Thursday, September 29, 2011


What is "it" that I have had to learn to let go? "It" is the natural yearning to get others to do things my way. I never thought of it as selfish. I thought of it as intelligent and responsible.

After all, my ways were always the right ways.

Really? Really.

But I had to learn to let "it" go.

What is pleasing to me may be displeasing to a group of others. When "it" doesn't go my way, this may have just blessed a significant group. Matters of taste, preferences of style; these have to be handled with loosened grip.

I was the oldest of siblings, therefore the bossiest because why? Older always trumps the opinion of younger...that is according to Older Scripts and Law(?).....or didn't you know?Everyone knows that except the younger.

Practice letting it go. Fear causes us to control. I know from both sides of the aisle. Not in dismay or aggravation, but in supportive delight in the opinions of others, may we become more comfortable and confident in their concepts and ideas.

When we learn to let it go, others seem to perk up as if we just took off the training wheels. This concept has opened up an expanded world of wonder, harmony, and appreciation for the efforts of my colleagues.

Enjoy your day.

Bless others.

Learn to let it go.


Real life is gnarly. Would that be your assessment?

Look at Jesus. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. His walk included being misunderstood, plotted against, fierce loneliness, and absolute ugly cruelty. Yet, he is the Life.

Down times are essential elements of being up. Strange, I know; but definitely the pattern of Wise Father. Jesus was at a clearly down time when jerked from the rough cross to the empty tomb. The "up" time was just around the corner. It is still known as resurrection.

The way to stay up with so many reasons to be down is to shift focus from self's misgivings and bumblings to Jesus' stamina and grace. He lifts us "up"; nothing of our own doing. I cannot do anything well unless I see Jesus do it.

I weigh my spirituality constantly for everywhere I go I encounter that I should have been/could have been....more. I am a high-flying louse of a man. My shallowness of spirit is unexaggeratedly abominable in my own sight; let alone His.

When I turn the key to my office "every" morning, the thought smacks me in the face, This church deserves a whole lot better than me. Yet, I am able to remain up.

I desire to be awesome, but lack greets me at every turn. I have reason to be irrecoverably down for I am littler than small. Yet, I am able to remain up.

So how does one as me gain the energy and drive to keep moving the way I do?


Jesus is the hope for every wanna-be. He is the pattern for each applicant. Only his way will betray and defy what human reason insists is the route to take. We make guestimates according to the practical and he delivers due to the spiritual.

He is my righteousness. Mine is all moldy. He is my Savior. My efforts wear me down. Jesus is my attorney at the Judgment with a promise that if I will admit I know him, he will return the favor to Father.

It is a significant challenge to stay up in a world of down times. Negative bantering, reported injuries, troubling threat...we are bombarded with our own undoings.


Even these have a purpose. They lead us to the only one who does Life right.


Oh yeah. Way up! Everyday way up! Why? I believe in Jesus' successes more than my combined failures. My self unravelled before I hardly got started with life.

Jesus? Ah, he becomes stronger in our hearts every day!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


1970 was my earliest encounter with Churches of Christ. Mary and I were converted that year. She was devout Catholic and I was half Presbyterian/half Gunsmoke.

This new kind of religion was both surprising and overwhelming. There was so much to learn; yet I was willing to give it a shot.

We don't call it the church. We call it the building. We are the only ones saved. We don't have choirs. And, we don't mixed-swim. Being impulsive me, I blurted out on the latter, What in the world is a mixed-swim? When they answered I said, You gotta be kidding me!

Being Mr. eager to become properly church acclimated, I hurried to learn the church ropes. I was a wide-eyed sponge enamored with each morsel of new beginnings. Eventually, I hauled my family off to the Preston Road School of Preaching to learn deeper ropeology. Although I was quite afraid the entire two years, I ate it up. Excitement poured at the thought of winning souls; while wholly fearful I would never win one....not one...not ever.

Life in the church is a gift. I am grateful to see a major shift of new life take place in the church. Simple and yet profound, that new life began to sweep across the spiritual scene when our brotherhood quit preaching Church of Christ and began to preach Jesus. It is a literal world of difference.

A strange thing arises immediately. As you learn of those preaching Jesus it can be noted these same people are accused of ruining the church. I believe that has some merit. A church without Jesus needs to be ruined.

The next time you are in a circle of heated discussion, note how many times anyone is hot and bothered because Jesus isn't being preached. This will give you insight as to the depth of concern such conversation should be given.

You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life. I do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves (Jn. 5:39-42).

New life in any congregation will always and only be due to the economy of Jesus; not the preachers, not the elders, not the worship style, and not the version of the Bible. It will always be because of Jesus or there will not be authentic abundant Life.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I have lived most of my life cowardly; fraidy-cat like. Sounding bold is the perfect lure for those like me to become a legalist. From experience, being legal minded allowed me to hide behind brave words while self-conscious that I was nothing but a weak-kneed little man on the interior.

