Tuesday, June 30, 2009


We are learning not to worry. I've been team teaching with Shon Kendall and Jeff Gentry regarding the power of Jesus easing our stresses. The class title is jesus.calm. How fun.

Sunday our theme was Reactions Count. Emphasis of Jesus being steady and stable during pressing moments led us to consider improving our reactions.

So today I was presented a test. I was on Southwest Airlines flying to Phoenix on my way to Portland. During the flight we had the usual drink and snack opportunity. I ordered coffee. I love airplane coffee. I can't explain it....I just do. It's better than ground (get it) coffee.

So we were flying along and I accidentally tipped my cup into my lap. My nice slacks were immediately a soaking mess. But hey, I've been to jesus.calm. I couldn't do a thing to change the situation. The lady sitting beside me was looking away and out the window. There I sat in my self-made puddle.

Later the lady looked my way and saw the obvious. I said, Ah, I've had too much coffee.

I let her worry about it; not me.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Possessiveness creeps in unnoticed. We need stats to measure our success and support our progress. Therefore, numbers count. Money numbers. Baptism numbers. Membership numbers. Attendance numbers.........all of 'em matter....and the more we cling to our small parcel of earth's acreage, the more we try to convince anyone looking that we are effective kingdom saints.

So I've missed one of our sweetest Memorial members lately. I called to check on her. She said she had been visiting other churches. Something surges within one's blood pressure when notified of such a development. But I know this friend. She has experienced some of the most painful days any human could ever encounter. She belongs to God; not my attendance totals.

So I let her know it was quite all right that she is looking around. She needs it. She agreed that sometimes a person needs to move on with life and see where God would lead. She has my admiration.....and my support. I could tell she needed to hear that from me.

But you must know that before Jesus gained more of my heart territory, I would have balked at her news, I feel sure, with a guilt-trip discussion. It wouldn't have been based upon her; but upon me. However, another lamb missing? Not when the kingdom of God is wider than my flow chart. Not when ministry spans time and place.

My friend? Well, I don't know where God will lead her. But I know this....we will always feel a bond of partnership as God does His work from many temples in many territories. We aren't merely working for and with the local congregation. We are serving within the vast global priesthood call the church.

Ours isn't a report of "win some" "lose some". It is a confidence we are partners in the Lord when sharing the same space and when out of sight of one another.

May God bless the fluidity of the kingdom people....John 3:8. There is enough room to give one another enough room.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


I could be crowned king, you know. King of the baseball diamond? Nope. King of brain-power? Nah. King of insecurity? Ah....you got it. I don't know of anyone who has had to fight the demons of swimming around in the low-life of presumed uselessness than me. Not very kingly is it?

So let's address my/our insecurity. It is a mind game played solo. We don't need others to tell us how poor we are for we talk to ourselves all day long presenting proof positive. When others might chime in we regard them as only witnesses to the fact we already knew for we had rehearsed well the lousy traits of us. This would be known as stinkin' thinkin'.

We will arise from this dump of trashy self-talk when we absorb more of the mind of Christ. His is filled with mercy, love, and.......security. He knows how to do/be what we aren't; but his goal is to see that we become it.

Brennan Manning wrote a wonderful piece about this. In a less obvious sense, the hunger for security is mostly a matter of our emotional programming. My feelings of insecurity are not a necessary consequence of external circumstances (such as business recession) or the actions of other people. The power to achieve equanimity and stability lies within me. It is not at the mercy of whim, caprice, and unpredictable external forces. What keeps me feeling insecure are my addictive emotional needs, which must always be satisfied. When reality does not live up to my expectations, I become frustrated, angry, bitter, anxious, and resentful.

Whoops. Does Manning live inside my mind? No. I'm guessing he knows how to write such things because he is inside his own mind. How many of us are grateful for his insight?

The power to achieve equanimity and stability lies within me is a striking statement. If we grow in understanding that "the power" is the Holy Spirit/Mind of Christ, we shall be growing beyond insecurity. Once that happens, maybe we could be crowned king....of confidence....in God....II Cor. 3:4-5.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Mankind isn't fair to one another because, as much as it is needed, it cannot love perfectly. Everywhere we go....we are there....and mess nearly everything up.

Here's possibly a bit of advice which helps alleviate our stress. Performance in the church should take the backseat to the Person. Empty people try to fill their lives with religious activities which develops even more hollowness. The Person, Jesus, is the right direction.

What do we mean, "The Person"? When we try to mimic him we begin to see with his eyes and walk in his sandals. Life, thus, begins to unfold as petals of a bloom.

This morning I was in one of my six favorite coffee shops. I could not help but notice a grandmother sitting with her two young grandsons a couple of tables over. It appeared they did not have much. I had never met them, but could not keep from noticing/studying them.

When I was finished, I went over to the table and said to the lady, Are you the older sister to these good looking boys? Oh, she thought that was funny. I reached for their ticket on the table and said, I really think it would be a good idea if I bought your breakfast. Don't you?

This lady burst into expressions of deep gratitude; I don't mean just a little bit. I could tell God had made a move that really mattered.

I want to encourage you to do what you can to see like the Person sees, talk like the Person talks, and go where the Person would go. We don't always succeed....but then that's why the Person carries us through, huh?


