Sunday, December 17, 2017

NEVER GIVE UP. LEARN TO ADJUST.

My target this morning is those of you who have about had it with some one, some thing, or some...something regarding church.  During my earlier years of ministry I wasn't aware of this which I am about to share.  I had to learn it through repeated conflict and failure.

As a brash young minister equipped with Bible answers galore, I took my family off to Kahoka, MO. to a congregation of eight adults.  It was a disappointing year of ineffectivity on my part.  Next, I moved to Quincy, IL. where I lasted two years.  But eventually a conflict on a larger scale awaited.

In the midst of that struggle I was invited to move to Tulsa to preach for the Memorial Drive Church of Christ.  Totally afraid because I didn't know how to manage the previous congregational struggles, against my better judgment, I accepted the Tulsa invitation.  Immediately, I found I had linked up with a hornets nest of bickering and division that made my former congregations look like Country Clubs.

I was, at that point, 0-3.  Failure was my resume.  Foolish innadequacy appeared to be my trademark.  No wonder (as I learned years later) so many in the Dallas area where I attended a small school didn't believe that I could make it as a minister.

What's very strange is that, simultaneously, during my rough introductory years at MD, I was receiving an exaggerated amount of invitations to move to preach for other congregations.  For these, I was grateful.  But, I decided that there was something seriously wrong with me.  To move, if I didn't make adjustments, would only create failure number 4.  So, I stayed where I was to learn about myself; my flaws, my inhibitions, my extreme immaturity.  Honestly, I was afraid.

I learned, though, to never give up.  Rather, I learned to adjust within myself before one can expect others to take similar action.  I stayed to learn what was lacking in me.  I stayed to learn what it meant to endure.  I learned.

I learned that we were operating under much Church of Christ law; rather than the Bible that we promoted.  I learned that change doesn't come easily; but with patience, it gets here.  I learned that people want to move forward in God; but are not sure if or how.  I learned that leadership that matters can be very lonely.  I learned that building up others boomerangs into a new kind of joy.

So, I say to preacher or member who is about to believe that you obviously have nothing to offer for you've gotten the clear message that you can't cut it...stop.  Stop and ask yourself the following:
       (1)  Is there anything at the moment where you are believing that if others would wake-up, church would be better?
       (2)Do you have names in mind of some who are holding the church back?
       (3)And who has the greater faith...your regarded enemies that things must stay the same or you as you believe the entire landscape can change?

Who has the greater faith.  Them or you?  I was faced with this very question and concluded that I had developed an attitude of "I can't...it won't work".  I was the problem; not my opponents. 

It was me who didn't have this wild faith I assumed I possessed.  It was me who needed to change first.  Others steadily made their own adjustments.  God breathed life into us! The Spirit of God received an invitation to join us.  I continue to celebrate!

Never give up young leader or old member.  Never give up.  The empty grave is His calling card...and it is now ours.  Believe.  Really.  Big.  Possibility changes the world!



Saturday, December 16, 2017

LIVING IN THE LAST DAYS: THE DOCTRINE OF COMPENSATIONALISM

We hear often about schisms and isms in the religious world.  Much forecasting as to the Second Coming and the end times springs forth from variational voices.  Some might be true.  Others might be partially true.  While, yet, a portion of the spiritual predictions may simply be made up. 

I introduce Compensationalism which is a much needed doctrine for every style of religion, every division of churches, and every direction of all relationships.  Compensationalism is Bible-based and Jesus promoted and Spirit backed.  We can't do without it...but, oh, how we try.

Compensationalism (yes, a word I created) is the doctrine of compensating for the flaws in others...all others.  When it opens our hearts in love it shuts our mouths in criticism for we know we have a work to carry out in the Kingdom Force.  That would be to forgive sinners...exactly like ourselves.

We are to practice what Jesus preached.

Ours is a strain to come to grips with our lack and failure.  Living in perpetual comparison, we have a self-centered knack of always coming out better than others around us...especially those who sin.  We note their flaws and our strengths and, wa la, we are the good ones.  They (we quietly surmise) should know better.

We are to practice what Jesus preached.

The Word of God is clear that we each set the parameters of our Court Date at the Judgment.  How we harbor ills or relinquish them is His measure for us.  This is an earth-shaker to our haughty tendencies.  Those who go to church lean toward feeling we are better.  Yet, those who don't participate know who the real good guy is.  This is the mistaken doctrine of Comparisonlism which leads to the false doctrine of Compenstaionalism.

We are to practice what Jesus preached.

Carry your own cross.  Die for those who have let you down in huge disappointment.  And rise up to a new kind of love.  We.  Need.  This.  From.  Us.

Friday, December 15, 2017

THE GOD CONCEPT

Is God real?  Does He truly exist?  Or, is this also one more folklore-ish concepts created by the grand imaginations from yesteryear? 

The answer is that by faith many of us believe that God does, in fact, exist eternally.  Others, however, have faith that He doesn't.  Opposing sides can only reach such conclusions based upon invisible evidence.  There is no other mode.

My goal, naturally, is to encourage those who believe that God is a figment of one's imagination to transform doubt into assurance of His reality.  Yes, I know that you know that I have bias on this topic; but a foundational one nonetheless.

There is a significant roadblock to developing faith in Him.  We Christians sometimes distract.  We are greatly known for voicing our pet peeves, our narrow stances, and our closed-mindedness.  Of course, of course, we confidently boast that each of these three arise because we are believers.  Yet, too often our small thread to the Bible revelation blocks God's Word from our own hearts...as well as our passage to others.

Doubters rarely reference their conclusion based upon research of the Kingdom.  Rather, these are often quick to point out the flaws of guys like myself.  Their obsession with detecting my/our sins are mere excuses to be lazy-minded toward His existence.  More profoundly, however, is that God is highly aware of my/our sins before we even arrived upon the scene.  Jesus died on the Cross because even church people as myself are a mess at times.

We must, simply must, find someone to save us from our wretched failure to live up to His call.  Reporting in to church regularly is important for cheering one another on as our repeated sins try to shut us down.  But church attendance is not our Savior.  Jesus is.

I am definitely sympathetic to those who doubt for ones as myself surely do distract at times.  The real focus, though, is not to be found evaluating the church people for we are there precisely because we can't cover our own sins.  The real emphasis is to be upon the only Man who died for our sins and then broke all of the cemetery rules. 

The God concept isn't Rocket Science.  It is faith...faith that just as there will be a new day tomorrow (as resurrection of the sun)...there is daily and cleansing renewal for our minds and hearts.  My/our sin does not verify that there is no God.  It does confirm the need for Him.  Whether God is or isn't is to be based upon legitimate faith and not upon the behavior of those who claim His validity.  We who believe Him do so because our own self-preservation would not hold up. 


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

WHAT TO DO WHEN PEOPLE PULL YOU DOWN

Life doesn't seem to be easy in a few places, huh?  About the time everything seems to flow, disruption whacks us across the back of the neck as if to say, "Not so fast, Buster!"  From there we might find that we move from rejoice to lament.

People pull us down.  They aren't always the same few either.  It can be a close friend or maybe a stranger in line at the store.  Regardless, we do face challenging moments.  What we want to do is manage them well rather than allow such circumstances to eat us alive.

So what shall we do when people pull us down?

1.  Reflect upon those many more who lift us up.
2.  Remember that we, too, have gaps within our own personalities that pull others down as badly.
3.  Recall that Jesus died to cover their flaws...and yours.