I wasn't about good news. I was about survival...survival of the weakest.

God has so broken this barrier down that I am learning day by day that I am in the glorious mix of every man and woman. I most certainly fit in. So do you. We are all filled with our own weaknesses and His ultra-Life.

I began to learn years ago that others are just like me. I am not the only fearful duck like I had assumed. Even those at the top suffer discouragement. Consider two whom I revere.

Charles Spurgeon confessed, Before any great achievement, some measure of depression is very usual.....Such was my experience when I first became a pastor in London. My success appalled me; and the thought of the career which it seemed to open up, so far from elating me, cast me into the lowest depth....Who was I that I should continue to lead so great a multitude? I would betake me to my village obscurity, or emigrate to America, and find a solitary nest in the backwoods, where I might be sufficient for the things which would be demanded of me...This depression comes over me whenever the Lord is preparing a larger blessing for my ministry.

And then Chuck Swindoll followed with, I'll admit that there have been days I have identified with Spurgeon. Although maybe not as deeply as he did, I have known a deep valley of discouragement at times---even when others would think I might be caught up in pride, of all things. I have known times when I secretly wondered, "Should I even stay at it?"

What is the value of these two citations? Clearly, if the guys at the top get depressed to where they wonder if they can keep going, we must realize we who are on the fringe can grasp the truth that we are all identically subject to fearful, discouraging and wobbly walks.

I am never in the presence of anyone without being alert to their deep need for life-giving words. As we encounter each individual we have just come upon a wreck; regardless of dress or make-up or image, a train-wreck has, is, or will take place. We have the privileged opportunity to give resuscitation to princes and paupers.

Struggle and stress care not what sort they attack; the super-powerful or the no-confidenced. They live to ruin and destroy. They bombard the heart and mind with intensely effective tactics screaming with the message, You oughta do everybody a big favor and just quit.

It is the empty grave that reminds us, Never give up! You are a good-news carrier!

The good news for us is that perpetual good-news words are always needed. Speak resuscitating words!

Monday, September 26, 2011


First, thanks for the many responses to "Who's out there?". You encouraged my heart.

Recently Mary and I bought a new really old (1939) house. In applying for the loan the office lady was as expected; highly professional.

As in all situations (if it involves people, it involves kingdom possibility), I was in the loan office for two reasons. I wanted Jennifer's assistance in obtaining a loan. And, I watched during each meeting for God places. Every reaction to requests and questions were geared toward the latter.

At the closing, she sat to our left as the Abstract Company had us sign multiple pages. As I was signing or initialing, I looked over at Jennifer and said, You you helping me you now qualify for three free visits to our church! She smiled (professionally) and said she might just have to take me up on that.

That was at the end of July. Sunday Jennifer visited (her first free one of three) our assembly. SHE LOVED IT.

Now here's where our watering comes in. We don't know when we are around others what seed has been sown. We don't know background of hurts, successes, delights, or challenges in one's search for God.

Jennifer told us Sunday that her little church had closed down. She didn't have a church. She had looked here and there; but nothing matched her heart....until Sunday. She gave me a huge hug and said she would be back next Sunday!

Sow and water. Sow and water. That is all we are asked to do...and we can do that much. God gives the increase....and that we can't do.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


I so enjoy writing this blog with faith eyes that there are many of you reading. The counter says we get about 1000 hits a week. Not counting my mom's 950, I wonder where the other 50 are. (Only kidding. Mom doesn't have a computer.)

So today, rather than me write you, I wonder if you would mind reversing the order. I don't necessarily need to know who is reading each day, but I would enjoy the location of readers.

Would you mind commenting with name or initials and city/state where you reside?

Today...I'd like to hear from you.

Thank you.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Many serve God full-steam. From foreign missions to participating in bake sales at the community food bank, God's people are in it for the glory of Christ. The good news is that the percentage of those active in the church seems to be increasing. It really is beyond our imagination as to the kingdom seed being sown so well.

Days of our past was more of a check-list theology while in the holding pattern. By holding pattern I mean the members were on hold awaiting real life to begin when they would arise from the grave. While this is unspeakable as to a joyous event, these seemed to have traded life right now for a traditional five-steps-to-fit-within-our-three-times-a-week philosophy.

Abundant life as Jesus had promised? It wasn't for here and wow. It was for when we all go to heaven....later. Life would be much later.

But now.... But now it seems Jesus has increased his presence in our hearts and we are happily learning to experience the fruit of the Spirit as we walk. We are learning to celebrate and praise. To give God glory--to see His glory--is an entirely new world to me. It is a wow!

