Thursday, December 28, 2017


Would you perhaps be in need of refocus?  Is there a slight chance that you have slipped into a commatic motion of going through yours days--day in and day out--operating more from habit than adventure?  Are you noticing that life doesn't seem to have much creativity within its fold?  Are you about routined out?

I'm wishing to speak to those who have hit a point in life--maybe a rut--where you eat, drink, sleep, and function more like a human robot than a pioneer forging the new in every day.  Are you thinking?  Are you believing?  Or, are you mostly repeating the programmed format that you have allowed to overtake you?  Maybe your schedule has grown up like brush in the woods and you didn't realize the smothering negative growth.

You are not a lamp post that stands while the world passes by.  Neither are you an aging individual good for collecting dust and gathering cobwebs.  You are to possess an energy-pack from the Spirit of God!  You...yes you...are to be thrilled, and wowed, and astonished at the opportunities God affords you!

Read your Bible.  No, I mean really read it.  Which story begins with a common basis that ends with a "You gotta be kidding me!"?   Read your Bible.  Were there two such impossible stories?  Five?  Fifty? is crammed full of such...happening to very down-to-earth individuals....sorta as yourself?

Quit living in the distracting fury of the moment.  Awaken to the blessed glory instead.  Learn.  Learn to speak about life in transformative language.  Don't just see the positive.  See the absolute wonder.  Talk of the grand possibilities.  Note the potential buried beneath the struggle and the hope embedded within the darkness.  If God is consistent about one thing it is that He is the Author of BREAKTHROUGH!!! 

Our God did not bring us on board to live out some sort of spiritual minimum wage.  He did not hand us a church life to restrict nor punish us; but to thrill us, to maximize our amazing existence.  We are called to be related to God; the absolutely astonishing True One!  If so, THEN LET'S LIVE IT!!!

Me?  I get pretty bummed sometimes.  And then someone dear to my heart reminds me of the things of God...the very things I've taught for years...but even I find the Robber has momentarily stolen my joy.  I need that to happen to that I can know where you possibly hurt.  See?  Even rugged days bear fruit for/of good when we continue to learn of the absolutely astonishing God!!!

Jesus beat the grave so that the deadening things of the world could not hold us for very long either!!!


There are two kinds of sinners.  On most days we are them, both of them in one person.  Jesus spelled it out in Luke 18:9-14.  Present was a noted religious superior along with a low-life, advantage-taker-of-the-public fraudulent tax-gather.  Both had a problem; a serious sin problem.  One knew it was so.  The other?  He was ignorant of his own sins.

I once believed that we were one or the other on any given day.  Life experiences, however, cause me to question whether we might be a bit of both...well...a large amount of both.  We are either sin-admitters or sin-deniers.  Sin is the force which makes the role of Savior, indeed, essential.

Jesus was profoundly unique in that he was the begotten Son of God; yet, he was the deepest sinner of all because he became the world's sin factors all in one heap when upon the Cross.  Jesus...gets us.

When we absorb the reality that we are two kinds of sinners, we are more likely inclined to cast down our swords of defense.  Apology and repentance are our garb.  Arrogance and comparison are not.  Such a conclusion is a firm blessing to ourselves and to others.  We have the true grasp of our need of His blood.  Simultaneously, we back off from smug criticism of all others.

However crude, rude, or nasty others are, we equal their sins and can raise them two.  We are effective participators within the Kingdom of God because we point the accusing finger toward ourselves first.  No one is more guilty than self.  When this happens, much of our nagging gripes toward others tends to move toward the back of the bus.

Relief followed by inclusion (accepting of others whom we assumed inferior to our elevated walk) followed by joy begins to build the Church in the fashion of its Architect.  The world awaits a saved people who can admit our own weakness and sin.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Encouragement is in demand.  You need it.  I thrive on it.  We love it.  Think about it...the reason we need it is because we are peppered with the opposite.  Everywhere we turn...or perhaps every time we turn...discouragement pokes us in the eye.  This pattern is draining.

But I say to you to hunt for current reasons to be cheerful and focus upon them.  Delight is the nature of a believer.  Some of you reading are very ill, others lonely from a death, and yet others are scared as you read from your lonely prison cell.  I know you.  Life is hard.

And God says what?  Be of good cheer.  Why?  Because not every moment is such without our intentional insertion of choosing to be happy.  And...the good news is we can do this.  Really...the better news is that we are already doing it!

Being encouraged isn't some sort of fake Pollyanna smiley-faced pretender.  No, to be encouraged is to be determined to not let mishaps have permission to run your show.  We hit those pesky moments of urrrghhhravation--ah, a great new word--but we must not let them set the course of our day.  Bad stuff doesn't own us.

