Monday, March 31, 2008


Many start. The question is, Will we finish? Our ideal answer is affirmative. But, what will it take to get there?

We must realize the following:
  • Life in the pulpit, or in leadership, or in the church is not easy. It's icon is the cross and it's a serious one.
  • God will deliver if we give Him time. Do you think Moses' mind wandered during those forty years? Do you think Joseph had time to reflect when in the pit, and then on the run, and then in jail?
  • We must humble ourselves. God has loads of life to hand us, but we must let go of the grip of self-preservation. God alone is supplier. God alone is protector. God alone is God.
  • We can realize we can dream big with the expectation He will trump our greatest imaginations! I love this one. He is true to Himself and He made this promise...Eph. 3:20-21.
  • Don't let anything distract you from praising God. He is to be credited with any and every facet of the brotherhood's brilliance. He is brilliant! He is fascinating! He is the biggest and brightest beauty beyond all comparison.

To get to coordinate with the God-scheme can be so overwhelming it can cause us to nearly die in thrill. We are in this for the long haul. Our God is worthy of our eternal praise! Give it...and don't look back. Don't quit!

Sunday, March 30, 2008


We are soooo blessed. As we wrapped up the workshop today, Memorial Drive had an 8:00 a.m. assembly in addition to its usual 10:30 one. ZOE lead our worship in both services. Each time the place was packed. I am so encouraged by the hundreds and thousands who come to the workshop to be revived and refreshed. It was such an awesome event.

There's a fresh wind moving across the workshop. The crowds are gradually building back up. Our people are learning to discern of our speakers the way we do our literature. We are able to accept all speakers while we individually weigh how it is we reflect their positions just as we do when we read various authors. It's wonderful for me, personally, to attend the workshop without getting slain every half day. The mean-spirited, heavy hitters have either grown up or stayed home.

There is such joy and excitement over possibilities and opportunities going on everywhere! We are continually learning to function as His body without using the fist part to bruise the thigh work. We've quit beating up on ourselves. We are helping each other, motivating one another, praying together for His handiwork to show up on our canvases.

Be encouraged. God works. It's a marvelous and privileged thing to get to be in the church. I find kindergarten to be a most exciting time in life! You and me....we are just getting started!


The workshop is too much to describe in both emotion and information. I'm constantly reminded of wondering just how much can God possibly have going on when I hear not even a fragmentary percentage if his servants teach and tell of His works where they live. I was especially touched by Patrick Mead and Josh Graves' talk Thursday night.

My favorite sessions...the few I got to hear....were John Smith, Dusty Rush, and Rick Atchley. Names missing from the list doesn't mean they were not awesome; I just didn't get to hear so many of them.

There were some sessions I didn't care for and that seems to have taught me my most valuable lesson. I saw how much the crowd would love to hear the speakers simply preach the gospel and tell of the hope in Christ. Humor, when used properly, serves as oil to keep a message flowing. When used improperly, it oddly enough begins to rub. I saw the need to offer the audience the message of hope simply because it comes from the Word. When Christ is not preached, spirits sense they must be on some sort of fast. The spirits of our people hunger to be fed.

So here's what "we" learn. We never arrive. We never have it on totally straight. There's always room for both progress and improvement. That, to me, is exciting. I don't feel distraught over lack. It's the gigantic opportunity to get to keep learning!

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Workshop very amazing! Wondeful crowds! Wonderful experience!

Tired....but how happy is tired like this?

Friday, March 28, 2008


It's just too fascinating working in the kingdom which will not be put away. It will not succumb to any other power. We get to have complete confidence, even in apparent losses, because God is always a Yes...II Cor. 1:18-20.

We are making tremendous progress by penetrating into earth's darkness and offering light. Hundreds of thousands are praising and glorifying God at what we might have once regarded as insignificant. Testimonies of His work in His people are filling the earth.

God is the supplier and the protector. Awaken, if you are religiously drowsy, to the absolute marvel of our being connected to the Supreme One. The Tulsa International Soul Winning Workshop is going on right now. It's a glorious frenzy of witnesses attributing God to success in the field, on the street, and in our churches.

Awesome is our God!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I've got it! Thousands are in Tulsa right now and they've got it.

Lord willing I'll check back in after it's all over.

Pray for us!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


It is commendable we have interest in seeing the church prosper. One of the things I've learned over time is that we don't build the church. Jesus does. He is building his church. We've always said it. I'm growing in believing it.

Experiencing Jesus in our work is a fairly new concept to me. Such isn't new in theory. It is new in actuality. Jesus lives in God's children. He reaches to and through us. Man is still God's method for reaching a depraved society.

These characteristics seem to motivate or activate His participation in us:
  • HUMILITY: God is opposed to the proud. Claiming we are the only ones with the Truth is surely a bold admission of our pride. The more we yield in humility, the more He will extend His grace. He says so.
  • MERCY: Mercy is the act of offering forgiveness when it has not been sought. As we extend mercy we receive it from Him. He says so.
  • LOVE: We live in constant offense. We either dispense hurt or get hurt or both. We must have some divine assistance to get us through such a deep and persistent quagmire. Love covers a multitude of sins; ours and theirs. He says so.
  • WORSHIP: To worship God instead of worshipping worship formation is a breakthrough. It isn't a question of doing worship right as much as it is a challenge as to whether we are really worshipping God. God inhabits praise. He says so.

The good news is Jesus is still building His church. I am most happy to encounter a growing number of believers who remain interested in doing Bible things Bible ways. One of those is learning to stay out of His way by letting Him do the building as we do the honoring of Him.


Terms as “Soul Winning”, “Evangelism”, and “Outreach” can freeze the average church member. No longer. Wait ‘til you see a video designed for Bible classes and small groups. This week the Memorial Drive Church of Christ is releasing a brand new DVD called 100% Natural Evangelism.

