There is none so bland as he who will not see . . .

Let the bland eyes see!

Society hypes up the bland while suppressing and holding down life’s most exciting aspect — the splendor, magnificence, and creativity of God that surrounds us in nature and is suppressed in our minds and souls.  There is none so bland as she/he who will not see the glory of God.

Scottish philosopher, Robert Adamson (1852-1902) put it this way: “Everything seems to be repeated endlessly — not so much the good things but the bland things — the ordinary things — the weaker things get repeated — the stronger things get suppressed and held down and hidden.”

For 5 1/2 years I worked with more than 1,400 men as the counselor/chaplain in The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Nashville. Although those guys had tried almost everything they had wanted to try, ignoring moral restraints and seeking to fulfill all their cravings; rather than excitement, they discovered a sense of bland sameness in all their forms of rebellion and self-destructive activities. They felt compelled to continually up the dosage of destruction in their lives, to violate more of their moral principles, to expand their experiences of evil, in an endless struggle to try to stay one step ahead of blandness, boredom, and depression.

However, there is a lifestyle that is never bland — the daily pursuit of a relationship with the living, resurrected Jesus Christ.  I’m not talking about religion, for it is loaded with boredom. Many people can’t even sit through one hour of religion without getting sleepy and/or bored. The difference between religion about Jesus and an ever-increasing relationship with Jesus is the difference between watching grass grow and riding a world-class roller coaster.

If you will read the stories (testimonies) of people who have spent their lives pursuing the living, resurrected Jesus Christ, you will find them to be the most exciting, passionate, and fulfilled people on earth. Why not google a few of them and see for yourself: John Wesley, Mother Teresa, William Seymour, George Fox, Catherine Booth, Augustine, Catherine of Siena, Francis of Assisi, Dorothy Day, C.H. Mason, Watchman Nee, William Booth.


Why take the road to bland, when instead you can be filled with the presence, power and excitement of the living Jesus?  Two early Christ-followers, Peter & John, put it like this: “As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Posted in alcohol rehab, Augustine, C.H. Mason, Catherine Booth, Catherine of Siena, Dorothy Day, drug rehab, Francis of Assisi, George Fox, Jesus Christ, John Wesley, Mother Teresa, Nashville, Peter & John, rehab, Robert Adamson, Salvation Army ARC, testimony, Watchman Nee, We cannot help but speak, William Booth, William Seymour | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beyond laid back lectures to lively one anothering!

Learning by lectures while leaving out supervised, hands on experience, leaves learners unable to effectively do in real life what they learned in the lectures. Examples: Would you trust?

1) A doctor who make As in all her lecture classes, but never actually touched a human body or medical equipment?
2) An auto mechanic who excelled in lecture learning, but was never allowed to see or touch a real engine?
3) A Christ-follower who heard a sermon every week, but was never given the opportunity to apply any of the sermon material in actual, supervised interaction with other people?

–“There are 59 ‘one another’ statements in the New Testament. That’s right, 59. That’s just under 60 exhortations in Scripture to actually ‘do’ something towards another person. Many of them have been taught by the church in the Sunday pulpit but few of them have the opportunity to be lived out by believers within the context of most church programming.” –Andrew Mason
–“The primary activity of the (early) church was one-anothering one another.” – Andy Stanley


When ordinary Christ-followers are allowed to actively “one another” in church meetings, the living, resurrected Jesus Christ, living in them, is then free to speak out through them! They learn by hands on activity, not just by passive listening. They learn how to flow in the Spirit, not just in a church meeting, but in everyday life. They become effective at hearing God and obeying His promptings in their hearts. They develop the confidence and courage to minister to one another and also to minister to the people they meet in day to day life.

Come and experience a church meeting line none other in Nashville at The Salvation Army Berry Street, 225 Berry St. 37207 on Sundays at 10:45 am. There you will experience:
–Many tiny sermons instead of one big one;
–Lots of Scriptures from various people;
–Unprogrammed but beautifully organized;
–Spontaneous sharing but led by the Spirit;
–Open hearts with love overflowing.

Posted in Nashville, Bible, simple church, sermons, Spirit-led, Salvation Army, one anothering, unprogrammed meetings, How many one anothers are in the, Andrew Mason, Andy Stanley | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Godviously (With Respect To Those Who Don’t See God)

God is obvious

Some things are obvious. To me God is Godvious!
–Nothing makes nothing. It takes a someone to make something. I believe God is Godvious!
–A painter puts his name on his paintings. God puts His name all over Creation. He’s not hiding from you; God is Godvious!

