Saturday, June 24, 2017

MIGHT WE NEED TO CHANGE OUR INNER PASSWORD?

I don't know how to say what I'm about to say--what I want to say--to you at this very moment.  Believe me.  My (com)passion is charged and ready to express in deep meaning the value that I see in you and how much I believe that each is basically unaware of your own profound depth of wonder.

Mankind is stripped of its potential because Satan's original work in the Garden divided us.  Oh, I don't mean that such division is merely one against another.  No, I mean that we entered a zone where we are divided against ourselves.  We want to be effective; yet, find ourselves plagued with failing moments.  We desire to really be alive only to spend far too much time in dread of a day or an event or of a person.

This is why faith enters the picture.  It is a warrior against fear for fear still wants to be the Boss.  That's what happened to Adam and Eve.  They simply became afraid....and many have never gotten over what we inherited from them.  Yet Jesus, at our rebirth, very much does reopen one's potential and possibility in a whole new power display.

From Princess to Pauper, we are all the same; wanting to be more than we are and blinded to our own positive dynamic at any given moment.  Don't misunderstand.  I'm not promoting rude self-centeredness.  But rather, I'm wishing to draw out an inner confidence embedded within us by the intentional design of the Holy Spirit of God.

Individuals do not grasp just how deeply wonderful they/you are.  Thus, we perpetually thirst for something more without realizing we are currently and valuably very much, very sharp, very effective, and very meaningful.  This is not to brush against one's ego; but rather, to dip into His Supply.  So how do we reverse this mistaken daily tendency of missing His glory within our very own interior?

Realize that we are all the same.  When I was entering the sales world as a 20-something, before I seriously entered into ministry, I was highly intimidated by any of slightest power.  How many times I heard from my colleagues, Hey, they all put their pants on one leg at a time.  But this didn't help...and I failed.

When I eventually entered into ministry, I was plagued by the very identical insecurity.  This is a part of the reason that it wasn't until my senior segment of Preaching School that I was sent out into area churches to preach (while all other students began such an experience in their sophomore term).  I.  Couldn't.  Do.  It.

I was scared.  Fear drove my every day.  But little by little, I gained confidence in Him.  I never gained confidence in myself (to this day).  Yet, the key was increasing in assurance of His absolute presence and His productivity.  I actually began to believe; to trust God.  Count.  Me.  In.

My burden for you is that I believe that every person on earth battles insecurities galore.  This, then, carries an inner defense mechanism within our thinking that goes unchecked.  We refuse to learn new ways for we are protecting what little security we dare think we possess.  We take the talent He gives us and we hide it.  We hoard it for fear that it, too, will diminish.

Often we balk at the very idea of just trying.  This very practice reduces blessings for those in your path as well as your own potential ones for you would rather play life safe.  There is nothing safe about this for it is robbing you of the real you.  This is your personal Thief.

Whether you are my friend or are my foe, I cheer you on.  Dare to open up your heart to your dreams and imaginations.  Quit playing it safe.  Refuse to hide within your manageable schedules and controlled talents.  Explore.  Dream.  Imagine.

And then....dare to step out of your comfort zone and into His.  Nothing in life has us trapped by enemy pursuants but what God cannot part your Red Sea and provide a way of escape into the unknown wonder of your very own Promised Land!

Change your inner password from I'MAFRAIDI'LLFAIL to GODLET'SGOFORTHEVICTORY.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

PUSH BY FAITH

What kind of spiritual exertion are we to....well....exert anyway?  I reference our walk with God.  Is it all up to Him?  Or, all up to us?  Shared responsibility?  I send a bit of ponderment your direction for consideration.

Christians are to do work in the kingdom.  Yet, there's a subtle distraction that seems to undermine the theme of working.  We seem to transfer or translate such self-effort as if we are viewing our Bibles as a place to put our invisible savings stamps so that, when we get the book (the Bible) full, we can hope that we are saved.

This is the work-side that comes off as humanistic earning power with the hopes of persuading God that we could/should enter Heaven on that Day.  Aren't you impressed God?  See what we have done?

Yet, of course, Father puts a twist and a challenge into the biblical word work.  We are very much anticipated by Him that we will work in the Kingdom.  He wants it.  We want it.  That settles it.

Not quite.

Work is not knocking so many doors setting up Bible studies, per se.  Work is not attending church three times a week in hopes finding an Eternal Pass awaiting at Heaven's gate.  Neither is work an involvement in ministry which gives self the appearance of Kingdom connection.

These are to be questioned for one simple reason.  One can do these things without having any trust in God.  Many are in the church who know their place to sit; but do not have a relationship with the One.  Much labor goes on within and for the church which may be exercises of one's will without confidence in the Spirit that He would be engaged in any part of walk.

Not so strangely, all of the efforts above may also be mighty and powerful in content as well as effort.  The difference is, again, whether the work that we are doing is on the God-plane.  That plane?  Faith.  Faith is the work that we are required by God to do.  Without faith...without a working faith...our works are dead in their tracks.  Without faith in Him, we are possibly pursuing life in the church with faith in our own brain and brawn.

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

The work that we are to do is to believe in Jesus.  This is the work requirement.  Without this commitment we will be a people who serve without prayer-prep.  We will reach out with little expectation of Jesus' participation.  Too, our walk will be undermined by distraction--easily disturbed--because we have developed a ritual of church activity rather than a confidence in the very Spirit of Christ.  There.  Is.  A.  Difference.

May we be a people who push into our communities with the labor-intensity of the Spirit's highly productive leadership, provision, and backing.  May we be wowed at what He gets done with, in, and through us.  Yet, we will always be sensitive to the truth that He is the One doing the work....not our best foot forward.

Our defining work is to believe that God works.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

GARAGE SALE AT MY HOUSE FRIDAY!!!

For all in the Tulsa area, we are having a garage sale Friday, June 23, starting at 8:00.

  • Exercise equipment
  • Antique signs
  • Tools
  • Table
  • And lots of etc. stuff
10% of proceeds go to Mary!

2636 E. 18th St., Tulsa

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

FAITH MAKES NO EARTHLY SENSE

Maybe three decades ago, I wrote a book; The Holy Spirit Makes No Earthly Sense.  The meaning of the title is that one will never learn of the Spirit of God using earthly measurements.  No, these would need to be spiritually evaluated.  The title alone caused a stir within the church.  Some were irritated by the sheer fact that I believed the Holy Spirit works in our lives.  And, then, others were upset as they thought that I was saying that the Spirit made no sense in any realm.

So today I still say that the Spirit does not fit the 1 + 1 = 2 mindset of human efforts as if such  equals a basic formula for kingdom living.  What is required is a very unique territory known as faith.  Otherwise we are simply a batch of humanistic minds trying to make church work from earthage rather than from the heavenlies.  Our bodies will one day succumb to injury or disease or age.  Our spirits are the eternal portion of each of us.  Thus, we give attention to such a key element of....our us-ness.

The spirit world is in each of us, among each of us, and very much to be involved with all of us.  What is to be expected, then, in this zone which is the spirit side of us?

For one thing, we need to be aware that our flesh will strive to be boss of our spirit.  It will try to weigh godly Truth from the mindset of what would be regarded as normal and obvious thinking.  Faith, though, is not normal.  Faith believes that what isn't can still become.  Faith sees into the invisibles which blows the mind of the flesh.  As a matter of fact, the flesh can't tolerate this paragraph.  The flesh-mind resents what the spirit-mind strives to believe.

One's spirit, then, engages poles apart from the flesh.  The flesh is willing to attend church; but it doesn't want to pray.  You can't make it pray.  It doesn't want to learn new landscapes and regions of the Word and it most certainly does not want to be uncomfortable.  Ultimately, it is terrified of dying to self that others might be blessed.

The flesh is self-ish while the spirit is self-giving.  The flesh fights to preserve self at the very center.  Yet, the spirit goes to school in order to learn how to give itself away for the needs of others.

The spirit wants to spend time in prayer, learn how to love enemies, become enthusiastic over giving of our money, and finally it wants to grow in freedom to reach to the world around us without being so paralyzingly self-critical.  There is no enemy to our spirit as large and monstrous as our fleshly approach to thinking which tends to hold us captive.

We incarcerate ourselves all the while complaining as if someone else did the arresting.  Others are never our main trouble.  Our interiors--the mind of the flesh or the mind of the spirit--set the course for our every day.  The former is captivity while the latter if freedom.  We.  Get.  To.  Choose.

Faith makes no earthly sense.  It makes much heavenly sense.  As the grave being empty still creates doubt in the flesh-minds who just can't believe it, that empty grave sets a believer's heart on fire for God because we operate more from the Spirit of God than our own lower-life thinking.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

I'M ENTERING THE YOUTH GROUP OF OLD AGE

Tomorrow--June 18th--I am to turn 70 years old.  Since 30 sounded old when I was 23, you might imagine how old I thought 70 was way back then!  But it's sorta weird in a good-weird sorta way, that age seems to somehow grow on us with time.

I feel certain that my 70 isn't nearly as old as my grandparent's 70s.  I mean, mines much younger in feel, in attitude, and in....well, in most everything.  I do recall a gradual moving of my expectation factor when playing baseball in the Cardinal camps.  Beginning at age 36 and finishing at age 69, there was a trending away from actually catching the ball to feeling joyful that I could at least see the ball coming....and watching it go by.

