Friday, November 30, 2012


Sometimes I just like to talk life.  Usually the topic is regarding a faith element.  But today it isn't.

I want to tell you about one of my latest adventures which began last night.

First, I must admit that I am a glutton for new health ideas.  Remember the time I heard that crushed garlic in shampoo would rejuvenate hair loss?  Well....count me in.

After about a week there was no sign of improvement.  Quite the opposite really.  I began to smell really badly.  My hair took on bad breath.  Nasty!

So yesterday I was at the As Seen On TV store at the mall.  I love that store!  Ah...the stuff...the really good...creative...and handy....stuff!  I was there for the purpose of picking up a couple of gifts for a Christmas exchange when I happened across something I had forgotten all about.

Do you remember the 1-800 commercials for a detox foot patch that pulls toxins from your body and through your feet?  Yes!!!!  I got me some!!!!

So I followed the three instructions; adhered the slim packet to the bottom of each foot and then secured with socks for sleep.  I was to leave them on through the night for the best results.

When I awakened...I'm not joking...I could smell trash burning.  It took me awhile to become clear headed.  As I walked down the hall to check I noticed that where ever I went the odor was consistent....and then I remembered. 

I can't say that these detox patches really work for I've got three more nights to follow.  But I can tell you that the pads were black with body soot of some substance.  Oh...gross, gross, gross! 

All I can say for now is that either I am less toxic today or else my socks discolored the detox patches!  For $12.99 I'm figuring there will be great health advantages.  Don't you think?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Shopping is surely the major emphasis of our days.  After all it IS December!

And...I love it.  I've always been enthralled with Christmas.

I begin October 1st.  We draw names at our office at that time.  I love it!

I love the crowds.  I love buying.  Aren't full parking lots encouraging?  I love giving and receiving.  Our office party is at noon Monday and I'll have my gift for Daniel in tow.

Something struck me this morning while studying something entirely of a different subject.  I began to wonder about Jesus and his shopping spree.

I thumbed to Isaiah 53 to read it again.

From the cross Jesus swept through villages, harbors, and countrysides buying up sinful garments of every color and size of every decade and century of every land and continent.  He bought angers, adulteries, persecutions, and laws.  He bought up all of the abusive words as well as matching detrimental actions. 

Jesus bought up supplies of hatred and bias and neglect and snobbery and robbery.  He purchased arguments, brokenness, mistakes, and heartaches.  He especially loved to buy up as many heartaches as he could find.

Jesus paid for it all only to wear our garments of sin on the cross.  He went out in our style; clothed in our sin, hoping that one day we would determine to be clothed in him through baptism. 

Jesus placed the Master Card on the public hill that we might one day understand we are free to realize that our sins have been purchased by his blood.  Nobody has ever gone on such a shopping spree.  It isn't yet over!  Such an extravagant spending spree lives on having bought up the ills of mankind....that mankind can receive the gift of salvation.

Thank you, Jesus, for being an obsessive shopper!


To the highly committed and hyper-active bunch among us, I pull alongside of you to breathlessly say, Good morning!  I would assume all are reading this article on your way to somewhere or just getting back so you can enter back into the gotta get moving syndrome.

Ours is a hurried culture with a shrinking planet due to massive communicational tools at our immediate disposal.  We are in a perfect storm in great need of Jesus; the perfect storm calmer.

Humanity is on a pace of frantic self-explosion.  Frankly, it would seem we are too busy to die.

I believe the church is under attack due to the hurried pace.  It isn't that our people aren't willing to work and sacrifice.  It is that so many have so much going on is seems as if fatigue is on a very strong creep.  We are in deep need of what I thought once to be a dirty four-letter word, R-E-S-T. 

R-E-S-T is not a first cousin to L-A-Z-Y, so get over it.

I want to be a voice in your world that says you need to rest.  Of course, I'm not addressing the slothful.  You are the ant-farm laborers in the kingdom vineyard.

I have had to practice rest.  I'm fearful of learning Facebook for it seems yet another phone to ring or email to bing-bong.  How do you do it? 

So my word to elders and preachers and teachers and accountants and secretaries and bus drivers and mommas and doctors and......write this word of advice down somewhere and practice it before a mirror.  Learn to say, No.

Storms could be a swirl and Jesus would be found asleep only to awaken to tell the wind to bug off.  Calm down! seemed to suffice when he spoke.

When presented opportunities via request of your engagement, I believe we have a partner within (the Holy Spirit of God) that gives us a nudge which speaks clearly, Yes, I would like to be a part of that or No, I couldn't possibly work in another event on my calendar.  Then, my friend, say so.

Psalm 46:10 calls us to be still.  Jesus endorses relief from whirlwind paces by inviting us to come to him and R-E-S-T.

Could this be a much needed message from God just for you this morning?  I'm confident it is written specifically for some.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


In the heat of battle, Joshua whipped up unheard-before courage to command the sun to stand still. 

Hold it!  Hold it right.....there! 

It did!

This story remains one of the great hallmarks of simple faith by a follower of God.

