Wednesday, November 26, 2014


The church is poised on the edge of its seat with powerful anticipation of what's next. it?

I think not.

Rather, churches in general do not function with a drive to reach the wonderful populace which knows little about God and His elaborate transformation system.  No, we are snagged on the splinters of looking backward (as did Lot's wife).  A very large contingency of most churches are willing to give lip-service to going into all of the world; but not foot-action.

One of the most profound personality traits of Jesus is his compulsion to connect and contact individuals.  He cared about the hurting; not in theory, but in one-on-one connection.

This major element has been blurred among us.  Our focus has been welcomely diverted to personal preference over building decor, ministry options, coupled with a very strong what pleases me thirst.  Doctrine may be bantered a bit while the urgent call of the Great Commission has lost its urgency.  Did no one notice?

The church remains poised in a culture with great and useful friction.  There is to be a hunger and thirst for the hurting and lost masses that these, too, may find the greatest hope and comfort available to mankind.  We hold the keys.  We were once them.

Erwin McManus points out that multiculturalism has created tremendous friction for the contemporary church because the church has fashioned itself around monocultural ministry--not simply in its style and texture, but also in its message. The gospel, as presented in our time, has been crafted in a way that would only win Christians to Christ.

While I don't love his statement, I need to hear it.

Guys like me and most of those reading this post are being called into a world of upset, messiness, and horror.  It isn't clean.  It doesn't align in rows.  Neither is it poised upon a hilltop with a sign that says, Please, rescue me.  I want to know about God.  No, this segment is hurt, confused, and worst of all, forgotten.

We should awaken to the fact that we are rubbing elbows with generations of very decent people who have been involved in far too many life-wrecks.  Some have grown numb to God and to those who follow Him because we proved to be raising funds for a new wing on the educational structure more than possessing interest in the distraught.

The calling challenges for churches will always be to resist the thrill of being saved only to slip into being comfortable.  Jesus' way is still via only one route; that of the cross. Opinions, theories, concepts, and distracting church needs only serve to keep us from the main thing; touching people.

There will never be enough of us to quench the thirst and heal the scrapes of mankind.  Yet, we can determine to personally move forward in prayer to God, praise for God, that we might have eyes to see the masses that pass us by.  And with these focused eyes, may we have the courage to tell them about the Great Physician.

We can't heal them; but He knows how.  Our challenge is to take on the responsibility of introducing these dear people to the One who not only knows life....He IS life.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


How is one to interpret and deal with the out-rage of the past few hours in Ferguson? So many statements.  So many more questions.  So many interpretations and opinions.

I sit some 400 miles away.  Yet, I sit with intense interest.  Such upset is not a city-wide occasion.  It affects humanity at the center nerve; people behaving poorly toward people.

Me?  I would not have answers.  I would have sympathy to all involved; both sides. With an extension of concern, I would also say that I have a love for all; both the injured and the injurers.  Ferguson is a picture of man-gone-stressed.

Who started it?  Who caused it?  Who feeds it?

The media will name names and then we will create our own surmisings.  Satan will go unnoticed and unnamed.

Man likes labels.  We want names to go with our accusations.  If we don't have accurate accounts, we'll make good guesses.  This isn't productive.

Occasionally we can seem bent toward a good beef...or a fiery riot.  But this isn't a battle with racism nor is it one of fanaticism.  This is a picture of man being tricked by a source of power that confuses, misleads, sets the stage for turmoil, and then sneaks off unnoticed and unscathed.  It is Satanic.

Satan exists to throw wrenches in man's relationships...with one another.  He then backs out of the picture visibly; yet remains on the scene with his stirring influence.

We are not enemies of one another.  Jesus knew this.  He died on the Cross because man is so crossed up we find ourselves, at times, not knowing which end is up.  Jesus didn't live and die to have cool VBS summers.  He did it because man is an incurable mess unless someone divine breaks in and stops the God's own bleeding for His precious creation.

Emotions are running high.  Our test, as children of God, is whether we can remain calm of heart and love those who are being injured as well as those who are doing the injuring...before, during, and after the murder of young Mr. Brown.

Sighing and crying won't make a dent in the civil unrest we are know seeing unfold before our very eyes.  Leaning in upon the wonder of the One who died for all of us is our hope and our answer.

For the joy set before us, may we use these trying times to see just how serious we are at taking up our crosses and following Jesus into the world of turmoil in order to truly love those who have never experienced a deep and abiding interest in what they can be and who we know the good that they really are.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Victory.  Oh how we like it.  Celebration.  More of the same.  Success.  A feel-good moment.

