Saturday, September 29, 2007


We are far too little. God is way too big. There is an enormous amount of work to do. If we make ten phone calls per day, we could have made 12. If we visit two hospitals, we could have made it to three. If we counsel four families, we could have met with just one more. Ministry is in demand. How do we, being infantisimal by comparison, hold up under the rigorous needs of our world and keep from dying of depressionistic frustration ourselves?

We trust God.

That's it. We believe God is working in the body of Christ and we are merely one cell in His very large body called the church. I am not an island. I am a cell. So it is with you. Alone you or I are making no dents. But we don't work alone. I am linked to the zabillion-celled body of Christ. It is effective while I sleep at night. I don't have to win the world. I can't. It is God who operates this vast conglomeration of a system because He placed His Son as the head.

We trust God.

That's it. We don't have to coerce or manipulate people or situations. We trust God to do the work. We don't retreat to laziness or indifference because there is much work to be done. But, we believe God is working even when we don't understand the size of the project or the parameters of the expectation. Possibility is in His court when blindness blurs our estimative potential.

We trust God.

As a result, we hold up quite well. We are not negatively overwhelmed. We are positively overwhelmed. At the moment I have more major things going on in my ministry than ever...than ever! I like being overwhelmed. I read it as signal I'm in over my head, but not over God's. I trust Him. That's it.

Friday, September 28, 2007


Living in sin is an unbiblical phrase. Usually this term is directed toward two sin classifications: two unmarried living together or a divorcee who remarries not having a scriptural reason for the divorce. Too, this phrase is often used by those assuming themselves to be free from such a fanatical label. As far as I can tell, living in sin is not a Bible term. When it is used, it is usually by someone pointing a judgmental finger at another while completely disregarding their own personal and blatant sin.

To bring about such awareness is not to weaken the tragic depth of sin, but rather to intensify it. I'm not wishing to lessen sin, but to bring us into true reality. We are all really guilty enough to be sentenced to hell unless Someone died on the cross to provide Great Rescue. To deny our personal sin weakens the message of the cross.

There is a biblical term which will not let any Christian escape guilt: sin living in me (Romans 7:17,20). Patients do not live in cancer. Cancer lives in the patient. Sin is cancer of the soul. We must not live in denial. We must admit we are sinners.....offensive-to-God sinners.

When Jesus confronted those ready to stone the adulterous woman, how many dropped their accusations and walked off? 100%. What did he say to the woman? Go and sin no more. Raise your hands. How many of you think she never sinned again? Based on my pattern, I say she didn't make it past Mr. Morning Rooster crowing three times.

Sin is not to be denied. It is to be admitted. Mistakenly, guilt-avoiding, squint-eyed Christianity has categorized sin into various bins of S, M, L, XL. Consistently whatever the judger happens to be guilty of is always viewed as S or M.....never XL. We all live XL. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all (James 2:10). Guilty of all sins? Such is the truth for every stumbler.

Do you realize how this combination of awareness and admission changes our brotherhood? It slays the poison pens. It parks the high horses. It strengthens harmony. It bolsters humility. It awakens need for help from rather than criticism toward leaders across town or state or nation.

Do you realize how this combination of awareness and admission changes our relationship in our communities? The neighbor no longer dreads the sight of us coming as we have abandoned our holier than Thou facade. Friends begin to like us, not because we've sunk into sin; but because we've admitted something they've known all along....we, too, are sinners.

John wrote, If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Maybe in order to evangelize the world more effectively we might find it time to admit our enormous frailties and offer apology rather than condemnation.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Sayid Qutb was born in 1906 in Southern Egypt. He was sent by his government to America to study special methods of education. Upon returning from the United States, Qutb joined the hostile Muslim Brotherhood movement. His experience in America left him with opposing emotions of envy and hatred. He later wrote, Nowhere else on earth could I find people that excel in education, knowledge, technology, business and civilization like the Americans. However, the American values, ethics and beliefs are below the standard of a human being. His conclusion was Americans waste their resources on materialism.

It's the following statement that gripped me like the stomach flu. No one else in the world has built more churches than the Americans....You will find Americans in church on Sunday, Christmas, Easter and special religious occasions, yet they are so empty and do not have a spiritual life. The last thing that an American would think about in everyday life is their religion. This statement was written some fifty-five years ago.

They are so empty and do not have a spiritual life........I spent years as a church leader from the pulpit guilty of this man's accusation. If spirituality took awhile to break in on an up-in-front-of-everybody church leader, how must the person in the pew struggle with similar issue. More importantly I find myself greatly lacking, yet. While strides of improvement are experienced, I don't believe I'll ever arrive.

