Showing posts from July, 2007

God's GPS

Great article on those who find themselves living "Plan B."

Go Jump in a Lake

Yesterday, with the mercury hitting high 90's and no air conditioning, the Wilson gang decided to go jump in a lake. We piled in the van and headed for the Big Pond -- Gitchee-gumee -- Lake Superior.

On the way, we experienced our first "bear sighting" of the summer: a momma with three little cubs. I stopped the vehicle and we gawked until they meandered back into the woods.

Park Point, a sandbar in Duluth, was our final destination point. The water was cold and invigorating.

I slipped away for a few minutes, changed into appropriate "pastoral visitation" attire, and went to St. Mary's Hospital to say a prayer with my friend, Judy Gorud. It was a delightful surprise to find her out of intensive care and back in the "land of the livng."

After a brief visit, I changed back into my swimming suit, and joined back up with the gang at the lake.


Our newsletter, The Good News Scroll, is now online! Read it here.


Yesterday at church, I used Thomas Ken's classic hymn, "The Doxology" as a springboard for the sermon. This song has been sung in more churches, by more people, in more places than any other hymn in the English language.

Yet, "the Doxology" we know is not the complete song. It is merely the last verse of various hymns Rev. Ken penned (all with the same tune -- each hymn consisting of a bunch of verses.)

As chaplain of Winchester School, he taught the students his hymns, and they sang them every day -- a Hymn for the Morning, another one at bedtime. He also wrote a hymn for the middle of the night, if you can't sleep or have bad dreams.
So, I took the wild risk, and led the congregation in singing all three hymns -- like an acapella choir. They did great and sang with gusto!Morning Hymn
Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise,
To pay thy morning sacrifice.

Evening Hymn
All praise to Thee, my God, this night…

Morning, Noon and Night

During my sermon this morning, I shared several verses from the Psalms about praising God all day long -- in the morning, in the evening and through the day.

Several people asked me for a list of the verses, so I thought I would post them here:
"Evening, and morning, and at noon will I pray. . ." Ps. 55:17 (KJV)

"On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings." Ps. 63:6-7

"In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation." Ps. 5:3

"Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long." Ps. 25:4-5

"You hem me in -- behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me." Ps. 139:5

"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens." Ps. 68:19


Patron Saint of Fishing

Izaak Walton, the 17th Century angler and writer, is the patron saint of fishermen. At England's Winchester Cathedral, where Walton is buried,there is a stained glass window devoted to him, with this inscription: Study to Be Quiet

Fishermen understand solitude.

Perhaps that's the reason why Jesus recruited them to be his disciples.

Breaking the 15,000 Barrier

Ed Young shares about the most difficult growth barrier his church has experienced -- 15,000 to 17,000.

Now, what's this poor pastor to do? Somebody needs to help him! He needs resources! Maybe we should urge Cho and Osteen to create a new video series: "Breaking the 15,000 Barrier."

Bride Bashing

God is not going to be handing out rewards for people who have devoted their lives to criticizing His Bride.

-- my Aussie blogging friend, Mark Edwards

Piper on Church Planting

John Piper on launching new churches:

Jesus never said, "I will build my social service agency."
He never said, "I will build my parachurch ministry."
He never said, "I will build my university or my Christian college or my Christian school."
He said, “I will build my church.”

One institution in all the universe is given this promise. ‘I will build my church.’ So, brothers, be encouraged that you are about something extraordinarily important.

I = A Risen Christ, worthy of eternal worship, is the one who plants the church.

Will build = Christ builds His church through “ripping the gates of hell off of the human heart… so they can see.”

