Wednesday, February 23, 2011


In the horse world, people talk about “schooling” their horse. This entails teaching your horse a new move or activity, and then perfecting that move or activity with practice. You must get the horse to understand what it is that you would like them to do. Part of that training, as Clinton Anderson always says is to “make the right thing easy, and the wrong thing hard”. You also need to be willing to ask as easy as possible, but as firm as necessary.

I see God doing much the same thing in our lives. There are things He wants us to understand and then to do. He helps us to understand in so many creative ways. He started by sending us the living word, His son, Jesus Christ. He also speaks to us through the written word, the Bible. He speaks to us through circumstances He allows in our lives. And, He speaks to us through people he places in our lives.

He lets us know what the “right” thing is and makes an easy way for us to accomplish that; through the power of the Holy Spirit. The “wrong” thing is trying to accomplish His goals through our own talents, might and power. The right thing really is easy and the wrong thing becomes very hard.

He also is a very compassionate God. When He is teaching us, He asks us very lightly at first and if we are sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit then we learn the lesson quickly. If, we are more stubborn or hard headed, He may have to ask a little firmer. That firmness should never be confused with meanness or anger; it is God lovingly, but firmly moving us to be transformed into the image of His beloved son.

Don’t know if my horse enjoys the schooling I do with him, but personally, I am thankful for the schooling God does with me each and every day.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Not very faithful

I haven't been a very faithful blogger over the past many months. Just could not seem to get motivated to write anything.

Lately the Lord has been speaking to me about writing again, so I am pondering several ideas to write about and hopefully will be posting encouragement from the word on a more timely basis.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Organic Church in small town Texas (con't)

Organic Church in small town Texas
Wed, 4-22-09

This Wednesday I was unable to attend the group due to a phone conference I was committed to that started at 7:30 PM. I asked Betsy to share about our group for Wed. Her impressions are what follow.

On Wednesday, April 22, our meeting was scheduled for 6:30 pm at our house. I put in a roast at 1 pm to cook, and then made a salad ahead of time. Marcia called at 5 pm to ask what was on the menu. I laughed, and told her just to bring what she wanted, but then relented and told her what I was making. She said something about muffins and banana bread, and then we chatted some more and hung up.

At 6:31 pm, I left the house for a very quick trip to the grocery store. The last time Jim had been to meeting, he was drinking a Dr Pepper again, and I had determined to have some DP on hand for him the next time. We generally don’t have sodas on hand, so this was a big step for me. Anyway, I remembered late that day that I still didn’t have any DP in the house. When I returned to the house at 6:36 pm, I said, “Oh, good Mary’s here!” and I noticed that Marcia and Paul’s van was in the driveway, blocking my way to the garage. I just drove into the carport and went in the house the other way. Marcia giggled as I said she was blocking my way, “Jackie directed me to that place.” And Jackie added, “You just shouldn’t have left so late.” I agreed good-naturedly and set the sodas on the counter.

We sat in the living room for a few minutes, and then I looked at Marcia and said, “Is Jan coming?” “She said she might be able to make it if Julie could drive her, but she had another teleconference tonight at 7:30.” So then we decided to go ahead and have our meal.

I walked into the kitchen, opened the oven, started to get the roast out, and promptly dropped it! Gravy went all over the cabinets and floor. Oh, well. No harm was done. I simply got a bunch of paper towels and wiped it up. There was still plenty of gravy left for us, and the roast was delicious! We enjoyed eating together, and just sat around the table, the 5 of us.

As we talked, it became apparent that tonight was Mary’s night to share. It was beautiful listening to her share her heart about her family, and learning more about her than before. At the end we just naturally started praying for her granddaughter that she was so burdened for, as well as some others in our circle of influence that we felt burdened about.

Jackie shared a chapter out of a book by John Fischer, True Believers Don’t Ask Questions, which we all enjoyed, as it had to do with separating things in life into sacred and secular. It talks about Phil Keaggy and how “invisible” he has become to unbelievers since he began recording with “Christian” record labels.

When we looked up, we all suddenly checked our watches and were completely astounded to find that it was nearly 10 pm! We so enjoyed the time we shared and prayed. I felt truly blessed as I hugged and said good-bye to all.

Organic Church in small town Texas
Sunday, 4-26-09

We met today in the home of the Koellns. Everyone began arriving around 1 PM with pot luck dishes in hand. Today we had a large group, but some of the regulars were not there. Betsy was not feeling well, so she and Jackie were unable to attend. Marcia’s parents, Marc and Colleen, came along with both of Marcia’s adult sons, their wives and young daughters. So, we had four generations of the same family with us today. Jim and I were there along with Mary. Marcia’s teenage daughter, Jamie, was with friends at another function. Also, Mike and Karen and their kids were not with us today.

