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Showing posts from March, 2007

Go Buckeyes!

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First Title Game in 45 Years!! (I was six months old last time they made it to the big one.) Now, let's watch 'em win it all Monday night!
Note -- you can take boy out of Ohio, but you can never take the Buckeye out of the boy!

Spring Break In Wisconsin

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Space Station Sightings

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You can see the Space Station from the earth -- check here for times and details.

In Hayward it will be visible early every morning for the next week for a few minutes.
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Addition -- For Wayne and my other friends down under (or UP over, depending on how you look at it -- you can see it too! Here's the link. (Sorry, mate, for leaving you out.) Any other country, click here.

And here's the link strange things in the Phoenix sky.

Jeff Williams

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This afternoon, the astronaut, Jeff Williams stopped by my office to meet me. I was really honored that he took the time out of his busy schedule to pop in and say "Hi!" (This introduction was the work of our mutual friend, Nick Stengel.)
Just a few months ago, he was living on the space station. I think maybe, now that I know Jeff Williams, we should organize a missions trip to the moon! A wedding party was taking pictures when Jeff came in -- so they asked him if he would be willing to pose with them. Now, he'll grace somebody's coffee table.

A Case for Columbo

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For the sixth time in a couple of weeks, I have received e-mails from wealthy widows in Africa. Today's came from a Mrs. Monica Tema. All of these dear ladies inherited a large sum of money when their husbands died --and they want to donate a few million to a worthy cause. All I have to do is send them my bank account numbers. Hmmmm -- I think somebody should investigate this!! Something very suspicious is happening!
Why are all these wealthy Africans dying??? Sounds like a case for Columbo!!

Where Else?

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Question: Where else but in churches do postmodern people experience hard benches, dark woods and elevated presiders? Answer: Only in coutrooms. -- Richard Webb (E.L.C.A. staff member)

No Charge for Pastor to Pastor

"Pastor to Pastor", a bi-monthly CD from Focus on the Family, has been an excellent source of encouragement and help to ministers for several years.

Now, they are offering it free of charge! This complimentary resource is available at www.parsonage.org

Great move H.B.!

A Call to Prayer

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Yesterday, our Spiritual Formation pastor, Heath Davis, sent this message to our small group leaders. I say, "Amen, Brother! Amen!"
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I invite you to make time today or tomorrow to enter into the inner sactuary of your soul. Move into the place that is deeper than your frantic pace and busy work. Continue deeper still beyond your yearnings, your fears, you hopes, your dreams. Journey deeper yet to that place inside of you where the Spirit of the Living God dwells. He dwells within the deepest part of you because we need Him at the very core of our essence. The problem with the Jesus being at the core is that He is buried deep within. If our lives remain at the surface and shallow, that which is at the core becomes forgotten and ignored.

So, find a quiet place. Go into the forest. Hide yourself in a closet. Go into the basement and light a candle. Drive your car to a remote place and sit. Then, get quiet. Create an environment where He becomes the supreme focus of your …

It's Judo!

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Transparency is a judo move.
Ever notice that people stop making fun of people who laugh at themselves?
It's judo.
Ever notice that people stop criticizing people who admit their failures?
It's judo.
Ever notice that people believe people who admit their doubts?
It's judo.

-- From Evotional by Mark Batterson

Spring Whistles

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"Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush." -- Doug Larson

Under Appreciated Missional Bloggers

Brother Maynard started a list of "under valued, and under appreciated" missional blogs.

I was surprised to see that I was listed in the early going (Thanks to Missional Jerry for the plug)

It feels kind of like being on the ground floor of some Amway pyramid scheme. I'm honored to be on the list -- but not sure I'm crazy about the idea of being "under valued" and "under appreciated."

