Friday, December 30, 2011
This, then, leads me to pause at the marvel of God. Give God your best, I am now convinced, was an Ishmael-like fleshly stab at serving God in strength during years gone by. While the phrase has a noble ring, it has a strong odor of self-assertion and self-accomplishment.
Just like Abraham taking charge via Hagar or Moses declining in reluctance God's first offers at freeing Israel, we tend to gauge opportunity upon our assessed contributional possibilities. And in step with Abraham being in grandfatherly years and Moses debating in resistance, we are at our best when we can't.
When I was first converted at age 23, one of the first sermons I heard was that we must bury our "can'ts". Today I think we need them to press us as God did both of these historical ambassadors to convince us through our failures that God is indeed both able and willing.
The marvel of faith in God is that He can do things with losers. Not all of God's stories reflected the brave Esther or the virgin Mary. He posed powerful potential in stammering, stuttering, idiotic followers who didn't know up from down in the true way of kingdom operations.
At this stage in my life, I am no different. And....neither is God. He is still doing His stuff through the scrambled messes of those like you and me. Faith in God....it is still very marvelous, don't you think?
Thursday, December 29, 2011
I am curious about the need for discipleship among us. Some have lived through the Crossroads and Boston Movement eras. Each seemed exciting at first; but then legalism soon arose as demanding standards (which did not come from scripture) were enacted. From my perspective, therefore, we have taken stabs at sober discipleship only to find glaring missteps and misapplications.
Would I be off-base, though, to say that we mainline churches don't do discipleship as much as we do active volunteerism?
If this is true---and I don't feel I am far off---might we evaluate such a pattern?
Volunteerism is great muscle to our sacrificial body. Service and servants mobilize as ant farms; duty, responsibility, interaction. A negative to this procedure is the sheer lack of allowable correction; we as individuals are not approachable when we don't come through at the best level.
Volunteerism has overtly developed a "hands-off" or else I'll move to another group that will appreciate my efforts. This approach leaves us with either giftedness or not; but little training will be permitted for, after all, I'm serving the best I can. Not.
I think of my Preaching School days where one would deliver his sermon in Homiletics and while the remainder of the class checked those traits well-done and not so well-done. And then....both orders would be verbalized to the deliverer in front of the class; You mumbled, your voice is too high, your lifestyle doesn't back what you just said, etc.
Not only am I not an expert in discipleship, I'm barely a novice. My critique is to be taken with such consideration. I do believe that our volunteeristic processes allow immaturity to remain at immaturity for we have groomed our people to be touchy as well as indifferent to self-improvement in the spirituals.
My head swam at Troublesome Time Lake and Overly Concerned River. I would head out right after school for these shores. Later I learned to try to get there an hour before my workday started. One cannot afford to be negligent to a healthy set of fears.
For me, worry and fret were a control mechanism. My frustration was that I wanted to be in control of people and circumstances and I was rarely either.
And then God moved in.
He told me to let things go. Psalm 46:10 Be still and know I am God. Be still can also be translated Let go. Repeatedly the Word reflects, DO NOT WORRY!
So my concern is that if I do not worry and if I curb my frets and if I let go, how will everything work out? Ah.....God knows....really.
When I'm misunderstood or I misunderstand, sometimes the only thing I know to do is to let it go. God will iron these wrinkled sheets. I can't. I don't understand the problem of me or of them. God clearly does.
To let go of dis-ease and nervous apprehension is like being handed a new life. Another Ah!
God runs the show. I don't. God can make lemonade out of lemons and if He should wish He could also make lemonade out of bananas. He can do it all.
This All-Doer clearly instructs us to let it go. But we then feel irresponsible. True irresponsibility is to fail to trust Him. Life for me is so new because I have climbed so many mountains only to find them to be mole-hills in perspective.
Have a non-agonizational day!
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
There was little concentration on my part regarding God. It was more about how we lined up.
With the help of spiritual leaders over decades, I began to realize I wasn't praising God. I was more about earning credits, and points, and praise. Eventually, a heart-felt communication toward Him grew. After awhile, this worship moved beyond the auditorium walls.
I pause to speak of our worship as to whether we truly are. And...only the heart of the worshipper knows. I knew when I wasn't...and when I was.
But how? What does worship mean. How will it look?
Giving God praise and glory is worship. Using our lips, not only in song, to speak of how amazing God is should be one's goal. To discuss God's awe verifies that He fills our hearts for from the abundance of such one speaks.
To worship Him is to pray, to praise, to bless, to vocalize, to dream, to ponder, to notice everything in thanksgiving; a bird in flight, a wrapper blowing across a street, an infant's sigh, or the scent of good cologne. When we live thankfully, we speak thankfully, and when we speak thankfully of and to Father, we worship Him....because we simply worship Him.
Finally, to truly worship God would begin by simply having Him on our minds and hearts as routinely are our days.
Good. We simply have much work to do.
Would you mind, therefore, if I point out a couple of places that need major work if we are going to claim to be the church Jesus is building?
First, there is a great chasm from where we are and where we should be regarding the absolute adoration and worship of God. Emphasis has been on attendance, protocol, and silence of scripture. It has not and still is not---I speak in general terms of the conglomerate Churches of Christ---the urgency upon the lips of us to give glory to our God unless it somehow shows up in the words of a song.
We are surely more prone to speak of a sports team, a world catastrophe, or our grandchildren over offering loving praise of Father in the midst of any casual gathering. In general, we are praisers of God from 11:00 to noon on Sunday.
Second and in general, we are still shy in our own communities. While we do make intentional effort to contribute to a drive or fund-raiser, the majority of our people are afraid to carry on a meaningful conversation with a stranger needing the attention of Father. True, we have worked on greeting others, but our willingness to truly meet those we don't know seemingly will not budge.
If we are to be like Jesus, surely one of those strong traits is the interaction with strangers regarding kingdom matters. Small talk is our agenda, but not Jesus'. He would start with the small talk of course, give me a drink of water. Yet, his thought was always of drawing strangers toward the kingdom of God.
I know the enormous fear of loving others by carrying on interactive communication with those not yet my friends. I wasn't just afraid; I could not do it. Yet, I had to learn. The church has not felt the need to have to learn. Our volunteerism has excused us from restoring the church to the outreach/neighborly connection Jesus walked.
In essence, the Church of Christ has failed in the two most pronounced doctrinal matters to the heart of Father: (1) love God, and (2) love your neighbor as yourself.
I speak not disparagingly nor hopelessly. I speak to any, though, who yet pride themselves in being a part of the true church now completely restored. We aren't yet.
Monday, December 26, 2011
Atlanta is the place where two years ago I came to officiate my cousin's funeral. She died at 61 of cancer. She left behind a sweet husband, son, and daughter.
The daughter, Cara, has chosen to stay in touch. She is my cousin Jr. I love her, though I rarely ever saw her. Yet, we connected in heart at her momma's funeral.
Since that occasion, Cara has been drawn to God. He was not in her home in her first 30 years. But year 31? Well, that's a terrific story.
Cara has been found by God. She speaks wide-eyed of being found by God. She meets in small groups in churches led by Andy Stanley and Louie Gigglio....and is crazy about it!
As we visited at a gathering on Christmas night I could not help but absorb her fascination regarding the Christmas story of Jesus' birth. In her words with wide-eyed expression, I never knew that!
Oh, I know her feeling and those of you who were also converted later in life know the dynamic. You just can't take in what others have known for so long. And....the wow never leaves!
She didn't know! Imagine the others in your workforce or neighborhood...or even relatives...who would love the opportunity to GET TO KNOW!
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Thank you for never giving up on the rest of us. I'm sure you have had moments when you could justify tossing in the towel...but you didn't.
Thank you for believing in us. Sure we mess up. Certainly we wish we had come through with better style...but you never let your disappointment show.
