Saturday, November 30, 2013


Jesus is the real deal.  He is the great Understander of where we live. 

Jesus has been mistakenly made out to be a rigid as well as unreachable church icon.  He isn't.
He is God in the flesh sent to interpret man to God and God to man.  He is surely everyone's friend.

For those who love the idea of church, he gets us.  He knows that our disappointments wear us thin.  He knows our holy ache to be more than we are; filled with good intentions that are fulfilled maybe half of the time.  No one understands the needs of any who try to become like him better than Jesus.

And, for those who don't like the idea of church, he gets that as well.  He spent his walking days trying to lead good men and women to sort through the religiosity which gunked the pure love of God by distractionary rules and regulations.

Jesus is so like God that he has a grasp of what's bugging us when we can't figure.  Simultaneously, he is so like us that he can pass back to Father our confusions and addictions with a call for relief. 

Jesus has such a way of relating to where we live.  He calls the believer to believe deeper.  He calls the doubter to change his or her mind.  One may reject a lot of things in life.  Jesus, however, is not to be one of 'em. 

Nobody understands you or me the way he does. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I find myself practicing many things I once mocked in others.

That's weird to me.

I feel that I resisted many transitions along the path of being in the church partly because I was struggling to learn and partly because I did not want to endure the criticism of my cronies with whom I had joined in the slaying (verbally) of others.

Lashing out at others has some sort of holy euphoria that boosts energy enzymes...or something like that!  In other words, it felt really good to put others down for it seemed to make me look.....assumedly as if I were standing as some sort of religious big-shot.

I believed I was rooted and grounded in Truth.  I breathed to do so.  I swung the sword of the Word mightily.  From the pulpit I was loud.  I was mean.  I was disrespectful.  I was arrogant.  And...I was wrong.

I tried to stay in step with my training from good men and women.  Oh, how I wanted them to look at me, one of their students, and declare I never budged from what the Bible said.  But that very Bible began to cause me troubles.  The very Word of God I trusted began to steadily whittle at my convictions that I once assured myself that these came from the Bible.

  • I tried to convince myself that the Holy Spirit did not operate in believers today.  I was wrong.
  • I tried to learn the manipulation of verses to prove instrumental music was wrong.  I was wrong.
  • I tried to stick with the doctrine that only Churches of Christ were saved.  I was wrong.
  • I tried to hold on to all standards of the Restoration Movement as epic Truth.  I was wrong.
The list is exhausting.  
  • I did learn to draw to Jesus.  God is right.
  • I did learn that I cannot save myself.  God is right.
  • I did discover that a true believer is to be ever-flexible.  God is right.
  • I did realize that no sinner I can meet is worse than the log in my own eye.  God is right.

I am now a learner; in kindergarten with no hopes of making it to first grade in theology, sociology, or humilitology.  I have advanced only in understanding how wretched I am; and it seems to get worse.  Too, it seems my prideful criticism of all others would cease each moment I realize, recall, and remember my own religious smugness.

The kingdom of God is loaded with wonder and awe.  I would never have found it if God had not pushed me to become the very person I once opposed.  The bigger I see Him in reality the smaller I am led to become in stature.

The more I see my sore displeasure of personal failure the more I see that I must bow in worship of Him.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Jesus' command to go into all the world baptizing remains strongly intact.  All are called to be buried in baptism into the Son of God in order for sins to be washed out and the Holy Spirit to be moved in.

The seeker of God will find utmost blessing in making a heart-felt move to be immersed into Jesus.  New birth strikes the old heart of one who felt he or she was merely living a rote life of meaningless repetition.  To be baptized into Jesus is to get to start life over!

The church is correct in noting the strength of this New Testament teaching which is immensely vital. Wonderfully, many are giving their lives to Jesus day and night throughout the world.  They have for centuries and the move continues.

Yet, a baptism blind spot has innocently arisen among us.  I was blinded by it for I had begun to believe that the end goal for all I knew was for them to be baptized.  If baptized then we are home free.  Because of that view, I would not reach to others if I could not see baptism as the result.

If I could not see how to connect with an individual in order to eventually baptize them, I wouldn't begin. This is the blind spot.  Ours is the job of sowing the seed and watering it.  God will give the increase.  He might let me get to be a part of the baptismal excitement and He may not.

The blind spot was short-sheeting my kingdom efforts for I didn't have the vision of the multitudinous thousands throughout the lands that would be God-partners in the process of saving souls.  Furthermore, I found myself focused solely on baptism with very little need to develop a relationship (myself or my students) with Jesus.

Baptism had become a god.  It was my hero and the numbers were my game.  The problem with this is several.  For now let it suffice to say that my skewed vision was profoundly limited because I wanted that person in the water and if I couldn't see the process fulfilled, I didn't start.

I didn't start.  This is the blind spot.  This is disastrous.

Today is different.  I feel just as convicted that God calls all to be buried in Jesus' name.  And I also believe that scattering seed while trusting others to water and my watering seed that others have sown counts...major!!

