Monday, December 31, 2012


There is just so much muchness!  Everywhere....much muchness!

Much to care for.  Much to operate.  Much to learn.  Much to do.  Much to think upon.  Much to worry over.  Much to clean.  Much to sort.  Much to answer.  Much to seek.  Much to know.  Much to remember.  Much to file.  Much to code. Much to read.  Much to prepare.  Much to hear.  Much to evaluate.  Much to say.

On the muchness list extends!

What's up with that?

First is it a way of life.  And, it must have attentive discipline; else it will seat itself as demanding Ruler.

Second, I bring our awareness to this spreading vine for it is very capable of choking out our time with God.  With all of our clamoring and debating the "rights and wrongs" of religion, the most overlooked factor is our delinquency in honoring God.  He has been driven back by the tactics of the phone, the email,  and the calendar.

May we find great joy in the abundance of muchness all around.  But may all of it be tempered with a firm drive to notice Father and to credit Him for giving us the wonderful life.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


Our only hope is in Jesus; not in church, not in devotion, and not in our works.  Jesus is our only and our "all" hope.

It was Jesus who said that many will say to him in that day, Lord didn't you notice how much I did for you?  Didn't I do church in your name?  Didn't I perform incredible miracles in your name?  Afterward, he will insist we depart from him for he never knew us.

What's the point?

I'm one of many who are guilty of believing in church brands, functioning from church rules, and working for kingdom credits without focusing upon--not just the name, but--the person of Jesus.

How easy it is for churches to fall into this trap.  We worship our worship style rather than the Living God.  No wonder the world rejects us.  If and when we grow to be more Christ-centered, a couple of significant transitions take place. (1) We find ourselves arguing and whining less, while (2) we lean toward assisting the poor of our community.

In other words we grow to walk where Jesus walked and care where Jesus cared.  Remember, it was organized religion that could not find his they killed him.

I preached way too long about church traits while basically overlooking the walk of Jesus.  I didn't study him as a person.  I didn't know him.  I was focused on being right.  No one is ever right except by Jesus.

When I was not filled with adoration for Jesus, I would not have understood this article.  My perception of Jesus was that his name endorsed our prayers. 

Yet, he is a person to be both seen and known.  He gets us when we don't get ourselves.  Our communities are not rejecting Jesus; they are avoiding our churches when we are trying desperately to save ourselves with our own understanding.

Jesus is our only hope.  We begin with him.  We live with him.  We conclude with him. 

When this is true, religion and church and spiritual matters begin to take truer form than ever before.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Before we start, we all know I don't know enough to define grace.  Therefore, this will simply be an exercise to water the grace-knowledge already within you with hope of growth from God continuing among us.

It is my observation that grace tends to be easily dismissed as sorta the church fluff side of spiritual life.  It isn't.  It's the stamina and the sturdy rock-solid element from which we are to behold confidence.  Grace is all about Him in us, with us, and for us.  Grace is God's holy and righteous arm of bold love to do for all men what none can do for ourselves. 

Until each surrenders the silly notion that we can live independently of God and others if we simply work shrewdly, we will forever whine and complain....for we will always finish in disappointment.  And, if we reach disappointment without awakening to His heart of grace, we will live blaming others for our misfortune...including God.

The task of defining grace is not as simple as looking at a dictionary for it is the very essence and presence of the participating Living Lord. 

May we refrain from believing it to be a church fluff word by realizing it is the beauty of God's elected involvement among us.

1 Corinthians 15:10
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.
2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;
2 Corinthians 9:14
while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you.
2 Corinthians 12:9
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
Ephesians 2:8
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
Ephesians 4:29
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
Colossians 4:6
Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.

Friday, December 28, 2012


I think I have hit upon the secret to successful diet. 

Since on New Year's Day most of us make resolutions we don't keep past four weeks (for some four days), what if we vow to not do something good for us?  When we say we aren't going to drink pop or eat candy or cookies or pie for the whole year, we always, always eventually and quickly cave.  Right? 

Why not reverse the claim so that it would be beneficial to us?

For example, since we can't seem to keep a resolution, what if we said something like, I am not going to eat healthy this year?  What might happen?  If true to past and consistent pattern, wouldn't we break our vows and begin to cheat by eating fruits and vegetables? 

It seems to me that with this approach we would beat ourselves at our own game!  The good news is by losing we would win! 

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Life in the church is simply complex and complexically simple.


Filled with ambition we are primed to roll up our sleeves and get at it.  Or, loaded with confusion we are ready to throw up our hands to say, I don't know what else to do.


Church growth is God's responsibility.  Our job is to sow and water; He alone causes increase.


A bottleneck in the church is usually found in elderships who feel inclined to dispense Permission Granted to work requests.  In the name of shepherding the flock, many congregations cannot proceed toward God's handiwork simply because some elder(s)'s most vital need is to control.

This is a trait belonging to God.  And haven't you noticed He operates with one constant surprise after another?  The Restoration Movement has not taken us back to God.  It has taken us back to what the second generation restorationists insisted upon as God's way when much of it wasn't; it was more of man's....again.

The Bible is not a tidy handbook of How-Tos.  It is simple in its call to God's refusal to be trapped by man's authoritative arm.  He will not be cornered by our weak and self-laden understanding.

After these many years in the church, I am increasingly enjoying learning that God still has it about His wits to present believers with the surprise and mystery of beyond-imagination kingdom.

Father didn't run low on creative concepts after He parted a sea and a river and then caused a jailhouse to look like it was constructed with Legos.

Church growth and how to find it is never to be found in man's conclusion for such is Tinker Toyish at best.  Participating in church advancement is found in God's provisional hand.

The surrender of our own efforts is a move in the right direction.  A belief in the Son is the absolute work called for....John 6:29.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Do you think it seems that the majority of us, if not all, spend our time trying to get life to fit?  From education, to location, to occupation, to circulation (of friends), we spend exorbitant amounts of time and energy on the hunt for what pleases the self.

