Sunday, September 30, 2007

Leading with Love

An employee of Billy Graham's organization for more than 35 years was asked the question: "What was the bottom line of Billy's distinctive leadership?" He answered, "Billy always led with love."
-- from the Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham

Saturday, September 29, 2007

MCMA

I had the opportunity to give a workshop at the Minnesota Church Ministries Convention today. My seminar was "Developing Missional Leaders." It seemed to be well received by those who attended.

It was great to reconnect with old friends, Ruth Tucker and her husband John, Bill Allison of Care Ministries, Scott Buchan of Oak Hills Fellowship, and MCMA director, Tim Johnson.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Breaking News

The Wesleyan world was rocked to the core yesterday, by the shocking revelation that General Superintendent, Dr. Earle Wilson, has been taking sermon enhancing steroids for years.
Wilson, who is widely known to hit homeruns every time he preaches, declined an interview. However, anonymous sources say that the sermon steroids were obtained from his brother, Norman, another preaching giant, who knocks the ball out of the park regularly on the Wesleyan Hour.
The General Board of Review is investigating.
This startling news has travelled quickly in Wesleyan circles. Ettie Langdon, a long-time member from North Carolina, wondered, "Where can my preacher get some of that stuff?"

Editing God Out

Famous Dave contacted me today, and expressed his disappointment that they "edited out" his God talk on last night's television program.

I replied, "Well Dave, the good news is, they can't edit God out of your life!"

Three R's

Three important questions leaders should ask themselves:

1) What is required of me?

2) What is rewarding for me?

3) What gives the greatest return?

(from John Maxwell)

An Interesting Article

Empty Pews, Signs of Hope

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Famous Dave on Big Idea


My good friend, Famous Dave Anderson, will be featured tonight at 9:00 p.m. (central) on CNBC's "Big Idea."

He's going to tell the viewers how God turned his life around! That's the biggest IDEA in the universe!
Of course, he's going to share some excellent insights on business, leadership and vision as well.

Bravo Dave!! I'm proud of you!! Go get 'em!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Asterisk

The online voting results are in: The baseball Barry Bonds hit for his 756th homerun will be branded with an asterisk and sent to Cooperstown.

Now, here's an important lesson for ministers of the Gospel. Live and serve in such a way that when your race is over, there won't be an asterisk behind your name. . .
"He was a talented pastor, but. . ."
Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (I Cor. 9:26-27)
God did not choose you to be a spectacular record setter. He did not choose you to impress others. He did not choose you to be brilliant.
He chose you to be holy.
He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight, in love. Eph. 1:4


Two Thoughts

Two recent observations:

Fish and Leadership:
If the fish is still flopping -- it ain't dead yet.

Vehicles and Leadership:
If you have to push it -- maybe it's out of gas.

Buckeye




While in Ohio a few days ago, I happened upon a beautiful, spreading buckeye tree, and collected a few buckeyes for a some of my expatriate friends in Wisconsin.

What is a buckeye tree? A little nut from Ohio that held his ground!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Nelson the Methodist




Here's a great website featuring the early Methodist leader and evangelist, John Nelson. If you dig around a bit, you will find an inspiring story. What a man of faith!

Like a Kite


"When Dad died," the young lady remarked, "Mom allowed herself to die along with him. Her body was still alive, of course, but her spirit seemed to shrivel up and disappear."

How sad it is when people give up on living before life is really over. God has appointed our birth date and our death date.

It is up to us to make the very most of all the dates in between. Sometimes, going on is the hardest thing to do. It would be much easier to give up and quit trying.

Cloistered in an emotional shell, life doesn't hurt so much -- but there's no joy in existing that way. John F. Kennedy said, "There is, in addition to a courage with which men die, a courage by which men must live." In difficult times, we must possess the courage to live. No matter what happens, we can make the best of it.

Annie Dillard, in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, remarked, "Our bodies are shot with mortality -- our legs are fear and our arms are time. That is why physical courage is so important. It fills, as it were, the holes."

Courage is not the absence of fear. Someone has said, "Courage is fear that has said its prayers." "When I am afraid, I will trust in you." Psalm 56:3

One person with courage can make a tremendous difference.

During the war of 1812, Andrew Jackson observed, "One man with courage makes a majority."