Every one of us could write an essay on the unfair mistreatment we have (repeatedly) received from others.  Our assessment would most likely be accurate.  Our inaccuracy comes along when we approach such violation as if we have no serious social flaws of our own.  Oh, we most certainly do...every one of us.

So what is one to do when someone pulls us down?  Show them mercy, the very identical mercy you wish to be shown when you go a little wacko in your relationships.  We are all the same to the extent that it took His bold cross to pay for our entire group (and quite similar) infractions called...sin.

Have a good day...and offer one to everyone around you while you are at it.



Sunday, December 10, 2017

MAY YOU HAVE A VERY GOOD DAY

Abundant life is God's devoted forte.  Disruption is Satan's career.  Healing from Satan's interference is God's specialty.  He has given His life for this cause through Jesus.  Plus, God provides unfathomable personal energy through His Holy Spirit.  

God.  Has.  This.  Because.  He.  Has.  Us.

So you, dear one, need to know that you are double-targeted by two very large powers.  No wonder some days are a scrambled mess, huh?  Therefore, I cheer you on through reminder of who you are coupled with your Creator/Colleague.

Perhaps we could have a very good day if we could admit that we are all alike.  While being regretfully injured by others, we injure....others on the very same day and often on the very same turf.  Just as we must have/really need mercy, we very much must offer it to our offenders.

Perhaps we could have a very good day if we were to vocally rehearse the large quantity of really good breaks we are receiving.  Yes, we undeniably encounter our own personal train wrecks.  Yet even more true, we float down the steady soothing rivers riding on the boat of gratitude, joy, and love.  We have so many in our lives of whom we are just crazy about!  Think.  On.  These.  Things.

Whatever it is you encounter that offends your heart today, you can rest assured that you do likewise to others.  That's the broken life we navigate day by day.  Such doesn't depress us as much as it reminds us to ease up on our friends and relatives.  Rather than being their chiefest critic, maybe we could actually become more like Jesus and die to ourselves that others might go through their day healed because of our sacrifice.

Ah, there's an idea!  May you now have a much better day than you might have intended!!  When you do...so will those around you!!!  


Friday, December 08, 2017

LIVING IN A SEATBELT SOCIETY

We have designed within our minds an ideal church that is two things; happy and safe.  However, this isn't reality.  This isn't the church that Jesus built.  Yet, it is the very weave we choose to form organizational tactics.

The Jesus-Life continues to be the ultimate call for every heart.  Its powerful impact remains available for today's world; yet, its designed strength has been sabotaged and weakened.  And, what would I know about it as I am among the weakest?  Therefore, my judgment is based upon looking at our world and looking at His Word.

I see a calling for drastic adjustment.

The Jesus-Life is often the opposite of our tendencies.  We seem to believe we can/should choose where to serve; find a place that makes us feel needed and useful.  The underlying criteria is that it shall not make us uncomfortable.  However, this is not necessarily losing our life due to our crosses strapped to our backs.  No, we are driven by a state of religious convenience which permits individuals to hide from reaching the world while carrying out various church works....in quite demanding safety.

Edwin H. Friedman spells out a concept in his book, A Failure of Nerve that we have become a "seatbelt society".  He expresses this term to point out that we are creatures of safety over adventure.  A thirst for safety directly impacts our talk, our doctrine, our walk, our entire mission.  Fundamentally, far too many of us are afraid to venture even into additional truths of the Bible because we operate from safety of not being challenged by nor in trouble with co-believers.

Churches are clearly buckled up with seatbelts of safety and, thus, stymied from opportunity.  As long as one perpetually looks over his/her shoulder to see if what one is discovering from God is going to be accepted, we are basically shut down; focused toward where we have been with no vision for where we are going.

We are left with the repeated motions of what we have always believed.  To buckle up with our religious seatbelts of safety is a drastically costly move.  It is costing us friends, relatives, and neighbors as they don't find life among us....just more church habit.  The demand for religious habit was what called for the killing of Jesus.  He was living without a seatbelt.

I would encourage us to unbuckle.  Drive the lanes of faith without seatbelts.  Yes, some of us might die to our biases, preferences, and whims....but hasn't this been the call for every believer all along?

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

THE POWER TO MOVE FROM THE HIDING FACTOR

Of the very many things the Spirit of God is among us, He is the Empowerer of making us new in order to take us to new levels of being.  Bible students are quite aware of the new call toward us and for us.  Conversion isn't from non-church attendance to church attendance alone.  Neither is it from non-student to student.  It is the fundamental personality change from can't to can, from won't to will, and from withdrawal to openness.  God doesn't make us a part of the church to disrupt our schedules; but to disrupt our bold patterns of self-trusting security.

There is a mighty move within the spiritual world that assists many of us in development and growth.  We find ourselves engaged in areas we never deemed possible.  Tests help us to learn where our gifts are and how to express them with meaning.  Once such new discovery is made, we tend to sense an important factor of belonging....of participating.  Yet, there is a partnering backfire to this seeming advancement.  It is what I would note as a simultaneous Hiding Factor.

The Hiding Factor is embedded within every personality to afford permissive restriction when one comes upon situations which ordinarily challenge.  The Hiding Factor is one's permission slip (trump card) to bail on tasks or situations which make us uncomfortable.  The ego prefers to be in charge (in control) and bucks against moments which would leave us appearing inadequate.  This is a humanistic way of life for each of us.

Cynthia Bourgeault comments in her book (The Holy Trinity and the Law of the Three; Discovering the Radical Truth at the Heart of Christianity), Using that classic ego bait--"let me learn my type, some interesting new thing about me"--it draws people in, only to put in their hands basic tools for self-observation and nonidentification that classic psychotherapeutic models have generally failed to deliver.  An inner shut-down of sorts is taking place while we are blind to our own process.

Basically, what is happening is that rather than expanding our personalities to be openly advancing into new zones of serving God and His Kingdom, we use our discovered and test- approved gifts to hide from learning more of what we can/could/should become in Christian development.  We tend to hedge; even fight, personal expansion.  We respond to new territories with test-proven factors of, Oh, that's just not my gift.

My observation is that nearly all who are effective in reaching to others have had to overcome giant barriers to get there.  For each of us the Hiding Factor was a strong and relieving temptation as it offered inner security.  I don't think I've ever met anyone who is able to teach a neighbor from their Bible because it was just a natural and easy inclination.  There is usually the strain of learning, the stress of trying, and the dread of failing that goes on with every one of us who is eventually successful at this ability. 

The Spirit implant from God to us is designed for constant and steady breakthrough; that we each gain confidence to move into more zones of application and outreach than we ever deemed possible.  This post isn't to get on your case for hedging when it comes to interacting with others.  It, rather, is to open you up to a continued world of potential and possibility.  We can't get things done on our meager own; but we can when availing ourselves to His marvelous call...coupled with His adequacy...embedded within us.


Saturday, December 02, 2017

CANDACE CAMERON BURE AND ME...WELL, SORTA ME

                                                         Image result     

I've long been a fan of Candace Cameron.  Years ago we were at an extremely fun event together in Iowa.  Both of us participated in a special weekend at the Field of Dreams film site in Dyersville.  I was there to play ball against former Major Leaguers in Randy Hundley's camps for three days.  Candace was there for a special game on one of those evenings where several other TV/Movie celebs from Hollywood were brought in to play a game against the same former ML stars.