Where was that bold faith, though, during all those forty years of wandering around lost?  Why didn't Joshua speak with clear abruption of significance a decade or two earlier?

This is the mystery for all of us walking with God through the kingdom maze that only God holds the GPS.  We can't explain how nor why nor when nor where.  Remember it was our Father of Faith (Abraham) that went out not knowing where he was going (Hebrews 11)?

It took forty years of going nowhere for Joshua & Co. to get anywhere.

Preacher man.....hear these words.  Refrain from following the god of productivity via numbers.  Watch.  Believe.  Wait.  If it takes a forty-year-like-span while people and ministries die off, this is no sign that God isn't in shocking and stunning preparation for your---Joshua & Co's---Promised Land.

Your sun will one day stand still.  Be ready to believe it.

When the sun won't stand still, we still have reason to believe it can on God's timing.

Monday, November 26, 2012


I guess Isaiah 53, of the Suffering Servant, is one of the Bible's more powerful revelations. 

Suffering is one thing that all humans have in common; we don't like it and don't want it.  However, it is central to life in the church via the message of the cross.

Pain blesses.  Few there are who dare walk such a narrow road with the joy of it in mind.

Suffering opens the heart to God and to others.  If viewed improperly, though, the reverse will happen and bitterness will override.  A reason the Holy Spirit is within us is to bear the fruit which would counter such festering anger.  We can't do battle over suffering moments on our own for their size seems to mount.  But the Spirit of God can flow this victory right through the center of our hearts via His size of love, joy, peace, patience, etc.

Laurens van der Post was held captive by the Japanese during World War II and almost died as a result.  After the war he discovered that War Crimes officers who had not suffered in the conflict were more revengeful and bitter about our treatment and our suffering in prison than we were ourselves.

When one only judges suffering, while having not lived in it, a critical and desperately angered nature will evolve.  All of this is surprisingly strange to me.  Yet, it is ultra important to experience.

I would sit in on meeting after church meeting where decisions would be made that I knew would discourage the congregation.  And, it proved true.  But in these repeated meetings, puzzled and inadequate as I was, I would wonder how God was going to deliver us.

I still don't know how.  I just know He did.  He taught me not to give up; on Him, on others, and on myself.  Struggle is a gift of God.  We tend to trash it when, rather, we should treasure it.

Jesus suffered agony for us.  He lived with such a goal in mind...and in heart.  He understands us because he suffered.  We understand him for the same reason.

Even in parenting I see advantages offered to children when allowed to remain in their suffering to learn rather than constantly provide way of immediate escape.  Children who do not hurt over matters in life--whether being bullied or suffering bias and neglect from other circumstances or people--will likely live at the shallow end of the pool. 

Such comments will go against the grain of the protectionary individual whose goal in their children's life is one thing above all others; safety.  I know it seems strange, certainly in our culture, but misery and struggle are key elements to finishing the course set before us.

Safety is not a church concept.  The kingdom is a suffering system.  It will not fly under any other mode.  Endurance is not a Sunday School topic; but rather a way of life for the true disciple. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Finally....Sunday is here!

What will He give us?  What will we give Him?

How much praise has God already received as the East is now moving toward evening and we are just cranking it up in the West?

Shane and I met at 7:30 this morning....a traditional weekly meeting with a few to pray for an hour to get our day going.

It is exciting to me to have never wanted nor intended to be a part of a church when I was a kid...and now to get to be a part of one that is growing in love for God and for one another.

From one hallway to the next to the next, I will live on mission this morning.  My eyes will search for the stranger; for the one who seems to be alone.  I will draw to them for they have secrets of God buried within of which we may not know anything about....yet truly need among us.

Have a super day.  Let it be a new normal. 

It's today already. 

Notice it!

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Don't you love right now?

I shake my head in gratitude for God's immeasurable patience toward me.  How could this be?  Getting to be in the church, work with the church, and see His touch from so many directions?

How do I get to be a part of this?

I live a complete paradox.  I can't wait to get to preach; but am fearful of stepping up.  I can't wait to hear God's final verdict for my delivery; but wish I would have a better grip on how things will flow.  I can't imagine someone getting to be me....and I get to!  I mean that from humility over what He lets me do and not ego of what I've figured out. three...things have changed my church involvement drastically:
  1. The awareness of the Holy Spirit's direct activity has shifted the ministry sands.
  2. Adhering to the two great commandments rather than giving them lip service changes motives, goals, and directions.
  3. Looking right at Jesus for word, for example, for wisdom continually rearranges my fleshed-out-pattern of regulations for pure Christianity.
I will step up tomorrow, Lord willing, fighting off reluctance and brimming with anticipation of what will He say and how will it go.  I tell others weekly that when it comes to Sunday I can't wait to hear what I've got to say.  I don't mean that in any way except thoroughly depending on Father to speak Spirit power through my English words.

For the longest time I wished the church would be more than it is.  Such will always be an inner yearn, I assume, for all leaders.  Yet, I just so enjoy being a part of the church right all her flaws, and scars, and huge disappointments. 

Because of the great and tangible glory of God, we will have incredible reason to celebrate Who found us....and keeps us!

Don't you love right now?

