Friday, October 20, 2017

SOOOOO.....

Sooooo....I just now took my car keys and punched the unlock button.  Yes....I really did.

And....the TV didn't come on.  Oh yeah, I need to use the remote for that one.

Have a happy day!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

DISCOURAGEMENT IS THE LAUNCHING PAD TO WONDER!!!

Everywhere we turn we are faced with discouragement, resentment, and sometimes even depression.  If not within ourselves, we see it to be true of our friends, colleagues, and relatives.  Being "blue" is epidemic in nature.  No one escapes the steady encounter of this Meany.  No.  One.

I speak with a bit of authority for I am persistent in my self-evaluation as to how nothing I am.  I was hoping for better than this by now.  Yet, I've learned a most fascinating truth.  Being low is precisely the launching pad God would use to provide us with incredible wonder. 

Jesus makes a seemingly absurd statement as he opens his mouth at His famous Sermon on the Mount.  Blessed are the poor in spirit, He assures.  Really?  Blessed are the down?  Blessed are the discouraged?  Blessed are the failers?  Blessed are the confused?  Blessed are the losers?  Yes...very articulately...Jesus says that such a one is prime for the launching of incredible, actual, hope.

How.  Can.  This.  Be.

It seems that man's nature is to find less need for God when experiencing the territories of what we could deem as successful.  It seems that we begin, in these "doing okay" parameters, to take on an attitude that we aren't in need of God for we are strong enough to maneuver our way through the current jungle.  When we feel we are in control, there is less likelihood that we would depend on Him.  This truth plays out everyday.

But when we are at the end of our proverbial ropes, we find that we have nothing more to offer to escape our nagging dilemmas.  It seems that we made our final effort...and made no progress.  It is here at this juncture that one begins to look up for help.  Our hands are empty of effectivity and our words seem to be empty of solution.

Poorer nations, such as zones in Africa, are coming to God in droves for their lifestyles are empty of self-provision.  And even in a territory as wealthy as the USA, even the richest of rich begin to turn to God when self-reliance, independent-sufficiency crashes.  Blessed are the poor in spirit.

Poor in spirit considers humility to contain a power--as super-natural power--of which we lean toward only when in great need.  Our independent muscle seems to have atrophied.  Our insight has gone blind.  We must have Other help...and in steps Father, Son, and Spirit.

I urge you today to become unstuck.  One does so by one simple move; change your mind.  This is known as repentance.  Don't walk a life of doom; but arise to a life of potential and possibility...right...now.  Try to open your eyes and peer through the dim veil of frustration.  Begin to notice actual hope.  See that your trauma is serving you by leading you to a new zone; a new kind of life of which you had always imagined.

Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  Tradea the poor-me doldrums for a better call; blessed are the poor in spirit.  Yay God!  Yay us!


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

GIVING GLORY TO GOD

When I became serious about my faith walk there was a word that kept occurring in the Scriptures; glory.  So?  So?, I thought?  Glory is glory.  That's sorta like saying nice is nice or something to that affect, it seemed.  Glory, to me, was a Bible term that did nothing, went nowhere, and seemed rather neutral in....well....in meaning.

But...I've changed my mind.

To give God glory is one of the utmost profoundationalisms ever!  To give Him glory is to brag upon Him.  It is to credit God with the valiant moves He makes.  To give God glory is to give intentional note to His might, His brilliance, His amazing love.  It's to talk about Him, to brag upon Him, and to include Him in strong awareness of our ordinary walk.

When things go right, I've learned to attribute them to God rather than a team, or a circumstance, or a person.  Even when human names may actually be connected to accomplishment, such recognition is given with the understanding that God is their Source and their Supplier.

Giving God glory has changed my prayer life.  Better said, it gave me a prayer life.  I once struggled to spend any time in prayer.  Yet, learning to give God glory activated my time with Him.  Every day, and many times during, I tell Him how much He means to me and how grateful I am for His being God; that I no longer have to fake my righteousness for He gives me His.

To give God glory may not sound like much of a church thing for we tend to be more impressed with things like assignments, destinations, and accomplishments.  But to praise Him strongly is precisely how the beginning Church was launched.  I'm learning that it is, also, how it keeps going.

Tell God often how you glory in His very existence.  This will positively impact your heart, your day, and your faith.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

UNBELIEVERS MOCK AS FAIRYTALE. BELIEVERS CALL IT REALITY

I've lived on both sides of the Faith Fence.  There is a world of difference.  Let me say that another way.  There IS as WORLD of difference.  One goes by faith in unbelief.  These get their religious kicks from the pond of doubting.  The second batch operates upon a basis of the invisible world being more fascinating than the seen one.  Go figure.  No, I mean GO and FIGURE this out; rather than merely offering an indifferent shrug of the shoulders.

What real Christianity needs today is a huge dose of the Fairytale experience.  Only in saying this do I mean that we need to have a walk with God that is well beyond our obsessive, humanistic imagination.  I love this factor of Ephesians 3:20 which is encapsulated from cover to Bible cover.  That which can't happen did...and...still does.  Unbelievers wish to mock and call such Fairytale.  Believers call it Reality in Fairytale dimension; the impossible lives!

As churches assemble world-wide today, may we gatherers not throw cold water upon the absurd, the ridiculous, the outlandish truths of God past and His workings present.  We are to experience the unknown and the unexplainable, the undefinable and the undeniable.  Just as the Red Sea parted and the grave emptied, believers are to abide in a land of immeasurable opportunity for the God-demonstration.

By our repetitive repetitions, the Fantastic Faith element is being dismantled bit by bit within our very own gatherings.  Should such a mold not be broken, we will be a people who train our young to become unbelievers; yet in the name of believing.  Drastic faith has been dismantled by a humanistic try-to-be-good philosophy.  As a result, pews will be packed today with many calculating that, while they do misbehave, they aren't as bad as others they could mention. 

Living by comparison is clearly a doctrinal mistake communicated quite clearly in II Corinthians 10:12.  And, yet, this seems to be a popular road for the modern day believer to travel.

Faith.  Faith is bold, it is absurd, it is fascinating, and it is the ultimate of true reality.  May we accomplish matters through Him that would draw mockery from our critics.  Many of us have lived in this path for years....on both sides. 

May we be found on the side of reality rather than the one of mockery.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

AUTHENTIC LIFE IS NONE OF YOUR BUSY-NESS

In the name of being a responsible individual, each of us becomes snagged in the "thinking it out, moving it forward" pressure scheme of, what we all regard as, normalcy.  Yet, there's a significant problem with that.  Happiness and joy seems to be an illusion.  We assume that such is reserved for the ultra-successful...and, therefor, maybe we ain't one of 'em.

My daily theme is, Don't you love right now?  This developed from my life of failure; repeated failures.  I was missing out of living because my walk had become buried (ahead of the grave) by busy-ness.  The problem with busy-ness is that it all seems justifiable to the thinking trend of earthiness.  We applaud it.  Too, we obey its wearying demands.

Don't misunderstand.  Not all of life is a breeze.  Not everyone is crazy about you/me.  Stresses mount.  Injuries occur.  These and other bandits do all they can to put on their masks and rob us a guiltpoint.

Could it be that the most consistent villain resides inside of our own heads?  Could it be that we persistently bark at ourselves with commands of More! when it would be a welcomed visitor if we could believe it alright to say, Less?

Why do you feel the need to hop at every one's bark?  Signed up for too many responsibilities?  Then resign from some.  Feel like you are letting people down?  What if by your backing off from an assignment, such would give opportunity for someone else to get to be invited into that responsibility or role?

Jesus didn't reach the whole world with a stage and a microphone.  He did it by charging the twelve and then the seventy.  He took the time to invest in a few to reach the many.  His tactic is still reaching...us!

Such a concept would be known as discipleship.  Investing in fewer seems to reach more.  Odd, don't you think?  Try to grasp the picture; the theme.  Busy-ness, I am convinced is not as productive, as thoughtful, prayerful, intentional restriction.  While I'm certain my ideas here have a few holes, it just could be that some of you who are very kingdom driven would be much more effective if you could slow down a bit in order to get more accomplished.

Worn out is not a bibilical credit to us.  Being persecuted and dying to self is.  But somehow it seems we may be more inclined to the former in order to avoid the latter.

Busy-ness impresses ourselves...and maybe a few others who are also driven by the same crunch.  Be encouraged; you have a Father who gave us His Son so that we could inherit His Spirit so that we could really see things take place in an eternally defining dimension.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

MAKE YOUR INSECURITIES SERVE YOU

There are no exceptions.  Every individual possesses a strong element of insecurity.  You can believe it, we've all got it and it's a heavy burden.  It's been a major battle for me; an inner war.  As strange as it sounds, this awareness has been the key that I use to reach to others.  I know no one, nor do I meet anyone, who is not riddled with inhibitions.  No.  One.

I am able to be outgoing because I became confident that far too many people are incarcerated within their own minds.  I was jailed myself and still seem to hand over the keys to the jailers who want to self-criticize and self-judge.  Yet, I must not.  And, you must not.

So, the question is how one goes about transferring insecurities to confidence?  We believe the Spirit in us carries His traits of love and joy for one reason.  We are to bear His fruit IN us TOWARD others.  IN us.  TOWARD others.  His fruit, us, and others....if one element is missing the world will go untouched from within our residence.

