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Showing posts from April, 2007

Quizzing

Cathy and the boys returned yesterday from Bible Quizzing Nationals. They all had a great time. It's inspiring to see hundreds of young people excited about memorizing God's Word.

Our top team (Cathy coached) nearly made it to stage (which is the championship competition) but fell slighly short of the honor. Still, a good finish!

Ryan took fourth place individually, and received a scholarship! Way to go Ryan!!

Telling the Difference

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“If you can’t tell the difference between fleece and fur, you’re going to lose your spiritual arm right up to the elbow.”
-- Dr. Walter Martin

A Rotten Day at 9:00 a.m.

A while back, while traveling out of town, I talked with a grumpy sales clerk. "How are you today?" I asked. "Terrible!" she replied, "This is a rotten day. It started out bad and has been going downhill ever since."I noticed that it was only 9:00 a.m. and said, "I think it's a little early to say the whole day is going to be bad. I'll bet the worst is over and that things will start getting better from here!"The guy behind me in line chimed in, "It'll probably get better for a little bit - but then it's gonna get worse! That's the way life is. It always gets worse."

Yikes! Only 9:00 in the morning, and I was stuck with a pessimist in front of me, and another doom and gloomer behind me. Surrounded by negativity!
My feeble attempt to spread some cheery optimism went over like a lead balloon, but I didn't let it hold me back. Exiting the store, I smiled and said, "Well, I hope the rest of the day goes better…

Dear Church. . .

From time to time, I write Sunday School Lessons for Wesleyan Publishing House. Right now, I'm working on a study of the three churches in Revelation 3.

Jesus has a special message for each church. . .

1. To the Sardis Church -- Wake Up!
2. To the Philadelphia Church -- Cheer Up!
3. To the Laodicean Church -- Warm Up!

The Dabawalla

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Now, this is fascinating! Could there be a lesson for the church here? Seth Godin reports on the phenomenon of the Dabbawalla.
These men deliver thousands of lunches every single day in Mumbai... from the person's home to their office, hot and fresh.
The reported error rate is one in six million.
How is this possible? How do you create and run a service with thousand of employees, no technology and a poorly-educated workforce and have better than six sigma quality?
Simple: the dabbawallas know their customers.
If they rotated the people around, it would never work. There's trust, and along with the trust is responsibility. By creating a flat organization and building relationships, the system even survives monsoon season.

Waiting to Work Together

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My friend, Joy, recently shared the following story from Ministering Cross Culturally
There was a man who wanted to have some of his friends come over and help him do a task. Only a few showed up and so they sat on the porch and talked until more men showed up.
Not enough men showed up to work, so they just sat talking and called it a day later that afternoon and decided that they would try it again next week.
Now, I would have been frustrated by this. Frustrated that the few that were there didn't at least start on the task. Frustrated that nothing got done. Frustrated at what seems to be "wasted" time.
But....they didn't see it that way. To them, work isn't worth doing at all if it isn't accompanied by relationship. If you can't enjoy your time together, then what is the point of working?

Odds and Ends

Cathy and the boys are all at Bible Quizzing Nationals in the Missouri Ozarks. Hannah and I are keeping the fires tended at home.

Wednesday, we drove to Minneapolis and made a surprise hospital visit on Lori, a parishioner who had a major surgery. Hannah and I prayed over her, and Lori beamed.

After the hospital, we went to the Art Museum for about an hour before returning home. On the return trip, Hannah said, "I really liked praying for Lori, but I didn't enjoy the museum very much. It was boring -- just a bunch of old paintings you can't touch -- and they had all those statues of naked people!"

So much for the grand introduction into the fine arts.

Returning home, we dropped in at youth group for an hour. It was "Messy Night" for the Junior Highers, reminding me why I "retired" from youth ministry!

Yesterday, I was "Teacher Dad." Between Math lessons, Reading assignments, and Science experiments, I gave Hannah a sampling of the great class…

Welcome Friend

I'd like to welcome my good friend, Mark Gorveatte, into the blogosphere.

He has recently developed an outstanding new blog called "Church Edge." Stop by and pay him a visit!

