Thursday, November 30, 2006

When Criticized Unfairly

Bob Roberts had a great post over at Glocal Trekker about dealing with unfair criticism. (It was in response to the shrapnel Rick Warren received for his recent trip to Syria.)

Sometimes God allows people to say things that aren’t right to keep you humble.

R ecognize God is at work in you.
E xpect significant attacks proportionate to impact.
J ust blow them off.
O pen God’s Word for comfort.
I ncrease your vision every time you’re attacked.
C riticism can always make you stronger.
E xercise discernment.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

X Ray

Cathy had a final x-ray yesterday -- and they said everything is clear and good! She doesn't have to go back for any more procedures.

We are truly thankful. It has been a long autumn -- and educational.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Recant?


Recant?
I cannot!
Here I stand!
I can do no other.

-- Martin Luther (Packer fan)

This Kid Knows Something

My friend, Naomi, shared this this delightful incident from Sunday School last week:

Our Sunday School lesson this week was about Isaac and Rebekah. During assembly, Jeremy told the story, intertwined with the story of how he and Amanda met, became engaged, married, and soon to be parents.

In shifting back to Isaac and Rebekah, he asked, "And what happens after you get married?" Josiah raised his hand and responded, with great seriousness, "You have a really hard time living."

The adults in the back of the room did our best to suppress our laughter.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Inspiring Morning

The worship service this morning was inspiring. We sang two great hymns, as well as my favorite chorus.

After putting all our plans into place, we discovered Friday that we were starting "Advent" a week too early! Instead of scrapping the plans, however, we decided to go ahead and just start Advent before the rest of the world (after all, the stores have all had Christmas stuff out since October!)

We began the service with a choral reading, moving into "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" (It's 12th Century Latin lyrics, translated into English, and combined with a 15th Century Fransiscan melody -- with some substantial "jazzing up."

After that, we lit the first Advent Candle: Hope. Kathy Baker shared an inspiring story of how God gave her hope in the dark valley. "God took the I out of bitter," she testified, "and made me better!" It has been beautiful to watch her grow spiritually in the midst of very difficult circumstances.

We paused for a moment to welcome infant, Benjamin Munich who came into this world on Monday, and to remember Earl Richards, who passed away the same day.

Then, we sang a little spiced up Beethoven (Joyful, Joyful), followed by "Days of Elijah" (Ever exegeted that song?), "How Deep the Father's Love for Us", and "In Christ Alone" (That one rivals Amazing Grace as my favorite song.)

Pastor Heath preached a powerful message using the inspiring video of the Hoyt's, as a launching pad for Romans 8 -- The Goodness and the Groanings of the Father."

At the conclusion of the 11:00 service, I led Dennis and Linda Waystedt in a renewal of their wedding vows. 35 years ago, they were married in a courthouse with a judge. Since giving their lives to Jesus, they've been longing for a "church wedding."

Dennis masterfully orchestrated the whole event. Friends brought flowers and cameras.

After I called them forward, before the puzzled congregation, the nervous groom told his bride how much he loves her, and asked if she would marry him again.

Fortunately, she agreed -- "You bet your sweet bippies!" was the actual wording -- which, I believe means "yes!"

Boy, was Linda ever surprised!

After a passionate kiss, they marched out to a cheering congregation, and the tune of the "Wedding March."

Linda told me later that this one was a hundred times more meaningful than the first time around.

Gossip


Gossip is a sort of smoke that comes from the dirty tobacco-pipes of those who diffuse it: it proves nothing but the bad taste of the smoker.


-- George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Friday, November 24, 2006

A Grateful Thanksgiving

Yesterday, our family was, indeed grateful. Cathy was able to eat Thanksgiving Dinner! Just a few days ago, that would have been impossible.

We are thankful for the prayers of our friends and family. They really do work. She's pretty much back to normal!

49 Million

I found this powerful thought in a recent post by Keith Drury entitled, "I've Solved the Immigration Problem."

Since Roe V. Wade in 1973 this country has aborted the lives of 49 million children. That’s 49 million. These US citizens who were never born would be up to age 33 today.

Of course I condemn these deaths on moral grounds, but there are economic ones too.

These 49 million citizens would be building homes today, having children themselves, serving as customers for business… and paying taxes.

Sure, some would be on welfare and others would be in jail, but there would be plenty working to pay taxes—especially Social Security taxes.

