Friday, November 30, 2007

Evel Knievel's Testimony

I was saddened today, to hear that the legendary daredevil, Evel Knievel has passed away. I am so happy that he had made his peace with God.

Just a few months ago, on Palm Sunday, Evel shared his testimony at the Crystal Cathedral. He said that for all of his life, he refused to accept Christ as Lord. He believed in God, but couldn't get away from the gold, the gambling, the booze and the women.
Still, people prayed for Evel, including folks from his daughter's church, his ex-wife's church, as well as countless people who wrote him letters, urging him to surrender his life to Christ.

Then, it happened -- last March, during Daytona Bike Week.

In Evel's words: "I don't know what in the world happened. I don't know if it was the power of the prayer or God himself, but it just reached out, either while I was driving or walking down the sidewalk or sleeping, and it just—the power of God in Jesus just grabbed me. … All of a sudden, I just believed in Jesus Christ. I did, I believed in him! … I rose up in bed and, I was by myself, and I said, 'Devil, Devil, you bastard you, get away from me. I cast you out of my life.' … I just got on my knees and prayed that God would put his arms around me and never, ever, ever let me go."

Following his testimony, Evel was baptized by Dr. Robert H. Schuller (the dad) (trascript of interview and baptism here) Then, something extraordinary happened. Robert A. Schuller (the son), felt prompted to invite anyone else who needed to be baptized to come forward.

As the congregation spontaniously sang "Amazing Grace", between 500 and 800 people came to the front of the church and were baptized. I suppose you could say the Crystal Cathedral, that day, experienced a touch of revival.

God bless you Evel. I'm glad you took the great leap of faith.

(Christianity Today reported on the event here)

Right Attitudes

1. Focus on winning big, not just on getting by.
2. Exhibit unconditional love. . . give freedom to fail.
3. Display a "servant leader" attitude.
4. Retain a lifelong student's attitude.
5. Develop a family-level commitment to the group.
6. Develop critical thinking without a critical attitude.
7. Keep a cooperative attitude.

(Bobb Biehl in Boardroom Confidence)

God and You

Bring to God your gift, my brother,
He'll not need to call another,
You will do!

He will add His blessing to it,
And the two of you will do it,
God and you!

-- R. E. Neighbour

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Measure of Spiritual Growth


(From Dave Ferguson)

What Do You Like to Do?

"There are a lot of things that go into creating success. I don't like to do just the things I like to do. I like to do things that cause the company to succeed."

-- Michael Dell, Founder and Chairman of Dell Computers

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I Forgave

My heart was heavy, for its trust had been
Abused, its kindness answered with foul wrong;
So turning gloomily from my fellow men,
One summer Sabbath day I strolled among
The green mounds of the village burial-place;
Where, pondering how all human love and hate
Find one sad level; and how, soon or late
Wronged and wrongdoer, each with meekened face,
Pass the green threshold of our common grave,
Whither all footsteps tend, whence none depart,
Awed for myself, and pitying my race,
Our common sorrow, like a mighty wave,
Swept all my pride away, and trembling, I forgave!

Monday, November 26, 2007

LIfecycle of a Church

Church consultant, George Bullard, has a fascinating chart, which shows the stages of a church's life. You can find it here. (You'll have to scroll down a few posts on the page.) Thought provoking!

Sunday, November 25, 2007


There are 86,400 seconds in each day --86,400 golden moments. That's a treasure trove! What shall we do with it??
Spend the treasure wisely!
Pack your day full!
Pack it full of joy.
Pack it full of love.
Pack it full of wonderful experiences.

When it's gone, we'll never get it back - so lighten up, look up and make it count for something!

Apostolic Succession

I was ordained July 10, 1987, when General Superintendent, Dr. Earle Wilson, laid hands on me, shook my hand, and declared, "Take Thou Authority to Preach the Word!"