The list has grown quite a bit since I was added on Saturday -- but I thought I'd pass along the latest from my links:
Emerging Grace
Robbymac
Lily
Nathan Colquhoun
John Smulo
Todd Hiestand
Theopraxis
Chuck Warnock
John Lunt
Webb Kline
Mark O. Wilson
Rick Meigs
Brother Maynard
MakDaddy
Glenn Hager
Paul Mayers
Jamie Swann
Paul Walker
Jerry Frear
Phil Wyman
Rainer Halonen
Shannon
Matt Stone
Erika Haub
John Santic
Colin Lamm
Julie Clawson
Duncan McFadzean
Adam Gonnerman
Les Chatwin
Matt Wiebe
Rupert Ward
John Lynch et al
Ra'Ah Australian Bloggers
Mayberry Driven Church
Dale Argot

To parti…

Missional Community

We are called to be a community on the move, a community of praise and prayer, a community that walks around the world celebrating the fact that Jesus is King and Lord. If we allow this procession to inform what we then do the other 364 days in the year, we might perhaps make a beginning towards living in the power of the Pentecostal Spirit on earth as it is in heaven.

-- N. T. Wright

Getting Fed

"I'm leaving the church!"

"Oh? Why are you leaving?"

"Because I'm not getting fed! In fact, I've just been starving spiritually."

"How old are you again?"

"51"

"And how long have you been a Christian?"

"37 years."

Hmmm -- O.K. Maybe the preacher is less than inspirational, but It would seem that a 51 year old who has been a Christian for 37 years should be able to cook up some of his own grub and stave off starvation.

Regionals

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Today, Hannah and I went to cheer our teams on at Bible Quizzing Regionals, which was held in the Twin Cities. Wow -- what an exciting competition! It was even better than March Madness! My sweetheart, Cathy, coached our top team, which took fourth place -- missing the championship quiz by one last second question. Oh well, they still have Nationals ahead of them!
Ryan took fourth place individually. He's an outstanding quizzer.
Luke and Wes did great too -- and had a lot of fun.
By the way, the quizzer that eliminated our team from the championship with a last second "Hail Mary" (can you do that in protestant Bible Quizzing?) was none other than Allegra, my son Adam's girlfriend from Waterloo, Iowa. At least that's a redeeming factor. If you're gonna get knocked you out -- it might as well be by somebody special! After the competition, Hannah and I split off from the quizzers and spent the rest of the Day at the Science Museum! I fell asleep in the Omnimax movie …

A Good Business Decision?

Recently, a pastor friend, with a heavy heart, related the following experience at his church:

"The trustees made a good business decision that devastated the church spiritually. It has taken twenty five years for the church to recover from it."

Plenty of Fish

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A few weeks ago, I had a heart-felt conversation with a friend about "saturation." Hayward Wesleyan Church has experienced twenty consecutive years of continual growth in our Sunday morning services -- growing from 51 to 650.

"I'm wondering if we might be hitting our saturation point," I confided, "It seems harder to get people in these days. "
"Yes, I'm afraid you're right." he agreed sadly, shaking his head. Considering that our town consists of only 2100 people, there is some cause to wonder.
But just yesterday, Paul Kraemer, the funeral director, set me straight. (I guess that's what he does for a living -- straighten people out!) Paul told me that 50% of the people who come through the funeral home do NOT have any church affiliation at all. Often, they don't have any idea who to call or what to do about funeral services.
Now, if half the dead people don't have any church affiliation -- I'm fairly certain that the per…

What They Sing in Heaven

"...The melodies of praise filled the atmosphere. The nonstop intensity and endless variety overwhelmed me. The praise was unending, but the most remarkable thing to me was that hundreds of songs were being sung at the same time--all of them worshiping God....Praise was everywhere, and all of it was musical, yet comprised of melodies and tones I'd never experienced before....Many of the old hymns and choruses I had sung at various times in my life were part of the music--along with hundreds of songs I had never heard before. Hymns of praise, modern-sounding choruses, and ancient chants filled my ears and brought not only a deep peace but the greatest feeling of joy I'd ever experienced...."

-- Don Piper, 90 Minutes in Heaven

What to Do

"Do the things at which you are great, not what you were never made for."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dead Passenger Moved to First Class

Jerry Brecheisen recently reported on a dead airline passenger who was moved to first class.

Apparently, the British Airways crew didn't want to disturb the passengers in the economy section -- so they moved the deceased lady up a few rows. Too bad she wasn't there to enjoy the legroom and the silverware.

I guess it demonstrates the Apostle Paul's adage. . . 'to die is gain.

