Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Great Faith

"People of great faith, wait."

-- Rick Warren

A good quote -- and I need to remember it -- however, on the other hand, sometimes great faith requires us to jump!

How about looking at it like this? If you are naturally an impatient "jumper", great faith make you wait.

If you are naturally a hesitant "waiter", great faith will make you jump.

Monday, February 27, 2006

From Complacency to Consistant Improvement

Sometimes, after initial success, a leader "downshifts" to play it safe.

Monday Morning Insight posted an insightful article by John Maxwell about ramping up again.

As my good friend, Famous Dave, says, "Good, better, best, never let it rest, till the good gets better and the better gets best."

But Monday is my day off -- so today I AM going to let it rest -- and make the better best tomorrow!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Karine's Hope

This afternoon, a large crowd met at our church for the funeral service of 34 year old Karine Melby. It was tearful farewell -- but yet, an inspiring celebration of faith and hope. Karine was filled with the love of Christ, and shared His grace with everybody she met.

In her last months, she lived by the "Win/Win" philosophy. "If I am healed, I get to stay with my family and friends, and I win! If, on the other hand, the cancer kills me, then I go to heaven to be with Jesus -- and so I still win! Either way, I'm the winner!!"

The following is an excerpt from her journal, which she penned shortly before she passed away:

Because of the physical pain Jesus suffered on the cross, He can relate to our pain and suffering. He loved his life on earth and asked God if there was some other way -- but God said no -- and Jesus' strength to obey came from His close relationship with the Father.

How can we say it's not fair for me to die . . . because I am too young, or too nice? Jesus never did anything wrong, yet he suffered a painful death at age 33. It was certainly not fair -- but God deemed it necessary because He loved us and wanted to save us from our sin. He wanted us to live with Him someday; and Jesus obeyed.

We shouldn't be ashamed of our fear of death -- but know He has taken away the fear for those who trust Him. He will give us strength when we have none of our own, courage when we are weak, and comfort when we are hurting.

The Apostle Paul prayed that God would take his illness away, but He did not. God did, however, promise to give him power that can be evident only through weakness. . . "my grace is sufficient for you."

Life is not a do-it-yourself project.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

New Cartoon Controversy

Although this news has been overlooked by the major networks, a new cartoon controversy has recently erupted. You can read about it here.

Future Church Leaders

My kids are really into Bible Quizzing. In fact, at this very moment, Cathy and the boys are at a quizzing tournament in Iowa, leaving Hannah home with me to "hold the fort!"

Ryan (white shirt with green stripe) had an outstanding season, taking first place this year. Luke and Wes (yellow shirts) did great as well, and both qualified for nationals in Omaha.

Quizzing has played a major role in the spiritual development of you children. As parents, we have watched them blossom and grow in faith, as they apply the Word hidden in their hearts.

We quiz through a huge interdenominational organization -- and hundreds of the nation's top quizzers compete at the regional and national competitions.

Bible quizzing is one of the best ways to instill God's Word in the hearts and minds of young people. I cannot understand why so few youth ministries take it seriously.

Many youth pastors are far more interested in running cool events and activities than making the effort for Bible Quizzing. They are misguided in this.

I heard a college president give a speech a while back, listing the key factors in adolescence which developed strong spiritual leadership as adults.

Guess what came out as the TOP indicator for future spiritual leadership? Bible Quizzing!!

The Free Methodists get it, as well as a smattering of others -- but, by in large, Bible Quizzing is still a neglected orphan in most church circles.

Youth ministry schedules are jammed too full with lesser things -- and there's not enough energy left over for the greater good. (I understand that. Years ago, I did the same thing when I was a youth pastor.)

Do you think a higher priority on the memorization of God's Word in the context of fun and deep friendship might make a dent in the 80% dropout rate?

We need to move quizzing from the cobwebbed closets of our youth departments -- and make it a centerpiece!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Rabbit Stealers?

From time to time, other pastors in our community have accused me of sheep stealing.