Anonymous wrote a very nice comment to my last post which included, Over the last 2 years I've read your blog regularly. There have been days when I couldn't take it, because you were so upbeat and positive and that seemed so far away.

Occasionally such a statement comes by me in phone or email conversations where some feel frustrated over my outlook. That's an odd thing to receive; yet the words, There have been days when I couldn't take it, are troubling to me. They resonate with the other comments I referenced. I'm not offended; but rather am sympathetic. I get it.

I do know that upbeat and positive seems so far away for each of us on any given day. This is my motive for writing the way I do hoping to heal your wounds. Suffering is rampant. We each chip in to contribute in some way to the healing process.

To Anonymous and others, I understand what you mean. So, is it all right to encourage you that I have very discouraging days? Why would you think I harp on encouragement? I need it. I get very down. I am today. Yet, the news being reported and the trauma being experienced is so awful for so many, I want to fill your day with some level of faith and good outlook.

Every morning I sit at this computer (sometimes at evening) and think about the anonymouses out there who need one person to tell them they are all right. The reason for so many articles day after day is because the pained and frustrated good people are on my mind...always. Just as the Anonymous who wrote of his devastation.....ah, that rips my heart that he would suffer. We need each other. We must have the faith support of one another.

This world is filled with crummy people. Sometimes...we are them. The thing I love about Jesus is he gave enormous latitude to every kind of person (except the critic). Why did he show such grace? People are stuck without it. Jesus adores people. We are people.

Therefore, as you read my words know they are intended to be thoughts God has given me to boost you. All the while be sure I am a floundering and fumbling mess. I get afraid, perplexed, foolish, and embarrassingly weak. That's precisely where I get my material! Me.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


I wasn't necessarily a Michael Jackson follower as far as music fannery goes. Indeed, he delivered some mighty and powerful music as he pierced the entertainment industry with remarkable talent. I am a Jackson fan in that he represents much of humanity; a person valuable to God.

I've held a special place in my heart for this man since I read a quote of his in an interview maybe 20 or 25 years ago. He said nobody wanted to be his good friend. Possibly several missed his statement. For one, I got it. Everyone wanted a connection to the pop singer (an autograph here and a photo there), but few would love him unconditionally for who he was; a plain and needy man. From the time of that interview I have grieved for him as his life surely displayed his loneliness in the midst of a crowded concert halls and stadiums.

As a side note it was reported Elizabeth Taylor rushed to be with him as he passed. I feel the same toward her; although we have never met. It made me think of her back surgery in New York two decades ago, at least. I read later she received over 5000 cards. Amazing. A few weeks later her secretary wrote me a note expressing Ms. Taylor's personal appreciation for the letter of encouragement I sent. She, too, is most likely a lonely lady in need of God's tenderness and mercy.

The biggest flashback in all of this is Jackson dying at UCLA Medical Center. That's where Curt Flood's wife asked me to meet her as Curt had taken ill in his final days. I was so fortunate to be with Curt in the last few hours of his life. It killed me to tell him good bye and head for LAX.

We must be connected to the Son of God in such a way, my estimation, to remember even those who appear to have it made carry incredible hunger to be loved and accepted as a part of a graced community. Many years back our church bought small ads in the Daily News and the Hollywood Reporter offering Bible studies by mail as well as a phone number. We had a slim amount of requests for the studies.

One day, though, a young woman called me with the initial introduction that she could not tell me who she was. She asked if we could just talk. She wanted to talk about the possibility God could be true. I was honored to have the talk.

What goes on with such occasions? No measurement of religious exercise. No charting of effective outreach. The assurance.....we encouraged one heart that day which may have never heard God loves the entire human race.....including her.

I wonder if it may be time to polish the ads and reach to this lonely industry once again. Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and now Michael. Surely their friends and admirers are crushed in heart. Maybe we could encourage just a bit without getting in their way.


We hear a lot about various endangerations these days, don't we? Intentionally exaggerating to make my point, the furry ground mouse in Iowa, the red-winged sapsucker in New England and the multi-prismed colonial trout in Minnesota are on the endangered list. Concern is broad while a devoted hand full hold the masses at bay at times from proceeding with the routines of living.

Oil and gas exploration are barricaded in the name of preserving pristine landscapes. The ACLU continues to protest crosses and the sacred name of Jesus by threatening to remove both from military cemeteries as well as chapels. The buzz phrase used to freeze man in his progressive tracks is protect and preserve.....rights.

Therefore, I find it ironic and sad that the same sort who can be given to such great causes would not find it in their hearts to protect and preserve the unborn fetus. Unborn babies, to many of these who protest the weakest of causes, evidently are of little regard. Millions of tax payer dollars are being invested in Florida to provide a canal for endangered turtles to make their trek from water to land and back. Yet, protecting and preserving the birth canal of humans is, in their minds, ridiculous and religiously antiquated.

It makes the words of Jesus arise to yet another new understanding. You strain at gnats and swallow camels. Indeed we do.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Is it possible that while having ears we do not hear and while having eyes we do not see? I wonder. Jesus seemed to address such in both his strange and penetrating style.

But I wonder. I wonder if we have so much to hear and so much to view we've gone deaf and blind without realizing it. Are we suffering from spiritual hearing loss as well as spiritual glaucoma?

