Friday, January 31, 2014


The doctrine of God that much of the world does not want is Jesus.  Yet, this divine man is one's only hope to Truth, Life, and Way.

The doctrine of God that many Christians don't want might surprise you.  It has been regarded by generations as the culprit of all three-letter curse words used in the church; N-E-W.

New makes blood boil.  It is accused, despised, and hated; especially by the modern-day Pharisees.  New is perceived that it must not be something of God or else we would have already known it and done it.


Anytime faith in Jesus drifts toward a formula set in stone, old and dying will creep into the picture.  New is too easily discarded by the guards of the believing camp. And this is a disaster currently burying faith upon earth in tsunami proportion.

When the new of the Son of God is diminished, arthritic inflammation begins to slow the body of Christ.  No longer supple and agile, the church cannot help but note decline with age.

But when new is permitted and sought, life abundant is in each moment.  The Word of God calls for this doctrine.

  • Good NEWs.
  • New covenant.
  • New birth.
  • New commandment.
  • New teaching.
  • New life.
  • Newness of the Spirit.
  • New leaven.
  • New creature.
  • New creation.
  • New man.
  • New self.
  • New and living way.
  • New heavens.
  • New earth.
  • New Jerusalem.
  • New name.
  • New song.
  • "Behold I am making all things new."  Rev. 21:5
We are told in very clear terms that new wine won't reside well in old wine skins; yet we as a rather plain people consistently find what work(ed/s) and insist that this is the way to do church because is was once productive.  This is the demise of churches throughout the land; shrinking while critical of new upstarts who don't do church our unsuccessful (but pleasing to us) ways.

Jesus' teaching about trying to put a new patch on an old cloth ought to send reverberation throughout our landscape.  If you are in a church you are likely clinging to an old style of its heyday that won't cut it today. It isn't because believers are liberal.  It is because God is.

God lives as new to provide the new for the new.  This bugs the tar out of control freaks.  He will not abide within the framework of yesterday's best for He has ideas that we have yet to even think about.  He is waiting on us.

While the outer man is decaying the inner man is made to be new day by day.  We are to be fresher today than we were yesterday.  Aging bread will go stale and become moldy.  Yet, this is not to be our state.  We are to feed from the Bread of Life which--as He has clearly shown--is new morning by morning.

The doctrine of God that many Christians don't want is the very thing that would bring new life to our habitual meetings regarding what we are going to do with a dying congregation.  If things don't change congregations will die off; not because we were so absolutely committed to the Word of God as we wish to parade to the public.  No, we will die off because stubbornness of favoring what we like took precedent over what God tried to get us to hear...and we wouldn't hear of it.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


One of my favorite sayings by one of my favorite people (me) (well...I'm in the office alone and somebody around here needs to be funny) is, Don't you love right now?  I say it all of the time for two reasons: (1) I do love right now, and (2) we tend to become so numb to social pressures we miss the moment of wonder.

Even the religious speak as if we will one day begin to live when Jesus returns, when heaven begins, and when permission from God is distributed.  That's all wrong.

Our citizenship is in  Our perception of God is to see His rich  We are to be filled to the fullness of God later, someday far away?  No. Right now.  Why do we think the good stuff only starts later?

Mankind's senses are deadened.  Period.  We are deadened to both joy and sorrow. John Eldridge makes strong cases for both.  We dismiss the whispers of joy with a cynical "Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt."  We deaden our sorrows with cynicism as well, sporting a bumper sticker that says, "Life sucks.  Then you die."

What I love about being in the kingdom of God is the dare-angel attitude (well...I hated to use the words dare-devil) where we know for certain our lives a backed as well as indwelt by the living God that never met a sea He couldn't part nor an opponent He couldn't love.

As some Italian might want to say, Wake-a up-a church-a!  You have-a much-a life-a to treasure-a!  (Don't you love the accent?)

When we struggle to note the fabulosity of life we are destined for mundane misery. We replace awe with being moody.  We throw regular pity-parties; but who can tolerate the sour-pusses that choose to attend these things?

No.  No.  No.  We are designed by More than this for More than this.  God is the More!

For too long I lived pouting the short-straw syndrome.  Never good enough.  Never bright enough.  Never...something enough.  Well....poor, poor miserable Terry.

God didn't convert us to put off living til later!  He has inserted the Holy Spirit of Himself into our very being. We are free to imagine beyond imagination (Eph. 3:20) and He promises to trump it every time.

So don't put off living til you die and go to heaven.  Die by being buried into Jesus in baptism and be raised to walk in something so new that God calls it.... new L-I-F-E.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


It seems to be a normal, even casual, thread for man to believe that walking with God is simply adjusting to a better-decision lifestyle.  One would no longer drink so much or use bad language; plus church attendance would be on the rise and doing good deeds would be a must.

Yet, there is something major missing in the above generalized formula for being considered Christian.


God is subtly left out of His own system by many of us who claim to be indebted to Him for our new life. We have replaced old habits with better habits; but they are still known as habits.  On the other hand, we have not shifted from powerlessness to powerful.  This would be God's goal for His people (II Tim 2:1-5).

God's desire for His children is the transformation from inadequate to adequate; not of ourselves, but of Him in us.  And such confidence we have through Christ toward God.  Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God (II Cor. 3:4-5).

At baptism our sins are washed away and the Holy Spirit is implanted into the individual--Acts. 2:38, Romans 6:1-6.  It is this implant that reverses our mediocre and fumbling daily walk.  A newness comes upon us that is neither of our own management nor our own energy.  The Living God is implanted into the common man and woman.

One of the reasons communities balk at the religious among us is not only our hypocrisy; but our clear powerlessness.  In such cases we would also be found to be prayerless and praiseless.  Sadly, we are found to have opted for what we would regard as a cleaner life while the God Implant, the Holy Spirit, is obviously absent.

We need the Holy Spirit for we can do nothing beyond fleshly attentiveness without Him.  This God Implant is a must; He is not an option.  Either He is within us and we get beyond our imagination things done (Eph. 3:20) or else we are yet another group of religious wannabes who go to exercise class without ever taking the field.

