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Showing posts from February, 2007

Meetings Make You Dumber

MSNBC has reported that meetings make you stupid.

"Group think" is less productive than pooled "solo thinking."

Now, what are we to do about staff meeting??

Six Bits from Beeson

Mark Beeson's daughter, Amber, recently shared six things she learned from her dad at her blog, Amberwire. Thanks to Church Relevance for the lead.

1. Just Keep Doing the Next Right Thing.
" I don’t have to worry about everything, I just need to focus on doing the next right thing, right now, in front of me in this very minute. Then, after that decision is made, I can move on to the next right thing."

2. Attitude is Everything.

3. Strive to Live Without Regrets.
Basically, you’re human, you’ll have some regrets, it’s inevitable…but you can strive to save yourself from regrets later if you think about consequences now, before you do whatever it was that you were thinking of doing. Ask yourself, “Will I regret this later?” .

4. Someone is always watching you, Looking to you, Modeling after you.

5. Have a Friend, Be a Friend.
If I am friendly, people will want to be my friend. If I want to have a great friend, I need to be a great friend.

6. and last, but not least, People are Idiot…

Beneath the Ice

Black and white February tends to chill us to the bone.

Summer joys lie torpid in thick ice. Our hopes are hybernating.

Frozen in distant memory banks, spring flowers lie somewhere beneath.

In cold and cloudy winter, one begins to wonder whether May will ever show her lovely face again.

But she will! She will!
She always does!

Every spring,
she springs,
and sings,
and brings new life.

The multi-colored days,
pinioned by the bitter greys,
will soon burst forth in light,

Winter is only temporary.

Finally Happened

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Now, we can get some of those reluctant guys into the church! (Picked this up at Mayberry Driven Church)

World's Coolest Pulpit

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This morning I introduced my new handcrafted northwoods pulpit. My artist friend, Jerry Zamber, created it from trees in the woods behind his house. It has a "rustic" hand-hewn look, and is packed with meaning. There are three biblical themes woven into this sacred desk. 1. Creation: It reminds us of God's creative hand at work in our world. All things were made by Him. 2. Cross: Jesus died on the cross to redeem us. The pulpit reminds us of the price He paid on our behalf. 3. Community: Symbolized by the various supporting branches at the bottom. We really do need each other, and rely on one other for strength and support. It also speaks of John 15. "I am the Vine, you are the branches." Our cracked plexiglass podium has seen better days, and is now relegated to the basement with the other "former pulpits" of the church.

Americans Sweep Birkie

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"In my opinion, any day you find yourself at the starting line for the Birkie, it’s going to be a great day indeed!" ~ Scott Smith

Today's "half-a-Birkie" provided a rare opportunity for American skiers. After almost a decade of dominance, the Italians didn't get to the finish line first.

The fact that they didn't show up helped substantially.

Zack Simons of Utah was the first guy across the line (only the fifth American male to win since the inception of the race in 1973.) Kate Whitcomb, of Idaho was the winner in the women's field.

Aussie Friends

Australian, Wayne Field, who recently commented here, posts on a marvelous blog site for pastors: Ra'ah (Hebrew for "shepherd".)

I'm including it in my blogroll, and I encourage you to pop over for a visit!

It's fun to have connections on the other side of the globe. It's a small world after all.

Curing Souls

Though Eugene Peterson wrote this outstanding article over two decades ago, today's pastors ought to dust it off, give it another read, and put it into practice.

Bridge to Terabithia

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Took the family to see Bridge to Terabithia tonight, having finished the book a couple of days ago.

It's a great tale demonstrating the beauty of friendship, childhood and imagination, by Katherine Paterson (who happens to be an M.K.: missionary's kid.)

We agreed that the movie was almost as good as the book. We also agreed that we shouldn't read such sad stories right before bed.

Birky Lemon Slush

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Hayward is the home of the nation's largest cross country ski race, the American Birkebeiner -- also known as the Greatest Show on Snow! Elite skiers have flown in from all over the world. Thousands have gathered from every state to test their mettle in the winter wilderness.

Unfortunately, however, the weather has not cooperated this year. Tomorrow's race has been reduced to the top 250 skiers, and shortened to a mere 23 kilometers (from 51.)