Friday, November 23, 2012


I still want to reach the world...the whole world...the dyed-in-the wool and the new-generation world.

We must never let up on pondering, praying, probing, and pursuing ways to persuade others to follow Jesus.  We must never become satisfied with the church twins Status or Quo. 

Everywhere we turn we see people; variation upon variation upon even greater variation.  All are in desperate need.  Sin has each cornered with no self-skill to escape; none.

Jesus is all hope.  Tall. Wide.  Deep.  Far.  His is the hope for everyone.

All brands of churches are to be a part of the great evangelistic drive.  None will effectively participate until a true and deep love for Jesus is prominent.

May we be a people enamoured with the style and path of the Son of God.

This is a dream that is worth Christian pursuit.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I assume some of you are brave souls who have no difficulty in being the very one God groomed you to be.  However, others of us don't find such ease.  Rather we are exhausted while trying to live in a maze of men-pleasing pressure.  We are weak from jumping many and eventual impossible hoops. 

I saw something in study recently regarding young David; eventual King David.

Boy David was pressed from two strong and influential threats.  Goliath is the obvious giant of intimidation.  Yet, a second person is equally menacing.

David's older brother, Eliab, is thoroughly disgusted with his sibling.  Eliab's anger burned against David and he said, "Why have you come down?"  Now we see David in that religious Rock and a Hard Place.  Huge need in front of him and an angered brotherhood beside him.  From experience, I can tell you that Eliab's anger was intentional to do one thing; shut David down.

Always and ever always will it be true that many Eliabs stand by in their own cowardice of facing the tackling of giant causes only to harp and nip and complain in anger at the brothers and sisters who dare to take on impossible tasks in the church.  This has gone on for years.

Our hope is found in the Davids among us.  Ignore the whiners totally.  They are not to enjoy our compromise.  Neither are they to have any voice which would sap our courage; none.  David wasn't harsh nor retributional toward Eliab.  He simply gave him no audience.

Did not Jesus save the world by identical standards.  Weren't constant voices around him declaring Wrong!  Liar!  False! Deceitful!  Yet, forward in courage he moved.

It takes considerable courage to be who you are in God's call.  His style for each of us will surely run into the Eliab assessment and opinion.  Never are we to be of ego nor obnoxious.  We are, though, going to necessarily learn to live as and with who we are in Christ because many in the brotherhood will do their best to intimidate. 

Take courage.  We will all need it.


Monday, November 19, 2012


I have come to realize that life is streaming into focus on many fronts.  I have focused on so many avenues of kingdom efforts and fought valiantly against my fierce failures.  Yet, one thing has caught me off guard that I gave no attention.

Jesus was a religious entity of importance to me.  Yes, in reality he was Truth; but he was not the Way and the Life in my faith....just the offering loud, bold, egotistical Truth.

Sure.  Jesus is the Truth.  The church hammered into me with profound intimidation and threat if I should ever vary.  Even much of that Truth was not the truth we had been firmly declared.

The Way?  The Life?  Mattered not to me.  I (and we) were about Truth and I was not about to balk at our ingrained church code and lingo.

But what about those Way and Life parts?

The first transports the Truth and the latter expresses it. 

I really didn't know my Way.  It was a shock as to how foreign it finally was for me to simply watch Jesus move about.  Whether countryside or lakeside or city street, I learned to study his social moves.  His tender heart for the underdog went unmatched.

Too, I really didn't know true Life.  It was a religious order that I knew which included many noble concepts.  Yet I was filled with pouting, with jealousy, with anger, and with neurosis.  I was trying to cause programs and the church that backed them to live.  And I couldn't get it done.

I was a failure for all to see.

By His grace I learned to calm down, enter into His peace, and watch Jesus.  Watch him think.  Watch him weigh concerns.  Watch him respond.  Watch him never get rattled.  Watch him clearly stand without being nervously defensive.  Watch.

I still watch Jesus for he is more than the name that endorses prayers.  He is the Way and the Truth and the Life.  The church would be a new sort of entity if it would loosen its prideful grip on what little Truth we know and begin to rush headlong into all three. 

As we increase in our experience of the Way the Truth and the Life, we seem to notice God is right there with us.....just as He had promised.  There is every reason to believe that today is actually newer than any day yet....II Cor. 4:16-18

Sunday, November 18, 2012


By the time I got out of preaching school, which was soon after my conversion, I had come to understand that soul winning was directly tied with how many one baptized.  I followed that pledge for a good number of years.  And, God has allowed me to stand with many in the baptistery waters.

However, soul winning is not a counting of trophies to be reported in the brotherhood journal.  Lest I sound excusive, I'm not.  We baptized a young man near 40 this morning as we did also a woman a bit younger.  I believe in leading all to be buried in Jesus.

Yet, saving souls is more than immersion in water.  It is saving souls; souls that are lost in the quagmire of humanity.  Everywhere we turn there are good people and less good people whose souls have slipped away into rutualistic....ruts.

People are lost!

