Thursday, September 30, 2010



Are you serious, Terry?

Ah, I thought this might awaken your sinuses!

One of the challenges each of us has had to deal with along the way is that of being in the church with a bit of unbiblical pride in ourselves....a large bit.  There is an air about much of our reputations which is simply air-rogant.  I have driven more away than I have led to Jesus by my cocky swagger of knowing the true truth.

Yet, I'm serious that we ought to be in John the Baptist.  That Baptist had a humility about him which evidently eased him into one courageous champion for God's definable direction.  Pointing toward the Lamb, John declared He must increase, but I must decrease.

From the toweling off at baptism each of us is called to grow in Christ to the pace of ultimately fading away.  He must increase while we live a pattern of decreasemanship.

Decreasing is such a valuable trait.  It leads us to have an accurate assessment of our roles.  And it gives jealousy and envy a much-needed, much-deserved pounding. 

Decreasing is what I am about (it's what you are about).  My job is not to become more prominent, more visible, more sought.  No, my job is to step aside of the self that Jesus might gain full habitation. 

Note the wonder of God.  Decreasing is progress.  Decreasing does not drive people away from God, but allows them to be drawn to Him for we are less in the way than once.

I've ruined family and friend relationship due to my earlier years of my personal increasing in knowledge and huffy assumption I knew best; knew more than "them".  Wonderfully, as I've learned to decrease, the work of God seems to find its own liberty.

Therefore, I declare with no play on words that what is really needed in hundreds of communities is for the Church of Christ to become Baptist.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


There is a thing I do that bears significant fruit in the King's vineyard.  Should you not, then possibly this might change your life.

Years ago I was terribly frustrated (even depressed) that I couldn't make a difference.  Oddly, I learned it in Preaching School.  Each Monday chapel students would give reports.  One would call out baptizing a neighbor while another would exclaim seven responses to his sermon.  In two years of chapel....I never had one report.  Nothing happened to me other than spraining my ankle on the volley ball court.

My personal conclusion was that I graduated a failure; thus I began full-time ministry in that mode of doubt.

But then I saw something about God.  He said we would reap what we sow.  We all know that, but do you realize some crops don't show up for ten and twenty YEARS?  Today I am an enthusiastic seed sower.  That is the most I can say I do.  I love dropping kingdom seed here and there believing some will land on "it" and "wham" there will be an eventual crop.

I send notes all over the world with nothing specific in mind; just watering seed.  I plant gifts to the unsuspecting.  Sympathy cards are sent to near strangers who would find no reason for me to have even known their pain. 

But God is faithful to our planting. 

How was I  to know that in writing Sherri for nine years four states away (and getting zero indication she got any of the notes) that she would come back to God and the church?  She did...after NINE years of watering with NINE years of no response.

How was I to know that by knocking on my neighbor's door on purpose to ask for a favor I really didn't need, that God just might be there?  He was and I baptized my neighbor six months later. 

How was I to know that because I handed Curt Flood one of my books that we would become such close brothers I would be asked to speak at his mother's funeral and then at his?

I gave one of my books to Carole Buck when at baseball camp.  How was I to know that her husband would die that summer and she would ask me to write a book about him because she liked my writing skill and that book--Voice of Silver, Heart of Gold would be purchased by the Cardinals and given away at the turn styles on Fan Appreciation Day?

All I did was hand her a book!

How was I to know that in innocently sending my high school classmate (that I had seen only once in 35 years) a greeting card that it would be waiting for him when he returned home from 90 days in the hospital with brain cancer....that I knew NOTHING about?  Yet God sprouted and I flew to Chicago in October of that year to baptize him and then flew back in February to do his funeral.

How are you to know you matter?  What are you/we to do when we feel so.....well, so insignificant?  What we do is believe His organizational system.  The reason anyone has no fruit is always because that one has sown no seed.  Usually, the reason one sows no seed is they want a crop in ten days and since God doesn't work that way....they don't plant.

While you and I may be oblivious to any good we are doing in such in terms of decades, my friend, not days!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Ministry is a delicate sort.  It's success is dependent upon God's leadership; not our skillful approach.  Throughout history things that should have worked didn't while things which shouldn't have did.  Go figure.

So what's a human being to do with connections to the Living God who invites us into kingdom work?  We must learn to operate from His lead rather than our manipulative imagination.

We have great capacity to dream.  I encourage us to keep it up.  Our desires are to be tempered by His provisional calling.  After all, those led by the Spirit are flexible like the wind....Jn. 3:8.  The Spirit is our rudder and we must work at noting His direction.

Whether we are toying with beginning a new class on Wednesday nights or moving to Brazil, we will want to hear His call for such action.  I've headed out on my own too many times.  The result was many leaves but no fruit.  At other times, I've resisted His call only to find He really had been calling.

I was called to Preaching School when I was scared stiff to attend.  I was called to Memorial Drive when I told the elders "No".....twice. 

So how is one to discern God's calling? 

Pray.  Walk through the open doors and stay put on the closed ones.  Paul wished to enter territories God would not open.  It was because God had plans for that man.  So it is with us.  God calls.

You may sense He is calling you to the poor in Australia; but you must be open for He may be calling you to the poor....but in New York.  Some have glorious and ambitious hearts to reach the Chinese but might not realize God has a populace waiting in Los Angeles when one had assumed mainland China. 

The point is this; dream big and pay attention to God's doors.  Our imaginations can run us aground if we are self-appointed in our mission.  I didn't want to be at Memorial Drive.  God wanted me here.  It was a tough move.  I fought it.  Now....I'm thrilled.  The move wasn't easy.  The rewards have been heavenly.