Not.  Ever.

Count your blessings.  Pray for those who are being challenged to find even one.  And, know that you are more important than you can ever imagine.  Be encouraged...I only know awesome people...and you just happen to be one of them!!

Merry ChristmUS!!!  (Ooooh, that was a good one.)

Monday, December 18, 2017


It seems, historically speaking, that every generation of mankind is sorta lulled to sleep by discovery.  I mean there is a tendency on the part of those who have little interest in imagination and adventure to believe that the latest great finding about wraps it up.  What's left in life, they believe, is to live it out the best we can.  We've hit the ultimate of ultimate findings and now let's be about preservation.

But not true of God nor His creative drive.  He's brilliant.  He's genius.  He's full of endearing surprises.

Edwin Friedman comments, when Columbus discovered America in 1492, that many in
Europe were astonished that God had been hiding His biggest piece of earth-property all these many centuries.  They were fascinated that all along there had been....more...much, much indescribable...more.  Oklahoma had been found...eventually!

Think about it.  Since 1492, what sort of adventure has been found in the Discovery Lane of being human?  Electronics?  Baseball?  Medicine?  Radio?  Baseball?  Surgeries?  Monopoly?Automobiles?  The Statue of Liberty?  Planes?  Movies?  Contacts?  Phones?  Baseball?  Printing presses?  Microphones?  Eye drops?  Scrabble?  The Wheel of Fortune?  Cape Canaveral?  Sewing machines?  Putt-Putt?  Electric Drills?  Hearing aids?  Telescopes?  On and on and then....on the grand list goes.

Just what else might God be hiding?  Ah, that's where the heart is free to dream and the mind to wonder for we know it's out there!  I love God's eternal salvation truth.  And, along with it, I love His capacity to show us a type of living right now that is daring, freeing, and always escalating. 

Imagine...just imagine...what all God has accomplished already that we can't even (and won't ever) fathom.  And then add to that the powerful truth that more is yet to come because much more is out there.  It's like we are always living in the gasping of  1492 all over again!

Sunday, December 17, 2017


My target this morning is those of you who have about had it with some one, some thing, or some...something regarding church.  During my earlier years of ministry I wasn't aware of this which I am about to share.  I had to learn it through repeated conflict and failure.

As a brash young minister equipped with Bible answers galore, I took my family off to Kahoka, MO. to a congregation of eight adults.  It was a disappointing year of ineffectivity on my part.  Next, I moved to Quincy, IL. where I lasted two years.  But eventually a conflict on a larger scale awaited.

In the midst of that struggle I was invited to move to Tulsa to preach for the Memorial Drive Church of Christ.  Totally afraid because I didn't know how to manage the previous congregational struggles, against my better judgment, I accepted the Tulsa invitation.  Immediately, I found I had linked up with a hornets nest of bickering and division that made my former congregations look like Country Clubs.

I was, at that point, 0-3.  Failure was my resume.  Foolish innadequacy appeared to be my trademark.  No wonder (as I learned years later) so many in the Dallas area where I attended a small school didn't believe that I could make it as a minister.

What's very strange is that, simultaneously, during my rough introductory years at MD, I was receiving an exaggerated amount of invitations to move to preach for other congregations.  For these, I was grateful.  But, I decided that there was something seriously wrong with me.  To move, if I didn't make adjustments, would only create failure number 4.  So, I stayed where I was to learn about myself; my flaws, my inhibitions, my extreme immaturity.  Honestly, I was afraid.

I learned, though, to never give up.  Rather, I learned to adjust within myself before one can expect others to take similar action.  I stayed to learn what was lacking in me.  I stayed to learn what it meant to endure.  I learned.

I learned that we were operating under much Church of Christ law; rather than the Bible that we promoted.  I learned that change doesn't come easily; but with patience, it gets here.  I learned that people want to move forward in God; but are not sure if or how.  I learned that leadership that matters can be very lonely.  I learned that building up others boomerangs into a new kind of joy.

So, I say to preacher or member who is about to believe that you obviously have nothing to offer for you've gotten the clear message that you can't cut it...stop.  Stop and ask yourself the following:
       (1)  Is there anything at the moment where you are believing that if others would wake-up, church would be better?
       (2)Do you have names in mind of some who are holding the church back?
       (3)And who has the greater faith...your regarded enemies that things must stay the same or you as you believe the entire landscape can change?

Who has the greater faith.  Them or you?  I was faced with this very question and concluded that I had developed an attitude of "I can' won't work".  I was the problem; not my opponents. 

