Tuesday, April 30, 2013


In my nearly 36 years at Memorial, the value of increasing staff size is dawning on me.  I don't assume to speak from technical data as much as experience.  I merely propose that elders and congregations ponder the following.

For years our attendance was sliding.  We had the proverbial Pulpit Minister and Youth Minister combo which seemed traditionally accepted and expected.  The theory was that we will not pay a staff to do the church's ministry.  Rather, we will get volunteers. 

That is an accepted theory.  If it works where you are and you see awesome effects from that set up, glory to God.  Yet, I don't think that is what is happening in most cases.  From observation, plateaus are more common.

For a long time here, we had a poor combination of elders and a dysfunctional combination of staff.  Therefore, bodies added to the staff isn't the goal.  A Spirit-flow within the staff and eldership is essential to make what I'm about to say work.  We began to see a growth-change in the congregation, first, when a change in the right combination of elders arose.

At one point, maybe in the mid-90s, we were at a low of about 211 in attendance.  Improvements in eldership approach was improving.  Rough spots with the staff existed.  A major move took place when the two remaining elders--at our lowest point in history--decided out of the blue of the Holy Spirit to add a staff member; a worship leader.

The church picked up. 

Then we added a children's minister--one of our sweet members--part time and said build it.  She did so effectively that we had to add yet another lady part-time.  These two remain.

After this, we saw the need for an involvement minister and found one.  The elders told the finance committee that they were adding a fourth full-time staffer and to make it work financially.  The team did.

A few years later, the elders determined we should add a community minister.  They had the man already within the congregation, added him full-time, and he is magic.

In each case, guess what.  Volunteerism increased dramatically.  Our staff doesn't just do the church's work.  We draw in the wisdom and devotion of a great range of congregational talent, skill, and hunger to get to be a part of something useful.

Back to the theory of it not being healthy to pay a staffer to do the church's ministry, in our case, is a misnomer.  The reverse is happening.  With attendance back at the 500 range we have discovered the staff appropriately equips the members to activate.  The usual 20% doing 80% of the work is no longer.  We have 90% of our members doing 99% of the the work because there is something about the Spirit-flow in this combination.

I wonder if smaller churches might be staying at plateau level for decade after decade because it is stuck on a mistaken theory.  Now, get the wrong staff combo (and we have had that) coupled with the wrong elder combo, and one will not see the results of which I write.

I would ask elders to awaken to the possibility with your particular flock.  The more we add staff at the Spirit's pace, the more we seem to be blessed in both attendance and in depth of God's grace.  This suggestion isn't a church growth rule.  I know.  It is merely an idea should your particular place find itself the same size as twenty years ago.

I'm neither a church growth expert nor guru.  I am simply a fan of watching God work where we men profess He most likely won't.  I write not in criticism of any arrangement; but just wondering if some systems could improve under His direction if we would open to possibility beyond our rut assumptions.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Ah.  I wouldn't know either exactly what's wrong with us.  I assume many things.  Too, I know convincingly and live robustly that there are many things right with us.  Truly.

So my title is a bit stern; if not egotistical.  However, I would believe it fair to raise a caution flag lest we let life slip away into the useless while we were all the while trying to live alive.  I would caution us against slipping into such a routine that we find vibrant thrilling life has become half-hearted and fundamentally unnoticed.

I was telling God the other day that I was really grateful I could drive a car, look out its windshield and notice how He does the beautiful Spring trees and flowers.  He is an artist every season...AND WE GET TO SEE IT!

My basic admonition to keep from dismissing the awe in our midst is to never grow cynical.  Peter Hiett says, We all want the new and wonderful, but the older we get, the more we know that new gets old.  So we get cynical.  We all want new, but we're all fearful of the new, because to get the new is to lose the old (that was new).

My word to all is to like right now; even love it.  If you have an ache or a pain, celebrate.  You evidently aren't a leper.  Prisoners would love to have my bad golf shots.  Prisoners would love to just drive the golf cart while I make bad shots.

You and me....we are abundantly blessed.  Keep the abundance in mind.  It seems to me that a basic answer to the question of what is wrong with us could be that possibly we don't keep very good track of what is right with us.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


The first thing that struck me when I came to live in a house with mentally handicapped people was that their liking or disliking me had absolutely nothing to do with any of the many useful things I had done until then.  Since nobody could read my books, they could not impress anyone, and since most of them never went to school, my twenty years at Notre Dame, Yale, and Harvard did not provide a significant introduction.  My considerable ecumenical experience proved even less valuable.

When I offered some meat to one of the assistants during dinner, one of the handicapped men said to me, "Don't give him meat, he doesn't eat meat, he's a Presbyterian."