Thank you for being a worshipper toward God. Because of your faith in Him, we benefit from His presence in you. Your faith is showing.
Merry Christmas to one, you, who gains momentum from Christmas to Christmas. The church is blessed because you seem to know the One born in a manger so we could be born over down the road.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Some, though, hurt deeply because it is supposed to be a time of celebration....but sometimes it just isn't.
I stood yesterday before an eleven year old boy and his relatives to deliver thoughts at the memorial for his father. This little boy has a strained mixture of emotions as much of the city hustles right past him with malls of fun in mind.
Pain and sadness is rough at any point in any year. My heart goes out to those of you who have buried within a tragedy or a loss in the center of a special time where the communities find wonderful excuse to celebrate.
We invite you into our celebrations....but first know we are aware of how badly your sadness burns within your heart.
You are loved.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
So, I am still learning the ropes of the God-work among us. It doesn't necessarily come with a 13 week plan nor an embroidered Church of Christ across the waitress' apron. God uses gospel preachers, gentle courteous waitresses, and all sorts to get His theme across.
We say, Thank you, God, for being so much so vastly so often.
So this morning at 7:08 I spotted our homeless--our recently baptized--toothless Charles embarking on the same day as me. He was entering our shared corner cafe where he enters nearly every morning with purpose. He is important and he is on a mission.
What would homeless Charles find of self-importance at our cafe? Oh, he noticed my suit and tie garb. I informed him I was doing a funeral when he inquired. Immediately he moved to the back to inform the waitress; Terry has a funeral today.
She didn't know and she would not have known had it not been for Charles passing along such pertinent info which for a brief moment was known only by him.
Homeless Charles is to be found checking the cafe's thermostat with a vision of importance to any customer who might note his deliberate slumping to view the numbers through his bifocals. And then he makes his way to our space afterwards to patrol (self-assigned) the entry and halls for the operation of our Food Pantry.
I watched him again today. Isn't that just like Jesus to come to earth in one more form; that of a tall and lanky man wearing a twelve inch brace around his middle for heavy lifting....and then there's that huge gummy smile wider than his entire face?
Yes, I saw Jesus today in his unofficial, non-VBS form, officially standing in as a simple man who desires nothing more than to find someplace on this earth where someone(s) would call him important.
And the church does! The waitress does! Hopefully some scattered along his lonely path do...for he is!
And, yes, it must be mentioned that due to the grace of Father, Charles is no longer officially homeless as he moved into a very small and very humble abode just a few days ago...sort of like a modern day manger.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
I thrive in it every day!
I'm not kidding!
Every day is like Christmas to me because of who I know and Who I know. My world has been rocked...for the good!
If Christmas says anything, to me, it says personally. Personal is a very much needed commodity in our culture. ATMs and drive -through windows and online shopping (as well as paying) continue to separate people from people.
God felt the twinge first and sent His son that He might be Personal. No, He didn't shout out commands from heaven's balcony. No, He didn't send out a mass mailing. What He did was brilliant.
God suited up as man! That, my friend, is very Personal.
We enter school to earn credits and we leave school to earn a living. All can be exciting and dramatic unless such a process weans the heart from personally being an interactive person.
Christmas is God's card that says, I just want to remind you to be sure to live personally. What would Christmas say if it doesn't say this?
Monday, December 19, 2011
The Memorial Drive church isn't the only church in the town or state or world. But it is surely one of the sweetest kingdom spots and I cherish the thought of getting to be a part of it.
Saturday we had our first "Christmas Store" where we bought gifts for children and allowed parents to purchase items at a highly discounted price. Sheila Cheatham and David Combs orchestrated a stunningly amazing two hours of shopping at "Memorial's Macys"!
Several families from the community are going to have much better Christmases because this congregation captured another opportunity to bless our neighbors. About 60 of our people worked the store. It looked like a little ant farm of delightful activity. Everyone loved it!
And then early Sunday morning one of our homeless visitors over the past two months began at 5:00 a.m. and walked maybe 5 or 6 miles to get here. One of our elders found Chris curled up at the door when he came to pray with us at 7:30. So....he unlocked the doors so Chris could get in...and he even joined us to pray.
And then.....this same one responded at the invitation song and said he wanted to get to Branson, where his family lives, for Christmas; but he didn't have a way. A young couple who was visiting met him afterward and drove him from Tulsa to Branson! Another man---also a visitor---handed me money for him to travel. I have no idea how many of our own members helped with a few dollars as well.
Another of our homeless now has a home! He is sitting in our office as I write. He has a humble little apartment and David Combs will help him go to our neighboring friends at the Park Plaza Church of Christ who have a furniture ministry to get him some good stuff!
My job is to tell God how very much I live in awe and over-joy of His handiwork. It is still going on you know!
Saturday, December 17, 2011
His unfathomable ways are available for all to approach fathomability...only to prove Him right...He remains both unchartable and immeasurable.
So it is with any who determine to believe God. We shall never reach the dead end of imaginational potential.
Thus, I call you to remembrance of the God-work rather than the brotherhood march. I mean do not set your sights on what anyone has accomplished as the epitome of "getting it done". Because of God, newness is always in the wings.
Throughout I have prayed God would show me things and let me do things no one would consider. I will continue to love and respect many great works among us, but I don't want to miss the ones for me by mimicking the good labors of others.
I urge you to do similarly. Just as current civilization is obviously capable of coming up with new inventions, surely Father is more so.
Dream what can be done in evangelism, in giving, in worship, in relationships, in business, in homes, in missions, etc. that has yet to be discovered by our best minds or our bravest souls.
Do not let what has been deter you from praying for His arm to show you what is and can be. Be appreciative for all blessings of all believers. Simultaneously, remain prayerful about the new style and territory which He and you might robustly partner.
May Father's glory wow the multitudes through the few things He dares to let you see.
Friday, December 16, 2011
One-sided, non-responsiveness-from-God conversation via prayer seems to lift no higher than our man-made ceilings. Prayer that is not interactively mutual in relationship (Him/us) ultimately starves the soul. A non-responsive and mute God implies a deaf one that leaves us with little hope except by chance there might be something behind door #3.
While this sets me up for criticism, I still share that God is a God of interaction with His people. I am novice at this for my inner battle over defying what I was groomed to believe has been no minor skirmish.
God speaks to me.
How does He do it, Terry?
It isn't an audible voice of Turn left at the light which the critics would like to believe I propose. All I can say is it is an awareness of Him giving me thoughts. This is very immature in explanation; yet it is the only point I can make thus far.
God says that if we want wisdom we should pray for it. How shall we receive that prayer's response? God said in the same book that it would be sent in from heaven.
Too, God said we are to practice training our senses to discern good from evil. Training our senses from discernment evidently requires more than reading English words from a text. Note: such wisdom might actually be found in a text; but is not restricted to such a location.
For the Word-only group, if every answer is to be found in the Bible:
- How would a prayer of guidance whether to become a pharmacist or a doctor be conveyed from God?
- Why would we be told to practice discernment? Shouldn't it say just to read the scriptures?
Is there additional information God wishes us to have which is not included in the Word of God? Yes, the Word of God says so....James 1:5 and 3:13-18.
To dismiss potential dialog with God is to short-sheet experiential lives in walking with Him. The old stand-by And....He walks with me and He talks with me....is evidently a hoax if that song isn't to be experienced.
So let's get more specific. Terry, what has He shared with you recently that the Bible didn't already say? What God told me in the past few weeks are things about the Bible that I did not get from flesh and blood. They were thoughts that just fell out of the air...as if from above:
- That Peter walking on water was a message from God to tell us to use as sidewalks any disturbance which would normally pull us under.
- That thankfulness is a doctrine of greater significance and expectation by God than we have let on; that it is key to causing imprisoning and suffocating barriers to fall.
- That I needed to write a well-known personality of something God wanted me to pray over him.