Are you being called?  Watch for the open doors and stop in your tracks at the closed ones.  Try not to be discouraged with either.  He has been running this show for many years now...and He has proven His skill. 

Trust God over your own ambition.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Have you ever noticed that much of our doctrinal debate, discussion, and eventual judgment is usually over how such plays out in the auditorium of the church building which, in itself, is not a biblical location?

Saturday, September 25, 2010


I must tell you that I wonder who is on the receiving end of this note who really needs to hear it today.  So I say to "you" that God is highly my guess.  Good for you!

If we are breathing, we live in constant tension of the mind.  Really, a war rages for our highs and lows while God does not want us to be lukewarm; in the middle.

What gets us down?  Circumstances.  Our shortfall is to make immediate effort to humanly organize an escape when we should be looking for God's way through.  Negative circumstances aren't there to show us what we can't get done.  They are there to show us the route to God getting it done....simple faith.

Read Romans 4:17-25; the circumstance of aged Abraham and Sarah leaning on the promises of God.  What was it that would cause them to be of good mood about their barrenness?  One thing; the promise of God.....nothing else.  NO THING ELSE.  God promised and that is all that matters.  Negativity of age, performance, nor hopelessness could cause this couple to be down because they truly believed God promised.

Hope against hope is what the Word says in their belief.  Hope cancelled hopelessness.  That's what we need in every setting to stay up....a hope that will cancel hopelessness.  When we have hope...we have results...and we can stay up.  When hope leaves we are then defenseless from being pulled down.

From Old Testament through New, look at story after story painted to show you and me two things; there was every reason to be without hope except for that entrusted to God's powerful nature.  Joseph in the pit.  Moses in the desert 4-0  l-o-n-g  y-e-a-r-s.  The widow and the slight jar of oil.  David and GOLIATH!  5000 to feed and "no way Jose".  Peter shackled in prison.  Jesus in the grave.

The Bible has one clear message so try to get it; WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.  Our struggles escalate not because of abundance of discouragement but rather from lack of faith in our Possibility God. 

How do we stay up when the pull to be down is so strong?  We insist our hope cancels all hopelessness and we choose to believe when there is not one hint of anything to support or substantiate such an action. 

Don't forget it!  I feel sure someone(s) really needed this word today!

Friday, September 24, 2010


I love to wonder what God might do in so many settings of any day.  It was 6:30 this morning and I was in one of my cafes with book in tow.  I am reading a thriller of an autobiography about Rees Howells. 

While I pinched off a piece of toast here and there and sipped the morning brew, I noticed the people scattered here and over there.  A couple ahead of me that I greet nearly every time I'm in there was two pews away.  Another man and woman sat in the far corner; I don't think we had met.  And then two grumpy old men sat a distance away of which I was glad.  A blue mist shrouds their table every morning and I would just as soon not start my day listening to their "blue streak" jargon.

So I decided to do something in honor of God.  I bought every one's breakfast.  I asked the waitress to go by and pick up every one's ticket.  Why?  I like to do things unexplainable to see if God will do some things unexplainable back. 

He said to sow seed, did He not?  He said our efforts would multiply 30 or 60 or 100-fold, did He not?  Then why not do things which make no sense on the "be sensible" scale.  Why not do things which might give one a boost that I had no idea needed it?  Why not be good to people...just for goodness' sake?

My morning toast and coffee cost me $39.02.  I will never know what good it did.  But I know God...and He will not waste my faith.  He will bless and not curse.  He alone will enrich those who experienced a Free Lunch at breakfast time!

May we break the bonds of self-imposed limits; then may we experience the overjoy of God working!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


You won't believe what God helped me think about this morning....or will you?

On October 3rd Memorial will have its annual budget Sunday sort of day.  The ritual is rather simple really.  We have me get up and preach on giving and the people give and we have a most privileged year of God's labor and harvest.

A combination of feelings rushes over me.  On one hand I delight in speaking of the greatest "best kept secret" on earth--that of giving-- and yet I carry a personal burden for so much of Memorial's work is dependent upon my ability to persuade of God's process.  I am not unduly important; the message is.

So I was having coffee this morning at one of my four shops and God gave me an instant great idea!  That Sunday I plan to speak on The Parting of the Red Sea.  What a great story because it involves the fantastic move of God for a people who didn't know how to handle such a gigantic dilemma. 

Today so many are cornered by a sea of red ink....highly indebted....and don't know how to escape.  God has a way to Part this Red Sea

Good, you think?  I can't wait to get there to see what He puts together!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Compassion is the magic of the church. 

Find compassion and you find life, love, and the very heart of God fleshed out in a human being.  The church thrives on compassion; but not so with every member.  If there is one word the early church seemed to possess and the modern one---in too many pockets---doesn't, it would be this one.

How shall we develop this strong and powerful trait among us?  One move will do it; we must enter into solidarity with those who suffer.  Nothing short of this will do.  We may not ever be in their physical presence; yet we must enter into their pain.

One might become aware of what keeps us at bay; judgment.  Judgment constantly created a wedge between biblical victim and unwilling helper.  The Prodigal and his brother serve as one example.  The two praying in the temple another.  Judgment unnecessarily and inaccurately separated when compassion would have endeared.

Yes, it is when we enter the streets of the pained and the poor that our hearts are stirred to action.  We all love a good story of God working.  It's when we actually touch it with our hands and see it with our eyes that we cannot seem to let the good story fade. 

This is precisely what God did.  He saw the misery and created Himself in flesh form to experience our suffering.  He never got over it........and neither will we.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


What do you do with challenging situations....and people?  The correct response to that question is to want to do what God does.  He has a gaze of belief.  God sees people responding to His love and He initiates accordingly.