It seems as if happiness is a secret buried within the ruins of experience.  Elusively, satisfaction seems to hopefully reside just around the corner or over the next horizon.  Landing such a catch, however, appears to be rare.  Temporary placation doesn't count for we are seeking the permanent sort.

Enter the life vows of Jesus.

The narrow road to satisfaction just happens to be the one few want.  Yet there is no other way to authentic contentment.  We must lose our life in order to find it.  The announcement is clear.  However, the heart balks.  Roads and alleys of momentary satisfaction are sought only to be discovered as yet another temporary map to meaningful life.

Jesus lost his life to save the rest of us.  We are called to imitate him.  We are called to get lost to what we can imagine for ourselves by stepping out on a road of travel God has designed.  This will scare the living daylights out of us. Yet, to decline leaves us on perpetual hunt for meaning and purpose.

We are invited to lose our dreams and our intents in order to find bigger dreams and larger meaning. 

But....we hedge.  We trust the proverbial bird in the hand is better than two in the bush theology that sounds wise to we habitual theorists.  We have yet to understand that if that bird actually lands in the hand, it will soon take flight only to leave us once again empty-handed.

The reason for such massive struggle among these masses is that we want to do life with our toe on the bottom of the pool.  We hold on to our familiarities for comfort is our game.  We refuse to risk because such would involve mystery. 

If any are to find life with deep meaning, personal fear has got to go.  We are destined to lose our life in order to find it.  Willingness to endure failure by dying to fleeting dreams for the moment will prove to be amazing in both adventure and gratification. 

Whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it...Lk. 9:24

Monday, December 24, 2012


Merry Christmas to each of you. 

Thank you for dropping in on occasion to check out my random quirks or wishful-thinking wise ponderances!


Saturday, December 22, 2012


It is a little more than unexplainable to note how God cannot be outdone.  Yes, the flesh might think so; just where have we seen that before?

Remember Jesus dying and bound for the cold tomb?  The unbelievers mocked and the believers wept as they walked away. was all over.  This God-thing was a hoax.  Except....

....except believers and unbelievers alike didn't yet know the hand of God; His reach nor His strength.  It as if God was toying with the schemes of enemies to turn their momentary celebration into His grand theater for the well lit stage of all drama.

He emptied the grave and darkness has never recovered.

Every time death goes on a mission, life breaks out; even increases.  Every time.

When our family encountered one of its roughest times, I recall driving numb and stunned to the murder scene and thinking on my way, God, I bet you will use this tragedy in some way to enhance your church. 

That evening of darkness brought about amazing wonder.

Backsliding hearts returned immediately to God...much more in number than the two murdered. The lingering effects of light that came from that experience are still productive.  That cold December night was not a victory for Darkness.  It inspired even more Light.

Recall the Twin Towers of 9/11? 

What broke out immediately?  Renewed and resurrected faith!  Ashes were strewn in New York while renewed faith was ignited from Tallahassee to Tacoma.  Prayer groups sprouted in office complexes, coffee houses, and churches...unrehearsed, unplanned.  It was like some sort of God-ordained revival that we would never have organized on our own.

Death can't find victory; but rather, to its own embarrassment, causes life to break out!  It actually re-lit the wickes of fading hearts!

And look at the present pain in Newtown?  Twenty-six deaths and yet multitudes times multitudes of hearts have been quickened and stirred by the true Spirit.  Initially, it may seem that God may not get as much world media attention as the calamity itself. 

He's getting significant mention there, though, as well as breaking out in other aggressive and far-reaching connections.  Yet, that's not His only avenue.  God will arise (raise up) to become new life from books given, and small group assemblies, and inspiring messages aroused by this momentary affliction.

We should take note.  Death takes its best shot at us and loses even when it believes it has won.  We will not give darkness the credit it wishes.  We will turn it toward Father.  He alone dispels the darkness. 

Jehovah is at the other end of every grave.  He...our Living consistent.  Victory is always His; never a defeat...not one...not ever.

God....He knows darkness and has the perfect response....every time.

Friday, December 21, 2012


I believe what I am about to share will encourage you about the arm of God and how far He reaches with, to, and through each of us.

I have this friend that writes stuff.  He's always writing...or lecturing...or some formation which would lead others to deeper spiritual understanding.  I speak of Philip Yancey.

Yesterday's eVolleys noted once again why I love and admire this brother so much.  He lives to see that societies are permeated with the hopeful touch of Jesus.  His words yesterday proved consistent.

He and wife Janet are invited to work with the devastated in Newtown, CT. in a few days.  He will speak to community groups and then field questions throughout the weekend after Christmas. 

From Germantown to Germany, readers of this blog wonder what we can do to assist the heartbroken of the Northeast.  I ask that you pray...really...for Philip's words and Janet's counsel to carry Holy Spirit backing and impact. 

Philip is a plain, common man with desperate need for God to flow from him for he is far too small left on his own.  Consider his request...and then thank God in prayer for His supreme presence and guidance over this troubling time.  May the abundant tears be transformed into telescopes to see the reality of kingdom life just a bit clearer.  Hearts are wide-open for help.  Let us be a part of a team that gives it.

See a portion of his humble note below. 

We've arranged two community-wide meetings, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 28-29, on the theme, "Where Is God When It Hurts?" and then two church services on Sunday.  Churches in the region will come together, and many who attend will be unchurched.  I've had some tough assignments (Virginia Tech, Mumbai, Sarajevo), but this one is horribly unique.  I would truly appreciate your prayers this week as I prepare--not exactly what I had planned for Christmas week--and then New Year's weekend as we travel to Connecticut........I'm not sure why I get picked for these assignments (God doesn't ask my permission in advance), and I feel unworthy, especially in this case because I am not a parent.  It helps mightily that we go not alone, rather buoyed by your support and prayers.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Being an intensely conscientious group, we strive for the ultimate; to please God.  Yet, such determination has backfired.  We have replaced His efforts with our own.  We work laboriously to save ourselves.  This move isn't made from ego as much as assumed responsibility.