We are not in need of something.  We are in need of a Person; God in Spirit form. This will always be the need as well as the solution.  I urge you to be reminded once again that kingdom life isn't up to you; but it is up God's Implant within you.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


When it comes to education, health, and relationships, a sobriety of mission drapes all hearts.  We are devoted to learning deeply into subjects which will enhance our insight as well as lifestyle.  As far as health goes, we are focused.  Relationships? These are of maximum importance.

And then there is the subject of God, faith, and church.

These three perceived from man's sober mission?  Not so much.  Truly it is a "take it or leave it" kind of thing; and after all, we know everyone has their own opinion.

The masses of all time will be lost because of one of the saddest reasons imaginable; sheer laziness.  People are too lazy and indifferent to take seriously the reality and the call of God.  This is world-disaster in the making.

It would be one story if we applied ourselves to research of kingdom life and concluded from our best undertaking that this concept isn't legitimate.  But this is not the case.  God and His realm are dismissed with a shrug by too many of "Whatever."

Even churches are packed with this obstinate dismissal; yet the powerless motion of religious formation continues.

What will it take?  What does it take to be true believers in Jesus the Lamb?

It will not take finding the best denomination or favorite worship style or best children's programs.  It will take serious study and eventual relationship to the man who went to hell and back; Jesus.  This demands both cost and courage.

It is at the approach of these two hills (cost and courage) when the hearts can begin to stall.  Applying ourselves to researching and entering the lifestyle of Jesus is more than a religious placard on a wall.  It takes concentration in prayer and surrender of which I am merely in kindergarten at my age.

There are no penalties nor threats when driving to a building on Sunday morning for an hour or two so that one may sit on a pew and roost a religious bit.  And such hearts are what we would all note as "not in it".

When we bravely risk to reach to others--not just in good deeds, but in the name of Jesus--intimidation is strong.  Crossing the line and moving ahead anyway is both terrifying and rewarding.  I know.  I've been so afraid on so many counts only to find on the other side deep and unfathomable blessings awaited.

I root for us.

It is my great desire to see us enter that doorway of intimidation only to find the provision of God to be abundant.  We don't find that while cowering in fear.  We discover it in the zone of risk and danger.

Churches aren't houses of safety to protect our children.  Churches are the huddled to gain the courage to suck it up and dare to step out into a world of howling wolves ready to pounce...with the full intention to win!

The Spirit of God defeats pouncers.  We will never know it just by reading our favorite books.  We will know it when we determine to jump with no safety net.  We are the small birdlings perched with the call to eventually fly.  What a sad world it would be if all of His birds chose to walk because they "just couldn't do the risk stuff".

Religious man basically doesn't do things that scare us.  We do things that (1) we like, and that (2) won't tax us.  In the meantime needs from Jesus and His Spirit are extreme throughout our communities.

Good for you; those who have sacrificed to see that others have reason to hope! Good for you; those who could live in much nicer houses, but you have chosen to do without that some strangers might do with.  Good for you; when you actually pray for blessings upon those with problems too big for you to tackle.

Believing takes courage and comes with a cost.  We are to take up our crosses--not our schedules--and die for others daily.  May we together somehow gain spiritual momentum in this very dicey task.  The mission is supreme.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


Preaching for a church is nothing like I had perceived before I became a minister.

I assumed you toss a few verses together for a sermon-salad, open with a joke, close with a prayer, and shake hands as they exit at the door.

Nope.  Not even close.

Preaching for God and with God is absurdly threatening.  I listen for Him and study His Word everyday for six days.  He gives me ideas which will enhance the congregants' lives.  I love it....and fear it.  What if I miss the message.  Worse yet, what if I got it and failed in its delivery.

Today I look like I'm Terry; dressed in my open-collared shirt, jeans, and a black sport coat.  I can't wait to be with the people.  And I'm so excited about the message He has given me for it is above what we usually think about.  The theme will challenge us to move more into His zone which is a different level than our habitual comfort.

The message doesn't scare me.  It is a good one; a needed and strong one.  What makes me afraid is my complete inadequacy.  All one-hundred-ninety-pound me is going to step up there, take a deep breath, and just pray that my words are from the Wisdom above and not from me.

This is the way is should be.  But it still makes me afraid.

More and more I understand that the Apostle Paul wasn't spouting false humility to the wind when he said, And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.  And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God (I Cor. 2:3-5).

For me, it is such a relief to note that such a man felt similarly to me.  We want more than anything in the world to let the good people in front of us hear from God.  Yet, we know how foolish and silly we messengers are.

Today...I am afraid of my skills or lack thereof...but am wound up as to getting to hear what He might have to say through me.

I must decrease that He might increase.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


I love people; those in the church and those outside.

It bugs me deeply that I can't seem to get the two connected.  I love what I have found in the church and surely know the questions many have who are not yet in.  I eat, sleep, and drink imagining efforts to draw really good and wonderful people into the body of Christ.

No one is too far gone.  No one.  No one would be labeled as not good enough.  Jesus died for sinners; not for the saintly for there are none of those.

None of us that are in are good enough.  Yet, from the call of God, everyone is welcome.

I was once on the outside.  The hesitancy is understandable.  But it must eventually be understood by all that no one is in the church because we attended well, or gave well, or performed well.  We are only in because Jesus paved the way for sinners to be acceptable.

I've long thought that our hypocrisy was what held others back.  That is the loudest charge it seems.  There may be yet another reason; our lack of daring and risky faith.

In general, those who claim that our God is big may actually live as if He is little.  This would be the purest essence of hypocrisy, I guess.  But it seems to go unnoticed and unmarked as sinful.

It takes work to believe Jesus.  Churches are full of good people trying our best to do better.  The power of God...that element that separates Truth from Tradition...appears to be missing.  We have tried hard to not be out of line with the herd; we believe what the consensus believes even if it comes far short of God's elaborate call.

Our desire is twofold; we don't wish to draw unnecessary attention to ourselves and we want to go to heaven when we die.  If we are following Jesus, we will be noticed.  If we possess the wonders of God in us, we will be crucified (not by the gangsters, but) by the religious leaders.

