Monday, January 31, 2011



Baseball camp is over.  I will share random thoughts to a fascinating week.
  • God's grace is the only thing that makes our work produce.  I would talk to Him at night in the room, or on the bus, and even when playing on the field.  If I awakened in the night I would pray; thanking Him for His grace.  This morning I woke up and began praying for Him to do His thing in camp...and then realized I was home.
  • I don't know how I can be so fortunate to get to see the weirdest and most impossible scenarios become common and possible.  It is His grace....I just don't understand it.
  • I realized God has used these camps from the earliest years beginning in 1984 to transform me from a control-freak fraidy-cat to a confident-in-Christ missionary.
  • Teaching opportunities arose minute by minute.  I've never spent such a easy time at that...telling the players about how Jesus identifies with us so perfectly.  I wish you could have seen the eyes I saw as I told about him.  Lights came on for some and tears formed in others.
  • Here's what they want to know; how does Jesus fit from Monday to Saturday?  That's what I got to tell them.
  • Finally, I am the luckiest man I ever met.  God has allowed me the most precious gift of seeing people and then being able to make quick connection with most.  I don't know how He gets done all He gets done among us....but I know from study that God has His heart set on working among us.  Our goal is to stay out of the way so that He can!

Saturday, January 29, 2011



I was batting in our morning game today.  The pitch hit me square in the head.  The sound was pretty loud to me...and I think to the fans.  I dropped onto my back.

I was looking up as the umpire was looking down.  I said, I am okay.  He told me to stay down.  I started to get up as I declared once again, Hey, I'm okay...really.  In umpire tone he told me in no uncertain terms to stay down.

Now this caused concern and quite a bit of stir.  They called for the trainers and both benches cleared to come to my aid.

There wasn't anything wrong with me.  But I thought to myself....All right.  If this umpire insists on making a bigger deal out of this than it is, I'll go along with him.  

When they finally helped me to my feet....I trotted off to third base! 

People laughed.


The bus is on its way to pick up the team and head out to the complex.  I don't have to be worked on by the trainers today so I can go directly to breakfast.

I've prayed all through the night.  I got up at 4:30 to pray and write down things God has done in camp.  So much.  He alone blesses.  His grace is sufficient.

Yesterday I visited with one of the former stars who is now a Sports Psychologist with the Boston Red Sox.  He, by the way, is the one who nicknamed me The Legend eleven years ago.

We talked about 45 minutes without interruption as to how what he is saying to these young up-and-coming players is reflected from the Bible.  I was able to share with him insight that he just gushed over with gratitude.  When we got done he jumped to his feet and bear-hugged me.  It was a moment of God supply.

Off to the bus!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Baseball Update: Yahoo!

I pray seeking God to work.  In approaching camp, I asked Him to work.  I utter prayers to God all day long seeking His grace and thanking Him for sending it.  I wake up in the night and pray.  I must have God's grace or I'm completely left in the darkness of no productivity.

So much is happening...really I'm having a bit of trouble concentrating on this actual writing because another is in the cubicle with me using the computer beside me....and he keeps asking me about what I do...and he's interested in being used to make the world a better place.

I'm headed off to some sort of banquet....but had to run by and tell you I am healthy, doing well, and in awe of so many things happening I must start writing them many stories.  For example, I just 20 minutes ago milled around the bar and one of the roughest pros called me aside to tell me he's started to church...but hasn't been baptized yet. He brought it up.  I didn't ask.  I don't think the rest of the players would believe it....but he wanted me to know.



Up at 5:40 this morning which is already an hour earlier than Tulsa time.  Loading onto the bus at 6:30.  Will report immediately to the trainers' room at the Cardinal complex....leave my throwing arm with them for evaluation and resuscitation...while I go down the hall to breakfast.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Well, I have just returned to the hotel from the first full day at the Cardinals Legends camp in Jupiter, Florida.  It is still a fabulous experience. 

This is my 28th year to attend the Cardinal camps.  It is simply surreal as well as remarkable.  Each year upon arrival I am reminded of how many deep and wonderful connections God has allowed me to make over the years.  And...they are still developing with new colleagues coming along.

My health is good and that's a challenge at my age.  Where the test at age 35 was whether I could throw from third to first, the question now is whether I can see from third to first.  I've already been in the trainers' room....twice....but doing very well.  Ice is good.

It becomes easier for me to talk to friends about God.  I find doors everywhere and marvel at how He slips into the most unsuspecting conversations.

I showed Ozzie Smith my "Ozzie Smith model" glove today and told him I wanted my money back because it wouldn't catch the ball very good.  He said the problem was not with the arrow but the Indian.  He used my glove in the game didn't miss the ball like it does for me!

BTW again....our team played against for former big-leaguers the very first game....we lost 2-0 which is like winning....almost...because they are so good and we are so.....not so good.