Not being able to use any of the skills that had proved so practical in the past was a real source of anxiety.  I was suddenly faced with my naked self, open for affirmations and rejections, hugs and punches, smiles and tears, all dependent simply on how I was perceived at the moment....

....This experience was and, in many ways, is still the most important experience of my new life, because it forced me to rediscover my true identity....(these) unpretentious people forced me to let go of my relevant self.  HENRI NOUWEN

I find in my little pocket of the world a similar battle rages daily.  I want things for me.  I want to be impressive, in demand, useful, popular, skilled, coupled with a reputation that Terry can fix people's problems. 

Yet, those things aren't there.  Have you any idea how many people pass me on any street or dodge me at the mall who have no earthly idea of my potential and awe?  THE MASSES OF SOCIETY DON'T EVEN KNOW I EXIST!!!!

While I would really wish to be "somebody" there is only one portion of my personality that seems to give me value and purpose; my vulnerability.  It is in this blessing that the power of Christ dwells in me; in any of us. 

Thus the explanation of why too many in the church sit on our hands and do nothing except basically attend.  Vulnerability is the only route to serve and for many this just isn't an acceptable option.  May we read II Corinthians 12:5-11 once again and absorb the truth there is just no other way. 

If He is going to exert power through us, we are gonna find it necessary to yield to our desired heroics and settle for the very thing we just don't want said of self....VALUABLE WEAKNESS.

Friday, April 26, 2013


THE STORY is a resounding W-O-W !

This thirty-one week scenario reaches its conclusion at Memorial Drive Sunday. Sunday's topic, of course, is on Revelation.  I can hardly wait.

I rank the experience of The Story with the same magnitude of being converted in 1970, attending my first Soul Winning Workshop in '75, and discovering the personally active Holy Spirit in the mid-80s.

Because I can't explain the over-joy of this walk Memorial Drive has encountered these past 7 1/2 months, let such be an indication of its impact.  Our team of Shon Kendall, Shane Coffman, and Jason Thornton put together a powerful Creative Team to take us through this walk.  They never misstepped. 

Never before have I been so anticipationally eager to attend a Wednesday night session.  Would you know why?  Because we never knew what the Creative Team would do "this week".  I couldn't wait to get here to find out.

This showed me something not necessarily intended from The Story.  And yet, maybe it was.  We have allowed our gatherings to be lulled to sleep by the routine.  If God is anything, He is not predictable.

I would encourage you to dive into The Story.  Be faithful to it by being imaginarily creative.  Watch for God.  He will show up for HIS IS THE STORY.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


It was rehearsed to me once again by a preacher that following God is the simplest of simple.  All you've got to do is hear, believe, repent, confess, and be baptized.  When you've got that, you've got everything. 


While our people can recite that first sentence in our sleep, that isn't all there is to the Christian faith.  In actuality, though, I believe many among us have concluded such as absolute truth.  I think so because that's what I believed for years....as a minister.

So what is it that is missing?

The lack of fruit of this approach runs consistent.  What seems to be missing is:
  1. Jesus.
  2. A deep sense to engage in intimate worship of God.
  3. Bible study.
  4. The Holy Spirit.
  5. Evangelistic ambition.
  6. Assurance of a grace and mercy loaded salvation.
  7. Prayer.
  8. Unity.
  9. Love of God and love of others.
  10. Righteousness of Jesus
The list could go on and on.

While the whole world surely does need to get to hear of these five portions included in the salvation process, the church is failing to attract these very same due to her general lethargy toward the above ten listed.  This charge is not true across the board of all preachers and congregations.  It is true among those who seem to be dying.

When the church awakens to our need for God, I believe the world will follow us in step.  Souls are lost and hurting.  They are looking for meaningful life.  We are the very people who should be displaying it.

To toss a rote plan toward the needy is deadening if the vibrancy of Jesus, the engagement of the Holy Spirit, and driven worship of the Father are not center stage. 

To adjust will take humility on our part. 

What has been rehearsed as that's all you've got to know may pacify the shallow evangelist; but its fruit is that we have many who got wet at baptism, but did not find themselves born again. 

The five steps eventually became nothing more than a rote Church of Christ god.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


I'm assuming you have a fairly good grasp of the story known as The Prodigal Son.  Upon reflection today I wonder if the prodigal is a picture of one person found in both boys.

I find in myself a polar fluctuation between depressed over my many dismal failures.  Yet, the very next hour I will be self-absorbed with criticism of others through my squint-eyed lens of obnoxious judgment. 

Which mess am I?

In reality?  Honestly? 


Therefore, in the revelation of Luke 15:11-32 I find a most perplexing figure; myself.  Yet, there is more; much more.  The value of such a story seems to be in the call to realize that whichever moment I find myself--pathetic in the sin of rebellion against God or pathetic in the sin of judging another who sins in a zone I don't--the Father earnestly cares for both of me.