They won't be finishing on Main Street as usual. I guess, I'll just have to put my cow bell away until next winter.

The other 9000 or so skiers are invited to participate in "non-competitive" open track events. Seems rather anti-climactic to me, but I applaud the valiant effort to redeem the world class event, under dire circumstances.

No, it's not exactly the way things were originally planned -- but when life in Hayward throw you lemons, you gotta make lemon slush!!

On God's Will

Dallas Willard writes:

When our children, John and Becky, were small, they were often completely in my will as they played happily in the back yard, though I had no preference that they should do the particular things they were doing there or even that they should be in the back yard instead of in their rooms or having a snack in the kitchen.

Generally speaking, we are in God's will whenever we are leading the kind of life he wants for us. And that leaves a lot of room for initiative on our part, which is essential; our individual initiatives are central to his will for us."

in Hearing God (p. 11)

Your Sweetness

My missionary friend, Phil Nettleton, sent the following inspirational thought yesterday:

I read of a great servant of God, Dr. F. B. Meyer. When he was young he was often irritable. One day an elderly saint told him how he had gained victory over irritability in his own life. He discovered and developed the practice of the moment he felt irritation rising in his heart, he would look up and say, “Your sweetness, Lord!” Dr. Meyer adopted this practice and found it to be the antidote for his tendency to be irritable. In his preaching ministry he began to share this with many, bringing great benefit to his listeners.

He explained: Take the opposite attitude. If you are facing untruth, cry out, Your truth, Lord; unkindness-Your kindness, Lord; impatience-Your patience, Lord; selfishness-Your unselfishness, Lord; roughness-Your gentleness, Lord; discouragement-Your courage, Lord; resentment-Your sweetness, Lord.

I would recommend you try this simple plan for a month! See what results in your …

Threadlock

Marie and Jim have been married over 50 years.

A couple of days ago, she brought in this little piece of advice from her "Wild Words from Wild Women" calendar:

"Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years. That is what makes a marriage last -- more than passion or even sex!"

Pastor Facts

90 -- percentage of pastors who work more than 46 hours per week.

75 -- percentage of pastors who have experienced a significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry.

70 -- percentage of pastors who say they have lower self esteem now compared to when they started in ministry.

70 -- percentage of pastors who do not have someone they consider a close friend

-- Fuller Institute of Church Growth

An Ash Wednesday Jail Service

This morning, I felt prompted to call the jail and see if I could possibly do an Ash Wednesday service there for the inmates.

I was happy when my dear friend, Lt. Barthel, granted permission for me to come.

With guitar, Bible, and a bowl of ashes in hand, I made my way through the maze of hallways.

A half dozen of us guys gathered in the "programs room" for the very first church service in our new jail. (All but one were genuinely interested in spiritual things. The other guy just wanted to get out of the cell -- but, hey, that's about the same percentage as what I have on Sunday morning! He actually participated a little bit towards the end -- and even laughed at my jokes.)

None of them were singers -- so I had to call an audible. We just sat down together and talked about life, faith, troubles, worry and God. It was a great conversation.

"We're not supposed to have weapons in here, but I brought a sword!" I said, pulling out my Bible. One of the men asked me i…

Ash Wednesday Prayer

Oh Jesus
You place on me the sign of your saving cross

Turn from sin
And be faithful to the Gospel

How can I turn from sin
Unless I turn to you?

You speak
You raise your hand
You touch my mind
And call my name

Turn to the Lord,
Your God, Again

These days of your favor
Leave a blessing as you pass

Turn to us, Lord
Turn to us
And we shall turn to you

Invisible Fence

"Five acres of invisible fence. A display of invitation without a welcome."

-- I recently heard a pastor describe the residents of his rural community this way. You know, there are a lot of churches that also fit that description.

Under Control

Attention -- all control freaks. (That includes me, by the way.) I have an important annoucement to make:

About 96% of life is outside the scope of your control!

Isn't that an unpleasant surprise? You knock yourself out trying to manipulate outcomes and make things go a certain way, but realize you have less than a 5% chance that it will turn out exactly how you had planned it! The odds aren't stacked in your favor. Less than 5%!

