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!!