Those who insist upon living in the holding pattern are among us here and there. These are always the unhappiest around us. The cure for such ailment is not a better preacher, a better set of elders, better worship, or better acoustics. It is the simple truth that Jesus lives with us now.

Some suffer from ability to reference scripture without the faith to know Jesus personally. He addressed this dilemma in John 5:39-44.

May we see His kingdom flourish on it is in heaven.

Friday, September 23, 2011


It is intensely encouraging to listen to our people discuss the interaction of the Holy Spirit with us. He does work from

Out of our past came warnings against radical Spirit involvement which flashed across lecture themes, books, and sermons. Threats of leaving the True Word of God brushed past our ears as we heard the clanging gongs and banging cymbals urging us to believe one-third of the God-head had suffered a paralyzing stroke of inactivity.

It is magnificent error to speak of the work of the Spirit as having ceased. He may work in a different manner per His choosing; yet He remains a Force among us. Our duty is to let Him have the freedom to rent out our space for Father's glory. Praise the Lord on that one!

I would assume that throughout my years I will not corner Truth; that of Father or of Son or of Spirit. I do anticipate growing in them...into their image.

To believe in the Holy Spirit is not to take on a dark doctrine of the idiotic. He is the Spirit of God in Christ Jesus promised to reside in us. He is not present for the ride. He is here to give confidence and power and life when we have simply reached the end of our ropes.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I returned late last night from Summit; the ACU Lectures. Gatherings of this sort are always a plus. For me, engaging with the multitudes is just as magnifiable as are the classes. Super-Power would be my take on the event.

One element I just cannot help but enjoy is the admission that the Holy Spirit lives and works among us. This is such a different take than in my earlier beginnings of ministry. Our people speak of the Holy Spirit as if we had always believed Him. Yes.

Billy Curl was awesome in his keynote as was Max Lucado. But Dusty Rush wowed the hearts...I just sayin'. Way to go Dust!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


New posts will appear each day from today through next Wednesday...September 21. YOU WILL NEED TO LOOK FOR THEM BY DATE.

Scroll down to the posts of September 14 and 15 and you will find a new post each day coming up.

Today (Saturday) September 14 A TRUTH TO BE RESTORED
Sunday September 14 NOWHERIANS
Monday September 14 THE DISARMAMENT RACE
Wednesday September 15 DON'T HOLD BACK PRAISE

THESE POSTS WILL BE AVAILABLE AT THE DATE LISTED ABOVE...and not in current new order as usual. Hunt in the above'll find the post.

Friday, September 16, 2011


I tell ya, slippery slopes are everywhere! They are everywhere! I particularly point the dagger at the nearly unconscious, yet man-made, Acumenical Movement which is strong among us.

The Acumenical Movement invites all faiths to join in like-mindedness the pursuit of God and His glory. The slipperiness of this direction is that just anyone can join these forces in the name of doing good deeds for God. Truthfully, though, this has disaster written all over it. The Acumenical Movement deceives, misleads, and ultimately blinds the strongest of the assumed faithful.

Specifically, the Acumenical Movement needs to be exposed for its subtle climate of playing upon the egos of men and women who hold their Bibles in one hand yet listen to the voices of human reason. The Acumenical Movement is geared to promote man's mind over what really matters.

Acumen: insight, sharpness, shrewdness, intelligence, wisdom, and all-around good judgment from the man-side of things have reduced God's promises to Bible class or small group "study material" without its designated power to change the world; our world. Man has become reliant upon his own acumen rather than God's.

Isaiah 55:8-9 has it in clear perspective when this text insists God's ways are always higher than our acumen. James 3:13-18 calls for us to function with wisdom from above rather than what the Acumenical Movement would lure from below.

Beware. False movements are everywhere. The Acumenical Movement is one deserving our utmost alertness.

(So five hours later I must add a P.S. Two have said to me they didn't know very much about the Acumenical Movement. There is no Acumenical Movement. There is an Ecumenical one! I simply did a play on words to emphasize the care we give to the acumen of men over the wisdom of God. Sorry for my confusing some. I still like the post! I guess I'll just enjoy it all by myself. It just goes to show me that I wasn't as Acumenical as I thought!)

Thursday, September 15, 2011


You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit.
Harry S. Truman

Jealousy is a terrible disease. Of course I was stricken by it. Of course I have wallowed in its tempting maze. Why not me? Insecurity at its rawest moment rages with jealousy for one cannot fight the truth others are better. It isn't that those more "whatever" are begrudged; but the sheer fact we lack while they succeed seems unfair.

The truth is that it isn't just a few who drew the short straws. All of us did. True, some don't know it yet; so we will just keep this quiet a bit longer. Be assured; all of us lack in major and emphatic ways.

Ta Da! The church!

