Friday, February 28, 2014


You know what happens when you inadvertently leave boards placed here and there upon your nice lawn.  Left there long enough the grass will die; yet all will still be known as a part of the yard.

Boards of religion have been left atop the green ambition of spiritual life.  The result is death by smothering even though we continue to call it church.  This is one of the most serious and disastrous issues of our day.  Churches are abuzz everywhere we turn; yet something is hauntingly wrong.  Many, many bodies are engaged while the spiritual inclination throughout is on prominent decline.

I am a part of this problem.  Too, I am growing to understand the solution has always been and always will be found only in the Son of God.

Religion has selfishly replaced relationship to God with activity in church routine. We have so many good works (just as there are good boards) which have, in places, subconsciously become church gods while Jesus, His Spirit, and prayer have been smothered out.  I would not know of a time where more religious activity and expense abound while, simultaneously, proportionate impact is meager.

I am crazy about the church and am hoping it will allow me to stay within its fold. That's how much I dearly love it.  However, our message today has moved little from the message of Jesus.  We fight the same battles.  It isn't wrong to fight them.  It is a mistake to assume they no longer exist.

Jesus was constantly dealing with factions which had developed a love for their most serious devotion according the the flesh-ego.  His constant attempts to eradicate society of such a menace only led the menace to try to eliminate him.

The good news is that the grave completely backfired.  Rather than providing a home for the dead it gave birth to eternity in person.  The world has not and will never get over the stunning move of the Spirit regarding this gigantic shock. Never, never shall we accept this move of God with a shrug of indifference.

We must continue to fight for our own faith because habitual religion and its constant opportunity for activity can lull us into romantic slumber rather than sacrificial faith.

Society has taken on the false doctrine that if we go to church in correct form we will go to heaven because we did church right.  Attendance coupled with elementary or advanced works have taken us along many roads other than knowing Jesus.  This was a desperate problem in his day and we disciples must be alert to this matter now.

Are we fighting to keep our kids in church or keep them in Christ?  Are we doing battle over what we believe while having lost track of the bigger need of whom it is we believe?  Have we grown unhungry and unthirsty for the spiritual because our flesh is pedaling as fast as it possibly can to keep up with our array of wonderful Christian deeds?

I join with you as we experience being in kindergarten in the church day after day after day.  We are newer today than we were yesterday.  Every tomorrow brings us another newest day yet!

Live like it.  Love like it.  Think like it.  Look like it.  We aren't called to keep the church going.  We are called to be given in enamorization over its leader.  Jesus will keep the church going.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


I have decided to share with you a note to a dear member of the Memorial Drive church that has found herself, due to breaking the law, incarcerated for seven months.  While you may surely see ways to have worded this note better; I just want you to see where I live and how one part of it goes.  I offer a copy of this morning's note (I email her everyday) to her that it might open a needed awareness for some of you as to the power of your words which are needed....nearly everywhere you turn.  Words are creative to they can give life to many who would rather give up.

My Friend,

I want you to know that I pray for you every morning before I eat.  I think about you constantly as you are in a place you rightly detest.  I do not want you to be alone.

Thank you for being my friend.  Thank you.  I know you see the weaknesses and flaws that I have.  I work to correct them and to adjust them and to improve them; yet while I'm trying to get me lined out I need His special ones to hold on to me so that I don't unravel.  I'm not complaining about my life; it is wonderful.  But I'm just saying you do so much for me for I am a devastating sinner who needs His grace and His good ones to hold me up.

I'm going through a really hard time of pain.  It pulls at me.  But, as is God's presence, I feel even more up.  It isn't psychological positive thinking; but something better.  It is assurance that God does not waste one crumb of our crummy lives.  Wouldn't that be a good book title?

I am concerned that after March 10 I may not be able to be in touch with you for awhile as I may be out of pocket due to neck surgery on the 11th.  I just don't know.  So WOULD YOU PLEASE BE ASSURED that if there is a span of time when you are not hearing from me, I am silently yearning for your communication and rooting for your well-being?

Friend, I want you to know how much I believe in you.  Don't let this sound harsh or offensive, but I have learned from experience that our hardest days turn out to be some of the most valuable.  I'm your personal trainer.  Be assured for now that this seven month seminar is not being used to put you down; but to drive you to your most profound destination.  