God's kingdom is obsessed with extensive reach far beyond the end of my arm.  If there were 2000 baptized over night--and the number does matter for it represents a person meeting God--it is very likely some of you and I had crossed their paths along the way to have either planted or watered.

This is not to cause indifference of our mission; but rather enhance it.  It should, however, awaken us to the fact that what God has going on in this world of winning souls is not restricted to what one can tabulate or report.  The Apostle Paul said he couldn't rightly recall who all he had baptized; yet because of the Spirit of God in him hundreds of thousands continue to be reached.

So it is with you and me.  Keep on baptizing the lost into Christ.  And avoid the blind spot that would cause you to believe that God is limited by your meager personal reach.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


The tension between standing against sin and refraining from appearing judgmentally harsh is significant.  Churches seem to opt for one strongly or the other.  From squint-eyed to oblivious, we set out to do the Master's work.

Sin is not to be accepted.  Sinners are.  Thus, reality.  The lessening of either is not the call of the One who died upon the tree.

How do we stand against sin and for sinners?

The solution is quite simple; uncanny really.

When the potential critic realizes his or her own sin; the stones are dropped.  It isn't that sin has been accepted without care.  It is that personal sin has been claimed with care.  When we realize that whoever would be our target of disdain is not as guilty as we personally, then one can proceed without blazing guns a-firing.

The log and the speck instructions are still in play.  I am my most efficient in helping others with overcoming sin when I keep in mind mine first.  Tenderness seems to replace bullying.  Strange how that works.

Sin is more grievous than the church seems to grasp.  It is the size of the turmoil on the way to the cross.  We have a knack of dismissing ours, though.  The sinners guilty of matters unlike ours are the ones we deem idiots.

We can and should stand against sin without being critical of the sinner for we are all just alike.  Jesus died for all, remember; not just for them.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


God created the entire universe.

God experienced His creation in human form through His Son by walking in our sandals.

God ventured out into rejection and joy, pain and celebration in order to get a feel for what He had whispered into clay.

God intentionally went from the Cross of death immediately into Hell's bowels to signal clearly He has been there done that.  

God is derailed by nothing.

God never met a grave He could not empty.

God never met a person He did not love.

God does not wish that any would perish.

We must take this word to every region of every class of every mindset.

Friday, November 22, 2013


God hit earth in Jesus form to demonstrate the walk of His talk.  Jesus choose men to follow him.

Ponder Oswald Chambers' thoughts; The attitude of the early disciples was one of self-ignorance.  Jesus Christ knew perfectly well what was in them, but he did not say to John, "You will prove to be vindictive" (see Luke 9:51-55), or to Peter, "You will end in denying me" (see Mark 14:66-72).  If you had told Peter that he would deny Jesus with oaths and curses, he would have been amazed (see John 13:36-38).  
The disciples approached Jesus by 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 to them.  

I don't mean to be legalistic on this note; but rather I prefer to cause us to ponder.  It would seem we can have church members who are not disciples; yet all disciples would be members of the church.  The reason for possible differentiation is that some members refuse crises training by God.

There is no other path for following Him other than the GPS of the Cross.

We live in a very soft culture.  I'm reminded of this in two forms.  The first is due to recent honorings of our military veterans.  These lived in a time that was very hard. Sacrifice was hard.  Suffering was painful. Recovery became a lifetime achievement for many.

The second is how non-discipled church members determinedly want to be satisfied and pacified.  These seem to not mature; we just age.  If one, however, will not bolt at the sign of discouragement but will hold on, God will grow us through the very process that threatens to kill us.

God's children are advantaged by the very things that oppose them.  When cornered He breaks in.  Even when dead; He gives resurrection notices.

Church members who have not been discipled via the stress-tests of church life miss both the calling and the purpose of the Cross.  If we will take the rudeness and the unfairness and the beatings, we will find an entirely new kind of ministry.

Jesus makes us members of His body.  We are called to be disciples.  Me?  I have a long way to go; but I want to gain in momentum.


I am pumped about Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Since my days as a little kid I still contain the enthusiasm for these big days as a little kid.  I can't wait for them to get here.  I drive whoever draws my name at the office buggy with my list(s) of possible gifts...for me!

Lest we forget, I remind us of the many who dread these days due to the cancer of society.  It is the L word; loneliness.

No rocket science is needed here.  Alone does not mean lonely.  This point needs to be made because lonely people can be found in big crowds; family gatherings and even churches.  Watch for these.

Discouragement and depression are nipping at the heels of the well-to-do and the down-and-out.  Neither of these frustrations is biased toward a specific social level. The rich and famous are targeted for these anxious moments just as much as the homeless.

Therefore, we have work to do.

We must keep our eyes open to the individuals who cross our paths.  Their sad eyes often betray their upbeat voices.  Walk through these days delighted for excitement is in the air.  And may a segment of this enthusiasm be engaged in noticing some here and there who need a word or a hug....or a warm pair of gloves.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


As a young kid and then a young man, my intentions were to have little to do with God or church.  I was the two-times-a-year in attendance guy with wishful urges of intending to do better.  But church just wasn't my thing.

