Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Strong and admired personalities do not power the kingdom. Even the most famous carry little weight if not for God's Holy Spirit moving about. Calvin Miller wrote in The Empowered Leader,

Please remember that great leaders are not those who have worked their way up to personal confidence. Nor do they see themselves as God's ready achievers in this world. Spiritual leaders only appear to be giants to others. To themselves they are in desperate need of God.

Every effective leader is desperate for God. I feel sure Rick Warren, Philip Yancey, Beth Moore, and Erwin McManus feel Miller's statement is right on target. If God doesn't deliver the goods, we are simply unplugged. If He doesn't grace us, we wither. No man or woman can lead if God is not the Singular Supplier. There is not a preacher, an elder, a congregation who needs more members or more money before it needs more God. We must have Him. We hunger and thirst for His right ways. Our ways lead us to be sluggishly dim. God's ways sparkle with simple and often surprising effectiveness.

Sometimes in prayer I will ask God what He wishes I would do that no one has yet to think about. I don't believe they (the most brilliant of leaders) have exhausted God's storehouse of creative thinking. There's such room for the rest of us to tap His brilliance. Young leaders, be encouraged to think into God rather than coast along the party lines of your fellowship. Dare to let the Spirit who knows all things about God roam His inventory and see what might be pulled out just for your participation.

Desperate for God? If He doesn't come through, I'm sunk. Yes, I'm desperate. And you?

Sunday, July 29, 2007


I've been at this role in the Kingdom for awhile. Finding myself now among the older ministers, I continue to discover one great truth: as one ages one doesn't close in on understanding God. Research fascinates me. In medical research each discovery opens more to wonder about. Whether space or agriculture or education, the new and marvelous arise. Just this week our janitorial service trained our guy in new technology!

So it is with the Creator of all. God is beyond mind. Understanding flees at the same time it hopes. He said He is able to do more than we can imagine or think. As our imaginations grow, God seems to increase our awareness of His unfathomability.

The good news is we've such a long way to go. This truth leaves us wonderfully in need of the over-talked and under-achieved love. There simply is no room for our boasting and bragging about how much we know and how effective we think we've become. We are nothing more than sculptured dust. We count for nothing unless the Living God chooses to place His Spirit in our carcass and carry out His work. If He isn't in, we are over. Caput.

The good news is we can each park our high horse at the watering hole and descend from our assumed importance. When asked about her fame, Mother Teresa is reportedly to have said, Do you think that when Jesus rode into Jerusalem and palm leaves were being placed in his path that the ass Jesus was riding really thought the applause was for himself?

We know good things; marvelous truths. We experience envied events. We fellowship celebrated and honorable individuals. Yet we are so far from being close to what He intended, all we can do is love one another with gratitude while we count our losing of ground as good news.

God is our good news!

Friday, July 27, 2007


My good friend posed this question to me yesterday. He, too, loves preaching in the Church of Christ. I enjoy pondering who we are and where God is leading us. Our future is quite positive and hopeful:
  • The church Jesus is building is so powerful the gates of hell can't resist it. Finally and wonderfully, denominational walls are crumbling; yea, including the ones the Church of Christ erected. The Word is faithful and Christianity is returning to the Anchor for increasing guidance. All sorts of "brands" are committed to regaining momentum from foundational bibliocity. Many of these are being awakened or reawakened to Bible authority and stability. Even among our own there continues simple interest in getting back to the Bible.
  • It seems likely the denominational side of the Church of Christ will get louder and grow grayer. It shouldn't be surprising if a neo-legalistic movement will arise (if not from among our group, then of another) as religious pride seems insistent on claiming some percentage of the Christian turf. Legalism is the style of the lazy believer. It requires little study on its own. It feels secure in knowing some others in the herd (whom they like) have the same conviction. This seems to make their peculiar angle on truth(?) right.

The church which is Christ's is magnificent in direction, marvelous in intent, and meaningful in production. As at its inception, it will always be challenged by the ill-equipped ones of the likes of us. His Holy Spirit is both our confidence and our hope. We are a funeral home without Him and a soul winning factory with Him.