We started by praying over the wonderful meal. Tim prayed this time. As we ate, we discussed many different issues of the day. Earlier that day, I had snagged a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship and Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ” off the status from my friend David Flower’s facebook page. Thought it would be a good point of discussion. Also, that morning, I had visited another site on the internet, and had seen a daily devotional on Ps 33:20-22. We discussed the verse and how we put our hope in the Lord. How we are to trust Him wholly. Marc brought up Prov 3:5-6 and how the two passages go hand in hand.

Mary shared some about a picture God had given her. She was feeling last week that everything was out of control. She saw herself standing amongst all kinds of things whirling around her head and shoulders. But, when she looked down, she saw she was standing on a rock. As we all stand on the rock that is Jesus, we know we are on solid ground.

Greg and Dana’s little girl was fussy, nap time, so they left shortly after dinner. Others also had things to attend to that day, so the group broke up a little earlier than usual.

We will meet again on Wed. at the Robinetts.
The brothers Koelln, Greg and Tim with Tim's daughter Lucy.
Marcia and Paul
Amy and Mary
Sharing our meal
Good food and good fellowship

Friday, May 1, 2009

Organic Chruch in small town Texas

Organic Church

Much has been written in the past several years about something called “Organic Church”. Basically organic is defined as “Resembling a living organism in organization or development; interconnected” ( Church comes from the Greek word, Ekklesia, meaning a gathering. Therefore, Organic Church could be defined as a gathering of the body (living organism) of Christ that is interconnected.

A brother, and new friend of mine, David Flowers, has been posting notes on Facebook and on his blog about a group that meets in the Houston area. It has been a great encouragement to me and others as well to get a small glimpse of what this type of gathering looks like and how when we gather we place Christ at the center of all things. He has encouraged me to share the life in our group as well.

So let me begin at the beginning. More than two years ago, God began to stir in my heart. And friends, when God begins to stir, you can almost be guaranteed there is a move of some type coming. That move for me came in the form of leaving the traditional church setting to begin gathering with several other believers in a more “organic” fashion. (Seems that God also was moving in the hearts of several friends from the same traditional church.) Before we knew what was happening, we were meeting together in homes, searching together for life as part of the body of Christ where He takes preeminence in all things (Col 1:15-20).

The group has changed over the last year, some have come for a short while and then gone. Some have joined us after our beginnings. We anticipate the group will always be a dynamic, living group. Our hearts' desire is to live in community with one another. To begin to fulfill the 58 one another commands in the New Testament and that our love for one another will spill out into our communities and draw others to Christ. Our focus in neither inward, nor outward – but on our living Lord Jesus.

So for the next several weeks, I will attempt to give you a glimpse into our group.

Let me begin with the Passover Wednesday (4-8-09).

We gathered at the home of the Robinetts about 6:30 PM. Our group that night consisted of Betsy and Jackie, Paul and Marcia, Mary, myself and Julie, my adult daughter. We put out all the food we had prepared in the kitchen. Right now when we meet, we always do pot luck so that no one person is over burdened. After everyone filled their plates in the kitchen, we went into the dining room to eat. We enjoyed good food and great conversation. Some of the conversation is sharing our everyday lives with each other. Usually there is abundant laughter as we tell stories of current or past events in each of our lives. Much of the conversation is about Jesus, who He is and what He has done.

Just about sundown, Betsy lit two candles she had placed in the center of the table and the prayed over the unleavened bread she had prepared earlier that day. We then shared the bread by passing it around and each tearing off a piece. Jackie then poured grape juice into small glasses and we passed them around. As we ate and drank, we talked of Jesus and His work on the cross.

That day was also Betsy’s birthday. Marcia has prepared a chocolate cake with cinnamon, at Betsy’s request, for her birthday. We shared cake and wished Betsy a happy birthday. It was so natural to share a meal, share the elements of the communion table and then share in a birthday celebration. The family feeling is like none other. We are indeed bonded together as brothers and sisters in Christ as a family.

Julie and I had to leave right at eight o’clock as I had an obligation to be on a conference call. We said our goodbyes and headed home.

We decided not to meet on Easter Sunday. Many in the group had relatives in for the weekend and needed to spend time with them.

Wednesday, April 15.