Saturday evening my new book MVP! (Why You Are Valuable in God's Eyes!) will be promoted at the banquet and made available for sale.  We keep moving into lives.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


This post is sort of Part B of the last post.

Things hit me.  That's all I know to say.  I really think about you.  That's sorta strange because I don't know who is reading this.  But I know you are there.  The counter says you are out there reading this blog.

So.....if you are one of those out there, I think about how your work is going and what God might have me say to give you a boost.  Here's what He gave me today:

Three things have impacted Memorial Drive in strong ways which God seemed to direct us to resurgence.
  1. The study of Blackaby and King's Experiencing God workbook.
  2. The study of Fresh Wind/Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala.
  3. The study of the Holy Spirit by God. 
On this last one we didn't have a book other than the Bible.  We patiently waded through it and continue to study Him.  I'm personally encouraged that my very weak book Empowering the Ordinary on the topic of how the Holy Spirit helps inadequate believers is still used by study groups all over the world.  We sent 10 copies out to a congregation this week.

We have learned (and are still learning) the bright ideas of the flesh are no contest against the split-second brilliance of the invisible Spirit of the Holy God!


I tried to tell John the Preacher not to give up.  He said his elders didn't want to grow.  Too, he said his church didn't want to change.  I kept urging him not to quit.  He did anyway.  I remain sad for him and those with whom he worked.  If he would have only held on, he probably would have been wowed by God.

But....I get his discouragement.  I've lived there and assume you have or are....or will.

One of the wonderful blessings I have received over the years is that fact; years and years and years.  I've learned that we tend to not give God enough time.  Most likely it would be better said we don't give God enough time with us.  We are too quick to immaturely abort.

I struggled for over a decade at Memorial with seeing anything change.  From my chair the most I could see was irrational squabbling coupled with "permission giving/permission seeking" atmospheres.  I lived very discouraged.  I kept asking the elders why I could try crazy things away from Memorial and they seemed to work; but I couldn't get permission to try them here. 

Oh, I did get to try a few things.  I did get to launch my goal of 600 baptisms in six months which died after ten days.  But most of my dreams didn't fly.  The one I got to try failed.  Not encouraging.

Last week I remembered those painful days.  Those days were valuable in two ways: (1) they taught me to depend on God and, (2) they showed me my ideas of getting things going were not up to His standards.  I needed to learn to not get my way.

What has happened to Memorial Drive surely has to be a grand combination of failures (mine and others) and we simply and finally looked to God to see if He might have anything in mind.  At one point Memorial was so low in attendance and morale that I pondered recommending we disband.  Please take in the agony of those weighty thoughts.  Why did we exist as a congregation?  I couldn't give a positive answer.

I reveal this side of my ministry only to give you hope in yours.  Today, I'm wild about what God is doing with us.  We aren't the best nor near the top in any measurement.  I will gratefully say we are a very happy and productive people who swim in one amazing report to another and yet another of God-working hearsay among us to the extent none can keep up with the stories. 

Where you live?  Give up your organizational mapping and tactics.  Pray.  Ask Him to run His church.  You might be delighted at what you experience when you surrender your brainy ideas.  Don't try to figure how the church will grow.  God has that puzzle completed. 

Step back.  Allow Him to step in.  Stay out of the way.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Grandparents have grasped toddlers hands and marched off to Build-A-Bear shops hinder and yon.  Enter wide-eyed and leave befriended by the latest creation formed from your own assembly selection.  It is magic for all youngsters.

Father owns such a shop for His children.  He invites us to partake.  What would you like?  Tell me what's on your mind.  How may I bring peace to your heart?

I love to talk to Father.  He invites us to reach to Him, lean upon Him, and become totally reliant on Him.  He is our authentic God in real time.

When I pray I often ask Him to do that stuff He does where so much wonder and fruit takes place all would have to credit Him.  It just could not have happened via humanistic imagination or development.  And...I so love it when He responds.

Enter into the JoyShop of the Lord.  You don't have because you don't ask He once advised.  Take a look; around your family, your work, your church.  What is needed?  Build-A-Prayer is open 24/7.  Personally, I've never left the shop disappointed. 

At times is seemed that possibly Father was out of some materials.  Even then I was wrong.  He was merely taking a bit more time to form His mysterious presentation.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I don't think I will ever learn.  I am not king of my court.  I am not Sheriff of my county.  I am not Pope of a non-Catholic church.  I am a rescu-ee pitied and loved by God.

Jesus was beaten beyond human recognition; not just because of the way I was, but because of the way I am.  God got me but I don't seem to get it.  I know all of the church academics....sorta.  But my ego rares in stupid assumption I have arrived....sorta.

Last night I hung around the building as one of our AA groups began to filter in.  I marvel.  Everyone speaks to everyone....all 60 or so.  They look like ideal church assembly.  They speak in courtesyistic love toward one another and praise God for His goodness.