But it is all wrong.

When we work to be in the saved mode, two warped manners develop: (1) we become lenient and understanding of ourselves with great grace to overlook our sins, and (2) we simultaneously become highly critical of others regarding even their slightest detraction from God's Word. 

Strangely, both oppose the call of God.

We cannot save ourselves.  This is up to God through Jesus.  We are not God.  Our job is to submit to His call and let Him provide salvation.  We want this; yet, somehow in the name of responsibility, we take on the role of judge for self and for brother.

It's weird, really, that the apostle Paul could see himself as sin-failured (Romans) and the very essence of chief sinner (Timothy); yet any who live in the church self-saved don't identify.  Those of us who do identify get the picture that the need for salvation is bigger than once assumed.

Some of the Jews regarded Jesus as prophet and good man; nothing more.  When one works for self-salvation Jesus has just been relabeled similarly...a prophet, a good man, but not a Savior.

When we realize we cannot possibly save ourselves via steps or service, we will then enter into the glorious reign of Jesus as King.  Salvation then means something for we realize how far he brought us.  Church shifts from obligation to gratitude.  And, fellowship is filled with over-joy rather than endurance.

We cannot save ourselves.  Thank you, God.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


The churches of Christ salute you.

During my conversion process in 1970, great pride swelled within to find my new church actually spelled out in the Bible.  We were listed!  The news (to me) that we were not a denomination, but were the true Bible church, was deeply meaningful and impressive.

I loved the simplicity.

However, it wasn't long until I learned that such a name represented some in a movement that had gradually become the very thing they had stood against; a denomination.  Church of Christ has become a brand name while the church of Christ is the one he continues to build.

The church owned by Jesus strives to live in tenderness willing to absorb God's unfolding truth.  The Church of Christ denomination knows all of the answers while being blinded to our own denominational practices. 

The church that Jesus builds remains flexible in the Holy Spirit in movement and heart.  The Church of Christ, however, is riddled with the very traditions we have long mocked other groups for possessing.

The Christ's church wants to advance in spiritual depth as well as meaning.  The capital C church wants to preserve what thirty-eight things we have rightfully concluded.

It isn't that we Church of Christers have no grip for Truth.  It is that we have been a people far too long heavy on Church and light on Christ.  Furthermore, I never experienced any persecution from our brotherhood to the level I did when shifting that very emphasis. 

The capital C church is enamoured with rules and forms.  The small c church is refreshingly dependent upon God for instruction and guidance day by day.  The former doesn't like the word new while the latter is new.

Finally, the capital C-ists believe that the true church has to have the name Church of Christ.  Biblical names like church of God or church of the firstborn are dismissed mainly because we are capital C-ists.

Small c-ists believe the church is Jesus'.  Its label for the street sign or listing in the yellow pages may be Battle Creek, Cornerstone, Brooklyn Tabernacle; on the list goes in great abundance.

To believe one to be a member of the true church is a very right concept.  To believe it has to have a capital C in order to be the only right one is subject to possible transference into the very denominational realm we bemoaned.

The churches of Christ still salute you.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


We have choices.  Life circumstances can happen to us; yet we get to choose every response. 

We can choose to shed the Rat Race. 

Jesus did it. Others do it.  We can do it.

Friend Keith Roberts points to wisdom by saying, Spiritual apathy, the waste by-product of prayerlessness, creeps up on you because of this simple mistake: when the schedule gets crowded, prayer is the first thing left in the dust.  Let that happen and you lose perspective. Back to the Rat Race, running and circling but accomplishing little of real value.

Prayer calms an otherwise bossy, demanding, pushy, and hurried world.

When we aren't in prayer for God's provision and when we are forgetful to live immersed in thanksgiving toward Him, we take charge by two things; worry and control.  Neither help.  Each calls for more of the same.  And still, neither satisfies.

We find life running at us from too many directions because we put the cycle on speeding spin.

Prayer leans upon God.  If He responds immediately; very well.  But should He wait, we learn to wait with Him and for Him.  God runs the show.  We don't.  Prayer helps us to trust during the wait.  He will be there.

Fear moves in if prayer moves out.  We fear we will miss the bargain, will not be keeping up with the world's expectancies, or that we will fail to gain certain accolades if we should fail to be assertive.  Prayer, however, moves fear out.

Prayer believes God; believes He is functionally aware and perfectly capable to handle our little piece of space on earth.  He knows how.

The Rat Race can be shed.  It takes discipline to say "No" to the many things one feels pressed for engagement.  Prayer threads life's dailiness together for peaceful production.

This may be the 21st Century; but it is not the boss.

Monday, December 17, 2012


 Following the shooting at the Portland mall and then the massacre in the New Town elementary school, an age-old question comes from a few, “Where was God?”  This isn’t an unfair inquiry for there is a reply.

Yet, some seem to ask as if He didn’t care or didn’t have the ability to do anything….or He just doesn’t exist.  None of these three possibilities offer the correct answer.

The question of Where was God? is a valid one.  And, there is a solution.

First of all, God isn’t a theoretical Police Officer with a gigantic badge and whistle to match.  He isn’t God in order to direct human traffic by shouting out detailed moves and calculated orders.  Nor is He a control freak forcing men and women to do only what He wants.

God is God.  So….where was He? 

God was well ahead of the shooting in Oregon and the devastation in Connecticut.  Where He was is profoundly important.  He was found hanging His Son on the cross to wipe out impending death.  God was standing by while rulers and military leaders framed Jesus for being guilty when he was truly innocent. 

God never broke out in rescue as His Son was forced upon the cross.  Yet, Jesus raised the identical question from the cross, “My God!  My God!  Why have you forsaken me?”  Even then, God remained silent.

Father walked away from Son upon the cross.  It was such a horrible day that darkness filled the earth for three hours in mid-afternoon.  Jesus became terribly dark with guilt….our guilt. 