Who doesn't appreciate the victory and celebration of success.

Christianity is not a new brand of V-C-S lifestyle.  Neither is it simply a notch above worldly V-C-S.  No. Christianity gives its inhabitants abundance of life and grace when there is loss, when their are tears, and when there is embarrassing failure.

This is a zone the church struggles to see.  But....let's grow to see it.

If we have a goal day of attendance or of raising funds and hit these goals, we parade our way-to-go smiles coupled with hugs and pats on one another's backs.  If we miss our goals, there can be a tendency to feel like failures.  Worse yet, we might even feel that God didn't bless.

How we keep the awe going is to realize that the faith God seems to wish we possessed sees well.  It is a new sort of sight; walk by faith not by sight looks at every setting with a secret faith-code.  The code is remember resurrection power.  

God is all about His family living under the clearly affixed divine umbrella of resurrection power.

  • The hope spoken in Rom. 4:17-25 is based on Jesus being raised from the dead.
  • The Rom. 8:28ff all things work together for good text continues to speak of such direction which is issued upon the basis of Jesus being raised from the dead.
  • We are to fix the eyes of our hearts to know the hope, the riches, and the surpassing power of His greatness....identical to and the same as was when He raised Jesus from the dead....Eph. 1:18ff
Get this: raised from the dead is an exhilarating effect of God's deliverance.  Certainly.  And, we want this kind of awe in our very walk.  However, we short-sheet His grace when we forget that if there is not severe strain, anguish, misrepresentation, disappointing moments, persecution, and eventual death of Jesus....there is no resurrection.  

Awe hinges upon un-awe.  In all things, awe is coming!

Believers get to march in the parade of awe; not because the breaks always go our way and we have victory, celebration, and success parties galore because we get what we want as with some magic wand.  No, we have awe because even in the abuse and mistreatment we receive, we can still set our eyes on God's resurrection power which is with us day by day.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Change is refreshing to some and a dirty six-letter word for others.  There are those who believe change represents everything nobody wants and that no one should have. It is the heart of the kingdom of God; yet, for another part of the believing family.

Change is a vital part of normal, spiritual, progressive living.  For a newborn to never grow to be 3 and then 7 and then 22, would be grievous to any parent.  For flowers to never bloom?  For Seniors to never graduate?  For workouts to never change bodies? For discoveries to be outlawed?  Man would be hurt if change wasn't a steady part of the daily fabric.

Change factors are essential if one is to grow in the Word of God.  For those who simply manipulate the Bible as a proof text for pet doctrines, we miss a glorious part of pondering scripture in order to mature as well as develop.

Bible classes must be on guard against ever discussing in order to never learn.  Paul clearly warned us of joining Bible study groups to tickle our ears by hearing what we want heard.  Our tendency is to promote II Timothy 4:1-5 as if this text is a warning for others; never us.

Believers who have always believed what they have always believed are in danger of carrying a stillborn faith.  The Word is sharp and active.  It is new, exciting, adventurous.  Of course, many things true yesterday will still be true today and tomorrow.  Fact.  In addition, that same text is productive; always changing through flexibility of the Spirit those things where man is called to learn and to grow.

Brandon Hatmaker targets this subject.  But change is not a threat.  It's a fact.  If we act as if change just happens upon us--surprise!--in a sudden upheaval, we miss its continuing flow and its lessons and the opportunity to keep up with it.  Change is a fact of life.

Change is a reality and we are living right in the middle of it.  Speaking of God, He sends us on journeys that bring us to the end of ourselves.  We often feel out of control....

Yielding our control is man's rub with the divine.  We cherish and treasure knowing how things are going to go.  Letting go is foreign to us.  We feel at risk as if the safety net has been removed.  It has been taken away if we believe it to consist of man-ordained guidelines.

Rather than waste our breath fighting change, it would be more fruitful for all of us if we would accept it as fact.  It is the kingdom's systemic process.

So how shall we respond?  What are we to do?

One idea would be to read the Word of God still believing it has come from God.  Be free to use it as a proof text with the clear understanding that we are studying a fountain of life; not a rusticated law.  Hear the call to believe when there are no signs of hope.  Note the charge to go with Jesus and not the religious mob.  Dare to engage the New Creation which can be much different than old-hat church.

May we delve into the Word of God with daily new-found faith; not with fearful and imposing restrictions which He never issued.   There is a difference.  May we enjoy His New Creation in the max!