The handsome, the educated, the common laborer, the struggling single parent, the beauty and the beast....all are lost in that they no longer see themselves as of any value or worth.  Rude society coupled with poor parenting has caused a multitude of men and women to assume they are useless.  These souls are lost, lost, lost.

We can retrieve them.  We can bring them back to life.  We can speak newness into them; and hope, and confidence, and wonder.

Be about soul winning this week.  If any should be at the waters of baptism, praise God.  But, too, if any happen to be over a cup of coffee or in a waiting room and you seek to inspire someone back to greatness....this too would be winning of the soul.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Orthodox without prayer....would be me in my first two decades of ministry.  Oh sure, I dabbled in prayer; especially in public.  But I didn't believe in it.  To me, prayer opened and closed church services and endorsed meals.  Very childish of me, I know.  Yet, when one is taught that God is done doing all the big stuff and doesn't operate directly in our walk anymore, it is tough to get up enough steam to pray.

Why should I bother?  Just because I should go through dead end and meaningless motions?

That mindset is precisely why I think the Church of Christ at large is bent on Church of Christ orthodoxy but cold on prayer. 

Though many would brand me as no longer caring for Truth, I've just written introductory paragraphs on it.  I've had to learn in the church to like and want to pray. 

What changed me?

When I learned to praise God and to walk in brokenness (my own and with others), I cannot help but spend time with Father in prayer.  It is a natural must.  When I wasn't devoted to praising God while being highly critical of all who weren't like me, there was huge struggle on my part to pray for I was the one trying to run the show.

Just so wrong.

For any who continue being critical of all who don't hold your orthodox views, yet do not pray, think.  Think a minute.  How can your view of right beliefs stand if you are so faithless that you don't pray?  How can that be?

Prayer is a vital part of our relationship with God.  Praise Him.  Tell Him what you like about Him.  Note your brokenness and that of others....and pray.  That would be a right thing to do.

Friday, November 16, 2012


So there are things in life you don't like and would rather not go through?  Well, me to. 

Get over it.

One of the traits God puts in His children is resilience. 

We will not quit. 

We will both injure and get injured; but we will not quit.

We will try and fail as well as try and succeed....but we will not quit.

We will like church when it's rolling and we will like it just as much when it seems stale. 

We will not quit.

We will hope.  We will hope when matters are whole and even when they are rotten....but we will not quit.

How?  Why?  We will not quit because the Holy God in Spirit form lives within that we might have the strength to move forward. 

Life isn't easy.  Of course it isn't.  This should be no surprise.  But we do it.  We hang in there.  We use all for His glory because life with Him is eternal...and we are most grateful that He did not give up.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


The title of this post is a direct quote from Sharon Hersh's The Last Addiction.  What a  great book!

Hope starts walking without being sure of where we're going is a commentary to freedom.  We need it.

One of the things I notice about us as trying to be believing people is that we are afraid of faith.  It is willing to take us into the wonderful and weird places; yet we seem resistant because such might force me to step away from the controls.

Referencing the lame man who kept returning to the healing pool in Bethesda, Ms. Hersh stated earlier in her book, There is only one Source of hope, and that is Jesus.  What makes this sign of healing so hard to find is that we can't control it.  Jesus doesn't use conventional methods.  He does one thing for one person and doesn't do it for us.  He shows up after thirty-eight years.  That's why we so often return to the last addiction.  It seems safer and more predictable to take matters into our own hands.

I propose that my life can be divided between the unique acts of God in my walk compared to some significant moves of faith which I personally tried to manipulate into existence.  I hunger for the former while learning the latter is both shallow with temporary fruit.

Hope starts walking without being sure of where we're going.

Do we not tend to only begin a work for God if we can guestimate beginning, middle, and end?  And do we not also believe in general that beginning something without knowing where it is going is poor planning and failed leadership?  Of course we do.

Yet Bible story after Bible story has common people being used by God for His glory without explanation as to how this is going to work out.  Abraham and Sarah being childless would be one.  Abraham went out not knowing where he was going (Hebr. 11:8) is another.  And then the willingness to stab his son to death is yet another.

God calls us to walk in mystery.  Mystery does not possess calculation nor equation of success rate.  I believe we are a fearful people of the mystery of faith because "if" we are going to go anywhere in the kingdom, we want to know where we are going.

Thus the basic glory of going never happens because the believer(s) would prefer to play it safe by being in control.  This is costing the kingdom of God.  We must possess a hope that starts walking without being sure of where it we're going.

The amazing works among and around us are verification.  Those who walk forward without guarantee of where efforts will lead are those who give testimonies that thrill our hearts.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


It remains a paradox to me that so much of God's work among us is paradoxical.

We are strong when we are weak.  We are alive when we die to ourselves.  The way to gain is to give away.  The longest tenure of permanent remembering is to consume weekly...the bread.

God refuses to fit into our equational pattern of rules and regulations.

So what would you guess to be a strong reason to hope among us on this day?


Sheer and deep awareness of our own sin is reason to have profound hope.

Of course one asks, Why?

Until we are aware of our indecent and wretched sin, we operate in the kingdom full of judgment toward others and full of pseudo-grace toward ourselves.  Until we hit raw wretchedness about self, we will operate upon sundry self-control and will-power means; but not with Jesus.    Until we hit ruined we will behave as children arguing in the sandbox.

