Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Life is amazing.  Yet, it is not a blessing for far too many.  Rather it is a daily meandering, ritualistic, and useless burden for the latter.

The problem is sin. 

The recovery is life in Jesus.

Referencing Adam and Eve's debacle, Malcolm Smith pegged it, From then on, this was where they would find their life and the meaning of their existence---in the realm of the creature flesh.  Men and women would now spend their lives searching for meaning within their magnificent brains, intellects, emotions, feelings, and passions, which all exist in the organs of their bodies.

But for every human being, the questions regarding the meaning of existence will not go away.  Men and women cannot forget the dream they cannot remember!  The human is plagued by "Why am I here?" "What is the point of my existence?" "What is the meaning of my life?"  Midlife crisis is due to looking at life and realizing that the elusive meaning has not been found and time is running out.

We simply cannot let the doctrine we cherish in new birth, reconciliation, and re-creation slip into the mundane religious tone of any given day.  Rather we must be perpetually aroused by the Spirit-treasure implanted within each of us that we be driven to the unfathomable highest of hopes even when in the deepest of pits. 

Remember Paul and Silas in prison?  Even when apparently set back it was found that they merely stepped forward.

Nothing is to steal again what the devil stole from us through Adam and Eve.  The reason life goes nowhere for some is they have not absorbed the message that Jesus reversed life's course once and for all and we are declared meaningful. 

When a world clamors for meaning to existence and purpose to one's walk, we know the answer with stunning precision.  His name is Jesus.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I was watching a YouTube piece by Malcolm Smith when I noticed a list to the right of other clips of other speakers.  I began to wander into one and out and then to another and out.

Very interesting.

John MacArthur was bashing Joel Osteen.  No sooner did I leave that video and I went next to a man I don't know with a Baptist church in Ft. Lauderdale.  He was bashing John MacArthur...severely.

Ah, my need to know more about what Jesus taught and thought.

Yes, so many of us believe our ways are so simple that anybody could believe them if they would just study their Bibles.  Yet, a difficulty the religious of us have is that we are so politically biased in many of the doctrines we think we can prove to come from the Word.  All groups possess the same blemish.

It isn't that the Word does not call us to facts and faith.  It is that we are flawed in both our search and development.  And yes, we do discover and mature in Truth.  However, it may be much more gradual about ourselves than one might assume.

The Bible clearly calls us to proper development of faith.  Error was called out.  However, a problem I soon developed in my Christian beginnings was my eyes were soon trained to see the errors of others while blind to my own.  And, does not the Bible also address that?

An angst arises from within for the community of unbelievers is thriving in lostness with hopes someone will throw them a lifeline.  We could do it.  But the religious world--me being a part of it--has gazed at our belly buttons so much so long that our neighbors walk about in a fog.

Recall Jesus speaking of making some twice the sons of hell as before?  Are church recruits in danger of finding Jesus to learn poor faith-system habits to the extent we do more harm as believers? 

Church.  It is the body of Christ.  It is neither God's Legal Court nor Business School.  It is, rather, a band of former rejects ourselves who turn on a dime to see that the lonely and the abused and the neglected discover the love of God....found within us; very average human beings who now try to shine via the Spirit of Christ. 

Religious wanderings are keeping a segment of society distracted, prideful, and dumb.  When our devotion is to work our religious orders with attentive defense while neglecting any who need moments of tender compassion, we have missed His calling...and begun to follow a self-made one.


We preachers will only have something of kingdom value to share on Sunday if on the prior Monday through Saturday we intensely learned of the presence and power of our transforming God.

Monday, October 29, 2012


As time swiftly moves along I sense an unusual and constantly renewed burden for Truth.  I speak not of that old and musty grim-faced I'm right!  You're wrong!  And I can prove it! smugness that I and those of my schooling paraded.

I speak of the marvel, wonder, and immeasurable holy presence of God.

The burden of Truth is that we have no option but to get to know Him.  His utmost desire is that we know Him.  John 5:39ff is but one verification.  The Bible assumes something we easily miss; that we walk with God and He with us.

No, I spent my early decades of learning to not be about God; rather to be about why others didn't have their religious facts straight.  Yes, I could be hateful.  Yes, I could be smug.  And yes, I could deny my own deep and erratic ignorance.  None of that mattered to me for I operated in the name of You shall know the Truth....and I thought I did.

Time has proven, as recently as my study today, that I am an ignorant man.  Mind you, God is willing to use ignorant men.  Yet, my heart is flooded with excitement of assuming every day that He lets me awaken that I am about to learn insights to knowing Him that I once assumed to be liberal heresy. 

After all I had the facts because louder voices than mine assured me...and we...that I did. 


Simply wrong.

I knew a few things about the Word.  Those few things remain of the gratitudinal sense for me to this day.  But I did not know that I needed to know God.  I understood "we" needed to know we were the right ones.

God awaits our love for Him, our friendship with Him, and our worship of Him.

