Saturday, September 30, 2006

Iraq Exit Strategy


Jim Watkins, one of my favorite writers, has proposed a common sense exit strategy for our troops in Iraq:


Every day there are no terrorist bombings in Iraq, the United States withdraws one thousand soldiers. (As a goodwill gesture, the U.S. could immediately withdraw one thousand soldiers.)It seems like a logical, win/win strategy in both side's interests.

Unfortunately, the US is dealing with an illogical enemy that will only be satisfied when it wins and its enemies lose. It may, however, put responsibility on the terrorists (U.S. soldiers are there because terrorists keep bombing innocent civilians) and give America the moral high ground it seems to have lost as a result of the invasion.

Just an idea!

Kudos, Jim! Let me know when you decide to run for the Oval Office, and I'll put a plug in for you! I don't know exactly what the domestic or foreign policies would look like, but we'd have FANTASTIC press releases!

Good to Great

An excellent interview with Good to Great author, Jim Collins.

Friday, September 29, 2006

He Didn't Bury It

Well, at least, you could say he didn't "bury the talent."

We Shall Fight


A dad watched a documentary about Winston Churchill on the History Channel.

His son came into the room just as Churchill was declaring,
"We shall fight on the beaches! We shall fight on the landing grounds! We shall fight in the fields and in the steets!"

"Wow!" the little fellow said, "His family's just like ours!"

This week, I met with an engaged couple to plan their wedding. They've decided not to have any instrumental music. Instead, they want the congregation to sing a hymn as the bride comes in, and another as the couple departs as man and wife.

The bride already had chosen a beautiful song for the entrance, "How Lovely is the Bride". They were stuck, however, on which song to use for the recessional.

Jokingly, I suggested page 265 in the Praise and Worship Hymnal: The Fight Is On!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Creflo


Is it coincidence that Creflo's last name is Dollar?

Sunday Schoolsaurus

How did Sunday School become a dinosaur?

When I was a kid, more people attended Sunday School than the Worship Service. That was what really counted. In fact, there was a "scoreboard" near the front of the church that listed:

* Sunday School Attendance This Week
* Sunday School Attendance Last Week
* Sunday School Offering

We don't have one of those scoreboards in our church here in Hayward. (We use "score cards" instead -- a little box in our bulletin that tells last week's worship attendance and how much money was given in last Sunday's offering. So, I guess, you could say we're still keeping score -- but counting something different. )

I'm embarassed to admit how few people come to our Sunday School. For example, a few weeks ago, we had 748 in our worship services -- and only 118 in our Sunday School classes.

People gave over $11,000 in the offering -- but our Sunday School offering totaled less than $50.

As I've conversed with other senior pastors of large, growing churches, it seems that our situation is the norm. These days, a church with a strong, thriving Sunday School is the exception rather than the rule.

What in the world happened to Sunday School? Why is the old dinosaur on the verge of extinction?

Here are a few possible explanations:

1. The focus of Sunday School has switched from Outreach to Instruction.
Originally, Robert Raikes invented Sunday School to reach the uneducated and unchurched children of the community. It was an evangelism tool -- much like churches use ESL and computer classes today. Now, it is primarily a vehicle to instruct the children of church members (with a few classes in Christian coping tossed in for their parents.)

2. The "invitation" of friends is to the worship service, rather than a Sunday school class.
As a kid, I always looked forward to the big "bring all your neighbors to Sunday School" contest! The winner would receive a special prize, on the line of "Let's Make a Deal." I've not heard of any Sunday School Contests in a looong time -- but who would scramble to bring unchurched friends to a program that's not designed for them? The Worship Service has become much more "seeker friendly" (thanks to Willow Creek and Saddleback), and by default, the Sunday School has become more "seeker hostile." (One guy told me he didn't dare go to Sunday School because he didn't people to know how stupid he was about Bible doctrines.)