So where was God during these recent tragedies?  He was covering for the innocent and the guilty some 2000 years back for precisely such times as these.  Where was God?  He was spending His ideal and perfect Jesus in payment for both heartache and break of all mankind for all time.

Our nation has experienced gruesome tragedy; and such isn’t over.  More will come.  But the question is not “Where was God?”  The question is “Where do we put our faith to eventually and personally rise from the dead?”  Our response is to be that we put our faith in the God who emptied the grave.
Death will continue to happen for awhile.  Yet, it will only be temporary in terms of time.  Eternity is to be our experience.

Sacrificial provision and heartbreaking preparation in giving up Jesus for all of us is where God has been all along.  Believe it. 


We seem to believe we have enough hassle.  What we are looking for is peace on earth, goodwill toward men.  Times of peace and goodwill are surely not negative nor are they illegal.  They are necessary.  Yet, a constant diet of this is hardly reality in the kingdom.

In our search for peace and quiet the truth and necessity of disruption have been shelved.  Not meaning to sound radical here, I simply wish to draw about awareness that living in the church is not all a walk in the garden.

Recall those who couldn't get to Jesus so they lowered their crippled friend from homemade opening in the roof?  And then there was the woman who elbowed her way through the mob just to touch the hem of Jesus' garment.  The Canaanite woman of Matthew 15 would not cease to call out for benefit of her daughter.  The disciples tried to hush her.  So did Jesus. 

But she rudely persisted.

Tommy Tenney wrote, The Bible says of the Kingdom of Heaven, "...the violent take it by force" (Mt. 11:12).  For some reason that doesn't sound like us, does it?  We've become so "churchified" that we have our own form of "political correctness" and polite etiquette.  Since we don't want to be too radical, we line all the chairs up in nice rows and expect our services to conform to equally straight and regimented lines as well.  We need to get so desperately hungry for Him that we literally forget our manners!

The kingdom of God is not as easy nor as squeaky clean as we might prefer.  From my experience, the more we get into the ditches with the down and dirty the more we find the church getting to be what God destined it to be.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


We live among those who suffer.  Neighbors suffer from cancer.  Bosses suffer from discouragment.  Mommas suffer from worry.  Agony--sheer agony--hold all of us at times as if at gunpoint.  No one seems exempt.

So, since we are all alike, do Christians really have a message?  Or, do we live in some sort of pretentious denial as to how awful things are with news of it worsening?

No.  We have a message.


Those without God are stuck with their own ingenuity and manipulative efforts which ultimately fade.  Those with Him remember the cross and then the subsequent filled grave and then the subsequent subsequent EMPTY ONE!

Because of the resurrection of Jesus--the impossible becoming possible--we are called to ALWAYS HOPE!

Therefore, those of you who are in Christ, don't go through life as one without God.  You are with Him. 

Hope like it!

And our message to the world?  Regardless of how dark the grave, explosive new life is just hours away!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012


We are different due to the life-reversing approach exemplified by Jesus.  No one enters the kingdom with Shade Tree formulas and equations.  Nor will Doctrinal Discourses hold.  The very nature of Jesus is to defy earth's gravitational wisdom.  This is why the babes were the only ones to grasp it.

Tullian Tchividjian, in his wonderful book Jesus + Nothing = Everything, recalls the incredible stress he encountered when he and others engaged in blending his five year old New City church with the long-established Coral Ridge church of Dr. James Kennedy fame.  More than 90% of the Coral Ridge family voted for the blending.  But then...there was that remaining less than 10%.

With the merger and the leadership transition, a small but vocal group of long-time Coral Ridge members immediately began voicing opposition to practically any and every change we initiated or even considered at the church.  Blogs were posted, notes and letters were circulated--some anonymously--with false accusations about me.  Just three months after I arrived, a vigorous petition drive was started to get me removed, and it gained steam.  Some people began lamenting the huge mistake they'd made in agreeing to the merger, and they grumbled that the whole thing had turned into a "hostile takeover."  Their tone was frequently heated and vicious.  Battle lines were drawn, rumors raced, and the spirits of those who supported me sagged.  There was a crescendo of misunderstandings, frustrations, and pain.

Each time I read this account I think of the time when a large group exited a neighboring Church of Christ, placed membership at Memorial, and then soon formed a meeting to fire me.  It was a confusing, and yet important, part of my ministry.

And, Tchividjian learned something in this moment of upheaval that I began to note as well. 

I was learning the hard way that the gospel alone can free us from our addiction to being liked--that Jesus measured up for us so that we wouldn't have to live under the enslaving pressure of measuring up for others...

...When that difficult year was over, I'd be able to look back and realize that God seemed bigger to me than ever, while I'd never been so small.

He had stripped me down--wrecked me afresh!  And when he does that to a person--when you actually feel like you have nothing--Jesus becomes more to you than you ever could have hoped or imagined....

....Rediscovering the gospel enabled me to see that:
  • because Jesus was strong for me, I was free to be weak;
  • because Jesus won for me, I was free to lose;
  • because Jesus was someone, I was free to be no one;
  • because Jesus was extraordinary, I was free to be ordinary;
  • because Jesus succeeded for me, I was free to fail.
I write this not to rehearse sour grapes; but rather to point to the necessary vineyard of riches found in the very center of the things most of us ministers wish to avoid.  True life in the true kingdom will insist we be whittled to nothing so that He can become everything.

Never give up.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


When the eyes of Adam and Eve were opened, depression broke loose to the extent both ran to hide.  They were immediately fitted with goggles which allowed them to see into a perspective God had not intended.  Havoc of the mind was unleashed.

Ever since, mankind has suffered multiple atrocities due to the wearing of Garden Goggles which were not intended by God to be a part of our attire.  Strong cataracts form from these lenses which distort personal vision of self; usually in the negative.

