Friday, July 31, 2009


Fascination is among us and it is abundant. There is no short supply of good report. I mean it. There is hope. There is life. There is good news everywhere we turn....if we want to look for it.

So many good things have happened today we have enough material to last for days and months. If we will fill our hearts with the awareness of God's marvel and fill our churches with the fact we are called to be a good news people, then surely we can begin to fill the land with a powerful message of liberty to really live.

We must not be caught moaning and complaining along with the rest of the community. We have the opportunity to shine as if we are a light on a hill. I think Jesus addressed us as such.

So how do we go about this? Yell at the top of our lungs? Spend big bucks in publicity? I don't think such is necessary. What we might do is determine to move through every kind of day with a grateful smile in our heart for the fact Jesus rose from the grave. He did so that we could have abundant life. I say let's be known as abundant livers! Let us be thrilled over what others note as commonplace. May we applaud what others would take for granted.

Fill the hearts with appreciation and we'll soon fill churches with happy souls....and then we'll have something authentic from God to fill the land.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Some believe we should keep a good outlook on life. That's all right with me. I would, though, ask you to consider keeping a God outlook. This, of course, would include a good outlook.

A God outlook understands at least these 12 things:
  • God is not perplexed over the dilemma you face.
  • God is able to demonstrate the most outrageous results.
  • God can accomplish the impossible.
  • God enjoys throwing surprises upon our paths.
  • God will hold us if we do die.
  • God can take nothing and make something beautiful out of it.
  • God accepts us when we can't stand the thought of ourselves.
  • God is reaching people through us while in the center of our frustrations.
  • God has not run out of creative schemes to wow the world populace.
  • God is just waiting on someone to believe Him in the middle of our challenges.
  • God will not waste your faithful giving.
  • God expects you to live as if this is the beginning of the rest of your life.

What might you add to this list?


Don't you get it? Haven't you figured it out by now? You are targeted. Dark forces move about the earth as little roaring lions seeking to cause fear to race through our veins. We are opposed...literally.

John Eldredge wrote, Why is it that nearly every good thing, from taking the annual family vacation to planning a wedding to cultivating a relationship, takes so much work? It's almost as if there is something set against us.

So would you awaken to the truth about life? This stuff about God is very true. Jesus really lives in the hearts of men and women. And, they are opposed by an authentic, genuine Satan who lives to steal and rob good men and women of their good days....and their sanity.

You didn't draw the short straw. You are clearly valuable as a precious stone to the invisible, yet true, God. Your opposition isn't due to bad breaks or the number 13. It is due to the Goliath opponent who races to throw sand in our eyes while we try to make ends meet.

You are important. Satan knows it and wants to convince you that you and your zone are decayed to the point of no hope. Your God is the ultimate and final conqueror and He pleads with us to walk through the shadows of life and death as if we have already won...for we have (Romans 8:37-39).

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I want to encourage those who shepherd some flock out in blog-land. Good for you. You guys get bad raps on occasion; but surely not as bad as preachers and used car salesmen. I know a lot of elders. Maybe I could say something to cheer you on.
  1. We don't expect you to be God. We know you are human. Really. So relax. Know that more than being viewed, you are loved. We like you. We need you. We think God gave us you.
  2. We don't expect you to possess all of the spirit gifts. So don't feel pressed to impress us with your talent. We want to serve, too, you know. We want to assist in making this a better place. So let us show you what God has given us; where He has us fitting into the kingdom-scheme.
  3. We don't expect you to Barney Fife us. We will respond better with your applause than your whistle. We already know we aren't perfect. Some of us are afraid to peek from beneath our shells. But....but if you might catch us doing a little bit right, we might try something even bigger and better the next time. Thank you when you cheer us on.
  4. We do assume you need breaks from schedules just like we do. So don't be afraid to not show up at every church event. We won't scowl at you. We will be relieved to know you get too tired....just like us. Please....take a break from your hectic schedule. You'll be more valuable longer.
  5. We do hope you will step aside and let those gifted in areas practice their skills. We aren't going to run away. We love to hear your pride in our efforts even when you discover you didn't even know we were serving in that zone. God has so much going and He/we are appreciative you lead in such a way more is getting done than you can track.
  6. We do love it when you act more like our friends and brothers than a board of directors. We didn't join American Airlines or Applebees, Inc. God added us to the church. Freedom in Christ is a precious asset that we hold dear. When you dare protect our freedom, we love you all the more. You seem more real when you relax with us and ponder the wonder of God yet to behold.
  7. We really love it when we get the sense you are willing to join in with us instead of taking your direction from some group of brotherhood leaders miles away who don't go to church with us. Don't be nervous about what "they" think. We like it when you notice our needs; especially when you try to serve where God has us living. Thank you.
I don't know of an elder who doesn't want to do well. Furthermore, I don't know of an elder who knows precisely what to do on most matters. So relax. Like God and like us. I'm a firm believer that elders set the pace and the mood for each congregation. If you are happy and fruitful, guess what follows? We've never expected you to know all of the answers. We have assumed you know the Answer and are getting to know Him more year by year.