Friday, November 21, 2014


Image.  What we think people think of us has an earth-shaking magnitude.  Image can be a blessing or a curse depending on whether we control it or it controls us.

Image, I believe, often houses every person's insecurities whether famous or not. Mirrors are loaded with information.  Many negative mirrors have been installed in most houses.  Regardless of who we are, who we know, where we live, and what we do, mirrors tend to speak about speck-tacular lack.

The mirror industry isn't to blame.  The lies that Adam and Eve bought into in the Garden are the culprits.  At that historical moment man fell and we have been trying to buy better mirrors ever since.

So let's talk about why so many don't believe in God with a courage to publicly let it be known?


One of life's greatest losses is found in this region.  Very good men and women have listened to their core groups mock Christians, to the extent that should one begin to question that possibly this idea of believing is valid, the strong undertone would be to spare oneself of the subsequent mockery

This one wouldn't want to take on the verbal abuse which they, themselves, have issued toward others.

Image.  The front one has to keep up of being a good person; but not too good so that our cronies won't suspect a change of heart.  Image.  The liar.  The non-existent voice that bullies normal human beings into a silent cowardice so that no one will know we have a spiritual side that yearns for freedom.

I have dear friends from all ranks of social standing.  I love them completely.  Some have nothing to do with God and His church body because they think they aren't good enough.  Image again.  And still others are self-pressured to keep up there non-church, non-God, non-belief.

This is catastrophe gone mad.  It involves a whole lot more than eternal destiny.  This is a matter of living from day to day without the joy of knowing how to make life pop on any stage.

I would ask each reader to pass this message or one like it on to others.  Good people want to know God; but they don't know how to ask, necessarily, and they don't want to appear foolish to a few of their colleagues.  Image.

For those who are high up in life and those who are way down in your own minds, drop me a note at  I work with a lot of people one-on-one and no one knows.  You are out there.  I know it.  When the tumor is discovered or the depression is mounting, I care.  When you have neither, but life seems to bug you.  I care...again.

For now, do this.  Determine to have the courage to live a robust life without the taxing element of fearing what other people think.  Image.  Develop one of courage.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


If there is anything more touchy in the marketplace of humanity than religion it might just be politics.  People have opinions (in both) that are strong; in some cases unbending, closed-minded, and unapproachable.  For some, politics is their religion. Nevertheless, I wade into both today.

The idea that religion and politics don't mix is a lie that the church has swallowed.  It is very much an inseparable blend.  Look at Jesus' walk.  Was he constantly facing Sunday School teachers and deacons over class materials and softball teams?  Or was he encountering political figures; national rulers, advocate groups, and military might?

Jesus was deep into the political scheme.  The reason would be that this seems to be also a place where common people live. Jesus was always about the welfare of people.

As a result, he lived with his own political agenda.  What do we think got him crucified? He believed in helping the orphans and the widows so the crowds barked, Crucify him? No.  Jesus' walk bled into the political arena causing the power-lords of the day a great deal of pain worse than gas.

The life of Jesus faced a dark world's power head on.  Get this.  He killed, not the killers, but killing.  Jesus killed killing.  He eradicated the very thing that would end life.  This is a magnificent political move.  He used their swords to beat them at their own game on their own turf without a sword of his own.  By the process of submitting to their killing machines, he then exited what was assumed to be a permanently confining grave.

This great move proved the opponents artillery could not stand a chance against the might of love.  Both the religious and political machines did their best to join forces to take this man out.  Assassination was their cry.

Willing to be assassinated was the beginning of his victory lap.

Our enthusiasm for perfect hope is built upon this majestic, inspiring, and outlandish truth.

The wonder of God is buried beneath political intensity because we don't realize that Jesus established a new era; a new political party if you will.  He stood for the underdogs everywhere he turned.  His power wasn't in chumming with the elite who carried power.  His was to present mankind with the greatest system that could ever be known; death met its match...and life wins!

This was new religiously and politically.

Our mission statement is to die well that others might live.  For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.  So death works in us, but life in you (II Cor. 4:11-12).

Some think we are elephants.  Other believe we are donkeys.  Clearly, we are called to arise from beneath the political intensity in this America of ours is to be the party of the Lambs.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Church is surely one of the most misunderstood entities of all time.  It is distorted and maligned from those outside...and those inside as well.  What is it really?  Why is it misinterpreted, misread, and misjudged...all too easily?