What's the future of the Church of Christ? Much depends on whether we choose to coast or grow, whether we decide to preserve or explore, and whether we have ears to hear His voice over the deafening noise of the fearful. I believe the future is bright for the courageous of heart.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


....isn't the big question. What are we accomplishing is the bigger question....but not the biggest. What are WE accomplishing is the greater inquiry. If you feel somewhat stranded and bummed about how little is getting done from your perspective, you may want to read on.

WE are getting very much accomplished. WE includes you, the rest of us, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. WE are co-laborers. WE transcend location and time. Included in OUR work is that which Velda Watson, Miriam and James and John, Liz Moore, Max Lucado, the Holy Spirit, John Dobbs, and Mike Cope are doing as WE ARE the body of Christ. God didn't send us out with rod and reel to individually fish for men. He sent US out with a net.

Teamwork is OUR work. Greg England's work is directly linked to J.W. McGarvey's kingdom seed sown a century ago. We get things done and we never see anything work which doesn't have the WE tag to it.....really. WE have so died to Christ that He lives in you and me to develop US. WE live that way, work that way, believe that way.

There is not "my" fruit. Neither is there "church" fruit. There is only Holy Spirit fruit which always happens to come from and through the corporate US. Today, in my hometown farming community of 2000, WE are inaugurating a weekly newspaper column, Tossing Life Your Way. While I am quite enthused, it's the WE factor which makes such a breakthrough possible. I doubt the man and woman who converted me will realize the significance of this new work. However, it is a very exciting WE moment!

One of the things which really enthuses me are the brothers and sisters in China whom I have never met, and do not know, WHO are taking 50 books on the Holy Spirit sent over there fifteen years ago and are spreading the good news from them. WE have that going in the underground church in China. I believe someone(s) is translating this blog and others like it into a myriad of translations to encourage the hearts of the WORLD!

So Eric Magnusson off in Michigan and Roger Dickson off in South Africa and Cindy Ezell off in God's arms and Kyle Holcomb off in Scotland and you, dear reader, off in your neck of the woods, WE are involved in such astounding and wide-spread effectiveness no one person or team can report all the good being done!

Accomplishing much? Now you know more of OUR story. WE can't stand it as it is so much, so high, so far, so wide.....so very good! Just what are WE getting done? Trying to fathom breaks the think barrier! Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within US....to Him be the glory!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Has everything in life shifted toward the experts? Specialization is a blessing to the consumer when it comes to matters of health care or building cabinets. In these zones our consumption will keep pace as far as finances endure. In the marketplace the best is usually performed by the professional. Shoddy workmanship or cheap materials pale in comparison to "Grade A" quality....even when it comes to milk and eggs.

In the faith arena "best" remains key, but is not always under the banner one would believe. Best is not in skill, but in trust. Moses tried to argue against this point; yet, even in feeble and fumbling objection he accomplished what he knew he couldn't; but what God knew he could. The voice of God has been silenced as Christians have self-muted due to fear of not being professional enough in their approach to a business colleague or an elderly neighbor.

Mike Yaconelli rehearses a time when (as he worked at L'Arche, a home for mentally handicapped adults)he finally had to accept his own brokenness as he discovered he, too, was a sinner. He felt perpetual need to apologize, to run from his weaknesses, and to deny who he was. He made strong efforts to rebound with determination to be professional; not broken.

At L'Arche, it became very clear to me that I had totally misunderstood the Christian faith. I came to see that it was my brokenness, in my powerlessness, in my weakness that Jesus was made strong. It was in the acceptance of my lack of faith that God could give me faith. It was in the embracing of my brokenness that I could identify with others' brokenness. It was my role to identify with others' pain, not to relieve it. Ministry was sharing, not dominating; understanding, not theologizing; caring, not fixing....