Four segments of forty minutes each will build extreme confidence to rejoice, relate, and relax. There’s just nothing like it. The message will move one from the feeling of terror to terrific! No one would believe evangelism could be so fun. You will want this series…..really.

The four segments are 100% Natural Concepts, 100% Natural Vision, 100% Natural Methods, and 100% Natural….Plus. The Plus is how the Holy Spirit impacts our seed sowing efforts.

Those who have seen it ARE VERY ENTHUSED! This DVD will be available at the workshop this week! If you are unable to attend email me at and give me your mailing address. We will send it out to you next week along with a bill for $39.99 plus $4.00 s/h.

Your people will laugh and they will cry throughout the series. But I promise, they will not be bored!

Monday, March 24, 2008


Matt Dabbs left a powerful comment on yesterday’s blog referencing God being dumped. He wrote:

“The standard for our beliefs is not to be against what the other guy believes. When the disciples saw a guy casting out demons Jesus didn't say go and find out what he believes and make sure you believe the opposite. No, instead Jesus continued to insist that they learn about discipleship by continuing to follow him. When are we going to seek Jesus, open to whatever we find when we find him, rather than seeking to find out what they believe and do our best to contradict it?”

I think the church is very encouraging today because of a growing perception like Matt’s. Critics would claim we’ve wavered from the Word. Yet, I see us moving toward the Word become Flesh. A matter which I find interesting is such enthusiasm isn’t relegated to the younger or the youngest generations. Its pulse it strong in the graying and balding ages as well as the young pups. The reason for that is God is faithful to his Word. We are literally younger every day. One doesn’t grow old in the kingdom. We grow young….II Cor. 4:16-18.

Our standard of belief won’t fit into that of the 1930s or ‘60s or ‘90s. Some try to impose it on us by threatening. Others by bullying. But, our faith is in Jesus and the freedom to build upon the Rock is important to us. Have we arrived? Oh, we are just getting started. We are only in kingdom kindergarten. We are sure we have not arrived. We think He has. He is still the way, the truth, and the life. The church of the past, as much as it has blessed us, isn’t the standard. Jesus is.

Thanks, Matt, for a simple and stirring comment yesterday.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


The Church of Christ threw the Creator out with the bath water somewhere in the middle of the last century. Miracles have ceased was the charge. I'm not sure, but it may be this line of thinking developed to do two things: keep the Pentecostals at bay and to keep us as the only ones saved. A problem with this has become sadly evident.

God was put out to pasture by His church. It was made clear to Him to disengage His involvement with His people. We would do just fine working from the Word, thank You. Therefore, three or four generations have grown without knowing the True Possibility God.

Things are changing. They needed to. Followers are still looking to His Word. When they do they notice they have a God who calls into being things which don't exist and gives life to dead settings. Possibility Thinking isn't restricted to Zig Ziglar and Robert Schuller. It is a part of Christian doctrine. Romans 4:17ff clears the path for such a faith. God illustrates His interest regarding this vibrant Truth by telling of the birth of a baby boy to an old man and woman. Then He continues to say this story is relayed for today's followers to receive the hope found in resurrection power!

We worship the God of possibility! Don't let Him live in the dump another day!

Saturday, March 22, 2008


I think we fight the very thing which would make us successful. The one thing none want to be may be the very divine secret God has hidden within us to cause triumph in whatever we do. What is the truth about each of us that nobody wants? We claw and crawl to see that we somehow escape the label “nobody”. No one wants to be a nobody.

Henri Nouwen makes an astounding comment, Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection……As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone or abandoned, I find myself thinking: “Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody.”

Didn’t Jesus call us to lose our lives? Isn’t humility a credit to character? Why then is fame, recognition, and accomplishment so prominently on our front burners? Why the craving for success and popularity? The surprising apostle writes of a divine secret: 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. I have become foolish; you yourselves compelled me. Actually I should have been commended by you, for in no respect was I inferior to the most eminent apostles, even though I am a nobody.

Paul was not inferior to any of the other apostles; yet he knew the truth about himself. He was nobody. If he wasn’t inferior…..then the others were nobodies as well! When will we catch on that working with the Living God leaves all other participants thrilled to simply be nobodies? When will it register that the gunky stuff in life which makes unconverted people miserable is the very thing which makes Christ’s followers content? Weaknesses? Insults? Distresses? He lists our lists! Nobodies are content. Somebodies are miserable. One group would be Christian.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Racism troubles me. Up front, I feel certain I don't think I get it. I doubt I know enough about it to address it. Yet, it so hurts and exasperates my spirit because it's too big for me to envision as to how to tackle effectively. Is it so poisonous no one(s) can bring resolve? Has it been allowed to churn over a slow heat for decades while races agreed to disagree over its divisive pain that now it just can't be fixed? When any of us discuss it does prejudiced tension undermine productive dialog? Have radicals on all sides developed in us a dishonest bias in general?

Baseball camp opened my eyes to a side of race issues I knew nothing about. I have listened to Curt Flood, Bob Gibson, and Ted Savage talk for hours of injustice in the baseball world. They would tell of all of the players deboarding the bus following a game and entering the grand hotel. As the whites would go to their rooms the blacks would be ushered down the hall and out a side door and be driven on another bus a few miles out of town to sleep at a funeral parlor with the corpses.

Curt and Bob rehearsed how one year at Spring Training a young boxer invited them to a Black Muslim meeting. Afterwards Bob told Curt, "That's nothing but White Power in reverse" and they never went back. The boxer named Cassius later converted to become Muhammed Ali.

Barack Obama and his pastor are front page news. They have been headliners for a week or more. It's interesting this story has surfaced and how it has come about. Complete and diabolical opinions will be nated for days, if not months, to come. I have two questions: Do we have a grasp of how deep this runs? The second is, What can we do about it?

For the first one, I don't think we white people get the depth of injurious racism any more than those who have not been depressed get depression or those who have not gone without food get starvation. Yes, I think we brush against it on occasion, but I don't believe we identify with the angst our black friends harbor in their hearts.