I could offer only a hint of a reason.  The true intended depth of church has been transformed into a shallow and hollow symbol of light-hearted goodness.  The masses assume those who go to church are either good or trying to be good.  Yet, these onlookers aren't buying it.  Well they shouldn't.

The church is anything but a symbol of minding-your-own-business and being-good. No, the church is the continuation of the resurrected body of Christ.  It is to be on the go.  Such a statement right there has suffered the hiccups because church-building-concepts have demolished the "Go" only to reconstruct a fake system which calls out "Come and sit awhile."

The church is the continuation of Jesus.  We are to be deep into at least two things. Fighting off the Pharisaic legalists who make church only about law-keeping while, simultaneously, reaching to the underdogs who need to be rescued from a harsh world of political scheming.

The Cross is our logo.  So?  So be alert as to how smoothly this icon is reduced from sacrificial living for others including our enemies to simply ornate jewelry and church building decor.  The Cross calls for a life surrendered to the extent we will die even for those who wish to wreck and harm our personal lives.

Church is not symbolic goodness.  It is not a gathering of voters who cast emotional ballots as to how the sermon and music went on a given Sunday morning.  The church is comprised of plain people who have absorbed a divine love.  These, in turn, are driven to see that the poor and the naked and the prisoners and the immigrants are warmed, fed, encouraged, and loved.

Church is not symbolic goodness.  It is much deeper.  If we leaders of churches do not redirect our real mission, our young will continually drift into the mocking world.  For these, churches are mere symbols of lethargy and self-indulgence.  When we hit life in the stride of Jesus our families, too, will sense a common purpose which imitates our Savior in his fullest glory.

Here's the thing that puts us in cohesion with Jesus and his walk upon earth.  He did not make contributions to community betterment.  He, rather, made the greatest of sacrifices.  He touched the sinners.  Jesus did not come to earth to find a job he could do in the kingdom that would keep him active in symbolic church.  No.  He waded into the lives of rejects and engaged them.

Symbolic church will always be symbolic until we determine that we were sinners lost and now are found.  And, that others await.  The latter are not waiting for a symbolic church program.  These are watching for someone who cares to get down in the ditch to help them out.

Do we have a religion that has taught us to be a good and better people?  Or, do we have a faith with eyes, arms, and legs to place us into the struggling regimen of touching the hurting and the forgotten?

We want to increase in seeing those in need and then take immediate and compassionate action.  This....would be the authentic church; not a symbolic one.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Church is fantastic!  So is believing in God!  So is helping so many others who are in need!  There is nothing like it!

However, this isn't the vision that many have because of experiences which did not cause them to be fired up about God and church.  Rather, cold water was tossed their way.  I mean, really, who even in the church hasn't had a cold shower or two thrown our way?

Therefore, I address those who are what we would call turned off of church.

Oh, there are a few.  I mean a many.

The general populace has a warped view of church.  It seems to be regarded as a place where people go to behave well for about an hour on Sunday mornings.  The remainder of the week is free space.  We seem to believe that if we give God His time and a bit of our money then we are all square for the next six days.


That isn't church.  That is more like taking a humanistic stab at vague spiritual concepts where humans offer a sacrifice of their time.  Most of our friends got to go to the golf course, but us?  Naw, we sat in church and paid the price of heavy and meaningless boredom.  That was my take before I became engaged in the most meaningful system on earth...which came out of heaven.

As one grows within the church concept, a marvelous new life begins to arise.  It seems our deepest yearnings begin to find their niche.  To love God and to love others can do nothing but encounter the richest of all riches, the gloryest of all glories, and the most wonderful of all wonders.

A stigma to this marvel is the approach.  It takes faith to enter in.

Observation? Calculation?  Management?  Human planning?  All of these will not let us walk into this wonderland wonder.  Only a courageous step of faith (when you can't figure) will release the powers of the Living God into the very center of where we breathe.

Turned off of church?  Shame on you for letting narrow people and policy thwart your fire.  Don't let their cold water subdue the real person you are.  Come alive on  the inside and move out.  Move toward.  Love God...heartily.  Love people in need...robustly.

May we build a new kind of society that is turned on to church because the Holy Spirit aids us in making a real difference for real people.  We can do it...because He will do it in us!

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Fear is worse than any disease.  It stifles imagination, intimidates planning, and then shuts down hope.  What can be, due to bullying fear, shifts to what might have/could have been.

The temptation of a hopeful faith (as in boy David) is so effective that opposing forces send Goliaths to put the scare into the dreamers.  How many great tactics for blessing mankind have been aborted on the fields full of frowns, scowls, and browbeating words?