Bloggin' Olive

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Somebody recently asked, "Aren't you a little OLD to be blogging? I thought that craze was just for college students, teenagers, and youth pastors with too much time on their hands."
While I concede the fact that I'm an "elder statesman" in the blogosphere, and that most of my blogging buddies are at least twenty years younger than me -- I want you to know that I am definitely NOT the oldest. Meet Bloggin' OLIVE. . . Age 107

H.C. Wilson Selected

In a surprise move, the Wesleyan General Executive Board, selected Dr. H. C. Wilson as their recommended candidate to replace Don Bray as the General Director of Wesleyan World Missions.

I'm suprised that none of the original three interviewees got it-- as they are all top quality men with something good to offer.

Nevertheless, Dr. Wilson is an outstanding leader, and he CERTAINLY has a great last name!

73 Pound Baby Delivered!

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We've had a 73 pound baby!!

Last Sunday, 73 people attended the first Sunday service at our daughter church plant in Minong.

Congratulations to our fantastic church planter, Ben Kidder, and his fabulous launch team!

(I swiped the big baby birth announcement from John Jackson, who posted about a 358 pound baby born last Sunday in Dayton, Nevada!)

Max Sticks Like Glue

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Max Lucado, the prolific Christian writer, is stepping down as Senior Pastor of Oak Hills Church due to health concerns. He's still planning to stick around and preach regularly, however.

"I compare what is happening to going from being president of a college to joining the faculty" he said.

Now, that's a noble gesture -- particularly since he's America's Best Preacher (according to Reader's Digest), and the congregation will certainly appreciate it.

However, I do hope the new senior pastor has an extra measure of grace and patience. He's sure going to need it. This kind of arrangement doesn't usually work out very well.

Max will have to bend over backwards to support the new guy 100% -- even when he starts making dumb decisions. (and he definitely WILL! Every senior pastor makes dumb decisions from time to time.)

A former senior pastor in the congregation casts a long shadow.

Gut Check for Growing Churches

Mark Batterson, one of my favorite bloggers, who pastors National Community Church in Washington D.C., recently posted this powerful "gut check" for growing churches.

The More We Grow...

1) ...The Greater the PRIVILEGE
I never want myself or anyone on our staff to have a sense of entitlement. We're only servants--I Cor. 3:5.

2) ...The More COMPLICATED Things Get
Sin complicates your life in negative ways. Growth complicates your life in positive ways. Learn to thank God for complications!

3) ...The Harder it is to Maintain UNITY
Vision is the key to unity! The larger you get the more frequently you need to cast vision. Unity doesn't happen by default--Eph 4:3.

4) ...The Better STEWARDS We Need to Be
Growth raises the stakes. With greater responsibility comes greater accountability.

5) ...The More ABOVE REPROACH We Need to Be
I Corinthians 10:23 says, "Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial." As our leadership expands, there can be an unhealthy and …

Little Place

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"Father, where shall I work today?"
And my love flowed warm and free.
He pointed out a tiny spot and said,
"Tend that place for me."

I answered him quickly,
"Oh, no! Not that!
Why no one would ever see,
No matter how well my work was done;
not that little place for me!"

The word he spoke, then, wasn't stern.
He answered me tenderly;
"Nazareth was a little place.
And so was Galilee."

-- Anonymous

50 Wesleyan Blogs

Just added the 50th blogger to my Wesleyan Bloggers list. As far as I know, it's the only listing of blogging Wesleyan ministers anywhere.

God's Ultimate Passion

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Recently, I was blessed to read God's Ultimate Passion by Frank Viola.
This thick book is rich, with deep insights into the love relationship God wants to have with his people:
Christ seeks a Bride -- and finds her -- His Church. (If Christ is the second Adam, then the Church is the second Eve.)
Christ seeks a Holy Habitation -- and finds it -- in His Church
Christ has come into this world to establish a Heavenly Colony -- and finds it -- His Church.
Great stuff -- but then, like a cook who puts in too much tabasco sauce -- he messes it up by dismissing the "organized" church. All this, he seems to say, is found OUTSIDE of the organized expressions of faith.
In fairness, he leaves it up to the reader to determine WHAT is "organized" religion -- but whatever that is -- he calls it an "artificial substitute" for the real thing.
(Note -- When somebody tells me they're not into organized religion, I say, "Then you'll love us! We're the most di…

Making Ministry Missional

Today, I gave a seminar for the Minnesota Church Ministries Association in Duluth, Minnesota.