However....things have changed....drastically.  I am so wowed by God and church that I seem to possess some sort of endless energy to keep pressing forward.  Ah, could this be due to the active Holy Spirit of God?

I see a simple reason as to why some churches struggle to stay alive while others are enamored with enthusiastic opportunities.  Surely there are many factors.  I dare to point out one that I believe would reside at the top of the list.  I speak of a deep love for the poor.

His greatest command is to love God and to love others.  I am not certain I am correct, but it seems to me that one cannot love God without loving the poor; though many churches seem to try.  Yes, it could be that because some fail to be enthralled with God these easily brush aside the poor.  Either way, the love of both God and the poor are intricately entwined.

Churches which claim to love God but not the poor are in denial.  Those deprived and pitiable whom some might regard as marginal are magnificently being noted as valued by our attentive Lord.  That Jesus would choose to be baptized by the unorthodox, with no social standing, John the Baptist is an intentional hint from heaven.

That Jesus' very first sermon began with the words Blessed are the poor in spirit should arouse our attention.

It seems to me that churches are intensely motivated when there is a hunger and thirst for the Great Command. When we love God and treasure others--especially the neglected and depressed--there is something of authentic life immediately in the midst.  Oddly, in our wealthy American state there is a presence of lethal boredom that wreaks havoc from the rural all the way to the urban.

The solution to the world's problems?  Love God and love people.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


No means of measure can define His limitless love...
No far-seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline
     of His shoreless supply...
No barrier can hinder Him from pouring out His blessings...

He forgives and He forgets.
     He creates and He cleanses.
           He restores and He rebuilds.
                        He heals and He helps.
                             He reconciles and He redeems.
                                        He comforts and He carries.
                                                    He lifts and He loves.

He is the God of the second chance,
                          the fat chance,
                          the slim chance,
                          the no chance...

                 Just give me Jesus!  He makes change possible!
                                                              (Ann Graham Lotz)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


With incredible nonchalance the world brushes aside God, His Son, His Spirit, and profound Life.  This snubbing largely takes place behind the apron strings of pointing to the Bible's inconsistencies.  Thus, one is assumed to have reason to shelve this monstrosity as yet another lie from the Christian community.

The charge is made to justify one's unbelief.  Oddly, that conclusion is based upon an untrue premise.

Not so fast!

The Word is consistent.  It is alive.  It is believable.  That man in our weak ignorance cannot fathom its truths does not make the Bible the culprit of scam.  It makes our lack of intelligence suspect.

Context is everything.  We accept this rule in our routines; yet fail to recognize it in the Word of God.

For example, have you ever heard someone say regarding their tragedy, Well, we must keep moving forward?  Do you think that when this person has parked too close to a car in front and they hear the advice, Well, you need to back up so you can steer clear, that an argument would ensue because of inconsistency?

Of course not.  Context defines both commands.  There is no conflict.

Jesus said that unless we become like children, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Yet, in I Corinthians 13:11 the apostle states that he did away with childish things.  Inconsistent?  Yes in word structure; but explainable in context.

Are there confusing things about the Bible?  Whole-hearted, Yes.  There are things confusing about banking but no one snubs money.  There are bewildering moments about transportation; yet no one stays within their house to avoid traffic confusion.

So why do we toss out the Bible when there was no baby or bath issue in the first place?

No, excusing study of God's Word due to assumed inconsistencies is more of a claim to laziness than intellect. That thin volume of a book containing 66 books within is alive.  It breathes life.  The one who mocks it is the same person who is struggling to make life click....always.

Christianity should not be booted out because of assumed discrepancies.  It should become even our greater Confidante as we slowly and steadily allow it to reveal itself to our hungry hearts.  We want to know what's true and God will satisfy such a desire.

I encourage you.  Open your Bibles.  If you are a beginner, you may want to start in one of the smaller New Testament books like Colossians or Philippians.  Look at Luke.

And then beware; while you are are studying the Word it will be studying you.

Be wowed!!

Sunday, November 17, 2013


I love right now.  Yes, my younger years had younger energy, less pounds, and more hair.  Yes, earlier days of childhood and then adulthood continue to fill my memory bank with awesome stories.  However, I am determined to like every right now that I can note.

Not everyone likes right now.  These tend to live hesitant as a they shrink back from the moment.  These are usually afraid; obsessed they will do something or get something wrong.  The very act of fear is usually that wrong they fear most.

I have learned from watching Jesus, and watching those biblical characters who followed him, and those in my time who strive to mimic him, that hesitancy is a church train wreck.  Earth's population is in dire need of hearing about this amazing man named Jesus.  Yet, the bulk of church memberships hide from going public with the Best News.

Why is fear so strong among us?

I believe there is one major fact that drives the church in general; our people are fearful of looking foolish.  If we can bring resolve to this congregational lack, a new world will open for the saved as well as the lost.

