Friday, October 31, 2014


Now I really thoroughly deeply get the frustration the masses have over we hypocrites in the churches.  We are irritating as well as annoying.  Yet, there is something else equally maddening.  That would be the sheer shallowness of the one from which the label is made.

Shallow?  Yes.  Granted we have a problem in churches.  However, does it not occur to the yeller that the reason we are in the church in the first place is because we could not get our obsessions and addictions under control and we need an Assistant and Savior to help get us through?  We are not in church because we are good.  We are in the church because we were totally lost.

Lost.  Get it?  Not arrogant.  Not haughty.  Not better than.  Very lost.

Yes.  Churches are comprised of the decent who know one thing for certain.  The Bible pegs us as indecent.  It insists we are unrighteous.  Dear yeller, the negative comments you make about us, we really get.  We deserve your smugness.  But please don't miss the point.  You need what we needed and have gotten.  

Yelling the charge of hypocrite is hypocrisy at its fullest.  We know we fail.  We know we look foolish.  We understand your frustration with us.  We wish we were better. How very much our desire is to function ideally.  But...we are not ideal.  We are a mess and our good news is that Jesus died for the messes of this world.  

I don't blame you for the temptation to yell, Hypocrite!  When we are Pharisaic in our behavior, we deserve it.  When you deem us acting as if we are superior, we've got your charge coming.  I must not deny this truth.  But please....please don't excuse yourself from approaching your Creator because you feel driven to parade your own attitude in conceited condescension.  This is just more social arrogance.

We churchers feel frustrated about ourselves.  We wish we were better than we are. We are never good enough.  Not one time.  We hear what you say about us and we agree.  It's just that we wish you would help us.  While you are also sinful beyond repair unless Jesus redeems you, you have traits of goodness that would give us a huge boost.

Maybe one day you could maybe back off of your pride in yelling, Hypocrite?  Maybe you could realize we know we aren't much; yet we believe in the One who is everything?  Maybe...just could back off of your obsession of accusing us to be useless.

This world is dying in very slow pain.  We cry with those in hospice.  We hold the hands of the mommas whose sons and daughters are sentenced.  We weep with the family and friends who stand in shock at the grave.  We could use help. 

I was just wondering if you might want to become a voice of inspiration.  It is easy to bark at parked cars.  Our culture is full of barkers and yellers.  I was once one myself. To my own surprise I joined the ranks of the listeners who minister to the hurting.  

I was thinking maybe you might want to join us.  You would be an incredible help to the very discouraged, inadequate, and lonely.  That's what churches are trying to do.  To note our lack is...well...behind the curve.  We are fully aware of our deficiency.  Loving God and loving one another is still our goal.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Life is wonderful.  It is fantastic.  And, it is often found to be overwhelming.

It seems a trait is strongly developed in society which is affecting all of us negatively.  I point to it should we be able to join forces in making, what I believe to be, a necessary adjustment.

I speak of correction.  Whether personal or painful or both, mankind basically does not stand for being corrected.  We have too many options which calls for our flight.  We don't have to take words that challenge or critique.

The pendulum has surely swung.  No one wants to receive hurtful words lambasting from squint-eyed loud-mouthed individuals who beat us with their accusations and their fierce anger.  No one wants to endure one more tongue-lashing.

Yet, what has happened in fighting off the uncontrolled monsters is that we, completely unaware, have built a resistance.  We will not tolerate being corrected.

II Timothy 4:2 urges us to preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.  This passage is one of the first that I memorized and I took off like a rocket.  I had the reprove, rebuke, and exhort locked in.  Seldom noticed was the with great patience and instruction.

A colleague sat in my office yesterday and told me that there is a thing that I say that is damaging to the church.  While half of my statements had been true, I was causing a huge and misunderstood gap in our church.  I just hadn't thought of it.

We are living a life where we are in over our heads.  We don't need whiners and gripers nipping at us.  But we do need friends who will love us enough to point out how we might step up the good life God is giving us.

If one were to have the love and courage from the right heart to sit down with you face to face, would you receive correction with gentleness or with anger.  Would you listen? Or, would you defend?  Would you balk?  Or would you evaluate?

Surely we do not think everything we do or say is ideal; let alone perfect.  Therefore, we might need to be warned that our personal defenses can get in the way of living a robust life of faith and hope.  We need assistance.  We must make perpetual adjustments.

If we have become a people, and we have, who will bolt and head out to a new circle of friends because someone dared to have the love to correct us, we will be a very weak society.  Living only to be sure we are personally pleased by all of those around us will result in a deficiency.  To be without corrective words in our walk is to create a shallow and immature framework of a life.

When we can admit that we are in need of others' words which may sting a bit and surely challenge, it is then that we will most likely find fundamental progress being made which will prove much more productive.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Sue Monk Kidd has become a new author-hero.  In one book from the very beginning, I became a fan.  Consider the very first page of chapter One of her book When the Heart Waits:

For some months I had been lost in a baffling crisis of spirit.  Back in the autumn I had awakened to a growing darkness and cacophony, as if something in my depths were crying out.  A whole chorus of voices.  Orphaned voices.  They seemed to speak for all the unlived parts of me, and they came with a force and dazzle that I couldn't contain. They seemed to explode the boundaries of my existence.  I know now that they were the clamor of a new self struggling to be born.

I contend that as long as we live upon earth we experience a call to enter the unlived parts.  This is exciting and certainly challenging.  At no time do we reach our limit unless by voluntarily surrendering the privilege.

It was in his 80s when Colonel Sanders struck out with a wild idea of a chicken franchise.  So why not us?  Why not awaken to the wonder planted by God within ourselves?  Even the word retirement could be noted as completely one task in order to have time to focus upon another.