Mark it down, if we are to follow in His steps, we will pay the price.  None are called into the church to hide until Jesus comes.

Somehow the church has taken on a false doctrine that our goal is heaven; not Jesus. It takes work to believe in Jesus.  Few want to labor that much.  But this is what it will take for those who are on the outside looking in to be persuaded that there is more than putting one foot in front of the other and calling such a pace Life.

If searching for fellowship, unbelievers can find that in the night clubs.  If needing support, such can be found on the golf courses.  These and other spots are their churches.  But the life-giving power of Jesus is absent. The church is to display and draw others into His power.

What we can do about this gap--this very serious and burdening gap--is to jump into the work of believing Jesus when we can't give explanation for His mighty moves which result in a weirdly wonderful new kind of life.

"What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?"  Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent." (John 6:28-29)

Friday, January 24, 2014


This announcement is for Carolyn Taylor....and you.

The Tulsa Workshop begins March 19 at the Tulsa State Fairgrounds.  Worth the Cost will be a workshop loaded with encouragement for kingdom life all over the world.

When Phil Robertson speaks on Friday evening, the place will be packed out.  You will do well to be there early early if you want to get in.

Details regarding schedule, exhibits, etc. may be found at

Thursday, January 23, 2014



This would be the trophy I won at the Cardinals Baseball Camp in Florida a few days ago.

I was chosen because my aged and wimpy arm could still accurately throw the ball sixty-two feet.  It is sixty feet six inches to the plate.  My arc on the ball was reflective of St. Louis' arch.

Our team record was one and four so what did the manager have to lose?  After much begging, our manager reluctantly yielded to let me try so I would quit whining.

Too, the ball was so slow that it baffled the big macho hitters.  It was so slow that a breeze might blow it off course.  Batters swung and swung only to often dink the ball into the ground.

I didn't exactly wow them unless I possibly looked significantly striking in my uniform!  

Not only did I win the MVP Award for winning the game, but I was awarded the starting pitcher job against the former stars the next day.  

Ozzie Smith singled to left.  Tito Landrum grounded out to second.  Larry Walker grounded out to short.  And John Mabry grounded out to first.  

Four up.  Three down.  One hit.  No runs.  I said N-O  R-U-N-S !!  You are supposed to salute or something!!

I shut them out; not because I could throw hard, but because I threw so slowly it messed with their minds as well as their skills.  

Me?  How do I feel about this?

Well, good grief....just so happy not to win the NO WHERE TO GO BUT UP award that I have won...twice.  It feels good to win something neat like this trophy in spite of my obvious inability.

I baffled the hitters with my untalent.  I always knew I could if I just had the chance!!  Don't you love that?

Hmmm....power IS perfected in weakness....don't you think?  You and me, MVPs in the kingdom of God for the very same reason.  


God and faith and eternity are pretty big topics.  We are expected and invited to know them intricately.  For too many, I perceive, very little attention is given.  This is easy and nearly normal for these seem to draw with significant delight at the hypocrisy of us all.

Isn't is true, however, that nearly all wish to know the deep spiritual side of ourselves?  After all, we are very much more than arms, legs, eyes, lawns to mow and dishes to wash.  There is notably the sensitive, emotional, life part of us; the spiritual.

So here is something I would want to cheer you on about today.  Heaven is more than a place for later.  It enters believers in Jesus.  Philippians says we are citizens of heaven, now.

John Eldredge shared valuable insight; When we hear the words "eternal life", most of us tend to interpret that as "a life that waits for us in eternity."  But eternal means "unending", not "later".  The Scriptures use the term to mean we can never lose it.  It's a life that can't be taken from us.  The offer is life, and that life starts now.

It is Jesus who points out, Truly I say to you, whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Mt. 18:18).  Such a statement isn't for those beyond-the-cemetery years.  Rather it is leading us to the interaction believers have with the presence of eternity now, today, in our walk.

Due to the eternal nature there is to be a strong interaction factor with heaven and earth.  Thus, we accelerate in prayer because we believe our words rise higher than ceilings.  We find cheer in giving of our funds because we believe there is correlation between earths funding and heaven's reward.

Heaven is more than a "later" place.  It is a present system which blesses, upholds, and promotes the marriage of Jesus and his bride; the church.

One does not die and then go to heaven.  No, one dies to self here by being buried in Jesus at baptism and then heaven comes to live within us via the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).  That is a pretty major move!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


For most of my life I have had it in my mind I wanted to be somebody.  I mean I wanted to be a big, known somebody.  To simply be Terry Rush wouldn't be enough. I needed to be at the top; or at least pretty near. When I became a Christian nothing changed.  I wanted to do Christianity at the top.

Zig Ziglar's book See You At the Top was written to build Terry Rush's momentum. In addition, Leadership Conferences were magnets.  What we needed in the church were dynamic and intensely influential leaders. That call had a great ring to it.

It got into my head that I was among the best speakers and surely my insight to living was rather, shall we say, superior?  I not only read lots of books, I wrote a few.  I was a wheeler/dealer, buyer/seller, acquirer/trader of spiritual goods...all in my own mind of course.  Surely no one other than my mom was as impressed with me as me.

And that drive held on to me for my first 50 years.  The last 16, however, have taken a drastic turn.

I blame it on Jesus.

Jesus shifted from a name that closed out my prayers to a strong friend who became truly real day in and day out.  He didn't walk the roads of fame and glory.  Rather he reflected Light from above onto the down and out.  Jesus kept side-stepping notoriety by giving credit to Father.

It wasn't like Jesus kept this a secret for he unloaded these goods in his originating sermon; but he surely upset my apple cart when he presented the terms of authentic (upside down and backward) power.  Power?  Now we are talking.  Except....

Power...real, authentic, leadership-conference-worthy power...came in confusing forms.  He said it came in the poor in spirit; I thought it was the confident.  He said traits like mourning and meek and merciful were top-o-the-line kingdom dynamics.

Wait a minute!  What about leadership?  Skills?  Persuasiveness?

Jesus didn't deny any of them.  He rerouted them.  Leaders are to be the very best as followers.  Talent is not the self-groomed but the Spirit-driven.