It was me who didn't have this wild faith I assumed I possessed.  It was me who needed to change first.  Others steadily made their own adjustments.  God breathed life into us! The Spirit of God received an invitation to join us.  I continue to celebrate!

Never give up young leader or old member.  Never give up.  The empty grave is His calling card...and it is now ours.  Believe.  Really.  Big.  Possibility changes the world!

Saturday, December 16, 2017


We hear often about schisms and isms in the religious world.  Much forecasting as to the Second Coming and the end times springs forth from variational voices.  Some might be true.  Others might be partially true.  While, yet, a portion of the spiritual predictions may simply be made up. 

I introduce Compensationalism which is a much needed doctrine for every style of religion, every division of churches, and every direction of all relationships.  Compensationalism is Bible-based and Jesus promoted and Spirit backed.  We can't do without it...but, oh, how we try.

Compensationalism (yes, a word I created) is the doctrine of compensating for the flaws in others...all others.  When it opens our hearts in love it shuts our mouths in criticism for we know we have a work to carry out in the Kingdom Force.  That would be to forgive sinners...exactly like ourselves.

We are to practice what Jesus preached.

Ours is a strain to come to grips with our lack and failure.  Living in perpetual comparison, we have a self-centered knack of always coming out better than others around us...especially those who sin.  We note their flaws and our strengths and, wa la, we are the good ones.  They (we quietly surmise) should know better.

We are to practice what Jesus preached.

The Word of God is clear that we each set the parameters of our Court Date at the Judgment.  How we harbor ills or relinquish them is His measure for us.  This is an earth-shaker to our haughty tendencies.  Those who go to church lean toward feeling we are better.  Yet, those who don't participate know who the real good guy is.  This is the mistaken doctrine of Comparisonlism which leads to the false doctrine of Compenstaionalism.

We are to practice what Jesus preached.

Carry your own cross.  Die for those who have let you down in huge disappointment.  And rise up to a new kind of love.  We.  Need.  This.  From.  Us.

Friday, December 15, 2017


Is God real?  Does He truly exist?  Or, is this also one more folklore-ish concepts created by the grand imaginations from yesteryear? 

The answer is that by faith many of us believe that God does, in fact, exist eternally.  Others, however, have faith that He doesn't.  Opposing sides can only reach such conclusions based upon invisible evidence.  There is no other mode.

My goal, naturally, is to encourage those who believe that God is a figment of one's imagination to transform doubt into assurance of His reality.  Yes, I know that you know that I have bias on this topic; but a foundational one nonetheless.

There is a significant roadblock to developing faith in Him.  We Christians sometimes distract.  We are greatly known for voicing our pet peeves, our narrow stances, and our closed-mindedness.  Of course, of course, we confidently boast that each of these three arise because we are believers.  Yet, too often our small thread to the Bible revelation blocks God's Word from our own well as our passage to others.

Doubters rarely reference their conclusion based upon research of the Kingdom.  Rather, these are often quick to point out the flaws of guys like myself.  Their obsession with detecting my/our sins are mere excuses to be lazy-minded toward His existence.  More profoundly, however, is that God is highly aware of my/our sins before we even arrived upon the scene.  Jesus died on the Cross because even church people as myself are a mess at times.

We must, simply must, find someone to save us from our wretched failure to live up to His call.  Reporting in to church regularly is important for cheering one another on as our repeated sins try to shut us down.  But church attendance is not our Savior.  Jesus is.

I am definitely sympathetic to those who doubt for ones as myself surely do distract at times.  The real focus, though, is not to be found evaluating the church people for we are there precisely because we can't cover our own sins.  The real emphasis is to be upon the only Man who died for our sins and then broke all of the cemetery rules. 

The God concept isn't Rocket Science.  It is that just as there will be a new day tomorrow (as resurrection of the sun)...there is daily and cleansing renewal for our minds and hearts.  My/our sin does not verify that there is no God.  It does confirm the need for Him.  Whether God is or isn't is to be based upon legitimate faith and not upon the behavior of those who claim His validity.  We who believe Him do so because our own self-preservation would not hold up. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Life doesn't seem to be easy in a few places, huh?  About the time everything seems to flow, disruption whacks us across the back of the neck as if to say, "Not so fast, Buster!"  From there we might find that we move from rejoice to lament.

People pull us down.  They aren't always the same few either.  It can be a close friend or maybe a stranger in line at the store.  Regardless, we do face challenging moments.  What we want to do is manage them well rather than allow such circumstances to eat us alive.

So what shall we do when people pull us down?

1.  Reflect upon those many more who lift us up.
2.  Remember that we, too, have gaps within our own personalities that pull others down as badly.
3.  Recall that Jesus died to cover their flaws...and yours.