These are broken people.  One young gal was smoking an ink pen...sorta.  She had abandoned cigarettes the day before.  I commented to her about her new kind of cigarette.  She's working at it.

I took two Cardinal fans to show them my office and gave each a book.  They were (of course) wowed because my office is the most amazing preacher's office in the world (and if you know a better one don't tell me about it).  It formed an instant connection.

In visiting with one who looked so familiar, Rick said, Hey, I've visited your church twice recently.  Man it really does something for me.  It's really good.

I left the gathering so inspired.  The humility within the group makes me grateful I can see such goodness in brokenness.  Everyone spoke to me.  Everyone included me.  And I tend to go through life so smug in comparison.  It is unintentional.  So last night I went to class and learned that people really do read lessons from others in the room.

You are a letter written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God.  Let all who study your context walk away with a warming message.

Friday, January 21, 2011


The Great Commission is a Great Threat to the most of our people.  Support missions?  Assist with VBS?  Join in prayer?  Yes to these and a multitude of other service opportunities.  But why is it that the vast majority of such a people can go for years without a twinge of action to teach the Word of God to their relatives, neighbors, and colleagues?

I think I have part of the answer. 

First let me say that I was among the group I question.  Thus, I have a concept to the answer.  I was frozen in fear.  It was easier for me to live in the guilt of neglect than it was to live under the threat of risk.  I'd rather fail not trying than to flop at fumblizational effort.  Sad; but that's how it was for this preaching school grad.

Today I believe that the reason so many just can't teach another is our doctrine has become such a mix of man and God that we can't sort the Truth.  Furthermore, we feel guilty for wondering if part of what we believe has come from man in the first place.  Thus, we hide in church works to avoid personal participation in the Great Commission.

Basically, our people can't explain why we do what we do from the Word because some of what we do doesn't come from the Word.  Communion every Sunday and only Sunday, no instruments of music, no choirs, men only pray and make announcements.  No testimonies and certainly not women if such is allowed.  No Holy Spirit allowed in many congregations. 

Trying to follow the N.T. church pattern except for those major things we claim have ceased.  We go by the Bible except for those things we can't actually turn to a verse to prove.  Thus....we would be better off to back off for what we staunchly believe in places finds the ice has already melted and we have already fallen through.

By the time we get done undoing what the early church did, our people are so confused we fundamentally give lip service to teaching the lost.  We know it ought to be done; yet for the likes of ourselves we can't figure exactly what that might look like and sound like.

While this may sound terribly rudimentary, I can tell you from successful experience that it is allowable and effective to teach another only that which you know for sure.  You don't need to be cornered by their sticky-wicket questions, nor do they need to be presented your sticky-wicket wanderings.  Let the Word speak for itself.  It does a wonderful job.

The reason we aren't teaching others personally as our belief system professes and our lip-service confesses is because we are too lazy to study the Word deep enough to find out where we got what we got.  To relax and let the Bible be the Bible is to gain the courage to offer the good news of Jesus without hesitancy.  He knows how to save souls.....still.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Money.  Service.  Counsel.  Transportation.  What are some of the many ways we as Christians truly give to those around?

For me the thing I conscientiously give is that I believe in people.  We want others to know that if no one else does, we believe in them.  This is gold. 

How many do you think interact with us who feel they are failures?  Or, at least are failing?  How many live in mistaken comparison and conclude less than truthfulness about their value?

I believe that even those we tend to mark as successful, or beautiful, or influential have grave doubts about themselves.  That's a secret I know in effectively working among the rich and famous.  I know many doubt themselves and wish they were like someone else.  Odd, don't you think?  The infamous feel precisely the same.

This move of faith is to be especially applied to children.  They are constantly looking for signals that they are okay as is.  Must they live wishing they were like someone else? They really need us to believe they are valuable.....remarkably valuable.  Living in comparison wreaks havoc with all of us.  When we compare incomes, cars, houses, jobs, locations, etc., God says we are without understanding...II Cor. 10:12.

If you want to do something with immediate return, believe in one who feels he or she is a failure.  Isn't that what Jesus did?  A man up a tree that nobody regarded?  Jesus went to his house.  A woman at a well with a sordid past?  Jesus ask for her help.  Jesus asks us to believe that he believes in us.  This is major.

The gift we give others is to believe in them when they just can't believe in themselves any longer.  Prisoners and homeless.....these are in such need of eyes---believers eyes---that see.  And you....I think you get more done when others believe you can get more done effectively.  That's what I think you do....great stuff for others.  It's your gift.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I'm soon headed for my 28th year of baseball camp with former Cardinal stars.  Over this time I have learned quite a bit; how muscles deteriorate and reflexes evidently rapture.

There are so many amazing experiences coming from this venture I can hardly count them.  Learning of the first baptism after the very first camp still enthuses me.  Curt Flood voluntarily treated me as a brother to the extent of him speaking at Memorial Drive and then me speaking at his (our) mom's funeral and then at his was such an honor.