Yet, the reverse is also true.  Fabulous accomplishments have succeeded because brave men and women refused to buckle at the hands of the intimidators.  Courage was called for by leaders like Joshua.  The need remains...always remains.

The enemy has always used intimidation.  We are called to be on to such tactics of deep warfare.  While we have spent much time building arsenals of faith, may we walk with the boldness to activate our deep spiritual vision.

May we change the world, not just for good, but for an entirely new kind of life.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


There is a consistent plea from Jesus in scriptures that says, for those who have ears, let him hear.  II Timothy 4:1-4 includes the warning that there are those who want their ears tickled to the extent that these will not endure sound doctrine. Subsequently, these hard-of-hearing will lean in upon myths over truths.

My guess is that no one reads this text and assumes it to be true of themselves.  From my experience, this passage is used against any who can't seem to hear what we are trying to say about what we are trying to believe.

I'm learning that this passage is also for me.  I have grown secure in preaching between the lines.  I have been trained to not rock the boat.  People like me.  I'm happy and, basically, my messages are pleasing for I do so want to encourage all who would take the time to listen.

Yet, it remains true that if we are to follow Jesus we will not be winning popularity contests among the hyper-religious.  We will be disturbing and often creating conflict. Even within these statements all readers would long as I don't rub up against one of your pet doctrines, assumptions, or defenses.

Therefore, I call us to check our hearing.  Yes, guys like me can be dismissed with ease when we hear anything that doesn't have that ring of what we have always believed. Warning needs to be given or at least a reminder offered; we are light years from concluding all the Bible has to say.

To huddle together tomorrow morning in our favorite cluster-shops (churches) to rehearse and reaffirm what we have always believed is a half-baked truth.  We must also have ears to hear things/truths from God that we have promised ourselves we never want to hear.

The Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword.  It remains sharp.  Studying with dull ears, though, is really a serious conflict.

Friday, November 14, 2014


While we are vigorously striving for better ministry with greater outreach, we must guard against making either of these a personal god.  One of the things good church leadership tries to do is engage new members as quickly as possible.  Connection is serious.  It is important.

But, connection cannot become god.

Worship style cannot become god.

Preacher ability cannot become god.

Friends and acquaintances cannot become god.

Church programs cannot become god.

Time spent in prayer or reading the Bible cannot become god.

Church tradition cannot become god.

God is to be God of all for all in all and with all.

He is to be sought.  God is to be credited for our blessings.  He is the One who supplies, sustains, rescues, and redeems.  No one else.  No thing else.

Only Him.

May we grow in worshiping God; not worshiping the preacher nor worshiping worship. May we become increasingly enamored with....God himself.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


We tag our mental calendars with post-it notes as targets for breathing room.  Our days and nights are cluttered with uninvited problems.  These are energy drainers for certain.  So we look forward to an event here and a break there just in hopes of surviving routine drudgery.

Some of these stresses, honestly, are caused by our poor judgment or even poorer action.  Others are the result of life's weaknesses that simply seem to cause good things to unravel.  When some of these occur, one can feel so overwhelmed it can begin to take on a sense of what it might be like to be buried alive.

How shall we respond?

Shall we fight back?  Should we heap more guilt upon ourselves due to our obvious pitiful failures?  Or would it just be better to go ahead and breath our last?  The response needs to be weighed in light of the power of God rather than a reaction to insurmountable frustration.

What we might consider is the need to yield.  Jesus gave in to the crowds of that he could save...the crowds of persecution.  There was no other way.  Jesus' call for followers to take up our crosses and follow him had at least two goals in mind; our death and our resurrection.

To bow our necks and grit our teeth in self-willed determination to win any battle is, for certain, humanistic; but it isn't spiritual warfare.  The way to really win an enemy is to lay down one's life so that the enemy can become a converted disciple of Jesus.  Our dying capacity is on the line.

And then there's that resurrection part that follows the dying part.  We can surmise a bit how the deadening factor works.  That's within our will.  We are clueless about the resurrection power part because it is completely in the will and the hands of God's exertion.  We can do nothing about resurrection power except receive it.

So it is in relationships.  As contrary as they/me/we are, the God who lives to make something from nothing and gives life to the dead (Romans 4:17) gets to show His talent in these exact moments like no other.  Our misfortune is that in such moments we forget to believe.