Maybe our faith would take on a more meaningful tone if we could abandon the need to be ideal and simply become normal. Jesus is the new normal. Arise to believing God can/is/will use you to connect by sharing, understanding, and caring.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


In The Empowered Leader Calvin Miller wrote, Often vision comes as the result of some tearing circumstance by which we come to an end of our own ability to make life work. But we are never to deplore such times! Miller goes on to say that vision may be the only valid escape from aimlessness.

For the Christian leader, stresses and difficulties fit God's scheme of victorious living. Why else would Paul write, 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. Being weak and strong, simultaneously, will only work if we grasp the truth of how these elements assimilate. We are weak and He is strong; yet the residence of this ironic combination is located within our body, mind, and spirit. Our faith has drawn the Divine into our pitiful system and reversed everything for the good.

As a result we don't just get by in life, for as we believe in God, we turn aimlessness on it's ear! Defensiveness leaves us. We already know we are lacking before our accusers announce it to others. Inadequacy is truly a vital part of the fabric of our fine-tuned being. We can do nothing without God, but we can arise from ashes of discouragement to live productively because of Him.

That life goes smoothly is not a sign that one knows God. That we do not flinch in the center of stress is the marker. Too many snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory by giving up when life gets rough. Maybe we can help one another by pointing out difficulty is merely our trampoline for God's creative solutions. Transform discouragement. Turn it into fuel for even a better direction.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Getting there, wherever that is, looms large to young ones headed out into the wonderful world of ministry. We can't wait to get our wings of effectiveness coupled with assumed respect. No longer climbing our way up; but rather, finding ourselves perched atop of the success mountain is a seemingly compulsory goal. My being down the road a piece from you younger whipper-snappers, I share my experience hoping you'll be encouraged about your ambition.

I believe a good leader arrives the day he or she realizes there will never be a point of arrival. Certainly this sounds oxymoronic and it is. How often God works backward to our assessment and assumption. We aren't to get somewhere. Rather, we are to become someone.....Jesus. To be Jesus-like is an all-the-time-for-the-remainder-of-our-life course. The good news is it really feels good to reach such a redefined conclusion because:
  • It is an accurate assessment.
  • It releases cumbersome and self-induced tension as we relax from our own efforts by shifting to the Holy Spirit's.
  • It places us in the center of our dreamed position of finally seeing the kind of fruit we had imagined.
  • It leaves us as a child wondering just how good can it get as the Spirit is so fascinating in His creativity in/with/through/for us.
  • It leaves us young. The Word is true after all....we are newer every day.

Regard yourself alive in the most mesmerizing and enthralling work in all of Creation's Glory. Kings and Rulers only wished for the very life we leaders in the kingdom get to experience day after day after day. Shoulders back! Chin up! March! March intentionally into the center of even more wonder because we arrive...not at an envisioned level...but as a Person!

Friday, July 20, 2007


Okay. Last night was a convicting one. I didn't see it coming for I'm far too vain. Tammy Faye (Bakker) Messner was on Larry King Live. She's dying of cancer, weighs 65 pounds, and looks horrible (honestly...scary). She's in terrific pain in her spine and stomach. Visually, she looked so poorly it was difficult to stay tuned. Her speech pattern labored extensively as she often had to back up and take a run at the sentence again before she cleared the hill.

I've always regarded Tammy Faye as a clown. Her Clara Bell lashes and facial make-up left it difficult for me to take her seriously. I'm one of those---who knows how many---who enjoyed the opportunity to ridicule both Jim and Tammy. Yet, last night caved my rudeness and showed, once again, that side of me which ain't so hot.

No one vain would go on world television looking like she did. The only hint of recognizing who her was due to her mouth (smiling) and her voice (although raspy and breathless). The face is sagging downward into multiple rib-like rolls and the body is wasting. The mouth smiled upward while the face frowned downward. Tammy Faye requested she be interviewed to give opportunity to share her complete faith in God and to express to all of her fans her gratitude and love.