Here's another interesting observation. The more effort you put in trying to control everything, the less control you'll have. Strivings and graspings only lead to frustration and further chaos.

You can't control life's circumstances. The unexpected pops up every day.

You can't control other people. To a limited degree, I suppose, are able to control behaviors (i.e. parents who are guiding and disciplining their children), but we can NEVER control the attitudes of others.

You can't control the end results of your efforts. Of course, …

Chase the Lion

Here's a Great Article by Mark Batterson. Inspiring!! Motivating!!

Missions Eh?

An interesting post on Canadians as missionaries to the United States.

Smoggy Preaching

Once, after hearing a verbose preacher, one parishoner commented, "My, wasn't that deep?"
Her husband replied, "Nah, just muddy."

Several years ago, Professor G. Harry McLaughlin created a formula to measure the muddiness of communication.

He called the tool SMOG -- Simple Measure of Gobbledygook

You can test the readability of your own writing by using the SMOG Calculator.

Pastor, you might want to run your sermon through this before you preach it next Sunday.

God In the Radio

A newcomer to our church told me an amazing story this morning. She has been coming about four weeks now -- and for the first time, has experienced the love and grace of Jesus. It has been absolutely tranformational for her.

She has signed up for Alpha, and also is singing in our Easter choir!

She told me that last week, she shared about her lonliness with Deb, one of our parishoners. Deb asked her if she had ever listened to Christian radio. She hadn't. In fact, she had never listed to a Christian radio station in her whole life! Deb told her where she could find KDNW, on the dial.

When she went to her car, she turned on the radio. Amazingly -- Miraculously -- it was already on KDNW! She said that her radio has NEVER been on that station before. She said her car was locked, and she has NO idea how the dial ended up at 97.3.

"It scared me to death!" she admitted, "But it also made a believer out of me!"

We're going to light the faith candle for her nex…

Best Web Sites for Preachers

Alan Nelson has developed a list of the best websites available for preachers.

These are excellent tools, but besides the Holy Bible, the best preaching resource I've ever found is this book. I have it in my library, and read regularly for free refills.

The Mission Field

Back when I was in seminary, I attended a church that had a sign above the exit: "You Are Now Entering the Mission Field"

Unfortunately, the parishoners didn't take that sign to heart. The once-mighty congregation dwindled down to a small group with great memories of the good old days, and sadly, a few years ago, they closed up their doors.

What happened to the mission field?

Every March, we have a Missions Conference here at Hayward Wesleyan Church. We bring in missionaries from all over the world, hear inspiring stories from other lands, and raise a lot of money to support these worthy causes.

It's exciting to think that we can literally touch the world from Hayward! We can really make a difference for someone in Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe, or in some Islamic stronghold.

When I give my dollars to misisons -- I am going! I've invested a part of my life for those dollars. So, in a way, when I send my money, I am sending ME!

Yet, we must never forget that our…

A Deadly Combo

What do you get when you mix the sins of gluttony and pride?

Answer: Fat men in Speedos

Church Multiplication!

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The people of Bluffton Sonlight Church took Pastor Lyle's sermon to heart, when he preached on Genesis 1:28, "Be Fruitful and Multiply"

Suffering Through

Students at Indiana Wesleyan University, under the direction of homiletics professor, David Ward, are conducting a survey on the theme of suffering in preaching.

Speaking of such anguish, I think it would also be appropriate to survey the poor congregants who have to suffer through bad sermons every week.

Heretic's Guide to Eternity

I recently finished Spencer Burke's Heretic's Guide to Eternity

Reading this book is a lot like eating a northern pike. There are some tasty morsels -- but you have to do an awful lot of bone picking.

I appreciate his refreshing view about the wideness of God's tender mercy, which reaches out to us all. I applaud his emphasis on spirituality v.s. dead religion. Sadly, these themes have been neglected too often in the organized church.

However, his leanings towards univeralism is disturbing. In fairness -- he claims NOT to be a univeralist in the classical sense -- but this writing is dangerously close to the cliff!

He says he believes in hell, but it sure seems to me to like a "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus", sort of way.

I don't preach on hell very often -- but I believe there is one and we need to do everything we can to avoid it. Like Burke, I don't think God wants ANYBODY to go there. However, there are some folks who choose that path. I don't …

Personal Soul Care

Dallas Willard wrote an important article on Personal Soul Care for pastors.

