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.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

DON'T BE A GNAT STRAINER

I'm a recovering GnatStrainer.  You know what that is, right?  That's a person who makes mountains out of molehills.  GnatStrainers exaggerate the silly while, simultaneously, ignoring the significant.  People like me get worked up over trivial; but the central issues that really matter seem to go unnoticed.  

Don't be this.


GnatStraining requires combinational fret and worry.  To give attention to such areas, in turn, leaves the gates open to bigger and more authentic concerns.  In actuality, we may be found majoring in minors rather than majoring in majors. Jesus called the latter CamelSwallowing.  


The religious-hearted are great targets for this mistaken style.  The question isn't really, "How did worship go?"  It is rather, "Was God worshiped?"  Life in the church isn't, "Did we do Christianity right?"; but, "Has Jesus made us right?"


GnatStraining, which leads to CamelSwallowing, is such an easy road to travel because it is both nearly unconscious as well as quite socially acceptable.  I cheer us on as we serve in the Kingdom of God as such requires intentional focus.  Distraction is Satan's strong tactic.  


I encourage you to gain momentum in developing a walk with God that is GnatStrain/CamelSwallow free.  Relax.  Don't neglect, but relax, so that you may be attentive to the lives around you that matter in deepest significance and form.  When your life comes to an earthly conclusion and you will have closed your eyes for the final time, will the issues that demanded your energy have really mattered?


You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel...Mt. 23:24...have meaning for our hurried and pressing lifestyles.  May we make our time count by investing in the non-gnat, non-camel trek before us!





Sunday, April 16, 2017

FAITH IS IN THE AIR

It's Easter Sunday.  As is common, for America at least, significant spiritual days have been commercialized to a great extent.  Yet....there's something more that one can't help but note.  The day is still celebrated for its original intent.  Jesus arose from the grave!

Faith is in the air.  Churches will be packed today.  Many who don't usually make it possibly on any of the other fifty-one Sundays will most likely make it today.  That's a good thing.  That's a really good sign.  Why?  Faith is in the air.

Think about it.  Of all days during the year, why would any who don't seem to be necessarily embedded in the church scene unanimously and simultaneously select this one Sunday to make their trek to a spiritual gathering?  Why?

Is it for show?  Is it to salve conscience?  Is it to impress others with their new digs being worn?  Oh, some might fit into such a category...just as on all Sundays.  But there could be something much deeper going on.  It is most likely that faith is in the air stronger than any other Sunday.  This one day shows the true, the deep and real, nature of the inner person.  People believe God.

Within the deepest regions of millions upon millions of individuals, there is a possession of faith in the air that concretely believes that Jesus was real, that he died, and that he rose again.  Added to such an assurance is the drive, by oh so very many, to gather with other believers this day as we join in giving God thanks.  It appears that in the most private zones of mankind's heart, faith in Jesus reigns...strong.

Faith...is in the air...in so many awesome people!  This...is Good Sunday!

Friday, April 14, 2017

THE SHEER FASCINATION THAT STANDS BEFORE YOU!

This is one of the most treasured weekends world-wide.  Good Friday followed by Easter Sunday.  These next three days seem to bring about reflection more than usual as to sober reality regarding earth-life and then eternal-life.  This weekend is packed with sure do hope so on the part of oh so many!

So, I encourage the many readers who are good people; but are quite uncertain about whether this religious thing is for you.  It is.  And...it isn't.

Let's look at the isn't first.  What isn't for you isn't for the rest of us, either.  The habitual, the lifeless, the thoughtless repetitious and weary church-itis plagues many of us in it.  Of course, this causes understandable hesitation among those out of it.

Let's be fair, though, to the is.  The reason this religious thing is for you is because it is very real.  If you don't believe it, take inventory of just how many you know who seem destined to never die.  No, this is always on one's casket list of reality.  The is for you is that there is life after death and it takes a brave and thoughtful faith to yield to it.

On the other hand, that there would be no life after death takes faith to believe that as well.  So, since you are going to invest with some measure of faith, why not go for the one that is more, shall we say, A-L-I-V-E?

Don't you think it about time that some of you sober up a bit about your future?  I cheer you toward the One who beat death.  That would be Jesus.  He is Friend to all; even to the ugliest and most infractious sinners.  That's why we can be in.  Jesus is the Password.

Once you lean toward him, it is time some of you who have not yet been should be baptized.  Romans 6:1-9 is a place you can see for yourselves.  Why would Jesus send the disciples out, in what is known as the Great Commission, to teach and baptize if he didn't expect us to learn and to be baptized?

This Sunday may be your Sunday!  It may be the one where you take a bold step by confessing that Jesus is the one who saves and that you are ready to be buried in baptism.  Millions have.  Millions more will.

Might you have been thinking about this lately?  God is rooting for you...and so am I.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A-N-O-T-B: The Secret to a Disappointless Day!

Don't buy into the tradition of moodiness.  That stuff will suck one under in a blink; in a heartbeat.  No, what we do is acknowledge the value of our profound existence moment by moment.

I once lived a yo-yo life.  Up one day (maybe two) and then down the next (and maybe the next).  I learned through God to make one gigantic correction.  Such a move has allowed my life to get to live.

There are two kinds of days: good days because they are good days and good days because they are bad days.  All one needs to experience this as factual, rather than philosophical, is to learn how to pivot.  Yes, there is a pivot-point in our thinking process which transforms even our negative bummer days into positive blessed ones.

This amazing pivot is found in Romans 5.  The context is actually verses 1-5.  But the monumental and earth-shaking framework of success is found in :3; And not only this but.  That's it?  We are to live by, a seemingly nonsensical, And not only this but?  A-N-O-T-B?  Uh-huh.  Get it?

A-N-O-T-B offers hope, wills hope, is hope!  And what does God say in verse 5?  And hope does not disappoint.  Now, go out and have a disappointless day!

Because His grave is empty.....we win.  Be disappointless!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

YOU ARE PROUD THAT YOU DON'T COMMIT WHICH SIN EXACTLY?

Christianity overall is missing a major mark.  It's cost for doing so surely has to be desperately sizable.  The villain among us?  Personal pride that we, individually, don't sin like other sinners.  This is rampant among us. Furthermore, it is rampantly wrong.

Some of us are proud that we are not liars.  Others are pleased with ourselves that we are not adulterers.  Yet, others find joy in not being gay, not being swindlers, or not being judgmental.  Pride is the key and absolute disruptive word in all of this.

Pride is quite prominently acceptable among we sinners for we are always able to find someone (we self-righteously assume) to be more despicable than ourselves.  This seems to justify permission to let us off of the hook.  But, pride is also sin...a very costly sin.

And He also told this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 

"Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-gatherer.  The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, 'God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer.  I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.' "

"But the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!' "

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted.' "

Should we operate as did the Pharisee, we find ability to live a false, but surface, life.  We justify our own blatant errors while allowing ourselves the freedom to be quite miffed over another's lesser offense.  Jesus once said to such a crowd, Go ahead.  Throw the first stone; any who are not guilty of your own personal sin.  All walked away.