Discrimination, I fear, is in general more of a topic of discussion to Caucasians than painful experience. But racism runs many rivers. I find Pastor Jeremiah Wright to be the very racist he detests. This emotion presents a deep-seated strain on our world. It's heavy. Lightweight forums won't cure what ills urban America.

So secondly, what are we going to do about it? What can we do about it? For one, I would like to hear from African-American readers as to your opinion....the honest what-you'd-really-like-to-say to how you see both this problem and how you think Christianity should move to resolve it. I don't believe for a minute Pastor Wright represents Black America. I do believe his sentiment is strongly spewed in more corners than we would guess. Maybe I am wrong.

I don't think I am naive that good things are going on to assist progress. I think I am naive as to how bad things are for many. Racism may be too big for me to get my heart around. How do you see this struggle as an opportunity for the Christian race to persuasively impact a people we simply cannot ignore. They need our love. We need theirs.

In Him may be become one.


Next week is to be the Tulsa International Soul Winning Workshop. The theme is Prayer: Our Declaration of Dependence. I wasn’t confident such a theme would fly. Well, it is!

Do any of you struggle with praying? I was a paid minister when in my early years I didn’t like to pray. In my first work I don’t remember praying. In my second work I recall building some momentum. Today? Well, I’m not yet as groomed as one would expect, but changes for the good are progressing.

What blocks us from this most important facet of discipleship?
  • FAILING TO BELIEVE GOD IS ACTIVE…if we think He isn’t going to do anything, then the ceiling tiles are as far as prayer goes. It was a boring and unproductive exercise, not a divine communication.
  • FAILING TO BE THANKFUL…praying is not a grocery list of “Bless me.” “Bless me.” “Give me.” “Give me.” It is a dialog of thanksgiving. He hears and His heart swells to hear His children say “Thank You.”
  • FAILING TO WANT…for so long I was drawing a pay check. I was putting in official hours. I didn’t possess a burden for anyone or anything except to see my ministry survive. Odd? Oh surely I’m rare in this, but for a few of us we feel so out of step, we just don’t know how or where to begin…anything.
  • FAILING TO SIMPLY BELIEVE (an extension of the first one)…for years I thought ministry was organizing calendaric church choreography. I had no concept of Invisible involvement with my earthly mission. It didn’t register. Period. Why pray when I could use the valuable time to get pressing projects rolling? That God would lend a hand was not in my mental filing cabinet. I thought it was up to me. It isn’t.

    Some may read this and struggle with prayer. What would you add as a reason for struggle OR a reason for prayer’s progress?

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Jesus said he would make us fishers of men. God doesn’t send us out to fish for men with a rod ‘n’ reel. He sends us out with a net. It’s a huge net and it takes many, many in the body to draw the net through society. Some get away. Some were missed. But there’s always a catch. Others will be caught when we swing back through.

The net; I love the thought of net fishing. The net is huge. It’s not the size of a volley ball net. It spans generational time and human plan. It takes saints of all ages to hold on to it. Peter and Paul were two of the first to begin to unfold it. The net is not of cord but of Christian seed sown to the Holy Spirit wind. A song written, by Charles Wesley here, a plane assembled by Boeing there, a pie baked by a widow in 1843, and a note extending an invitation written in 674….the weaving of individual and quite meager threads become “the net”. Do you see it?

The net sweeps across and back. It turns and dips at an angle to snare one more God is faithfully trying to reach. The net…which includes our involvement…takes in souls ‘round the clock. We are soul winners. While some of us slept last night the net was drawn in by the Spirit. There was perhaps a prisoner from the interior of the Ukraine, a single mother from Vermont, a cab driver from Tokyo, and maybe a school teacher swept into the love of Christ from Nigeria. The net is simply complex. It snags souls. Our faith and love and vision move the net.

The late Charles Coil still keeps this net afloat by the eternal seed of the living kingdom he sowed in the 20th century. Although Garrett Henley only lasted seven months on earth, he joined in the sweep by connecting to the net. Faye Holmes, Amanda Sanders, Tom Dahlman, Linda Thomas, Van Priest, Theresa Underwood, Jack Maynard….and millions like them form the net. We are not becoming soul winners. We are soul winners. We think we cover an insignificant square footage of abode, but in reality we cover earth with the glorious net of faith in God.

Good for us!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


We’ve had a week of Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s tirades filling the airwaves. Now Rev. John David Manning of Harlem is being used to counter Wright; one being in Barack’s corner, the other in Hillary’s. It makes one wonder. Oh, not the wonder I led you to believe. I set that up to get to the real wonder. I believe wonder (the good kind, the light kind) is all around. Yet, oft we may not notice it. How is that?

Are any of you old enough to remember when you didn’t get much for Christmas? However, the one or two things we got were usually treasured (Hard candy and nuts in a sock wasn’t great, I must confess). In fact I could hardly sleep when it hit the month of December for the outlandish anticipation of it all. Now? We get so much every week Christmas has…..lost its wonder. Wonder, full wonder (wonderful) is everywhere. It’s in reports. It’s in courtesies. It’s in inventions and creativities. Wonder fills the room, the street, society. Let’s notice it.

Each morning I thank God for the wonder of it all. I have extreme luxury everywhere I turn. You should see the street I live on. It has asphalt and curves and occasional rabbits. You should see my closet. It has so much! You should see my church. It is so much! You should know my friends. They are so much. 75% of the world’s population doesn’t have the food they need, the health care they deserve, nor the opportunities they would prefer. I do. We do.

Take the wonder you have and subtract the wonder you don’t have and see if the remainder is still not in the surplus zone. How can that be? Wonder….God’s provisionary wonder! Don’t you love right now?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


This blog is for young ministers who get thumped on occasion. I got mine today and should you think that somewhere along the ministry trail it quits, it doesn't. Furthermore, it's a necessary part of kingdom life; specifically personal growth. Yes, even old guys take a hit here and there.