My = The church belongs to Jesus Christ and Jesus is already at work in the city where you are planting. “For I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:10)

Church = Only one institution in the entire universe is given the promise that Jesus will build it.
(via Jonathan Herron, via Ed Stetzer

Ordained Target

“Soon you’re going to be part of a special service to be set apart and ordained. You will get on your knees and other’s that are already ordained will gather around you and lay hands on you and pray a special prayer. During that time, you will be unaware that one of them will place a target on your back.” ( Mayberry Driven Church)

Thirteen Thoughts On Pastoral Prayers

If you are given the task to lead the congregation in prayer on Sunday morning, I encourage you to consider the following:

1) You are the representative of the people -- bringing THEIR prayers and the concerns of THEIR hearts before the Father. It is not just your own personal prayer -- so instead if saying, "God, I love you so much" say, "God, we are here to tell you how much WE love you."

2) Be sure you don't pray the same phrases every time. Change it up. If you don't prepare and think about the prayer, you will automatically resort to old familiar cliches -- which wear out quickly in public usage.

3) Say "Thank you" to God early in the prayer. "O Lord, we thank you today for providing strength, peace, and contentment for each moment. . ."

4) Don't preach at the congregation through the prayer. Don't yell. God is not hard of hearing.

5) If you use an ancient or other written prayer -- let it stand alone. Don't add to it. If it&…


Offertory Prayers

For many years, we have not said a prayer before receiving the offering at church. We give the announcements, and then invite the ushers to come forward as we continue right along with the service (usually we sing during the offering.)

Pastor Tim recently returned from a missions trip with a suggestion. "Hey," he said, "I saw something really unique at the church we visited in Texas. Before they receive the offering, they stop and pray first! Now, that's a cool idea, and I think we ought to try it!"

He was so enthused, I didn't have the heart to tell him that Hayward Wesleyan USED to do that every week -- and I moved us away from it, because we ended up saying exactly the same vain repetitions week in and week out. It seemed ritualistic, old and stale -- so I cut it out of the service.

So, now, Tim's gone to y the attic and found the offertory prayer again -- dusted it off, and said, "Let's give it a whirl!"

For the past several weeks, after g…

How Are You, Really?

Reading The Church Leader's Answer Book, a new textbook for the Church Leadership Course I teach (via correspondance) for the Wesleyan Church.

It's a fabulous book that covers just about every aspect of pastoral leadership -- spiritual foundation, administration, budgets, facilities, conflict resolution, missions, prayer, preaching, relationships, rest, renewal, personal health -- and a whole lot more. Many different people contributed articles for the thome (published recently by Christianity Today.)

In one article, Nancy Beach asks the following "Ministry Check-Up Questions":

1. How are you emotionally?
2. How are your key relationships?
3. Are you having fun?
4. What's your attitude towards people?
5. Are you hearing God?

Ill Clumps

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word, is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug."
-- Mark Twain
(via David Foster) I recall as a student, attempting to write a paper on cultish behavior and "negative group think", but couldn't find the right words to capture "bad groups." So, I went to the Thesaurus and looked up "Bad" -- found "Ill." Now, that's a great word! Then, I paged over to "Groups" and found another fantastic moniker -- "Clumps!" ILL CLUMPS!! Church folks better be careful to keep the faith, love the neighbors, and stay sweet -- otherwise, they'll just be Ill Clumps! How's that for a first try at lightening??

Lost Jesus

"Have you found Jesus??" the youth pastor implored.
To this the astonished 9th grade girl replied, "I had no idea he was lost!!"

When There Is No Vision

Craig Groeschel writes, When there is no vision:

Most ideas seem like good ideas
…leading to over-programming and burnout.

There’s nothing compelling to give toward…
…leading to a consumer mindset, rather than a contributing mindset.

Organizations become inward-focused…
…leading to a slow, painful death.

What If ? and Why?

There are two important kinds of thinkers necessary to lead any organizaiton in a positve direction: "What if?" thinkers and "Why?" thinkers.

The "What If" folks are idea farmers who create new ways of doing things. They also usually have the energy to do them. Entrepeneurs at heart, they are always considering options To them, every situation is loaded with potential. Every problem carries the seeds of it's own solution.

While the rest of the world looks at the way things are and asks, "Why?", the "What Iffers" look to the way things COULD BE and ask, "Why not??"

