Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Tell me what you like about the church.

Monday, December 30, 2013


Have you ever given worthy attention to the question the apostle asks in Romans 6:1?  What shall we say then?  Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?  

Believers have a double sin problem.  That's how drastic this issue is.  First, we compare ourselves into looking better by noting the sinfulness of those around us. We tell ourselves that at least we aren't THAT bad.  

Second, the double condemnity comes through the back door with perpetual whispers of, Hey, no one on earth knows how really crummy and sinful you are.  No one.

Thus, the double condemned problem; excusing ourselves that we aren't that bad and, yet knowing we are far worse.

Have you ever wondered, though, why Paul would need to raise the above question?

Could it be because it is nearly breath-takingly unbelievable....because it is true?  Of course we are not to continue in sin in order to motivate grace to do its grand work. But the message before and after that verse is that where sin increases, grace ramps up its effectiveness...and always wins.

The grace of God is for sinners.  It outraces sin.  Grace excels when sin seems to have the lead.  Grace drapes us with the victory flag!

And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.

The double condemnity that you and I battle day in and day out has been whipped on the cross...that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 5:20-21).

Sunday, December 29, 2013


This is my opinion.  Not that my other posts weren't.  Regarding those, though, I did make a somewhat concerted effort to give some substantiation to the thought.

This one?  Nope.  Just an observation.

Why does every generation seem to struggle for and need to establish its own identity; church or otherwise?

I no longer believe new generations with their consistent stretch for the latest and greatest is the story.  I think God is the story.  I believe it is God who brings in the new ideas which bug the older of us so that we will quit making our established routines a lesser god.

My mom was telling me this week about how much things have changed from when she was a younger woman.  She said all of the women wore gloves and hats to church. That caused me recall the announcement at my church in the 70s forbidding women to wear pantsuits.  All trends, of course, are made up by social culture and not Bible revelation.

So why these generational adjustments that arise like clockwork from one to the next?

It seems that man has a habit--a very dangerous habit--of taking the trend of the moment and developing a new god from it.  It is not so strange that God would declare that we are new day by day.  Yet, man in his habit-forming nature, finds security in controlling the moment in order to avoid walking into the new and unknown.

One of the deadening factors in the early church was formation; holding to a form of godliness with no power. Form has always been a central issue of every church generation.  Those who refuse to adjust wither...every time.

Generations struggle with the past ones because fearful/controlling man tends to believe that whatever is working now will be what works later.  Not.  God will not be confined to man's best concepts.  He will break out the new in the next generation.  The good news is we are as young in the Spirit as we choose to allow...II Cor. 4:16-18.

We can always be a part of the current generation in Christ!

Saturday, December 28, 2013


One of the greatest blessings known to man is Truth.

One of the greatest curses known to man is that man would learn three dozen church truths and conclude we now know it all.

We don't.

And...we won't.

Studying the Bible is a fulfilling feat.  While the actual book itself is usually average in thickness, the dimensions of God's deep Spirit within are boundless.  Oh how many times have I heard one say they have read it from cover to cover?  SO?

The SO is to be most respected if we as readers find ourselves tumbling constantly into the increasing and unfathomable riches of Christ.  However, if the SO is to impress others (and ourselves) with our Bible knowledge, we have missed God's point...John 5:39-42

A great threat to mankind (and ourselves) is that we would study the Word only to surmise we know enough of God's truth's to become an authority on its content.  Diametrically, a great wonder to mankind is that this Bible we carry is regarded as a deep well of spiritual food which will not end as we read.

We must avoid growing old in our faith.  II Cor. 4:16-18 would remind us that we are to be new day by day. Bent-out-of-shape grumps who thump our Bibles?  No.  Eager and pliable spirits who yearn to still--after all of these years--to learn what else God has in store?  A Divine Yes!

Do not be afraid to learn something new from God.  Keep the learning embers burning.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to maintain a Jesus-focused lifestyle?  The fact that such a trek is distraction-laden should serve as a Christian evidence to support the truth of his existence.  We are pushed and pulled to and fro with Martha-like diversions.

A hefty interference to follow the style of Jesus is how quickly common people can irk us.  No wonder the fruit of the Spirit includes patience.  Jesus believed in sinners.  He saw our wonder and our beauty.  We, on the other hand, seem to step out the door with good intentions only to soon slip into our irritation over...um...not so much.  We are so critically picky.

Henri Nouwen warned of this trap when we minister.  But the danger is that instead of becoming free to let the spirit grow, the future minister may entangle himself in the complications of his own assumed competence and use his specialism as an excuse to avoid the much more difficult task of being compassionate.  

He goes on to point out that while Jesus would (and we are to) bring out the best in another, we are in danger of approaching others with a diagnostic eye which will only serve to distance ourselves from those who desperately need our compassion.

When I am Jesus-focused I find myself less critical and cynical.  To voice complaint or innuendo toward another so casually is both a waste as well as stupidly flippant.

I encourage you to be merciful toward me when I indicate I am more than I am.  I am nothing and I prove this to be true day in and day out.  Jesus is not only deserving of attention; he is to be the center of it.

Therefore, do what you can to be Jesus-focused.

Monday, December 23, 2013


If you would be like me, you tend to pray for matters that are within your reach or your control.  We inadvertently have tendencies to limit God by our restricted imaginations.

Yet it is He that challenges us to dare to believe into a realm that is even beyond what we can fathom.

This opens the prayer gates!

My word to all....Enter in!!

God makes it clear we may freely ask.  Let's!

One of the things that I pray for constantly is that God would show up in the media; television, radio, Internet.

Lately, it seems He has been there.

However, my tendency is to fail to believe Him and His enormous, out-of-this-world power.  And then....I remember again!!

The prayer gates are opened.  May we jump in!!

Sunday, December 22, 2013


We are a very touchy sort.  As long as matters go our way we are chirping with the birds.  When the winds shift and matters seem to be against us, we have a way of dismissing such as for the birds.

Sin is vicious, slick, vile, smooth, and always wrong.  Jesus was not tormented upon the Cross for our bad attitudes.  He was hung up for our S-I-N-S.

Especially in this age of conversation being monitored by the politically correct, sin carries sensitive meaning. It is the messenger, therefore, that often becomes the bad guy.  Opinions are not only rampant; they can be very out there for public scrutiny.  And, believe me, we have opinions!

Here is something I notice about sin and sinners.  When our sin is the topic we tend to become defensively deflective.  If my sin is greed, we want to distract by asking why drunkenness and thievery are not targeted. Yet, if we happen to be a drunk, we want to divert attention to those gay or adulterous.  In all cases the tendency is to undermine the messenger in hopes of dismissing our glaring errors.

Until we face the truth that we are each a desperately sinful person, the Cross and the communion trays are mere symbols for religious exercise.  However, when we realize that my sin is the worst one (as in chiefest of sinners), humility enters and worship begins.

The push-back of any accusation towards sin usually arises when one's personal flaw is a public discussion; not the person, but the sin.  What each category of we sinners needs notation is that every one of us can be touchy about our sin-zone.  It really isn't that we are being selectively targeted.  It is simply that we are touchy because we know we are guilty.

Thus, we have become pros at diversionary tactics.  What about THEM?

No one is off the hook.  Jesus had to suffer for all.  Ours is to receive such mercy and grace and live mighty thrilled that payment has been made.  To deny our sin is to deny our need for salvation is to deny that the Cross has any current value.

The messenger isn't the bad guy.  Those of us who dodge the sin-bullet are the questionable parties.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


...the meaning of earthly existence lies, not as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering, but in the development of the soul.  Solzhenitsyn

We are obsessed with calculation.  Weight gain or loss.  Bank accounts.  Church attendance numbers.  We think in terms of accounting and judge such with grades of success or failure.

The kingdom of God, however, is foreign to such statistics.  The first/last ranking links with the giving/keeping mystery.  Formula nor equation will float in the system God engages.

Therefore, we are challenged in a very good way to rethink our thinking.  In places we will need to rebelieve our beliefs.  We are called to be ever on our toes with this matter of perspective as to God's Word and His walk within each of us.  It will usually not be at all what we had surmised.

I doubt Moses' mother placing him in a secure hideout gave a thought to the world leader this baby would become.  Likely Saul's (of Tarsus) momma could never have conceived of the idea that her son would become a martyr for the King of the Jews.

It is likely Cotton Mather did not see the Second Great Awakening in America--as he had prayed for years--to take place as soon as he died.  Hudson Taylor had few converts in China; yet millions of Chinese today believe in Jesus due to his sacrificial labor.

The perplexing system of God is that one can't calculate in the beginning of any journey exactly what it is He has in store for unfathomable blessing beyond our imagination.  The church surely needs constant reminder that the God-element among us defies both estimation and direction.  We must be ever flexible in Spirit to adjust our thinking and our walking.