I believe we routinely experience unlived parts.  Our God is jamb-packed creative.  He can't seem to stop.  Look at the trail of new inventions, new ideas, new discoveries. This thread has not weakened with time; but it has grown exponentially.  This indicates the backing of a living God.

I urge you to be attentive to the unlived parts within you.  Awaken to perpetual wonder.  Take a cooking class, start writing notes to the discouraged, expand your horizons, or volunteer to assist someone who serves the community.  Go crazy living the unlived parts of your unique and energetic world.

The negative voices around us which seem to assure us we can't only have power as long as we give them permission.  When I wanted to preach, no one encouraged me other than the man and woman who converted me.  All others told me I didn't want to really do that.  I understood why; but they didn't possess the dream in my unlived parts.

You've got them.  A trip out of state.  An investment.  A reconnection.  A project.  A wish.  You have unlived parts.  We all do.  Whadya say we ponder living some of them?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


              A CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEA!

Compassion International will present The Gift of Christmas with author of One Thousand Gifts Ann Voskamp, Dove Award winner Ellie Holcomb and Amena Brown.  This amazing evening will begin at 6:30, DECEMBER 6, at our place...the Memorial Drive Church of Christ. We're excited!

                     DECEMBER 6....6:30

               AMENA BROWN  
                                ELLIE HOLCOMB     918-838-1621

              Invite friends.  Give them a gift that encourages the heart!
                                   Tickets will be going on sale soon for $15.  A great gift!

Monday, October 27, 2014

St. Louis Cardinal Outfielder dead at 22

Oscar Taveras, along with his girlfriend, were killed in a car crash yesterday.  The news continues to rock the Cardinal Nation.  Stunning and seemingly impossible, death has snatched yet another from our presence.

Verses in the Bible such as life is just a vapor resonate so very clearly on this day after.  I am so glad God has put an end to death for He has insisted that this life is temporary as He calls us into a permanent life that will not quit.

Colossians 3:1-3 would seem so meaningful this early morning as we are called to hide our lives in Jesus who defeated the grave.  To be buried in him in baptism (Romans 6:3-5) places each of us into the temporary grave of Jesus.

Life is many things.  One of them is temporary.  Regardless of class, rank, and status, each of us just must invest our own souls in the One who beat the death rap.

May Oscar's family and friends know that we celebrate his young and successful life.  He was a sensational rookie.  May he rest in peace.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


We must be ever so on guard that we don't form mistaken conclusions because of the crowd mentality.  The crowd called for Jesus to be crucified.  They were caught up in...well in caught up-ness.  But they were not being lead by individual conviction of truth.

Reality has a way of being blurred by bias.

These calling for Jesus' death had that herd mentality of moving with the group for it all seemed to be so right.  They were caught up in the moment; but not from knowing accurately the truth of the matter.  Hot under the collar...they all were driven to extreme measures.

One of the truths Jesus would teach us is to stand for what's right which will very often find each of us alone.  Contagion of irritation by a herd of people does not reveal the truth.  We must be aware of this.

Even as the church-herd moves about the landscape, we must constantly ask ourselves if we do what we do because God calls for such.  Or, are we playing into the hands of the church-crowd philosophy?

Be strong and courageous was not just a phrase out of Joshua's past.  It is to be within our hearts; even when we feel quite alone in our convictions.

Saturday, October 25, 2014



We marvel.  We shudder.  We search.  We cry out.  We receive.  We enjoy. we?

Have we the Living God who moves about in both complete stillness and break-neck speed simultaneously?  Or, have we a god whom we have created to fit our wants, needs, beliefs, and religious moods?

The latter is so prominently possible that this could explain why a significant number of very good people say they don't believe in God.  Could it be they would believe Him if ever there was a chance they would experience the Living God over the managed, cut-out, flannel-graph, we-gotta-keep-him-happy god?

I am still learning to be wowed by God!

How many things are there to know, to study, to examine about Him?  How many...millions of fibers and specks and molecules of God information can there be? Every time I learn something new about Him, it seems I've taken a step backwards as such information calls for my undoing of a few things I had misunderstood to this point.

Especially in doctrine are to be nudged more toward Jesus and less toward what the church herd insists we believe.  And especially in systems we are to be attentive to the yet undiscovered manners in which our lives may be enhanced beyond today's knowledge.  And especially in the range of the power of the Cross are we challenged to grow in understanding of the dynamic of the event. so many levels and zones and ideas.

We pass tests and move on to junior high school.  We pass deeper more expansive tests and move on to high school.  We pass more tests and go on to college.  We pass, indeed, more tests and move on to employment where we have specialty tests in order that we qualify.  Life just keeps unfolding with new ideas.

God's ideas are never exhausted by man's conglomerate mindset.  We are always wonderfully short on truth because the real God is so massively, undetectably Intelligent.  We are called to approach Him, seek Him, and learn of Him.  Yet, we will never come close to knowing everything about God.

Our real work is to believe Him.

The expanse of God is so....much!

Enjoy the sheer wonder of believing Him!

Friday, October 24, 2014


Faith, as long as we have researched it, remains cutting edge mystery.

We pushed it, pulled it, begged it, and promoted it.  Still it eludes and evades.  It surely seems to be an authentic dimension of God.  Therefore, note that this will be a huge challenge before our eager hearts.

Man is always in a pinch and faith is always God's call.  I wonder, though, if we have taken a higher divine element of the spiritual and reframed it to lower human management in the flesh.  Faith like Abraham's of not knowing where he was going can be reviewed goalless as well as irresponsible.