Humility is truly the call (the need) of the heart.  Do not mistake.  It isn't that sin is not to be called sin.  It is that when we call our own personal violations sin that we are finally able to minister to other sinners for we finally grasp authentically where they hurt, where they wrestle...and even where they grieve.

Do not be filled with pride.  Our failing to commit certain sins is no excuse for the horrendous sins we do commit which drove Jesus to the Cross.  Try to remember your own misdeeds.  From such may we be a help to others rather than a critic.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

AS WE WORSHIP, MAY WE PRAISE GOD

Today is the day where many of us are headed to our zones to be a part of church gatherings.  Our time will be divided between Bible classes and what we call church.  I cheer you on today to conscientiously praise God in this process.

The reason that I bring this most fundamental concept to your attention is that I didn't think about giving attention to God...for years...as a minister.  No.  I was about getting things done; Sunday production.  Classes prepared.  Sermons assembled.  Servants in their designated spots.  You get the idea.  Details had become my habitual god.  I was claiming to worship when what I was really doing was worshiping worship.

Such rote movement eventually developed into an arthritis of the spirit called emptiness.  This is why so many of our very good people finally abandon the church.  To keep one active, connected, and happy without concentrated glory toward God eventually finds that such movement evaporates.

One of the strongest matters God has taught me is to tell Him Thank You repeatedly throughout each day.  It isn't my accomplishment that draws credit.  It is His.  It isn't our works that are to be praised.  It is His.

Faith it vital here.  Christianity based upon sight--tangible experiences we can program and calculate--will fade because the true winning mode is the thread that we cannot see known as faith.  Praying for what isn't yet, but can become, is faith.  Giving dollars, believing God will provide better than our money would have supplied, is faith.  Forgiving one who does not deserve such favor from you....is faith.  Believing God has forgiven us when we are baptized into Jesus...is more faith.

It is within this realm that we learn to praise God for our lives are dependent upon His provision; not our careful calculatory managerial application.  We praise the invisible God for matters for which we strongly hope; while having no substantial verification that such will come about.  We praise God because He knows Life and we want to experience the higher realm of it.

As we worship today, may we relinquish going through the motions of putting in our time.  This habitual procedure kills hearts...our hearts...our children's hearts.  May we come out with our driven appreciation toward Him publicly.  May we robustly give God credit, praise, and honor...from our voices.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

MAY WE GET BACK TO JESUS

Churchers' usual comments are often that we need to get back to the Bible.  That's partially true.  It would be the Bible that holds the genuine article about Jesus the Lamb.  God gave us the Word to learn of the Who that He gave us.  The problem, that we obviously experience, is that within the call to get back to the Bible there has been a major hijacking.  We have gone back to Religious Law and not rebirthed to Life Freedom.  The regulatory fearful would always prefer law over walking out into the Great Unknowing of spiritual potential and possibility.

Jesus is the Gigantic Train Wreck to man's habit; religious or un.  Jesus, not the Bible, hung on a Cross and paid the price.  The Bible is so valued because of such revelation regarding the Son.

As we surely want to increase and improve as students of the Word of God, may we be found to be obsessed with the lifestyle of Jesus and not mere proof-texts to confirm our stances.  Within the spiritual flow of earthlings there are those who love to help the hurting and, then, there are those who would rather just be right.  There is nothing more right than watching Jesus defend the public reject and then you and me trying to follow that ministerial pattern.

As the Word of God builds our faith, may we find that the target has always been to know Jesus rather than knowing Bible....You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life.  I do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves (John 5:39-42).

It's an interesting thing in that as we transition from getting back to the Bible to getting back to Jesus, moods improve, effectiveness escalates, and the community is relieved of our religious holier than Thou facial expressions.

Friday, April 07, 2017

THE TRADITION OF NOT FOLLOWING TRADITION

One of my favorite teachings of Jesus is his statement in Matthew 15:8-9, This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.  But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.  His is a most dramatic statement.  The church often boasts of refusing to follow the tradition-bound trends created by man only to jealously protect our very own well-oiled, personally-preferred traditions.

This was such a contest in Jesus' daily walk.  At every turn, in effort to do the work of God, Jesus was met with stern oppositional rebuke.  And did such come from the gamblers and the murderers and the liars?  No.  It always came from the religious sort; leaders no less.

This puts guys like me in a most vulnerable position.  We study the Word to learn of God.  Yet, I have found so easily that my destination can soon shift to building an invisible self-support system to what I believe at this point.  To believe is honorable.  But to view such as permanent arrival with no room for question, adjustment, or even maturity is to become a blocked artery in the health of God's vibrant calling for all mankind.

The tradition we are to practice is twofold; following with increasing clarity the call of Jesus while, simultaneously, avoiding the following of man's habitual practices that come not from Holy Inspiration.  There.  Is.  A.  Difference.  One gives life.  The latter kills....just as Jesus said it would.

The religious tradition of man leads to boredom, indifference, animosity, or aggression.  Odd, don't you think that of those four, some are the opposite of the other?  The religious tradition of God is the opposite.  We still stand for something; but our stance shifts from holding up those man-made practices we've always enjoyed to learning yet newer advancements of the greatest cause on earth.

Being a part of church is anything but simple.  It takes faith in God while being ever-aware of the need for personal correction and reproof.  II Timothy 3:16:17 calls believers to make perpetual adjustments of the things which God would see warrant a shift.  We keep the things of His and discard the matters of us.  Such is a holy tradition of consistently pruning our self-created traditions.

This takes thought, action, which usually begins with repentance.  Because I am a learner, at this late stage of my ministry, I consistently find myself in Kindergarten.  This would be simply because, the longer I live, God keeps getting bigger.  And, when God keeps getting bigger, I keep getting smaller.  When we believe God we lose ground, our own ground, that we might move into His more life-affording territory.


Thursday, April 06, 2017

A GREAT INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS CARPENTER

https://youtu.be/WaW7q4sBVs8

Be encouraged, any viewer who is in that mode of wondering if God would be a fit for you.  And...if there's anything that I can do to cheer you on, email me at trush@memorialdrive.org.  Eventually, everyone wants to know about God.  I am one who is in your corner.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

WE LIVE IN A WORLD BIGGER THAN US

Being human is such a strange concept.  We walk about so many matters feeling so ultra-small.  Yet, we tend to function as if we are the star of every show.  Least or most?  Smallest and biggest?  No wonder life is perplexing.

So here's what I see going on with me (with us).  In order for us to be in charge of our day, we likely find it necessary to restrict others.  We do so by making those around us march to our narrow drumbeat.  The result is that we call the shots while others are not allowed to express their insights and talents.  We want them to do life the way "I" think we should do it.

To further complicate it, we balk at the new ideas or the strange ways of others.  Yet, this is precisely what creativity is all about.  Not all flowers are Tulips.  Not all trees are Elm.  Roses would be quite frustrated if required to live by Tulipology when this isn't in their DNA.  