I first began to learn this in 1979.  I was very sick; in/out of the hospital twice and could not preach for seven weeks.  Toward the end of that time, I came to church in a wheelchair.  I was very sick and being pushed in a wheelchair, having to look up at everyone who spoke to me, was embarrassing and humiliating.

This was some of the best seven weeks of my life as I learned ministry from the cross; not from a book.  Yours is similar in seven months rather than weeks.  But I promise--I'm not guessing or wishing--that you will hear from God during this time in ways and ideas that you would have never guessed had you not suffered this huge setback.

I cling to Isaiah 55:8-9.  I read it again and again.  To this date the best of the church thinkers have yet to discover a wide range of God's greatest secrets.  I pray for Him to let me in on some of them....and He does.

So...dear one...sight would cause you to believe you are in a hell-hole.  Faith, though, raises the bar on what your eyes can see and you can believe with great assurance that wonder is popping in your life....not just someday...but right now!!!

How I love my sweet friend,

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Okay, so I don't know that my title is actual factual.  It could be an overstatement.  It does, however, draw our attention to a zone I think important.  Living overwhelmed is not a sign that God has fallen asleep at the wheel; nor worse yet, forgotten us.

Something is awry when the Christian neighborhood is all smiles when the roses are blooming; yet is down in the mouth as those who have no God when dejection and interruption hit.  There is a very simple evangelistic tool needed worldwide.  It is called a pleasant face in the presence of unpleasant struggle.

Listen to the sucking of air and sighing in dismay and rolling of the eyes over daily grinds that...well they grind.

I think living in kingdom moments is overwhelming and supposed to be that way.  Our struggle is to volunteer to let God be God.  We want everything to go right.  When we say go right we mean go right.  Otherwise accusations abound as to someone's fault and then whining can arise as if our perplexity is the hot button of the moment.

Think about it. Living overwhelmed is the basic fabric of faith; we can't, He can, and we hope.  From cover to bound cover the Bible presents us with no way Jose accounts.  Man nor woman were close to nearly making challenging things work out.  They were hopeless...and then there was God....every time.

Red Sea foaming, punishing droughts, slashed ears, and dead Son of God....totally and completely overwhelming...and these are merely four episodes.  The way of God is to offer His touch in overwhelming stories.

So sighing isn't Christian.  Neither is crabbing.  Believing the God of impossibilities lives on our streets is a kingdom moment.  Especially in America we are prone to control in the name of responsibility.  We want to exert effort and see things productive form I might add.

Yet the kingdom moments will take our breath away in zones of confusion or interruption or nothing. Loneliness and self-doubt can really set in on the latter.

Ours is the call, however, to never give up.  Ours is the call to believe Him when we have no clue as to the how, the what, the where, nor the when He might show His hand.  All we know is that God has gotten us this far and we will not assume that overwhelming moments are indications He might be either inadequate or pulling away.

If it is overwhelming, it is most likely a kingdom moment.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


The way up is to notice how far we have fallen down.

I don't know about you; but since I was a little kid I always wanted to be big.  I lived in an imaginary world where important people noticed me in various elementary school settings and would call out my name to give me an front of a standing ovation!

I shifted with time into wishing to be someone that made a difference; of course a big difference.  Yet, there was a problem.  I was not of such a nature.  As I tried, everywhere I went I was still me; goofy and uneducated while always excited over what could be.

The Word of God has a way of keeping us in our place.  Oh, opponents have a way as well.  But it is the Word that broke through my desperate wishfulality.  I am nothing.

In the beginning of this awareness I believed I was nothing due to my sins.  That is true to a degree.  But recently I have learned I am even more nothing than first considered because without my sins I would still be nothing.

The good news is that this is not a put down.  Rather it is a wake up.

Each of us is presently sinless in Jesus.  Day by day he washes our day by day rebellion.  Day after day we are cleaner than yesterday.

The wake up is that God seems to have been waiting on me to realize I would not accomplish my goal of bigness; but He would be it through me if I would but get out of the way.  My wishfulality was stymieing His graceful reign.

I don't mean to make me the center of this post; yet I do to keep from pointing to you.  Now I do.  You and I are just alike; hearts afire for Him and wishing to reach into zones with marvel and majesty.  I say to you that you can.  The trek, however, will not be through heroic accomplishments.  It will be through certain surrender; we are not anything and He is everything.