It is a strange thing among us---for one, because living in the Spirit of God is strange to the flesh--but our choosing a few quaint passages of scripture and never budging from them is a threat to His influence in society.  Rigidity is not sound doctrine.  Fluidity is.

It seems to me that an unchurched world wouldn't mind being a part of the church Jesus is building if they could see a daring and robust enthusiasm for being led by the Spirit.  I'm not the example.  I am saying, though, that every created person has embedded within him or her the sense of what is truly of God....and they search for it through struggles and pains...they are looking for the reality of God.

May we look for it as well.  His system is perplexing to the minds which have solidified with a promise of never adjusting and never changing.  If we want others to draw to Him, we must always be doing the same.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Mobility within the human race can be equated to driving bumper cars at the FunPark.  We find that much of life involves bouncing off of one another.  Ministry can be so perceived if fear is within the mix; we really want to serve God but are afraid to interact with both neighbor and stranger.

Rather than connect and relate and assist, fear leads us to make contact only to quickly remove ourselves by bounding right on past.

Meaningful ministry improves when we intentionally relate to those in our path.  It takes practice for some of us to keep from bouncing away due to an uncertainty of what we should say or do.

There is at least one cure to break our Bumper Car activity.  That is to encounter others with compassion. Henri Nouwen said it well, For a compassionate man nothing human is alien: no joy and no sorrow, no way of living and no way of dying.  

This compassion is authority because it does not tolerate the pressures of the in-group, but breaks through the boundaries between languages and countries, rich and poor, educated and illiterate.  This compassion pulls away from the fearful clique in to the large world where they can see that every human face is the face of a neighbor.

Church cliques develop largely from fear.  To find safety among our developed few fits self quite comfortably; but it begs as to what is to be done for the stranger who just walked into the scene.

Today I believe I would easily be regarded as a people-person.  I can visit with anyone.  But not the case in my first years of ministry.  I loved those I knew well; but I remained aloof from those I did not know.

Speak to them in a greeting?  Of course.

Connect with them?  Nope.  Bumper car!  Bumper car!

What changed is what Nouwen addresses.  I began to notice Jesus walked with extreme compassion for all. He did not wait for men and women to enter the foyer. He walked the streets and the lanes graciously connecting to all sorts from a woman at a well to a man up a tree.

Jesus saw people differently than I did.  He loved them.  I feared them.

He saw them from eyes of compassion while I saw them from eyes of threat.  What should I say?  What will they want?  What if they need something that I don't know how it would play out?

Compassion transfers us from Bumper Car Church to genuine family.  If one of the kids happens to bring a guest to the reunion, we accept him or her with grace rather than snub with hesitation.  If we encounter a stranger at a cafe or another stranded at the mall, our sympathetic compassion nudges us toward rather than deflecting away.

No, we are not about Bumper Car Church.  We are about noticing, about caring, about interacting with those we know, those we slightly know, and those we haven't a clue who they are.  The reason?  We haven't just been baptized into Jesus.  We have taken on His Spirit which greatly leads us to love all.

Bumper Car Church?  No, we desire to grow into a Seeing All People Church.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Media is ablaze over the anti-gay comments made by Duck Dynasty patriarch, Phil Robertson.  With the show's rapid success to the world stage, we surely didn't see this battle coming.  Yet, we should have known it would.

Finally a favorable Christian based program which is neither in-your-face nor syruply anemic has hit the media with mega-welcoming viewers.  This sudden attack isn't targeting Duck Dynasty.  No, its aim zeroes in on fundamental Christianity.  

The gay community isn't the target of Christianity.  Trying to grow in Jesus is.  Our call is to strive to be like him.  He was straight-forward in labeling sin as being sin while dying upon the Cross to pay for the debts of every sinner which includes homosexuality.  To love the sinner is appropriate as well as essential.  To wink at sin is to waste the bloody and excruciatingly painful Cross.

That the unbelieving world would push frantically against Duck Dynasty's clan is both serious and encouraging.  Because there is a developing double standard---Christianity vs the world---I would doubt the ACLU will have interest in defending Phil's rights.  It seems, however, there are moments when God puts His men and women on public stage to dare deliver His message.

This is such a time.

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”  Esther 4:14

A&E has every right to drop who it wants from any show.  And we have equal right to say, Shame on you, A&E for being so narrow and cowardly that you can't permit one of the best quality programs you have ever developed to continue.

We didn't see Duck Dynasty's success as becoming a major target of opponents, but we should have seen it coming.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


For some the word "church" seems to be a glory straight from heaven.  For others, it would barely deserve a shoulder's shrug.  Yet, for others it is the epitome of a six-letter curse word.  There seems to be reason for each.  I have wandered through all three territories.  If there is one thing the word "church" does, it often causes emotional responses from the masses.

It is most important to tread lightly upon this deep subject for opinions and inclinations within and without these organizations are as varied as fingerprints.  Thus, we can see immediate reason for division as well as confusion.

The idea of church is from God.  Therefore, all would do well to pay attention.  According to Holy Writ, Jesus builds his church and is the head of it.  But a surprising thing takes place in Bible reading.  The only sinners Jesus steadily rebuked were religious leaders; Pharisees.  The adulteress, the thief, the wasteful spender, the neglected; Jesus lived to hang out with this sort.  Yet, no one opposed church leaders like Jesus did.

The next question would be as to why Jesus stood against these who operated in the name of God.  These imposed rules and traditions that did not come from God.  It is the weirdest thing to me, but laws and traditions have a way of killing the heart of well-intentioned men and women.  This is why today so many churches are dull.  God is all about robust life.  Too many churches are more like the configurations of funerals.

Being a minister, I am not discouraged by our mistakes.  These merely serve as warning signs to stick with Jesus and his concept of organized religion.  Church organization has been a mistaken culprit.  It is church stagnation that is the guilty element.  We have trusted our own understanding over God's Spirit involvement.

This is disastrous.

The Spirit of God is new and calls us to be new.  Men and women, however, tend to take something that works in church and then fossilize it; if is worked in the 70s, it should work now.  However, nothing should ever be more current and more new and more alive than Jesus and his church today...now!

Many in the church feel the same as those unchurched; they want to see it live if they are to join in.  The difference is some stay away in frustration while others remain hoping to see God raise up a new generation of believers.  By new generation, I don't mean simply the younger; but that all of us would become younger today than we were yesterday...II Cor. 4:16-18.

Walking away isn't the answer.  Bad-mouthing is silly.  Believing God can do what isn't yet being done is called faith.  Yes, the church can become even stronger.  Faith sees it and in several places churches are experiencing it.  Plus, faith keeps us in the mix because it believes God can create something from nothing as well as give life to the dead...Romans 4:17.  Churches are in need of resurrection power....always.

Finally, nearly all seem to have a gifted knack of overlooking our personal flaws.  I was pretty outspoken in my earlier days about churches being right and others being wrong.  Then God had a way of breaking me down and it turned out that I wasn't the hotshot religious man I thought I was.  I had become a Pharisee who knew exactly how church was supposed to be.  I was wrong and Jesus opposed me.

What the churched might want to know is that the Spirit of God is the one who makes things soar; not our organizational and controlling skills.  What the unchurched might want to consider is that many of us see our flaws and we apologize.  We should be doing better.  We will get better.  Maybe you could help us.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Struggle and discouragement refuse to discriminate.  Rich or poor, famous or non, race or creed, both of these emotional elements seek to bully every tribe.  Misery is most definitely not biased.

Therefore, I write to the "poor me-ers" of every community.  Quit it.  Rather awaken to the wonder for everyone has it "pretty good".  Learn to concentrate on blessings for everyone has them in abundance.  If you have one thing going wrong, you have one hundred things going right.

A friend of mine reminds me constantly of that truth.  I had a classmate in high school, Gerald Gooden.  That guy was a solid and steady sort.  He gave his life for our freedom on the battle fields of Viet Nam.  While I have encountered abundant wonderful blessings in my life, Gerald had and has significant impact.

Just this week when tempted to bemoan the probable need for hearing aids, the memory of my friend reminded me that I bet he would have been pleased to live to be sixty-six and to get to wear hearing aids.

Gerald was killed.  I live.  In honor of him and thousands of others, I will do my best to not live in captivity of a thoughtless and griping negative mind.  Neither will I haul myself off to my own incarceration by my pouting and grumbling.  Yes, taxes are high and the economy is in disarray.  Yes, future has concerning factors.

And I think of how Gerald would love to get to pay a higher tax rate and didn't get the privilege.  He didn't get to see automobile prices soar.  My friend never had a good shot at worrying over the state of the union.

I do.  We do.  In honor of Gerald Gooden and the thousands of other brave men and women who died before they hardly got started in life, don't you think we could find reason to celebrate life rather than gnaw it to death with self-centered complaint?

No, misery doesn't love company.

Misery loves an audience.