I encourage us to live from His Imagination rather than our own shy, timid, and restricted one.  Think about it.  Consider His artistic flow where He created the Rocky Mountains, the Amazon River, the Sahara Desert, and then there's Jupiter.  God is this Creative mogul who has out-done, out-figured, out-imagined all of the most curious scientists combined.  The most they can do is to try to specialize in one remote area of where God's hand deals in uncapturable wonder.  

We live in a world bigger than us.  Fight it if you must.  But beware that if we do, we lose.  Or, a better way might be to dare lean into it and enjoy it.  Thomas Edison, Louis Pasteur, and Walt Disney each hit upon a mere sneeze compared to the massive awe of our Creator.  

Live like you know the One who is always revealing His latest gadget called new life!


Tuesday, April 04, 2017

EXCUSE ME...BUT IS THAT A GAS CHAMBER AROUND YOUR NECK?

Can you imagine a necklace with a form of a gold gas chamber dangling?  How about a gold hangman's noose lapel pin?  Or...how about a gold cross?  You know...jewelry?

These questions are intended to draw into perspective the loss we have suffered as the perspective of the Cross has shifted dramatically from a death to decoration...even in the church.  Christianity has long been about many things except for dying for others including our enemies.  Basically, we refuse the assignment.

Decor; how we look, how we appear, how others are treating us has become costume jewelry coupled with definite intention of going through church without stress.  We believe that we don't need it.  More dramatically, we don't believe we deserve it.  Yet, even enemies can't get well if someone doesn't die for them.  That's precisely what Jesus did for us...while we were enemies...Romans 5:1-11.

I don't like upset.  You don't like upset.  Jesus calls us to pick up our cell phones and follow him.  That isn't exactly our interpretation; but it may be closer to our practice.

Yet, Christianity is a cell group of people called to not get our way.  This is why we can't run, can't quit just because there develops a strong heat in the kitchen.  Carrying our crosses is majorly significant for it is who we are to be.  Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong (II Cor. 12:10).  

Are you serious?  We are a people who abide in contentment when insults are hurled our way?  Distress?  Even the slightest thing called difficulty?  We are content with these?  Um...I think we are basically anything but content.  I see us become agitated, irritated, and fumigated (that last one will take some thought).

Don't get me wrong.  I am the sort that really likes happy.  I like others happy and I'm especially fond of me being happy.  Yet, this isn't reality and smiley faces are not the emblem of the church.  It is the Cross.  We are to take it up and follow.  This is different than whether we like the programs offered or the worship style preferred.  This is about me not getting my way and praising God for it...over...and then over some more.

Deathstyle is our lifestyle.

So I raise my voice again to plead with any who want to quit because of being mistreated.  For any who wish to bail on a relationship because you are being disrespected, I would encourage you to not  wear a cross but to let your cross wear you.  We have become so very selfishly touchy that church has to be our way or the highway.

I'm saying the road to heart satisfaction and spirit joy is found only on the uphill trek while we have a cross strapped to our backs.  We must believe that gnarly and hateful individuals will surrender to Jesus if they can find a Jesus-like follower who will die for them.

We are called to difficulty and stress.  That is the nature of the church.  We live in resurrection power.  And resurrection power is always the need when one has been slain and can not make comeback on his own.  That.  Be.  Who.  We.  Are.  Supposed.  To.  Be.



Friday, March 31, 2017

YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU EAT....BUT WHAT EATS YOU.

No one is exempt from distress; big, large, huge, towering monstrosities of annoyances that bug the proverbial tar right out of us!  This isn't occasional.  Rather, it is lifestyle.  Therefore, we will want to give attention to what eats us.

If vision and hope and pursuit and Holy Spirit fruit eat away at your thinking curve, how awesome!  On the other hand, if worry and irritation and being in control is what you have for breakfast, you can very well anticipate indigestion of the spirit is soon to arrive.  What eats us determines who we are.

God ushers the hope for us in full power.  It isn't hard to find.  Philippians 4:4-8 clears the way for what He wants for us; the good and the honorable and the right and the praiseworthy are to eat at our hearts.  Too, Father wants focus upon the true to eat at us.

Shall you allow trouble to eat up your day?  Or, would you rather attention toward everything going right to eat up your time?  If it's the latter, it will only be because you hold the remote.  Let the good stuff eat at your heart.  You'll be happier and more blessed for it.

What eats at you is your decision and your decision only.  Good luck with what eats you!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

ALWAYS IN KINDERGARTEN

I will never make it to First Grade.  Don't be offended; but, wonderfully so, never will you.  The reason is that God's system is light-years more intense in True Knowledge than our best of the best brains can figure.

Think not?  Have you noticed that Research Labs are going out of style because there is nothing new to be found?  I don't think so!!!  And what shall we anticipate as to the future of this multi-thousand year orb called earth?  More info to come?  Or, info basically has been exhausted?

You know the answer.  So why do we press hard to live so stuck?  Why is it that we age with a rigidity, even in the church, when the very Bible we tout insists that we are to be new day by day?

Why?  Well, it's like so much of everything else in our lives.  We take control.  And when we take control, limits are imposed and imagination restricted only for the purpose that we can remain in control.

Of all of the many things we suffer, due to the afore-mentioned, we suffer loss!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

THE AMAZING WORK OF BELIEVING

The art of believing has often been moved to the back of the bus.  When belief is mentioned there seems to be am immediate response of, And?  And, what else?  And, isn't there more?  And, what would one do to really talk muscle in the spirituals?  In some tribes belief has been trampled as the herd moved along more quickly to the important subject of baptism.

To believe was only a step in such a case; a very quick step onto to something that seemed to matter more.  The church suffers today because of the many who were baptized with only vague intent to grow in belief in the Resurrection Power that the very act promotes.  To be born again is to take on an entirely new mindset where faith is, and always will be, the trail blazer.

The work of God handed to us is to believe in Jesus as John 6:29 assures.  We, on the other hand, find that to be a rather shallow comment.  What about Local Missions?  Baptism?  Foreign Outreach?  The result is that we find abundant discussion and activity to be linked to a very weak faith system.  We tend to walk by what we can see; not by what we can't which is the reverse of God's call in II Corinthians 5:7.

I encourage you to take your hardest issues, your greatest challenges, and your most unimaginable possibilities and soak them in a new-found faith which believes that what isn't yet can become.  May we fight the spiritual war with spiritual tools.  We are able to overcome deficiency and disappointment because of a firm faith that Jesus beat the system.  He set it on its ear!

Yay Him!  And, Yay for us!

Monday, March 27, 2017

WHAT WOULD REBUILD CHURCH INFLUENCE?

What I'm about to write may have been overstated while being underbelieved.  I dearly love getting to be a part of the church.  I know of no person less qualified or more incapable to do effective ministry than me.  Good.  We got that out of the way.

The American church is losing its grip due to one major error.  We refuse to suffer.  Our communities are full of X-ers (former members) and more are poised to soon join their ranks.  I speak not from criticism of any who might fit such a league for it was the church's malteaching which may have led to so much of this exiting.