This is a call to shed our plots and plans for kingdom strategy if it is held in any region beyond submission.  Our God is too quick and too sizeable and too imaginative to be gauged by our best brain-power.  We are not smart enough to co-labor with God.  We must be willing to yield, then called, then engaged by His very own Spirit which is so Holy.

If I were sinless...I mean to the point Jesus' blood wouldn't be needed again today...I would still be nothing. It is God, His Son, and His Spirit that puts both the charge and the effectiveness within.  Hallelujah!  We have been redeemed to live a whole new kind of life.

So.....let's get after it....from possibly an upside-down perspective.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Jesus has all of life thoroughly scoped out.  He's got it/us covered.  Nothing has gotten by him.  Jesus knows every hairline move and thought about every nano-detail of created life.  One of his finest moments was when he took that three-day seminar in the tomb.  Even that riddle has been uprooted and solved.

Our job is to believe him...John 6:29.  Our work is to believe that he has already done the work.

But let's look at that season when he was in the tomb.  While he was preparing for the Sunday morning blast-out, his disciples scattered to and fro in the dumps.  They had put all of their eggs into one basket and some bullies stole the basket.

We not only know the rest of the story, we celebrate it.  It is the heartbeat of the kingdom to carry resurrection assurance into each day and every season.

We have tomb seasons.  These are the many times we can't control matters that are happening.  These times leave us empty of plan and at a loss as to our ineffective manipulation.  We find ourselves repeatedly in the time-out of the grave stuck with nothing to do but wait on God's shout.

To be frank, we like much of the church stuff; but we scramble to avoid or get out of the season of abiding in the tomb.  I am in one of those.

You may have seen my recent post of eye surgery gone blurry.  It is healing well as I sit in another season of the tomb.  I learned this week that more is coming.  My shoulder pain requires surgery through my neck by scooting my esophagus and vocal chords over while the doctors attempt to remove a couple of discs.

I have shed tears in disappointment.  It is workshop time.  But I will not live in discouragement for this is simply a season of abiding in the tomb waiting upon God to do that stuff He does that is better than anything men's greatest minds can orchestrate.

In the center of my disappointment I share this only to join in yours.  We don't need to throw one pity-party.  We will find this a time to grow in confidence in what God can do.  We know the other the side the grave story...maybe too well.

Have we grown indifferent by our rote knowledge of the empty tomb?  Has our faith succumbed to repeated slogans, verses, mottoes, and cheers that we have let go of the most fascinating truth in all of history...the grave is empty?

Ours is not to be surprised something is going other than we had planned.  Ours is to be wide-eyed as we grow younger in excitement over the talent of our God. Everyone takes their turn at grave-presence.  And yes, these days can pile up and seem to overwhelm.  But the Truth is stable, even if our emotions are not.

There is nothing we may encounter that would tempt us to think this is the worst but what God has already set the clock a-ticking as one of His repeated best; the breaking open the tomb that implied it would confine and restrict from here on out.  NOT!!

The season of abiding in the tomb is for real people with real problems.  We are not to surrender that troubles and injuries and disappointments would arrest us and throw us in the clinker of hopelessness.  Nope!  We are to fix our eyes on Jesus and thank him for spending a few days in our tombs before he burst forth from his.

Misery is for doubters.  Joy is for believers.  Believers do not deny there was a tomb. We simply believe tombs may try to contain; but they just can't hold up under the pressure the Holy Spirit places in His call to Let my people go!

Friday, February 21, 2014


Church is hardly a neutral word.  Even the masses who choose not to consider faith in God have severe opinions about church.  They adamantly have no use for it.

The term has taken on a meaning never intended by God nor His perfect revelation. The church is the body of Christ.  We pretty much have that one down; in theory. From there we may be headed away from God's imagination as to who we are.

Church, in general, is regarded as a group of people of various dimensions socially, educationally, and ethnically.  It is assumed that of all venues on earth that at least the church is a place to find comfort and understanding.

Church has developed over time as an assumed place where the nice people--those who stay out of trouble--go to sing, pray, and listen to a weekly charge to be an even better kind of people.  It is neither vulgar, indecent, nor blemished.  Church is certainly clean.

