Friday, December 30, 2011

THE MARVEL OF FAITH IN GOD

So many opportunities brush past me for complete failure. The older I get the more instruction I receive from conscience of my pale feebility. I am worthy of nothing but stones....truly.

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

DISCIPLESHIP: THE COST AND AFFECT

Discipleship is a serious matter. I am convinced I'm nowhere near such an expectation. I'm not depressed; but I also am surely not parading my most amazing faith for I sorely lack.

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.

HAVE A NON-AGONIZATIONAL DAY!

I am a well-trained and professional worrier. I began such a career when I was about six months old. I know how to fret with style. Harmonious agonization is where I live anxiously over four things at once.

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

SO WHAT WOULD BE WORSHIP BEYOND 11:00 TO NOON ON SUNDAYS?

I was many years into ministry before I became a worshipper; even during the Sunday morning hour. My early days of preaching were about how good or poorly I did....maybe not to others; but to me. They were about how we performed as to whether the morning assembly went well.

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.

TWO ITEMS THE CHURCH HAS YET TO RESTORE

Would it be all right with you if I point out something about us that remains in great need? If I do, would you understand how much I love being us? Would you understand without us I would have been lost? Do you get it that 34+ years in one congregation does not reflect impatience with us or with myself?

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

SHE DIDN'T KNOW

Mary and I are in Atlanta. Wendy's live here. Dusty's live here. Tim's are in from Guadalajara. I've overdosed on grand kids mugging me with requests to be tickled and given zerbert kisses where Crappaw starts to kiss their cheeks only to blow loud LOUD noises onto their faces.

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

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Dear You,

Thank you.

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.

Merry Christmas.......you!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

GENEROSITY ABOUNDS

'Tis the season for sure.

Sacrifice and devotion to those in need are quite abundant. Memorial's stage will be piled high in the morning with coats, gloves, socks, and scarves. It will be a cluttered wonder coupled with imagination for the brightness flashing across the faces of the homeless recipients tomorrow afternoon....Christmas Day.

Yesterday--here in Atlanta--my two boys and I went over to Dusty's church to pack bags of groceries, toiletries, and toys for homeless families who live in a nearby improvised hotel. These goods were donated by about three varying brands of churches; plus a couple of civic organizations.

Wouldn't it be something if this were to go year round? I thought to myself.

And then myself answered back, It does!

Where Jesus lives, generosity abounds because every day 'tis the season.

GENEROSITY ABOUNDS

'Tis the season for sure.

Sacrifice and devotion to those in need quite abundant. Memorial's stage will be piled high in the morning with coats, gloves, socks, and scarves. It will be a cluttered wonder coupled with imagination for the brightness flashing across the faces of the homeless recipients tomorrow afternoon....Christmas Day.

Yesterday--here in Atlanta--my two boys and I went over to Dusty's church to pack bags of groceries, toiletries, and toys for homeless families who live in a nearby improvised hotel. These goods were donated by about three varying brands of churches; plus a couple of civic organizations.

Wouldn't it be something if this were to go year round? I thought to myself.

And then myself answered back, It does!

Where Jesus lives, generosity abounds because every day 'tis the season.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A SEASON OF CELEBRATION...AND OF SORROW

Christmas is a lavish and child-heart time for every age. I love it!

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

ENTERED GOD....AGAIN?

We tend to look for God somewhere within our two-day church platform of Sundays and Wednesdays (you know, those official times the church is the true church?).

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.

Entered God....again?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

WHAT WOULD CHRISTMAS SAY IF IT DOESN'T SAY THIS?

I love Christmas!

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

IN TOTAL AWE OF WHERE I GET TO WORK

My head spins at the over-joy of getting to work where I do.

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

BEYOND OUR MINDS

God is breathtaking!

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

DOES GOD SPEAK DIRECTLY TO US TODAY?

There is strong need to open ourselves to inter-communication; God and us. Our errant doctrine of the past has left us out of touch with Father....literally. If you want to know why so many of ours spend ultra-little time in prayer, I'm addressing it.

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:


  1. How would a prayer of guidance whether to become a pharmacist or a doctor be conveyed from God?

  2. 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:



  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

DO YOU HAVE A PERSPECTIVE?

Rather than send you exhortation on this very nice day, I seek your insight.

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

IDEA FOR A CHRISTMAS GIFT

A few weeks back God sent in a sermon regarding thankfulness that will forever adjust my life. It was and is powerful. Soon afterward my daughter reminded me of a book, One Thousand Gifts, that we had discussed months ago.

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.

Excerpts:

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

POOLING OUR WEAKNESSES

I don't know anyone exempt from pitiful and humiliating weakness. This secret to some is why we can walk into any heart; we know they too are weak and even fearful. There is no exception.

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

MEMORIAL DRIVE JOY

We no longer have the wonderful Joy Buses which gave us abundant connection with the community. But we still possess the joy!

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!

GOD CREATED AGE

I become frustrated in listening to unbelievers discuss Evolution as the accurate account for life. It opposes God and His creationistic skill.

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

EDGAR BERGEN AND CHARLIE McCARTHY


video


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!

BYE-BYE ALBERT

The Los Angeles Angels signed long-time Cardinal slugger Albert Puhols for millions upon millions of dollars. Millions of dollars don't resonate with me as big as they probably should because I live mostly with $5s, $10s, and $20s. Yet, I get the picture---BIG.

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 I GOT A DEAL FOR YOU?

My heart goes out to you soldiers of the cross. We need encouragement from every angle. My goal is to build some segment of the kingdom one brave heart at a time. So, I share with you a book that will fan great flames of confidence in God.

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:


  1. 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.

  2. In your comment, give me complete name, address, and zip. I will not track you down if part is missing.

  3. 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

PROVE IT

Have you noticed the extreme nebulicity of God's activity?

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

THE HOPE OF A RELEASED FAITH

I wonder if some of our faith is tight-fisted. By that I mean that we are unable to experience the dynamic belief system God envisions for us because we grab a bit of it and hold on tight; never to let it go. Oddly, we actually stunt its intended power by sheltering those few things we have learned beneath our religious robes of fear.

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

OUR WORK IS TO BELIEVE IN THE ONE WHOM HE SENT

Our work is not to lay out plans and then plead for God to bless our directions. Rather it is to believe Jesus has the directions, believe him, and get on board with what he has going.

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.

MULTI-SITE CHURCHES

While we might still be good at refraining from calling the church house the church (for the church is the people; we all know), there remains among us the tendency to believe the kingdom of God operates mainly from such centralized acreage. It may be time for expansion of such a funneled vision.

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

SANTA HAS TO BE WOWED BY NOTES COMING HIS WAY!









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?




Love, Belle

AS TRUTH UNFOLDS

Lord, teach me would be a useful part of our prayers, I believe.

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

BASIC INCLINATION JUST HAS TO GO

We are called to a daunting task. We work for the King.

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.