Friends galore have filled the locker rooms over the years.  And, spills as galorish have filled the base paths.  I've spoken in Cardinal chapels, appeared on ESPN twice and local TV stations as well as St. Louis ones countless times.  News and magazine articles have covered our unique ministry.  Even books have resulted.  The work keeps plowing fields and sowing seed.

I take a very big ribbing from the pros.  I'm an easy target because of my occupation, my humor, and my lack of skills.  Two years ago I was one of four (categories) to win a Legends batting award and when the emcee got to my name in announcing the winners, his exact words were, I don't believe this next one. 

Here's what I enjoy the most.  I volunteer to become ribbable; to the weak I became weak.  I don't mind.  If I did mind it would get much worse.  But the thing that matters to me is that when crisis happens...and it has...they turn to me for direction.  From the tragic floods in St. Louis during one of our camps to the wife of one of the players dying during camp, they lean our way.  God just has a way.

These pros pester me to death with jeering and laughter.  But when it comes time to count as my friends....they jump to my aid.  God lets me do what many dream about.  I am grateful....really grateful.  The doors this ministry has opened can't be counted....there are so many.

The bottom line is souls have been won.  That's what the game I play is about.  It is very rewarding to me to watch door after door open.  I don't have to force it.  I don't have to beg it.  God simply works in a place where few would have guessed it would a baseball camp.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Memorial Drive is preparing for another hopeful day of baptisms.  We have developed Baptism Sunday.  Throughout the year we have baptisms on various days and at all hours.  We are clear that baptism is available at this place....for it is a place to start life over. 

God led us to something years back which continues to work.  We set a target date on our particular time of the year as this time it happens to be February Baptism Sunday.  I will teach a class for the four Wednesday nights in that month; the basics about one being born again.

We have announced such plans the last two Sundays.  Talk is spreading like a rumor as various ones inquire and indicate their interest.  We never know who will be there until we show up for class #1.  And, we never know who will be baptized until we reach that day.

But here's what makes it work.  With an actual date targeted, for some reason people seem motivated to take action.  This just helps them make a decision to move on that which God has been whispering to them along the way.

There will be some who go through the class and will not be baptized that specific Sunday.  But it will happen down the road.  At least it has so far.

This is a simple idea that works.  It allows the members have a goal/date in talking to colleagues and relatives.  One woman emailed me this week and said, I heard your announcement yesterday and I'm in.  I have one question.  Since I was baptized at age 6 in the Baptist church, will you allow me to be baptized again? 

Ah, that's why we will study.  So many have questions about their earlier faith.  I visited with a middle-aged man who has attended with his wife for years.  I said to him, Friend, I want you to know that I'm teaching a class on baptism during the February Wednesday nights.  I really think it's time you be there.  It's your call....but I think you are ready. 

I truly meant such with no pressure.  I wanted him to have the confidence he could benefit.  I surely hope he will.  If not this time....then down the road.

We simply look at the Word and give them great room to decide in response from their own hearts.  Maybe this idea would work where you are?

Monday, January 17, 2011


Churches of Christ are paying a huge penalty---unfathomable---for the false doctrine evolving from a couple of centuries back regarding the cessation of Holy Spirit activity among common believers.  When the debate was over, the Spirit was fundamentally eliminated except for reading of Him in the Word....the Word He inspired to teach of His activity.

He revealed through the writers He inspired that He could be quenched.  He has been.

All that is left once this amputation is fulfilled is for man to engineer his own plot and maneuver his own trail without the leadership of the living God....literally.  Mystery yields to explanation and power succumbs to loves me/loves me not kids' play.

Ceased.  Yeah, that was our word to our young leaders?  Ceased?  Over?  God's done?  No more uncontrollable and unmonitorable participation of the Spirit God?  God has brought us into a lower-keyed Age where His resolute glory, the church, is a rather subdued and even a stiff non-participant doing our best to get by from closing prayer to the next opening prayer?  This is what we are to expect of His bride?  Arthritic timidity?

And we are to believe this?  The God who could part seas or walk on them?  The God who could sling a pebble into the forehead of the G-Bully or transform a Pebble into a church leader?  Done.  Ceased. 

We are now to read the Bible, pass the exams, and go do nothing but basically stand with our behavior clipboards at the church door and determine whom we are to fellowship and which ones we do later decide to disfellowship....for we are all about right and wrong?

Except....for the gullible wrong we took in through hoodwinkery which stole the Residential God from our midst.  Yes, big voices with persuasive influence successfully shielded us from those villains (?) who would wish to make us believe God actually and actively operates among His people?  How dare someone be as us to believe such?

Notice....we pay a costly and heavy price for buying into this brotherhoodwinkery.  The Holy Spirit desires to work with and among us today.  Period.

Those big voices haven't been easy to push against.  But pushing must be done.  We are hungrier than ever to see our Lively God take center stage in a world filled with egos and dead-end philosophies.  This includes our egos and dead-ends. 