This is the secret we need to continue to learn about every person we know.  Unless really, really, really, bent on seeing with the eyes of Jesus, we are engaging with family and friends who suffer from wearing Garden Goggles.  We see the negative about ourselves when the negative isn't really there.

This blurred vision plays perfectly into Satan's intent.  Bring mankind down by causing them to become distracted via their flaws.

When we look in the mirror--whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually--the first thing most do is to reach for the Garden Goggles to take a gander.  And what is seen?

The beautiful don't see beauty; but they see a small blemish magnified.  The personalities don't see outgoing personality; but they see profound inadequacy.  The sensitive don't see their valuable tenderness; but they see insecurity and goofiness.

When Adam and Eve's eyes were opened in the Garden of Eden they set blindness into motion for all mankind....and we still suffer the consequences.

Therefore, I urge you to open the eyes of your heart that you may know what are the hopes and the riches and the power for you and me according to the strength of His might...Eph. 1:18-19.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Living in leadership is a most fascinating adventure.  The element that makes it so is God.  That's it.  And, that's everything.

Don't we get it by now?  From Bible's cover to cover is one repetitious story: man isn't, man can't, and God can, does, and will.

Leaders don't pretend we can be effective; we believe in the God who can and does.  We aren't dependent upon our own talent and skill.  We are dependent upon His talent and skill.

Ritual and tradition and rote make us fearful and weary.

Spirit and promise and hope make us His valiant and vibrant children who have inherited, not a movement but, a faith that been handed down since....well, since Abraham fathered it.

For any preacher who sits as I once did for a couple of decades wondering if and how anything will ever turn for the good, wait on Him.  He will be there.  Too many of us give up too soon.  Wait.  And if nothing changes, wait some more.

God has never met a mountain He couldn't handle nor a death He couldn't conquer.  From the cross of gasping sacrifice to the sheer loneliness of one empty tomb, God has sent a message, I can do anything and you have inherited My resurrection power.

For church leaders, the question is not whether He can deliver; but whether we will wait upon Him.  We will. 

Rejection?  Frustration?  Abandonment?  Self-inflicted failure?  All are merely confidence boosters to depend on God.  We are zeroes.  It took me a bit--like two decades--to begin to begin to catch it.  But it is true.  And once crushed of personal talent, it is not odd to note it is then that He begins to take over.

Our leadership problem is basically one; we think we can manage an unmanageable kingdom they same way one would manage a sales force or a football team.  Nope.  Nope.  Nope.

Jesus splinters carnal approach with back-door slam dunks of whodathunkit?  His masterful specialty is to pick the loser, the loser formula, or the losing concept and amaze the whole lot of us who lead from our meager brain-power.  His resurrection power defies human logic as well as organization.

To believe God can do for us and will do for us what we can't manipulate on our own is the path for leadership fascination.  We get to see Him work.  And His talent looks so much better than all of ours combined.  Fascinating!!!!!!


Rejoice always.  Pray without ceasing.  In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  Do not quench the Spirit.....I Thes. 5:18

There is desperate need for the Spirit to function among and within the churches.  We are of nothing more than organization with no power blessing if we have not the Holy God in Spirit form residing within.  We are nothing; we go nowhere and see nothing but decline.

The key to opening to the Holy Spirit is the simplicity of a thankful heart.  Gratitude sees God.  Selfishness sees ourselves as god; we are the providers, the suppliers, the producers.

Rejoice always means something when always is factored.  Selective gratitude matches the emotional whirl of unbelievers.  They, too, have their moments of rejoicing.  The difference is only found in the always.

Pray without ceasing is not a reprimand for neglecting time of prayer.  It is harmonious with both previous and post-admonitions; rejoice always coupled with in everything give thanks.

My prayer time has moved from prayer-burden to prayer-life because of learning the soaring route of thanksgiving when I pray.  Because God is God and I am not my own god, I am free to declare every situation as valid blessing.  I can be thankful for all things because even in ruin one will ultimately find blessings of God buried.  He wastes not one crumb of hardship.

Thankful hearts signal the Holy Spirit that we give Him permission to roam.  We open our own flood gates and let the marvel of God sweep through both our treasures as well as our train wrecks.  Our confidence is linked directly to Him....II Cor. 3:4-5.

Open your life to the Spirit of God for you'll be nothing but a negative vendor pushing your sour grapes without Him.  Thankfulness cures what ails us for the Living God thrives in such an atmosphere of heart.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Ernest Hemingway said, The world breaks everyone and afterwards many are strong in the broken places.

A thing I love about watching Jesus is his obsession and commitment to those who were so very broken.  The lame, the blind, the imprisoned; he was devoted to bringing new life to each.

We must not be surprised at the constant struggle in our midst.  Rather, we must transform the very things we would have once resisted as unbelievers into opportunities for kingdom life since we are believers.  God loves the broken and offers healing of some nature.

Shatterizations do not stop the servant of God.  We maximize their value.

Twenty years ago my daughter's fiance and his brother were brutally murdered.  It was a numbing experience to walk through the next weeks and months.  Yet, a strange sensation overcame me even at the murder scene.  I knew for certain the church at Memorial would be blessed.

I can't tell you how nor can I explain why.  But I knew.  I knew God would not take the back seat to darkness.

I was right.  This congregation had just experienced in a matter of weeks before a deeply wounding split.  What God did to draw those remaining was of incredible and inseparable measure.  Even when things go all wrong, His nature is to cause things to go all right...Romans 8:28.

He--not we--knows how to deal with our painful terrain.  Let Him.  We will then be strong...even in the broken places.