A member came to see me today carefully expressing the dissatisfaction she and her husband have regarding my preaching. They get nothing from it. Nothing. They are bored and frustated at hearing nothing from our pulpit. How does this revelation hit me? Well, not good. It didn't make my day. The fact that such a conversation went on is only half of the event. It's what I intend to do with it that completes the project.
  • I INTEND TO GROW FROM IT. This is valuable stuff....painful in obvious places....but valuable. Don't waste yours. This isn't weird. It's useful.
  • I INTEND TO IMPROVE. I'm a better preacher than I was a few years ago and I anticipate I will be a better preacher someday than I am now. So why should I let such a conversation do anything but motivate me to stay in school and keep learning the method God chose to reach the world?
  • I DON'T INTEND TO ADJUST TO PLEASE THEM. If God's improving me pleases them, then that's a bonus, but my goal will not be to step up to the pulpit this Sunday and tickle their ears. Such will be up to Him, not me.
  • I DON'T INTEND TO POUT. I've spent too many days in such a useless pit. No more....when I can remember. Yep, the lady did hurt my feelings. Nope, I will not squander my young age fretting over something that He must work out. If I can get better awesome. Worry will not be a part of my sleep effort tonight.
  • I INTEND TO USE THIS EVENT TO BUILD SOME OF YOU UP. Criticism especially hurts ministers. We are usually in this work in the first place because we are sensitive. It's a part of ministerial fabric. Thus, for us, hurtful words really dig deeply. But we must not wither under such heat. We must regard it as training in the Kingdom Gym.

I am not being picked on. A couple doesn't care for my preaching. They are good people. Hey, I don't care for my preaching sometimes. Even when I'm lousy God uses such messages to promote His agenda in some way. You have a lot on the ball, young leader. Don't resist those who challenge you. Take it in. Sort through it all. Keep the valuable stuff. Toss the rest aside.

We have work to do and such workouts will keep us from giving up. Endurance is a kingdom matter....a big kingdom matter. Don't quit......II Cor. 4:16-18. If you are His minister it will be imperative you take a little thumping here and there. You won't like it because you arent' supposed to like it. We didn't like homework either. But both are designed for our learning.


Watch for the word righteousness in the Bible. This refers to an
individual being right with God. While there are matters of importance
which God lays out before those who seek Him, getting right with Him
is surely key.

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Mt. 6:33). Why
are we called to seek His righteousness? Ours is a flop. No preacher,
no faithful church attendee, no Bible reader can get themselves right
with God on their own good deeds. Many try. Others believe they
succeeded. But if it’s not God’s rightness, it isn’t valid. If we don't know to look for God's righteousness to be applied to ourselves, we will conclude the pursuit of God is vain for we will decide we aren't good enough.

Be encouraged by II Cor. 5:21: He made him who knew no sin to be sin
on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God.
There it
is! The way anyone gets right with God is not based on our religious
efforts but on Jesus’ bad deeds? What? Yes, one is right with God on
the basis of how bad Jesus became on the cross. He became each of our
sinful acts. Jesus became kitty litter on the cross to absorb every
dark sin we’ve committed. He traded places with us.

No one gets right with God on their own goodness. He makes us right just as he made Jesus
wrong. The trade has been completed. It might encourage you to take a
good look at Jesus. He died for you…that you could live for Him.

What a trade!

What a God!

What a Savior!

Monday, March 17, 2008


Noontime today was my appointed time to address the Kiwanis at the First Methodist Church in downtown Tulsa. My assignment was to speak on Easter...."but don't preach a sermon". While I began preparation last week, I could not get a feel for what to say. Saturday I worked on my talk some and then this morning I stayed in the office and finalized the plan of attack.

I didn't feel good about what I had. It was all right, but not "the message" I'm used to sensing beforehand. I just couldn't get the feel. Having arrived thirty minutes early I sat in my car and prayed about the vacant direction such preparation had taken me. I thanked Him for taking care of what I viewed to be an important opportunity.

So I entered the hall excited to be invited and unexcited over what I felt they were about to hear. We were served a nice meal and I met several good-natured members of this group. There was a lot of preliminary remarks as well as recognitions distributed. A CPA, Lee Swarthout, introduced me. But just before him, another Kiwanis member introduced Lee as the one who would introduce me and mentioned him being a avid golfer. Bingo!

That quick portion of a sentence unlocked thoughts as if one had opened a medicine cabinet packed with loose marbles. The ideas fell out of the air. I ditched what few notes I had made and told of Easter being the secret to societal needs. That Jesus looked into the stark threat of death and beat it. Such information translates into to us reversing discouraging encounters.

Golf? I got this from hearing about golf?

Then I opened by telling them of the time I went to the PGA Tournament a few year back and after standing 2 1/2 hours in silence called out to Jim Furyk wanting to know why I had yet met a pro golfer....and maybe he might be the one. They laughed. They got it. And off we went sharing story after story about times which appeared to be lemon sours only to become wonderful lemonade moments.

I challenged them to note the times this week when they encounter discouraged individuals and to see if they possibly could counter with resurrection power to bring joy into dismal settings. We had a great time. One even said he's coming to visit our church soon. I left grateful for two things: (1) the message of hope Easter truly has, and (2) that God would resurrect a set of notes previously headed nowhere special.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


I personally know a few effective speakers. If Marvin Phillips, Jeff Walling, and Randy Harris wouldn't fit in the top tier, maybe Chuck Swindoll, John Maxwell, and Philip Yancey would. So listen up when I say that Craig Hicks is the best public speaker I know.

Today he was at his best. Craig had an assignment from Shane Coffman to tell the story of Jesus' last days.....and he did. Craig is a pure communicator. God has given him a mind to envision history and bring it up to date with superb imagination. I could listen to him forever.

