Monday, April 30, 2012
Praise God for the believers' faith! May He be glorified under such extreme slainery.
We are called to believe big. May we do so. May we do so at no regard for earth-life; but with great assessment of the value of the spirit life.
Church just isn't about striping parking lots or music preference. The more we nudge up against terroristic darkness, the more we will note the purpose of an intense faith.
We are called to live for Him by dying to ourselves. For me this takes an evident combination of practice and repeated failure. Yet the call from Jesus' voice remains clear. If we are to impact a struggling world, we will pay big prices.
The day is surely subtle; yet raw threat inches closer when it will no longer be theory but reality. For those in Nigeria...it already came.
May the sobriety of following Jesus occupy our minds a bit more day by day.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Jesus is a ruiner of human reason; that very essence we pride ourselves in developing.
He can never be defined for as surely as we begin to track him; he breaks out in some new zone that wrecks our church formulas.
Jesus is the stirrer we grow to love.
We find he is more than a mention at prayer's conclusion. Too, he is more than good to the kiddies. Jesus was so strong he could die without defense. He was so dead he would rise at Father's whisper. And he is so alive he brings upheaval to a reasonable stability known as life.
Jesus takes such positive upset and transforms it into the most advanced cause in the world...the kingdom of God. Remarkable isn't it? This live wire requests abode within each of us.
Friday, April 27, 2012
Radical about sports, radical surgery, and promises of radical weight loss are only a smidgen of the possibilities.
In ways, the term radical has taken a hit at the knees. There was the Boston Movement. Before that it was Crossroads. Unknowingly, before that I was being drawn into the Churches of Christ. Firm, unbending, valiant for the truth, radical commitment seemed to be the course.
However, due to narrow and squint-eyed added formulas to the rich Word of God, radical has become a term of suspicion if not malignant in nature.
Yet, isn't faith in the invisibles radical? Don't we suffer as a people because radical assurance of His working hand wanes? Have we possibly engaged in a global church sleepology that has left our general populace doped to the threat of radical Islam and its proponents?
Have we assembled in church houses in rows for so long that entrance and exit is down pat and our big wish is to go to heaven when we die?
Radical is exemplary in Jesus; his love, his compassion, and his sacrifice. We aren't necessary (well I'm not close) near the radicality of Jesus and his discipling work, but we are favorable to awakening and growing.
May we be a people who are not found asleep at the switch while radical groups that oppose the life of Christ form strong alliance. We must awaken to the need of faith development; not only in our children....but in ourselves.
This one is especially significant as my friend Jerry Rushford retires from the directorship and passes the baton to Mike Cope. Jerry will preach the ending keynote on Friday evening. I have prayed for his presentation throughout since his announcement on closing night of last year.
I find one rather pressing matter and I fear that with all Jerry has to manage, he may have forgotten.
I have been eagerly anticipating being awarded by Jerry and the Pepperdine crew an Honorary Doctorate! I say, Why not? Jerry is a master at honoring various works, ministries, and missions. Why not me receive an Honorary Doctorate from Pepperdine? I can just hear the cheering and applause!
I fear Jerry does not have the same vision as I. Oh well, I will just be on the edge of my seat anyway. If it doesn't happen Tuesday then maybe Wednesday....all the way through Friday night....I shall hope.
The pressure is on....as you can tell! If I am presented with even a facsimile award....I will do my best to smile, remain humble, and sign a few autographs immediately after the picture taking.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Yet, Elisha simply prayed that the servants eyes be opened to reality....there are more of us than them.
I like how Francis Schaeffer frames it, To the young man this must have seemed pretty cold comfort at that moment. But very quickly it became a realistic comfort, an actuality: "And Elisha prayed and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw; and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha."
At that moment the young man did not have any more problems!
From our point of consideration, however, the significant thing is that the prayer was not that something would come. It was already there. The only difference was that the young man's eyes had to be opened to see what Elisha already saw.
The supernatural was not something far off, it was there. All the young man needed was to have his eyes opened to see it.
