Wednesday, May 8, 2013


One thing I love about spring is being able to golf.  I am not what you would call an avid golfer.  Like many people I know, at times I show signs of absolute brilliance.  At other times, I play as if I had never picked up a club before.  Usually it's a mix of both when I play a round.

But like most things in life, I can't expect too much if I only hit the range once or twice a year.  Not much will happen if I don't hit buckets of balls before I play.  If I spend little time perfecting my shot, there's a good chance I won't improve.  When I only golf about every two weeks or so, it's hard to perfect my game.

However, last year my lovely wife got me three lessons to help me improve my drives.  I changed my stance, grip, how I addressed the ball (hello there white ball!), my takeaway and follow through.  And it worked!  My drives now go much further and most of the time straighter.

Like a Zen master of golf, I was able to: see the ball, feel the ball, be the ball.  And as a result I am enjoying the game as much as I ever have.

As the church of Christ, too often we don't practice, never seek to improve, are familiar with where we are, and yet wonder why our church is shrinking.  What do I mean?  There are many great books, seminars, and amazing church leaders who understand what it takes to grow a church.  But if we never seek to glean from them what we are able to apply in our own church setting, our, the church we are at will never get better.

Some folks believe that if we just pray harder, seek God, and improve sermons, the church will grow.  Though those are extremely important, I think we need more.

Like the occasional golfer who just keeps tinkering on his own to improve his game, frustration will set in.  And eventually he'll sell the clubs or throw them in the lake and go do something else for fun.  Likewise, we stop being the church when we refuse to seek, grow, learn, and be filled with wisdom from others God has placed in our path.

Therefore, I propose we all adopt a new mantra: SEE the Church, FEEL the Church, BE the church.  Are you ready to tee it up?  Let's be the church!

Monday, March 18, 2013


I've always been a bit suspicious when I am shopping for clothes and I read the tag, "one size fits all."  It doesn't work with pants, or gloves, or hats, or much of anything I've been able to find.  Inevitably I buy the item, get it home and lo and behold, it doesn't fit!

As a pastor serving a new church I wanted to find a crown of thorns to use as a visual aid for Holy Week and Easter.  I asked around.  No one had an extra crown of thorns they could spare.  Go figure.  So I did what most warm-blooded Americans do, checked the Internet.  I found little replicas that might fit on a gnomes head.  And I found some plastic ones.  Seemed kind of tacky.  And there were the "authentic" crown of thorns from the Holy Land with an certificate of authenticity.  But at $96.00?  No thanks.

I was getting frustrated by my lack of success when I came across something that stopped me in my tracks.  A crown of thorns advertised with my favorite tag, "one size fit all."  I stopped, grimaced, and tried to sort this out in my head.

But the more I thought about it, I think these people are on to something.  Granted, they probably did so unwittingly,  but there is some really good theology here.  After all, the crown of thorns Jesus Christ was forced to wear, was not for a select few.  Not by a long shot.  The crown he wore out of his love for mankind, was for all people.  

I've heard it said that it was our sin that put Jesus on the cross, but it was His love that kept Him there.  And as you look ahead to the coming Easter season, be reminded that you played a role in that tragic event.  That crown and those nails were what we deserve, but by his wounds we a forgiven, healed, and free.

Have a blessed Easter!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Some of you may remember Monte Hall, that big-smiling host of the 60's and 70's TV show, "Let's Make a Deal."  There's a new version on today.  New host, new stuff.  Not as good.

The object was to dress up goofy, compete for a prize, then be challenged to trade what we win for what's behind curtain number one, two, or three.  Sometimes it was a good trade.  Who wouldn't trade a pair of oven mitts for a cruise?  But other times contestants traded a Skidoo only to win a belly button lint remover.  Eeks!  Bad move.

Sometimes we come to God like that "Big Game Show Host in the Sky."  We often allow greed or emotion to guide our thoughts.  Yes, we have a pretty good life, but, "God, I want more!"  We've been blessed with a job, house, food on the table and most of our kids haven't been arrested.  We're blessed.  And still, we want more.

Or we come with disobedient lives, full of hypocrisy, and still want to make a deal with God so we can be blessed.  We say, "Sure God, I might have rampant sin going on over in this area of my life, but let's not talk about that.  What I really need is a new job." And then we wonder why God doesn't answer our prayer.

Or we fail to pray, worship, read His Word, serve and love others, and ask why God won't heal us when we are sick.  We forget what Isaiah shares in scripture, "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear'' (Isaiah 59:2 NIV) .

Could that mean what I think it means?  Most certainly.  When I continue to defy or ignore the life God has designed for me, that's my choice.   Free will allows me to choose my way or God's way.  But when I do, it's against God's nature to honor my prayers the way I would like or the way that will bring me peace and freedom.

When I call on God, seek His ways, humbly confess my sin, and turn from it, He will indeed hear from heaven, forgive me, and bring me health (2 Chronicles 7:14).  Such gifts will always be better than what's behind any curtain.  Amen?