My topic was "Making Ministry Missional"

I told several stories to illustrate the following outline on Missional Ministry:

There's no such thing as "Missions" -- We've got to drop the "s". There is only ONE Mission and that's The Great Comission (Matthew 28:18-20.)

1. It's a Matter of Focus (External v.s. Internal Focus)

The energy of the church must be outward to bless others. . . Acts 1:8

In Jerusalem (our community)
Judea (the region)
Samaria (one culture removed -- outside the comfort zone)
The Ends of the Earth (My community may be small, but my mission field is the same size as Rick Warren's! The whole world! John Wesley said, "The World is My Parish!"

2. It's a Matter of Finding

Lost and hurting people matter to God. They are his treasures -- and it's up to us to find them -- to seek them out! Let's go find the…

Something Turns Up

"When you're down and out, something always turns up -- and it is usually the nose of your friends." -- Orson Wells

Unleash Conference

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Ryan and I were blown away by the Unleash Conference at Newspring Church yesterday. I was amazed at how they had enlisted a crew of about 400 enthusiastic volunteers -- who gave us the warmest greeting I've ever experienced ANYWHERE in my whole life.
We walked up to the building and some smiling lady asked us where we were from. "Wisconsin", I replied. "OH WOW!! WISCONSIN!!!! HEY EVERYBODY. . . THESE GUYS ARE ALL THE WAY FROM WISCONSIN!!!!"
They cheered us into the church, as if we were Green Bay Packers, or the Pope, or somebody special like that!!
Perry Noble, a young, PASSIONATE, blunt and funny pastor with a.d.d., gave a couple of powerful talks. I didn't agree with everything he said -- but he sure made me want to go out and bring Jesus to every person in the entire northwoods of Wisconsin. He helped light a "mission fuse" in me -- reminding me that our own community is the mission field! Every penny that is given in the offering is spent on &…

Reporting From Southern Wesleyan

Ryan and I have had a great visit to Southern Wesleyan University. I ran into some old friends, and met several new ones! The campus has a warm and friendly "family" atmosphere. Chapel, led by senior ministerial students, was inspiring.
We visited "Doctrine of Holiness" and "Honors New Testament" classes -- so are retuning to Hayward properly indoctrinated. Southern offers several degrees that are not offered at Ryan's other options: Indiana Wesleyan or Bethel University. 75 degrees in March!
Saw Freedom's Hill, the first Wesleyan church in the south, which has been reconstructed on the campus. There's quite a story behind that little church and it's founding pastor, (my hero), Adam Crooks.
I have a foundation brick from that church in my study, which reminds me that I must be willing to lay my life down for the cause.
Today, we had some free time, so we went into the mountains, hiked a few miles, and saw some beautiful waterfalls. We also passe…

Blogging Break

This morning, I'm leaving for a college visit trip to South Carolina.

We plan to visit Southern Wesleyan University for a couple of days, and then attend the Unleash Conferene at Newspring Church.

So, I'm checking out of blogdom for a few days.

Love Reaches

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Even though we had almost 200 people less than last week at church, we had great worship services anyway. It doesn't matter how many people are there, as long as God shows up. God showed up! He didn't forget to change his clock!

My sermon was "Love Reaches. . ." about how God reaches out to us -- regardless of where we are. If we're "hiding" -- He's reaching. (Gen 3, Psalm 139:7-10) If we "seeking" -- He's reaching (Luke 19)

Over 60 people responded to the invitation at the end of the services. It was "Time for a Change" Sunday!

We commissioned about 30 people from our daughter church in Minong, as they are launching Sunday morning services next week. They're running 65 on Saturday nights. Just over a year ago, we opened up an abandoned church and held a Christmas Eve service, Now, we have a thriving, fledgling congregation in a small town that is definitely over-taverned and under-church.

Last night, I heard reports about a…

Time Change

I wanna know -- why does Time Change always happen on Sunday??

Love

My friend, Lois Drown, took notes on the sermon when she visited Village Bible Church in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas -- and she brought 'em home for me!