Mighty words Mr. Schaeffer points out for us this morning! Mighty words. It appears we may be wishing help would get here when our prayers should be more properly based upon the need for our eyes to be opened to see the help already standing by.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
But here's what I've learned while watching Jesus move about earth's populated terrain. Jesus sees the moment.
That's different from me. I don't see the moment for I'm building vision for the future. Jesus, though, is profound because he sees the moment. A thirsty woman, a wee one up a tree, or an uninvited bawl-baby at his feet, Jesus sees the moment.
I like to do what I can to mimic him.
The last time I was at Busch Stadium I saw six rows down and to my left an elderly usher snap at a four year old to "Sit down in your seat!". She moved on unaware of the damage control needed. Hurt feelings were strewn everywhere.
I studied that scene for a moment as I'm trying to focus on the game. However, I could not help but see the youngster folded in his mothers arms sobbing away as "that mean woman" had left shrapnel all over his row.
I eventually walked down to the now vacant seat and sat next to momma and child. Excuse me for interrupting, but I go around giving dollars to good boys. I was wondering if your son could use a dollar just now. His face, raw with tears, turned toward me and he believed that dollar might help.
Obviously, it did.
May we all do what we can to sees the moment. Jesus did.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
It would be good to give this man a Card Pounding, don't you think?
St. Francis Hospital
6161 S. Yale
Tulsa, OK. 74136
Monday, April 23, 2012
So, Snopes, is it true Francis Chan is scheduled to speak at the Tulsa Workshop next year?
While Snopes does the necessary research, allow me to field that question.
The correct answer is Yes; Francis Chan is scheduled to speak twice at the Tulsa Workshop in March 2013. He is to do the Thursday evening keynote and the 11:00 a.m. keynote on Friday.
And how did that come about?
I invited him.
But there is more.
I invited him in 2011for the '13 workshop. A response said Mr. Chan was all booked throughout '11 and '12. I responded that my invitation was for the year 2013. A second response came back, He's busy then, too.
But then I learned that my friend, Wes Woodell, knew Francis personally. Wes was able to speak with him personally about the workshop and the next thing I knew, we had Mr. Chan on the program.
True; Snopes may not know this, yet. But you do! I think you will want to be here!
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Yet having spent a few years in ministry, I can say that I believe that which is needed most at the church where I get to serve (as well as all others) is simply the Son of God.
Jesus will forever be the one prominent need each of us crave. More. More of Jesus.
What we need first and foremost isn't better giving or better attendance or better preaching or better organization. It is the simplicity of believing the talent and loving the presence of Jesus that each church surely finds to be the greatest.
Jesus is the name above all names. He isn't an honorary icon; but is the breath and the life of the kingdom operations.
Regardless of what your congregation wishes it had, a thorough inspection of being crazy over Jesus within the hearts of our members will always be a good place to begin evaluation.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
I met Mr. Colson on a couple of occasions. We volleyed letters here and there. I know of no other to speak with such mighty conviction and passion.
The first time I heard him preach was at a COBE conference in California. When he had completed an evening keynote, I stood in a long line to meet him. I told him I stood in line to apologize to him for my judgmental misbehavior toward him for I had assumed he was a politician capitalizing on the Christian commodity.
In essence he had done just that; but from a perspective I had not seen coming. He was amazing.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. said it well; "For nearly four decades, Chuck Colson's life and example have been a constant and necessary reminder to those of us in and out of public office of the seductions of power and the rewards of service. His famous redemption story and tireless advocacy on behalf of the marginalized and the outcast have called all of us to a deeper reflection on our lives and priorities. He lives on as a modern model of redemption and a permanent rebuttal to the cynical claim that there are no second chances in life."
I learned a lot from studying this man serve. I applaud Jesus for making a difference for this powerful man who was once humiliated and then transformed into a liberator of souls.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
CNN proves it. FOX proves it. Politics proves it. Neighbors prove it. I prove it.