Both sons are unstable. 

The Father is Rock-Solid. 

Our hope for any given day--like today for example--is that while we waver in our spiritual moods and ugly dispositions, Father never does.  Fortunately, He is the One who says who gets to party and who doesn't.

In the story, both of me are invited.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


As soon as God reached me, I wanted to extend the invitation to others.  Being cowardly, my want to didn't take me very far.  Really, it took me mainly to guilt for I could not do it.

My heart thinks Soul Winning constantly.  I'm always studying the landscape of family, friends, and neighbors.  I wonder how to reach.  Thirty-six of my neighbors are named in prayer every night seeking God's introduction or intrusion into their walk.

For any reader who is hesitant as I once was, allow me to share a concept that might just be your ticket into going into all the world.  See the back door.

The back door I reference is none other than weakness.  Weakness wins.  Weakness is the very thing no one wants and all people have.  Weakness wins others who are weak.  Big-shotism doesn't win.  In-your- face evangelism works for many.  I tried it.  I didn't like the results.

The best tool in my arsenal is weakness.  Nearly everyone, regardless of social level, can and will open to another's weakness identity.  100% of people are mindful of personal flaws.  The cover-up may appear successful.  Yet, I know about everyone....each is mindful of glitch after glitch.

Therefore, I laugh much at myself as a method of signaling I know the truth about me; I'm a nobody.  Any we are reaching will never find themselves intimidated by nobodies.  This is the back door to a person's heart.  I approach many.  Always I will know they are the better.  Always. 

To the weak I became weak that I might win the weak....I Cor. 9:22.  Our people hesitate...or possibly refuse...to go into all the world for God.  Fear is understandable.  Yet, there is a back door and it works.

As we go, maybe if we went not knowing Bible things but knowing people hurt over their weaknesses we may discover a better way to win the world.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


A long, long time ago, a young man was standing in the midst of the stoning of Stephen.  His name?  Saul of Tarsus.

No one among us would have guessed in that day that God would use one of the very men who joined in on the assassination of Stephen to become one of His most famous soldiers.  Paul became what Saul hated; a follower of Jesus.

Somehow, God looked past the hate and spite and even the bloody scene as rocks pelted Stephen to his death.  God needed that man named Saul who was a part of the vicious attack.

Would you join hundreds and thousands of us as we pray with the vision to see that 19 year old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could learn of God's Son?  This is exactly the kind of person God could use as a profound spokesman for Kingdom Life.  Too, he would be a powerful tool in the Muslim community.

Pray.  Pray for Dzhokhar to have a cell-mate who might know Jesus.  Or pray for a chaplain to appear.  Or a letter.  Or a book.  Or a broadcast.  God is not stymied by any barricades.  Pray that God would use this man to advance the Good News to a region desperate for the new of a New Birth

May God give us the grace to build a gigantic prayer army.

Terry Rush
Memorial Drive Church of Christ
Tulsa, OK.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


After tomorrow's sermon, I intend to ask that we join together for a prayer matter that could/should go viral.

Watch for this announcement and then...please pass it along.


Do you know what I like best about the church? 

Ah, I wouldn't know either.

I wouldn't know because it is just TOO MUCH!  Maybe that would be at least in my top ten.

I wonder how much of the time I bum around as if I am blind to life on the Emmaus Road.  One of the things Jesus teaches by his walk is the grand value of being attentive.  Jesus saw.  He possessed a great vision for creation and special eyes for those in the community who were usually unnoticed.

I am nuts about life!  It is one of the handiest of God's delightful vocabulary.  Aren't you grateful He said, Let there be man?  Let there be woman?  Hurray for us!

So don't let the routine rob you of the awe of you.  Don't.  Don't let the distractions take away the wonder of you.  Don't.

We are alive!  If the church is to be about anything, it is to be about Life!  Like it!

Friday, April 19, 2013


If I do not experience a fresh anointing every day it is only a
matter of time before I will become yesterday's man. 
R. T. Kendall

A great  and blessed challenge for any and all is to track the Spirit....if we can.  By tracking Him, I mean that we are to observe where He is and what He is about...if we can.  The Spirit of God baffles the mind of all men and women.  Therefore, this charting the course will surely keep us on our toes.

A sad picture to me would be to discover that any of us are yesterday's man or yesterday's church.  Yet, such is most likely a prominent reality.

Man is in constant pursuit of stability.  That means understanding the moment and looking good in it; no confusion, no embarrassment, and no uncertainty.  So what happens is we find five or six things we know about God and the Kingdom, and before long, there we permanently roost.  We know.  We show.  Sufficient is my much-needed sense of self-established security.