Seeing had become key.  Who needs reflexes anyway?

Admittedly, 70 does sound old.

My agility has somewhat crystallized.  I never saw the day coming when I would need to sit down so that I could think on my feet.  And hey, young people, you know that country sound along the creek banks on a summer's night where you get to hear the humming of the locusts and grinding of the crickets?  Well, about age 60 or so, God implants both of those sounds directly inside of your ears and you get to enjoy a summer evening out all day long...everyday...all year long...really.

Regarding driving a car, I've noted that some people just don't respect my sudden change of lanes.  And green lights?  Yellow?  I've upgraded.  They are now the same to me sorta like slow down or stop.  Slow down works just as well and, frankly, saves a lot of time at intersections.  And, being the considerate man that I still am, my moving on through in yellow/reddish simply allows the lady behind me a sooner turn.  Just call me thoughtful.

One more thing.  I've noticed that as we age, others around us seem to become more confused.  They have incredible imaginations remarking that I already told them certain things...several times already.  They are obviously confused....yet I do a nice job of rolling with their absurd suggestions.  They can't help it.

So for now, 78 sure does sound old to me!  Yep, that's most likely the actual and true over-the-hill number!  Right now I 'm merely entering the youth group of old age.

Friday, June 16, 2017

DO YOU HAVE YOUR OWN DAILY BOG?

I ask, do you have your own daily bog?  At first glance, some might have thought that I meant to say blog; not bog.  But...not the case.

My question is whether you have those matters which bog you down day after day?  You know, those words, or deeds, or actions that knock the wind out of your sails?  Perhaps you set out for a time of anticipated wonder only to encounter a grump or a pessimist or and infraction by those around you...or....your own grumpy, pessimistic, infractionary disposition?  Either way, our balloon moments may encounter deflation.

So how do we negotiate a daily bog?  Philippians 4:4-9.  Oh, I know.  You've heard this before.  Yes.  And you'll need to continue to ponder it for daily bogs require daily mindsets upon all that is going right in our world in order to stay up.  Bogglism is always awaiting in the wings to drain your momentum.

Upbeat and forward moving is the stronger option.  This never pivots off of how things are going.  No, upbeat and forward consistently derives from how we choose to think.  Will we sink because of challenges before us?  Or, shall we choose to use these very intimidating struggles as stepping stones to an even higher walk?  Get behind me, bog!

Today is filled with potential, encouragement, and participatory awe.  Enter in.  Don't just wish it was so for you.  Claim it.  Expect it.  Live it.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

WHY SHOULD WE UNSPELL "UNTIED"?

Division has become a way of life.  Not to be neglectful, there are those issues which such would seem necessary.  But truthfully, it appears that very much damage is being done in the name of stances taken against other stances.  In addition, I wonder just where people as myself have fueled it without thorough thought.  Have we/are we experiencing a time-warp of intense multi-level separations which are both unnecessary and avoidable?

The political and religious compartments among us are two potential sources of enormous strength and pressure-relieving harmony.  Yet, I hardly believe that their potential is recognized as such; but rather are perceived as contesting forces within their particular zones of seeking advancement and service.  Even the dear term of family has been hacked with terms of separation, abuse, and selfishly individualistic demands.  Pride reigns in all three of the aforementioned categories.

Admittedly, there is such room for improvement right where I live and serve.  That's why I even know what to address here.  Long before Facebook, mankind was hitting like or avoiding hitting it only upon the simple basis of preference.  Preference will not take us into the rough spots of society.  Neither will it win the enemy.  We are called to do both.

Should any be fatigued over a few of the politicians' (and news pundits') sarcasm toward the other side, we just as well confess that churches are hitting our communities with identical thread.  Suspicion and hatred are fruits of our self-serving, self-promoting bias which demands microphone time.  Neither political party has mastered the escalating challenges of states and counties and cities.  None of we churches have captured the entire range of Truth; although competing tribes verify such a mission has been accomplished within our own narrow context.  In both cases, society loses.

We will ever be encouraged to learn the steps of Jesus; not in biastistic plans of salvation, but in walking toward the hurting and the confused and the lost?  Might we grow...up?  May we set out on any and every given day fully aware of flaws...major flaws that need correction...our flaws (not "theirs", not some of "them"; but m-i-n-e as well).

If we could unspell u-n-t-i-ed (meaning that we refuse to be linked in harmony) and rearrange the very same letters then just maybe a new word would have a chance among us; u-n-i-t-e-d.  We can do this.  To make progress, the route of Jesus is the only way... and that way is to humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord.






Wednesday, June 14, 2017

DO NOT BE DISTRACTED BY BEWILDERMENTICITY

I have a daily routine.  It isn't necessarily a matter of following an order nor a procedure.  Neither is it conducive for monitoring impact.  Tangibility it most certainly is not.  My routine is to watch for and to believe that every person in my connectivity range needs encouragement.  There is no exception.

Person hood takes a beating.  We are beaten by forces from the exterior.  Yet, some of the most vicious are the mean ones within our interior.  Be certain.  Be reminded.  Every person, regardless of race, sex, or stature, needs a river of assurance flowing their way.

If we refuse to accept this platform, our personal insecurities go to waste.  At this juncture all one can do is mainly lick our own wounds.  Truthfully, this is not our calling.  Self is not our main interest.  Anyone other than self is.  I've heard it said that if you can't help yourself, you can't help others.  That may have a ring of wisdom; but it is exactly backwards to the Kingdom system.

When we attend to others, our own ills lessen in this deeply spiritual process.  And note, discouragement, frustration, anxiety, etc. are marks of one's spirit; not one's physical attributes.

I have this habitual ability to get distracted by my own maze of bewildermenticity.  I want things to go well.  Really.  But it is the not going well that is paving the road to meaningful and useful participation upon the life-scale of losing self by placing greater value in others.

I am to turn 70 years old Sunday.  I am still fighting this confidence bear.  How long is this going to go on?  It appears that it will continue as long as there are people around me who need a cheerleader.  Our presentations are not backed by our dollars nor by our accomplishments.  The hurting aren't up for our personal rehearsal of grandeur.  No, our value is what we learn from the biting, even stinging, stirring of balloon-puncturing disappointments and ugly failures.

These moments of seeming mishaps connect with others.  They do.  The very thing we don't believe we want (and spend enormous energy and focus trying to kill off) is the exact place we are to fruitfully hurt.  Believe me.  No, believe God.  There is a reason that Jesus is known as the Suffering Servant.  Suffering is what Servants do to reach the whole world.

This has been an IMPORTANT REMINDER.  Never quit!  Never be distracted by bewildermenticity.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

DO YOU PRAY YET?

It's interesting how emotionally engaged we can all be in one or many areas of church life.  We enter into studies; both group and private.  Our knack for helping others is applaudingly noble.  It would seem that, for the most part, the vast majority of our members care about the direction and effectivity of the church.  Yet, there appears to be a gap in our walk which isn't Rocket Science.  It the participation and practice of prayer.

This does not reflect well upon my walk, but I went through a Preaching School and out the other side without giving prayer much of a look.  Oh, believe me, we studied about and believed in it.  I just didn't do it.  Prayer?  Would you be ashamed of me if I told you that I didn't like it?

Later I would hear of highly effective men and women who seemed to do extraordinary work while being most ordinary themselves.  I don't know if it would have been a sermon(s) I heard or a book(s) I read or a leading of the Spirit....or a combination of these.... but prayer began to become real in practice rather than a dull and obligatory expectation.

What changed it all?  One major component thrust me into a hunger for prayer rather than a time to take my spiritual medication which tasted badly.  When I saw that thankfulness was a central player in the relationship process of/with God, my prayer life was converted.  Thanksgiving for what He has done, is doing, and will do is a gravitational pull toward the activities arranged in Heaven.

I'm not saying that such a trek is the solution to all non-praying individuals.  I do offer at least this one possible solution of thanksgiving.  My concern is that we walk in the midst of highly-engaged, strongly-opinionated members of the church who are resistant to the heartbeat of the Spirit.  God longs for our interaction with Him as Father; not as Boss.

We walk with Him and we talk with Him.  Remember?  Prayer is where we connect, not just for okaying a meal before us; but, by carrying on a Father/son, Father/daughter walk...us down here...and Him down here with us in Spirit form.

Do you pray yet?  If so, then awesome!  If not, maybe practicing telling Him how thankful you are for all of the wonder in life might bring about a change that you've wanted for some time now.  It can happen.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

HOW SHALL WE APPROACH OUR DAY OF WORSHIP?

Sundays are gigantically awesome, amazing, and mighty!  They are especially that one day of seven where we band together to raise our voices in praise and delight of Him; our living Creator/Sustainer God.  Robust.  Heart-engaged.  Beyond hesitancy, visible praise will be offered up.

Yet, this isn't the case for too much of, at least, the American version of church.  In far too many hearts, intimidation reigns.  We have developed an unintended promotion of lethargy toward giving our all because decent and in order was precisely what the fearful and the controlling needed to become their foundational stance.  Decent and in order has always been the habit of God; but such a command was never given to the Pharisess that it would be their bully pulpit.

Go ahead.  Point to the wild and crazy emotionalism that may be over the edge.  Warn us.  Give us what for when we raise our voices, lift our hands, applaud instead of just amen.