It's imperative for pastors to serve from a full tank, rather than fumes. The minister's most important job is being tuned up spiritually.

25,000

This week, the 25,000th visitor came to my blog! Thank y'all for coming!

Ways to Maintain a Healthy Level of Insanity

1. At Lunch Time, Sit In Your Parked Car With Sunglasses on and point A Hair Dryer At Passing Cars. See If They Slow Down.

2. Page Yourself Over The Intercom. Don't Disguise Your Voice.

3. Every Time Someone Asks You To Do Something, Ask If They Want Fries with that.

4. Put Your Garbage Can On Your Desk And Label It "In."

5. Put Decaf In The Coffee Maker For 3 Weeks . Once Everyone has Gotten Over Their Caffeine Addictions, Switch to Espresso.

6. Finish All Your sentences with "In Accordance With The Prophecy."

7. As Often As Possible, Skip Rather Than Walk.

8. Order a Diet Water whenever you go out to eat, with a serious face.

9. Specify That Your Drive-through Order Is "To Go."

10. Sing Along At The Opera.

11. Five Days In Advance, Tell Your Friends You Can't Attend Their Party Because You're Not In The Mood.

12. Have Your Co-workers Address You By Your Wrestling Name, Rock Bottom.

13. When The Money Comes Out The ATM, Scream "I Won!, I Won!"

-…

New Web Page

Thank you to Leah Conner for creating a new web page for our church! It's still under construction -- but I thought you might want to see it! Be sure to check out the staff page.

Star Dust

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As I was straightening up after a wedding rehearsal, I found a candy valentine heart lying near the altar of the church. "Hmmm", I thought, "Maybe there will be a little nugget here that I can use in Aaron and Leah's wedding tomorrow." I was hoping to find one of the old standard phrases such as "Love Forever", "Truly Yours", or "Ever Devoted". Instead, I was disappointed to find that this little green heart said, "Star Dust". "Star Dust?" I exclaimed, "Good grief! Who thinks up this stuff anyhow? How in the world can I use Star Dust in the wedding?"
Unfortunately, too many people have a "Star Dust" view of love. They think there's some magical poof from Cupid, and they'll live happily ever after. Before long, however, the "Star Dust" turns to "Star Wars"! Marriages might be made in heaven, but they have to be worked out down here on earth. Then -- a brainstorm hit…

Valentine

For God so loVed the world,
That He gAve
his onLy
BegottEn
So N
That whosoever
Believeth I n Him
Should N ot perish,
But have E verlasting life."

Amazing Grace Sunday

Our church is joining thousands of other congregations around the country this weekend in celebrating Amazing Grace Sunday!

We will lift our voices in singing "Amazing Grace" which happens to be my favorite song, and remember the redeemed slave trader, John Newton.

Interestingly, we did a "favorite song" poll in our bulletin last Sunday.

1st place -- "I Can Only Imagine"
2nd place -- tie "Amazing Grace" and "In Christ Alone"

If you were voting on a favorite church song, what would it be?

Balmy Wisconsin

My friends, Ryan and Heather, shared this little weather report with me recently:

60 above zero:
Floridians turn on the heat.
People in Wisconsin plant gardens.

50 above zero:
Californians shiver uncontrollably.
People in Superior sunbathe.

40 above zero:
Italian & English cars won't start.
People in Wisconsin drive with the windows down.

32 above zero:
Distilled water freezes.
The water in Hayward gets thicker.

20 above zero:
Floridians don coats, thermal underwear, gloves, wool hats.
People in Wisconsin throw on a flannel shirt.

15 above zero:
New York landlords finally turn up the heat.
People in Wisconsin have the last cookout before it gets cold.

Zero:
People in Miami all die.
People in Wisconsin close the windows.

10 below zero:
Californians fly away to Mexico
People in Wisconsin get out their winter coats.

25 below zero:
Hollywood disintegrates.
The Girl Scouts in Wisconsin are selling cookies door to door.