The problem with this is that the Spirit of God is mobile and fully intends to keep us the same; flexible. 

Kendall, a biblical scholar, made note of an event that is dear to the Restorationists' hearts.  First, he references Dr. Cain's comment, Once people try to organize themselves around a new movement of the Spirit they unwittingly render that movement yesterday's anointing.

Kendall follows; An example of this is the aftermath of the Cane Ridge Revival of the early nineteenth century in Kentucky.  Witnesses at the time, when the move of the Spirit first broke out, marveled at the way in which heated debates over theological and denominational differences meant almost nothing.  Baptists, Presbyterians, and Methodists, for example, did not feel the need to argue with one another over the differences that had previously divided them.  They just rejoiced in God and His Son.  What mattered, all felt, was that they were Christians--nothing more.  But, lo and behold, a leader in the Cane Ridge Revival came up with the idea of starting a "Christian" church!  And what do you suppose happened?  A new denomination began---they called it the Christian Church!  The revival was virtually over.  It became yesterday's anointing overnight.

If not careful, we Restorationists will resist this message we surely need.  The Holy Spirit will not be restrictively contained within our assertive education nor our weak theology.  Knowing Acts 2:38 does not mean one knows the Spirit of God.  While we may continually strive to know our Bibles, we must awaken to the truth that the Bible surely pleads with us to know the Holy Spirit.

I want to be a part of the church of now; the one where God's Spirit resides.  Defense of the past is not going to enlighten our members nor draw our neighbors.  God among us with surprises and provisions beyond man's maneuverability is to be engaged in the Spirit's movement. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


As we enter into this discussion, it might be good to consider that each of us has old things we prefer as well as new.  I don't know of anyone who is bent for only the old or only the new.  So drop the assumption that we are ever only interested in one of these positions.

Having said that, it is clear the Word calls us to a newness that is perpetually new.  And, there is a steady dying of the body when it refuses to move into the new.  The New Testament speaks of the New Birth as well as the New Creation.  One of Jesus' stark teachings is the warning of pouring new wine into old wine skins.

Bryn Jones points to a word we like; restoration.  He comments, Restoration is only restoration if it continues to restore.  Religious externalism is a terminal practice; its forms, methods, and practices are merely the death throes of that which was once vibrant life.

No congregation is dying that is hungry to see Jesus show his new ways of growth for the moment.  No congregation is growing that perpetually stares at the past and tries to keep the present bound to it.


Challenge doesn't begin to describe many of our days.  Take a look around at those who once were among us; but no longer find us, or faith, or God, appealing. 

What happened to these? 

For many, the Kingdom terrain became wearisome.  I don't fault these.  I merely point out that church casualties exist; and they are significant in number.

The church can be compared to a head of lettuce which Satan strives to peel away a member injured over this; while yet another is neglected over that.  The reason doesn't matter to him.  The fact is the peeling is constant.  And we must fight it.

I wouldn't know of the many Survival Kits available to us.  I use one; Philippians 4:4-9. 

We must constantly give attention to our thinking patterns.  It seems that as the mind ponders the heart follows....and then the feet.  We must emphasize--as the text calls--to live with great thanksgiving and then to let healthy thoughts fall upon our mentals. 

Every generation of every background of every age will always benefit from these directives to think right and to think faith and to think gratitude.  Otherwise, Satan will hand us an excuse to quit on a silver platter.

This Survival Kit it not purchased with money.  It was purchased with blood centuries ago.  We honor His expenditure.  We will survive.  We will live in enormous gratitude for He alone knows how to get us through.

What would be your Survival Kit?  Tell us.  Yours might be just what another really needs....now.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Blessed are those who mourn?  Surely Jesus intended this statement for Sunday School discussions or Preacher School term papers.  Likely, he did not perceive such as an everyday sort of commentary.

Or, did he?

The Boston Warathon erupted.  Limbs strewn and lives claimed, news spread around the world in the flash which blasted both runners and cheerers.  The Boston Warathon ended with huge Kaboom!

As mourners, how shall we view this tragedy?  We shall do so from the courtyard of Blessed.  How so?

God never wastes one crumb of a crumby life.  Never.  The Yes is always there. 


How shall we view this hideous news?  I would not know how to count the ways; but I will direct you to one.

The Boston Warathon reminds us of what is important in our spiritual hunt.  Whether actually caught up in the franticism of being at the scene or merely observing from our CNN/FOX news towers, the Boston Warathon knocked some of the religious silliness out of us.

From mid-afternoon on, no one was discussing instrumental music, women's roles, nor whether is best to be a liberal or conservative.  War breaks man's yearn to need to know things which, in the long-run, don't fare well when placed against the bloodshed of the innocents.  War reminds us that life isn't about our preferences nor our peevishness. 