My great sadness over this man's observation also serves as my ambition. America is sick while church houses sprinkle our metro, suburban, and rural landscape. We are faint being without God; yet, full of church gatherings. Our spirituality has suffered setback precisely at Qutb's observation; materialism. We are ill in our dividing up our wonderful communities into competitive churches and gathering in our Sunday School classes to peck away at the ignorance of the "other" and "those" church teams. Accusation of being unfaithful to the Word of God should settle in on every divisive church group including those of us reading this blog. We've terrorized our own land without the Muslims. We've polluted the glory of God's heart with our doctrinal smugness and, worse yet, our indifferent shrugs. The result? They are so empty and do not have a spiritual life.

Sayid Qutb? He is regarded to be the founding father of the radical Muslim jihad. He received his ambition to arise to power by living among us and noting our basic lack of spiritual connection. Muslim terrorism is a world problem. America didn't create it. But we had a strong influence as the jihad pot began to boil.

We will want to consider how it is we develop a healthier spirituality by being as faithful to God Monday morning as on Sunday morning. Uniting over the name of Jesus will be a good start.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


If you are anything like me you want to do twice the work you possibly can; yet, possess only half the confidence needed to pull off the nagging interruptions of an average day. Mediocrity bugs us while great success intimidates us. We dream of extensive productivity while fearing the embarrassment of failure. What kind of leaders are we? Men (women) or mice (mousettes)? The good news is I believe we are the latter. We are basically too little for such a big life.

I know a few whom we would regard as powerful and influential leaders. They run scared. Yet, they trust God. Abraham Lincoln is a famed and respected American leader. He admitted, I have been driven to my knees many times on the overwhelming conviction I had nowhere else to go!

The reason I write this is for the giants of men and women out there who never had it occur to you that you are marvelously enough. You've got what it takes. If you are believing the great successes are those who one day reach that glorious crest after working their way up in confidence, you simply don't get it. All human leaders come equipped with ideal "impossibility awareness" which keep us dependent upon the "possibility" God. We can't. He can. That's the formula for effective living. The we can't must not be denied; but must be trumped with our personal He can faith.

There is no leader quite so powerful as a spiritually needy leader. There are no decision makers who make better decisions than those unsure leaders who must have God's help with deciding. (Calvin Miller)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Mary and I attended the 30th Anniversary Celebration of Jackie and Mackie Chestnutt at the Southside Church of Christ in Rogers, Arkansas this past Sunday. The placed was packed and the spirit of love and gratitude toward this couple was just as one had hoped. Marshall Brown, who is on staff there, did a superb job of keeping the celebration moving along as he possesses great leadership skills to make that sort of thing work well.

Mary and I got to eat with Jim and Martha White from Nebraska. I'd never met them before. They were easy to visit and interesting to hear of their work. Martha mentioned having done mission work in Brazil and it hit me: how many of our people have been in the field? It must be that huge numbers have spent time reaching into zones not called home.

So, where have you been? Would you type in your name and then list places you have served, whether a full-time missionary or went with a group on a mission trip. I'll give you a sample list:
  • Nova Scotia
  • Brazil
  • Mississippi
  • Mexico
  • Michigan

John/Jane Doe

Let's see how many areas we can list. I think it will be encouraging. I'm not asking you to brag. I'm asking you report....WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Why is it so many struggle with the answer to the above question; especially Americans? How is it we live in the most wealthy nation, but so many consider themselves living in poverty? And, why is it so many who are living well financially are brooding as if they live in attitudinal poverty?

I've lived in all of those zones and God set me free from it. He doesn't solve such conditions by developing Christian Pollyannas. He doesn't send every convert off to a Positive Thinking Rally. He simply ruined the stronghold of death. The Resurrection of Jesus is not a holiday in April. It is the standard for common living.

In every situation that wants to level the final blow to our hopes, we possess perfect confidence that we live in and with resurrection power. Nothing negative is permanent. Neither is anything injurious. Resurrection power can take death (and anything that leads up to it) and blow it to smithereens! Nothing can stand in our way!

This does not make us tyrannical citizens. We don't swagger our way through Wal-Mart with a daring chip on our shoulder antsy for a good quarrel. Rather, we are confident that every moment is life-loaded. Easter Sunday is not a's every day to the Christian. Therefore, dismiss your cemetery thinking. That's a dead concept. Develop resurrection thinking. That's the way to live. And....the outlook is so good.

We don't approach life positively; we approach it faithfully. There is a difference. Sometimes the former is canned. The latter dares the dark enemy to bring it on, because even the dooming days of death have been shattered by the Leader who broke from the grave so we could break from ours day by day and moment by moment.