I was in the stands to watch her game.  After the game, I was at a party where these gathered.  What I noted about Candace is that, although I was in the room, she restrained herself from approaching me for a pic or an autograph.  Such was a thoughtful unmove on her part.  Maybe she noted that I was not surrounded by one famous person and, therefore, I must prefer being alone and ignored and shunned.

So while I've never really met Candace Cameron Bure, we do have a history...although significantly brief.  There were a couple of moments where I thought she leaned over to one nearby and inquired, Who is that man?  Ah, for a brief moment, I felt she may have recognized me!

That....is my very brief history with this one whom I continue to admire (as her Hallmark movies are adorable).....and I'm stickin' to it.         

Friday, December 01, 2017

THE "I'M MORE RIGHT THAN YOU ARE RIGHT" RELIGIOUS POISON

We must break this sleeping narcotic of religious egotism which competes as to who is the better understander of God's will and way.  This is a we thing; not only a they, not just a you, but a definite me as well.  Unnecessary division reigns supreme and we must reverse this trend. 

There is a teaching by Jesus of two men praying.  One was so very thankful that he wasn't like the other.  We live repeating his mistaken standard.  I hear it coming from the most devoted-to-God mouths day by day.  My grave mistake would be to assume that I'm not in the guilty-as-charged mix.

Being the most right (doing church correctly) was the constant theme of the Pharisees...the rejected-by-Jesus Pharisees.  Yet, somehow we have transferred their formation over to ours; yet pronounced it wisdom from above....just as did they.

Are we to be weak losers?  Yes.  Really?  Doesn't God teach that power is perfected in weakness?  Didn't He stand firm that those who are last will be first?  We refuse to buy into this insightful trek.  And why?  Because it makes us look like....we are weak...and that we are losers. 

Oh, so Jesus must have given us mistaken directions?  Remember, Jesus won the world because he lost.  He was resurrected because he first died.  He offers cleansing of the hearts of mankind because he absorbed our sins. 

The "I'm more right than you are right" is religious poison....that we all seem to drink with great delight and pride.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

OUT WITH THE OLD ISN'T ANYTHING NEW...EXCEPT

Transitions!  We live in a wonderful world of perpetual transitions.  They are important, they are necessary, and they are good for all of us.  Having recently stepped aside from my beloved work (that I still miss), I have developed a special sensitivity to this matter...and I still say transitions are necessary.

Veteran player, Eli Manning, has been replaced as the starting quarterback for the New York Giants.  This headline was posted, Eli Manning embraced New York, and New York loved him back--until it didn't.  Such must be painful for him.  Yet, he knew the day was coming, even in his rookie season, that his once gratitudinal placement would be found with yet another term...replacement. 

This.  Is.  Life.  In.  Progress.

Life isn't over for Eli.  It will just take on a new form...of newness.  Coach?  TV analyst?  Motivational speaker?  And life isn't over for the rest of us when our transition time arises.  Out with the old isn't anything new.  So we middle-aged and older should begin to recognize the process and embrace it rather than push back.  It's progress in motion...so thank God for it!

Regardless of leadership position in the church, we best be anticipating the God-ordained will of new leaders who will not do things the way we did them.  And, church, that's much of the point.  To bring on the new team and remain firmly attached to the past will likely smother as much as it will groom.  Letting go of the reigns is a vital part of effective and intentional maturing leadership. 

Much, much of good leadership is found within the scope of two words; letting go. 

Transitions are absolute.  They are here now or will be soon.  Our role is to determine whether we will step aside with leading grace or stand in the way with blocking selfishness.  Out with the old and in with the new certainly has its challenges; understandably so.  But the snake in the woodpile is the leader-gone-awry because he or she has determined that no wise decisions or implementations can be made without his or her input. 

Out with the old isn't anything new...except for those of us with a few years under our belts.  In that case, being out is very new.  Ah, another opportunity to learn where we can serve efficiently...again!


BE THE LIGHT

Richard Rohr wrote that light isn't what you see; but it is that very element by which you see everything else.  For us to respond to God's call that we be the light would, therefore, call for our walk in dispensing light upon people and things all around us.  We are not to be praised for being visible light; but rather, to bring praise to those items upon whom/which we shine. 

The light isn't the glory.  The brilliance of the object seen due to it is. 

Don't be the critic.  Be the light. 
Don't be the Scrooge.  Be the light. 
Don't be the Bible-banging, scripture quoting Pharisee.  Be the Light. 
Don't be the accuser.  Be the light. 
Don't be the naysayer.  Be the light. 

Life...and light...is always about how good we can make others appear.  We, then, have much good work to do.  Be.  The.  Light.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

WHEN CHRISTIANITY WILL HAVE STRONG IMPACT

We go to church.  We sing the songs.  We quote the scriptures.  We extend ourselves to others within our communities who have yet to respond to God's call.  Yet overall, we who promote these wonderful and spiritual dynamics shut down the most tender heartbeat of God among the scenes of humankind. 

We refuse to forgive and love our enemies.

To deny our enemies mercy and grace is to call Jesus a liar.  It's a proclamation back to him that he wasted his dying breath for while he died for sinners...we...will...not.  End of our story.  This should make us shudder.

I'm a retired minister with decades of experience.  Yet, I still love those I love and tend to despise those who irritate me.  Great!  That's surely the call of Jesus, huh?  NOT!!  What a public sham.

So what's with not speaking to former friends all about?   What's with distancing ourselves from church because of past offences and offenders?  Where does the inner confidence get its arrogance to spell out our likes and don't likes about one other person when we, ourselves, publicly disavow the deepest call of our Savior to love the unlovable?

Churches are on every street corner.  Each has its front door where the new enter in and then the back door where the disappointed and frustrated exit.  To close the back door will not occur when the church gets its act together.  It will take place when we as critics step back a moment to evaluate whether we forgive and love our enemies...or do we simply offer a plastic and most temporary love as long as they don't offend?

Have you ever contemplated what the assigned-from-God cross strapped to your back is all about?  Do you work from it?  Do you forgive those who hurt or do you smack them up the side of the head with your cross?  Which is it?

Christianity behaves more like a spoiled brat than a saving community.  We have a long way to go when it comes to living from the same hill Jesus did.  But the good news is that we can make strides; we are trying to gain momentum. 

I'm very pumped about the future of the church.  It will increase when we decrease...um...same pattern as Jesus.  Shall we change our talk?  Shall we dismantle our grudges?  Shall we pay (as did Jesus) for the other person's malfunctioning style?  We surely can, you know.  We all need it.  No one is exempt...not even the loudest critic.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

DETERMINE TO WALK ON TOP OF THAT WHICH WOULD SINK YOU

Jesus' walk across the waterway surely remains one of the most astonishing of his remarkable feats.  And not only did he do it; but he invited stumbling/fumbling Peter to imitate him.  Peter did...for a few steps at least. 

So...what's in it for us?  He invites us into the same journey.

We are called directly to walk atop those things in life which would pose threat to sink us.  This is absolutely the point of the Jesus demonstration.  The very moments which would cause one to shrink in fear is to be reversed only to be found as a pathway for our effective transport.

This just necessarily must occur to us...repeatedly so.  If not aware, we will forever be a people who dabble in church matters and, yet, whine like small children because things don't go our way or people don't do as we had wished.  May disappointment be obliterated by a strong dose of faith as to what can become.  We are in need of and possess the deepest, strongest assistance that can be offered to mankind; the ability to walk on top of the very issues which are designed to pull us under.

I urge you to close your complaining, gossiping mouths and open your 20/20 gaze upon the things we can get done that...we can't usually get done.  Let us reverse the trend of humanistic distraction  which, for the most part, has not allowed the Spirit to build within us a sense of ability to accomplish what can't possibly be accomplished.