"Courage is a man who keeps on -- coming on!" said Captain McNelly of the Texas Rangers, "Yes, you can slow a man like that, but you can't stop him. The man who keeps coming on, is either going to get there himself, or he is going to make it possible for others to get there."

Stand strong! Stand steady! Be of good cheer!

If you have courage, you're like a kite. The stronger the winds blow, the higher you go!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Put Your Troubles in a Sack

Yesterday at church, we handed out brown paper lunch bags to everybody as they came in the door.

The puzzled parishioners took them, and several made comments such as:

"Is the sermon going to be THAT bad today?"
"So you're leaving me holding the bag again?"
"Are you going to add a peanut butter sandwich?"
"Is this for hyperventilation?"

I preached on Luke 18 -- the two men who went to the temple to pray -- and ended up telling the amazing story of Charles Tindley, the African American pastor and gospel song writer.

At the end of the service, I told the congregation Tindey's advice to an uptight friend,

"Take all your troubles, put 'em in a sack, take 'em to the Lord, and leave 'em there!"

Then, I invited the people to write their burdens down on a little notecard, and put 'em in the sack while we sang Tindley's beautiful song of faith, "Leave it There."

I had originally intended for everybody to merely leave their paper bags on the seats as they exited the sanctuary -- but during the first service, people started streaming forward during the song, dropping their burdens off at the front of the church. It was powerful.
After services, I had the opportunity to pray with several people, and there were some significant spiritual breakthroughs! A beautiful day!




Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Pack Is Back!


Favre throws 420th TD -- to tie Marino's record.

Pack beats SD -- 31-24

Green Bay is 3-0, taking sole possesion of first place in NFC north.


Sweet! Watching the Packers has become fun again!

How Gentle God's Commands

My good friend, Pat Wager, recently gave me a small paperback World War I service songbook for my hymnal collection. What a treasure!

As I leafed through the pages, I reflected on our young men, serving America in muddy trenches on the front lines of France. I imagined how, in the quiet moments, the weary soldiers would gather around the chaplain for a brief time of worship. I pictured them opening up these little red books, and drawing a good measure of comfort and strength.

There were several songs which held significant meaning. I was especially drawn, however, to the beautiful lyrics by Philip Doddridge, "How Gentle God's Commands"

How gentle God's commands;
how kind his precepts are.
Come cast your burdens on the Lord
and trust his constant care.

Beneath his watchful eye
his saints securely dwell.
That hand which bears all nature up
shall guard his children well.

His goodness stands approved,
unchanged from day to day.
I'll drop my burden at his feet
and bear a song away.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Thanksgiving at Bethany


I was deeply inspired by Frank Viola's rich and insightful e-book, Bethany: The Lord's Heart for His Church. You can download it here.


This book is like a Spiritual Thanksgiving Dinner.

Friday, September 21, 2007


This Side of Somewhere

"The other side of nowhere," said Charles Kingsley, "is very likely to be this side of somewhere!"

Have you been passed over? Are you slighted, neglected and ignored? Do you find yourself overworked and underappreciated?

You're on this side of somewhere!

If things are looking down -- Look Up!! Help is on the way! Discouragement is the fertile soil where new hope blossoms bright and grows.

You're on this side of somewhere!

The answer does not come before the question.
The solution requires a problem.
The victory is gained through struggle.
The mountain top comes with a corresponding valley.
The spring always follows winter's chill.

You're on this side of somewhere!

Have you been forsaken by loved ones? Are you feeling left behind and lonely?

Take heart, my friend! You're on this side of somewhere!

Is your mind bound up by anxious care? Are you burdened with tomorrow's fear? This is a good day to let it all go. Bid farewell to regret, resentment, and remorse. Shake their hands, then see them out the door.

You're on this side of somewhere!

God is everywhere -- even beside you right now as you read this. Wherever God is -- even the other side of nowhere -- it's somewhere! Yes, it's somewhere special!

So, be your true self. Look up to heaven. Say a prayer. Stop wishing over the fence and plant a garden.