So, thank you elders...every one of you...for taking your role seriously. The church of tomorrow is not found in our teens only. It is found in the joy of a shepherd's heart. And the church is noticing lately....we are seeing more and more joy!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Disney seems to be a world icon of joy, do you agree? Even adults become little kids at the thought of going to Disney World. I think Mary would like to die and go to Disney World. It's just an outrageously exciting venture.

Why is that? Why is Disney World the hallmark of happiness? Don't you think it is because of creativity being on such massive display? We are created by the Creator and our souls respond to majestic creativity.

To me, the church is the greatest creative icon; it is the happiest place to be experienced. Yes, occasional difficulty arises, but do you really think Snow White's gown always fits? How could there be any system or place on earth more profound than the one backed by gigantic heaven?

Awaken to your world (God's created one) and note the remarkable hurrah at every angle. Take in the wonder of it all. If you want to take your family or neighbors on a cruise around the world, get into Jesus. He goes places many wouldn't believe. It's too exciting.

And I work here!


We need more of Jesus....all the time....every day. Especially in America, we find ourselves highly ambitious. Motivation levels are quite strong among us. We are workers. We like work. We like results.

This love for labor can inadvertently prove to be a block in the kingdom system. God wants us to work; but He wants that work to be in the stream of His love and power. Our own strength is contaminated with superficiality. It won't hold up and it won't produce.

Do work. Do lots of it. I enjoy it. But the more it is in the flow of Jesus instead of my own shade-tree kind, the more the fruit looks healthy.

We will find ourselves at many turns debating whether to apply muscle or faith. Faith muscle is what builds strong children...and churches. Trust the faith muscle.....his name is Jesus.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Do we have reason to believe the discouraged can become encouraged, the down can become up, and the fearful can become confident? Absolutely. Our confidence is never in ourselves; always in God....II Cor. 3:4-5. God can do things. God can move people. God can improve the church.

Do we have reason to hope so much of the time? Well, if it is true Jesus arose from the grave (that life beat death) then I say it is quite appropriate we live certain God can reverse the quandaries of life. He can make victory out of defeat and celebration out of depression. God is a builder, a shaker, and a stronger-heart maker.

Do we have reason to look alive and live upbeat? I say every day. Every day we can make it because He can do it. I don't find the church life winding down; nor do I find our energy for His grace and mercy fading. We are just getting started. We are just now catching on to the marvel of His marvel. We are gaining momentum in believing Him; more than just discussing His attributes.

And here's what I'm seeing a lot; the more we open up to the outrageous Spirit of God without human (fear)control, the more He displays His remarkable talent. I think God has been waiting on us. He has been waiting for us to be ready for His style of phenomenal work.

I think we are ready. We have every reason to be filled with hope....for we are filled with God...Eph. 3:19.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


There are so many wonderful things going on in the church world. Praise and worship is growing in Jesus. Sermon content is more hope-filled than church-bashing. Our people are increasing in picking up on where to serve more effectively; how to implement their gifts.

But, one thing really encourages me greatly and that is getting to be in groups where women pray with the men. What a treasure of God being held at bay because women aren't permitted to pray when men are present. If it's one's conscience that they cannot be in a mixed prayer group, then I respect it. For me, a new world of God broke open when I got to hear the hearts of women in prayer.

Our Sunday night small group is a prayer group. We meet to pray. No songs. No study; just prayer. The women make it live.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Pray more. Worry less.

Love everyone by seeing God-potential in them instead of measuring them by what they haven't yet done well.

Friday, July 24, 2009


The leading edge of kingdom life is a challenge because it is fluid...and in spirit. Those led by the Spirit (Jn. 3:8) are like the wind; rut and rote will not/are not a part of the kingdom walk.

For those who truly focus upon effective leadership, we hit multiple stumps which leave us perplexed. How are we to move over them...or around them...or through them? We care. We don't want to cause upset. We do want to see change as the status quo was never a kingdom theme. Church growth, spiritual growth, individual growth, and growth in Christ are kingdom essentials.

How do we approach it? How do we do it? Trust God. Trust Him to begin and complete His work in you. He will provide. He has promised.

So what do you need where you are? New elders or your maturity to learn how to work with the ones you have? Either or both could be the need. New life in sermons? A fresh start in worship? Better and more interesting Bible teachers? Perhaps a new approach to the community? Maybe increased giving?

Have you asked God for your needs? He's serious when He says keep Him in the loop. I urge you to estimate (but never from selfish ambition) your work's needs. Seek Him. Ask Him to send specifically what your church needs; what your ministry needs. Expect Him to show up...I don't care if no one else believes believe it. God only needs one believer to rattle the kingdom cages.