When we become aware of our own personal sin, we are so God-informed of our devastation we become desperate for a Savior....the one Jesus.  Until then, we will get by on our own, thank you.

The strong reason to hope is found when the flesh would assume there is no more hope.  It is then that we are forced to look away from independence to the One who took our sin and guilt upon himself and handed us the keys to renewed mobility.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012



Will I ever grow up from being down?

I get to do the most meaningful work with a most marvelous group; yet I hit those spells where I feel like the present moment is nothing but stale air.  I get so tired of me being so tired of me.

I dare tell you this because I really believe I am writing the story of many who read this post.

But maybe we aren't alone as this mood struggle would press upon our hearts to believe. 

Consider Elijah; a man who whooped up on 450 false prophets only in the next breath to be hiding in a cave from Jezebel.  I Kings 18:19 declares that he knew full-well these were her guys.  So he defeated them in mockery and then spinelessly ran for cover in fear of her.

Up. Down. Yo and Yo.  Yo-yo life in the kingdom.

That would be me.

So what do I do with these mood struggles.  Oh, maybe lift my eyes?  Maybe think on things (and people) excellent and lovely and worthy of praise?  Maybe begin to THANK God for all things including the mood interruptions?

Ah, I think so.

Believe, my friend, that you are not alone in your disappointments and wrestlements.  The Holy Spirit of God sets us free to soar; even when the ceiling feels imposing...Romans 5:1-5.

Monday, November 12, 2012


I weigh our dilemma constantly.

All of mankind possesses the same hurt, longs for the same need, and has the interest from God to provide the most unimaginable cure.  The equation of life is ultra-simple: 

          Born - eventual dead in sin + born over in Jesus = eternal life now and forevermore.

What every person wants every person can have; abundant life!  Yet, we fight one another constantly for the temporary which ultimately disappoints as it does not satisfy.  It always fades.

So why can't we get there?  Why can't more of mankind  land upon God's proposal for relief?

It seems we can't get there because Satan has meticulously divided us into continents of unbelievers and believers.  Each of these groups were then dismantled yet again into wicked unbelievers, indifferent unbelievers.  To top this fragmentation the believing are split into denominations which split again and again among ourselves; each claiming either to be the one true pathway to heaven or rolling our eyes at those who make such claims. 

This causes the dark world to mock as they may not know what is right; but they know this isn't.

Mankind's dilemma is the religious every much as the irreligious.

This affirms that when the Lifegiver (being only Jesus) is not in the equation....there is simply entangled turbulence.  Such unrest prolongs frustration as the inner person yearns for something to fill the hole in our hearts.

Jesus is our all.  Many don't believe this too-good-to-be-true gospel because they look at us instead of him. 

May we make assertive strides to draw more in to the solution.  And may the solution be in the Person of Jesus and not in our organizational modes nor our doctrinal distractions.  When we get to Jesus, he will help us with both organization and doctrine.  We first must grow in him.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Elders can make or break a church. 

They can set a place free or put the clamps of slow death on it.

What causes this chasm?

One thing.

There is an ingredient understood in shepherd qualities spelled out in Timothy and Titus.  The assumption that such a man is to be led by the Holy Spirit is a given.  The Holy Spirit is assumed to be active within any elder because he has been baptized.

However, much of the church refrains from such a faith.  Thus, the qualifications without the presence of the Spirit leave the church with merely the business oriented leaders reaching for the best minds of human reason. 

And this simply will not do.

Why won't it do?

All Christians, and especially elders, are to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  This fruit always shows up only when one is under stress and strain.  Anyone can fake the various elements of the fruit when matters are going to his liking.  But, only under the burden of stressful negativity can the fruit of the Spirit show up in a leader.

Those without the Holy Spirit cannot help but live agitated, domineering, and controlling.  Their smiles may be broad until...until they don't like a proposal or a move or a concept of another.  When found opposed, such a one will not be able to bear good fruit unless the Holy Spirit resides within.

Therefore, any time a congregation is in search of new elders, this one trait must be prominent for this reason; one led by the Spirit will offer life.  One who will not yield to the Spirit will lead all into death; either immediate or eventual. 

Jesus came that we might have life abundant.

From experience I can testify that when the shepherds are led by the Spirit of God incredible harmony and fruit follows.  Joy abounds.  Faith grows.  Second chances rule.


I contend that The Story has opened me to a zone of possibility that I thought I already knew; yet am proven once again to be a mere novice....and even that level could be exaggerated as too high.

I have never had trouble accepting the Bible as the true Word for God.  However, it appears my flesh-bossiness and controlling nature has smothered much of it.  My desperation to know my Bible has landed me in the very center of Jesus' admonition that I could know my Bible and not know God....Jn. 5:39-42.

My initiation into this brand new kingdom style back in the early 70s appears to have taken a strange turn.  In the name of Truth I am found guilty of padding my ego for those future moments when the world would call on me to provide the right answers.  I was all about answers and none about knowing God.  None.