Two things are happening with this guarded position which is offered in the name of truth...but isn't truth:

     1.  We are killing the imaginations of our children.  These little ones among us will not develop a taste for the outrageous possibilities of the heavenlies if what we do most is patrol the pews for acceptable humanistic behavior during church.  Such behavior of which I speak is that inner law that the older ones possess as to what's allowed and what's not in a church building that was never (the building that is) authorized by scripture in the first place.

     2.  The second thing happening is that we have sent missionaries into the foreign territories for years; not with the news of Jesus, but with the proper ways to do church...our various brands of church.

What happens when these two things go on is that spirits are quenched.  Inner drive to imagine and explore potential in the Spirit of God, by the Spirit of God, are buried so deeply within our people that it takes a heaven-quake to bring them back.  The good news is that heaven-quakes are happening!

So I mean to cheer you on.  Please....don't just attend worship today....but worship.  Applaud Him.  Brag about Him.  Salute Him.  Talk to Him.  Wake up church!  We have a God to honor...again!!!

GO.  FOR.  IT.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

GUARD YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN JESUS

Would you think we live in a demanding time?  We are surely an on-the-go crowd.  From one appointment to the next meeting, we hardly have time to remember what just happened for we must focus upon what is about to happen.  Add to this the upkeep for all of the things around us like, homes, cars, people, and jobs (just for starters) and it's no wonder we feel breathless and out of shape.

So I wish to speak a word of caution to my friends.  Be on guard that you might experience the real life Jesus intends; rather than a surface life that evaporates by the demands of the next, and the next, and the next calendaric event.

Things, including over-scheduling, are draining our hearts dry.  It's unusual, don't you think, that we struggle to think about right now because we are distracted by what has been plus what will be?  I speak not as if the latter two don't matter.  The caution comes in flagging down your speed-traffic of hurriedness that you inadvertently bypass the glory of His wonder at the moment.

Therefore, I would encourage you to possibly make progress in one key area.  Don't tackle the demands and wonders of a day without first consulting Father regarding our praise and glory toward Him for His sheer existence.  A praise-less person is on a course of emptiness.  A praise-full individual, though, experiences abundance moment by moment.

We have a world to reach for God.  Experience the marvel of allowing Him to extend you beyond your clocks and your calendars.  See the person you are visiting.  Hear their words.  Don't rush past the glory of the moment so that in the simplest of situations....you can both see and hear.  What an exciting two traits to possess!!

Thursday, June 08, 2017

REACHING THE PINNACLE OF POWER

We tend to not think about where, why, or even if we are a powerful people.  Oh, it isn't that we don't desire it; don't dream of being such.  But, I think that few ever realize their arrival.  I know for certain that even fewer know how to get there.  So, let's discuss how one reaches the pinnacle of power.

This is weird; the approach to hitting upon our individual dynamics, I mean.  The peak of our power is always found in our lack of it.  Only God would prescribe such a fundamentally backward and awkward platform.  One's most heaviest strength is never the truest in our best foot forward; but is always found within our frailest convictions of the mind.

Why is this?  The answer is simply because God has called each of us to love others, build up others, encourage others, etc.  Why would these others be in need of love or building or encouragement?  Because.  They.  Are.  Down.  We cannot possibly understand how these truly feel unless we have been there ourselves...beforehand.  Our greatest weapon to assist a down-and-out friend is for us to totally understand where they are coming from BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN THERE!

Otherwise, we nod our heads uh-huh while being basically clueless as to how to listen; how to help.  The great need within mankind day by day is hope.  And, how exactly did God figure our hopelessness?  He became like us in human form in order to gain experiential understanding.  That's the trail we follow.  This is why we are ever effective at ministry.  We suffer with our friends in order to be of genuine assistance.  Having answers is found within the very center of not knowing all of the answers.

Reaching the pinnacle of power is not in accomplishment.  It is in going to school in the hard times; struggling in the harsh reality, which moves us to being Kingdom useful.  The great biblical stories of God are where His people were stranded (even stumped) in weakness only to watch Him unfold incredible drama of outrageous success.

You are your most powerful at the very point you likely resist the most day after day; your clueless, weak, inability to see how you could be of any value at all.  Wake up to the wonder of God in yourself.  It doesn't come with gold and glitter; with large marquee and billboard of attentive self-praise.  No.  Your secret weapon is the very thing you wish you didn't have.  Your.  Own.  Lack.




Wednesday, June 07, 2017

CREATIVE: IT'S WHO WE ARE BECAUSE IT'S WHO GOD IS

One of the noticeable differences between organized religion versus abundant life is that the former drifts toward shutting down in preservation while the latter draws toward opening up via imagination.  This has been, is, and will forever be our earth-bound challenge.  Will we live robustly or shall we cower?  Shall we hope or shall we die?

The standard of Jesus is neither whimsical nor indifferent.  His wisdom is absent from every man-made, man-driven, man-controlled chart.  The life of the Spirit of God has no equal.  Remarkable!  Highest of intelligence!  Greatest in possibility!  The masses who yet know no God cannot afford for the religious to toy with church.

We must be set free.  The choir (as in preaching to the) seems to consistently need the nudge of the Spirit to imagine what can be for large regions of what isn't yet.  Believers are seers.  We see lack and envision provision.  We note rejection; yet, pursue acceptance.  Trusting God insists that we will not give up.  We will not give up our mission nor will we give up on people....whose dear hearts are our mission....that with one voice we may gain momentum in offering praises to Him.

Nothing turns our eye from the goal of believing that more of the very ones who imply they have little interest in God can one day join the team of His proclaimers.  This has happened to many of us who had no intention of being a part of a church only to find ourselves in the midst of leading within.  Weird, huh?  Such is the case for me.

Law abiding church kills the drive because it arrests the imagination.  Such ones take a very weird stand.  These are not driven to do what is right; but live under the timidity of getting things wrong.  Therefore, I join a chorus of other voices to say, Dream.  Imagine.  Think.  Wonder.  Dare.  Try.  Risk.  Pursue what isn't yet.  The world awaits for the people of God to look like, act like, feel like we are actually newer today than we were yesterday.

Look at God.  He created the heavens and the earth.  That was a good day's work.  Oh, and then He noted the need for form.  Oh, next He saw the need for light.  Ooops, God developed apple trees and carrots evidently realizing a few hours later He didn't have any people around to eat them.  So here comes Adam and Eve and we are off!!!

Creativity is the very heart of God.  There is more damage done by my fear than my effort.  Faith functions by what isn't.  This is the very eyesight of the congregation.  What can be seen in the invisible is the very location of heavenly productivity.  The Cross was key.  The work done by the Spirit overnight behind the scenes in the tomb continues to shatter man's obsession to try to do life according to our very crippled and handicapped concepts of how we think life should unfurl.

May we gain momentum as we perpetually learn to come out from our hiding in safety in order that the latest seekers up and down our streets might get their chance to run into the wildest kind of hope ever!!!







Tuesday, June 06, 2017

HOW TO MAKE IMMEDIATE UPGRADE TO OUR OUTLOOK

The spiritual side of you/me just cannot be ignored.  Go ahead.  Try.  Focus only on the bank accounts and the progress reports and the touchy relationships.  Devote yourself to expanding your territory.  Join the driven market for more and then more to the point that one becomes convinced that enough is never enough.  Trade sarcasm for insult.  Believe that the world's troubles are always due to someone else.  This is what the flesh gets us.

Or, awaken to the truth that we are very much spiritual participants.  Exhilaration?  Depression?  Enthusiasm?  Joy?  Sadness?  Peace?  These are spiritual matters.  Daily matters.  Every individual matters.  All of these are of the heart; the spirit side of us.

Outlook, on the surface, may seem to be the visible; the tangible.  But it isn't.  It begins with the opposite.  Invisible and intangible are all about the spirit side of men and women.  Outlook is not a quarterly report of a success ledger.  Rather it is very much the flexibility of feelings; emotions and insights.

What excites me is that we are able to make perpetual upgrade.  The process is quite simple.  And, the progress is magic.

We are to live in the emotion of thanksgiving.  The flesh gets moody.  It likes and it doesn't like.  The Spirit, however, is able to admit the frustration or discouragement; but is assured that wonder is going on in the midst of each obstacle.  This is reality.  The flesh doesn't buy it.  And...the flesh is only happy on the up days; not the down.

To make an immediate upgrade on your outlook; engage in the spiritual discipline of being thankful for what the flesh would deem as successful as well as the unsuccessful.  Our effectivity is dependent upon our ability to know that each moment contains life-offering hope to others.  Jesus would have no story of coming back to life if he hadn't been killed.  The Apostle Paul would never have had the report of the jail falling down if he hadn't first been unfairly mistreated and arrested.

This upgrade changes the way we pray.  At first, I only prayed because I was expected to...I was the preacher.  But it was boring and fruitless and I didn't care for it.  But when I began to tell God everyday and everyday and everyday Thank You! for every pro and con, positive and negative, up and down moment, the world began to open for me.  Life began to actually fit!