I'm just getting started.  What joy of excitement and hope we possess to live in the church as if it is a dream...that really lives.  The burden of Truth is the personal hunger and thirst to know the wow of our living God.


Challenge, disturbance, and problems; three things we don't want.  Therefore we guide our children to safer ground.  (Could this be a fundamental reason the bulk of our children leave the church by age 20?)  We fundamentally don't do trouble.  It may and does hit us.  So we hunt for the fastest exit.

Yet crisis is basic training for the believer.  We must have it.  The cross is neither gimmick nor decor.  It is a roadway to experience the Eternal Life of God.

Oswald Chambers wrote, The disciples approached Jesus by the way of sincerity, and he put them through crises until they discovered that they could never be disciples in that way; what they needed was to have the disposition of Jesus given them.

So fascinated with Jesus, the disciples left all to follow him.  Three years later it is recorded that they all fled to that which they had left.  Why?

Discipleship isn't about assumed victory and it is not about convenience.  It is about life in the center of crisis.

Even when we are having a bad day we are having a good day as faithful followers of this one who defeated even death.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


For any reader who feels rinky and dinky, let me make your day.

Ineptitarianistic is surely what I am.

How can I possibly be so flawed in so many, many ways?

Surely you don't think I work at it!  It just comes natural to me.

Today my sermon is to be in sync with The Story-line that classes and small groups studied throughout this past week.  My sermon is to ice the cake of this week's devoted studies.  The material is to be from Judges 2-4, 6-8, and -13-16.

Yes.  I know that.  I read every page from Lucado and Frazee's The Story for this week's drama.

So I've studied and let it simmer.  Yesterday I put the final touches by deciding exactly which Judges morsel I wanted to accentuate. 

I came in this morning, as usual every Sunday, to put all the parts of my fragmented study together.  I had it!  This will be great!  Until....

As I was preparing from chapter 3, I noticed at the top of the page the word Joshua.  What?  What?  Joshua?????  No.  No.  Not Joshua.  Judges.  Please be Judges.

Today's lesson is from Joshua.....which is so very close to Judges.

I am embarrassed, humiliated, and then....wondering what God has going this morning for the sermon really does have good stuff in it.  I'm just so inept.  Fortunately for me, this isn't anything new to this congregation....but they keep me anyway.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Could it be that the simplest theme is our greatest need?

Could it be that the first and greatest command is truly our first and greatest need after all concurrent centuries?

Is the question about our couples, singles, teens, retirees, etc. in the church still, Do you love God with all your heart?

From personal experience I can express that our love of God is assumed.  But such assumption is blind-siding our efforts.  I was enamored with the Restoration Movement and how men came together from various denominations.  But I wasn't crazy about God.

For a long time I was devoted to time in prayer....which was agonizing for I didn't like to pray.  As a minister I felt obligated to engage in it.  When I shifted to truly loving God, I visit with Him at all hours over the slightest of details.  I just want Him to know that I know Him....with great delight.

So I had all of these lower-class gods: a capella singing, true church organization, and Bible-based sermons without my heart given to God.

This mistaken lack of love for Him continues to plague our efforts and energies.  What's in it for me? is so forceful among us that we might even slip into worshipping worship rather than worshipping the Father.

Our love of God remains the big question for each.  Attitudes and actions can be good and abundant while failing to be in sync with the greatest command.  It is a challenge for the 21st Century church, indeed.  And...we are grow to such a task.

May we be a people crazy about God!

Friday, October 26, 2012


Will the turn-out be great?  Or, will some shrug shoulders of indifference and fail to offer personal support?

We have such a remarkable privilege.

Soldiers have paid the price for such uplifting moments.

Other countries don't have what we tend to take for granted.

Every person matters.  Each individual vote counts.

Dollars are spent with the hope all will be touched.

Travel criss-crosses our nation with the idea that hearts will be rewarded.

How will you vote?

Will you vote to attend the Tulsa Workshop in March?  Will you vote to hear Francis Chan and others at this huge event that packs a mighty kingdom wallop?

I hope so!  Vote with your intentions to be here March 20-23!

And, would you pass this information along to ten other would-be/could-be/should-be voters?

Thursday, October 25, 2012


There is a vast gulf increasing within communities over the concepts of God and what such might entail.  While this isn't good, it is correctable.  I know because at one time I was against the very things I now live in with incredible enthusiasm.

It seems that both sides--believers and unbelievers--blur the truth about God by our confusion of which is Christianity and which is Churchianity.  Are we called to follow Christ or are we merely wrapped up in following our church?  The answer makes a difference to all who are pondering becoming believers in God.

Christians have slipped into a deadening pattern anytime we believe we are going to change our lives and "now go to church".  Going to church is not the definition of a believer in God.  It surely includes it; but there is very much more.

Churchianity focuses on how the church is doing; where it stands, what it believes, how it looks, what are the attendance numbers as well as the contribution count.  Christianity focuses upon the lost and the poor and the downtrodden and the dying with hopes of offering legitimate new life which is only embedded in Jesus.