Lack is why we need the church. It is only filled with one-anothers who are better off because we are no longer alone with our one or two talents and our 3800 short-comings. The head is Jesus and the body is formed of believers who desperately need (count on) one another.

When you give others the credit you are supporting yourself because we are of one body. Praise away!


I believe we are paying a hefty price for our five-steps theology---whatever the five steps happen to be. Our immediate programming has been the route of the proper "acts" we do which please God. If we add or subtract from these items, we are dubbed unfaithful.

I marvel at the low-grade lethargy among us when it comes to joining in praise of God. If God were physically present on the stage do we really believe we would have the monotonous and sparse-expressive efforts which come from 50% of our people?

No longer do we appear to have been weaned on dill pickles. Rather a large group appears to be drugged. Minds appear to be everywhere but intimately with Him.

I am highly encouraged at the sight of my elder to my left wiping his tears due to his love for God's handiwork among us. The smiles which stream throughout the auditorium are so engaging in family intimacy. However, the blank stares of teens or grandparents are as pins to balloons. Yet, all leave convinced we did church right?

Steve McVey wrote, In reality, when a person doesn't experience intimacy with God through Jesus Christ and he attempts to approach God through his religious acts, his deeds will be an affront to the perfectly righteous God who demands nothing less than perfection. Since none of us can possibly walk perfectly we might as well stay off the road altogether.

Yet many believers, who by divine sovereignty have been brought out of Egypt and miraculously placed on the King's Highway, have now filled their tank with the gasoline of religion and their engine with the oil of self-effort and think they are on their way to the land of victorious living. They are often making good speed, but what they don't know is that they are driving in circles. They are pleased with their performance, but don't know they are going nowhere fast.

I love variation in song tempo; the upbeat and the mellow. I am encouraged when the "one another" concepts are present in the assembly. But it does seem clear to me that we could take a cue from our African-American brothers and sisters and join in with our expressive hearts instead of our putting-in-the-time habits.

Commitment to the church without intimacy with God is just one more group wandering in self-effort circles in the wilderness of going nowhere.


Mary and I had twins boys a year apart! On September 15, 1971, Dustin Jay Rush entered Wendyland (his older sister of 1 1/2 years). On September 15, 1972, Timothy Ty Rush began his experience in Wendy/Dustyland. Today my boys are 40 and 39.

My kids are very dear to me. I know. I know how it goes that one's children are always the exception. Well, mine are the exception to the exception of being exceptions. (I don't know what that means, either, but it sounded exceptional x 3).

Dusty is a missionary for a church of over 1000 in Atlanta. Tim is a missionary of a church of under 1000 (maybe 20?) in Guadalajara. Both do identical work poles apart.

I'm proud of my boys because they are God's men; not mine. I never suggested they consider ministry for I didn't know what it was like being a kid of mine. Pressure? Frustration? I left that up to God and them. It was their ideas; I stayed out of the way.

Today I am honored to be known as the dad of these not-twin boys born a year apart. And, they live well because they were raised in the experiences of Wendyland.

Happy Birthday boys!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I was a kid during the heights of the Cold War. I was so uneasy over Kruschev hammering his shoe in threat at the U.N. The Arms Race was on. Power matching power, strength against strength, and verbal warning of immense scale filled the television broadcasts of Walter Kronkite, David Brinkley and others.

As a Junior-higher, I was as nervous as John and Bobby Kennedy when Russia's ships were blocked from Cuba. This could be "it". Suspicion abounded as provocation intensified.

We live in a world of constant power-plays. Even the state lotteries promote the Power Ball. Power. Wealth, fame, and power are sought without regard for what might really work in life.

And what will work in life?

The cross.

The cross is the power of the mighty hand of God. Oh it didn't even look like it in Jesus' day...until. Until that thing happened that all power could no longer ignore...the resurrection.

No, power has no answer for the resurrection. When we are in God, weakness will always break the bonds of the strong. The cross looks like life is over. That is its draw. Power's look is fake. The cross fakes out power and it fakes out death.

If you wish to be of power, join the disarmament Nothing beats the resurrection power of God...and there is never a resurrection without a death.


Don't mind it. It rocks!


Let me guess. You think I made up the word Nowherians. Well, you are so wrong. Furthermore, I am proud to find a co-imaginarian who would dare develop a word we need.

Author Pico Iyer notes that those who have transitioned from their traditional settings back home as they arrive in the big cities possess a heightened openness to new ideas and change. They have an increased realization of their need for help and support. Therefore, they are highly likely to meet with great receptivity those to who reach to them. Iyer calls these rootless residents Nowherians.

We who have a call to draw others to Jesus would be benefitted by being aware of the Nowherian Movement (literal moving) of neighborhoods take place daily. Be on the alert to the Nowherian man, woman, or family. Just because they are moving may be reason enough for them to respond favorably to an invitation or a simple gesture of interest.