An admitted problem with my overall proposal is that anyone can make up anything one wishes and claim God told them. Of course, I get that. Of course, that is a proper concern.
Yet, our calling is not to avoid an experiential walk with God because some might abuse it. That is merely falling for Satan's sham. He constantly dupes us. We must do according to the Bible; train our senses by practice; plus seek wisdom by anticipating that such will come from above.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
We at Memorial Drive are investigating the possibilities of Zondervan's The Story by Max Lucado and Randy Frazee. This is an intense thirty-one week focus upon the message of the Bible for all age categories and for all ministries.
If you have experienced this project or know of some who have, would you share with me/us what worked (and didn't work) and what you would do differently if you had it to do over?
If you have a perspective, I would like to be advantaged by your insight.
What thinketh ye?
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
I ordered the book.
It is the same sermon God handed me.
You will love it.
To this date I had believed Max Lucado was one of the most descriptive writers found. Ann Voskamp surpasses all skills---my opinionated opinionly viewpoint.
While women will thoroughly enjoy Ann's work, men will glean incredible insight as well.
Ultimately, in his essence, Satan is an ingrate.....Isn't that the catalyst of all my sins?
Our eyes fell on the glory of God (referencing the Garden). We saw God as He truly is: good. But we were lured by the deception that there was more to a full life, there was more to see.
And, true, there was more to see; the ugliness we hadn't beheld, the sinfulness we hadn't witnessed, the loss we hadn't known.
We only enter into full life if our faith gives thanks.
Make every moment a cathedral giving glory...I am Jacob and the Lord is in this place and I was not aware of it (Gen. 28:16).
The real problem of life is never a lack of time.
The real problem of life---in my life---is lack of thanksgiving.
Several somebodies in your world will be blessed by this book...I believe.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Weakness is the kingdom secret of God. He can when we can't.
We pool our weaknesses and say to God...Go for it! And, He does!
Abraham was so clueless he has forever messed up the Middle East.
Moses was so self-conscious he argued repeatedly........with God Himself!
Peter thought he was so on top of things he could admonish Jesus when declared he must suffer and die. Peter? No exception.
The church is a corporation of weaknesses glued into the mold of faith....assurance we can't and faith that God can.
Set any congregation up with elders qualified and deacons with deacon pedigree and preaching from the Word and singing without instruments...go ahead and set such in motion. It will be dull, anemic, and lifeless if not enmeshed by members throwing their weaknesses into the faith pot and saying now let's watch God make something of us!
Sunday, December 11, 2011
We can't quite figure how Father does His stuff; yet we are surely enjoying a rich time of connection with people. As a side note, He seems to have so much going that no one at Memorial really knows what, when, or where. We do know the why....glorious Father.
The Food Pantry ministers to so many very needy individuals. We love these and our people are so good at more than just handing bags of food. They befriend them. These, in turn, help us become a better people because each has buried within gifts from Father that we could use as blessings.
Some sister who resides in India has come across our congregation (I would assume through the internet) and makes constant requests for DVDs of our sermons. This lady, in turn, passes them around to area churches in India. I know nothing about her other than she writes with humility and gratitude. God knows and we sit back and enjoy.
Wednesday night our children will have their Christmas Program; an awesome event put together by our Stacey and our Linda and our Brenda. Not only will the kids do their thing which will be awesome, we will have a natural Friends Day where we can rub shoulders with relatives and neighbors.
Next Sunday and the 25th Memorial is collecting coats, scarves, socks, and gloves for the homeless to be delivered Christmas afternoon. We will pile them on the stage for the next two Sundays....it will be an avalanche of garments for our homeless friends. Two were in our assembly this morning!
There is so much more; what our teens do, what our members do in private that is amazing! So I close with one final yippee!
Last Thursday morning I did a funeral for a family that had no church. Fifteen attended. This morning in walked the son of the man who died; bringing his wife and children with him. He said they were church shopping and really connected during the memorial.
It is our church's yearn to make a difference for others. It seems the more we praise Father the more He gives us to praise Him over. Yippee!
I wince at the former who declare scientific tests prove the Earth to be some million or billion years old. Really? They have such accuracy? Rather I believe it to be dishonest guestimation.
There is a factor about Creationism that science seems to overlook; God created age.
Did He not create Adam and Eve? And were they newborns or adults?
Imagine a news reporter walking up to Adam 30 minutes after being created.
- Sir, may I inquire as to your age?
- 30 minutes.
- Sir, may I have a serious response?
- 30 minutes.
- But Sir, science can verify you are at least...ummmm....24 or 25....years.
Scientific research into age of mountains or oceans or people runs into a stressful scenario when it realizes that one of the things God created in the beginning was age.
Friday, December 09, 2011
A few years ago I talked one of our retired members into being Charlie McCarthy for our church Christmas party. I told him he would be fine...for he definitely is not an up-front-in-public sort.
Still, he was hesitant to be on stage in front of so many. To put him at ease, I instructed him to say I see your lips moving whenever he could not remember his lines.
We had a great time!
So many phone calls, emails, or personal encounters have one main question coming at me, Terry, are you okay? Three police officers at breakfast (that are always in the cafe each morning) inquired if I was doing okay today.
Of course I am.
I'm not only doing good, I'm ecstatic! I didn't want Albert to resign with us.
Love him? Yes. Admire him? Of course. Remain a fan of his? Of course.
Want him to stay? No.
To me, Albert is a case of unfortunate greed. I would wish to be wrong, but I would say that within three years of his ten year contract, he will not produce the results these major bucks assumed. He might leave baseball as one of the best players ever only to be resented by the fans for his paycheck.
Greed, though, isn't just a matter of baseball stars. It is surely embedded into the fabric of our kingdom effort. Money doesn't only talk. It talks in a whisper...with allurement...that we might gain comfort for our self-center.
Greed is a temptation to many to depend on dollars rather than the good hand of Father. May we each do what we can to place our constant trust upon the treasures of a faithful-to-His-promise filling God.
Thursday, December 08, 2011
Have you read Kisses From Katie?
This inspiring true story is about a young Tennessee dreamer who was her high school's graduating class president and homecoming queen. Unpredictably she made a bold move four years ago to Jinja, Uganda to serve Jesus. Her faith is riveting. You will be inspired!
Excerpts from the book's Introduction are:
....I began to delve into the truths of Scripture. As I read and learned more and more of what Jesus said, I liked the lifestyle I saw around me less and less. I began to realize that God wanted more from me and I wanted more of Him. He began to grow in me a desire to live intentionally, and different from anyone I had ever known....
.....So I quit my life.....People often ask if I think my life is dangerous, if I am afraid. I am much more afraid of remaining comfortable.....I am much more terrified of living a comfortable life in a self-serving society and failing to follow Jesus than I am of any illness or tragedy....
Katie Davis is now 22 years old and the mother of her 14 adopted Ugandan children. Her compelling story will clear your sinuses!
So here's my deal. I will give free copies of this book to the first 18 readers who do the following:
- Request one copy through the comment section of this blog. Do not email or call. The first 18 listed will receive a free copy and you will be able to tell by the number of comments if any copies remain.
- In your comment, give me complete name, address, and zip. I will not track you down if part is missing.
- This offer is open for the next 24 hours. Once it is closed I will send the remaining copies to servants here and there.
I think you will be intensely inspired by this amazing woman and God's amazing work in her.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
We enjoy our multiple labors in His vineyard and we may see great fruit for the moment and we may not for it will come well down the road.
I so love working in such an unframed and unbound zone of nebulicity for God has different measuring devices than we.
When the widow with her mite was praised by Jesus, what do you see of her faith in the following days. Nothing. What good did she do in giving it?
Of the woman who had five husbands, Jesus told her to go and sin no more. What do you have as proof she did? Nothing.
Our walk is a constant score of randomly bumping into people as well as intentional connections throughout the day. Each interaction is pregnant with the Jesus persuasion. Yet, at the end of the day, prove it.