40 below zero:
Washington DC runs out of hot air.
People in Wisconsin let the dogs sleep indo…

A Celtic Prayer

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From the Celtic Book of Prayer (I picked this up from Scott McKnight)

Call:Who is it that you seek?
Response:We seek the Lord our God.
Call:Do you seek Him with all your heart?
Response:Amen. Lord, have mercy.
Call:Do you seek Him with all your soul?
Response:Amen. Lord, have mercy.
Call:Do you seek Him with all your mind?
Response:Amen. Lord, have mercy.
Call:Do you seek Him with all your strength?
Response:Amen. Christ, have mercy.

Fund Raiser Idea

Instead of the standard Valentine's Banquet, I think the teens should consider this idea for their mission fund raiser next year. All they would need is one taker -- and they'd have several years of missions trips paid in full!

Of course, we'll have to see if Kirk and Aaron know how to cook Beluga caviar, Perigord truffles, Kobe beef, and Brittany lobster. And, yes, they'll need to serve Hawaiin punch instead of red wine.

Li'l Sarah and the Baby Blessing

Yesterday morning, a precious family gathered at the church for a blessing of their latest arrival: a baby daughter.

I stood at the front of the church and said, "On this is a beautiful, heartwarming, and meaningful occasion, we have gathered to bless little Sarah. Would someone bring little Sarah up and place her in my arms?"

Everybody laughed.

Then, the blushing mother explained, "The baby's name is McKenzie. I'M Sarah!"

Busy Day

Yesterday, I welcomed a newborn into this world, prayed with two ladies who are hospitalized with very serious conditions and met with a heartbroken couple who lost their home in a fire.

I also wrote a letter to a friend in prison, worked through a couple of administrative snags that needed untangling, returned a half dozen phone calls, counseled with a lady who is going through some major life transitions, wrote a newspaper column, prayed with a lady who needed some encouragement, met one on one with four of our pastors about various issues, met with and blessed a couple of members who have decided to leave the church, wrote up a synopsis of our church board meeting, and spoke at our Valentine Banquet.

In between all that, I worked my sermon.

Control

I have control over three things:

1. What I think.
2. What I say.
3. How I behave.

-- Sonya Friedman

(My friend, Dean Brown added a fourth -- "Whether or not I pray."

What's Possible?

"Spiritual formation begins with the question, 'what's possible?' People will live up or down to their beliefs." -- Dieter Zander

Today in History

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On February 9, 1709, six year old John Wesley was "plucked like a brand from the burning flames." This was a defining moment in Wesley's life, and throughout the rest of his years, he referred to it in his sermons and writings. His brother Charles, the hymnwriter, was also deeply moved by the experience. The song he wrote at his conversion goes like this: Where shall my wondering soul begin? How shall I all to heaven aspire? A slave redeemed from death and sin, A brand plucked from the eternal fire. How shall I equal triumphs raise, Or sing my great Deliverer's praise?

It's A Girl!

Jeremy and Amanda had a baby girl this morning! Sari Mae Mavis entered this world shortly before 2:00 this morning!

I had the privilege of praying a blessing over this precious little one on this first day of her life.

A newborn baby is a living illustration of Psalm 139:13-14!

Board Blessings

We had an outstanding Board Meeting last night. There was much faith and positive energy in the air.

After a time of prayer, Diane led a devotional, in which she said, "a rut is just a grave with both ends kicked out."

Her statement exploded inside me during the reading of the minutes. "Hey! Let's get out of the rut! Let's leave this room and wander through the church for a "walk-by blessing!"

There were four different groups meeting at the church in other parts of the building: the praise team, a men's support group, a women's support group, and some cooks in the kitchen, peparing food for the Valentine Banquet.

Randy was also there, cleaning up from a class he and Josh had offered for husbands -- How to cook a romantic dinner for two. I told him the women of the church would rise up and call him blessed!

We went into each room, told them how much we appreciate them, and that what they're doing is really important. Then, we laid hand…

Baby on the Way

Shortly before the board meeting, our Children's Pastor, Jeremy called, and said he was taking Amanda into the hospital -- It looks like a baby is on the way!

I told him that was absolutely NO excuse for missing our monthly board meeting. They KNEW we always meet on the second Thursday of the month, and they should have scheduled the labor for a more convenient time!

