Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Blogging Break

Early in the morning, we are leaving to take Ryan to Indiana Wesleyan University. Taking our second son to college is harder than I had expected. Cathy and I have already shed a few tears -- but we'd cry a whole lot more if he never left.

Won't be posting again until after our return late on Sunday.

Demise of the 25 Dates Blog

Like a short lived CBS sitcom, our 25 Special Dates blog has come and gone -- within 48 hours.

Cathy and I had a delightful 25th Aniversary Celebration yesterday -- including two dates in one day -- giving a new definition to "double dating."

After some reflection and discussion, we decided NOT to proceed with our 25 Dates Blog. It was a good idea at first -- but then, the ramifications settled in.

We want our dates to be ours alone -- and not spectator events for public analysis. We live in a spotlight already -- and a "date by date review" is not in the best interest of nurturing romance.

So --we are well on our way to 25 wonderful, romantic dates over the next 12 months. I might post about some of our special experiences -- but mostly, you'll just have to guess what we did!

I'm still looking for some more good date ideas, though.

I also wish to thank the congregation for all the quarters we received in honor of our Silver 25th. We paid for one of our dates (including the tip) yesterday in quarters. Boy, was the cashier surprised!

Positive Energy

It takes energy to be positive -- That's why we so often slip into a negative, grumbly, cantankerous state. Maintaining optimism demands a certain amount of effort and energy.

"I want to be a more positive, joyful person," folks often say, "but I just don't have the inner strength to pull it off." Now, although this is true - there's another important fact we must remember -- being negative requires a tremendous amount of energy as well.

The difference?

Being positive requires "pre-energy" (becoming), while being negative zaps us in the "post-energy" (being) department. For instance - The hardest part in having a good day is the up front determination - "I'm going to have a good day, regardless of what happens!" "I'll do whatever it takes to make the best of it."

My good friend, Nickie Kohler, once told me "I've never had a bad day. I've had plenty of bad moments - but never a bad day." How could she say this? Because she extended the "pre-energy" to become positive. She did her hard work up front. She has made up her mind to keep looking for the good, and is one of the most positive people I've ever met in my whole life.

On the other hand, the slide into negative doom and gloom is almost effortless at first. It seems perfectly natural - Like sliding on the ice and ending up in the ditch. Getting in is not too hard - getting out is a greater task.

Once we are stuck in the swamp of self-pity, life becomes much, much more difficult. Have you ever tried to hike through the mud? Every step requires triple effort - that's the way negativity operates in our lives.

In the end, being negative requires about ten times the amount of emotional energy than being positive. I think I'd rather pay the price up front and enjoy the journey, than to take the free ride downhill to despair.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Big 25!

This is it -- our BIG 25! It's hard to imagine we're that old, I understand. Of course, we got married when we were four.
When we said our vows at the Eastview Church, and my father pronounced us husband and wife, I could not imagine loving her more -- but today, I do! The love on our wedding day was but a tiny spark compared to the love we share after going through life side by side as a couple.
I recall Cathy once saying, "Friendships aren't deep until you've been through some stuff together." I think that's true of marriage.
By the way, if anybody has any good ideas for our 25 Special Dates, I'm eager to hear them! You can post them here in the comment section, or at our 25 Dates Blog.

Monday, August 27, 2007

25th Aniversary Eve

Tomorrow, Cathy and I celebrate our 25th Aniversary. Actually, we're not going to just celebrate it for one day -- but rather, for an entire year -- with 25 Special Dates.
I'm certainly a lucky guy, to have such a beautiful, thoughtful, kind, insightful, organized, spiritual, and lovely companion.
We have created a blog to record our 25 Special Dates this year.
A short history of the Wesleyan Church

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Small things should as small be seen,
And great things great to us should seem.
-- Karl Barth

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Cathy's folks called from Chicago yesterday, saying that the whole area is swamped, and reporting that they have no electicity. Their beautifully finished basement is flooded with several inches of water.