Shane's work framed Craig's. His intermittent songs shined upon Craig's words as floodlights. The morning was a display of two men's talents perfectly choreographed for the church to get to exclaim afterward, WHAT AN EXPERIENCE!

I was proud of Mr. Storyteller once again today. He and Shane didn't bring the house down....they took us the King's quarters.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Imagine that seven Christians from, let's say, rural Kansas decide to risk money and time in hopes of evangelizing a remote mountainous area deep inside communist China. Prospects are slim. Weather conditions and guides indicate this trip is not worth the effort. Fasting and praying prompts the magnificent seven to continue their trek. Establishing a New Testament church within the heart of the Chinese borders would be too good to be true.

Imagine after bouts with influenza and fatigue the seven arrive at a camp just outside of Phan Yung weary but hopeful of what God might do with them for the next twelve days before returning home to Flatville, Kansas. The troops slip into their sleeping bags following a meaningful time in praise to the Overlooking God with genuine anticipation God will work.

Imagine the elation of the seven breaking through the wooded curtain as they come upon a village of believers of Christ Jesus. The Chinese Christians were found to be a sweet tribe filled with gratitude for a book left behind in the early 1920s. Two ancestors had been able to translate the writings and began the religious practice of baptism for the remission of sins.

Imagine the seven finding this village had already established Sunday morning services in which they shared what was called a communion meal recalling the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Too, the backward people had established Bible study groups, youth groups, women's retreats, began a crude announcement sheet requesting special prayers and informing the community of gatherings. To their dismay the tribe even sang A Capella from three old thread-bare books brought back from an open-air market across the mountain in the late '50s. One gifted man lead the congregation in singing which was some of the most beautiful voices the Kansans ever heard in their lives. The church even had a small food pantry for those in the area less fortnuate.

Imagine the jubilation and celebration of the seven to make such a thrilling discovery. It would be too good to be true! What Church of Christ would not be absolutely thrilled to walk into such a marvelous discovery? What Church of Christ would not consider this a powerful provision of the living God?

Then, why can't we be just as thrilled over each other who practice the same things here at home? Have we lost the vision of our own miracle? Have we become so routine in our doctrine we have developed hearts of criticism rather than wonder? Have we the need to become converted once again? I think the mission trip of Jesus to earth is still a thriller in our own land!

Friday, March 14, 2008


Mr. Powell would have been proud, I feel certain. He was not only my next door neighbor when I was a kid; he was my school principal. Yesterday I was honorary elementary school principal at Lindbergh. How did it go? Well let me tell ya.

First, I noted no special parking spot for me. Bummer. When I got out of my car I saw a neighbor lady sitting in hers so, friendly me, I tapped on her window. I noted her sheepishness as she explained she had to run her little boy over to an awaiting bus headed for another school. As we continued to talk I noticed she was wearing her pajamas. Ah, that explains the sheepishness. I kept talking. As I signed off to head into my assignment I said, "nice outfit". I'm sure she was so pleased I noticed.

So I entered the school and was escorted briefly to a few classrooms by nice Mrs. Nance. A problem arose which needed her attention so I made myself at home by visiting every teacher and her classroom. I handed out raises to each teacher and told them all to take off at 2:00 with not a worry as to what would happen to the kids. Too, I told the teachers it would be all right to wear jeans today (Mrs. Nance isn't such a fan of Jeans Days.) I am pretty sure they wanted to crown me king! Mrs. Nance most certainly wanted to crown me.

At 11:20 I observed a fine party-like occasion: kindergartners in the cafeteria for lunch. I noticed the tables were full of students except for one lone boy sitting by himself. I sauntered over to sit with him and talk.....kinderlingo. Before long others were leaving their tables and carrying their food rather dangerously to sit at our table. Oh we talked big stuff. Soon there were no more seats but kids were standing holding their plates and eating.

Soon Mrs. Nance drove me to the schools' service center for lunch prepared for all of the "principals for the day" throughout Tulsa. I knew it was for all of us, but I told Mrs. Nance I had figured the purpose of the special lunch. I told her I figured it was to give me an award honoring me for being such a wonderful and heroic man in the community. She was surprised I had put such a glowing scenario together.

On our way back (and I didn't get the award as I told Mrs. Nance I had just text messaged the Superintendent telling him not to bring me up front as I didn't want the others to feel neglected) I told her that when I was a school kid I wasn't really mean or bratty, but I was the leader of disruption in class. Her response? "Well, I wonder why I'm not surprised." Hmmmm, she had me figured out without me even telling the story.

I was Principal for a Day. The teachers didn't get the raises. Nor did they get to take off early. However, I ran back by the school at noon today to see some of the kids at lunch and guess what....the teachers were wearing jeans.....and giving me high fives!


What is the key we each hold which unlocks our personal prisons? Is there one? Oh, I think most definitely so. We often find ourselves hemmed in by aggravating circumstances of one sort or another. We may be ill-treated, ignored, denied, or abused. Possibly a boss is bossy or a child is childish or a spouse is spousy. Maybe the loan didn’t go through. Or, maybe the loan went through, but now the income to pay for it hasn’t.

What do we hold in our hearts to release us from these stubborn irritants? Our praise of God. God is looking for us to pray to Him, sing to Him, smile with Him. I watch too many of my brothers and sisters live as if they’ve been weaned on dill pickles. Yes, they experience trauma. Yes, they’ve been snookered. But so have all the others who are smiling and going about productive lives. These prisoners believe with all of their heart they have been given the lemons of life. They haven’t. They have chosen to neglect God.

When God’s children left Egypt He let them wander in the wilderness for the rest of their lives because they began their trek with grumbling and complaining which never stopped. They went around the same old mountains and through the same old dry places year after year. Why?

They refused to flip the switch on their talk. It wasn't they wouldn't walk the talk. They refused to talk the walk. It was all about them and how bad they had it and how much they wanted God to bless…and how irritated with Him they were because He didn’t. But what they couldn’t figure out was they were their own Barney Fife’s arresting themselves one crabby and sulking complaint at time.