3. Midweek gatherings have replaced Sunday School as the "second hour."
35 years ago, the Sunday School was the "first hour." Over the next couple of decades, it slipped to the "second hour." Now, it has taken a distant third, with midweek programming capturing the second spot. I have never yet seen a church that is good in both small groups and Sunday School -- it's either one or the other.

Our midweek, for instance, is going full steam ahead! We have tons more children and teens at our midweek gatherings than on Sunday mornings. There are nearly as many adults in small groups throughout the week, than gathered in our worship services. Perhaps it's because our midweek programming remembers point #1: Outreach. Over half the kids who come midweek are not from "churched" families.

4. Sunday School is the "coffee shop" and the midweek programs are like "Starbucks."

Traditional Sunday School -- sitting around a table with a flannelgraph board, reminds me of the old downtown coffee shop. It's a quaint memory -- but I'd rather go to Starbucks.

5. The biggest reason for the demise of Sunday School is because the leaders have quit working it.

It's easier to launch something new, than to transform a sacred cow. Whenever Sunday School leaders monkey with the format, the traditionalists holler, "That's not the way you're supposed to do it! What??? Get rid of the quarterly?? God forbid!"

So, rather than fight the battles, the leaders move into other areas (i.e. Midweek) where they can provide creative and relevent ministries without the cumbersome structures.

I wonder, if the leaders of children, teens and adults were given total freedom to create a ministry that would have maximum Kingdom impact on the lives of their students -- and if they were willing to roll up their sleeves and really work the Sunday School hour -- what might happen??

Maybe Thom Rainer is right when he says, “Sunday School has not stopped working for churches; churches have stopped working Sunday School.”

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Most Exciting Church Choir


The "Most Exciting Church Choir Contest" began this fall.
My bet is on the chorale who gives a valiant effort at the Dunkeld Cathedral.

Losing the Young People

61% of twenty-somethings were involved in church as teens, but are now spiritually disengaged.

What can we do to reverse this trend?

How to do we help the rising generation build a sustainable faith?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ways Churches Deal with Culture

Ignore -- "Let us Pray" -- Haven

Separate -- "Come Ye Apart" -- Rule Generator

Condemn -- "Go Forth & Boycott" -- Political Force

Embrace -- Let's Party! -- No Difference

Leverage -- Jesus is Alive -- Effective

(from a talk by Tim Stevens, Executive Pastor at Granger, brought to my attention by John Jackson at Pastorpreneur.)

Monday, September 25, 2006

No, Lord?

It is impossible to say "No, Lord." If He is truly your Lord, then the only response, is "Yes!"

(Thanks to my friend, Gary McCracken, for this powerful thought.)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Funeral in the Dark


Yesterday, I attended Delores Hagberg's funeral at the Baptist Church out of town eight miles. As I walked into the church, I noticed that people were milling around in the dark.

The electricy had gone out.

One old timer said, This always happens whenever we get a good rain."

I guess there's a big difference between living in the big city (metro-Hayward), and out in the "suburbs" (a.k.a. boonies.)

After a while, we all realized that this outage was for the duration -- and thus, the service started anyway.

Somebody duct taped a flashlight to a microphone stand for the preacher, and we sang all the hymns acapella.

I'll bet, just about then, a few faithful Baptists regretted their decision to scuttle the old upright piano in favor of an electronic keyboard.

All said, it was a good send off for Delores, also known as the cinnamon roll lady.

Finally, four songs, one sermon, and two prayers later, the service ended with a benediction -- and guess what happened when the preacher said "amen"?

The lights came on!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Running Out of Steam

Cathy and I are going back up to Duluth on Monday for a consultation. At that point we will set the date for her first surgery -- removing her gall bladder. That will happen sometime in the next two or three weeks.

The specialist contacted us yesterday with the date of her second surgery -- a couple of endoscopic procedures on her pancreas. We'll be doing that on November 14.

In the meantime, Cathy continues to feel better. She's even conducting a garage sale today.
However, she runs out of steam by about 6:00 p.m.

I shared this with my mother, who turned 84 yesterday. She responded, "I run out of steam a lot sooner than that!"