To complicate matters, Sweetie (our nickname for Cathy's mom) had to go to the hospital for an angiogram, due to some serious heart concerns.

Good news -- they found no blockage in her heart -- so no surgery is required -- which puts a whole different perspective on a flooded basement.

Luke's Birthday

Catching Up

"In the deep jungles of Africa, a traveler was making a long trek. Coolies had been engaged from a tribe to carry the loads. The first day they marched rapidly and went far. The traveler had high hopes of a speedy journey. But the second morning these jungle tribesmen refused to move. For some strange reason they just sat and rested. On inquiry as to the reason for this strange behavior, the traveler was informed that they had gone too fast the first day, and that they were now waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies."

-- Lettie Cowman, Springs in the Valley

Friday, August 24, 2007

"Never let todays burdens erase yesterday's blessings."

-- Dr. Harold Adolph, dear friend and medical missionary to Ethiopia.

Staying Happy In Jesus

A few years ago, while on my sabbatical, I visited St. Michael's Church in Madeley, England, where the great Methodist, John Fletcher, served for many years.

Fletcher is one of my heroes. He spent his entire ministry in one small town church -- and touched the world from the "end of it." His life was marked by an unusual joy and devotion to Christ.

When John Wesley offered to turn the leadership of the entire Methodist movement over to Fletcher, the little vicar humbly declined, saying, "The snail does best in its shell; were it to aim at galloping, like the reacehorse, it would be ridiculous indeed."

I was also privileged to visit the Methodist Archives during my trip to Britain, and came upon several boxes of Fletcher's papers: sermons, notes, journals, and letters. For a entire day, I sat in the library "mining treasures" from the heart of this godly man.

One letter, dated January 28, 1763, particularly gripped my heart. In a flowing 18th Century script, Fletcher wrote on the secret to staying happy in Jesus.

1. Live above earthly and creature comforts.
2. Beware of flatness and lukewarmness. This, if not carried immediately to the Lord, ends often in darkness and deadness.
3. Value Divine comforts above all things, and prize Christ above all comforts, that if they should fail, you may still glory in the God of your salvation.
4. Let that which torments others make your happiness -- I mean self-denial and renouncing your own will.
5. Be ready to yield with joy to every conviction of the Spirit of God. Be faithful to present grace and aspire after a continual growth.
6. Live the present moment to God, and avoid perplexing yourself about your past or future experiences. By giving up yourself to Christ as you are, and being willing to receive him now, as he is, leaving all the rest to him, you will cut up a thousand temptations by the roots.

Luke's Birthday

Happy 15th Birthday to our wonderful son, Luke! Only 365 days until Driver's License!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Different Hats

Four Questions

My friend, Chad McCallum, has recently launched a blog, asking various leaders Four Important Questions.

1. What is the most important value you demonstrate as a leader?
2. Where/When did you experience your greatest growth as a leader?
3. What is one book you are reading right now?
4. What do you want inscribed on your tombstone?

I'm wondering -- how would YOU answer those questions?

Give A Man a Fish. . .

Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. . .
Teach a man how to fish. . .
and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

(picked up this handy adage from Ben Witherington's Mom)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Four Generation Baptism

Here's something special to celebrate.

A couple of weeks ago, we baptized four generations of the same family in one dunk! We immersed grandma, mom, daughter, and two grandkids all together at the same time. They shared a beautiful story of their faith journey before the baptism.

LaVerda, the grandma, recently lost her husband, after a long illness. It was through this dark and difficult experience that the whole family drew near to Jesus. LaVerda is a living example of peace in the valley.


One in four read no books last year

Oh well, I guess you can look on the bright side and say that they didn't fill their minds with junk like this or this

Monday, August 20, 2007

Mind and Heart

Walking in the truth . . . requires not only the active engagement of our minds but also the warm embrace of our hearts.

If we don't keep both in view, a generous heart can make error look like truth, just as arrogance can make truth look like error. Who can measure the confusion that occurs when truth is spoken with condemnation and self-righteousness, while lies are told with patience and love?

Truth spoken without love is devastatingly harmful. Love expressed without truth is tragically misleading.

-- Mart De Haan, Radio Bible Class (via Jim Watkins)

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Had a great week teaching FLAME courses this past week -- Church Leadership and Spiritual Formation. Met some outstanding students, who are (and are preparing to be) effective leaders in the Wesleyan Church.

It was an unusual week of teaching, as every spare moment of free time, someone wanted to talk with me about issues of life and ministry. I didn't mind it a bit, and was happy to help -- but found myself totally whipped by the end of the day.

Arrived safely home last evening to joyfully reunite with my family after waiting three and a half hours at the airport for my suitcase. I think the luggage handlers in Chicago will live long because they certainly resist the impulse to rush.

I don't have to preach, or do anything in the services today -- I'll just be a pew potato for a change!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Blogging Break

This week I'll be out of town teaching FLAME classes in Indiana: Church Leadership and Spiritual Formation. I'm not planning on doing any blogging until after my return on Saturday.

What to Ask About Your Problem

If you're facing a difficult problem, maybe you should consider the following questions. They'll help you get to the solution side.

1. Is this a problem - or is it a fact of life?
You can do something about problems. You can't do anything about facts of life. If you can't change it, you don't have a problem; just a fact of life. No need to stew about it.

Have you heard the Serenity Prayer? "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

2. Is this problem REALLY the problem?
It is easy to be sidetracked by the painful symptoms and neglect the deeper, more important, issues. Make sure you are dealing with the main thing.
Recurring negative situations usually have a common thread. It would pay you to pay attention to it.

3. What is the bottom, bottom line?
What do you want? What outcome do you desire? Why is this a problem in the first place? Think it through! (Many people think "to" a difficulty, but fail to think "through" it.)
Instead of focusing on what's wrong, put your energy into discovering how to make it right.

4. Have you prayed about it?
God can give you wisdom to face any uncertainty. If it's big enough to cause concern, it's big enough for prayer.
If your problems are deep-seated and long standing - try kneeling!

5. What are ten possible solutions?
Most of our problems have at least ten possible solutions - the trick is to think creatively and discover them! I have used this process many times with incredible results.
Write them down! Don't quit until you have ten. Refuse to settle for just one or two. Expanding the solutions can remove the blinders from your eyes. You will be able to see the whole thing in a new way.

6. What do your wisest friends say?
If you listen to what they say, and heed their wise advice, you will spare yourself a ton of regret.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Matt and Amber

Premier Wedding recently featured the wedding of my good friends, Matt and Amber (Yoder) Albrecht. There's a funny story about the unity candle that fizzled out.


Rod Pickett on AD-D

Dunk Tanks and Dilly Bars

In a weak moment, I agreed to be in the dunk tank for Relay for Life yesterday. Hannah went along for moral support -- sort of. A big group of grinning folks lined up to "dunk the preacher." Kind of a "turn-around" baptism. I think I went down 30 times in 20 minutes.

As Hannah and I were leaving, we heard the announcement for the Dilly Bar eating contest -- so decided to stay and reclaim our titles (We both won two years ago.)

We pulled it off this year as well -- once again Hayward's Dilly Bar eating champions! Our little friend, Jackson Davis won his age division too -- an all around Wesleyan Pastors' Family Sweep.

Someone gasped when they saw how fast I could eat a Dilly Bar. "How in the world do you eat that fast?" they asked. I replied, "It's easy. When you have five kids, you have to eat fast in order to get seconds!"

Friday, August 10, 2007

To Be a Pilgrim

John Bunyan, wrote Pilgrim's Progress during his twelve year stint in the Bedford Jail (His crime -- preaching without a license.) An allegory of the spiritual journey, this classic text has been read more widely around the world than any other book besides the Bible.
Capturing various themes in the story, Bunyan wrote the following hymns, "To Be a Pilgrim."
Who would true valour see, let him come hither;
One here will constant be, come wind, come weather.
There's no discouragement shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim.
Whoso beset him round with dismal stories
Do but themselves comfound; his strength the more is.
No lion can him fright, he'll with a giant fight,
He will have a right, to be a pilgrim.
Hobgoblin nor foul fiend can daunt his spirit;
He knows he at the end shall life inherit.
Then fancies fly away, he'll fear not what men say,
He'll labor night and day to be a pilgrim.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Last Year's Baptism

Pity Parties

I'm not really a party animal. In fact, usually, if I'm invited to a party of some sort or another, I try to find a good reason to graciously decline the invitation.

It's not that I don't enjoy people, mind you. In general, they're fantastic. Like Will Rogers said, "I've never met a man I didn't like." I am thankful for all my good friends.

Yep, I like people a lot -- but I dislike going to parties. (Although, if I get stuck and actually end up attending one, it usually turns out better than I imagined. In the car, on the way home, I've heard Cathy say more than once, "There now, that wasn't so bad, was it?"

I reply with a mumble and grunt, because I know she's right. Still -- I'm not an eager party-goer, and seriously doubt if I will ever become one.

Do you know what kind of party is the most common? Birthday? Graduation? Aniversary?
You'll never guess!

The party held most frequently is. . . The Pity Party!
As a minister, I've been invited to pity parties on many occasions. I've never received an "official invitation" on cardstock in the mail, but I've certainly been invited, nevertheless.

Now, helping people with troubled hearts is part of my calling. Any worthwhile minister of God's grace is interested in bringing hope, encouragement and faith to hurting souls. We are called to listen, to love, and to really care.

However, that does not mean that I'm enthused about attending somebody else's pity party.

A pity party is defined as when you are consumed with feeling sorry for yourself and re-hashing your problems over and over again, without any interest in moving towards a positive solution.

Here are the problems with a pity party:

1) There's no music. Nobody brings a banjo or accordian. Nobody dances, and nobody sings -- except for maybe a mournful rendition of the blues!
2) There are no refreshments. Nobody serves cream puffs or crumpets at a pity party. There's nothing refreshing at all about it. The only thing dished up is stew of re-hashed offenses and complaints.
3) There are no joyful guests. If you "crash" a pity party with a bit of positive perspective, you'll be asked to leave. Cheery optimism is inappropriate behavior for a pity party.
4) There is no hope. Hopelessness is what fuels the party and keeps it going.

Feeling sorry for someone else (compassion) is a beautiful and godly expression.

Feeling sorry for yourself, however, is not nearly so noble or inspiring. It is an ugly, downhill spiral that takes you further into negative despair.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Wesleyan Bloggers

For a little over a year, I have been maintaining the only list of blogging Wesleyan ministers -- located a

I thought I'd post the list here, as a plug for my blogging friends. If your blog is included here, I wonder if you would consider copying this list, and placing it in a post at your own site. That way the entire list can get a broader exposure.

Mark O. Wilson, Revitalize Your Church
Lawrence W. Wilson
Tim Guptill, G'update
Paul Kind, Vagabonding
John & Danielle Freed,
Rod Pickett, Kingdom Come
Jim Garlow
Josh Garlow, In Stereo
John Drury, Drulogian
Keith Drury
Jerry Brecheisen
Ken Schenck, Schenck Thoughts
David Drury
Eric Wagenmaker, Random, Contemplative
Chad McCallum, Compass Church
Dale Argot, Virginia Transplant
Joe & Randi Gormong
Eric Hambrock, The Front Porch
Jim Watkins
Nate Kingsbury
Joel Gorveatte, Get to the Point
Amanda Drury, Amanda's Spot
Bill Lawson, Kidd's Place
A. J. Thomas, The Jonny Smith Regime
Rod Densteadt, Brothers of Willow
Kevin Wright, Wright off the Bat
Shannon D'Agostino, Our Simple Adventures
David Rutler, Savior Stretching
David Sheffield, One Rock Crying Out
Wisconsin Spiritual Formation: Davis, Mavis and Brown
Joy Ziegler, Conformed or Transformed?
Matthew Rose, The Matthew Never Knew
David and Katy Kinnan, The Kinnan Chronicles
Ben Robinson, The Orthodoctor
Brian Johnson, Community Wesleyan Church
Ryan Budde, The Scope
Ed Boston, Do the Right Thing
Josh Cooper, Front Porch Life
Gail Neuerberg, The Beauty of God In Little Things
Straight Talk for Church Planters
Mark Schnell Thinks Out Loud
Brian Russell, Real Meal Ministries
Glen Robinson, Dividing Wall
Tom Kinnan, Keeping Perspective
Steve Matthews
Dean Brown, Corktown Capers
Mark Gorveatte, Church Edge
David Wright
Daniel Shipton,
Dan Bickel, Wisconsin District
Brooks Sayer, Stuff I Say
Doug Dennis, Intentional Interim
Josh & Jamie Hilty, Sermons and Other Stuff
Jeff Bouma, The Fuse
Rick Hudgens, Trustworthy Sayings
Phil Stevenson, Inner Sanctum
Jeremiah Gomez, Musings of a Rookie Pastor
Ed Torres, The Core
Lenny Luchetti, Relevant Living
Brandon & Jennifer Bruce
Steven Sheets
Dale Robertson, Dale's Place
Carles Fletcher, Community Wesleyan Church

A New Toyota??

Found this at

A King!

My good friend, Bill Kilian, has recently gone through some deep waters, and has come forth shining like gold. I am inspired by his faith and optimism. He's a real blessing. Not long ago, Bill wrote this beautiful poem which captures what he has experienced:

He shall lead them to still waters.
I, son of man, forget that I am not son of a king.
It is surprising how small a part of life
Is taken up in meaningful moments.
Life is precious,
Especially when you're a Christian and only allowed one.

In wisdom and folly-
For what can a man do who succeeds a king?
Only what he has already done in all his works.
It seems not enough!
He shall come and fill the empty rooms!
For I have danced with A King !!!

Men will bring much charisma,
When they enter a room, demanding all attention.
But The Spirit comes from God,
It is extraordinary,
It brings not charisma,
But Presence of all that The King of Kings asks.... To Love!

Oh Yes!
Creation sings and dances in the country,
Goodnight moon!
For today, I have danced

It's a Big Deal

Wesleyan pastor and my buddy, Scott Budde, has submitted an entry for the Heinz Ketchup YouTube Commercial Contest. He deserves your vote.

Monday, August 06, 2007


Yesterday, around 500 people showed up for our church picnic, and we ended up baptizing 49 in a local lake.

It was a tremendous joy to hear the faith stories before each baptism. We dunked children, teenagers, young adults, middle aged folks, and senior citizens. Each one was a beautiful testimony of God's grace and faithfulness.

At the end of the day, my arms were tired, and my heart was full of joy!!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Christian Bloggers Network

A few months ago, Mark Kelly, Rick Warren and company compiled an outstanding list of Christian Bloggers. I'm bringing it back out again to hopefully refresh the network. If you're on the list, how about posting again for the rest of us? If you're NOT on the list, add your blog in the comment section, and I'll add you.
Three Responses to Trouble


Today, the youth mission teams to Mexico and inner city Philly are in charge of the worship services. My job is to sit in the "amen" corner.

I don't have the "day off" from preaching entirely though. I'm scheduled to preach at the County Fair (in the cow tent. I'm sure they will be deeply mooooved.)

After our last service, we'll have our annual picnic and baptism at a private lake in the area.

I'm praying for sunshine until the big event is over. But, my "sunshine prayers" didn't work too well yesterday. Caitlyn's outdoor "sunflower" wedding turned into on the porch, under the umbrellas, "rain-flower" nuptuals. At least weddings are not like baseball games -- they don't get rained out. Also, rain on a wedding day is a reminder that marriage requires flexibility with a good attitude.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Pizza, A Real Wisconsin Badger, and Bartender

Today, our family is headed four hours south so I can perform the wedding ceremony for my niece, Caitlyn and her fiancee', Lee. Tonight, the rehearsal dinner will be a Pizza Doctor's -- the wildest pizza buffet we've ever seen -- much to the delight of the Wilson kids.

Yesterday, my friend Marge called and told me that as she was jogging by our house, she saw a badger poking his head out of a hole. We've been wondering who was living in that hole! I told her she'd better leave our pet badger alone. Who needs a watchdog, when you have a badger to protect you?? I called the Department of Natural Resources, and they said not to worry about it too much -- there's probably a momma, a daddy and a few kids -- but they'll leave us alone, it's not a colony, just a nuclear family -- and they'll probably move on. "Just don't stick your hand in the hole." the ranger advised.

Also, yesterday, we bid farewell to our friend, Peggy Van Guilder with heartwarming funeral services and a trip to Greenwood Cemetery. During the "share time" at the funeral, one lady made a profoud observation about Peggy, who had served 30 years as a bartender at the Moccasin.

"All the customers would want to talk with Peggy, and she seemed to know everybody and everything about them. I asked her how she could remember all that and she replied, 'I don't remember everything -- only the thing that is most important to that person. Then, when I see them next, I ask them about that most important thing (family, work, some project) -- and they feel like I'm an old friend who knows everything about them.'"

Seven Advantages of Pastoring in a Small Town

1. Everybody is connected to everybody. This means that when you help one person, you help the WHOLE community.
2. Word of mouth travels fast. Free advertising!

3. You don't have to be very good to be spectacular. There's not a lot of competition.

4. You can send a mass mailing to everybody and not go broke.

5. You can influence an entire community. The local "salt and light" impact of a thriving small town church is greater than a mega-church in metropolis.

6. Follow up is easier. "Seen Fred lately?" "Nope, but I'll call him this week."

7. When you earn their trust, they will rise up and bless you. Small town folks are loyal and their commitments run deep.

Seeing Through Things

"You can't go on 'seeing through' things forever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque. How if you saw through the garden too? It is no use trying to 'see through' first principles. If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To 'see through' all things is not the same as to see."
- C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (from

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Prayers Needed

We just received word that Krissy, the sister of one of our parishioners was in the Minneapolis bridge collapse yesterday.

Krissy is suffering with back injuries. To compound things, she was on her way to be with her two year old daughter, Emma, who had been life-flighted to Minneapolis yesterday after falling down the stairs.

Little Emma is in critical condition. Please pray for Krissy and Emma as well as their family.


Yesterday, was a milestone for Revitalize Your Church, as we passed the 100,000 page view mark. Thanks to everybody who comes to visit regularly. I'm honored that you would take time out of your life to stop in and see what I have to say.

A Tragedy

Our prayers go out to the families impacted by the horrifying and tragic bridge collapse in Minneapolis last evening. That hits awfully close to home, as my family and I have traversed that bridge on many occasions. We also have several Twin Cities people connected to Hayward Wesleyan Church.

As the details unfold today, and the death toll rises, may we see the tender mercies of our Lord.

Because of his great love for us, we are not consumed. His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness. (Lam. 3:22)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Tommy Mitchell shared a great post on the "Warning Signs" that you nearing the limits of overwork and exhaustion in the ministry.


Last Monday, on a whim, I bought four semi inner tubes from Hanson Tire. Cathy just smiled and shook her head. Since then, there's been a regular armada of Wilsons drifting down the Namekagon River. We definitely got our money's worth.

Speaking of drifting, I like Mark Beeson's thoughts, (via Tony Morgan) "No one ever drifts to greatness."

He says:
No one ever drifts to greatness. Want to be a great musician? Methodical practice is required. Do you long for athletic prowess? You must train, and train methodically. Building a great marriage, a great family, a great friendship or a great career requires the ongoing discipline of methodical effort. Wesley had it right; the methodical practice of scriptural holiness is the way to maturity.