What a tragedy to plant our own land mines and then step on them. How much sadder to find ourselves jailed and we are our own jailer.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I’ve already written one post for today. But this theme is tugging at my heart so strongly, I believe someone(s) are in need of it now.

Stress is a killing weed choking societal progress. It affects individuals who pass the negative gene along to their families which burdens school children leading to stifled learning which will ultimately discourage necessary ambition and vision for future leaders, inventors, administrators, and families. How shall we deal with this monster which invisibly terrorizes good men and women?

I’ve connected with some frustrating possibilities recently. I have established a rule with which to measure how deeply I want to acknowledge stress: if it isn’t bigger than 911 or a brain tumor it doesn’t get my attention more than a few minutes. I won’t allow it to go into my invisible satchel and carry it from room to room, from meeting to meeting, from agenda to agenda. My people and my own spirit cannot afford to let such a non-productive guest linger in the hallways of progressive success.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


TOMORROW I report to work at Lindbergh Elementary, a public school just down the street, as honorary principal for the day. We have workshop preparation going on in big ways, but this venue puts me in the middle of community action. Besides, why not be the boss of everybody for a whole day. Would that be my job? I have no idea what I'm going to do. Hopefully, my eyes will be available to see things intended for kingdom usefulness! Would you think a bag full of candy bars would be a good idea?

FRIDAY I'm to meet with a reporter from the Daily Oklahoman. I don't know much about that paper; rephrase, I don't know anything about that paper. However, they are coming to Tulsa from somewhere to do a story on Baseball Evangelism with St. Louis Cardinals. Sounds right to me!

And then MONDAY I am to speak at lunch time to the downtown Kiwanis about Easter. I'm not to preach, they said, but talk about Easter. Okie Dokie. That I can do. If you had such an opportunity, what would you say at this event?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I'm from the farm. Seed sowing is natural to the farmer and to the Christian. The scattering of the seed in the kingdom is tremendously exciting because only faith eyes can consider potential harvest. Face eyes will overlook the opportunity.

Last week I was in a department store looking for a watch. A young lady assisted me and she is one of the most professional, courteous clerks I've encountered in ages. I could not help but notice her kind disposition. Her speech overflowed with confession about how much she loved being in sales at her store. She may have been 22 (?) and could not curb her comments as she was simply happy to have her job. I left impressed....and with a new watch.

I wanted to talk to her about God. I wasn't afraid and I wasn't uneasy. I just couldn't get the conversation to roll my way. I noted her name tag (first name only) and sent her a greeting card with my baseball card (which tells where I work) included. My note simply praised her for being such a superior professional.

Today I was in that store again. As I was about to leave I noticed the jewelry section and was reminded of the clerk. I passed by to see if she was there. Sure enough she was and when she saw me she voiced her extreme gratitude. She told me no customer ever took the time to tell her what a good job she did. She exuded (as is normal with her) great satisfaction in the occasion of the moment. Then she said, "You are a preacher?". There it was! The seed landed. We small-talked and then I quickly moved on not wanting to dominate or abuse this newly founded friendship.

What will happen? Several possibilities loom. We may never speak again. Eight years from now she may hit a crisis and recall my card or at least our positive exchange which could lead her to find a Christian leader for assistance. Truthfully, nothing might result. Yet I believe the Spirit of God is the ultimate soul winner. He will use us individually to team reach. My gut feeling is my brief contact will not be the last step of God into her world.

I have no idea about her. I know nothing of her life. But I read a tremendously wonderful heart. If she is not presently Christ's, I pray that one day she will become so for I believe God has secret treasure buried in her and the church will benefit from it.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Okay. Let's go over my last blog a bit. I intentionally left out Ananias, Sapphira, Stephen, etc. to lead you to believe I was discussing someone(s) presently. I was hoping you would question either them or me or both. And then....I wanted you to realize I was discussing the first century church.

Why? I wonder if we don't realize today's church as possibly being sanitized and sterilized. How casually have we come to think that Jesus hung on a cross perfectly composed for the photograph with no sight of blood? There were no bruises, no splatters of blood, and evidently no moments of gasping for one more oxygen hit. He seems to hang there clean-cut.

Does the church also seem to translate as casually? Doesn't it innuendo there were no nerds, no hyper nut-cases, no radicals in the church leadership? Sure there was Peter, but didn't he straighten up at the end? Doesn't it seem to white collar and tie us into tidy venues of community service? Didn't the early church do VBS for the kids and then have a weekend retreat for the undivorced?

My point in the Some Churches blog was to awaken us to the "play-church" mania plaguing some of our modern day efforts just hoping we will see He is still including us in the building of His church. It will not always be attended by orderly rows of pews, a pinch of cracker, a sip of juice, with the hopes that we liked at least six of the eight songs sung.

The church is a life or death issue. It is radical in that its intention is to use us as God's method to turn the world on its ear. How we go about it is up to our eyes and ears of the Spirit to discern. But it is up to us to pursue the kingdom of God with sobriety which may, in fact, be a beat of a different drum than the American church is used to marching.


It's really frustrating to hear of some churches and how they approach ministry. While we would always know ours isn't exactly ideal, we do have the hope and the ambition to keep it moving upward, don't you think? Don't get me wrong....but we are trying.

I won't name a church or a specific group, but what are some people thinking? I have in mind a particular range of members who seem as if they deliberately try to skirt off of the beaten path. They always have to do the off-the-wall stuff that grates on those of the norm. Charges of radicalism seem to roll off of their backs. They don't seem to catch it that they constantly stir up trouble. I hope I won't be judged harshly for this statement, but at times I just want to see them driven out of town.

I try not to be critical, but why can't these people get it that when they break from a system that has worked well over the years tension will be obvious? Can't they see their doctrine and method divides the metro community? Reputation alone hits so many the wrong way. How can this be and yet they expect to have impact in soul winning?