Myths and Facts About Evangelism and Church Growth

A couple of great articles by Nelson Searcy:

Myths and Facts about Evangelism and Church Growth

Breaking the Next Growth Barrier

Friday, September 22, 2006

Has Starbucks Beat the Church?


Thanks to Jerry Frear at Becoming Missional for the following outstanding post:

Here’s a quote from a Starbuck’s District Manager:

“We have identified a ‘third place.’ And I really believe that sets us apart. The third place is that place that’s not work or home. It’s the place our customers come for refuge.” —Nancy Orsolini, District Manager

I find it interesting that Starbuck’s seams to understand the nature of community and refuge.
Where people used to run to the church for that “third place”, they now run to Starbuck’s

.Maybe it’s time for a field trip, to discover what Starbuck’s knows that we don’t. Because I firmly believe that the Missional church must become and be a “third place” of safety, refuge and community. It’s in finding that identity that the Missional church will impact that changing world around it.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Call to Prayer


Please pray for the McComiskey family. They have suffered a tragic loss.

My prayer for them is one of the songs we're singing this Sunday:

O love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee.
I give Thee back the life I owe, that in Thine ocean depths
it's flow may richer, fuller, be.

O joy that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to thee.
I trace the rainbow through the rain, and feel the promise is not vain.
that morn shall tearless be.

The Purpose Driven Iuka Boot


An interesting article: Charlie Jones was kicked off the deacon board of Iuka Baptist Church, and Rick Warren and got the blame.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

5 L's in Missional Love

1. Look and see needs.
2. Listen to your community and hear what people are saying about needs.
3. Learn about needs and your community by studying and researching.
4. Link to those needs as individuals and communities in order to bring the Kingdom.
5. Act Locally to meet needs.

-- From Scott McKnight's Jesus Creed.

Or, as my friend David Ellis says, "Think Globally! Act Locally, Be Missional!"

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Cathy's Test Results

We're home from the Duluth Clinic, after a morning of invasive testing.

The doctor said that it isn't cancerous -- and that's wonderful news.

He did find three issues, however, that need to be resolved. This will require a couple of surgical procedures in the weeks ahead --so we're not finished yet.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Cathy Update

Cathy's health has been improving every day. She had the strength to coach her Bible Quiz team on Saturday, and attend church yesterday. We are grateful for the many prayers lifted up on her behalf.

This afternoon (Monday) we are going up to Duluth, and they will run a scope ultrasound test on her pancreas tomorrow morning. We are anticipating this to be an outpatient procedure -- so we plan to be home tomorrow evening sometime.

All Rivers Run Into the Sea


A clapboard congregation
sings heartfelt doxologies
hammered out on an
untuned upright piano
with thirteen missing keys.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Haunting canticles
in a cavernous cathedral.
Echoes of praise
ringing from the pipes
when songs have ceased.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

An orchestrated blend of rock and blues.
A collection of redeemed sinners
who've tasted the grace of which they sing
Ancient lyrics dance upon the screen
to a plugged in melody.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

And which is true worship?
Which is good and right?
Which is met with heaven's smile?
In which does God delight?
ALL!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Popeye and E.coli


Now what's Popeye to do?

"Olive, gets me my asparagus!"

That doesn't seem quite right.

Bike Race


Today's the big Bike Race in Hayward.

The start is always a spectacular event, as 5000 fat tires (2500 bikers with two wheels each) roll together down main street, and into the tundra.

I wrote a poem about the event after last year's race and posted it here.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Acts of Worship

"Everything on earth (except sin) can be done as an act of worship to God."

-- From a great article by Louie Giglio in Catalyst Monthly

3 Mistakes Pastors Make


A couple of weeks ago, I had the wonderful privilege of having lunch with Bishop Jerry Knoche, who provides leadership for Delaware-Maryland Synod of the Lutheran Church (E.L.C.A.)