Concentrating upon the wonders of everyday life is a glory to God.  May we talk it and walk it for life is a spectacular privilege.  And....happiness loves company.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


The term discipleship seems to come with lights flashing as in a patrol car pulling one over to the side of the road.  It carries an innuendo of TROUBLE!  Because of mistaken fear toward this biblical calling, I have fundamentally avoided it.

But I am very wrong.

Other than training my three kids a bit and awareness of working with my staff in some discipling regions, I would grade myself as a failure.  Yet, I am enthused to learn at this point in my life meaningful discipleship concepts.  I have an improved vision for this scriptural necessity.

Here is the truth about some who are very strong on discipleship.  Many of the strong ones seem to be more about man-made laws than they are about Jesus' walk.  That statement might be too strong; but the very term is rejected among too many because of discipleship abuse.  Bullying is not godly guidance.  And calling it by any other name is still bullying in some circles.

Law kills.  The Spirit gives life.  We are to be obedient to His calling.  The discrepancy occurs when man develops methods and calls them God's.

One area of this need where I have flatly failed is that I have developed a passive theology.  I teach (and preach) where God has called, how Jesus enacted the calling, all pointing to the Spirit's engagement in that calling.  However, I have done little to take good people by the hand and say, This will give you meaning in the kingdom.

The present church concept of sitting in rows for an hour (or two...or three) a week is rapidly dying.  I am very comfortable with the way we do church.  It fits my style; but we all know the Christian scene is losing ground in America.  Too, comfort and the cross seem to be clearly at odds, don't you think?

Those places where the church is hands on with the homeless, the poor, and the needy is where greater and stronger life is always discovered.  The reason is simple; it is where Jesus would go.

Thousands of men and women like me have asserted ourselves in serious efforts to reach.  Such works seem to have blessed in several places.  It remains important that we increase in connecting with a society that is in deep need of the Jesus-heart.

I can see now that I have not done a good job of helping our people overcome fears of engagement with a very depleted and needy society.  I'm not saying I have done nothing.  I am admitting that discipline and training among us will build us to move into zones we would have never guessed possible otherwise.

At the very beginning of The Tangible Kingdom primer it states, making it look easy takes lots of practice.  Could it be that we have become accustomedly comfortable with If it is a stretch for me, I will allow a gifted one to do the work?

Discipleship among us is a serious matter as well as need.  Those who make up rules to go along with the training should back down to the simple instruction of where the Word says.  Those, like me, who have very little discipleship processes except to reject the abusers are deeply in need of arising to a higher calling.

Two books have pointed dramatically that my rejection of squint-eyed disciple-makers is simply not efficient when it comes to equipping believers to serve faithfully.  Barefoot Church, as well as The Tangible Kingdom, have opened my eyes to a new realm of potential and possibility.  God seemed to use these two books to awaken my heart that I have serious need.

Maybe they would cheer you on as well.

Friday, December 13, 2013


I don't know if you have taken the time to notice; but people have been hurt by others day in and day out for as long as time has been. And possibly you have also noted....we struggle to get it stopped.  The explanation for this is that man fell in the Garden soon after creation.  Why do you think God points us to being a new creation in Jesus...II Cor. 5:14-21?

The hurt stops and the healing begins at the foot of the Cross.  There is no other way.  This is the only way your family can get well.  This is the only place of healing.

Why is it that in every system on earth be it family, business, social activity, or even church, that there is a constant factor; seriously hard feelings?  The sin of Adam and Eve was true and its reach is devastatingly current.  The good news is God arranged help.

In the Garden, the sin came from the tree.  Note that Jesus was also hung on a Tree; the starting point of sin. Upon that tree Jesus absorbed the pain, the hurt, the disruption of and for all mankind.

We have been hurt by people who have also been hurt.  Our job is to stop this domino-ing train wreck.  Our role is to break the devastation which is rampant among us.  How?

Forgive 70 x 7.  Forgiveness counters offense.  But people have hurt us and still do.  You do realize these hurt us because they inherited pain, don't you?  Certainly.  People spew and grump because they have been abundantly spewed and grumped.  Our opportunity is noble for it stops the hurt by receiving the hurt and forgiving.

This is precisely what Jesus did; but not only this.  He passed along to believers the system of healing and hope.

The Bible insists we take up our crosses daily and follow Him.  To what?  The dance?  The gift exchange?  No.  Follow him by being unfairly treated and injured.  Follow him in forgiving those that intended to hurt you.  Follow him by blessing instead of cursing.

Yes, I have been deeply injured by the angers and the rudeness and the selfishness of others.  In every instance those who hurt me had been sufficiently damaged by someone else.  Plus, I've done my equal share of hurting and injuring others.

The road to hope is the road to the Cross...and there is no other way which will bring lasting relationship.  You and I...we get hurt by good people who have been hurt.  Maybe if we can remember this we will be more likely to forgive 70 x 7.  We can give it because from the Cross we got it.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


9-11 was a wake-up call that has not been forgotten.  America was blatantly attacked at America's gateway to a free society.  We were shaken from a security that had held onto us well.  When we are informed of terrorists movement anywhere in the world, we are now highly alerted to the truth that we are no longer exempt from their hunt.

All of this merely points us to the sober need to note agitation which is going on behind the scenes; even our scenes.

In the beginning The Terrorist attacked you and me directly via Adam and the First Lady.  As they both partook of the forbidden fruit the Bible says their eyes were opened....and they were afraid.  The enemy robbed them of original eyesight; their new eyes were flawed and we each have inherited restrictive sight.

John Eldredge sets out to warn readers that the original Terrorist has attacked via the eyes.  He did it in the garden and continues to this date.

The very thing that was to give our lives meaning and protect us--this way of seeing--has been lost. Or stolen from us.  Notice that  those who have tried to wake us up to this reality were usually killed for it; the prophets, Jesus, Stephen, Paul, most of the disciples, in fact.  Has it ever occurred to you that someone was trying to shut them up?

Here's a thing we struggle to get; we are at war.  Life is at war and The Terrorist will go to any measure to shut us up.  If he can't kill us he can at least try to get us to speak death words to God's cause.  The Terrorist didn't offer Eve a handgun or a vial of poison.  He simply talked her into taking just one bite of an innocent looking fruit...and all of mankind was betrayed.

Do not slumber.  Be very alert.  If The Terrorist tried to shut up those listed above, what do you think he wishes for you and me?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


One of the things I treasure about God is that He teaches me to be crazy about life right in the center of discouraging variables.  For every discouraging whim, we find ourselves advantaged.  A benefit of being God's child is that what some mean to be used as hindrance we transform into blessing.

Speaking of Christians who have awakened to an exhilarating faith, Calvin Miller writes, Their passion burns.  Their inner fire rages.  They fry their old alarm clocks and can't wait for sunrise.  They have an indestructible spirit.  They don't buckle under gossip.  They outlast their foes.  They survive their critics.  They awake to praise God on the mornings of their most foreboding trials.


Yes, life in the kingdom stings.  Yes, I encounter days where I am bummed, set back, and flustered.  And yes, the Inner Fire continues to blaze through each for the Spirit of God is neither a whim nor a mood.  We are the stove.  The Spirit is the burning coal.  May the world be warmed!

One of the great secrets of kingdom life has to be the blessing of the furnace; those painful moments that tempts one to quit.  Playing through the pain is a calling; not advice.  It is the path of discipleship.  America is full of church bellyachers and quitters because someone turned the heat up in the fiery furnace.  Yet deep believers consider that fires only purify the gold.

To put this on the street where we live, NEVER GIVE UP.  
Don't give up on your family, your friends, your enemies, your goals, your dreams.


If pain, limp but don't quit.  If insult, shed a tear but don't threaten to give up.
If betrayed, dare to look behind the betrayers' curtain to see who caused him or her to have such limited commitment.  NEVER GIVE UP.

If dull church, give it some life.  If meandering communicator in the pulpit, buy him a helpful book.  If presented with deep issues, pray.  BUT NEVER GIVE UP.

Miller's later comment, then, is fitting.  My suspicion is that only those who can bless the furnace ever understand the gold.

Bless the furnace.  See the gold.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Men and women are targeted for beatings.

Whether physical or emotional, numerous ones are tortured by excessive difficulties.  My intent is not to be negative.  Rather, it is to awaken us to two things: (1) if you are not struggling, you can be assured that many around you are, and (2) if you are in turmoil, you can be equally assured that there is benefit embedded in the very things you dread.

Life has a way of not working out on many fronts.  Failure is rampant.  From the poor to the high profile, struggle is exempt from no one....no one.  Yet, in His system, failure is also important.  It leads to dependence upon His hand.

What shall we do?  We can fight.  Or, we can flee.  The alternative that will be productive is to neither fight with others nor run from them.  The workable solution is to submit to those elements which tend to pull us down with a concrete faith in the Living God that He knows how to fix what we can't.