I have heard our plea to the church and to the community at large that we are the true church. Besides being biased with our prejudiced Bible verses, something else betrays this assumption. The louder the cry the unhappier it seems are the criers. Gladness seems to side-step those who believe themselves to be most correct.

A term I have had to learn in the past decade is one foreign to me; joy. Oh sure, I have experienced it on many occasions; but basically from the flesh. I speak of the joy that fills the believer under any and all circumstances; that fruit of the Holy Spirit when the flesh can no longer muster it.

Fundamentally, my point is that it is a very grand experience to note the happiness of Christ's followers. One of the things I so enjoy about elders in the last several years is their peace; not pressed by the nay-sayers.

Neither are they perplexed by those who breathe threats of discontent. They are happy in the Lord. Every day a bed of roses? No. Every day confident in the Spirit? Yes. A brand new church world.

Fritz Kling penned, Christianity around the world, too often viewed as staid or boring or regressive, actually provides the richest journey that life can offer. God knows the full of possibility, hope, and reward--and the world is waiting....but not for long.

Let us be about the Life to the extent we abound in.....abundant joy and gladness. May we lavishly live in the glory of the Lord. We love those verses which call us to such. May we try to live those verses!


Big is important to the dreamer. I'm a dreamer. From the days of my childhood, I imagined doing something big.

Frustration ensued.

I wasn't big, didn't know anybody big, and couldn't do big.

Nothing changed...except one.

I met Jesus.

Jesus....when he began to get his way....took me from small to smaller. He took me from project to seed. He convinced me to operate in the Glorious Kingdom by planting seeds. He assured me he would do the big. I did and he has.

I learned to sow seed. If you want to know the main thing that I know to do, it is to sow seed. I plant and water, plant and water, plant and water. Never have I nor do I cause the big; not one time.

I sow seed in prayer. I sow in thoughtful notes and phone calls and warm greetings when I am among people. I sow seed with enormous confidence that if God wants the is up to Him; not me.

You....get to do the big stuff when you are willing to become smaller. I became well-known in our brotherhood through the smaller; intense criticism of my stance on the Holy Spirit.

I saw big stuff develop in reaching Jackie Gleason on his death-bed because I did the small thing; wrote him. I stood in Busch Stadium where 40,000 fans held my newest book--that was big--when all I did was asked Memorial Drive to pray a year earlier that we could get a book into that event. I saw my neighbor man be baptized when all I did was ask him if he could help me change out a battery in the car.

God is how we get to the big stuff. Ours is never big; not ever. God is the stirrer. He alone is the initiator. We are called as small to get smaller. The seed-sort that we are infects the work of the church with awe-glory because nobody so small could pull off what we get to. It has to be Father!

If you are down because you don't see the big stuff happening in your life, maybe you have been refusing the seedling assignment.

And...isn't this a good post? When I sat to write this I had zero idea of what to say. And then there was God and He helped me just now make someones' day....I AM SURE.

Thank you God for insisting that if we will do the seed-stuff, you will let us see more of the big stuff.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


God's system, of course, is exactly backwards to earthly wisdom. From our posture we are basically about self-protection and self-preservation. Not only do we scramble to avoid a sniper's shot, but we rush to the stores to buy up wrinkle preventer and gray hair eliminator. We are all about safeguard.

We work hard (and unconsciously) against the track of God....death. God is all about resurrecting the dead. It appears one of His grandest showcasing was that of Abraham and Sarah as their bodies were as good as dead. And what was His emphasis in Romans 4? Resurrection power.

Understood, the major player in all of this was the perfect One. He died. He had to die that Father's talent have opportunity. He died and then God exercised His wow skill.

Therefore we must guard against the cowardice of our own flesh. If I had to stand before a crowd and speak I would just___. If I had to ask my neighbor to study with me I would just___. If I had to take a homeless one for a ride in my car to buy him or her a meal, I would just ___.

We are to take up the executional wood daily that we might just die. The grand resurrection synchronization among us is pure delight. We are here neither for protection nor preservation; but rather to be spent by the Banker.

May we avail ourselves in overwhelming risk that we might have a good shot at seeing God keep His promise to us....if we will but lose ourselves we will gain, gain, gain.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Doubt will carry two kinds of weapons; threat or charm. It will impose fear or else serve as a pseudo-wisdom to talk you down from faith into something heroic.

As we encounter God-like opportunities may we have the courage of a bulldozer to plow into the threats and charms alike. May nothing deter us from believing God can make something from nothing and give life to the dead.

All things are possible with Him; not with us, but with Him. And...He said He would do more than we can imagine or think.

Trouble? Challenge? Confusion? Bugged? Bulldoze away!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


God has always been about speech.