You're on this side of somewhere!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

God Responds

"God" responds to Senator's Almighty Lawsuit

Simplify

S - Slow down
I - Imagine doing less
M - Make time for loved ones
P - Practice patience
L - Learn to gently say no
I - Increase your quiet time
F - Follow your heart
Y - Yield to life, yield to peace, yield to joy

(from Abbi Zeliff at Swerve)

Prince of the Universe


My friend, Naomi, recently reported on her primary Sunday School Class:

As we talked about this week's Bible verse--the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below-- how that means everywhere-- one of the boys asked if that meant that Jesus is the Prince of the Universe.
At first (and coming from a boy) I thought maybe this is a concept directly from some action-packed video game. We talked about this a bit, who Jesus is, and the Trinity.
One girl said she has a sister named Trinity. When I asked about who's in the Trinity--Father, Son, and --?
Someone said, "the moon?"
I told them that one name for Jesus is the Prince of Peace, so yes, we can think of him as a prince. But the more I thought about it, the more beautiful the idea seemed--wherever it came from! Maybe just the mind of a seven year old. It's great to be back in class!

Care Giving

AGIS has recently launched an excellent new site which provides helpful resources for caregivers. People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Pirate Marriage Counseling


Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Now, that presents a unique pastoral counseling challenge.

Marriage Counseling:

"Hello Pastor, thank you for seeing us at such short notice."
"Ahoy Mateys! Arrrr! Whazza problem?? Arrr???"
"Well, there's been a complete breakdown in communication."
"Yarrr??""
"We don't talk anymore, and he just sits there like a bump on a log, watching tv every night."
"Skuttle Me Skippers!"
"I JUST CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!"
"Thar She Blows!"
"Pastor, I'm counting on You to do SOMETHING to set him straight!!"
"Avast Lassie! Ye be talkin' nonsense!"
"WELL, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO??"
"Shiver Me Timbers!! Let's lash 'm to the mast and den make 'm walk de plank!"



Ernest the Wesleyan

Ok -- so, John's a Baptist,
Rudy's a Catholic, and
Mitt's a Mormon . . .

But His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma, new president of Sierra Leone is a Wesleyan!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Senator Sues God

Nebraska state senator, Ernie Chambers (D- Omaha), is suing God, claiming that the Almighty has made “terroristic threats” against him and his constituents, inspired fear and caused "widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants."

If he wins, I wonder how Ernie will collect.

Checks and Balances

An insightful post by Dean Brown about dealing with the various and overwhelming demands of ministry.


Monday, September 17, 2007

The Corduroy Leadership Road


The leadership journey travels along a corduroy road. Success is mixed with failure. It is failure, not success, that sorts out leaders from non-leaders. Invariably, when a leader fails, it is a learning experience for the person. When a non-leader fails, the whole world falls apart for him or her.The journey of leadership is the story of moving from one crucible to another as the individual moves higher in visibility and greater in responsibility. When we enter the crucible, we embark on two journeys a leadership journey in which we rise in visibility and responsibility and a spiritual journey in which we descend to the depths of our character and faith.


-- David McKenna

Sunday, September 16, 2007

149


In a outstanding performance today against the Giants, Brett Favre became the winningest quarterback in football history! Congratulations Brett -- for playing hard and sticking with it -- through thick and thin!

Love Melts the Heart

My friend, Francis, shared this beautiful quote with me recently from a book he's been reading.


Love can melt the hardest heart, it can heal the wounds of the broken heart, and it can quiet the fears of the anxious heart.
-- Joyce Meyer

Romantic


During our trip last week, we had the opportunity to swing by Niagara Falls.

Striking


Notice any resemblance?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Road Trip

Going east this week, with our son Adam, and his fiancee', Allegra. I'm not planning to post anything until after my return on the 15th.

A Chosen Vessel

The Master was searching for a vessel to use.
Before Him were many, which one would he choose?

"Take me," cried the gold one,
"I'm shiny and bright.
I am of great value, and I do things just right.

My beauty and luster will outshine the rest
And for someone like You, Master, Gold would be best."

The Master passed on with no word at all
And looked at a silver urn, narrow and tall.

"I'll serve you dear Master, I'll pour out your wine.
I'll be on your table, whenever you dine.

My lines are so gracefuly, my carvings so true
And silver will certainly compliment you."

Unheeding, the Master passed on to the vessel of brass.
Wide-mouthed and shallow and polished like glass.

"Here! Here!" cried the vessel. "I know I will do.
Place me on your table for all men to view. . ."

"Look at me!" called the goblet of crystal so clear,
"Though fragile am I, I will serve you with fear."