Once again near death and death seems to prove valuable to pull the elements from our hearts which really matters. Over the years I've experienced some pretty painful severing of congregational/member relationships. Both friends and enemies have left.....enemies. Consistently, when I see any at a funeral of one close to all, the wall of bitterness and hatred has gloriously dissolved. Genuine love and interest and friendship seem to be rekindled.

This thing about death is for real. It is a grace in the kingdom of God. We need death to discover the wonderful realities about our own hearts. Death exposes division for what it really is....surface. Then, it restores hearts as we find our deeply rooted true love for one another. Our real compassion is better than we would have believed as death serves as a fabulous magnifying glass to show us just how faithfully we care about each other.

So death works in us, but life in you....II Cor. 4:12

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Is it possible there are things which have been done to us or we have done to our people which neuters the church's ability to effectively reach into a desperate and dying world? There is a sick combination of so much hurt around us and so much passivity among us. Consider a few ideas which may be thwarting wholesome evangelistic efforts:
  • We have led members to believe they need the proper arrangement/alignment of sequential verses in order to tell the true story right. We have mistakenly assured them their story of falling in love with God and wanting to follow Him is not enough.
  • We have led members to believe we are the only ones right. Therefore, when sharing the gospel with others they better tell it "the only right way". As a result, this quenches all ambition to reach to others as insurance for not getting the story wrong.
  • We have led members to believe the fruit of a Christian is another Christian. This unnecessarily heaps guilt. The fruit of a peach tree is not another peach tree. Otherwise orchards would snap as one looked out to see trees hanging from trees. Each tree bears lightweight and easy fruit and within the fruit is the seed for another tree. We are to bear Holy Spirit fruit and within such is the seed for another Christian.
  • We have led members to believe we do most of the work and God does very little. The reverse is true. God works. He's calling to lonely and fearful and frustrated hearts constantly. We are to simply perceive ourselves as His useful puppet in connecting the soul dots. He is the Potter; not us. God works directly in the Christian's life via the Holy Spirit...through us to the hurting.

These are only a few traits of convincing the church it cannot win the world. Some are bent on reversing this mistaken trend. I am most grateful for a patient brotherhood who has helped me gain confidence in the Living God and not in myself. We are destined to win others to the Loving Christ. If you fit into any of the above categories, may this note today give you the courage to jump from a mistaken ship and soar into the unknown zone of reaching freely to a very needy community!

May you be convinced knowing God is information enough to have something to share. May you thoroughly looooove your life in Christ. May you smile brightly in rooms of others where they barely see as life is so very dim. Light up your heart. Shine upon a dark office crew or a gloomy reunion or a murky church service. Let's free our people by encouraging the body of Christ we have abundant life and assume others would want in on the privilege!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


When you talk with God, how does the conversation go? Do you talk to Him or at Him? Is He your Father who cares or your Waiter who takes your order? Are you faithful to pray (saying words) or faithful to God (connecting in heart)? Because God is so Wonder-Full I believe myself to just be learning about such dialog between the human and the Divine.

I'm growing more in telling Him of His awesome attributes than I spend giving Him my wish list. I applaud Him for His unspeakable character and for the tiny and extravagant matters in life like a rabbit crossing in front of my car on my way to work. Most likely the most repeated words I use are Thank You. I would be lost without Him; not just eternally, but in ability, power, skill, leadership, friendship, etc. To be disconnected from God would leave me totally unplugged from life. I can't think of a sermon or blog, I can't serve in ministry, I can't bring about one ounce of creativity, unless He supplies my every need. I am dependent upon Him to breathe.

Much of our communication is me being still and listening. Often in the car I will think toward Him without uttering a word. I listen for Him to speak. And just how does He sound? I never hear from God audibly. I don't know how to describe it except to say He "makes me aware". I think about Him when I wake up and it's often in those first few minutes something from Heaven falls from the sky and into my mind. Increasingly, what I had regarded as my thoughts are turning out to be His thoughts. He does give us input and direction when we seek it. We do hear from Him. We do partner with the Living God.