Read the Book. We win...Romans 8:37!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


(I will be away from the office for a few days. This most likely will be my final post of the week and will hope to get back to you early next week.)

I'm not certain many or any young ones read this blog. However, if some adults notice value in it, maybe you could pass it on. The importance of education is......well....important! Up front, I'm not one who has accumulated various levels of higher education. I am a full-time student of Life. While I have no degrees, I've grown to appreciate the enormous value of learning. God surely has room for me to serve in His kingdom. Yet, I so admire those who have their Bachelor's, Master's and some their Doctorates. What an applaudible and admirable accomplishment.

Learning never quits until the last breath. It's too fascinating, marvelous, essential, and necessary. I thoroughly enjoy the fact that at age 60, compared to all there is to be known, I am merely in kindergarten. This isn't a shameful thing but a compliment to God in all of His creative glories which still remain undetected by man's brilliance. I don't feel left out as I am positively engaged in the information process day by day.

I urge every young one to enthusiastically attend to their education; not to go to classes to just to put in their time, but to learn of matters most important to the value of benefiting mankind. I encourage you to get the best training by the sharpest mentors known. Excel. Study the good stuff and trash the junk food for the mind. Be one to break the code of mediocrity. Let nothing (location, finances, etc.) restrict you from dreaming of obtaining everything phenomenally available to equip you to be the best you can be.

Everyone can learn. Often when I pray, I will ask God what it is He wishes some preacher would learn that no one ever thought to explore up to this date. I really believe education is not the end. It is the perpetual process for productive life. Neither does it only register on the Richter scales of numbers and equations and formulas and theories. Education lives as a flower garden blooming into lush bouquets of respect and sensitivity for people.

I love to learn. As long as I choose to do this, I believe I'll never grow old. Rather, I will grow into newness day by day because even the Spirit of God knows the "mind" of God. Of course education can puff up. But, so can many other things. We will do well to take in the maturing processes of adjusting, failing and succeeding, trying, and wrestling with the educational possibilities that dance all around us.

Your mind: use it or lose it. I say let's use it to enhance the lives of others by willingly submitting to the course of determined training. We must not give up. If doors close in some areas, it seems they are opportunities for opening others. Learn. May it take us deeper into the undiscovered truths of God.


Dear Reader,

I've spent nearly an hour writing this morning's post. It was in detail about cross-referencing your Bibles with your library. The format, when posted, would not come out the way I typed it and it lost it's clarity.

Therefore, the post has been deleted as a second try at correcting it was in vain. It would not translate from the original page setup to postville.

Therefore, there is nothing for today. But....hey....even nothing is advantageous. The article wasn't that good and evidently the BlogAngels knew it. So, I guess today I have been a blessing to you in some strange way as you discover not everything I try works out....but it sure is fun trying.

Have a great day. Don't flinch over the small stuff. And, stare the big stuff down. Jesus is the resurrection and the life............and we are directly attached.

Strange post...I know. However, considering the source, it is quite understandable, huh?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


What about all of this emotion which has erupted and continued to escalate in the church over the past twenty-plus years? Is it really new? Is it a liberal fad? Is it a good thing? Is it of Satan? Various opinions are expressed.

Stuffiness and unfriendly silence coupled with scared to move and the assurance when you do you'll get it wrong is not the mood of the church Jesus builds. Joy and peace and patience seems to be among the highly enjoyed fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Contrary to the belief of some, the church has always been filled with emotion. The sentiment, though, seems to be that of being happy, celebrational, and expressively joyous. It seems these are the traits deemed emotional. The immediate insinuation is to question whether such is a good thing. Further implication by some is that such a sensation cheapens the body of Christ.

But the church has been filled with emotion since the day I was introduced to it. Emotion is not new. The character of it is. In my early years in the church and even at Memorial Drive there was abundant emotion: anger, frustration, agitation. Our assemblies were filled with fear, suspicion, nervousness, and moodiness. I was in on all of it. I was a yeller and a fearer and a sulker. The restrictive church order and I were an immediate match.

So we are yet today, but we've both changed. We have passion upon peace upon excitement upon gratitude upon calm. Abundant emotion reigns. It's the conversion of our emotions which continues to thrust us into the style of the early church, and they kept feeling a sense of awe. Feeling. Sense. Awe. Those three words didn't live in my church world very often. They do today....abundantly so. We have made a transition from emotion based in fear to emotion supported by faith. I like the latter better.......and it's much more biblical.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


(Yesterday I posted my review of Christopher Hitchens' book, god is not Great. You'll need to read that one first.)