What is causing us to miss so much while living in the very middle of.....of so much? The much may be the big hint. John Eldredge wrote, After awhile, the accumulation of event after event that we do not like and do not understand erodes our confidence that we are part of something grand and good, and reduces us to a survivalist mind-set.

I'll take the survivalist mind-set a step further. After awhile the accumulation of event after event that we do like and do understand erodes our sensitivity to marvel. We have to leave the present wonder to engage in the next and the next and the next. We hop from one birthday party to wedding shower to anniversary to wedding to funeral to check-up to appointment to appointment to the appointed time.....in gigantic overlapping cycles. We are too busy to be exhausted.

When we note Jesus coming to heal the blind and the deaf we should make special note. We are in deep, deep need of him. For one, I want to be a part or element of the church which restores the wow and the awe. We must look for the healer. For to be in the midst of outlandish work for God, one really could go blind and deaf if we get wrapped up in schedules more than the Man.


Ministry implies burdens. Life insists upon them. Therefore, we are not called to follow Jesus in order to lay claim on a care-free walk. It isn't going to happen. This is quite an important notice to our hearts.

Surrender is a sort of Sunday School term. We use it especially at the Lord's Supper as well as sprinkle it in sermons for effect. Surrender is man's Give Up-ness; therefore, it is a good thing. Think about this: the reason many give up (on the project) is because they refuse to give up (of their own ingenuity). Man has his "Give Ups" completely backwards. He is caught wearing his faith inside out.

If we will give up ourselves (surrender to the fact we can't cause anything to develop on our own), we will immediately find ourselves placed upon the stage of effective success. This will cause us to never give up on the project as it isn't ours. We have surrendered it to Him. If it is to be it is because of Him; not us.

Thus, we are set free to dream, to try, to imagine. We give up our ingenuity and skill at the door. We receive, instead, His perfect wares that we might do His work at His level under His direction in His timing. We then become effective everywhere we turn because we learn to give up the right thing; not the dream but the control.

If we will give up we will discover we never reach a point where we give up.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I think one of the things the Church of Christ has very right is its insistence that scriptures are from the Holy Hand of God. I wasn't brought up to view the Bible with such reverence. We didn't disrespect it, understand. Somehow I missed the part, though, of believing the Word had a message for us today.

Our emphasis of a believer operating according to the Word of God will always be a majorly important factor for every disciple. The clarity of the Word is worth our search as well as our supreme meditation.

Where we have gone wrong is to have reached a general knowledge and asked all students to refrain from discovering deeper mysteries of God. In other words, we have told our people to base their faith on the Bible; but don't keep studying new things for this upsets the core believers. Big mistake.

What happens is those who have quit studying believe anything new didn't come from God; but from man's imagination. This just isn't true. The Word of God is alive and it will constantly require of the Bible student the necessity to perpetually adjust one's mind.

We are quite right in believing the Bible. We are equally mistaken to assume it has nothing new to offer the students' conclusions of fifty years ago.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Small Groups/house churches are special tools for today's church. If Sunday night at the building works for congregations, then praise God. For me, small groups have meant new life for Memorial and for my spirit. Sunday nights had become Jr. church; Sr. was the morning service. Small Groups have put the all important connection factor into the family which is enhanced by the Sunday morning reunion.

A mistake Memorial made at the onset of the Small Group move (and I was the leader) was we tried to make all groups fit the same mold. This is a typical leadership move as we tend to think ours is the best composite of all ideas. Wrong. Mine wasn't even the best idea for me.

Through belonging to about six groups over the years, we finally hit what works for our group...prayer. We pray. I avoided prayer when I began ministry. How boring especially when there was so much work to do. Yet, our small group gathers to pray. Two of our people have yet to pray aloud, but they are praying just the same.

I know of no other group at Memorial which does the format we do. I don't even know of any in other congregations. I hear of variations of formats and approaches even to the extent that some don't attend a small group except their favorite TV show or their workbench at home. Awesome. The Sunday night imperative was created by us; not God.

Small Groups are a blessing to the church. They seem to work better when we let those involved work out the best approach for their people. The cookie cutter is a good idea for keep dough on the sheet in decorative form. It isn't a good tool for the wide range of heart and spirit needs among the people being reformed into the image of Christ.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


How often do you feel out of place? Lately, I have felt almost a struggle to be in the church. It isn't that I have anything against the church for it is treasureable as well as honorable. It is precisely that sentiment which causes me to feel somewhat disconnected.

The church keeps getting more amazing. I continue to decrease. My energy isn't subsiding. My awareness of how far off-base I am increases. None of this is a bad thing for God is at work and I belong. But I write it should some of you believe I never feel "off". I'm off.

In the meantime, I must trust Him. He knows how to work with me or go around me. I'm not the key. Jesus' Spirit is. Be encouraged, therefore, if you feel slightly bummed without a very good reason; your heart just seems to sag. God is at work and will be working with you even while you think He is not.

We must realize the church is bigger than the local attendance in a specific building. It is in every nation (sometimes underground and other times under bridges). The church is poised in glorious cathedrals and vicious concentration camps. His body is global. We are a part of it...even when we don't feel so "participatory".

Out of place lately? I know what you mean. Let not your heart be troubled. He is strong.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Doing enough and being good enough is either a worrisome or intimidating endeavor. We are built with God programmed into our central nervous system. We imagine in His court. Our drive is divine.