Yet, this is hardly the church of the New Testament of which many of us claim we have restored.  Rather elements of a radical people emerge.  As the church began, the members we selling off many of their things in order to bless others.  Plus, painful brutality toward those who leaned upon his name was in the mix.

The New Testament church was riddled with words like afflicted, burdened excessively, inadequacy, weakness, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down.  Too often these terms fit the church if someone took our parking place or pew or sang a series of songs not to our liking.

We will not tolerate strong inconvenience; let alone any sort of physical abuse a believer might encounter for possessing an emphatic trust in God.

The New Testament records statements like, ...always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.  For we who are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.  So death works in us, but life in you.

Constantly being delivered over to death, Paul states.  What a foreign statement to the Bible student who excels only in symbolic inclination.  We hear references to the cross and even ask our preachers to include sermons about the blood; but it seems we mean none of these for ourselves.  We are committed to dying upon our crosses in word and theory only; not actually.

In this matter and others of kingdom suffering, it seems, we mean only to discuss figuratively; but not literally.  Yet, the New Testament church is riddled with both imprisonment and execution.  These bedrock truths have been transplanted by argument over which Bible version is accurate and whether one can partake of communion on Saturday night.

In the meantime the world mocks us and we highly resent their disrespect.

Being a very weak and frail sort of a man, I surely know but a sneeze of what God is doing.  However, I want to state that if we think that what we are training His body to be will stand bravely for the system of Jesus and against dark imposing forces which would include Islamic aggression, I believe we haven't a clue.

There is a new day on the horizon.  Our eyes are to be set upon the true church Jesus is building; not the one with the most accurate placard over the door, but the one filled with hearts who will die before they give up on Christianity at its heaviest intersection.

For many, such wording will merely irritate.  Such is my point.  The New Testament church we read about has a different twist than the one we tend to experience where the monitor of success is to ask, Is everybody feeling good about things?

I share this not to unnecessarily stir nor exasperate.  The darker this world becomes the brighter will the hope of Jesus shine.  The church is poised for some of its greatest days.  We must not miss them because we are off chasing figurative rabbits.

I post this to say that one of the ways we might close the back doors where some leave us as quickly as others enter will surely be found in striving to become the true church Jesus is building rather than the true church the church is building.

There is a difference.  The former will never run; but will stand and die for His glorious name.  The latter will not stand; but will whine, moan, and complain because Church of Christ wasn't being done they way they insisted.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


I don't suppose there is an easier target for criticism or maybe jokestering than that of a minister.  Even when I began to sense my inclination at age twenty of pondering such a possibility, I pulled myself aside and said, Terry, have you lost your ever-lovin' mind?  You know such an occupation carries little respect.  You know most everyone will think you work one day a week; and part-time at that.  You know the mockery you've handed out toward other preachers.  Now, you think you really want to step into this?

So what do ministers do?

  1. We drink a lot of coffee and attend a lot of baby-showers.
  2. We play a lot of golf and then fish at night.
  3. We read little devotional books that keep us kind in personality.
  4. We never say cuss words.
  5. We do our dead-level best to please all of the congregants; knowing full-well we didn't even come close.

  1. We study the Word of God realizing that He is much more than we had imagined and, concurrently, we are much less than we had hoped.
  2. We perpetually speak daily words of hope into those many ears who have reached the end of their rope concluding they are absolutely good for nothing.
  3. We trust in God's provision and supply when we have reached the end of our rope as to what to do next to bring relief to a suffering generation.
  4. We live with hearts broken for those we serve are constantly suffering loss; even death.
  5. We infuse a resurrection power kind of faith into everyone around who need someone to tell them that God gives life to the dead and makes something out of nothing...Rom. 4:17.
While many of you were inclined to read this with the professional minister in mind, the intention is much broader.  It is written with you in mind; you who serve God and others, you who love when others hate, you who care when others grow cold, you who imagine when the majority run with whatever the herd thinks.

Thank you.  Thank you for believing there can be more when things are so rough. Thank you for calling on Him to do the work when you have flat run out of muscle. Thank you for never giving up on me, on the church, and on others.  We are trying; yet most of us will always live in kindergarten in the kingdom.

We thank you for ministering to us from your divine patience.  Many of us notice.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


FLAT DAYS  and another previous article or two were inspired because of this right here.   A week ago today I had eye surgery go bad.  The prior two days I had been in the hospital discovering I have degenerative spinal disease.

