Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Pax


All that matters is to be at one with the living God
To be a creature in the house of the God of Life.
Like a cat asleep on a chair
at peace, in peace
and at one with the master of the house,
with the mistress at home,
at home in the house of the living,
sleeping on the hearth, and yawning before the fire.
Sleeping on the hearth of the living world,
yawning at home before the fire of life
feeling the presence of the living God
like a great reassurance
a deep calm in the heart
a presence
as of a master sitting at the board
in his own and greater being,
in the house of life.

-- by D.H. Lawrence

Monday, November 28, 2005

Prayer and Desire

True prayer is only another name for the love of God.

Its excellence does not consist in the multitude of our words; for our Father knoweth what things we have need of before we ask Him.

The true prayer is that of the heart, and the heart prays only for what it desires.

To pray, then is to desire—but to desire what God would have us desire. He who asks what he does not from the bottom of his heart desire, is mistaken in thinking that he prays.

Let him spend days in reciting prayers, in meditation or in inciting himself to pious exercises, he prays not once truly, if he really desire not the things he pretends to ask.

-- Francois Fenelon in his classic text, Spiritual Progress

The Angelus



Yesterday, our worship pastor, Loretta, showed us a slide of "The Angelus" by Millet. She used it as a tool to guide us in prayer. I was deeply moved by the meaningful worship experience.

Is this the picture of a harvest or a planting? At first, I thought harvest -- but looking more closely, it seems to be a planting.


The sacks of potatoes in the wheelbarrow speak of lots of work still to be done. The sun is setting. It has been a long day of wearisome toil.

They're tired. They want to finish up what's in the basket and go home. But from a distant steeple, the evening Angelus Bell rings -- calling them to stop everything and pray.

So, removed from all spectators except Almighty's eyes, they pause in reverent silence -- perhaps thanking God for strength asking Him to bless and multiply the fruit of their labors.

"Evening and morning and at noon, will I pray. . ." -- Psalm 55:17

Depth of Life

"You can’t do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth." -- H.L Mencken

Sunday, November 27, 2005

One Lucky Guy


I am one lucky guy to have such a wonderful, beautiful wife as Cathy!!


I definitely married "up"!

Not My Love


I love you, Lord
But with no love of mine,
For I have none to give.

I love you, Lord
But all the love is yours,
For by your Love, I live.

I am nothing and rejoice to be
Emptied and lost
And swallowed up in Thee.

-- Charles Spurgeon in his sermon, "Because He First Loved Us"

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Love, the Excellent Way

Love is the greatest human virtue! It is the primary measuring stick of the goodness in one's life.

Nothing is more delightful than loving, and nothing feels better than being loved.

A wise old minister once said Love is. . .
Slow to suspect - quick to trust
Slow to condemn - quick to encourage
Slow to offend - quick to defend
Slow to expose - quick to shield
Slow to reprimand - quick to forbear
Slow to belittle - quick to appreciate
Slow to demand - quick to give
Slow to provoke - quick to reconcile
Slow to hinder - quick to help
Slow to resent - quick to forgive.

True love is much more than a feeling or an emotion - it is an act of the will!
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.

Real love moves beyond intentions. It shines through our actions, attitudes and words.

Un-love, unfortunately, shines through too. You can pretend to love others - but they will find you out before too long.

If you are always finding fault and criticizing people, that's a sign of love deficiency in your life. You need to get it right.

Faults grow thick when love is thin.

Loving is risky business. There is a chance of being deeply hurt if you open your heart.

However, we must remember these words from Eleanor Roosevelt:
It takes courage to love, but pain through love is the purifying fire, which those who love generously know. We all know people who are so much afraid of pain that they shut themselves up like clams in a shell. Giving out nothing, they receive nothing and therefore shrink until life is a mere living death.

Also, consider what Mother Teresa said about the subject, "I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no more hurt, but only more love.

"Tennis - the only activity in which love means nothing.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving Break

I am taking a break from the blog for the rest of the week, due to Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

White Folks and Thanksgiving


We held our Community Thanksgiving service on the LCO Indian Reservation this past Sunday evening. The LCO Assembly of God church hosted us beautifully.

It is the first time in Hayward's history, that the Community Thanksgiving Service was held on the reservation. Although attendance was much smaller than usual, I believe it was a very significant statement.

The people of faith can build a bridge where there has been a wall.