Not sure how to lead next? Go for all of the possibilities you can imagine. God will bless...really!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


My introduction into the church and subsequent years immediately following were riddled with tension. Some of it I caused. Lots of it just came from being the way we are....neurotic and nervous. I wasn't discerning just how much we belittled ourselves. We even had such things as "brotherhood papers" which kept the evil spirit among us alive in many camps. We were divided by much assumption. We assumed what we read...and then what we heard...was gospel. Much of it wasn't. It was evil.

To make it worse I jumped in with both feet. There are those who would tell you they wouldn't walk across the street to hear me preach and I would vouch that I don't blame them. I wouldn't either if I was still putting out the line-in-the-sand gospel I once spewed. I was a mean-spirited, fearful, yeller. The flock wasn't built by my preaching; it was beaten.

Psalm 46:10 has become one of my mottoes; Be still and know I am God. The be still part means to let go and relax. What a new world for me. What a brilliant world. An author known as Brother Lawrence wrote that we try to take on too many issues when we ought to remain silent and let God take care of matters. News to me!

As it turns out my earlier years appeared more like a church gossip/busybody than reflecting the calm of Jesus. But I'm learning and liking what I'm seeing. God is actually involved and if I'll but wait, He will show up....amazingly at just the right time.

I don't know that you live in extreme tension. If you do I cheer you on; enjoy the day. Relax. Be still. He is God. That will do it.


Barabbas was no sneak thief. He was of the Saddam Hussein image. He was not guilty of stealing hub caps or cigarettes. He was a notorious exploiter and murderer. The crowds were adamant; they wanted Pilate to free the villain and not Jesus. They preferred the release of a killer over the Prince of Peace.

Thus, we must watch our decisions. Do we choose the murdering way or the way of peace? Do we opt to slaughter others with our Barabbas preferences or do we save others with our strong tones of mercy as Jesus did? Do we select to slay church members with our negative tongues or set the church on fire with our supportive phrases? One way is of Barabbas. The other of Jesus.

One must be attentive to the subtle Barabbas connection. We possess that ability to release into our communities the wrong influence. Which name do you consistently, freely dispense into the crowds? Jesus, you say? Ah, that's the right choice; the only good choice.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Life is like a vapor. Anyone ever heard that before? If life is such, what must the last few years of ministry be? Nanno blink?

I'm 62. I'm energetic and enthused about my work. But I'm not naive. The day is coming when I need to step back from this present role. How?

I believe my heart will never retire from ministry. My heart will live on past the grave. But I already feel my body and mind unable to keep up with parts of my role. Plus, my overriding concern is not me but Memorial.....really. I love this church more than me. In some ways it is me.

A few years back we adjusted Sunday mornings by having others on staff do the preaching while I sit among us. This will increase....and I must say I like it. I'm proud of Memorial and proud of my colleagues. My role is to decrease that they may increase. Does that sound familiar?

So how do I go about the actual decision to retire? I'm stumped. I don't want to stay too long nor leave too early. So here's what I hope I know; God will work it out with perfect timing. I believe I can accept such with grace; at least I want to. But what's it like? Ah, that's going to be a toughy as I love this work so much it's like being on vacation every day when I get to get up and go to work.

God runs the show. I haven't one day. He'll do it right. I just hope when the time comes, I do. For now I think it is remarkably fascinating to get to work where I work. I love this staff and this congregation. When the Judgment Day arrives all of the Memorial members will get an automatic free pass because God has noted how much they had to put up with in me while here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Believers in Christ form what God references as a body. The hand often reaches to extract an itch on a forearm. Two hands join to applaud a successful touchdown. Knees lift in tandem to move the body toward the copier. Lip muscles cooperate to place tender kisses. God's body, the church, operates in the same precisional harmony.

If insensitive, one will take limber hands, functioning retinas, and mobile legs for granted until they've served well for 70 years and then cry out for retirement to a wheel chair or even a bed with rails. We get so adapted to the hundreds and thousands of body functions which perform well that little thought of appreciation is given to sweat glands, tear ducts, and the piggies that had roast beef. But they count.....big.

So it is in the church. Cell after cell functions with similar precision. Be alert to the wonder of it all. Notice the great things about us. See them. Look at them. Study them. When recently reading the Christian Chronicle I thought to myself, How often we bemoan how much bad news permeates the media waves. And look at me. I'm holding a paper faithful to report such amazing news that it inspires me to ponder how much more good news is out there...and of course there is even more than can possily be known.

I realized I take Lynn McMillon (and Bobby and Tami and Erik and others) for granted as if they are always going to be there or as if they have done a good enough job they no longer need cheering. So I shot off an email to say keep up the good work. A note from Lynn this morning indicated the support was necessary.

Try not to take people for granted. Let's form a committee assigned to catch us doing things right. Let's shut off committee membership at 1,000,000. After that, we'll have to meet to determine who gets in next! I have a feeling we will awaken a world around us to the marvel of itself. Even the piggies that had roast beef make a difference.