My blog regarding my unfavorable review of Hitchens' book yesterday has been forwarded to him. I sent it. I didn't send it to "show him" or to win an argument or to join in on a yelling match between documented fools. I did it in effort to do something he would, at this time in his life his soul to Christ.

We must never be duped by the rigors of spiritual warfare and blindness into believing one could never change his mind. Nor, must we ever accept the temptation to hate disgusting opposers of the cross of Christ. We are most challenged to love even our enemies in an age when Christianity has many.

I thought about Hitchens reading my post the entire time I was writing it. I wrote from his perspective; frank, critical, and honest. He did not write a dishonest book as much as he wrote a piece from honest, yet blind, bias. We all have such a tendency. But, would it not be something if this man were to be a second Saul of Tarsus? It's happened to a many of us!

Bluntly, once Hitchens reads my post I doubt I'll be invited as a dinner guest. To make matters worse, if he learned I was trying to win him over I would likely be a target of his resentment. Yet, we must never give up on the Spirit of God extending redirective grace. It has been done and can be repeated. I wrote my rejection of his book with proving him wrong in mind; not about Christians or religion, but that apparent enemies can love which could only come from God.

For me to say or write anything to put Hitchens in his place just is not going to happen. We have an awkward combination; he's too smart and I'm admittedly dumb. Nor do I need to pop off at my keyboard in front of friendly blogvillers. What is needed is objection to his insulting material with a respect and love for his soul. I urge you to do two things:
  • Pray for him although he doesn't believe in it or want it.
  • Reach to your own found in opposition. With God weirder things are possible.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

BOOK REVIEW OF god is not Great

Early this morning I finished Christopher Hitchens' book, god is not Great. The 283 page volume is a robust diatribe against religion of every sort. Hitchens is smart as a whip and his research is admirably extensive. And, it is extremely and bullishly biased. His heart and mind are clearly set on annihilating any valid support for religion; regardless of brand or slant. He wants it out o' here!

In his brilliance, he totally missed an important truth in two basic areas:
  • God, too, is against religion. God did not call man to religion. He called him to life. There is a big difference. Religion neither equates nor represents God; regardless of how animated it surely tries. One is invented by moody and notional man. The other is the Eternal Creator who will not submit to man-court, man-trial, or man-judgment.
  • He had no arguments against God. He attacked all believers and our stupidity. He has a valid burr which anyone serious about spirituality would agree. But, he expressed no point to diminish God. He took it all out on God for followers of any religion being so blatantly blind and inconsistent.

There is no doubt, Hitchens is well-versed in anti-religious viewpoints; yet, his book is frankly mis-titled. It should appropriately read, believers are not Great. He is widely traveled and deeply informed. While I envy his education coupled with experiential connections/observations to many religions, I fault his clear arrogance to use God as a whipping post when God never called man to be religious. In his staministic detesting of religious hypocrites, Hitchens simply fell for an age old trap in which all of we blind fellows fall; human intelligence lures us to believe ourselves as gods if we would only smart up.

God Is Great. His seekers and followers and ambassadors are full of obvious and worthy criticism. Hitchens is right to point out flaw after flaw after erroneous flaw. But he simply missed the mark when he blamed God. His intelligence, once again, betrayed him and revealed him to be a fool along with the rest of us.

The book reveals documentation proving religious leaders to be worse than I had imagined. The writings are most informative. But as hard as he tried, Hitchens did not dent in the slightest the validity of the Living God. He gave it his best shot......and missed.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


When Jesus was restricted to one human body, his passion seemed twofold. He spread good news in a land approaching ransack and control by foreign soldiers. And, he loved, loved to attend to the underdogs. He healed and encouraged and healed and motivated.

All through the years we've had those among us who have led exemplary lives of caring for the stranded and the upset and the ignored. Don Pittman, who passed away a year ago, saw a church built powerfully on the twofold passion of Jesus. He would not quit accepting those who would/could likely be judged out of most fellowships. The heart of Jesus lived in Don's and the two of them ministered steadfastly to Jesus' favorite sort.

My daughter, Wendy Chapel, is of the same nature. At an early age she developed a love for complete strangers who touched her heart so deeply simply because they were deprived in some way. Once she had us pack and ship her first (and only Bible at the time) to an unknown (by us) five year old boy in Burlington, Iowa because she heard me preach that his family was found to only have a bottle of Heinz to eat (true story). She was seven.

Joe Almanza amazes me with his drive for the down and out. The man will not give up nor in. He risks and he aches to see new life come to old, weary spirits. We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses: Pat Casey, Larry Wishard, Paul Whitmire, John Dobbs, Brenda Hughes, Tiffany Ferguson, Jeffery Sikes, Liz Moore, Greg England, Eric Magnusson, and on and on and on..........the list doesn't end. Listen to me now, it doesn't end.