God will speak through a song of perfect timing, an event the eye is able to note, a reminder which comes to mind. When I am with another person, let's say for coffee, I intentionally listen for God to speak through him or her. They usually don't know I'm using such radar, but will often interrupt as I scramble for pen and paper to jot a note before I forget.

I encourage you about your Master. He is one of fellowship. Be encouraged to move from the business of being spiritual to the relationship of being Friend to friend. He surely takes a beating in heart as much of creation refuses to acknowledge Him. We must increase our outpouring of gratitude for He surely is the Marvelous, True, Ecstatic, Incomprehensible, Living Lord.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


We surely live in a time of abbreviations. We have CEOs attending AA meetings? The government is chastised for lack of attention to FICA and mismanagement of FEMA. FYI, OSHA drives the COO batty while the CIA investigates the DOA at General Hospital. It's no wonder Old McDonald sang E-I-E-I-O while feeding the horse.

Therefore, I've concluded it appropriate to discuss the SDA which ails the church. Selective Doctrinal Anxiety divides and ultimately conquers the cells of Christ. SDA depletes the immune system causing the church to retreat for treatment three times a week while rendering it unfit and unable to have necessary stamina to breathe life into a depressed society.

SDA is a disease which scans the Bible and chooses which doctrines to be major battle lines. Oddly, some of God's apparent desires are tossed into the "well-that-can't-be-helped" bin.
  • Worry.....SDA no longer acknowledges this as doctrine, but simply a way of life accepted by those who are concerned over presumed larger doctrines. However, this is a major cause of heart disease.
  • Avoidance.....SDA has shelved the call from scripture to go to the brother with whom one has trouble. Preacher's luncheons and brotherhood gossip sheets are highly contaminated with Avoidance which drains the body of important energy.
  • Reductionism....SDA refuses to believe Jesus actually equalled murder with anger, adultery with lust, and favoritism with unrighteousness.

The good news is there is hope for SDA victims. Every congregation can find complete healing from this aggressive disease by administering RATTED (Reverse Application Treatment To Encourage Development). Romans 2:1-3 is God's holy prescription for complete cure. Therefore you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. And do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?

Selective Doctrinal Anxiety is removed from the bloodstream of Christ when each member of the body realizes his or her own severe and major flaws. Subsequently we find no reason to warn others of anyone before we warn them of ourselves first. Healing should be rampant when SDA finds itself effectively RATTED.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Memorial is a fabulous group. We know we are not God. He is the one Who supplies. Our dependence is upon Him in every effort. We are greatful for each leader/minister; yet, we are fully aware each is simply discarded junk inhabited by you-know-Who!

One of the dynamics which has become such a special thrill at Memorial is in the zone of our music. A Capella churches need/should capitalize on their awesome heart-voices. We are getting better at such a skill. Shane Coffman is one special worship leader. He has that perfect knack of being up front unnoticed. Allen French, before him, had the same ability.

I am impressed week after week at the creativity of God in Shane. Yesterday Krista Magnusson began Amazing Grace by singing a solo and then the church joined in. To hear her was to listen to an angel. She looks like one and sounds like one. Shane's song selection was upbeat and led us to ride the clouds as we thrust our hearts upward to the King. Jason Thornton's solo backed by the worship team was an earth shaker. His God Raised Me Up rocks the church!

We are most blessed to see the singers among us get to be used more and more as we remain faithful to the Word and let those who have a song sing it. Thank You, God, for letting us be a part of your world-wide, century-continuing called out people. We are most grateful to be included.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


My good friend, Marvin Phillips, has been very ill. Due to an infection which was attacking his replaced heart valve, he was hospitalized about three weeks ago for six days and is confined to his rocker and "no travel", "no preach" for two more months. This is killin' him!

I went to see him and Dot yesterday. I love this couple. Marvin looks good, is getting stronger, yet has a ways to go. This man of notorious energy has lost several pounds and is quite weak. He walked 10 minutes Thursday which was five more than his previous adventure.

