Monday, January 15, 2018

DON'T WASTE YOUR LIFE FRETTING OVER NOTHING

There is a great robbery taking place before our very eyes.  It is so easy, quite common really, to be all bent out of shape because someone took our parking place or didn't return a call or, maybe, forgot to pass along a key message.  Oh, how we tend to live in a touchy world of irritation and upset.

I once lived on those streets.  If I wasn't annoyed, I was angry.  And if I wasn't angry, I was injured.  And if I wasn't injured....well I seemed to walk right into yet another crisisistic disturbance...so I thought.  But a heartbreak here and a death there and I began to refrain from fretting over the tedious and the trivial.  I encourage you to do the same.

Here's my day today.  I will try to speak in vagueness for it's the weight that I wish to convey; not names and details.  A childhood friend of mine was to have been incarcerated today in a Federal Prison.  I'm heartbroken for this one and have counselled for weeks long distance.  This dear one is a treasure to me (and to so many) who made an error in judgment and it has cost this one's freedom for awhile.

And then there's another friend who is devastated over a dear relative who has been arrested and is apparently in deep trouble.  This one's heart is so broken that it leaves one hardly able to get one's bearings.  The pain is devastating.  The agony remains with tight grip.  The worry is real.  And the heartbreak causes even the simplest thing like breathing to be most difficult.  Tears are aflood.

These two would give anything right now if their worst worry was that gasoline prices went up a dime or that the clerk overcharged one of them a dollar.  Much of what one frets over would feel like a reward to either of these two if they could only suffer our very minor infractions. 

Do what you can to not waste your life bemoaning what some would count as a true relief.  We can do this...day by day.  Don't sweat the small stuff.  Rather, pray for those who are in over their hearts with the unbearable stresses that really are heavy.

Count.  Your.  Blessings.  And.  Pray.  For.  Others.  Much.  Worse.  Off.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

I COULDN'T SEE THE FOREST FOR THE LOGS IN MY OWN EYES

We must be ever on guard against the insistent trait of normalcy that we criticize others with little attention to our own falsehood.  This sensitivity warning was declared by Jesus and admitted by Paul.  We are never better than the next person...every...next...person.

That disposition is not what I held in the beginning days of my ministry.  I was deeply trained in how right my religiosity was.  To find elevation was simple.  All I had to do was note the erring ways of others; especially other groups of Christian name who didn't do (I thought) church right.  But then...Jesus entered my terrain and ruined my delight of living by comparison.

As I watched the Son of God move about each day, he encountered two distinguishable sorts; (1) the broken who needed His strengthening words and touch, and (2) devoted religious leaders who couldn't see the needs of the hurting community because being right (the most scripturally right) was their incessant talk.

I was more of the latter.  And, I was wrong.  I couldn't see the forest for the logs in my own eyes.

The only example I am to anyone is that God can extract the trash of man from Hell's incinerator and transform him into a useful messenger.  Never is the tone to be about how much I've gotten figured out; but, rather is to be about how off-base my conclusions are from what God has desired.  Thus, I have a deep ministry for one main reason.  I understand any who believe that they aren't enough.

Not enough-ism is the story of every person I know.  So...our natural tendency is to strive to overcome via personal elevation of some degree.  The problem with self-improvement is that, every time such markers are placed against the Son of God, we only seem to gain demomentum.  God looms larger and, thus, we shrink into diminishable fractions of who we had hoped to be by now.

ANNOUNCEMENT: This is precisely where God would lead us so that we can develop a daily dependence upon Him.  We must not ever believe we have conquered any turbulence on our own...lest we elevate ourselves as having been the self-source of recovery.  If it is to be...it is up to Him.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

VOTE WITH YOUR VOICE

The voice is the creationalistic part of a powerful person.  God created with His and passed the baton to us.  Such an instrument is to be regarded as Sovereign in the Kingdom scheme of reality.

Therefore, may we be a people who speak up regarding hope, emphasizing potential, and anticipating fantastic results.  We have the power to change the family, the community, and the world one word at a time. May we break from this cowering silence of which far too much of mankind is embedded. 

May we learn to use our voices. 

I struggled with this myself.  Believe it or not, at one time in my early stages of serious church life, I did not have the confidence to speak life and hope to others.  I hid in the, "Somebody else could do it better."  Gradually, I learned that every person on earth surely could use a word of confidence and encouragement......As.  In.  Every.  Person.

I urge you to use your voice--not in criticism of the bombarding negative reality around us, but--in order to lift the spirits of dear, wonderful, oft-times hurting, friends and neighbors.  We can all make a difference...a positive one...by lifting our voices tone to be heard clearly that today has remarkably wonderful traits about it...for every person, indeed.

Vote with your voice.  Children and grandchildren are listening in and being trained by your language.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

WHAT JESUS BRINGS TO THE TABLE

Fundamentally, basically, and quite-a-bitly, the world is either engaged in or sick of religion.  God didn't come via His Son that we might have abundant religion.  Rather, Jesus came that we all might experience abundant life.  Yay Jesus!  And yay for us!