At the conclusion of the service, the pastor, Marvin, invited us all to have refreshments.

"We were going to have a full blown Thanksgiving dinner," he smiled, "then we remembered the first time the white folks came over for Thanksgiving dinner -- They never left!"

Thorns and Roses


Happiness is a decision -- a choice.


If you wait for "happenings" to make you happy -- you'll be waiting most of the time.

Life isn't easy. It brings a measure of pain, as well as joy. The thorns come with the roses.

There's no such thing as a thornless life.

John Calvin said, "We must develop a better and deeper concept of happiness than that held by the world, which makes a happy life consist of ease, honor, and great wealth."

Now, it's a wonderful thing when somebody pushes the "easy button" for us. When plans go better than anticipated, we all rejoice.

It always feels good to be appreciated and honored. We are all glad to be recognized for "extra mile" effort.

Having extra money is always nice. "Money doesn't buy happiness, but it sure comes in handy!"

Nevertheless, if we must depend on ease, honor and wealth to make us happy, we are doomed to misery.

When we chase happiness by these avenues, we'll never find it. It's like trying to catch a butterfly with your hands.

When we seek the Higher Truth, rather than these lesser desires, we find what we've been wanting all along!

Follow the God-path, and the joy will follow.

"Seek first, the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33

Your roses may have thorns, but don't forget -- your thorns may have some roses too!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Kangaroos and Emus


The Australian coat of arms includes the images of a kangaroo and an emu.

These were chosen because of one characteristic both creatures have in common. They both can move in only one direction -- forward!! (Ever seen a kangaroo hop backwards??)

They are able to bend their heads and look in all directions -- but they don't have a "reverse". They don't move backwards.

Wouldn't it be great if we were all kangaroo/emu people? We'd be able to look around, look back -- and learn!

St. Augustine said, "We live forward, but we only understand backwards. "

In other words, what we've experienced in the past helps us to understand our present situation -- and our future direction.

Gaining insight from the past, however, is much different than LIVING IN the past.

The past is a lot like the dumps of Tijuana -- an interesting place to visit -- but I sure don't want to live there!

Kangaroo/Emu people have one direction -- forward! Going backwards is no option.

Keep going!

When you're stuck in a hard situation, and don't know what to do -- take a lesson from the emu and kangaroo. Just hop forward!

Great Wisdom

I was filled with "great wisdom" -- I thought I was a "whiz", but was really "dumb."

A Pint of Sweat

"A pint of sweat saves a gallon of blood." -- Brian Tracey

Monday, November 21, 2005

Frozen Chosen


"Unless the church evangelizes, it fossilizes!" -- A. J. Gordon

If you aren't filled with fire, you'll end up being one of the "Frozen Chosen."

Influences

Each separate life is fed
From many a fountain-head:
Tides that we never know
Into our being flow,
And rays of the remotest star
Converge to make us what we are.

John B. Tabb (1845-1909)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sweet!


Ohio State -- 25
Michigan -- 21

You can take the boy out of Ohio, but you can't take Ohio State out of the boy!

An Average Perspective on Missions


"Beyond the wild wood comes the wide world!" said the Rat,

"and that's something that doesn't matter, either to you or to me. I've never been there, and I'm never going-- not you either, if you've got any sense at all!

Don't ever refer to it again, please. Now, here's our backwater at last!"
-- The Wind in the Willows

On His Blindness

This post is dedicated to Judy Gorud, the greatest prayer warrior in our church -- and though, unable to leave her house, is doing the greater work.



WHEN I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide,—
Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?
I fondly ask:—But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: God doth not need
Either man's work, or His own gifts, who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at His bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:—
They also serve who only stand and wait.


-- John Milton

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Patience

In patience as in labour must thou be
A follower of Me,
Whose hands & feet, when most I wrought for thee,
Were nailed unto a tree.

John B. Tabb

Successful Ministry


Here is a wonderful article by Bert Lewis, Rick Warren's father-in-law: Seven Principles Required for a Successful Ministry.

I don't think young preachers listen to the older ministry veterans enough! Wisdom is gained through experience (and listening to people who have experience!)

Friday, November 18, 2005

In Memory of Peter Drucker


The great business management guru, Peter Drucker, passed away last week. He has helped a lot of leaders.