Ironically the boomers destroyed 49 million of their kids who would have been able to foot the bill for their own impending retirement!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Community Thanksgiving Service


I just witnessed a miracle at the Community Thanksgiving Service, held at First Congregational Church on Main Street -- five preachers spoke, and the service was finished within an hour.

I think that just might be a world record.

As the offeratory began, I reached for my wallet, and realized that I had accidently left it in my car. "Uh oh," I whispered furtively to Tim Warner, my full gospel preacher buddy who happened to be sitting next to me, "I didn't bring my wallet!"

Graciously, he opened his billfold, grinned, and handed me a buck. That was really generous, as he only had two dollars to begin with.

So, the plate passed by and we both put in our George Washingtons.

Tim whispered, "We're lucky. Church is the only place left where you can still get in for a buck!"

Church Health Profile

The Church Health Profile, created by our Evangelism Department, is a great tool for Wesleyan Congregations.

It's similar to the Natural Church Develpment Survey -- but better -- because it's free!

Baaaad Sheep


If you love good disciples, it is no credit to you, but rather, seek by meekness to subdue the more troublesome."


-- leter from Early Church Father Ignatius to Polycarp

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

When Leaders Implode

An insightful article by Gordon McDonald on Ted Haggard

Complaint Department

Looking Good

Cathy's health is improving every day. Yesterday, she was actually able to get out of the house for a few minutes -- to do a couple of things at the church. She was getting stir crazy.

She's been eating, and that's a real blessing. Our next prayer is that she will be able to enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner.

This morning, she left the house early for her quiet time. That shows me she really is feeling quite better!
---

On another note, I made three trips to the hospital yesterday:

1. In the morning, to see a friend who is struggling with a number of significant health issues. I'm concerned for him.

2. In the afternoon, to welcome Benjamin Munich into our world! His proud parents, Charlie and Julie were beaming. He sure is a cute little guy. It was, indeed, an honor, to pray a "blessing" over him on the first day of his life.

3. At midnight, to bid farewell to my old friend, Earl Richards, who took his last breath about a minute before I arrived -- or maybe I should say his first breath of heaven's air.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Sit Down, If You Need Prayer

Yesterday, during my sermon, I had the entire congregation stand.

Then, I said, "If you're carrying a heavy burden and need the prayers of our church family, I want you to sit down right now."

The response was absolutely overwhelming.

In our first service, everybody sat down! A large percentage of our second and third services sat down also. In all, I'd say it was more than 75% of our church family.

I had no idea how many of my people are walking around with troubled hearts, carrying a heavy load. That little exercise sure opened my eyes.

During the first service, I just sat there and blubbered.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Hope's Arising


I wrote this poem in the hospital waiting room at the Duluth Clinic, overlooking Lake Superior.


Troubled waters swirl and crash
in restless waves
upon the Great Lake's southern side.

And somehow, I identify
with heavy sighings.

But still, looking up and long
I see a large horizon
deep waters fading blue,
reaching up to touch the morning sky.

And in my sighings,
hope's arising. . .

just in time to whisper,
"All is well. Peace be still."

Saturday, November 18, 2006

She's Eating!

Yippee!! Cathy was able to eat lightly last night -- and then, again this morning.

Apple sauce and rice never seemed so good before. Thanks for your prayers. They're working!

It's "iffy" whether she'll make it to church tomorrow -- but hey, it's deer hunting opener weekend, so it's "iffy" whether half the congregation will show up.

A Turkey T.V. Dinner


The Wall Street Journal, recently reported on preachers who swipe their sermons from the internet.


Preaching an internet sermon is like serving a frozen turkey t.v. dinner to your family for Thanksgiving.


I suppose, if you can't cook, it's better than starving to death -- but not by much.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Slow Progress

Cathy's recovery is taking longer than either of us anticipated. It's a slow inching kind of progress.

Except for a couple of saltines, she hasn't had any solid food since Monday. Please pray for her strength, and that she will be able to eat soon.

Pastors Out of Touch

"In general, pastors are less informed about the culture in which they live than are the people in their churches."

At least -- that's what the researchers at LifeWay Christian Resources concluded.

In their survey, pastors knew less about politics, television, movies, the internet, clothing and fashion, video games, and celebrities, than the average pew potato.

Now, I think pastors ought to do their best to understand their culture -- but there's a much bigger issue at stake.

How deeply do they know Jesus?
Do they understand the heart of God in the face of human suffering?