Last week felt like three.  I am so glad that the many days leading up to these three that I had been noting how much I liked right now!

But....I only share any of this to tell you that, for me, I'm am having another, Don't you love right now? moment.

While some of these interfere as they try to extort momentary attention, these pains in the neck do not own me.  These are not my boss.  Neither do they determine the quality of my day.

Moods, good or bad, are not sergeants who tell us when to hop. No, we serve a higher calling; one that celebrates the hopeful and is awake for possibilities during the testiest of moments.

Jesus changes the rules.  Injuries and death no longer get to intimidate like they once did before he entered our picture.  With him we can tend to the down and out, walk where others have feared to tread, and we can even fold our arms in death awaiting the Morning Son.

We are winners; even when the majority assume we lost.  With God, his children can win/win or lose/win...but we will always win!!

Therefore, I urge you to like right now.  We each have abundance at our elbows that most on earth will never experience nor delight in....once.  Sure, we have bad days.  But never do we have any kind of day without supreme reason to smile...great big!


Flat days: a term I made up to describe the yucks.

The Yucks: another term I created to shed light on the possible mood found during flat days.

Some days appear to come in neutral; nothing going really wrong, nothing going really great, and simply nothing going.  We are obsessed with either action or the hope of action.  Our wish is for life to take on meaning; thus our constant search.

At the moment I would welcome a Flat Day where there was nothing going on.  That would mean my blood-packed eye which encountered errant surgery last week would go back to Flat Day normal.  It would also mean that my neck and shoulder and arm would welcome Flat Day and the throbbing pain would subside.

I have often yearned in the past week for the Flat Days of the month prior when I could swing a golf club or at least turn a steering wheel without the assistance of my left arm.

Flat Days are to be noted as good days.  I have noted them for years by calling out, Don't you love right now?  So much is going good when we would believe not much is happening.  Even in this period of non-flat time, great value is everywhere.  Nothing is a waste; time isn't, pain isn't, and existence isn't.

Flat days or glad they include one of the greatest creations ever to walk this!

Sunday, February 16, 2014


I am sympathetic to mankind.  We struggle.  We celebrate.  We dream.  And, we fear. Try as we may, the yo-yo-istic lifestyle seems to be ours.

Much of our lives are divided between search and avoid.  We are on the constant prowl for success and satisfaction while doing our best to refrain from stepping on the landmines of injury and failure.  Dare we pay attention to the good without the feeling the bad is creeping in?

It is not enough to want.  How many times have we walked that alley?  Want isn't the element of living.  Accepting is.

Jesus' both being loved and mistreated are to be accepted as our personal approach to authentic and meaningful life. We learn to accept the Jesus highlights in our walk as we make progress.  The true test, however, seems to be when we learn to accept Jesus' trail to the rugged side just as enthusiastically during the injuries and disappointments.  He shined in both, you know.

So, what about you?  Are you living to make a difference in the success realm only; hoping to avoid the discouraging side?  Anybody can pull off life with that half-goal.

We are called by God to worship and endure; to celebrate and to die.  Christianity isn't a big people's do-good, go-places club.  It is a deep and extreme mixture of living beyond our imaginations while surrendering ourselves so that others can come to life.  We are the next Jesus for he lives within to reach out.

The Holy Spirit is implanted in us at baptism; not so we can have a spiritual trinket from heaven, but so we can contain the power from above to do the impossible....both of living and dying.

I suggest that too many cannot find happiness in life because one has concluded that such is to possess a steady array of self-satisfaction.  It is not.  It is learning to negotiate the rough terrain of interruption as well as travel the high-speed highways of accomplishment.

If we are going to make a difference, a big shift toward such dream would be to accept the full terrain of Jesus.  His death was as significant as his birth.  Both save others.  We are to follow.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Jesus is the Master Craftsman to daily living.  He upset the major thoroughfares of human mobility.  We students of the Word are perpetually called to pay attention. One minor distraction away from God's Centerpiece (His Son) and we may just drop Heaven's message for hope.

Nonchalance regarding faith and mission is disaster in the making.  I caution each reader to avoid the trap of irresponsibility by thoughtlessly concluding that I believe the church to be doing basically nothing; for such opposes how I really see things.  It is the range and grasp of the things of God which we lack that I find increasingly desperate.