I speak from experience.  Oh how I wanted to teach and reach the entire world.  I would pray that God would let me.  Yet, I couldn't conduct a Bible study with anyone for fear I would be asked a question that I didn't know the answer.  To resolve my fear of potentially looking foolish, I just wouldn't set up any studies.

Through significant reluctance combined with intense pressure, I finally dared to walk out on the waters where I feared I would sink; but so wanted to be used by Him to reach lovely people.  As I went, He seemed to go with me and grow with me.

Confidence in myself never made it to first base.  Confidence in the Holy Spirit of God changed everything!!!

I'm not afraid to invite, to visit, to jump in with full awareness of how very little I know.  This is all possible because Jesus is the one running this ship and not me.

We are living at the right time at the right place.  It is called NOW.  I urge, beg, push and pull, that you would move out in faith that God can use you when you know there are others out there who could be much more efficient.  Dare to walk on the water of potential and possibility.

When you begin to sink, as I have done so many times, never fear.  Jesus has arms outstretched to both lift you and walk you back to the office where you can catch your breath before you go fishing again...soon.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Life is a maze of paradoxes.  We get what we don't want; yet there are times we do want but can't obtain. We attain only to sometimes lose.  We live targeting death and we die to ourselves that ourselves might really live.

Need you more?

Throughout the Bible we can find God's players on stage who are being confronted with gasping threat; yet they seem to glide through the challenges.  Daniel in the lion's den, Esther before the king, and of course Jesus under duress in the Garden.  They each made it!

In Philippians 4, Paul mentions his ability to be content.  But contentment cannot be taken as that he no longer gives a hoot for he's out of ambition.  No, take a look at the previous chapter where he references the fact that while he hasn't arrived, he is pressing on.

Content; yet ambitiously mobile.

The peace in our walk is based upon the maze of paradoxes before us; not sure how things will go because we are so clueless and yet certain God will deliver.  Jesus was at peace on the Cross because he knew for certain the unexplainable would surely happen because Father wouldn't end His story with that's all folks.

Note this; pain was severe upon the Cross but worry was nowhere to be found.

I like how John Eldredge put it, The more comfortable we are with mystery in our journey, the more rest we will know along the way.

Tension so often arises in our hearts because we can't calculate the necessary maneuvers to pass through the maze of these many confusionalistic routes.  Yet, there is always the mystery of God.  Our job is to relax and let God be God.

It is a weird experience; at least a surprise to me.  I was a hyper one doubled up with insecurity.  I need to fix things or know who to call to get the job done.  That won't work in the church.  There are no experts; only a Savior.

When we grasp the continued presence of mystery (that God knows how to deal with our dilemmas as well as our dreams), we can rest....assured.

Psalm 46:10.

Friday, November 15, 2013


Jesus is baffling.  He is both simple and complex; just like his Father.  On one hand there is the simplicity of a human being whose complexities cannot be analysed to the fullest extent.

Being a follower of Jesus follows the same path.  Knowing him reduces the possible messiahs down to one. Knowing the intricacies about him will always be a challenge to we believers who want doctrine and mission to be neat, tidy, and certainly explainable.

Jesus, however, doesn't know our commitment to right answers.

He has a commitment to the poor in spirit as well as those who mourn.

Churches approach Jesus as if he were still on trial; Sir you once said and now you which is it?  Flexibility bugs believers who strive to do church right.  This, however, is where we go wrong.  We want things consistent, alignable, and categorical.

When God sent Himself to earth in the flesh He sent the mold.  Jesus is the mold. Yet, the because the church struggles for explanation of mystery, we have essentially told Jesus the how, the who, and the what of kingdom processes.

In Matthew 10 Jesus told the disciples to minister only to the Israelites.  They got it. In Matthew 15 a Canaanite women approached him.  True to his instruction to his disciples, he did not answer her a word.

She, in turn, took off after the disciples calling out for help.  They tattled to Jesus saying, Send her away for she is shouting after us.  

Okay.  That does it.  Jesus will have to set her straight!  So Jesus approached her and said, Look lady, you don't get it.  We are dealing with a specific mission and you aren't it!  The woman, however, was desperate as she had a daughter dealing with dire circumstances.  Whether Jesus was on a specific mission made no difference to her.  She believed he was the one to reverse the horrible condition.

Jesus granted her favor complimenting her on her great faith.  Uh-oh.

This little interaction wreaks havoc with theological positioning.  This creates a fire-storm of troubles for Jesus' flexibility cannot be denied...and neither can church's rigidity.  Something is amiss and my conclusion is that I am guilty of knowing more rules than knowing the heart of the King.

How about you?  Do you think we will ever square up with Jesus?

Thursday, November 14, 2013


It seems that mankind struggles with staying up.  From forgetfulness, to lack of money, to discouraging conversation, to bad news, our minds and hearts are raped day in and day out by strong intimidations to our spirits.  This is all the design of dark forces to keep us from attaining the wonder God displays and that our hearts long to encounter.

How is it that even we church people, with Bibles in hand, can consistently waver in this yo-yo society of up one minute and blue the next?