Commands are spoken. The church began after a sermon. We can quench the Spirit by poor speech and escalate grace by the good kind...Eph. 4:29-30. God created through speech and Lazarus came forth because he heard a voice.

No doubt, God's system operates or unravels based upon creative or destructive talk.

Positive self-talk is significant. If we say things won't work, it is weird how such self-prophesying develops failure. If we speak that all will one day be all will.

Should you have assumed I'm speaking (speaking?) of the individual, I'm not...this time. I'm speaking of the self-talk of the body of Christ.

When the arm complains about the elbow the body suffers setback. Yet, when the knee praises the ribs, something God-like invisibly permeates the body at large. Health exudes; not deficiency.

Watch our words...all of us. The ankles and the ears among us are never advantaged if the waist and the nose are off to the side negatively discussing the big toe.

God is about praise...which is proven and our talk. May we build a healthy body by watching our language.

Friday, September 09, 2011


Adamantation is the persuasion one takes which is unbending, immovable, and just plain stubborn. I once was quite proud of being such. I stood for something and people would know I stood for it. This lingo filled the brotherhood airwaves as to who was in and who was "they" and "them". (Know what I mean?)

The problem with admantationistic practices is that it is so seldom like Jesus. Yes, he stood strongly to the point he died. But he stood for sinners and died for sinners. We....want to be known for standing against sin--of which Jesus did as well--yet a difference between me and him is he did so for sinners where I did it to be known (by my judgmental peers) for my stances.

Much of our church history is strewn with my ruinous story; loud against sin but involved very little with actual street-smart sinners. This has to change among us for Jesus insists upon it. When do we ever read of the religious leader and the bankrupt sinner ending with Jesus taking the side of the former? His heart-story is to align with the latter.

Fritz Kling (who quotes Richard Mouw who quotes Martin Marty) said it well when he referenced the need to follow Christ by becoming reconcilers, One of the real problems in modern life is that the people who are good at being civil often lack strong convictions and people who have strong convictions lack civility....We need to find a way of combining a civil outlook with a 'passionate intensity' about our convictions. The real challenge is to come up with a convicted civility.

Romans 14 addresses such a faith. Was Jesus adamant about anything? One theme seems to rise to the top; seeing his Father reach to blatant sinners to such an extent he would give up his own life. That is adamant, unbending, immovable, and just plain stubborn to it most righteous and wonderful peak.

May I learn to stand for the sinful people he stood for over the things I think the religious leaders want me to hold dear.

Thursday, September 08, 2011


I know discipline. We had lots of it in our house when I was a kid. Some of it wasn't fair; it wasn't right. Other parts, though, were. I didn't like discipline for whatever the reason.

My brother and I had to work extremely hard; harder than other kids our age. We had 26 yards to mow during the summer and passed sale bills door to door in freezing cold and dark evenings after school. It took the two of us two nights in a row after school to cover every house in the entire town....for one penny per house delivery.

Discipline is like cholesterol. There is the good kind and then the bad. I can't think of many times any child receives correction and likes it. Discipline--done God's way--is always beneficial.

Discipline's purpose is to train. It is a combination of physical and mental gym where one works out to develop a most necessary character which will endure the rough days. Victory over the long haul is the goal. Undisciplined people quit. Those who trained in hardship cross the finish line.

Church isn't easy. Sticky wickets and gnarly circumstances make for challenging times. What to do and how to handle may be the questions. Yet one question does not cross our minds, Shall we quit when the going gets tough?

I know shepherding can't be easy. Preaching isn't always. Yes, teens can become bummed due to rudeness of others. Ministry leaders surely become weary of vain excuses of non-commitment. When each "thorn in the flesh" gives us reason to keep moving then we begin to develop that which God intended all along; vision to see the yeses in the midst stress and difficulty.

Read II Corinthians 12:5-11. Note the thorn in the flesh wouldn't leave and Paul used such to find reason to be glad. America and the American church is getting too soft because we are abandoning the very thing which will launch us into our greatest effectiveness.

Our days are filled with critics, disappointments, and discouragement. We have concluded we don't need the discipline criticism provides; that we don't have to take it.

Well we do have to take it. We do have to take the insults. We do have to take the abuse and neglect. It is a part of the gym's training machines.

The church is fun and quite exciting. This isn't all there is to church for we are still called to live from the tedious discipline of the cross. Don't run. Hold on. Endure. Life is with us and for us and in us.


Are mission statements useful to the kingdom march? Or, are they mere distractions to falsely satisfy the flesh in the name of spiritual lingo? I don't know. I have some thoughts for consideration. May some of them benefit your mission.

I'm not interested in mission statements. I've been a part of too many committees enthralled with such an assignment only to find that (even after posting such in the foyer) it was basically ignored and the church moved on its merry way.