What was it God saw?  A fallen world, when once He set His gaze, God believed would respond to the sacrificial Lamb hung out to dry for our very own remarkable sins.

What was it the abandoned and jilted father saw when his louse of a prodigal came sheepishly traipsing over the horizon?  He saw a clean son ready for a hyper-lavish party.

What do we see of our blatant enemies and personal violators?  We are to see them most likely responding to our awesome love.  The catch is that we have to give the first signal of reconciliation.  Isn't that what it means when the Word says we love BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED us?

Our human tendency is to reverse this action.  We will forgive (maybe) once we receive an apology.  Forgiveness works most effectively when we offer it so the guilty can easily step into it.

For this to happen, we must develop and eventually possess that gaze....that gaze of belief in sinners....not what they can become....but what they are....clean in our sight for we died on our cross for them....that they can make the same shift we did from enemy to partner.  Could it be a problem we have is we waste our crosses by insisting our enemies pay for their own sins....I Peter 4:21-25 (corrected by an alert anonymous...I Peter 2:21-25)?

That gaze of belief in the badly it is still needed.  How badly we need to find it in the eyes of one another.


One of God's methods of keeping us young is through the perpetual learning process.  One of the traits of a withering church or withering members is the fear and refusal to learn.  "Taking our stand" replaced "learning to stand" and babyfied congregations have resulted.

When we begin to learn, such may come about when encountering the rough stuff.  Persecution, offense taken, stressful relationships, and difficult situations could be viewed as detrimental to personal growth.  Not true.  We are advantaged by them.  It is from these that we can learn to adjust to the temperment of Jesus.

We can learn to be more compassionate, more understanding, more patient, more humble, and more of the personality just like His Son.  The way to learn the road Jesus walked is to suffer where Jesus suffered; at the hands of the religious leaders and the assumed answer-alls of the fellowship.  He didn't rebel.  Nor did Jesus buckle to their fleshly whims.  He died for them. 

Jesus was God's weapon against the enemy; His magnificent love strung up on the Tree.  For me, I have a lot of learning yet to do.  When we begin to learn we find ourselves repositioned as one who has questions more than one who dispenses answers.

When we find joy to report, patience to display, and kindness to exert, it is thus a signal to the world the Holy Spirit is in our midst.  Praise God for working among us and with us anyway!  Thank you, God, for remaining willing to teach us what Life is really all about.

Monday, September 20, 2010


I've had an interesting day; a good one.  So much is going on both good and really good.  Yes, some of both are draped in struggles....but it's all for the good.

We had a wonderful weekly staff/elders meeting at 6:30 to 8:00 this morning.  Really....such a privilege to get to be a part of this team.

Later I talked with a man from up North who is devastated by having been fired where he had been preaching.  We shared ways for him to see the blessings in the center of it all.  While I don't know him, I love his spirit.  He will be fine....really, he will be advantaged for the present stress.

Afterwards, one from Texas called.  He had just returned from Ghana where he set up a farm system for the the church members to grow their own crops and earn their own wages.  We converted him and his wife when they lived next door to us 35 years ago.

I spoke with a woman in New Mexico who is struggling with a personal shift from law to grace; its confusions and its rigors.  She just wanted to hear how it would work out.  I was most grateful for the experience I've had with God in order to share hopeful insights.

Too, I received a note in the mail from a preacher in Pennsylvania expressing great joy over my newest book; MVP.  He ordered ten copies for families at his congregation. was a pretty good day...considering it was my day off!

Don't you love right now?

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I'm no psychologist.  I am a compassionate person.  I know hurt.  I also know misery.

Misery is an strange sort of fellow in that it often loves its own company.  By that I mean for a long time I dwelt in the sad land of "poor me" intentionally.  I could create misery in my head and live it out pouting, paranoid, and pessimistic.  I enjoyed my misery because I wanted people to care and sympathy was usually nearby.

Of course I denied such to myself for misery loves its own company.

I have bad news for those who linger in this trap; there is a way out.  The reason this is bad news--for some--is the deep desire to remain stuck there for it seems this is the only way for attention.  This goes on among us and it is a big lie.

While I am not the expert counselor, I can tell most how to leave the doldrums of misery.  Begin to care about others.  Care for their happiness.  Care for their good breaks.  Misery only stays afloat when we fail to love others more than ourselves.  Joy breaks in when we will surrender our need for attention and give ourselves in great cause to another.

I know this doesn't make me look good in admitting any of this; yet I was a professional misery man.  For many years now I have enjoyed a brand new life....maybe about fifteen years now.  I know I preached a long time with each day buried with inner struggles. 

Today I still have pain and suffering of various strains.  But His fruit of joy is ever-present.  When I really got it that my problem wasn't other people (the elders, the church, the neighbors), I had to admit I had been framed by my own moody disposition.

I am sympathetic to those who have been hurt.  But I'm not so toward those who live miserable lives rehearsing repeatedly to themselves and to others how badly they have been mistreated.  These need to get a  life....and I mean they really need to get the life Jesus came to offer. 

The way out of misery is to die on our own crosses.  Crosses always benefit someone else...but never the one dying on it.  There is a way out of misery.  This is bad news to some for they enjoy such a habitation.  But it is remarkable news for those like me who despise living there...and know it is very much self...but just need to pull the plug on such ridiculous practice.

Make a move from misery.  Genuinely care about others and quit the trap of gaining sympathy from anyone who will listen.  The former will lift you up.  The latter will pull you and your friends down.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


There is a central message to God's revelation; Jesus is our all.  Jesus....that name above all our lifestyle and our life.  If not, we've traded truth for an illusion; possibly a church illusion.