As long as I can remember I’ve had a deep awareness of God. My nonreligious, non-church-going parents said that when I first started talking, I would frequently talk to them about God and ask questions about Him. Although no one taught me about God or encouraged me, as a child I talked to God every night before I went to sleep.

Eventually, partially as a result of my consistent asking, my parents stated taking our family to church. However, I found church extremely boring. Still, I went through classes, joined the church, and was baptized by sprinkling into a Presbyterian church when I was about 12. As a result of joining a Christian church I thought that made me a Christian.

Then one day, while sitting through a dull sermon, a question came to my mind: “If you were born a Hindu, what would you be today?” I thought about it and realized that I would have been a Hindu. Then another question ran through my thoughts: “Why do you think you’re a Christian?” And I suddenly realized that I only believed in Christ because church had taught me about Him. So I rejected Christianity, Christ, the Bible, Jesus’ resurrection, and all religion. However, I couldn’t reject what was obvious (Godvious) to me — the reality of some sort of creator. I wasn’t sure that the creator was a personal God, but I still believed that there was some kind or rational entity behind our existence. So I began to call myself an agnostic. However, I continued to talk to the unknown god.

Then one day I walked into a dorm meeting where ordinary people were talking about Jesus Christ like He is a living, personal being and actually in the room with us. Their words, their passion, their faith, their experiences, stirred me deeply and made the unknown god Godvious to me! I’ve never been the same since — never not felt God’s love, God’s presence — even in my most painful and confused times and my most difficult trials.

So if God is Godvious, why do so many people deny that they see Him? I believe it’s because God is like a window or a windshield or a pair of glasses or contact lenses. He’s right in front of our faces, but we look right through Him. We are distracted by and focused on things in the distance, so we look right past God and we fail to see what is Godviously right in front of our eyes.

Posted in Christianity, conversion story, Creator, God is like, Hinduism, personal testimony, salvation | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Books From Heaven?

As I think about worship and how Christians meet together, I continue to find books that back up what the Spirit is teaching me and how we meet at The Salvation Army Berry Street. I found these two books visiting a used bookstore yesterday.

2 books & me

God calls His people to meet together so that they can practice and develop the lifestyle of following the living, resurrected Jesus Christ. Church (ekklesia) is an arena for spiritual interaction and ministry to one another.

“It is through the genuine community of the church that Christians can tell their stories, celebrate their life and hope, and acknowledge their tragedies.” –Rodney Clapp, A Peculiar People.

“Church is a gathering around the person of Jesus Christ and a living in His Spirit . . . It demands that there be some real sharing of life together, namely, that we pray together; the we celebrate our rites of passage together; that we celebrate some of our everyday joys, fears, and feasts together; that we are responsible to each other and open to each other as regards mutual correction and challenge; that we are responsible together for the ministry of the church.” –Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing.

The Bible is like sheet music. Someone can give a lecture on a piece of sheet music, but that falls far short of the purpose of sheet music. The purpose of sheet music is to be performed by a band and/or a choir. The Bible was not given to us to be the subject of continual lectures. It was given to us to be performed — to be lived out (incarnated) by a group of people.

Power to the people! Christ’s Presence and power should not be set aside and ignored, but released through ordinary people as they show and tell what Jesus has done! A worship meeting that is set up for one man to run it and control it, while everybody else is required to passively sit and silently listen, falls short of the New Testament concept of the body of Christ! It misses the mark of 1 Corinthians 14:26.

“Far from being an opportunity for people to wrestle with the principalities and powers–to wage the war of the Lamb–worship was decided never to be controversial, always to be comfortable and sentimental. Christians were taught that worship was preeminently their opportunity to be ‘fed.’ But it was rarely recognized that to be fed is to be infantilized. To say I go to church to be fed is the same as saying, ‘I go to church so I can act like a baby.'” –Rodney Clapp in A Peculiar People.

Posted in Pecular People, performing the Bible, Rodney Clapp, Ronald Roheiser, sheet music, spiritual formation, The Holy Longing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

I was deeply moved, challenged, and confirmed by a humble man with a passion for Christ!

This week, I was deeply moved, challenged, and confirmed by a man with a passion for Christ! His name is Major Dean Hinson and he is the president of The Salvation Army Evangeline Booth Bible College in Atlanta.