War jerks our chains.  Hopefully when that happens, the Light comes on.  We are reminded to get back to loving God and loving others.  By His grace and mercy, we will be safe in Jesus....nowhere else.

The Boston Warathon will not be wasted. 

It will be used as a blessing.  The injured and the dead are soldiers.  We will honor them by awakening to a blessed state in the center of our mourning.  This war reminds us one more time to discuss important matters freely and openly all we want; yet to do so within the context that victory is not found in the loudest or most convincing arguers. 

No.  Meaningful life is found in a man who encountered the Boston Warathon an ocean away and centuries ago on a hill.  When he lost.....we won!

Monday, April 15, 2013


If you can't stand the heat in the kitchen, get out is somewhat of a paraphrase I have heard since childhood.  It seems my grandpa and then my dad had this one memorized for little kids.  The concept seemed to be that if you can't take the pressures of life you best move on.

In the church, we need more to remain in the kitchen.

Kingdom life is not easy.  Church isn't easy.  Walking with God isn't easy.

All of it is necessary as well as rewarding.

When you take your turn(s) at being injured, don't run.  You are designed by God to be injured for the sake of the name of Jesus.  He was.  When you are discouraged, don't run.  These are God-moments designed to set off a God-movement.  I still treasure the note from Chuck Swindoll I received some 25 years ago which included the powerful phrase, Don't flinch!

When we have devoted ourselves to the super-happy, cheer-bearing, all-bills-are-paid system of organized religion, we have forgotten a most important Truth factor; the Cross.  While see don't hunt for troubles like children do Easter eggs, we shall not be caught off guard when church struggle arises.

And.....we surely will not abandon our brothers and sisters for safer and happier pastures. 

Friday, April 12, 2013


I referenced in yesterday's post at the beginning of God speaking to me as I awakened.  It happened again today.  And in the process I finally realized what to call such moments with God.  He whispers.

There are no audible or recordable words.  He is ever so gentle.  And just as many would recognize the fascinating theme of the television show, The Horse Whisperer, I believe we are to walk in full relationship with God as we are called by the Word to speak to Him and Him to us.

When The Man Whisperer speaks, He gives us thoughts that we did not conclude by flesh and blood.  Mt. 10:27 urges boldness in disciples that what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. 

So, I share with you what He whispered this morning.  It is of supreme importance; There is a cure for what ails the church. 

The following is the basics of what He whispered: 

The church is plagued by an assortment of sins.  What ails the church is we have leaders like me and followers who are genuine-hearted who do not see ourselves as wretched.  The church ails in lethargy of feeling-good-by-comparison-to-others and the cure is for all to return to original awareness that we are individually a desperately wretched people.

When we return to this brokenness, thanksgiving and gratitude erupt.  Judgment diminishes.  Society is a huge train-wreck as neighbor accuses neighbor; as do spouse and spouse.  Sickness plagues.  The healing cure is for each to enter every conversation with clear awareness of personal wretchedness.

That is a rock-solid message from God as He whispers to each of us in His way.  We will find the cure for all dis-ease if we will submit to the truth that each of us is a catastrophe in action if it weren't for the righteous dynamic of our brother and savior, Jesus.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


As I awakened this morning, God started pumping a concept into my heart.  It is strong; a message always needed for those of us who seek first the kingdom.

Jesus was most merciful.  Forgiveness is his name as well as purpose.  Yet, there was one type of person of which he stubbornly would not yield the slightest of understanding; the critic.  Jesus was only critical of the critic. 

He could overlook sin and see the sinner in nearly unspeakable dimensions.  But he gave no room to the squint-eyed religious sort who continually harped about the error of another.  As flexible as Jesus was, he gave no room to the faultfinder toward others. 



Of all of the wonderful works among us and of all of the many wonderful new ideas which bless, the body of Christ remains stifled to unimaginable degree because we have a blind eye and a deaf ear toward the call of Matthew 7:1-6.  Judgment of others is permitted only when we are first aware our own sins are significant blemishes.  It is this part that we experience a unique slippery slope.

Jesus draws the line on the critic; whether it's me on my judgmental day or my enemy on his.  Jesus is inflexible when it comes to a member of the church that lives in constant criticism of leadership and ministry.

Paul reinforces this when he says in Romans 2:1-5 that when we judge another we are guilty of the same.  This truth will not let us loose.  The story of the Prodigal's brother is a picture of the silly critic.  Those who criticize are always on the other side of the line from Jesus.  He made no exceptions. 

For us?  We want to mature in releasing the need to be critical; disparaging toward leaders, toward other churches, toward one another.  Yet, it must be noted that this area has two facets; (1) we are not to be the initiator of criticism, and (2) we are to decisively stand against the one who is.