He's shootin' up drugs right and left......and enjoying getting to tell me so! He has excellent doctors and is on schedule to completely recover. In the meantime, he has some slow, slow clock hours to sit at home and watch The Price Is Right.

I ask you to use today's blog to leave Marvin and Dot notes of love and encouragement. I'll pass them on and I believe they'll serve as God's kind of medication to spark even quicker recovery.

If you don't mind, at the conclusion of you note, sign your name and include the city as this might make it more personalized for them.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


First: this Sunday is my "actual" anniversary date of being at Memorial Drive 30 years. They gave Mary and me a huge surprise a few weeks back. To all Memorial readers, I never in my wildest imagination would have believed I'd get to work with a church as sweet and happy as you! Thank you.....enormously! Now to the topic.

I read a report this week which stated 75% of all Christian youth will renounce their faith or lose their faith in their first year after leaving home....college-bound or not. I have been perplexed over this evidence for the past 25 years. I've taken stabs at stabilizing this crisis; yet I have not the insight nor the skill to make a minuscule dent.

The report went on to say that two of the reasons we are losing these precious ones is because:
  1. This generation sees little relevance between the church and real life.
  2. The church lacks adventure.

What is working where you are for the college through the late 20s? Does it depend on a specific staff person assigned them? Does it take the presence of a dynamic one (or two) of their own among them? Are we needing to give stronger assistance to parents during their earlier ages? What do you see working?

I'm not down on anyone or anything. I'm searching for what's working to continue the great work our pre-grade school, grade school, junior high, and senior high servants have labored over so diligently. I believe the most of us don't need a statistical report to tell us we need to strengthen this area. All we have to do is count. Too many are absent.

I do not regard this as an issue which can afford casual attention. The church splits a gut during the first 17 years training these gold mines. We cannot afford to let this loss trend continue. What do you see as to an effective effort to close the gap? Do we need money? Focus? Man-power? Whatever it is....we need to address is ASAP. Help!


It's not easy to be a believer in the American church. While there is comfort abundant, which in itself runs contrary to the scheme of the cross, many find ourselves having been arrested and locked behind invisible bars. The charges? We think differently than the Sheriff. What's worse is we don't realize we've been drugged, anesthetized, by the strong powers that be and are being held captive. They tell us we are simply being discipled. Yet, our minds have been jailed.

Once sentenced to community confinement we are free to move about the terrain we choose with the friends we develop, but we find ourselves gradually incapable of thinking. Thus, we are told what to think. The process is so smooth that eventually it's just easier to be told what to believe. Too, the Sheriff of Pharisee County has strong-armed deputies. While they never physically assault for they are far too clever, they do rule by intimidation. Some of his deputies serve as elders, some as preachers, and some own printing presses. The prisoners must play by the bullies' religious rules. Don't ask questions and don't rock the boat is the goal in camp. Keep smiling. Contribute the best you can. Volunteerism gets points. But one must think only in line with the Sheriff and his deputies.

The result is a heavy count of believers becomes dwarfed in their ability to think for themselves. This is proof the Sheriff's scheme is working. Inmates will be under his thumb and much easier to control. They are groomed to depend on the deputies' commentaries as to what they are to believe. How hard they try to obey for this is a key word among the confined. A list of what and who to shun is distributed. Though not posted anywhere, there is a list. Versions of the Bible, workshops, names of congregations and preachers, and methods which are to be avoided are passed throughout the underground camp of the Sheriff. Inmates can't teach their neighbor how to be saved, but they can recite "the list".

When a person goes to prison the controlled environment forces everything to be thought for him. Inmates slowly become unable to decide....literally. Decisions are made for them. Today, when a prisoner is released after significant confinement, one of his greatest struggles is trying to make a decision because he hasn't done such a thing in so long. When Jim Bakker was released from prison he could not determine which rental car to choose and asked someone to do it for him. So it is for too many in the church. We are given clear boundaries of the Sheriff's preferential right and wrong. Over the decades the people work to obey and serve, but no longer think for themselves. It doesn't even occur to them to think they can't think.