Sunday, December 09, 2012


Daniel Bray has left a new comment on your post "CHURCH OF CHRIST OR CHURCH OF PHARISEES?":

I cant believe you hummed along to a Christian Music song, c you in Hell!!
In Australia I m told by those with direct phone lines to God himself that there are only 2000 saved people in the whole country.
Thats 2000 out of 20 milliion. That 2000 people represents the number of people who attend non instrumental COC in Australia.
Church of Christ is top heavy on doctrine and law but rather light on mercy, compassion and LOVE.
In JUDE 1 verse 8-9 we are given an example on judging people in a damning sense, even Michael the acrhangel didnt condemn the devil to hell but rather said the Lord rebuke you. All these COC preachers seem to know the who and who not of heaven, are they greater then the ArchAngel Michael?
I don't know if I've ever met Daniel Bray.  Most likely not.

His note says many things; things about me, things about him, and things about us.  Mainly, since he made it for public use as a comment to another blog, I wish to point to Daniel's apparent irritation with me/us.

We must continue to grow in the gracious Spirit of Jesus that we not inadvertently lose souls by our arrogance or our ignorance.  Daniel makes a significant move pointing me to be careful in my judgment of others.  Such insight is always correct. 

Saturday, December 08, 2012


On this topic, I know what I'm talking about.  I lived terribly depressed during my 20s, 30s, and 40s.  The work it took to look upbeat in front of both church gatherings and individual friends was, for me, nearly unaccomplishable.  I did it; yet I was often dying on the inside.  No one knew the depths of my agonizing depression.  It would not give me a break.

Without going into great detail, I could tell when depression was coming on.  What made it worse, since such is a mind issue, is that I would exploit it by embellishing my troubles through exaggerated negative self-talk. 

Self-talk is where I would take a true injury and develop the whys and the wherefores of it.  I am rejected because _____ _____ __ ____.  I would both create the blanks and them fill them in.  A strange thing about all of this is that I truly did and still do experience rejection; especially from our brotherhood.  Yet, I would habitually turn an injury into a tragedy via self-inflicting-talk.

The good news is that I learned from the Word that I could beat it.  There are instructions from the Bible for guys like me.  And let it be no surprise, God is right.  He pulls us from this life-hampering ditch to set us free to imagine, to dream.  Should we fail, we are free to try once again.

The key to unlock the wonder of life is found in our mind.  What we think about is a choice.  What people or circumstances do to us isn't.  But what we do toward thinking about each is.  This is where God comes in.  He tells us how to use proper Mind Management.

Philippians 4:4-9 is The Great Escape from the Mind Prison text. 
  1. :4  Twice He says rejoice; and we can if we want.  It is our decision.  No one is exempt.
  2. :5  We can hold up under stress because the Lord is engaged in our dilemma.
  3. :6  Be nervous about nothing.  If you want you can; but realize it is your choice.  And when you pray be sure to include a ton of reasons why you are thankful....during this very hurtful disturbance.
  4. :7  Peace of God will arise without your management nor manipulation...and this will guard your "mind".
  5. :8  Transfer your thinking processes from rehearsal of the depressing to the wonder of everything that is still going right.  Can you still see?  Can you still walk?  Do you still have one friend?  Two?  Are you breathing?  Do your tear ducts still work?  Place your mind upon the altar of rehearsing repeatedly the thousands of things in your life going right.
  6. :9 Practice.  Don't retreat to the pit-thinking when you don't at first succeed.  Practice.  Practice thinking about the abundant things going right. 
Never will it be what others do for us that will defeat depression.  Of course, a phone call, a card, or $1000 would help.  But the key to victory over personal depression is found in the retraining of our minds to think on the 10,000 things going right rather than the two things going wrong. 

It isn't that we are to live in denial that bad things happen.  It is possible, however, that we have been living in denial that great wonder is intricately and presently woven into our lives.

Once we dare practice life-thinking, a weird and wonderful thing begins to happen as if the light comes on.  We will begin to go through our days on auto-pilot.  Eventually, due to practice, we will automatically see the hope of any situation.  And just as God promised, we will experience His most faithful peace.

Do I ever get discouraged?  Yes.  Yet, I've learned to use these painful moments as practice gyms where I train my mind to see value rather than loss.  I still cry over people and circumstances.  I fold into tears at devastating news from (or about) a brother or a sister.  I am so tempted to lose it when I fail God or others.  God's peace, though, reigns when we train our thinking to ponder His beauty rather than our temporary loss.

This training has helped me adapt from insecurity to a very new and strange concept to me; relax.  I once nervously believed all in my world was up to me.  It isn't.  It is up to God (Romans 9:16).  If it is to be, it is up to Him.  I couldn't even be god of my own meager world; let alone another's.  But God is God.  Learn to relax and let Him be Him.

Finally, everything is a yes.  Issues aren't a yes and a no; but are always a yes....II Cor. 1:18-20.  Argue this if you want...and remain depressed.  Have at it.

But if you would like to beat depression, practice refraining from blaming others or circumstances or yourself and take responsibility for the one thing you can and should control; they way you choose to think.

Winning isn't for the lottery winners of life who just happened to be at the right place at the right time.  It is for the man and the woman who have the courage to address their personal weakness of stinkin' thinkin'.

Life and peace and joy are available for every person who would like to ponder the riches of such at each and every moment...for it is available in abundance.

For any who struggle with depression, I have lived across my mattress which was a rack of torture.  No more.  I'm not saying depression is minor; for it is most rugged.  Therefore, due to it hampering so many of us for so long, it is good news to know we can break its grip. A-N-D  W-E  C-A-N.

I encourage you, once again, about a great book which will help.  Sharon Hersh's The Last Addiction is one of those revolutionary works.  I know this book to be a great support to the Philippians text.

Merry Christmas as you learn how to win over depression!

Friday, December 07, 2012


The kingdom of God is rich, powerful, and aggressive.  We are born anew. We are new everyday. 

Now a trap that I can easily fall into is that when a new idea comes along and I favor it, I can justify my possibly unwarranted whim on the basis of I like the new and shiny.  Yet, how do we as leaders sort through the maze that stands before us. 

Shall we put out fires or catch fire?

From a leadership perspective, therefore, let's ponder this concept a bit.