We gain confidence; but never in ourselves.  I learned through failure and weakness to risk in order to reach.  Each of us has our gifts that would thrust us into the mix of those intimidating interactive moments with neighbors and associates.  It isn't that some are gifted to reach and that some are not.

All are gifted; but it's just that our gifts are different.

Some are able to reach to others by sending a note.  Others bake cookies while, yet, others offer invitations to cook-outs.  Me?  I have many avenues but one of my easiest gifts is humor (and even there I run into many who don't think I'm funny.  Go figure).  Yesterday I was leaving the house and noticed a new couple; a young man and his girlfriend standing in a neighboring driveway as he evidently was the new owner. 

Suddenly, this idea just came over me.  I pulled over, lowered my window, and the craziest words came out.  Hi!  I'm Terry!  Are you the new owners of this cute house?  Welcome to the area!  You'll love it here!  You need to know that I'm the "main neighbor" of everybody around!

Whaaaat?  Where'd that come from?  But...it was funny and all of us laughed, smiled, connected, and they are awesome!  And, do you get it?  Who welcomes first-timers with those words?  I never know the right things to say.  I just know that others need welcoming as clutsey as my words may flow.

So it is with you; with all of us.  None of us are professional greeters, reachers, welcomers, etc.  Not.  One.  Of.  Us.  What we can do is to train our insecurities to serve us as we hesitantly try to reach to others...for that is precisely the direction Jesus would take each of us.

Our confidence....is always...in Him...and never....not one time....in ourselves.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

DON'T WASTE YOUR BREATH. DON'T WASTE YOUR LIFE.

Waste is a terrible word.  There is far too much wonder within every person's heart...and reach...and scope to waste our breath-life in anger, resentment, or even bold hatred toward any person. 

There are at least two significant reasons that we should not waste our life.  For one, such an exertion drains us of productivity in other regions.  Our mis-attention dis-affects our hearts.  To be sour toward another person becomes the DNA of our day whether we see it (believe it) or not.

Second, whatever it is that we despise of another is blatant proclamation that we are just like them.  Romans 2:1-8 pulls me off to the side of my Critical High-Way every time.  Is wrong still wrong?  Is sin still sin?  Yep!  Yes!  Affirmative!

The revelation, however, is that this is not a "they" circumstance; but is also an "I" one just as clearly.  Therefore, when "we" realize this about all of "us", "we" are on target to value life; not waste it.

When we join the ranks of admitted sinners, we join the family of being viable help to all as we are drawn into the wonderful, and true, participation of bearing Holy Spirit fruit.  It is His love and joy, and peace and patience that must, should, and will come through. 

Why?  Because the distraction in front of us is too large for us to tackle from the human will.  Don't waste your life despising another when you are precisely packaged the very same way.  Thus, the demand from God that we permit the His Spirit to enter into...all...of...us.

Happy Day!  We are all alike.  There is no exception.  Therefore, make your life count by attending, rescuing, cheering, and encouraging others all day today!!

Friday, October 06, 2017

SINCE YOU ARE LIVING OVERWHELMED...

Each of us has a lot going on.  We are engaged in the exertion of going on-ness.  Much of it we have arranged, scheduled, and planned on our own.  But more of it seems to come at us without invitation; with no previous awareness as to actual arrival.  I speak of misfortune or stress which seems to await at our doorstep.

My phone must be similar to yours.  It has a persistent "ding" or "bell tone" notifying me of an incoming communique.  Very much of it contains the happies.  Very much of it, too, reveals the opposite.  With increasing ability to be connected to more of our world in which we live, a sense of being overwhelmed is recurring.

What is one to do with this?  Run?  Hide?  Pretend ruggedness isn't happening?  Scream?  Pout?  Run...again?

What we are to do is to try to stay focused on God who has all of these moments in view.  He is bigger than big, wiser than wise, and surpassingly well beyond adequate.  God gets us when we don't get ourselves.  Don't let your distractions...distract.  God wants to be in the lead; but it is up to us to decide to let Him.

Following God isn't about keeping score: He answered one prayer and not another, He responded immediately person and then seemed silent to another.  To believe God is not only to look for the empty tomb; but to stay with Him when on the Cross.  Jesus did...and remember that he led the way.  There will be no resurrection without there being moments of painful defeat.

We do not live a faith-system of pretense; but rather, one of authenticity.  Bad stuff happens.  Sometimes we even cause it.  But the God of mercy and forgiveness and hope launches us into living an above-earth life.  It's real.  It's thrilling.  It's daring.  And...it's for we commoners who are often stumped by the latest fiasco occurring within our own minds.

Believe.  Big....bigger than whatever tries to overwhelm.


Thursday, October 05, 2017

THEY APPLAUDED ME AT WALGREENS

Okay, I just had a very unusual experience at Walgreens.  I went in to pick up a prescription.  The clerk wanted to know if I had gotten my flu shot yet.  So...I signed up!  Clerks were at the counter as well as awaiting customers; maybe ten in all.

Once the lady gave me the shot, I stood and announced to all with great enthusiasm that "I just got my shot and didn't even cry once!"  One gentleman in line asked if I got my sucker?  "Do I get a sucker?", I asked with more excitement!

I turned to the counter only to see a clerk holding up the sucker for me to take home!  All smiles at my all-around success, I thanked all for attending my moment.  They applauded...and smiled even bigger!!!

Other than that....nothing.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

CAN RELIGIOUS REPUTATION ITSELF BE SAVED?

Division is taking its toll upon the hearts of mankind.  There, indeed, must be a perpetual press for unity.  But, oh how we struggle to reach such a goal.  The battle itself should signal just how monumentally impactive, let alone important, such an accomplishment would be.

I'm wondering just how much this challenge is exacerbated because we live in the Western hemisphere where freedom and individualism seem to be perpetually noted.  While these two concepts are rich in blessings, one must be careful that the ego does not take center stage for every event.  Thus, the call from the Bible to consider others as more important than ourselves.  

I'm noticing a blurring of the lines between politics and religion.  It's becoming more difficult to discern on many levels just which one's voice is being heard.  And which of these two seems to be the more guilty of causing division?  It appears on several levels....to be a tie.

Is there a way, a hope, for authentic unity among us?  It appears there is such a dimension; such a direction.  The cost, however, is high.  Furthermore, it's of the highest caliber of challenge.  The trek to harmony for individuals, for families, for churches, and for nations is found in one word.

Humility.

Humility is the route to political effectiveness and the saving of religious reputation.  Are Christians to be known by our love or by our pet peeves.  By our compassionate reach or our rigid stances?  While we know the answer, the how-factor becomes a prominent element.  How do we obtain and then accumulate remarkable unity?  How?

The answer will not be found in the obsessive self-seeking promotion of rights.  That's being tried...and it divides at the starting gate.  The answer will not be found in withdrawal from community.  Neither will it be found in legislative law.  These do not survive the deep ocean waves of an ego-driven and demanding humanity.

Humility weighs the needs of others.  By this, it does not have to agree nor does it have to become subject to error.  Humility simply notes others before self.  This is major.  I said, THIS IS MAJOR.

Yielding to othes is the surprising path of Jesus.  He was no wimp; no coward.  He stood for some and, when doing so, stood against his critics.  Yet, at final straw, Jesus took the back seat to both on the Cross so that both would have opportunity to live.  It's this dying factor to self that finds us balking; especially when it involves anyone we don't much like.

Religion's reputation can be saved.  However, it will not survive our inner competition to see which divisive brand is most right.  It will be found in submission; a word that is not on the top-10 chart of popular doctrinal stances.  Yet, it is the route.  It is the secret med to cure all of mankind's concentrated ailments.  

Can religion's reputation be saved?  The more we die to self, the more we will see others come alive with a new perspective on what it means to really live.  Humanity was created to experience the Divine Partnership.  May we make strides today toward more Holy Spirit joy and less self-centered fragmentation.


Monday, October 02, 2017

HAS THE NEWS OF THE RUGGED CROSS BEEN CLEANED UP A BIT OVER TIME?

Go with me in your mind to the Hill...three Crosses...and three Victims (two thieves and then there was the One).  Take a look at it...at them.  How do you see it?  Clean; like the paintings of the event portray?  Manicured?  Silent?  Not a peep; just a sad respect?  Well-staged; three crosses stationed equal distance apart with the men hanging in some sort of rather sterile and graphicless coordination?

Yes, I say that basically the perception in our Modern Age mind is somewhat presentable.  The rough edges seem to have been sanded.  We do still recall this scene at least every Sunday.  In doing so we offer God, and certainly Jesus, a moment's gratitude for pulling off the world's greatest upset.

If I wouldn't be offensive, may I ask you to rethink this famous scene which is just a stone's throw from downtown Jerusalem?  Might we do away with the sanitation that resides in our minds as to how crisp and well-presented this event is assumed to be?

The landscape was cluttered with citizens; some scrambling, others wailing, while soldiers strong-armed the crowds by pushing, by shoving.  The panic must have been backed by a momentary senseless loss of bearings.  What is happening?  Rumors are flying!  Occasional screams from the whips' piercings indeed alarm the innocent in the crowd!  And where are the little kids?  Who's got the kids?  Find them!

Has Jerusalem gone nuts?!?!?

Yes, note how we've, at least mentally, cleaned up this tragedy just a tad.  We've added gloss to the printed artwork which has been handed down through the ages.  The ruggedness has been smoothed over via the centuries.