Thus, we bring goals and responsibilities to the table with hopes of being in sync with the Vibrant Lord who will get bigger things done for us than if our going had been without Him.  The tendency, from man's quarters, can be that God will align with our vision and support our mission.  The reverse is significant for life effectiveness.

This differs from man's abiding by His calling.

Calling.  Now there's a Bible term for us.  When we insist that we do Bible things Bible ways, I don't recall this word being bandied.  No.  It wouldn't fit our obsession with knowing where we are going.

Faith is a tremendous challenge before us.  It is the assurance of things hope for, the conviction of things not seen.  Faith moves forward without verification that it knows what it's talking about.  Believing is movement without proof.

When we develop a sense--and faith is surely a sense--aligned with the assurance and conviction mentioned above, we are in a new world zone.  Faith isn't regulated by a clock, a paycheck, or a formula.  It functions only by the hands of Almighty.

When man moves by faith he steps out of explanational safety and into wild mystery.

We want things.  We want children to know God.  We want churches to thrive.  We want very noble things.  The good news is that God wants these for us.  Our challenge is that much of the time, if not attentive, we will try to provide a new kind of world operation by forcing it into an old world form.

Faith is a new kind of world zone.  May we have the interest, the awareness, and the courage to enter in.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Have we not heard what God does?  Do we not know His great dynamic?  Did we not get the message that God does the amazing?  Still today?

I remind you of something you've always known but tend for forget.  God recycles the things that pull us down and makes fuel from those things that we can give aid to others.  Nothing is a waste.

Isaiah 53 is known as the Suffering Servant chapter.  It promotes Jesus as coming to earth to suffer enormously, immeasurably, so that indecent sinners (which would be all of us) could have life; both now and in heaven.  Suffering; the very thing no one wants.

But, we get the idea of abundance...don't we?  Pain is everywhere we turn. If we don't have it at the moment we can immediately list twenty people we know who do.  The world is in a world of hurt.

God is brilliant.  He shares His plan via the perception we see in Jesus.  He suffered for a reason.  He suffered to take on our sins and to set us free.  That's a huge secret. Jesus used his hurt to help others.

When we regard pain only as something from which we must find quick relief, we live in constant hunt.  But when we take the very thing that tends to shut us down and transform it into useful purpose, it suddenly becomes our fuel.  We take advantage of the very thing that meant to take us out.

So how does that work?  The most helpful friends you have are those who have lived in your shoes by experiencing hurt where you are injured.  The recovering alcoholic offers superior assistance to the those who hurt over their addiction.  The woman who lost a child of eight years old is far more productive in ministering to the next young momma who suffers similar loss.

We can either allow our misery to eat us alive by shutting us down or we can apply God's transforming power by using life's interferences which can thrust us into effective ministry to bless others who hurt as we once did.

Jesus is the Master at ministering to a world filled with agony.  He learned how to help by becoming just like us.  This is our secret as well.  Trials are not a waste.  These are our permeating fuel to offer strength to the weary.

May we have the will to let God recycle our pain-trash.  May He make us Suffering Servants since we will suffer anyway.  May we let our struggles be used to bless the entire!

Monday, October 20, 2014


Sometimes....well often....many things aren't the way we wish them to be.

So what shall we do?

We have a choice of voicing irritation and complaint.

Or, we can express possibility and hope.

Both are effective; one may quench the spirits of others and the latter most likely will inspire.

We....shall decide to talk about potential and probability of good outcome because we can imagine.  We can't necessarily imagine what we can do; but we can fathom what He has the skill to do.

That....makes a difference in our day!


As you walk through this day be sure to tell God, Thank You.

Let neither discouragement nor celebration go by without telling Him you are thankful for His love and guidance within the very center of both.  Only believers would thank God for our times when they aren't going our way.

To express gratitude to God in all things is a powerful way to declare, Not my will but Yours.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


 I don't fit the mold of churchness.  Neither do I mind.  I didn't want to be a part of one.  It never crossed my mind that I would attend; let alone lead in any church settings.  And...I just love it!

I list my reasons for being crazy about church hoping it would encourage some who are contemplating or rethinking previous stances against it.  I hear ya.

  1. There is no greater system where one can engage in productive rebellion.  True faith is a rebellious one; not a tamed one.  Our Leader lost his life when starting the church.  We in it may appear quiet or weak when the opposite is true...if we dare move out in faith that bucks the cronie-ism scene.  A world is in gigantic hurt.  It needs help.  Daring believers endure to bring hope.
  2. One never quits learning.  When the Bible speaks of us being new in the Spirit day by day, it is very true.  I love the new reasons to hope, the new reasons to believe, and the new reasons to be needed.
  3. There is no deeper solution for the deepest pain.  People hurt.  We especially hurt over life's temporariness.  Eternal life is a fact.  Yet, the masses dismiss the idea and put off investigation regarding the most serious factor about them; their souls.
  4. It is engaged in the greatest power on earth.  Education, science, money, and political pull cannot/do not equal the power of the resurrection.  Each of these elements are significantly important.  Yet, they pale in comparison when it is faith (Romans 4:17) that can believe that the dead can live and that what isn't yet can be.  This is huge!  
  5. Every day is a personal challenge to make the church better by believing God deeper.  Each day is a new one.  Because Jesus is no longer confined to the grave and because his Holy Spirit gives plain people a new kind of unmatched power, we have reason to start over one more time and then again when need be.
Certainly there are things you don't like about church.  Me, too.  But the dynamic of the living God measuring out our days in defiance to generational habits, business odds and dark news is thrilling...simply exciting!  As long as mankind has existed, it has not discovered all there is to know about Him.  That's why He gets to be God.