It is essential that every servant heart grasp the daunting task of believing Jesus.  Otherwise, one will likely malign his name by hiding in hard work in the church. 

Some are in the church because they are addicted to serving.  Their service can be both beneficial to others and to themselves.  These feel extreme gratification in leading a major tenet of the congregation.  The misstep in this is one's faith is in his work rather than in the work of the Savior. 

I have lived in both pairs of shoes.  I've applied myself to His call and His labor.  I've have also experienced the greater need to lean into him instead of scrambling to build up my arsenal of assumed productive talent.

How does one know whether we are more enslaved to working for God or trusting in Jesus?  Consider the following: the former will have obvious traits contradictory to the latter.
  • Easily irritated...........................................full of peace
  • Frustrated with lack of the co-workers......grateful for co-workers
  • Spends very little time in prayer.................prays without ceasing
  • Teaches about the Bible; but seldom studies it for personal growth......feeds from His Word
  • Frets........................................................trusts
  • Talks negatively about others....................praises others
  • Believes all work is up to them..................believes God works
  • Complains (at least in private)...................thanks
  • Easily stumped by others decisions...........confident in others
  • Arrogant to assume superior faith.............humble in reliance upon God
  • Refuses to turn reins over to colleagues....finds joy in empowering another
  • Operates from stringent control................happy to see how God will make it work
  • Speaks in a huff.......................................smiles with contentment
  • Assumes to be the only one sure of being lowest on the totem pole
  • Will not receive correction or criticism.....knows the value of both
This is one of the greatest changes in the church over the last 20 years.  The left column is fruit of the flesh.  The other is fruit of the Holy Spirit.  When the Holy Spirit was not a part of our system, we were stuck with trumping one another from the flesh column. 

Today the flesh-service is clearly out of step with the handiwork of our Lord.  The good news is that we are finding those who were awaiting from the right-hand column to be filled with such grace they tenderly wait on some of us to grow up.  Someone waited patiently on them and now they bless in similar fashion.

What I would encouraged readers to do with this is simply note the columns and awaken should a serious change be needed.  It is not wrong to struggle with many of the traits above.  It is wrong to deny them as "it's just the way it is" without intent to let God draw us into a relationship with Him.

What thinketh ye?

Thursday, September 16, 2010


How much do we discuss sowing seed and letting God do His thing?  It goes on while we work and while we rest.  God is at work.  A marvel to me is how His work goes on when we can't see the scheme developing.

Today I was running an errand on my afternoon off.  Traveling toward the shopping center I realized I was near the Park Plaza church offices and I wanted to drop my new book off to Kevin Nieman; their counselor.  When I went into the complex I was greeted by a man I met about four years back.

Randy---maybe fifteen or so years younger than me---was the first base coach at one time for the Cincinnati Reds.  I met him as hitting instructor at a complex where Shawn Mayes works here in Tulsa.  Randy is a really sharp man and Shawn wanted me to hang around him a bit.  We golfed simply see what God might do.

So I made an unplanned stop this afternoon to deliver a book to Kevin and there stands Randy.  He, too, was waiting on Kevin as he now works next door to Kevin's office.  And why?  Randy was about to be baptized...and he wanted me to go with him. 

Where I thought I was headed to the mall, I ran into an interruptive idea that lead me to an unscheduled baptism that had begun years earlier by Shawn Mayes...and who knows even before him? 

I am so enthused.  I began ministry at age 26 fearing I would never see God work.  I just didn't know how...or what...or when...or where....or why.  But now it is a way of life.  It isn't a way of great planning but of steady planting.  We sow.  We water our sowing and other's sowing.  God gives the increase.  He has committed Himself to it. 

It just keeps happening....God working that is!


New birth changes things and people.  This is ultra-important for those connected to kingdom work.  We will be changed to keep changing.  God calls it growing toward maturity.  Change matures.  To fight it is to remain as a child; childish.

Jesus responded to Nicodemus that one born again is like the wind; going one direction and then another.  This is the epitome of one concept; change.

When this trait is prominently rebuked a couple of things happen.  The status quo becomes the norm from which future truth is assumed.  Plus, God's interaction becomes withered.  I believe the Word calls it grieving the Spirit.

What this move of birth does for us is it thrusts us into actual faith.  We are immediately dependent upon Something larger than our understanding.  Our diagnostic skill fades as God has such superlative style which makes our status quo look so.....status quoish. 

Regardless of age, we are to live brand new.  We are born again to live from an entirely new scheme of things.  We are not to take our old ways and make them nicer.  We are to be pushed from the womb of the kingdom with a totally new Abundant Life experience.

The major factor in the new birth truth is change is coming and nothing will change that.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


One of the shots I have taken from critics for about fifteen years are comments that the Tulsa Workshop isn't driven by soul winning like it was in the beginning.  From my perspective, such statements are both true and false.

First, it isn't about soul winning like it was in the beginning for those earlier years continue to bear their own profitable fruit.  Our people have grown up/are still growing up.  Yes, we did learn to get out there on Monday Night for the Masses and teach those cottage classes, etc.  I became not only highly motivated but hyper-encouraged at the possibilities among us.

Charleses Hodge and Coil, along with Mid McKnight, Richard Rogers and others, thrilled us to the core with dreams of getting out there and bringing those people in!  And....for many of us the fire has never left.

This leads me to the second point; we aren't doing soul winning like we did in the beginning.  God has expanded our dreams from a specific night to do soul-winning to 24/7.  We were so graced by our earlier stalwarts of the workshop that their fires continue to fan our flames.  Our people have expanded their vision for soul winning to include better children's ministries, deeper Bible studies, and more intense church connections which have no "soul-winning" label....but are highly and intensely involved in just that. 