Ours isn't a religion.  It is a way of life; new life.  It is a new kind of life; not a polished old one.  Not a shiny improved one.  We are buried in Jesus to arise to new conditions, new dimensions, and new thoughts called....faith.  Let us, therefore, be about such.

Don't be a whiner.  Don't be a griper.  Don't be a runner-downer of others in church.  Arise.  Enlarge your heart and reverse your talk.  Speak of what is and what can be due to the Dynamic sent to us from Heaven. 

May we not waste time.  Rather, may we change our walk and our talk to the point that everything around us is just as God called....new! 

Walk...on top...of that which...would ordinary sink you!

VETERANS DAY IN THE CHURCH

America recently celebrated an important holiday which honored men and women who served in our nation's military.  Parades.  Accolades.  Wreaths.  Flags.  A great assortment of deserved recognition was on display for all to see...and hear.

This caused me to reflect on Veterans Day in the church.  Specifically, I have been thinking about past soldiers of the Cross who served in the war-zone of serious church activity.  I'm referencing tremendous fighters for the future life of our congregation. 

I thought of one shepherd who has passed on like Herman Kifer who served as an elder at Memorial.  Add the names of Harriel Scarsdale, David Weaver, Jerry Ishmael and a list of others who battled for the freedom at Memorial to believe in God and what could become within our congregation.  The freedom did not come without the wounding of these and other soldiers.

Church isn't just smiles and howdys.  It's struggle.  It's injury.  It's being pinned to one's personal cross as a leader and never giving up; never giving up on God, never giving up on the flock, and never giving up on God's marvelous grace within themselves.

Yes, we should celebrate Veterans Day in the church for we get to be who we get to be simply because soldiers among us braved massive criticism and endured personal heartbreak so that we could have the freedom to praise God day by day.  Live with tremendous appreciation.

Thank you...every one of you...soldiers of the Cross.  We.  Celebrate.  You.  Because.  You.  Thought.  Enough.  Of.  Jesus.  To.  Fight.  For.  Us.

Monday, November 20, 2017

IT'S ROYALTY CHECK DAY!!

Oh, I like days like this one.  My quarterly royalty check from Simon and Schuster came in the mail.  I don't mean to be bragging, understand, but just the sound of it sounds so...well...so roll-off-the-tongue big deal.

But wait.  Once I give details, maybe it isn't so roll-off-ish as I had at first inferred.

The total of the check is $ 7.12.

Right.  Yes.  Below $100.  Well...even less than $10.  It is a check for only $ 7.12.

And...that's royalty for two (2) books!

The Miracle of Mercy brought in $ 2.08 while God Will Make A Way raked in a whopping $ 5.04.

Yep, it's Royalty Check Day at my house.  And, it just happens to be Mary's birthday!  Just in time!  I'm headed out to pick up a gift for her now because I just coincidentally (?) came into a bit of cash on her big day!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

WHY DO WE SIN?

Sin is a we thing.  Sin is a very much of we thing.  We know it's wrong...always.  So why is it, that when we know it's grievous, that we continue to shop in its market? 

Sin unfolded in the Garden of Eden when Eve was instructed to avoid a certain fruit.  She broke the mold and humanity received a glut of crude sin flow. 

What backed this move?  Wanting what she and Adam were told they could not have upset the Apple-Cart.  This is the backdrop of all sin; wanting what we can't have. 

Whether it be stealing, adultery, gossip, embezzlement, or any other vice, each is based upon the Garden of Eden format of wanting what one can't have. 

Why do we sin?  We are contaminated by the First Couple.  The battlefield was marked and the war was on.  Our only relief is Jesus on the Cross and through the grave.  The Good News is that we need no other mode of rescue.

He is our victory!  Thank you, God!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

THE TWO SIDES TO ONE PERSON

You surely must realize that there are two personalities living inside of you, right?  There's the one who loves, admires, cheers, and enjoys others.  And then there's the other one of you who lives selectively disgruntled and hateful toward others.  What's sorta strange is that the two of you dwell together under one skull.

Let me guess.  Your world is a challenge because you can't stand being disliked; yet you are free with the offerings of your disapproval toward others.  Perplexed over why one can't forgive you seems to go unnoticed to you that you treat others with identical and harmful disdain.

We are hypocrites.  Not a few of us.  Not the most of us.  All of us.  And, how would I know?  Jesus had to die, not for 75 or 80 per cent of us; but, for every one of us.  We all fail at being who we should be, could be, would be.

The two sides of one person is a plague that bugs, disturbs, and hurts.  We will not escape its harmful airs.  One way to deal with it, though, is to face up to it within ourselves before we make negative notations about others in our circles.  Are we guilty of failure?  Very much so...very much.  The problem bigger than the failures themselves is the personal dismissal that we are to be included in this great disarray to human harmony.

There are two sides to one person...every person who ever existed.  Jesus paid the debt...for every person.  If you want to catch a glimpse of your ugly side, take a long gander at Jesus upon the Cross.  If you want to hone in on your good side, applaud the empty grave of God's successful mercy with robust gratitude.

You...and me...none of us are whole because we get ourselves straightened out.  Some of the most "straightened out" are some of the most irritating and obnoxious.  Jesus' value escalates when we surrender in admission to our own sinful style.  He takes His robe of righteousness and drapes our shoulders for we stand naked and guilty before the entire community without Him.

You (and I) are each one person with two sides to us.  No exceptions.  The Good News is that Jesus wasn't lying when He died on the Cross to save....sinners.  Count US in!!

WHAT'RE THE YOUNGER GENERATIONS DOING TO OUR CHURCHES?

I love the mission, the direction, even the simple thought of the church.  It's baffling.  It's hard work.  It's rewarding.  And, it's ever making adjustments.

The younger generations are always a challenge it seems.  What's weird is that all older generations were likely to have been the younger generation in their day.  Do ya think?  So, what's with the seeming collision between generations which seems to ever abound when we older ones went through the earlier process ourselves?

I don't know.  It  seems that we are learners for awhile and then preservers of our meaningful learning experience as if, somehow, God maxed out His imagination on my era.  But...not so.  God is creative all of the time and creative will always include new.

So exactly what are the younger generations doing to our churches?  I believe they are bringing us life and giving us hope.  They dare to love us while exerting a new supply of energy to our design which is clearly the process of the God-involvement.

This younger generation of leaders sees things, knows things, and approaches church life in ways that I knew/know nothing about.  And who inspired these younger men and women?  Well, hopefully, guys and gals like me who dared to believe what hadn't been believed yet.  Hopefully, we were imaginers who passed the plate of imagination to the next group of leader/followers.

What are the younger generations doing to our churches?  Keeping them alive with hope and adventure in the Spirit.  That's what.  Go.  Forward.  In.  Your.  Faith.

Monday, November 13, 2017

LET LIFE REIGN ON YOUR PARADE

Be alive.  Live aware of the wonder of it all.  Such a call is not to abide in pretense that there isn't something wrong...like in many things wrong.  Yet, the beckon is to defeat the negative with the outrageous and incalculable positive which reigns on everyone's parade.

Wonder exists in every setting.  I live and work within the ranks of depression and devastation of family after family.  This isn't an occasional experience; but is rather a daily unfolding.  Life is rugged.  It bites and stings...every person.