Awaken and remain awakened to a truth that has been awaiting in the Word to just be believed....the Holy Spirit of God awaits to release His power in the inner man that we might understand we are to live in the fullness of God so that He can do more than we can ever dream according that power that resides and operates directly in us....Eph. 3:14-21.

The penalty of failing to let Him work among us....leaves us to try the work on our own.  Big penalty.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


As have you, I've been pondering my post a few days back regarding the exodus of so many from the church.  As you, I yearn to see a stabalizing force reverse the exit ramp.  Such can be done.  There is a God in heaven and it can be done.

Something simple occurred to me this week; thus I toss it your way.  Could the inherited doctrine of demanding the Holy Spirit be shelved affect these who are beleaving?  The Holy Spirit is discussed and experienced in my circle; yet even that topic is only in kindergarten stages.

Could it be that the back door is largely due to no life?  Beleavers just can't hang in there any longer when there is more life at a football game than at a church assembly? 

The Word declares law kills and the Spirit gives life.  If the Spirit is not allowed then from whence comes life?  Works?  Well...that is surely tried (even today).  However, listen to the grumblings and rumblings of many of those workers....because the life of God's Spirit isn't in them?  Could this be?  Rather a fleshly committment to work for the Lord is?  Possibly?

Over the last two decades God has made significant effort to gain our attention toward the third limb of the Trinity.  We are seeing advancement.  But we are way behind.  Until we shift unto the Spirit of God all efforts, plans, and organizational approaches will fall from the mantra of death.  Life is due to the Spirit of Jesus and nowhere else.

We are trying to saves lives.  The Holy Spirit possesses a response of which nothing else knows.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


I don't know how it goes in church leadership around the country.  Personalities surely still clash.  I'm sure diverse opinions are challenged to meet on Harmony Street.  Such is the nature of all who operate in some mode of kingdom effort.

What I'm about to tell you hasn't happened to me in over two decades.  Its action, though, still strikes me with a very great (or grave?) sting.  I had never encountered this term I'm about to divulge until working in the midst of hornet's nested church leaders.  I speak of one being Righteously Indignant.

Jesus was indignant once (at least) when the disciples were shooing the children away.  This evidently became the licensing bureau for hot tempered men and women to lose our cool.  We could let the fur fly under the cover of being righteously (just like Jesus) indignant. 

Not so fast.

This is basically a sham in order to allow the flesh nature room to practice its blemishhood.  Righteous Indignation is usually used to excuse and reclassify the darkness of the flesh deed, outbursts of anger (Eph. 5:20).  I've spread a little righteous indignation in my day.  And...I've been spread upon.  In each incidence it was a cover up for permissive anger outbursts.

When this reclassification has been most difficult for me to receive are those moments when the one practicing his RI was doing so in front of his cronies.  He was showing off.  Sorry folks.  RI is a cover-up for OoA. 

We will all do better to work on and out our differences from the fruit of the Spirit rather than the urgings of the flesh.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Our son, Dusty, and his family are moving to the Campus Church near Atlanta this Spring.  They sent a video ahead. 

They are a Movie Star family.....sorta!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I am alarmed.  I am concerned.  I am very sad.

Three reports sit upon my desk; Pew Sitter, Megathemes from the Barna Group, and an article from Christianity Today.  All confirm what we already know.  Christianity is losing souls out the back door.

I must be more than...well....let me say I am more than alarmed.  I want to know what is going on and what we need to do to help.  While these reports offer no surprises, I call all of us to stir our hearts for God's possible solutions.

Compared to the ages of those beleaving the fastest, I am old.  However, I'm hungry.  I yearn to know what is needed to claim these wonderful hearts....and keep them.  The solution must be God's on the basis of His wisdom and passion.  It cannot be of our modern psychology or spiritual habit...unless such are aligned with Him.

We who are 40 and older must evaluate what we are doing which might be contributing to this negative trend.  It would be more convenient to blame the beleavers.  Yet, could the fault lie within the household of we believers?  It very well could....and most likely is.

I see trends I don't like which cause me concern about that age group.  I might be of proper judgment.  Again, I might be operating from my natural assessment rather than the Spirit one.

Would some of you volley thoughts you have...especially what you see changing/working which might awaken leaders as myself who want to see a transformation of beleavers becoming believers?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Paul's comment of II Cor. 4:18 is a live wire to me; especially in its context of suffering is a productive force among believers.  Daily renewal is present because God is present.  We get to be newer today than we were yesterday.  We live a perpetual rebirth.

How this happens is God's secret and mystery.  I surely enjoy it.  It is fun being 63 and feeling the aliveness of 3.  Not all childlikeness is negative; just the childish part.  But being like a child in our eagerness and gladness and energy is so the life of God.