Before his bishop days, Jerry pastored New Hope Lutheran Church, which grew from 250 people to over 1100 under his leadership. He's also the author of a couple of books.

Jerry was vacationing in Hayward -- and I thought it was, indeed, kind of him to spend a couple of hours with an unknown preacher.
That's what Bishops do all the time -- meet with pastors -- and here he was on vacation, meeting with another one! It's kind of like being a mailman and taking a run from dogs on your day off.

What a wonderful guy! We had a fabulous conversation. I walked away inspired.

(Thanks, Fred Scheer for setting this up!)

I asked the good bishop this question: From your travels and observations, what are the three most common mistakes you see pastors make?

His answer:

1. Not bringing people along with you in the vision.
2. Not visiting people and prospects
3. Neglecting the sick, shut-ins, and the elderly.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Baraga Cross


Frederic Baraga was a pioneering Catholic priest who served the Native Americans by the shores of Gitchee Gumee (Lake Superior.)

During an eight year stint at the mission at La Pointe (Madeline Island), he had the privilege of baptizing 981 people. Dubbed the snowshoe priest, for an adventurous 700 mile journey on snowshoes, he invested his entire life in serving others.

One day, in 1846, upon receiving news of a terrible epidemic at Grand Portage, the priest and a friend, headed out in a small boat on a merciful mission of kindness.

Unfortunately, a terrible storm overtook them. Howling winds and driving rain nearly capsized capsize their tiny vessel. Angry waves threatened to smash them into the rocks along the shoreline.

"Help us! Jesus! Help us!" Baraga cried -- and then came a miracle!

Somehow, the wind blew them into the mouth of a calm, protected river at the point where it emptied into the lake. Instantly, they were sheltered from the storm.

Father Baraga and his friend, got out of the boat, onto their knees, and tearfully thanked the good Lord for sparing their lives.

Then, they erected a wooden cross at the spot, to remind other travellers of God's gracious protection and care.

The first cross is gone now, but another, hewn of granite, presently stands at the very same spot, near Bluefin, Minnesota, on Lake Superior's north shore.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Odds and Ends

I was happy to see that my friend, Nick Reid won the primary yesterday in his run for congress (7th District of Wisconsin.) He was raised in our Darrow Road Wesleyan Church, currently is a member of our Red Cedar Community Church, and his wonderful parents have attended Hayward Wesleyan Church.

Nick is a good, solid faith and family values kind of guy. Pray for him as he faces a formidable foe, Mr. Obey, in November. Go Nick! I'm with you -- even if I don't put one of your bumper stickers on my car.

It was sad to hear of the dismissal of my favorite biographer, Ruth Tucker, from Calvin Seminary. Too bad for them -- but it might be good for the rest of us. Maybe she'll some extra time to write some more of her fabulous books. Scott McKnight, over at Jesus Creed, has picked up on this story.

Jerry Brecheisen posted recently on " E-Mail Doctors" -- now, that's an interesting concept. I sure do a lot of "E-Mail Pastoring!"

Trouble Sleeping?


At least they're honest and it's probably not false advertising!

(a photo taken by my friends, John and Danielle Freed, and posted at their Freed House blog.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Update on Cathy

Today's her first day without meds. We saw the doctor yesterday, and he is very pleased with her progress.

The cause is still a mystery. They have scheduled a "scope" test next Tuesday in Duluth, which may give us some answers. In the meantime, she's getting a little better every day.

She's been released to drive today -- so, now I'll have a dickens of a time keeping up. (Actually, she doesn't have lots of extra energy this morning, so maybe I'll be able to keep up after all.)

Energy Drain


Reading John Maxwell's uplifting book, The 360 Leader, I came upon a helpful insight into how people end up feeling burned out and drained:

1. Activity Without Direction -- doing things that don't seem to matter.

2. Burden Without Action -- not being able to do things that really matter.

3. Conflict Without Resolution -- not being able to deal with what's the matter.

Monday, September 11, 2006

God's Recycling


God is in the recycling business!