How to make an immediate upgrade to our outlook is to look into the very center of our problems and note that even these are carriers of God's wonder just waiting to burst upon the scene.  Cry when we must...for we do take our turns...yet always be assured that such a moment is a vital bit of forward progress for your personal walk with the Eternal One.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

WE MUST NOT WASTE A BAD DAY

Today's thought is very key for your walk right now.  We are groomed by God for sympathy toward others.  He calls us.  And then He trains us.  The world doesn't need our criticism.  Neither does it need our rehearsals of their short-falls and long-disappointments.  These get us nowhere.  Our call is for the purpose of outreach toward others...many others...for they need words from someone who has gone through similar grinder.

That's why Jesus is so good at what he does; who he is.

Hebrews 2:14-18 is a place that pulls us into understanding of exactly why our stresses and difficulties are useful.  Make special note of He had to be made like his brethren in all things.  And then 4:15-16 continues the thread of how it is that he gets what it's like being us.  For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as are we, yet without sin.  Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.  

Jesus went through the rejection, the suffering, the sheer let-downs because he was on mission to find out what it was like to be a human.  Once he got the picture he could then be effective in rescue.  He had on-the-jobsight training. This.  Is.  Us.  Today.

We do not go through tough times simply because life is rough.  No, because these have powerful significance.  We must not waste a bad day.  What we do is turn that which attempts to shut us down on its head.  We win it into productive submission.  We use it--the hurt, the pain--to help others; just as did Jesus as he perpetually helps us.  And why?  Because all around us are awesome people who've just about had it with injury and obstacle.

Even those who behave with intent of hurting us will only serve to strengthen us because we will learn how the others in our circles feel.  It is here that we will be of useful purpose.  Jesus teaches us how to make a difference....just like he did.  This is called ministry.

We must not waste a bad day.  Jesus didn't.  He used the agony of the Cross and the numbing death of the Grave to wow the world!  May we reach the whole world!


Saturday, June 03, 2017

SO....WHAT'S THE FOLLOW-UP TO DEVASTATION?

Yesterday's post was simply an honest revelation that we all have our days; even those of us in the public eye.  That's precisely how and why I know how to reach to others because I know what's going on within for oh so many.

But there is always a follow-up.  And that's one reason I dare write about the struggling side; my struggling side.  We are us.  Mark it down!  We are!  And we will have those times where we are found to be like Peter coasting along as he marvelously walked atop of the lake.  Eventually, he began to sink because he saw the turbulence all around.

Jesus had to walk out there and get him!

This we can always know.  Just as there are very real days where we wonder why we even try, we can be equally assured that Jesus is the Yes in the very midst of every storm.  This isn't pretense.  It isn't Pollyanna philosophy.  It is where we live.  This is one of those places we must practice looking for the Spirit of God to walk up to us with perfect assistance.

So...what is the follow-up to devastation?  Assurance.  Assurance that will not/cannot come from within even the best of self.  But just as Jesus lifted Peter to survival, Jesus, from within my many friends, lifted.  I was so sick that I had inadvertently unleashed money-prowlers upon my readers that I was ashamed and grieved.  You know it.  I wasn't fearful of the ability for most of you to make a determination.  No, it was toward those whose would be blind-sided by scammers.

As usual, however, I knew the Spirit would lift when I felt I was sinking.  It was a Yes all along.  Not all Yeses feel like Yeses at the time.  That's when we operate by faith.  Thank you for standing with me.  Today we move forward remaining focused ON REACHING THE WHOLE WORLD!

Yay us!  Yay Spirit!

Friday, June 02, 2017

WHY I'M DEVASTATED TODAY

I've written about this recently...and it's not improving.

I'm quite hesitant to post this.  Yet, we are real people living in a real world.  It isn't fantasy.  Ours is a mixture of excessive joy coupled with, at times, crushing pain.  Even though I feel exceptionally vulnerable at the moment, I share this with you only to say that I get where you live; your disappointments, your mistakes, your failures on occasion.

I have prayed for forty-two years that God would help me to reach the whole world regarding Him, His Son, and His Spirit.  I've treasured the times of asking Him as well as watching my requests come true time after time.  What a sensational trip!

Recently, though, my dream has run into an abrupt and halting wall.  In my trying to encourage ministers world-wide, a few in third-world countries have hijacked my posts and turned them into self-seeking fundraisers with the appearance that I endorse them.  Through my list they are not reaching to ten or twelve people; but hundreds and hundreds.  I'm hearing from many of you that you are getting unsolicited requests galore.

I'm sorry that I've caused this.

My devastation is that I cannot now befriend another person because some may take these additions and send their notes of Hello...followed by, How is your ministry going?...coupled by, We are very poor and need  funds to my treasured list of dear friends.  I'm receiving like twenty or thirty FB friend requests a day and, now, I believe you are as well.

So I tell you, first, that I'm sorry for any of you that are now targeted by these people because of me.  I just didn't see it coming.  And I feel devastated because what I felt thrilled over as a perfect opportunity to reach the whole world has been hijacked...and now maybe frozen in place.

As I write this...at this very moment...a request came in from a minister (whom I do not know) in Faisalabad.  My heart goes to this one with anguish to cheer him on.  Yet, will this stranger receive my encouragement or will he do as others are and hi-jack my mailing list?  If I weren't putting your name in jeopardy as being targeted, I would sign up for all of them for even the deceivers may want to know of the deep abiding love of Jesus.  I'm certain they will.

There has to be a Yes in this.  I can't see it at the moment; so I shall choose to wait on it.  And while I do not post this to complain nor to feel sorry for myself, I do so to tell you that all of us experience incredibly deep stresses in our various ministries.  I just want you to know that you are not alone.  And it is within these confusing times, we go to school and learn of the workings of God for He's got this one as well.

My sincere apology for FB interruption I may have caused you.  My fault.  I'm crushed.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

THE TREK OF THE CROSS

The Christian path isn't Amusement Park theology.  I don't mean that statement to sound old-fogey-gripey.  Rather I wish to convey that the discipleship with Jesus is of  clearly rugged terrain.  This element is more taught than caught.  I note that we believe this very much....for others.  Yet, we seem to hiccup when it is found to be actually at our doorstep calling for personal engagement.

Have you ever wondered why the fruit of the Holy Spirit?  I mean, why does God wish us to possess this?  Joy?  Patience?  Self-control, etc.?  Why would one need the Spirit to bear this within us when we are quite capable of pulling off each item listed on our own?  Don't we really know how?

The reason is that we eventually cross a line where our self-drive to love, to be of peace, has met its oppositional match and at these points it could very likely be said, We.  Have.  Had.  It.  It takes the Spirit of God to press us into loving the unlovable, to be joyful in distressful moments.  The Spirit is within us to do more than we can do.

The Spirit is enduring.  He forms us in endurance as well.  Empowered by Him, we follow His trek.  Jesus was not only beaten for being the best of the best; but immediately upon being beaten, he was forced to carry his own cross through public square.  Frankly, we might have it within us to bail at much lesser challenges.

Allow me to encourage you.  Why would Jesus insist that we take up the Cross daily?  Every.  Day.  Because we have work to do every day and we cannot--can not--get it done through our positive-thinking, trouble-dodging, happy-desiring obsession to walk a life without conflict.

Therefore, I cheer you on.  Don't give up.  Don't wear out.  But lift your eyes to see the profound demonstration of the Spirit activity played out in the One...named Jesus.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

BELIEVING GOD ISN'T PRACTICAL NOR OF COMMON-SENSE

To probe the world of the Spirit there will necessarily be a strong need to disband our casual obsession with making matters fit into our understanding.  God is beyond the framework of human reason even when we are offering our sharpest mind-probing skill-sets.

Indeed, we are to know our Bibles.  We are not to do so simply to accumulate facts; but rather to develop a very intrinsic relationship with the Son of God via the Holy Spirit.  Not so oddly--yet, so very strangely for sure--such a mission could frustrate the tar out of a few of us who tote and quote our Bibles.  We students will always have much learning and growing to do when it comes to walking with Father.

Truth is not concrete (physically) as in a mathematical equation or a favorite casserole recipe or...or even concrete.  Truth is a grand shaker of man's mind moving us from carnal acquisition of facts to spiritual confidences of His grandest reality.  I'm convinced that this will always be the mission of the Word of God; to undo one's stubborn conclusions in order to reveal the utmost potential of His involvement among us.  This.  Isn't.  Easy.

If not careful, we will tend to look at the most remarkable (even absurd at times) revelations of God and His people only to conclude that, This was good for back then, but we've got the Bible now, as if we regard the wonder of the Word to be more Walt Disney-ish than Holy Spirit filled.  Churches have replaced Bible wonder with narrow scriptural argumentation.  Simultaneously, we have replaced sacrifice (in zones, understand) with entertainment.  God did not give us the Cross and then ask us to hit like.

Whether one man, Naaman, was instructed to dip seven times in the Jordan to cleanse his leprosy or we are called to be baptized to rid us of our sins, there is nothing remotely practical about this.  Common-sense just went out the window when the Dove of God landed.  And...religious man has fought it ever since.

In our efforts to believe, may we have the bravery to enter into the wild zones of the spirituals where it is rather easy to be intimidated.  The battle to believe is intense.  Never give up learning of Jesus.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

ARE WE OFFENDED OR OFFENDING?

People are just so strange.  But, we must not forget that we each are people.  This is crucial to being us for while we would like to believe that we are not like those others, we are all alike in some form and fashion.  We have our strengths which are to be valued and our weaknesses which are to be admitted.