I was thinking about that recently, and began to wonder how far back I could go with the succession of my ordination. So, I did a little research.
I was ordained by Earle Wilson
Earle Wilson was ordained by Pilgrim Holiness General Superintendent, William Neff
William Neff was ordained by the Pilgrim founder, Seth Rees
Seth Rees was ordained by Nazarene founder, Phineas Bresee
Phineas Bresee was ordained by Methodist Bishop, Levi Scott
Levi Scott was ordained by Elijah Hedding.
Elijah Hedding was ordained by Francis Asbury
Francis Asbury was ordained by a renegade Anglican priest named John Wesley
John Wesley was ordained by Anglican Bishop (of Oxford) John Potter.

From Potter -- there's a trail all the way back to St. Peter!!
You can see the chart here. (Potter is at the bottom of the page #90.

Now, how about that??

Saturday, November 24, 2007

3 Questions to Ask God

Hello. . . God. . .?
Where Are You?
Whatcha Doin"?
Can I Help?

(A member of our Guatamala Missions Team shared this with me upon their return last week.)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

First Turkey

Helen Hayes, the actress, told about cooking her very first Thanksgiving turkey. Although this highly acclaimed performer of stage and screen was not a star in the kitchen, she thought the time had come, after several years of marriage, to prepare and bake her first turkey.

She called her husband and son in and prepared them. She said, "This may not come out exactly the way you want it too. If it's not a good turkey, don't say a thing. Without any comment, just stand up from the table, and we'll go to the nearest restaurant and eat."

When she walked into the dining room a few moments later with the turkey on a platter, her husband and son were already standing there with their coats and hats on!

(story from John Maxwell)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


George Bullard's Life Cycle and Stages of Congregational Development.

Count Your Blessings

Johnson Oatman Jr. was a bivocational Methodist minister. Besides his full time work in Retail and the Insurance Industry, he served various local churches -- and still somehow found the time to write 5000 hymns.

One of them, published in Songs for Young People, was published in 1897. It's a great Thanksgiving Song. I tickled the ivories as we sang it at church this past Sunday: Count Your Blessings

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Refrain: Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear? Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly, And you will keep singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold, Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold; Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small, Do not be discouraged, God is over all; Count your many blessings, angels will attend, Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

No "Two For One" Deals

You cannot travel East and West at the same time.

"He who pursues two hares will catch neither." -- Asian Proverb

The Most Important Skill in Ministry

What is the most important skill in ministry??

Visionary Leadership?
Anointed Preaching?

Those are important -- but not THE MOST important. . .

Steve Furtick hits the nail on the head: The most skill in ministry is the "fine art of hearing from God."

Monday, November 19, 2007


In The Middle

I heard a cute story last week from Kathy, one of our parishioners. She was going through a children's book with her little grandaughter, Destiny. The theme of the book was feelings. Each page was about a different feeling.

When they came to the page that said, "SCARED", Destiny pointed and said, "Look Grandma! The word CARE is right there in the middle of it!"

Out of the mouths of babes! When we're SCARED -- we know that Jesus CARES and He's right there in the middle of it!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

5 Ways to Mess Up Your Kids

1. Make them the center of the universe.

2. Act like they're not watching.

3. Solve all their problems.

4. Always defer to the other parent.

5. Never say "I'm sorry."

From Rob at EnterMission -- you can read the whole post here.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Not Gloating

Now, I'm not gloating or anything -- and I know Jesus loves Michigan fans too. In fact, The Buckeyes were just helping Wolverine character development.