The religious world has bought into two grand mistakes; attendance and doctrine.  Don't misunderstand.  Both are activations and participations are significant matters in the scheme of God's call.  However, it is most amazing that both also may serve as distraction from (not to) knowing Jesus.  If these to become a lower-case church practice without relationship to Jesus, we are of the wrong belief system.

Jesus brings a most fascinating element to the table...every table...every time.  He cuts through the moldiness of tired religious practices and presents new and exciting and vibrant....daily life.  Jesus invites us into a non-explainable reality which refuses to abide by earthy measurements and description. 

The discouraged can hope.  The uncertain can experience stability.  The fretful can relax.  The confused can wait for clarity.  Because Jesus experienced our delight and our darkness, He knows a thing or two about life protocol.  Due to his excruciating death and grave-defying resurrection, it can be said that Jesus has "been there and done that"!  He gets us!

What Jesus brings to the table is the greatest hope on earth...because his office complex is already in Heaven.  So what many of you might need to do is to be quiet...and invite Jesus to pull up a chair.  He will forever change the discussion around your morning coffee time.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

STANDING ON COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP VERSUS GOOD FEELINGS

Leaders face constant and incredible challenge.  We want to be liked (and loved).  In preserving such desire, we do not want to be found divisive.  Yet, the very nature of leadership is naturally separated from followship...essentially and importantly so.  Such does not mean to create a heavy-hitting boss mentality.  It very much calls, however, for decisive risk-taking that will take the flock into uncharted waters of the next Promised Land.

Edwin Friedman, A FAILURE OF NERVE, pegs the nature and the need of courageous leadership in this day and age.  For decades the objecting fearful have held strong voice in the church system.  As a result, our populace landscape is strewn with "once members" of some church because the life of the place had been choked by the naysayers who were adamant about keeping things the way they've always been. 

What's exasperating to me is how many who lived in the church in opposition to sawing off the limb behind us have seen their relatives bow out of the church scene.  The fearful Law still kills.  It is the Spirit who gives life and He is perpetually changing directions.  We, as believers, are always challenged to adjust and adapt.  The Truth is always Truth.  The Truth is that we have a tendency to learn a few, very few, things in Scripture and stop to hang our hats on that peg.  At that point--the point of failure to keep learning by shifting to protecting--Truth slips out the back door...and withers.

Consider this brief comment by Friedman:

The most important ramification of the herding phenomenon for leadership is its counter-evolutionary effect.  In order to be "inclusive", the herding family will wind up adopting an appeasement strategy toward its most troublesome members while sabotaging those with the most strength to stand up to the trouble-makers.  The chronically anxious, herding family will be the far more willing to risk its losing its leadership than to lose those who disturb their togetherness with their immature responses.  Always striving for consensus it will react against any threat to its togetherness by those who stand on principle rather than good feelings.  The herding instinct will move an emotionally regressed family to a position where it endeavors to accommodate the disruptions of the immature and of those who think in terms of their rights rather than their responsibilities.  Rather than support those who stand tall and take on the most disturbed members, the herding family will adapt to the symptom-bearer (alcoholic, delinquent, substance abuser, gambler, hot-tempered one) and undercut anyone who attempts to define himself or herself against the forces of togetherness.  They often characterize that person as "cruel", "heartless", insensitive", "unfeeling," "uncooperative", "selfish", and "cold".

Monday, January 08, 2018

FOR EVERY PROBLEM THERE IS A SOLUTION

God changes everything...truly.  He is both Creator and Master of life.  Our goal is to be alive while we live.  For some time, I wavered from one struggle to the next battle.  Inferiority was my plague so I tried to dress it up as outgoingness all the while striving to hide.  Eventually, breakthrough came and such provides valuable understanding in ministry.

Just this morning I saw what appeared to be two homeless men cross the street in front of my car.  Maybe they aren't homeless; but there facial expressions caused me to believe that they felt beaten down and hopeless.  I prayed for them that they could sense, somehow and some way today, their true meaningful value.

God changes everything...truly.

Embedded within our own struggles, it is our hyper-active God who has already absorbed these distractions upon the Cross.  We, in this very location, are free to imagine and dream and wonder.  Every problem is also pregnant with a dynamic solution.

One of my wars is that earlier referenced inferiority.  It still hangs around.  Since it insists on lingering, I learned to make it serve me rather than boss me.  It launches me; not curtails me.  If "power is perfected in weakness" (II Cor. 12:9) then I will give my weakness permission to be useful.  How does that work?

In my problem of feeling least in every setting, I know that the room is full of like-minded strugglers who yet do not realize how powerful....they are....right now.  How do I know that?  I was that/am that.  These do not need improvement; although they hunger for such.  These need the acceptance of their own lack that their weaknesses are productive for the good and forward uplift of mankind.

The two men who walked by me today most likely do not sense their personal wonder and value.  The secret power of God, however, would make them new men.  How do I know this?  He makes me a new person day by day.  I choose to not let my inferiority be my problem; but rather serve me as a solution to better understand the workings of nearly every person on earth from homeless to celebrity.