The Master came next to the vessel of wood.
Polished and carved, it solidly stood.

"You may use me, dear Master," the wooden bowl said,
"But I'd rather you used me for fruit, not for bread."

Then the Master looked down on a vessel of clay.
Empty and broken it helplessly lay.

No hope ad the vessel that the Master might choose
to clease and make whole, to fill and to use.

"Oh, this is is the vessel I've been hoping to find!
I'll mend it and use it and make it all mine.

I need not the vessel with the pride of itself.
Nor the one that is narrow, to sit on the shelf,
Nor one that is big-mouthed and shallow and lour,
Nor one that displays its fine contents so proud."

Then, gently He lifted the vessel of clay,
Mended and cleansed it and filled it that day

Spoke to it kindly, "There's work you must do.
Just pour out to others, as I pour into you."

(Note -- I shared this poem this morning in my sermon. Several people asked if they could get a copy of it -- so I'm posting it here. I don't have any information on the author. I first heard it delivered by John Maxwell several years ago -- and have had it in my files since.)

Chase the Lion



My blogger buddy, Mark Batterson, recently created a Manifesto for "Lion Chasers." I found it inspiring and motivating, and thus, am passing it along to you:


Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.

Set God-sized goals.

Pursue God-ordained passions.

Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention.

Keep asking questions.

Keep making mistakes.

Keep seeking God.

Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution.

Stop repeating the past and start creating the future.

Stop playing it safe and start taking risks.

Expand your horizons.

Accumulate experiences.

Consider the lilies.

Enjoy the journey.

Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can.

Live like today is the first day and last day of your life.

Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshipping what's right with God.

Burn sinful bridges.

Blaze a new trail.

Criticize by creating.

Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks.

Don't try to be who you're not.

Be yourself.

Laugh at yourself.

Quit holding out.

Quit holding back.

Quit running away.

CHASE THE LION!

(Thanks to Mark Gorveatte for the lead)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Hill

Hannah and I participated in Maira's Mile this morning -- biking eight miles of country road together. It was a fun father-daughter outing -- with bananas and Gatorade at the halfway point.

A couple of "church leadership take home thoughts":

1) You CAN coast uphill -- but you have to peddle like crazy before you hit the hill.
2) Good company and the promise of water at the top helps you take the hill in stride.

"Anything is possible. You just have to be willing." --Maira Koser, 2006

The Stairway

It's not enough to stare up the steps;
We must step up the stairs!
-- Vance Havner

Friday, September 07, 2007

A Different Kind of Holiness

I attempted to go to the Christian Holiness Partnership website (holiness.org) today and found this. I don't believe that's quite what they intended.

What Counts

What counts can't always be counted.
What can be counted doesn't always count.
-- Albert Einstein

Maira's Mile

Maira was a beautiful and vibrant young lady in our congregation. About three months ago, she was diagnosed with cancer, and just two weeks later, on a Sunday morning, she died quietly in her hospital room.

She passed away at the very moment I was praying in church for God to heal her, to raise her up, and to work a miracle.

Well, our good Lord chose to heal her in His own way. He raised her up to heaven -- and He certainly worked a miracle -- a different kind of miracle than I had expected. The miracle was in the heart of her husband, Don.

Through Maira's unshakable faith in life and death, Don came to know Jesus in a much deeper, and personal way. He's been at church just about every Sunday since.

A month or so ago, he approached me about organizing an Bike Ride in honor of Maira -- Maira's Mile -- which is a benefit for our youth ministry, as well as our ministry to the hispanic workers in Minong. The ride is tomorrow! Check out the website.

"Blessed are those who die in the Lord. They shall rest from all their labors, and their works shall follow them."




Thursday, September 06, 2007

Missional Pennies

Michael Drown, our Missionary from Mercy Ships, recently reported on our Vacation Bible School penny offering we collected from a couple hundred enthusiastic kids a few weeks ago.