Churchianity shuns dark sinners while Christianity embraces us.  Churchianity builds borders to keep people out while Christianity opens her arms wide without criticism and invites us to come in.

In my younger years I wanted nothing to do with church.  But I was mistaken.  I now want everything to do with it.  The transfer came when I learned that church isn't God.  God is.  I am to worship God; not my church style.  And one of the best things I have learned during thirty-eight years of ministry is the truth about my own sinfulness. 

Until I realized this one fact about myself, I was busy trying to build the church.  When God finally broke me down as to my own arrogance, all of a sudden the desperate need for Jesus has remained renewed. 

My mission is different.  My purpose is different.  Judgment and criticism of others is subsiding and I am discovering a whole new life right in the center of my inward focused church.  It is called Christianity.

Religion's rub is that people equate the shallowness of church building with the brilliance of God.  This must be corrected for it is keeping the masses at bay when God wants to draw us into Him.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


When my Cardinals bit the dust at the hands of San Francisco's Giants in the playoffs this week, I emailed co-baseball fan Philip Yancey yesterday morning.

"No need to send flowers.  Just donate to a local charity."

His reply is typical.
I'm in Croatia, and just got this news!  My brother is a Giants fan, so grief is tempered...

Oh....he thinks he's so funny.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


We would be such a funny sort if we weren't such a sad sort.

Take me for instance.

I walk every day of my life feeling inferior to all and superior to many.  This causes me to think of the song, How Can It Be?

Would this register with any of you?

I think I am the least in every room; yet I wish others could be half as sharp as me in evaluation and estimation of any given moment.  How can I esteem myself to be the best thinker in the room while simultaneously feel ashamed of how nothing I am compared to the very same room?

I'm weird....but in a good way...I keep telling myself.

Jesus.  Oh we know very well what he said about judging others.  We know it's wrong.  But, good grief, sometimes (well, maybe a lot of the times) I just can't help it.  Their lack is too obvious!  You see it don't you?  Ah, me too.

And then Jesus through Paul.  Romans 5:1-5 is an ego killer.  Oooooh, this one stings.  Well it should.  Whatever we judge wrong in others, we are guilty of the very same thing.  I ask you, Is that fair?

All religious brands and doctrinal students may spout book, chapter, and verse more effectively than the next.  One truth remains.  Very few of us master the ability to avoid being yo-yos in this amazing kingdom run by God.


Life is not for sissies.

We experience first-hand destruction, depression, and desperation.

Everywhere we turn we find acquaintances giving up.  They've thrown in the towel.  It is most probable each of us has occupied this practice.

There is a turning point. 

I write about this because I have to practice it so much.  Life in the public eye is not easy; especially for one who shouldn't be in the public eye.  Yet, I saw something one day in the Bible that is the ideal reminder that I/we can make it.  We must not quit.

You surely noticed Jesus' closest of colleagues?  The twelve and then the three within the twelve and then the one within the three?  You surely noticed these to be a tight group.  Until.  Until the stress mounted and all hope (being Jesus) died. 

When hope died, Jesus' closest of brothers-in-the-kingdom-life bailed.  They gave it up.  Outta here!

One thing reversed course.  There was a turning point.

Jesus was resurrected.

We encounter and possess the identical turning point. 

I get very weary of trying to deal with a finicky brotherhood and a childish me.  Quit, though, is never a temptation for we personally know the turning point.  Jesus said to the cold bossy grave, OUTTA HERE!

When you feel cornered by task too large and criticism too close to home, remember your turning point.  When you don't know what to do any longer to make ministry flow, remember your turning point.  When you are up against all odds and it even feels like your labor is dying, recall that you do have a significant turning point.

Hebrews 12:1-3 admonishes us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the creator of faith....for his daring resurrection from the grave was his and is now our TURNING POINT.

Live in it.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


I am awestruck by God.

I had no idea living in the kingdom and still knowing so little about God could cause such enormous enthusiasm for both.  I can't describe it, can't understand it, and find myself utterly clueless.  His ways surely are higher.

In the 70s Mary and I were converted.  I had never heard anything like what I was learning about Jesus building his church.  I intend to never get over it.

In the 80s I learned--against my own will--about the inner personal working of the Holy Spirit.

In the 90s I learned I was nothing.

In the 00s I discovered that I was not a worshipper; therefore the riches of praise toward God have become emphatically important.

In the 10s I'm learning the power of praying with thanksgiving; plus the nature of living in covenant with God.

Each stage remains crucially important.  Because God is becoming more personal to me, I am shrinking in what little knowledge, talent, and influence I thought I possessed.

I feel so vividly awestruck about the minuscule things I'm continually learning about God at the present.  The more I see of just a smidgen of revelation about Him, my already microscopic existence becomes even more devalued.  It turns out I really am not much.  Christ in me must carry on the work.

I'm so excited to be 65 years old and still learning gnats and hairs about God that I hardly know what to say.  YIPPEE! would be one place I could begin.