But....but peer now into Las Vegas.  Take a look...a good look...at the brutality.  Hear the screaming, feel the sickness in heart, and the inability on the part of thousands to grasp what has happened.  Take inventory of this train wreck; this absurd event of humanity gone awry.  See.  Hear.  Feel.

And as we do what we can to absorb the Nevada massacre, might we take a bit of the numbness, a bit of the ugliness, a bit of the disbelief of it all and gain a bit of insight as to the stark reality of Jesus stranded upon his cross for all to observe?  Might the sickening feeling of human disaster be realigned at the scene of the Cross as well?

The Cross wasn't a photo shoot for the Palestinian Gazette nor the American Journal.  It was a terrible scene of destruction.  Moreover, it was a picture of mankind gone bad; at its ultimate worst.  It wasn't slick in finish.  Neither was is smooth in communication.  It was rugged and then more rugged and then even more rugged as the torturous screams surely echoed across public square and down dark alleys.

May the awful news of today cause an appreciation for the awful news of Jesus' day to be restored. If it could be, we might find even greater consolation that we will survive this national disaster just as we did the eternal one on that famous Hill.

RESURRECTION POWER...QUICK...SOMEBODY LIGHT THE FUSE!

I want to encourage you about you.  All throughout our church experience, attempts--serious and strong--are made to step up the pace.  Above all else we want to appear to have cleared the faith-opposing hurdles with the assurance to others that we have learned well to follow Jesus.  Yet, very much about such a trek, if we are going to learn from him, is the constant upendedness of both our efforts and our understanding.

So often we seem to be left standing empty-handed when we thought that we were giving Him our best shot.  From Peter denying Jesus to Thomas doubting him, life unfolds constant lineage of frail betrayers who had surely hoped to accomplish quite the opposite.  What's with this picture?  Why does this road seem to be, evidently, such continual terrain?

One's deep desire to look the part may cause true discipleship interruption.  To look the part will, in our minds, mean that we appear to have matters under control.  Above all else, we want to come off looking good.  This is precisely why we settle for controlling such little turf; because that which we can control is quite a restricted territory with seeming little risk of failure.  Therefore, to be in control is to remain in a world that stays small.

Personal lack and frailty is the door opener!  That's weird, huh?  We read these, though, as to be quite the opposite.  From early childhood we do everything we can to look anything but weak.  Inadequate is not very complimentary.  But it is the road to magnificent impact.

Jesus.  Rejected.  On a cross.  Dead in a grave.  Not the appearance of world changing and quite dynamic individual, huh?

The look of a true disciple may be far from the image we strive to portray.  Have we not traded our vulnerability to grow and improve for a bowl of limited understanding?  When the Holy Spirit, coupled with the word change, are regarded as threats rather than thrill, the church will feed from a constant diet of human historical leftovers rather than sitting at the table of wonder, awe, wow, and joy.

Be encouraged.  Your disappointments in yourself are mere calls for realignment with the Call and the Cause.  Knowing Bible has left church paths strewn with fearful, angry, pew-roosters.  For me, when I began to yield to the Father, the Son, and the Spirit of that same Bible information, a new freedom to try, to fail, and to try again began to arise from the self-built, self-inhabited grave I had dug for myself.

Resurrection power....quick....somebody light the fuse!  I need it again today!

Sunday, October 01, 2017

WHEN LIFE FALLS APART, WATCH FOR IT TO FALL TOGETHER

We don't like the bad days.  Our preference is surely bent toward the good ones.  I know these latter ones have my attention.  Yet, in reality, we deal with both.  I wish to cheer you on regarding our unfavorite days.  What are we to do with them?  How might we handle them?

First, this world we live in is very broken.  There is no person who ever lived that was not diseased with devastating sin.  We try to/wish to/want to believe otherwise.  But if we believe the Bible, all have sinned and fall short of what God had anticipated.  Breakdown occurs.

Second, since we do experience rugged times, what can be done to endure such harshness?  One thing that is merely a thought away is the fact that we can, at the moment of discouragement, begin to calculate the blessings which saturate us; even in the midst of the dark times...Philippians 4:4-9.  And then there is another element which might surprise you.

When life is falling apart, note that it seems to be at such times that we give God a second look.  Could it be that if everything went well every moment of every day of every month, that we might begin to believe that we've got life under our own control?  Might we begin to conclude that God is not needed?  Yes, for this very trait is going on among many of the rich and the famous today.

When life is falling apart, the blessing is that it very likely is a divine signal to look UP!  No one desires stress.  None prefer angst.  But each contest to the heart has embedded within a renewal of the faith processes.

Read the Word of God.  Time after time, when life was falling apart, the Spirit of God caused it to fall together.  Therefore, try to remember that your bad days are simply another stage allowing His performance where a story of recovery and hope will lead to your positively and profoundly very good days.


Saturday, September 30, 2017

THE HOLY SPIRIT: AN ABSOLUTE TRAIN WRECK TO RELIGION

For the longest time as a student in preaching school (and once graduated), I understood that the Holy Spirit was a topic to avoid.  Only the radical nutcases who no longer faithfully operated from the Word of God would go near the subject.  Or, so we taught and thought.  Eventually I changed my mind about Him, wanted to learn of Him, and wrote a very elementary book regarding the Spirit of God. 

I was immediately labeled and shunned by so many in the church.

The Father, Son, and Spirit are expressly mentioned throughout the Bible as vital to our existence and performance.  To function in faith with one of these missing (eliminated) would be like trying to drive from New York to Los Angeles with one flat.  It would be a treacherous trip of unnecessary frustration when all it would take would be to put some air in the tire.

The Holy Spirit is our air; our God-air.  He's like the wind.  In scripture, at times, He's portrayed as a dove...soaring, moving, landing, taking off in multiple directions.  Fundamentalists don't like this dimension of the God-head because we have such a need to control Him, what we believe, and what we think others should believe.  All the while, we are supporting a false doctrine that the Holy Spirit activity has expired.

The Holy Spirit is not a train wreck to religion because He's out of control.  He's a train wreck because we've cut Him off from participating in the most elaborately thought out plan ever...the Kingdom of God.  He's willing to participate; but only where we will welcome His presence.

Without the Holy Spirit inclusion, we are trapped with a Father/Son format which leaves the church driving the religious bus out of fear, out of division, and without enthusiasm for life.  Left with two-thirds of the godhead, we've learned to be both critical and suspicious.  Our Go into all of the world command died when the essence of the Holy Spirit was basically removed from the written Word...which He wrote in the first place.

The Holy Spirit isn't a train wreck to religion because He participates.  No.  He's a train wreck to religion when a faith system eliminates Him and is left to function on its own human prowess.


Friday, September 29, 2017

WHEN JESUS ENTERS THE CHURCH

Jesus' leadership is surely baffling to the ordinary concept of being, what we would assume, a point-person.  He carried no sword.  He owned know pulpit.  Neither did he have the community powers-that-be in his hip pocket.  Jesus was just out there in the midst of the hurting, the forgotten, the neglected, the lonely, and the abused.

Jesus honored Father; not himself.  He was incredibly available to the powerless.  Too, he seemed to intentionally identify with commoners.  After all, isn't that why God came to earth in the first place?  To experience earthmanship in human form?

One of my favorite things about this Son of Man is that he successfully made the much needed break from worshipping religion and all of its rules.  He so did not go there that the leaders of such played the jail-card which eventually led to his execution.

Churches are struggling today because religion does what religion will do; weight us down.  Church location nor funds nor programs are the culprits to be blamed.  The buying into religious formatting is.  He told us and told us and told us that repetitious habits and regulatory rules would not produce.  The Pharisees insisted they would...but they didn't.  All the while, we preach against the Pharisaic stumblings while, simultaneously, grasping to imitate their controlling nature.

When Jesus enters the church we can anticipate new direction, challenging the status quo, from generation to generation.  Refreshing approaches to Kingdom work often eventually develop into more repressing habits which constantly bid for support when they have long past lost their cutting edge of success.  But how we try...and how we debate...and how we defend...all the while studying in our Bible classes how Jesus rattles the religious culture.

We so subtly assume that we are not like them.

Nothing has changed.  The Good News is that Jesus saw through man's need for power via structure and regulation.  Churches have never met anyone like the tender, brave, and insightful Son of God.  We know it.  We believe it.  But we must help one another have the courage to dare step out onto the the threatening waters of hope with the faith in his call to move closer to him. 

As we make progress toward Jesus, the back doors to our gatherings will be closed.  The front doors will need a larger Welcome mat.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

THE STRENGTH OF FOLLOWING THE JESUS WALK

Jesus' style blows the mind of our casual day-to-day walk.  He turns the anticipated and the expected and the assumed way of doing life on its head.  He fascinates me and really challenges me for his approach is so often backward; even to my assumed best thinking.  He doesn't make my arguments right.  His isn't the role to endorse my debates. 

He does, however, make me acceptable to Father for I can't reach such a level of effective ministering to those in need on my own.  It is our call to endorse his reach; not his call to endorse ours.

The strength of following the Jesus walk is that he breaks our complacency toward human suffering.  He draws us into attentive action to the underdog.  In doing so, he simultaneously reduces our smugness that we seem to find in doing church right.  We are to do caring for others right.