"What If" thinkers always see the possibilities and amd seize the opportunities. They possess a positive bias for action.

However, the world would fall apart at the seams if EVERYBODY was a "What if" thinker. Every good idea produced by a "What Iffer", is accompanied by about twenty lousy ones. Often, the "What If" thinkers do…

Summer's Day

A love sonnet by William Shakespeare -- posted here in honor of my beautiful wife, Cathy, who is far more lovely and temperate than a summer's day.

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate. Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer's lease hath all too short a date. Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, And often is his gold complexion dimmed; And every fair from fair sometime declines, By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed. But thy eternal summer shall not fade Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st; Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade, When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st, So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Good Finder

The great historian and philosopher, Thomas Carlyle, dressed to speak before a large audience, was walking out the door when his mother spoke to him.

"And where might you be going, Thomas?" she asked.

"I'm going to tell the people what's wrong with the world."

"Aye, Thomas," his mother responded, "But are you going to tell them what to do about it?"

It doesn't take a genius to realize that there are a lot of problems in this world. Any simpleton can point out what's wrong. There are flaws and shortcomings in every organization, family, and individual.

If you're looking for faults - you'll find them. They're everywhere! In fact, you have a quite a few of them yourself! (If you're not sure about that, ask you family members.)

It is no great badge of honor to be a fault -finder. It takes a great person, however, to be a "good-finder".

I believe there is a direct link between attitude and emotional health. Negativi…

Turn It Up!

While reading some church history lately, I came across this observation regarding the early Methodists:

The reason why the early Methodists got on so was, that while other Christians were waiting for something to turn up, they turned it up themselves.

Fear or Faith?

Fear or Faith? A great post by Tommy Mitchell.

Getting Started on the Right Foot

A friend who has recently moved to pastor in a new community asked me, "What things would you recommend that I do at the beginning of my ministry at my new church?"

Here's my reply:

1. Meet and bless the leaders.

2. Ask for a list of shut ins and visit them -- seriously -- the first or second day on the ground -- that speaks of truly loving your congregation for who they are, and not what they can "do for your church."

3. Make sure to carve out time to pray each morning before you take off running -- set your time alone with God as a top priority right off the bat. Never seek the face of people before you seek the face of God.

4. Be wary of people who come to you with an agenda.

5. Don't badmouth the former pastor.

6. Read the church board minutes for the past five years.

7. Invite seven new people to church.

8.. Meet with the three longest tenured parishioners and listen to their stories.

9. Go on a prayer drive through the community and ask God to give you kingdom…

YouTube Preacher

Small church pastor goes "YouTube" for a wider audience. More power to ya, Rev. Jim.

The Hardest Job in the World

I recall several years ago, when we had our quiver full with little ones, I made the following declaration on Mother's Day: "The hardest job in the world is to be the mother of toddlers!"

One middle aged mom came up to me after the service and respectfully disagreed. "Being the mother of toddlers is hard," she said, "but it's a walk in the park compared to parenting adult children."

Crazy Grace


My Penance for the Hillary Picture

I Stand Corrected on Hillary

Yesterday, I posted an unflattering picture of Hillary Clinton with the posting of my presidential poll results (She won - -with 50% of the vote.)

A commenter asked me if she won, and I was invited to the White House to pray -- would I want her to post a picture like that of me? Ouch!! Anonymous -- you were right. I shouldn't have done that. It was unkind.

Thus, I've removed the post.

Comments for Hannah

Hey, I was wondering if you would help me out with something. My daughter, Hannah, has set up a new blog -- but she's not getting any traffic or comments. I was wondering if you would be willing to stop by her blog, Sunshine Kitty, and leave her a comment.

Sabbath Breaker

Cathy was still out of town Sunday afternoon, when I realized we had a towel crisis. I had taken the kids (and friends) swimming more than once -- and that left us with a clean towel shortage -- and a pile of wet towels in the laundry room that needed washing.