Friday, October 19, 2012


The Church of Christ has had a problem.  What's weird is that the solution has been denied; which is our problem.  Great fear coupled with erroneous teaching has caused members of the church to deny the very power which God intended for us; Spirit form.

What's even weirder is the Word of God---used by loud voices to steer us away from believing the Spirit is for our age---expresses with incredible clarity that those who avoid the Spirit will develop a form of godliness while being ultra mean in spirit while, at the same time, denying the power of God.  And he finishes off a portion of II Tim. 3 with and avoid such men as these.

The Holy Spirit is not a threat to the church.  His absence clearly is. 

I've lived in both camps...with great vigor. 

The one without the Spirit is at best a Positive Thinking Rally.  It is up to us to get it done and we search for leaders to pump us up for the labor stands before us with great intimidation.

The one with the Spirit grows to step out of the way trusting God through Fatherhood, God through Jesus flesh, and God in Spirit form roams earth today; not only with us...but inside of us.

A matter that helped me make the transition was to shut out the chatter of fearful brotherhood leaders and look at His fruit.  Look at His fruit described in Gal. 5:22-23.  What section of that orange is radical, off-the-chart risky, and extreme?

All of them.  Love.  Joy.  Peace.  Patience.

The fruit of the Spirit is for any who cannot bear this on our own.  So each slice of this fruit is to be produced within us when we are under such pressure we cannot produce it on our own.  Our self-joy may have been robbed by insult; yet the Spirit knows exactly how to yield such "through us" in a very unsightly field. 

Self-control is offered/provided by the Holy Spirit when our flesh wants to verbally mow down our opponents because they are causing excessive pain.  Calm (peace) comes out of our flesh due to our counting on the Holy Spirit when otherwise we would have given a tongue-lashing.

The Holy Spirit is not the church's enemy.  Those who believe Him are not doing so to take the church in a liberal direction.  No, the Holy Spirit and those who believe He works are simply trying to say that trying to do church from the flesh is back-breaking, deal killer.  The law kills; but the Spirit gives life.

According to the Word, the Holy Spirits works; but is so tender and careful with us that He will not push Himself upon us if not welcomed. 

We...must increase our willingness to welcome Him.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Do it.



The Nike company gets in slogan what the church is benefited by in direction; Do it---obey God.

Obedience is to approach or be approached by an opportunity for God with a decision moment.  Do we or don't we?  Will we or won't we?  Could we or should we?  Do it.  Obey God.

From the very simplest of major biblical acts, it was the virgin Mary who said to God, Do it. 

Jeri Williams projected in her book, The Perfect Heart, a keen observation.  Even the God of the universe needed a co-laborer to manifest His will in the earth.  He is still seeking those who will give birth to His Word in the earth by faith.  The virgin Mary had hold of a principle that allowed the living Son of God to be birthed against all human feasibilities.  In spite of overwhelming odds of impossibilities, and no other capabilities than a pure believing heart, Mary stood at attention to obey the spoken Word of God.

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.  And the angel departed from her.

To Nike it is a slogan.  To Mary it was a practice of obedience.  To us?  We will benefit from her example.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Although quite a novice, I love politics.  For my Cardinals to be in the playoffs and for there to be presidential debates, well I'm living a great month!

The following spin of each debate intrigues me.  Just last night I turned to FOX to get their take of the moment.  They were observing the facts regarding Romney's challenge to the President that he had curtailed oil drilling permits in the U.S.  FOX said Romney was correct; that the President had cut permits by 62%.

I went next to CNN to see what they were championing. Ah, the very same issue.  And their facts were that Romney was wrong and that the President was right as oil production in the U.S. had increased.

Two positions and two opposing claims to facts; all over one issue.


And what about the Christian nation? 

Have relatives and neighbors gone deaf to our competitive spin over differing doctrines?  Could it be the world is not being evangelized because churches are selfishly lethargic; that our preconceived spin seems to void the potential of truth, the strength of truth, and the hope of truth? 

Yes, the Bible matters.  Our honesty with it is always in question.

Is it our honest goal to assist others with gaining a relationship with God or is it simply our motivation to fill pews and meet the budget?  Are we driven to see that people are baptized or that they meet Jesus?  There is a difference in both cases.  Individuals can only give their personal answer; but both scenarios fight for the spin cycle.

Of course the answer is the Truth must stand.  Our challenge is that we refrain from doing what the politicians and media seem to do with debate.  It is a constant work for us to offer the Word of Good News to others without blurring our message with a bias that simply fails to find endorsement from God.

For me, I believe I will always be challenged to avoid spinning the Bible to say what I want it to say more than what God wishes I would believe. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Oh, how I write as if I know everything.  You know I don't.  I just want you to know that I know you know it.

So I have this thought today regarding church growth.  That growth, by the way, may be in the form or increased numbers, decreased numbers, individual maturity, and/or the simple escalation of faith in God.

I experienced a matter as a preacher that I wonder if others did or do.  I speak of the fear of believing.

We tend to look upon Jesus surfacely.  Nice.  Obedient.  Effective.  Faithful.  Saviorilistic.