There is a constant among us that has gone on as long as time.  We are perpetually being offended by someone(s).  It's serious.  It's damaging.  It's painful.  And, it's mind consuming at times.

There is one other constant among us.  We are perpetually offending someone(s).  It's serious.  It's damaging.  It's painful.  And, it's mind consuming at times.

So we would all do well to get the picture.  Romans 2:1-5 is clear that what we are critical of, we are guilty of.  I've made this point before and don't intend to quit.  This text insists that when we judge others we do the very same things ourselves.  I don't particularly like it that God lumped me in with this one...but...He insists!

What this is supposed to do is to help us back off.  Pull back the criticism.  We are all (ALL) in on this warped scheme called daily living which seems to constantly have a bone to pick with some one(s) about some thing(s).  Surely we are not always wrong in assessing others' errors.  But the equal error is that we each have our own of which personal blindness to such often strikes.  Yet, we intentionally choose to avoid all acknowledgement of it.  We are smooth operators in building defenses while going on offense toward any other(s).  In other words we are found to be dishonest and insincere when our concepts are loaded with the guilty they.

So might we be reminded, again, that any whom we determine to be enemies because they have failed us are, in strong reality, a mere reflection of who we are to a few others around us?  Might we drop the facade of being better than another...any another?  Might we get a better grip on our resemblance to the very person who causes our indignation.

This might be a relationship breakthrough of epic strength.

Friday, May 26, 2017

A SALUTE TO MY FRIEND: SCOTT THOMPSON

For the most of my readers, this post will carry little meaning.  Nonetheless, I wish to give honor to a Tulsa man who has blessed my work...and my heart.  Scott Thompson's final appearance on Channel 6's Ten O'clock News last night was an emotional finality capping his twenty-eight years at the anchoring helm.

The man has thousands of fans.  His heart is gigantic for family and community.  Being a first-class man, he does a first-class kind of work.  Our connection would be our love for the St. Louis Cardinals.

It was Scott's news savvy that drew him to one of my jaunts to Arizona where the Cardinals and Cubs held a week-long Legends Camp.  With a Tulsa camera man at the scene as well, Scott followed the camp's daily routine with the eagerness of a ten year old; just as I did.  When the Cardinals gave away 20,000 copies of my book, Voice of Silver, Heart of Gold in 2003, it was Scott Thompson and his film crew from Channel 6 doing the story from Busch Stadium.

Scott, you are many things to many of your fans in the Tulsa surroundings.  The trait I see strongly in you is your ability to connect to we common ones while being so well-known.  Good job, my friend!!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

HAVE YOU EVER FOUND YOURSELF LOOKING FOR YOU?

I can't seem to find who I am; what I'm to be about.

I don't seem to be able to discover the real me.

It seems like such a struggle as I want to make a difference; but I don't seem to know who I am, what I'm to be about, nor where I am to go to find the real me.

Angst abides within the souls of very talented individuals.  We want to be more than we are only to live in daily perplexity.  I'm sympathetic for I was one.  We probe.  We push.  We withdraw.  We try, back away, and then take, yet, another shot at what we hope this time to be "it".  Yet, fulfillment seem to avoid us.  The desire, though, really is present.  For many, however, it seems that Silver Spoon and sign of the Moon just didn't hit our personal path.

There might be a solution.

The authentic you has a drive to make a difference.  You don't want to just go to work, go home, go to work, and go home again.  During your daily routine, you hunger to do one thing; make a meaningful difference.  You want your life to count.  This is your clue.  This IS what you want.  So mark this down; if you are going to make a difference a difference is going to be necessary within you.  Otherwise, you wouldn't be momentarily frustrated and empty, huh?

Jim Warner wrote in Aspirations of Greatness an important factor for all of us.  As you increase the light on and love for all of your soul, you'll find the abyss is really a treasure mine, and the rejected tailings are the nuggets of your greatness, simply waiting to be rediscovered, loved, and deployed joyfully in service to your world.  As you gain momentum, you'll find the abyss is really a treasure mine because your personal rejections are the nuggets of your greatness.

Okay, go ahead.  Tackle your world another way.  Avoid injury.  Rebuke conflict.  Ignore harsh reality as if it is the big waste of your time.  And, by the way, go ahead and be miserable and make all around you equally so.  Or....or we can embrace the abyss of problems to actually contain nuggets of great and profound treasure.

Rejection doesn't make us happy.  It makes us productive.  Disappointment will not feel very cheery.  Yet, within it is that treasure mine of which Warner promotes.  The reason we can't seem to find ourselves is that we keep looking for ourselves at the finish line when we have failed to suit up in the armor of being treated rudely and unfairly while in the race.  We want things to go our way.  And they are....especially when they aren't.

Don't believe me?  Did God bring hope to the world through a Tea in the afternoon?  Or wait, was it a  public execution upon a Cross?  Oh, yeah.  That's....how we find meaningful life.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

WHY THE CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT STRUGGLES...AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

Christianity is the pure dynamic to life.  Where it thrives, it...well...it thrives.  The very thread of Jesus impacting every level of humanity is astounding to this very day.  It is robust with joy, adventure, and confident hope.  And because this Life is so profound it is equally taken to task.  It is an endangered movement.  Sadly, the opposition is as strong within as it is outside of the believing camps.

Why would that be the case, you ask?  The answer is both tedious and simple.  It's as clear as the law kills and the Spirit gives life.  Christians claim to abide by the latter while assuming to avoid the former.  But this is just not true.  Believers tend to slip unconsciously into spiritual equations or fundamental stabilizers that trip up the grand and glorious thrill of the movement of the Living God among us.

Why is it so difficult for us to grasp that God is spirit and not systemic rules of order?  I offer my guestimation.  Living by the Spirit requires our flexibility.  To live by the rules allows us to control the check-list and thereby gain approval or non.  To live in the flexibility of God is to be ready to adjust, to reconsider, to....to....to change our minds.

Here's the threat.  While redirecting the minds of unbelievers toward God, we lock ours down with perpetual looking to the right and to the left to see if we are in sync--not with the Spirit, but--with fellow believers of our same systemic persuasion.  The result?  Christianity in its very mission is stuck when at its very core it is anticipated by the heavenlies to be the opposite.  Freedom always makes the jailers nervous.

Do you study to prove what you already believe or do you also dig to discover what else there is to believe?  We are to be about both.  Yet, in too many homes I fear the Bible has been shelved as a mere proof of texts rather than a revealer of awe.  The Spirit of God has eternal elasticity designed for our incredibly God-rebirthed (day by day by day) hearts.  The wonder of it all is like looking over the Grand Canyon times a bazillion only to toss in forty-five oceans.  This is what we are to experience....experience beyond knowing...Ephesians 3:19-21.

The Christian movement struggles when we participants learn something like twenty-five truths and set out to both promote and preserve them.  On the other hand, it explodes with fascination when we hold those twenty-five truths dear without being threatened to learn the next 500,000 truths which perfectly align or demand readjustment of the earlier truths we felt we had captured.

If we don't get a grip on the smothering of our children by presenting law-keeping as the goal, the foreign religions are going to have a harvest in the next two decades.  Loosen up and learn...of the Spirit of God...which will never fit into our tidy and uniformed religious proof-texts.





Tuesday, May 23, 2017

THE UNUSUAL THREAD BEHIND EXCITING SUCCESS STORIES

I can't verify that what I'm about discuss can be statistically supported.  Yet, there seems to be a strong thread among the many amazing stories which the world, indeed, loves to rehearse blow by struggling blow.  These are called Success Stories.

Here's my wonder about them.  It's the trying to estimate if they might actually just be true which cause them to be so very astonishing.  Are the noted Success Stories treasured because each arose from the ashes of interference, interruption, and even failure?  Is the reversal of the setting the thriller of it all?  Would the "just can't be" becoming the "actually did happen" the dynamic that draws each of us into the land of marvel and appreciation?  Of joy and elation?

I think so.

It's the story of Israel.  A quite small by comparison country attacked by bully circumstances and moguls, little Israel pulled off the upsets...time after time...due to the very intentional backing of God.  Young and unarmed David.  Gigantic opponent Goliath.  What.  A.  Success.  Story.

And then there's that event where one who claimed to be the original son from Heaven.  He tried and tried on occasion to assist the strugglers only to note his efforts denied by leaders in the community.  He cared about the underdogs and ministered to them with unusual strength.  Applauded?  No, they killed him.  The bigshots took him out...or so they assumed.

Appearing to be limp and dead, the Spirit awakened Jesus in that hollow tomb and the result?  The greatest Success Story man has beheld.  So it is with you...with me.  Our stories are not dying because deadening circumstances, or even words, present themselves.  Oh, no.  The plot is merely thickening for another Success Story is coming soon!

Success Stories are seldom formed from success stories.  No, they are created from what can't be...but did anyway...in even grander presentation.  Yay God!  Yay us who believe Him!

Your injury?  Your disappointment?  Your crushing moment?  These and others are the elements of the thickening of the plot for such are the materials---the raw materials---from which Success Stories are developed.  Hold on to your hat!  Wonder.  Is.  Taking.  Place.  Now.