Monday, July 20, 2009


When Jesus is the standard for the church, for the individual, and as the model, how could we move about any other way than realizing we still have a long way to go? To me, this is not discouraging. It has the opposite affect. What outrageous opportunities await each of us as man has not begun to enter the talents of God.

So get started and keep going.I've encountered wonderful experiences as well as blessings in the kingdom. The injuries we receive in service are mere speed bumps compared to His glory we view as He wows His people. God assures us in the earliest Corinthian letter that eye has not yet seen and ear has yet to hear what He has in store for those who love Him. That would be us!

Here's what happens then to His ministers, shepherds, and members in general. We live enthralled over what can be because of His want be. He wants awe today just as in Acts 2. God is not fading in interest or creativity. Neither are His followers. We don't sag. He wouldn't know of such an experience.

So facing all of us every day is the most gigantic possibilities yet known to believers. I think Elijah and Elisha and other Old Testament keynoters would go nuts living in our segment of the kingdom life. Think about it...they might wish they could live in the age we do!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Don't forget as you pass through your casual or ritual of the week that you are encountering dozens and dozens of community-ites who want to know God...and don't. They don't know how to say so, and many of us don't know they are looking.

Sue Burns, the 58 year old major stock-holder of the San Francisco Giants died this weekend after discovery a week ago she had cancer. Lives are sometimes brief and death, as we know, can rush in without notice.

Keep an eye out for all in your range; cashiers, dental assistants, one holding the door, repairmen, lawn caretakers, etc. Everyone thinks about God, I'm convinced. I began looking for Him two or three years before someone found me. Life is about life and death. We can make a difference.

I sat Thursday night at a wedding rehearsal dinner. One young couple detached from their friends across the room found themselves stuck at my table. They were a handsome couple. I asked where they were from. Tulsa. How long they had been married? Two years. Had they ever visited my church? No. Then I ask, How have you let that happen....that you've been married two years and have yet to visit us? I'll be watching for them.

Everywhere you go, everyone you meet.....wonders about God. Say some little seed thing which will go in deeper than what you might imagine.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


We are getting better with the worship assembly, do you think? Since being converted, there's much I have grown to both respect and enjoy. Really when God and His people are involved, there should be a great experience on the horizon. Truthfully, many of our meeting times are not inspiring. They do not reflect joy and life; but rather dread and boredom. A church-checklist mentality bears the latter.

A few of the things which I find as improvement are the uses of tech/power point, songs on the large screen causing faces to lift up out of the books, and continued authenticity from those who present messages whether communion or sermon or prayer.

But the one shift which I think enhances the worship assembly is the song leader's ability to lead three and four songs back to back to back to back without stopping to comment or call out the next song. This has allowed hearts to get lost in the glory of God via the mind without human interruption of directional change.

The praise teams are a plus. The new songs are a plus for many. But the succession of song after song without human interruption, whether praise team or solo leader, has transformed the hearts of our opinion of course.

I like a cappella. I prefer acappella. (But I don't know how to spell acapella for sure.) But I think we drain it of its beauty by the song leader interjecting unnecessary remarks. He then shifts from leader to interferer. I like the new trend...more songs and less talk. Memorial has one of the best in Shane Coffman. I am a blessed man to work with such a humble and talented leader of meaningful worship.


One of the new things Jesus has plunked down on my table is to wait. I'm impulsive by my old nature and it surely wishes to penetrate my new. Confidence and wait are two twin towers in the Spirit-led life. Confidence comes from God and results come from the same.

We who are in ministry usually have a common thread; urgency. We, therefore, become hyper when an idea hits us that we "know will work". Our spirits are punctured whether one or several kill the dream. I have lived many depressing days in this desert.

But over time I've learned the value of waiting. Sometimes I have been allowed to get my way only to watch my own dream crash in flames alongside the road of kingdom pursuit. I once "had to have" a certain man added to our staff. The elders declined my passionate request twice. They yielded against their better judgment upon my third desperate plea. This employee was one of the worst experiences of my 62 years young life.

I've learned to wait. I learned to be puzzled and wait. I continue experience complexity and confusion over matters; but I know if I will wait God will keep His promise. He will show up with full explanation.

So, especially to you young whipper-snappers who have great drive.....let me urge you as to how to keep that drive over the long haul. Wait. Wait on God. He will not let you have your way in some areas because He either sees a problem with it you can't envision from earth's citadel or He has the better idea coming around the bend hidden in a new member coming to your congregation in fifteen years.

Don't fret the small stuff nor the big stuff. Wait. Wait is neither cowardice nor laziness when fueled by faith. It is sheer and pure trust; trusting the Living God over our dimly lit and ambitious eyes.

Friday, July 17, 2009


When we are in a church that struggles for growth, for encouragement, and for life, what can be done? Well, let's consider a few ideas and see if God pricks the hearts of some which might advance the kingdom of God in your area.