Seriously, I blessed them, prayed with them, and sent them off to become a family of three.
I've not heard any word since then, so I'm figuring it's been a long night for for this beautiful couple.

Futility and the Best Board Report Ever

This week, Jeremy, our children's pastor, submitted the best report to the board I have ever seen in all my years of pastoral work. With his permission, I am posting it for you:

Sometimes I think life is entirely futile. We live, we die. While we in America are currently protected, the rest of the world lives amidst civil war, strife, hunger, disease, chaos, fear, death, etc. When one looks at the politics in our country and in the world, futility seems to emanate from these thrones of power. The poor and minorities are oppressed. The rich are exalted. The middle class are targets of powerful corporations feeding us a line that their particular product or service will grant us a life of worry-free happiness if we hand over our credit card and bank account information. Who can win? Violence in schools… bullies… drug epidemics… and suicides. Natural disasters that seem like God’s vengeance. Global warming threatening the very reality we know. The list could go on and on. AIDS in Afri…

Bear Fan Loses Bet And Changes Name to Peyton Manning

This guy wasn't paying attention in Sunday School when they covered the story of Jephthah's vow. (Judges 11)

How to Get Out of Your Church

When a parishoner decides to leave a church, it's never an easy decision -- particularly if the relationships run deep. It's painful, and often, there's a lot of misunderstanding (usually on both sides, much like a divorce.)

Sometimes folks are "stuck" at a church in a relational quagmire, need to get out, but don't know how to exit gracefully.

This lady discovered a perfect way to do it without offending anybody. In fact, they had quite a gathering to honor her departure.

Maybe I'll try that someday. I wonder if they'd let me preach my own funeral.

Homecoming

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My Hoosier buddy, Jerry Brecheisen, who lives in Indianapolis, recently reported on the Indianapolis Colts' Homecoming Celebration -- and then noted that this earthly celebration is absolutely nothing compared to the Homecoming we're going to experience some day in heaven. "The homecoming I'm looking for will make the Indianapolis one look like a warm up!"

What an Introduction!

Five Marks of God Centered Generosity

My good friend, Dale Argot, posted a great sermon he preached last week on church planting at Sermon Cafe Roundtable.

He shares five marks of God centered generosity from II Corinthians 9.

1. God supplies the resources.
“…God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat.”

2. God increases and enlarges the resources.
“In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.”

3. God promises abundance.
“…You will be enriched in every way.” Now I know that your thinking that overnight I have caught the health, wealth and prosperity bug, but I assure you that I have not. The next point is where those who are of the prosperity camp stop.

4, God supplies so we can generously share.
“…so that you can always be generous.” John Wesley lived his life with this philosophy, “Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can.”

5. God receives the credit when we live generously.
“And when we take your gifts to those who ne…

Changing the Bulb

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A Great post from Ben Witherington:
How many Presbyterians does it take to change a light bulb? None. God has pre-ordained when the lights will be on and when they will be off. How many Catholics does it take to change a light bulb? None. They always use candles.
How many Episcopalians does it take to change a light bulb?? Ten. One to actually change the bulb, and nine to say how much better they liked the old one.
How many Methodists does it take to change a light bulb?? "We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if in your own journey, you have found that a light bulb works for you, that is fine. You are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your personal relationship to your light bulb andpresent it next month at our annual light bulb Sunday service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, three-way, long-life and tinted, all of which are equally vali…

Frost and Chill, Bless the Lord

Last night, as the mercury fell to more than 20 below zero, my kids and I went outside and blew bubbles together! (My friend, Naomi Cochran, gave me the splendid idea!)

Some of the bubbles froze before they landed, and rolled around on the ground like little crystal balls! Isn't that cool?

I enjoyed it so much, I went out early this morning by myself and did it again!

When the cold spell comes, there is a choice: we can either complain or we can rejoice. I choose the latter!

As the Canticle of the Three Youths states:

Cold and chill, bless the Lord.
Dew and rain, bless the Lord.
Frost and chill, bless the Lord.
Nights and days, bless the Lord.
Light and darkness, bless the Lord.

Launching Out

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"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."

- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Harry's Right

Here's a powerful and convicting article by Harry Wood -- and I think Harry's right.