The church tends to stress these traits plus another; balance.  Let there be balance between law and grace, faith and action, etc. In general the church spells balance s-a-f-e-t-y.  The question is not regarding whether a move is of God; but rather is undermined by the bigger question of Will I come out all right in this?

My earlier doctrine was said (by me) to be from the Word.  In honesty, it was what the large voices of the brotherhood said I was to believe; what I better believe.  Being me, I gladly obeyed for my goal was balance spelled s-a-f-e-t-y.

However, Jesus believed and did many things not balanced; not safe.  He stood up to the church leaders of the day who believed they owned Truth.  He defied their threats.  He was executed because he refused to abide by the rule-of-thumb balance which is really spelled s-a-f-e-t-y. 

Being a die-hard people-pleaser, it was a major gulf for me to dare to stand for grace when the church bullies yelled foul from their courts of law.  It was an incredible mountain to climb to say the Holy Spirit absolutely, Word-approved, works in our lives.  Neither was it safe to say, regarding our doctrine against instrumental music, that we made it up

Look, our land is suffering for lack of the breath of God.  We have a choice.  He is willing to let us damn up the works or let us allow free flow.  We will not promote the kingdom of God, ever, in the name of balance and safety.  It will take gulping courage to believe God over believing what cowardly man tells us to believe.

Dare...if you try to lean upon Him.  I must do a better job myself.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


God created man.

Man can't walk by man's strength alone.  Somewhere(s) the darkness of the world will buckle our human knees.

Therefore, God infuses Himself into any who would infuse themselves into Him in baptism.

We walk a new life....a new kind of life?

New like in conquering nations?  New like in accomplishing the magnificent?  New like in becoming famous?


New like in becoming joyful in disturbing circumstances; joyful when under duress, and joyful when days are tough. 

Unbelievers are not in need of being informed of how mighty we are.  They need to find someone on their block who doesn't lose their cool every time something goes terribly awry.

The basic basic is to let the light shine from atop of our hill when those without God would have naturally cratered in the name of stress or anger.

...strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father...Col. 1:11. 

If I were given one message to help the church become more evangelistic it would be to quit throwing the gasoline of moodiness and nasty attitudes upon the good seed sown in our communities by others who are trying to save the souls of our neighbors.

That move would be a basic one of all basics.

Friday, October 12, 2012


When I entered preaching school my intent was to be one of the big boys.  There seemed to be no indication I could reach such scale.  Nonetheless, I wished.  I loved the idea of leading out in the church.  To develop a sound and a style of robust impressiveness was on my front burners for I really wanted to be a big, effective preacher.

Therefore, I write this to all who battle for a similarly self-centered position or any who are wannabe big preachers.

I learned a secret.

There are no big preachers.  In case you didn't hear me, THERE ARE NO BIG PREACHERS.


There is this big God whom little preachers are to point toward.

There is the huge Savior that all small preachers are to promote.

There is an amazing Holy Spirit that all puny-minded pulpiteers will never totally grasp; but are privileged to encounter.

And then there is a glorious church that has suffered self-imprisonment in places.  It struggles to breathe freedom and to eat from the table of fellowship Jesus sets. 

With big, huge, amazing, and glorious embedded in the grand scheme of God, His secret is to call weak men to be willing vessels for His residence.  We may begin wishing to be big preachers.  Yet, if we stick with Them long enough, we will be whittled down to truthful size; dinkier than we had first imagined....worse than we had ever wished.

However, we are not to be depressed.  Rather, we are to be quite elated.  

We get to bring the Best News that can ever be heard by human ears!  God created--died for His creation--and returned to abide within every loser.....that we could all cross the victory ribbon.  Go out and tell it...with great enthusiasm. 

Great size is about God. 

Never is it about we fumbling preachers trying to tell the Story.


The church possesses the greatest news for every generation; how to experience life with meaning. 

People are lost.  They are not just hell-lost.  They are earth-lost.  The reason?  These just cannot figure a way to take this present existence and fit into an elusive (to them) matter called LIFE.

Life is not that things go right or work out okay.  Life is brimming with assurance that external injuries and internal disappointments are not to define who we are nor how we are doing.  The inner man is the true us.  The outer man begs the question and, therefore, bullies all of us into grave meaninglessness.

Man really must be sharper than to just go through life without paying attention to the factors which rob individuals of ultimate freedom to enjoy breathing in and out; existing.

I share at length Malcolm Smith's comments; Our first parents, Adam and Eve, did not become "as God," as Satan had promised them, but instead became the slaves of the one who had lied to them and promised ultimate freedom and independence.  Life now was lived on the meaningless treadmill of trying to make the lie of Satan work in life.  They were doomed to fail at meeting their goal of being as God, yet in a blind and insane belief have been spurred on to attempt to achieve it in every succeeding generation of humankind.