Be encouraged today. If the present body of Jesus were to be suddenly extracted from society there would be such a stark and cavernous gap. The mountains of good being accomplished through the Spirit of Christ right now is an awesome, indescribable, unreportable, immeasurable fact. Be delighted to be connected to such a race of people which lives to love and loves to accept and accepts those who yet do not realize the beauty of our glorious God.

Day by day even more join us in spreading the same good news which kept the fire burning in the heart of God's son. Who can imagine the stories of God's most fascinating action...every day?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


What in the world just happened to me? I just got home from church. I've surely been Slick a little kid!!!! Eli Thornton is the older child of our staffers, Jason and Heather. Ordinarily he is too distracted with kids his age to pay attention to this old man. Not the case tonight. I must be special. Eli had me in his sight from a distance....and I walked right into one of the most amazing traps of my life.

I noticed he was unusually enthused to see me at church tonight. This delighted me. Eventually, I realized why. He flagged me down with a fund raising catalog from his grade school tucked under his arm. Hey Terry, he called out with unusual excitement over my appearance in the foyer. My school would hardly believe it if your name was to show up on this order blank!!!!!

So, what can I say? I guess Eliot Elementary will simply be wowed because my name SURELY IS on the roster having paid twelve bucks for some Christmas wrap. I usually don't buy as so many of our kids sell neat items. However, if his school would be half as excited as he was to get my name on that order form, then let's have at it!

As braced as I was to tell Mr. Slick No, I couldn't resist. If my name would mean that much (and upon inquiry he assured me it would) to his school, then I say I've got to do my part. Should any of you pass by Eliot Elementary tomorrow, you'll most likely know some kind of holiday is in force. Not really. The shouting must be because Eli showed them my name.

I think he saw me coming!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


You gotta know I love this church where I get to attend. Of all things industriously exciting on earth, I never dreamed it could possibly be church! Who would have guessed? If one were to ask what best characterizes this family, variations of strengths could be offered: the Spirit, the warmth, the generosty. Maybe the worship experience?

My estimation is our heartfelt theme of A Place to Start Life Over. We live it, love it, and believe it. Richard came after experiencing a divorce and being away from God for over 20 years. He was invited and when he stepped toward the welcome mat at the door his very first Sunday he read, A Place to Start Life Over, and wondered if this might be for him. He is now one of our best Bible class teachers. Bill and his wife visited us on a Sunday morning and when he saw the sign printed across the canopy, A Place to Start Life Over, it struck him he was home. They have been with us ever since that first visit.

Gail was headed for another congregation. She had gone through some challenges and decided she needed to return to her roots and see if it wasn't about time to reconnect with God. She was on her way to another church and made a wrong turn. She passed by our drive and saw the sign, A Place to Start Life Over. She thought that sign was just for her and came on in. We were explaining we would be having baptism Sunday in three weeks and those interested were invited to a special class. She attended. She learned. She found we were truly A Place to Start Life Over as she was baptized into Christ that special Sunday and will celebrate her first year anniversary in a few weeks.

On and on the stories warm our hearts as broken and wounded ones enter in to His perfect joy of finding A Place to Start Life Over. When any of our lambs experience heavy difficulty and sin, we know what (and Who) we are about. We know that 70 x 7 backs this great theme. No one can be so broken in the sight of God they cannot be refurbished by the love of Christ. We are his body and we hope that when any come across us they get a sense they, too, can start life over....and over.....and over.

In a time when so many are broken down, disjointed, and disconnected, the church is in a perfect position to help our friends, neighbors, and even our enemies get a shot at starting life all over. Nicodemus thought it to be a strange concept. But it remains most needed.

That's my observation for where I attend. What's the striking trait for where you are?

Monday, September 10, 2007


I was preparing for a funeral a couple of weeks ago. I noticed the entrance to the front doorway slightly undone, so I took a stab at straightening it for company. The work seemed to expand and before long I was vacuuming the outdoor mat which says, A Place to Start Life Over. From there I noticed a few discarded cigarette butts left over from two AA meetings that week. As I picked them up in the two coffee tins, I noticed the stench of those butts which made their way into the cans now combined with rain water. It was like holding two quarts of cigarette soup. Before the job was completed I had black slosh spots on my white shirt from emptying the two cans of mixture into the dumpster. For the rest of the day, including the funeral, I smelled like cigarettes.