Even the Judgment hinges on this necessity of truth; For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.  As seen in Jesus, the flexibility of God takes a harsh stand of intolerance toward those who find delight in judging others with no awareness of our own glare.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


J. Willard Marriott made a powerful observation when he said, Good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees.  All disciples of Jesus are called to face the strong winds.

In my early years of ministry I felt on too many days that I was nothing more than a professional target.  Criticism abounded.  I don't know how God did it; but He alone taught me that such is tremendously valuable terrain.

I first saw it in II Cor. 12:7-11.  Paul was given a thorn in the flesh to keep from exalting himself.  I was given a thorn-bush orchard.  The purpose of the thorns--from this text--is to break us from boasting of self-effectiveness.  Power is perfected in weakness drives Paul to admit a major fact; I am a nobody.

Thorns are critics.  In the system of God, thorns bless. 

The very reason most preachers quit is the very reason we ought to stay.  The reason members walk out is the exact reason why each should walk back in.  Thorns are God's classroom professors.  If we will submit to discomfort and even agony, we will find ourselves in the midst of God's productive wonder.

I ran across a paragraph of Calvin Miller.  He wrote, Today's preachers rarely hear any good news about themselves.  How can such dehumanizing stress ever be overcome?  I wrote in the margin beside these sentences in red ink Not me!

Why Not me? 

I learned the secret of going to school from the critics.  I learned they are valuable; a mighty part of our labor.  We need them.  The result is that I am not dehumanized.  I am not neglected.  Instead, I have a constant barrage of words of love and life coming at me from hearts of constant appreciation.

Am I just lucky?  No, God taught me to sit still and endure the thing in life I hated more than anything.  He taught me to turn the temptation to whine into the reason to praise.  He taught me to grow from the winds rather than shrinking.

Criticism is our blessing.  We are never more than nobodies.  Power is never perfected outside of weakness.  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, the I am strong.

Being strong because we have head-knowledge, political clout, or monetary means will never work in church leadership; not ever.  This is faking out the church.  The true power of God will only come through us when we sit still and take the abuse.  It is within those parameters that we will find My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.

If I might offer one piece of advice to young preachers today it would be that when you feel neglected--even tarred and feathered--these are the precise moments to give praise and glory to God.  These times are rugged like the cross and poised for God's resurrecting hand to enter.  Dare to let Him enter.

Monday, April 08, 2013


In case you haven't heard, there is a war going on....and we are in it.  Heaven and hell are duking it out for individual souls.  It isn't a pretty sight at times.

Faith is tedious and tough.  It isn't for church sissies.  Sometimes I forget.

I find it at times to not be so easy to be us or to be around us.  We can be a beautiful sort.  And then we can also be the bungling kind.  I have traits of both.

One thing rings true for each encounter that challenges.  The resurrection of Jesus back then impacts the strain of our world that we face now.  We live in resurrection power; so let's behave like we know it.

Sting and death cannot put us away for we have already voluntarily died at the cross with Jesus.  We will come through every skirmish because He conquered the biggest one.

Everything is to our advantage.  We don't live perplexed or stumped.  Even if death tries to shut us down, we will see it is turned to our advantage.  Consider Paul's attitude:

For God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  He went on to say that we may find ourselves hard pressed and even perplexed.  Yet, we will not live in despair.

This is the fascination of the resurrection power from which we operate.  You can't put us away.  We live in life and we will keep living through death.

Therefore, don't let the hangnail stresses of being hard pressed and perplexed steal your day.  Each matter fades under the bright face of Jesus.  We can, after all, even survive us!


We are God's.  Therefore, we are in over our heads.  We are Jr. Peter beginning to sink as Jesus once again...and again...and again reaches down to carry us back to the ministry boat.

Work in the church is not to be managed by the earth-mind.  It is too big, too lavish, too God-sized.  We are to live in over our heads.

Churches are stuck because man has taken over with his bright ideas and ingenuity galore.  Where that gets us is a Church of Us because we have taken over the controls.

Generations have hearts groomed for the God experience.  We must continually learn how to step aside so He can do His thing.  When He does, we enter the awe of the original church.

Church of Us....not so much.  Church of Jesus....may we experience such a system.

Sunday, April 07, 2013


The church is receiving the wonder for beginning to begin to believe the Holy Spirit is active among us.  For congregations that don't, we try to live as trees which bear no fruit.  In such times we may carry the Church of Christ banner just as properly named trees; apple trees, yet there simply are no apples.

What enthuses me about the truth of the Holy Spirit is that we are able to gain proper understanding from the Word; from the Word He inspired.  The Bible teaches us of God's Holy Spirit poured out for all.  We are to receive Him at baptism. 