Did any of you read about Rick Woodsmall stabbing a man to death in a bar in Florida this week? This 60 year old has been troubled since he was in grade school. I know. I went to school with him.
Man has lost his way.
If we are assuredly and deeply lost (and we are before meeting Jesus), how saved must we be when drawn to him?
It seems to me we are as super saved after encountering the Master of Life on the scale of how super lost one is without him. With no Savior one is not sorta lost or a little bit lost...the loss is disastrous!
With a Savior? Salvation can't begin to communicate how saved saved would be!
Have any of you ever thought that being saved merely means not going to Hell? In my kid and teen years, I believed Heaven meant longer and even more boring church services that did not come in color; but in gray clouds of mystic hoverings. It wouldn't be very exciting; but it would beat burning.
However, when we look at the train wreck of lostness we must wonder at the celebration of being saved. Due to Jesus, we experience abundant life now and forevermore.
The lostness of lost is catastrophic. The salvation of savedness is too good to be true. Therefore, we shall not shrink due to the bad news. We shall, rather, explode that the good news can land on bad news ears.
It did ours!
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
This coming July 15, Lord willing, I'll be celebrating 35 years with my Sunday job at Memorial Drive. That seems impossible, unreal, exciting, thrilling, stirring, and unbelievable! How could a man so completely inept get to be at such a fabulous church....for so long?
I am not the boy with the fish and loaves. Rather, I feel like I am the sack lunch. I am so inadequate and nothing; yet, He lets me feed thousands. Every time I unlock my office doors of a morning, I believe I know how lottery winners feel.
I love my Sunday job!
My first Sunday job lasted one year. My second, two. I developed a philosophy with this last Sunday job without quite understanding why. Here it is:
If things are going badly, that is no time to leave a congregation. If things are going well, that is another reason not to leave a congregation. Conclusion; there is no good time to leave.
I have stayed at Memorial all these years because that philosophy came into play; oh so many times. It surely has been a trail of tears; some of pain and others of joy....all of them meaningful.
God has taught me much. By His grace I learned the dark and discouraging days were every bit as alive in kingdom nature as were the celebratory ones. He wastes not one crumb of life.
Some switch Sunday jobs more often. Such isn't wrong. Others change jobs altogether. For me, though, mine is new every day. I still learn during the rough stuff. Gratitude fills my heart.
How in God's system did He ever let me have a shot at this work? I'll never understand His mystery....but I will continue to be crazy about my Sunday job!
Jesus was clear on a detail we find to be self-protectionarily vague; take the log out of your own eye in order to remove the speck in your brother's.
Why is it that others' disorders are so simplistic and clear to the rest of us and yet our own are found in the terrible land of who me oblivion? How can we miss our own?
We choose to overlook our personal failures because we have abundant mercy available for self. If we can't justify our sinfulness we can at least find self-sympathy. Mercy toward others, though, seems to be found on a short leash....sometimes a very short leash.
Beware. We see in others what we can't see in ourselves because we are peering through log-lenses. This causes seeing-blindness.
From the kingdom perspecktive, we will always be more closely aligned to the Master when we can deal with self-lack-awareness before we point a crooked finger toward that other who is such a presumed mess.
Monday, April 16, 2012
If ever there is a glitch in me (in us) it is my Christlessness.
Obsessed with preferences and stalled by opinions, the church of Christ is sluggish to say the least. The solution which would dissolve church cataracts and arthritis is simply to richly believe in the one known as the Son of God.
Each moment we find ourselves poised to lean into him just a bit more, we find ourselves on the cusp of unexplainable and wonderful mystery.
May we be known as the church of Christ and not the church of Christless.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Enthused and even obligated we take on tasks of service desiring much good come from such efforts. Yet it doesn't take long for the new to wear thin and then we are faced with basic, What now?
Give God your best has a way of fading for even our best wasn't enough. At this point momentum is under siege.
We have three choices: (1) engage in a Christian facade of activity with burdened heart that we have no power, (2) or quit (3) or repent from our own powerless style and lean into the wonder and mystery of Father. May the latter be our final straw.