Rosa Parks may be properly celebrated (as she had a great cause) for refusing to go to the back of the bus, but God spent a significant amount of energy trying to get me to move back there, sit down, and be quiet. Jesus knows life.  It turned out that I knew a bit of flesh tactics.  And the best of these I had to offer were like wet notebook paper; useless.

The Jesus style, it turns out, isn't in line with the best-of-Terry style.  He has a way of disarming the ego-ambitionilistic.  While his way is so drastically different than what I had assumed effectiveness in the church would be, his way is THE way, THE truth, and THE life.

Dare to change the world; not by becoming the next latest and greatest.  Dare to change the world by decreasing within that Jesus may increase.  Such moves are still all of us.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


It seems rather overly dramatic to be a part of a spiritual walk that declares we are to die to ourselves. These words of Jesus are some of his more serious: If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23).  

These words form one sentence.  If ever we are to be found "sentenced" to life, this has to be one of the strongest pronouncements.

But how is it that we are to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow him?

It comes through a word that is snubbed; especially in the American culture.  It is so disregarded that once pondered it may be even clearer why this concept has been buried in our society.  It is because it is the secret that gives us the life so many crave; but cannot reach.

The word is submission.

To deny self is to submit.  Submission is the opposite of stand up for yourself; don't let anyone run over you. Compliance, acquiescence, and deference; all of these words are supportive to the concept of submission.  If ever there is a challenge for each, it is surely that from early childhood our striving has always been one main thing; getting our way.

Submission, however, places us in the lowest position in the crowd in order to find the highest life.  It is just the weirdest and most backward concept ever.  But take a good serious look at the dismay and the burden so many possess living in this rich and abundant land of ours.  Why can't the general population get happy?

Submission has been aborted.  Looking out for #1 is now primary.  Scott Bessenecker points out, Self-centeredness cannot be permitted to live on in the healthy, spiritual adult.  The opposite of submission is rebellion, and although rebellion is generally considered cool in American culture it doesn't seem to be considered "cool" by God. Even the most well-intentioned "rebel" who is committed to justice is bound to be wrong sometimes and will hurt themselves and others if they never submit to anyone.  

As Americans, freedom and independence are pathological obsessions.  Our natural tendency to resist authority has been put on steroids.  "Live and let die!" is the philosophical foundation for our country and stands in stark contrast to the philosophy of the kingdom of God, which tells us to die that we might live free.  We Americans are cowboys who believe submission is for yellow-bellied, lily-livered, chicken-hearted cowards who don't have the guts to fight for what they believe is right.

It would be no surprise that such descriptive terms (yellow-bellied, etc.) would be the perception of unbelievers toward those in churches.  The reason, furthermore, is very legitimate.  We are soft.  We are whiny.  We can be among the loudest in protest of church not going our way.  Yet, submission is the only route to real life; whether individual or as a church.

Jesus got it right.  Bessenecker may have pegged some of (many of) us, but his words bounce off of Jesus. Jesus' submission to God upon the cross carried with it a secret backdrop; an underground one if you will. Waiting beyond the torture was the resurrection.

Our job is to be submissive to unfair, uncharacteristic hardship.  Christianity isn't failing to spread because we lack fame and glitter and catchy phrases.  Christianity is failing because we have replaced the cross with individual judge's benches and we have determined what we will take and what we won't.

So God leaves us alone.  We have not submission; but insubordination.  And such a trade is killing off the effectiveness of the, what is supposed to be, dynamic move of God.

How are we to die to ourselves?  By relinquishing getting our way when someone over us--especially someone unfair--bullies and pushes.  Submission is the doorway to an abundant life uncalculateable by human determination and strong will.

Although shockingly surprising and even backward, submission is the secret which keeps many of us from reaching our highest potential.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


I know of nothing more inwardly boredom-packed than living from paycheck to paycheck.  I speak not against having an income.  Yet, I do address the futility of trying to make a robust life from income one moment that bleeds into outgo for the rest of the week.  I've been there.  Done that.

Meaning isn't found in careers, incomes, nor in our best accomplishments.  Real, authentic meaning is awakened when we invest in others who have needs.  The good news is that such an awakening never sleeps.

We are so created in God's image that when we bless another, we sense our highest reality.  We are at home when we reach to see that another receives encouragement and strength.  And this fits for in giving ourselves away (dying to selfishness) we experience true living.  Didn't Jesus die to himself that we might live and then ask us to repeat his process in our personal walk....I Peter 2:21-25?


Do you know some who could wear a T-shirt: UNHAPPY  UNHAPPY  UNHAPPY?


Americans aren't in need of therapy as much as we are in need of a mission.  Re-discussing ourselves by looking at our belly-buttons is a vain effort of selfie on the grandest scale.  Lifting our eyes to the handicapped, and the lonely, and the rejected awakens our souls to the highest grade of power.  We are useful when we see, and act, and touch those who are much worse off than we.

If you know of someone who can't get happy, maybe you would be the one to help. Maybe they need a cause bigger than themselves.  They do.  A visit to a burn center or a detention center or a food bank or a family shelter might be just the thing to help those of us who are feeling wounded.

We each take our turns at being down and blue.  I've had my fair share.  But the issue has never been how am I doing.  I has been where I am focusing.  It seems that the greatest work on earth is being the light Jesus insisted we be only to find out that such brightness begins to show up in another's eyes.

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Some live for the weekend.

Some live for the vacation.

Some live for Disneyworld.

What if we could have the sensation of all three....every day?

I think this is where Jesus makes the difference.

All can be given to good works for community needs.  And these surely bring about momentary satisfaction. But only in Jesus can one find elation and joy in both the rewarding times as well as bummer moments.

The visual of the cross is superior to good people doing occasional good things for good causes.  No, the cross shows us what a successful rough day looks like.  While each good deed we muster is valuable (and I engage in many), the emptiness of discouragement and depression still strike if we are tackling these efforts without the funding of God.

It is the Holy Spirit that gives us overwhelmingly good days when the days are good and also when days are bad (Romans 5:1-5).  The Spirit of Jesus transforms our lives; not just our Sunday's that we once (before committing to God) thought we had off.