First...the more a congregation views itself advanced or ahead of other congregations, bad leaven is growing while most likely unnoticed. Do you not think it strange that strong emphasis on "our doctrine" does not seem to set our towns ablaze? Why is that? Blaming the town for its darkness, or picking at a neighboring church for its lack, isn't profitable.

Unity is a major call of God; yet we justify division under the theme of being "more faithful than they". They don't believe things right. They don't do things right. An assortment of judged issues come into play. But the truth is Christianity is ruined by our divisiveness and we don't blink at our betrayal to his prayer. For some reason we count our smugness as faithfulness; yet it won't stand against the call for harmony and love in the Lord.

Second...before new paint and carpet or a better speaker is brought into the works, I would check the "life thermometer" of the present core of attendees. It could be the case that should a visitor pass through they do not find passionate members in love with God or with each other. Rather, they find brand name Christians carrying out their brand name duties under the banner of their brand name just wishing some others would join in on their brand name ministries. This causes death. Look around.

Third...maybe worship inventory would be a good place to check under the hood of the church. Is God truly being praised or are church services being held? There is a difference. America holds church services. Saints praise the Lord, in tune or out of tune, with heart-felt singing, robust study, and gratitudinal fellowship because there is abundant adoration and credit afforded toward God upon His great throne. could be entire congregations need to repent of their own sins rather than study the Bible in classes to discuss how the world is going to hell in a hand-basket. Maybe churches deteriorate because we are not yet who we need to be. Self-adjustment is always a healthy place to start.

Fifth and finally...maybe it would help to gather those who would (men and women together) to pray. And when we pray, let us pray not with wanting and needing and wishing...but thanking. Let your thanksgivings be known to God, Paul wrote. This has changed the framework of prayer for me. When you thank God for things that are now and aren't yet, it's amazing what begins to develop....Romans 4:17-25.

This note reaches into many settings. Each knows the condition of the hearts in your area much better than me. However, as I wrote to all I wondered if some of the above might be something you could use. I'm suggesting some of it might.

Good for you in that you have the energy and the desire for congregational improvement. This is a strong signal your faith still lives.


Does God speak to us today? Many would give an on-the-fence response while I think most would mock such an idea as absurd. However, I think He does.

God does not speak to us audibly as far as my experience goes. He does, however, continually speak in a small, still voice. I've learned to wait to hear from Him regarding many of my duties; especially when in a sermon/class preparation mode. We pray to Him. Do we not believe He will respond? How do we think the answers come about? Road signs? He will talk back to us.

But what if one is just imagining things? What if what we think God said isn't what He really said? Oh, you mean like what goes on with your spouse or your boss? We misunderstand communication with them about as much as we get it right.

So how do we hear Him? For me, all I can say is things occur to me that didn't come from my intellect. He shows me ideas to consider; approaches to take in studying the Word or fulfilling ministry. The Bible says God works with the inner man...but since the church can't explain this on a chart we've ditched the thought....and mocked any who dare accept it. This is blasphemy in the "true church"; but it's practiced without even a flinch.

To carry on a relationship with the Father where we do all of the talking and He sits in a high-back chair mute is a ludicrous picture.....and posture. That is not a relationship and this explains why for so many years I had no relationship with God. I had a relationship with pews and pulpits; not with Him.

God speaks to us. And yes there will be times, as in any exchange, we misread or misunderstand. Such doesn't obliterate the conversation which goes on between Father and child. Children often misunderstand. To eliminate misunderstanding and misinterpreting by teaching God's lips have been sealed is a terribly costly doctrine. It shuts off the delightful connection He worked so hard for us to enjoy...with Him.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


While in Portland a couple of weeks ago I learned that Billy Curl of the Crenshaw Church of Christ in Los Angeles had recently baptized Curt Flood's daughter, Shelly. Curt, you may remember, was my childhood hero having starred with the Cardinals and eventual dear brother.

I spoke with Shelly earlier today where she lives in LA. What an immediate delight. She talks with the same grace as her daddy. There was no hesitancy on her part; we launched into immediate reminiscence as I had spoken at both her grandmother's and her father's funerals. However, we had never had occasion to visit personally.

During our conversation I reference her grandmother's love for me to the extent she adopted me as her only white boy. When I came along she moved her first six children's pictures from her nightstand across the room to her bureau. She then kept my picture alone on the night stand. When I eventually traveled to Oakland to meet my adoptive mother the house tour revealed Curt's description as accurate. When she died my new black sister, Barbara, called asking me to come.

In the middle of my lengthy discussion with Shelly she interrupted with a shout, are my uncle Terry?!? Well....yes I am!

Congratulations to me! I've been adopted a second time into the Flood family.


Let's discuss big loads. SUVs and trucks have load levelers to keep the vehicles balanced when unusually large content is added. I've been thinking about load-levelers for those who serve well in the kingdom.

Everyone could be classified as pick-up trucks in that we all transport loads from one day to the next. But what about those in the church who find they are carrying a bigger cargo? These drivers need assistance; God's load-levelers. It is important we distribute the cargo evenly so the carrier does not take an unnecessary spill.