What is there about a believing heart that feeds its renewal?  First, it is totally God; His style, will, and formation.  Second, a tool He seems to use to keep us there is directly connected to our interaction with the poor plus the realization of our own spiritual poverty.  Blessed are poor ropes us in.

The more we fear being with the poor and the more we avoid the poor a direct correlation will be of weakening hearts for the drive of God.  As one is moved to give to the underdog, the heart opens.  And then when one interacts with the same, a heart of compassionate understanding and sympathy turns the heart valve to wide open.

The best thing for our kids, adults, and all skeptics is to put them in the line of where Jesus stood...with the poor.  Resistance might be experienced by a few but the more we hang out with these special people the more we come into direct contact with the will of God.

What keeps the heart new?  People.  Helping, touching, and encouraging people puts us advantaged!  Why?  This is the very thing for which we were designed....people blessing people.  Earth is not about Bible-Bowl moments of scripture recitation and participation.  These elements groom us to be equipped to apply God's principles to....people. 

If we have a knowledge of the Bible that does not put us in the center of people, we have misread the Word.   As a result our hearts will not be strong enough to effectively reach the one or the many.  Renewed hearts seem to continue because we make efforts to apply our faith toward helping the many in great need.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I'm one of the screwiest men you'll ever find serving in the capacity of minister.  I can't figure how I've ever survived the church or how it has survived me.  It surely must be the gigantic grace of God. 

When I started out I had been in the church four years.  I wasn't a know-it-all.  I was much worse.  I was a didn't-know-it-any and I had Preaching School test scores to prove it!  If it would have been a three-year school instead of two, surely I would have become a drop-out statistic.  I struggled to "get it" as to how we concluded what we concluded from the Bible. 

Oddly, I believed we were the only ones right and I was proud of it.  It was just that I couldn't get a grip on many of our formulas that got us to where we were.  All I knew was the others were wrong and we were right and I wasn't going to be one of those weak sort who didn't go by the Bible.

In this mix of immaturity was my ultra-sensitive personality that took shadows as enemies.  I was unapproachable for any duty of conflict.  I had strong feelings but could not withstand opposition.  One of the things my original elders at Memorial Drive kept telling me was that I was too sensitive.  Well....that really offended me.

Yet, they were right on target.  And it was my perpetual struggle with some of their decisions which began to help me grow out of these hurt feelings.  I guess one could say I had a lot of practice. 

This plague of hurt feelings has never really left me.  I'm terribly sensitive.  I break out in a rash simply over mispronounced announcements (Kidding)  (Sorta).  But I have noticed myself improving. 

II Cor. 12:5-10 began to enlighten me about this.  Conflict is an important ministry factor.  Who in ministry doesn't have such abundant importance?  However, it is there for us.  Antagonism is there for our benefit; to keep us humble and also dependent upon His grace.  We learn through personal frustration that the power we yearn for only comes in the form of weakness. 

Hurt feelings do appear along the don't let them go to waste.  They are our God-signals that we can't but He can.  So don't be discouraged...and for heaven's sake stop your all those arrows coming your way to sting a bit are valuable in the sight of God.

Been chewed out lately?  Good.  You had it coming.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


Today is one of our favorite of all; it's Sunday.  With tremendous anticipation, we watch for the cars to roll into the parking lots and the tens, and hundreds, and thousands empty into our church buildings.  We are excited.  Rightly we should be.

This is a time for leadership to be invisibly present.  I speak of the preacher and the worship leader.  This is a daunting task for we are us.  Yet, it is imperative we be up front and as unseen as possible.

How?  By letting the attention be upon the Son of God through singing, communing, and preaching.  Christ is to be honored and, thus, God glorified.  There's a way to do it.  The two staffed worship leaders we've had at Memorial--Allen French and Shane Coffman--are ideal at leading the songs without drawing undue notice.

A move they make which helps is to sing a round of songs without their commentaric interruptions. 

I encourage all of us who stand before the assemblies to do what we can to let the Spirit of Christ be seen from His invisibility while, we at the same time, do what we can to be noticeably undistractive.

Friday, January 07, 2011


On December 13 the Barna Group Research came out with what they call six megathemes.  I value this group as their grasp of the present culture can signal both open and closed doors for our outreach.  The first one is my focus, The Christian Church is becoming less theologically literate.  A synopsis of their elaboration is that fewer are aware of basics to the point they are not sure how faith is to be integrated into their lives or how the Holy Spirit is to be more than symbolic and iconoclastic.

I see two reasons this first point is developing: (1) Unbelievers don't know to read the Word, and (2) believers don't know to read the Word.  Unbelievers (as I once was) don't realize the Bible has a message.  They really believe it is a nice book to be respected; but overall they have no idea why.  Believers who ignore the Word (as I once did) do so because man's traditions have blurred Holy Truth.  We struggle to see His thoughts for the bombarding of historical figures (past and recent) who had large (self)authoritarian voices.