The theme for that Sunday morning was "love". Dr. Mark Cain shared the following acronym:

Love. . .

L - Listens
O - Overlooks (looks patiently beyond the faults)
V - Values (respect)
E - Expresses (It's something that you do!)

Easter Cancelled

Due to the discovery of the bones of Jesus, our Easter Services have been cancelled.

(Note to humor impaired: The above sentence is only a joke. Don't take either half of it seriously.)

Dem Bones

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Innocent Man

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I finished John Grisham's latest bestseller, The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town, last night. It was about four notches below all his other writings. Made me wonder if maybe his cousin wrote it, and tried to frame him. Grisham's innocent, I tell ya!! He's innocent!! --- Although the book moved too slowly and included too many details for a good story -- it still was intriguing. A couple of good links that give a synopsis are here and here.

The Sermon of Saint Francis

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St. Francis came to preach.
With smiles he met the friendless,
Fed the poor,
Freed a trapped bird,
Led home a child.
Although he spoke no word,
His text, God's love,
The town did not forget.

-- Elizabeth Patton Moss

Help from Heaven

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When you reach the end of your rope you will find the hem of His garment.

House and Home

When Adam's kids asked him why they didn't live in the Garden of Eden any longer, he replied, "Your mother ate us out of house and home!"

One more just for fun -- Mark Twain said, "It wasn't the apple in the tree that caused the problem. It was the pair on the ground!"

God is Color Blind

There is no color barrier with God.
He is color blind.
There are many practical problems
which still have to be wisely and understandingly worked out.

But one thing is certain,
that the color barrier and the Christian Church cannot go together.

It was the world which God so loved,
And within the Church it is the world
which is the family of God.

-- William Barclay

PUSH!

Pray
Until
Something
Happens!

Now, that's the kind of PUSH we need around here! (Thank you to Jim Lo for the thought.)

Coca-Cola Evangelism

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Todd Rhoades, at Monday Morning Insight, shared this insightful post from Christianity Plus: The Impact of Coca Cola
91% of the world's population has heard of Coke. 74% have seen Coke 51% have tasted Coke yet only 10% of the world's population has heard the Gospel. If Coca-Cola were in charge of world evangelism then we would be done by now.

The Future

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The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time.
-- Abraham Lincoln

Anybody Recognize these Kids?

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James Brown, Bozo the Clown, Oompa Loompa, and Frankenstein.

Giving It Away

From Greg Groeschel at Lifechurch.tv

When I was a kid, I was consumed with thoughts of making money.

There has got to be a way to make a lot of money.

I tried collecting golf balls from the bottom of a lake and selling them. I tried catching crawdads and selling them. (Who knew there wasn’t a market for dead crawdads?) I raked leaves. Mowed yards. Threw papers. Baby sat. Walked dogs. Whatever the gig, the goal was the same… make more money!

Sometimes it seems like churches are asking, “How can we raise (or make) more money?”
• Let’s have a bake sale.
• Let’s do a garage sale.
• Let’s hire a guy to do a three year fundraiser.
• Let’s sell raffle tickets.
• Let’s have an auction.
• Let’s sell all our products.

What if we asked another question?

Instead of asking, "How can our church bring in more money?"
What if we asked, "How much can our church give away?"

Luis Martinez and Faith Promise

We had powerful services this morning, with the dynamic Latin American evangelist, Luis Martinez. After a couple of low Sundays, due to the weather, it was nice to see everybody back in church again. 640 attended our services this morning.

Luis, preaching from Philippians 3, motivated us to get out of the comfort zone!

At the conclusion of the services, I encouraged our people to make a "Faith Promise" for missions.

"If you want to see God's mission work expand and increase around the world, then increase your Faith Promise over last year.", I said.

"If you want to see God's work decrease around the world, then decrease your Faith Promise from last year. "

"If you want the work to just maintain status quo, and to not make any further advances -- then keep your Faith Promise the same as last year.

I think they got the point.

Missions Conference

Despite Friday's snow, the Conference went on without a hitch!