Now, that is truly an unfair accusation. I have never snuck into another church service and snatched unwitting congregants. I've never hired thugs to zoom into a church parking lot and capture surprised parishoners. I've never stood at a church entrance, and handed out fliers bribing them to my church. It's not that way at all.

Our target has always been unchurched people. Any sheep who come to us from other folds, do so by their own choice and legpower.

We don't steal sheep -- we just grow green grass.

Whenever somebody leaves our church for another, we don't get mad and call the other preacher a sheep stealer -- we examine our own pasture.

That reminds me of a children's poem I've read to my kids:

Contented Rabbit

I have a white rabbit
who had the bad habit
of leaving his hutch
and of running away.

I gave him some meat
and some cookies to eat;
but he just didn't like them,
and still wouldn't stay.

So, I gave him a bunch
of fat carrots for lunch,
and a head of green lettuce --
oh my, how he ate!

Now, he stays in his hutch,
which he likes very much,
and waits for another
fresh vegetable plate

-- Marjorie Allen Anderson

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Paying Attention

I picked this quote from Mark Batterson's blog:

By the age of 3 children figure out whether your job is to pay attention to them or their job is to pay attention to you.

He follows the quote with this profound observation:

"I think that same distinction applies to our relationship with God."


"Concentration is the secret of strength in politics, in war, in trade, in short in all management of human affairs." ­
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

". . .This ONE thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
-- Philippians 3:13-14

"You are troubled about many things, but ONE THING is needful."
-- Luke 10:42

A schedule packed with many busy activities, programs, meetings and the like, dulls the edge of pastoral effectiveness. The Apostles set the example for us in Acts 6. We must never be so busy "waiting on tables" that we neglect the ONE THING: the spiritual well -- prayer and the ministry of the Word.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A Four Hour Chapel Service

My son, Adam, reported that Bethany Bible College had a four hour chapel service yesterday.

It began as a normal hour long chapel -- but as it was ending, a student stood and shared a prayer concern. This was followed by others sharing, and soon they entered into a beautiful season of prayer -- which included intercession, confession, testimonies, singing, and praise.
The outpouring continued into the afternoon, when the students finally went to classes.

My prayer is twofold:

1. That this is just a foretaste of revival for the students of Bethany Bible College.
2. That something like this will happen at our church. It will mess up our schedule, as the 8:20 crowd has to be out in time for the 9:40's to come in -- but I'd give anything to have our schedule disrupted for something like that.

Disrupt us, o Lord!

Jabez Works Differently In Africa

Despite the Prayer of Jabez, Bruce Wilkinson's territory didn't enlarge -- it shrank.

His last grand project in Africa ended in dismal failure -- at least that's the way it looks from a merely human perspective.

God's ways are not our ways, however. Beyond the surface, his territory continues to expand -- but in a different way.

The territory of Wilkinson's wisdom has definitely expanded. You gain wisdom from painful and difficult experiences. Solomon, remember, asked for wisdom, and God was pleased, as it was the best thing he could have requested.

Although I do not know him, I'm guessing that his compassion has expanded. You can't see such human need close up, and not have your heart grow larger.

Wilkinson's patience has expanded. Working with African beaurocracy is enough to develop anybody's patience! Longsuffering is a muscle, which strengthens with much use. "Tribulation worketh patience. . ."

Certainly, Wilkinson's humility has expanded. Our failures and frustrations keep us humble so we can F.R.O.G. (Fully Rely on God)

I'm sure there are many other dimensions of spiritual expansion that are beyond the surface of human eyes.

Instead of harpooning him, as some are doing, maybe we should make sure his prayer support is expanding.

I have a hunch, after the storm blows over, there'll be another book coming from Brother Bruce.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Hallucinogenic Tea

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a church is allowed to use hallucinogenic tea as a religious practice.

Isn't that wonderful news? I'm going to serve hallucinogenic tea at our next church board meeting!

Sometimes, as I look at various decisions they've made down through the years, I wonder if the Supreme Court has been drinking hallucinogenic tea.