One look at the smelly heap of garbage in our lives, and we're certain that we're headed straight to the dump. We don't deserve anything else. After all, what could possibly be salvaged from a trashy past?

Fortunately for us, God recycles people! He can rectify what we've wrecked! He looks at us through "mercy eyes" and sees the possibilities rather than the junk. He knows how to fix things!

God is in the business of taking a shattered, bruised and broken life, and turning it into something beautiful.

When we admit our brokenness and our need, surrendering our our lives into God's hands, he gently restores us. He makes us new creatures -- liberated! He doesn't keep a big list of all our past failures and mistakes.

One day, I was playing a furious game of "Madden 2004" with my son, Ryan. We were in the second quarter, and he was clobbering me 77 -0. How could I possibly redeem this dreadful situatiion?

With a gleam in my eye, I hit the reset button! The score was back to 0-0! It was as if he'd never scored against me at all!

When God forgives -- He hits the reset button! Zap! Justified -- "Just if I'd never messed up at all."

Corrie Ten Boom said it this way, "He throws our sins into the vast sea of his forgetfulness -- and then posts a hand painted sign:

'No Fishing Allowed"!"

5 Years Later



George Barna recently reported :

despite an intense surge in religious activity and expression in the weeks immediately following 9/11 the faith of Americans is virtually indistinguishable today compared to pre-attack conditions. Barna’s tracking surveys looked at 19 dimensions of spirituality and beliefs. Remarkably, none of those 19 indicators are statistically different from the summer before the attacks!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Church Together

It's shortly after 11:00 and we're home from church already! I think it's the first time in our 15 years here, that Cathy and I attended church together. We were simply members of the congregation, and at the end of the service, took communion. It was a beautiful experience.

Pastor Heath preached a great sermon on Ezekiel:

To those in Denial -- The Lord is the Truth Bearer
To those in Despair -- The Lord is the Hope Bearer


We just heard the bell ringing for the 11:00 service. I didn't know it echoed all the way to our house. Cool! That means all of our neighbors hear it too -- three times, every Sunday.

Toad


"Think as I think," said a man
"Or you are abominably wicked;
You are a toad."

And after I had thought of it,
I said, "I will, then, be a toad."

-- Stephen Crane

Cool Clock


Click here to see a really cool clock.

(Thanks to Gerry Edwards for the lead!)

It reminds me of a sermon I did a while back. Whenever someone asks, "What time is it?", the best answer is. . .

"It's time to Praise the Lord!"

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Picture of Wheeler




Here's the only picture I know of L. H. Wheeler. (See last post for details.)

L. H. Wheeler



Yesterday, I took the kids on a field trip, in search of clues about L. H. Wheeler, the great missionary. (The rain kept us from a full exploration -- but we'll go back!)

This is an amazing story!

Wheeler, a missionary to the Native Americans, snowshoed 250 miles to catch a train for Washington to shut down the notorious "Indian Ring" which was scheming to steal the L. C. O. Reservation.

The heroic feat cost Wheeler his health -- his feet were battered and bloody, and he lost the use of one lung. However, the reservation land was saved!

Wheeler served with the protestant mission at La Pointe, on Madeline Island. He also founded the town, Odanah, on the Bad River, and in his later years, invented the first "mass-produced" windmill.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Staying Home

This week, I've been a "Stay At Home Dad".

It's the first time, in my whole life, that I've taken time off, and not gone on a big trip somewhere. Actually, it's been kind of fun vacationing at home.

The room rental is pretty decent, and we've been getting free meals and flowers!

Still, it hasn't felt too, "vacation-like." Concern takes a physical toll.

Cathy hasn't ventured out of the house yet, but I can see that she's just about ready. Yesterday, she had a great day!

At this point, we're figuring that her first outing will be for church on Sunday morning (probably the 8:20 service.)

I'll still be on vacation -- and so we will do something the normal people get to do -- go to church and be home by 9:30. (I've never done that in Hayward, as I'm always the first one there at 6:00 a.m. and the last one out at 1:30 p.m.)