What we do, therefore, is never pretend.  We do focus.  We look at the grand scheme of a redeeming God and praise Him for it.  In the very center of his prison cell, the apostle Paul sang to God and the jail collapsed under the load of...of...singing in a very unsingable situation.

Struggles?  Suffering?  Injuries?  At every turn for each of us.  And what shall we do about it?  We shall notice the blessings, the hope, the encouragement that is supplied from above...right on the very stage that wishes to beat us to a pulp. 

Let life REIGN on your parade!  Soak in it!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

CREATED TO BE MORE THAN WE CAN BE

There remains a treasured commodity among us to this day that must never be taken for granted.  We need to note its luxury, its range, and its unmatchable impact.  Do I reference gold?  Success?  Fame?  No, I speak of the magnificent simplicity of faith.

Faith moves modern day mountains.  It goes where eye cannot see; but heart can.  It travels where legs cannot take; but imagination leaps even the tallest hurdles.  Faith is that word oft discussed in classes and sermons; yet tends to escape through the discussionary air into evaporational ineffectivity.

But faith is where the invisible rubber meets the visible road.  Our belief in what isn't yet, but can become, is a remarkable earth-shaking kind of dynamic.  Faith sees where formula and plan can't.  Faith is daring while human measurement and estimation are cautious.

We are created by the Creator to roam the high hills and the low valleys with a tool that defies logic, understanding, and systemic rule.  Faith is so amazingly wowing that if not careful we will miss it; all in the name of Bible discussion and sermon pondering. 

Dare...yes dare...to invest in what can't be seen, what can't be verified, what can't be proven as an act of gigantic wisdom so that the hand of God may be set free to do His thing among us. 

Think.  Question.  Wonder.  Envision.  Wrestle.  Risk.  Try. 

And then watch impossibilities become possible.  This is the very thing that pulls in the hearts of every age range.  We are looking for Life beyond our own meager provision.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

DOUBLE CONDEMNITY

The human side of life is, indeed, baffling and full of twists and turns.  As we age, we often find ourselves playing "catch up" rather than reminiscing the solutionary answers we've accumulated over our decades.  Due to God's display of perpetual creativity, man can hardly make a new discovery but which it is quickly outdated.

An area that bugs us is our perpetual hankering to judge others while claiming Free Space when similar judgment slides in our direction.  We are all alike in that we possess a very strange factor; double condemnity.  Here's how it plays out.

We condemn others because they are not as good as we are (so we've persuaded ourselves).  We would never do the wrong they do.  We would never think to do what they have carried out.  Our condemnation is firm and often unforgiving.

Too, we simultaneously condemn ourselves because we are not as good as others.  We did what they would never do.  We have dark thoughts that others would be ashamed of us if they only knew.  And, our personal condemnation is firm and often lasting...well into depression.

So how can we be both?  Condemning others for they are so sinful and condemning ourselves for we, too, are so sinful?  It is at this junction that we look at Jesus and say, Is there any chance you could do something about me?  I'm a mess as I live in double condemnity.  I judge them...and myself.  Help us!!!

May the righteousness of Jesus be the prominent factor in our walk.  May our self-righteousness move to the back of the bus...and jump out the back door.  No one is right with God unless Jesus makes us right. 

 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

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

JESUS' SECRET APPROACH TO IMPACTING THE WORLD

One would think that to be a world impactor there would of necessity be information, accumulation, and destination; know your subject, gather pertinent tactics, and set out on mission.  One would think.  And thus, we who regard ourselves as mission-minded are able to take note of similar personal concepts in our faith walk.

Yet, there is another factor that's incredibly significant. 

When Jesus was sent from Heaven to earth to begin his mission, it was key that he first become an infant.  Yes, he was a man to be built from the ground up, so to speak.  This is where we replicas of him fight our biggest inner contest.  We do not want to appear vulnerable.  So?  We have traded the nakedness of an infant for the appearance of being equipped with knowledge.

Yes!  That's how we will tackle the world!  We will not approach society vulnerable as in an infant!  We will impress with our knowledge!  Therefore, the spiritual drive experiences shut-down because education was never the driving force.  Vulnerability and the willingness to try anyway has always been the secret approach to impacting the world.

Basically, we don't believe it.  Let me say that again.  Basically, we DON'T BELIEVE it.  The lack of faith is the game-changer when it comes to spreading the Gospel. 

The way to break through on mission--on impacting mission--is through the standard of infancy at heart.  Humility.  Dependence.  Hunger to learn.  Directable.  Ears that hear.  Receptive.  Defenseless.  Moldable.  Pliable.

A baby is vulnerable times 100.  It is this single route the God chose to save us.  Indeed, He would voluntarily become a person.  But more than becoming a person, which would seem to be humiliating enough, He became a baby person; can't walk, can't talk, can't convince, can't persuade.

This isn't the route I was hoping He would take for me.  I was more inclined to think that when I gained a more complete set of answers that it would be at that time that I was equipped to evangelize.  But one evening in a one-on-one Bible study He unlocked an imprisoning door.  I learned to say to the couple I was trying to teach, I don't know.  Surprise to me, their hearts opened even wider to me.  My lack was the secret to their eventual conversion.

Your secret to impacting the world will never be more than the secret Jesus knew.  Being inadequate seems to be a welcome mat to seekers.  Jesus didn't hit earth in cap, gown, and degree.  He hit it with inability to speak, inadequacy to plan, a diaper, and a bale of straw. 

Go.  Figure.  the.  Wisdom.  of.  God....and then...Enter.  In. 

Monday, November 06, 2017

SHOULD GUNS BE OUTLAWED?

Each time America experiences a mass murder, the call swells for the outlawing of guns.  This isn't a new chorus.  Wouldn't the move to make them illegal leave us with other immediate decisions.

     A.  Should we then outlaw trucks to curb the number of attacks which used such loaded with explosives?  And, should explosives be illegalized?
     B.  Should we, too, quit making automobile engines which travel beyond the speed limit as they
claim innocent lives as well because some irresponsibly drive too fast?
     C.  Should alcoholic beverages be labeled as illegal because some become drunk and cause harm,  at times, to others or to themselves?
     D.  Should sleeping pills be eliminated because some overdose?
     E.  Should churches be eliminated since they are often found to be centers of disruption rather than unity?
     F.  Should the Bible become illegal because a few use it to disrupt lives rather than inspire?

There will continue to be debate about gun control; even after my article!!!  I'm just saying that if such a law would be passed, it will not curb violence one whit.  The manufactured gun is not the problem of society.  We must continually, sacrificially work together to help each of us make a mature progress in loving God and then loving others.  Our hearts are where the adjustment is vitally needed; not the regulation of the tool being used to do the damage.

If we believe that simply outlawing guns would be the cure, then why don't we simply outlaw outlaws?  Oh...we already have....but that hasn't stopped them either, has it?

THE ULTIMATE HOSTAGE TAKEOVER

Okay, think with me.  Can you imagine what it would be like if, say perhaps while filling your car with gasoline, someone approached you with a gun and took you hostage?  Can you fathom for a second the blur of confusion which might be an obvious jolt to your system?  Try to imagine the surprise, the uncertainty of the next few minutes, and even the unexplainable imposed threat. 

You have just been taken hostage by a stranger who now wishes to commandeer your life!

I submit a shocking thought.  The person who likely victimizes us, freezes us in fear and takes us hostage (in repetitive fashion) is my(our)self.  We brandish our own weapon and we aim it directly at ourselves and scream, Freeze!  From the dimensions of panic and fear...we do exactly that.