Imagine someone going up to Mother Theresa in heaven and saying, "You know, your ministry would have been much more effective if you had known the latest fashion trends and learned to play video games."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Micajah McPherson

During our Wesleyan History field trip last week, we stopped by the grave of Micajah McPherson to pay our respects.

Micajah was the leading layman at Freedom's Hill Church -- the first Wesleyan congregation in the south. Many times, he placed his life in peril, courageously standing against the evils of slavery.

One day, during the Civil War, a mob of angry men came to Micajah's house while he was doing farm chores, and dragged him to the woods.

Standing him on a rock, they placed a noose around Micajah's neck, and hung him from a leaning dogwood tree.

A while later, they needed their rope to hang another abolitionist -- and so they came back and cut him down.
Amazingly, Micajah was not dead -- only unconscious. A few hours later, he revived, and crawled home -- much to the surprised joy of his loved ones.

Micajah lived another 30-plus years, before his death in 1896

popsicle communion

Cathy's feeling somewhat better today. Last night, she had a popsicle and some 7up.

It was almost a holy sacrament, making me, indeed, thankful for God's work, somewhat like communion.

Adam Crooks

Thus far, only one biography of Adam Crooks, the first Wesleyan in the south, has been written. It was penned by his wife, Elizabeth, shortly after his death.

Maybe somebody needs to write another one.

Freedom's HIll


Last week, I took my Wesleyan Church History class on a field trip to the site of Freedom's Hill, the first Wesleyan Methodist church in the south.
Adam Crooks, a young minister from Ohio, came into the heart of slave territory, preaching abolition. His ministry was not much appreciated by the community at large.
They shot at him, dragged him from the pulpit, poisoned him twice, and eventually imprisoned him -- but that didn't keep him from speaking the truth.
A couple of years ago, the building was moved to Southern Wesleyan University and restored. The woods where the little chapel once stood, is now overgrown with brush, and off the beaten path.
Amy, one of my students, was inspired to start working on placing a historical marker at the site. That's fantastic! The rest of the world needs to hear this amazing story.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Backwards

After yesterday's elation, we had a backwards move today. Cathy wasn't feeling well, and ended up back at the clinic for testing. The doctor confirmed that the pancreatitis has flared up again.

Fortunately, it's a mild case -- not nearly as severe as the first time around, and we're believing that she will be doing much better in a day or two.

Our innards don't appreciate such intrusive pokings.

Miracle!

Cathy did really well through the procedure yesterday, and was able to come home in the evening.

Dr. Bernardino was surprised. Shortly before the operation, he told us what he expected to happen -- and it wasn't encouraging. He said she would almost certainly be hospitalized -- and that often, people in her situation, have to come back for a couple more sugeries before the issue is resolved.

Then, when he went in, he couldn't find the pancreas stone! There was no blockage, no narrowing, no need for cutting of any kind. He was baffled.

"As far as I can see, your pancreas is back to normal," he declared, "I sure can't figure out what happened to those stones!"

Hmmmm -- how about an answer to prayer?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

God's Chariot


In just a few minutes, Cathy and I are leaving for Duluth, where she will have surgery on her pancreas. Please pray for her.

If all goes well, it will just be an outpatient procedure, and we will be home tonight. There is a possibility, however, that there will be complications, requiring hospitalization for a few days.

I'm reminded me of what Hannah Whitehall Smith said about life's difficult trials:

We may make out of each event in our lives either a Juggernaut car to crush us, or a chariot in which to ride to heights of victory. It all depends upon how we take them; whether we lie down under our trials and let them roll over and crush us, or whether we climb up into them as into a chariot, and make them carry us triumphantly onward and upward.

Get into your chariot, then. Take each thing that is wrong in your life as God's chariot for you. No matter who the builder of the wrong may be, whether men or devils, by the time it reaches your side it is God's chariot for you, and is meant to carry you to a heavenly place of triumph. Shut out all the second causes, and find the Lord in it. Say, "Lord, open my eyes that I may see, not the visible enemy, but thy unseen chariots of deliverance."

Monday, November 13, 2006

Peaches and Shears

During "Ask the Lord Time" in my Evangelism Class (see last post), a new student, Nick, from Plymouth, Indiana, had a strange picture that came to his mind -- two words: "Peaches and Shears."

He felt rather silly sharing this with the rest of the class, but had the courage the blurt it out, adding, "I know this seems crazy. . ."

Later in the afternoon, a few classmates were walking in a shopping mall, when one of them nudged Nick and said, "Hey, there's your shears!" They were standing in front of a hair salon.