Note: when we believe we let go of our managerial and manipulative approach in order to have a chance at experiencing what can't be forecast nor explained.  We surrender our gotta fix it mentality for the divine process of Him running our show.

Yes, we forget.  So we roll up our calculating sleeves and march off for yet another conversation that often goes South.  We forget.  We don't seem to remember that we know a Specialty God who has mastered the nothingness and the deadness of our relationships.  He alone holds the keys to unlock man's disappointing tombs.

Our isn't to figure the best manipulation to win another.  Ours is the work of believing God when we are stupidly clueless with a touch of exacerbating self-defense.  We can't. Our job is to die for the aggravating enemy.  By His grace God will use this death to bring two people or three (or 30) to new life!

When you are overwhelmed which feels more like being buried, try to remember that the One you call Master humbled himself by coming to earth to walk in your shoes first.  When he heard that whisper of Father he came back to life never to die again.  If he is our hope, what hope must we possess for others who wish to wear us down.....or even kill us?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


The Holy Spirit remains a mystery.  Rightly He should.  He is God.  He is Jesus in Spirit form.  He is to inhabit the local believer.  The Spirit's residency is a wonderful challenge to even the most ardent theologian.

Because we surely lack the grasp of God's holiness in spirit form, a clear struggle ensues.  Our stride is to walk with and in success.  If not perpetually on guard against giving up the Spirit's participation in our lives, we will easily trade for a good, better, best attitude toward kingdom work.

Our Father went to great effort to see that we were not left alone to do His battles as well as His reach.  Jesus had to go back in order for the spirit of Jesus to descend...upon us.  Why?  Because we can't hold up under the work-orders from heaven.  And...we have major work to do.

Caution needs to be given that we not do church under best management.  The Holy Spirit cannot and will not be managed.

So what shall we do?  Go for coffee?  Sit on our hands?  Make no effort?  No.  We shall move out and move forward with eyes scouting the landscape for God opportunities. We shall walk with eyes wide opened for the marvelous, the majestic, and the beyond our imagination promises of Ephesians 3:20.

When we dumb down to our management, we don't look for surprise.  We look for results.  Yet, when we are in the Spirit formation we can anticipate surprising results. This affords us the good pleasure of living thankfully as we know God is working; we just can't figure how.

From cover to cover the Bible presents our living God who routinely does the very unroutine.  The church in Acts has been thrown in front of our faces as this is who we are to be.  I agree.  I just don't see enough of it.

I would encourage us to look for the operation of our outlandish God to get to function among His people and His creation in the style He would dream of performing.  And may we be intensely watching for more of His brilliant and unexplainable moves.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


The parables of the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and the Prodigal Son run in sync as a response by Jesus to the grumbling Pharisees.  They we griping about him favoring sinners and even eating with them.  As one looks upon these three deep truths, it should have significant impact when it is realized these parables are in response to these religious zealots who deemed themselves as a notch above all others.

The Pharisees were a squint-eyed elite group who sneered at both the immoral as well as any who had blue-collar jobs at the low end of the pay ladder.  Shepherding was one of those.  Therefore, the very mention of lost sheep had their stomach churning.

Consider the three parables with such a reflection.

These super-pious ones had no respect for shepherd low-life, women (especially those who can't keep track of where they put their coins), and immoral jerks who squander their inheritance when it wasn't really even due them.  Maybe not so oddly, the world basically agrees with these leaders in the name of responsibility if nothing else.

Note that the NASV wording in Luke 15:4 for open pasture is the word for wilderness in the Greek.  Lost sheep won't budge.  They just stay put.  Thus, the shepherd has to carry the animal.  But first, he had to wade deep into the wooded terrain just to find it. This of course, is reflective of Jesus wading into our wilderness to retrieve us.

The parable of the Lost Sheep rubs the intellect of the Pharisees raw.  They don't like the animals.  For Jesus to note their grumbling and then, of all things, bring up these three parables in a row is a courageous move by the Master Teacher.

We are to be on our own toes.  Bible Study is not to sand off the edges of Jesus' sharp teachings.  Rather these are also to puncture the Pharisee complexes we tend to carry as to how church must be and how ministry must go.  When connected to the Spirit of Jesus we are in for thoughts and directions which may challenge us to the core.

May we be willing to make significant adjustments for surely we have not arrived...none of us.

Sunday, November 09, 2014


In general a significant count of society has been suckered into not believing in God. These use the hypocrite gun on us as if this will do away with the truth that the spiritual exists.  Yet, this is sometimes a cover-up for a deeper problem.

I wonder if rejection of the God-possibility isn't really (as these would want us to believe) because our hypocrisy is first on their minds.  That isn't the first obstacle. No, I think it may be personal fear.  A greater tendency is to avoid things of which we don't have a good grasp.  Hesitant drivers avoid city loops and turnpikes because they aren't comfortable.  Yet, criticism of those reckless city drivers is advanced.

Could it be true that there are some who find excuse-by-our-fault as a way of covering the fact that they don't know how it will go when they get there?  Will they sit?  Stand? Ask me a question?  Notice that I sat in the wrong place?  Said the wrong thing?

It is likely that excuses are truly an imaginary element which really have little honest bearing.  May we be at attentive to the aches and pains of our spirits as we are to the flesh.  Depression is rampant and this is a spiritual matter.  Discouragement? Disappointment?  Frustration?  All spiritual issues.

We must feed our spirits every bit as much as we supply our flesh.  One will fade into useless meandering if this is not heeded.  Let us give attention to God who ministers to our spirits and gives us meaning, purpose, and direction.

Friday, November 07, 2014


One of the strongest questions hanging over humanity's head is, What is our purpose?

Being inadequate me, I would not have a complete response.  Yet from experience, I do have a bit of insight.

Purpose seems to be alluring as well as vague.  At some point(s) in our lives we are all wanna be.  We want to be doctors, teachers, professional athletes, or movie stars. Dreams are common.  But so often we find that someone has to open up the store, attend the committee meeting, fill up the tank, or toss a load into the washer.

Routine can feel so useless as it has a way of dulling our senses.  We crave for meaning in life.  Is this it?  Mundane?  Gotta go around with this system again tomorrow?  And all of the tomorrows?

There is an answer--almost an answer nobody wants--but an answer that ultimately has meaning and purpose.  The answer to our purpose is found very strongly in suffering that others can experience blessings.  This is the ultimate style of Jesus and it is passed on to us.

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in his steps.  This I Peter 2:21 text continues to speak of unfair as well as strict suffering.  Take note: it seems that the more one suffers for the benefit of another the more authentic joy escalates.

The answer to the big question is to live willing to be injured and hurt so that even our enemies would have a shot at life.  This posture transforms our stinky attitudes and our self-serving agenda.  Loving the downtrodden works its way into our senses and emotions.  We feel useful, needed, and even holy for a change.

Others.  Others who are depressed.  Others who are offended.  Others receiving our love and support gives us a satisfaction that cannot be explained anymore than Jesus being fulfilled as he breathed his last.  It is a God-thing.

This answer will always match the question.

If you have been hurt, abused, offended, ignored or left alone, there are many reactions from which you may operate.  When you determine to be hurt even more so that others--even the offenders--can have a new are onto something that really lives!

It can't be explained.  It can only be experienced.

Thursday, November 06, 2014


Citizens of the holy nation must participate in the human drama.  Much of the church today has withdrawn, seeking refuge on  the high ground.  Our multi-million dollar church complexes surrounded by acres of paved parking lots are as remote and protected as walled medieval fortresses, protected from the swirling waters where most of the sick, hungry, and hurting people are.  So those in need cannot identify with us and will consequently never hear our message.  But imagine what would happen if they see us where they live, as we met them at their point of need.  (Charles Colson)

What makes the church pop is that as we grow in being aligned with the Suffering Servant we find ourselves increasingly in contact with the down and out.  This is where Jesus went and where we are to go.

Be highly encouraged.  Nothing fights our personal emptiness, purposelessness, and depression like standing beside those suffering and sharing in their suffering.  If we want to hit upon an amazing move of life, let us encounter the human drama of others.  We will quickly realize that we would keep our struggles when compared to many of theirs.


Wednesday, November 05, 2014


Life is a tricky proposition.  It can be ignored while we seek it.  There is a tendency to trash what we have by the distraction of wanting more.  I would be guilty of once wishing my life away while many would have loved to enjoy just my simple normal day.

How many would love to have eyes to see?  Ears to hear?  Arms that could throw a ball? Legs that could run?  So many don't possess these fundamental skills.  Me?  I didn't seem to notice my blessings because I was wishing for bigger and better...always something I didn't have.

Yes, we live in a strange world of missing the point as well as the moment.  Glory and wonder and awe could and should fill our minds regarding where we live, who we know, and what God lets us do.  It is a good thing--a very good thing--to live day by day with hearts brimming with thanksgiving.