They're serving communion Sunday, and for the first time, Cathy and I will be able to receive it together. I've always been on the serving end.

Freaky Pastors


Accept that your life is abnormal. Nothing about life as a ministry leader—from its emotional toll to relational demands and constant interruptions—is normal. Accepting that you are a freak with a freakish life will help you not to freak out.

-- Mark Driscoll

Now, THAT explains a lot!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Heresy!

John Drury has a great definition of heresy:

"Substituting part of the truth for the whole."

He goes on to say, "This is why heretics are not completely wrong and often have much truth to share. The problem with heresy is not its utter falsity, but its one-sidenesses."

I think he's right on target . . . and the funny thing is, extremely narrow folks who are most likely to call others "heretics", are by this definition heretics themselves!

Looking Good


Cathy is gaining ground every day. She's progressing well, and looking good too! (Of course -- she always looks good -- but you know what I mean.)

In fact, this brings up another pressing concern.

She's going to have to start looking sicker for the people who bring the food, or we're going to quit getting free meals!

(Note -- This picture was NOT taken yesterday. It's from our trip last month up the north shore. The Split Rock Lighthouse is in the distant background.)

Blog of the Week


Actually, there are TWO blogs I'd like to feature this week: Both Transplants!

Dean Brown, my bloggerland friend from Halifax: Atlantic Transplant.
and
Dale Argot, my FLAME buddy, from Martinsville, VA: Virginia Tansplant

Stop by and pay 'em a visit!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

New Mode of Baptism?

Back to School Bash


Last Wednesday, we held our annual "Back to School Bash" with about 300 teens in attendance.

Thanks to our fantastic intern, Lisa, for providing the pictures on her Superwomanlmm Blog

It took a firehose to wash them up afterwards!

583 people Baptized at Fellowship Church


Down in Grapevine, Texas, Fellowship Church baptized 583 people in one day! (Thanks to Todd at Monday Morning Insight for the story.)

Their senior pastor, Ed Young, is, perhaps, the most creative pastor in America, and has certainly taken his share of criticism.
Creativity breeds animosity from those who wish to maintain the status quo.

When one marches to the beat of a different drummer, criticisms come with the territory. It's just the law of the whale: When you rise to the surface and spout, you'll get harpooned!

I had the privilege of meeting Ed a couple of years ago, when he graciously agreed to have lunch with a few Wesleyan senior pastors. I was astonished at his ability to pull a hundred unrelated ideas together into one powerful, razor-sharp, convictional laser of truth.

A couple of weeks ago, Ed preached a pre-taped video message from a baptism pool, explaining in detail, this step of obedience. At the conclusion, hundreds of people responded.

Now, some will howl at the 583 baptisms -- "How do we know if all those people were sincere?"

But the truth is, the only hounds howling are the ones who haven't caught a rabbit in years.

Meanwhile, I'll bet Ed and his staff are resting their sore arms with joyful hearts.

New Teacher


This week, Cathy is taking it easy -- which goes against her grain. In all our years together, she's always been busy doing SOMETHING.

People from the church have been so kind -- bringing food and get well wishes. Actually the real kindness in that is for our kids, who don't have to survive on my cooking! (Of course, they WOULD survive -- much like the p.o.w.'s in Siberia.

As our family homeschools, we started the year yesterday with a substitute teacher -- me! Cathy and I are switching roles this week. I'm the teacher and she's the principal.

How's it going? Let's just say that the new principal will most likely give a performance evaluation at the end of the week and the new teacher will be fired on the spot.

Cathy is getting a little better each day. I believe, with all my heart, that God is working a miracle.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Happy Birthday Hamburger


On this day, in Seymour, Wisconsin, in 1885, Charlie Nagreen squashed a meatball between two pieces of bread and called it a "hamburger."

Viet Nam

My good friend, Roger Ciskie, is with this guy right now in Viet Nam. They're doing some pretty amazing things.