From that perspective Bible study was selective, not conducting a Bible-study with an unbeliever was a guilt trip, giving was a burden, and prayer was ashamedly non-existent.  There was no need to be on my toes for I formed personal security by carefully engaging in the old paths that would help me come out looking good....I had hoped.

Today I find, as a follower of Christ, I must stay on my toes because God will not fit any of my predetermined orders of how I expect Him to respond and to behave.  God is both fluid and flexible.  That's why many in the brotherhood (which included me at one point) mistakenly reject the Holy Spirit's activity.  We can't make that error stick in the Word; but we do so try because we believe we can run the show without Him.

God is mobile and mysterious.  Guys like me have not presented such a God.  We have rather offered news of One which would not keep us on our toes; but hopefully would draw more to our pews.  It won't work.  And if it would be really wrong.

Before I hit publish this post is already antiquated compared to the newness of God moment by moment.  Keep on your toes.  Anticipate God-surprises.  Let Him give us unmanipulated by man.

Friday, November 09, 2012


One of the more stinging criticisms I receive year after year is that I am not evangelistic.  In my beginning years at Memorial it came from within as well as critics outside of our congregation.  Still in 2012 I receive the snubs from some church leaders around the nation for the same reason.

As usual, such accusation really hurts my heart.

I constantly think about winning souls.  Really.

So what's missing about me?  I don't know.

What made me think about this is that I have prayed for over a year for the vacant house two doors down; that someone would move in needing God.  This morning a sold sign stands in the yard!  I began to wonder if it will be a couple, a family with children, or two gay men? 

What will be their story?  The bigger question will be what will God need from me to connect with them for His cause?

And then I thought about how long God and I have spoken about those eventually inhabiting this house.  I am guessing this would not count as evangelism to some; but it is one area where I love to work.

Yes, I once believed evangelism was a Tuesday night event where we would study with the lost.  Over time, however, I see it as a 24/7 kind of teamwork among the seed sowing, watering, and harvesting body of Christ.  I believe we children of God (as a partnership body) converted souls in New Jersey and Singapore over night while the most of us slept.

To me evangelism is a big deal and we are to be so engaged.  For me?  I direct the Tulsa Workshop.  The fact that we updated the title by eliminating Soul Winning (as in Tulsa Soul Winning Workshop) gives proof to my critics that their accusations are correct.  That I would produce a film titled 100% Natural Evangelism, again, irritates those frustrated with me for this seems lazy and sloppy to them.

For some, evangelism is an attentive and personal advancement of campaigns, studies, and baptisms.  I get it.  I was it. 

All I can say is that today I feel no less enthused about reaching the entire world with the good news of Jesus.  Whether to be criticized is of no significance.  We are to be about the Lord's business of spreading the good news. 

For those who have a knack of aggressive evangelism, I say awesome. 

For those who don't sit at a kitchen table to study the book of Acts with a neighbor, but stand in your kitchen to bake cookies for VBS so that a child can be filled with VBS joy and eventually bring her parents to Sunday morning class that they might be invited to a Class BBQ which would discuss a film being shown next quarter regarding raising children which would mean they would stay over for the assembly and hear the singing by the shy lady with a microphone only to conclude that maybe they two should be baptized because the youth minister baptized three of his teens at the conclusion of the morning and then they were handed a loaf of bread baked by another sweet and shy lady for the sole purpose of blessing a family who might happen to be encouraged by their attendance simply to find that the gentle secretary sorted the visitors cards put in the pews by a widow woman that no one noticed during her kingdom labor which caused a deacon to take their card and give them a call during week and then to find the Tuesday morning Ladies Class sent them a card which really touched the couple that they should study with an Elder in the church and be baptized....well I say to these forty-eight people who won this couple....awesome.

Evangelism: it isn't a one-way for all.  It is all-ways to win one.

Thursday, November 08, 2012


In Denny Gunderson's book, Through the Dust, of twenty years ago, three points appear to be important to effective leadership in God's kingdom:
  1. The natural mind of western man is obsessed with formula and technique.  Jesus simply won't fit into our comfortable equations for success.  About the time we think we have God nailed down, He shifts and this bugs those of us who work from both categories and comfort.
  2. Jesus' servant-style leadership goes against the grain of human ego.  I believe I will always be grateful for what Memorial's elders have done to mentor the staff and then the church to stay out of the way.  Church isn't about us.  It is all about Him.  Kingdom isn't about how we are producing.  It is about His timing, His impact, and His glory....never ours.
  3. Our utter concentration upon "success" fuels us with a tainted incentive to look good.  I am all about looking good....except I can't keep it up.  Gunderson nailed me when he wrote, The problem is that servant leadership cannot fit into the straitjacket of immediate results, as its environment is the rarefied realm of the long range.  Eighteen straight years of my basic failed attempts to make things click at Memorial were indeed necessary and valuable.  I learned by enduring, but not leaving, that I could not make a church tick....fact and final.  Simultaneously, I learned He knew how if I would get out of the way.
So permit me to quote from Mr. Gunderson one more time to drive home this very needed theme. 