We met again in the home of the Robinetts. We began with our usual pot luck meal. I had been in town for another meeting and did not have time to prepare food, so Chicken Express it was. Betsy had a plethora or organic produce from her food co-op, so she chopped and stir fried veggies. They were marvelous. Again we gathered around the dining room table and shared stories. This week is was Betsy and Jackie, Paul and Marcia and I.

After eating, we moved into the living room. As we learn to listen to the Holy Spirit and let Jesus direct our meetings, we desire to fulfill 1 Cor. 14:26 and let each member of the body function in their giftedness for the edification of the body. I brought a printout of an article Milt Rodriguez had posted on his blog - entitled “The Holistic Church”. We read the article and discussed it. Marcia then had a question about the passage in John 2:12-22, where she had been reading earlier that day. We discussed that passage and then compared it to the other time Jesus cleared the Temple in Matt. 21:12-13.

We ended our evening around 8:30 PM as Marcia had to travel to Lubbock the next day and needed to get to bed at a decent hour.

Sunday, April 19.

Sundays always take on a little different flavor than do Wednesdays. We meet in the home of the Koellns around 1 PM. We also do a pot luck and usually eat on paper plates. There are several others who join us on Sundays, Marcia’s mother and her adult sons and their wives and small children and another family from the small town where we meet. Marcia and Paul’s teenage daughter usually has a friend or two that comes and eats with us. Marcia really has a heart for the lonely and disconnected in her neighborhood. She is always inviting someone to come and join us. It is good to see who God brings each week.

This week we had Shepherd’s pie, pasta, green beans, potato salad, sloppy joes and grilled meat. Something about sitting around a table sharing life giving, good food that opens people up to talking about themselves and their lives. The conversation is always good.

As we ate, I posed a question to the group. “Why is it that house churches are OK in China, Africa, and other countries, but not in America?” Mike asked me what type of negative comments I had heard about meeting in homes. One comment was about small groups falling into heresy. Jamie, one of the teenagers asked what heresy is. That sparked a good discussion on that topic. After that discussion, the kids, ages 10 to 17, decided to gather in another room of the house.

That left the adults to continue pondering my original question. Mike’s answer hit the nail right on the head. He basically said that the aversion to meeting in homes is fear driven. That if we meet in small groups, we can’t hide and we might actually be in a position to share deep hurts, feelings, hopes, desires and people would see all our foibles and then maybe not like us so much anymore. Betsy also brought up the cultural differences. She has a unique viewpoint because she grew up a missionary kid in Mexico.

One of the other members then asked us to pray for a young couple who is struggling in their marriage. We spent the next 30 – 45 minutes praying for this couple. It was powerful.

We ended with singing a song and thanking God for all He has done for us.

We will meet again on Wednesday at the Robinetts.

Jackie and Betsy in the kitchen
The kitchen table, Chicken Express and all
Marcia's beautiful apple treats- YUM!
Paul and Marcia
me, Jackie, Paul and Marcia
Jackie and his beautiful adult daughter, Natalie
Women in the Koelln kitchen
Eating at the Koellns

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Meditating on "One Another"

One Anothering

There are a great number of commands in the New Testament that speak to the issue of how we as believers are to treat one another. As we purposely live in community with others who are committed to us and our growing relationship with our Lord Jesus, I think many of them bear revisiting.

Here is just a smattering of these verses.

John 13:34-35 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this--not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way.

Romans 15:5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Galatians 5:26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

1 Thessalonians 3:12 and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you;

Hebrews 3:13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

1 Peter 4:8-10 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

Some are stated in the positive, such as love one another. Others are stated in the negative, such as therefore let us not judge one another. They all serve the same purpose, to encourage us to love our fellow brothers and sisters with the same love with which God loves us. The impossible thing is that we can never accomplish any of this without devotion to Christ and tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit. As Christ is the center and head of our lives, these commands become easier and easier to put into practice. As 1 Thes 3:12 states, it is the Lord who causes us to abound in love for one another.

What joy there is in sharing the life of Christ and this physical life, our common journey, and being an encouragement and not a stumbling block to those on the journey with us. We all fail at accomplishing loving one another at times, but as we seek after Christ as the ekklesia, the gathering, it is so exciting to see Jesus assume his rightful place as the head of the body, to see believers growing in Christ and in love for one another.

Be encouraged, with Christ as the head, we can love one another. And, as others observe that love being lived out, they too will be drawn to Christ.