Finally, the strength of following the Jesus walk is that we expect something productive to transpire.  This has become a problem with the modern Christian mindset; too many basically expect nothing.  If there is little anticipation that God can/is/will work in our midst, we are left to only to be poised for competitive argumentation of everyone's preferred pet peeve.

When we expect our faith to experience the working hand of God in our settings, joy and hope arise.  This is a difference-maker.  Even as parents, if we are trying to raise our kids to be good without leading them into the zones of community heartbreak and ruggedness, these young ones will find no place to engage in Holy Spirit activity.

May we cheer each other on as we, like Jesus did, walk into situations beyond our ability to control.  At these holy points, may we see Jesus arise to the demonstrative level of help, hope, and happiness as he bears his Holy Spirit fruit from within us.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

THE NFL PROTEST AND GOD'S PROTEST

(I'm terribly uneasy in posting this.  I deeply wish to be a help to our separated communities.  The current social stresses are serious callings for a serious response; one that will have lasting impact for healing and hope.  When you've completed this post, you may be one who wished I would have deleted it.  Just know of my sympathy as I want to speak words of restructuring strength...but feel quite inadequate even in the trying.)

Protest.  What a mixed bag of implications, denunciations, and exorbitant frustrations stream from this current-day seven-letter word.  It's contagious conflictionatory style is so strong that Protests are Protested!

The latest to arrive on the scene is the NFL Protest over, if I understand this correctly, the playing of the National Anthem.  Before this one, political protests have been making the rounds.  What are we to make of this?  Where do we fit in?  Do we fit in?

I have close friends on both sides of this inflammatory aisle.  Stances are firm.  Some tempers are aflare.  Boundaries are drawn similarly to the setting at the OK Corral.  And, what is one to do with this differing array of opinionation?  What would Jesus do?

The answer is found in the reframing of the question.  It isn't, What would Jesus do?, but rather it may be, What did Jesus do?  We have the answer.  What he did do corresponds to what he would do.  He died for the enemy because he loved the enemy...more than himself.

Our general populace, quite oddly, resents such a directive.  The bent seems to lean more toward divisive suspicion.  Hype to hate seems to be a much more attractive motivator than learn to love.  When one loves one searches for ways to respect, to listen, to make personal adjustments in favor of the other (even our enemy other).

To love others is not to shrug our shoulders in indifference.  No, to love others is to count them more important than self.  To love others means we will sacrifice that they experience grace and life at my expense.  This is the way of the Cross.  This is what God did for us...when we were the enemy.  He noted our disrespect as well as our contrary selfishness.  God protested by absorbing our sins so that we wouldn't be blamed for them.  In other words, He blamed Himself.

Could it be that the NFL protests bug us because they represent a sub-nature that we each possess; but the problem is that these are doing so in front of the entire world?  Could it be that, before we are miffed from either perspective regarding their position, our own admission of guilt and failure just might bring resolve to our country?

The NFL Protest is not the first nor is it the final nudge to divisive judgment of any others.  This has been mankind's style forever.  What are we to do?  We are to do what Jesus did, die for our opponents that they might experience a profoundly new kind of life.  Rights are not the main stroke of freedom.  Dying that others may live....is.  Isn't that precisely what brave soldiers did for us along the way?


Monday, September 25, 2017

TRY NOT TO WASTE YOUR TIME WASTING YOUR TIME

Just when is it that a person gets to like the moment?  I mean, when will the steady gnarly interruptions to our negative thoughts toward others stop?  Are not life's intended grand procedures pelted with distraction which keeps us from liking several of our days?  It seems this is the case.

And what are we to do?  Can we do anything that would curb the frustration of an irritating time-frame?  Indeed, there possible avenues and I'm convinced you all know of many more to build a solid list of hope.

First, do what you can to recall that all of us sin and fall short of the glory of God.  We seem to conveniently forget (or else disregard) this when we have been the target of some one's ultimate failure.  Yet, no person is exempt.  And sins aren't categorized into lesser, really bad, and absolute worst.  Sin is sin and it took the torturous Cross of Jesus to put a dent into it.

Sin is devastating to the inner man at any level and of any dimension.  Self-justification, however, wants to balk at this truth in order to always allow some sort of self-made exemption before God for "my tiny" sin.  That dog won't hunt.  We are all alike...and doesn't that just bug you?

Rather than wasting our time trying to live comparatively to others, might we find our time better spent praising God that He would deem us salvageable?  Instead of disgust toward another, wouldn't we find our time better spent living in gratitude that the blood of Jesus "reaches me"?

Yes, we must not waste our breath in resentment, irritation, nor disgust toward one other person when we are individually ranked (lumped) into the sinners group with any whom we would choose to criticize.  We are all alike.  And this does not mean that we, therefore, pull all others down with us; but that we allow Jesus to pull of us up to him.  This...would be another matter worth reflecting upon the glorious idea that we are most grateful to be forgiven.

Try not to waste you time being disgusted with one other person...for in God's eyes...we are all like.  In God eyes, due to the extensive work He did from the Cross...we are made whole.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

WHY CHRISTIANITY HAS VIBRANT HOPE!

There is a developing void in the very center of the Christian realm.  It's subtle.  It's gentle.  It seems to be acceptable.  And, it's devastating to the very cause of which we believe/assume we promote.  Christianity seems to operate from the hub of sight; not the flow of faith.  There is a difference; an honest world of difference.

Faith is the dynamic of God-led/God-backed power.  It defies logic and promotes risk.  It promises without predetermined proof.  By it great things happen that can't.  Without it, activity scrambles to wear some sort of fake faith-mask which would lead one to believe that there is an actual walk of faith; when in reality, it is merely a trek of humanisticly sightful calculation.

Christianity has vibrant hope when we set aside the lure of things working because we see how such could come about.  And then, when we walk out on limbs of conviction (even when there is no physical format of support), the stage is set for God to do His thing.  He has always led this way.

Jesus (CHRISTianity) baffled and still baffles the odds-makers.  Yes, this Son of God/son of man, ruined all of the earthly cause and effect rules.  Jesus doesn't call us into a better humanity mode.  Rather, he promotes us to an increasingly higher spirituality which breaks down barriers of fear, and control, and over-bearing personalities.  Jesus introduces an entirely new way of operating as a human being....and, oh, how he led the way!

Christianity has vibrant hope because His grave is empty and our dreams are given reason to rise.  Short-"sight"edness will perpetually operate from fear's domain.  Yet, we are to walk by faith..and not by sight.  Really?  Then, why do we dare allow our sight at the table of propositions, decisions, and conclusions based upon what is clearly an inferior mode?

In my own life, faith isn't natural; it is spiritual.  Thus the battle rages within as to which gets the final vote; flesh or spirit.  We must try not to be deceived.  Much of our efforts are energized by what we can calculate according to our limited imagination.  Ephesians 3:16-21 insists that it is our faith that thrusts us into His realm of working beyond our greatest fathomilistic concepts.

This...this working, engaging arm of God...is why we have vibrant hope!

Friday, September 22, 2017

FAITH: THE GIGANTIC FALL FROM GRASPABILITY!

Ephesians 3:20 is ungraspably graspable!  We are to get it; to understand it.  Yet, its content and context is so magnificent that not only can we not grasp it, we aren't supposed to.  That's the point of the verse.  We are to get it that we can't get it.  We can only believe it.

Yes, we are to believe it.  This is a wild train wreck to the minds who only believe God as far as we can throw Him (explain, understand, express Him).  In essence church has become the product of the best, or most respected, thinkers among us.  Yet, leadership must be presented under the mantle of faith--a purely unprovable, unexplainable, unthinkable dimension of which usually bugs the spiritual tar out of us.

The key to faith is to yield into it being graspably ungraspable!  Faith truly is one gigantic fall from graspability.  It is within these unborders that the impossible becomes possible; that the can't become actually becomes.

The Spirit of Christ reigns over a systemic factuality that will not submit itself to the highest scientific borders nor the strongest mathematical restrictions.  He does this through one quality available to all mankind; faith.  Read the Word.  Story after story after story; what couldn't possibly happen did.  What held His people in fierce bondage couldn't.

Church is destined to be platitudinously dull?  Oh....I don't think so!  Not with a beyond our imagination God like ours!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

CONSERVATIVE-ITES AND LIBERAL-ITES ARE CUT FROM THE SAME CLOTH

There is such a strangeness about you and me.  We have our likes and dislikes.  There are those topics we find controversial on one hand while others note the same discussion is loaded with intrigue.  The strangeness is how we seem to assume that we are in one camp or another when, in reality, we are very much alike.  

Liberals view conservatives with a rolling of the eyes.  Conservatives squint through theirs as they smirk the Liberalites.  Yet, truth be told, we are all exactly alike.  We are correct in our judgment in places.  And then, we (all of we) hold errant positions....of which we do our best to deny.

Each group thanks God they are not like the other.  Profoundly, God says we are just alike; that we seem to plod through this wonder called life with a bee in our bonnet at how off-base they are.

Here's the sticky wicket.  Liberals are conservative in areas.  These may be open to new ideas yet stingy in their giving.  Conservatives are liberal in areas.  These most likely hold to strict view of scriptures while liberally dismissing those teachings which don't float their boat.  This goes on day by day...in both camps.