Note his next strike of accuracy.  Dead while physically, mentally, and emotionally alive, the sad parade of humanity moves through existence toward physical death, the dissolution of the body, being separated even from physical existence.  Created to rule the universe, humankind has ended up being absorbed back into the dust from whence he came.  And the first man and woman believed they would be gods!

Unlike lower creatures, men and women know that physical death is inevitably coming, which makes their existence meaningless.

The most painful thing about relatives and neighbors is their battle for meaning.  The good news of God is that Jesus came that we might find meaning and find it abundantly.  He calls it LIFE!

Thursday, October 11, 2012


The Story.

Memorial Drive has entered The Story zone.

I am very excited by this experience.

We begin the introduction of each week's chapter by a most creative Wednesday night plot.  Jason Thornton has formed a Creative Team to plan a unique experience.  Two weeks ago we toured the local Aquarium to note the parting of the Red Sea as we passed through a huge water cave filled with sharks. 

Last night we were in the wilderness. Divided into twelve tribes (according to month of birthday) we first entered as tribal units into the desert auditorium where tents were assembled.  We then wandered over to our Memorial Room where Jason had the heat turned high enough to cook us in the desert march.

From there we wandered to another room where we ate quail and "What is it?".  Our final trek culminated in the entrance to another venue where Moses addressed us.

At each post one of ours talked to us about the meaning of the wandering about aimlessly.

Sunday morning's classes will focus upon the same theme; as will the worship assembly via song and sermon.  Then our small groups that evening will ponder what this has been like for we adults to go through our own VBS-like experience. 

It is different.  It is meaningful.  It is unique. 

The result is that it is building an deeper awareness of the power and call of God.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I am a shallow man.

God's ways are higher as are His thoughts beyond mine.

This does not mean God mobilizes ten feet higher and ponders things twenty yards further than me.  It means I'm not in the ballpark when it comes to knowing God and His style.  Nada.

This presents a wonderful blessing.  While found (saved) by God, we are called to become lost in Him.  I believe too much of the church is not lost in Him but rather tuned in for refined effort to try to manage and explain Him.

We can't....and won't.  We are called, however, to believe into the depths of Him.

Dr. Kingsley C. Priddy was quoted over a century ago, We felt the Holy Spirit had been a real Person to us before; as far as we knew we had received Him; and some of us had known much of His operations in and through our lives.  But now the revelation of His Person was so tremendous that all our previous experiences seemed as nothing.

There was no visible apparition, but He made Himself so real to our spiritual eyes that it was a "face to face" experience.  And when we saw Him we knew we have never really seen Him before.  We said like Job, "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eyes seeth Thee"; and like him, we cried, "Wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes."

The more we see God the less we grow inward and the more we grow up-ward.  The more we see God, earthy discussions and assumptions of the Spirit are forced to pale.  The more we see God the more we want to see more of God. 

May He set the church afire or keep the church aflame (in those places it is already on fire) with a renewed hunger and thirst within us to experience the depths of God.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


The kingdom of God is all about learning to not get our way.

We have largely failed to note this basic necessity.

Life is an opened can of troubles.  Super-life is discipling our way through this maze in order to discover eternity in the very center of everything going on.

We live in an age of quitters.  We quit churches, relationships, insurance companies, pulpits, New Year's resolutions, and most things that are difficult.  Our grandparents and great-grandparents understood a concept we don't; hold on and hang in there.

To extend this dilemma, if we had the urge to get tougher, we aren't sure where to apply our newly directed energy.

We simply need to learn in all areas that struggle is a secret kingdom concept that does not create quitters.  It trains us to keep on keeping just keeps giving.

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  For momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison...II Cor. 4:16-17.

Affliction does not snag and stop.  It produces.  Evaluate much of the work of the church to find that where it is not productive it is also not yielding to the blessings of conflict.  The cross means the cross; not shelter from trouble.

I'm proud of what our youth minister, Trent Taylor, has begun with our teens as he takes them annually to a week-long camp to serve mentally handicapped adults.  On their first encounter, all of our crew pleaded to go back home by the second day.  By the third?  They all begged to stay.

Affliction is a good thing and we---especially parents---try to avoid it.

Why would God speak so much about endurance?  It is an essential kingdom element.  We must have it or else we will shrivel and quit.

Struggle: it is the blessing that keeps on giving.  If you are having a bad day today, enjoy it.  It is loaded with kingdom nutrients.

Monday, October 08, 2012


Religion is a complex hodge-podge of both blessings and cursings.  Just as in life itself, the religious zone is a task few truly take on because the truth of it enlivens; but the enemy gimmicks of it blur.  It seems a reason to believe God is to note the grand schemes out there in the very name of religion which are nothing more than mockery and scandal.

There is, however, true and pure religion intended by God for a common people.  Jesus is the name above all names which is the door that all may go in and out and find pasture.

We believers are every bit as likely to gum up the works as the un-ones.  The basic struggle for letting the world in on God is that the church has made a disastrous mistake.  We have failed to know Him through Jesus and through the Spirit.  Simultaneously, we have tried to make God out to be manageable. 

He isn't.