So I want to say a word to some readers who are of some fame.  I get it when you would feel stirred to know about God.  You may wish to inquire but you don't want the word bandied about that you are searching.  I have worked with celebs for a long time.  You may email me at  Others will not know of your inquiry.

Please feel free to move into a seeking mode.  God has already died for you and is seeking you out.  I will be happy to cheer you on.

Friday, October 17, 2014


Church members have run hurry and scurry for decades in service and ministry. Always hustling, these who are active are often viewed as the faithful.  We take faith matters seriously.  We care about church.  We care about people.  We want to see growth.  We are devoted workers.

However, a fundamental trait of Jesus seems to be easily side-stepped in some of our busyness.  That characteristic is devoted prayer.  Jesus wouldn't start anything, endure anything, nor finish anything without ardent time talking with the Father.

Mountains of books and articles address the subject.  It is central to the kingdom mechanism.  Yet, basically, our people don't.  We are highly opinionated.  We fume and panic over the actions of others.  Yet for the most-part, there isn't enough conviction in one's superior-sensed faith to be groomed in prayer.

This is surely an attack of Satan upon the very root of our faith.  We have fallen for the lie to base our success upon the visible; the things we can see and handle.  He will distract.  Irritate.  Annoy.  Disappoint.  And frustrate.  Anything he can do to keep us away from spending time with Father.

Satan will even allow us to succeed as long as we do not develop time in dialog with the Divine.

I encourage you to pray.  Pray with thanksgiving.  Pray in repentance.  Pray believing. Pray.

Talk with God as He is Father, Counselor, and Friend.  Visit with Him.  Tell Him your concerns.  Brag on Him....about Him.  Ask Him to take over your frets and fears.  Thank Him for street lights and rabbits that dart across a neighbor's lawn.  In other words, become comfortable with being on speaking terms with God.

Of course you will fumble in your wording.  Surely you will feel inadequate.  Do you think He does not understand us?  Our lack?  Our insecurity?  Our

Father isn't wanting to hear the many words we can compose in formal, stiff, and empty prayer.  He wants to walk with us.  He delights in hearing from His kids.  Prayer isn't rocket science.  It is relationship.  For heaven's sake, if you can't think of anything else, tell Him you don't know how to pray well.

If the time spent in worry and bother could be equaled in praise and prayer, lives would change immeasurably for the good.  May we be a people who spend more time learning to pray than dissecting the hang-nail matters which so easily torque us.

Grow in prayer.  Let it be a joy to spend time with the One who keeps your life moving forward.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


And....He walks with me and He talks with me...and He tells me I am His own.  Oh how we would raise the roof at my grandparents little Baptist church in Hitt, Missouri and later in Arbela when I was a young boy.  The grace-filled words we sang are always needed in our daily walk with God.

How do we approach the concept of walking with Him?

First, the very idea is a challenge because we can develop a rules mentality rather than relationship experience.  If not aware, God will become a game or a contest where we find ourselves trying to give all of the correct answers to a religious quiz rather than knowing Him personally.

So how are we to carry on a relationship; Him being divine and us being human?

Our best clue is found in Jesus.  He was both divine and human.  How he did and what he did gives us our best insight.  Let's see if we can pick up on a few traits which might be of help.

  1. Jesus prayed as a connecting relationship with Father.  Prayer was not a duty; but rather the means of dialog between the Two.  It was Their in-touch synchronization.  This spending time together kept their heart-connections in tact.  
  2. Prayer evidently wasn't a grocery list of needs.  I want.  I need.  I would like.  Please bless me this way.  And that way.  Jesus prayed about what God wanted and what others needed.
  3. Jesus taught that we are free to ask for what we would like on the basis that we yield to Father's will...and not our own.  
  4. A bond with God grows tighter the more we live thankfully.  Praying with thanksgiving is both meaningful and effective.
How do we transition from prayer rules to prayer relationship with God?  The possibilities are numerous.  Personally, I've moved from not caring for prayer (as a minister) to walking in contact with Him.

Progress in prayer increases as thankfulness increases.  When prayer isn't necessarily an official time but a way of life it seems God/man conversations take place rather than offering wishful words to the nearest ceiling.  God is very real; very alive.  He hears and He responds.

When I talk with God, I brag on Him to Him.  I thank Him every morning for street corners, for businesses in operation and for people...everywhere there are variations of good, hurting, lonely, or celebrating people on their way to work or to school.  Each day I list before Him the 47 neighbors that I have met so far in my three years on this street where I live.  I know them by name.  Only a handful know that I am praying for them.

And then the other side of this two-way relationship is that God speaks to us.  This action has been discouraged in our society by two factors; (1) unbelief in the Invisible God, and (2) irrational representatives of the kingdom whose talk is not backed by our walk.  Thoughtless chatter gives doubters the verification of our shallowness that they suspected all along.

At one time I doubted the line of God speaking to us.  But I have learned and I experience differently.  His Spirit may not speak in English terms; yet He has a way of sharing ideas and thoughts.  As an example, I have learned to hear from God regarding my sermon preparation as much as I have applied myself in study.  If the Spirit isn't leading, my sermons are boring presentations of a mere man.

When I walked by the visible only, I found ministry to be stifled in the man-made mode.  But when by the Spirit, it seems wonder and over-joy continues to flow.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Is God real?  Or, is this a figment of man's needy imagination?  In other words, is this faith in God thing all a hoax?

Shrugs of indifference come from both sides of the question.  Yet, there are those--a very many those--who give this sobering thought; maybe not when in the midst of crowds of friends, but at least when reflectively alone.  Very good people have no bias.

Is there really a true God or has man bought into hand-me-down folklore which is empty, useless, and therefore fraudulent?

I believe He is real.  I'll give you a few reasons and you can add your version as to whether He is.