God declares that we are to drop the perpetual drive to live by comparison.  Our position is never to be how well we are doing compared to another for we are all alike.  Each of us possesses both tendencies; liberal and conservative.  It just depends on the topic at hand.   

For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.
                                                               II Corinthians 10:12

Yep!  Conservative-ites and Liberal-ites are just like each other...and this really seems to get under our skin.  But if we could see it (admit it) about ourselves, the harmony and unity driven by the Spirit just might be significantly refreshing....for all of us!


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

HOW TO OVERCOME THE "QUITTERS" MENTALITY

Much damage is done, it seems, everywhere we turn.  From natural disasters to human casualties, pain reigns in, oh so many, hearts.  The toughest is death; not just the physical death of a loved one, but the relationship death when we walk away from one another.  One of the strongest destructions within the framework of humanity is the "Quitting" factor where we give up on others and walk away.  Family?  Church?  Goals?  Career?

Something happened along the way of my walk at the Memorial Drive congregation that turned my world upside down...in a positive way.  Before Tulsa, I'd been at my first church one year.  My next two years.  And then Tulsa forty years.

Memorial was significantly discouraging in 1977.  Having just fired the preacher in a brutal battle within the congregation, I found myself to be the target of much congregational Hatfield vs. McCoy-isms....caught in the middle of a church whirl I knew nothing about.  An unlikely scenario came into simultaneous play.  I began receiving multiple inquiries as to whether I would consider relocating with other churches.  (I joked that if any such invitations for me to move were to come from outside of Memorial, I might consider it!)

In the middle of church hostility, I made a decision that has turned out to bless my heart deeply.  I share it should such do the same for you.  I decided two things: to stop the pattern of quitting and moving on, plus I determined to learn what it was God was trying to teach me with all of these trials.  My conclusion was that I wasn't going to learn what I was supposed to learn in year three of a local work if I kept moving away by year 2.  I made the decision to learn what it was that hadn't developed within me yet.

Here's one thing I saw unfold.  Endurance is a biblical theme which carries a sober message much needed by all of us every day.  I learned things in year ten at one church that I wouldn't have learned in two five-year terms elsewhere.  I experienced the revealing of God in year thirty-six that I may not have seen within nine-year terms at four different congregations.

Do not misunderstand.  I'm not saying that one does not naturally learn simply through the measure of time as we age.  But what I want to convey is that I began to wonder if I were to move on after two years, would I carry to the next job two years worth of sermons and experience that would not afford me the insights gained from longer tenure.

Now, for those who have served ten churches in ten years, I'm not saying your labor doesn't matter.  The Apostle Paul never lasted a whole year and he served God fairly well, don't you think?  No, my emphasis is not in the number of years one rings up at one location.  My goal is to get you to personally make a correction in your walk that is a threat to every one of us; stop the quitting.  Learn, rather to learn when under fire.  You may choose to move on (for God may be calling you to such); but learn from your struggles rather that run from them.

Throughout the Scriptures, the disciples encountered rough stuff.  Such is the core design of the church.  We are called to "take up" our crosses.  I'm watching too many throw them down in frustration.  The Cross IS frustration...the intentional pain for which we volunteer so that the hurting ones out there can find reason/hope to come alive.

We are to die that others might live....so don't quit.  Learn to learn what it is you lack in order to reach the whole dying world.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

GOD'S LOGIC IS DIFFERENT THAN OUR LOGIC

Now when God as "Logos", meaning, or logic (not logic in the rational sense, but logic in the patterns of reality) is missing, there is no meaningful direction or purpose in our lives...To put it plainly, change, death, and transformation are part of the deal!  Resurrection and renewal are the final goal and results...There is no renewal without loss.
                                                                        Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance

Have we not turned the fabulicity of God on its head?  Have we not reversed His intention and logic to fit man's lower genius?  Do we not spend much of our time fighting change, dreading death, and blocking transformation?  These opportunities are all around us everywhere we turn.

I urge you to dare enter the throes of death that He could lead you to emerge in the powers of life.  The great stuff is usually threatened head on by the the dreaded stuff.

One of my fiercest battles was leaving Quincy, Illinois and moving to preach for Memorial Drive in Tulsa.  I died a thousand deaths.  But looking back on the past forty years, I was rebirthed a thousand times.

And yourself?  You are facing what?  Uncertainty?  Fear?  Dread?  In the words of Jesus, Do not be afraid.  It so often turns out that we are not the boss of self.  Fear is.  Fear not only imposes itself upon us personally, but we even transfer it over to those around us.  Our counsel to our loved ones is oft to be found, not in the realm of logic defying faith but, within the scheme of luring dread.

Logic is the way to go.  But, it must be of God for His....is different than ours.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

WHEN THE "IM" IS TRIMMED

The world around us contains incredible fascination; immeasurably so in numerous places.  Too, our very same world suffers disarray due to the insyncrinization of oh so many simultaneous conflicts.  We have reason to celebrate on one hand and to be dismayed on the other.

What is one to do?

One is to learn of the game-changer, the difference-maker, which is the simplicity of faith.  Faith has been reduced in our culture to wait n see.  If what we had hoped happens, then we label it faith.  If it doesn't happen, we call it a lack of faith.  But faith is to be in the lead; not trailing from the back of the activity, result-oriented, pack.

Romans 4:17 is one of the difference-maker passages.  Faith believes.  Faith believes that even dead and hopeless settings can possess life within.  Too, it firmly believes that something can come from nothing.  This is profound!  Awesome!  Unordinary!

Much of what we call faith may be nothing more than a working rote.  Faith blows the mind of the practical for it effectively reaches into the impossible and eliminates the im.

I have no idea how many times I face the perfect opportunity to exert faith only to fail due to my own timidity and fear.  Yet, I cheer you on (me on) to grow in faith that we might change the things needing change; that we might dream beyond our short-sighted habits of religious routine.

Jesus changeS the world.  He isn't just historical.  He is legitimate Creator of new possibility!


Saturday, September 16, 2017

ExerShopping: Working Out the Body while Building the Economy

ExerShopping is a combinationalistic workout that's just too fun, too easy, and all-the-while eliminates the dreads of getting started on any given day.  ExerShopping is the new trend to put enthusiastic pep in your step.

Here's how it works.  First of all, this workout can be done in any store or may also be acclimated to a mall.  The good news is that the expenditure of energy is not restricted to the walking portion; of which there is a great amount of such.

In addition, ponder the stretches involved.  The core workout of reaching and lifting the item one may, indeed, want to purchase eats away the calories.  Simultaneously, muscle mass is on the increase.  Next consider the stretches of reaching for your billfold, handing the clerk your money and, of course, reaching again for the receipt.  The limber-effect is maintained.

ExerShopping is more than merely maintaining flexibility as well as stamina via walking the entire range of the mall.  It builds more than the body.  It builds the economy.  Yes, ExerShopping extends employment to sales personnel and stock boys and janitorial services not to mention manufacturing jobs and delivery requirements.  The impact that an ExerShopper has on the welfare of the local economy is certainly in domino effectivity.

Get your workout.  Spend money.  You'll be happy while you make others so happy.  It's yet another win-win situation.  Go.  For.  It.  You'll be in better physical health.  Your community will be in better financial health.  And, you will enjoy every moment of it to the extent that you'll want--you will want--to ExerShop multiple times per day.

You are welcome.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

THE ART OF HELPING OUR CHILDREN LOSE

Parenting is a tedious, glorious, heart-warming, and tedious privilege.  And, did I mention tedious?  I wish to encourage parents to reclaim a grace in the family system that is ordinarily tossed out on its ear as useless; as a loser with no value.  I speak of when matters do not go the way the child wanted whether grade report, gift received, or rejection in general.

Anyone can cheer their children on in victory.  It's the ugly defeating moments which are also impregnated with value; extremely useful.  Usually, though, such moments are quickly covered up with some smoke-screem reward so that hopefully son or daughter doesn't remember long the suffering of their disappointment of being rejected.

But what if these moments are, instead, useful?  What if we don't rush to cover up so that the defeated will soon forget?  What if, rather, points of victory are found in the center of defeat?  Isn't that what Israel encountered when they were being driven toward the sea with assumed ultimate drowning?  Isn't that what Jesus discovered upon the Cross?  Isn't that what Peter found when he failed the Son of God?  Isn't that what Paul found when imprisoned?

In each case, God did the remarkable to the extent that if in these four occasions there had not been turbulantic stress and confusion, there would have been no occasion for elaborate and perpetual celebration...to this very day!  So it is with our children's bad days.  Each experience is infused with life-lessons of awaiting wow and awe for the next God-story.

I cringed, often wept, at each of my three kids' demise.  But I also learned that such moments were opportunities for timely training.  Find the value in suffering.  Yes, your heard me.  God doesn't waste any moments and neither must we.

We must for the Kingdom trek is all about---all about--suffering according to the pattern.  When we don't train in the midst of trial, we may rear a bunch of talk-big, attend-a-lot-of-things quitters.  If not groomed to suffer and keep on going, stresses and disappointments will likely quench the fire in what was supposed to be strong and vibrant hearts.

In general, today's society doesn't do struggle.  We excuse.  We cover.  We blame.  We run.  I know the temptation.  I know the pain.  I have failed and been failed.  I have hurt and been hurt.  Yet, I always somehow knew to go to school during the rough times...and learn...learn deeper the ways of Jesus.  It is in the, what we would call, trenches that anyone grows.