Have you not noticed that the expansion of our worship styles have favorably impacted our winning of our neighbors?  God resides in praise and these great leaders are effectively taking us to His throne.  And have you not been blessed by the Albert Lemmons and the Keith Roberts prayer instructions among us?  Developing better prayer communication....will increase hearts for soul winning.

Did any of you read the Christian Chronicle center-fold?  Our neighboring and delightful Park Plaza congregation appropriately blames its growth and success....on getting their members to line up for mission trips.  At Memorial Drive we've gone from no Missions Day when I first got here to our annual Missions Day where we supported mission works around the world to---now---raising funds for missions which includes about 20% of our own flock heading to mission targets ourselves.

For any who would like to claim the Tulsa Workshop isn't about soul winning "like it used to be" they are right....and they are wrong. 

The truth is....
  • I don't schedule anything on the Tulsa Workshop program that is not about seeing the world through the eyes of Jesus. 
  • Our people are continuing to mature in the Spirit of Jesus year by year as we yearn to influence the world for Him.
  • And....I still miss Charles and Charles and Mid and Richard and the others....for their good influence continues to impact the new guys on the block!


An essential in following Jesus is to note he often mixes messages.  For the precise audience he delivers the needed direction.  At one moment he will advise that the hearers go tell no one; yet he will tell others to go be a witness to what they have seen and heard.

Another essential in reading the Bible is to note God has mixed messages.  Some are saved by hope, others by repentance, and others by baptism. 

To our rote and commonly rigid minds, we don't do flexibility well.  We need rules--tight rules--and we need all to hear by our understanding of them. 

Thus, we run into a significant brotherhood dilemma in that we insist each church be biblically autonomous while demanding we all look alike.  It is amazing how many churches one can visit and not recognize you are in a Church of Christ has been the cry over the years.  Really?

Really?  Are we not free to look differently?  Are we not free to "veer" from the "order of worship" which was never recorded in Holy Writ in the first place? 

Flexibility has always been of God's nature.  Yet, it is a struggle in congregational nature.  So, do we just toss everything to the wind?  Of course not.  At the same time we unloose the cords where we have bound expectations which God never imposed. 

Are all Churches of Christ to look alike?  Such admonition didn't come from God.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


While I don't want to get into a pattern of being expected to respond to each question which comes by, I choose to address Jay's comment from the last post.  Can we expect to hear from God today?


But first I must admit it took me years of study to reach this conclusion.  I reached such a position only due to Bible study and no other source.  Since I am me I, too, need to state that I am most likely to get much of the God-stuff wrong.  Therefore, read with caution and conclude what you think He wants you to believe.

I believe God speaks to us in addition to the revealed Word.  I think the Word says so and this is what threw me for a few decades.  I can't say that God speaks to me in English...for He doesn't. 

However, He surely does communicate to me.  This is called relationship.  Remember what we sing: He walks with me?  He talks with me?  Were our grandparents liars?

The most I can describe is to say He causes things to "occur" to me.  Of course such a statement causes disbelievers to hold their sides laughing....and I say go ahead a laugh.  I stick with my statement that He causes things to occur to me that were not in my knowledge base nor my wisdom base. 

Example?  Three weeks ago I was at last minute going over my sermon notes about the cross.  He did this thing He has done for occurred to me...."note REJECTION"...."what people struggle with most is being rejected and that's the point of taking up your cross daily."  Again, that wasn't said in audible voice but came out of the air in an instant.

Example?  As I was getting ready to preach Saturday at Stream DFW I was looking at the text of Romans 4:17-25 regarding the deadness of Abraham's body as well as the deadness of Sarah's womb.  And God gave me this idea.....when death is placed in the center of God it becomes pregnant with hope.  Sarah's womb was such, graves are such, and our dead spaces/places are such.  He expressed it in a flash of "occurence" and that's all I know how to say.  I didn't get it from flesh and blood.

Bible?  This is what tripped my earlier stance of believing He was done speaking in modern times as God had wrapped it up in the presented KJV.  James 1:5 says that if we lack wisdom let him ask of God.  Why didn't James say, Read your Bibles?  We can and do receive wisdom from scriptures; none would deny such.  Yet, the Spirit communicated through James that we should ask God.

That isn't the end of it.  James continued to write that wisdom requested will come down from above...Jas. 3:13-18.  It comes down from above after we sought it by asking.  In other words He will send it in.  Now how will this heavenly FedEx carrier deliver it?  This is up to the mystery of God.  It may come by us being directed to a verse, or directed to listen to a song on the radio, or to receive a pertinent phone call with a specific message from God contained in the conversation.

Yes, doubters will take the occurence concept and fly with silly illustrations that believers would, too, regard as silly.  Occurences do not mean God directs all of them.  We can have our own....I am aware.  But I stand on the Word that He clearly stated in certain terms that if we need to hear from Him we should ask and He would send it in from above....and that my in Holy Print.

The mystery of God bugs naysayers.  Truth is always significant.  The Truth is some believe God and His Word and some don't.  The Truth is His Word teaches us to anticipate hearing from Him separate and apart from the revealed Word of God.

And may I go ahead and say that much of what is written in this post came in from above as I wrote?  I'm not wishing to be regarded as a religious nut.  I am confessing, though, He and I work together on projects such as these and it would be egotististical of me to act as if I think this stuff up on my own.  I'm too shallow.  He runs the show.

Monday, September 13, 2010


You do understand we are more than we can imagine don't you?  After all, we are the body of Christ.  He blankets earth.

In the Spring I marveled at the power of individual Christians gathered at Pepperdine.  During the summer I met with a unique study group in Longmont.  Ah...the power of that crew; faith galore and hearts afire.  And then this past weekend at Stream DFW....the marvel of men and women who dearly love God and yearn for the full life He imparts.  And...this is just some of the icing to the daily Memorial Drive cake where I reside in complete fascination.