  1. The fact that there is life after death before our very eyes every Spring noted in flowers and new leaves confirms that things which have died have resurrection power.
  2. Garden seeds are buried as history (it's over/the-end) only to arise in an unexplainable new dimension from the ground/burial plot.
  3. Our calendars are currently dated from the birth of Jesus; not Plato, not Stalin.  He was a real person who truly walked this earth.  Dating each of our documents confesses that the Son of God did exist upon this earth.
  4. God does not insulate believers so that nothing goes wrong for them.  Rather, He transforms them to be able to find hope and life even in dead settings.  
  5. Every trouble is pregnant with a new hope.
  6. The Creator is still gone wild with the creative "newness" saturating society to this day.
I don't know that I was ever really a doubter of God.  I simply was indifferent.  We live.  We die.  We hope there is something afterward (And oh please God, don't make heaven as boring as church.).  Yet, after research, lengthy contemplation, and serious openness, I believe He is.

A thing about mankind hurts my heart...for mankind.  In general we are too distracted to care about our own eternal destination.  No probing.  No inquiry.  No sobriety about the topic.  None.  People live as if they will one day be as dead grass thrown into the fire.

This is life's greatest catastrophe.  Fatal wrecks.  Massive destruction.  Ebola.  None compare to the disaster of individuals who give no serious thought about the true form of spiritual reality.

It is time for the masses to investigate.  Become vulnerable.  Admit that you are not your own god.  Ask for assistance.  Sort through the distracting quagmire of religion.  Belief in Jesus is very possible and quite likely.  You will be so encouraged by him.  He will give you a definition of who you are, what you are about, and what you are to be doing that will...not...quit.

If you have no regard for other believers, fine.  I can accept that for we are a useless sort.  That's why we cast our lot with Jesus for he is the only one righteous.  We are not.  He is.  So good for you that you have figured our lack.  So don't seek him for us.  Seek him for yourself.  

You owe it to yourself to seriously weigh whether you believe God is a hoax.  I think you will like the experience of your honest search.

For those who wish to have private assistance in search of Him, I would be one who is willing to share thoughts.  Email me at  Together, maybe we can open our hearts toward the God who died for us...on purpose.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


As in all ages, leadership is crucial.  One of the threats to any leader's role is that of routine rocking one's imagination into slumbering and thoughtless habit.  This is ever so needed in the church.

Henri Nouwen, one of my very favorite authors, pegs my point more clearly.

A Christian leader is not a leader because he announces a new idea and tries to convince others of its worth; he is a leader because he faces the world with eyes full of expectation, with the expertise to take away the veil that covers its hidden potential.  Christian leadership is called ministry precisely to express that in the service of others new life can be brought about.

While we live in a world crammed full of new (new intentions, new discoveries, new ideas), we in the church must be alert to the wonder of it all.  After all, all of this newness is simply verification that the Creator very much knows how to keep this tired world from running out of new ideas.

I have good news for us; new has just begun!

It will be up to the church, who is God's idea by the way, to stay ahead rather than drag behind.

Yes, many things are going well.  Yes, there is much joy to be experienced.  And yes, there is also much need in a world deep in injury and pain.  We must be sure we are awake for the input of the Living God as we minister at every turn.

If we are going to be leaders, lets be current ones who have high expectations to learn what God has yet to show anyone to this point.  I want in on that one!

Sunday, October 12, 2014


As you walk through this day that God has provided, try to intentionally notice those who seem unnoticeable.

Greet them.

Welcome them.

Speak to them.

Love them.

Like them.

Do not ignore them again as these could be so inspired by just one voice that acknowledges their existence.

We need one another.  One another includes.....everyone.

May we open our eyes to see the wonder of those who are right in front of us.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


The grand stories of the Bible are ramped up considerably when admitted that these are true stories.  The word story seems to be an out for doubters.  Yet, it should not be.  The Bible is event after event where the people were unable and God delivered.

This scenario is to be our story.  I want to live in the unexplainable that could not have happened but it did sort of unfolding of God's grace.  When that goes on (and it does) I think that's our best living.  When we are sunk (dead) and God lifts us up, that is what we call a God story.

Faith helps us see God.

Classic writer Fenelon points out, A life of faith does two things: Faith helps you see God behind everything that He uses.  And faith also keeps you in a place where you are not sure what will happen next.  To have faith you cannot always want to know what is happening or going to happen.  God wants you to trust Him alone from minute to minute.  The strength He gives you in one minute is not intended to carry you through the next.  Let God take care of His business.

Faith helps us see God.  We can't explain.  Neither can we predict.  Even when we don't know how or where or when....we can always know Who.  We know the Who that can.

Live life like He means it!

Friday, October 10, 2014


I wish I knew better how to function in the church.  There is a tension that I think I need which I do not possess.  How do we go about being a people who will cause others to want to be a part of the fabric of the kingdom of God?  What is the design of the truest approach?

I dearly love people; especially those who were as I was years ago, looking for God in some meaningful form.  By His grace, I found it.  My heart never stops beating for the next and the next.  My belief is that people are not anti-God.  They are anti-meaninglessness.  And they see in the church the greatest example of the latter in far too many places.

Of course there are a jillion reasons to be given for social resistance to us.  Deception. Hypocrisy.  Boring.  One of the highest in rank would surely be that of little purpose. It is here that I think that David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons have hit upon an awakening statement.

It is easy to embrace a costless form of Christianity in America today, and we have probably contributed to that by giving people a superficial understanding of the gospel and focusing only on their decision to convert.

Bing-bong!  The lights should have just come on!

I, for one, would be guilty of this approach which causes eventual problems.  I give great interest to counting how many baptisms this congregation has without serious focus upon discipleship beyond urging faithful attendance to our three main assemblies.