Have we said to our advising friends, cheering relatives, and our supportive neighbors all around, Freeze!?  Have we scuttled their words of encouragement toward directional adjustment because we have taken over ourselves under the hostigetical guise of fear?  Rather than developing an ability to loosen up, to step out, have we frozen in our tracks; at least in our thinking patterns?  Of course, in the process we've thrown our hands up for we just arrested...ourselves.

Individually, we likely have made key decisive moves to take ourselves hostage.  We renamed it protection.  Protectionary custody sounds better?  Protectionary Custody leads to self-management.  Self-management leads to the self takeover

We are still holding ourselves hostage.  Life isn't passing us by under these conditions.  It's more.  Life can't look our way; it can't find us because we've gone into hiding.  This is the design and purpose of the Ultimate Hostage Takeover. 

The takeover, however, is taken over from what?  The glorious leadership of a very active, quite participatory God has been quenched and we, now, drive the bus.  We believe we are at the CONTROLS.  The Ultimate Hostage Takeover doesn't usually come from others.  Oh, it certainly can...and does.  But mainly, we arrest ourselves.  And...this isn't necessary.  Furthermore, it must stop.

We've been called to life and life abundantly at that.  Shall we dare step into this zone today?




Sunday, November 05, 2017

REBEL WITH A CAUSE...WOULD BE...YOU

Conform.  Conform is an inner bark which howls that we retreat from bravery; from exceptionalism.  It is demanding and bossy.  Conform intends to lead us by the nose to be sure that we don't stand out as different from mediocre and neutral.  Thus we will find, within its protection, safety and acceptance without necessary development of the need to learn or to grow...up.

Conforming is "the" socially acceptable stance.  It is two clear truths: easiest and...deadliest.  Conforming to the flow around us takes no courage, it takes no intelligence, it takes no faith.  In this mode we simply develop into an approving/disapproving set of judges toward everyone but ourselves...and we are quite content with this very weak, sick arrangement.

Ours is fundamentally a conforming society.  It surely wasn't intended as such; yet this has been the trend with us for decades.  More than with us, it is us.  There are exceptions, of course.  Deliberately working on becoming the exception is what I wish to address.

God is clear, however, that we are not to conform to this world.  Rather, we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  Uh-oh!  So that's the human glitch; stubborn, set-in-my-ways thinking.  Unwilling to learn at whatever age we are, we grow accustomed to blocking incredible life by clinging to the little world we know...and can control.

To be a rebel would be to stare down the social powers whose voices intimidate by offering threat.  Conforming is their absolute by-law.  This requires nothing but convenience, handy-isms, and certainly no application of thought.  Conforming is the easy way out and that's what too many settle for in life.

Transformation, on the other hand, launches us into the deep and unknown experiences of ultimate fantasmalistic living.  We are not in control; but controlled...by God's leadership.  Seldom, in all of God's human stars and starlets on His grand stage, did life ever unfold the way they would have anticipated; would have tried to control.

Abraham, Sarah, David, Thomas, Saul of Tarsus....these and countless others dropped their strong-armed control and yielded to nothing but an unprovable faith swirling in the air...a faith convicted that God can.  Ask Mary and Joseph about the time they learned they were pregnant!

God can.  Mark it down.  Leaders often can't.  Committees can't.  Best laid plans can't...can't offer the thrill and the results that the rebel with a cause can.  Dare to live beyond your fears.  Furthermore, dare to abide within His imagination for you.

Rebel with a cause...would be...you.  And...our hearts soar when we experience God doing the amazing among us!  Believe.  Big.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

HOW TO OBTAIN THE LOVE AND SUPPORT AND ATTENTION YOUR HEART DESIRES

I write this with a particular segment of society in mind.  Those who desperately need approval and relationship with others...but cannot find it...are who I wish to cheer.

First, I'm sorry that you can't find that niche of approval you so desperately desire.  Loneliness is a horrible condition.  Along the way, I've watched a few try a bit harder than others to gain attention; but what they don't realize is that they are shooting themselves in the foot.  Through their drive to gain personal sympathy via their steady rehearsal of their woes, these drive good friends farther away.

I'm not saying the result is right.  I am saying that I want to help any in this condition to try another tactic.

Rather than bemoan the sorry circumstances you are in (and here I refer only to those who never have anything positive to say), switch the direction of your conversation.  Give a verbal boost to others who could use a word of hope.  At this juncture you will find yourself very needed just as you had always wished.

It's a strange thing and a most consistent one.  What we sow, we reap.  Plant words of negative bummerisms about your condition and you'll never...never...dig your way out.  You assume that it's because of circumstances that bring your misery.  But likely it's your speech; the way you talk.  Obsession with self bums self and draws no positive attention.  Driven to cheer others on brings a new sort of fulfillment.  It's all found within our words; not our circumstances.

I root for you; for everyone.  99% of the populace does a decent job of speaking life.  They talk it, walk it...and therefore...receive it.  Whether it's a good day or bad does not determine what kind of day you are having...and I'm not speaking of becoming pretentious nor fake.  I'm saying that in every illness, in every catastrophe, in every death, there are words of praise able to be offered.

We all go through depression.  The secret to getting out is not more money or new friends.  The real secret is to change your language to where you find reason to speak of the goodness you see in God, in life, in others.  If you are miserable, you have sown it through your words.  If you are an endurer, you have spoken about life in a way that attends to others.

What you sow...you receive.  Tell others about how and why you love them.  It will bless them...and you.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

TWO KINDS OF PEOPLE

The Adulterous Woman..from John 8

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees *brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they *said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, [a]Lord.” And Jesus said, I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”]
There are two kinds of people interacting with Jesus.  The religiously-sinful Pharisees and the guilty sinful woman.  Jesus puts both into complete perspective.
The religious leaders left the scene with tails tucked between their legs.  The woman left the same scene with holy pardon.  Her instructions were to never sin again.  If she succeeded in Jesus command there would have been no need for him to later suffer agony on the Cross.  She must have sinned again.
Jesus died for us because we are most pitiful at trying to get our lives in order.  The devoted-to-God ones and the not-devoted-to-God one were two kinds of people found, in reality, to be the same kind...repetitive sinners.  
We do not find in any of Jesus' interactions toward we violators that pardon is granted because we got our weaknesses curbed.  Rather, we each find cure and hope because he came to earth to experience our guilt and then took on that guilt at the Cross.  He took on our shame and he handed us his honor.
Never are we to be permitted to sin that grace might increase.  But as sin shows up, grace does increase.  That's His power....not ours.  That's His Word....not our idea.

Monday, October 30, 2017

THE BATTLE FOR FAITH

We live in a social setting where danger lurks.  The target is faith.  The danger is that risking conviction has been tossed out while indifference escalates.  Faith (that Jesus died to promote) is not a sweet-Jesus feeling which offers a some sort of Sunday morning soothe.  It is a new theme, a new possibility, an entirely new sort of existence day by learning/growing day.

Why is there a battle going on?  Because faith's value is more precious than gold.  That we believe into the invisible as being genuinely real is under continual siege.  Faith blows the cover to legalistic control and the law-keepers despise it.  Faith transforms the broken and those who fear change detest it.  Faith turns the tables on reality making the seen the temporary and the unseen the eternal.  The hesitant resist it.

Be encouraged, there is a present war embroiling over your potential faith.  To believe what can become that isn't yet is absurd to the controller and fresh air to the dreamer.  The latter treasures our Creative God while the former is devoted to preserving how we got here.  It isn't that many things in our past were not awesome.  It's that in their awesomeness they were setting the stage for the next faith thriller/adventure.