For me, I hit a new zone years back when I began to develop my calendar in God's eyes instead of people's expectations. People.....have you noticed.....can be fickle. The reason I don't have an answering machine at home is I can't imagine how many messages will be left to call back. If while I'm out they miss me with an urgent need, most likely they'll call someone else who is home. God will take care of things.

The next matter that levels out our loads is to realize what I just said; God will take care of things. This can be where image comes in; especially if you want everyone to like you. We are not politicians running for office. We are not in a race to see whose name gets mentioned most for being at the hospital or the funeral home. Life is about God working through multiple people to minister to multiple people. That's precisely why Jesus bailed from earth; that he could be more places than one through his Spirit in disciples.

The best load-leveler word I know is "No"....and mean it. Will you teach this class? No. Will you pick up this load? No. Many of the calls we get are intended for guilt made by one who will not do the task they are placing on you. Let me explain.

Years back a lady (who is known for being opinionated and critical) came to see me. She had an idea for ministry. It meant added "load" for me and others who were already carrying significant cargo. I said yes to her but no to me. Her idea was a good one if she would do it. I told her it was a great idea and since it was her vision I made her the champion of the cause. She never lifted a finger. No one knew the work that didn't happen.

Years later, though, a couple came to Memorial and had the same idea as the woman earlier. And they said, "We'll get it going." So today, Norm and Marilynn Herron do a tremendous job of keeping the food pantry working. It wasn't up to me to carry the load of someone else's imagination. I possessed a load and kept it level. Years earlier I would have taken on everyone's ideas hoping to keep them happy; all the while working under the load of guilt...and resentment.

New works? How exciting! Spread the load among the disciples. If some won't haul. Park the cargo. God will send someone to take care of it if it is His idea.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


It's been an interesting and exciting experience to be around this congregation this long. Here are a few of the things I've learned along the way:
  1. Not everyone should think the way I think regardless of how strongly I believe they should.
  2. Those who believe the strongest we are the only ones saved are often the very ones who fear most they are lost.
  3. I preached too many sermons on church growth when I should have been preaching on The Church Grower.
  4. I've learned to like to pray.
  5. God will remain in the shadows of mystery and I need to learn to live there without explanation and response for every question coming my way.
  6. I am not tired of ministry but am growing in curiosity. What has God in store that no one has yet seen Him do for mankind?
  7. The Holy Spirit loves to work directly in our lives; yet He remains humble enough that mere man can quench him if we so desire.
  8. Everyone is deeply guilty of sin; not just the rare few of us I had assumed.
  9. People possess a deep strength within that only God will reveal when we are in pivotal crisis.
  10. God will bless when we will risk.
  11. The more we accept the unacceptables of society the more the heart of Jesus seems to reign among us.
  12. I've learned the sermon isn't the main part of church; it turns out God is.
  13. The more we stay out of His way the more we see His way becomes ours.
  14. While I spent so much time trying to escape weaknesses I discovered they are His secret to my strength....II Cor. 12:9.
  15. God will make a way....when there seems to be no way.

Monday, July 13, 2009


If you care to be a leader, you care about what others think of you. This can be a pebble in the shoe. What others think is not the criteria for a leader.

I'm one of those personalities which has struggled greatly with this topic. I carry so many sores of inadequacy that I cannot afford for anyone to add another by rejecting me. Therefore, I worked very hard at pleasing people.

Guess what. I failed at that also.

It took me a bit to develop an attitude of not caring. That's both a tedious and sensitive statement as I care....but reached a point for good emotional health I simply had to do my work and let the chips fall where they may. Yes, I want people to like me. Yes, I know all won't. Yes, I am content to get to serve in the way God let's me and the judges? Well, they'll have to judge they way they want....but I refuse to play their game.

Don't let the weaknesses and the quirks of others boss you around. You are no better than others and neither are others better than you. Jesus is the one who matters. Some will misread others. Others will be accurate in their critical assessment....sometimes we are just a louse. But shrug the disapproval of those few who deem their opinions as something that matters. They don't.

Your trust in God when no one is looking...or approving....does. Lead out. You'll get killed for it. You've got it coming. Everyone does who gives their life for His cause. The cross isn't jewelry for the neck. It is the symbol of crucifixion for any who dare walk in his sandals. Jesus did not fold to the pressure of disapproval. He made it his theme of ministry.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Young leaders, learn from me. I'm an example of great breaks and God's good grace. Name another who is so plain; yet so fortunate in getting to work in the kingdom.

I entered ministry both flawed and carrying many flaws. One of those was the inability to endure criticism. I endured it all right...but simply because I loved my roll and not because I saw any value in it. There is important value in receiving criticism.

I was, instead, a pouter. I was a very poor leader; well I was not a leader. Why do you think I cling to the "yes" promise of II Cor. 1:18-20? For two reasons: (1) it is God's truth, and (2) I needed to learn the "yes-world" of God. I had never heard of it (even in the church) and certainly wasn't prone to walk it.