If we could know of God's family and its vast strength at this very moment we would break out into hot tears.  He is both vibrant and enthusiastic in His people.  Mission networks and mission teams span the globe.  Young kids are planning, old veterans of the church are still praying....all the while God is designing.

The church is still reflective of Acts 2 in having daily baptisms world-wide.  How many do you think are being immersed in China, in world prisons, in South Africa every day?  Hundreds.  And then there're Europe, and Australia....and Canada....and Mississippi....everywhere God is winning.

Try to calculate the strong and faithful Christians you know and then multiply that group by 70 x 7.  When you find that sum, you can believe by faith you yet don't know the half of His wonder!

The kingdom of God is so encouraging.  He is so powerful.  He didn't leave His skills in the first century church to perform no more as some would have us to believe.  God is rich in talent and mercy.  May we be highly encouraged by latching our hearts to the glory which still radiates....around the world!


Extreme or ExStream....both are the same!

All following words are certain to miss the effective communication mark.  There are no phrases to adequately express the wonder I experienced with Ken Young and Hallal this past weekend at South MacArthur in Irving, TX.  It was thrilling!

God of us!

The attendees, the sponsoring congregation, Hallal, and me.....we were stunned and overjoyed at the clear connection of His Spirit throughout the weekend.  It was amazing.

The theme was the Cross.  We just kept the idea alive that worry is over and wonder is here.  The thought struck and stuck.

Hallal will develop another Stream in Austin in January....and I encourage you to consider taking part.  It is exstreamly amazing to be a part of this fabulous God-event!

Friday, September 10, 2010


I'm convinced we will not and cannot understand the unlimited reach of either sin or grace. 

Sin is like the national debt.  Who can fathom millions in the dollars?  Extend that to billions and I have trouble writing that number out on paper let alone grasping the concept more than "lots".  Yet now our national debt is in terms of trillions....when I was completely under at millions.

Grace's scope is yet another unimaginable fascination.  It is of the brilliance of current technology.  I battled the office powers when they wanted me to get a mouse instead of clicking a key on the computer.  I drug my feet at a mouse.  Now that is pretty ha ha ha material right there.

But bring in iPhones and iPads and iDrops (ooops not the last one) and I'm sunk.  I don't get it.  I have this blog only because I signed up for something completely different and accidentally established this.  Google is coming out with a mind-reading scan that when we cruise to find the weather in Juneau, Alaska as soon as we type in weather in j it will finish with immediate choices like jackson, ms., jacksonville, il., or juneau, ak.  Who puts all this data into a 3 x 5 iPhone?  How does one tuck that much info into that little of a space?

Sin is so enormous we can't possibly begin to pay it off and grace is so extreme that our imagination as to how it works only expands its ability to work.

The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more...Romans 5:20.  Who can understand this?  Who can explain it?  All we can do is believe it.  That would insist faith be a significant size. 

Otherwise we will try to humanize sin and grace and conclude very little of either.

Thursday, September 09, 2010


Making an effort to justify his plan to burn the Koran, Terry Jones, pastor of Dove World Outreach Center, said in an interview that he believes Islam and the Koran are that dangerous of a religion and that drastic means are necessary.  I would agree on both counts.  I think that religion is dangerous and I agree that drastic means are necessary.

I don't agree with his conclusion.  Burning Islam's holy book would not be--my opinion--the route of drastic means.  While I don't believe most Muslims are vicious or dangerous, I do think we are most naive to shrug our shoulders in "oh well" as the radicals continue their conquest of the world nation by nation.  This is a serious matter.

So how should we react, respond, or take our stance.  I would look at our leader.  Would Jesus burn the Koran?  I don't think he would.  Rather, I think he would be in Muslim gatherings, open their Book, read a passage from it, and then teach them his ways from their book.

That drastic means are necessary, I agree with Pastor Jones.  However, what Jesus would do is not burn the book.  He would teach from it.  More, he would lay down his life for the Muslim world.  He already did and that is our appropriate (and drastic) next move.  In essence God burned his own son (in public square) to save all brands from weird and weak religions. 

We are to take up our crosses....for our enemies...meaning we would die that they might have life.  This is the drastic God would call.  Do you think?

Mike was a Muslim cab driver in Atlanta as he drove Jason Thornton and me to the airport.  I wanted into Mike's heart and began inquiring of his faith.  He explained a few highlights.  I asked how they rid themselves of sin?  Who died and rose again that their sins could be fully paid off?  His response was that they did good works.  Again, I inquired as to how they paid for sins they could not pay for in good works.  So far, he said, he has worked hard to pay off all.

As we were parting, Mike admitted their was one sin that he could not seem to rid.  He inquired as to whether this Jesus could pay for that one.  Of course he could.

I want to reach effectively but feel out of my league when it comes to reaching this massive Muslim world.  Even my writings appear weak and insipid.  But the threat of burning the Koran has served a good purpose.  It has awakened me to my own feebility. 

This proposed act is not acceptable.  Yet, what is less acceptable is my awareness of this religion's radical danger and I've made little move to do anything about it.  I do believe that to burn the Koran is to play with a very dangerous fire.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


How the church groans for humanity to get well.  The twins of sarcasm and cynicism bow at the feet of abundant personal pain.  We have a world about us which possesses a deep ache for relief.  We are surely outnumbered.  The harvest of opportunity lurks.  Workers are pedaling as fast as we can.