Our past is full of marvel and wonder.  Be not robbed of its thrill.  Yet, its success delivered us to this point to keep the trust in His provision flowing.  We are to appreciate the bravery of those in our history with the awareness that it is now our turn to step up in equal courage to offer the next generation a current, vibrant, and effective faith.

Faith isn't easy.  Its character can be easily kidnapped and bound so that the capturers may peddle a pseudo-faith that offers the activities; but not the personally engaging fruit of believing, dying, and arising.  There is a stern battle for faith going on....now.  The warheads are not frightening.  Instead they are socially acceptable.  Indifference is in escalation mode.  Thus, the needed alert. 

Faith wasn't for an hour yesterday (Sunday).  It was for then and it is for your waking moments now.  Win the war.  Step up for service and step out with belief; a faith that thinks that what good isn't yet can still become. 

Win.  The.  War.

Believe.

Big.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

ENAMOURIZATION WITH GOD?

Sunday came!  It's here folks!  No, I'm not kidding!  Sunday is here!

It's a strange admission, but my initiation into the church culture didn't seem to take when it came to my being in awe of God.  I wasn't.  I'm not saying that I wasn't taught it.  But, I soon became devoted to getting church right....which, duh....one would have assumed included a high priority of honoring God.

I did offer Him acknowledgment, you know.  Yet, to focus upon Him just to ponder His absolute and deserving wonder?  Umm...not so much.  I was more interested in me; what I liked about church, about serving, about learning my Bible.  Enamourization with God?  Not.  So.  Much.

Because of this, when we sang I wasn't so much attune to the words as I was to whether I liked the tune.  Did I like the personality of the song leader?  Did I like the....I was full of the did I likes.  And where was God in all of this?  

Patiently waiting.

When I entered the privilege of preaching, I was more focused on my performance (using Scripture properly, connecting with the audience) than on Him.  Too, the church placed strong emphasis on getting things right and such was my complete adherence.  And where was God in all of this?  

Patiently waiting.

Over the years I've made strides to improve my attentiveness to God.  This has enhanced my prayer walk because I spend more time bragging on Him to Him due to Him than the rest of my needs content.  I encourage you to give God verbal glory in both prayer and daily conversation.  

To be sold on church is quite different than being sold out to God.  The former can be really good or it can become the god of our engagement-oriented needs.  The latter (sold out) would include our development and our service with the addition that we are to be more conscious of God than any of our works.

Sunday is here!  You'll be blessed by re-forming bonds with your favorites.  Some, like myself, will be equally charged to be introduced to guests whom we've not yet met.  But I cheer you on.  Be first and foremost enamoured with the God of all Creation.  He.  Alone.  Makes.  Life.  Tick.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

NO ONE IS ADEQUATE

In II Corinthians 3:5 the Apostle states that no one is adequate within themselves to consider anything as coming from themselves for our adequacy is from God. 

From.  God.

We inadequate ones tend to believe, even admire, others whom we deem as obviously adequate.  Yet, such is a misnomer.  No one is adequate.  Yes, each has strengths; but all also have vital lack which shows up moment by moment, day by day.

He told us in that same book (10:12) to stop the comparative living; classing ourselves against others to determine how we believe we are doing.  This is a mistake on both sides; esteem or discouragement.  Every person carries a secret dynamic which can only be accredited to faith; power is perfected in weakness (12:9).

Like me, some of you may have wasted much of your life wishing you were more like others.  Yet, that's a cyclical trade-off within all of society...the always wishing we were like someone other than myself.

No person's true efficiency is ever located in any realm other than inadequacy.  This is the signal to God...Welcome...Come on in!!!  From that stage we get to observe Him actually working from within us...because we give Him permission to do so.

Stop the self-criticalization.  Accept the God-secret within.  You are of incredible power...but it will never be where you groom it or control it.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

THE PROBLEM WITH SIN IS THAT WE THINK ONLY EVERYONE ELSE IS GUILTY OF IT

Sin is illusive.

Slick in presentation isn't the half of it.  It has an uncanny way of presenting itself to every individual as understandable for ourselves; but vile and rejectable for all others.  Sin presents itself in a way that we can justify hatred toward another(s).  Sin goes blameless while we dis-eased ones rail against one another.

"Theirs" is quickly despicable and damnable while "mine" seems to, somehow, warrant patient understanding.

The longer I live the more I see Jesus.  The more I see Jesus the less I think of me.  My stock seems to go down as His goes up.  The Son of God was beaten to a pulp over the crimes of Terry Rush.  I have nothing to gloat about...except Him.

The blood of Jesus is to be remembered more than a ten minute window at Sunday's communion.  It is to be remembered as the million-dollar price paid for my/our sins.  Communion declares we are all sunk to the lowest common denominator; yet we are all raised to the highest holy status of brotherhood with the Lamb.

If you are quick to judge another for his or her sins...you just sinned.  If you are impatient with any other person whom you deem as hypocritical, deem again.  Re-deem.  It is me, it is you, who are first in line to take our judgment based upon God's ideal perspective.  "They" are not the issue before "I" am confessional.

Once we take the beam out of our own eye, it is at that point that we see clearly.  And exactly what is it we are to see?  The Word names the one thing we see; a speck.  We will be notified immediately that what we thought was a glaring beam in another's eye was really us still staring down the plank which is our own.  We just couldn't see around our own.

Once the beam causing personal blindness is removed?  What we will all find in another is a mere speck.

Jesus said this...not me.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

MOVING ON...

One of the strongest, most delightful, characteristics of life is movement.  Flexibility is a wonderful factor in old age.  Hands and feet love the idea.  Volume increase is such a blessing for old ears.  Age has such an appreciation for this as well.  Thank you for those who are flexible enough in your speech to speak up!

However, one of the toughest circumstances of life is such movement.  The former is for progress.  The later is  threatened by fear.  Everybody has these elements.  Faith to move along in progress or fear to stay away from danger; each has strong grip.  It's up to our determination as to which one we crown as ruler of our day.

Faith or fear?

Faith requires letting go.  Fear obsesses by clinging.  Faith moves on.  Fear sits home and worries, frets, agonizes...and ultimately cheats us of life-arousing faith.  Faith is mobile.  Fear petrifies.

Faith has to be one fascinating element.  It cannot be controlled by legislation.  Neither can it be regulated by sub-truths presented by our sight information.  Faith is not casual.  Neither is it irresponsible.  Quite the opposite, moving on by faith can be breath-taking and daring.

It is faith that brings life--new life--to our old habits, bossy ruts, and scared colleagues.  Read Hebrews 11.  Wild, crazy, could-not-have-happened...did happen by bold and unexplainable, irrational efforts of common people with an adventurous God.

Moving on...movement...mobility is the profound work of the Holy Spirit of God within every believer.  If you want security, trust in His call; not in your mental survey which often insists that you shut down God's element of glorious surprise.  Moving on...is the mark of a Holy embedded people.






Monday, October 23, 2017

DARE TO DRIVE OUT INTO THE SOUL-AR SYSTEM OF TRUTH

Truth is a major tenet of conservative bent churches.  It's promoted as it should be.  We are each called to know it, believe it, abide by it.  But one must be equally aggressive in refraining from flaunting it for such a stance is the trip-up which falls for hypocrisy. 