Deer Hunting

Today begins the "other" holy week in Hayward.
The men head off to the woods in blaze orange;
The church is half empty;
We won't be able to find a plumber, barber, or electrician;
Half the cars will have carcasses strapped on top . .
And, I get a free week without ANY marriage counseling!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Gone to the Dogs

I suppose you could say This Guy's Wife is a Real Dog!
(thanks to Mark Gorveatte for the lead)
A man in southern India married a female dog in a traditional Hindu ceremony as an attempt to atone for stoning two other dogs to death — an act he believes cursed him — a newspaper reported Tuesday.
P. Selvakumar married the sari-draped former stray named Selvi, chosen by family members and then bathed and clothed for the ceremony Sunday at a Hindu temple in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, the Hindustan Times newspaper said.
Selvakumar, 33, told the paper he had been suffering since he stoned two dogs to death and hung their bodies from a tree 15 years ago.
"After that my legs and hands got paralyzed and I lost hearing in one ear," he said in the report.
The paper said an astrologer had told Selvakumar the wedding was the only way he could cure the maladies. It did not say whether his situation had improved.
Deeply superstitious people in rural India sometimes organize weddings to dogs and other animals, believing it can ward off certain curses.

The paper showed a picture of Selvakumar sitting next to the dog, which was wearing an orange sari and a flower garland.
The paper said the groom and his family then had a feast, while the dog got a bun.

Sodden Log

O God, not like a stagnant pool with tepid depths, let my life be,
But like a stream, undaunted, cool, that plunges toward the sea.

O God, not like a sodden log, now dead, though once a stately tree, but pushing high above the bog still upward yearning, let life be!

-- J. Gordon Howard

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Exploding Offering Plates

Hey -- if we could figure out how to do this for offering baskets, we'd be in business! If more than three people pass it on without putting something in . . . KABLAMMO!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Church Decisions

How do church leaders arrive at the decisions they make?

1. Tradition:
Often, this decision is made by indecision. We just continue to do what we've always done. If it worked in the past, it should work today. There are a lot of empty churches that have operated this way for years.

2. Emotion:
We make decisions based on who will get upset and/or how strongly somebody feels about the issue. Whoever has the strongest emotion wins the day.

3. Pragmatism:
If it works for today, let's do it. This is a "consumer oriented" approach.

4. Selective Theological Interpretation:
This is usually used by a pastor, or a long tenured church member, searching for Bible passages to support #1 and/or #2 as an argument against #3 -- or sometimes visa versa.

5. Biblical Mission:
While staying true to Scripture (the Great Confession) , making faith-inspired decisions based on the Great Commission (Go make Disciples) in the spirit of the Great Commandment.

Rural Education

75% of Seminary Students are from urban and suburban communities.

75% of Seminary Graduates, however, begin their ministry in a rural or small town setting.

You're Contagious

Pessimism is contagious.
Optimism is also contagious.
Of which are you a carrier?

-H. F. Wood

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Starting In A Small Church

Here's a great post from Keith Drury on the Advantages of Starting Your Ministry in a Small Church.

Preaching is Fishing

How shall souls be caught? They shall be caught by preaching Christ.
Just preach a sermon that is full of Christ, and throw it unto your congregation, as you throw a net into the sea.
You need not look where they are, or try to fit your sermon to different cases; but throw it in and as sure as God’s Word is what it is, it shall not return to him void; it shall accomplish that which he pleases, and prosper in the thing whereto he hath sent it.
-- Charles Spurgeon (via Phil Johnson)


A great sermon here, by Jeremy Troxler, Director of the Thriving Rural Communities Initiative at Duke Divinity School.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Now, if only we can learn to do this with Small Group Leaders. . .

5 Kinds of Christians

A new study from Christianity Today identifies 5 Kinds of Christians and their views:

1. Active Christians
2. Professing Christians
3. Liturgical Christians
4. Private Christians
5. Cultural Christians

It's an interesting piece of work -- but at the end of the day, when it's all said and done, I think there's only one kind of Christian -- the person who has Jesus in his/her heart.


On Saturday, I had a delightful visit with Ron and Carol McClung. Ron is the District Superintendent of the Iowa-Minnesota District of the Wesleyan Church. He's on a sabbatical, and wanted to talk with me about the growth of Hayward Wesleyan Church, and our recent church planting efforts.