It's possible some may have noticed my new Philip Morris cologne. But, I didn't mind. As I worked to clean up the trash left behind by our AA friends, I thought how proud I was to be a part of a church that touches the lives of real people. I'm glad for the times when we have a wedding rehearsal on Friday evenings that guests have to work their way through 45 to 70 community neighbors smoking at our entrance to the church as they wait for AA to start. I'm glad we sometimes smell like smoke.

Here's why. What do you think it smelled like when Jesus landed on earth? Lemon-scented PineSol? Don't you get it that Jesus was born in a manger where variations of barnyard sounds and scents were abundant? That's what makes God reliable. He knows how earthlings live. The Nativity was not sanitized. It was raw life.

If you ever visit our church I hope we are cleaned up and presentable. But should you encounter a poopy diaper in a classroom or a can of cigarette butts just outside the entry way, know you have found a pretty neat church! We've kept the Nativity tradition going: real people doing real living in front of a real God.

Jeff Childers and Frederick Aquino wrote, The Lord came into the world as it is, no prior cleanup necessary. In fact, he seems eager to face the world's ugliness head on.....showing us a Creator whose strategy for rescuing us out of our pain begins with a gesture of humility: joining us in it. Church isn't when you give God your best. It's when you give God what you have where you clean up necessary. We don't get ourselves right and then go to God. We give ourselves to God.....and He alone cleans us up and makes us right.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Memorial's elders asked me a few months ago to work a couple of guys on staff into the pulpit a couple of times each quarter. I like it. Of course, it feels terribly awkward to sit still for an entire hour. Originally, I got into preaching so I could keep from getting bored! Yet, the opportunity to be present while these guys train is rewarding. Jason Thornton preached today and Bobby Smith speaks in two weeks. These guys are already good. Jason probably preached one of his best this morning. Memorial is blessed to have such talent.

I think it takes, though, ten or twenty years to begin to feel at home in preaching. You realize that's only my opinion and it could be that I have been extremely slow in catching on. It could be that some don't believe me when I say I feel I am in kindergarten in preaching/ministering. Here are some key things I've learned just in the last five years:
  • Church health does not revolve around the preacher and his sermons. It revolves around the Holy Spirit of Christ.
  • God will show up in so many assorted ways in our assemblies all a leader can do is watch for Him to make His move......and enjoy it.
  • My wisdom is so shallow that if I project much of it onto the church as necessity, it interferes with stable, productive progress.
  • There is immeasurable joy in the fact that there is so much good going on all around. Preach about it. Teach about it. Praise about it.
  • We are free/encouraged to anticipate God's surprising and mysterious moves. He's got the knack of abundant life and, finally, the church is beginning to believe it!

Too sit back and let the younger guys arise is not a problem for me/us. I'm not old; I am older. It is a right move to be training younger men. One of my main roles in this is to sit down and shut up. Simple enough; yet, oh so needed to give Jason and Bobby and others down the road the room to develop in God's aggressive style. They won't turn out like me. They'll turn out like Jesus because that's Who runs the church.

How exciting to get it that decreasing is, in reality, increasing under His graceful terms. I have liked yesterdays in the church and the tomorrows coming are packed with hope. But my biggest thrill in learning to take my seat is......I simply like right now.

Friday, September 07, 2007


I believe while I type this article Christianity is making huge progress in China and South Africa and Mississippi. I believe brave Christians may find women clutching to their children beneath bridges in New Jersey and Mexico City. It could very well be there are prisoners in Uganda and Detroit who are about to make terrific decisions to consider Jesus as their master.

Most likely there are teens in Indiana and Seattle doing homework across their beds as they listen to A Cappella CDs and the Spirit of God is sinking into their hearts. It could be that in the next thirty days a baby will be born who will become the President of the U.S. in 2052. There is a strong chance that within the next two hours a family who is about to part harsh ways find reason to abort bailing out.

It's not far-fetched to wonder if the Word is marvelously affecting Dublin and Durant before day breaks again. The imagination can wonder if there are couples in tears in Canada and Chicago as they make risky plans to leave their families and careers so the husbands can become students in a preaching school. Great are the possibilities that saying "I'm really sorry" and "I must apologize" are reversing tattered relationships in New Orleans and Calcutta.

Missions are effectively advancing in Taiwan and Duluth because of special days of giving back in 1946 and again in 1978. Angels may be applauding simple and sweet good deeds of gentle souls in Amsterdam and Panama City. Yielding to the name of Jesus may be developing in Liberia and Iran.

My point is exhaustively unimaginable. If the earth could not contain all the books which could be written about Jesus in his day, what in the world could be exaggeratedly said about the amount of books it would take to report all God is presently doing in the body of Christ now?