"Why don't you go inside and see if you find the peaches?"

So, Nick, stepped inside and asked, "Is there someone named Peaches here?"

"Yep," said one of the workers, "She's right over there."

Nick's eyes bugged out, "REALLY???"

He went over to the bewildered hair sylist and explained how an unusual prompting during prayer time led him to her. "Is there anything I can pray for you about?"

Peaches burst into tears, and wrapped her arms around the surprised ministerial student.

A co-worker remarked, "See, I told you God was powerful!"

Peaches was at a major crossroad in her life, and facing some significant moral decisions. Nick ended up praying with her, and she went home with renewed faith.

Nick came back to class rejoicing! God works in mysterious ways!

Faith Sharing

Something amazing happened in my Evangelism Class last week.

On Tuesday, I sent the students into the community to bring a blessing to others. Before we went out, we spent 45 minutes in solitude -- opening our hearts and minds to God's promptings. (I called this "Ask the Lord Time."

After the season of listening prayer, we gathered back and shared what came to our minds.

The students shared several different pictures or leadings -- i.e. a homeless man, the polling place, outside a porn shop, a mechanic with greasy hands, an elderly man on a Wal Mart bench, the shadow of a steeple and a discouraged pastor.

Those impressions seemed a little strange -- but by the end of the afternoon, ALL of them came to be!

Our students blessed a homeless man and provided some food for him. A student blessed people coming and going from the polling place. A couple of our guys prayed with the owner of a porn shop. A class member led an elderly man to Christ on a Wal Mart bench. A group found a mechanic with greasy hands, and prayed with him after he shared the heavy burdens of his heart. In the shadown of a steeple, members of our class blessed a stressed waitress, and lifted up a discouraged pastor.

All in all -- it was a good day fishin'!

The best one, however, has to do with "Peaches and Shears" -- and I'll tell you that one next time!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Incremental Confession


When I heard the report about Ted Haggard, I was absolutely stunned. I felt like the little kid who shouted out to Shoeless Joe Jackson during the Black Sox scandal, "Say it ain't so, Ted! Say it ain't so."

And Thursday, he did say it wasn't so -- at first.
Friday, he said it "sort of" wasn't so.
Saturday, it was so.

Although I was floored by the report, I was not surprised by the response.

I've noticed that often, when people are caught in some kind of sin, they confess incrementally.

First, they deny it. Then a day or so later, they admit a little bit. Finally, in a couple more days, they come clean (although not always entirely.)

Have you noticed this tendency in human nature?
Why do people behave that way?
How should a church deal with someone who is confessing incrementally?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

I'm Back!

Arrived home not long ago from a week of teaching in North Carolina. Some amazing things happened in Evangelism Class -- but I don't have the time or energy to expound right now.

For an insightful read, check out Keith Drury's last post, "The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall."

Also, it was a real delight to spend some time with my blogger buddy, Dale Argot.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Blogging Break

This afternoon, I'm heading out of town to North Carolina to teach Evangelism and Wesleyan Church History FLAME classes.

I don't anticipate having internet access -- so I'm not planning on blogging for the rest of the week.

Life's Poundings

Butch, the 4th grade bully, cornered little Albert and was preparing to beat the stuffing out of him.

Scrawny Albert was not match for burly Butch. He didn't run very fast either. It looked certain that he had met his doom.

Yet, a gleam of confidence sparkled in Albert's eye.

Defiant, head up and shoulders back,he stood on his tip toes and thumped the bully on the chest with his skinny finger.

"I DARE ya to hit me today, Butch! I DARE ya!"

"You stupid litlle runt," Butch growled, "Do you really think you can beat me up?"

"No," grinned Albert, "But my big brother can! He's a Marine. He's home on leave, and he's standing right behind you!"

Relief! Rescued from the pounding!

If you've been on the receiving end of life's poundings, remember this:

"Fear not, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isa. 41:10

Head Heart Combo

Unite the pair so long disjoined
Knowledge and vital piety
Learning and holiness combined
And Truth and Love let all men see.

-- Charles Wesley

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Reading

Here's what I've been reading recently.

Death by Caffeine

Click here to find out how much coffee or soda it would take to send you to the "other side."

Under the Weather

I'm in bed, under the weather -- trying to feel better.

Clay Cross came to town, and did a concert last night at our church. Today, he and his wife, Renee, are holding a marriage conference, and I'm in bed, under the weather -- trying to feel better.

I'm really disappointed to miss these special events.