Remember Jesus?  He submitted to the extremely unfair tactics of political and religious leaders.  Maybe it would help you to know that life is unfair for everyone at some place along one's walk.  Circumstances and people can be intensely unfair.

So what shall we do?  Hide?  Complain?  Pout?

We shall be advantaged by every mistreatment.  Jesus was raised from the grave...an unfair treatment of private judgment and public humility.  He was raised.  We are called to live a resurrected life...now.  Not in heaven only.  But, now.

A reason so many cannot find happiness and fruitfulness in life is because we feel we are owed better treatment.  Ever hear of entitlement?  So when matters don't go our way, we wish to file complaint to whoever might listen to our grievance.

Yet, resurrection power thrusts us into an entirely new perspective.  We still hurt, but we are assured our pain has a purpose.  Meaningful struggles are glorious opportunities for His display of, are you kidding me?  
Never give up.  Intentionally watch for marvel in every disruption.  Even when life is unfair, God's children have always been advantaged

Sunday, December 08, 2013


Evangelism is a rather churchy word that many in our communities don't appreciate. Neither do many in our churches.  It has taken on an in your face banter that tends to place many of us as disadvantaged before we ever begin to reach.  For those who make this work; good for you.

Regardless, we are called to reach to all who do not know Jesus.  This was one of my biggest fears when studying to become a minister.  To say I was traumatized by the thought is not an exaggeration.  I loved people; but I could not interject my fumbling skill of trying to reach to seekers.  I just could not do it.

One of the reasons I felt so inefficient is I could not read from any I wished to encounter any signal as to their interest.  They moved through their days as usual and I could not figure how evangelism would fit their world.

Something along the way happened.  I don't know when, precisely, nor how. Nevertheless, I learned something about men and women.  Many...many want to know God.  They don't know how to say nor what to say.  People aren't necessarily gonna say.  So you gotta know.  You gotta know what's cooking within the secret recesses of their hearts.  The spiritual issues weigh heavily on their minds; but they haven't taken our evangelism courses to know how to get us started!

Every person you know carries deep and often hidden burdens.  Worry, angst, disappointment, betrayal, and compromise can wear a person's spirit thin.  Every person you know is actively engaged in sin to the depth they cannot fix themselves and they need to know if Anybody could.  We happen to know the Anybody that can.

When trying to reach out, I was so fretful over timing and tone and tools.  Nothing helped me because people aren't gonna say.  So you gotta know....our friends and neighbors are doing their best to look like they have it together on the outside.  Yet, either today or tomorrow or next month their walk is going to take a significant hit.

What shall we do?


Care about all of these so that when the bottom falls out they will recall they have a confidante who would walk through these deep troubles with them.  Not everyone is thinking about being won to Jesus on Tuesday nights between 7:00 and 9:00.

We gotta know that good people hurt in private.  Our role is to communicate our love and friendship; even during their bad days.  When we work at being the light, our friends will know to whom they can draw in time of need.  Our job is to sow the seed and water.  Hopefully, the day will come when these dear ones wanna know.

Saturday, December 07, 2013


My post Thursday of Are People Leaving Churches Because They Want More? drew the 
following response:
Anonymous said...
Or they're leaving because they see the horrors of this wicked world, and wonder how a loving, heavenly father could have created it knowing that millions(probably billions) would burn for eternity in hell. And they asked themselves, "What type of all-mighty being would create a flawed product, and then condemn it for being flawed?" Or they read the ridiculous made up stories in the bible (such as the creation story), and wonder how an intelligent person could believe them. I could go on and on about why people leave churches.
I deeply appreciate the man or woman that had the courtesy to leave such an honest message.
This is what my messages are about; what my life/our lives are about.  People--good, wonderful people--hurt over many things in life which surely includes the spiritual dimension. Our call is to be a light of hope; not a sledge hammer of judgment.
Life is a train wreck.  Religion is a train wreck.  People are train wrecks. Pain ranging from injury to loneliness has always spread like poison ivy.  It seems to grow and get worse the deeper into the future we charge.  
This challenges us to calm down, slow down, and think.  Have opinions developed from genuine search of sturdy truth or have they been born from heated moments of conceited bias?  If the former, humility will allow discovery as one will eagerly learn.  If the latter, pride will choke that which is pertinently truthful as one will arrogantly spout off. 
Which shall we groom?  Humility or pride?
The quote above, would seem clearly to disagree with that which I espouse.  But not so quick.  Anonymous is expressing a sincerity of heart as to how he or she reads our talk and our walk.  Anonymous is not the one to stand corrected first.  No, first I must remove the log from my own eyes.  
This individual has had the courage to state what many say about we believers.  We shall not resist; but we will think.  We will think about how smug we come across or how awkward we appear.  We will not resist; but we will learn to love more deeply those who are frustrated with us and even oppose us.
People--good, wonderful people--hurt.  At times they know why.  Sometimes they don't.  I know that if Anonymous could meet Jesus face to face he or she would immediately bow in worship because restraint would be tossed to the wind.  It is up to us to grow to be more like him.
We will do well to take the criticism that the frustrated have toward us and ponder where we might do better.  We have a long way to go...really.  I would hope His mercy and His grace would help the wounded and the pained to see our light...even if it does seem to be dim at times.
Blessings to you, Anonymous.  I don't know who you are; but I know you have to be a very good person loved and valued by many.  If I could meet you I am pretty certain I would like you...and love you.

Friday, December 06, 2013


Nelson Mandela's passing has caused an avalanche of praise and honor reflecting his profound walk.  It is well-deserved.  My baseball hero and friend, Curt Flood, knew Mandela.  I must say the two had much in common.

The massive words of honor to this man, however, is my focus early this morning.  I think it a powerful tool to tell others what it is that is good about them.  God's creation never came about by strong-arming or weight-lifting.  No, creativity always came from God in one form; words.

Today I would like to launch an "EPH429" ministry and I seek your participation.  Let us band together to speak life into a dreary and distracted world of well-meaning and good-intentioned communities who simply could use a heart-lift.

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear--EPH. 4:29.

With email, blog, Facebook, twitter, and the like, let us "EPH429" someone(s) to pump new life into the tired, and the sacrificial, and the hard workers, and the wonderful servants, and the inspiring.  All need EPH29.  Everyone needs words of encouragement.  Let's do it.

So, I launch EPH429 by targeting one person.  You, then, can see the idea and join with me in speaking highly of this one and/or toss out a name for others to be EPH429-ed.

LYNN ANDERSON you cannot fathom the joy and the life you give to others as well as myself because you never gave up. I was one who took cheap shots at you when I was but a new convert in preaching school. You made statements foreign to our rigid stances.  Yet, you endured our wrath.  Thank you for never giving up on us.  Thank you for crying quietly alone many times over our ignorance.  Thank you for teaching me.  You bless me.  Consider yourself EPH429-ed!!

Now readers, speak a wholesome word to someone in your comment or post.  Spread the EPH429 creative power.  It will create a new kind of energy totally from the Spirit of our energetic Father.

May the entire world hear from us!!

Thursday, December 05, 2013


To personally get to be a leader in a church is one of the most glorious and exciting positions ever.  I'm crazy about ministry because it keeps me directly connected to God and to others.  For me, life has meaning and purpose.  God has transformed my intentions and goals.  Even with all of my questions and concerns, I love right now.

Yet, there are enormous challenges.  Faith is driven by flexibility; the very thing earth-bound church people tend to fight.  Thus, a problem presents itself square in our faces.  Will churches have the courage to follow His invisible Spirit or will we succumb to the best skills of man-restricted theology?

This question, I believe, calls for us to perpetually evaluate and re-evaluate our directions.  Is God leading the way or have we, rather, programmed those who joined us to think within our religious parameters?

It is no secret that earth is populated with a mass of good people who stay away from churches while approximately one million per year are leaving.  I and many others wish to close this back door to our churches.  I want to be with these people in knowing and loving and worshiping the Living God.

I'm too little to know the solution.  However, I still possess the ambition to imagine, to wonder, and to try to lean into God as to what we might do.

I believe people are looking for the supernatural processes God would love for us to experience....and they cannot find such in church.  We churchers tend to speak down regarding those who leave us as if they are a rebellious sort.  In a way they are for they are not finding God in our spaces; but are finding man's organized approach which, to be honest, can in places represent more deadening effect than life potential.

In some churches the thought is that we wish the world would come and sit with us on Sundays.  Yet, I believe those who have done so and are leaving are not leaving mad. They are leaving hungry.  These may be wanting to experience life; not dull church.  I'm not guessing here.  I know so.

So what shall we in churches do?

Draw to Jesus.  Think about Jesus.  Awaken to resurrection power for the believer today.  Don't put in your time hoping to die and go to heaven; but rather live in a way that calls heaven to join your earthly walk. Develop a faith that can believe that what isn't can become.

Finally, I would believe that we must be ever open to coming more alive in our praise and worship of God. Such isn't a Sunday morning thing only; but it would be a good start.

Checklist church is dying.  Robust fusion of heart and Spirit is our call.  May we get there...together.

Down on church?  Nope.  I love it.  I'm up on the possibility that we might grow in becoming a city set on a hill and all are drawing to us draw others; not moving away.

What a possibility!!!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013


One who is efficient in a field(s) can be said to be gifted and/or talented.  While I don't usually wish to split hairs over many matters, this is one that might be worth the tediosity.

Being gifted by God and possessing talents for God are different; I believe importantly so.  A gifted person seems to excel in a skill(s) without concentration, effort, or even practice.  A talented individual may seem to possess gifts; yet he or she had to concentrate, focus, and repeatedly practice.

I am gifted with a sense of humor.  I see comical or funny things without looking for them.  Humor is all over my world.  I have a bit of a talent for speaking; but I am not gifted.  I have some talent to write; but that, too, is not a gift.

In both speaking and writing it has taken me years of effort, practice, failure, and overall development to the extent I am still learning every day.

You didn't hit this post to learn about me; but I need to use myself as an example for clarity's sake.

Here's what I want you to get.  The church-at-large is handcuffed by dear members who refuse to assert themselves in ministry.  Their excuse is consistently, I'm just not gifted.  This statement is pregnant with deceit.

I am not gifted in teaching one-on-one Bible studies to seekers.  When the first opportunities to do so came along--as the preacher--I refused to go.  Studies had been requested; but I didn't show.  I was afraid.  As badly as I wanted to succeed, I just could not do it.  I was a mess.

Later God taught me through failure and much misery to eventually become a good teacher at many kitchen tables.

I'm just not gifted is a lazy, thoughtless, and faithless cop-out.  My estimation is that the most of the ministries I note by our many servant hearts in our churches are works that good people had to learn as they went.  Some surely are gifted with compassion; while others of us learn to become compassionate by standing with the pained and lonely as we struggle just to stand there.

I'm just not gifted has no bearing as to whether one is to be engaged.  It isn't the easiest thing to do when called by God to think upon the lovely and the excellent and the worthy of praise.  That's why Paul insisted we practice these things; Philippians 4:4-9.

I'm just not gifted is a costly church cop-out.  Many very good cooks didn't start their married lives that way. Many athletes didn't enter locker rooms with exceptional talent in the beginning.  Terrific negotiators probably were found to fumble and suffer setbacks.  But these repeated their efforts; honed their skill sets.

If we could toss out the cop-out excuse, we would find the church mobilized in ways this culture has yet to experience.  If you are gifted; share.  If you are not gifted, then practice.  You eventually will have something to share.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013


One of my sons, Tim,  and his family are missionaries in Mexico.  Over their ten years + in that country they have encountered perpetual harassment from a corrupt police force.  A few weeks ago Tim and Kim's missionary partner, James, was pulled over and jailed without cause--they are American and thus constant targets for bribes--while driving their suburban to pick up a missionary team from the states.

James was released the next day; but the car was impounded.  The government refuses to give them their car back.  This has been about a six weeks hassle.

I received this note from Tim yesterday:

Hey guys, just a quick note / prayer request.,.

Kim just got some bad news on her visa paperwork.  She went in today to ask about receiving written permission to leave the country since her paper work is still being processed and won't be done before we fly to California in a couple of weeks.  And the man told her that she won't be allowed to leave the country until the paper work is finished.  

She could cancel her paper work and start over once she returns but that isn't really a possibility at this point since it would probably mean we would lose the car.  It would also mean she would have to start over with her paperwork from the U.S. side of the border... and that could still take months, which would mean we'd probably have to be in California for the duration of the paper work.  

Since this is Mexico, that is not the last word.  We will go to a different office this week to see if there is a chance of either getting the permission or if they could expedite the process for her.

So, would you please pray for the whole process and especially for Kim's peace.  She was pretty sad when she called.

About the suburban... The lawyer friend who is working on the car told us last week that it will be another month to three months before anything moves forward on the truck.  I honestly don't know if that means it will take that long until we get it back, or it will take that long until they start asking for paperwork/fines and whatever else.

Since the Mexican government basically shuts down in the middle of December, I think the "one month" is optimistic.  However, the lawyer and James go today to give James' statement that we loaned him the car to drive.  I have no idea why they want that and not our statement... but this is Mexico.  I'm praying James comes back with some good and unexpected news for us.

Under these circumstances I am constructing a prayer team from all over the world.  Would you mind praying for the following:
  1. Please express to God your thankfulness for this circumstance; thus letting Him know we will not shrink from being enthused over Him.
  2. Thank God for the peace He can and will afford Tim and Kim as they gracefully endure this rocky road.
  3. Praise God for taking control of this matter beyond all human input as we trust in Him far more than we trust in our managerial and maneuverabilities.
  4. Seek His willingness to release their car as well as provide Kim the paperwork needed to travel to her family at Christmas.
Ephesians 3:14-21.  When life is complicated we fit right in for it is opportunity galore for God to show His amazing and continual handiwork.  

Thank you for praising God while praying for my kids!!

Saturday, November 30, 2013


Jesus is the real deal.  He is the great Understander of where we live. 

Jesus has been mistakenly made out to be a rigid as well as unreachable church icon.  He isn't.
He is God in the flesh sent to interpret man to God and God to man.  He is surely everyone's friend.

For those who love the idea of church, he gets us.  He knows that our disappointments wear us thin.  He knows our holy ache to be more than we are; filled with good intentions that are fulfilled maybe half of the time.  No one understands the needs of any who try to become like him better than Jesus.

And, for those who don't like the idea of church, he gets that as well.  He spent his walking days trying to lead good men and women to sort through the religiosity which gunked the pure love of God by distractionary rules and regulations.

Jesus is so like God that he has a grasp of what's bugging us when we can't figure.  Simultaneously, he is so like us that he can pass back to Father our confusions and addictions with a call for relief. 

Jesus has such a way of relating to where we live.  He calls the believer to believe deeper.  He calls the doubter to change his or her mind.  One may reject a lot of things in life.  Jesus, however, is not to be one of 'em. 

Nobody understands you or me the way he does. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I find myself practicing many things I once mocked in others.

That's weird to me.

I feel that I resisted many transitions along the path of being in the church partly because I was struggling to learn and partly because I did not want to endure the criticism of my cronies with whom I had joined in the slaying (verbally) of others.

Lashing out at others has some sort of holy euphoria that boosts energy enzymes...or something like that!  In other words, it felt really good to put others down for it seemed to make me look.....assumedly as if I were standing as some sort of religious big-shot.

I believed I was rooted and grounded in Truth.  I breathed to do so.  I swung the sword of the Word mightily.  From the pulpit I was loud.  I was mean.  I was disrespectful.  I was arrogant.  And...I was wrong.

I tried to stay in step with my training from good men and women.  Oh, how I wanted them to look at me, one of their students, and declare I never budged from what the Bible said.  But that very Bible began to cause me troubles.  The very Word of God I trusted began to steadily whittle at my convictions that I once assured myself that these came from the Bible.

  • I tried to convince myself that the Holy Spirit did not operate in believers today.  I was wrong.
  • I tried to learn the manipulation of verses to prove instrumental music was wrong.  I was wrong.
  • I tried to stick with the doctrine that only Churches of Christ were saved.  I was wrong.
  • I tried to hold on to all standards of the Restoration Movement as epic Truth.  I was wrong.
The list is exhausting.  
  • I did learn to draw to Jesus.  God is right.
  • I did learn that I cannot save myself.  God is right.
  • I did discover that a true believer is to be ever-flexible.  God is right.
  • I did realize that no sinner I can meet is worse than the log in my own eye.  God is right.

I am now a learner; in kindergarten with no hopes of making it to first grade in theology, sociology, or humilitology.  I have advanced only in understanding how wretched I am; and it seems to get worse.  Too, it seems my prideful criticism of all others would cease each moment I realize, recall, and remember my own religious smugness.

The kingdom of God is loaded with wonder and awe.  I would never have found it if God had not pushed me to become the very person I once opposed.  The bigger I see Him in reality the smaller I am led to become in stature.

The more I see my sore displeasure of personal failure the more I see that I must bow in worship of Him.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Jesus' command to go into all the world baptizing remains strongly intact.  All are called to be buried in baptism into the Son of God in order for sins to be washed out and the Holy Spirit to be moved in.

The seeker of God will find utmost blessing in making a heart-felt move to be immersed into Jesus.  New birth strikes the old heart of one who felt he or she was merely living a rote life of meaningless repetition.  To be baptized into Jesus is to get to start life over!

The church is correct in noting the strength of this New Testament teaching which is immensely vital. Wonderfully, many are giving their lives to Jesus day and night throughout the world.  They have for centuries and the move continues.