God works. Our job is to believe this truth. God knows. Our job is to accept such a fact. He doesn't need our muscle as much as He needs our faith. Together we are a marvelous team. God is the CEO and we are His chauffeurs.
The way to build momentum in serving God is to accept the thrashing signals that our self-efforts in His name are too full of the self part. When we repent of our control and lean into His, new life arises. New momentum is revealed. Enthusiasm is renewed.
We don't need more skill. We need more God presence. He possesses the perfect skill. Experiencing His talent cannot help but build incredible momentum.
Friday, April 13, 2012
It says the way is narrow that leads to life. The church has misstepped due to this passage. We have formerly interpreted it to say the way is narrow which leads to narrowness. Communities are dotted with little groups called Church of Christ who represent a premier stance of narrowness.
Jesus is the narrow; he is the singular way to life....no others....no one else...no other doctrine....no other pattern. Jesus is the only gate to life.
Yet this life through the narrow gate is quite the opposite of narrow. It is wildly, uncontrollably, mysteriously, and unfathomably abundant. We enter through the one; not the several. God gives not options. Entrance is through Jesus or else there will be no entrance.
The narrow gate leads, though, to life!
If there would be any one quality the church should and could exude, would it not be what the narrow leads to....life? When guests are in our circle, do they experience life or narrow-mindedness? Are the children given us by God reared in life abundant or the fearful need to be narrow?
The narrow gate leads to freedom. Some self-appointed deputies (of which I was trained to be one) believe it our calling to monitor the straight and narrow path to the extent no one would call it abundant life.
It could be called abundant commitment. It could be called abundant awareness. And it could be called abundant duty. But....it would not be called abundant life.
Jesus came that we might have life. Our goal should be that our flocks learn all we can about the narrow gate as well a experience all we can of the wide and abundant life which would be reflective of resurrection power.
Yes! The narrow gate leads to wide life!
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Tulsa is in the news at the moment due to a shooting spree on Good Friday. Two white men went on a rampage killing three African-Americans and wounding others. The Tulsa Police and others have been on it.
The guilty parties have been arrested and confessed to the crimes. Now Reverends Sharpton and Jackson are headed to Tulsa for camera time. Jesse Jackson is calling for a federal investigation.
Hello. Case solved. The guilty are in custody. The confessions are in storage. Why must the cameras continue to roll?
In the meantime God is doing marvelous things without CNN or FOX. He has this PR firm called the church that makes His moves public because the upside-down media just can't seem to pick up on His outstanding activities.
With the glut of bad news in front of our eyes, one can begin to believe God's arm no longer counts. Well....it counts. It is the only force to be reckoned. Our job is to spread the Word and the word. God is operating at highest level capacity and people are being blessed.
True. Blog, Facebook, Twitter, email, and cyberphone messages the globe in abundant overlap. However, nothing fills the air of the heavens like the public testimony of yet another thing God has accomplished.
You are/we are the PR firm for God. Go into the highways and the hedges and proclaim the many moves of God. While communities are on information overload, none have taken in too much good news which surely counters the bad surrounding us.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Faith isn't a vague or random thought of wishfultivity. It is spiritually rock solid. If Jesus could step on the fluidity of water, we can walk by the invisibility of faith. Faith is both substance and evidence; so says Hebrews 11:1.
Faith sees what isn't seen. That freaks out the atheists. Yet, it is true. A Spirit-led believer has heart eyes. These eyes of faith see extravagant hope, superlative riches of glory, and what God labels as surpassing power.
Faith isn't an indifferent passenger in the back seat of what-ever-happens-just-happened-to-happen. Rather, it is the driver. Faith believes things not yet existing. Faith emblazons dead things with a power and a reason to come back to life.