May the mind of Christ, the word of God touch the very heart of your spirit today, for the Word is truly alive and powerful.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Iron sharpens Iron

I'm so glad God made us a body, His body. We fit together and function to bring glory to His son. But just as sometimes there is distress in our physical bodies, there can be distress in our spiritual body also. As we join in the sufferings of Christ, and as our sin nature pops out its ugly head, things don't always go so well (from our point of view anyway).

The things God allows into our lives both physical and spiritual are to mold us into the image of His beloved Son. I love Philippians 4:6 which tells us to "be anxious for nothing". Interestingly enough, if you separate that last word into two, it says "be anxious for NO thing". And I take that to mean, NO thing - not money, not relationships, not food, not a place to live, not a job, not an addiction, not anything you can experience or think of - No thing. But instead, by prayer and supplication, AND HERE IS THE KEY, with thanksgiving in our hearts, make your requests be made known to Him.

Wow, we should be thankful for everything God allows into our lives. That, my friend, is easier said than done. Those things we can hardly speak of and don't want to think about such as abuse and abandonment, we are supposed to make our requests made known to Him with THANKSGIVING. How can we be thankful for such horrible sin? Well, it is not the sin we are thankful for, it is the process God lovingly uses to conform us into the image of His Son so we can more fully function as the Body of Christ. From our point of view, we think God surely could have used something else. But, He is all knowing, and all powerful and he allows circumstances into our lives for our benefit, not to hurt us.

I recently have been challenged by a brother (he did not challenge me, but our discussion about salvation and his beliefs did) who believes a Doctrine called Universal Salvation. It basically states that since God's desire is that all men should be saved and that none should perish, so that is exactly what will happen. Because, every thing God desires must surely come to pass since He is God. Even if the person dies in this life without accepting Christ as savior, he will still have a second chance through some sort of temporary punishment, because he believes that a loving God could never punish for eternity, this person will come to acknowledge Christ and thus be saved and live with God forever.

This challenged me to search the scriptures and see what the Bible had to say on the subject, thus Iron sharpening Iron. This brother's beliefs and his expression of them caused me to delve deeper into the Word and ask the teacher, the Holy Spirit, to reveal to me the truth. I am thankful for that.

So even though this situation might seem difficult, a clash of beliefs, it was good in that it caused me to seek Him more and ask that the truth of His word would resonate with the truth of Christ in my spirit.

So don't be afraid when our brothers and sisters, the other members of the body have a different view. Be as those noble Bereans and search the scriptures for yourself. Keep on loving that brother or sister and at this point just agree to disagree.

God has it all under control.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Relying on Who God is

I'm convinced daily that if we as Christians REALLY pondered in our hearts, as Mary did at the news of her virgin pregnancy, who God is, we would have a whole lot less to worry about.

God is Elohim - the creator. All things are created by God, including our personalities and individual bents along with our spiritual gifts. So celebrate who God created you to be.

God is Jehovah - the great I AM. The self-existent one. He needs nothing or no one. And yet, He choose to create us to have an intimate and fulfilling fellowship with him.

God is Rapha - the healer. God is able to heal our physical bodies and our emotional hurts as well. Call on Jehovah Rapha today if you are in need of healing.

God is Shalom - peace. In need of peace today? Call on the God of peace and see if with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit you don't have the peace that passes all understanding even during the roughest times.

God is Jirah - the provider. Are you in need today? Need a friend to talk to, need a job, need money to pay the bills, need a more intimate relationship with your creator then call on Jehovah Jirah. He will provide.

God is Roi - the God who sees. God sees your every move. God sees the tears you cry. God sees the circumstances that seem bigger than He is right now. But, not only does God see, He cares. Zephaniah 3:17 reminds us that God is with us, He is mighty to save, He takes delight in us, He quiets us with his love and He rejoices over us with singing.

God is perfect Righteousness, He is Just, He is Sovereign, He is perfect Love, He is Ever-present, He is All knowing, He is all Powerful, He never changes, He is Eternal and God is Truth.

Need I say more.

Trust the God who is all these things today with the childlike faith Jesus talked about. We know His ways are not our ways and we know we can stand firm on the promise that if we trust in Him with all our hearts and don't lean on our understanding, if we trust Him in ALL our ways (physical, financial, relationships, spiritual, emotional) He will indeed make our paths straight.

But the best news of all, God is our Abba!

Our daddy who wants to comfort, instruct, and love His children. Know that today you are loved by your Abba. And rest in the knowledge that there is nothing you can do to make God love you any less than He does right and there is nothing you can do to make God love you any more than He does right now.

Rest my dear brother or sister in the Righteous Right Hand of the Almighty.