Our church planter, Ben Kidder, is scheduled to preach tomorrow, so at least I don't have that hanging over my head right now.

However, I'm scheduled to fly to North Carolina tomorrow afternoon for a week of teaching, and that won't be too much fun if I'm still under the weather.

Baptism Cannonball

He said, "I've been a pastor for 25 years, and that's a first. . ."

Friday, November 03, 2006

Negative Church Political Advertisements

Todd Rhoades, heard another negative political ad on the radio and wondered what it would be like if Christians used the same format to campaign against those they disagreed with.

He posted the results HERE.

Drop That Sandwich Now!


Orlando bans compassionate food distribution to the homeless.

Say It Ain't So

I feel like the little boy, who shouted out to Shoeless Joe Jackson during the Black Sox scandal.

"Say it ain't so, Ted. Say it ain't so!"

Worry


"Worry is like a rocking chair," the old saying goes, "It keeps you busy, but you don't get anywhere."

Thomas Brokovec, a noted authority in worry research, said that 30 percent of us are non-worriers. 15 percent of us are chronic worriers. Everybody else fits somewhere between the two extremes.

This means that 70 percent of us worry at least some of the time (not to mention the "macho's" in the 30 percent who just won't admit it.)

Chances are, you worry too much. Before you even know what's happening, a tidal wave of anxiety crashes upon you, and it takes ever ounce of energy you can muster just to keep your head above water.

When floods of worry enter your mind, what can you do about it? Here are some ideas.

1. Face the Issue: Instead of being overwhelmed by the problem look for possible solutions. rite down your options and examine them objectively. Horace said, "Reason and sense remove anxiety, not villas that look out upon the sea."

2. Do What You Can: Just think of all the energy that is drained by worrying about things we cannot control. "Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind," stated Arthur Somers Roche, "If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained." Forget the things you cannot change, focus on the things you can do, and then move into action.

3. Try Prayer Power: If a worry is too small to be made into a prayer, then it is too little to be a burden. There is nothing that lifts the heavy soul more than time spent with God. Jesus said, "Don't be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrows. Live one day at a time."

Shelley Duvall sums it up like this:

"I think that life is an adventure. A few problems arise every day. You're never going to be completely problem-free. In life you're always going to be working on something, trying to overcome something, trying to learn something, or achieve something. You might as well enjoy the process."

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Sad Loss

My good friend, Rebeca Dunlavy, and her infant son, Samuel, were killed this week in a terrible automobile accident.

Tomorrow, in Clark, South Dakota, she will be buried with little Samuel in her arms.

Rebeca had a beautiful spirit, and a heart of love for God and others. She was the leader of our efforts to have a Spanish speaking service in Minong. We will deeply miss her.

Please pray for her husband, Alan, and their precious three year old daughter, Abby.
--------
Children of the heav’nly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in Heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given.

God His own doth tend and nourish;
In His holy courts they flourish;
From all evil things He spares them;
In His mighty arms He bears them.

Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.

Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.

Reaching the World?

How are we going to reach people across the world, when we won't even change our style of music to reach our own kids?

-- Erwin McManus at the A2 Conference (Thanks to Perry Noble for passing along the thought provoking quote)

Men and Women

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Good Word


Hayward on the Run had a good word about our Trunk or Treat last night.

Trunk or Treat

Last night, we must have had every kid in town Trick or Treating on our church property.

About 40 of us parked our vehicles on the ball field, and distributed candy out of our trunks. I came loaded with an enormous stash from Tony's Candy -- enough for 500 kids -- and it was just about gone in 20 minutes. We were all running out of goods with more than two hours left to go, and kids streaming in from everywhere.

Fortunately, two or three brave souls made a quick dash to various stores in town, wiping out the entire candy supply, and refortifying the front lines!

I don't believe there have been that many Hayward children at one place and time in history!

It was a tremendous connection with the young families of our community, and many thankful parents expressed their heart felt appreciation for what we did. I'm sure we will see some of them in church over the next few weeks.

I'm glad our children's pastor, Jeremy, saw October 31 as an opportunity to creatively reach out and bless our community, rather than a time to hunker down and hide from the devil.

At our home, trick or treating has never been an issue. We know that God is stronger than the enemy -- and we think of Halloween as "Stomp Satan Day!" We are on the Winning Side!(Besides, it's also Reformation Day! Celebrate!)

When I saw the mountain of candy my kids brought home last evening, I thought this might be a good time to teach them a lesson about tithing! Give Daddy 10%!