That's what makes Him God.

God is not to bend around our whims.  We are to be the pliable ones....John. 3:8.

Christianity is a wild bronc never to be tamed.  The church has done it's dead-level best to try tame it.  It hasn't been; but many believe such has been accomplished to the extent God's hands have been tied up in business meetings and said notes of the "old" and then the "new" minutes.

The thrill....the sheer thrill....of life in the church is to dare to cut our apron strings from controlling voices and peek into the gulping region of God's present-day activity.

Hold on!  We are to know Him.  Yet, when we repent of trying to manage Him, we will find ourselves in one hoopla of a faith-rodeo!

Sunday, October 07, 2012


What will God bring us today?

Wonder?  Hope?  Assurance?  Satisfaction?


Today is a work of God.  He will provide.  He will supply.

From our American heritage of being built upon appropriate motivation and accountable responsibility, we tend to believe the day goes the way we order it.  If we organize well, prepare well, and implement well....then all should be well. 

If not sensitive to such a possible misstep, our effective practices will become our god as we pat ourselves on the back for faithful activity as well as accomplishment.

Yet, today isn't up to us.  It is up to God. 

Our role is to submit to Him in worship and praise; a spiritual service of worship.  Our role is to applaud and to thank; not to arrange and promote.  We get to brag to Him about Him.


Today is about God; how He chooses to bless and how He moves about in powerful provision.

What is up to us is to give Him credit for His work instead of pulling attention away from Him by pointing to ours.

Saturday, October 06, 2012


Nothing scares me more than what I love to do most.  That's so paradoxical it most likely is of God.

My childhood of getting nothing out of church attendance greatly influences me still.  Surely it was because I was a kid--an antsy one at that--but the pastor in long robes with a pulpit presence discussing Almighty Gawud in monotone was not enough to keep me focused.  Would it EVER end? 

Eternity felt like it would be so long as I equated going to heaven with going to church.  The 10,000 years song seemed more like a threat than a blessing.  The 1000 years as a day passage was easy for a youngster to interpret for I had spent thousands of  years at church by the time I was in my mid-teens.

It is not surprising, therefore, that every assembly where I am to speak carries with it the need to organize my spiraling and orbiting nerves.  What if the listeners are bored? never escapes my thoughts.  The assignment scared me last week and dis-ease has already set in for tomorrow.  I suffer from the plague of fear.

My fortune is that I get to preach the Word.  There is no better opportunity for me.  What a life!

The secret is never in my nerve order.  It is always and only in the exposure of any audience to the Word.  Tomorrow is such an opportunity.  God has given me a series of verses, that once connected, have a tremendous message of hope. 

Here is a copy of my notes for in the morning:
  1. Ex. 31:1-5
  2. Ex. 32:7-20
  3. Ex. 33:12-20
  • I Chron. 1611
  • II Chron.  7:14
  • Isa. 6:1-8
  • Die? Take up cross
  • Increase/decrease
  • Hebr. 12:18-24
That only stands unless/until He adjusts it....and likely He will.

I know it sounds strange, but I tell my friends that I cannot wait to hear what I have to say!  I never mean such from a platform of arrogance for, with certainty, I am the most nothing person I ever met.  With confidence in the Spirit, I reference the penetrating power of Word Explosion upon good hearts who wish to hear of profound news; Good News.

Week by week I follow the same equation: if I haven't learned anything from God this week why would I think I would cause those in front of me to learn anything? 

Tomorrow morning.....I will be filled with appropriate fear and appreciative fortune.  Yippee!

Friday, October 05, 2012


Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us ( I Thes. 2:8).

There was a time that while living I wasn't really living.  I was existing.

Of cancers, and injuries, and handicaps, and pains in general, the one mark which saddens me above all others is the zombie-life the general populace has taken on.  Look at people.  Day to day, paycheck to paycheck, back and forth, in and out; mediocrity is an accepted routine. 

This is disastrous to have such attitudes in the church.  Jesus called us to be lights set out in the open; not to be hiding under baskets.  We are to really live.

I was destined, called by the god of Isthisallthereis, to trudge through life with anticipation for weekends and holidays.  Friday's coming! is a wonderful and glorious thought to the non-liver.

But God.....

But God entered me and I entered Him and we swapped lives.  He promised to take my sins if I would take on His sandals. 

Life arise!

Really living isn't a series of good breaks.  Neither is it positive thinking.  It is passing through the grave and entering resurrection power when one is baptized.  A problem with the church is that we have emphasized baptism as a doctrinal sword to fight off denominations by convincing our neighbors of the need to get totally wet.  The church is to pull people from the death walk and thrust each of us into a life that's over our heads.


I don't always know what to do.  This Sunday's sermon assignment has me stumped.  It alone is over my head.  But I have shed that old life of living in mediocrity simply because I don't feel in control.  I walk in God's system!  He will be there for me.  He may come through in an hour or Sunday morning at 7:30.  Nonetheless, God gives me reason to really live.