Mary came home yesterday from working at the church's food pantry.  So many of the pitiful pass through in need of food and prayer; both from hunger.  Mary was/is excessively undone by Michael's pain.  His body is dotted with bedbug bites.  An infestation has swarmed his apartment complex.  Such is of epidemic proportion throughout Tulsa's apartments and hotels this summer. 

Mary's grief will motivate her to contact health officials to see what can be done.  Should we get him a new mattress?  Not until the proper treatment of the bugs has been released.  In the meantime, her heart goes out the this young man as he tries to get a new start in life since his recent baptism.

And then I got another one of those calls yesterday.  I just sat in the Turner home six weeks ago as the husband had been killed in a motorcycle accident.  I had been in that home three years earlier due to a teen friend of the family being killed in a car wreck.  These basically do not have a church home.  Fortunately, they draw to us in situations like these and I am privileged to be a part of their intense and repeated sorrow.

Yesterday's call was that a nephew of the family had been run over by a car while he was crossing the street.  His funeral is tomorrow.  I've never met him.  I am privileged once again to minister to this dear family through counsel and speaking at the service.

Donnie was 28.  He leaves behind a 22 year old wife and newborn. 

I wish you could have seen Jesus minister to the twenty some who gathered last night to tell me of their man.  This is such a dear family.  We have been through some majorly rough times together.  Memorial has responded strongly to each crisis.  My heart is severely heavy.  Yet, what a place for light and hope.

And you....I feel certain many reading carry your own multiple aches for society near and at large.  Bless you.  Don't quit.  Do not rid yourself of the struggle for humanity.  This IS what Jesus did while here...and does while here now.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


Cholesterol is a major health concern.  Good cholesterol is...well...good.  Bad cholesterol isn't good.  We need one and not the other.  Dig?

There is a kingdom cholesterol of sorts which affects our health.  I speak of confidence.  Confidence affects our body life in extreme fashion.  This cholesterol is also found to be one part good and one part not.

Confidence can shut the heart down....or it can cause it to race with enthusiastic effectiveness.  The bad confidence is called self; self-confidence.  This disorder leaves one perpetually worried over performance.  While it will give an occasional surge; because it is bad it will leave one immobile in important kingdom matters.

The good confidence is Spirit confidence.  This makes one enormously healthy for the level of activity shifts from self to God.  Therefore, we are able to deduct that even when we are over matched, good confidence believes God over any visible situation.

David had the good confidence when pitted against the Giant.  The woman with little oil in her jar obeyed with good confidence God could respond.  Mary at the wedding possessed the good confidence in her son. 

None of the above had self-confidence.  We need this healthy reminder that if it is to be it is up to Him.  And such confidence we have through Christ toward God.  Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.

Ah....I needed that!  I get too discouraged when focusing upon the wrong Kingdom Kolesterol!

Sunday, September 05, 2010


We make very meaningful progress in the kingdom when we make concerted effort to understand.  Without making excuse, we grow even more connected when we give each other room to be wrong.  We are wrong...often.  That isn't a cheap shot at us.  It simply is the way we are. 

We are the one praying in the temple admitting his accuser is correct about is judgment of him.  We should be able to admit short-comings are our forte.  Because of this humility we position ourselves to receive that giant of a reward day by day....His grace.

Learning to move through life without comparing ourselves to one another is a huge leap of progress.  The Word says that when we compare ourselves to ourselves or class ourselves by ourselves, we are without understanding. 

Life isn't that some have it and some don't.  All have something and all don't have other things.  Envy isn't to be our mindset; but partnership in sharing our gifts is.  We are similar in that each possesses some strengths and some weaknesses.  Wouldn't we all be bored if everyone was exactly alike?  How dull would life be?

As we increase in understanding we decrease in criticism.  How much better life is when we can back away from dwelling upon our unhappiness with others.

We should know this about one another; each is terrifically valuable.  Yes, we have our major flaws.  But when we remember that we are in this together---and make genuine effort to understand each other---God actually has a good shot at helping all of us be much more productive!

Saturday, September 04, 2010


The Holy Spirit is taboo among so many of us.  Why?  Why is it that 1/3 of the Trinity has been shelved?

Well, it isn't because of scatter-brained irresponsibility.  It is an effort to be faithful; a sincere effort at that.  The opposite, I believe, is true.  Some deem the theme of the Holy Spirit to be an irresponsible hog-wash movement among us.  But such a stance is biblically wrong and only a dishonest view will support this continued errant stance of no Holy Spirit activity among us.

The question is, "Why?"  Why is this hiding from the delightful facet of God continuing?  I share possible reasons simply because I once stood in such shoes.
  • We have been groomed to approach the kingdom of God from a fleshly mind.  We believe our explanations trump His mysteries.
  • Due to living by law instead of the Spirit, we live in constant fear.  We fear we will get it wrong.  We fear what others in our herd will think if we dare even study to see if the Bible supports this Spirit concept.
  • Our minds have been killed.  The law kills.  The Spirit gives life.  This is scripturally plain.  Unknowingly some minds have been arrested by the law and have died in the pews of unlearning.
  • Satan has tripped up the church by misleading other religious groups to abuse Holy Spirit accuracy.  Thus, we stay as far away from the topic as possible.  This is precisely why many will not attend any church because Satan has pointed out extreme abuse in some form which caused disbelief; his trademark.
  • Finally, some refuse to acknowledge the existence and activity of the Holy Spirit of God from sheer dishonesty.  They have not and will not study the Word.  Coasting on what has been parroted over decades is enough for them.  If brother Ansel believed is good enough for them. 
To avoid the Holy Spirit as alive among us can only leave us in one place; death's doorstep.  Rote becomes the norm and status quo is the fruit....the wrinkled, decaying, wormy fruit.