My brother and I had a train set. We loved setting it up; track, tunnel, bridge, crossing signs, and all. However, when it was all set and the train went around the tracks about three times, we were bored; done with it.

This is how I see the question, Where are we going? Who wants to know things like this and what will those who want to know do with it when they find out? A former member at Memorial pressed for such definition. When we put it in print in the foyer one of his kids had a problem and they moved to another congregation. So much for mission statements.

My observation is that the wrong question is being asked. Where are we going?, I believe is the wrong question. The better question is, Where is it God is calling us? Could it be the church would find greater satisfaction in listening for His call rather than pooling our imaginations for direction?

I was asked (called) to go to preaching school. It was not in my mission statement. Marvin Phillips called asking me to speak at a new kind of workshop in Tulsa. Soon after, Memorial Drive called me (twice) to interview for this job. Upper Deck baseball cards called about playing ball and preaching (the Sermon on the Mound) at Dyersville, Iowa's Field of Dreams. White's Ferry Road called inviting me to host a television program that baptized hundreds in three years.

Is everything I do from a call? No. But inventorying the above, I wouldn't have put any of those items in my mission statement.

You can see I personally wrestle with, Tell me where the church is headed, I need to know where we are going, or We need to form a mission statement as to our direction. To me a mission statement is a man-made creature that pacifies leaders who don't know what to do.

I don't know where I'm going. Abraham didn't either (Hebrews 11:8). But I do know that it excites me very much to note the amazing doors God has opened for the local church and the church at large. Due to such an experience, I just assume He has more up His sleeve.

I am fully aware that not many think of this as I do. I would venture you see something my personality tic just won't let me see. For now this is my story...and I'm sticking with it for at least the next four hours.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


Theoretically, we preach a good game; even argue a good one. Jesus calls for followers and this we intend to do to the best of our ability.

The best of our ability seems to be a boundary that may need to go. Don't we really wish we could labor to the best of His ability? In us?

For instance, how are we doing at going into all of the world. The language essentially means as we are going. Since we are goers, we can justify our obedience.

I raise the question of how we think we are doing at walking on water. Jesus did. And we follow?
This would be an area I believe our people do experience. Some take on adoptions without clear understanding how it will work. Yet, they make it. Others increase their giving with a water-walking trust that God will provide....and He does. Still others set out with faithful stubbornness to do wild things for God and they actually reach the summit.

Therefore, I urge you to take inventory of your daily walk. Is any of it upon the waters of uncertain impossibility...made certain and possible? It was done by Jesus. It was done by Peter. It is accomplished by very plain people still today.

You and I can and should be one of them. May we lift our eyes to see the real Jesus and His abundant talent in the midst of wind and doubt. Do not fear. We work not alone. Walk where the flesh can't....but does.


Philip Yancey wrote about an apology Bob Jones University issued in 2008. He sighted that it took the Southern Baptists 150 years to admit their stubborn error in their support of slavery.

Yancey's call is to the Christian community to make sober effort to align with our scriptures and not our culture. I could not help wondering, as I viewed the exhibits at the museum in Memphis, how much of the average Christian's politics gets formed by surrounding culture rather than by the gospel of Jesus.

Great care as to what lens we use to read our Bibles is surely Mr. Yancey's clarion call. Shall we read our Bibles black or dare we cloud them with cream of culture and sugar of bias? We are not immune to misreading or misinterpreting. It says what is say and means what is means often comes from the lips that sip from cream and sugar persuasion.

President Stephen Jones apologetically expressed, For almost two centuries American Christianity, including BJU in its early stages, was characterized by the segregationist ethos of American culture. Consequently, for far too long, we allowed institutional policies regarding race to be shaped more directly by that ethos than by the principles and precepts of the Scriptures. We conformed to the culture rather than provide clear Christian counterpoint to it.

Yancey remarked following this quote, One question lingered as I left the museum: for what will the church be apologizing for 150 years from now?

No one serious about the Life shared between God and His creation dare fail to research the Word day by day for direction, re-direction, and then re-re-direction.

Apologies are needed in abundance. Masses no longer enter our doors because (when they were much younger) we were expressing our Christian toots. Simultaneously, these young souls withered for lack of godly air among us. Beneath our brainless assaults called sermons and articles, we shot our relatives and our neighbors in their feet so they could no longer have the ability to walk beside us to help us grow...up.

May we find diligence in our continued pursuit of the Word of God in both accuracy and honesty. Souls are counting on it.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


A stifling element of the church's recent past is our obsession with doing everything by the letter. We do church right has interfered with really doing church correctly. In this mix of organizational accuracy, poor leadership could be cured if there were to open to the presence of emotion.

Emotion is a kingdom step-child to the analytical sort. Facts are facts. Done.