Just as Jesus returned from the grave at the end of three, there were two full days of heavy doubting. And....then there is God. Such is all of the proof we can conceive for much of our effort. Sometimes we see the third-day results and sometimes we don't see it for months or years or decades or never in our lifetime.
Do you think Paul thought about anyone gleaning from his letters in 2011? Doubtful. What we do today for and with God will bear fruit in 2012 and in 3817 if earth lasts that long.
Regarding our kingdom efforts, "prove it" is the wrong phrase. The correct one would be "believe it".
Monday, December 05, 2011
Consider one of the church's favorite gospel stories; the fish and the loaves. The young lad had five and two. His generous release fed beyond his imagination; 5000.
If the boy should have been tight-fisted the 5000 would not have been blessed. Neither would he.
So it might be with faith. When one accumulates a couple of sound doctrines here and there, and then gets miserly with them by refusing to make them available/vulnerable to correction/addition, a great harvest of new learning is never experienced. Upon reflection I can see where I missed some of His greatest encouragements because I was off in my brotherhood corner protecting my few accumulated doctrines.
When I did such, I was unwilling to risk whether more might be out there for my belief files. I didn't want to know about the Holy Spirit for I had five verses on the Word only. I didn't want to know any more about worship for I had two places earmarked against instrumental music. My own stinginess to the Word was keeping me from encountering a vast and new arena of God working.
But when we make all we know available for release (should we need correction), what will be the result? Much more of that which we held dear will bloom before our eyes. Did the young boy share loaves and fish only to find grapes and lettuce expanded? No, he reaped a harvest of much more of what he already possessed.
When we risk letting pet doctrines go, we will not be robbed of them. Rather we will find more and more and much more of synchronized teachings which support His true will. We learn and we grow when we refrain from being tight-fisted with our beliefs.
God has more to share from His eternal Word. If we will quit holding on to the ten or twenty texts we know best, He may just have an avalanche of additional revelation awaiting! My guess....and my experience....absolutely!
Sunday, December 04, 2011
Blackaby and King's Experiencing God workbook of 20 years ago gave us a major and much-needed shift. We look for God's moves.
When we made such an adjustment, a new world of wonder opened for our congregation. So many things have developed; so many ministries begun. We didn't map them out. They seemed to show up on our doorstep.
When God is in the lead, the work seems to go so much easier. And we wonder why?
I, for one, will always need to improve in all my responsibilities. One that has blessed me beyond imagination is to do the work (John 6:29) that Father insists; believe in Jesus.
Of course I enjoy the crowds in attendance. Yes, I would love to find the count ever-increasing. Yet, it is possible and (maybe) probable that the church could do more at being the church by moving away from our central hub.
Occasionally a few of Memorial's workers will move down the street to our sponsored elementary school for clean-up day....yes, on a Sunday morning. With paint brushes and Lord's Supper involved, a few gather to be Jesus to a public school system.
Last Sunday our Youth Minister took the teens to a workplace where they moved one of our older members from one house to another. Again, the Supper was observed, the fellowship was intact, and the work of the cross in thinking of others was administered.
Don't misunderstand. I'm not antsy to "break us up". But such is what happened among the earliest of beginning believers as they were forced to break up into smaller groups spread into other countries.
We have said it right all along. I'm just not sure we have believed our own lingo. The meeting house isn't the church. The church is wherever the believer(s) is. I love our assemblies; the bigger the better.
Having stated this, I still wonder if more would not be reached through multi-sites. If you happen to disagree with me, that's quite all right. I disagree with me as well.
I just wanted to share this should it click with any in an area I can't yet grasp or even imagine!
While I merely write about multi-site churches, though, others are already doing it....quite effectively.
Friday, December 02, 2011
Campbell is my six year old granddaughter sitting in this photo with her very neat dad at a Candlelight Lunch at school.
Her family was at our house last week for Thanksgiving and she shadowed Grandma each day. She even helped prepare the big Thanksgiving dinner.
Once returned to Atlanta, she wrote Santa such a special note (spelling is her own).
Hello Elfis and Santa!
Dear Elfs Santa and Elfis I miss you Guys and I miss Mrs Close to. I love you so much and Merry Cristmas. Did you no I amost fixst the hole thanks giving lunch?
I have hit points in my ministry where I will call out to Him as I pace our auditorium alone, God, would you teach me what you have always wished someone would learn? Would you open to me a world of understanding that no one has yet thought to seek?
I want to know those types of things. Of course I want to learn from what others of have learned. But don't we also want to know from God what no man has yet to discover? And, don't we believe there is yet much to be unearthed from the Bible and His will?
Do we not believe the Word is deeper than the chemist's ability to discover what has yet to be found? Do we not grasp the fact that God's secrets are buried out in the open where only the baby-like will find them? Surely we haven't taken on the stance that heaven has emptied all of it's wisdom....James 1:5 and 3:13-18.
It seems that nearly every time I spend moments with Him, seeking the hidden, something usually arises regarding the Spirit.
Why do we not seek continuance and extension of Truth?
Could it be because we don't want to know; that additional truth might nullify errors we have always called Truth? Could it be that we have it well-embedded into our senses that the brotherhood believes what it believes and to buck the system will be costly?
A bigger question would be are we afraid to admit that we are wrong so it would just be best not to find out?
This can happen. It has happened. I will happen.
May we believe there is more Truth to yet unfold and, too, may we be unafraid as we grow into it.
Thursday, December 01, 2011
Man's basic inclination is self-preservation. This basic inclination goes out the window when facing the kingdom life.
Preaching and teaching are pregnant with nervous anticipation. What will we say next? Teach next? Study next?
When I began such a ministry I had two goals: (1) fill up the time, and (2) find out what the brotherhood believed so I could assume their stances of sound doctrine. I preached outlines; but I didn't have much to say from God for His people. I was a likable sort who steered clear of upsetting anyone best I could.
I self-vowed I would never teach anything which would draw the ire from anyone that I was a liberal who left the Word of God and jumped off the deep end. Never! However, I've learned the hard way---believe me---that sticking with the Word is the quickest and surest way of igniting unforgiving fire.
But God broke in and keeps breaking in. He continues to reveal Himself from directions which play havoc upon goals #1 and #2. The less I peruse the Brotherhood Quarterlies and rub up against the poor and the depressed, the more of God I see oozing from life's "spring of what matters".
The Word runs deep, young preacher. If the day hasn't occurred let it, as it happened to me, that you do not run to it to glean lessons for presentation. Rather, you let your eyes rest upon it to say "teach me" what you wish someone would hear.
Our basic inclination is self-preservation until.....until we begin to permissively position ourselves within His sights for true and meaningful ministry. Two things will change immediately: (1) you will have more sermon and class material than you can use week by week which has depth of meaning to those who hunger to hear from God, and (2) you will not escape being in trouble with a brotherhood addicted and devoted to their Brotherhood Quarterlies.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
I understand why some would doubt me on this. There are so many things I doubt that surely Father wishes I would believe. But....maybe I'll grow in some of those areas down the road.
I preface with these comments to say His talking to me happened again this morning as it often does; as I was just awakening from my night's sleep before I realized who or what I was. These thoughts flowed in and I jotted them down on the pad I keep by my pillow for such moments.
Here's what He told me this morning.
The difference between talking the talk and walking the walk is drastic. Talkers believe in the existence of God and His Holy Spirit. Walkers experience God and His Holy Spirit. Talkers discuss attributes of Father with little anticipation that He actually functions in their (or others) lives. Walkers believe there is present-day ongoing interaction between us and Them.
Consider Romans 8:11. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.
We contain resurrection power in our mortal bodies now. The talkers debate the role of the Holy Spirit while the walkers experience His activity now. For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we shall live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you. Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves (II Cor. 13:4-5)!