But God's "yes-promises" are our ticket out of pouting. Everything that goes right is a "yes" and everything that goes wrong is also a "yes". Why pout? God is working everything out.

In the beginning and for several years in ministry, I didn't know that. I was moody, touchy, and paranoid. That's not leadership. That's a fear-bundle. That's a bummer to the church.

So young leader, do what you can to grow up. For us, we will always find ourselves growing up. Such is a non-arrival pursuit. We are always moving forward in Him. When things don't go our way we understand that in God's wisdom and timing something just went our way....and all we can do is chalk it up to His marvelous mystery, accept it by sheer faith, and keep smiling.

I wasn't so good at it myself....but I see improvement here and there...and so will you. Don't give up, don't give out...and whatever you do, don't quit.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Tracy Kouns pointed out a discovery this week....about me. I'm neologistic as I continually create new words. It's just one of those things I do because my vocabulary lacks and I need additional descriptive words....for any situation. So, I make them up on the fly and often they sound authentic and usually are ironically understandable.

However, when one looks at the definition of a neologist, an explanation seems to unfold.

French néologisme, from ne- + log- + -isme -ism
1 : a new word, usage, or expression 2 : a meaningless word coined by a psychotic
— ne·ol·o·gis·tic
\-ˌä-lə-ˈjis-tik\ adjective

Did you by chance catch the second definition? I did....immediately. I think this explains a lot about my inventableistic mind. It's scramblistic which explains my thirst for neolistic approaches to simplistic or emptifusional moments.

Now I get it!

Friday, July 10, 2009


I received a letter yesterday from a prisoner in Illinois. Such notes tear me up. Having visited a few state prisons, such has left an indelible imprint on my heart. Guilty or not, to see grown men caged like zoo animals is a horrendous vision.

The note came from the son of a former classmate whom I baptized just before his death to cancer. Rich faces 11 years for DUI. He's getting by....moment by by day.

Such scenes sadden me. Another scene does the same; those who live as if imprisoned without bars locking them down. This is the prison of the mind. It doesn't strike a certain social class or ethnic group. Such a prison is unbiased. It enjoys taking the top-of-the-line hostage as well as the down-and-out.

How do we break out? How do we escape self-sentencing? Rejoice. Learn to rejoice over every thing rejoiceable. Practice rejoicing. Peace moves in; fear evaporates.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let you mind dwell on these things.....practice these things and the God of peace shall be with you.

Practice rejoicing over the many good'll find the prison bars will fly open voluntarily!

Thursday, July 09, 2009


One of the great strengths of the church is its emphasis upon the Bible. One of the great faults of the church is when it resists the emphasis of the Bible when it would rather continue contradictory man's tradition. Jesus warned us of this.

We must ever encourage our people day in and day out to have remarkable confidence in the Word of God. It breathes life and judges the inner man while we study it. We must maintain certainty of its glorious truth.

A problem we face is when our people stand upon the Bible with it closed. At times it is not read to learn; but rather to prove. When learning is evacuated the proving becomes suspect.

Recently in the presence of a strong doubter, I was not perplexed as to what would change such a mind. It will be the simple reading of scripture. My challenge is to determine how to get such a practice in order. My point is I am sure of the Bible's ability to persuade.

For you, while there are great new methods of church and while one can be selective in worship style, let not the truth and stability of the Bible slip away. It is one factor among us which cannot be allowed to fade.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Weakness is about the last thing a man wants to possess. That is precisely why it is the known power source of God's reign on earth.

Some struggle with the term; they have a disregard or disrespect for any who are weak. That is unfortunate. Ironically, I don't know one man who is strong. Any who believe themselves to be otherwise simply have no clue as to how weak they appear to others.

Why does God use this tool? It is the signal to all witnesses that the only way anything can work out is because God is in full demonstration. I Cor. 2:1-5 speaks of the most famous apostle fearing and trembling as the power may be of God and not of himself. The same man later wrote that it is true; power is perfected in weakness.

God's man is always on a mission to powerful encounters and overwhelming opportunities. He gets there when he becomes convinced weakness is the very trait God wishes to see rather than wishes to be hidden. Good leaders are not those who convey their strengths. That's sheer fluff; even bluff. Man's weakness is the substance which induces God muscle.

It takes absurd faith to dare reach comfort in this zone; but it is precisely the power plant from which God displays His strength. Too, weakness removes the problematic ego which wants to focus on ways to convince ourselves we are mini-gods. We are not. He alone is God. perfected in the weak ones. Yippee! I fit in!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


On the 15th of July I will begin year 33. I've already reminded my staff to be signing the anniversary card which should be circulating the office. I've enjoyed a lengthy tenure at a most wonderful place.

In my early years I developed a philosophy regarding my assignment here:
  1. If things are going rough with the church, such is no time to leave.
  2. If things are going well with the church, such is no time to leave.