Our major error is that we have a most subtle way of trying to call our members into service; but only from a self-preferable self-convenience mode.  There is a continual barrage of works out there of which it is asked of our members to hit like.  The problem is that the urgent call to take up our crosses and follow him is anything but like.

If one is to engage in ministry, there is an insistent ingredient; you will be hurt.  Suffering is the trademark of the Christian thread.  The Cross is reality for any of us who say that we will follow Him.  There are no options.  Yet, we behave as if we never deserve the stresses which come our way.  We walk and talk as if we don't have to take such ill treatment.

It is this truth--knowing that we are called to be abused--that keeps me in ministry.  I have been offended, injured, and hurt deeply.  Too, I have offended, injured, and hurt others deeply.  Struggle is the nature of the True Church.  Not attendance.  Not piano-lessness.  And, certainly not walking the handy, the convenient, nor the joy-only smooth pavement.  Upset will necessarily happen because this is Who we are about.

When we are in this for others, attacks happen; and they happen strenuously because others includes our most vile enemies.  When we ignore the strain of serving others, we train our people (especially our children) to be quitters because the day will come when the pressure will become unbearable.  But, our job is to learn to take it.  This is our calling.

From the cross one dies that others might live.  That's what Jesus did...and then he asked us to pick up our own and follow in like manner...with like purpose.  The only reason that we are right with God is because Jesus became wrong with God.  We are to follow this equation.  Others can't get right with God if we don't clear the path for them by dying for them because of them.  Believe me, our feelings will get hurt.  Our names will be slammed.  Our causes will become targets of opposition.

And what are we to do?  We are to believe that upset is the very stage from which God works most effectively.  We are called not only to serve, but to die.  If we lose our lives, God says we find them.  Could we stop the sick, pansy-like, insipid church behavior of pouting because someone sinned against us?  That sinner's hope is found in our refusal to come down from the cross to duke it out.

We each carry our cross to die from it...day by day.  Hang from it.  So for others' sake, stay put!  This will reframe and rebuild church influence of the likes that America may not have experienced in quite some time.  Thank you God for staying put on the Cross.  We needed it and now we fully intend to carry on the divine plan.

Friday, March 24, 2017

THE NEED FOR BOTH POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE INPUT

Life is abundant if we will allow all of its unfolding circumstances and events to affect our walk.  A key word is all.  The tendency (or preference) clearly leans toward only the positive.  We tend to shun the negative as an interfering element that has no place in our day.  But something significant happens when abiding by only one or the other.

If one selects, even insists, upon the Positive only, a bratty attitude will permeate our daily experience.  Why?  Because not everything in any given day will go positively.  On the other hand, if we should function only from negativity, defensive selfishness continues; even escalates.  This is certainly no fun....for any of those trying to live around us!

So here's what I want you to gain.  Positive by itself sets us up for eventual struggle because life doesn't operate on Positive-only.  Negative alone grooms us for self-absorption.  The two together--I said, THE TWO TOGETHER--give us an amazing element.  That element is called Energy!

Lift the hood of your car.  Disconnect one of the battery (on the farm we referenced it as battry) cables.  Take your pick.  Disconnect the Positive or the Negative.  The result?  No power.  To get moving forward, both posts must be in harmony.  To eliminate one or the other says, You ain't goin' nowhere!

So keep in mind that for you to have a powerful day there must be the presence of both Positive and Negative.  Otherwise, we are mere battries but have no function, meaning or even calling.  Each of us deeply desires, I believe, to be productive.  Connect your Positives and your Negatives AND THEN YOU'VE GOT POWER!

You...are welcome!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A CALL OF JESUS THAT NEVER LOSES ITS POWER

When I was a little kid attending VBS at a very quaint little Presbyterian church in Granger, Missouri, our class learned to recite a simple slogan of sorts.  With our two hands interlocked with fingers inward, the recitation went something like, Here's the church.  Here's the steeple.  Open the doors and see all the people.  When the thumbs (doors) opened wide, six people (fingers--all from Granger) had packed the place!

While I'm driven with delight to connect with any who are not yet a part of a church, I wish today to draw your attention to the simplistic concept above; see all the people.

Would you be one of those church sticklers over matters of preaching style, music preference, clock boundaries when you are gathered as a church; but you don't see the need to interact with the people?  Why can it be heard from visitors that the church wasn't very friendly when the church feels just the opposite?  One, the visitor could be a critical sourpuss or, optionally, have been neglected.  Two, the members could be infatuated with greeting only those they know and have deep fear of greeting a stranger.  Both go on...in the very same assembly.

A call of Jesus that never loses its power is for us to have eyes to see any person we don't know and possibly say profound doctrinal things like, Hello.  How are you doing today?  The bigger the congregation the easier it is to hide from interaction with others.  We seem to believe that we are justified in ignoring those we don't know for surely somebody else knows them.

A call of Jesus that never loses its power is that every person matters.  If there is a glut of misunderstanding in society it is that too many believe that they are not important.  Bible stories consistently inform us that a fundamental need, which is always important, is to see people and then address them.  It builds value into their discouraged and intimidated hearts.

Every person is a big deal to God.  Granted, we can't possibly carry on meaningful conversations with everyone we see.  But we can step up the pace of intentional seeing rather than obvious glancing away in order to avoid meaningful encounter.  We are called to so love the world just as our Example did.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

NO. IT'S NOT OKAY TO HAVE A FAITH JUST BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR GOD

We are perpetually targeted to walk by sight; not by faith.  We count numbers because influence can't be tracked.  Accomplishments are more easily grasped than vision.  Such a stark trend has caused faith to subtly go stale.  Believers in Jesus have been transformed into believers in Christian theory coupled with distracting busyness.  I speak not from hopeless exasperation.  Rather, I voice a proposed reversal of practice which might bring the church a renewed and greater hope.

A culprit behind today's church propaganda is a doctrine most oft repeated, I have a faith that's just between me and my God.  How would I know such is said?  Well, for one, I hear it all of the time.  But, second, I once said it of myself...a lot.

Here's what has been lost.  Christianity is anything but a private matter.  Jesus didn't die in the shadows of a remote dark alley where others wouldn't notice.  Neither was he draped upon his cross decked out in a tuxedo.  No, Jesus was executed upon a high and public hill, naked, for all to see.  Not a top-hat; but a crown of thorns completed his wardrobe.

Jesus was public; not private.  And, we are to follow?

Much of Christianity has gone into hiding in plain sight.  We are here.  We have meeting places.  We have valuable activities and missions.  But the trend of our people in general is that when it comes to their faith; this is between them and their God.  That....isn't faith.  That's a dressy language which hides in fear of both engagement and involvement.

I want to be a part of the progress.  What can we do to reverse this deadening trend?
  1. First, we might consider that to follow Jesus will mean very personal painful moments.  To advance the Kingdom of God, there must be soldiers of the Cross rather than just participants of the ritual.
  2. To think about extending to others, rather than the preserving of self, would surely be both a scriptural theme as well as a meaningful reach toward our community.
  3. The back of self-serving, self-preserving legalism must be broken.  I live in a church world where squint-eyed judgment runs rampant while sensitive reach toward a world lost in darkness is completely dismissed by the former.  Oh, it's surely talked.  But, it isn't walked.
  4. There might be benefit to discarding the infatuation we churchers have regarding our specific religious name-brands.  Much is lost due to our incessant belief systems which always include that our group is the most correct while all others are silly for their doctrinal conclusions.  We are all silly.  We are all suspect.  We are all more weak than we are strong.  It is Jesus who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  As we grow in Him, we will move more efficiently toward important and accurate doctrine.
To have a faith that is just between us and our God is to have gone deaf to His plea that we take the Good News to every corner of the globe.  Thank you, those who live to do such.  You inspire us.  And, thank you, those who haven't maybe been the best at pulling this off; but your intent is to mature toward the goal of His higher calling.  I join you.  I want to improve.

May we reach the entire world with an eternity-shaking message that was certainly that of Jesus; EVERYONE IS IMPORTANT....BUT NOT EVERYONE, YET, HAS GOTTEN THE MESSAGE!



Tuesday, March 21, 2017

WHEN LIFE SEEMS TO BE SO UPSIDE DOWN

I urge you to notice abundant life...right now.  Living isn't just for later.  If you think you will turn some magic corner and the temptations of worry and fret will evaporate, think again.  Therefore, I cheer you on to notice the wonder of now simply because there is incredible wonder to behold.

Some are never happy, never pleased, because they intend to get happy someday.  But, the day seems to be illusive because every day has enough trouble of its own.  What we want to do--must do--is to take perpetual inventory of the things going right.  And, everyone has many of those things.

Don't wait until your eyes grow dim before you begin to be thankful for sight.  Don't hold off on the tremendous privilege of hearing music or listening to your children talk until you experience hearing loss.  Too much gratitude is wasted on hind-sight.

If you were blind and could be made to see, would you spend your life griping about the potholes on your street?  If you were born deaf, and a magical procedure brought into reality a new sense called hearing, would you waste such a new beauty by bemoaning all of the negative news sources?  Or, would you find deep delight in the spectacularistic acoustics of tone levels and volumistic resonance?

See, anyone can find the what won't work and the what isn't going well.  Yet, when we enter the Kingdom of God, we gain a new perspective (Eph. 1:18) which alters everything in view.  It isn't that we no longer note the negative, the dark, or the downward spiral.  It is, though, that we see through its facade.  We see that hope is embedded; even in every cemetery.  What is isn't necessarily what's going to stay because the God-factor of faith sees glory is on its way.

When life seems to be upside down, such is the very moment to exert a counter-upside-down faith.  Otherwise, we are mere living pawns pushed and shoved by another's strongest mood.  Not us.  Faith reverses darkness.  Light comes into being.  We find that our reason to hope was legit after all!!

Monday, March 20, 2017

SET YOUR WINGS; NOT JUST YOUR CLOCK

Set your wings for your day ahead.  If you will do this, your day will find a lift that God creates; not you.  What's fascinating about this is that God is the One who figured this out.

Too often, we allow discouragement, even opposition, to take us down.  That's doing life according to the flesh-sensical approach.  However, the Spirit redirects.  Not only are we to refrain from running from difficulty, we are to use its very threat as a launching pad into higher effectivity and efficiency.

Don't let a bad day ruin your walk.  Rather, turn it on its head.  Make the bad moments serve you by lifting you higher than you would have gone without it.

Because of the very wise nature of God....we win!

Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:31

Sunday, March 19, 2017

IT'S ALL ABOUT SIZING THINGS UP

God is so big.

We are so small.

Let there be no debate as to who is to be in control.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

DEAR LEADER....

...I have you on my heart this morning.

Some of you wear the challenges of church leadership while others wear the garb of being a responsible neighbor.  Others maybe don the badge of a gentle momma or the importance of a corporate secretary.  Regardless, know that as you set out for your day two things are in your immediate future.

You are destined for His glory to fall upon you and you will most certainly encounter frustrating disturbance.  Both matters will likely fly toward the one heart on the very same day.

This is called living on earth.

Accept His glory.  And, run right at the turmoil.  In realizing both, you will become a Distraction Buster!  You will arise to become a Storm Stopper as your faith in God's inner activity will lead you to walk on top of the very things that try to sink you; drown you for lack of air to breathe.

Walk like a winner for, due to Him, we already are.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

ENCOURAGING THE ENTIRE WORLD

Take note of what seems to be a consistent and steadfast truth.  Those who live to encourage others seem to resonate with full life themselves.  That would be because what one sows, one reaps.

The opposite is true.  Those who strive to be encouraged--who are watching for cheering from others--seem to dampen the lives of those nearby.  In this process the very ones seeking the being built up seldom are.  Again, what one sows, one reaps.

Life isn't Rocket Science.  To live means to die to self by attending to others.  To die means to live for self while yearning for others to notice us.

The way to encourage the world around us is to speak words of life, and hope, and love regardless of what we believe we are not receiving from others.  If abundant life is to ever hit our personal stage, it will only be because we give ours away to others.  In turn, God hands more back to us than we had before we gave it away.  This....is His habitual nature.

Live by dying to self.  The challenge...for certain...for each of us...every day.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

FAITH ISN'T CHURCH RULE. IT'S A BELIEVER'S SIGHT.

Seeing can be believing.  To the contrary, seeing can persuade disbelieving.  The difference between the two is whether we depend upon what the eyes of our head view or what the eyes of our hearts perceive.  Think about it.  We are to walk by faith...and...not by sight.  Something's up with this, wouldn't you think?

God is serious when He calls us to walk from a new perspective.  Even in days of old where God's children could see the swollen banks of the Jordan, they moved with eyes of faith believing that God would do something fantastic to clear the way.  He could have built a bridge in sixty seconds.  Maybe He could have brought in a strange thing called human slingshots which would thrust the people flying across the raging river.  Or, maybe God could just temporarily part the waters?  Go figure.

I tell you a strange thing.  Sight has a way of blurring reality.  God said such; not me.  Eyes from sockets tend to read fear during moments of conflict.  When this happens, hesitation follows and, then, execution is aborted.  The eyes of the heart, instead, are major factors for every individual for it is from this faith/seeing viewpoint that one gains confident momentum.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing  greatness of power toward us who believe (Ephesians. 1:18-20).  The eyes of the heart are to see a new light in order for three blessings to occur.  Life doesn't go awry because of bad breaks.  Rather, it moves off-center if and when we use the wrong set of eyes in moments of disruption.

Surely so many matters in our walk need improvement.  The place to start is not by first tracking down a solution.  Rather, the first move would be to put in our spiritual contacts that we might see reality from the perspective of God's of hope, riches, and power.  These three...change our entire day!