As a Salvation Army sergeant in the Kentucky/Tennessee Division, I was required to attend officers councils this week where Major Hinson was the speaker. As you may know from reading my blogs, I find much preaching to be dry, shallow, and mental rather than spiritual. However, not so with Major Hinson.

dean hinson

As he spoke, his passionate love for God was evident as he was frequently on the verge of tears. His words penetrated my heart and the hearts of my fellow officers.

As Major Hinson opened up his heart and shared about Abraham’s willingness and courage to hear and obey God rather than being bound by tradition, my courage grew stronger. Abraham didn’t follow a program, he followed the direct leading of the living God.

Major Hinson shared about how Elijah didn’t try to persuaded the prophets of Baal with his oratory, but rather set up a contest where the living God could actually demonstrate His power. His message confirmed my inner yearning to see church meetings move beyond lecture by asking God to show up with His fire and then allowing people the time to listen to God so that His flames can break out in their hearts. Major Hinson put it this way: “If the Spirit is not blowing through our lives, the fire is going to go out. If we are just going on the way we’ve been going on, the fire is going to go out. Is the fire still burning?”

Major Hinson also talked about how we can substitute programs for God, instead of allowing God do things His way. He said:
–“I can substitute my plans and programs instead of what God wants to do.”
–“Look for what God is doing. God’s plan is not what we expect. It’s out of the box. We’re not used to it.”
–“You can’t declare Jesus as Lord and then say ‘Jesus, You need to do it this way.'”

The Spirit moved powerfully in those meetings with Major Hinson. Several times I began to weep as I saw God working as people responded to His promptings. I am so encouraged!

I went to McKay Used Books in Nashville today and as I was browsing I found the book, Models of the Church, published in 1974, by Avery Dulles, a Catholic priest. I got home and found these words from Dulles that further confirm the vision in my heart to see church meetings allow ordinary men and women to share from the heart as they are prompted by the Spirit. Dulles said:

“Because the church carries with it so large a heritage from the past, there is a constant temptation for its members to cling to the ways of their ancestors . . . If life is to be breathed into those dead bones of doctrinal, ritual, and hierarchical organization that, in the eyes of many viewers now constitute the church, the Spirit of the Lord must send prophets to His people . . . new models of thinking about the church.”

I thank God for Major Dean Hinson’s willingness to sacrifice his comfort zone and to allow God to deeply move his heart. As he opened himself up I (and others) could see, hear, and be moved by the living God’s work in his life.

Posted in Abraham, Atlanta, Avery Dulles, Elijah, McKay Used Books, Models of the Church, Nashville, prophets of Baal | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tag Team Blog # 2 — Your questions about participatory church . . .

I would appreciate you helping me write this Tag Team Blog.

Please post any questions and/concerns you have about participatory church in the comments. I will do my best to answer them. Thanks for your help!

Tag Team Blog

Posted in alternative church, fresh expressions, messy church, organic church, pagan Christianity, participatory church, questions, tag team | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

The power of interacting to share God’s inner actions!

There’s nothing quite like a group of people interacting to share God’s inner actions. It’s an amazing thing to experience! (God’s inner actions include: spiritual insights, Scriptures that drop into the mind, the working of the conscience, the “still, small voice,” dreams, promptings from the Holy Spirit, remorse, interior visions or pictures, inspiration, healing thoughts, gifts of the Spirit, etc.)

Francisco Palau said: “God’s great work in man takes place in the interior.” The living, resurrected Jesus Christ is doing incredible things in the hearts of people all around us. However, because our culture trains (and even compels) us to keep quiet about our experiences with God, many people falsely believe that God is not working today.

We ordinary people, who have experienced the living God on the inside, need to shout it from the housetops (and post it in blogs and on social media)! We need to let the world know that Jesus Christ is just as powerful and present today as He was in the 1st Century! (If you are a Christ-follower, you are a preacher, so persistently and enthusiastically share what Christ is doing in your life, every way you can!)

When Christ-followers interact
And openly share the inner actions
That Christ has done
In each other’s heart,
His power and presence
Overflow into the room!
(“If an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!’” –1 Corinthians 14:24-25.)

inner actions

The most enthusiastic people on earth?
–Followers of the living, resurrected Jesus should be the most excited and enthusiastic people on earth! Yet we are often just the opposite–bored and boring. If you are a believer in the living, resurrected Jesus, it’s time to get passionate about your love for Him and let it overflow to everybody around you!

Posted in 1 Corinthians 14, alternative Christianity, dreams and visions, enthusiasm, experiences with God, experiencing God, Francisco Palau, interior castle, prophecy, prophesying, quote, still small voice | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment