  Traditionally, we don't take discipleship seriously.  We take attendance seriously.  We take going by the few/many Bible verses we believe seriously; but not discipleship.

I don't say that to criticize us; but rather to awaken us to the kingdom concept that God expects us/calls us to remain as learners.  Yet, a wonderful thing is continuing among His people.  We are still eager to learn. 

I don't know of anyone committed to church leadership that doesn't take the call to biblical integrity seriously.  While some are polars apart from the conclusions of others, there remains a healthy commitment to reach our individual conclusions based upon scripture and the continual search of it.  Romans 14 says as much that some will believe one way as others believe the opposite and both fit; both are free to do so.  We simply are not to be critical nor high-minded about our conclusive discernment....Romans 12:1-3.

Therefore, I am noticing a season of wonderful joy of consideration from our church leaders.  There is a careful studying of new ideas which could be possible to believe; while not yet sure.  Studying....a rather discipleship concept, don't you think?

Pointedly, the study is seriously weighing the doctrinal issues of whether we are abiding by law or by Spirit.  It remains true; the law kills and the Spirit gives life.  I'm noticing more and more a tendency to research the scriptures in these matters.  And this trait is consistent....the more any move away from the law and more to the Spirit a greater joy settles among those people!

This is no accident.  It is His design.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


Jesus is the Master Leader. 

He succeeded in the very place we struggle; paying attention to the things God counts as important.  One of his more admirable traits was his ability to stay focused while capitalizing on every interruption.  Jesus ran into perpetual interference to his walk (one touched the hem of his garment...another was up a tree) without flinching. 

He never strayed from God's ideal will.  Jesus sorted wheat vision from chaff vision.  Wonderfully, his concentration turned the daily grind into major events when we would tend to see them as minor; maybe distractive.

Focus.  The way to handle interruptions and interferences to one's schedule is to ponder which moment is a kingdom event.  Church life isn't just about counting budgets and baptisms, attendance or lack of.  It is about whenever "now" would happen to be; for "now" is that wedding of past labors while pregnant with future hope.

Andy Stanley wrote, Making your vision stick requires bold leadership.  It will require you to develop a healthy intolerance for those things that have the potential to impede your progress.  All the leaders I've met have mental pictures of what could and should be for their organizations, but not every leader is willing to pay the price to turn his or her ideas into reality.  It takes more than imagination and passion to make what could be and should be into what is.  Seeing a vision become a reality requires more than a single burst of energy or creativity.  It requires daily attention.  Daily commitment.

The minor things don't impede our progress for often those involve futuristic life situations.  Chasing after non-kingdom dead-end alleys is what impedes.  The daily grind calls for attentive and deliberate focus upon the seemingly insignificant while constantly discarding the tempting husks of fame and fortune which matter little.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


We are a nation of believers feeling somewhat stranded as to what and if we can make a difference.  Trouble surrounds us.  Threat is imposing.  What can we do?  Anything?

We must not sit on our hands.  We must raise our hands.  Dr. Charles Stanley's sermon on the 4th of July called all believers to pray for 140 days for our nation.  You can see the sermon at

It is time we move some mountains in this nation.  Humanism has run its course to the extent we grasp the fact society cannot survive without the grace-given input of God. 

I encourage you to connect to this movement; not by praying only but by increasing the number of prayer soldiers.  Spread the word. 

There is much work to do in believing him whom He sent....Jn. 6:29.


Pride is going to rock the religious world.

If one thing shows off the church's failure to live abundantly in the Holy Spirit it is the unhideable truth of pride's presence.  With it we glare.

This has always been a present curse in the church.  I've had it....and have it.  Others have had it...many, many others.  Pride is an unholy, ungodly element which thrives---of all places---in the religious world.  Those who have it resent the topic most.

Pride is not of God.  We are to let our light be seen--public display of faith--in such a way that God is glorified; not ourselves.

Those regarded as rocks in the church are often found guilty of this blemish.  They are the eager, the driven, the producers.  What betrays them is their irritation with any others who appear not as committed as themselves.  How many ambitious crab about the way the church is because of one thing....they are proud of their commitment and ashamed of others.

Bad goof!

Two men were in the temple praying.  One told God how glad he was that he was committed to mission work, how he loved the way he himself had turned out; not like those other idiots who were stupid in their walk.  The second guy agreed with the first....and apologized to God.

Then God expressed satisfaction with only one; the humble one.  The proud one?  Not of God...period.  Not justified.

For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.  For not knowing about God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.

That was my mistake.  I was wound tight in excitement for serving God.  But I was stuck in my own way of doing things and had such pride I couldn't be told. 

Now I know more---not yet ideally, understand---that God will work they way He sees fit and not the way I can muster my faith muscle.

Pride in how faithful we are is on very thin ice....and by the grace of God we will fall through.

Monday, July 05, 2010


Jesus was all about freedom.  The Church of Christ is suspicious of it.  We have an ingrained neurosis which fears any movement not known to be "what we have done" in the past.  The Bible is paraded as our authority; but we lie.  It isn't our authority.  What the respected brethren of the past did is where we abide.

Don't believe me?  Look at how many churches today look precisely like they did in the 60s and 70s.  Credit it to the belief they are simply continuing their bibliocity?  Really?  And have these churches become infused by the early church's Holy Spirit?  Have they begun selling their homes instead of buying bigger ones?  Do they meet every day as did the beginning church....or are they three-times-a-weekers?