Friday, September 03, 2010


I want to thank several who have inspired me along the way to mold me into one who loves his work.  You know if I name six people I really could name 6000 for all "atta boys" and even bumps in the road are significant.  Nonetheless, I am mindful today of some key moments.

I thank LANDON SAUNDERS for preaching in 1978 about "Jesus in the Marketplace".  I'd never heard of such a concept; and it never left me.

I thank TROY SINGLETON for teaching me that Jesus was a human with earwax and stomach cramps.

I thank three former UNNAMED ELDERS who made my life so miserable I was forced to find hope in darkness.  I love them and was blessed by them for I needed the discouragement....honestly.

I thank MARVIN PHILLIPS for showing me that preachers could be happy, like people, and smile while enthusiastically preaching the Word of God.

I thank ALLISON BILLS and VICKI ALCORN for, when third graders, giving me insight to thinking on the right things called for in Phil. 4:4-8.

I thank JEFF BROWN for showing me what walking vision looks like as he still builds the kingdom one young heart at a time.

I thank the late CURT FLOOD for helping me understand slavery so I could have a better grasp of how many feel in the church.

I thank WENDY CHAPEL, my daughter, for believing God when all the kings horses and all the kings men couldn't put her life back together.....twice.

I thank ALLEN FRENCH for showing me that our assemblies didn't revolve around my preaching; but totally around the throne of God.

I thank LIZ PENCE for showing me how to reach to the unreachable.

I thank DAVID BUCHANAN, CHRIS JONES, RON MAGNUSSON, and VAN PRIEST for believing in me when I have days of struggle and doubt.

I thank ALL THOSE IN THE CHURCH for years of letting me be mistaken, recover, and continue the learning process of walking toward the Master.

Finally, I thank JESUS for his willingness to be my attorney at the Judgment.  And...for his excitement over our present ministry together. 

Thursday, September 02, 2010


If you are not a preacher, don't read this.  (Ah, I bet you read it now!)  Let's talk about sermon preparation.  Many won't need these words.  I write specifically to those who do.

I've gone through a few phases of sermon preparation and have no idea what the next one or two...or three...will be.  Getting to preach in the Church of Christ is more fascinating than I earlier imagined.  It is a tremendous rush of spirit to enter any opportunity to link God's Word with His listeners.

At first, fear severely gripped me.  Would there be enough lessons one could glean from the Bible to last at a place two years?  Three or five?  A mistake I made was to think of a good illustration and then fit God's Word around it.  This could be called clever speech as God has intimated.

A significant problem with this approach is one has a limited resource of stories "if" God is not supplying new ones week by week. 

But something happened.  I saw myself in others who were using the same approach.  I didn't like it.  It felt shallow.  I realized in that transition that the Bible carries its own weight.  It doesn't need me to dress it up for the ball.  It will move the hearers. 

It is at this point I was able to move from pages of notes to scarcely any.  This isn't about how many notes one uses nor is it about how many are the right amount.  It is about confidence in the scriptures.

Now...something I felt earlier still remains.  Fear severely grips me.  What if I don't hear Him well?  What if He leaves me at the pulpit all by myself?  I beg of Him not to leave me up there alone.  It is a terrible fear of mine to be saying many words which have no content or backing from above.

I would encourage any who need it to trust the Word of God.  Let it have its shot at the people.  Tell them about how those scriptures tie in with Jesus....John 5:39-41.  Of course we want to deliver with power.  Such isn't in intense voice levels but is clearly in reference to the Holy inspired words of Jehovah.

Shed the insecurity of how you will do.  Take on the mantle of how He had done and is doing.  An incredible example for me personally is Rick Atchley.  Rick simply walks through the Word and relays it message after message.  You may have another favorite.  Study them.  Note what seems to cause their message to stick.  God uses all kinds.  We are fortunate to be included in the mix. 

For you?  Do well.  You are valuable.  You have it in you (the Spirit of God) to accomplish beyond your personal skill.  Therefore, trust Him.  I don't think you want to preach sermon outlines.  I think your people want you to tell them what God is up to!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


Politically I am an Indedemlican.  And...I'm highly interested in politics.  My TV remote is trained to move from CNN to FOX to get both truths and both biases.

Something has happened recently that I have refrained from saying.  Yet, as I was praying the other day about it again, I caught myself somewhat in hiding for fear I would be misunderstood or possibly offensive if I said.  But God has done something recently and I will risk fall-out in order to give Him praise.

I have sought God for two years that He would show up in the media.  I've asked Him over and over and over to place Himself in a position of being named "favorably" by some secular highly-visible personality.  It has happened.  Glenn Beck of FOX is calling all, day by day, to get our country back to God.

One can see why I would be hesitant.  Would readers think I endorse everything of Beck?  Would some find this article distasteful to the extent they would bail on reading any more....ever?  By mentioning Beck would some assume I believe things I really don't believe?  It has happened on many other fronts and might on this one.

However, I want you to know something.  God is to be credited for putting someone in the front of America that dares acknowledge Him.  Do I think Mr. Beck is ideal?  No...nor does he.  But...he surely is bold to insist America's hope is based upon God.  Do I think he has an ideal grasp on all political issues?  No.  What I do think is it is very clear; Glenn Beck pleads with his audience to make a corrective move back to God.

Sometimes Mr. Beck is so outspoken and negative, I shut him off.  Yet I have prayed for a long time for God to show up on TV through some spokesperson.  Now that it has happened...I'm saying so...and thanking God. 

Am I the only one who prayed for this?  Surely not.  It isn't about me.  It is about God working from one or one hundred thousand prayers.  The point?  God works.  Imagine.  Dream.  Pray.  Reach.  He is there. 

And when you see God work....say so!