Wish you were powerful? Read the Word. Believe its calling. Arise to the Spirit's task. Apply faith to a dull, routine, and cemeterial walk. Watch the world begin to bloom with life.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Who in ministry doesn't feel the gigantic tug of swimming upstream in turbulent waters? Not one day do our efforts seem to have put us ahead. Rather, it seems our thrashing in the tumbling waters may have resulted in loss...after all of that expended energy.
Ministry takes the strangest of of hearts. On the one hand we must be as iron in determination while as putty in compassion. To reverse these two is to see one of our good guys/gals suffering in burn out.
Be encouraged. God is everywhere. He is in more places and in more people than we can imagine....He says....Eph. 3:20.
A stack of good books on my desk awaits my attention. Writers are coming at us at lightning speed with more awe in our God. Why is that? God is among our writers.
Invitations to quality and healthy leadership events form a calendar glut. Why is that? God is among our motivators.
Oh, and did I mention the criss-cross of blogs, other web sites, and computer programs that fill our hearts with hope and insight and training? Why is that? God is everywhere! He's everywhere!
If you find yourself broken down along the roadside of ministry. Just hang on a bit. Wait. God is not losing ground. We may feel we are. But that's a mirage of darkness. God is everywhere...and we can count on His presence to more than see us through.
Don't ever give up!
Monday, April 09, 2012
Talk to me...gently.
Tell me how you liked/disliked the Tulsa Workshop format of track classes this year?
What are your thoughts on maybe not having a speaker in the Pavilion during the track classes?
Finally, are there any types of booths you wish were included at the workshop?
Sunday, April 08, 2012
However, I see another unity that is truly and severely unbiblical; yet we practice it among ourselves with shoulder shrugging indifference. I speak of the unity we try to promote within the church between flesh and spirit.
Bossy flesh as always yearned to rule over tender spirit. Is this not the entire story of one called Jesus? It wasn't that one side was religious and the other not. Rather it was that both were religious; one guided by flesh and the other in spirit.
Thus today we have incredible division. Wrangling over words continues although book, chapter, and verse warned against such. We experience a very divisive sort of unity in that we continue to gather under one roof with enormous confusion over how to get somewhere; anywhere in and for the kingdom.
As long as flesh obligates spirit to walk in harmony we can count Jesus out. He did not die so that those who killed him could have reign over the church business meetings. Rather his entire walk says the flesh must be converted for it has no part in the kingdom.
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
Friday, April 06, 2012
The goodness of community shows most in that there is still an awareness of God among us. In the deepest regions of neighboring hearts, there continues to be the awareness of the labor Father and Son encountered at the cross and the cemetery. This touching truth continues to reign supreme as worshippers will pack into churches across our homeland.
If ever Easter makes no difference in America, it is then that we can know the lights are going out.
Let us not snarl at these guests for being here once a year when we make serious effort to clock in at all fifty-two. Rather, may we praise them for their faith in the resurrected One for evidently He continues to prod. Thank God.
Sunday is our time to shine upon these visitors that they may notice the goodness He has implanted within their own hearts. May they be aroused and inspired by our greetings, our prayers, our sermons, and our out-of-this-world praise in song.
Of course we desire to see commitment to Him. Of course we seek their daily partnership. For now their presence declares seed has been embedded from somewhere in their past. Our job is to continue to water.
Be friendly. Be faithful. Be aware. Guests are coming for Easter and they are some of God's greatest treasures.
Treat them royally!
Thursday, April 05, 2012
Ali is one of the greatest boxers in ring history. His lightning-quick hands put away one slumping opponent after another. In a most fascinating way, Ali’s mouth was even quicker to forecast his greatness to the extent of noting which round would include his notorious knock-out punch.
Last night the St. Louis Cardinals faced the Miami Marlins in the season opener. Pre-game ceremonies included the aging and ailing Muhammad Ali driven in by cart. The man is fading before our eyes. Due to disease, his idealistic body has withered to a herky-jerky shell over time.
With uncontrollable hands trembling and head bobbing, the sight of Obknockious Ali broke my heart. A great man in his own field now reduced to impoverished presence.