Where Shall My Wondering Soul Begin?

Last April, I had the opportunity to visit Aldersgate Street in London, where John Wesley's heart was "strangely warmed."

The house is gone now -- but the significance remains.

On May 24, 1738, after a long spiritual quest, Wesley entered into the deeper life of faith. To put it another way: he moved! He switched residences -- from "religion dwelling" to "faith living."

Just three days before, his brother, Charles, had entered in -- gloriously! (On Pentecost Sunday, fittingly!)

Charles was up late on the 24th, putting finishing touches on a hymn, when there was a knock at the door.

"Towards ten, my brother was brought in triumph by a troop of our friends, and declared 'I believe!' We sang the hymn with great joy. . ."

Can you imagine, these brothers and friends, gathered by candlelight, around a freshly written parchment, and singing these words wholeheartedly and tearfully? Where Shall My Wondering Soul Begin?


Monday, February 20, 2006


Question: What do these men have in common?

1. Shammua
2. Shaphat
3. Igal
4. Hoshea
5. Palti
6. Gaddi
7. Ammiel
8. Sethur
9. Nahbi
10. Geuel

Answer: When God said "go", they said "no". (See Numbers 13) They listened to their fears rather than the call of faith.

"Good sense" held them back from their desired destination. They never entered the promised land.

This was the defining moment. Who is bigger? God or the descendents of Anak?

Facing this great opportunity for bold belief, they shrivelled in fear. Their inaction proved a faulty theology -- "God is not big enough." Just think of what might have been, had they truly believed that their Salvation was greater than their circumstance.


An interesting observation: "Joshua" or "Caleb" are common names these days. There are several in our congregation -- but we do not have anybody named "Shammua" or "Shaphat".

Old Navy Proverb

Now Hear This . . .
Now Hear This . . .
This is Your Captain Speaking. . .
This is Your Captain Speaking. . .
That is All
That Is All

(Note: This is, unfortunately, the way pastors often communicate -- many words without saying anything.)

Now Hear This. . .
This is Your Pastor Speaking. . .

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Price of Success

On February 15, 1894, Susan B. Anthony gave a speech at the National American Woman Suffrage Association is Washington D.C.

Anthony and her friend, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, had founded the organization twenty five years earlier --for the purpose of gaining voting rights for women.

For years, Susan B. Anthony had labored for the voting rights cause. Once, she was even arrested and convicted for the horrible crime of registering and voting.

In this particular speech, given on her 74th birthday, at the Opera House on the corner of 12th and F, she proclaimed:

"We shall someday be heeded, and when we shall have our amendment to the Constitution of the United States, everybody will think it was always so, just exactly as many young people believe that all the privileges, all the freedoms, all the enjoyments which women now possess always were hers.

"They have no idea of how every single inch of ground that she stands upon today has been gained by the hard work of some little handful of women in the past."

The Nineteenth Amendment giving women the freedom to vote, was not passed until August 26, 1920, thirteen years after Susan B. Anthony's death.

Susan B. Anthony and friends occasionally grew weary in the struggle. There were certainly times of great discouragement and disappointment.

As Rosabeth Moss Kanter said, "Everthing looks like failure in the middle."

John Maxwell reminds us, "You know when you're on the road to success. It's uphill all the way."

Susan B. Anthony was willing to make that uphill climb, giving her all for the greater cause.

Was it worth it? Ask any woman at the voting polls on the first Tuesday of November.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Revival At Asbury

There was a beautiful, extended outpouring of God's presence at Asbury College recently -- beginning during a student-led chapel service, and continuing on for several days.

Junior, Ashleigh Graves, wrote a beautiful article on the event, which reminded the old timers of the tremendous revival of 1970.

God is doing something beautiful with the rising generation. It is not a re-bake of 1970, but a fresh, new loaf!

Why is it that this kind of thing happens with college students, but hardly ever with their parents?


It's 25 below zero this morning here in Hayward.

That sort of puts a unique twist on my perspective as I read about the Evangelical Climate Initiative and their war on global warming.