Acts 2:38--one of Churches of Christ's most fundamental passages--clearly says we are to each receive the Holy Spirit when sins are washed.  This is not to be taken lightly.

The Spirit gives life (II Cor. 3:4-5).  The rules cause death. 

The church has tried to build itself rather than being built by Jesus in Spirit form.  When we break from our own self-imposed church standards and begin to venture into the uncharted waters of the Spirit, new life happens.  It is supposed to.

So why does the Spirit not get a better shot among us?  One word.  Fear.

Some members are so infected with fear that the error to not move seems better than to move about in risk to find at times we got it wrong.  When we learn to relax in Jesus, we can begin to roam about in the Kingdom of God. 

The Holy Spirit is active among us.  To what extent, who would fully ever realize?  The same question is posed when trying to learn of the size of God.  The more we learn of Him the more clueless we become.  If we learn one thing about God we have three new unanswered questions.

Therefore, don't avoid the Holy Spirit and His workings.  He is God within us.  Be overwhelmed...in all the right ways.

Saturday, April 06, 2013


I share with you an item of discomfort.  Oh, when I initiate the topic most will most likely shrug with So?  However, I proceed to share my dis-ease realizing you may tend to brush it off.

I speak of the love of God. 

Do you think that we have discussed this, studied this, inquired of this theme to the point of near disinterest?  Has John 3:16 become an and what else verse?  Next?  And? Has Christendom shed its desperation for God's love; traded it for meaningful rules of engagement?

God's love should still hit us with deep awe and robust thunder.  He loves us!

Something has dented this Divine Shine upon mankind.  That infraction has come from our incessant need of being right.  Religious man's regulatory rightness has replaced Jesus' loving righteousness.  Period.  We have taken over the Kingdom and wielded the Bible as our conquering sword for being right.

Therefore, I propose that a difficult concept for the church is that love trumps doctrine.  Ooops.  I said it aloud.  Love trumps doctrine because love is the top doctrine.

Jesus was constantly confronted by the Doctrinairs of his time.  Mt. 12 is one place where Jesus had to decide; love the man with the lame hand and heal him or stick by the doctrinal law.  After all, the Doctrinairs were standing by to see how this would go.

Recall Mt. 10 where Jesus tells the disciples to deal only with the Jews; that was the doctrine of the day.  So they did.  Yet, in Mt. 15 these come upon a Gentile who is calling out for assistance and they tell her to step back.  They faithfully obeyed Jesus.  When she wouldn't back off, they referred to Jesus. 

He told her to back off.  That was the doctrinal scheme. 

She wouldn't.

Jesus yielded and blessed her.  Love for a person trumped the doctrine.

Are we to be doctrineless?  May it never be.  What we might want to recall is loving God and loving our neighbors, He said, are our two greatest commandments.  What this does is challenge us to love people over loving church rules. 

This IS a most difficult church concept.  Quite frankly, I have miserably failed.

Friday, April 05, 2013


An exciting element, to me, in the church today is that we have been privileged to learn so much about God; yet we are just getting started!  I love it!  We are always entering the front door of eternity as His children ready to soak up the tour of His informational call!

Historical repetitivity, though, has reduced the vibrant cutting edge of discipleship in places to mere habit-forming insensitivity.  We become reduced to going through the church motions without inclination toward the radical Spirit within us. In places, have we not become dull in our efforts to portray overcoming and winning life?

Erwin McManus nailed this theme.  Discipleship has become the mechanism for uniformity rather than uniqueness.  Yet if we learn anything about God through John, it is that God has no problem with spiritual eccentrics.  The point, of course, is not that God makes us mentally or emotionally imbalanced, but that He makes us passionately unbalanced. 

Discipleship bugs guys like me.

I'm truly poor at the concept. 

Yet for my four decades of ministry, I find that those whose trump card seems to be "Discipleship" it can  also immediately be coupled with two very strong characteristics which causes me hesitation; legalism and arrogance.  The bold clarion for discipleship seems to fall into the quick and slick trap of "we do God best" which is nothing more than post-practice of the Pharisee walk.

We must be attentive, though, to God's call to be disciples.  This call is His transforming desire for all.  Within this concept we will find not the insistence that we become domesticated by adhering to the strong voices who train. But rather may we become liberated by the Holy Spirit to become wild about potential and possibility.

Discipleship is not about domestication that we form a singular lifestyle.  Rather it is a most freeing ploy to engage the Life of Jesus into the framework of where we live, walk, and breathe.

Thursday, April 04, 2013


A few people we encounter just can't get happy.  If it rains they are gloomy and if the sun shines they feel too hot.  It's nothing more than the old Papa Bear/Momma Bear scenario. 