One's destiny also becomes one's test, however.  The person driven to act out and prove that he is God's specially called man (or woman) can easily forfeit his anointing to lead.  The initial calling may well be from God, but when stained by human ego, destiny degenerates into the fetid stench of empire-building, and empire builders have the unfortunate tendency of ending up as false prophets! 

The leader who wishes to emulate Jesus resists the great temptation to build ministry around himself.  He chooses to abandon himself to the will and the pleasure of God on a moment by moment basis.

One of my downfalls also turned out to be one of my best classrooms.  I wanted to please AND TO IMPRESS the loud voices of the brotherhood.  Yet, as I noted patience rather than fleeting numbers and the kindness of Jesus over my own bold clarionship, it became clear to me that my understanding of church motivation and leadership was both Christless and ego-centric.  I hungered for immediate approval of my peers over long range waiting for God to move.

Only by His grace did enough good friends surround me, that I could hang on to get to see merely a glimpse of the Jesus-style which is ever freeing and always right.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


Many don't care.  Many do.  Some are energized while others are annoyed. 

I speak of religion.

Questions abound.  Answers are equally abundant.  True, however, we who are bent toward some label of faith can be presumptous and quite contentious.

Mankind is flooded by a religious sea overflowing and out of its banks.  From the East or from the West, from prophets to popes, and from writings, to cards, to stars, all cultures are drowning in a perpetual flood of tugging and straining concepts.

Everyone has an opinion; even if it is that they have no opinion.

Striving for truth can sound efficient...and could be most resourceful.  In many cases, like in my own, we the public can be guilty of blurring the simplicity and beauty of God with personal bias.  Political has become a mark of religion every bit as much as authentic faith.  There is God...and then there are agendas.  The best of us strain to keep the two separate.

I am learning that only one thing parts the religious sea effectively as well as accurately.  It is the name Jesus.  It is not the names of branded churches.  Neither is it the parade of noble and good works.  It is the name of Jesus.

Yes, I might even be biased in this conclusion.  Well, I am biased and I'll tell you why.  No other name lived among men, died, and rose again.  None.  Jesus defeated death while delivering life.

Jesus parts the religious sea of arrogance, favoritism, and ignorance.  We followers may blur the scenery; but Jesus can hold his own without us.  If he would be the one lifted up it just could be that all men would be drawn to him.  He would and could part the religious sea...if we will let him.

"And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself." Jn. 12:32

Monday, November 05, 2012


I know of no other more fascinating story than the Prodigal Son.  Of course, you have your favorites.

I was wondering about this prodigal.  I was wondering how the Father would have felt if once the robe had been draped upon the son's shoulders, the sandals slipped upon his feet, and the privileged ring bestowed upon his hand....what if the prodigal retreated to the corn husks of the swine?

I don't speak of repeating the activities of his sinfulness.  Rather I speak of his return to the hog pens because he felt both unworthy and unacclimated to the lifestyle of lavishness along with forgiveness.

What if the prodigal reprodigalled because he could not get it into his heart and mind that he was to live a higher life?  A richer life?  A more Father-blessed life?

And this caused me to think about us.

Is is feasible that Father has rescued us from the pig pen of earth-boundness, placed us in the citizenry of heaven, only to watch us return to the poverty of restricted and visionless flesh life?  Is it conceivable that we trash our robes and sandals...not out of rebellion, but....out of perpetual unawareness and recall that we have been lifted to greater heights of living?  To a far more advanced life that operates out of heaven's corridors and not from here?

Have we given ourselves to the great organization known as the church only to live a dumb-downed scenario of barely getting by and hoping to make it through the day?

Have we reprodigalled?  Have we forgotten to let our voices pronounce confidence in His Spirit?  Have we assumed that frowny faces in the church system are simply the way life goes?  Have we diverted the powerful God experience for a numbing routine of repeated appointed times to gather?

I think not!

I think we are a people who have been called home; not to roost in safety, but to advance the daring cause of the Living God.  I think His people respond to excitement and awe and glory and challenge and opportunity and Presence....His.

If the Prodigal Son had chosen to reprodigal, it would be a tragic ending to a most uplifting start.  We must be conscious of His presence in us and us in Him.  We are each in the other.  May our tempo and our disposition communicate such to a world which strives to know Something more than the routinely known.


Memorial continues our trek through The Story.  God's ability clearly rises above people's best shot.

I'm glad we are moving through this study today and not ten years back.

If I had entered into its study a ways back, I believe I would have been critical because the story-line doesn't seem to emphasize the matters I controlled.  I would have missed its marvel by sheer blindness to my own lack.

Today, though, God has helped me to open to the truth that I am unspeakably shallow.  From that pit I find myself wowed by the over-arching provision, supply, and strength of God.  By this time in my life a few of my legalistic scales are beginning to peel away.

In other words, God has broken me from being a professional answer man to become an amateur seeker of His glory and handiwork.

The Story: an encouragement to seekers and probably a stumbling block to defenders of our small percentage of faith.

Sunday, November 04, 2012


I know.  The title of this post could seem profane to a few.  Rather what we have done in the name of Truth has been the truer profanity.