I turned the tables just a little and asked him a question:

From your travels and observations of many churches -- what piece of advice you would give to the small town and rural pastors who read my blog?

Ron replied: Relationships!! Relationships!! It's about relationships!!
Pastor, you can preach fantastic sermons, make brilliant strategic plans, and work your fingers to the bone, but if you don't love your people, it won't mean a thing!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Pack

What A Game! For once, I got to keep my fingernails.

Two Kinds of Good Days

Sometimes, life is like cruising down a highway on a summer day.
At other times, it's like hiking through a murky swamp.

There are "smooth sailing" days -- and then there are the ones filled with bumps and jolts.

But one thing lies in common: They're both good.

They don't both FEEL good, mind you -- but they're good, nevertheless.

The sunshine days are good for carefree laughter, pleasure and fun.
The dark and difficult days are good for character development.

Either way -- it's still a good day.

If you're going through the dark valley, don't despair. Joy will come in the morning. Learn the valuable lessons life has to offer -- and keep trudging forward. Don't give up.

As Dag Hammarskjold stated, "When the morning's freshness has been replaced by the weariness of midday, when the leg muscles quiver under the strain, the climb seems endless, and suddenly, nothing will go quite as you wish -- it is then that you must not hesitate."

"I love the man who can smile in trouble," observed Thomas Paine, "that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death."

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Did You Ask for A Sign?

Give Them Jesus

Yesterday was rewarding and fulfilling.

I had to opportunity to visit with a friend who is fighting a life-threatening disease. She has tremendous faith -- much much more than she realizes. She asked some deep questions.

My answers were inadequate, but she left feeling assured, because I gave her Jesus.

I spoke with a board member -- reviewing Thursday night's meeting. We are moving forward into some uncharted territory. It's exciting and frightening at the same time. We prayed together. I had a few questions.

He gave me Jesus.

The roads were snow covered and slippery: the first "bad driving day" of the season. While I white knuckled it to the National Cemetery, I prayed for good Lord to provide safe and timely travel.

Jesus helped me. Thank you Jesus!

Conducting the memorial service for Chet Smigla -- who served his nation aboard ships in two wars, then his neighbors as a Coast Guard search and rescue captain -- I quoted Scripture and Tennyson. After the gun salute and taps, his wife, Karen bravely clutched the folded flag close to her heart.

I whispered a prayer and gave her Jesus.

As the service concluded, and everybody hugged each other, a member of St. Joe's, handed me a box of Tremblay's fudge. A note taped to the box said, "Happy Thanksgivng Pastor Mark. Thank you for sharing your life with us."

I smiled, thanked her, and gave her Jesus.

From there, I drove two and a half hours to Children's Hospital in the heart of Minneapolis. On the sixth floor, little Eddie, only six months old, was struggling.

His family asked if I could come and baptize him.

My normal mode of operation is the "dedication" of little ones rather than baptism. However, we live in Lutheran and Catholic territory. This precious family didn't need a doctrinal discussion. They needed a blessing and a visual reminder that Jesus is holding Eddie close to His heart.

We obtained special permission to wheel Eddie down to the chapel -- oxygen tanks, i.v. tubes and all. Several family members and friends gathered in that small sacred space. A nurse stood quietly in the back of the room wiping tears.

I took Eddie in my arms, blessed him and his parents, and gave them all Jesus.

Driving home, I practiced Sunday's sermon out loud. Folks in the next lane stared and pointed at the "crazy man."

I grinned, waved, and gave 'em Jesus.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Three Questions of a Leader

1. Am I genuinely interested in people?
2. Am I taking care of today?
3. Am I taking others to a higher level?
-- John Maxwell

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Are you burned out?? Here's a little test to let you know.

(via Monday Morning Insight, via Cory Miller)

The Way of Peace and True Liberty

1. Strive to do another’s will rather than your own.
2. Choose always to have less than more.
3. Seek the lower places in life, dying to the need to be recognized and important.
4. Always, and in everything desire that the will of God may be completely fulfilled in you.