One place we might look is why we have Bibles.  The Word of God is not just for giving us correct answers.  It is consumed with answers which would lead us to know God.  J. I. Packer wrote forty years ago, To be preoccupied with getting theological knowledge as an end in itself, to approach Bible study with no higher a motive than a desire to know all the answers, is the direct route to a state of self-satisfied self-deception.

Scriptures are provided from God to know Him (Jn. 5:39).  He wants a relationship with us; not a winner on the Jeopardy show.  Packer continued, What makes life worth while is having a big enough objective, something which catches our imagination and lays hold of our allegiance; and this the Christian has, in a way that no other man has.  For what higher, more exalted, and more compelling goal can there be than to know God?

Only reciting the books of the Bible in order, or believing in your church over another, or pointing to a ministry one supports may all be in place while the Christian lives dried up with no eyes for wide-eyed wonder.  We possess a Life within us that won't quit; it is eternal.

Rote has had a hand in dulling the senses of once godly believers.  We must reawaken day by day to the new, to the awesome, to the vast and unexplored regions of Holy Spirit glory found in Jesus the mind-blower and routine-wrecker.

We aren't in need new churches.  We are need of lively members of the body.  These will, in turn, resurrect withering churches to the original state of wide-eyed wonder.

Recall Acts chapter 2 where it is said that the new converts kept feeling a sense of awe?  

I'm saying the true church still has that feeling.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


The call for every believer is get ready for a new experience of life day by day.  How fascinating that our 7 x 9 x 2 Bibles seem to have endless--even eternal--revelation regarding God and His system.  We will never get over the good news that gushes from it as long as we view it.

The Word of God is the most mysteriously and consistently flexible document to ever hit earth. Its Truth is so alive that while we look at it we readers are being studied by it.  The Bible is not Heaven's Journal as if it is merely the morning paper.

This thing breathes.

I'm guilty of reading the Word of God to support my pet convictions.  When that goes on, church rust settles upon my heart. After awhile, repeated posturing to convince God to say what we want Him to say, rust surely shuts down our abilities to be mobile as well as builds resistance to making perpetual adjustments.

It is true.  The Word of God never changes.  It is also true the Word of God is revealed to continually change us.  We are warned by His revelation to never change what He says.  The rub is when man rusts in the twenty-three things he knows well and shuts down a willingness and desire to explore what else and where else God leads.

Of course the religious scene is packed full of us; both liberal and conservative.  To our demise, each of those can live only by comparison to one another.  The free-flowing Word says that those who measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves to themselves, they are without understanding...II Cor. 10:12.  

God Truth is true.  After decades of enthusiastic study, it turns out that I am still one of His very dumbest. This can be seen clearly and quickly by watching and listening and reading my stuff.  However, I fit in because of the very nature of God's invitation.  I share this with you because God doesn't call us to be experts in Bible.

He calls us to respect it and stick with it tighter than rusted laziness which hinders our appetites to learn of God in His immaculate spiritual formation that is new everyday.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Brokenness is a hot button for kingdom labor.  Some of the more elaborate God-stories unfold from the scenes of anguish and despair.  Our encounters with the wounded minister to us even while we minister to them.  Not to be overlooked is that our own struggles offer refreshment of spirit for any who take their turns to minister to us.

I guide your attention to one specific broken group among us; that of those who have been plummeted, perhaps by some like me due to impure religion and religionists. Peek into the coffee shops, stadiums, and malls.  Strewn from one end to the other are wounded hearts who encountered preachers like me or members possibly like you.

We are guilty of injuring others along the way.  We should not pretend this hasn't/doesn't happen for it is simply a part of the process of learning the kingdom ropes. Those of us who profess to know Jesus never know him ideally for we are learners ourselves.  Mistakes frequently happen and we strive to give significant attention to our needed correction.

Those with broken faith are our friends, neighbors; even our relatives.

Julia Duin reported, Many of us dropouts tried to work behind the scenes to keep unity, but if we spoke out, we were in rebellion.  Many of us chose to leave rather than start wars.  For us, the good news is these casualties have hearts still ticking for God.  There is hope and we need to both know it and see it.

There are many of these walking wounded in our communities looking for a reason to believe in the church again, insists Brandon Hatmaker.

I have never been more enthused about Kingdom work!  Never!  I'm stunned, shocked, and wowed at the possibilities among us.  To live in denial of our flaws is a mistake because this awareness leads us to yet another grand ministry opportunity.

To improve matters which could/would/should include setting up a M.A.S.H. unit to heal the church wounded is merely another glorious possibility!!

To listen to the masses complain at the coffee shop about organized religion doesn't discourage me.  Some of what they say is true.  The good news is and the hope is that churches are changing, maturing, and improving. I deeply want to be a part of that approach.

Try not to dismiss negative things said about us by complainers as merely foolishness.  No, many times they are telling us the truth.  The fun thing for us is that God's Son will build a church to draw them in.  We want in on that move.

Reaching those of broken faith is an outstanding stride in the glory of the Jesus walk.

Saturday, November 09, 2013


We had no kindergarten in my rural school of Granger, Missouri, where the first six grades merely filled one room.  Three girls and I began first grade together.  I was pumped as Mrs. T. C. Smith began to teach us to read.  I still remember with great sentiment the yellow cloth-like small book; Dick and Jane.

The first word I learned to read stood alone on the very first page.  Look!

I learned much later in life that this word is spiritually embedded with a dynamic that won't quit.  As a matter of fact, the word implies that one LOOK continually and perpetually.

I don't understand our various impulses, directives, and drives.  But I know I am driven by His Spirit to see people.  Preaching and teaching were elements where I had to painfully and repeatedly (still) labor.  Seeing people is a spiritually easy encounter for me.

I see, watch, and study people everywhere I am because everywhere I am there are wonderful people.

God, though, taught me to LOOK at those around me with a faith in what they can become.  Too many do not like who they are, where they are, and what they are. And, they are clueless that God would have any interest or skill in making them into a new person more satisfying than their best imagination...Eph. 3:20.

Some in the church have reversed the power of LOOK.  These use their eyes for self-satisfaction.  Is the church going the way I think it should?  Are the leaders saying the things I like?  These tend to look for signals of church life going their way for their pleasure.

When we transfer our LOOKing power, a new world opens to us like a blooming rose. We begin to see need coupled with what can be.  One of the most exciting and life-altering truths of God is His call for us to walk by faith and not by sight.  Our natural flesh eyes cannot do a good job of LOOKing with hope at others.

We tend to see them critically.  This causes us to blame instead of assist.

But when we shift to the faith-eyes, this new world of possibility and hope for others who struggle arises immediately.

LOOK was my first readable word.  The dynamics of that word fills my heart to this day with an energy literally out of this world!  I would encourage you that LOOK wasn't given to us only as safety training in crossing a street.  It was given to us to change the world of the down and out.

We are called to see riches for others who have not yet known God is calling them to also LOOK.

Do you SEE what I mean?

Friday, November 08, 2013


Don't you love right now?  From gigantic reasons to celebrate to heartbreaking news that suffocates, we get to live in the wonder of it all!  Don't miss out on the beauty as well as the opportunity of today!

The above admission is completely opposed to the way I was raised and the way I began this preaching ministry.  Back then my days ran according to my moods which were fiercely dependent on the moods of others.  In other words, a multitude of whims drove my attitude and my outlook.

Life was basically a trap for the negative.

God keeps breaking through!  I believe today that He will continue to open new frontiers for me to the point I must never quit seeking Him and His kingdom.  His ways are surely beyond my ways and it is my free choice to dig for discovery that would blow my mind.

So I share with those who would need a mindset similar to the one I took on a couple of decades back that is....well....let me say exhilarating.  Allow me to share what I think it is gonna take for us to perpetually break into the God-zone of meaningful and fulfilling life.

Satan imposes fear.  This cesspool is where plans are aborted and dreams die a slow death.  Imagination not only does not get to run wild, it isn't permitted.  Yet, God clearly teaches that He will trump whatever we can imagine...Eph. 3:20.

What it's gonna take is for individuals to put on Daniel-in-the-Lion's-Den determination.  I discovered that I needed a drastic shift from wishing to risking.  It is a frightening thing to face a group of squint-eyed keepers of the law in the church.

Jesus did it....alone.  His best friends were found in the Garden sleeping while Jesus was sweating blood at the challenge of the Cross just moments away.  We are to follow him....and, for us, it will often be...alone.

Daniel didn't go in with friends to back him.  No, he had a friend and His name is God. What it's gonna take is the courage of individuals to wade into the center of probable destruction and risk all.  God will be there.

I've experienced this many times.  Before I continue I must assure every reader that I am a clumsy and mere human that can misunderstand as well as completely fail. Nonetheless, there are those moments that one needs to stand.

One, for me, was in realizing that our church connection-at-large was mistaken about the Holy Spirit in saying that He did not operate directly in a believer's life.  We had shelved Him with absolute threat that anyone that dare speak in favor of His activity would be dealt with harshly.

Very few would find agreement with me.  The Gospel Advocate publishers told me they believed what I had written to be true; but could not publish is for it would cost them business as the brotherhood didn't want that teaching around.

Alton Howard had the courage to put the book into print and it became so effective that the Gospel Advocate listed The Holy Spirit Makes No Earthly Sense (now under the title Empowering the Ordinary)...and put a picture of the book in their catalog. Twenty-six years later the book is still being printed and is being taught in several foreign countries from Russia to China to the Philippines.

It is my conviction that much need, much valuable need, never gets opportunity to live because the dreamers and the explorers chicken out.  Voices of opposition arise and often hearts of courage tend to melt. Daniel entered the den and cleaned house.

I am not advocating ignorant and silly squabbling.  I am saying that men and women will occasionally find within their hearts great dreams of what could and should be. The more one encounters opposition is the benchmark, I think, of a probable God-idea.