It'll be hard to convince God's frozen chosen up here in the northwoods that "warming" is an issue, when our nostrils stick together every time we breathe in.

Timing is everything. Let's talk about it after we thaw out next summer.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Up and Be Doing!

We must not sit still and look for miracles.
Up and be doing, and the Lord with thee!
Prayer and pains, through faith in Christ Jesus
will do anything.

-- John Eliot, 1666

(Eliot was the first person to print a Bible in America, and outstanding early evangelist to Native Americans.)

3-D Video Venue

The Video Venue folks will definitely want to get their hands on this: A 3-D Image Projector!

Of course, the Japanese are still fine tuning it, so, in the meantime, if preachers want to have sermons presented via 3-D Video Venue, the congregants will have to wear those dorky 3-D Movie Glasses.

Can you imagine a 3-D Benny Hinn Healing Crusade?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Yesterday, I made plans for a romantic Valentine's date at the Lumberjack Steak House. Now, that probably doesn't sound too romantic to you folks who live in the city -- but for Hayward, the Lumberjack Steakhouse is as romantic as it gets!

So, we dressed up, and I drove her to the restaurant. When we entered, Mrs. Groth, an elementary teacher, was at the hostess counter.

"I just came in with my husband for dinner and they put me to work!!" she exclaimed. That's what happens when things get busy in a small town.

"Do you have reservations?"

"Nah," I replied, "no reservations at all! No doubts whatsoever! We're gonna enjoy this meal!"

"Well, people have been calling for a month making reservations for tonight, and if you're not on the list, Rev. Wilson, then, it's going to be difficult to fit you in."

She made a valiant effort -- whispered something in the ear of the manager, and then they both looked at us sadly. Either there was no way to fit us in, or they were cooking up plans to put us to work as well!

"It's o.k." Cathy said, "Our fault. We'll come back when it's less crowded."

They both let out relieved sighs. There was no room in the inn for the preacher & wife, and yet, fire did not fall down from heaven to consume them.

"Now, where can we go without reservations?" Cathy asked as we climbed in the car.

We ended up in McDonald's. (But since it was Valentine's, we called it Mc-La-De-Dah's)

Orthodox Quaker??

What kind of believer are you? Find out by taking this test. I came out as an Orthodox Quaker!

Bless Thee, Child.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Poking around for an e-mail Valentine for Cathy this morning I found this sentimental slide show of Hallmark's valentines. I thought I'd pass it along.

Remember romance today!


I am sharing a great quote I shamelessly ripped off from Jollyblogger, who shamelessly ripped off from Doug Wilson, who shamelessly ripped off from David Wells:

"It is, in fact, this assumption of an ability to move from one plateau of achievement to another that has given us a need always to be post: we feel compelled to assure ourselves that we are post-Puritan, post-Christian, and post-modern. Our world is post-industrial and post-business. Our time is post-Vietnam, post-Watergate, and post-Cold War."

[David Wells, No Place for Truth (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993), p. 60.]

Monday, February 13, 2006

Watch for Rebecca

In the Olympic games this week, watch for Rebecca Dussault, America's top female cross country skier.

Rebecca is a beautiful young Christian, and I had the privilege of meeting her when she came to Hayward for the American Birkebeiner a couple of years ago. Together, we hosted a chapel for the Birkie skiers.

Rebecca was homeschooled. I had the honor of meeting the wonderful parents who raised her. She and her husband have a precious little guy named Tabor,

Although respresenting America at this event is truly an honor, I know that Rebecca values her faith and her family in far greater measure than her sport.

We Caught the Burglars

At 3:30 a.m. Saturday morning, I was awakened from deep sleep by the phone ringing. It was the burglar alarm company.

"There has been an intrusion at Hayward Wesleyan Church. The alarms are going off as we speak. The police are on their way, and you need to get there immediately!"

Quickly, I jumped out of bed, hopped in the car, and drove like Jehu to the church.

Two police cars sat in our parking lot, as a third cased the surrounding neighborhood with a searchlight.