After his retirement, Roger fired up! Instead of spending all his time on the golf course, he is busy changing the world.

Never Fails

"…The Ground of our conviction that God is reliable in all of life is this: No matter what heart-wrenching perplexities we face, it is not as though the word of God has failed (Rom 9:6)."

-- John Piper

Monday, September 04, 2006

Getting Back to Normal


The sun is rising right now, like a golden ball in the sky, reminding us of the Lord's tender mercies which are renewed day by day. The Lord is near.

Cathy is near too!

It's so good to have her home. Like the rising sun, her presence brings a sense of "normal" back to our household.

(All the wild beasts are back in the cages again.)

Akeelah and the Bee


Our family watched "Akeelah and Bee" together the other night. It was a great story about an eleven year old girl from Crenshaw (Los Angeles area) who beat the odds and won the National Spelling Bee competiton.

I can't even spell "p-a-n-c-r-e-a-t-i-t-i-s."

Sunday, September 03, 2006

She's Home!

Just arrived home from the hospital! It's great to have the queen back in the castle.

Cathy still is pretty weak and experiencing pain. It will be a road to full recovery.

Nevertheless, it's wonderful to have her home!

Thanks again for the many expressions of love and support.

By the way -- for the Hayward Wesleyan Church family -- since we missed it -- how did it go with our guest speaker, Ron Heagy?

Homecoming

Cruising with Father Bill


Yesterday, I had a delightful visit with my good friend, Father Bill.

I made a special trip by St. Joe's this morning, hoping to see him -- and the timing was perfect!
We sat down together on the bench in front of his church and had a good long, heart-warming chat.

In many respects I felt like I was talking to my dad -- or my big brother.

Sure, we have a few theological differences -- but our hearts are the same. The bond I have with Father Bill goes deeper than our doctrines. We really do love each other.

About six o'clock one Sunday morning, I was putting some polishing touches on my sermon, when I heard something outside my office window.

Honk! Honk! Honk!

I looked out, and there sat Father Bill in his new convertible PT Cruiser! Eagerly, he motioned for me to come out and have a look.

"Wanna ride?" he beamed.
"You bet!" I exclaimed, and hopped in the shotgun seat.

As the sun rose over the lakes, the Catholic priest and the Wesleyan preacher went cruising through the Sunday morning mist.

Yesterday, I told Father Bill this joke:

"When are you going to loosen up and have a beer?" the priest asked his Southern Baptist pastor friend.

The Baptist replied, "At your wedding reception, of course!"

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Prayer Shawl


Tonight, the doctor told Cathy that her rapid recovery was absolutely astounding.
She replied, "I have a lot of people praying for me."
He responded, "Well, I'd have to call this one a miracle."

Also, she had the opportunity to pray with a 19 year old college student, who was worried about her seriously ill mother. God used Cathy to be a real encouragement and blessing to the young lady -- and then she arranged for me to bring a prayer shawl for them.

Cathy told me she will always treasure the prayer shawl we provided for her. It reminds her that God is present in all our situations. I'm grateful for the ladies of the church who have undertaken this powerful ministry to the sick.

Kudos to the Prayer Shawl ladies!

(By the way, we are going to host a Prayer Shawl Retreat at the church next month.)

A Hug from Heaven

On a drizzly March afternoon, when I was a nine years old, my parents were seriously injured in an automobile accident. An inattentive semi truck driver lost control of his rig. His trailor bed skidded into their lane and they hit it head on.

Mom was thrown through the windshield and landed on the wet asphalt. Dad was pinned and mangled inside our vehicle.

They were life-flighted by helecopter to the big city, and placed in intensive care, where Dad's life hung by a mere thread.

I was in class doing an art project, when the principal came to the door, saying he wanted to see me. I thought I was in big trouble, and practiced my excuses as I followed him down the long hall to his office.

Arriving, I saw two ladies from our church sitting there, nervous and puffy-eyed. With choked voices they told me of the terrible accident, and that they had come to bring my brother and me home.