Fundamentally, serious Bible students can become Bible-banging bullies or Turtles-in-their-shell afraid...or both.  Jesus and the cross, to these two categories, have become yawners.  The former wants to hold us to the few things we believe to be true and the latter is scared to move for fear any movement would be wrong. Thus the exploration of faith has been restricted and curtailed.

The basic which causes definite short-sheeting of the kingdom dimension is found in the word suffering.  We want to do many things for God; except one.  That one is the core doctrine of the church.  We commemorate this haphazardly as the trays swiftly pass down our row.  But suffering is the one thing we fiercely try to avoid.

We must change our view to a new level.  Yes I used CHANGE and NEW.  From observing Jesus, we are a new breed of heavenling.  We see things altogether differently because he has changed the format for living.  Where we once viewed struggle, injury, and suffering as setbacks, Jesus teaches us to use them as setforwards.  

This isn't cute wording, my friend.  This is the solution to what is ailing many churches.  If our goal is to see that all are safe, we bought a lie.  We are called to take up crosses; not pews.  I don't mean this frivolously.  I mean it soberly.  We have groomed ourselves to do many things for Him but not with Him.  We will devote ourselves to contributions; yet try to avoid deep commitments if such would contain risk.

The more we look at this and think upon this, I believe we will become more inclined to ponder risk for Him.  I can't think of anything we could do more satisfying to Him....and to our inner spirit.

Something in general is missing among us.  We are engaged in incredibly valuable and important matters that are changing lives.  There are those who have put their lives on the line; their careers in jeopardy to serve God.  For those, however, who feel a gap in the spiritual walk, suffering willingly for the Master may be the road less traveled....and in great need.

Suffering moves us forward; not backwards.  The setbacks come when we live cowardly in the name of church labors.  Setforwards are the experiences with God when we see results that only He could deliver.

Friday, February 14, 2014


In sending an email to a prisoner this morning, I mentioned that Jesus was sent(enced) to earth.  Now I might take some flack from such a statement; yet I assure you my intent is honorable.

I was pointing out to her that although she is behind walls and bars she can look at her days as a missional journey for God.  Yes, she was guilty and sentenced.  Abiding according to law, this woman will pay the proper penalty. Yet since she is incarcerated, I urged her to see that for her, this time is to be regarded as a mission.

This is her avenue of going into all of the world.  With God, regardless of our past, we are free to find value and a place to fit into His glorious scheme.

We don't tend to regard Jesus as being sent to earth as being sentenced.  For certain he was not sent as punishment because he had done anything wrong.  Jesus was sent, however, to become each of our violations.  And just as certain, he was sent to become guilty....for each of us.

Jesus was sent(enced) to earth that the guilty (us) are sent(enced) to heaven!

Praise God for this amazing exchange!

Saturday, February 08, 2014


We are perpetually in need of humility.  One reason would be that we claim to carry on a relationship with the Living God.  We must not take this lightly.  This is a sacred privilege; yet it could quickly turn sour in our own conceit.  Condescension of another is far from the call Jesus offers.

J. I. Packer brings up a most important question.  What do I intend to do with my knowledge about God, once I have got it?  For the fact that we have to face is this: that if we pursue theological knowledge for its own sake, it is bound to go bad on us. It will make us proud and conceited.  The very greatness of the matter will intoxicate us, and we shall come to think of ourselves as a cut above other Christians.

There is great need of an AA sort of mind-set among us for often we walk as drunk on the few Bible verses and texts we believe we have obeyed.  We turn speaking where the Bible speaks into public slobbering if we do not communicate with utmost meekness.

To view ourselves as doing God better than others is sheer blasphemy.  Certainly, understanding of scriptures and extent of good deeds will vary from one to another. Yet, no one is heaven bound through any person other than Jesus for he was painfully executed for our dirty and ugly sins.  It is at the cross that all true knowledge of God bows low in humility.

Of course we are to learn.  Of course we are expected to grow in understanding of the Bible.  And one of the most gigantic seas to cross in this trek will be to grasp the depths of our own personal ruin unless Jesus saves.

Packer states clearly that without awareness of our own devastation the knowledge of God will make us merely proud and conceited.  Often I am guilty of this very strong truth.