My good friend, Sue Bartz, sent me this treasure trove of cookie recipes. Just click on the cookie's name, and presto -- you'll get the recipe! This is for all the folks who complain about "cookies" on their computers.

1-2-3 Cookies 7 Layer Cookies Allie Nelson's Famous Snickerdoodle Cookies Almond Crescent Shortbread Amish Sugar Cookies Andies Candies Cookies Angel Crisps Angenets Applesauce Cookies Apricot Fold-Overs Aunt Edy's Molasses Crinkles Auntie Linda's Ginger Gems Bakeless Dream Cookies Banana Drop Cookies Best Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World Biscotti Biscotti Blueberry Cookies Boiled Chocolate Oatmeal Drop Cookies Bronwnies Brown Sugar Shortbread Brownie Cookies Brownie Delight Brownies Buccaneer Snowballs Buried Cherry Cookies Butter Cookies Butter Nut Balls Butterballs Butterscotch Haystacks C.O.P. Cookies Candy Cane Cookies Candy Cookies Caramel Shortbread Cheesecake Brownies Cherry Buns Cherry Crowns Cherry Winks Chewies Chewy Noels Chinese Chews/Haystacks Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars Chocolate Chip Cookies Chocolate Chip Meltaways Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies Chocolate Christmas Trees Chocolate Cream Cheese Squares Chocolate Crinkles Chocolate Mint Snow-Top Cookies Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies (no bake) Chocolate Snowball Cookies Chocolate Streusel Bars Chocolate Sundae Cookies Chocolate Walnut Crumb Bars Choco-Scotch Crunchies Choose A Cookie Dough Recipe Christmas Crackers Christmas Crunch Bars Christmas Ginger Snaps Christmas Macaroons Christmas Mice Cookies Christmas Shaped Cookies Church Window Cookies Coconut Cookies Congo Squares Cookie in a Jar Corn Flakes Cookies Cornflake Christmas Wreaths Cowboy Cookies (oatmeal) Cream Cheese Cookies with Apricot Filling Crème De Menthe Chocolate Squares Crème Wafers Crescent Cookies Crispy Crunchies Date Nut Balls Date-nut Pinwheel Cookies Diabetic Peanut Butter Cookies Disgustingly Rich Brownies Doodles Double chocolate chip cookies Double-Chocolate Crinkles Eatmore Cookies Eggnog Cookies Elizabeth's Sugar Cookies Elves Quick Fudge Brownies Emily Dickinson's Gingerbread Cookie Recipe Emily's Best Brownies Famous Oatmeal Cookies Firemen Cookies Fluffy Shortbread Cookies Forgotten Cookies Frosted Peanut Butter Brownies Fruit Cake Cookies Fruitcake Squares Fry Pan Cookies Gems Ginger Cookies Ginger Crinkles Gingerbread Baby Gingerbread Cookies with Butter Cream Icing Gingerbread Men Gingerbread Men Ginny's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies Glory's Golden Graham Squares Glory's Sugar Cookies Gramma Chapman's chocolate coconut drops Grandma Elsie's Zimt (cinnamon) Cookies Grandma J's Butter Cookies Grandma Olson's Parkay Cookies Great Grandmothers Sugar Cookies Gum Drop Cookies Gumdrop Gems Haystack Cookies Ho-Ho Bars Holiday Cereal Snaps Holiday Chocolate Butter Cookies Holiday Raisin Walnut Bars Holly Cookies Hungarian Cookies (Little Nut Rolls) Ice Box Cookies Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookies Italian Cookies Jacob's Peppermint Snowballs Jam Bars Jessica's Famous Brownies Jessie's Chocolate Chip Cookies Jubilee Jumbles Juliet's Peanut Butter Blossoms Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies Kentucky Colonels Kiefle (cream cheese cookies with jam filling) Kifflings Kiss Cookies Lacy Swedish Almond Wafers Lemon