Thursday, September 06, 2007


I know some believe me to be naive. Some view me as over-positive. Others see me as never having a discouraging day. Well, let me tell you I have plenty of bummer moments and that's precisely why I am so pumped about faith and hope and love and encouragement. We need it! I need it! God wants us to have it....Hebrews 10:25.

I finished my day, indeed, very sad. I attended a funeral at a high church denomination. The sudden loss of this middle-aged friend was squarely overshadowed by the completely empty and methodical ritual we all endured called a funeral. It was unmistakably absent of heart. Everything was a well-orchestrated officiality with zero feeling. There were no tears, no laughter, no emotions, no charges, no reflections, no nothing of meaning. I'm not exaggerating. It was an empty hour.

I sat there thumbing through the manual counting the number of recitations yet to be made; first by the officiator followed by the audience. It made me reflect on Jesus and how far have we, in religious orders, smothered his bright eyes and bouncing step with church foo-foo. No wonder nations leave God. They've understood Him to represent motionless, actionless, heartless, and useless religious repetitions and they got to where they couldn't take it. They quit because they died on the way to their death.

I encourage you that, as usual, I had a good day in the center of my bad afternoon because I had another vision of what good news Jesus is. I am so thankful there are a great cluster of believers roaming earth today who love and adore a Man who lives both There and Here! I love it that Jesus rescued us from lethargy! I love it that Jesus insists we abandon our own man-made doctrines.

Well.....I think I feel better just getting to tell you about it. It grieves me to see precious hearts assume cold, damp church buildings are an exact reflection of God. He died to get us off of dead-center. Don't you feel refreshed by His blessings and actions day after day and week after week?

We need Him. He wants us. May we find ourselves renewed to fight for the ideas that matter and love all of the people in the process.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007



I carry a book in my car for study at moments of delay; i.e. doctor's office, waiting for breakfast at the cafe, scheduled appointment running late at the coffee shop, etc. I don't want to miss out on opportunity. Life is fascinating, don't you think?

So, how does one enjoy now? Many don't, you know. If we can make the slightest hint of progress, maybe bigger life will unfold for some here and there. I once lived a life without God. Now, everything is so new all of the time. Thinking positively and faithfully brings about a macro-shift in our normal trek through the rigors called "here and now". Here are some ways to begin a bigger life:

Here's how I got started. I'd think how I would feel if things went really badly. For instance, what if my arm was paralyzed? What if I was blind and couldn't see a snow storm? What if I didn't have the ability to drive myself to work? What if I lived in a nursing home? What if I were a leper and couldn't feel touch so I would never know if I stepped on a nail. What if I went deaf? What if I had no friends? What if I lived in an iron lung? What if I had a son killed in war? What if I couldn't talk? What if I didn't have thumbs?

Next, I would ask myself, How would I feel if any of the above were a part of me and suddenly they were restored to perfect health? Well, I would feel so excited I would shout and smile and tell God and people how grateful I was. I would constantly tell about my miracle. And then, I would go ahead and do just that out of gratitude for not having to lose any of it before I told Him how happy I was to enjoy them. I live multi-miracled days....and so do you.

We have exorbitant living to do, friends. Let's not wait until it diminishes to begin appreciating it. Like right now! Calvin Miller wrote about how deep sea divers parallel our spirituality. Real spiritual divers are so in love with the depths that they don't spend much of their lives trying to make oceanography real in a world where birdbaths define smaller passions. Hurray for Mr. Miller......and for us. Determine to refuse birdbath living when there are oceans to explore!

Shall we begin to go our oceans?


We live in reality. Sometimes we laugh. Sometimes we cry. I enjoy life every day, but there are those many moments when I get down. I'm terribly insecure. What's ugly is I'm much better than I was when I first came to Memorial. My feelings got hurt over air. It didn't take much to rush me headlong into moody sulking. I was notorious at suffering from self-induced misery. Actually, I led most effectively in the monumental and treacherous zone of self-pity.

The Word has changed much of that for me. It's most daring, really, in its call to gain better perspective over our days. I've focused on these passages and they have worked me over:
  • Everything that happens is a "Yes"....II Cor. 1:18-20. If it is a "Yes" then I must seek such a term in every event. Scoot over moodiness. Hello happiness.
  • All days are good days.....Rom. 5:1-5. Those that are good are good. Others which are bad are good. Something good is always going on in the center of the disparaging.
  • God can make cinnamon rolls out of dented fenders....Rom. 4:17. The terminology is an admitted stretch on my part. However, this verse says God can do anything....anything. I've become accustomed to expecting it.
  • I can completely discard my nature to control people and situations.....Rom. 9:16. Circumstances are not up to me to guide nor to fix. They are up to God. I will be available to apply myself with fullest energy, but I will not take the reigns of worry and begin to press. If it works, it works. If it doesn't, then I must be having another good day!
  • Everything will be okay....Rom. 8:28. I don't have to question the discouraging stuff. God's alive in the very essence of the moment which is causing me tears. I am free to cry, but I don't have to assume defeat. Even the struggles contain buried blessings.
  • In all matters the believer is victorious....Rom. 8:37. Whether life or death, etc., God has decreed His children victory. We win in the birthing room and at the funeral parlor. We win at the revelation of a miracle and the discovery of a tumor.