It's one thing to know a few of the scriptures. It's quite another to be able to think on our own as to what we believe they teach. Controlled religion was rampant in Jesus' day and it is in ours. The church is not a cult. It is a marvel. Let's do more than restore a hand full of verses. Let's think so as to restore its glorious and thrilling heart that we may rejoice. Maybe then we will begin to keep more of our children.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


A quarter of a century ago I became refreshingly impressed with an author arising upon the scene. Charles Swindoll's simple writing style matched my hungry heart. I picked up the phone and called an operator for information to Swindoll's office. His secretary answered and I asked to speak to him. A part of her role was to politely protect him from annoying callers such as myself. I knew what she was doing, but I hadn't called for myself.

When she said he was out I responded, Oh, that's all right. When he gets in would you just tell him a preacher with the Church of Christ in Tulsa is so grateful for his writings. Tell him that if he ever gets discouraged and wonders if he is doing any good, I'm one of many whose heart is being opened because of his efforts. It is important to me that he knows this. Her next words became the catalyst for an ongoing relationship held dear by Chuck and by me. She said, Mr. Rush, Reverend Swindoll is out of the office at the moment. He really needs to hear what you just told me. Would it be possible for you to call back tomorrow at 4:00? He really needs to hear what you just said.

It was 4:00 on the dot! I only wanted to encourage as I felt certain that those who live in glass houses also need words of support. Chuck was amazingly warm. He was slow to listen as if he was soaking in a word-bath. His kind and gentle voice seemed to smile through the phone. He was both gracious and appreciative. We exchanged letters over the next few months and one day had lunch....and then another lunch. He wrote me two weeks ago and I share a part of his note should it be something you find yourself needing to hear today.

So how do you deal with the tension of "shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves?" Let me give you a picture: you are standing with others, and all of you have sharp instruments in your hands. The first question is: "Are these scalpels or switchblades?" Both inflict injury to others, just in different ways and for different purposes. Be honest with yourself and others and commit to dealing with legalism and legalists as caring and compassionate surgeons rather than hostile street fighters. The temptation to do street fighting is very strong, and is the preferred method of the legalist. As a surgeon, you will be called upon to patch up those hurt by the street fighters.

As a team of surgeons, ask yourselves a second question: "What are we here to remove--a cancerous tumor or a wart?" Pick your battles: forget the warts since they do not kill.

If Swindoll's note cheers you on in your hard labor, good. If the sheer awareness that everyone we know---including the rich and famous---need our support, then you've gotten my message.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Do you find yourself with a plate too full? Welcome to a growing crowd. I hear of this dilemma at so many turns. We have too much on our plates. I believe over-scheduled calendars are the newest substance controlled addiction. We can't stop them! And....those nearest and dearest won't help. (As I write this I believe I suffer from this stress, but my load is not near the boiling point of many of my professional and devoted colleagues who are outstanding employees or employers.)

On a couple of occasions I've toyed with recommending shutting down the church calendar for a year....a sabbatical with nothing but Sunday morning assembly....in order to release enormous tension. So far it's only an idea because if I find anyone the slightest bit interested there's seemingly no way to pull it off because our people are addicted to activity. There is feared panic if there wouldn't be something to do. In the meantime families are splitting and hard-working saints live in a land of perpetual frustration because they simply cannot keep up the pace filled with weariness or guilt.

How might we find alleviation?
  • Learn to say "No." While the church is learning to set creativity free, we must be strong enough to applaud with clear conscience while we restrain ourselves from leaping into every good work someone imagines.
  • Trim your calendar. Ponder meetings that have become habit, but not productive. Kill them. Look at appointments which are useful and see if it would be possible to take a month's sabbatical. Would the place fall apart? Would we survive for just one month without it? Most likely so. Then give yourself a break.
  • End the feelings of guilt. Gone are the days of getting a day off. There are too many ways for communicationals to find you. The only real way to get a break seems to be to leave town. Even that can be short-lived. Refuse to take on the monkeys so many are happy to hand you. Hand them back...quickly.
  • Curb the ego. In one aspect we create the full plate syndrome because we are targeted due to ego. Others like to stroke us as to how effective we are and that's why they've called on us rather than another "lesser" type. This is a trap. We are not God. God is God.