Change the Channel

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You and I were created to be thankful. Deep down inside our hearts and minds, we know we're supposed to be content. Unfortunately, envy, resentments, and various circumstances of life can derail us along the way.
Instead of being positive and thankful, we find ourselves being negative, ungrateful, and petty. (In other words - hard to live with!)
Think about it for a moment. If you were to measure your uplifting thoughts of gratitude v.s. your mental visits to the "complaint department" during the last week, which would win out?
Most people would find that the complaints outweigh the praises.
I don't think anybody is grumpy on purpose. Nobody intends to be ungrateful. Discontentment sneaks up on us and attacks us from behind. Often, we don't even realize when we are being a negative pain in the neck!
The Bible recognizes this fact of human nature, and reminds us to "Give thanks in all circumstances." (I Thess. 5:17)
Here are a few thoughts for those who wish…

Developing a Church Growth Mindset

An insightful post by Shane Rayner at Wesley Blog:

If a church isn't growing, it's dying.
There is no in-between or maintenance mode for a church, no matter what the statistics might seem to suggest. This summer, central Texas experienced a longer-than-usual drought period. My lawn was so brown that I actually set up a portable sprinkler system to make the grass green again. The problem is, I hate mowing the lawn. But I discovered that if the grass was going to be green again, I was going to have to work to keep it looking nice. My friend Mark suggested that I water the lawn just enough to keep it green, but not enough to make it grow. But I quickly found out that lawns don't work that way. Neither do churches. If a congregation isn't growing, it's dying.

A healthy church must be multi-generational
.
Allow me to use my youth group as an example. We have worked hard building a culture where students invite their friends to our Wednesday event, but the tendency is for peo…

A Great Day Off

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Yesterday was a fun day off.

I took Luke, Wes and Hannah on a field trip to see Caddie Woodlawn's home. We've been reading the book, which details her adventures of her life (during the mid 1800's) in the Wisconsin wilderness.

After exploring the house, and her little sister, Mary's grave, we found a few treasures in a nearby field -- agates and a few broken pieces of pottery, which we imagined were from Caddie's family or the Native Americans that lived nearby.

Down the road, we found the site of the one room schoolhouse, and the foundations of the old Dunnville Store, near the river.

Then, on a meandering journey home, we went a few miles out of our way to visit Wilson, Wisconsin. Population, 168. The kids thought that was pretty cool.

We saw the Wilson Methodist Church, Wilson Civic Center, Wilson Post Office, Wilson Memorial Park, and Wilson Night Club.

I suppose you could say we took the scenic route. Wes said, "You take some roads to make good time. You take o…

Church Organizational Structures

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The organizational structures of a church are the bones.
The missional ministries of the church are the organs, muscles and flesh.
Church structure without a living, missional ministry is just a scary skeleton!
Missional ministry without any structure is just a blob.



Blog Traffic and Worship Music

Yesterday, Scot McKnight gave my blog a huge traffic boost with a mere mention of my post on Missional Small Groups. Thanks, Scot, for the the plug!

I thought I'd return the favor today by sharing a post from Jesus Creed, which I thought was absolutely fabulous.

It's on on the priority of music in our worship and spiritual formation. "Without music, it's all talk."

Makes me want to sing the sermon this morning.

Developing Crisis Plan for Your Church

Tommy Mitchell has a great post on developing a crisis plan for the church. Good stuff!

He speaks from his personal experience in the aftermath of the shootings in Pearl, Mississippi. Thanks Tommy. I've never even thought of doing that until you mentioned it.

I Agree with Jerry Falwell

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On this one, I agree with Jerry Falwell. . . Whosoever means everybody!

Send Them to the Cross

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Minister:All our problems . . .
People:We send them to the cross of Christ!

Minister:All our difficulties . . .
People:We send them to the cross of Christ!

Minister:All the devil's work . . .
People:We send them to the cross of Christ!

Minister:All our hopes . . .
People:We set on the risen Christ!

Minister:Christ, the Son of Righteousness, shine upon you
and scatter the darkness from before your path:
and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you, forever and ever.
Amen.