I lived a Yo-Yo life too a preacher.  Up and down.  Happy and sad.  On top of the world; then down in the valley.  My days did not reflect walking with God.  Rather they mirrored walking in self-effort to keep others and myself in good moods.  Failure!!

Today?  He changed it all.  One of my favorite sayings is, Don't you love right now?  My good friend, Darrin Patrick, is a terrific minister in the St. Louis area.  He says that we are to be the chief enjoyers of the world!  

Anybody and everybody can muster good deeds here and there.  And, we should. But doing good things and being good people won't give us consistently good life. We need a negotiating factor to help us through the high winds and beating storms.

What we need we can't provide; the ability to see the rose garden at the cemetery.  In other words, we need someone who has been beaten to pulp to show us how to not only survive our beatings; but to be unflinching in the process.

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own....that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:7-11).

The good person simply wants everything to go well.  Who doesn't?  And, how is this working for you?

Here's what works.  Lean into Jesus for he not only knows how to make life flow; he knows how to break the intimidating bonds of death---not just at the grave, but;---those stifling moments which wish to take us under.  He knows how to take our misery and transform it into our fuel.

Jesus didn't come to earth to make us church-going wimps.  He came that we could learn to transform every negative issue into valuable material for right well as all days ahead.

Friday, January 17, 2014


Why do so many appear to have little interest in God?

Dependent upon my own assumed goodness, my earlier years had no need for God nor church-goers who were often poor examples of a new life.  The flaw, however, wasn't that I could point to the flawed.  It was that I refused to point to and deal with myself.

I was trying to do life on my own.  And....and I wasn't very good at it.

A major roadblock to faith in God is not the hypocrisy of others, the confusion in trying to read the Bible, nor is it the sheer weirdness of believing in the invisible.  It is that our egos (especially of men) are most hesitant to walk into any arena where we don't have substantial control.

We insist on grooming an image that comes out looking good.  But it won't bring fulfillment.  Thus so many, even of fame, live so depressed and burdened over so many things.

This grieves me.

Wonderful, great, and awesome people are moving about in life with the appearance of success in many forms; yet, are nothing but empty shells on the inside.  No one knows it better than the individual trying to put up the front.  This is wearying; so weighty to the heart.

The spirit of a person is very real.  We say things like, He is really down these days, meaning the spirit part of him (which is mega-important) is injured.  On the other hand, it can also be heard, She is soaring as if she won the lottery, which indicates her spirits are high.  Therefore, each person experiences the constant movement of the inner-man moment by moment.

A major roadblock, however, is that our protective and controlling egos are hesitant to go public with our faith in God because we might appear foolish.  We would rather play it safe and be accepted by our peers (who are also cowards in the same region) than to leap into the best spiritual life on earth; even if we do make a few mistakes along the way.

This has to be noted because real men and women aren't getting to lead the lives they crave because they are afraid.  They are afraid some will mock them should they speak of a new life in Jesus.  Isn't this rather grade-schoolish?

Think about the absurdity; macho men can't proclaim faith in God because they are fearful?

I don't know of many who favor moving into a zone totally out of their comfort.  Yet, we do it all of the time; go to the dentist, enter into college, build a family, start a many things that scare us in the initial start.  God, faith, and church are no different.  We enter all of those other things, so why not God?

Somewhere along the way each of us has to make a decision to surrender our pride and learn of God.  We cannot self-help ourselves into effective spiritual life; otherwise, we would have done so years ago.

Jesus is the icon of public bravery and power.  He died on the cross to become guilty for each of our sins.  If he could do that in public shame, surely we can admit we know him, like him, love him, and are willing to risk our reputations if such would give others stability and hope.

Society isn't hurting first because of unemployment or broken relationships.  No communities are in dreaded discouragement because men and women aren't alive in the center.  Trying to impress so many, we pull into our garages of an evening feeling whipped.

You and I can change this.  New life and hope are found in Jesus.  If ever I can be of encouragement to you, email me at  Together, we can discuss a hope that God wishes all to possess.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


From an outsider's perspective, church is rather enigmatic.  God and faith and church just seem perplexing as well as confusing.  I lived in the outsiders mode for a long time.  Now that I am on this inside, I agree with much of what bugs those looking in.

A big question is, What difference does faith in God make?

If church is a service project center, multiple community organizations offer good programs.  If church is a useful social connection, card parties and golf outings provide excellent bonding times as well.  And, if church is a literary group gathered to discuss the latest publication, libraries are ahead of the idea.

But...the church is to be heavily invested in each of the above.  We are to be all of those things and more. What I wish to communicate to the church is that we are to be more than a mediocre group taking a stab at making a difference.  We want to see divine results.

Faith in God is not a sidewalk jaunt into dull routine-ism.  It is beyond all levels of service, social, and knowledge accumulation.  Why?  Because no person, no gathering, no other religions, no event, and no cause is embedded within the resurrection factor.

Speaking of the father of faith, Abraham, Romans 4:17 gives us clear and direct insight to the Difference Maker. the sight of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.

T-h-i-s  i-s  t-h-e  D-i-f-f-e-r-e-n-c-e  M-a-k-e-r!  The difference between God/faith/church over all other entities is the resurrection factor that circumstances which appear hopeless can regain hope.  God can make something from nothing.  We are to actually live from such a base.

So when we see relationships cratering (or over) this means nothing to the one who believes in the Difference Maker.  When the day seems dry of productivity, the Difference Maker can shift the results.  We are to walk in serving others, relating to others, and knowing how to manage the habitual walk called living.

Various groups and apps are available to assist in negotiating each.  Yet, the Difference Maker is the only element that can make dead facts breathe air again and can cause something that isn't to become actual.

For me and my household, I want to put my confidence in the Spirit of God.  He goes places and takes us places that no one else can enter.  Yes, there are abundant opportunities to live as good people.  Yet, God does not call us to be good.  He calls us to be of power.

We are called to live anticipating God's resurrection power--not just at the Final Curtain on Resurrection Day--in our paths for our works day in and day!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Finally!!  A pitcher good enough to hit my bat!!