Yet, a baptism blind spot has innocently arisen among us.  I was blinded by it for I had begun to believe that the end goal for all I knew was for them to be baptized.  If baptized then we are home free.  Because of that view, I would not reach to others if I could not see baptism as the result.

If I could not see how to connect with an individual in order to eventually baptize them, I wouldn't begin. This is the blind spot.  Ours is the job of sowing the seed and watering it.  God will give the increase.  He might let me get to be a part of the baptismal excitement and He may not.

The blind spot was short-sheeting my kingdom efforts for I didn't have the vision of the multitudinous thousands throughout the lands that would be God-partners in the process of saving souls.  Furthermore, I found myself focused solely on baptism with very little need to develop a relationship (myself or my students) with Jesus.

Baptism had become a god.  It was my hero and the numbers were my game.  The problem with this is several.  For now let it suffice to say that my skewed vision was profoundly limited because I wanted that person in the water and if I couldn't see the process fulfilled, I didn't start.

I didn't start.  This is the blind spot.  This is disastrous.

Today is different.  I feel just as convicted that God calls all to be buried in Jesus' name.  And I also believe that scattering seed while trusting others to water and my watering seed that others have sown counts...major!!

God's kingdom is obsessed with extensive reach far beyond the end of my arm.  If there were 2000 baptized over night--and the number does matter for it represents a person meeting God--it is very likely some of you and I had crossed their paths along the way to have either planted or watered.

This is not to cause indifference of our mission; but rather enhance it.  It should, however, awaken us to the fact that what God has going on in this world of winning souls is not restricted to what one can tabulate or report.  The Apostle Paul said he couldn't rightly recall who all he had baptized; yet because of the Spirit of God in him hundreds of thousands continue to be reached.

So it is with you and me.  Keep on baptizing the lost into Christ.  And avoid the blind spot that would cause you to believe that God is limited by your meager personal reach.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


The tension between standing against sin and refraining from appearing judgmentally harsh is significant.  Churches seem to opt for one strongly or the other.  From squint-eyed to oblivious, we set out to do the Master's work.

Sin is not to be accepted.  Sinners are.  Thus, reality.  The lessening of either is not the call of the One who died upon the tree.

How do we stand against sin and for sinners?

The solution is quite simple; uncanny really.

When the potential critic realizes his or her own sin; the stones are dropped.  It isn't that sin has been accepted without care.  It is that personal sin has been claimed with care.  When we realize that whoever would be our target of disdain is not as guilty as we personally, then one can proceed without blazing guns a-firing.

The log and the speck instructions are still in play.  I am my most efficient in helping others with overcoming sin when I keep in mind mine first.  Tenderness seems to replace bullying.  Strange how that works.

Sin is more grievous than the church seems to grasp.  It is the size of the turmoil on the way to the cross.  We have a knack of dismissing ours, though.  The sinners guilty of matters unlike ours are the ones we deem idiots.

We can and should stand against sin without being critical of the sinner for we are all just alike.  Jesus died for all, remember; not just for them.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


God created the entire universe.

God experienced His creation in human form through His Son by walking in our sandals.

God ventured out into rejection and joy, pain and celebration in order to get a feel for what He had whispered into clay.

God intentionally went from the Cross of death immediately into Hell's bowels to signal clearly He has been there done that.  

God is derailed by nothing.

God never met a grave He could not empty.

God never met a person He did not love.

God does not wish that any would perish.

We must take this word to every region of every class of every mindset.

Friday, November 22, 2013


God hit earth in Jesus form to demonstrate the walk of His talk.  Jesus choose men to follow him.

Ponder Oswald Chambers' thoughts; The attitude of the early disciples was one of self-ignorance.  Jesus Christ knew perfectly well what was in them, but he did not say to John, "You will prove to be vindictive" (see Luke 9:51-55), or to Peter, "You will end in denying me" (see Mark 14:66-72).  If you had told Peter that he would deny Jesus with oaths and curses, he would have been amazed (see John 13:36-38).  
The disciples approached Jesus by way of sincerity, and He put them through crises until they discovered that they could never be disciples in that way; what they needed was to have the disposition of Jesus given to them.  

I don't mean to be legalistic on this note; but rather I prefer to cause us to ponder.  It would seem we can have church members who are not disciples; yet all disciples would be members of the church.  The reason for possible differentiation is that some members refuse crises training by God.

There is no other path for following Him other than the GPS of the Cross.

We live in a very soft culture.  I'm reminded of this in two forms.  The first is due to recent honorings of our military veterans.  These lived in a time that was very hard. Sacrifice was hard.  Suffering was painful. Recovery became a lifetime achievement for many.

The second is how non-discipled church members determinedly want to be satisfied and pacified.  These seem to not mature; we just age.  If one, however, will not bolt at the sign of discouragement but will hold on, God will grow us through the very process that threatens to kill us.

God's children are advantaged by the very things that oppose them.  When cornered He breaks in.  Even when dead; He gives resurrection notices.

Church members who have not been discipled via the stress-tests of church life miss both the calling and the purpose of the Cross.  If we will take the rudeness and the unfairness and the beatings, we will find an entirely new kind of ministry.....in ministry.

Jesus makes us members of His body.  We are called to be disciples.  Me?  I have a long way to go; but I want to gain in momentum.


I am pumped about Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Since my days as a little kid I still contain the enthusiasm for these big days as a little kid.  I can't wait for them to get here.  I drive whoever draws my name at the office buggy with my list(s) of possible gifts...for me!

Lest we forget, I remind us of the many who dread these days due to the cancer of society.  It is the L word; loneliness.

No rocket science is needed here.  Alone does not mean lonely.  This point needs to be made because lonely people can be found in big crowds; family gatherings and even churches.  Watch for these.

Discouragement and depression are nipping at the heels of the well-to-do and the down-and-out.  Neither of these frustrations is biased toward a specific social level. The rich and famous are targeted for these anxious moments just as much as the homeless.

Therefore, we have work to do.

We must keep our eyes open to the individuals who cross our paths.  Their sad eyes often betray their upbeat voices.  Walk through these days delighted for excitement is in the air.  And may a segment of this enthusiasm be engaged in noticing some here and there who need a word or a hug....or a warm pair of gloves.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


As a young kid and then a young man, my intentions were to have little to do with God or church.  I was the two-times-a-year in attendance guy with wishful urges of intending to do better.  But church just wasn't my thing.

However....things have changed....drastically.  I am so wowed by God and church that I seem to possess some sort of endless energy to keep pressing forward.  Ah, could this be due to the active Holy Spirit of God?

I see a simple reason as to why some churches struggle to stay alive while others are enamored with enthusiastic opportunities.  Surely there are many factors.  I dare to point out one that I believe would reside at the top of the list.  I speak of a deep love for the poor.

His greatest command is to love God and to love others.  I am not certain I am correct, but it seems to me that one cannot love God without loving the poor; though many churches seem to try.  Yes, it could be that because some fail to be enthralled with God these easily brush aside the poor.  Either way, the love of both God and the poor are intricately entwined.

Churches which claim to love God but not the poor are in denial.  Those deprived and pitiable whom some might regard as marginal are magnificently being noted as valued by our attentive Lord.  That Jesus would choose to be baptized by the unorthodox, with no social standing, John the Baptist is an intentional hint from heaven.

That Jesus' very first sermon began with the words Blessed are the poor in spirit should arouse our attention.

It seems to me that churches are intensely motivated when there is a hunger and thirst for the Great Command. When we love God and treasure others--especially the neglected and depressed--there is something of authentic life immediately in the midst.  Oddly, in our wealthy American state there is a presence of lethal boredom that wreaks havoc from the rural all the way to the urban.

The solution to the world's problems?  Love God and love people.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


No means of measure can define His limitless love...
No far-seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline
     of His shoreless supply...
No barrier can hinder Him from pouring out His blessings...

He forgives and He forgets.
     He creates and He cleanses.
           He restores and He rebuilds.
                        He heals and He helps.
                             He reconciles and He redeems.
                                        He comforts and He carries.
                                                    He lifts and He loves.

He is the God of the second chance,
                          the fat chance,
                          the slim chance,
                          the no chance...

                 Just give me Jesus!  He makes change possible!
                                                              (Ann Graham Lotz)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


With incredible nonchalance the world brushes aside God, His Son, His Spirit, and profound Life.  This snubbing largely takes place behind the apron strings of pointing to the Bible's inconsistencies.  Thus, one is assumed to have reason to shelve this monstrosity as yet another lie from the Christian community.

The charge is made to justify one's unbelief.  Oddly, that conclusion is based upon an untrue premise.

Not so fast!

The Word is consistent.  It is alive.  It is believable.  That man in our weak ignorance cannot fathom its truths does not make the Bible the culprit of scam.  It makes our lack of intelligence suspect.

Context is everything.  We accept this rule in our routines; yet fail to recognize it in the Word of God.