I was serious.

We had some pretty rough years....about a decade and a half worth. While opponents had names and were clearly vocal (and rude), there were others who were awesome and faithful. For them I could not walk away. I was mindful of children. They asked for none of the upset. I could not leave them. When things are going roughly, that's no time for me to be leaving.

Today I work for the dream church. It took many years to see God develop it but I always believed He could and He would. We have four best-class shepherds who care more for the flock than their personal reputation. God blesses us accordingly.

If I were to wonder what one move God did here which turned the church from being bogged in controversy to living in abundance, my estimate would be when we began to believe the Holy Spirit works directly in our lives.

Regardless of whats, whys, and whose, I am the luckiest preacher I ever met. I'm serious about that statement. Who wouldn't want to get to be where I am....and I get to be here.

Congratulations to me!

Monday, July 06, 2009


If you are like me, you continually need reminders God will be there. I'm disappointed at how shallow my faith is. It's embarrassing. But my little faith doesn't seem to hold Him back. Evidently, I don't intimidate Him.

Consider. Recently at a party one of our members asked if I had read a certain book. I had not but expressed my desire to read it as I had heard such good things. She pulled a copy from her purse and said I could borrow hers. Later I placed it on my desk.

A few days later I was grabbing up items and tucking them into my briefcase when I saw the book and tossed it in with my Bible. On the plane to Phoenix I decided to take a look at the book. In it I found an envelope with my name on it clipped to one of the pages. Odd.

In opening the envelope I found $1000 cash with a note that the money was for Tim and Kim (who had just arrived for a year's furlough from Guadalajara). I was dumbstruck for what the woman who loaned me the book did not know is that Tim and Kim lost $1000 a month support.

What if I had grabbed another book....or not read this one for several more months? Odd. Weird. And just like God!

Sunday, July 05, 2009


I teach from our 100% Natural Evangelism DVD series that the church is to be encouraged by God's sending us into the world. We go fishing for men as a team with a net; not as lone individuals with a fishing pole. We don't do evangelism by ourselves. It is the entirety of the body of Christ working as a faithful force. Watering and sowing will find fruit in our own back yard and in the back yards of others.

Last week I had the privilege of meeting a new friend. Billy Curl is the Senior Minister for the well-known Crenshaw Church of Christ in Los Angeles. He and I were two of the keynote speakers at the Renewal Workshop in Portland, Oregon. Billy and I shared the same dorm. What a delightful 67 year old....been in the he is.

I was inquiring of Billy what his church was finding available as effective tools to reach into the celebrity zone. Surely the present Michael Jackson news awakens all of us to the desperate need of even the stars. Billy shared how they are connected in various meaningful works into such a community. I was pleased to hear of their efforts.

I shared with him my love for the late Curt Flood and his actress wife, Judy Pace. Billy's neck jerked back. Terry, I just recently baptized Curt Flood's daughter, Shelly. I was in tears. God knows how to connect the dots. We truly fish as a team with a net.

I'm so happy to learn of God's continual style of working effectively in assorted ways. We are a part of such an enormous team that many are being baptized while we read these words...and we may never learn of their conversion until the books are opened.

Friday, July 03, 2009


We had an unusually heavy snow storm in 1987. Roads were closed as well as churches. So Tracy Ellis invited a group of friends to his house that particular Sunday evening. Who could get through the snow to get there? Such was a major question.

However, no problem for me. I'm the country boy. I know how to do snow as I was raised with deep exciting!

Sunday afternoon I put the tire chains on my small Nissan and off we went to South Tulsa that evening. Most of the citizenry was stranded but not the Rushes! Nope. We had chains!

The drifts were high and it was fun to burst through them as other cars sat with lights blinking because they weren't man enough to handle these little puny snow mountains.

But then.....when stopping at Git 'n Go to get ice I was for some strange reason.....stuck. I couldn't move. How stunned I was to discover I had put the chains on the rear end of a front-wheel drive car.

Urggh. Sometimes with our greatest of intentions and confidence....we simply get stuck. God is the one who knows how to do for us what we have no idea to do for ourselves.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


I'm on a partial vacation/partial speaking assignment. This morning I golfed. I took a 10 on a par 5 hole. That is terrible. I took an 8 on a par 4 hole. That is terrible. And do you know what? No one cares including me!

I encourage us to avoid getting upset over things which matter little. To have a nice round of golf would be very nice. A lot of prisoners would have loved to have taken a 10 on a par 5 this morning, but by the grace of God I got to. While I could take the time to bemoan a shot or twelve, there are those in the emergency rooms panicked over doctor's news. There are bigger things in life than what we tend to think make or break our days.

Be encouraged. Today is a good one because God is in it....regardless of what you shot. I don't think it's what you know but who all you get to know because of the lavish family-hood of being in the kingdom.

Rich? We are the richest people on earth because our hearts take their signals from heaven. We are having a good day!