Is he not a picture of each of us? Our prime eventually subsides into….well into the eventual ground.
God was right. All outer shells will return to dust.
So once again we can take note of our personal and temporary temples. And we can be encouraged. God knew what He was talking about when He discussed the ultimate demise of the flesh. And if He is so accurate on that one, don’t you think He is telling us the truth about the hope of inner man living forever on the heavenly course?
Ah, indeed, I believe we yearn, we want, and we can. We were doomed until Jesus knocked out death in the final round.
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
Today my good friend takes the helm as the Cardinals' new manager. I emailed him early this morning.
Today! Today you begin your managerial career!
May you continue to live like a winner; accepting the applause and never dismissing the importance of each agonizing crumb of frustration and disappointment.
Due to God, everything is a yes (II Cor. 1:18-20)….everything.
You begin today in a new zone of leadership. Go for it! Failure and irritation will only serve as comrades to build you up in the true nature of greatness. Refrain from dismissing the tough stuff. And, celebrate each game.
Former coaches and managers will watch you from their television sets yearning for the chance to have a job like yours….whether it include a win or a loss.
Like every moment called now!
Tuesday, April 03, 2012
From experience I can say that if 100 people love me 2 people despise me. I love being loved and hate being hated. This can upset one's cart in a hurry. God must help us....and He does.
I don't think many get the warning of don't be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you (I Peter 4:12) because they simply don't walk the fires. Yet, for those who do, God's conclusion is that these are for our testing.
Going through the fires of kingdom life are good and necessary things. Therefore, don't waste the opportunities to learn. Intend on passing the test.
Kingdom life is such a blessing because one learns to transform sufferings and insult into fuel. What is designed by darkness with intent to shut us down is transferred by the Spirit to light us up.
Yes, more will love you than despise you. All are important in the kingdom walk. Don't reject anyone. Love all. And thank God for His inexpressible gift for we are very privileged to get to wear the sandals Jesus wore.
Monday, April 02, 2012
A visitor of four months unloaded on me yesterday morning just as services were beginning. I really like this man and have visited with him often during these multi-weeks. He was mad.
No one speaks to you here. You can't break in to these cliques. It broke my heart.
I hate it when anyone visits Memorial and doesn't sense the welcome they deserve.
Here I was just about to preach and Bob just couldn't quit peeling away at my heart. I finally had to walk away, go back to my office, dry my sissy tears, and move back in. My heart was not in preaching.
My heart was not in preaching the way I want my heart to feel. Yet, I thanked God for the upset for evidently my heart needed adjustment to preach the way God intended.
The sermon was okay.
When it was over, Bob approached me with apology for his poor timing and then lit in again as to how unfriendly this place is. Oddly, I had noticed one of our members chatting with him and his wife just before he approached me for round two. Stranger yet is that while he was dispensing his aggravation, one of our members butted in to greet him and then moved on.
My point is I wasn't in heart to do my sermon yesterday. I had to trust God I was in the form He desired. Sometimes, our heart doesn't feel like it is in it. Our duties insist we are on whether the mood has stricken. And....God will use us anyway.
Sunday, April 01, 2012
The task increases in weight...the weight to step out of the way so Jesus can have a legitimate shot at his church.
I love preaching. It is my continued passion. I fear my own flesh; that I might miss the Spirit, that I could offer no life from my Terry-delivery, or that I would simply be blind to His Word for the moment.
I mean not to complain.
Yet as I walk with and in Him, I find Him to be much larger than I once assumed in my throw-together-a-sermon-outline days. As I find Him to have increased, my truest self merely decreases. I cannot help but submit to His overpowering awe.
Thus, the load gets bigger for ongoing increase/decrease interaction between Father and me.
I will walk into our auditorium this morning in the midst of year 34 here. I will enter with absolute honor that I would get to be the one who is handed the awful task to preach. I will be challenged severely to yield to the Christ in me for my effort will be majorly disappointing.
It will be a good day because this very immeasurable God will work in spite of the little people like me.