It isn't in the squeaky-clean atmosphere of sweet church; but in the crushing blows of hurt feelings and deeper offences that our boys and girls become men and women who refuse to tuck tail and run.  Rather, these learn bravery through the training...the repeated training of spiritual endurance.

When your child has a bad day, try to remember that he or she is in a special school learning how to reach the multitudes of rejected ones who are have their bad days and will one day could be their converted friends; their neighbors.  We don't win souls by lecture....nor convenience.  We win by living from the Cross He handed us...and it must not be projected as an easy, no-bother path.  Children are to be trained as children not to just go to church...but be the church where it isn't always a ballgame of sorts; nor a picnic.

Therefore life in the church will be both troublesome and rewarding....both...not just the one we prefer.  May we be attentive to the specifics of training our children to experience victory...even in the losses.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

HOW CONFIDENCE AND HUMILITY CO-EXIST

Question: Are we to be confident or not?  If we are, how then does this align with humility?
Answer: Perfectly.

At first glance, one could develop personal confidence in self to soon evolve into an ego trek of being self-assured, self-directed, and self-provided.  Self-confidence has an initial sound of health and stability.  Yet, it isn't because eventually the self reaches the end of its ultimately weak rope.  

Enter humility.

Humility is the game-changer.  Humility leads, in a way, from the back of the human concentration pack.  The secret to it is its remarkable answer to the "confidence" question.  Humility is not a quiet self-confidence; but rather it is a steadfast visionary confidence in Jesus.  Our assurance of strength, supply, and accuracy of life is based upon the ever-funding work of the Spirit of Christ; not of our calculating, always refiguring selves.

We find ourselves to be faced with one unreachable hurdle after another.  Personally, we are sunk...when on our own.  But....but we are not on our own.  We are on His own.  Jesus isn't just the theme of songs nor the topic of Bible studies.  Jesus is the New Life residing within....within us!  Jesus has knocked on our doors and asked if he could rent out our spaces.  

We....say yes!  Enter in!  Soon!

Life pops when confidence--a new kind of assurance--is based upon Jesus rather than our own talents or good breaks or wishful thinking.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; so he says.  We are not; so we eventually discover.  We need him to get all of this done for us.  Confidence, when based upon Jesus and not the self, is the perfect partner to humility as the two walk down the corridors hand in hand.

Yay Him....and, therefore yay for us!  Confidence and humility co-exist when the directives of God are established.  And...we like it!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

THE WAKE-UP CALL TO AMERICA

There is a glorious thing going on in the United States at the moment.  Disaster has hit a segment of us with might and power not recently known until now.  Texas was recently pounded only to note Florida's more recent slug fest.  Our hearts are corporately awakened to the wonder of what really matters...others.

While we do not wish misfortune upon any segment of our brotherly/sisterly human family, we certainly find that usual distractions of me, me, and more me have a tendency to fade.  Our wake-up call blesses us for we actually hurt with deep sympathy toward sufferers of life's interruptions rather than the scores of our local sports teams.

Today it is Texas and Florida who encounter hurricane muscle.  Tomorrow?  Tomorrow may be an earthquake in the West or an ice storm in the Central states.  Regardless, the results will be similar; devastation and blessings.  People will share rather than hoard.  We will tend to those in desperate need rather than hunker down in some sort of self-preservation.

The wake-up call to America has always been a moment of wonder.  Presidents have been assassinated, space shuttles have exploded in mid-air, and mountains have caved in.  In these, and other catastrophes, a thread continued....America pulled together like it should have always done.

Blessings upon those who have hurt in the past.  Blessings to those who are in the throes of deep stress now.  And may blessings be prepared for those who are slammed next by suffering too deep for words.  We seem to live wide awake in normal life.  Yet, when tragedy hits we awaken even more as we will not waste such moments.  No, we will rather roll up the sleeves of our hearts and reach out to serve one another.

We all take our turns....at serving...and at being served.  Blessings to all was we walk through this day with hearts grateful to God that He's got this.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

HAVOC OR HEALING?

Watching the aftershock of Hurricane Harvey and the introduction to Hurricane Irma, devastation x devastation mounts.  The death and the damage are so enormous, it is surely unknowable.  Who could ever gather the cost factor alone to such supreme wreckage?

With repeated scenes of destruction embedded into our minds, consider something astoundingly beautiful.  God sees our personal lives in even worse disarray than the turmoil we see on the evening news.  Mankind is strewn to the point of even unrecognizable levels from coast to coast; border to border....day after day.  Reports are endless.  

Set that massive devastation for every person in your mind.  And then ponder....consider what God does for us.  The healing he offers to the deeply ripped and sorely ruined masses is exactly His will.  

How would you feel if there were a Divine Hurricane that could breezed through Florida right now?  What would it be like if this DH swept through the wreckage; but this kind of hurricane is the opposite of the harsh one?  This particular one put wreckage back together.  This Hurricane strikes at the edges of plastered cities and leaves behind newly constructed houses, resurrected office complexes, and restored people healed from both injury and....even death.  This would be beyond fascination, huh?

And this is precisely what Jesus does for us.  His spirit sweeps through our sufferings from acute demolition and brings back the new (even newer) that we had earlier lost during repeated storms.  Father God has hit broken, ruined mankind with a punch like no one has ever seen.  His punch doesn't finish us off...but starts us up!

Four times the Bible uses a most incredible word: propitiation.  Romans 3:25, Hebrews 2:17, First John 2:2, and First John 4:10 offer Good News that's too good to be true.  Mankind, stumped by our own misery and sin, is slammed with the Hurricane of Healing.  God sweeps across our worried and confused hearts and rebuilds us into beautiful and unexplainable wonder!

Romans 3:25...Jesus was displayed as propitiation; taking our place on the Cross in order to free us.
Hebrews 2:17...Jesus was made to be like us in order to pay for our misdeeds, our misjudgments.
First John 2:2...God's Son swept through, paid our debt, and restored our hearts.
First John 4:10...God sent His son to pay for our sins.

Propitiation is the key to this most sweeping wind which is straight out of Heaven.  It's a word that one can hardly pronounce; let alone grasp.  Try to get the picture.  If a Heavenly Hurricane could sweep over devastation tonight and would reveal total reversal of rebuilding and robust enthusiasm for the people by morning...this would be the cause and effect of propitiation.  

This doesn't happen to our worldly goods.  It does happen intentionally to our souls.  God doesn't wreak havoc with us as we try to follow Him.  Rather, He wreaks healing!!!  The world barks, gnaws, and storms at us by landing rudely directly in our paths.  And then God...our powerful Father...will not allow such interruption to have the last say.  He shouts, "Propitiation!".....

.......and we all say, "Wow!  Look at how new everything is!"

Thursday, September 07, 2017

TWO OPPOSING, YET SIMULTANEOUS, REALMS OF REALITY

You do know that we experience two worlds in any given moment.  Right?  One walks by faith.  Or, one walks by sight.  Yet, quite oddly, both realms exist for immediate experience based upon one's chosen perspective.

Faith is the call of God.  Faith has taken a pretty significant hit in the Christian realm because we tend too often two switch it over to sight...yet, only to continue call it faith.  Quite often the faith-walk has been transferred back to a more of a wait and see operation.  The undermining word to the spiritual process is see.

Present seeing is reality at any given moment.  Present faith is reality at any given moment.  But one is not to be assumed to be the other for oddly both realms, in fact, see.  Sight sees.  Faith, however, sees during the very same situation; but with an opposing perspective.  This surely keeps us on our toes as at the reading of this we are likely saying, Huh?  This may verify the challenge of which I speak.

Peter was in the boat.  Storms were a-brew.  Jesus came walking on the water.  Peter was floored.  Jesus called upon him to get out of the boat and walk toward him...a very opposing, yet simultaneous realm of reality existed for this common fisherman.  Both avenues are present; not just one.  Opting for Jesus, Peter actually walked on the water; which at the moment was a very authentic realm of opposite reality.

However, the sight-matter changed.  Peter shifted from seeing Jesus to seeing threatening waves; the very intimidators that had always been present when he walked looking to Jesus.  At that point, the waves indeed existed; but Peter was giving them no mind.  Once he split his attention (sight), an immediate sinking feeling inserted itself into the lineup.

So it is with our walk.  We tend to reduce faith to be a matter of how things work out.  We tend to believe that they just happened with little dependence upon or responsible perspective.  But all faith is awaiting our assertive perspective.  That's what faith is.

The faith term has been reduced to handy-ism, thoughtless-ism, and shrug-ism.  It either happens or else it doesn't.  But, not true.  Faith isn't a hurried-past step in the plan of salvation.  Faith opens the windows of the working heavens, the hand of God, at the very simultaneous moment of when opposing situations crowd in to intervene.

(I awakened just now this morning.  And this is what He told me.  It's all a sight issue.  We select what we prefer to see.  So I send it your way.  Have a new kind of day!)

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

TRY TO BE HERE

When you read such a title, do you get the impression that you are being called to go somewhere?  That you are being summoned to move; to be on the move to get to another destination?  Yet, what if...what if...it is a call to the opposite?  What if this is a motion to be present....where you are...now, like in trying to be alert to the wonder of the moment?

That's precisely the intended call.