An African Benediction
(from Bishop Emmanuel Koliny of Rwanda, sent to Rev. Keith Allen, pastor of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Blacksburg, VA)

posted at challies.com

Dad and Brian McLaren

My dad, Andy Wilson, was an old fashioned holiness preacher. Things were pretty much black and white for him. He preached a lot on sin, and was DEFINITELY against it! When he preached on hell, you could feel the fire and smell the smoke. When he preached on heaven, we all got misty eyed, and wanted to go right then. He loved Jesus with all his heart, and he loved everybody. Everywhere he went, he'd whistle or sing the hymns of faith.

Today, I think he would be horrified at what the Emergent Church leaders are saying (or NOT saying.)

Still, Brian McLaren has one thing in common with Andy Wilson: They both took a stand against modernity (tho coming from opposite ends -- and Dad would have said "modernism.")

Stop That!

I agree with Peter Read on the Seung-Hui Cho videos.

"For the love of God and our children, stop broadcasting those images and those words. Choose to focus on life and the love and the light that our children brought into the world and not on the darkness and the madness and the death."

Virginia Tech

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As the tragic story unfolds this week, we are left with the haunting question:
"WHY?

I'm sure that's what the families gathered today for funeral services of the slain students are asking. There's just not a very good answer to that question.

Over the years, I've dealt with a fair share of tragedy in my ministry, and have had several people look at me, as God's representative, wondering, "Why??"

Any bungling attempt to give an answer is woefully inadequate. When people ask me "why", I simply say, "I don't know." It doesn't do any good to give a theological discourse on the problem of evil or the philosophical foundation for suffering. "I don't know" is the most profound answer available.

Then I try to steer them towards two other questions: "How?" and "Who?"

How are we going to get through this?
Answer: One day at a time. One moment at a time. One breath at a time.

Who is going to help me get thr…

How To Provoke Your Children

A great article from John McArthur, "Eight Ways Parents Provoke."

I appreciate the insights and helpfulness.

(Note: Rev. McArthur has provoked ME on several occasions, but that's ok, I'm not his kid.)

Now -- sit down, shut up, eat your crazy cake, and don't bother daddy. He's reading a good parenting article by John McArthur.

Crazy Cake

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Hannah made a Crazy Dude with Dandruff Cake! It was disgusting and delicious at the same time!

O Thou Who Sealest Up the Past

O Thou Who sealest up the past,
The days slip from us, and the years
Grow silent with their hopes and fears;
’Tis Thine to keep all things at last.

We have not done the things we would,
A blotted page we render back;
And yet, whate’er our work may lack,
Thy work goes on, and Thou art good.

Thou movest in the moving years;
Wherever man is, there Thou art
To overrule his feebler part,
And bring a blessing out of tears.

Thou opener of the years to be,
Let me not lose, in woe or weal,
The touch of Thy strong hand I feel
Upholding and directing me.

-- O Thou Who Sealest Up the Past, by Samuel V. Cole

I Don't Do Ceilings

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My good friend, Steve Gerich, sent A great article by Leonard Sweet.

What if Michelangelo had said, "I don't do ceilings. . ."

Jigmeister

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Last evening, fishing great, Daryl Christensen, (also known as "Jigmeister) spoke at Hayward Wesleyan's 5th Annual Fishing Expo. He gave some good walleye fishing tips, and then shared about his personal faith journey, leading people in a prayer to open their lives to Christ at the end of his presentation. The majority of those who attended (mostly men and boys) aren't the "churchy" type -- but are passionate about fishing. It's a great outreach to the community. There were several seminars and lots of exhibitors throughout the day. I didn't do much -- just showed up and cheered them on. Sue Rosenquist, of Pastika's Bait Shop (one of the top muskie bait suppliers in the nation) led a team of enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers in organizing this wonderful day.

Teenagers

Today, my son Wes turns 13 years old. Hard to believe.

This means four young men in the Wilson home between the ages of 12 and 21, a little sister who wants to be a teenager, and a dad who acts like a teenager half the time.

Poor Cathy.

Missional Small Groups

In Minong, Wisconsin, a missional small group from our congregation decided to love their neighbors to Jesus. They were willing to step out of their comfort zone, and be the launch team for a new church. Over 100 people worshipped together last Sunday as a result of their dedication.

Tim and LeeAnn host a missional small group at their home. One day, three years ago, God gave them all a very clear sense that they were to lead a team to Guatemala. Since then, four teams have gone from our church, to do Vacation Bible School, build houses for widows, distribute shoes, and to sing in the choir at a huge evangelistic crusades. Last fall, almost 600 people responded to the invitation to receive Jesus.

A missional small group of young adults decided to host a "Trunk or Treat" here at the church. The whole church jumped in, and almost every kid in town showed up! It was quite an amazing outreach. The moms in our community buzzed about it for weeks afterwards.

Through a missional wome…

Uncommon Valor

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On February 19, 1944, the Battle for Iwo Jima commensed. Nearly one hundred thousand desperate men fought on a tiny island four miles long and two miles wide.

The battle was for control of two strategic airfields The Americans knew they HAD to take the island in order to stop Japanese aggression. However, 22,000 determined Japanese defenders were prepared to fight to the death if necessary. That is exactly what they did.

The "three day battle" that had been predicted, ended up lasting thirty six days, with nearly 50,000 casualties: 21,000 Japanese soldiers, and 26,000 Americans. It was the only battle in the Pacific where the invaders suffered higher losses than the defenders.

"The Marines fought in World War II for forty-three months." noted historian, James Bradley, "Yet in one month on Iwo Jima, one third of their total deaths occurred."

There were no front lines. The Marines were above ground, and the Japanese were in a labrynth of caves and bunkers under…

Seeing the Cross

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We succeed, not by crossing the sea, But by seeing the cross.
-- Rich Warren

An Ancient Future Lenten Service

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Through the Lenten season, we had prayer services at noon each Wednesday. I really enjoyed the depth and fellowship with the 50 or so people who attended each week.

Last Wednesday, our Spiritual Formation pastor, Heath Davis, mapped out a beautiful service, which was "Ancient/Future" by accident.

Here's the order of service:

Scripture -- 1st century
O Sacred Head, Now Wounded -- 12th century
Celtic prayer -- 7th century
There is a Redeemer - 20th century
Christ the Lord is Risen -- 18th century
Scripture -- 1st century
Crown Him with Many Crowns -- 19th century
Message by Heath (21st Century) with video excert from 20th century
Video (21st century) of Mahler's 2nd Symphony "Resurrection" (19th Century) Now, is that cool or what??

A Good Cure

What's a good cure for a Minister's Easter post-partum blues?

Here's how I handled it. Yesterday, I went paintballing with 26 middle schoolers!

Teddy Roosevelt's Nine Reasons Why A Man Should Go to Church

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The Theodore Roosevelt Association has listed his Nine Good Reasons Why a Man Should Go to Church. Right on Teddy!!
1 In this actual world, a churchless community, a community where men have abandoned and scoffed at or ignored their religious needs, is a community on the rapid down grade.
2 Church work and church attendance mean the cultivation of the habit of feeling responsibility for others.
3 There are enough holidays for most of us. Sundays differ from other holidays in the fact that there are fifty-two of them every year. Therefore, on Sundays go to church.
4 Yes, I know all the excuses. I know that one can worship the Creator in a grove of trees, or by a running brook, or in a man's own house as well as in church. But I also know, as a matter of cold fact, that the average man does not thus worship.
5He may not hear a good sermon at church. He will hear a sermon by a good man who, whith his wife, is engaged all of the week in making hard lives a little easier.
6 He will listen to…

Great Easter

We had a fabulous Easter at Hayward Wesleyan Church. 1154 people attended four services. Several people opened their lives to Christ!

Now, it's all quiet. Everybody has left the building, and I'm all alone: weary but content, in the empty church.

This afternoon, the kids and I will deliver Easter lillies to shut ins, and maybe while we're gone, the Easter Bunny will show up at our house!