Henri Nouwen struck a chord with me when he wrote, And how can a belief in a "hereafter" be an answer to the search for immortality when there is hardly any belief in the "here"?  So I raise his question again today.  Do we notice the marvel of the privilege to be able to read these words and paragraphs?  Or, has perpetual eyesight just become an expected standard of which we've grown indifferent and possibly unthankful?

One of my steady comments is, Don't you love right now?  I often ask it of others for this very point.  We tend to lose awareness of the grand scheme of life all around us. We get in and out of a car when there are so many who have not the capabilities to encounter such a move.  Yet, others have never sat in a car while others have never seen one.

We are most blessed.  We are incredibly fortunate.  It is important that we not miss the abundance of life in which we sit because we keep looking for the victory of winning the lottery.  We are a very rich

Be alive!  Now!  And may our faces show it!  And, may our speech confirm it!

Tuesday, November 04, 2014


Jesus is the ultimate of all human challenges.

We tend to believe we've got it.  We've got it figured, measured, and solved as to his disposition as well as ministry.  It seems that a course on the Interactive Gospels pretty much sums up this Jesus who perplexes both law and grace.

But not so.

A problem I seem to have after serious study of him for four decades is that Jesus cannot and will not be summed up in a filing system from even my best thinking.  He is not just bigger than life.  He is Big Life.  About the time I think I have him explained he seems to break out in some sort of knowledge epidemic that I didn't see coming.  And, I don't know how to handle it.

Jesus is different.  All would agree.  Yet, I wonder if  I have reduced him to handleable and manageable.  He must fit our descriptions and our explanations.  Once we have reduced him to our framework of control, then we seem to be off and running with promoting the kingdom of God.

The world of seekers cannot afford to be offered a Jesus who walks our streets but not upon our lakes.  These must have a shot at the absurd Jesus; the one who we believe lived and then died and then was raised again.

We must continue to learn of the man/God.  Our side of understanding will always pale compared to God's staggering truth.  Care must be given to refrain from thoughtlessly dismissing attributes and standards found in Jesus; yet assumed not to be of us.  It serves us well to always be on the grow.

To love deeper and to believe higher, wider, and farther are surely Jesus manifestations.  To speak as if nothing can become something is not normal.  It is faith. Faith isn't normal.  It is the God-zone of Holy Spirit confidence which overrides human inadequacy day in and day out.

Jesus is very challenging to the heart because he will not and cannot be restricted to man's best imagination.  He thrives to walk where man can't; to accomplish wide ranges of impossibility which are, admittedly, very foreign to the flesh side of you and me.

Why is Jesus so challenging to the heart?  We tend to convince ourselves that our very best is what God requires.  This isn't true.  He requires we lean in upon the Master of Life with whole heart without personal justification or restriction to what we might get done.  By faith we transfer our lives over to the Jesus dimension....and this is a whole new world of making the earth trek with true citizenship in heaven....right now.

Saturday, November 01, 2014


Do we believe Jesus in the depths or do we just believe him in the handy stuff?

There is a facet of this man that horrifies the church.  He waded into the darkest of men and our their moods and stood flat-out for life.  There has never been one braver.

Jesus waded head-long into a bleak system of organized politics as well as organized religion.  Both are poised with death.  He knew.  He had a grasp for it.  He lunged fully into its center.

Jesus and the Cross have become rather Sunday-Schoolish.  With surmise and with theory we toss out the meaning of a Greek term here and a bit of application there. Yet, we must work at believing what this man went through for the rescue of each of us. Even these words are flat compared to the bludgeoning he took to see that we make it.

Jesus didn't die that we could have church three times a week.  He died because mankind was sunk if the perfect Lamb didn't pay the price for our failures, messes, and sins.  What he encountered was Hell full-force.

When scriptures call for us to take up our crosses and follow him, this isn't a call to get up and go to Bible class when you would rather catch a few more winks.  This is a holy call to live a life that yields even to our enemies (as did he) that they would have a shot at knowing the love of God.

Rude and rugged and hateful mankind is not so because it is bent on mischief alone.  It is greatly because the call of Jesus toward us believers has stalled.  We are willing to contribute a serving spirit here and there; but the notion of losing to an enemy still escapes us.  We bristle in defense.

Life in Jesus is not about winning our way.  It is about winning our neighbors; even our enemies.  This won't come about by reading a book and then discussing such prospects in class.  This will come about on the front lines of our social interaction when we yield what we want that an enemy might see just a glimpse of what our Savior meant when he insisted we follow him.