Due to such, we are susceptible to wanting to do more than we can get done. Sometimes I feel like I'm going to explode with failure. I'm not referencing discouragement; but rather imaginative opportunity. We just can't seem to exert the skill or energy needed to cover the landscape of need in front of us.

The world we are in but not of is stirring with extreme need. We know the answer; his name is Jesus. Serving, though, the living God with His heart implant leaves us desperate for our hands and feet to cooperate with this Gigantic Spirit He has implanted.

Ours, therefore, is a world of such enormity that if not careful we are likely to feel plagued by sheer inadequacy. We will do well to remember our adequacy is from Him and never from us...II Cor. 3:3-5.

Friday, June 19, 2009


I'm a dad. Not every man gets to be. Not every man, who is, feels honored. I do. My kids aren't perfect....should anyone wonder if I ever knew that. But they are ideal....in case you wanted to know.

Wendy is the oldest and the prettiest. She has always been my Wendy-the-Pooh. I admire her. She has been dealt some pretty stiff assignments and mastered every one of them. Plus, she's got an amazingly quick sense of humor.

Dusty had orange hair. He was big into baseball and basketball. I admire him. Today he is a far better preacher/pastor than me and I admire him for it. Plus, he's got an amazingly quick sense of humor.

Now Tim is remarkable in his own right. I admire him. He is a missionary in Guadalajara but has been in foreign fields such as Russia, Portugal, Africa, and Lubbock. He preaches with tears in his eyes over the slightest sentimental occasion. Plus..............he's got an amazingly quick sense of humor.

All three were always appreciative. We started out not having much. They were embarrassed over the two end tables I made from stumps (but I liked them). It was burdening being the preacher for a large congregation and trying to scrape enough money to send my kids to church camp. The kids acted as if they never noticed. God took care and we always had just enough.

If we ever got a few dollars extra saved up we splurged on new dresses or shoes or ball gloves; whatever the need of the moment would recognize as celebratory!

My toughest time being their dad was calling them into the living room on a Saturday night (several times) and telling them how sorry I was; but I felt I would be fired the next day immediately after my sermon. They were always working at being understanding.....and God let us stay.

Today....while all three remain my good kids....it's even more special to know they are also my very good friends. Wendy-Dusty-Tim....thanks for making dadhood a privilege.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Today is Hall of Famer Lou Brock's birthday.....as well as mine. Last night during the televised Cardinal game a stat came up about a home run Lou hit in the Polo Grounds years ago. This prompted Al Hrabosky and Rick Horton to talk about Lou's birthday coming today and that it was mine as well.

Then they started talking about me (in front of my back). At first they were discussing what a nice guy I am...but it didn't last. I believe their last comment was, We sure do love him but he still can't hit. How nice to be remembered?

Happy birthday to Lou....and me!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


If I should sneak by midnight tonight my intention is to turn 62 on Thursday...perhaps the very same day some of you are reading this. This is the age I once referred to as old...I mean a foot-in-the-grave old. Ah, I've changed my mind. The good thing is I've changed it and I know it.

These 62 years have seen a lot of changes (I speak as if my grandfather). What a world! Some of the things I've seen are a man went to the moon but didn't buy anything, my Cardinals won the World Series again and again and again, I met God, and an African-American has been elected President. Of course there's more.

But could anything be left to fascinate us? Let me ask it another way. Do we think we have stumped God? Do we think He's spent; no more goodies left to wow us kids? Ah, I think He's only just begun.....and have we forgotten the construction going on in Heaven? When He ushers in the new heavens and the new earth do you suppose lawns will finally do what I always wished as a kid; grow 2 1/2 inches high and stay that way forevermore? Do you suppose He will do away with words like dummy, short, and diet?

Get ready in the church. I intend to address this Sunday with the sermon The Wonder of It All. Life, real life, reflects Jesus....not Wall Street. It works from the Trinity....not marketing schemes. Life is fluid, fresh, vital, large, small, energetic, and unintimidated. Life....that's what Jesus gives us and we will not let the boredom of the gigantic and unexplainable distract us. We don't know how it all works; but we know God is the ultimate designer, protector, and sustainer.

What's left to be found in this old amazing world? Only this....the untapped, mind-boggling, shocking powers of God which He has held off until His next display of wow! Watch for it. God....is coming soon....to your nearest receptive hearts! It may even be in 4-D!


Next month I celebrate 32 years at Memorial. What an unspeakable privilege. It's as if heaven came early.

I was thinking about my very early experience at awful. I thought I would die. Well...I thought I had killed someone so.....

Two very large sisters from the bus routes responded to my high-powered invitation to be baptized and I knew at that moment the whole church was bursting buttons in pride over the kid they hired to be their preacher. I was a hit....I figured!

So behind the curtains the first taller-than-me sister entered the water, curtains opened, I did my thing, curtains closed. She fainted in my arms. With her back to me, slumped and dead weight, I thought she died. The two men assisting with the curtain stood with jaws dropped. I looked to my left. The women were frozen in time. Yep.....she's dead.

Now I'm trying to figure how to hide the evidence. Trying to think quickly the woman kept sinking and I kept lifting. I've got a dead woman in my arms and she's heavy to start with and now she's soaking wet. She was a load. I'm sure when the elders find out I've killed one of them, I'm fired as they had just fired their previous preacher for much less of a crime.