Preachers, teachers, elders, and parents, we will do well to heed Barna's observations.  The Group is giving us a important clue.  Stay with the Word.

FYI, the other five of the megathemes are:
  1. Christians are becoming more ingrown and less outreach-oriented.
  2. Growing numbers of people are less interested in spiritual principles and more desirous of learning pragmatic solutions for life.
  3. Among Christians, interest in participating in community action is escalating.
  4. The postmodern insistence on tolerance is winning over the Christian Church.
  5. The influence of Christianity on culture and individual lives is largely invisible.

Thursday, January 06, 2011


Faith is life-changing; life-altering.  The ground of life shifts for the good when faith becomes authentic in its application to ones daily movement. 

While it admittedly is invisible, it is surely a legitimate concept within the human framework.  Activity is affected by either its presence or its absence.  Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen, wrote the Hebrew writer.

So how does one function differently by possessing faith compared to not having it?  One of faith moves about believing as fact what isn't seen at the moment.  Until this action begins to work, faith could merely be a fictional Sunday School concept.  But faith works; it is active and makes a difference for the one believing.

Let's say two people don't get along.  A hope-so faith will wait to see if things work out; but will not operate as such until it happens.  Faith sees it has already happened and those who choose to believe find their talk and their walk to be one of resolution...even if only one believes it.  God must have a believer in the mix.

This is a tough concept for us because we don't care for the name-it and claim-it philosophy.  I hedge on such myself.  Yet, this is where we mistakenly toss too much from the bath water.  We are to believe what we can't see.  We are to believe what isn't (yet) as is.  We are not to use such a doctrine flim-flamically.  But I believe faith is bigger and stronger and wider reaching than what we tend to accept.

We believe un-things into existence.  This is God's teaching in Romans 4:17ff.  It isn't that we possess a faith in our faith.  We believe God can do what can't be done.  He measures much by our faith. 

I think faith makes a big difference.  Yet, we are guilty of practicing more of tossing-the-dice doctrine mixing crossing one's fingers and wishful thinking.  Faith takes work, imagination, and the talent and skill of God.  He can.  He is able.  And...He is ever on the watch to find those who believe Him.

Faith isn't one of the five steps.  It is to be a new way of life.


We no more than complete the delivery of a sermon and the next one is clamoring for our attention.  Due to this occupational perpetuity, we must stop and ask ourselves WHAT ARE WE THINKING?

The reason I bring this up is because if we are not careful we will be driven to fill up the time.  Three points and an invitation will become our goal.  Thus our thinking is misdirected and the church is stuck to the point they are the ones taking up the time....just counting the minutes 'til we GET DONE!

What we should be thinking is not outline but people.  Did God send Jesus because He was responsible to be a sender or because He loved people?  Did Jesus commission the disciples to go into all of the world because he, himself, enjoyed travel?  Or, was it because he had people in mind?

Preaching shifts from neutral into forward gear when we apply our thinking toward the people; what they need.  Every week I think, What would God give me to give these faithful as well the these visitors hope?  My goal is people.  My message is healing hope.....every time I speak.

Shouldn't our goal be to think about God?  Yes.  We are to think about God's will for our work which is to reach people.  People are the target; not three-point outlines.

If not careful we will be like students who never learn anything because they are busy trying to pass the test.  A student's goal is to grow in knowledge of the subject being taught.  The pressure of passing fits our pressure of filling up the time. 

Yet we have a greater calling.  We are called to think about the hurting, the hopeless, and the lost.  We are called to think like God would think...about the stability and need of people.  The Jewish leadership wanted Jesus to be devoted to law.  Jesus was obsessed with assisting....people.

Preacher: what are you thinking?  One will give life while another will dispense meaningless boredom.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


Ministry is as odd as Jesus.  We can know tidbits and facts only to discover the more we learn the further behind we really are.  I am not gaining at all.   Truthfully, I'm losing the best possible way.

Confidence is a component everyone wants; none more than me.  The bigger the vision of His work the greater I find the downward spiral.  I'm losing confidence.  And....well I should.

Steadfast assurance is slipping through my fingers like sand.  Of course I speak of confidence in is surely fading at optimum speed.  Yet the blessing of this downward spiral is that I am gearing up for greater confidence in Him.  I must have it.  I want it!

I am confident that my confidence must decrease that I might allow His to increase.  Someone else felt similarly, don't you think?

In two days I hope to have the Tulsa Workshop program D-O-N-E.  As it nears completion, I feel empty.  What if I didn't hear Him correctly?  What if I've completely missed the direction of the Spirit.  Nothing about me believes I can do this job. 

However....and it is a major however....the Spirit of God knows how to make the fumblings of frailty dance with life.  I must.....I just must pull for the hope that God can deliver life-changing hope regardless of my downward spiral. 