A couple of young, nervous officers approached me. "There's no sign of forced entry, reverend, but there's definitely something going on inside the building! I think we're going to catch 'em red handed!"

I opened the door for them, and they entered -- guns drawn and raised high like a SWAT team. They really meant business. If anybody was in the church, these guys were going to take him down!

I had to wait outside, until they scoped out the situation. After a long time, they finally returned, with guns drawn, short sideways steps, and furtive glances from side to side.

"We didn't find anything, but there were a few areas we couldn't get to. How about if you come back in with us -- and we'll cover you!!"

So, inside the church I went, with the two antsy armed escorts pointing their guns in the air.

I thought for a moment of shouting "BOO!" just to see what would happen -- but better sense told me my church board wouldn't appreciate the walls riddled with bullet holes.

Then, I recalled one little piece of information the burglar alarm company lady told me over the phone -- that the motion was coming from our youth pastor's office. When I shared this with the officers, their eyes widened. They had not yet explored that area.

Quickly, cautiously, the three of us tip-toed to the office. I opened the door, and swiftly one of the officers turned the corner and aimed his gun. . .

Helium balloons! Our youth pastor's office was stuffed with balloons left over from Friday night's Valentine Banquet! We had found the culprit!!

I thought that was hilarious -- and worth getting up at 3:30 in the morning!!

I joked, "Maybe you should put these guys in the back of the sqad car, and take 'em down to the station for questioning!"

They failed to see the humor in my suggestion.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Please Leave a Comment

I'm wondering if you would do me a big favor. I'd love to "meet" some of the regular visitors to my blog. If you come to "Revitalize Your Church" on a regular basis, I'd love to know who you are!

Would you be willing to either post a comment -- or leave me an e-mail at orangeluther@hotmail.com? Who are you and where are you from?

It would sure be a delight to learn a little more about my guests.

Sunday School Teachers Jailed

These three Indonesian Sunday School teachers have been jailed for a three month sentence.

Their crime? They included some muslim children in their church program.

I think the wrong people are in jail. The real criminals are the tyrants who incarcerated our sisters.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Kudos to Mr. Sound Man

Sound men never get a thank you. The next time you see one, make an extra effort to stop and say "Thanks for all you do to make our church service special."

The only time they get any attention in church is when something goes wrong, and then everybody turns around and scowls, making frantic hand motions.

Of course, the p.a. system can be really frustrating. I think maybe that's where the devil lives.

Stan Toler quipped, "You might just be a preacher if you've ever wanted to give the sound man a little feeback of your own."

But where would we be without the guy in the booth at back of the church?

Preachers need to give a greater respect to the ones who could cut them off at any moment.

Kudos to you, Mr. Sound Man!! We couldn't do it with you.

Friday, February 10, 2006

McCain Apologizes Sort Of

Senator McCain recently wrote this apology to Sen. Barack Obama.

You know, it sure sounds familiar. I hate to admit it, but down through, I've made (and received) my share of apologies like that.

"I'm sorry all right."

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Early Bird Gets the Worm; So Worms Sleep In!

Jim Watkins, one of my favorite writers, shares some delightful musings on cliches in this post!

The Night the Preacher Danced

Last Friday evening, I took my nine year old daughter, Hannah, to the Father-Daughter Ball at the Greysolon Grand Ballroom, in Duluth, Minnesota.

We dressed up to the hilt. She had her hair done special, and I bought her a tiara and a corsage.

My little princess and I had a splendid time together! After a delicious banquet, we danced the night away!

We did the "Chicken Dance", "The Hokie Pokie", "YMCA","The Limbo" and three wonderful hours worth of other numbers!

At the end of the night, my feet were really sore, and Hannah beamed from ear to ear. It was one of the best experiences we've ever had together.

Now, there's a rule somewhere that Wesleyan ministers aren't supposed to shake their legs like that -- but on Friday night, I followed a higher law, and am a better daddy for it.

When we walked into the crowded ballroom, I saw another Wesleyan pastor and his little girl.