And.....He does the same for you!  How to teach one on one Bible studies is a good thing.  Reacting favorable to challenges and responding lovingly to irritating neighbors and letting our faces look like we are filled with joy would also change our communities.  An enormous segment of the world reads our faces before they open their Bibles. 

May we be seen as a committed group who really lives.

....for now we really live if you stand firm in the Lord (I Thes. 3:8).

Thursday, October 04, 2012


Of course I was sincere from the very first day of getting to preach for the church.  I was pumped.  I was determined.  And, I was highly aware that much was about image; mine.

When one is nothing to begin with, much labor takes place to cover with facadism.  Mine was to present outlines with loudness and meanness.  This was simply to assure the hearers that I was powerful.  I succeeded in such a misguided mission; but missed my audiences. 

They were impressed....just not favorably.

When I was about my image, I was blurring sight to God.  I was the focal point.

That proved to be a terrible and grievous mistake.

Those who aren't aware that they don't think for themselves are likely to take on the image of the presenter as to be godly.  Really, that's where I got my training.

However, I wasn't thinking about God.  Rather, my image quickly bounded to be the front-runner of all consideration.  It still does not make it right.

When he quoted Dick Westly who wrote Redemptive Intimacy, Brennan Manning caused me sad reflection when he pointed to a mark of my beginning attitude; The old religious image of a vindictive, mean, and jealous God gives way in Jesus to the God of faith who cherishes people, all people, and has made his abode with them.  Jesus presented a God who does not demand but gives; does not oppress but raises up; does not wound but heals.  A God who forgives instead of condemning, and liberates instead of punishing.  Woe to those who demand, oppress, wound, condemn, and punish in His name.  It can only be said that they do not truly know him.

That was me.

What makes me sad is that because I wasn't sharp enough to pay attention to Jesus I poisoned the hearts of many who sat in front of me Sunday after Sunday assuming I was telling them the truth. 

I wasn't. 

I was polishing my own image of being God.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012


The Holy Spirit has not been an easy person for us to handle.  For one thing, he is God.  In our past it seems efforts have been fervent to live under a Duality and not a Trinity.  Why?  My opinion is we felt we could explain the Father and the Son; but the third person in the Trinity seemed to be a threat to our control system.

Well, He is.  And so is the Father and so is the Son.  It's just that we felt we could manage the latter two better.

The Holy Spirit is the Father in spirit form and he is Jesus in spirit form.  I wonder if the KJV use of Ghost scared us off a bit as well.

From study of Restoration History, my conclusion is that it was believed that if the Holy Spirit could be shelved then speaking in tongues and pseudo-miracles could be shelved as well.

Yet, the Holy Spirit's main activity among us is to empower ordinary people to accomplish God-sized works that we could not possibly do on our own.  Ponder the fruit of this spirit which is the holiness of the Father. 

Look at what the Word declares is his fruit.  Is it roaring campaigns?  Sacrificial leaps from tall mountains?  Jumping from the Bible to absurd conclusions?  No.  Rather his fruit is joy and patience and love. 

Guess what American culture lacks?  Guess what Washington D.C. lacks?  Guess what many churches and individuals lack?  The spectacular?  The aggressive?  The radical?  No.  Each possesses a desperate need for leaders to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Make no mistake; any preacher or any elder who does not believe the Holy Spirit works in one's life will not be able to bear His fruit when under fire.  The test of the Spirit is when we are under deep pressure cornered by circumstance and enemies. 

The Holy Spirit and us....we are one...Jesus prayed so...and this is another reason we give glory to God.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012


How can I be overwhelmed with excitement for the body of Christ and the kingdom of God at this age, this tenure, and this plainness?  Only God could be the response.  God makes us by day.

I'm in year 36 at one office mailing address.  Wouldn't it be normal to sense the edge has gone; that the honeymoon is surely over?  Of course not for we, in Christ, have been raised to live a new normal.

I live daily with the exact same feelings I had as a kid with Christmas approaching.  I loved Christmas!  I still do.

We live in the kingdom of God.  People and circumstances can push us, pull us, split us, and make efforts to destroy us.  We don't flinch.  God runs the show and it just so happens that the pushing, pulling, splitting and destroying efforts of any enemy falls perfectly into God's plot! 

The enemy fell for the trap!  Just as it appeared for three days that Jesus was history and the enemy could lift glasses to cheer the accomplishment, a wonderful thing happened.  Jesus roared back in new form; irrevocable in dimension.

Life isn't about us.  If it were, we would be a miserable, defensive, and pouty people.  Oh yeah....that was us.  But no more.  We are a new kind of new.  We are a resurrected sort.

When Jesus came back from the dead, he wasn't just alive again.  He was a new kind of alive.  He could breeze through closed doors.  He could be several places at once because of a concept called the Holy Spirit.  Resurrection meant a new kind of new.

We possess it!  We are it!

Did God mean new when He declared we would be renewed day by day?  Oh yeah.  And He meant that we would be a completely new kind of new operating from an entirely different scope and plane of what people regard as new. like it!