And discovering first base, I could not help but celebrate!!

Hey...all you guys on the other team...hey...don't you realize it's me that scored?  


The Kingdom of God is ultra and mega-important.  There is no other like it.  Ours is the call to draw others in.  We must.  It isn't an option.

Mistakenly, I took off like a rocket when first beginning to preach.  I was that in-your-face sort that wanted, as my ultimate goal, to stand in the baptistery again...and again.  I tell you from experience that one can be baptism-driven and not live in prayer, in the Word, or in love with God.  For me, it had become a score-keeping stat that measured me against other Christians as to whether they were really in this for the soul-winning.

Wishing to be honest about my lack when it came to genuine motivation for outreach, I dare to ask us to consider what it is we are doing in the church.  Are we reaching or have we nestled down into "a ministry" where we can hide from the community?

Every person is to be a light; every individual.  While we have made necessary and proper strides in maturing in gifts within the church, we have inadvertently shown some among us where to legally resist the call to reach out.  Subsequently, these have no conscience for extending their faith to another.  

Henri Nouwen wrote, Nobody can offer leadership to anyone unless he makes his presence known--that is, unless he steps forward out of anonymity and apathy of his milieu and makes the possibility of fellowship visible.

I believe every person we meet possesses one of the following; (1) is a believer, (2) is not a believer but is beginning to search, or (3) is not a believer and has no intention of becoming one.  2 and 3 are to have our steady and utmost attention.  

In both cases we can move out from anonymity and apathy by casually mentioning what God is doing in our lives or what we are doing to care for others in His name. This is simply a matter of planting seed or watering seed someone else planted. What it does is let the receiver of your comments register a face in their community that they can make connection when God eventually stirs their hearts.

In 1970 Mary and I were on a search for God and we didn't even know it.  We just knew something was ajar regarding faith and action toward Him.  An invitation to a church potluck shocked and upset our entire a most wonderful way.

I simply remind you of something you already know.  There are wonderful people all around who are privately questioning their doubts and their spiritual neglects.  Your extending an invitation to a small group or class or worship or to read a favorite book of yours may be magic to those in your path.  

Outreach: we must be attentive.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Our lives are about two things: God and others.  There is no adjustable, adaptable, alternate path.  Remove one of these two factors from the equation and/or add another and the perfect system of the divine intention breaks down.

Cardinal baseball camp is a thrill to me of course.  I've returned healthy and so excited!

Baseball is about a game of participants with talent and skill.  But because Jesus has worked on me over the years, baseball camp is like every other day of my life; about God and others. That is how I feel going in and coming out of this wonderful week of sheer wow!

I go into camp understanding one thing very clearly; I am the least with no hope nor intent to try to make myself be anything more.  Being nothing is a powerful secret. The week isn't about the game.  It is about God and others.

I pray going to the complex.  I pray walking to the field, approaching the plate, and walking back and forth to/from the complex that houses 150 of us athletes (sorta).

You and me....we like to know how things are to go before we enter an assignment. This isn't good because it implies it is about our success rather than God's goals.  We tend to weigh our image more than His ability. Do you really think Paul and Silas took a Wednesday night course on Jail Dismantling?  No.  They simply believed God would guide....that's all.

To be honest, I don't like going into any venue when I don't know how it will go nor how it is supposed to unfold.  Baseball camp, though, is that for me.  The most I can say is (1) I am there, (2) this is a mission about God and others, so (3) be vulnerably attentive.

From 6:00 a.m. til 10:00 p.m. I spent every day at camp on target with my assignment; watching for God and others.  It could not be about me for I am the most nobody there.  To verify this I share with you how the rosters were posted on the board for all to know which team we were assigned.

There were nine teams in all with 12 to 13 players per.  The list spanned a huge dry/erase board from Team #1 to #9; left to right.  My name?  Farthest right--Team #9.  Last listing--farthest right/lowest position--RUSH....last name listed....visibly, clearly, for all to see....L-A-S-T.

Ah, that tells us where I fit in the talent, skill, ability, athleticism range....LOWEST.

So I have nothing to offer but two things: interest in God and interest in others. Guess who knows everybody in camp.  Guess who listened to those recovering from bone-marrow transplants and to those discouraged with family matters. Guess who it was in camp that everyone knew his name.  Guess who it was that pulled the first-time Director of the Camp aside to point out what a fabulous job he was doing.

Who?  Well, I would be one of them and surely there were others.  When God and others are the divine assignment, each of us has plenty of opportunity to shine the light of the King upon challenged hearts.

If you feel you are a nobody, join the crowd.  This isn't a problem.  It is our secret to great and productive wonder....for God and others!

Tuesday, January 07, 2014


I leave early in the morning for Jupiter, Florida; home of the St. Louis Cardinals Spring Training facility.  Anticipation couples so exciting with very intense. I go to see what God will do; who we will meet and what will develop.

We arrive on Wednesday, go through various exercises and instructions, play eight games in four days, and then return home Sunday night.

This has been a strange and wonderful experience for me. Strange in that it is mind-boggling that I would have ever gotten to do such a thing once; let alone three decades plus.

Wonderful in that I have been honest about the purpose from the very get-go; to influence others for the kingdom.

God-stories abound.

I like being in this setting for a couple of reasons; (1) I am a ridiculous Cardinal fan, and (2) I am way out of my league in this setting.  I'm not a good ball player.  I don't run with this kind of crowd.  And, I am a minister which is an automatic target of the macho-jocks.

Yet, what I like about camp most is that I am placed in an unchristian setting.  The insights to the kingdom are galorish!  As a minister I am mocked by some from the minute I arrive; but have learned to simply use that to my advantage.  Power is perfected in weakness and I know I am the epitome of weakness.

Famous people hurt.  Nobodies as myself (we are known as Rookies) live in deep pain.  From these camps I minister all year long; year after year, to those of both status and commoners.  Each has equal frustrations and agonies.  I intend to be a voice of hope.

This baseball evangelism effort is a 52 week a year engagement.  I minister to those at the top and those going under.  Ministry extensions from this one effort continue.  Hundreds have been baptized into the hope in Jesus.