Because of abuse of churches who worked similarly to cults, we have steered clear of any resemblance.  Too, guys like me are just too ignorant or indifferent to bother.  Yet, we must do a better job of keeping the newly saved on board for the long haul.

Costless Christianity is likely our culprit.  We don't want to turn newbies off.  Yet, from the perspective of the outsiders, they already have enough mediocrity going on without trying to make room for yet one more purposeless venture.

America's approach to Christianity has a way of distracting from the dying cause of Christ by creating sub-cultures within the church hoping to snag active volunteers for our ministries.  Give them a place to serve is not wrong in itself unless this move is designed in a way which inadvertently keeps them among us rather than to keep them embedded in the cause of Christ.

For me, I think the concept of building a life on the hope of Jesus is THE MOST exciting life to be discovered.  My fear of overdoing it, however, may have created a hesitancy in me that sabotages my outreach.  I'm afraid I'll drive them away in trying to draw them in.  Yet, such weakness may be the signal they read as nothing more than another club to take up their time.

The cost of a costless form of Christianity may be subverting the very mission we wish was thriving.

Thursday, October 09, 2014


Just how far away from what God has in mind am I?  Am I on track with His divine intentions?  Or, have I slipped into man's comfort shoes of religion?  Do I live on His intentional edge?  Or, could I be mesmerized into a churchy slumber?

Very likely I am far from His risky moves of ministry explosives.

Jim Cymbala states, We have so institutionalized Laodiceanism that we think lukewarm is normal.  Laodicea, recall, is the church in the early part of the book of Revelation that was neither hot nor cold.  Therefore, God spewed that group out of His mouth.

What causes mediocrity in the church members?  You take a stab with your best guess. Mine is cowardice.  We want peace which interpreted can mean, Leave me alone to serve where I want.  Do not press me else I will bolt.  

Intimidation often rules.  This is why so many don't sing.  They don't want to be heard.  Others don't serve.  They don't want to be seen.  Yet, others sneak in and sneak out.  They don't want to be in contact.

Living in the kingdom is a scary, threatening, and risky walk.  Institutionalization, however, has declared immunity to the timid.  Following Jesus demands we take up our crosses; not sneaking about in dark alleys at night going undetected, but bravely moving about in the public square destined for ridicule and persecution.

Being a disciple of Jesus is a very public thing.  It takes courage to be a follower.

If we are to break the self-jailing bonds of institutionalization, we will have to develop a singular courage.  The only place to hide is in Jesus....and he was tortured and then died before the valiant resurrection defeated all enemies.

A shift has taken place in the church.  We have transitioned to personal preferences rather than daring living for the Cause.  Cowardice breeds institutionalization of the intended body of Christ.  Such stagnancy is the Ebolo of Jesus on earth today.  It is infectious to the point that we call mediocrity good.

Standing for Him, admittedly, can come off as belligerently egotistical.  This is not true discipleship; yet simply another misstep of man's lukewarmness.  Being His runs wide open into and through His leadership which is full of risk and stress.

This old world is in very dire straits.  The escape is clearly and only found in Jesus. The pressure is mounting.  The redeemed must open our quieted lips with expression of overjoy and radiant hope in the Savior of all.  May we think of ways to break the bonds of institutionalized lukewarmness.

May the world know of the One we call Master.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014


Matt Dillon, the Gunsmoke one, was surely a decent sort.  His days were filled with Doc Adams-Chester-Miss Kitty episodes.  Sheriff Dillon's defining moments would always be when the enemy came to town.  There was never a show without a showdown.

America is walking toward the Main Street showdown.  Horrific information is coming out of ISIS territories; even the beheading of children on Main Streets.  One of the worst kinds of dread ever is spreading in epidemic style.  We can no longer give this news a wink and a shrug.

The American church is poised to be disturbed in a magnificent and wonderful way. Denominational cages are potentially about to be rattled like nothing our generation has given thought to this point.  Notices pass by my desk steadily of children being beheaded on public square in other nations.  This isn't Political Theory Class.  This is terror intent on coming to our town.

As this movement of terror increases, we will see the church arise to live out what it is destined to be.  We will find our faith has the most authentic mission ever.  Boldly, cowards will shed their hesitations to put on uniforms of bravery.  Timidity will evaporate.  Conviction will finally gets its day.

Faith will flow.  Do not be afraid.  Do not flinch.

The Jesus movement will thrive, even abound, the harsher the public is treated.  We will gain momentum.  I just spoke by phone to a U.S. Congressman about another matter.  During our conversation, the concern of ISIS came up as I was in the midst of writing this post.

He said that 50% of his time is taken up in Washington over this matter.  I regard him as a steady and level-headed leader.  His concern is deep and wide over this topic.

I mean no alarm by this post or others I have written in the past.  The intent is to draw each of us into focus mode.  The battle is in the realm of faith.  Persecution is now desperately intense in hot-spots globally.  We still find time in America to run to the gym and the movie without disruption.

The day is coming when our faith will receive the call to stand with great confidence. Never will we have experienced the church stronger than when these days arise.

The main street showdown is a serious matter.  Prepare to believe Jesus over any threatening factor.

Monday, October 06, 2014


There are a couple of ways one could perceive the meaning of the above title.
  1. THE CHURCH IS in a world of hurt.
  2. The church is IN A WORLD OF HURT
In general, all congregations are most likely found in one of these two zones.  One is in a world of hurt because it refuses to take the bold moves to reach into the world of hurt.  Or, the other is aggressively moving into those rugged conditions in the world where the pained and hurting reside.