The difference between those who talk the talk versus those who walk the walk is the former believe in the existence of God while the later experience God. May we be ultra patient with one another while we bridge this gap in the pure harmony of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
That's what He gave me this morning.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
The reason I point to this today is I believe too many quit; we give up and/or out. This is not a charge against any who have served a tenure and then moved on to another form of ministry under a business umbrella. It is a challenge to those who want to get out because they felt they received unfair treatment.
We are called to a lifestyle that has many facets which simply are and always will be...unfair.
Should you happen to be a shepherd or a minister on staff or a class teacher, do not be caught off guard at how frustrating your role is. Jesus came to die for the world including the ungrateful and we are following in his sandals.
Dan Allender states, Leaders choose daily, but the real weight on their shoulders lies in the need to decide. And there are no easy decisions. To decide requires a death, a dying to a thousand options, the putting aside of a legion of possibilities in order to choose just one.
De-cide. Homo-cide. Sui-cide.
The root word for decide means "to cut off." All decisions cut us off; separate us from early infinite options as we select just one single path. And every decision we make earns us the favor of some and the disfavor of others.
To stay away from the front lines of ministry is to live disengaged. At times this mistaken ploy can be massaged into seeming deployment by arguing causes. This merely deceives the heart by talking a good talk among disengaged (and maybe dishonest) talkers.
We are to be among the troops who live from the cross; hung out to dry that others might be saved. Decide to die daily and you will experience both the presence and the provision of Father.
If we are truly going to lead, we can be assured there will be definite tough terrain.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Yesterday's sermon was one of the harder ones to hear. Oddly, it was on an assumed easy topic; thanksgiving. Throughout scripture be thankful is the command which opens the kingdom system for us.
Philippians 4:4-6, Colossians 3:12-17 and others pound us with the urgency to be full of thanks in each and every circumstance. There were other passages I wanted to hit; but time did not permit. One of them I choose to share at this time.
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
It is God's will that we be thankful in all things. Sheep from goat separation does not come merely in faith labors; it shows up decisively in whether one's heart is grateful.
This has demanded a huge turn around (repentance) in my life over the years. I have behaved as a spoiled brat insisting matters go my way. I learned through the harsh pits to say an unlikely phrase to God; Thank You.
What would Paul and Silas have been singing about when the jailhouse fell down? Praises to God were flowing from their lips when it just wasn't a praiseworthy day....to unbelievers.
If you want to change your world for the greatest, start by saying Thank you in each and every circumstance. The imprisonment will stop.
You know the password. Use it.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Faith will not be talked out of possibility just because the visible presents a seemingly set-in-stone dilemma.
Prayer is not about wishing; but about seeing beyond the visibles.
I had an experience yesterday that made my day. It regards faith and prayer.
Mary and I moved into a new neighborhood at the end of July. I have posted before about praying for each neighbor--by name--that I meet; first thing of a morning and the last thing at night....daily.
I was in my front yard yesterday when one of those neighbors was in her morning walk. She saw me and made a bee-line for me; just to talk neighborly.
During our visit, I mentioned to her that I pray for her and Glen twice a day. Tears came to her eyes. Yes, I know. Glen came right in to tell me as soon as you left the other day.
Now that's interesting.
Glen and Stephanie stopped by our house with their two littles on Halloween. I inquired as to which was their house. When I went to pray that night, I could not recall her name. A couple of days later I stopped by their place.
Glen came to the porch. I reminded him of where I lived and shared that I pray for each neighbor I meet twice a day and I could not remember his wife's name. He told me her name...but he seemed very disinterested.
Here's what I want you to get. I don't know how interested he was; but evidently enough to share it with his wife. She elaborated with gratitude (and tears in her eyes) that I would pray for their family.
Faith does not react nor respond to the visible for such will talk us out of kingdom life. Faith believes seed is sown and God gives increase....in His timing...when He gets good and ready.
When Stephanie and I wrapped up our conversation yesterday morning she reached toward me to give me a huge hug.
I think I have made some more new friends!
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Jesus doesn't just change things. He changes people.
God's children are a new sort. We aren't an old brood oiled down and shined up. No, we are converted. We are new.....really new....truly new.
That newness changes everything. All aspects of our walk have an asterisk. The empty grave is that asterisk. Because it is empty, possibility trumps every impossible charge. We are new in hope, in praise, and in glory.
Tell us, benign or malignant? The faith asterisk says we know something more than a report. We win. If we live, we win. If we die, we win sooner.
Tell us healed or wounded? The asterisk of believing in resurrection power vaults us into a new zone of everything is a yes world.....everything.
When Jesus broke from the tomb due to nothing of his own strength---his role was to be dead for God to be glorified---he ruined every item which wishes to restrain our lives. The empty grave is the asterisk which trumps Yogi Berra by stating, Hey, it isn't over because it isn't over.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
I've also never been in Cognito. I hear no one recognizes you there.
I have, however, been in Sane. They don't have an airport; you have to be driven there. I have made several trips there, thanks to my friends and family.I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I'm not too much on physical activity anymore.
I've also been in Doubt. That is a sad place to go, and I try not to visit there too often.
I've been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm.
Sometimes I'm in Capable, and I go there more often as I'm getting older.
One of my favorite places to be is in Suspense! It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart! At my age I need all the stimuli I can get!
Once I was in Dispensible, but I'm not allowed to even visit there anymore.
I don't know who wrote the above. These thoughts just showed up on my computer. But one place I believe the author has been in his/her travels is in Denial. Possibly?
And why would I suspect this? Because I have often been in Sensitive.
Have a nice Thanksgiving....where ever you travel----
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Admittedly, I was caught off-guard by these who live to pick apart my work. To have sermon CDs sent anonymously of a preacher naming me in his sermon as a false teacher--all the while clearly misrepresenting me--was a toughy. To open a brotherhood newsletter/paper to note, "The False Teachings of Terry Rush" without having ever heard from the author first....difficult for me to take. But...I must have such opposition to keep me focused in dire need upon Him.
My first mistake was to contact these men. But I learned a yes in the midst of such mistakes. The yes is don't contact them. They take this as a feather in their cap. These are weasle-men whose only claim to fame is to pronounce loudly how they wage war against others.
I just returned from a trip to check on my mom. What awaits me among 70 emails? Another public discourse by one bragging of his stance against others and me. His contortioned message is sad. He surely looks good to his audience that evidently gives him applause.
He will not hear complaint from me for I learned long ago that such is precisely what gives the critic the ammo he or she needs to flaunt their stances. Just as important, I learned during the same lesson that I need the critic in my life that I keep in mind church doesn't operate upon my great skill nor my smooth sailing.
It only operates within and among those dependent upon Him.
Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me--to keep me from exalting myself!
What we don't like (criticism) is a very elemental key to our groomed dependence upon God. Brennan Manning wrote in his newest book, I saw my life as vitiated by pride, by the inordinate desire to be liked, loved, approved, applauded, and accepted.
No kidding. Him, too?
Thus he points to Matthew 5:3 of the New English Bible, How blessed are those who know that they are poor, the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
Thornism is a major player in God's kingdom as its pain shifts us from independence to a grace-filled walk. We need the critics. They are our blessings. Don't throw them away.
A strong test for me is to see that I don't become critical of my critics.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Sunday morning I preached for a little Disciples of Christ congregation in Gorin, MO. They have a young preacher there that is delightful. The quaint little church was packed front to back, side to side. Guests were from at least six other towns. My first visit was, indeed, one that touched my heart.
And then Sunday evening I preached for an area-wide Thanksgiving service in my hometown of Memphis. Attendance was strong. Spirits soared. It was simply a sweet time of reunion.
The longer I get to preach the more I see I have made the things of God far too difficult. I don't mean to imply that His path is without pain for we do each have a cross, understand. Yet, the more I relinquish control of how I think God would/should/could operate, the more He seems to respond to our trust.