So, if I'm ever called before the Sanhedrin on this, at least I'll have good company, and maybe we'll give them a demonstration of the Chicken Dance.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A Striking Resemblance!

Marc Heinrich, at Purgatorio, notes the striking resemblance between N.T. Wright and the Apostle Paul.

No wonder Wright seems to know so much about Paul -- they're twin brothers! Two peas in a pod!

In the Fog

I thought I was in a dense fog, when all along, I just needed to clean my glasses!

-- My good friend, Paul Kraemer, Funeral Director at Anderson Nathan gave me this great insight (in response to my "In the Zone" post.)

(a side note: the funeral home is one of the few phone number I have memorized. I guess that's just one of the strange things about being a small town pastor.)

Forgive us our Trespasses

Rev. Jimmy McCants was arrested for trespassing Sunday in the middle of the service at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chicago. He didn't even get to finish his sermon, "Can We Mend a Broken Heart?"

He had been fired by the board -- but he wouldn't go. So, they had the cops take him out right in the middle of the message.

That seems to be a bit much, paricularly if they had already said their prayers, "Forgive us our trespasses. . ."

But, after all, Luther did say, "Sin boldly."

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Tony Dungy Is a Champion

Tony Dungy spoke at the Athletes in Action Super Bowl Breakfast about faith, family, and dealing with the loss of his son.

Although his Colts fell short of Super Bowl glory, in Detroit last Sunday, Tony was the champion.

100,000 on a Stationary Bike

Although Monday is normally my day off, I found myself conducting a funeral service yesterday morning. We bid farewell to Elsie Richards, who passed away two days before her 80th.

A few days ago, her daughter, Joy, shared an amazing piece of trivia concerning her mother.

Through the years, Elsie had logged over 100,000 miles on her exercise bicycle! Now, that's quite an accomplishment.

Although hard to believe, it's true -- and maybe a world record!

It makes me wonder though. How many beautiful landscapes would she have seen if it had been a real bicycle rather a stationary one? With those same miles, she could have ridden to southern California and back 25 times!

All 100,000 were ridden in her bedroom, however, which leaves me with a deep sense of respect for such a display of self-discipline, and guilt about the cobwebbed exercise bike in our garage.

Monday, February 06, 2006

A Nail in the Head is Hard to Ignore


My friend, Larry Wilson, recently shared some lessons learned from a guy who shot himself in the head with a nail gun, and didn't realize it for six days.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Islamic Cartoon Insanity

Enraged over offensive Danish cartoons about Mohammed, protesters torched a Danish Mission in Beruit today. My, my -- that certainly seems like an over-reaction.

Justin Taylor recently posted some insights from John Piper regarding this insanity:

Am I missing it, or is there an unusual silence in the blogosphere about the Muslim outrage over the cartoons of Mohammed. To me this cries out for the observation that when artists put the crucifix in a flask of urine, Christians were grieved and angered, but not one threatened to kill anyone. Our longing is to convert the blasphemers with the Good News of Christ's death and resurrection, not kill them. Our faith is based on One who was reviled not just in cartoons but in reality and received it patiently for the salvation of the cartoonists. These riots are filled with intimations about the glorious difference between Christ and Mohammed, and between the way of Christ and the way of Islam. And the cowing of the press around the world and the US government is ominous for the fear we are under of Islam--not just extremist Islam. I do not respect the teachings of Islam which when followed devoutly lead to destruction. So I have been pondering which will take me out first, Islam, Uncle Sam, or cancer. No matter, all authority belongs to Jesus. I just want to bear faithful witness to his glorious gospel of peace to the end."

Update: Some have asked about the source of this quote. It's from a personal email, posted with permission. Yes, you can feel free to post it on your blog, attributing it (of course) to John Piper

Mennonite Comfort Zone

Speaking of "The Zone", while Ed Young and friends are trying to get in it, Will Shirmer is encouraging the Mennonites to get out!