In nearly every book I write I cannot help but include the story of Walt Disney. It is said of him that when he made a proposal for a wild idea about Disneyland's design that if the board unanimously voted it down, he would begin the project immediately.

What's it gonna take where you live when you dream for God and the fear mongers are hesitant?  Never give up.  Be patient.  But never give up.  Don't be afraid to be hurt.  Don't be obnoxious. Just don't let the God-dreams that are embedded within your heart ever die.  I don't care how old you are or how young you are.

Watch for God.  Trust God.

And....face all of the lions whose roll is to scare you out of becoming what you dream.

God will deliver.

Thursday, November 07, 2013


For those of us who take a stab at preaching, I address a topic dear to your hearts; frustration.

First of all we begin enthused about what we would label the greatest calling on earth. Others may not see it that way; but we surely do.  We begin eager, anticipatory, and ambitious.

What I want to do is to cheer you on to never hiccup over stresses and struggles. Finish deeper, farther, higher, and wider than when you first began.

How will that seriously transpire?  Dodge the brotherhood whims and bullets?  Never stand out on a limb with saw in your own hand?  Avoid controversy?  May I add that if your goal is to be a minister of the Gospel and avoid controversy, you have just bailed on the walk of Jesus.  He was so known for his controversy that his walk ended upon the Cross.

All Christians, therefore especially us, are destined for the blender.  By our very faith confidence in the Holy Spirit of Christ we are set up for enormous and constant trouble.  Trouble; we don't need to go looking for it.  It comes to the believer as an automatic assumption of true and meaningful spiritual life.

My word to those who serve in a role like mine is please don't be caught off guard is if something is wrong because strife arises.  Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you (I Peter 4:12).  The natural man seems to feel entitled that if we are going to serve in the church we don't need a bunch of unnecessary hassle.

Oh, suffering is most necessary.  We need it....must have it...and will have.  The question is not how do we avoid it. The question is how will we use it as our fuel instead of our enemy.

To the contrary, we must have it.  It is the nature of man to need it and God to afford it.  With reflection upon the Beatitudes we learn that in risk, pain, and suffering there are steady announcements of blessings. Unbelieving preachers call them curses. They are not. We need the troubles to build us and discipline us for spiritual warfare; God's style.

Yes, we are the brunt of public jokes in many places; in church and out.  We are also the target of undeserving love both in the church, out of the church, and surely from God above.  We get to do the greatest, most privileged work on earth.

Very few would understand the baptism in our own tears.  They just don't know.  But neither do many realize how crumby we are, how failing we feel, and how perplexed we remain.

So what shall we do?

Stick tight.  Don't run.  Instead, learn.  Realize we are following in the Master's steps. As he had a cross of suffering, a tomb of death, and a lift of resurrection, we possess equally all three.  What's more fun than watching dead things live?

Don't be afraid and, good grief, don't be whining.  Be bold.  Awaken to the beauty of your struggles with people.  We expect to win them.  That's what this call of His is all about.  Nobody can really live unless somebody first dies for them.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body....So death works in us, but life in you.

Jesus went first.  We came alive.  Now it is our turn to suffer hardship so that others may live.  THIS puts purpose into our frustration.  Don't quit....EVER.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013


Each of us lives in a world of heavy conflict.  If not careful, we will fold and wither because the nagging pressure coupled with sheer aggravation is so extremely intense.  The temptation to give up and quit is to be taken most seriously.  How shall we negotiate these highways and ditches in order to experience more than survival; but incredible life?

Conservatives and liberals each blame the other.  Men and women scrap over gender considerations.  The older seek security while the younger covet adventure.  All hold their Bibles up as their testimonial authority.

The seriously-minded disciple will and must grapple with a non-stop contention among every tribe and bent and whim.  Truth is truth.  Leanings may not be.  This conflict is nothing new for those who were once young and rambunctious in their 20s and 30s.  These, as we have aged, gradually became defenders of the fields we had cleared.  As we became the new 50s and 60s...well a defensive perspective arose in some.

Is there a solution to the many intricacies of mankind's divisive glut?  Absolutely.  It won't mean compromise nor will it mean the stronger bullies win.

It means Jesus is the answer, the direction, and the solution.

Jesus lived for all of us with our weird and shameful baggage that we drag into our church confines.  Jesus died for all of us with our weird and shameful baggage that we drag into our church confines.

Jesus is less discussed among us compared to matters and issues that we believe sit upon our individual front burners.  Yet, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

I'm not saying women's role, music preference, and a hundred other issues are neutral in importance.  I am saying that traditionally and from bruised experience that when one-by-one a matter is settled we perpetually find that we are a people no closer to and no more in love with Jesus than when the feud began.

Jesus, church, is the Light of the world.  In places man has designed doctrines and buildings to announce to the communities that we can be deep in opinion, unmoved by our divisive spirits, and bent on holding our ground.  This can change.  We want to be a part of the maturity in Spirit.