Baseball camp isn't the major dream.  Living in the Kingdom is the ultimate one.  We each have our places of influence.  This is one of mine.

As you think of it, would you pray thanking God for doing His thing at camp?  I love to watch for Him; and He always shows up!

(This post will have to do until I return from the land of sore muscles and home runs.)

Monday, January 06, 2014


Man has a strange and perplexing struggle.  We are expected to be ambitious but needed to be humble.  The call for knowledge is profound while the need to walk in meekness is essential.  The traps of ambition and knowledge are the same traps for a hundred other life-dimensions; the potential for ruinous pride.

Pride affects us like a person with bad breath; everyone but the guilty notices it.

Ever since the Fall in the Garden, every self has waged battle to be centered.  Life then shifted from being about the Creator to focusing upon the created.  Thus, in many ways both blatant as well as subtle, men and women have positioned ourselves to be the first to be considered in every circumstance and situation.

I can't say exactly when arrogance began to hit me.  I'm sure it was early for I wanted to be big from the time I was little.  This morning I reflect on my secret discovery as a young man of opening a package of large marshmallows and letting them set for about a week.  Exposed to air, marshmallows become hard like rocks.

When I took the field at our Little League games with a what-seemed-to-be a hefty chaw of obvious tobacco bulging from my eleven year old cheek, I felt I was sure to impress the fans in the stands.  They didn't say, but I felt certain my teammates as well as our coach were duly impressed with my accelerated maturity.  A one pound wad appearing on a fifty-seven pound body had to be nothing less than strikingly

I was obviously ahead as none of the other guys on the team had begun to chew or smoke.

Just me.

I had basically reached my goal of being more important than others through the simple act of marshmallowing.  (They never did catch on.)

Pride drives us to be foolish, vain, and sometimes downright mean.  We want to be more than we are and if it isn't big marshmallows it's big talk or big purchases or big threats or big....well something bigger than a normal big.

We want lots.  We want things.  We want recognition.  We want more.

Pride stunts meekness.  It keeps humility at bay.  Simply regarding the hunger for owning material items Scott Bessinecker says that life is not measured by how much you own (Lk. 12:15)...Accumulating stuff is carbon monoxide to the soul.  It puts to sleep our spirit and then poisons it.

More.  The more we have...the more we want...the more we need which keeps the carbon monoxide flowing.

We are so saturated in the flesh that our self seems unsatisfiable.

The solution is increasing emphasis in the Spirit.  The transformation is modeled, of course, in Jesus.  Most famous; yet walking among the least with the least.  Accumulation of knowledge, money, position, and fans is vanity...unless such abundance would be totally availed to the kingdom life and not for the self one.

I would race with you to justify my pride of wanting/needing/desiring more...and more...and more.  Yet, I must join the rest of us in checking such a drive for it may be nothing more than experiencing contamination by carbon monoxide to my soul.

God calls us to be dependent upon Him.  And the good news is He will help us get there.  May we effectively find the center of our self nature has yielded to the Holy Spirit of God.

Sunday, January 05, 2014


Oh how I hate to say this, but due to a great snow that Tulsa is experiencing, we are cancelling our morning classes and worship assembly.

Not only will I not get to see some of my very favoritest people on earth, no one would believe how very good I look today!!  I finally hit a day where I'm appearing quite sharp....and we cancel.


Saturday, January 04, 2014



Evangelism is a dirty ten-letter word to many in the church....and out.

That word is quickly linked to a few slick-talking television personalities.  Worse it is assumed that the in-your-face Bible thumpers represent outreach in its purest form. If the former or the latter work for you, may His power be upon you.

For me, as an assumed gospel preacher, reaching to souls who did not yet know God was a most torturous duty.  I felt inadequate to try and guilty for not.  Furthermore, I didn't know how.  I'd been thoroughly trained, understand; yet I didn't know how because the task was too heavy.

But I learned a secret.

I was being faked out by my self-assumption that I was searching for that interested needle in a disinterested haystack.  Just not true.

Here's what I believe and think I know.  Every person has a point or many where he or she comes to the brink of wondering about God; His legitimacy of existence and His earnestness in loving them personally. Whether lost in a sea of commoners or elevated by celebrity status, every person at some point(s) in their life encounters serious inner questions about the reality of God and His Kingdom.

Today I believe every person in my path is on a search for some significant moment.  Their rummaging through church influence and religious clutter may serve either to distract or to effectively assist; but each is seeking.  I never meet a waitress or a doctor or one of fame but what I know something deeply true of each; they are insecure and already know (or one day will discover) that they cannot save themselves.

There was a long period of time where I was faked out by the loud, the obnoxious, the intimidating, and the influential.  No more.  These all land where the timid, the poor, and the hesitant eventually the grave.  All classes know this as fact. It might be the eleventh hour for some to reach such a stark and truthful conclusion. You can be assured they will get there.

So what you and I and all believers want to realize is that every person within our neighborly or Internet reach is subject to the fears of thinking about eternal life. They ALL want to know.

Our role is to do for them what others did for us.  We are to sow the seeds of the Kingdom.  We are to love, care, invite, and even endure their opposition toward us if such is the case.  Do not be fooled neither by anyone's disinterest nor rejection.

Jesus was winning even the enemies at the cross and such a reach (our reach) continues.

The secret of reaching the entire world with the good news of Jesus is....everyone born eventually wants to know.  Be there in word and deed.  Be there in vision.  Be there in friendship.  Be there.

Through you God will draw others.

Friday, January 03, 2014


The real reason most people reject Jesus, at least in the Western Hemisphere, is not ignorance, but intolerance.  If John was amazed that the world that Jesus created did not recognize Him, he must have been deeply ashamed that Jesus "came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him" (John 1:11).  Jesus' own people, the Jews, who had the prophets and prophecies and Old Testament Scriptures and religious heritage and symbolic ceremonies and were actually looking for their Messiah, "missed Him!"