Every one of us could write an essay on the unfair mistreatment we have (repeatedly) received from others.  Our assessment would most likely be accurate.  Our inaccuracy comes along when we approach such violation as if we have no serious social flaws of our own.  Oh, we most certainly do...every one of us.

So what is one to do when someone pulls us down?  Show them mercy, the very identical mercy you wish to be shown when you go a little wacko in your relationships.  We are all the same to the extent that it took His bold cross to pay for our entire group (and quite similar) infractions called...sin.

Have a good day...and offer one to everyone around you while you are at it.

Sunday, December 10, 2017


Abundant life is God's devoted forte.  Disruption is Satan's career.  Healing from Satan's interference is God's specialty.  He has given His life for this cause through Jesus.  Plus, God provides unfathomable personal energy through His Holy Spirit.  

God.  Has.  This.  Because.  He.  Has.  Us.

So you, dear one, need to know that you are double-targeted by two very large powers.  No wonder some days are a scrambled mess, huh?  Therefore, I cheer you on through reminder of who you are coupled with your Creator/Colleague.

Perhaps we could have a very good day if we could admit that we are all alike.  While being regretfully injured by others, we injure....others on the very same day and often on the very same turf.  Just as we must have/really need mercy, we very much must offer it to our offenders.

Perhaps we could have a very good day if we were to vocally rehearse the large quantity of really good breaks we are receiving.  Yes, we undeniably encounter our own personal train wrecks.  Yet even more true, we float down the steady soothing rivers riding on the boat of gratitude, joy, and love.  We have so many in our lives of whom we are just crazy about!  Think.  On.  These.  Things.

Whatever it is you encounter that offends your heart today, you can rest assured that you do likewise to others.  That's the broken life we navigate day by day.  Such doesn't depress us as much as it reminds us to ease up on our friends and relatives.  Rather than being their chiefest critic, maybe we could actually become more like Jesus and die to ourselves that others might go through their day healed because of our sacrifice.

Ah, there's an idea!  May you now have a much better day than you might have intended!!  When you will those around you!!!  

Friday, December 08, 2017


We have designed within our minds an ideal church that is two things; happy and safe.  However, this isn't reality.  This isn't the church that Jesus built.  Yet, it is the very weave we choose to form organizational tactics.

The Jesus-Life continues to be the ultimate call for every heart.  Its powerful impact remains available for today's world; yet, its designed strength has been sabotaged and weakened.  And, what would I know about it as I am among the weakest?  Therefore, my judgment is based upon looking at our world and looking at His Word.

I see a calling for drastic adjustment.

The Jesus-Life is often the opposite of our tendencies.  We seem to believe we can/should choose where to serve; find a place that makes us feel needed and useful.  The underlying criteria is that it shall not make us uncomfortable.  However, this is not necessarily losing our life due to our crosses strapped to our backs.  No, we are driven by a state of religious convenience which permits individuals to hide from reaching the world while carrying out various church quite demanding safety.

Edwin H. Friedman spells out a concept in his book, A Failure of Nerve that we have become a "seatbelt society".  He expresses this term to point out that we are creatures of safety over adventure.  A thirst for safety directly impacts our talk, our doctrine, our walk, our entire mission.  Fundamentally, far too many of us are afraid to venture even into additional truths of the Bible because we operate from safety of not being challenged by nor in trouble with co-believers.

Churches are clearly buckled up with seatbelts of safety and, thus, stymied from opportunity.  As long as one perpetually looks over his/her shoulder to see if what one is discovering from God is going to be accepted, we are basically shut down; focused toward where we have been with no vision for where we are going.

We are left with the repeated motions of what we have always believed.  To buckle up with our religious seatbelts of safety is a drastically costly move.  It is costing us friends, relatives, and neighbors as they don't find life among us....just more church habit.  The demand for religious habit was what called for the killing of Jesus.  He was living without a seatbelt.

I would encourage us to unbuckle.  Drive the lanes of faith without seatbelts.  Yes, some of us might die to our biases, preferences, and whims....but hasn't this been the call for every believer all along?

Wednesday, December 06, 2017


Of the very many things the Spirit of God is among us, He is the Empowerer of making us new in order to take us to new levels of being.  Bible students are quite aware of the new call toward us and for us.  Conversion isn't from non-church attendance to church attendance alone.  Neither is it from non-student to student.  It is the fundamental personality change from can't to can, from won't to will, and from withdrawal to openness.  God doesn't make us a part of the church to disrupt our schedules; but to disrupt our bold patterns of self-trusting security.