For example, have you ever heard someone say regarding their tragedy, Well, we must keep moving forward?  Do you think that when this person has parked too close to a car in front and they hear the advice, Well, you need to back up so you can steer clear, that an argument would ensue because of inconsistency?

Of course not.  Context defines both commands.  There is no conflict.

Jesus said that unless we become like children, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Yet, in I Corinthians 13:11 the apostle states that he did away with childish things.  Inconsistent?  Yes in word structure; but explainable in context.

Are there confusing things about the Bible?  Whole-hearted, Yes.  There are things confusing about banking but no one snubs money.  There are bewildering moments about transportation; yet no one stays within their house to avoid traffic confusion.

So why do we toss out the Bible when there was no baby or bath issue in the first place?

No, excusing study of God's Word due to assumed inconsistencies is more of a claim to laziness than intellect. That thin volume of a book containing 66 books within is alive.  It breathes life.  The one who mocks it is the same person who is struggling to make life click....always.

Christianity should not be booted out because of assumed discrepancies.  It should become even our greater Confidante as we slowly and steadily allow it to reveal itself to our hungry hearts.  We want to know what's true and God will satisfy such a desire.

I encourage you.  Open your Bibles.  If you are a beginner, you may want to start in one of the smaller New Testament books like Colossians or Philippians.  Look at Luke.

And then beware; while you are are studying the Word it will be studying you.

Be wowed!!

Sunday, November 17, 2013


I love right now.  Yes, my younger years had younger energy, less pounds, and more hair.  Yes, earlier days of childhood and then adulthood continue to fill my memory bank with awesome stories.  However, I am determined to like every right now that I can note.

Not everyone likes right now.  These tend to live hesitant as a they shrink back from the moment.  These are usually afraid; obsessed they will do something or get something wrong.  The very act of fear is usually that wrong they fear most.

I have learned from watching Jesus, and watching those biblical characters who followed him, and those in my time who strive to mimic him, that hesitancy is a church train wreck.  Earth's population is in dire need of hearing about this amazing man named Jesus.  Yet, the bulk of church memberships hide from going public with the Best News.

Why is fear so strong among us?

I believe there is one major fact that drives the church in general; our people are fearful of looking foolish.  If we can bring resolve to this congregational lack, a new world will open for the saved as well as the lost.

I speak from experience.  Oh how I wanted to teach and reach the entire world.  I would pray that God would let me.  Yet, I couldn't conduct a Bible study with anyone for fear I would be asked a question that I didn't know the answer.  To resolve my fear of potentially looking foolish, I just wouldn't set up any studies.

Through significant reluctance combined with intense pressure, I finally dared to walk out on the waters where I feared I would sink; but so wanted to be used by Him to reach lovely people.  As I went, He seemed to go with me and grow with me.

Confidence in myself never made it to first base.  Confidence in the Holy Spirit of God changed everything!!!

I'm not afraid to invite, to visit, to jump in with full awareness of how very little I know.  This is all possible because Jesus is the one running this ship and not me.

We are living at the right time at the right place.  It is called NOW.  I urge, beg, push and pull, that you would move out in faith that God can use you when you know there are others out there who could be much more efficient.  Dare to walk on the water of potential and possibility.

When you begin to sink, as I have done so many times, never fear.  Jesus has arms outstretched to both lift you and walk you back to the office where you can catch your breath before you go fishing again...soon.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Life is a maze of paradoxes.  We get what we don't want; yet there are times we do want but can't obtain. We attain only to sometimes lose.  We live targeting death and we die to ourselves that ourselves might really live.

Need you more?

Throughout the Bible we can find God's players on stage who are being confronted with gasping threat; yet they seem to glide through the challenges.  Daniel in the lion's den, Esther before the king, and of course Jesus under duress in the Garden.  They each made it!

In Philippians 4, Paul mentions his ability to be content.  But contentment cannot be taken as that he no longer gives a hoot for he's out of ambition.  No, take a look at the previous chapter where he references the fact that while he hasn't arrived, he is pressing on.

Content; yet ambitiously mobile.

The peace in our walk is based upon the maze of paradoxes before us; not sure how things will go because we are so clueless and yet certain God will deliver.  Jesus was at peace on the Cross because he knew for certain the unexplainable would surely happen because Father wouldn't end His story with that's all folks.

Note this; pain was severe upon the Cross but worry was nowhere to be found.

I like how John Eldredge put it, The more comfortable we are with mystery in our journey, the more rest we will know along the way.

Tension so often arises in our hearts because we can't calculate the necessary maneuvers to pass through the maze of these many confusionalistic routes.  Yet, there is always the mystery of God.  Our job is to relax and let God be God.

It is a weird experience; at least a surprise to me.  I was a hyper one doubled up with insecurity.  I need to fix things or know who to call to get the job done.  That won't work in the church.  There are no experts; only a Savior.

When we grasp the continued presence of mystery (that God knows how to deal with our dilemmas as well as our dreams), we can rest....assured.

Psalm 46:10.

Friday, November 15, 2013


Jesus is baffling.  He is both simple and complex; just like his Father.  On one hand there is the simplicity of a human being whose complexities cannot be analysed to the fullest extent.

Being a follower of Jesus follows the same path.  Knowing him reduces the possible messiahs down to one. Knowing the intricacies about him will always be a challenge to we believers who want doctrine and mission to be neat, tidy, and certainly explainable.

Jesus, however, doesn't know our commitment to right answers.

He has a commitment to the poor in spirit as well as those who mourn.

Churches approach Jesus as if he were still on trial; Sir you once said and now you say...so which is it?  Flexibility bugs believers who strive to do church right.  This, however, is where we go wrong.  We want things consistent, alignable, and categorical.

When God sent Himself to earth in the flesh He sent the mold.  Jesus is the mold. Yet, the because the church struggles for explanation of mystery, we have essentially told Jesus the how, the who, and the what of kingdom processes.

In Matthew 10 Jesus told the disciples to minister only to the Israelites.  They got it. In Matthew 15 a Canaanite women approached him.  True to his instruction to his disciples, he did not answer her a word.

She, in turn, took off after the disciples calling out for help.  They tattled to Jesus saying, Send her away for she is shouting after us.  

Okay.  That does it.  Jesus will have to set her straight!  So Jesus approached her and said, Look lady, you don't get it.  We are dealing with a specific mission and you aren't it!  The woman, however, was desperate as she had a daughter dealing with dire circumstances.  Whether Jesus was on a specific mission made no difference to her.  She believed he was the one to reverse the horrible condition.

Jesus granted her favor complimenting her on her great faith.  Uh-oh.

This little interaction wreaks havoc with theological positioning.  This creates a fire-storm of troubles for Jesus' flexibility cannot be denied...and neither can church's rigidity.  Something is amiss and my conclusion is that I am guilty of knowing more rules than knowing the heart of the King.

How about you?  Do you think we will ever square up with Jesus?

Thursday, November 14, 2013


It seems that mankind struggles with staying up.  From forgetfulness, to lack of money, to discouraging conversation, to bad news, our minds and hearts are raped day in and day out by strong intimidations to our spirits.  This is all the design of dark forces to keep us from attaining the wonder God displays and that our hearts long to encounter.

How is it that even we church people, with Bibles in hand, can consistently waver in this yo-yo society of up one minute and blue the next?

One place we might look is why we have Bibles.  The Word of God is not just for giving us correct answers.  It is consumed with answers which would lead us to know God.  J. I. Packer wrote forty years ago, To be preoccupied with getting theological knowledge as an end in itself, to approach Bible study with no higher a motive than a desire to know all the answers, is the direct route to a state of self-satisfied self-deception.

Scriptures are provided from God to know Him (Jn. 5:39).  He wants a relationship with us; not a winner on the Jeopardy show.  Packer continued, What makes life worth while is having a big enough objective, something which catches our imagination and lays hold of our allegiance; and this the Christian has, in a way that no other man has.  For what higher, more exalted, and more compelling goal can there be than to know God?

Only reciting the books of the Bible in order, or believing in your church over another, or pointing to a ministry one supports may all be in place while the Christian lives dried up with no eyes for wide-eyed wonder.  We possess a Life within us that won't quit; it is eternal.

Rote has had a hand in dulling the senses of once godly believers.  We must reawaken day by day to the new, to the awesome, to the vast and unexplored regions of Holy Spirit glory found in Jesus the mind-blower and routine-wrecker.

We aren't in need new churches.  We are need of lively members of the body.  These will, in turn, resurrect withering churches to the original state of wide-eyed wonder.

Recall Acts chapter 2 where it is said that the new converts kept feeling a sense of awe?  

I'm saying the true church still has that feeling.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


The call for every believer is get ready for a new experience of life day by day.  How fascinating that our 7 x 9 x 2 Bibles seem to have endless--even eternal--revelation regarding God and His system.  We will never get over the good news that gushes from it as long as we view it.