The kids gave 121,400 pennies! (our goal was 90,000)

These coins paid for the following:
2 Life Saving Surgeries (72,000 pennies)
Agricultural Training for four people (18,000 pennies)
Twelve Eye Exams (12,000 pennies)
Ten Dental Treatments (10,000 pennies)
16 Bibles (6400 pennies)
Six mosquito nets (3000 pennies)

Michael writes:
Over the past 5 years, the kids have brought in 389,080 pennies. These pennies have directly impacted the lives of 105 individuals and countless other indirectly with the good news about Jesus.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Alive Forevermore


“Now, I know that someday I am going to come to what some people will say is the end of this life. They will probably put me in a box and roll me right down here in front of the church, and some people will gather around, and a few people will cry. But I have told them not to do that because I don’t want them to cry. I want them to begin the service with the Doxology and end with the Hallelujah chorus, because I am not going to be there, and I am not going to be dead. I will be more alive than I have ever been in my life, and I will be looking down upon you poor people who are still in the land of dying and have not yet joined me in the land of the living. And I will be alive forevermore, in greater health and vitality and joy than ever, ever, I or anyone has known before.”


D. James Kennedy, Ph.D.

We All Were Fired!

Yesterday, I fired my staff -- all of 'em -- in one fell swoop, with a Mr. Dithers flourish -- "You're all fired!" Then, they fired me too. (Fortunately, we understand each other, and have healthy enough relationships that they all knew I had to be joking.)

For five seconds, Hayward Wesleyan Church stood without any pastoral leadership whatsoever. I toyed with the idea of making "an emergency call" to the District Superintendent.

Then, as quickly as I could, I hired 'em all back again -- and they hired me! (I was the last one to get hired -- and was sweating it for a moment!)

"Jeremy, you're our new children's pastor."
"Heath, you're our new spiritual formation pastor."
"Loretta, you're now hired for worship and youth."
"Ben and Tim, you are hired for pastoral care."
"I'm your new senior pastor."
"Now, as the new pastoral team at Hayward Wesleyan Church, what are we going to do to lead our congregation into future growth, expansion and maximum Kingdom Impact in the northwoods and beyond.
A lively and fruitful discussion ensued.

The good part about being new pastors at the same place is that we don't have to take a whole year to find the lay of the land and understand the people!

Good Advice

Don't tap your toes to catchy airport music
-- JamesWatkins.com

Asking for Trouble

The belated Leona Helmsley's dog, Trouble, recently inherited $12 million from her estate. Her brother, Alvin, however, is much too busy with his own inheritance to take care of the pooch.

What shall they do with the poor little doggie?
Send her to the northwoods of Wisconsin! The Wilson's will gladly reach out to the unfortunate orphan, and we'll teach that little puppy how to tithe!






Tuesday, September 04, 2007

God Wants Iowa First


I've always thought northern Wisconsin was God's country -- but now presidential candidate Bill Richardson has helped me understand that the Lord's first choice is Iowa!

Rev Magazine Article

Just received word today that Rev Magazine will be publishing an article I wrote about ministry targeting in small town and rural communities: "If You're Breathing, You're a Target." I believe it will be coming out in their next issue!

When Planning Worship Services

"Every [church/worship] service is a structure of acts and words through which we receive a sacrament, or repent, or supplicate, or adore. And it enables us to do these things best—if you like, it 'works' best—when, through long familiarity, we don't have to think about it.

As long as you notice, and have to count, the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance.

A good shoe is a shoe you don't notice.

Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God.

"But every novelty prevents this.

It fixes our attention on the service itself; and thinking about worship is a different thing from worshipping. . . . 'Tis mad idolatry that makes the service greater than the god.

"A still worse thing may happen. Novelty may fix our attention not even on the service but on the celebrant."

--C. S. Lewis, Letters To Malcolm

Monday, September 03, 2007



The little church that could!

Alphabet Soup For the Soul

A lthough things are not perfect
B ecause of trial or pain
C ontinue in thanksgiving
D o not begin to blame
E ven when the times are hard
F ierce winds are bound to blow
G od is forever able
H old on to what you know
I magine life without His love
J oy would cease to be
K eep thanking Him for all the things
L ove imparts to thee
M ove out of "Camp Complaining"
N o weapon that is known
O n earth can yield the power
P raise can do alone
Q uit looking at the future
R edeem the time at hand
S tart every day with worship
T o "thank" is a command
U ntil we see Him coming
V ictorious in the sky
W e'll run the race with gratitude
X alting God most high
Y es, there'll be good times and yes some will be bad, but...
Z ion waits in glory...where none are ever sad!

(author unkown -- sent to me by my sister-in-law, Sandy Wilson)