Yes, I still find myself dealing with frustration, opposition, and discouragement. The good news is it is so much more contained than in my earlier days. Increasingly, He calms the struggle of being human as we grow in taking on His divine nature. Growing in the Spirit of Christ is not a religious exercise to take up our time. It's His life being super-imposed onto/into us. The more we allow it, the more we enjoy being us.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Life goes stale when nothing new is expected. New and expectation are ideal neighbors. Revival and renewal are loved. The search to capture a younger look is funded by mega-bucks. The resurgence of new life in an old company is hailed as remarkable; even thrilling. New car? New glasses? New shoes? They all reflect something special about the day. One can buy a used car, but because it's new to them the excitement runs just as strong. To expect new to arise from routine is like a breath of fresh air. Regardless of our age, we never tire of finding the new.

One of the reasons I like the church so much is it's always new. Life in Christ is new. The Bible says we are new day by day. I love that truth. Even when we tell the old faithful Story, today's hearts take it in and it makes For any reading this who have become burnt or at least bummed due to church, I want to encourage you about its new life. The church is alive! It isn't a repeat of the repeated! It's alive because we are growing to be less devoted to man's religiosity and more committed to the stability of Jesus.

Henri Nouwen wrote, Many have walked into that dead-end street and found themselves imprisoned in a life where all the words were already spoken, all events had already taken place, and all the people had already been met. We say it another way: Been there. Done that.
But what I find fascinating is we haven't been there with Jesus and done that with Jesus yet. Take a look at his ministry and rehearse the time the crowds left him and a said, Ah, not so interesting. He's losing it. He's always healing people and feeding crowds from sack lunches. The guy is losing his touch, don't you think? Such isn't being said because the very nature of Jesus is a strong and new life.

What I love about it is we are free to expect it. Every Sunday God does something amazing in our assemblies. I can't wait to get here to see what it is. It never comes from the same person. It just gets here.....somehow. He shows up. We've come to expect it.

There are those who want lots of things. But there's something wonderfully weird going on in the invisibles when we expect; not demand, but anticipate. My your life grow in believing God is the Provider; even in those matters which you can't can only expect.

Monday, September 03, 2007


Happy Labor Day! God has given us a most wonderful work just down the street. I can't tell if God sent Memorial Drive the nearby Lindbergh Elementary School or if He sent Lindbergh the Memorial Drive Church of Christ. Either way, I'm loving it!

It always excites me to see the church move from its four walls and into the community. But this Lindbergh connection is such an amazing plus. Their staff is humble. They most naturally make us feel we are a welcomed team. Our partnership is entering its second year and I can't express enough greatness about their crew.

There's a Mrs. Nance who is the principal. Her ability to keep order without being Miss Bossy is fun to watch. Marilyn exemplifies grace and devotion. I learn positive leadership skills when around her. And then Jennifer and Claudia and Linda and Kathy and Dametta....and on and on is the roll call of a powerful unit of teachers and workers. I'm always telling Jennifer Campbell I think the parents are absolutely crazy about me. She just rolls her eyes....and laughs. And I may not know how to spell Dametta, but she has to be one of the most wonderful, delightful school nurses this side of Mars.

Our God is an awesome God. One of the best things He has done for this little congregation is give us opportunity to serve beside some of our best citizens in our community....public school teachers and staff. Memorial talks about this group as if we are all family. We don't just try to help where we can. We have fallen in love with the school: the entire staff, the children, the parents. Our hearts have surrendered. Memorial is not in partnership with Lindbergh out of religious duty. We team with them from hearts of respect, admiration, and love.

Really, I show up only in smattering situations. Jennifer Curtis and Jason Thornton are the main bolts for this wheel. Yet, I do enjoy my slightest interaction whether is be dropping in with special coffee for the secretaries or speaking at Library Night or packing a grocery bag with art supplies. As you can tell, I'm pumped about our public neighbor. We've needed them for a long time. Finally, we've met!

Lindbergh Elementary...................the Church of Christ down the street salutes you!