Monday, May 22, 2017

Since you ARE going to raise your voice

Voices are heard throughout our day throughout our workplace throughout our world.  Everywhere we turn: voices and more voices.  Use yours.

Every caliber of personality has little trouble voicing his or her dislikes and disapproval.  Yet, when it comes to speaking out about the good and the wonder all around it seems that silence befalls a large percentage.

I cheer you on today.  If you know how to speak up in frustration, you can channel such courage into speaking up for the glory and the wonder and the sheer pleasure of people and all the good they do...and are.

Since you most likely ARE going to raise your voice today, how about speaking out about the great delight you find in those around you.  I guarantee you that you will make their day.

Reach the world...a cubicle away...across the hall...or at your table.  Reach the world with a message that every person needs to hear....how valued they are...in your heart.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

EIGHT (like in 8) SUNDAYS REMAINING

Eight Sundays from today will be the conclusion to my full-time ministry with the Memorial Drive family.  It won't be my last day to get to be a part of this place.  And, it won't be the final day of me serving others.  Yet, as far as being on staff and working with a most wonderful team day in and day out, that will be a wrap on July 16.

So....how would such feel?  It's packed with extremes.  I'm ready to rest.  A rather big question will be, however, who am I?  The entire format has holes awaiting for God to fill them.  In the meantime there is one more occasion to feel....confusingly lost?

So what's a man to do when he gets in his car and it's programmed to drive to 747 S. Memorial all by itself?  I believe that I will get used to the idea and I fully intend to really like it...a...lot.  It's the graduation exercises that have me buffaloed because, frankly, I've never been this old before.  Shocking, I know.

Eight weeks from today (seems like the length of blink and a sneeze) I will try to speak before my people.  I'm one of their men.  We've been a team for four decades.  I was never the boss.  I never had it in me.  My theme was for me to stay out of the way.  My new goal during the transition will be the same.  I must stay out of the way.

Therefore, how am I to approach the next eight weeks?  With enormous delight!  Who wouldn't have loved to get to preach at this place for one week?  And, I did for forty years!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

CLEAR THE MIND OF CLUTTER

Might we need to clean out the closet of our mind?  Every day is a time that we need to take a load to the dump.

Be anxious for nothing...Philippians 4:6

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things...Philippians 4:8

Be anxious for nothing.  Seriously?  How does one accomplish such a daily challenge?  The solution is given immediately two verses later.  It is found in the determination (our choice) of where we allow the mind to dwell.

I know of no one who doesn't have open wounds here and battle scars there.  No.  One.  Yet, the victors are not those who escape hardship.  No, the winners are the ones who determine where to let their minds roam.  The secret to success is not in the adventure nor in the opportunity.  The bottom line of inner peace is found in the very place we choose...we...choose...to do our harboring of thought.

The reason I pen such for you today is that I believe that wonderful, wonderful individuals have lost our wonder bit by bit.  Great people have been reduced to the ashes of constant and nagging aggravation; frustrated with others and/or with self.  We.  All.  Live.  There.  Yet, the Word calls us to "dwell"...set up camp and hold our ground...upon the things that are going right.  Truthfully, there are many power items to be counted!

Clear the mind of clutter.  Sweep it clean by focusing upon the many attributes of your day that others might even call miracles if they could experience them.  Be grateful.  Be aware.  Be glad.


Friday, May 19, 2017

FOR YOU MARVIN FANS

I ran out to see Marvin and Dot Phillips this morning.  Marvin has been on hospice for a bit (for quite awhile) and he seems to be getting stronger.  Really.

What an encouragement he and Dot are to me.  We've been close friends for over four decades.  While at their house this morning, we might have laughed some of the time.  Oh, it's just a thing we've been working on over the years.

What a great man and adorable woman!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

TRY NOT TO SHUT DOWN

Life has a lot of stress in it.  It has very much awe; but even this is consistently coupled with interferences.  Negotiating such hilly and winding roads enhanced by curves galore is a lifelong task.  How many times we only mean to be serving efficiently to learn that we are not.

The temptation is so strong to just walk away from some things or some people.

Yet, we must not.

We all have days where our presence seems to be important to others and needed.  And then there are those days that we can easily detect that we seem to be more of a hindrance.  The former motivates us to try harder and reach farther.  The latter, however, is vocal only to the inner spirit tempting us to remain quiet so that we neither interrupt nor interfere....nor get it wrong.

So I cheer you on, whoever is taking the heat, to not shut down.  Raise your voice.  Raise your heart.  Raise your life.  God is in us for personal remodel that we might become a New Creation day after day.  Conflict hits...and it really hurts.  However, we even use that as training so that we can minister with deeper understanding the next and the next...and the next...who have about had it with a neighbor or a stranger.

Try not to shut down.  Refuse to be an emotional recluse.  Jesus suffered and died and arose that we might really live.  We are to suffer and die and bounce back, like him, that others may really live.

Yay!  Us!




Wednesday, May 17, 2017

WHO CAPS OUR IMAGINATIONS?

The older we get the younger we are to become; so says II Corinthians 5:17.  Weird don't you think?  This theme truly fits into the "Born Again" mantra of starting life over... constantly...perpetually ...daily.  We are to be new today and newer tomorrow.  Might we wake up to this fact?

We ARE to be new.  The church is to be the newest people on the planet.  Yet, we struggle to reflect such because we have voluntarily subjected ourselves to routine, preference, and habit.  And just why do these three have such firm persuasion?  It is not because of the pull of God; nor His declarations and commands.  No, it is because of the introduction of one vital element of life that happened in the Garden.

Fear.

Fear not only keeps us at bay and shuts us out from the True Garden Experience God intends.  Being afraid is cunning to the extent that it shuttles us over to a conviction that caution and hesitancy are smart life coordinates.  They.  Are.  Not.

Yes.  Go ahead and voice your valid-seeming arguments.  And I will volley that churchers are frozen in their tracks with little vision for winning a neighbor or reaching the world.  Common sense has taken command of the ship while risk and absurdity are noted as....as risky and absurd.  And, oh how we puff our chests in pride of our not being ridiculous.

And how many more decades will it take to awaken us to the truth...yes the truth...that we are losing our young by droves?  How long will we convince ourselves that this playing church safe by never coloring outside of the lines has sent our young into the world's streets not knowing exactly what church is; but convinced that this isn't for them?

Yet, we gather back next week at our tidy spaces.  We don't misspeak nor do we misstep.  Our goal is to not misquote nor to misbelieve.  We are frozen in keeping church the way...well, you know...the way church is.  Yet, the church of the Bible is full of conflict of learning, loaded with nonsensical stances, all the while accomplishing the impossible; persuading the enemy about Jesus.

How do I know that this stress and struggle goes on?  I experience it from the intimidating side of things in my own walk.  I get afraid.  Just trying to retire is driving me up a wall.  So, I learn.  I go to school in conflict.  And I learn for the millionth time that Faith is my shield and the Fear is the Enemy's most glorious tactic.

So my message for you today is to dare you to step into zones of risk and intimidation by being more concerned about the welfare of others than the self-preservation of you.  Go where you can't.  Reach where you won't.  Believe when you are scared.  And love others; even when they don't seem like very nice people.  Jesus not only said it...he did it.

Taking up a cross is not to be the rattling of church chatter.  It is for any who dare to imagine what can be when there seems to be zero verification of profound potential.  This.  Is.  Called.  Faith.

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day....II Corinthians 4:16.

Friday, May 12, 2017

TAKE A GUESS

Take a guess at who said the following:

Every great spiritual teacher discusses the importance of being fully awake; of learning to live in the present moment.  Not fixated on when things might get good in the future.  Not mired in regret or defeat from something that happened in the past.  But here.  In this moment.  In today.

Take a guess at who said this:
     1.  John O'Leary
     2.  Terry Rush
     3.  Kay Arthur
     4.  Bob Goff
     5.  Henri Nouwen

Answer: John O'Leary in his profound book written in 2016, ON FIRE.  If you are looking for a powerful gift for graduates, this is one really good idea.

You.  Are. Welcome.

ONE DAY I'M GOING TO APPEAR ON WHEAL OF FORCHUN

I don't know for surtain.  I'll either show up on Wheal of Forchun or maybe even on The Price is Write.  It will happun.

I think I would like either; but I have a problem with one of them.  I'm not very estimationalisticly inclind when it comes to guessing how much things cost.  Due to that latter facter, I believe I leen more toward the spelling of wurds.

Yep, Wheal of Forchun....hear I come!!  And, I will win ahsome stuff !!  You no I will!!

Pat Sayjack and Vanna White will be impressed...oh how I can hope!!  I can only imajine!!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

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DON'T FORGET YOUR "NOT ONLY THIS" BACKPACK AS YOU HEAD OUT

Life is a swirl sometimes.  While we aren't alive without it (life), some seldom feel alive with it.  The latter is a most serious tragedy.  I watch too many walking, talking, breathing in and out, people who do many things...many things...except really live.

There seems to be one reason for such a deadening factor.  There seems to be a denial, a refusal, to walk the slopes of struggling terrain.  Smooth roads?  Fresh-air walks?  Ah, count us all in.  But...but that is hardly life for there are no exceptions when it comes to facing a multiplicity of factors we frankly do not like.

Do not forgot to take your "not only this" backpack as you head out the door.  You.  Will.  Need.  It.

Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.  And NOT ONLY THIS, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us....Romans 5:1-5

Yes, indeed, because of the Holy Spirit and Him only, we are quite able to persevere with intentional (even expectational) hope.  Our perplexities are resolved before they begin because the Holy Spirit is going to make a Yes out of Yes-moments and even a Yes out of No-moments.  Friend, you don't buy this element at a store.  Rather, you receive Him at baptism.  Free Him up to do His work...within...you.

Obstacles and opposition are strewn along the way...our way.  Sometimes these waters rage above flood level with intent to cause us to sink.  Yet, we will not drown.  No, rather via the Holy Spirit, we will learn to actually walk atop such intimidation and threat.  Before faith, we are sunk.  With faith, to the contrary, we arise because we have within our grasp our "not only this" Holy Spirit which....changes everything!

Rough day?  Sometimes.  Want to live in anxious frustration?  Sterile disappointment?   Not necessary.  Faith, my friend, is not a religious step-child which begs for occasional attention as we go about doing our doing.  No, it turns out that faith is the lead horse as it determines whether we think God can make something from nothing and whether He really could possibly give life to the dead...Roman 4:17.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

HUMILITY'S APEX

Humility is the way of Jesus.  It is the trek of the Cross.  It is the very mainstream highway to effective, productive living.  And yet, it will always be our challenge.

The problem with humility is that it so tends to directly oppose what it is we want.  Personal preference suffers enormously at the expense of yielding to what others wish for themselves...and for you.

We are called, among the many spiritual traits of the Kingdom life, to surrender what we like, need, want, and require.  This, oddly, is often found to give way to another who very likely may be selfishly oriented...to the core.  This tends to bug us (in others, not ourselves, though) for we feel that "they" should have their acts together by now.  You might want to mark this down: (1) we don't have our acts together, and (2) none of us do.

So how are we to tolerate any whom we regard as lesser?  We will need to, once again, (1) note how Jesus endures us; and then, (2) there just necessarily must be an awareness arise within each of us that we are not superior to any other individual.  Jesus died on the Cross for each of us because none of us were enough.  Truthfully, it wasn't even a close call.

Humility's apex is that we follow the footprint of Jesus by dying to ourselves and for others when we normally want things to be the way we want them so badly.






Friday, May 05, 2017

DON'T CHUG TO A STOP

Jim Warner, author of Aspirations of Greatness, wrote, But when zeal turns to duty, and then to drudgery, we begin to question everything, floundering in the chop of nagging details or petty frustrations.  In the trough of these swells clear answers are rare and we become easily discouraged.  Fear and lethargy, triggered by an increasing fog of questioning and uncertainty, replace the decisiveness and direction  possible earlier in calmer waters and under clearer skies.

When I read these comments, it struck me as to the many who hang on by these threads; duty, drudgery, lethargy, and then fog.  Have you ever been to a tractor pull where all in competition start from the same light weight and then as they move forward the weights increase and eventually the tractor chugs to a stop?  The unit that traveled the farthest under the increasing load wins.

That's how we can feel.  The longer we live the heavier the burdens seem to mount.  We wonder if we are about to chug to a stop.

That's how we CAN feel; but such isn't necessary.

The Kingdom of God has so many delightful twists and turns.  One of my favorites is that we are actually to be newer today than yesterday.  This isn't Sunday School talk.  This is where-we-experience-life talk.  Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. II Cor. 5:17

Of the many wonderful things Church is, growing newer day by day surely fascinates the tar out of me!  What delight!  What promise!  What reality!  What fantastic unexplanation?

I feel sympathetic to the masses who are engrossed in church who find no joy, no life, and no renewal to their personal existence.  Sighing, these seem to have misplaced the joy and somehow inherited duty and then drudgery and then lethargy only to eventually live in some sort of grayed church fog.

On the contrary, may we awaken to the reality of church.  We are not to live in some Preservation Movement; but rather from a perpetual New Birth.  There is nothing on earth as defying of what has been nor of what is than the Kingdom Life of what can become...in the very next moment.  May we arise to the very dream that Jesus has for us...that we might arise to live and really live...at every moment called NOW!




Thursday, May 04, 2017

Friday, April 28, 2017

LIVING WITH OPENNESS TO WONDER

Life is surely curious, huh?  It keeps repeating itself.  This is the final April that I will be 69; well it's the only April really.  In June I'll get to be 70.  Life is a unique realm of humanity.  While it's supposed to be really lived, the living often control it as if it has already passed.  We reach a given point and then we want to embalm it; keep things they way they are because this particular moment (age of children, opportunity at work, moment of success) is what we wanted for all moments.

That isn't living.  That's more like a breathing death.  A breathing death?  From this perspective one is always traveling; but going nowhere, always thinking; but producing little, and always reaching; but never grasping satisfaction.  I was always so engaged in liking tomorrow that I had overlooked the beauty and awe of loving right now.

On July 16 we will have a big celebration at Memorial Drive as I will be promoted to a new level of ministry.  How it goes, what it looks like, and where it is effective, I'm not really sure.  The hours required?  I dunno.  The measurement of success?  I'm clueless.  Do I feel a bit lost and vague in destiny?  Uh...pretty much.  But, I also know that this is precisely the kind of scorecard God uses to pull us into His moment of impact for others.

People!  We are all so weird!  We want what we don't really want.  And we don't want what we really do.  I reversed my perspective on receiving personal criticism when I determined that a lot of deaf would love to hear just a twenty-four hour discourse of complaint.  They would regard such as a miracle when I was bemoaning it as abuse.

How many parents wish that their child could move off to college; but their precious one has a debilitating disease and is confined to an oxygen bed?  Yet, so many of us thought we would die when we dropped ours off on that first day.  The former would give anything to have such an experience of wonder.

If not careful, my friend, we will develop a life of persistent complaint within the very center of what is really a grand wonder.  Being in demand is a compliment; not a curse.  Yes, it's permissible to say no to barking schedules.  And, yes, it's alright to admit to being overwhelmed.  But in doing so, try to note the evident glory handed you that others restricted and confined would love to have such pressures for just one day.

You and me?  We walk in the Garden of Wonder.  I encourage you to be open to it.

Can you drive?  Can you at least ride?  Can you see?  Can you read?  Can you eat?  Are you a success when in the bathroom?  (Well...maybe I shouldn't have made that point, but many have testimony of remembering the good old days which we may be taking for granted.)  Are you able to turn the channels, see the broadcast, and cheer on your team?  Are you able to imagine, to dream, to hope, to desire, to accept opportunity rather than bemoan a stuck sort of lifestyle that goes nowhere?

Then maybe you are having a very privileged sort of day.  Don't.  Waste.  It.

Living with openness to wonder really is for the living.  Really live!  If you go to a cafe today and the meal served is unacceptable, stop for a moment before you blow your stack (insert short-stack right here).  Think how many millions of prisoners wish that they, too, could have gone to a public cafe and been served a bad meal...and they haven't gotten to do so in decades...and many won't ever again.

Like life!  Love life!  Like and love....yours!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

ARE YOU WORKING FROM GOD'S SPIRIT OR FROM YOUR OWN STEAM?

I am sympathetic to any who feel you are wearing down...and out.  Such will naturally take place in and with the flesh.  But such isn't to be happening to your spirit.  Thus, I ask us to reflect upon our energy source.  I ask the question, then, whether you are working from the Holy Spirit of God or are you functioning upon your own strength?  There is difference; a huge and lasting one.

From the flesh, I see obvious tendencies seem to consistently arise.  We feel disappointed that doors won't open or else doors which were opened seem to have closed.  Exasperation develops when we can't seem to get others to do (to behave) as we deem wisest and most efficient.  The temptation becomes oh so strong to toss in the proverbial towel and call it quits.

Yet from the Spirit, obstacles are converted into opportunities.  Prayer is an actuality rather than a classroom topic.  And, hope....oh my....hope really lives!  From the Spirit, what can't happen bows to what can.  Doubt surrenders to faith.  And most of all, when we shed the bossage of the flesh, newness (perpetual brand-new-again us) comes into experiential view.

Of course the challenge to all of this is that the inadequate flesh strongly desires to be the Head Coach.  It most desperately wants to be the decider of things.  The flesh wants explanation, verification, and destination.  The Spirit quite often offers none of that.  He simply calls us to believe Him, trust Him, and follow Him.

The flesh has its day; but it will eventually submit itself to the grave as a wanna-be ruler of man's kingdom.  The Spirit, on the other hand, brings the Kingdom to us and says words like, Enter in.  Participate.  Imagine.  Allow me to energize you.

In my earlier days, I believed that I was smart enough, sharp enough, and good enough to conquer the world...or at least prove to be better than most.  Such a quagmire of thought came from warped flesh evaluation; as sorry as that may seem.  Fortunately, I repeatedly experienced failure.  From these heavy darknesses, disappointments, and disillusions, I saw God display His famous Arise Power.  

He promised that He could make something from nothing and I bought into it.  Well....really I had no other choice.  Right?  And so it is with you.  You have no other choice...either.  We are all alike.  Our own steam eventually subsides.  At this juncture we can believe that we are finally on the right road to engage in His success which is a far distance from our own.

We....eventually....choose His!  When we do this, we don't wear out.  Our hearts become younger with Kingdom thirst...day...by...day!