No one will help me. And....I'm little.

As I begin to drag her through the water to the steps the water starts sloshing very loudly. My goal was to keep everything quiet until I could figure an acceptable explanation. I didn't know if the church had insurance. All the while, I'm trying to keep the lady above water (and she seemed to be gaining weight) and now the water is noisy. From sheer fear, I broke out laughing. It was the dumbest scene; impossible to take in. No one (of those assisting me) back there did anything but stare.....assuring me she was......completely dead.

I wrestle her to the steps as if she were some sort of wiggly alligator. She's unconscious (but I think she died) and she's heavy and I'm tired. I get behind her and push with all my might....a step at a time....and glide her across the floor once we cleared the top step. Whew!

I get back into the water, take a deep breath, look at the sister who seems petrified, and motion (for I could not speak) for her turn. Well...she seemed hesitant. By this time I didn't care. I was toast as soon as the frozen deacons thawed and ratted on me to the elders. Finally she came into the water and you'll be pleased to know this one didn't die.

However her sister missed it. She was to my left folded in a wet heap as the two men to my right and the two women to my left stood speechless. Obviously, I was on my own. When the first sister came to, I was a most happy camper....and I've kept my job now for 32 years!

That, though, was one terrifying and rough morning.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


God calls into existence things that aren't....yet (Rom. 4:17). That is a most fascinating statement because its direct implication is such is why we have/are to use faith. Faith believes things come about because our God can call into being things that do not yet exist.

How free are we to imagine? How ridiculous can we go? Well, nothing could be more absurd than the thought of making something from nothing. The cooks refer to baking a cake from scratch. Hardly. They have eggs, flour, sugar, water, etc. God develops from scratch. He can take even nothing and make something from it. So do we....when we use faith.

Shall we imagine?

What could we do by faith to match all of America's empty houses and buildings with all of America's homeless? So many structures are inhabitless and people are homeless. Maybe someone could create a marriage of the inhabitless and the homeless.

What could we do to connect the elderly confined alone in assisted care facilities with younger generations who sit on their porch steps feeling useless and unnecessary?

What can we discover about ourselves and our optimistic, highly creative, faith that would be so fascinating all would realize only God could do that? For certain, we still live in a time when the impossible can become possible; things that aren't....yet.....can be.

Monday, June 15, 2009


I am more and more impressed with how impressive God is....and how unimpressive I am. It would be discouraging if it weren't so important that Jesus continually be the one that lives in us.

I keep thinking, How much more growing have I yet to do? Then I pick up the simplest book to read about the nature of Jesus and I realize I haven't arrived at the game yet? I'm stuck on the practice field.

God has life mastered. He knows every in and out; nook and cranny. I think one of the factors which looms largely in my soul is growing in assurance of the Other World. The invisibles are real. But so much visual about us impacts as it bids for our attention.

Being aliens in this temporary land doesn't feel very alien or temporary. It feels like if smart enough we can keep self around longer than others have managed. We fight to stay here.

Confidence in the reality of the Other World surely helps us grow in managing the temporary apartment we know inhabit. I don't seem to be gaining ground. He keeps increasing. When He does He seems to move the yard markers. I'm always reaching. But this thing about God I like....He is always reaching back. Really....He started it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Self-esteem is a mistaken short-cut feeling blindly for a way through life's dim maze. Much of the non-commital to sturdy balance and direction for too many is a result of over-attention toward self-esteem development...my opinion.

I speak from experience; oddly self-experience. I was raised with zero esteem. Smothered by words of discouragement, critcism, and yelling, I understand the suffocated inner spirit. I feel that I have found the best answer. It is in God and not in the better self.

Self is to die; not to be polished. This irks some who wish to counter-dote over their children. But the truth is self has to go and this is a major dilemma to every adult approaching believerhood. Ego-mania reeks from preachers, elders, parents, teachers, and yea, blog writers. Paul said he lived; but not his ego. Christ lived in him.

Brennan Manning wrote we must, reduce our overestimation of ourselves, and...realize how limited we are.....(this) keeps us from smugness, complacency, and the self -sufficiency that poisons spirituality. God's Word wakes us up to our need. Until we submit our lives to the judgement of the gospel and the standards of goodness and virtue established by Jesus, there can be no profound consciousness of being a sinner in need of mercy.

More self-esteem isn't the answer. More Christ-esteem is. He is the life; not us. He is the truth; not us. He is the way; not us. We are to surrender; not him.

Friday, June 12, 2009


I have been to one of my favorite seminars. It lasted over two months. It came in book form; Things Unseen by Leonard Allen. Wow! Although the book came out in 2004, I'm just now getting to it. What a help.

One of the things that drew me into the Church of Christ fellowship was the heroic vision of two men; Alexander Campbell and Barton W. Stone. Mistakenly, I assumed those two to be flawlessly pure in their attempts to take us back to the Bible. Too, I believed the contamination of their efforts came later by various church leaders. Things Unseen exposes the polluted, though unconscious, approach Campbell and Stone had as the originals. This explains much of their fruit; division, suspicion, and lack of discipleship.

Leonard does a superb job of plowing up against the corn. Remarkably, this scholar writes in terms even I can understand. How he can level formidable charges against us without harshness could only be explained by his possession of the Spirit of Christ. While he succeeds in revealing our flaws, he equally offers the solution; we must shift from Biniterian (Father/Son) to Trinitarian (Father/Son/Holy Spirit) in our theology.