Our nation's terrain has congregations strewn about which are failing and dying. Sprinkled, as well, are those groups who are thriving robustly.  We all want to be of the latter.  Yet, if we are to go there, very tough decisions will need to be made by its leaders.

First, we simply must get on board with the idea that the church really is IN A WORLD OF HURT.  That world needs our reaching arms as well as our loving hearts. Second, we surely must awaken to the reality among us that churches tend to turn inward without notice or warning.

This is a problem Houston.  

Self-serving is not other-serving.  It never has been and won't ever be so.  The Great Commission is just that.  We are to be driven to reach others.  It seems that a few in churches have this vision; but the most tend to look inwardly as to their likes and dislikes.  These churches have either died or will fade out of existence within two or three generations.

When we leave the banks of the self-serving by determining to walk on the waters of outreach, many significant matters evolve.  Our gatherings are about others.  Our funds are about others.  Our ministries are about them.  Our prayers are about them. Our about them.

Our parking lots are about them.  Our foyers are to draw them in.  Our messages are to connect them to God's urgent love.  Our music is to snag their senses of emotion. Our greetings are to sew their hearts into the fabric of kingdom living.  

Our children are to say to other children, You will fit in.  Our teen cluster invites doubting teens to give God a try.  Every age is to be positioned as magnets drawing the wide range of society toward the Cross of Jesus.  We have received our holy assignments.

THE CHURCH IS in a world of hurt if it feels inclined to perpetuate keeping the members happy.  Yet, when the the church is IN A WORLD OF HURT, an unexplained sense of God sweeps over the hearts of the church like no other fulfillment to be desired.  The great hope in this approach is that all of the church feels emotionally at its best when we are winning the hearts of our communities.

Such moves are not easy.  In my long tenure I must steadily re-evaluate whether I am current.  Not whether I'm keeping up in a worldly nature; but am I delivering messages that resonate with seeking hearts.  The graying of all churches could signal we have gradually transitioned from evangelism to ritualistic house-keeping; from outreach to management.

Those who have never had a hunger to reach others totally do not get what this post is about.  But they should learn.  We have the greatest message of the greatest system of the only Savior of all of the world.  Masses are in deep need of relief.  They can only find it in Jesus.

May you and I determine to bravely and boldly move as a church IN A WORLD OF HURT.

Sunday, October 05, 2014


It seems crystal clear, both from the Word and from experience, that the true contest of the heart is whether we will choose to engage in the realm of faith according to the walk of the Pharisees or of Jesus.

One runs narrow-closed while the other runs wide-open.

Shall we own a religion which leads to protective rules or a faith which thrusts us toward valuable sinners?

We choose day by day whether we will stand on the sidelines and shout, Change your ways! or wade into the midst of the suffering and confused and offer them our helping hand.

We have the power to decide.  Come on.  The aching world is waiting.

Saturday, October 04, 2014


From my early days, I have wanted many things.  I wanted to be liked.  I wanted to get good grades.  I wanted to play baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals.  I wanted to....well...I had a lot of wants.

I also had a major unwant.  I didn't want to go to church.  I dabbled in it the way many do along the way as a kid.  I would go to Sunday School on my own; mainly so that I could stop by Gardine's Drugstore on my walk home to get some candy.  Yes, I was addicted candy, that is.

I always wished for one of those perfect attendance pins for showing up; but I just couldn't take the boredom of class or of church.  I didn't like church and I didn't want church.  My goal was that when I got bigger I would never participate in what I perceived to be the greatest boredom on earth.

Things changed; obviously.

I mention this only to remind you that the unchurched aren't necessarily looking for a church; but they would be open to it.  Mary and I were merely invited by great friends to a church supper on a Saturday night.  We were hooked and never looked back!

People, very good normal acquaintances, are on the search for something.  Often we just don't realize it is God.  These people are everywhere.  What I want you to consider is that these with whom we have steady interaction throughout our week are vulnerable to your invitation to join you at some normal church function.

Three weeks ago B. J. sat with Mary and me.  I drink coffee at the same place he does. For months I've been telling him he needs to just see what goes on at the place where I get to work.

What's going on within the interior of our neighbors, our friends, even our relatives? Oh, these are basically expected to shine on and so most do.  Yet, inwardly you never know the real pain, anxiety, dis-ease, or worry which plagues.

Invitations to join us may eventually be a welcomed solution to what bugs them.

Our communities are loaded with the unchurched.  They may dislike us.  However, I think that many are like Mary and I were.  We had a slight bent toward God but we weren't aware that there was a way to connect.  It is the disconnect that we are about solving.

So here's what I would like you to do.  Wonderful people are all around you.  Some may appear successful.  Others seem to struggle.  All need the unmatched love of God. Say something to them:

  • Hey, we have a group that meets on ______ and I think you might like to go with me someday.
  • You know, we are having a gathering on _____ and if I don't find a guest, it is going to make me look bad.  You wouldn't be interested in rescuing me, would you?
  • Our church has a co-ed softball team and we need a strong arm.  You wouldn't want to be that person, would you?  Our team would really like you.
  • You know, our church serves the homeless on Tuesday nights, and if you would ever have the time, I would love for you to go with me.  It has opened me up to how blessed I am.  I think you might really like it.  Plus, you have such a natural way with strangers which would be a big boost to them.
  • One of the things I love about our church is the special events they have for kids.  Your kids might really like them as well.  Next week is our Fall Festival and it is so much fun.  Mark that date down in case your three would like to be a part.  It's really a blast!
  • I often hear you singing in the next cubicle at work day in and day out.  I don't know if you have a church, but we have a praise team at ours.  I would love for you to meet our worship minister and see if there might be a place for you to help us out.  You would fit right in.
  • I heard you mention that your spouse has been a bit in the dumps lately. Boyee, have I ever been there!  I don't know if you would have any interest, but I'm attending a class on Wednesday nights that is a real pick-me-up.  Why don't you pick a Wednesday evening that you all have free and ride over with me.  I think you would get a lot out of it.
We can be so about our Christian busyness that we let opportunities of outreach slip by.  In our defense, I think it is a simple matter that we don't realize how respected and loved we are by so many in our circle.  Very many of these wonderful people are what we would call churched.  Wonderful.

I encourage us to keep our eyes open for the many around us who do not know God; but would welcome an invitation to have an avenue to seek Him.  So many are hurting behind closed doors.  As was I, so many just don't know where to start; but would if someone like you would offer friendly direction.

Think God.  As we do He would call us to think people.  Think...and then act upon your thoughts.

Friday, October 03, 2014


Of course we want to be a good people.  Certainly we want to live upright.  Surely we believe standards of respect are most important.

Yet, it must be known that much of the dismissive language throughout the terrain of people is to abort God by pointing to our own goodness.  Furthermore, there is not one (nor has there ever been one except the Son) person who could present their righteousness before God.

There it is God.  Look at my life.  I deserve entrance through your gates.

Not.  Not one person is right without first absorbing the righteousness of Jesus...II Cor. 5:21.

Being a good person has so many ramifications.  One can be good because of definite sacrificial living.  Others may make the claim (not because they are compassionate) because they are timid and simply mean by being good they don't interfere with anyone.  Regardless of excuses or explanations, none will hold up when face to face with God.

Jesus is our goodness; not our good deeds. Jesus is our hope; not our public efforts. Jesus is our certification before Father that we are to be welcomed into the new kind of life.

The claim of being good as a self-justification for anything is hazardously weak.  No one is good.  Jesus is.  He is our all.  He is our redemption.  He is our reason to keep from going insane when we take a good deep look at the failures we know very well.

Being a good person isn't the call of the church.  Being given to the Good Person is its insistent message.

Thursday, October 02, 2014


Is there someone(s) running the church other than Jesus?

Yes.  This has gone on almost from day one of the church being birthed in Acts 2.  The battle began even earlier in the New Testament.  Look at Jesus.  See him strive to give hope to the beaten and the neglected.  And what did it get him?  Shouts of Crucify him!

I don't know of a stickier wicket than church.  While it has so many on missionary journeys to aid the poor and rescue the lost, many more are back home offending the waitresses at noon on Sunday with our religious snobbery of scowls and frowny faces. We may not see it.  But shurely the unchurched note we, at times, appear more constipated than regenerated.

Are all who attend churches this way?  Most this way?  The answer is that too many are this way and society picks up on our un-joy every bit as much as our over-joy.

Ever hear the words of a song, If you're happy and you know it, then your face will shurely show it?  This, many would know, are words from a children's song often bouncing through the VBS atmosphere.  I like it!  These are always impacting words!

The fruit of the Spirit is to be the trademark of the church member.  Our love and joy and peace, and impacts where we live or wherever we travel.  Of course we are found to weep.  We don't live numbly.  Yet, we are to walk in the Spirit.  Gloom isn't of Him.  Sour isn't either.

I believe that one of the strongest evangelistic tools the church possesses is found on the faces of its disciples.  Yes, we have struggles and disappointments galore.  That's the point.  Only God could put a smile on the face of the mistreated and the injured and the offended and the lonely.  Only God.

I've preached many a sermon yelling, pounding, and threatening.  I didn't get that from God.  I got it from the mistaken side (the abusive side) of religion.  In the law I found the need to clearly parade my strictness.  However, in Jesus I found a new kind of authentic life that is embedded in the world!

Be aware of the temptation to be more concerned about how one misspells SURELY than we are about moving through our days with joy in our hearts and smiles on our faces.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014


If Adam and Eve could be resurrected for one week for an Earth-Tour, try to envision what they would experience.

  • What is a stool lid?
  • What is a tall building?
  • What is concrete?
  • What is Facebook?
  • What is a thermometer?
  • What is a Playoff Game?
  • What is a tax?
  • What is an airplane?
  • What is an elevator?
  • What is a school?
  • What is a church?
  • What is a typewriter?
  • What is a business park?
  • What is a steering wheel?
  • What is a bridge?
  • What is a ..........?
Well you get the picture.  Endless questions times seeming infinity.  Adam and Eve would be shocked.  If they could be resurrected for one week they would freak out in pure awe.

Now, let's move a step further.  Let's direct our attention to ourselves. We live here. Therefore, explain the following:

  • How birds know to migrate.
  • How a computer can know when to send you a reminder.
  • How brake cylinders are built.
  • How images from a small boxy mechanism produces life-like family photos.
  • How cell phones receive and transmit nearly every time to the correct numbers.
  • How genetics impact all; yet, in cases don't impact every person.
  • How baseball teams determine when, who, and where to make a trade.
  • How "Throwback Thursday" affects mankind psychologically.
  • How to know when oatmeal is in danger of being overcooked.
  • How low-water damns affect the fishing industry.
In each of the above ten considerations, some among us might know the answer to one...or maybe two.  Many would not know the answer to any and at the most I would doubt very few could explain over half.  In both lists, it is to be noted that they could go on forever leaving a trail of unanswered questions; both for Adam and Eve as well as ourselves. 

If earth therefore would be this stunning to Adam and Eve and remains this perplexing to us who roam it today, just how fascinating, brilliant, mesmerizing, and breath-taking will Heaven be?  The enormity of Heaven cannot be anything but a wow!  It will take us 10,000 years just to measure the grandeur of it all...and I have a sense that even then we will have just begun.