Maybe....just maybe I need to learn a few things from them. They, by the way, are the church I see in the book of Acts. Division at several turns. Instances of death due to lying and more death due to stoning. When will they realize it doesn't have to be that way? Why couldn't they just dumb down from being so radical about everything?

Just wondering.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


Amazing grace lives in the church! Do you think so? I live dumbfounded and overjoyed at the talent God allows us to live in at Memorial Drive. It's everywhere! It's everywhere! Each age range has spectacular grace flowing from the members. Giving and reaching and sharing and learning is abundant. I've always dreamed of being a part of a church like this. And we aren't the only ones. He's everywhere!

We know we are not much. We know He is very much.

What makes you the happiest with the church? One of mine would be the surprises of God. He is so capable of leaving me dangling on a project so He can have my full attention and then Whamo, He shows up! I love it that He works things out. How exciting is it to live in a zone that defies earth's logic and system while engaging upon earth itself? We are in the world but not of it.

Our work force and supply house is from a distant and upper land. Our citizenship is there. We read the heavens and roam the earth. Gravity only keeps our bodies glued to the ground. Heaven's pull draws our spirits to soar with the angelic activation. How fascinating!

What is it about the church life that blows your mind?


Friday, March 07, 2008


Friday of the workshop will find a special scene at noon. The Tulsa Fairgrounds is providing pizza and drinks for 500 in newly constructed Central Park on site near the race track. While the pizza and drinks will be served at noon, such is merely launching the next few afternoon hours of Don McLaughlin, Craig Hicks, and Watershed!

Youth ministers.....bring your entire youth group! Parents.....throw your teens in the car and drive to Tulsa! This workshop is going to be huge and there is plenty on the program for the teens to thoroughly enjoy!

Check out the schedule and other details:

20 more sleeps!

Thursday, March 06, 2008


The call to preach is a privilege. But is it as glamorous as most may think? Yes, it is. It's an incredible rush to get to do what I and others get to do. Who could be so fortunate? Those in my position get to do the funnest work in the world.

Yes, there are chasms of struggle, self-doubt, and constant conflict. Depression howls at our heels and inadequacy rains down moments of terror. Yes, we deal with such deep sadness our hearts flood out. Yes, we have little to measure how we are doing and this leaves us flailing in the air at times. And yes, we fail at least as much as we succeed. We make dumb comments and dumber decisions. The church waits patiently or bolts impatiently as we fumble to grow up only a smidge.

Are you thinking of beginning to preach or deciding whether to continue? Here's what I'd say. The glamour you wonder about truly is there. It's fascinating to get to do what we get to do. We direct seekers to the Astonishing One. We study from the Endless Word. The more we learn the larger the unknown of the Word grows. We are intimate with the greatest Mystery of Ever.

We marry the young and bury the old. Tragedy breaks our hearts while celebration thrills them. Do you know what is one of the most powerful wonders of the world? Being a preacher. It's everything one who dreams of such can hope for. God does not disappoint. Stress and trouble are entry level courses called Suffering 101. His wisdom insists we take a refresher course every so many days so we stay in tune with Him and with people.

Want to be a preacher? Do it. Run to it. What a calling. A world awaits for the Hope of the One and we happen to know Him. There's so much work to do and so many places to do it in. The darker the continent or the nation, the brighter hope will shine.

Is it a glamorous life getting to preach? Absolutely! In looking back, if I had it all to do over again? I'd ask God if I could be me.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


I keep forgetting God is at work. As much as I preach "God Works" and as much as I love sharing such a message, I still forget He really does. How fascinating He is to show up! Our God loves to do that stuff He does to care for His kids and run the kingdom life.

I love it when I get so wrapped up in my endeavors and He shows up with His surprise for the day or the week or the month. Often I will pray, God would you do that thing you do where you surprise me at causing an impossible thing to take place? Would you show your hand in my path?

As much as I would like to put my co-op with Him into a formula or pattern, I shouldn't, wouldn't, and ......can't. He won't fit into man-made molds. He'll break out like Lazarus! I love it that He stymies me. I love it when He reminds me He has once again trumped my vision with His grand scheme.

I encourage you to pray for what you would love to see positively hit the kingdom work: water for the thirsty nations, bread for the homeless, shelter as well. What is it you would love to see Him do for the community? Begin to pray. Thank Him for doing it. Watch doors open and observe God moving. Be ready to be surprised at His expansive response to your what now appears to have been a piddly prayer. It's not that you are frail at praying. It's that He's that good!

In a slightly different slant on the the well-known scripture, could I remind you that the Word says we have because we ask? Then.....ask.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


A few weeks ago I confessed to my staff my complete frustration of feeling non-productive. I feared I might be disappointing them or neglecting them; possibly even irritating them. I just wanted them to know I knew. Today another on staff reminded me of that talk and confessed he is feeling the same now. He feels nothing is working, little is useful, and he's questioning his role in ministry. Here's something important I shared with him that some of you may need to consider.

If we are going to minister we must experience dud days to keep in touch with those on the hurting side of life. Jesus came to earth, became human, and experienced the full range of humanity. He identified with us; our every ache and disappointment and frustration. We go through valleys to know how valley walkers feel. We cannot know their agony if we do not experience agony.

Dud days are good days for anyone in ministry....full-time or volunteer. Not all plans work. Not all preparation delivers. Not all efforts bear fruit. But due to the magical mystery of God's brilliance, even failure means something to the believer. Dud days are not a waste. They are a class we take called Suffering 101. We not only despise them, we may find we don't like ourselves. Great! Maybe we'll learn to lean on Jesus just a bit by bit more.

Feeling like a dud lately? You know full-well I was not aware of it. But evidently your Father did. He may have just signaled that you are not useless, but rather important enough for Him to let you struggle because you have a brilliant ministry to fulfill. Hurting people are so benefited when you refuse to give up on His work in you!

God bless you, Dud.