The fact is emotion is of essential significance in and of the church. What is it immediately revealed after the mass baptism Sunday in Acts 2? They kept feeling the sense of awe. Such feelings immediately led to commonality which led to sharing which led to joy which led to constant praise of God. Add these elements to most congregations and there would be what?

Immediate and unguarded revival!

By the Book is not the God-call to leadership. Good leadership includes the Spirit of the Book which will immediately find the goodness of emotion. People feel their faith through their shirt sleeves. No feelings? Dull and unstirred; unmotivated.

From what I gather in studying the Word and watching effective workers around me, the critics want to call these feelings sensationalism. I see it as sensitivity in which the lawyers in Jesus day seemed to also balk.

Give the church a window of opportunity to feel compassion for any and one will find the initiation of action to step in and help the cause. Either the church leadership feels or else it doesn't lead.

Who are some of our best among us who display godly sensitivity? All who are given to children's homes, congregations that focus upon the poor, and any cause among us which breaks our hearts.

Broken hearts........feel. Feel the pain.

Saturday, September 03, 2011


AT&T's Rethink Possible commercial energizes me simply by its wording. This communication company lifted the theme from the believer's walk. What is the church about if not to rethink possible?

God is not the God of our doldrums nor of our mediocrities. He is the Lord of fascination, of visualization, and of fabulous imagination.

Conservative fundamentalist faiths across the board have prided ourselves in how much of the faith movements we have preserved. Yet, the Spirit is not about preservation or restoration only. He is clearly about exploration of a deep relationship with the Creator God.

I thoroughly like where I get to be and who I get to be near. I am energized by the work God has going when, in reality, I'm basically clueless to His global operation.

One of the church traits I find mesmerizing is the simple wondering of what God would like to do yet He can't find anyone to believe it into existence. Tomorrow, if not careful, a host of Christians will traipse off to their "location" to enter, greet, meet, sip, and pray only to exit back into the community blend of highly unimaginative and low-energy community roles.

What is it God has in mind for us that is veiled from our eyes? What is before us in plain sight that no believer has yet thought to try? Yes, of all of earth's inhabitants we must lead in the zone of rethinking possibility.

For nothing will be impossible with God. When I was converted in 1970 at age 23, this was the very first passage I referenced when learning to preside as a church rookie at the Lord's Supper. Now these 41 years later, Luke 1:37 remains mighty in both its grand mystery and its profound call.

To rethink possible is to look at an empty tomb and wonder if the power that happened there could happen in my life, wow! The good news can!

Thursday, September 01, 2011


Ministry--mine in particular--has taken such a surprise turn that I feel both surprised and embarrassed. I'm embarrassed that it is a surprise.

It was in the Word all along. But somehow I thought it meant John the Baptist. We must decrease that He might increase. I see clearer day by day that back seat-ism is the right way to go when it comes to leadership.

Jesus fulfilled the Baptist's words in that he, too, decreased to the point of death...death on the deadliest of terrains...the cross.

Has not God made it clear that we are to lose our lives. Where are we going? What is our goal? Our mission statement? If it is to lose, finish last, take the back seat, and die we are surely on target for His call.

I see it now. I am called to make others look good, to see that others get noticed, to lead by decreasing. None of this seems to fit the progress mold. Yet, I deem it one of those gignantic secrets of God.

Join me. Take the back seat. Sit on the back row. Enjoy the view of others looking so good at what they get done. Praise God. We all have a place to serve.


People dumb down to the negative voices. This is an extreme atrocity. We must and can reverse this trend.

Negative words are slung at the slightest peeve. Getting chewed out is so routine for the masses that few hardly think of the possibilities of stop-gap measures. But if God's people don't do it, who will?

This is not a call to say something nice. Neither is it a call to be nice. Rather this post is an urgent plea to develop a personal mission to speak up and speak out. Everyone around us has had their fair share of trash talk. The tsunami of depletionary words has left the world populace at 30% to 50% of its operating potential.

We must and can overcome this deficiency.

Ephesians 4:29 is a spring of living hope. Our words give grace and grace means the God-energy of mysterious and unexplainable accomplishment. Further into the text begs we not stifle the Holy Spirit followed by further admonition to avoid wasteful chatter.

Spread the word. Everyone you know is a blessing. Each is a carrier of answers and responses to troubled souls. Our people are solutions in the strongest and best of ways. Tell each other so.

I will say here's what I like about you or do you know what I like about you? No one rejects learning of their strengths; their upside.

While human tendency is to chip away, I see God's clan in the opposite style. Our call is to build and rebuild from the gallery of being wordsmiths. We are vocals; doctors and nurses assisting those who ail from wounds of negative talk. We know our stuff because we are related to the One who creates with......words.

Our God is a speaking artist. Jesus picked up on it and offered hope in impossible settings. When Jesus lay dead, words brought him forth to new life.

Shall we speak in resurrection tones as well?