I am encouraged by the reports I am continually fed by believers that God is active among us. Shame on us for ever convincing another that the works of God were over. He still lives!
Thursday, November 17, 2011
I can't quite get what it is that is being protested? I really might be way off base, but it seems to me these pools gather those who evidently don't have jobs....or money. Am I missing a bigger point? Surely.
My larger frustration is with the media. Why show these scenes? Would such have lasted two months if given no publicity? Isn't publicity their goal...and their basic fuel?
Years ago Memorial had a set of elders that made a major and positive difference for this church. It continues to this day. They quit giving attention to the protesters who occupied the pews. When ears went deaf to Occupiers who were weak on jobs and long on both opinionation as well as demandination, the protests evaporated...quickly and permanently.
Major League Baseball has a similar rule. When a fan jumps the stands and races across the diamond, the television cameras are instructed to momentarily view elsewhere. They will not show the interruption nor the interupter. The result? Very few streakers.
The solution for Wall Street Occupiers is the same for Church Occupiers. The reign of ingratitude needs to fall. Thanksgiving needs to fill the veins of both. Gratitude for minuscule blessing and major ones shift focus from self-determination to a community partnership of wonder.
As our efforts increase in being occupied by the love of others per Jesus' example, the world will view the most necessary and meaningful protest; seeing that hope comes to all lonely hearts.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
One of the best ways I know of meeting and growing in Jesus is to try to explain him to others.
Haven't many of us spent our fair share of time teaching the five steps or the film strips or the Romans Road? Within each platform are eternal truths of life. Truthfully though, each has the inbred capacity to skirt the issue; that issue being Jesus himself.
He warned us against teaching the Word and knowing the Scriptures without ever coming to an understanding of him. This instruction from John jolted me at a point in my ministry that I never forgot it...nor did I ever have the inclination to go back to my previously pet standards.
Jesus makes church life an entirely new ball game. Helping others catch his drift impacts us in equally grand and glorious ways.
Tell others about your story of your interaction with Jesus.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
This is just too exciting. We are on an adventure on the scale of God.
We teach our children God-story after God-story. Why would we clear our throats with a different version of life once we surpass both five feet tall and one hundred pounds? I think God anticipates that our thrill over Him will increase; not decline.
My inadequacies disappoint me. I am now 64 years old. I have kingdom experience under my belt. Yet in meeting after meeting I misspeak and misrepresent and mislabel and misjudge. Will it ever quit? Will I ever reach a better standard?
Due to my hunger, I love to continue to learn. So much I don't know. So much I have never given a thought.
The world populace grows bigger. The need for Jesus is staggering. The hope of God's love within and among us is impressive.
Day by day I am impressed by the hard-core devotion by so many toward Jesus and his cause. We, as a body, are not moody about it. Yes, we misfire and often mistake. But we have reason to hold our heads up high and hope for yet another and better day.
May we learn from our bummer moves which would give us reason to bemoan our own inabilities. Rather may these be our power-lessons which would thrust us into the "new me" we have long anticipated.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Jesus wasn't joking when he declared he could do nothing unless he saw Father do it. I thought he was; but not so.
A great life, I conclude, is a life of enormous irony. We are thrilled over the life we possess because we gave the first one away. The day came when I traded my old life in like an old jalopy for a streamlined Acura. I finally and favorably gave up on me. I tried; but I just could't do good enough.
And then Life moved in.
Oh, it wasn't when I was baptized. I realized very little at my new birth. Life began to pop for me when I ran out of self capacity to make things work. My failures are among my favorite and greatest successes. I am truly and unexaggeratedly one miserable flop.
And then there was God.
The more I remember my zero-ness, the more God translates my economy of impossibility to surprising possibility just like he did with little David and five smooth stones. Nothing plus God equals dead giants.
When this truth permeated my mind, depression did not arise as I once had assumed. To find we are worse than we thought in talent, skill, and effectiveness does not usually contribute to a cheerful demeanor.
And then there was God.
I have become a new man. New in my ability to relax and let God...really. I don't run anything. I don't control one person; not one. Everyone on our staff is sharper than me and my contribution to the team is to realize it. Relax. Let God do his thing.
The great irony of life for me was that while I kept reaching I forgot to look inside of this self wrapped in misgivings and supreme failure. Jesus is in here. I was reaching toward recognition and accomplishment. The Accomplisher was inside all during my struggles to become somebody.
I am somebody. I am a great liver. Jesus is parked in here
Wanna have a really good day. Look inside of yourself. Don't look at self-evaluation. Rather look to see if Jesus isn't in there ready to make you yet another one of the most amazing creatures of His handiwork. It goes on, you know.
I live...yet not I, but Christ live in me....really.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Safety in the church/kingdom is a grand dilutent to the work at hand. We are to be a people about the work of God; not the ability of the human mind.
When we fear we are poised for failure. Love casts out fear.
The tendency to protect our image must go. How do you think Peter looked to his colleagues as he traipsed out onto the water toward Jesus without giving it appropriate analysis?
I'm preaching on this today and I can't wait. God has shown me so many things. Few of the wows ever came because I was cautious and walked with the herd-thinking. When it gets down to the marvelous experience of God, we will usually find that such happens when we are alone.
The church is bursting at wishing to burst...from the pew. Launch out into the deep...often alone...and expect God to be there ahead of you. Train your senses to know what is of Him or of your own dull imagination by practice. He calls for it.
Our young are bored because we groom them to be respectable and moderate in their faith. Interiorly, I think they hunger to experience God. May we show them how.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Often scriptures illustrate him blessing one person only to upset another within the same context. Two men praying in the temple depicts such a truth. The Prodigal and his brother reveal yet another.
Fundamentally, the church doesn't do disturb.
Members basically refuse it and believe such to be of the side of darkness. We suffer due to our incessant gravitation toward faith through the safety of little required of us. This simply is diametrically opposed to the nature of Jesus and the cross.
For this reason the church is quite weak in the realm of discipleship. We are missing a great element of kingdom blessing by insisting the church remain agitation free. We naturally desire a fleshly peace which would divert us to a walk a safe distance from the cross but still allow service of sort.
I'm not promoting unwarranted nor unsettling issues; but rather the power of the Word. I am saying the church reacts to disturbance by putting it down quickly when such might be an effort by God to shake us loose from our calloused and deadened ways. The Word cuts. In order to avoid its cuttings we tend to avoid the Word.
The Word will teach us new ways which will oppose some of our settled conclusions. The Bible will not let us remain who we have been; but will call us into the new Life of growth and maturity.
Discipline is hard. It is of God.
Moab has been at ease since his youth; He has also been undisturbed on his lees, neither has he been emptied from vessel to vessel, nor has he gone into exile. Therefore he retains his flavor, and his aroma has not changed. Therefore behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I shall send to him those who tip vessels, and they will tip him over, and they will empty his vessels and shatter his jars (Jer. 48:11-12).
Lees is the sediment settling to the bottom of a vat of new wine. Emptied from container to container the lees are disturbed and then redisturbed until the fine wine develops as the lees are not allowed to settle but are eliminated through the disturbing process.
So it is with us. Our call is not to quit; but rather to regard annoyances and disruptions as a part of the kingdom life process. We are not to give up in frustration because matters do not pan out as we had planned. Rather we are to regard our personal agitation as within the framework of God's intended and insistent blessings.
One reason the whole church needs to experience what is regarded as that villain called change is that such a process purifies what could have become dull, rigid, and dead over time. I speak not of error; but of Truth that we have yet to realize or admit.
The church is not trained to be disturbed. Who among us prefers it? However, the church has been groomed to reject alarm. Yet, it is surely an important factor for legitimate growth of the body.
The church is not trained to be disturbed. We are the weaker for it. Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeals among us. These are for our testing....they are our lees....I Peter 4:12.