Have you ever been talking to one across a table and, while they were facing you, you sensed their minds were off in another world?  (Sorry men.)  This is the tendency of daily mankindness; ever wandering off into another moment of past conversation or another future event while seldom present for the here and now.  This is a blatant waste of yourself.

Why would you imagine and dream for improvement if you know that you will not give attention to the destined accomplishment of which you had envisioned because, when you get there, your mind will be off attending to another moment; past or future?   This would be the way I lived for decades.  Seldom did I treasure the moment for I was imaginarily engaged in other moments.

Should we be appreciative of the glory found in recall?  And wouldn't we want to be visionaries of what can be?  Of course.  Of course.  Of course.

However, living in the past and future without noting the profound blessings of the now is to miss out on a part of the strongest fabric of living.  Try to experience now.  It seems Jesus was continually calling the disciples into the moment.  See the lilies of the field.  Note the grass.

Our days are not trouble free, admittedly.  But to listen to some, one could conclude that they must be blessing free (meaning they have no blessings).  They are not.  Our days are full of riches, and glory, and thrill, and joy.  Let your mind dwell on the multiple things going right.  Fill your hearts with appreciation for what is....now.

Wouldn't it be quite an accomplishment for many of us to stop the chatter, close our ears to the whining, and take note of the privilege of being alive...now...at-the-moment kind of right now?  The truth could be that often the glory of God's grace is knocking at our door...but we aren't home.  Instead we are out roaming around in the maze of elsewhere, all the while forgetting to live in the present.

Try to be here.


Tuesday, September 05, 2017

EPIDEMIC HESITATION: Many Want to Know About God But....

I am focusedly sympathetic to a specific kind of individual who lives among us.  I speak of the one(s) who inwardly wonder if this God-stuff could have any legitimacy, yet they don't know how to go about inquiring safely.  By safely, I mean these aren't sure that they want their friends to know that they are having second thoughts about God's reality.  Too, there is incredible uncertainty as to what believing in God might actually entail.

The thought by so many is to stand back and remain unnoticed by colleagues.  Yet, what if?  What if this God-Bible-Church idea isn't a hoax afterall?  What if you and your cronies' constant jokes about churches and those in them are way off base.  That's what I discovered to be the case.

In John chapter 3, there is a story of a man named Nicodemus.  He sought out Jesus privately by night.  This one just already happened to be a significant religious leader in his own right.  Yet, Jesus was quite a challenge for this leader as many in his neighborhood assumed that he already spoke clearly for God.

He went by night to talk with Jesus?  That must be significant else it wouldn't need to be inserted into the text.  Was Nicodemus afraid of what he might hear?  Did he make such move because he didn't want colleagues seeing him?  The point I wish to make is that not everyone is immediately ready to rush out in public with their vocal enthusiasm for following God.  And such a one is, indeed, still very able to learn of Him...in private if such a climate would give the seeker room to ponder, consider, weigh.

So consider an assortment of ideas regarding the inner desire of oh so many who secretly want to know/wonder about God and His legitimacy.

  1.  God gets it.  He inserted the story of Nicodemus in a way to signal that He understands hesitancy.

  2.  All who are devoted to God live in the church in some form of hesitation.  We hold back, even after we are committed to following Him, because we are each crammed full of uncertainties about...ourselves.  Therefore, you are free to join the crowd!

  3.  To enter the Kingdom of God is to be born again.  Think about birth for a moment. When we are born we know nothing!  We don't even know that we are alive!  Yet, what's more precious than a newborn who eats, sleeps, and poops at random?  Frankly, being born again in the spirit has many similar traits including fumbling with the new concepts, ideas, and approaches.  Join in!

Newborns in the church are our happiest moments!

I'm one who knows that there is an epidemic of hesitation going on.  Good people, very awesome, genuinely great people, want to know God; but don't know where to begin.  I get it because I was one of those.  So many of us in the church were one of those!

Relax.  Fumble in learning; but what's new?  You've most likely done that in every venture of your growing/maturing life.  Get over it.  Come out of the epidemic hesitation...even if you have to approach someone in the dark about matters of faith that you are beginning to weigh.  You are a good person....so valuable that God (The God) died on the Cross for you (torturously so) in hopes that you would one day risk giving yourself a fair shake at just learning of His potential toward you.

Break the bonds of Epidemic Hesitation....shall we?  Refuse to keep the intimidating crowds from letting you learn about one of the most important truths of your entire life....your personal, hopeful eternity.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

A LITTLE BIT LOST; A LITTLE BIT SAVED

Christianity has developed a thinking that is crucially wrong as well as subtly deadening to the heart.  It seems that we may have taken the extremes of life and neutered them to be somewhat momentary samples rather than living experiences.  This constant struggle of believing that we are only a little bit saved is a direct backfire due to a falsely coordinated belief (self-imposing doctrine) that we are only a little bit lost.

Oh sin is sin; do not forget.  Yet, insistent middle-of-the-roaders interpret such strenuous fact for others; seldom for self.  Judgment of others is easier this way.  We don't know how they can dare do what all they do.  All the while, our (my) particular sins?  Well....well they are indeed toughies that will require patience and understanding (of me, with me, toward me).

Here's the Truth.  We are found in the eyes of God to initially be very extremely lost.  This, therefore, elevates salvation as moving us from being deeply lost to become, rather, very Good News!

Extremes?  Oh, we churchers say we don't believe in extremes.  We see ourselves as more...well as more stable.  And, we have a name for thosens; R A D I C A L S.  But what would be more extreme/more radical than transitioning from eternally lost to forever saved?

Extremes?  Jesus beaten to a bloody pulp before and during the Cross only to be raised in a clean bill of new health seventy-two hours later.  That.  Is.  What.  One.  Would.  Call.  Extreme.

So here's an area that creates incredible sluggishness in the body of Christ; the church.  Our sins should more than strand us.  They should break us.  Yet, there's more...much more.  Upon realization of one's personal sins is the stunning belief that we who have been buried in baptismal waters are experiencing a resurrected new life!  This is the message from Heaven; cleansed by His blood day by day.

When one shifts into this mode of much lost to much saved, a new person(ality) develops.  Gratitude reigns.  Criticism of others diminishes.  Relief becomes prominent for self...and certainly for others.  Life seems to transfer from drudgery in the Kingdom to abundant joy, hope, and opportunity.  One actually takes on the world of Heaven while here on earth!

The truth is that everyone is very MUCH LOST.  When one encounters Jesus, we become very MUCH SAVED; not a little bit, not just a scent of such, but over-the-top actuality.  When the church moves from going through the motions created by a false standard of a little bit lost/a little bit saved, the True Standard will arise from hiding.  Hearts will be relieved...as well as refreshed.

Jesus didn't suffer excruciating pain on the Cross so that followers could walk with a hesitating limp known as nebulous faith...whatever that is.  No.  Jesus was raised that we tip our eyes toward the wonder and the glory and the awe of the present moment and all future present moments.  That's what we could call being "all in".

Become new.  We were a lot lost.  We are a lot saved.  The latter changes EVERYTHING!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: HITTING HOMERS FOR HURRICANE HARVEY

St. Louis Cardinal infielder, Matt Carpenter, declared Monday that he would donate $10,000 to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.  But...not so fast.  It wouldn't be a one-time $10,000.  That would be $10,000 per home run that he hits from now until the end of the season.

Pitcher Adam Wainwright joined Carpenter stating that he, too, would donate $10,000 per Carpenter's home run slugging ability.  Soon the Cardinal owner, Bill Dewitt, Jr. declared he would join the ranks at the same financial participation.

So it wasn't long until Cardinal Nation knew that anytime from now until the end of the season that Matt Carpenter would hit a home run, "$30,000 would be making its way toward recovery efforts in Texas.

In his very next game, which was last night....the slugger homered!  More games are to follow!

Thank you Matt Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, and Mr. Dewitt.  We are excited to see just how many more homers Matt can rack up!!


Sunday, August 27, 2017

HELL'S FUTURE IS TOAST

Jesus broke the dominating rule of death being the final straw.  He challenged it.  He fought it.  He experienced it on its own turf.  And then...he embarrassed death to death when he broke its intended terrifying bonds and did away with its vow to be permanent.

This has to be the most fascinating truth of all...death was no match for the always lively, continually living Son of God.  Furthermore, he offered us stock in the promise.  If we would invest in Him, He would see that we could participate in receiving shares of hope, joy, and perpetual life.  And, he wasn't kidding.

Death stings.  But the Doctor takes the sting away.  It isn't a matter of "hope so".  Neither is it an emotional game of pretense in hopes that this worrisome matter might eventually fade.  Due to Jesus being dead, and then in the next breath not, we have every reason to believe.

We believe he did it!!!  Jesus came back from the dead!!!

We are called to place our intentions, our hopes, and our future into the very fact that his grave is empty.  The Bible isn't a book off the shelves of a toy store.  Neither is it in the fashion of some cartoon strip.  The Bible lives and teaches living truths about the rebirth of every individual who will simply buy into it.

This isn't Rocket Science.  It's deeper, higher, and much, much farther than anything science can muster.  It isn't an educational level of accomplishment nor attainment.  It isn't ownership of material goods.  It isn't about how many books one has written...or read.  Real life isn't about astounding feats, goals reached, nor feats of personal power.  Life is about investing in the One who beat the fire out of death!