In my early days of ministry, my efforts were based upon this concept of Truth.  I assumed that I knew it.  I surely defended what I knew as such was the clarion call of all Bible-packing students.  As time moved along, however, I noted I was stuck upon the rocks embedded within my Scriptural River where Truth rambled downstream.  Yes, I knew how to locate key verses; key, you understand, to defending my stance more than learning of His will.

Can one know Truth?  Of course. 

That's precisely why the Bible has been provided.  And, from that Dynamic given from above, I see us given to a glut of information without hearts given to seeking transformation for a large percentage of our people.  I don't mean to sound sarcastic nor negative.  I do mean to say that our hunger and thirst for righteousness has been sabotaged by our own repetition to the point we hardly realize how cold some hearts have grown.

Such awareness does not throttle down our enthusiasm for the Kingdom life as if we are sunk.  No, quite the contrary.  This most definitely leads us to step up our drive for the eternal, the spiritual, the Son and His profound system.

Religion is drunk on argument.  There is need for the sober (my own sobering included) recall that we are to go into all of the world with the Good News.  Clearly the active going has been replaced by the inactive sitting by the many; by the masses.  Our reach is too often found to be suffering paralysis. 

There is ever the drastic need for creative imagination of glorious ways to reach, to teach, to convert hearts from self to Jesus.  Religion won't do it.  The Man will.  There has long been a voice by our communities against organized religion.  Yet, the replacement has basically been nothing more than self-centered me-ism. 

Jesus is the Truth.  He's the game-changer because He is the grave-breaker.  May we concentrate on jumping the curb of the routine and driving out into the Soul-ar System of possibility which has always been intended and available for every one of us!  We are not to be discouraged at how much Truth we do not yet know; but we are to be encouraged at how much bigger Truth is than our meager minds can grasp!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

GOD GETS THE PICTURE OF US

God fascinates me.  He is in all places, knows all things, and has a grasp of pure reality.  This is baffling; truly too good of news to be true.  It is the Gospel.

In His unfathomable awareness of the real us, He bends over backwards to convey the real Him.  His wish is that we not be fake and, furthermore, that we  not perceive Him as unreal.  God sees us all the way through to our best intentions...and, yes, even our worst.  God knows our hearts.  He gets the picture of who we are at our most sensitive whim of a thought whether godly or sinful.

When we go through the church motions, without an intimate confidence in God, our Christian walk is about six feet wide and one inch deep.  In this mode we do our best to impress one another with our good deeds all-the-while knowing we aren't really cutting it.  Our wish is strong.  But our action often seems to be a bust.

So, don't you think that it helps us feel a bit more secure in Jesus when we become convinced that He already knows this about us?  Read Romans 7.  The mighty and profound apostle Paul spilled his beans.  He said that he didn't do what he knew was good to do.  And he didn't stop there.  Paul continued that he did do what he wasn't supposed to do.  Anyone relate so far?

His conclusion?  OH.  THANK.  YOU.  JESUS.

When we do not thank Jesus, we shift to an unspiritual state of living by comparison to one another.  This is to enter the alley of untruth....every time.  Oh sure, we know ourselves to fail in areas--several arenas--but we point out others of whom we deem as worse.  This seems to tweak our conscience enough to spur us on through our religious and ritualistic terrain.  But this perspective is a sham.

Unless we are convicted of our own sins--and not the  sinfulness of others--we will continue to tote our Bibles off to Sunday School without believing them.  We will simply go through the motions of which even unbelievers quickly detect are not the fulfillment of God's will.  So, what shall we do?

It seems that we are off to a better start when we can grasp the reality that we are a mess, that God is the very One who points this out, and because of such, He redirects us to Jesus upon the Cross.  God does not give up on us and we should not give up on others.  Jesus died for our sins; not our slight missteps.  He arose to convict us of personal inner relief; not some off-the-wall theory of being a do-gooder. 

Our sins are deep and strong.  Jesus' paying for our sins is deeper and stronger. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

WHAT I'M BEGINNING TO LEARN UPON RETIREMENT

I love learning.  I will always be in Kindergarten when it comes to knowing all that God has available for our walk.  Our future is bright, alive, and meaningful.  God has given me something as He awakened me at 3:00 and I just must get up to write it down.

Discipline is for learning; not for beating.  If it isn't for inner development, this very trait will be regarded as nothing more than a dirty ten-letter word.  Many my age know the ills of what were intended spankings to really be poundings.  Thus, the biblical word discipline suffers understanding which often means it is avoided; even rejected.

Yet, discipline is a major thread in the Kingdom fabric.  We must have it.  The church struggles today in extreme form because we have lived without (trained ourselves to live without) this factor.  We don't do struggle.  We don't do pain.  Rather we take flight when it gets tense in our world.  We move on because we don't like conflict.  The result is that we don't learn via the very basic process of being corrected.

Stress is a very present and most necessary reality.  It is not a call to take flight from it; but to be still and go to school.  Until we get this into our thick heads, we will always be on the run from something; people, places, assignments, etc.  Life.  Is.  Often.  Hard.

I'm beginning to learn something in these initial days of retirement.  We are losing ground because we refuse to shut down and step back.  I refused.  I didn't even realize it was a key to effective Kingdom labor.  But now that I'm able to pull off to the side of the road, clarity is unfolding...and I like it.

Recall how Jesus kept slipping away to be alone?  Even (especially) when matters were pressing, it seems that He had a knack of devotion to His time spent with Father.  So here's what I see.  We are hindered from expanding the Kingdom of God because we are riddled with busy distraction that keeps us from application of the meaningful, the useful, the productive.  Yes...too busy.

And here's the kicker.  We want it that way.  We want to be in demand, walking in rapid fire, because this distracts us from learning what God wants of us.  We refuse to slow down because when we do we will be more likely to be open to His will.  Busy-ness keeps us distracted from effective-ness.

Mankind finds ways to be comfortably stuck.  We don't want to improve, grow, change in areas because it makes us U-N-C-O-M-F-O-R-T-A-B-L-E.  Therefore, we hide in our roles...our very busy demanding roles...in order to refrain from exposure to adjustments God would wish for us.

Elders elder, staffs staff, families family, and members member with our best feet forward....constantly.  Full-steam a head. This comes off as commitment.  But I suggest it isn't all commitment; but a large section is avoidance.  We've found our sweet spot; our comfort zone and we don't intend to surrender it because it was to difficult to capture in the first place.

I suggest we discover ways to step out of our demanding schedules for a time where God could reveal His latest will.  It can be done.  We are creative you know.  We can find ways to avail ourselves to becoming open to the Spirit's steady and current direction.  Here are suggestions:

  1.  Elders take a six-month sabbatical.  No elders' meetings.  No minutes forwarded.  Trust the others.  Let God.  It is very possible to do this.  Fear of losing control will be the balker which ought to make it's needed point.
  2.  Churches provide staff sabbaticals.  These workers cannot keep pouring out without significant time of God pouring in.  We are unconsciously demand-weary. And, in our case as well, we fear decisions would be made without our input...and, therefore, possibly not what would keep us comfortable.
  3.  Pull your members/devoted workers/out of their roles for six months.  Tell them to sit down, be still, and listen.  I see too many failing to grow in the Kingdom because they are hiding in their church-work.

None of this is suggested as punishment.  That isn't the discipline to which I refer.  I suggest it as development of the inner man; a very deeply needed exercise for the core of Kingdom life.  The good news is that it can be done if we will yield our subtle controlling nature.  It is possible and the church will be the better for it.

Okay.  It's now 4:12 a.m.  That's all for now.



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.