In the Zone


Ed Young, of Fellowship Church has developed a sermon series called "In the Zone"

My friend, Kevin Myers of Crossroads Community Church in Lawrenceville, GA is doing an "In the Zone" Series as well!

In Alabama, Josh Ray of Perimeter Point Church just completed "In the Zone "! So did Compass Church in Athens, GA (but without the funky logo)

I think I'm missing out. All these guys are "In the Zone" while I'm still in the fog.

Kind of reminds me of The Twilight Zone Marathon.

Pastor Gets Unwanted Tattoo

Pastor Toney Salva, of Discovery Christian Center, had to get a tattoo of the Pittsburgh Steelers, after losing a bet with a staff member.

He was certain the Broncos would beat the Steelers in the playoffs -- s0 certain.

Today, Pastor Toney has a first-hand understanding of Jepthah's Vow, and from now on, when he preaches on Judges 11, it will have a deeper meaning.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Reggie White

Reggie White, Minister of Defense, was elected to the National Football League Hall of Fame today.

My sons, Adam and Ryan, grew up admiring Reggie for his deep commitment to Christ and his excellence on the football field. Ryan still has a picture of him on the wall of his room. Reggie's still his hero!

I recall visiting training camp one year. Reggie smiled and waved at my boys. That small gesture on his part, left a beautiful lifetime memory for them.

In an interview before Super Bowl XXXI, an announcer asked Reggie if he had anything he wanted to say to the world.

He responded by singing "Amazing Grace".

Our family had the privilege of attending Reggie's last home game at Lambeau Field. At halftime, they honored him -- and the entire stadium of 64,000 stood and sang "Amazing Grace" together, as he ran a lap around the field and pointed up to heaven.

Michael Irvin, the star receiver for the Cowboys did not make the Hall of Fame cut this year. His poor choices and misadventures off the field discredited him.

Teammate, Emmit Smith protested, saying "This is the Football Hall of Fame, not the Life Hall of Fame."

A nominee's life DOES have something to do with it, however.

The Hall of Fame ought to be more than the celebration of good football -- but rather of heroism, and that is a matter of character.

A Winter Funeral

Yesterday, we stood in Greenwood Cemetery in the blowing snow, to lay a great community leader, Mr. Wayne Berard, to rest.

Reading Psalm 23 seemed like a slight misfit, as there are no green pastures anywhere around Hayward this time of year.

Wayne's brother in law, who serves in an Episcopal Church, finished the ceremony with the following reading. I had never heard it before, and thought it was beautiful. Thus, I am sharing it with you. The author is unknown.

When I come to the end of the day
And the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom filled room.
Why cry for a soul set free?
Miss me a little, but not too long
And not with your head bowed low,
Remember the love we once shared. . .
Miss me, but let me go.
For this is a journey we all must take
And each must go alone.
It's all a part of the Maker's plan.
A step in the road to home.
When you are lonely and sick at heart
Go to the friends we know,
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds. . .
Miss me, but let me go.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Timber Tina True Survivor

My good friend, Tina Sheer, was on Survivor last night -- and was, unfortunately, voted off the island first.

She was obviously the most qualified contestant on her team -- found the water, started the fire, build the shelter, led them in prayer and caught the fish with her bare hands!

Nevertheless, three intimidated and insecure teammates ganged up on her and gave her the axe. It will be interesting to see how the lesser women will fare without her.

Still dealing daily with the heavy grief of losing her wonderful son, Charlie, Tina has determined to keep moving forward with her life. It's the hardest thing a person can experience -- and yet, she is walking through that dark valley with dignity, trusting God to give her strength for one day at a time.

Survivor is a game -- a "reality show." In reality, apart from "show" Tina is a True Survivor.

She may have not won a million dollars, but she won the hearts of viewers across our land.

In my book, she's a real champion.

Please pray for Tina as she will now be in the spotlight. Pray that God will provide help and comfort to her -- and that He will use her to be a blessing to others.

Lady Curses God and Dies

A few days ago, a Kenyan woman placed a "curse" on God -- and then died in her sleep.