Jesus is all about freedom.  The church is afraid of what he was all about.  I urge all elders and all preachers and all members to be astutely aware of the slippery slope of legalism:
  • Restricting what version of the Bible can be read.
  • Warning members of what they can and can't read, where they can and can't visit, and what they can and can't believe.
  • Clipping the Holy Spirit wings from His personally inspired Word.
  • Developing an unlabeled, unofficial belief system which behaves as did the Pharisees.
  • Fear allowed as a respectable trait of leadership with the motto---What will this lead to?
  • Speaking where the Bible doesn't speak in the doctrinal name of silence of scriptures.
The slippery slope of legalism has a strange sound, does it not?  That description has been used only toward erring modernism....or even truth when it did not line up with the man-made bossiness of legalism.  There are enough slippery slopes to go around for all sides.  That's why Jesus is the truth....and not our outspoken traditions.

There is a difference.  To fail to realize it....means we have slid farther on the slippery slope of self-defense than we could imagine.

Sunday, July 04, 2010


The body of Christ may be suffering from a disease known as MBS.  Maturer Brother Syndrome is diagnosed of those who sit on the back porch and complain about the goings on between God and the projected lesser brother....Lk. 15:11ff.

You know the story.  We like the story.  However, those suffering from MBS aren't happy with the story.  This presents a church problem.

MBS is a comparative disorder.  God says when an assumed better brother compares himself to an assumed lesser brother a sheer and pure lack of understanding is present in the former....II Cor. 10:12

Whether elder or preacher or momma or Bible class teacher, we each must be acutely aware of MBS for it is the destroyer of the unity cells of the body.  Tumors of division develop more from MBS than any other monitored ailment.

MBS is not cured by pretending there is nothing wrong with another.  Its root disturbance seems to be from failure to acknowledge the glaring flaws of self.  The potential cure for the hard working and committed brother of the Prodigal Son story was to get up and apologize to the Father for his cold heart; for his legalistic mindset that fractured family relationships. 

As far as we know, the elder brother passed away from MBS. 

May we find the cure.

Friday, July 02, 2010


Can you imagine a church that didn't want God mentioned?

Can you imagine a church that doesn't want Jesus proclaimed?

Can you imagine a church that refuses to acknowledge the Holy Spirit's activity?

No.  No.  And yes.

How can the latter survive?  How can such a false doctrine get such headlines among Bible students?  To believe the Spirit has disengaged is to be virtually stranded in a quagmire and thud of humanistic rationalism with communion passed every Sunday. 

Whether I'm right or wrong, I didn't come to the conclusion of the Holy Spirit working in our lives because it was a trend.  No one around me believed in one.  We skirted and feathered our way off of such a topic because the strong word out was the Holy Spirit does not work in a Christian's life today and to believe so is heresy of the most ignorant crime.  After all....everyone was convinced Pat Boone had gone of the deep end!

The Word of God was relentless in birthing me from such a dark as well as crippling stance.  It insists the Spirit lives in us and works with and from us.  Those words will not go away.  We can roll our eyes and sigh all we want....but the word of God will not support our traditional posture of the Holy Spirit operates only in the Word.  Men---well-intentioned or not---made that up.

I am elated that our brotherhood is awakening to the Holy Spirit.  When I wrote The Holy Spirit Makes No Earthly Sense (meaning he does make heavenly sense) in the mid 80s, I was branded, beaten and thumped.  I couldn't help it.  Somebody needed to say so. 

Where were the voices on this matter?  Were those brave enough to say so muffled by hysteric opponents?  Possibly.  Were there great communications on this matter and I just didn't get to hear of it?  Could be.  I've learned since that several in our heritage had stood for the same; Barton Stone, David Lipscomb, and James Harding are a few.  But their view got pushed out by louder voices.  The flesh will always succumb to the logical.  The human spirit will always hunger for the Holy Spirit.

Today the revision (three times) of that first book is now out in the workbook form of Empowering the Ordinary.  We send a shipment out about every two weeks to some church in our land.  Yesterday 30 copies went to Indiana.  I know it is translated  into Russian and is used as a study guide in the Philippines.  Where else?  I love to imagine.

Francis Chan's Forgotten God is a very good work on this topic as well.  My point is whether my little book or Chan's or whatever, the love of God is arising in Holy Spirit form and interest in this topic is being renewed day by day by day. 

The Bible is the ultimate voice about this subject....and it's voice must be heard.  Several of us can give opinions.  And our opinions can be accepted or rejected....freely so.  But the Word....the Bible....the Holy Spirit authored will stand even if those of us who try to believe well fail.



Words of encouragement are works of life.  They empower, rejuvenate, and even rescue.

Let's do some energy building for the kingdom today!  Let's build even healthier cells of his body.  Let's go on a campaign (you and me) to give the church a boost right now.

What would it be like if we took the beginning of a sentence and completed it from where we each sit?  Do this; complete the following.....I love how I see God working in.............and you finish the sentence.  Name one man and one woman in your world who may be in the public eye or wonderfully behind the scenes. 

Let's give the kingdom of God a big hurrah today!

I'll start us off.

I love how I see God working in Larry Wishard.  Larry preaches in Aurora, Colorado.  He's been there since....well since when earth first cooled.  I was in preaching school in the same class. 

Larry is rock-solid steady.  He's always been that way.  His out-going personality is matched by his deep commitment to the people of God.  Larry Wishard is a hero to many....including me.

I love how I see God working in Trinity Davis.  Trinity is from my hometown of Memphis, MO.  She is a young homemaker whose pace reminds me of the Energizer Bunny.  A member of the school board, a Bible-class teacher, a community guru, Trinity is both multi-talented and highly-skilled.  I like her.  She is a glory to the work of God's hand.

Your turn.  Speak up.  Say it out loud.  Let's give others attention.  We can do it. 

Let's build a confidence contagion all over the world!  People need it.  Say so!