Monday, March 13, 2017

IS THE CHURCH SUFFOCATING BY ITS OWN PROGRESS?

I'm old enough now to have experienced multiple generational stages.  I know what it was like to yearn to be a teen, and then a young adult, and then an old adult.  At the moment I am experiencing senior citizenry.  Therefore, I wish to point to something going on--or maybe not going on--among churches.

Each new generation tends to live with measured criticism of a past one (that's the-going-on).  Simultaneously, each new generation repeats the very same stifling tendencies as a past one so that we merely maintain the status quo of the past (that's the-not-going-on portion).  Each upcoming generation sees the failures of the past one which could and should be a healthy take by the new.  But, such a group consistently falls into the very same trap as the one they find as a turn-off.  The latter eventually becomes just as stuck as the former.

Hmmm...so the Apostle was correct when he said that whatever we are critical of, we are guilty of...Romans 2:1-5.  Yes.  A thousand times yes.

So what shall we do?  Are we to never see the need for improvement?  Should we avoid conflict?  Forever turn a blind eye to the need for change?  No, this shall never be.

What we shall do--and every generation will always need this--is to remember with assurance that while we see how things could be improved, we are always in the mix of the problem as well as the solution.  When a generation lives in full-powered criticism of a past one without the slightest awareness that we, too, are guilty of such, we are a perpetually blind civilization destined for religious mopery.

The solution to and for all generations is singular.  There needs to be an obsession with Jesus; not patterns of past nor preferences of future.  Every age range remains in constant need to know the One who lives within each of us in Spirit form.  Of this, we all have much to learn; very much to learn.

We must awaken to the truth that we are suffocating ourselves by carrying on the very identical approach as all other generations; being critical of one another.  As we become more open to our own personal and detrimental flaws an unusual--even holy--form of unity will be set in motion.  Yes, unity by way of humility.

If you are driven to stand for something, try standing for confession of your own sins because when we do this, we tend to notice that the sins of others weren't as big as we had previously believed.  Oh, take the log out of our own eyes?  Jesus did bring that up once, didn't he?


Sunday, March 12, 2017

HOW TO HAVE AN IMMEDIATELY MUCH BETTER DAY

The way to the top is to move to the bottom.  Jesus taught it.  He lived it.  He is THE success story of all stories because he lived with purpose as as well as personal fulfillment.....and he defied the grave.

This.  We.  Want.

If we believe that we are going to find joy in attaining and accumulating, the vast populace of the entire world has tried this route...and failed.  The Jesus-route is the only one that really lives.  Odd, even we followers continue to hope for some sort of an escape clause where we could bypass self-sacrifice in order to experience joy.  And on occasion we feel we've hit it only to run head-on into more frustration and let-down.

To have an immediately much better day is to lose our lives that others may be blessed.  And, practically speaking, how would one go about this?  Sow seeds of delight and joy and positivity and happiness and endurance and forgiveness and gratitude.  If you want to see a difference made in your life, make a difference for others.

NOTE THESE FOUR: Be attentive.  Be attentive.  Notice others.  Be attentive.

There!  These are four things that will afford you an immediately better day because you just made someone else's!

AWE!  SOME!

Thursday, March 09, 2017

WHY IS IT THAT FAITH SEEMS TO BE SUCH A BEAR?

Faith is surely a profound challenge of the human mind and heart.  If the platform (philosophy) of it isn't challenging enough, the practice of it is a matter of opposition to the natural mind.  Faith challenges the very core of being a thinking, managing, controlling person.

Why is it such a bear for so many of us?  One reason is because it refuses to march to our what our eyes can see cadence.  The drumbeat of so much of our walk is framed within the boundaries of visibility.  That we are called to walk by faith AND NOT to walk by sight surely gives us a clue as to the extreme task before us.

Man is comprised of two sets of eyes; that of the head and that of the heart.  Paul prayed in Ephesians that the eyes of our hearts might be enlightened so that we could know the will of God.  Faith is not a Sunday School hand-out to be long forgotten by Sunday afternoon at 2:00.  It is the daring move of the heart to believe that what isn't, yet, can become.

We walk by faith and not by sight.  Why?  Because sight will freak us out; at least fear us out.  Paranoia is rampant when we function by what we can visibly calculate.  The reports may appear weak.  The results might seem negative.  But faith...but faith sees...faith SEES what the flesh cannot perceive; hope, potential, and possibility.

I encourage you to see beyond the chatter of doubters, deniers, and whiners.  Anybody can ride the bandwagon of negative blindness and feel quite appropriate due to the amount of company unbelieving can keep.  But forge ahead, even if alone, listen to the Spirit of God.  Practice seeing what can't be seen by the flesh-eyes.  God did what couldn't be done...and still does so...with and through plain people like Moses, Esther....and us.

Faith isn't a bear.  It just refuses to be a coward.

Yay us!!


Wednesday, March 08, 2017

ARE WE AFRAID TO LIVE?

Each person is blatantly and unconsciously trained to operate from the ugly terms of fear.  For it to be said that some are afraid of their own shadows is merely a tip of the iceberg.  We will make progress when we can keep in mind that much of today's stirring about in the most routine of efforts has a silent boss in place; mean, bullying, and intimidating fear.

Fear causes us to hide rather than to explore.  It insists that we defend rather than imagine.  Strong leaders only grow to a certain level if limitations have been defined; mistakenly declared.  These can look back (and maybe down at others) in comparison in order to grasp some semblance of security that we are doing okay.  Yet, fear will keep us from engaging in the perpetual progress He intends for us.  Because God is God and we are not, we are ever on the treadmill of learning, developing, and maturing.  This is the nature of a true disciple.

One must be on guard.  Otherwise, decisions will be presented under the guise of wisdom when, in reality, the decidee was afraid to try, explore, even hear, an alternative.  Ruling and deciding can have the fragrance of true leadership; when in reality it is more aligned with cowardship.

Why is this theme important?  It is so because Jesus is the ultimate train wreck of man's accountable intelligence.  To gain we are to release.  To live we are to die.  To win we are to lose.  The business mind, under the heading of spiritual leadership, is catastrophic.  It won't dare let go of the controls.  It is afraid to leap by faith; so it would rather limp by sight evaluation processes.

It is said of Walt Disney that anytime his advisory board was unanimously against a project, he would start on it immediately.  That sounds like Jesus.  Jesus did what couldn't be done, went where one shouldn't go, and loved when others had thrown up their hands in disgust.  Jesus' way is the way that an unbelieving world wants....but can't seem to find.  I'm convinced that unbelievers are not looking for the brightest and the rightest of church organizations.  They are on the hunt for a people who are nuts about their God and their indescribable experiences with Him.

We are to be that message of the impossible becoming possible.  We are to be the hope of what can't possibly be has already become.  So be on guard dear one who lives beneath the banner of being responsible.  Try to break the bonds of thinking without thinking; the trait of making decisions without questioning just where God has you and that particular circumstance at the moment.