This certainly left an impression on the people of her community, and reminds us that our arms are too short to box with God.

I am reminded of the story of the atheist who wanted to disprove the existance of God. During a terrible thunderstorm, she went out on top of a hill and shook her fist in the air.

"God, if you're up there, and you're real, strke me down with lightening!", she ranted.

Nothing happend, and drenched, she returned indoors to a group of baffled onlookers.

"Now, what does that prove?" she demanded.

Someone quietly replied, "It proves just how patient God is."

But, we must not try his patience -- or we might end up like the Kenyan lady.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

No Headache

My friends, John and Patty Bray, shared a funny story at the Wisconsin Ministers and Mates Retreat.

One night, Patty went to bed early, snuggled under the covers and was reading a book.

John came into the room with a glass of water and two tylenol tablets.

"Why are you bringing me these?" Patty asked, "I don't have a headache."

John responded with gleeful enthusiasm: "YES!!"

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Protesting at a Funeral?

The Wisconsin lawmakers debated a bill today, that, if passed would bar people from protesting within 500 feet of a funeral.

That certainly would seem to be a "no-brainer" -- but it was protested by members Westboro Baptist Church, pastored by Rev. Fred Phelps. (The same nasty folks who are threatening a demonstration at Coretta Scott King's funeral.)

They're not even from Wisconsin! They should go back to Kansas, read the Sermon on the Mount, and let us cheeseheads rest in peace.

I certainly wouldn't want to be a member of a church like that. (And they wouldn't want me either!)

May the Senate vote with gentle dignity tomorrow, and send the rabble rousers packing.

The Greater Event

Which Holmgren is doing the most important work?

Mike Holmgren has done something great -- leading his Seahawks to Super Bowl XL. It reminds me of the Packer glory days (so long ago!)

Yet, on Sunday, the the greater work will be done by his wife, Kathy, who is on a medical missions trip to the Congo.

Rich men carrying a pigskin up and down a field = a bit of entertainment.
Saving the lives of needy people in the Congo = priceless.

Church Transplants

I think this is a beautiful idea from Canada! (Wesleyan Information Network)

Highland Park Wesleyan Church had a unique service Sunday morning, January 22. The day marked the first service in which two churches—Sunnyside (Ottawa, Ontario) and Highland Park (Westboro, Ontario)—became sister churches. Approximately forty people from Sunnyside were grafted into the congregation at Highland Park. A blessing and commissioning service for those individuals was held on January 15. Rev. Clint Curle, a former Sunnyside pastor (1995-2001), is the pastor of the blended congregation. Speaking of the first blended service Rev. Curle says, “There was a genuine spirit of worship there…We all had a sense that this was really one church under Christ.”

Instead of planting a new church, which had been contemplated for six years, leadership at Sunnyside felt God’s leading to become a sister church with Highland Park. Rev. Brent Russett, senior pastor of Sunnyside Wesleyan, says, “We hope that this will happen in more than name. Programs like Caravan, Living Waters, and Mom’s Bible Study will be available to people from both congregations. Groups like Wesleyan Women may have some joint meetings. Small groups may draw from both church communities. In general, from now on there will be a close ministry relationship between Sunnyside and Highland Park.”

I think other healthy churches ought to try this approach -- being organ donors to their sisters. Although, this raises a few critical questions:

1. I don't think this "infusion of new life" will work unless the smaller church is willing to relinquish some degree of leadership. I can't imagine it being a positive experience unless the smaller church is "under new management."

2. Homework should be done to see if there will be a positive match (of values, culture, & ethos.+ Otherwise, the transplant will be rejected by the recepient body. Small, declining congregations are that way for a reason -- and that reason must be fully explored before such an operation commences.

3. There has to be a pretty high level of spiritual maturity on the part of the donor as well as the receptor congregation. Selfish pettiness has a way of rising to the surface in such times of transition.

My instructor at Fuller, C. Peter Wagner, told us it is easier to have a baby than to revive the dead.

However, infusing new life into a sister congregation is certainly worth considering!