Our Church of Christ tribe is equal in bias mistakenism to many others by our insistence that we do things the Bible ways.  This has been addressed, has it not, with great attention.  However, we remain guilty of that which we have been repeatedly informed.

The Truth is we do many things well from Bible authority.  Great blessings flow.

From my personal and useful struggle through the delightful maze of learning, however, I have been found to approach the Word from defense rather than eagerness to absorb.  By my intent to be faithful to the Bible, I found myself abusing it.  I would not let it speak to me except through the Restoration Movement's eyes.

Bad mistake.  Tragic mistake.

Among us---and many other tribes---too many carry Bibles as proof texts only.  Proof is surely a Bible concept; yet it turns our faces beet red when calling us to a relationship with God through the Spirit in the name of Jesus.  Many are not sure we should go that far.

Jesus is the train wreck that must happen to any tribe.  He will not let us continue to do church our smug and small ways.  Yes, narrow is the way; but narrow isn't that we don't allow much.  Rather, narrow is defined by one singular Son of God named the author of salvation....and no one else.

Many do many things biblically well.  I have grave concern, though, for any who sit in Church of Christ houses believing where they roost is proof of their destiny.  Again, I speak from what I was taught when converted and believed well into my preaching ministry.

Could it be that the truth is we miss the truth by being obsessed with it?

Friday, November 02, 2012


You have noticed an eventual shift in the spelling of Abram and Sarai.  Both names were adjusted to "AH"; AbrAHam and SarAH.  This is significant to yAHway which from the Hebrew simply had the four letter YHWH.

God inserted the AH into both Abram and Sarai's name.

James Garlow makes a strong case regarding such an insertion, I think, when he points to God, When He made covenant with Abram, He put the "H" from His name into Abraham's name and changed Sara's name to "Sarah".  The Hebrew letter "H" is the sound of breath, generally signifying the breath or presence of God.

And then he continues to draw our attention, What made Adam live?  The breath of God.  We see the same concept in the New Testament.  The Holy Spirit is called the "Holy Pneuma" in Greek.  Pneuma means wind.  Literally it means the Holy puff of breath of God.

The way that we try to get a campfire to ignite by blowing onto an ember, God puffed life into the very center of Abram's name....and of Abraham himself.

This is what God's covenant with us does.  He gives us life because God breathes life into us.

His Spirit in us.  Abram learned to say "AH".  We, too, possess the Holy Pneuma....and we really live....
I Thes. 3:8.


I speak as if I am 65 years old.  Well, I speak that way because I am.

Things are different these days and I take some of them as challenges to the church.  We live in much different times.  Are churches offering a sensitive kingdom which is ahead of the current culture (or at least up with it) or are we operating from the 80s when the church in the 80s was stuck in the 50s?

I'm not saying that we are not current in any zone.  However, one of the challenges to these times is that the new is nearly old before it is in the mini-iPad that just came out on the market.  Trying to text on my ten-key phone pad is....well....trying.  But that phone was upscale when I bought it...I thought.

This morning I unlocked the office door; but the motion detector would not take my code.  With noises beeping, I'm trying to beat the clock....using the code to my home system instead.  Uh huh. 

I'm now at the point that when someone or something needs to know my code, I freeze.  Which code goes where?  The one to my home security, my office security, the balcony security, my blog security, my computer security, or my car security.  I have one for the latter...and can't recall where I put it...really.

We live in a So-Much So-Fast highway that we can hardly take the time to evaluate.

I wonder...maybe I'm just having a senior moment....but I am concerned about the state of these times.  I wonder if the need among us will continue to be the opposite; quiet in the Spirit, rest in Christ, trust in His pace, and wholeness of the mind, body, and spirit.

Communication is so fast and so much that we are behind before we begin.  These times, to me, are bound to take their toll on our minds for there is too much to take in as we shop in these media warehouses for the latest and greatest.

I would think we are tapping many of those avenues.  Surely we are.  Yet, a message of slow-down-and-smell-the-roses is going to become a needed trend...if it isn't here already. 

One more time we may discover that mission trips and study guides beg for the question of Who is this Jesus that the church rumors?  He will always be our life...singularly and only.

We live in much different times.  Yet, as in all centuries, this one pleads for sanity of life.  The response is always consistent....For God so loved the world He sent His only begotten Son....

Thursday, November 01, 2012


Creation was one of God's best weeks!

I was thinking about Him and His system driving to work in the dark. 

Soon the sun will be shining.  Even when overcast, we know by faith the sun is shining.  More, even at midnight we are sure by faith the sun is not dimmed.  For our eyes?  Yes, momentarily.  For our understanding?  The sun is always.

So it is for our perspective of the Son.  He is always shining.  Our dim eyes and dark days could be used against us to invite the guest of doubt.  But why should we ever?  Just as we definitely know the sun is shining from the very center of any midnight hour, we can be just as certain the Son is shining...every moment.

May we never flinch in doubt.  Regardless of dark discouragement, wait for the Son to rise.  All darkness is destined to evaporate.

The Son shines.

That is what our hearts need to know.