About 75 people braved the roads and plowed their way to church to hear Dr. Jim Lo give a powerful message on compassion. I was amazed at how he connected with everybody -- the little kids, the teenagers AND the senior citizens. Very few communicators can do that.

The events for men, women, children and teens yesterday were outstanding. The young people are at the very heart of our missions conference. We hope God will call them all to be missionaries.

Luis Martinez made it safely (although a day late), in time to preach a Spanish/English service at our Minong Church plant. There was a church full -- and a half dozen people prayed to receive Christ.

Luis is preaching this morning -- so I have the day off (sort of.) Actually, on a Sunday morning, it's harder on me NOT to preach than it is to preach.

Iglesia Wesleyana?

Did you know?

The number of Hispanics in the United States today is greater than the entire population of Canada?

The U. S. Hispanic population is now estimated at more than 40 million, and this segment is growing at a faster rate than the general population (more than 60% between 1990 and 2000)

Hispanics account for one half of the 9.4 million residents added to the nation's population since Census 2000.

One out of every seven people in the U. S. is Hispanic.

(from New Solutions published by Lifeway. data from the U. S. census bureau)

-- so what are we doing to bring the love of Jesus to them??

Fox Hunt

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When in deep trouble, keep your mouth shut and look straight ahead. (from Bobby Lepinay's "Toward a Life Well Lived")

Missions Conference is ON!

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Our Missions Conference is ON for tonight!! Haywardians, you are a hardy sort! Don't let a few flakes of snow get you down. You're made of tougher stuff than that! Since just about everything else in town is closed down this evening, come on over and join us. All of our missionaries except Luis Martinez are plowing their way from the Twin Cities to be with us, and they are ready to go. Luis is still waiting for a flight from Washington D. C., and it looks like he will be in tomorrow afternoon. Please pray for his safe travels. We need him for our Spanish service in Minong tomorrow night, and for church on Sunday morning.

Open For Business

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In Critical Condition

As a pastor, I have walked the hospital corridors many times, visiting parishoners who are in critical condition.
Often, these folks are in the intensive care unit. Sometimes they don't make it. Sometimes, through excellent medical care and lots of prayers, they get to return home.

I've been thinking, however, that there are a lot of people walking around in "critical condition" and they don't even realize it.

They have a 'condition" called a critical spirit.

They criticize their family members.
They criticize their boss.
They criticize the town board.
They criticize the school administrators.
They criticize the church.
They criticize the government.
They criticize the snow removal crews.
They criticize the utility companies.
They criticize their neighbors.

Now, if that's not a "critical condition", what is?

I appreciate Bobb Biehl's advice to "develop critical thinking without a critical attitude."

Great minds ponder and debate great ideas.

Blizzard Missions Weekend

Tomorrow night we're supposed to launch our Missions Conference -- but the weather here is not agreeing.

After a good snowing all day, we are experiencing near blizzard conditions tonight. Two of our missionaries are scheduled to fly in tomorrow but it doesn't look like they're going to make it.
The other three are planning to white-knuckle it from Minneapolis by car.

It will be interesting to see what transpires.

On the bright side, the kids are ecstatic.

The Lord has his way in the whirlwind, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.

Recent Readings

Here's what I've been reading lately.

I Was Wrong

I was wrong to bring the anonymous letter Cathy received into a public forum. I was just being defensive. I should have worked through this privately with her, rather than blabbing about it on this blog.

If Anonymous happens to read this, please forgive me for taking this public. That was not Cathy's intent or desire -- just mine. She was horrified when she'd discovered that I had posted about it. She is a peace lover and a peace maker.

Posting about it was my own hostile reaction, and it was not like Christ to do so.

This has been a good learning experience for both Cathy and me. Enough said.

In that spirit, I am removing the post, because it's the right thing to do.

Praying the Names of God

God's character is in his name. What do you need from Him today? Pray slowly through this list three times. One of these is the answer to your current situation. God has promised his presence. Claim it and bless your socks off!


Praying the Names of God

My Creator
My Shepherd
My King My Dwelling Place
My Refuge
My Shield My Husband
My Fortress
My Strong Tower
My Hope
My Righteousness
My One Who Is There
My Provider
My Peace
My Comforter
My Guide
My Rock
My Hope
My Healer
My Banner
My Father My Living God