Not only is he fully aware of where we have been and as well as are, he has his pulse on where we are going. The dilemmas touched on here, along with others, will continue to press and swell as Churches of Christ move further into this new era. As the pressures and tensions mount, many traditionalists will retrench further into the comforting confines of their traditional doctrinal system with its stark exclusivism. Progressive leaders with a high tolerance for tension will continue to work creatively with the tradition, attempting by fits and starts to shape it into something new. Between these two groups will be a steadily shifting, increasingly diverse, generally affluent middle group, loyal to the tradition but uncomfortable with its harder features and key parts of its traditional theology. A sizeable and motley group of others, weary of the growing tensions, will simply let go and find themselves free falling in the grace of God and, willy nilly, into the church catholic.

I find one disappointment in Leonard's book which I've decided to point out. It ended.

Whether an aged church leader or a young pup, Things Unseen will clear away some brush and weeds we perpetually face in sorting through what we believe.

I highly recommend you contact leonardallen1@cox.net and get the book now.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Church is wonderful....but it isn't always easy. Even the difficulties are both beneficial and important as such requires the mind of God to help us sort through the multitude of hops and skips.

Our kind of church is committed to biblical concepts. Whether liberal or conservative bent, all basically want to know what God wants from us. That seems to be a bit more challenging than anticipated.

In the church we experience conflict when trying to sort truth from error. Our theological stances blur due to our "creatures of habitness". Which is it God said and which is it we said God said. They aren't necessarily the same.

Habitary style insists that the church practices stay frozen; even if the Bible won't support it. We've developed a line for its non-support. We call it silence of scriptures. So...the Bible speaks when it speaks and it speaks when it doesn't. Got it?

Thus, one should not be surprised church is loaded with the stickiest of wickets. Jesus has a word for us; You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Jesus would look at much of the work I do and have a fit. He would disarm me; insisting I throw down the gnat swatter.

How do we do this thing called church? Keep peeling away the husks of tradition that we might peer upon the grain of truth. It is a slow and tedious lifestyle. It isn't as black and white as the lazy Pharisaical minds would have us believe. Every time we retreat to the Bible God keeps bringing up important matters we had thus far overlooked. No one has arrived; whether greatest scholar or devoted grandmother. We will always be learners.

How do we do this thing called church? Very carefully.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


One of our genetic blessings passed from our Father is that of creativity. He spoke things into being and so do we. Let there be light, He said once, and there was. Our talk creates. It creates doom or celebration. The slant of our talk propagates.

Yesterday, I found it interesting while reading of Jesus' approach to dead Lazarus that he said things intentionally of faith because people were listening. Just before calling him to come forth from the dead, Jesus was addressing the Father. I knew that Thou hearest me always; but because of the people standing around I said it, that they may believe that Thou didst send me. Jesus noted those standing around so he "said". ....because of the people standing around.... Why speak faithfully? That they might believe.

Point? He would use words creatively and Lazarus would arise.

We? Do we carry resurrection power in our speech? Exactly. Our talk gives others reason to hope. They come alive from their dead-end thinking. They respond in adventure because you spoke life into their dreams. Many are successful because a teacher spoke faithfully to their deadest moments....and abundant life broke out.

Often we are what people said to us. So take it to the bank; people become what we say to them. Speak creatively. People hear you.....and become what you said. So be fully aware, my friends, that productive life is on call when you happen upon any people standing around. Water coolers. Copy Machines. Elevators. Check-out lines. People----standing----around.

An opportunity from God.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Eagles know about wind. They set their wings into the wind allowing it lift them higher. Jesus understood wind. He could make it obey. We encounter various winds; those of threat, others of change, and of course the times.

Tim Elmore wrote a piece in one of his books. Surely it pertains. When the wind is strong, a sailor has three choices: to hold the rope and let the wind take him where he doesn't want to go; to let go of the rope and drift aimlessly along; or to learn to adjust the sails so they will take him where he wants to go. The third option is a picture of relevance. The wind represents our changing culture. A sailor can use the wind or be used by it. The wind can be a friend or a foe depending on what we do with it. Good sailors don't fear the wind; they utilize it.

To know this did not come naturally for me. Such may appear more fitting in my walk today; but such hasn't always been the case. The things which pull us down are actually winds of power which can be used to propel us into our best days ever. I encourage any who have stress blowing to consider tapping into this source rather than trying to escape it.

Monday, June 08, 2009


Have we lost our way? Has life in the church become a competitive marketing scheme to see who can grow the best one? Which can do the most Bible things? Who can capture the bragging rights of the spirituals?

Have we lost our way? Have we become a community annoyance to the desperate and needy hungering for authentic help; yet has long assumed there is none? Is it possible we have burnt our bridges long ago with the neighborhood; although they don't care if we set up shop and mind our own business?

Have we lost our way? Is it true our own have grown weary of our "do goodiness" while so wishing the moment of "good enough" would somehow miraculously arrive?

Such questions can seem terribly acidic. Not intended. They are meant to awaken us to the possibility we have forgotten our purpose. We are the light. We aren't the doctrinally right light. We aren't the few and only light. Neither are we the three hours per week light. We are the light...the light of God. But for heaven's sake....what for?