In memory of Mr. Drucker, I would like to submit his Most Important Questions for Non-Profit Oranizations:

1. What is our mission?

2. Who is our customer?

3. What does the customer value?

4. What are our results?

5. What is our plan?



"Often people feel the church exists to take care of problems. And it's terribly hard for the church to say no. And yet the effective ones say no. They know what their mission is, and they make no apologies for sticking to that."- Peter Drucker, in a 1989 Leadership magazine interview

Too Small to Make A Difference?


“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve obviously never been in bed with a mosquito.” – Michelle Walker

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Time

"Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed."

-- Brian Tracy

Prayer Power

"Prayer can change anything. The impossible doesn't exist. His is the power. Ours is the prayer. Without Him, we cannot. Without us, He will not." -- Jack Hayford

Sermon Preparation


A pastor was asked how he prepared for his sermons. He replied,
"I milk a lot of cows, but I churn my own butter!"

Unfortunately, too many pastors buy their butter at pastors.com, or sermon central.

If you really can't cook, I guess it's o.k. to serve up t.v. dinners -- but you can't pass it off as home cooking.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

More Spiritual Than God



“One of the blunders religious people are particularly fond of making is the attempt to be more spiritual than God.” – Frederick Buechner

First Snow

This morning, I awoke to five inches of obligation.
My kids awoke to five inches of opportunity.
They were the same five inches.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Multi-Site in a Rural Community?


There has been much discussion in church leadership circles recently about multi-site ministry options.

We are looking at launching a ministry in a rural community, Minong, which is located just over 20 miles away from us. Several people come to our church from that area -- and our Minong Small Group is enthused about exploring the possibilities.

I've wondered, though, how we can bring "Hayward Wesleyan Church" to Minong? Is the multi-site approach viable in a smaller community?

Greg Surratt, pastor of Seacoast Church, a leading multi-site congregation, writes about this question in his blog.

Big things CAN happen in small places!

Monday, November 14, 2005

God Calling

Past the seeker, as he prayed, came the crippled and the beggar and the beaten. And seeing them, the holy one went down into deep prayer and cried, "Great God, how is it that a loving creator can see such things and yet do nothing about them?" And out of the long silence, God said: "I did do something about them. I made you."
-- Anonymous

Hot Water



Put an egg in hot water -- and it becomes hard boiled.

Put a carrot in hot water -- and it falls apart -- soft and mushy.

Put a tea bag in hot water -- and it transforms the water!

What happens to you in hot water?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Sanctified Exhaustion


"We cannot possibly flatter the Almighty by hurrying into His presence, flinging a song and prayer at Him, and hurrying out of church back into our hassled lifestyles. God is never flattered by our sanctified exhaustion."

- Calvin Miller Into the Depths of God

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Robber


St. Serapion, the second century Bishop of Antioch, saw a poor beggar beside the road, and gave him his cloak.

As he walked on, he met another who was shivering, and he gave that one his tunic.

He then sat down naked, holding the holy Gospel.

"Who has taken your clothes, father?" a friend asked.

Pointing to the Gospel, he said, "This is the robber."

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Bon Voyage Again

Once again, I will be taking a break from Bloggerland, as I am travelling to Vassar, Michigan to teach a couple of FLAME Courses: Evangelism and Church Leadership.

I really do enjoy teaching the classes -- but 90% of me wishes I could stay home with my family and my Hayward vineyard. I'll be more motivated after I get on the airplane tomorrow.

Tomorrow, we are planning a Ministry Fair at the church -- The crew worked all through today, transforming our gym into a land of ministry opportunities!

Sandpaper People


Some folks are like sandpaper. Everywhere they go, they rub people the wrong way.

An individual may be highly intelligent, hard working , willing to go the extra mile -- but still fail because of an abraisive personality.

I've often wondered, how do they sabotage themselves? Is it just the way they're wired, or can they do something about it?

Although we are born with certian "grit" which make us more or less people-oriented, I firmly believe that anyone can get along with just about anybody, if they follow a few basic relationship rules:

1. Focus on the Positive.
You will find plenty of negative things about people if you look for them. Instead, go mining for the positive -- and you will find that too!

2. Never go fishing with a Crabapple for Bait. You have to be friendly if you want people to be friendly to you. You can't expect to keep many friends if you are always grousing. (Negative folks do keep some friends -- negative ones!)

