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.