There is a mighty move within the spiritual world that assists many of us in development and growth.  We find ourselves engaged in areas we never deemed possible.  Tests help us to learn where our gifts are and how to express them with meaning.  Once such new discovery is made, we tend to sense an important factor of belonging....of participating.  Yet, there is a partnering backfire to this seeming advancement.  It is what I would note as a simultaneous Hiding Factor.

The Hiding Factor is embedded within every personality to afford permissive restriction when one comes upon situations which ordinarily challenge.  The Hiding Factor is one's permission slip (trump card) to bail on tasks or situations which make us uncomfortable.  The ego prefers to be in charge (in control) and bucks against moments which would leave us appearing inadequate.  This is a humanistic way of life for each of us.

Cynthia Bourgeault comments in her book (The Holy Trinity and the Law of the Three; Discovering the Radical Truth at the Heart of Christianity), Using that classic ego bait--"let me learn my type, some interesting new thing about me"--it draws people in, only to put in their hands basic tools for self-observation and nonidentification that classic psychotherapeutic models have generally failed to deliver.  An inner shut-down of sorts is taking place while we are blind to our own process.

Basically, what is happening is that rather than expanding our personalities to be openly advancing into new zones of serving God and His Kingdom, we use our discovered and test- approved gifts to hide from learning more of what we can/could/should become in Christian development.  We tend to hedge; even fight, personal expansion.  We respond to new territories with test-proven factors of, Oh, that's just not my gift.

My observation is that nearly all who are effective in reaching to others have had to overcome giant barriers to get there.  For each of us the Hiding Factor was a strong and relieving temptation as it offered inner security.  I don't think I've ever met anyone who is able to teach a neighbor from their Bible because it was just a natural and easy inclination.  There is usually the strain of learning, the stress of trying, and the dread of failing that goes on with every one of us who is eventually successful at this ability. 

The Spirit implant from God to us is designed for constant and steady breakthrough; that we each gain confidence to move into more zones of application and outreach than we ever deemed possible.  This post isn't to get on your case for hedging when it comes to interacting with others.  It, rather, is to open you up to a continued world of potential and possibility.  We can't get things done on our meager own; but we can when availing ourselves to His marvelous call...coupled with His adequacy...embedded within us.

Saturday, December 02, 2017


                                                         Image result     

I've long been a fan of Candace Cameron.  Years ago we were at an extremely fun event together in Iowa.  Both of us participated in a special weekend at the Field of Dreams film site in Dyersville.  I was there to play ball against former Major Leaguers in Randy Hundley's camps for three days.  Candace was there for a special game on one of those evenings where several other TV/Movie celebs from Hollywood were brought in to play a game against the same former ML stars.

I was in the stands to watch her game.  After the game, I was at a party where these gathered.  What I noted about Candace is that, although I was in the room, she restrained herself from approaching me for a pic or an autograph.  Such was a thoughtful unmove on her part.  Maybe she noted that I was not surrounded by one famous person and, therefore, I must prefer being alone and ignored and shunned.

So while I've never really met Candace Cameron Bure, we do have a history...although significantly brief.  There were a couple of moments where I thought she leaned over to one nearby and inquired, Who is that man?  Ah, for a brief moment, I felt she may have recognized me! my very brief history with this one whom I continue to admire (as her Hallmark movies are adorable).....and I'm stickin' to it.         

Friday, December 01, 2017


We must break this sleeping narcotic of religious egotism which competes as to who is the better understander of God's will and way.  This is a we thing; not only a they, not just a you, but a definite me as well.  Unnecessary division reigns supreme and we must reverse this trend. 

There is a teaching by Jesus of two men praying.  One was so very thankful that he wasn't like the other.  We live repeating his mistaken standard.  I hear it coming from the most devoted-to-God mouths day by day.  My grave mistake would be to assume that I'm not in the guilty-as-charged mix.

Being the most right (doing church correctly) was the constant theme of the Pharisees...the rejected-by-Jesus Pharisees.  Yet, somehow we have transferred their formation over to ours; yet pronounced it wisdom from above....just as did they.

Are we to be weak losers?  Yes.  Really?  Doesn't God teach that power is perfected in weakness?  Didn't He stand firm that those who are last will be first?  We refuse to buy into this insightful trek.  And why?  Because it makes us look like....we are weak...and that we are losers. 

Oh, so Jesus must have given us mistaken directions?  Remember, Jesus won the world because he lost.  He was resurrected because he first died.  He offers cleansing of the hearts of mankind because he absorbed our sins. 

The "I'm more right than you are right" is religious poison....that we all seem to drink with great delight and pride.