Lots of friends and familiar strangers were milling around our house as we drove up the driveway. They greeted us with morose hugs, pinched our cheeks, and and told us they'd be praying.

I saw them whispering to each other, and as they looked our direction, they shook their heads with pity. Looking back on it now, I know they were just making arrangements for taking care of the poor Wilson children during this horrible ordeal.

Ironically, that kind of comfort wasn't the least bit comforting to a third grader.

Quietly, I slipped away from the noisy intruders, to the dog house out back, and sat down beside my best friend, Pepper: a furry and friendly collie.

I put my arms around Pepper's neck, buried my face in his warm, soft side, and cried my heart out.

Somehow, Pepper understood, and silently, he told me so.

Right then, for the first time in my life, I felt God hug me.

It seemed like big loving arms from heaven reached down to me -- and drew me in -- Pepper too! I felt loved. I felt strength. I felt peace.

Then, I knew that everything was going to be o.k.

My parents did survive the accident, though it was a long and difficult recovery.

Several times since, during the course of my life, when facing a difficult or painful situation, I've remembered that day I sat down next to Pepper -- and I've felt the hug of heaven all over again.

Late Breaking News


What a surprise to find that my lovely lady has added a comment!

Just so you don't miss it:

It's Friday evening, and it's been the first chance I have had to see a computer since Sunday...Mark told me that he was keeping people up-dated this way. I AM SO TOUCHED!!!

Thank you, everyone, for your prayers and support! Thank you all for looking after my husband and children while I can't be around to do those daily things that add up to love!

I love you all so much...what a wonderful "family" I have...The flowers are beautiful...Thank you!

And, by the way, Honey, the jello was in those little round containers, so it was actually 3 very "well-rounded" meals! :)

Cathy (Wilson)

Last Lap Around The Track

She had chicken for dinner last night! I have never been more excited about hospital food.

The tubes and needles are coming out today. We're almost certain she's coming home tomorrow.

I'm going back up to Duluth this afternoon to spend the night, so I can stand ready to take my sweetheart home.

Thanks everybody, for your loving prayers and words of encouragement.

All you Hayward friends -- would you do me a big favor? Even though I'm going to be a church skipper tomorrow, please follow my advice advice rather than my example.

My advice: Everybody show up tomorrow at church to hear Ron Heagy. Actually, you will be doing yourself a favor if you can get there.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Congratulations to Ben, Lois and Burr


Pastor Ben and Lois Drown made it on the official Wesleyan Web Page!

Last Sunday, they helped Burr Wesleyan Church celebrate their 150th aniversary. Then, Monday, Ben and Lois celebrated their 50th wedding aniversary, with a week-long getaway at Cedarly Pastors' Retreat. (This is a fantastic place designed to refresh and bless those who serve in the ministry -- and it's free!)

The Drown's and the Wilson's share the same aniverary day -- August 28.

Ben and I both agree -- we definitely married up!

Today Will Tell


Today will tell a lot as far as when Cathy gets come home from the hospital. She's not feeling as good today as she did yesterday -- three steps forward, two steps back. My elation is somewhat tempered.

I should have remembered, from all my hospital visitations down through the years that it works this way. Still, the doctor said she won't need a feeding tube now.

My guess is that it will be Sunday or later before she comes home.

I thought of something funny relating to yesterday's jello: Cathy had three square meals!

A Hebrew Prayer



Ba-ruch a-ta, A-do-nai, ro-fei ha-cho-lim. We praise You, O Lord, the Source of healing and health.

God, in our hearts, we name those who are facing illness and pain. We join our prayers with the prayers of all who love them. Give them renewed comfort and courage. Strengthen in them the healing powers You have placed within us all. Guide the hands and hearts of those who are entrusted with their care. May the knowledge of Your love and ours give added hope to them and to their dear ones. May they find even greater strength because our prayers are linked with theirs.
.... Rabbi Harry K. Danziger

(I was blessed when Steve Gerich sent this prayer yesterday.)