The thing that helped me most was to read years ago of Jesus walking away from the crowds and getting into a boat because he didn't want to deal with them any longer. He'd given enough of himself for the day. Although they raced to meet him when he approached shore, still he was leaving the crowd because he'd had enough. I believe effective and long-term servanthood insists there be a wise and controlled pace. We must be disciplined to refuse all that comes our way demanding our faithful attention. Otherwise we will discover many of our prominent leaders choked on plates too full.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


During my term in the church some have noted that the church stays ten years behind the world. Much can be assumed as to the breadth of such a generality. It bugs ambitious leaders to believe we are directly tied to the Living Lord and constantly run a distant second. Erwin McManus wrote in An Unstoppable Force a most surprising comment. My goal is not to keep up with the changing world, but to be standing there waiting for it when it arrives. McManus continues that we need to be showing the world the way.

His sentence inspired me to adventure into thinking how it might appear if the church were ahead of the world. And then......I began to wonder if, indeed, we are ahead of the world. I think we are. Here are ten items I see the kingdom already knows while the world lags behind:
  • To live, die to self.
  • To keep, give away.
  • To be strong, use your weaknesses.
  • To win, lose.
  • To perpetually preserve in memory, consume weekly (Lord's Supper).
  • To win an argument, don't argue.
  • To get a lot done, don't engage in a lot of things. Focus.
  • To be effectively active, be still and know He is God.
  • To lead well, care about the reject.
  • To care about the reject, remember if it weren't for His mercy you would still be one.

Maybe we aren't so far behind after all. What would you add to the list?

Saturday, July 07, 2007


I need to tap your reserve of creativity. There is discussion with a publisher about taking a few of my daily blogs and developing them into a gift book of sorts. I need a title of this work along the line of Breakfast for the Soul, Coffee Blog, Who Moved My Mug?, BlogMates, or Hugs for the Heart and Mind. These are not serious ideas....they are ideas to get you going.

What would you think might be a spectacular title?

Friday, July 06, 2007


Two women stood discussing the routine of their day. They'd run into each other at the local store and great friendship chatter ensued. From hanging the clothes out on the line and surely hoping it didn't rain to when the corn would be ready, they volleyed most riveting remarks. Each was a typical homegrown, shade tree expert in What's happened, what is happening, and what will happen.

VBS was coming up at their little church in a few days. The gals had grade school-aged boys. Is Jimmy going?, one asked of the other's son. No, he's not going this year, quipped the unconcerned mother as she rolled her eyes. Yours going? Nah, the second one nodded in concert. There seemed to be mutual relief by each to find her son would not be the only church renegade.

There seemed to be a moment of dead air as the two ladies simultaneously appeared to be haunted by a brief space of guilt. Their discussion soon picked back up on the path of seeking a mutually clear conscience when one proclaimed, Well, really, it's not like they are going to grow up to be ministers or anything like that. No one could question that comment. She was right. Such wasn't close to happening. No way under God's blue sky those words would be overruled.

What's weird is that Jimmy and I did grow up to become the opposite of what had been mutually forecasted by our mothers. The moral to the story is, No one can predict the surprises of God. Not ourselves.....and not even our mothers. Possibility is always possible.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


May this be a week of renewal much like our traditional New Year's Eve vows. May we determine to realign our goals and refocus our direction to get to them. We are not growing into useless meandering. We are a people crisp with intent resulting in fascinating effectiveness.

Ours is a nation of religious value. What's your biggest belief? Express your faith that something can come from nothing and life arises from dead settings. Be aware of your own riches He has poured into your human system. We are not ordinary. Jesus developed a new standard of normal. Arise to His level...and love every minute of it.

I'll be out of the office a couple of days and will be getting back to you soon.