Ours isn't the call to make a good showing for what we get done here on earth.  No, ours is the call to buy into God's promises that death can't keep its vow.  He's right you know.  He proved it by volunteering His Son to march into Hell and take over its power.

Hell's future is toast.  Death will beat on us, weary us, and threaten us.  But...it will not keep us!

Thank.  You.  God.




Saturday, August 26, 2017

A DAY OF ST. LOUIS CARDINAL REFLECTIONS

Three former Redbird stars were inducted to the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame this afternoon.  Pepper Martin, Tim McCarver, and Mark McGwire were honored by the Cardinal Nation for their tremendous contribution of talent.  It was quite a special event as the fans gathered to see three of their favorites receive such  privileged notoriety.

Getting to view portions of the festivities, I could not help but watch in such gratitude for what God let's me get to do in life.  He lets me be in some of the most unusual settings.  I love it.  It's just so weird in a weird sort of way; but I had connections of some fashion with all three inductees.

I never met Mr. Martin.  But I was named after the captain of his team, Terry Moore.  Terry and I were close friends and he was always telling me about the antics of his colleagues.

Tim McCarver was my manager at my very first Cardinals fantasy camp; he along with Curt Flood.  I was just too thrilled to be placed on their team.  They made a catcher out of me because I was one of the youngest in the camp.  They did so because, being only thirty-six, my legs could take the punishment.

However, I didn't know there was a specific way to wear the mitt so that an incoming pitch would not jamb my thumb...repeatedly.  It hurt so badly that I brought the metal shoe horn from the hotel bathroom the next day.  Later in the game McCarver saw the shoe horn and had a fit!  He wouldn't let it drop as he had never seen nor heard of such a thing.

And then with Mark McGwire, I've never actually met him in person.  But we've done a bit of work together.  When Carole Buck asked me to write a book about her husband, Jack, she wanted Mark to write the Foreword to what eventually became Voice of Silver, Heart of Gold.

Mark isn't a writer.  My job was to have several conversations with him over the phone.  I interviewed him regarding Jack and then I would write what Mark conveyed.  Next I would send him my perspective, he would make adjustments and return the volley.  We went through this enough times that I finally had written what Mark wanted written from his perspective...through my perspective of his perspective....if that makes any sense.

Regardless, today's induction took me down three memory lanes.  Each of them still fascinates me as God just seems to have me at the right place at the right time.  You just can't make this stuff up!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

AND THEN THERE'S A THIRD OPTION

Problems seem to present themselves day in and day out.  If solution is found in one area, breakdown erupts in another...fairly soon.  Because we are a responsible sort, we take on the challenge to look the puzzling moment in the eye and solve it.  Life's tenure doesn't seem to note struggles as decreasing.  Just the opposite seems to be the order as we age.

It's with the nod of the head or the shrug of the shoulders that it seems to be said, "Sink or swim."  Of course, sinkage isn't really a matter of preference.  So swim it is.  Swim always gets the vote.  Swim usually holds the trophy.  Until....

Until?  There are those times where one can find himself overwhelmed by current circumstances.  It might be a new ordeal of conflict.  Again, it could be that interferences seem to be escalating in rapid number.  It's here that we may need a third alternative; a new possibility for effectivity.

Ah, and there is that third option.  Peter experienced it.  One time Jesus came a-marching across the lake waters unphased by the laws of gravity.  The devoted disciple was flabbergasted.  He'd seen nothing like it; never even had the thought of such possibility.  Yet, there it was coupled with an invitation from Jesus to do the same.

You've.  Got.  To.  Be.  Kidding.

Getting out of the boat, Peter walked on water for a few steps.  As soon as he took his eyes off of Jesus and began to peer upon the threatening waves, he began to sink.  For a bit, however, Peter defied logic, rules of gravational science, and his own frail faith system.

He.  Walked.  On.  Water.

Believe it.  The walk of a believer in God is perpetually pulled, even challenged, to trade the "sink or swim" motto for the "walk on water" truthful reality.  The point of Peter's brief jaunt was not to put the boating industry out of work.  No, rather it was to awaken us to be drawn into a new kind of walk that can neither be explained nor understood.  The most it can do is to be believed.

So I cheer you on.  You have hurdles in front of you; very rough seas.  The current is bold and the towering waves remind you of endless threat.  Their messages are to persuade you that there is no hope in this specific challenge; nor in the next for that matter.

Yet, faith in Jesus standing atop of our turbulence and calling us to walk directly toward him is a fascinating bid for our faithful courage to get out of the boat of security and start the trek.  The very idea of believing that God can do with us what can't be done is...well...just too exciting.

Be encouraged.  Try to stop playing faith safe.  Quit going by the norm of religious habit and dare to step onto the waters of mystery, of apparent hopelessness, and assumed failure.  Walk right into those intimidating storms.  You'll take a few steps.  Before long you'll need Jesus to carry you the remainder of the way.  He will be there as your cheerleader!

This is the third step!  Sink maybe.  Swim maybe.  Or wait, walk on top of all your troubles?  Ah, now THAT'S a real option!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

SATAN DOES NOT OWN THE MONOPOLY BOARD OF OUR LIVES

We are saved by the blood of Jesus.  It is His blood that cleanses us from all unrighteousness.  Why would we need to be told this by God?  It's obvious.  If we don't have confidence in the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, we will forever be trying to earn our way to Heaven by two things, (1) our good deeds, and (2) sin avoidance.  The problem is that we will fail at both...often.

Mark this down someplace in your heart.  Jesus paid the price on the Cross.  He didn't make a down payment.  The cost has been paid in full.  Jesus is perpetually footing the bill; paying the damages and then telling us to be on our way in freedom of hope and joy.  He's got this one...and then this one...and then this one.

We struggle with this because we feel responsible...and guilty.  And we are until...until the Cross took on..."our sins"; not just our bad habits, not our enduring glitches, but the biggest category of all..."our sins".  The Son of God was beaten to an unrecognizable pulp as he was in the process of paying the Clerk for our, what would have been, eternal demise.  We now have a "Get Out of Hell" card as Satan does not own the Monopoly board of our lives.

We are called to be baptized into Jesus that he would forever cleanse--wash away perpetually--our sins.  A problem with this fantastic grace is that we repeatedly sin and we aren't sure we can trust God with wiping up our messes.  Yet, He is aware of this because His blood is in constant cleansing mode.  But we, somehow, determine later that we must be rebaptized to once again wash away our sins.

I'm not saying that no one should ever be rebaptized.  I was.  I didn't understand at my first one that my sins were to be forgiven as well as, simultaneously, receiving the Holy Spirit...Acts 2:38.  I am conveying that God knows that we are repeating offenders; habitual sinners.  He gets us.  Jesus walked earth in our shoes to explain to Father what a quagmire of naggatational (nagging) earth is at the moment due to sin.

Rebaptism...including that feeling of starting over again...is to be perpetuated; but not in repeating and repeating the cleansing act of being buried in baptismal waters.  No, the refreshing of our spirits is repeated at weekly Communion.  The broken bread and the drink serve as reminders of his being beaten upon the Cross. Jesus' body was mutilated and his blood was shed....for us.

The very place a Christian is served notice that sins are gone and hope arises is perpetually found at the Communion Experience.  It's value is the "reminder factor".  The "what we do" expands into glorification of being reminded of "what He did"!  We don't save ourselves.  Jesus does the saving.  We do the believing that He did it well.

Therefore, experience the powerful reminder through Communion that we are a people who are steadfastly saved...which means...we aren't people who are grappling for hope only to probably be lost.  Jesus is the Victor.  We are named by Him the Victorious.  We are saved because God owns the Monopoly Board!  If it is to be, it is up to Him!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

TRANSITION: FROM DIDN'T CARE TO PRAY---AND THEN WANTING TO PRAY

It's still weird to me how something so simple seems to be so very difficult to execute.  It doesn't take much talent, energy, nor depth of education to pray.  Yet, for me this was one of the most difficult tasks of Kingdom life because...I just didn't want to do it.

Pray bugged me.  Those who prayed bugged me.  Because I was in preaching school and eventually became a minister, I was obligated to join in on times of talking to God.  But, I didn't like it...ever!  Eventually, drastic changes took place and now I pray repeatedly throughout each day and even if I awaken during the night.

What changed?

I began to see God as Father rather than Foreman.  We began to build a relationship rather than possessing a rule-oriented working arrangement.  I wasn't a hired hand.  Rather, I was family.  I was son.

As such an awareness began to evolve, I noticed that I was talking things over with Him...and He with me.  No longer did I feel that prayer was a time where I placed an order to go.  For those who "go by the Bible", yet don't believe that God responds to us in relationship, these "going by the Bible" people fail to do one of the most fundamental requirements of a believer.  They cannot, will not, do not...pray.  I know.  I didn't either.

When God becomes Father instead of Foreman, family ties begin to develop.  Connections increase.  Trust builds.  Understanding of each other comes into play.  One begins to feel a part of the team rather than a spectator in the stands (pews).

I know how you feel if you don't like to pray.

Truthfully, those who don't most likely didn't bother to read this post as soon as they saw the title.  I cheer you on, however.  Prayer is the connecting spot between Heaven and earth.  It draws the Trinity into personal Unity.  Approach God as Father and you'll see the terrain of prayer begin to become a desire...and no longer a rolling-of-the-eyes dread.