Now, I was raised not to do chores on Sunday -- and laundry certainly qualified for the "don't do this or you're a Sabbath breaker" list.
But, this past Sunday, it seemed to me that the ox was in the ditch -- and besides, what harm would be done by doing a load of swimming towels?
I stuffed the washer to the brim, and then went upstairs to play a game with the family. A little while later, one of my kids sniffed and said, "Hey, I smell smoke!"
Following my nose, I went downstairs to investigate -- found a smoke filled laundry room and an "agitated" washing machine. Too many towels, I think, burned up the motor.
So, I piled to sopping wet towels into a basket, lugged them upstairs, and aired my …

Nightlife in Hayward

Yesterday, in the field across the street from our house, the kids and I saw a flock of wild turkeys -- four adults and fifteen little poults (I had to look that one up.)

Later, we went to investigate again. There weren't ANY turkeys hanging around -- but there was a coyote licking his chops.

Still later, we heard some strange animal sounds, so went out on safari a third time.

There were no turkeys.
There was no coyote.
There was, however, a strong essence of skunk!

Beats watching t.v. and better than Broadway.

Who'd Want to Live In Middleton?

I remember when our District Board voted to move the Superintendent's parsonage to Middleton.

As a member of the board at that time, I voiced the following concern before the decision was made: "From the whole state of Wisconson, why in the world are we choosing Middleton? Who would want to live there anyway??"

Now, several years later, I'd like to go on record and say it was a great decision -- especially considered the report from Yahoo today. I'm sure glad we did it. (Although, I'm quite surprised that Hayward didn't make the cut.)


"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus" -- Martin Luther King Jr.

Helpful Indeed

50 Years for Pastor Ben

Today, we celebrated Pastor Ben and Lois Drown's 50 years of ministry. After a potluck dinner in their honor, we had a special program, where we sang the Drown's favorite hymns, took a sentimental journey through their life together, and heard words of affirmation from several thankful parishioners.
Ben and Lois are to be commended for their faithful service for God in Wisconsin over the past five decades. During one stint of ministry, he pastored a circuit of three churches and served as the camp manager too. I sure don't know how he did it all. I am deeply grateful for the Drowns. Their friendship and partnership in ministry over the past ten years has been invaluable. I love them dearly. Heaven smiles on them, indeed, and I can hear the Father say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servants."

Part of the Ritual

In the middle of the fifth century, the Irish King Aengus was baptized by St. Patrick. Sometime during the ceremony, Patrick leaned on his crozier, a sharp-pointed staff and inadvertently stabbed the poor king's foot.
After the baptism was over, St. Patrick looked down, saw all the blood, and realized what he had done.
"I'm so terribly sorry!" he exclaimed. "Please forgive me, your majesty! Why did you suffer this pain in silence?"
The king replied, "I thought it was part of the ritual."

A Delightful Saturday

Steak and eggs at the Men's Breakfast. Yum! I was on the "docket" as the speaker for the event -- but pulled a "bait and switch." I asked my dear friend and out of town guest, Wayne Richards to speak in my place.

"Are you sure you want to do that?" he asked. "Maybe some of the guys are coming just because you're speaking."

"Nah!!" I replied, "Nobody's going to do that. They hear me every Sunday. I think they would love it a lot more if you spoke." (Besides, a minister needs to be ready to preach, pray or die at any given moment.)

So -- just before the breakfast started, Gary, a fairly new attendee came into the Fellowship Hall and shook my hand vigorously. "Pastor, I heard you were speaking at the Men's Breakfast today, and didn't want to miss that for anything!"

Wayne and I looked at each other and laughed.

After I introduced Wayne, he gave a powerful message about trusting God completely and …

The Secret of Success

The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don't do. They don't like doing them either necessarily, but their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose."
-- E. M. Gray

Odds and Ends

This has been quite a week. My nephew, Tom, has been visiting from Ohio. We enjoyed connecting up with him again.