3. Follow the 101% Principle. Find the 1% you have in common and give 100% to it!

4. Don't impute Motives. It's easy to jump to conclusions and rush to judgement without knowing all the facts. Regardless of what happened, assume the other person had good intentions.

5. Be willing to Forgive. Refuse to allow your frustrations to stockpile into a mountain of bitterness. It's best to keep short accounts. Deal with it and let it go.

6. Believe in Other People. Remember that we are all created in the image of God. Each person you meet is a VIP! Never consider yourself "above" someone else.

7. Follow the Golden Rule. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

8. Be Genuinely Interested in Others. Focus on them rather than yourself. Self-absorbtion is a certain path to unhappiness.

9. Determine that you will be an Encourager and a Positve Influence on each Person you Meet!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Holy Now


This morning outside I stood
And saw a little red-winged bird
Shining like a burning bush
Singing like a scripture verse
It made me want to bow my head.
and I remember when church let out -
how things have changed since then,
everything is holy now.


-- Peter Mayer, “Holy Now”

Throw Deep!


Give it your best shot!

The world is filled with half-hearted people who give a half way effort to half inspired causes.

Every now and then, somebody rises up to make a difference -- and they get clobbered. Like lobsters in the pot, we'd much rather pull each other down, than to see someone else climb ahead and succeed. Negativity loves company!

Watching a news channel on television the other night, I was amused by hearing the talking heads squabble. They argued, growled and vented their spleens about all the various ills of society.

I thought, "If they spent as much time doing something about the problems as they've spent complaining about them, we'd all be a lot better off!"

Unfortunately, it is much easier to sit around on the sidelines and find fault than to roll up our sleeves and make a difference.

So often, we punish those who try by clucking our tongues, shaking our heads, and pointing out all the mistakes.

Consider Packer quarterback, Bret Favre, who, in a losing season, is striving to do his best -- giving it 100%, while the beer bellied commentators frown and belittle him. I'd like to see them switch places for about twenty minutes. That would be a site! It would be a relief to Bret, and an education for the commentator!

I don't know about you, but I'd rather be the one criticized than the one doing the criticizing. I'd rather be an eagle who soars than a chicken who squawks and clucks. I'd rather be a musky than a bottom dwelling bullhead.

Life is packed full of wonderful opportunities. They are like raspberries growing on the vine -- all you have to do is go get 'em! Sure, you'll be poked with thorns, bitten by bugs, and smitten with a sore back -- but just think of the end result! Homemade raspberry pie!

Author Jack London said, "I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather than my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time."

Someone once asked former NFL quarterback, Kenny Stabler what London's quote meant to him. He replied, "Throw deep!"

Tiptoeing through Southern Baptist Tulips


There has been some flap, recently about Jack Graham's recent sermon where he sounded much more like a Wesleyan than a Southern Baptist.

Amen, Brother Jack! If they give you the left foot of fellowship, come on over! We have plenty of room for you in our camp. Calvinism is pretty much defunct anyway. (Although Arminianism has it's own difficulties. Maybe it's not so bad to be a Calviminian!)

As R.G. Flexon, the old holiness preacher declared, "Anything less than whosoever is beneath God!"

Brian MacLaren developed a new TULIP!
Triune Love
Unselfish Election
Limitless Reconciliation
Inspiring Grace
Passionate, Persistent Saints


Now, that's the kind of tulip I'd like to grow in my garden!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Ground Zero


Last week, I visited Ground Zero -- the site where the World Trade Center towers used to stand. Although there were several dozen people at the fence, we all stood in a hushed and reverent silence.

They are getting ready to rebuild -- and I heard a tour guide last week say that the latest scoop is that the new building will be even taller than the first.

Right now, however, there is only one thing standing. It's the only part of the towers left on the site -- two steel beams form a cross.

When all else falls away, the cross still stands!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

141 White Roses


A week ago on Sunday morning, we placed a small foot bridge at the front of our church sanctuary, launching a sermon series called "Bridges".

I preached a message about the Cross being the Bridge to Life.

At the conclusion, I invited people who wanted to make a public commitment of their faith in Christ to come forward and cross over the bridge.

As people came forward, I said, "Next Sunday, we are going to place a white rose on the piano for each person who crossed the bridge of faith today!"

I had no idea we would need to order 141 white roses!

We spent a bit more than I had expected -- but it was a good investment!