The Word of God is the most mysteriously and consistently flexible document to ever hit earth. Its Truth is so alive that while we look at it we readers are being studied by it.  The Bible is not Heaven's Journal as if it is merely the morning paper.

This thing breathes.

I'm guilty of reading the Word of God to support my pet convictions.  When that goes on, church rust settles upon my heart. After awhile, repeated posturing to convince God to say what we want Him to say, rust surely shuts down our abilities to be mobile as well as builds resistance to making perpetual adjustments.

It is true.  The Word of God never changes.  It is also true the Word of God is revealed to continually change us.  We are warned by His revelation to never change what He says.  The rub is when man rusts in the twenty-three things he knows well and shuts down a willingness and desire to explore what else and where else God leads.

Of course the religious scene is packed full of us; both liberal and conservative.  To our demise, each of those can live only by comparison to one another.  The free-flowing Word says that those who measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves to themselves, they are without understanding...II Cor. 10:12.  

God Truth is true.  After decades of enthusiastic study, it turns out that I am still one of His very dumbest. This can be seen clearly and quickly by watching and listening and reading my stuff.  However, I fit in because of the very nature of God's invitation.  I share this with you because God doesn't call us to be experts in Bible.

He calls us to respect it and stick with it tighter than rusted laziness which hinders our appetites to learn of God in His immaculate spiritual formation that is new everyday.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Brokenness is a hot button for kingdom labor.  Some of the more elaborate God-stories unfold from the scenes of anguish and despair.  Our encounters with the wounded minister to us even while we minister to them.  Not to be overlooked is that our own struggles offer refreshment of spirit for any who take their turns to minister to us.

I guide your attention to one specific broken group among us; that of those who have been plummeted, perhaps by some like me due to impure religion and religionists. Peek into the coffee shops, stadiums, and malls.  Strewn from one end to the other are wounded hearts who encountered preachers like me or members possibly like you.

We are guilty of injuring others along the way.  We should not pretend this hasn't/doesn't happen for it is simply a part of the process of learning the kingdom ropes. Those of us who profess to know Jesus never know him ideally for we are learners ourselves.  Mistakes frequently happen and we strive to give significant attention to our needed correction.

Those with broken faith are our friends, neighbors; even our relatives.

Julia Duin reported, Many of us dropouts tried to work behind the scenes to keep unity, but if we spoke out, we were in rebellion.  Many of us chose to leave rather than start wars.  For us, the good news is these casualties have hearts still ticking for God.  There is hope and we need to both know it and see it.

There are many of these walking wounded in our communities looking for a reason to believe in the church again, insists Brandon Hatmaker.

I have never been more enthused about Kingdom work!  Never!  I'm stunned, shocked, and wowed at the possibilities among us.  To live in denial of our flaws is a mistake because this awareness leads us to yet another grand ministry opportunity.

To improve matters which could/would/should include setting up a M.A.S.H. unit to heal the church wounded is merely another glorious possibility!!

To listen to the masses complain at the coffee shop about organized religion doesn't discourage me.  Some of what they say is true.  The good news is and the hope is that churches are changing, maturing, and improving. I deeply want to be a part of that approach.

Try not to dismiss negative things said about us by complainers as merely foolishness.  No, many times they are telling us the truth.  The fun thing for us is that God's Son will build a church to draw them in.  We want in on that move.

Reaching those of broken faith is an outstanding stride in the glory of the Jesus walk.

Saturday, November 09, 2013


We had no kindergarten in my rural school of Granger, Missouri, where the first six grades merely filled one room.  Three girls and I began first grade together.  I was pumped as Mrs. T. C. Smith began to teach us to read.  I still remember with great sentiment the yellow cloth-like small book; Dick and Jane.

The first word I learned to read stood alone on the very first page.  Look!

I learned much later in life that this word is spiritually embedded with a dynamic that won't quit.  As a matter of fact, the word implies that one LOOK continually and perpetually.

I don't understand our various impulses, directives, and drives.  But I know I am driven by His Spirit to see people.  Preaching and teaching were elements where I had to painfully and repeatedly (still) labor.  Seeing people is a spiritually easy encounter for me.

I see, watch, and study people everywhere I am because everywhere I am there are wonderful people.

God, though, taught me to LOOK at those around me with a faith in what they can become.  Too many do not like who they are, where they are, and what they are. And, they are clueless that God would have any interest or skill in making them into a new person more satisfying than their best imagination...Eph. 3:20.

Some in the church have reversed the power of LOOK.  These use their eyes for self-satisfaction.  Is the church going the way I think it should?  Are the leaders saying the things I like?  These tend to look for signals of church life going their way for their pleasure.

When we transfer our LOOKing power, a new world opens to us like a blooming rose. We begin to see need coupled with what can be.  One of the most exciting and life-altering truths of God is His call for us to walk by faith and not by sight.  Our natural flesh eyes cannot do a good job of LOOKing with hope at others.

We tend to see them critically.  This causes us to blame instead of assist.

But when we shift to the faith-eyes, this new world of possibility and hope for others who struggle arises immediately.

LOOK was my first readable word.  The dynamics of that word fills my heart to this day with an energy literally out of this world!  I would encourage you that LOOK wasn't given to us only as safety training in crossing a street.  It was given to us to change the world of the down and out.

We are called to see riches for others who have not yet known God is calling them to also LOOK.

Do you SEE what I mean?

Friday, November 08, 2013


Don't you love right now?  From gigantic reasons to celebrate to heartbreaking news that suffocates, we get to live in the wonder of it all!  Don't miss out on the beauty as well as the opportunity of today!

The above admission is completely opposed to the way I was raised and the way I began this preaching ministry.  Back then my days ran according to my moods which were fiercely dependent on the moods of others.  In other words, a multitude of whims drove my attitude and my outlook.

Life was basically a trap for the negative.

God keeps breaking through!  I believe today that He will continue to open new frontiers for me to the point I must never quit seeking Him and His kingdom.  His ways are surely beyond my ways and it is my free choice to dig for discovery that would blow my mind.

So I share with those who would need a mindset similar to the one I took on a couple of decades back that is....well....let me say exhilarating.  Allow me to share what I think it is gonna take for us to perpetually break into the God-zone of meaningful and fulfilling life.

Satan imposes fear.  This cesspool is where plans are aborted and dreams die a slow death.  Imagination not only does not get to run wild, it isn't permitted.  Yet, God clearly teaches that He will trump whatever we can imagine...Eph. 3:20.

What it's gonna take is for individuals to put on Daniel-in-the-Lion's-Den determination.  I discovered that I needed a drastic shift from wishing to risking.  It is a frightening thing to face a group of squint-eyed keepers of the law in the church.

Jesus did it....alone.  His best friends were found in the Garden sleeping while Jesus was sweating blood at the challenge of the Cross just moments away.  We are to follow him....and, for us, it will often be...alone.

Daniel didn't go in with friends to back him.  No, he had a friend and His name is God. What it's gonna take is the courage of individuals to wade into the center of probable destruction and risk all.  God will be there.

I've experienced this many times.  Before I continue I must assure every reader that I am a clumsy and mere human that can misunderstand as well as completely fail. Nonetheless, there are those moments that one needs to stand.

One, for me, was in realizing that our church connection-at-large was mistaken about the Holy Spirit in saying that He did not operate directly in a believer's life.  We had shelved Him with absolute threat that anyone that dare speak in favor of His activity would be dealt with harshly.

Very few would find agreement with me.  The Gospel Advocate publishers told me they believed what I had written to be true; but could not publish is for it would cost them business as the brotherhood didn't want that teaching around.

Alton Howard had the courage to put the book into print and it became so effective that the Gospel Advocate listed The Holy Spirit Makes No Earthly Sense (now under the title Empowering the Ordinary)...and put a picture of the book in their catalog. Twenty-six years later the book is still being printed and is being taught in several foreign countries from Russia to China to the Philippines.

It is my conviction that much need, much valuable need, never gets opportunity to live because the dreamers and the explorers chicken out.  Voices of opposition arise and often hearts of courage tend to melt. Daniel entered the den and cleaned house.

I am not advocating ignorant and silly squabbling.  I am saying that men and women will occasionally find within their hearts great dreams of what could and should be. The more one encounters opposition is the benchmark, I think, of a probable God-idea.

In nearly every book I write I cannot help but include the story of Walt Disney. It is said of him that when he made a proposal for a wild idea about Disneyland's design that if the board unanimously voted it down, he would begin the project immediately.

What's it gonna take where you live when you dream for God and the fear mongers are hesitant?  Never give up.  Be patient.  But never give up.  Don't be afraid to be hurt.  Don't be obnoxious. Just don't let the God-dreams that are embedded within your heart ever die.  I don't care how old you are or how young you are.

Watch for God.  Trust God.

And....face all of the lions whose roll is to scare you out of becoming what you dream.

God will deliver.