Therefore, to the younger, I want to give you a concept of what you are in for as a parent. Of course there are varying issues and troubling matters which this simple blog would not address. The basics for avoiding parent shock will hopefully serve to some value for a few.
I always liked parenting. It is sheerly remarkable. Wonder is everywhere. And, difficulties surely arise. Don't go into shock when you hit the latter. It will happen.
Don't be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you as if some strange thing were happening to you...this is going on only for your testing....I Peter 4:12 is very necessary for moms and dads.
It would be a good idea to determine whether you are about to speak grace at the time of need (Eph. 4:29) or death-words. While I was a strong disciplinarian and believe in it to this day, I intentionally spoke life into the young ears. I could have used the same as a kid.
You might want to get a pen and paper and write this down; Your kids will make mistakes. It isn't because they are kids; but because they are like us. So try not to go into orbit when the phone call comes revealing a negative circumstance. That circumstance is presented you to see how you are going to do; not necessarily to see what you are going to do with or to them.
The question is not, Will they mess up? The question is, Will you go over the edge when they do?
Do what you can to avoid parent shock. Bad choices by children will and are coming. They are us in miniature. Mercy and grace, correction and training are needed in all circumstances. Fathers, do not provoke your children is the back-side of Children, obey your parents.
Our kids will do better if mom and dad can address corrections and adjustments without killing young spirits by our falling apart in shock. Be nice to your children for someday they will determine what elder-care you are worth.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
I carry great respect for Mr. Keane's talent. His material actually was funny.
I brushed past this man in the mid-80's when I was writing a manuscript entitled, The Holy Spirit Makes No Earthly Sense. During the months of that process Family Circus popped out one morning with the little one inquiring, I know about the Father and the Son, but what is the Holy Spearmint?
I so loved that particular cartoon as it clearly fit the theme of the book. I wrote Mr. Keane for permission to copy the cartoon in the book. The book eventually went to print without it.
Months later--too late--I received a note from Mr. Keane stating I surely could use his cartoon; that he was impressed someone of faith would see the humor in that specific drawing.
Family Circus was my favorite cartoon of the newpaper industry. I almost got to use it in my book.
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
I noticed something today in study that might encourage a few as to how to reach one, a few, or several.
Jesus didn't become religious. He was born of Mary; not as a scholar but as a human. Your first great attribute is to remember this point. It is where Jesus began.
A mistake we make at times is in trying to be inauthentic in our verbiage. I tried to learn the ropes of outreach by memorizing a scripted conversation that felt more like I was reading from a teleprompter.
Don't underestimate the simple truth that Jesus' first step in reaching to us was simply by becoming one of us. I Cor. 9:19-23 is the rare text which speaks of "winning" people. How is it accomplished? By becoming like the ones whom we are reaching, winning develops.
Be encouraged. Refrain from trying to be some thing or some one you are not. Be you...a human who loves God....and then say so.
The simple way to reach is to first be a person of God who grows into the role....that's what Jesus did.
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
The response Thomas received was unique and insightful. You believe because you see; blessed are those who believe when they cannot see.
Enter the factual and actual presence of the Holy Spirit.
He is easily dismissed as hodge-podge or hokey to the Thomas' of the present-day church. Foolishness. Silliness. Absurdity. Each call expressed in mockery of believers who dare think there something existing in the invisibles as well as active among us today.
If the church in general could use an infusion of sorts, it surely could use a high dose of Life! Precisely, such is the Holy Spirit duty. Jesus, in both flesh and Spirit, is all about abundant life!
Churches do not need to trade preachers, replace current elders, or revamp tired and worn ministries. They desperately and accurately need the Holy Spirit's engagement within all. Due to His presence, something special breaks out....like life from death's grave.
I know of nothing to beneficially reshape every congregation as that of the activity of the Holy Spirit of God within and among the members who claim to display His banner of love.
One is still blessed for believing the Holy Spirit that cannot be seen.
Monday, November 07, 2011
I was escorted into her bedroom which has become her living room, her office, her slumber pad, and her eventual casket of sorts. The view was stark as well as painful.
My friend is now a skeleton with beautiful eyes. No hair. No muscle. Her arms fold as an ironing board. She is frightfully precious.
I took her a plant with blooms. At the sight she began to weep. The flowers are pretty green and purple. I then pulled a brown bulb from my pocket. My friend, don't be afraid. This bulb is you today. This plant is you next week. The bulb cannot imagine the beauty it will become in the future. Such is only a promise of God. But....you can be sure you are about to become more than you can imagine.
We visited a bit. I asked if she was afraid. She is not. We prayed...well I prayed and she agreed. It was both a sensitive and meaningful visit for both of us. Jesus was our guest and our theme. We rehearsed how we are all right because he became all of our wrongs; II Cor. 5:21.
We did not discuss whether is was all right for the church to have a kitchen or a garage sale. The topic of whether Max should be/could be a workshop speaker was not given attention. There was no debate regarding mixed swimming. Neither of us referenced Billy Graham's doctrines nor Joel Osteen's for that matter.
Oh, I don't know. I guess when one in the room is merely a failing skeleton with beautiful eyes we just didn't feel like wrangling over church stuff that both of us at one time were led to believe was of utmost importance.
Saturday, November 05, 2011
Tomorrow we will be wonderfully positioned to see so many of the people. The importance of people being seen is kingdomly crucial. Jesus was a master at it. Whether behind him in a crowd or stranded up a tree, Jesus had eyes to see the people.
Specifically, I urge you to see the person(s) you are visiting with tomorrow. Try not to be thinking elsewhere when a very important one of God is speaking to you. Look deeply into their eyes to the depth you can see their heart. Notice the importance of the one in your presence.
See the people. Note their value.
When you do those to things love for them will fill your heart. We all know what happens from that which fills our hearts, don't we? Our lips begin to confess the abundance that fills our hearts.
When the person in front of you fills your heart, you will know what to say. You will speak the nature of Jesus for his eyes will be peering through yours at another one of God's masterpieces; a regal person.
Tomorrow's assemblies? Be sure to see the people!
I walked into my office and turned my daily calendar to this:
Don't be sad about the things you want and don't get. Think how many things you don't want that you don't get!
Why is happiness such a big deal to me? It is because I spent far too many years--including preaching time--being terribly unhappy, dissatisfied, and.....well...extremely pouty.
What changed for me was to realize I really did have a choice in the matter. I could place a deciding vote as to whether I wanted to like today....every day! You know what? That's not a wish. It is the truth.
All happy people have just as many aches and pains as the rest; maybe even more. The difference in life is not whether the good breaks or bad breaks happened. The difference is made when one chooses what to dwell upon.
Choosing to be happy doesn't mean only happy things occur. Devastation and discouragement are at many turns. The definitive factor toward joy is what we choose to soak our mind in. That's it.
God taught me this in many places. Philippians 4:4-13 would not allow me to revert to my age-worn excuse that others got breaks but I didn't. All have enough go wrong to drive us to the edge of the cliff at times. God, though, teaches us to notice the beauty that up til now had not been noticed until we arrived at the edge of the cliff.
Be happy? It is your vote independent of anyone else.
Even this post can make you elated or resentful; but only you choose which it will be.
Friday, November 04, 2011
I was saddened to learn this morning that Bob Forsch passed away last night at age 61.
He was the third winningest pitcher in St. Louis Cardinal history.
I have been with him at the Legends Camps for the past ten years. We built a strong friendship.
Once I encouraged Bob to be at chapel as I would be speaking and I needed his support. He didn't usually attend. He was there.
This picture is unique in that the "big boys" don't ask the "rookies" for autographs. Yet, Bob sought mine as we were about the clear out of the clubhouse and onto the field.
I thoroughly enjoyed being around this Cardinal legend. He was good to me. When my latest book (MVP) was ready for print, Bob was the first of five former stars to endorse it.
I will miss this man....but I won't forget him. And what I will remember best is that while he was a big deal in the baseball realm, he was really a decent man of humility.