They Work for Free

I posted an article today at Rev Unplugged on church volunteers. Would you be willing to hop over there for a visit, and maybe leave a comment?

27 Below

At 6:47 a.m. on Sunday morning, it's a bone chilling 27 below zero. With wind chill, I'm surmising it's 35-40 below zero. (That's fahrenheit for readers outside the USA!)

You know it's cold when your nostrils freeze closed every time you breathe in.
You know it's cold when you have to scrape the inside of your windshield.
You know it's cold when the steering wheel won't go the direction you're trying to take it.

After a long, grumpy, complaint, my old car started up! That was a miracle, really.

The two stray cats we "semi-adopted" are lounging in our garage with a hearter.

One of our breakfast cooks called this morning, and said that he had lost electricity at his home, so he's not coming in. Fortunately, he has a fire place.

Our snow blower was attached to a battery charger, but the oil froze -- and so, our custodian, Ryan was clearing the sidewalks by hand this morning. He recruited his wife, Mary Ann, to help him. I think he owes her…

Christian Softies

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I recall when Tony Dungy was fired from Tampa Bay after another excellent season that didn't end up at the Super Bowl.
Critics said that his Christian faith made him "too soft" to win the Big One.
Well, the Christian softie has certainly proven them wrong! In fact, BOTH coaches (Dungy for Indianapolis, and Lovie Smith for the Bears) in today's game are deeply committed believers in Jesus. Here's a great link to their testimonies (via Campus Crusade) as well as some of the players in the game.
They appeared together in a USA Today advertisement Friday to proclaim that faith in God is the most important thing in their lives. I think a positive influence like that is absolutely tremendous! You can get Tony Dungy's Super Bowl Breakfast talk here on UTube

Christian Bloggers Survey

Polls Closed

The results are in for my Hymn, Praise Chorus, Blended Poll.

Blended -- 67%
Hymns -- 20%
Praise Choruses -- 13%

A couple of commenters suggested that "praise choruses" is not really a good label, as it smacks of 1970's happy clappy songs. Earle Wilson calls them 7-11 choruses. There are only seven words, and you repeat them eleven times.

Most of the newer songs are not like that -- although I still haven't quite figured out how to exegete "Days of Elijah."

A Refresher Course in Pre-School

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Sometimes, when folks are all grown up, they forget the valuable lessons they learned as youngsters.

I think it might be a good idea to send every adult back to pre-school for a refresher.

If we all went back to pre-school, here are a few important things we'd learn to say again:

1. Please.

So often, people make selfish demands of other people, forgetting that gentle requests are far more productive than dictates and ultimatums.

Just think how pleasant our world would be, if we all treated each other with courtesy and respect.

"Would you please. . ." goes much further than "You'd better. . . or else!"

2. Thank You.

Ingratitude is at the heart of most misery. Your emotional and spiritual health is directly linked to the level of thankfulness in your life.

If you go around thinking that "life owes you", you're unhappiness is guaranteed.

Gratiude as the root, produces joy as the fruit.

3. I'm Sorry.

A measure of maturity is how we own and admit our mist…

Complaining Pastors

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From Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Life Together:

A pastor should not complain about his congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God.

A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men. When a person becomes alienated from a Christian community in which he has been placed and begins to raise complaints about it, he had better examine himself first to see whether the trouble is not due to his own wish dream that should be shattered by God; and if this be the case, let him thank God for leading him into this predicament.
But if not, let him nevertheless guard against ever becoming an accuser of the congregation before God.

Let him rather accuse himself for his unbelief. Let him pray God for an understanding of his own failure and his particular sin, and pray that he may not wrong his brethren. Let him, in the consciousness of his own guilt, make intercession for his brethren. Let him to what he is committed to do,…

Church Super Bowl Party Shut Down

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The National Football League (NFL) has ordered Fall Creek Baptist Church to cancel their Super Bowl viewing party on the grounds that the church used its trademark name in their promotions in addition to the church’s plan to charge a fee to attend. Good thing I didn't decide to charge the teenage boys who are planning to come to our house.

$126.85

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Question: What is $126.85 per month?

Answer: The pension former Green Bay Packer star, Herb Adderly receives.

That's less than several current NFL players receive per SECOND on the playing field.