We are the light because the world grows dark. The church is to shine. We've lost our way. We are failing to take the light to the world; instead we hunker down in spiritual foxholes called church buildings and celebrate or argue....whichever seems our congregational bent.

We've assumed we aren't a part of Pelosi or Limbaugh or Gates or Sotomayor. Too, we've removed ourselves from the economic concerns as if we have no place in it. We are wrong. We have forgotten. Jesus didn't hit earth to build mini-marts for Bible thumpers. He hit earth to bring relief to the political, economical, and social darknesses. He was the light and in resurrecting lit our wicks that we might do some damage to continual darkness.

Yes....we might have lost our way here and there. But I know us. Jesus is not an archaic puppet for a VBS flannelgraph. He is the head of the biggest movement ever to hit earth and he's still recruiting. The good news is that amazingly good and brave men and women are still signing up.

Make a difference. Awaken to the call to shed light in all the dark corners.


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "WHICH TRUE CHURCH OF CHRIST?":

I see a couple of different camps/trains of thoughts in church today: those who think "church" is all about the two hours every Sunday morning and are comfortable doing so because it's in the building with the right name on it; and those who love to do anything to distance themselves as much as possible from the "old-school" church of Christ ways, but who wouldn't know how to love their neighbor if Jesus was whispering instructions himself in their ear.

We need so much instruction on actually being a disciple and follower. We need something almost of a "revolution" to save the real church from disintegrating into the culture around us. Anyone up for joining me?


I'm encouraged in Jay's observation as I see such a direction increasing in some congregations. I'm touched by the number of doctors who lead our people on mission trips only to return home and devote themselves to the homeless and the food pantries.

More and more we run into members who "have everything"; yet they are given to seeing missionaries are supported and the church has adequate funds. On top of that, they are driven to bless those who feel they drew the short straw.

It is impressive to see our young children willing to grow in the simple caring for others doctrines. As a matter of fact, they often lead the adults in such moves.

I think Jay is on target and his call will never fade. Before us will always be the challenge to defy the tide which wishes to sweep us into our own beneficial and self-serving interests. I'm grateful for hearts like Jay's, Jackie Chestnutt's, David and Lisa Combs', Lita Blevins', Mike and Vasca's, and on and on and on the list goes.

We aren't ideal except in the zone of directing our people to look and think more like Him. We are slow, indeed. But it is such a charge when we get there...if only for a moment.

Sunday, June 07, 2009


Jesus was the strangest sort of human. Really. He wasn't a combination of Superman and Colombo. He moved through the streets as we; one foot in front of the other. He could become fatigued as well as thirsty. But what kind of person he was.....truly astounding.

A thing which seems continually fascinating is how much Jesus did the abnormal thing....normally. He didn't seem to take the usual route to anything. When good friend Lazarus died...he waited instead of rushing. When 5000 needed a meal he made do with what was available rather than panic over the moment's demand. When encountering lepers he went toward them instead of from. If a threatening weather forecast arose.....he slept.

Do you see Jesus didn't barrel his way into power? He simply walked on two feet into the storms/threats instead of away from them. He wasn't good at avoidance. He was terrible at being predictable. He walked forward.....backward.

Our days would possibly find much more God-moments in them if we could detach ourselves from the chain anchoring us to our demanding safety-nets.

Saturday, June 06, 2009


The Bible speaks of churches of Christ. People speak of churches of Christ. Sometimes they aren't the same thing. The former is always His as Jesus really is building it. The latter is suspect. Both might be the same; but not likely.

All of mankind needs to know of the church Jesus is building and let God add them...just as He always has since Acts 2. The kind of church we know where we don't use instruments like the Methodists and have communion every week, unlike the Baptists, does not make us the true church.

Church of Christ was never a brand name. The New Testament is silent regarding any evangelist urging potential converts to visit a local Church of Christ as if it better designed than the Presbyterian one as we know competitiveness today. The direction offered was toward Jesus.

I love and want to be a part of the church Jesus is building. The denominational Church of Christ is not what we see in the scriptures. We must continually help one another lean to the one and avoid the other. It isn't a we/they. No one is exempt. We have let in man-made doctrines claiming them to be all from God. They aren't. We picked many of them up from the very denominations we criticize.


One of the early church doctrines which is ignored by most is that of being aliens in this land. We like it here. We do everything we can to keep from going. Yet, this was not the nature of the faithful when the church began.Remember the Spanish church which meets at my coffee shop each Saturday morning? About 30 of them meet at 5:00 on Saturday morning to pray for their next day and then they disband for the donut shop. Memorial Drive bought their coffee/juice/donuts a few Saturdays back.

I hired three of their men to paint a couple of rooms in my house. I notice something consistent about these and many like them; extreme kindness and humility. They live appreciatively. Why? They are strangers in this land. They live as if they don't belong here. They apparently like it here; but their homeland is far away. They are aliens to our land.

But those humility/kindness/appreciative factors.....have possibly the Caucasian and African American races set our roots just a little too deeply into this temporary soil? Have we not taken on a mood of things are owed to us; we don't have to take the crap that goes on and eventually we let everyone know when that line is crossed? Have we in the church forgotten we don't belong here? Have we turned such truth into mere and meaningless words?

