what is influencing me

These clips are by Ed Stetzer at the recent Verge Conference Letha and I attended in Austin. Watching this may help you understand where I am headed.

inspired by a couple of old geezers

My daily Bible reading has me in the book of Joshua. Toward the end of the book, the Israelites have crossed into the Promised Land but there are lots of specifics still to be hammered out. I came across three verses that were pretty inspiring. I needed a pick-up on the Monday after time change! This worked.

Joshua 13:1 “When Joshua was an old man, the LORD said to him, “You are growing old, and much land remains to be conquered.” I love this. God is not allowing Joshua to come up with any excuses for not pursuing his dreams. He makes it clear – in essence saying, “you are not dead yet, get busy!” Sometimes we get tired or burned out or we want to retire. God won’t have any of that. As long as your heart is beating, God has land for you to conquer.

Joshua 14:10b-12a “Today I am eighty-five years old. 11 I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. 12 So give me the hill country that the LORD promised me. You will remember that as scouts we found the descendants of Anak living there in great, walled towns. But if the LORD is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the LORD said.” I love this even more. Caleb is an old man with a great history of being a tough guy for God. At eighty-five, he is just as much of a butt kicker as he was in his thirties. We may laugh at old guys who don’t know they are old – you know what? I wouldn’t mess with Caleb! A new battle cry for us all: “Give me the hill country!” This tells me that God won’t let the vision die and we shouldn’t either.

Joshua 18:3 Then Joshua asked them, “How long are you going to wait before taking possession of the remaining land the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has given to you?” This is Joshua’s challenge to the seven tribes who had yet to possess the land that God had promised them. And it is an excellent challenge to those of us who are still living around the outskirts of what God has planned for us. How long are you going to wait? Direct, succinct, to the point. And impossible to ignore. I am not waiting any longer!

These three passages got me going on this Monday. I hope they will do the same for you.


ideas I won’t use tomorrow

It’s Saturday night, wrap up time for my message. Tomorrow, I am preaching part 2 of Awaken (an invitation to spiritual vitality). I have a lot that I would like to say and there is a lot that I am not able to say.

If you want to hear what I have to say, set your clock forward one hour and get to church on time. By the way, I bet I have heard 30 times the last few days someone say, “don’t forget daylight savings time!”. So I won’t believe the people who say they did not know. They just don’t want to come to church and any excuse will do. 🙂

The major verse I am launching from is:
Ephesians 5:16 “Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!” (The Message) This verse probably speaks for itself.

There won’t be enough time tomorrow for me to share:

Judges 16 where Samson slept while his girlfriend removed his power.
Matthew 25:7 where the five foolish young girls overslept for their weddings.
Revelation 3:1b-3I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. 3 Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.” (NLT)

So there, I just shared it. Now, let’s wake up and get busy doing what God has directed us to do!

Blessings, everyone!

words for leaders

Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. 8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. 9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:6-9 (NLT)

God speaks directly to Joshua as he assumes leadership of the Israelites just prior to entering the Promised Land. Maybe He is speaking to us, too.

3 times God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous. Strength and courage must be important for a leader.

God tells him to: 1. Obey the instructions, 2. Don’t stray from the instructions, 3. Study the instructions, 4. Mediate on the instructions. We can assume that the instructions (God’s Word) are central to success.

God had earlier said “You will be successful in everything you do.” He later qualifies that statement by saying, “Only then (IF you obey, don’t stray away from, study and meditate on the instructions) will you prosper and succeed in everything you do.” God makes the conditions of success very clear.

One final word to leader by God: “The Lord is with you wherever you go.”

Hey leaders, God has appointed us for this time and this season. Let’s lead people with courage, stay committed to God’s plan and give God glory for any success we enjoy.

Jesus is not a germophobe

My name is Rick and I hate germs. When people sneeze in public, I hold my breath until I can move away from them. I open public restroom doors with a paper towel in my hand. When someone brings me cookies that they and their kids baked, I don’t eat them. (kids touch things that I am not interested in eating). I don’t like germs.

At Holy Communion on Sunday, I told the worshipers that Jesus is not a germophobe. In other words, He is not afraid of being contaminated by us. He never cringes when we come to Him with our dirtiness. He doesn’t hold His breath when we walk by coughing. In fact, He calls us and embraces us when we are at our worst. We are sick and diseased and contagious with sin. And Jesus loves it when we let Him embrace us.

I caught a cold this week. Some scoundrel at one of our services heard me talk about how I hate it when I am being hugged and then the person says, “I have been sick as a dog!”. Gee thanks, whoever you are.

Jesus takes our colds and pains and hurts and diseases and sins. He is not afraid of our ugliness. He takes all of our stuff and nails it to the cross. “Christ had no sin, but God made him become sin so that in Christ we could become right with God.” II Corinthians 5:21 (NCV)

pushing back

Our worship event at 9:00 on Sunday was quite a roller-coaster ride. While I think we were successful (in that we were faithful, we did not quit, we delivered what God wanted, and we worshiped God), there was some serious resistance.

From a technical standpoint, if it could go wrong, it did. Without going into specifics, the first half of the service was a choppy as I have seen it. We couldn’t get into a flow, there were numerous interruptions. Sounds like a disaster, huh?

Not really. Our church is pretty good about overlooking glitches and we recover rapidly. There is a lot of grace. This may be because we hold the standards of expectation high and we usually are a pretty smooth operation. I think we were able to overcome the technical difficulties and I think we won. At least it wasn’t as bad as a 10:45 service recently where the fire alarm went off!

I think the resistance was spiritual. A few people mentioned to me that they sensed the same thing. Obviously, the enemy of our soul does not like us focusing on the Lover of our soul. He tired to stop us or at least distract us. He failed.

Some of the team discussed after our day of worship how humbling it is when something goes wrong in a service. They were reminded to stay focused, stay in the moment of worship and not get lazy. We also encouraged one another with the idea that there is a margin for error. The success of a worship event is not up to us or our level of performance. We certainly are supposed to give God our best, but when our best stinks, we are counting on God’s grace to cover us. And it does.

Regarding Sunday: People worshiped. They heard the Word of God. They prayed. They encouraged each other. I think it was a successful service.

The moment I demand perfection from others, I will be held to the same standard. No thanks.

a loss

Letha and I are attending the funeral of a dear lady who departed this earth on Friday. Bobbye Linton, wife of our friend, Pastor Charles Linton died from the results of cancer. The Lintons had been married for 52 years. Our prayers and support are with Dr. Linton as he mourns. God bless this dear man.