Cathy took Ryan (and Tom went too) to Indiana Wesleyan University to register for classes. Ryan's getting more excited about school -- but it's still a bit intimidating. They're now making their way to the Sonshine Festival in Wilmar, Minnesota -- where Ryan and Tom will jump and jam with the other tent dwellers -- while Cathy will nestle away in a nearby hotel for some quiet solitude. They're hoping to catch a Twin's game before Tom flies back to the Buckeye State.

I've been home with Luke, Wes and Hannah. On Wednesday, I conducted the funeral of a dear parishioner, Jean Allar, who died unexpectedly after surgery. Several friends and family members gathered to pay respects.

Yesterday, my good friend, Wayne Richards and his vacationing family arrived from Indiana. The kids and I took them on the "Grand Tour" of Hayward -- including the Big Fi…

Church Hopping

1) One in four church attendees has switched churches in the past five years. 2) On average, just seven percent of new attendees are formally unchurched. Reported at Monday Morning Insight
So, what does this mean?

Lady Bird Quotes

Some thought provoking quotes from Lady Bird Johnson:

• Any committee is only as good as the most knowledgeable, determined and vigorous person on it. There must be somebody who provides the flame.
• Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest.
• Where flowers bloom so does hope.

Parent Behavior

No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I'm not talking about the kids. Their behavior is always normal.
-- Bill Cosby (Thanks to my friend, Lisa Johnson, for the post at Surviving Motherhood.)

Booze Abuse

More than 30% of Americans have abused alcohol or suffered from alcoholism -- and few have received treatment. This is one of the biggest social ills in our land -- yet nobody seems willing to address it. Why?


. . . What Boaz was before he married Ruth

Love with a Funnybone

The man and woman who can laugh at their love, who can kiss with smiles, and embrace with chuckles, will outlast in mutual affection, all the throat-lumpy, cow-eyed, couples of their acquaintance. Nothing lives on so fresh and evergreen as the love with a funnybone.

-- George Jean Nathan

Church Planting

2007 Church Plant Survivability Report -- a Publication from the Center for Missional Research.

Wesley on Preaching

In the Conference Minutes of 1744, John Wesley was asked, "What is the best method of preaching?" He responded: 1. To Invite 2. To Convince 3. To Offer Christ 4. To Build Up, and do this (in some measure) in every sermon

Last Stand

When the alarm came He saddled up his fence, Took the bit in his teeth And mounted. Closing his eyes He put his ear to the ground And waited, trembling, for the sound of the approaching windmills. -- Keith Jennison (b. 1911)

Ancient Future Latin

The Pope has declared that priests should offer the old version of Mass in Latin if parishioners request it.
In light of this development, I was thinking maybe we should offer a Latin service at Hayward Wesleyan -- complete with Salsa band and Potentia Prodo (Latin for Powerpoint.)

Spy Rules

Mark Batterson recently shared Ten Rules for Spies (the "unwritten Moscow Rules of Engagement used by the CIA) - which can also be applied to church leadership.

#1 Know Your Mission

#2 Gather Intelligence

#3 Maintain a Natural Pace

#4 Vary Your Pattern

#5 Blend into the Crowd

#6 Be Aware of Your Environment At All Times

#7 Avoid Defensiveness at all Costs

#8 Assume You Are under Surveillance

#9 Never go against Your Gut

#10 Don't Look Back

O.K. -- so what are the applications for effective pastoral ministry?

Big Babies

Babies are really cute. I think small children are the best members of my congregation -- they have tremendous faith, wide-eyed wonder, and boundless enthusiasm. Everybody loves little kids.

The only happy ward in the hospital is the maternity ward (or, I suppose the dental ward -- if they use laughing gas.)

Someone once asked the evangelist, D. L. Moody, how many converts he had at a meeting. Moody replied, "Two and a half." "You mean two adults and a child?" "Of course not!", the evangelist exclaimed, "I mean two children and an adult!

"Yes, babies are cute -- but "big babies" aren't so cute. I don't know if I even have to explain "big babies." You know 'em when you see 'em.

Big babies are the grown ups who have grown past child-likeness (love, laughter, freedom, energy) but still are infected with child-ishness (self centeredness.)