Having experienced approximately seven variations of elder teams, I hope to have learned a few things along the way. I choose to share such should it be valuable to your work.
The major shift for good began when Memorial called men to shepherd us who thought alike. Before, we had teams of elders who did not have the same philosophy and direction. They were continually at odds and a divided congregation most naturally followed suit consistently.
We could not get to the work at hand for putting out fires and enduring countless long meetings filled with frustrating argumentative anger. Throughout the years we have had a variation of teams and each one that possessed inner division saw identical fruit in the body.
Ironically...one of the things voiced most from the divisive clusters was, We may oppose one another in this room, but when we go out there we are one voice. It didn't happen because a few would get with their cronies to complain about how things "weren't" going. And then the next meeting would find the insertion, We may not agree in here, but when we leave this room, we are one.
Wishful thinking. Not true. Kept the church frustrated.
For the last several years, Memorial perpetually experiences new light and life. Compassion for the ailing has found regeneration. Openness to the Spirit finds great presence. Gifts embedded in one another form a body of workers together rather than against one another.
This has come about--not because of preaching and not because of effective marketing--because our shepherds over the years have had the same philosophy and mutual respect. Yes, each is different.
Yet, the annoying egocentricity isn't present. Their approach to the Word and the Work is naturally one because they are not only biblical brothers; they have grown to become spiritual friends.
Due to this power of our elders, divisive uprisings within the flock don't survive for they find no elder in their camp. We are all camping as a family. Our staff is a unique and special team. Our congregation is sweet of heart and growing in Spirit. We are experiencing God day by day and the gate that allows us to go in and out is that of our shepherds...for they think the best they can like the First Shepherd.
Elders--my experience--are either of the Law or of the Spirit. The first will stagnate and kill a congregation. The latter will allow the Breath of Life to flow among the flock.
Thursday, November 03, 2011
I find that one of the enduring truths taught me in preaching school was K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid). Simplicity is the Jesus style. If not careful, simplicity will be buried in this age known for technology.
Business knows of the Peter Principle where advancement can ultimately push one effective worker upward into a zone which is both foreign to his or her skills; and thus, ineffective in such a promotion.
Christians must be ever alert to the Martha Principle of being involved in an array of things to the extent little is accomplished.
The Martha Principle is rampant in the kingdom. I first began to see this when my three were in elementary school and I was away traveling the nation. I soon realized I must simplify my schedule. I could. I did. Oddly, it took a few defensive arguments with invitees to get to this productive juncture.
The tech world concerns me. Conversations at business breakfasts or family gatherings are often interrupted as cell phones ding-dong and the receiver is compelled to look and relook and look again at the next ding-dong. Public speakers are more likely to lose a portion of the audience due to their incessant need to text across the Atlantic or across the room.
America is addicted to distraction. ADD and ADHD are actually enhanced by so many Martha-wares on the market to keep the diseases going.
My word to many of you is to have the courage to say no to the drugs that dilute the thrill of living right now. The drugs of opportunities which would burden your calendar; let them go. The drugs of so many good things going which distract from the one thing necessary; let them go. The drugs of signing up to keep your image afloat; let them go. Go to rehab. Get well.
It is a strange set of plates the church needs to balance; those who won't help out with the work and then there are those who have their hands in so many things they contaminate a simple work. A few need to get up and get going while others really need to drop multi-commitments in order to do a few commitments well.
The old-fashioned ability to be a devoted and hard worker without feeling the pull to join the many grand schemes may, in fact, become a welcomed and new trend.
Simplicity is the ache of our hurried world. Bless your kids with it!
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Everywhere we turn, learning is prominent. I study the speech traits of news analysts, timing of comedians, and the tendencies of all people under duress. God has secrets buried in each that I could use.
Oddly, each time I watch The Biggest Loser I feel like I have attended a two-hour seminar on leadership training. It happens week after week, season after season.
Tonight the nine remaining contestants were forced into realignment of teams and coaches. Few remained with their beloved coach of seven (or so) weeks. None got to stay with their welded teammates.
Anger and disruption has hit the ranch! My guess is that before the season ends new bonds and newer successes will develop.
I see in this the value of adjustment. As in physical training, muscles develop better when routine is broken. The same similarity appears to be true of humanity in general. Adjustment is necessary to keep us alive.
I think back about how I didn't want a computer, email, or a cell phone. The way I had been working...had been working. Why upset things when mediocrity seems to work so well?, I always say.
I laugh at the comment, You don't need to change things for changes' sake. Sometimes, even that is needed at times to awaken our dispositions to greater and undiscovered possibility.
So what is in this for us today? Disruption is all around. As leaders we would do well to study those areas where we see value in it. God says we are new day by day. True? If it is true, newness should be anticipated; not fought off.
Even the biggest loser is to be encouraged because in their enormous strain of losing weight, the lean and mean healthy one buried within their overweight is about to emerge. As we lose the overweight of life's turbulence, maybe we will discover yet a new us.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Today's culture is increasingly messy. As we escalate our reach into our streets we will surely find it was a lot easier participating in Bible class discussions of how to reach the lost.
We are dealing with extreme challenges. From registered sex offenders to same sex partners to the homeless to all the rest of us, these were all sitting in our assembly Sunday. And it isn't a matter of our presence. It is a wonderful matter that we love each and truly care as we strain as to the best way to help one another start life over.
The closer we keep an eye on Jesus the further he seems to lead us into risk. Jesus takes us to a new normal. For those of us in leadership, we realize that we are losing a grip on the norm of church life and seem to be slipping into a zone of spiritual meaning and definition. Our challenges take more than collective input. They take the hand of God else we are sunk.
Week by week we seem to find ourselves with fewer answers and more people whose pain and injury blesses us. I applaud our members. It isn't that 20% are doing 80% of the work. We are so in over our heads, if God's grace doesn't do the work, we can't pull it off....20% or 80. We don't have the brawn nor the brains to figure any of us out.
God must do the work. He must. Our congregation is becoming increasingly more uncomfortable due to the disastrous and devastating lifestyles. Not so strangely, it is also becoming sweeter as if Jesus is in the lead.
We are an uncomfortable church....because more like us keep walking through our doors. Maybe we will work and think and see....just like Jesus.
Our Linda Scott does a fab job of putting together an amazingly creative event for community children...and our own.
From the food perspective, we didn't calculate well enough last year...and we wonderfully didn't again this year...because there were so many! What a great stress!
An exciting thing to me was that several from neighboring Lindbergh school attended as well as several from our Food Pantry.
Thank you, God, for letting us be a part of cheering on our community! And....I got to drive a tractor!
Sunday, October 30, 2011
A number has been done on the church. The mystery of God has been eliminated by cold hard humanistic calculation.
Such a mistaken posture has grown a people obsessed with the rules of church while prayer life is virtually vacant.
But...God does work!
His call to us is to believe Him. That is our work of faith to believe His work.
When you don't know how. When you can explain why. When the speculation as to where and when mounts with pessimism, employ your absolute faith in God. He can get matters handled while we are fretfully running from the Pharaoh-type villains. He will open the flood-waters.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
I get pretty weary of me. Will I always be this way?
Will I always have big ideas and great causes and strong opinions only to recall what a louse of a man I am?
Yes, I know our adequacy is in the Spirit. I wrote a little book about it. And when I am focused upon His skills, life is surely more meaningful.
But I get so disappointed when I forget and then restart that wandering trek of putting people together and systems in order. If it weren't for God, I wouldn't be able to do anything. It makes such great sermon point; but why can't I remember it?
His grace allows me to get to do incredible and sometimes seemingly impossible stuff. But I must not forget He runs the show. As much as I tell myself this, it seems I handily forget and take over from here.
I get so tired of me. One would think I would have gotten better at it by now. Oh well...a new day comes my way and a new start with it.