Jesus is not just the Savior of the world.  He is the Savior of the church who will be ever stronger the more we know, love, and adore him.

Jesus is our extreme example; never give up and never quit.....NEVER.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013


Walking in the Spirit is a daily challenge as well as opportunity.  For the longest time I thought it was a matter of living my usual life with a prayer injected along the way.  Otherwise, it was business as usual; except the business was church.

Yet, walking in the Spirit is much more.  It is an eye-opener.  No, I mean it really is.  Jesus urged Nicodemus to be born again that he might see the kingdom of God.  The apostle Paul prayed that our eyes would be opened to see the power and riches and glory of God.

To engage in seeing God's desires for an of us, we must consciously engage via faith in the super-natural. We are called to step up into an entirely new realm and level of believing.  Walking is not to be done by flesh-sight but by Spirit-sight...which is faith.

Francis Schaeffer wrote years ago, First, then, are the heavenlies, according to Scriptures, a long way off?  Is the supernatural world remote?  The answer is very decidedly, "No."  The Mount of Transfiguration makes it very, very plain that the supernatural world is not a long way off.

And then he makes a direct hit when he points out, Speaking of Christ on the Emmaus road, Luke wrote: "And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight."

Eyes were opened.  They knew him.

I am continually challenged by this process.  I remain too inclined to surmise what another is saying or doing from my flesh eyes.  The Spirit walk is an eye-opener because it launches us into a zone of wonder which is never far away.

Monday, November 04, 2013


Churches of Christ have been and are in big trouble.  The talk seems stable.  The outcome, however, doesn't match the faithful discussion as to doing church from scripture.

The intended-for-good Restoration Movement has caused incredible struggle; even theological confusion with our tribe.  Biblical was the intent; yet tradition became the boss.  Rather than building according to Paul, we have built according to Alexander, Racoon John, and Batsell.

There is a freedom to be entered via the resurrected Jesus.  It remains strong and lively.  We possess in many places, however, a very dim view of what the church can be due to trying to restore something that was inadequate in the first place; the Restoration Movement church.

It will be a good thing for us, I would surmise, if we would open our eyes to the riches and glory of God with which He waits with great anticipation of afford those who try to let Him build upon the Rock.

Sunday, November 03, 2013


I'm blown away by God!

How can ministry of my tenure find itself with the anticipatory joy of the first day of school?  How can the church help but grow dim and stale due to a time-warp of routine?  How?  How can this venture be so extreme in its lavish existence?

Curiosity cannot be tamed in the Kingdom of God.

The more we know of Him the less we become for He just keeps becoming more...and more...and more.

Churches who gather today out of unconscious and unintended same ol' same ol' are missing the Spirit boat. Wonder, breath-taking wonder, comes at believers with high-powered ammo.  The saved are to become lost in the wow and the y-o-u a-r-e k-i-d-d-i-n-g m-e spectacularicity of church!!

The wonder, I might go ahead and add, is simply and wonderfully due to Jesus.  Our inside tracks on understanding Greek or contemplating church form that best works for today will quickly head for the moth balls if without the perfect resurrected Jesus.

We can't explain him.  We can't grasp him.  We can't even prove him.  We just know him.  When we do, all heaven breaks lose!!

I am so wowed at God at this day and time I don't know how to put it into words.  I tried.  But, the Spirit will need to fill in the Terry-gaps for the truth of God's treasured marvel!!

Friday, November 01, 2013


Fear is a major disorder.  It is the most ancient flaw of man for it is the one that began in the Garden. Therefore we will do well to pay attention to its strength and its evil intent.

The ambitious especially suffer from fear.  The nonchalant and indifferent seem not to care.  Those who strive to accomplish notice its immediate threat for fear talks one down.  It reduces possibility to maybe.

I know fear.  Insecurity feeds upon it.  Distrust, confusion, and perpetual hesitation graze on it.

The good news is that it can be broken!

Love conquers fear.  Misplaced love, though, invites it.  When we love God and others more than targeting ourselves with self-centeredness, life becomes a wholly new terrain.  The solution to breaking the back of fear is not bravery; it is love for God and for others.

Fear dies when we aren't concerned about our image.  I groomed my wishful image; but could never get it to be the way I wanted.  Fear had a heyday with that mental mistake.

Today I live in a very unique and wonderful new world.  Yes, I wish I were more handsome and better educated, etc.  Yes, I wish I were more than me.  The good news is that God has given me training in learning to say Thank you rather than I want or I need or I have to have to be effective.

When we grow in thankfulness, fear shrinks back.  When we grow in concern over others' pains and disappointments without attention to self, fear slinks from the scene.  Trusting God when you cannot possibly figure nor estimate just how He will get matters handled simply sends fear on its crawling way.

I encourage you that right now is one of the very best times in life.  Listen to all of the negative reports.  Do not deny that many things are bad.  Yet be confident to stand up to the blatant stranglehold of fear by placing full and confident concentration upon the powers of our living God.

Jesus was never one time baffled because he kept looking at Father.