I think we have. I think we have become difficult to live near and among. This isn't just with the poor. The rich and uppetity-ups are equally condescending. I think the church has lost sight of authentic citizenship in heaven. Thus, we quarrel and wrangle about words.

We've rooted in to the point territorialism has become essential.I don't know about you, but I'm blessed to be around many of my Spanish friends as they display a demeanor that I don't possess well enough. God must wince when I live as if I am somebody running the show....any show.

Friday, June 05, 2009


If the gospel is good news (and it is) then let it be continually announced the hostage ordeal is over. Ordeal? What ordeal? Did we miss something?

Men and women of all brands are held hostage in trying to be what others want them to be. We are terribly shackled by expectations placed upon us by many who feel they know best. Many struggle to be the most and best they can be because both restrictions and demands have been handed over. The result is grown people in thirty and fifty year old bodies are stifled by someone's estimation of how they should act, where they should live, and what they should do.

As prideful as man is, we are an accommodating sort; even guilty of majoring in pleasing others. Who could guestimate the number of heroic and honorable individuals who, instead, dumbed down to the pestering tunnel vision of a parent or a friend. Henri Nouwen said it well when he wrote, As long as we allow our parents, siblings, teachers, friends, and lovers to determine whether we are chosen or not, we are caught in the net of a suffocating world that accepts or rejects us according to its own agenda of effectivity and control.

Whether I'm in the presence of one homeless or at a party of celebrities, I am very aware of the common thread which runs through every heart. People are fatigued by the pressure of trying to be what others expect. Jesus.....the man called Jesus.....offers great news that each can become what God can imagine.

Yes, the hostage ordeal is over!

Thursday, June 04, 2009


Life used to get me down. I lived sort of a paranoid and skitsofreenick life. (Ah, I know that isn't how it's spelled, but you get the message and I'm too tired to hit spell check.) The slightest things not right became major matters to my feebility of mind.

But I've learned. I've learned from Jesus and I've learned from good leaders around me. Not everything has to go as planned for everything to be precisely and adequately all right.

Each of us deals with a lot of pressures. They await us as we go to work, while we are at work, and then just outside the door as we exit work. Troubles lurk. But our thoughts---our good and assured thoughts of God's abilities---are lurk smashers. We win every time. I didn't make that up. God said so....Romans 8:37.

My paranoid and skitsofreenick mind decided a ways back to let God be right. What an amazing man I am to "let God be Himself"! But He is the Truth and He is right. If He really can take care of the sparrows and the lilies (and obviously He can), He knows full well how to deal with my swirling world...skitsofreenia and all.


Our world seems to grow darker report by report. Those on the D. C. Hill (all brands) seem out of touch. Scare tactics of some smuggling anthrax though the U.S./Mexico border implies yet another means of likely destruction. Whole planes are lost. Fake lost in trunks are found. Have we gone nuts?

Who can possibly worry over everything? No one has that much free time. So what shall we do?

We will do our best to avoid being naive or suspicious. One should counter the other. Then, we will do our best to be a part of the solution; not the problem. The problem is darkness. The solution is light. That's where God comes in. His Son is the light of the world.

This, now, is where we come in. We are called by God to hand out spiritual batteries to the downtrodden that their personal lights may come on. Everyone we know has the ability to shine. But some have suffered storms and their power lines are down. We can/must share recharging words to fire up our neighbors and friends.

Whether in an office complex or a classroom or a family outing, do your best to use bright and shining words. Maybe together we can continually make a difference by taking the Light to some of the darkest of corners and alleys.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


On the surface, the present tense would imply at the moment. The question, Are you living in the present tense?, seems to guide you away from the past as well as the future. And, it's not a bad question. Sometimes we miss the wonder of now by fretting over one or both of the others.

But the question isn't about time, but mood. Are you living in the present (the moment)....tense(ly)?, is my real question. With news from abroad, D.C., and the doctor's office, mankind has a head start on living in the present....tensely. How do we calm down?

Watch Jesus. Model Jesus the best you can. When they were nailing his hands to the cross, yet another occasion arose for him to lose it. Historians report when execution of criminals nailed to crosses reached the point of nails piercing hands, their senses were distorted and they lost all control due to outlandish and gripping pain. From every victim came wild screaming and cursing. They were living in the present....tense.

Not Jesus. When they pierced his hands his words were, Father forgive them for they don't know what they do. In the most (in)tense pain, Jesus chose not to live in the present....tense. He does the same for us. Jesus quite calm was his manner.....directed toward us.

We can live in the present.....calm(ly).

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


Ozzie Smith hit a home run in the '82 National League Playoffs against the Dodgers. As the ball sailed over the right field wall, Jack Buck made the-now-famous call, Go crazy Folks! Go crazy!

That's how I feel living in the church. Who wouldn't want to be a part of the most exciting system in the world....His church? Well sadly, too many of His members wouldn't. They want to sigh and bemoan....and that's why this article.

We aren't called to live according to our tradition; but His. Ours has everything lined out. His has mystery. Ours has direction only as far as our answers will carry. His has a contour we can't fathom; we just follow.

As we faithfully have sung, God is an awesome God. His ways are still higher than ours. His mannerisms make it tough for us to relate. He never gets old and promises the same for us.

I want you to be highly encouraged, regardless of age or of tenure in the church, now is the greatest time to live....until tomorrow gets here. Then, it will ramp up even more excitingly!