Question: What did the Easter bunny bring me?
Answer: 500 people I haven't seen since Christmas Eve.

Easter

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Easter Eggstravaganza

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Hundreds of kids and their parents showed up for our Easter Eggstravaganza today -- to find 3000 eggs hidden in the snow! Next year, I think maybe we should just use plain white eggs, to make it more of a challenge.

The Church Report

I was surprised to see my blog featured at the Church Report this month.

This is a quality publication -- and they obviously have good taste!

Recent Reading

Here's what I've been reading lately.

The Seed of Heaven

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Faith, the seed of heaven
planted by surprise in earthen soil.

The barren ground reluctantly invites, mostly disdains
this small possibility of hope.

Stirs slightly, irritated, yawns and then settles
back in lazy slumber mostly convinced
that the interruption is merely
a burial of another empty dream.

Entombed in heavy darkenss
the seed of heaven sings
as it reaches for a land beyond its grasp
and hopes for the hand of God it cannot see.

But no dark place can silence
the song of faith and hope.
And calloused soil cannot withstand
for long refreshing rains.

Slowly, steadily, the seed of heaven toils
upward, onward,
through the dark
towards heaven's gate.

Sometimes singing.
Sometimes sighing.
Always longing
for destiny awaits.

Heaven beckons,
Earth responds.
That is the order of
all created things.

The earthen tomb
becomes a womb
of life anew --
and resurrection!

A seed, a sprout, a stalk,
and then a slendid crimson flower
Blooming where it first began
it's morning hour.

Looking up to see the smile of God
Looking d…

Pray for Me

Will you pray for me as a minister of the gospel? I am not asking you to pray for the things people commonly pray for.

Pray for me in light of the pressures of our times. Pray that I will not just come to a wearied end–an exhausted, tired, old preacher, interested only in hunting a place to roost.

Pray that I will be willing to let my Christian experience and Christian standards cost me something right down to the last gasp!

-- A. W. Tozer (quote from Christian Research Network)

Very Good News

Good news! It's OK to take a bath tomorrow after all!

April Showers?

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"Just winter's last gasp!" I exclaimed to Dr. Matt, as we greeted each other in the parking lot of the polling place.

"Well, I hope somebody declares him dead soon." replied the good doctor.

Oh, Nana in the Highest!

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Last Sunday, on the way home from our church, a little girl beamed as she recounted the wonderful occurance to her grandma (nicknamed "Nana".) It was fantastic!
We sang about YOU today in church!!
O NANA! O NANA! O NANA IN THE HIGHEST!

Basket Case

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Don't feel too bad -- you're not alone. Moses was a basket case too!

Church Hopping

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Through Scott Hodge, I discovered this blog by a couple of agnostic church hoppers and their adventures of trying a different church each week. They take pictures, scan the bulletins, and share their impressions.
What would they report if they showed up at Your Church next week?

Walt Appreciation Day

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Yesterday, one of my regular readers, Walt, commented that in his 60 years of work, nobody ever gave him a "Walt Appreciation Day."
I think that's too bad -- because Walt is a thoughtful and insightful person who deserves to be appreciated.
So -- I hereby declare that today is Walt Appreciation Day!

What Does it Mean to Preach?

What does it mean to preach?

It is to grasp hold of the nail-pierced hand of Christ, and then grasp hold of the hands of people who are suffering and aching -- and bring them together.

-- Lloyd John Ogilvie

God's Numbers

My nephew, Jonathan, sent me this interesting article from Newsweek.

91% of Americans say they believe in God.
82% call themselves Christians.

Now, if the 82% who called themselves Christians simply demonstrated Christ's love to their neighbors in practical ways -- just think what would happen!!

Our whole nation would be transformed!

The Condition of the Church in America

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1. 1,400 pastors in America leave the ministry monthly.
2. Less then 20% of churches recognize or appreciate their pastor in some way annually.
3. Only 15% of churches in the United States are growing and just 2.2% of those are growing by conversion growth.
4. 10,000 churches in America disappeared in a five-year period.
5 The number of people in America that Do Not attend church has doubled in the past 15 years.
(from Mayberry Driven Church)