A big baby is the person who screams at a clerk for accidently overcharging. He&…

Changing of the Polls

Thanks to everybody who took my poll. If the voters are respresentative of the others who visit here -- slightly over half of the Revitalize Your Church are not pastors. I had no idea that the percentage would be that high.

Now, I have a new poll -- politics! Vote away!

Sock Puppet Church

Diana Butler Bass recalls with nostalgia the sock puppet days before there were pre-packaged Vacation Bible School programs. I share some of her sentiments, but not all of her conclusions.

Look Over the Wall

"I just can't deal with these troubles!" the burdened man said to John Wesley as they journeyed down a country road together. "My problems are absolutely overwhelming." They passed a stone fence, over which a cow was looking. "Do you know why the cow looks over the wall?" Wesley asked. "I will tell you. It's because she can't look THROUGH it. And that is just what you must do with your troubles; look over and above them."



Missional Leadership Transitions

My new friend, Brian Russell, of Asbury Seminary Orlando, recently shared this insightful post on the keys to transforming a maintenance-oriented congregation to a missional church. Good stuff.

I had the privilege of meeting Brian a month ago at the doctrinal symposium. He's a deep thinker, who serves the Lord in two primary capacities: as an Old Testament Professor and a Church Planter.

Now, that's an unusual combo. Most professional thinkers don't DO -- and most DOERS don't think.

Let Freedom Ring

Inscription on the Liberty Bell:
Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof. -- Lev. 25:10

Happy Fourth of July Eve

Our kids started a crazy Wilson family tradition a couple of years ago -- holding a "Fourth of July Eve" party -- where everybody wears orange, eats orange food, lights smoke bombs and launches water balloons and fruit (they intended to launch oranges -- but the produce manager at Marketplace donated a few old bananas to the cause instead.)
Cathy and I decided, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!


Great post by Scott McKnight on the word, "missional."

Just a Bagger?

Here's the inspiring story of Johnny, the Grocery Store Bagger.

Where's the Pickup Tonight?

Mildred, the church gossip, and self-appointed monitor of the church's morals, kept sticking her nose into other people's business. Several members did not approve of her extra curricular activities, but feared her enough to maintain their silence.

She made a mistake, however, when she accused George, a new member, of being an alcoholic after she saw his old pickup parked in front of the town's only bar one afternoon.

She emphatically told George (and several others) that everyone seeing it there would know what he was doing.

George, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment and just turned and walked away. He didn't explain, defend, or deny... he said nothing.

Later that evening, George quietly parked his pickup in front of Mildred's house... walked home... and left it there all night.

You gotta love George

(e-mail from my friend Steve Gerich)

What Makes a Marriage Work?

Yesterday, the Pew Research Center released a poll on marriage trends, compared to 1990.
Interesting data for premarital counseling. When asked "What Makes a Marriage Work", a surprising result was WORK (sharing household chores.)

Practical Theology

Edith Stalinsky, who taught twenty years
in second grade Sunday School
had a terrible problem.

The red crayons were all in an ice cream bucket
on the new shelf the trustees had erected --
a shelf hammered to the wall by two six foot volunteers
who placed it squarely at eye level --

far beyond Sister Stalinsky's reach.

And hunched with osteoporosis,
the dear teacher, barely five feet in stockings,
had no way to retreive them.

Oh, what was the poor lady to do?
Only 15 minutes until class time.
She must not disappoint the children!

Edith hobbled down the hall to the pastor's study
and furtively browsed the shelves.
There it was!

Just what she needed -- in four hefty thomes!
H. Orton Wiley's Christian Theology!

Snatching the Grand Depositum,
she lugged the books back to the Primary room,
where she plopped them on the floor,
climbed aboard, and on tip toes,
rescued the crayon bucket!

Who says theology isn't practical?

Sweet Sorrows

I have had my sorrows, and I have had my joys. My sorrows have been sweeter than my joys. --St. Chrysostom