Angel Bar Cookies Lemon Bars Lemon Cake Cookies Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies Lemon Squares Linzer Tarts Log Cabin Cookies Luscious Lemon Squares M&M Cookies Magic Cookie Bars Melt in Your Mouth Cutout Sugar Cookies Melting Shortbread Meme's Cream Cheese Cookies Milk Chocolate Florentine Cookies Mincemeat Cookies Mincemeat Goodies Molasses Cookies Molasses Forest Cookies Molasses Sugar Cookies Mom Mom's Crescent Cookies Mom-Mom's Ginger Cookies Mom's Nutmeg Sugar Cookies Mom's Old Fashion "Puffy" Sugar Cookies Monster Cookies Moravian Christmas Cookies Nana's Famous Soft Southern Cookies Nitey Nite Cookies No Bake Chocolate Cookies No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies No Bake Cookies No Bake Cookies No Bake Peanut Butter Cookies No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies No-Bake Cookies Norwegian Sugar Cookies Nut Balls Oatmeal Bars Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Nut Cookies Oatmeal Coconut Crisps Oatmeal Cookies Oatmeal Scotchies Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies Ooey Gooey Caramel Chocolate Dunk Ooey Gooey Squares Orange Slice Cookies Parking Lot Cookies Peanut Blossoms Peanut Butter Bars Peanut Butter Blossoms Peanut Butter Cereal Cookies Peanut Butter Chewies Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars Peanut Butter Cookies Peanut Butter Cookies Peanut butter fingers Peanut Butter Reindeer Peanut Butter Surprises Peanut Marshmallow Cookies Pecan Puff Cookies Peppermint Snowballs Peppernuts Persimmon Cookies Persimmon Cookies Petey's Yummy Spicy Almond Thins Pfeffernuesse Pffefferneuse Cookies Pineapple Filled Cookies Pizzelles Potato Chip Cookies Potato Flake Cookies Praline Cookies Praline Strips Pterodactyl Nests Pumpkin Bars Pumpkin Bars Pumpkin Chip Cookies Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies Pumpkin Cookies Queen Biscuits Quick Cookies Raised Sugar Cookies Raisin Filled Oatmeal Bars Raspberry Meringue Bars Really Peanutty Butter Cookies Reese`s Brownies Reese's Peanut Butter Bars Rich Flavor Christmas Cookies Rich Lemon Bars Ricotta Cheese Cookies Royal Almond Christmas Bars Rudolph Cinnamon Cookies Russian Tea Cookies Russian Teacakes Samantha & Kelsey's Chocolate Chip Cookies Sand Art Brownies Santa Claus Cookie Pops Santa Claus Cookies Santa's Butterscotch Melts Santa's Shorts Santa's Special Squares Scotch Cakes Scotch Shortbread Scotcharoos Scotcheroos Seven Layer Cookies Short Bread Cookies Shortbread Skor Squares Snicker Doodle Cookies Snickerdoodles Snickerdoodles Snow Balls Sour Cream Apple Squares Sour Cream Christmas Cookies Special K Cookies Spice Cookies Spicy Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Spritz Cookies Stained Glass Window Cookies Stir & Drop Sugar Cookies Sugar Cookies Sugar Cookies Sugar Cookies Swedish Pepparkakor (Pepper Cake) Cookies Swedish Sugar Cookies Sweet Marie's Swiss Treats Taralle (Italian Cookies) Tea Time Tassies Texas Brownies The Best Shortbread in The World Thumbprint Cookies Thumbprint Cookies Toffee Squares Traditional Christmas Sugar Cookies Traditional Gingerbread Men Cookies Triple-Chocolate Chip Cookies Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies Vanilla Waffer Balls Walnut Butter Cookies Walnut Crumb Bars White Chip Chocolate Cookies Wild Oatmeal Cookies Will's Famous Apple Jack Cookies Yummy Yummy Peanut Butter Blossoms