Jesus encountered such dismal personalities.  When some just can't get happy, these have one steady recourse for daily endurance; slander.  The slander of others seems to appeal to the mindset of bringing everyone down to misery's level.

John Piper addressed it in this fashion; When someone hates your cause, all strategies of love will be slandered, even opposite ones.  Jesus was astonished at this in his generation: "To what shall I compare this generation?  It is like children sitting in the marketplaces" (Mt. 11:16).  They won't dance with the flute and they won't weep with the dirge.  For them the music of truth is never right.  John the Baptist was the dirge.  Jesus was the flute.  And his generation would hear neither.  How shall these two be silenced?  Slander.

Some have a bent for simply not liking whatever happens to be on the radar at the moment.  These seem to find their greatest satisfaction in cutting down others via slander.  I've concluded that either their porridge is too hot or too cold.  Or....it may be a simple matter that their underwear hurts.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013



Those who mourn are in a blessed state?

Wouldn't it be like God to make such a counter-to-human-thinking comment?

John Eldredge speaks with a powerful voice when he wrote that comfort for those who mourn and healing for the brokenhearted are at the very core of Jesus' mission.

Solomon said that it is better to go to a house of mourning than it is to a house of feasting.  I never understood this; (says Eldredge) I wrote it off as the pessimism of a depressed man.  Now I think I know what he meant.  Grief is good.  It is cleansing.  It undoes my world---and that is he best part of it. 

I need to be undone; simply undone.  No regrouping.  We need to mourn; it is the only way our hearts can remain both free and alive in this world.  Why?  Because it, like nothing else, puts a stop to the constant striving.  Grief is the antidote to the incessant possessive demand within.

Eldredge goes on to guide us to two necessary spiritual disciplines for every day; worship and grief.

Isn't that an odd combination?

Yet look around.  The ones who praise God and possess broken hearts for the downtrodden are the most effective among us. 

Hmmm.....do the commands to love God and love others ring a bell here?

Tuesday, April 02, 2013


Ministry is a strange and wonderful call. 

The wonder is found that such is from the voice of God wishing to send each of us into a land of Kingdom opportunity of service.  The strange part is that it takes discernment as to whether we are hearing God's voice which leads to productivity.  Or, are we listening to flesh-ego-centered voices which please the chart keepers and the measurement takers.

Ministry can be a tangled wad of nonsense which leads in circular ineffectiveness.  Too, it can be the wizzardry of awesome productivity.  Ours is the challenge to know the difference.

William James said, The essence of genius is to know what to overlook.

Not all opportunities are of God.  They may serve as distractionary.

Lk. 9:57-62 reveals Jesus knew of this battle.  Dual calls were heard by wanna-be disciples.  There was the voice of Jesus and then there was the voice of apparent acceptable responsibility.  Jesus noted the later as unacceptable excuse.

So it is for us to monitor our Kingdom involvement.  This has been a painful truth for me as in my earlier days I gaged my worth according to how I pleased men.  Of course, I was a grand failure.

Jesus places before us a serious perspective.  We must have our senses trained to discern which is the call of God and which is the plea of keeping our brothers and sisters pleased with us.  Jesus' response to let the dead bury the dead was incredibly insensitive and yet directly the very point. 

Entering this zone of culling the whether to engage/don't engage is a gold mine of both relief and productivity.  We are to say no to the many distracting invitations which are nothing more than excuses to keep us from paying attention to the authentic call of God at hand.  I was once impressed with others and myself when our calendars were frantic with schedules. 

No longer.

Such isn't the sign of a servant of God.  It is more likely a sign of a servant of one's pleading ego.

Sometimes the greatest work is not to do the work which others feel compelled....that YOU ought to be doing.  Tangled ministry in the name of activity is not of the nature of God; nor of His followers. 

Keep it simple.  God will likely get much more done through your rest than your hyper-need to impress us with church busyness.

Monday, April 01, 2013


Baseball season moves into full steam ahead today!  Ah, what we have all been awaiting!

So I want to tell you about this connection to last night's opening game; Astros vs Rangers.

When in my Cardinal camp in January I ran into Rick Ankiel; long-time friend who started out with the Cardinals.  He had just signed a new contract as an outfielder with the Houston Astros.  Rick has been good to me over the years and we email on occasion.  When I saw him in January, I asked him what it would be that I could pray about for him.  He said, Pray that I'll hit home runs and have RBIs. 

So, in our small group prayer meeting last night, I told the group about Rick's request.  So thus we prayed.

In the sixth inning of last night's game, Rick came to bat as a pinch-hitter.  He hit a three run homer!

I've already emailed him early this morning.  I want to keep before him the seed thoughts of God among us.