Mankind is in desperate need of outrageous hope!  It will not be found in the churches that operate from the business-as-usual mind.  God is the God of what can't possibly happen does.  We are to be that sort of new creation.  He defies logic; that very thing that man's pride reveres most.

The questions, therefore are two: will we believe the outrageous of Him...and will we dare let Him offer us His immeasurable supply?

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

BE CONFIDENT THAT YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH

Striving.  We are always striving.  Obsessed with more of whatever, we so often find our lives burdened by the clutter that tends to weight us down.  Are we expected to always be on mission to prove ourselves, defend ourselves, recognize ourselves?

What if we could grow in the dimension and direction of God's script for us?  What if we would develop a pattern of dying to ourselves?  This would surely take on a new dynamic that just might lead us into His promise of gaining new life.

I seem to be my most miserable when I am most critical of how I'm being neglected. Or, forgotten.  Or, misrepresented.  But, what if I were to increase in attentiveness toward others rather than measuring just how much cheering I receive?  What if my outflow were to dominate; not my inflow which causes belly-button gazing?

Mark it down.  You are not enough.  None of us are.  Therefore, maybe we could abstain from trying to prove that we are something which we will never be.  Maybe we could join the choruses of bragging on and complimenting others.  This might change two worlds, simultaneously; theirs...and the ours.

Be confident that you are not enough.  Be confident that Jesus is enough....in you.

Friday, March 03, 2017

BEING GIFTED BY GOD DOESN'T MEAN THE TASK IS EASY

I raise a question as to just how we are to perceive giftedness; others and our own.  The reason is that it seems to me that the overall church membership has slipped into a dismissal of challenges/tasks before us when we don't know how to approach such.  We say things like, Well, I'm just not gifted in that area.  At that comment, it seems that personal responsibility to participate is mistakenly dismissed; but with clear conscience.

First, allow me to acknowledge that one more time I don't have a complete grasp of the truth of this subject.  Know that I know that.  Yet, I do want to question our practice of convenient dismissal if we should be doing otherwise; as in growing and maturing.

I find in my work various areas that seem most natural to me today; almost as if God has handed such to me.  But, in the earlier days of my ministry, I couldn't do them at all.  At first I fumbled greatly in delivering sermons, teaching classes, studying with seekers; on the list goes.  Today, it is reversed for me at times in some areas...on some occasions.

What would have happened and where would I be in a serving role today if I had dismissed such opportunities because I clearly believed that I was not gifted?  To learn these and other dimensions of ministry took disciplined training which included the awful dreaded reality of repeated failure.  So, while I may not be gifted, I surely am able to carry on in some of these zones.

Being gifted by God doesn't mean that we only move about on earth where the subject and the task is a no-stress matter.  Carrying a cross is stressful.  We will ever be called into challenging zones which will mature us.  Truthfully, I agree with you that such awareness does take discernment for each of us would be capable in only a few areas; while possibly being in the way in others.  My challenge, though, is to refrain from dismissing tasks before us because we either don't like or don't want to learn how to make the approach.

All of us are called to go into all of the world....in some form.  All of us are called to learn to be compassionate people-persons.  All of us are called to reach, to serve, to pray, to study.  For some this will be most natural.  For others, not so much.

Either way, we are to accept the task before us rather than sitting on our excuses simply because we won't try to learn.  Being gifted by God doesn't necessarily mean that the task before us is easy.  The practice of sacrifice and suffering may be involved as well.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

DO WE STAND AGAINST SIN ANY LONGER?

Even from years gone by, there has been a firm and constant charge that we don't stand against sin any longer.  This discussion was usually termed in frustration, even anger; the purest against the sinner.  The sinner was always someone else; never the inclusive of the expresser.  Judgment rang clear.  The stand against sin was slipping away within the church.  The wringing of aggravated hands proceeded.

Often encapsulated within such an adamant charge was to be found selective sinnery.  Exactly which sins were being discussed?  It was never any that might have accumulated at the table of the discussees.  No, the theme was always about a sin of others in a sin-zone that the discussees really never committed.

Sin is still sin.  Jesus did something about it.  He, also, handed over his righteousness to each of us for we could never attain such on our own.  And then he handed out individual crosses with the words, Go get 'em!

Therefore, might I toss a slight adjustment your way for consideration?  Could it be that we were not called to stand against sin; but we are called to hang against sin?  It's one thing to point out another's violation to God's will.  It is an entirely new world to hang upon our personal crosses so that blatant sinners can be saved.  This is the very basic thread of God's salvation; paying for the sin and rescuing the sinner.  What an equation for we rescued ones to perpetuate.

That's not only what Jesus did; it's what he demands of us...and nothing less.  Certainly, sin is an infectious culprit of darkness.  It's a wild and contagious prowler of which we make not one excuse for any part of it.  Too, we are all guilty to the extent that Jesus' blood cleanses us day by day.  We must--really must--shed our self-excusery by joining the ranks of all others whom we might deem as those sinners.

Jesus was hung out to dry.  We, in turn, are to be hung out for the next generation of sinners for our walk is to duplicate his all the way to the Cross.  Stand against sin?  Oh, we do so hanging upon our crosses and dying for one another in the name of Jesus.  This...is how one stands against sin the way Jesus did.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

ARE WE CHURCHES OUR OWN WORST ENEMY?

We must ever be the students who seek the will of God.  If He is who we claim that He is, it should be admitted that He will not fit into our convenient cubicles of limited exercises and understanding. God is God.  He carries us; not us Him.

I remain convinced that a large populace of society wants to know God.  They are not interested in our pet peeves; one religious group debating another.  It would seem that we simply must address this matter in a humble way which would consider, in the best honesty that we can muster, what we may be doing that blocks good people from knowing God.

I noted something pertinent in last night's scene of the President addressing congress.  Half supported the President and half don't.  It was a reversed claim under a different President just a few months earlier.  The visible divide is disheartening.  Why?  It would seem that party lines have become the dominant issue; not the give-and-take from both sides of the aisle that just might bring a new offering of hope to our nation.

This visual of blatant public division made me take a look at myself.  Do I represent the same spirit of division; yet, under the name of Truth for God?  Have I taken on Church of Christ to out-believe the Baptists or the Presbyterians?  And have some in those two camps done the very same thing?

It would seem that in recent years we may have all made strides of improvement toward respectful harmony.  I attended a Baptist prayer gathering once a week at noon for several years.  All faiths were invited.  I was the only non-Baptist to attend.  I did not die.

Yet, I think we (including myself) have much work to do to move forward into the expansive walk of God.  Our biasistic tendencies according to our particular denomination must fade.  In no way do I believe that we should shed our convictions on many specific doctrinal matters.  But what must be included is our equal conviction that when God called for unity of the Spirit, He meant it.

Conservative versus Liberal is not restricted to politics only.  It is rampant in the most cherished theme; the basics of Christianity.  We are not right.  He gives us His righteousness because none of us can accomplish such on our own.  None.  Of.  Us.  While each group of us may have mastered a few of God's concepts and details, each division is surely to be found lacking in abundant matters of which we still need to mature.