Monday, March 03, 2008


In my early years in the church I read a few articles about how the church was losing ground; warning that if things kept going the direction it was there would come a point that the Church of Christ as known then would cease to exit. Fear clasped my heart. Tension increased. We must preserve what we had.

Yet since those earlier writings I've experienced the following needed changes:
  • The preachers remained in the Word and the Word changed the hearts of the preachers. Richard Rogers and Jim McGuiggan are two in my circle who lead us to this zone.
  • Our view of singing shifted from pianoless emphasis to authentic, arousing heart engagement. Keith Lancaster is one (and then Allen French and Shane Coffman for me, personally) who can be credited with much of this needed improvement.
  • The church has shifted greatly from scared to happy, from insecure to confident, and from grumpy to merciful. Has not Marvin been a huge voice in this adjustment among us?
  • The Holy Spirit has been accepted as directly active in our personal and corporate walk. Can we not attribute this breakthrough to the Holy Spirit himself?
  • There is developing a continual and increasing anticipation that God will show up. Our members can be credited with reaching a point they just had so say Someone more than us is involved in our worship and our work.

Thirty-three years of preaching have passed in a blink. I'm realizing the writings of threats and warning were, in reality, not to be feared but to be hoped for. The Church of Christ as known back then had many things it/we needed to repent of. Thus, my continued thrill to feel as if I am only in kindergarten in the kingdom of God. I assume, from my intimate experience with Him, that when I am yet one score older I will have advanced merely to pre-school. How I look forward to those days. But I shall not wish my life away in the meantime in either fear or panic about the condition of the church.

I believe the Church is still Jesus'. I believe in Him. I believe in His people. I am so happy to tell any that I belong to the Church of Christ. It's got some incredible things popping at the moment and I want in on all of it! What's happening to the Church of Christ? God is!

Sunday, March 02, 2008


I wish Marvin Phillips were not in South Africa tonight. I wish he could have been at Memorial Drive and experience the wall to wall unity as the areas churches gathered for Workshop Roundup! I know him....he would have cried.

From front to back and side to side, all the seats were taken. A few sat in the balcony. Mitch Wilburn said it right, much credit goes to 29th and Yale's Daryl Hayes for beginning a new preacher's luncheon. It's different and we all know it. A segment of his fruit showed up tonight.

The crowd was wowed, thrilled, and filled with gratitude. It felt good to get together in a forum which felt natural and right. It wasn't canned. It wasn't afraid. It wasn't stiff. It wasn't nervous as to who might be upset. We left that baggage a long time least we thought so...but wasn't sure until tonight. It was a gathering of gratitude to God for giving all of us a second chance to enjoy being together.

Mitch, Daryl, and Tim Luster each spoke ten minutes. They addressed the crowd with heartfelt depth for hope in God. There was no threatening call. Vain declarations were absent from their lingo. Simply humble men leading us in thoughts of renewal in the Spirit of Christ made it an awesome evening!

Here's what I got from it. If we will wait on the Lord, He will give us His promises in due time. I felt like tonight was a promise of God delivered. We have waded through insult and embarrassing treatment from a grouchy set of brotherhood leaders over a long period of time. Tonight we got to find out if we were still the same as back then...and we aren't even close. We are a new kind of people and happy for it!

Thank you, Dear God, for not wiping us off the face of the earth. Thank you for letting us find out there's a healthy team of congregations pulling for one another! We intend to seek You to keep such a warm fire burning.


Memorial's staff gathered months ago to discuss how we might knock on the door of reconciliation among area Churches of Christ and the Workshop. There was complaint from local congregations from the very first workshop and such disdain escalated to the point we felt we had to move forward without them. Time has transcended and personalities have replaced personalities. Too, we have learned from some of our mistakes.

We decided we would see if we could get three area churches to gather with us at Memorial for a Sunday evening Workshop Roundup. If we could find three such churches we would invite their preachers to speak for ten minutes each. Just three congregations weren't a lot...but it was a beginning. We sent out three invitations and quickly found three acceptances. We wondered if more might be interested so we extended the welcome mat to another and found acceptance. So we invited another.

Lord willing tonight on our stage will be representatives from twelve area congregations! We got three a preaching, three a reading, three a praying and three a leading singing. We don't know what to expect. Will three from each of these churches attend....or maybe fifteen....or thirty? Whatever the amount, it will in representation of area congregations who are signaling we have work to do and let's do some of it together.

We are so excited! Tonight is the night! Thank you God!

Saturday, March 01, 2008


The Tulsa International Soul Winning Workshop is 26 sleeps away. It's one of the biggest tasks to organize and deliver. What's it like for us at Memorial to get ready for this event? Would you like the polished professional leadership version or the small man at the computer concept? Let's do the latter.

In two words the workshop is Excitingly Scary.

March is simply one huge panic attack! God must release some of His most crucial blessings for this thing to work. We must have Him orchestrate attendance, contribution, travel, and His Word through the individual speakers in unusual precision. If just one of those sections breaks down we are in for a struggle.

Attendance is obviously pertinent. We want to inspire the church to reach the entire world....soon. With growing venues from which to select throughout the year (and add to that a very touchy brotherhood), the size of the crowds is always a question mark until the day it starts.

The budget will reach about $170,000. I never know how He will cover it. I don't see how He can cover it. Yet, He does. We have no other backup measure. God is it.

The price of gasoline and the nation's economy affects the workshop attendance which affects the contributions. How it is the people sacrifice year after year to get here.....well, it can only be because God shows up!

Finally, the Word has to have clear vessels through which to flow. If we put together a line-up that doesn't deliver His goods, we fail. It is imperative the speakers share His wisdom and righteousness that hearts be purely inspired to win souls. Again, God must show up in our speech.

So what's it like being a part of this work? Two words: Exciting and Scary. I sit on the visible side of the wall and place my trust in the invisible world. The former is scary. The latter makes it exciting!

See you in Tulsa in 26 sleeps!