At both my age and tenure, I could be suspect as to whether I can adapt well to innovation.  This is important because we live in what I am going to label as Innovation Generation.  (Ah, someone started Postmodern and another GenX, etc.  How about GenI?)

Leadership perspective will always be challenged to stay true to the Word of God which means we must be flexible in Spirit (Jn. 3:8) in order to follow Jesus well.  He was not only true to the Word, he was the Word....and he drove the religious leaders and their perspective to the pinnacle of eventual murder.

Few farmers today spend their time discussing, planning, and pulling stumps in order to farm the land.  Yet, in my day on the farm as a kid there was still a lot of stump pulling going on back in the Missouri hills.  Few farmers today have such concern.  Theirs are new with concern over land banks, computerized machinery, and soil nutrient additives that my grandpa gave little thought.

I wonder how much unnecessary or irrelevant time I spend in the church discussing the pulling of legalistic stumps when the land has been cleared.  Does my preaching reflect the work of Jesus in this age or that of 28 years ago when it was a different church culture?

It would seem that leadership perspective will be currently effective when the simple standard of following the Word is....well....followed.  I know this sounds simple.  It should be.  Yet, as we mature in the Spirit, that stable Word will inherently lead us into new and challenging zones.  It surely must for none of us have arrived; few of us including myself have even left the station.

Time will always find conservative and liberal warfare.  This is good for us if it drives us to gain momentum in looking to the cross; fixing our eyes on Jesus.  If, however, such challenges only thrust us into more bias and mood and touchiness then the same old lifestyle of church frustration will continue. 

When all is said and done regarding many of our doctrinal and methodical stumps in the church past, all congregations with all of our shepherds and all of our preachers still have extreme need to grow up.  Churches remain loaded with the selfish who will not serve another, the older who will not subject themselves to being trained to reach out, and the younger who lack the patience and understanding to endure things we don't like.

Leadership perspective has never been about anything as much as it is to know Jesus the Lamb.  The good news is we have work to do.  The good news is we are invited to do it.  The good news is that regardless of how frustrating we are to each other or even to self, there is ample (even eternal) reason to hope.

Leadership perspective: it will require a lot of personal attention.  So may we give personal attention to the uncomfortable things about Jesus that truly matter rather than the lazy things that charge our usual business meetings.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012


Change is a mysterious sort. 

It can be a gift of blessing.  How many are highly encouraged because they obtain a building permit, get a raise, or find the room of new furniture has satisfactory appeal?

On the other hand, change can seem to be a curse.  When a doctor has retired, eyesight diminishes, or the popular factory goes out of business, we can surely feel the sting of such loss.

Whether good or bad, change is a central part of reality.  We favor some; but reject parts. 

Change in the church is consistent with adjustments elsewhere; some are welcomed while others are tough to accept.  One thing is certain, we will either make the faithful changes needed within the church or else the church itself will change (will die out) because we refused to make them.

That truth should motivate us to be open to His call.

At age 65 I find myself challenged to sort through growth opportunity in the Spirit versus selfish inclination to live in comfort of what I know....and what I like.  When is change necessary?  When is it a directive of God?  And when am I merely reluctant for I know it will cause trouble for some?

Basically, we are a well-meaning sort who very much continue to wish to do what God has in mind.  However, this God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever has a reputation from Day One of being magnificently and wonderfully creative.

It seems to be true that any who take the Word at its word will be led to make significant and contributionary changes because the Spirit will unfold life within us.  The Word will not surrender consistency that the god-head is the Three. 

Yet, patterns and teachings will often be found to be fluid as with the Spirit leading us.  Even the Bible calls for us to grow up...which is change.  Immaturity is the refusal of it.

How do we move forward?  The same way we have done; remain fascinated with the Living Word.  It will give the directions of whether to change.  Some things should.  Some shouldn't.  It will take a courageous heart to honestly sort between the two.


Tuesday, December 04, 2012


Whatever is said about God should be in the form of credit, praise, and complete awe!

It took me too long to begin to build a relationship with Him for I was focused on doing everything right.  Odd, isn't it, when the biblical message is that Jesus will make us right because we can't get there on our own?

Our present culture is loaded multi-faceted fascinations.  These could be used by dark forces to distract us from giving attention to God.  Diligence must be given to seek Him continually.

In the old days---meaning in my younger years---when I was not serious about God or faith or church, I didn't understand the deep desire of God for us to lean upon Him.  My oblivion regarded church the same as local cafes; find the one with the best menu to your liking.  I had no drive to  search for a faith and what little effort that came from me had very little to do with giving God attention.

And then, when I later became really interested in Him, my main understanding was to not go to hell.  Salvation was presented in such a way that warning of eternal damnation was issued as stern threat. 

Heaven, on the other hand, was mainly a gray fog or mist where we would sit around without bodies and floatatiously sing dull church songs for 10,000 years.  In those days I gave attention to thoughts of heaven merely as the hell-escape.

Of course, being a people-person, I quickly caught on to Church of Christ-ness as I so immediately enjoyed meeting new folks.  Strangers were not a test for me.  I liked 'em.

But God still was not in the picture other than hoping to keep Him happy. 

One reason I learned to adjust my God concept was to gradually learn to watch Jesus.  Oh, I'd memorized a couple of sayings---Jesus wept---I am the way, the truth, and the life---but I had not yet truly watched him move down crowded streets or deal with selfish disciples.

Jesus showed(s) me God.

He showed me that he was a plain man as I and that he had to receive the Spirit of God at baptism in order to be able to pull off the work Father intended.  Jesus showed me to follow suit.

God.  In time He seems to grow larger as we grow smaller. 

May we be a people adamant about giving Him outlandish praise.  He deserves this from us.  Forever.

Monday, December 03, 2012


I'm learning day by day.  With incredible gratitude to the Spirit of Bible revelation, I am still being developed by His riches and His power and His glory.  The more I learn, the more nothing I discover myself to be.  This no longer discourages me. God is good.