To follow Jesus via the path of the cross will not allow us to become intoxicated in our own arrogance.  Rather to walk behind him will lead us to stark sobriety.  And this state might offer a renewed persuasion of drawing others into the dynamics of Jesus.

Friday, February 07, 2014


For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

When many of my schoolmates received Bibles at our 8th grade graduation, I was pleasantly pleased to note that I was not a big-time church attender.  I felt so sorry for those who got such a gift.  To get a Bible for graduation would be, to me, like not getting anything.  I felt sorry for the six or seven that a Bible was what they got.

Of course, you know that I soon changed my story by the time I was in my early twenties.  The Bible took on a new life for it was alive; living and active.  I'm sure I had been told such many times when in Sunday School, but I just wasn't grasping the connection.

There seems to be a Bible glut in America.  While very many are read and studied, it might be that more are not.  Rather than inspiring hearts and transforming lives, the latter merely collects dust while serving as a family memento.

The difference made in whether one reads the Bible, or has determined not to, is found in one of the words in the title of this post; expect.

If one expects to discover great secrets of spirituality in the study of the Bible, new and explosive insight will result.  But choosing not to dwell in it because one expects nothing from it; then nothing is what one gets.

The Bible causes problems in churches; of all places!  Because it is living and active, the Bible student will perpetually learn new things from God.  Those who view the Word of God as something to quote but not to cause change will find themselves eventually opposing the very Bible they present as Truth.

We should expect new information to arise anytime we read.  Churches (with Bibles in hand) have made a shift from learning to proving.  Proving is both permissible and valuable; but only if it is used with minds open to receive His continued instruction. Otherwise, the Bible becomes a hatchet to chop anything which would threaten what we once concluded.

Faith approaches the Word with expectation.  Doubt approaches the same text with caution that all learning from God has happened and we are now to preserve that which a select few in our past told us we were to believe.  Church members must guard against the temptation to read the Bible only to get it to support our stances.

I am amazed and astonished at the wondrous good news of God which keeps arising from simply looking at these pages of divine inspiration.  To this date, after years of study, I can state that I must only be in kindergarten regarding studying the Bible. Too, I remain wide-eyed at the things to grasp which have not yet occurred to anyone.

The Bible is new and we are new.  I urge you to read the Word of God expecting to learn something you have never noted before.  Bible students must have courageous hearts for God's Truth is not for sissies.  It will continually take us into zones we may have vowed we would never enter.

Expect to learn something from your Bible....and you will.  Expect to learn nothing...and you won't.  The difference is found in the faith or non involved as one reads.

Thursday, February 06, 2014


The church is full of good people.  Some of these have found their niche. Others...not so much.  For the latter, wishful thinking still exists; yet they cannot seem to find the starting line.  These good people want to be a part of something that makes difference; but these also often feel they have little to offer.

Not so.  Everyone has something to offer because everyone has the exact beginning point.

What we tend to do with our lives is to live from the bench just wishing the coach would put us into the game.  We know we aren't the best; yet we so wish we could get the opportunity.  Oh how we wish.

And here's what each needs to know.  What puts us into the game isn't a coach giving us permission.  It is self becoming aware that we have something valuable to offer. And what is that element?  Pain.

The place where one hurts the most is the very place we can be useful because others who hurt like us could use our input.  People who have been injured in a relationship do not need help from one who read a book on the topic.  We want help from one who understands....has been there.

Henri Nouwen wrote, For the minister is called to recognize the sufferings of his time in his own heart and make that recognition the starting point of his service. Whether he tries to enter into a dislocated world, relate to a convulsive generation, or speak to a dying man, his service will not be perceived as authentic unless it comes from a heart wounded by the suffering about which he speaks....nothing can be written about ministry without a deeper understanding of the ways in which the minister can make his own wounds available as a source of healing.

This is found within the precise call of the apostle Peter to awaken us to follow the meaningful path of Jesus. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example to follow in His steps (I Pet. 2:21).

Our wounds and injuries are the healing salve for others.  Too many times, however, we focus upon licking our own wounds rather than using them to give us tremendous purpose in life.  Everyone wants to find their place in a productive life.  No place is more fertile in purpose than looking within our own wounded hearts and realizing you can now identify with others who suffer as you and could surely use a sympathetic ear.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014


When I determined that I would go against my earlier will and become a part of a church, I was completely caught off guard.  I thought church would be a one-hour sitting endurance once a week.  As soon as the closing prayer would end, I would head to the golf course.