We are not the enemy of one another.  The resurrected Jesus brings us to a humble stand-still because it is clear we could not save ourselves....then....or now.  He had to cover for us because we could not pull off our own rescue....then....or now.

I am still in Kindergarten in learning and I very much love the thought.  I still hunger to know what God wishes somebody would learn that has yet to be considered.  My heart wishes to speak at the moment of the hope which lies in front of us; not in despair of our past failures.  We've all been engaged in the latter.  Yet, it is the former that inspires each of us to grow in Spirit that God might be both worshiped and honored.

Friday, February 24, 2017

SCARRED FOR LIFE

What I'm about to tell you could just be your passageway into a new approach to life.  Jesus is the Master teacher about authentic and productive living.  However, sometimes we are found to be merely getting through our days best we can.  

What if I told you that the secret to your success is not just the things in your life that have gone right; like winning a contest or getting a much needed raise, or a new set of golf clubs?  What if we could tap a region of spiritual ore which would lift you to even higher ground?  Well, take a gander the following concept.

Jesus died that we might have life; life abundantly.  This is his goal and the route to be taken for such included his personally backpacking a cross.  What happened on his cross?  He was scarred in order to give life to us!  We are to take up our crosses with the expectation that there will be scarring.

We.  Will.  Be.  Scarred.  As a result, we yield and endure the pain and struggle so that others may find new LIFE in God!

Have we talked/sung about the Cross with little awareness as to the call of really carrying such?  This, my friend, is the central doctrine of the church.  Each of us has had negative things happen in which we have been scarred for life.  You may not have heard me.  I said that negative things happen in which we have been scarred for LIFE!  Just as did Jesus, we can present our scars as proof of being resurrected into a new positive daily walk....which will truly bless others.

We are scarred for their life; a most exciting concept for it gives meaning to our bad days.  We experience them with grace and love that those among us who are dead (in attitude and emotion and spirit) might live again!

I, therefore, encourage you to enter an incredible, believable, hopeful zone that transforms us and then transforms others as a result.  If you are going to be hurt by others (and you are), let the scars give LIFE and hope to others.  They need it.  They want it.  They will be blessed by your scarring.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

BE SURE TO CHANGE YOUR MIND EVERY 10,000 MILES

The mind  plays a major, major role in the Kingdom system of God.  His very reach toward us comes with a package.  Within it we find helps and directives designed for us to enter an entirely new world.  Look at II Corinthians 5:16-17.  Old things pass away.  New things have come.  It's a new world.

Here's where Christianity becomes sluggish.  Rather than changing our minds, we simply top them off by adding a quart of new information.  This will help us keep running fairly good....for while.  But somewhere along the way, we are going to be required to switch minds (change our mind) ridding the old and receiving the new.  Some things in our minds are to be discarded.

I reached a point long ago where I needed to rid myself of believing that God worked only through the Bible.  I had to abandon such training in order to receive an entirely new thread of the information.  I had to empty out my mind of old thinking and refill it with the truth of the Holy Spirit working directly in our lives.

I had to empty my mind that I can't be effective because I am not worthy.  My confidence is in the Spirit of God due to changing out my mind.  I learned to empty my mind of believing that I didn't deserve to be mistreated for serving God.  I needed to replace the old thinking of my mind and refill with the new understanding that I am to take up my cross daily.

Okay, the changing of our mind won't actually be every 10,000 miles.  Rather, it will be daily.  We can anticipate learning from God very new things; several of which will require more than accumulation of information.  Rather, it will mean we pull in to God's service station for a mind-change.

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

WHY IS JESUS SO CENTRAL TO YOUR LIFE?

There seems to be a pattern for humans.  Birth.  Living.  Die.

Born.  Engage.  Done.

The reason Jesus should be so central to your life is that he is the only religious leader in history that was beaten to a pulp while paying for our sins, endured the death that we deserved, and then arose on the third day.  The Life-after-Death matter should stop us from neglecting him.  We are certainly sunk without him.

For those of you who aren't really into church stuff, I would ask you to begin to imagine yourself learning, just as I had to learn, about potential living beyond the grave.  It isn't an imaginary fabrication of people who don't like to sleep in on Sundays.  It is the hope...one huge gigantic conviction...that the cemetery isn't the end.

What I didn't see coming is the fact that when baptized (being born again) we arise from the grave of water to a new kind of life now; not just after the cemetery.  God changes things because His specialty is changing people.  Transformation is real.  It is authentic.  It is experiential.

Don't hesitate.  Don't offer excuse if you can help it.  Rather, ask around as to a church where you would understand new beginnings.  For so many, it isn't that you need to reform your life.  No, you need to start over by transforming your life!  Jesus went to the grave....and three days later started over!

May we continue to marvel at what he does for us day by day as we make concerted effort to learn of him smidge by smidge.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A FALSE DOCTRINE THAT PLAGUES

God is up there.  We are down here.  When it's our turn for the grave, let's hope there's something to what has been rumored about a bit later coming out of it alive.  Yet, mankind remains shut down in many areas because of that false doctrine to the point that sometimes we don't even live while we are living.

Father sent Jesus...to earth in order to break that mistaken perspective of distance between the Creator and the created.  He became one of us.  He walked around on our streets, met our people, ate our food; all of which had not been experienced from Heaven's side.  In the process, Jesus received the Holy Spirit at baptism which was simply a sign that Father had moved into earthen-born Jesus.  Demonstration of this union (unity) impacts all of us...at least it should.

A false doctrine that plagues us is our trying to do life without the Holy Spirit.  But because some don't know anything about Him and others would rather control their own religious life, He is basically ignored or shunned.  The Holy Spirit, though, is given that we might have confidence to get life done abundantly; never on our own scrutiny, but His dynamic infiltration of the human heart.  The Holy Spirit works directly in our lives as the Bible insists.

To believe that God is "out there" while we are rummaging around "down here" without Him is truly a false doctrine that unbelievers inside and outside of the church mistakenly absorb.  However, our God is active.  He displayed His activity in His Son for us to take personal note.  "See how Jesus does it?"  "Well then, go into all of the world and make a Kingdom difference!"  "I'll be the Something!"  "I'll partner with you as you be the nothing..and we will make an enormous difference!", says the Living God!

A terribly strange and costly belief error is strangling the world populace because believers operate in fleshly fear; not in Spirit confidence.  It is the Holy Spirit of God who has the power to override earth's discouraging frustrations of the human heart.  It is the Holy Spirit of God who brought the Son up and out of the grave and wishes to free us from daily matters of stymieing restrictions which we place upon ourselves.

And why do we remain cornered from opportunity and impact?  At times we are afraid; afraid of being noted by those around as "one of them".  So we go ahead, do our religious habitualism, and hide; hide like under a bushel basket. May we break free a day at a time in order to become the one(s) God has called to cheer on our neighbors who are just like us.  We both need to know the new confidence to be found in the Spirit of God.  He....sets us free.