Be encouraged.  Be highly encouraged.  Even your bad days are to bow to you in service to others.  We are benefitted by struggles and blessed by such with increasing understanding of how our neighbor feels.  Don't fight life.  Really live, instead.  What Satan meant as harm; Jesus used for good.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

I CHEER YOU ON IN YOUR BELIEF IN AND OF GOD

I speak with zero criticism of others regarding what I'm about to address; but rather I possess intense compassion.  The number of ministers and ministry leaders who are struggling with believing that God works seems to be increasing.  At least it is becoming more vocal.  The honesty is, indeed, encouraging and I desire deeply to be supportive of these in the midst of such struggles.  We take our turns.

Belief/unbelief is a real battle.  Our mouths can imply expressions of spiritual confidence while, simultaneously, our hearts are debating with us internally.  This is no vague matter.  And it certainly is an ongoing war of the emotions.

While I know very well that I am the least man of all men, I want to do what I can to cheer you on in your belief in and of God.  Of course the challenge is a faith matter.  We either believe by faith that He exists and functions among us or we don't believe anything of the kind.  Both parameters hinge on faith.

My opinion is that one of the detrimental influences to a strong faith is the substitutes society (even the church) has presented which were intended to be effective; but in reality, undermined God's call.  Faith in God has been substituted with seeing that church operates according to "my" assumed portrait of what pleases me.  This thread is not new as it has been embedded within what we note as the "believing community" for decades.  Centuries?

Sheer trust in God's participationistic style among us has taken a back seat to various people-pleasing activities: singing style, preaching style, architectual style, location, harmony, convenience, friendliness, and singing style, preaching style....  What goes on with our moods having attended our assemblies can be a stronger force than what goes on with our faith enhancement.  We are called to believe past the visible and into the invisible attributes of right now.

I cheer you on in your belief in and of God.  May we arise in fervent heart to passionately believe in and of God because He is Master of all things.  May we not flinch when prayers don't unfold the way we had expressed; but rather, may we believe He is hearing and responding according to the deep sacrificial love He has for us.  Life will work out by His brilliant plan.

Understand this, I am the least of anyone that is or ever was.  I'm below average and, regarding faith, no further along than Kindergarten.  So please let me not distract from the truly urgent plea that we become increasingly serious about believing God when circumstances often pose one huge denial and one persistent threat after another.

We win....in Him.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

WE KNOW WHERE WE FIT

Being put in our place is a common understanding.  We do our best to fit in the best we know how.  Hoping for acceptance is a pertinent thread for reaching that...place.  I want to encourage you to avoid letting your fit be far to meager compared to where God would take you.

Imagination and adventure tend to get short-sheeted by the good qualities of being successful.  What we want to do is to capture the dynamic of being effective plus the experience of functioning beyond our best and into His marvel. 

Enter the wild reality of the God-style!

I urge you to develop a faith that is not comparative to others; but rather, is your own...you...and God teaming together to change the world far beyond your sight, beyond your reach, and beyond your best shot.  God is not living within us to barely get by. 

God wants to take us places that we could not possibly go on our own. We are the new generation of Bible characters living in the Presence, with the Presence, and for the Presence.  Our lives are not average.  They have gone through a regenerative cleansing when we were immersed at baptism.  There we died to our restrictions and arose to advancement in the most unfathomable dimensions.

We know where we fit.  We fit into the framework of no frame; limitless breaks and surreal opportunities.  The Christian life is the most crazy-wonderful path that is too good to be true.  That, my friend, is the precise description of "gospel"....too good to be true.  Therefore, may we live that exact kind of life! 

Go.  For.  It. 

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

THE UNIQUE EXPRESSION OF FAITH

Faith is absolutely a fascinating concept.  It functions in solid reality; yet well beyond what eyes can see and minds may fathom.  Faith may have become a generic church term; yet its height, width, and depth are always out there beyond our most aggressive imagination.

I cheer you on to believe when it would appear to many that believing would be useless.  Express faith in the God of what-can-be when earthly strongholds of homespun philosophy vow that such will never ever happen.  Believe into people and past our flaws.  Believe in the three great Ps: Power, Potential, and Possibility.  All three are His....given to us!

You won't need an army to make progress.  Nor will you need a superior understanding of the Bible's original Hebrew and Greek languages to unlock life's fortresses which try to block you from being a productive winner.  Jesus took common ordinary life and ushered it into a three dimensional life-thrilling color.  Our Savior kept us from being lost...saved us from missing life while here on earth and then, forevermore, in Heaven.

Faith is such a unique expression because it can't be noted, toted, measured, nor earmarked visibly.  Believing is the godly inner tool of transportation; one day to the next, one challenge to the next.  It is to be in every one's possession. 

Be of good cheer.  All those things that bring you perplexionalistic consternation?  Blow them up by staring holes through their tempory armor....by your faith eyes which see a new reality far beyond what visibility tries to present. 

Thank you...God!!!


Tuesday, January 02, 2018

IF WE LOVE...

If we love Truth...but do not love others we simply bring more religious noise (noisy gong) to society.

If we love Church...but do not love others we are still as clanging cymbals.

If we love Systems and Regulations...but do not love others...we have misunderstood Jesus.

If we love People...we will find that Truth and Church and Systems and Regulations will become effectively productive for the Kingdom of God.