Not so much!

Church is a very intense and complex system that includes wars of the spirit and battles of the flesh.  Right and Wrong is one of the clarion calls; but the problem is that there are about one million versions of what right and wrong should be.  And, that is barely the beginning.

God will not be cornered and pegged by man's understanding.  This bugs us greatly. We want a god we can manage, direct, and prove.  He won't go into such framework.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9).

Mark this down: higher means higher and His ways will always be higher than ours. Just so we know.

This doesn't mean we can't know Truth.  This is the Truth.  Our concepts must be lifted into the higher range or else we will fumble in the very center of our commitments to Him.  Truth is to be on His terms; not our traditions which He very clearly warned.

A huge problem with traditions is that we tend to call them Truth because these are what we want.  We, too, mistakenly believe that what we believe is always the route to take.  The mystery of God and His ginormous revelation takes a back seat to the most prominent of our own voices.  Our bad.

The church is to be headed where Jesus was headed; to our crosses.  Ritual isn't it. Trend isn't it.  Even our best moment of the past isn't it.  Knowing Jesus and following him all the way to the cross, dying for our enemies so that they can become our brothers and sisters; this is where we are headed.  Until Jesus is our focus, we are clanging gongs and clattering cymbals.

As the church heads toward Jesus we will develop an appetite for assisting the down and out more than appearing sharp and successful.  We will be re-trained to become adjustable--even in our older ages--due to the nature of the Spirit to move us about like winds change...John 3:8.  This truth is the very reason so many in the church detest change; it really is from God.

Where is the church headed?  Well it is headed for decrease and abandonment in far too many places.  Too many within the broad range of religion have been more captivated by brand name and location than the breath-taking newness of the Spirit life.

The good news is that when we catch this we are able to make adjustments to head once again toward Jesus and the cross. Such a direction is not like flipping a switch, understand, for it involves drastic reformation of our dispositions.  To work from the least, the nobody, and the weak is a far cry from being on top of things and pushing our agendas.

Jesus is where the church is headed; else we are not the church.  We can do it, we should do it, and we will do it.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014


We are never adequate in ourselves.  

Our adequacy is from the Spirit of God.

One of the things that helps me, although I have spent a lifetime fighting it, is that my goal is not to strive for adequacy.  It is to seek His power to work from within me when I can neither instigate nor create it on my own.

While this leaves me extremely vulnerable, it places each of us in a position of anticipating and experiencing God working.  

May we build a faith that can see Him doing wonderful and mighty things...from within plain and common us.....II Cor. 3:4-6.

Saturday, February 01, 2014


I can't speak for other eras.  This one, however, seems to have a threat glut. Whether political, economical, religious, or relational, turbulence is rumored to be poised.  In several strata it is beyond rumor.

Rocky roads and tentative talk serve as social favors for these should lead us to confidence in the Rock.  When our 401Ks and our monthly income seem to be stable, our confidence might drift from God to me.  It is when my grand style seems shaky that the tide reverses and I begin to note God's provisional hand with stronger faith.

The Bible has always had a message; do not depend upon anyone or anything but God.  Since Adam, this world has been on a mission to take away; embezzle through disappointment, steal through illness, pilfer through robbery, swipe through death.

The Good News is that when life has sifted us of our assumed needs and wants, we are most blessed to find our Jesus solitarily remaining stable and strong.  He alone stands as the one religious leader of all in the world to beat the grave.  We put, therefore, all of our confidence eggs in his basket.

Truly turbulent times perpetually unfold.  From Wall Street to tumors to Iran to unemployment, we tread winding and hilly roads paved with exhausting sand. Intimidation breathes down upon our necks with efforts to force us to step with increasing fear.

But not to be so!  Not to be so for any who are buried into the eternity of

Jesus is the threat-breaker, the bondage-breaker, and the death-breaker.  No one else, regardless of fame, can make such a claim.  When we are given to him we are given to everlastingness!!

Truly turbulent times wish to bully.  You, my friend, simply need to be reminded that Jesus already took our beating and died a very brave death that we could be spared. Therefore, do not live in hiding.  Step out into society, take a deep breath, and smile really big!