I'm noticing with great appreciation those before us and among us who have suffered in the church.  I speak of preachers and elder-teachers and any others who have taken their calling to include the war of the cross.

Our brotherhood isn't easy.  As a matter of fact it is brutal to all who are willing to disobey what I call the loud voices of Church of Christ standardization.

No longer do I speak from the impulsiveness of my earlier years. I would hope my once youthful brashness has subsided considerably.  Such was offensive; rightfully so.  However, the dare to go against some in the church was of necessity and will continue to be so.

The church in general does baptism and moderate believing.  Extremes are rejected except in the matters of rigidity where safety, shelter, and the old paths are sought. 

Thus, the perpetual need for believers big enough, strong enough, and committed enough to balk at the tides of tradition which never came from God.  Admittedly, we have our fair share.

Baptism we stress.  Compassion in theory is a winner.  Yet, the cross comes in the peculiar zone of persecution.  Few there are who dare buck the patternistic system of the 40s and 50s.  I no longer speak from faulty brashness; but from firm biblical perspective.  Life in the church basically avoids the cross because that would mean persecution.

Many are willing to persecute while the most are simply unaware of such action.  Few there are that voluntarily suffer the fretful and mean-spirited anger of those so willing to slander and slay a brother or sister.

The path to church mediocrity is paved with cowardly men-pleasers.  An irrational temper isn't what is needed. Courageous, bold, and brave believers are.

To take up the cross and follow is to walk into a hornets nest of biting and beating.  The Word is clear about this while Jesus' actual walk pictures it.  Again, the church-at-large is clueless to such behavior. Rejection is a monster that causes some to wither and others to quit.

Life in the church with no cross can be masked with abundant activity.  However, each individual is called to take up the cross and begin to follow.  We are to believe in such a way that a few in society (including the religious among us) will get significantly testy. This means clear rejection; a matter most avoid with the consequences of losing our life in order to spare it.

There are a great many heroes and heroettes among us; past and present.  Thank you for leading out when you knew you would take several hits.  Thank you for crying over us when you wondered if we would eventually catch on.

The church is a beautiful entity.  The church faces many fronts of contest; so many that truly matter.  I find this one area to be where our soldiers first drop their Bibles and run.  We would rather have peace among ourselves than be estranged from the body by developing a belief system found to be closer to Jesus than that of the looking-over-our-shoulder-at-what-the-brotherhood-thinks church.

May we be a church with a living cross.  For surely this is included in His call.

Sunday, December 02, 2012


Regardless of what some would assume, I still believe Jesus is building his church.  I just don't happen to think it is restricted to nor inclusive of only Churches of Christ.

The church continues to be built by the Founder.  I so enjoy the thought of being a part of it.  But my time is surely still one of apprenticeship. 

One of the many mistakes I have made in this training is my failure to recognize what it is Jesus is about.  I started off a house o' fire in slamming the lost and labeling the liberal.  I knew my I thought.

True, I did know parts of my Bible; but was soon found to be guilty of its accusation that some knew their Bible but did not know Jesus.  That would also be me.

I have grown to love being a part of his church construction.  He has really surprised me in an area I simply didn't see coming.  I thought the right church had to do with right beliefs based upon the right Bible interpretation.

In later years I  have noticed something life changing and church changing.  Right beliefs are more accurate when one watches where Jesus walked....among the needy.  It wasn't biblical enough according to Jesus' example to merely theorize outreach.  Rather, it is more Christlike to touch the poor.

Christians extending to the poor transform churches from static to sturdy, from whining to winning, and from judgmental to justice.  Odd, don't you think, that a walk down the Gospels Path finds Jesus in trouble at turn upon turn because he was dealing with the poor rather than focusing on the rules.  His walk was his belief system.

Yes, as Jesus builds his church I believe we come closer to the Truth by actually wading into the streets among the poor rather than discussing again in class on Sunday morning why other churches aren't doing church the right way.

Saturday, December 01, 2012


Can you imagine an eagle without wings?  It would eat, sleep, and walk.  It could communicate.  It could interact with any and all grounded eagles.  Eagle would be its true name.  Yet, it could not do what it was designed by God to do best; that is to soar.  The name would be accurate; but the behavior would be quite reduced.

So it is with the named Church of Christ.  Some vocal and influential someones of our past taught in such a way that our people were born again with out wings....without the wings of the Holy Spirit.  Such a church talks the talk and walks the walk; yet has no way of soaring as was His intended design for us.

Those with the name are desperate to be given back their wings.  There is proper and biblical rebellion taking place that will not be stopped.  The study of the Holy Spirit and the belief in His activity within and among us is gaining momentum.

Those church eagles without Spirit wings have one basic call in life.  They sit in birdhouses and chirp against those who wonder if possibly they could fly.  Brows are raised in smugness of knowing all about the Holy Spirit when, in truth, we are just entering (but very free to enter) into the slightest of understanding of Him.

What I really like about the subject of the Spirit of God is that He is of the Truth.  Those in the church-nest who have no wings--I speak from experience of my own wing-lessness at early point--have been told to reach Truth and then guard it as if it might escape.  These nesters are bent on one thing....preserving the Truth.

However, Truth is always truth when it expands.  Truth can never be Truth if it isn't expanding.  William Barclay penned over a  half of a century ago, To the Christian thinker there is open the glorious adventure of following the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  All life is an unfolding.  Love is not the same thing to the infant in his mother's arms, the young child, the teen-ager, the newly married couple, those who have gone down the road of the years past many milestones together, the one who is left when the other has gone from this earth.  No truth is static, least of all God's truth.  If we believe in the Holy Spirit, we shall be saved from intolerance, from arrogance, and from servitude to the dogmas of men.

We are to desire to soar with wings like eagles.  We are called to a level of life which operates from newness of the Spirit and not static fear of the demanding Letter.  The good news is that it is the Word of God which verifies these things; not dogmas of eagles with no wings.