The Jews had many preconceived ideas about the Messiah based on their interpretation of Scripture and what they wanted.  When Jesus of Nazareth came on the scene with His public ministry, He was neither the Messiah they had been expecting, nor the Messiah they wanted.  The Jews wanted someone Who would:

  • raise their standard of living
  • give them something for nothing
  • grant them privileges without responsibility
  • and restore them to the world power they had known under King David and King Solomon.
They wanted someone who would meet their physical and material and emotional needs.

Anne Graham Lotz was on to something applicable to the modern church when she penned the above.  I find myself about many things other than Jesus; doctrines, missions, and routine works.  All of us will do well to think, rethink, and then rethink again our devotion and commitment to this repulsive Jesus.  There is something about him the religious can't take.  My friend, we are religious.

I am encouraged that there is a recurrent Jesus-emphasis about us.  While we haven't arrived, we are growing in focus.  The Story has been a significant blessing to us at Memorial Drive.  But the Jesus emphasis didn't start there nor end there.

For elders, ministers, and group leaders, may we be sensitive to the perpetual need to grow in the Spirit of Christ for it is more feasible to miss him altogether than one might think.  Jesus is repulsive and rejected by the religious order.  Therefore, we must pay attention.

Thursday, January 02, 2014


Leadership.  Now there is an admirable word.  We want our children to learn it, our women to understand it, and we especially want our men to possess it.  Yet, leadership has been mistakenly masked by being the boss or running the show.  

In essence leaders are oft not leading; but rather are standing at the front of the line functioning in defensive survival.  In other words, we don't care if we win the game, we just don't want anyone to get hurt.  This could be noted in the church where reaching the lost isn't a central part of our spiritual economy; keeping everyone content is.

John Eldredge notes that deep within a man's heart are fundamental questions that cannot be answered at the kitchen table.  Who am I?  What am I made of?  What am I destined for?  It is fear that keeps a man at home where things are neat and orderly and under his control.  But the answers to his deepest questions are not to be found on television or in the refrigerator.

Leadership is needed; needed in our homes, our businesses, our churches.  I speak not of being obstinately head-strong.  I speak not of ignorant bullishness.  Rather the topic approaches leaders as fearless.  If we are a part of the kingdom, a part of the body of Christ, this places a call for bravery and risk.

Churches are mediocre because members are timid, hesitant, and self-protectionary. The taking up of our crosses and following him takes place more in our songfests rather than in our feet.

Look at Jesus.  He is the Supreme Leader of leaders.  He encountered those in need and those who thought more of themselves than they should.  His leadership submitted to both.

Leading isn't winning a game by our brain nor brawn.  Leading is winning souls by risky submission. Eldredge nails our walk, It is fear that keeps a man at home where things are neat and orderly and under his control.  We are inundated with efforts to control rather than to try...and we label this leadership.  Our goals have shifted from discovery of the surprise works of God to the success reports of what would hopefully impress our colleagues.

Out on a limb has menaced our turtled heads to get back into the shell.  Don't try. Don't risk.  Don't learn by error.  Just hope against hope that you get a pass at heaven's toll booth.

I pick up from discipling groups that we are too soft; that we need to demand more and expect more.  I'm not an authority on this.  It is simply a strong message I think I receive.  One thing I believe I know about us in general is that we are failing to release the heroics of our people because we have provided both a word and a walk that will keep all basically comfortable.

To step out of the boat is a treacherous move which always looks foolish to the scaredy-cats.  Yet, to enter into a leadership capacity which might swallow our safety, our mediocrity, and our frustrating meaninglessness might just be a new and welcomed frontier for many in the church.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014


Mary and I went to see the movie, Saving Mr. Banks, on New Years Eve.  I'll never forget it.  The story line was riddled with beauty, warmth, precision, meaning....and exceptionally grueling anguish for those of us who live from wounded hearts.

I cried hot crocodile tears from midway to the very end.  As hard as I tried, the drops refused to stay at bay.

The true story of how Mary Poppins came about is riddled with confusion and frustration as the owner of the manuscript, an Aussie named Pamela, continually lobbed missiles of interference toward Walt Disney's highly imaginative vision.  She was stubbornly contrary only to be matched by his stubborn relentlessness.

Pamela and Walt could not get on the same page because they both were already and more deeply on the same page than either realized.  Odd, I know, but such is where much of the church tries to function.  We tend to do battle because we have a history full of wounds influencing many of our divisive conversations.

Both Pamela and Walt had been severely wounded as children; that is the same page. Individual baggage, though, caused confusion between the two because an invisible and painful history tempered their words.

The story picked scabs from my heart and I began to bleed again.  Pamela found her exasperated mother attempting suicide.  The scene brought back the scenes when I was a small boy and found my dad lying in the floor unconscious from a failed attempt at the same thing.  It was as if I was thrust back in time and I could not walk away.

But, of course, what absolutely floored me was Walt Disney's revelation near the end of the movie regarding his upbringing.  It was a carbon copy to mine; even down to living in Missouri.  I never knew he had such a history as mine.  Oh, how I inwardly writhed in painful memory.  His early days are so surprising in similarity that I believe I will most likely ponder such for the rest of my life.

Due to his wounds as a kid, Walt Disney launched a crusade to bring the masses joy.

He surely succeeded.

His gigantic imagination as a child and for children is known throughout the world.

On the spiritual side, my younger days have driven me to see that the beaten and injured have absolute reason to hope.  Regardless of what seems to be the present state of any person, God has given me an obsession to reveal strong reason to believe according the measurement of Romans 4:17.  God can make something from nothing and can cause dead things to live.

What could be of more impacting news to the downtrodden?

For now I would say to each who endures your wounded heart because of inherited pain, do what you can to remember the one who injured you was most likely raised as a child with a wounded heart as well.

Forgiveness is not only possible, it is essential.

The deep wonder of wounded hearts is that none of us drew the short straw.  From experience, it can feel like it; but such is not the case.  We have been given a wonderful gifts for both the celebrity and the homeless....and all in between.  As Disney was relentless in bringing great excitement to children and adults, we have a far greater mission.

We can do it.  Me must do it.  We will do it.  We have a Father who is Creative and we can be assured He will direct us to build a world of hope.

For us, the wonderland isn't called Disney World where people visit.  It is called the Magnificent Kingdom of God where people live.