It is a stressful walk of fear and hope to hunger for His approval over this labor.  When you think of it...would you pray for the Tulsa Workshop?  By the measure of its opponents one can be inclined to believe it is a work of God.  Such is over my head.  I merely want to bless all with His call to the highest form of man-walk....that of resurrection power.

The loads we carry are intentionally designed for downward spirals that we may grow in confidence--not in ourselves, but---in God.


We are a naturally enthusiastic and ambitious sort.  We L-0-V-E to see God's expansionistic approach.  We are thrilled over His moves.

And.....we should be!

Due to these energetic traits, we may find ourselves stymied by our hunger for movement.  This needs a word of caution.  God has a timing mechanism different from ours.  He may arrive immediately (as in response to the loaves and fishes) or He may dally (as in Jesus distancing himself at Lazarus' death).  We enjoy the former; yet the latter bugs us.  We even wonder if something about our faith is broken.

God works.  End of discussion.

He will be there.  Everything that goes on submits itself to all who love God and are called according to His purpose.  I think He said that!

Since we desire to see the kingdom mobilized in great and wide effectiveness, it is important that we refrain from forcing impositional labor which comes not from the Spirit but from fleshly guestimation.  God will be there.  We are not in charge of being in charge.

I have had to learn to measure my walk to fit with His quickness and His slowness.  To Him, He is neither.  Such is an earthy gage; not a heavenly one.  So be encouraged.  God is neither slow, slack, tardy, or running behind.  He is right on time.

Do what you can to allow God to operate from your vessel without forcing the kingdom.  You'll like life a whole lot better.

Monday, January 03, 2011


Do you hear the groan? 

I hear it. 

I've heard it since the mid-80s when I began to realize I was a young and ambitious Pharisee.  We (I) were driving souls away.  On the same scale as buck Saul of Tarsus, we were killing Christians' hearts.  We meant to.  We wanted to.  We were strong.  It was they who were weak.

And now the moans. 

We succeeded as we had wished.  We drove them away.  They had done nothing wrong but men like me pounded until they finally gave up....and walked away.

Oh, they said they needed to do this and were looking for that because they didn't realize what had happened.  They had been killed in church.  The law was brought in.  The Spirit was disfellowshipped...and they all died.

Do you hear the moans?

I hear them. 

I hear the strains of many we now categorize as lost in our communities; former members we call them.  They are lost.  They think the law church was as it claimed; the right church.  But they moan for something about them could not keep up with the dutiful legalists.  You know; women can't wear pants suits and they better not pray.  You know; if the giving didn't happen on Sunday it was a sin.  You know; three times a week is....well, we don't need to explain it further.

Do you hear the moans?  I hear them.  They aren't only coming from the masses who were driven out by church sheriffs.  The moans also come from men like myself who hammered in the name of Truth without regard for love in the name of the cross.

To my shame...I hear the moans.


Faith goes places.  Opposition wants such travel stopped.  Therefore, a great lure comes at us to dumb down our faith?


Two cousin-words worm their way into our thought formalities; fear and safety.  Faith is uniquely about risk.  It dares to be confident in results which have yet to be seen.  Fear imposes itself through intimidation and even threat.  Safety, then, becomes the criteria for life. 

Fear and safety both freeze and warm.  Odd, don't you think?

Fear freezes our faith by its propaganda to keep one from launching into activity which is, for the most-part, unknown territory.  What could go wrong?  What might happen?  What if...?  These are freeze warnings.

Safety, on the other hand, warms the heart.  No threat.  No risk.  No mistakes.  It is simply cuddle time in the kingdom of an aggressive God.

All of this can be reduced to one's stand; under law or under Spirit.  The law is the great seducer of faith.  Mark off the chart of religious duties without touching another person in the form of help; especially the poor.  The law can count its responsible deeds and sit back without damage to heart or conscience. 

The Spirit, though, will lead us into storm warnings, Don't be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you.  Spirit versus law is what one notices about Jesus as he stood in the garden and plead for safety; yet yielded to action.

You are targeted my friend.  Really.  You are called by the Living and Robust God to go into zones where you might not come out alive unless He quickens you.  In these very settings one finds His words true once again, If you lose your life you will find it.

Saturday, January 01, 2011


A challenge before us is nothing new.  Yet, we must continue to keep it before us lest it become old hat. 

The nature of a stagnant church is to step back and set down.  While I no longer feel the call to press and pressure any of His saints, I do see the obvious need to keep fires lit in individual hearts for both mobilization as well as globalization.  We must grow in our attitude of keeping the church body nimble for action.

Such movement is not for the sake of keeping our joints limber, but for the sake of covering earth with the vital nature of Jesus. 

American churches are accustomed to joining and sitting with a few who launch with servanthood vision.  Not true of the King's church.  We are gathered to cheer one another on in order to exit with readiness to function as did Jesus in each intricate social circumstance.

May 2011 find you rejoicing in the King and doing much to activate the body of Christ for the purpose of causing astounding glory to Father.