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE FIRST GARDEN

Sin is catastrophic.  From its inception in the Garden of Eden, sin's rugged influence impacts and affects every person...like in every.  Debris of human hearts is strewn across the landscape as far as the eye can see; even as far as memory can record.  Hurt, anguish, pain, struggle; these four and more plague the best of the best and the frailest of the frailest.  We are all in the same boat; no exception.

Therefore, I cheer you on about the new which God most definitely promotes; new hope, new concepts, new beginnings, and new life.  Church isn't sitting in pews only.  It is awakening to the refreshing wonder God has embedded within each of us.  We are designed for more than broken hearts and weary spirits.  We are created to walk in victory while striving in the very center of tempting and negative interruption.

The psychology of Adam and Eve, due to sin, was to hide.  Each of us carries that same baton down the road until...until Jesus gets through to us that we are free from the need to live in seclusion.  He recreates us; restores us.  As long as I have been a minister, and even longer as a believer, I still marvel x marvel at the wonder of new Kingdom life!

Originally, I was filled with fear and hesitation.  I wanted to preach Bible lessons and teach Bible facts.  But, I didn't find it easy to interact with people.  Odd, I know, for even from the time I was just a kid I was outgoing and personable.  Yet, Christianity did a number on me.  I soon heard from the church that we were the only ones right and that we only did things right; believed things right.  I transformed immediately into a fearful man.  My goal was one: don't get anything wrong.

From experience I found that the Spirit of Jesus broke me free from perpetual nagging fear.  It wasn't easy and I haven't arrived.  I am, though, making progress.  Where I once convinced myself that I was simply always going to be introverted, I found through (odd as it may seem) my own failures that His grace infused a confidence that I had known nothing about.  I learned--not inherited--confidence to be found in Jesus.

The working of God is just too weird; so contrary to what I had assumed.  The tough stuff blesses.  The disappointments bring about spiritual formation.  Insults and injuries, originally designed to make us cave, bring about a launching of new conviction of potential and possibility.  Fear tries to persuade us not to risk...so that once again we won't be found to be wrong.

The psychology of the first Garden was to impose a very natural kind of hiding for any born into humanity.  But the psychology of Jesus is to walk by faith of what can be rather than by fear of what can't.  Thank you God!  Thank you for rescuing us from our self-arresting and backward thinking.  Thank you...for giving us the mind of Christ.  May we win the world by following His victory laps!

Monday, April 24, 2017

POSITIONED FOR SUCCESS

As long as we esteem ourselves above others, we will fail to accomplish that which God has in mind.  It is when we humble ourselves that He has our permission to take us where He wills and do with us as He has always planned.

Positioned for success is never to be found at the top; but rather, is always encountered along the valleys of lowest terrain.  Jesus not only came "down" to earth, he lived a perpetually, as well as an increasingly, "downward" lifestyle.  But me?  I always wished to be big.  It was my goal.  It didn't happen.  Surrender to God's grace, God's mercy, God's supply is the trail that all believers must, will, and can follow.

His ways are higher...than even my best gesture toward getting things done.  Giving God our best is a man-invented saying.  Giving God our weaknesses and letting Him refine them into effectiveness is a move of incredible faith.

Positioned for success?  Oh, everyone is; or least can be.  But it won't be where the carnal mind assumes.  The servant-heart has always been the theme of God for His children.  May we dare risk finishing last (at the bottom) that we may experience His promise that those who do so will finish first (at the top).  Only by faith in God's most backward ways will mankind enjoy the partnership with the non-understandable ways of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

TRY NOT TO WASTE YOUR BAD DAYS

Things don't always go as planned.  This is true for everyone we know.  There is no exception.  However, there is a segment of society which should be aware and prepared for such occasions.  It should be followers of Jesus who are in tune with this reality.  Yes, we should have it embedded within our most fundamental framework that we are to offer blessings to others, even as did Jesus, even when hanging from our most uncomfortable crosses.

The matter before us is to remind us that the waitress-world dreads Sundays over all other days simply because churches eventually dismiss and we hit the diners.  It has always been rumored that Christians are the toughest to keep happy, to serve, and to endure.  This should not be the rumor about us.

Really, Terry?  With a world in dire need of good news, you want to pick on how we believers go out to lunch?  Yep, I surely do.  If we can't offer the simple form of courtesy when being poorly served at a restaurant, how do we expect to win hungry souls across the street or in Africa?  Such inconsiderate behavior is a sign of heart decay; insensitivity toward others.  This...is always a major task for improvement among us.

Try not to waste your bad days; whether poorly served or a recipient of bad news or being highly offended.  It is at these junctures that true believing us has opportunity to arise.  We shall not go through life assuming that it will go our way.  No, we will go through the harsh times assuming that these, too, will give the Spirit opportunity to care for one who has been neglected and is in need of life from another even if it means through our personal suffering.

Jesus gave his life up...that we might receive it.  He did.  We did.  Others await.  He won by losing.  We win...by the same pattern of true abundant life.  May others be blessed by you today simply because you give up your need for everything to go as planned so that another could receive such an element of grace.

We will not waste our bad days.  No, we will instead use them to bless others.  From such a position...all will have a good day!


Friday, April 21, 2017

WOULD GOD MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

Why is it that day after day so many carry heavy burdens which weight the heart.  And, it isn't necessarily the same people every day.  We all seem to take our turns.  Those at the highest public perspective walk the same earth as those at the lower end of the spectrum.

When I was in my much younger years, a rather common (and seemingly dumb) thing was often to be heard.  Well, everybody puts their pants on one leg at a time.  Oh, thank you.  That remark cleared up so much of life's quandaries for me.  Until then, I'd been sort of concerned.  But when I realize how people put on their pants, it seems that health, financial, and relationship burdens evaporated....NOT!

My point is that stress and struggle are not removed with a slogan.  So what would make a difference that would truly...make a difference?  Enter the contemplation of God.

God is not a figment of our imagination.  We are the creatures of His.  Why is it that, for many, He is so very difficult to accept as real?  Two things come into play: (1) God won't fit any of our descriptive and sub-imaginational sizes, and (2) God is invisible.  These two elements leave the world of true believing hanging on a sheer faith-thread called hope.

God makes a difference.  Personally, I needed to shift from believing in prayer to believing in God.  Oddly, that move has changed my prayer life.  Although I preached and promoted the former, it still left me unprayerful; but the latter finds me praying continually.  The former is riddled with doubt as we basically only feel the responsibility that we ought to actually pray.  The latter, however, fills us with faith for it is this element by which we experience an activated walk in Spirit; not our restrictive sight.

Would God make a difference?  Oh, I highly encourage you that He does.  Yet, it isn't a, Well, it's better than nothing and I don't really have another option anyway kind of thing.  God is certainty.  It isn't God that is here one day and gone the next.  That would be us in the life/death process.

I'm most encouraged by Spring.  The dead didn't really die.  Trees, flowers, etc., were dormant; but not dead.  Give them some time and God's Creative Surge will flow once again.  Cemeteries do not hold dead bodies; but dormant ones.  All will be back.  All will Spring into rebounding glory.

Yep, God surely has, does, and will make a difference!




Thursday, April 20, 2017

....AND THEN THERE'S THAT ELEMENT CALLED DEATH

Why do we live upon this earth with habitual pretentiousness that we will never die; that we are each the exception to this most dominant rule?  Yes, we know it's coming; but it's always out there sort of in a delay mode so to speak.  This is unfortunate.

I don't mean it's unfortunate that we aren't gloomy and fearful.  Rahter, I mean that we are bull-headed, obstinate, and stubborn about the way we treat others.  Wouldn't impending death significantly alter the way we have slouched into trends of hating and despising others around?  Shouldn't the reminder that we are temporary shake our permissiveness of allowing ourselves to treat others with rudeness and religious score-keeping?

How can we have had it with with others whom we have had little dealings when we put up, by comparison, with the infractious nature of the introspective self?  We are a mess.  Not a few.  Not most.  Every person.

For decades I've watched death ravage our people.  There is something cleansing to inner man as we approach finality's conclusive announcement that this friend of ours, too, has passed.  Why can't we recognize the importance of focusing upon the important truths of people the first 99% of one's life?  Why do the disappointments and betrayals have our permission to take center stage, day in and day out, when toward the end we will work to find healing from such deep injury?

We are bigger than this!  We are designed (well, redesigned at conversion) for a new kind of wholeness that wastes not one crumb of life by begrudging, jealousy, nor irritation toward anyone else.  We don't have time for it.  And, furthermore, we don't really mean it.  Hating another is not who we really are.

Impending death, and then the actuality of it, screams for exchanges of forgiveness and mercy from all parties.  Sure, there are many (I'd guess millions many) who don't believe they can forgive another or ever want to do so.  Yet, when the end comes rushing in, I'm convinced that leaning face to face into Him melts every angst we had so committed to ourselves to harbor against another.

That element of death...should awaken us to what really matters.  Relationships restored are far more important than boundary lines, hurt feelings, blatant betrayals, and worst failures.  Mercy transforms all at the end.  Why not experience it in the beginning and middle as well?

(And yes, rather is misspelled in line four.  I put it there to signal that every day is accompanied by mistakes; our mistakes.  Even so, let us remain convinced that we can still get the message of hope regardless of glitches that continue to arise.)