Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Anyhow, here are my ten favorite reads of 2008:
1) Ablaze for God (Wesley Duewel)
2) It (Craig Groeschl)
3) Wild Goose Chase (Mark Batterson)
4) The Ultimate Blessing (Jo Anne Lyon)
5) Return of the Prodigal (Henri Nouwen)
6) Lumberjack Sky Pilot (Frank Reed)
7) The Way Forward (Matthew Leroy and Jeremy Summers)
8) On the Side of the Angels (D'Souza and Rogers)
9) God Size Your Church (John Jackson)
10) Wilderness Visionaries (Jim Dale Vickery)
The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher (Rob Stennett)
My Beautiful Idol (Peter Gall)
The Pastor and Prayer (R. A. Torrey)
The Revival We Need (Oswald Smith)
Touch One (Chris Schimel)
Crossing Over (Paul Scanlon)
White Robes and Spiritual Feasts (G. D. Watson)
Helps to Holiness (Samuel Brengle)
Sunday, December 28, 2008
For instance, together, through our Giving Tree, we provided Christmas gifts to 175 children. When many of us did a little bit, it ended up making a big difference!
On Christmas Day, over 200 people came to the church for Christmas Dinner. My heart was warmed as I sat with my family, and looked over the Fellowship Hall at the happy faces. Many of these folks would have spent Christmas alone. Afterwards, I spoke with Mike, the head cook, who, with misty eyes, told me how much this experience blessed him. Several families of the church served together joyfully. I'm so happy to see the young children of the congregation learning this valuable lesson: It is more blessed to give than to receive.
The SHARE program, which provides a marvelous deal on food packages, is centered at our church. I was overwhelmed by the buzz of happy activity, as Mary Ann and the gang, prepared boxes of groceries for the waiting "customers."
Several of our church people were involved in Toys for Tots, as well as community food drives.
Some of our small groups went Christmas Caroling to the shut-ins. They came back reporting what a meaningful experience it was. Hannah and I conducted Chapel Services at the Nursing Home two days before Christmas. I noticed one dear lady, who cannot carry on a conversation, sang every word of the familiar Christmas songs. It brought back the joy of childhood.
Entering the store a couple of weeks ago, I was met by a group from our church, singing carols at the Salvation Army Bucket. They shook me down!
On the 23rd, a kind man brought a gift to the office to "help a family going through a hard time." I was delighted to play "Santa" and deliver the gift to a family who truly needed and appreciated the help.
Now, for a Missional New Year!!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
My son, Ryan, wrote a special song for the evening, and sang it: It was powerful. I hope he posts it soon on his myspace.
We thank Thee, O God, for the return of the wondrous spell of this Christmas season the brings its own sweet joy into our jaded and troubled hearts.
Forbid us, Lord that we should celebrate without understanding what we celebrate, or like our counterparts so long ago, fail to see the star or to hear the song of glorious promise.
As our hearts yield to the spirits of Christmas, may we discover that it is Thy Holy Spirit who comes -- not a sentiment, but a power -- to remind us of the only way by which there may be peace on earth and good will among men.
May we not spend Christmas, but keep it, that we may be kept in its hope, through Him who emptied Himself in coming to us that we might be filled with peace and joy in returning to God.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
The UPS man arrived late morning with three wonderful books from Amazon. I tore the box open and dug right in to Craig Groeschel's IT: How Churches and Leaders can Get It and Keep It.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Dr. Kenneth Schenck, associate professor of religion at Indiana Wesleyan University, has written an insightful and concise guide for reading the Bible: Making Sense of God’s Word.
Though one of the deepest thinkers in our tradition, Schenck handily simplifies the very complicated issue of biblical hermeneutics. Through a clear, step-by-step process, the reader is taught to move from the historical and literary context of a passage to life experience and today’s application.
This is helpful guide is easily one of the best-ever books on interpreting the Scriptures. It will prove to be a valuable tool for teachers, preachers, and others concerned with “rightly
dividing the Word of Truth.”
(The book will be available for purchase in early 2009)
Christmas is FORGIVING.
Forgiving means removing the space between others and ourselves. It’s taking away the distance from our hearts.
Now, nobody wants to walk around with a heavy load of resentment and bitterness. Yet, finding a path to forgiveness is one of the most difficult things a human being can do. If it was easy, everybody would do it. But it’s hard – particularly if the offense was deep.
Sometimes, the people who should be closest to us are the ones we struggle to forgive. That’s because the closer we are to somebody, the more opportunities we (and they) have to do or say hurtful things.
Forgiveness is about letting it go and not holding the bitterness in your heart. It means placing the hurt and the one who hurt you over into God’s hands.
You might be tempted to “punish” the wrongdoer by holding tight to resentment. However, the only person you punish with a grudge is yourself. I recall my mother saying, “Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
The only way to find release is to release – to let it go.
Often, people fail to forgive because they can’t say “that’s ok.” However, you don’t have to say “that’s ok” in order to forgive. There are many evil actions and words that are NOT ok – and they never will be ok. It would be an offensive lie to say “that’s ok”
A better way to deal with it is to say, “What you did was NOT ok. It was wrong and hurtful. But, I choose to forgive you anyway.”
That’s what Christmas is all about, isn’t it? Extending forgiveness and grace? That’s the very reason Jesus came to earth, taking on the form of human flesh. He came to extend forgiveness and grace. He came, bringing mercy.
This Christmas, the best gift you could give to yourself is to forgive the one who has wronged you. When you let it go, you will find an overwhelming sense of peace. You will discover just how heavy that burden has been for your spirit.
Open your heart and your hand. Release the resentment. Let peace fill you completely.
Peace on Earth.
Good will towards men.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
One day, after making a hospital visit in Duluth, Minnesota, I was drawn by the spire of the old First Presbyterian Church. A kind secretary opened up the sanctuary for me to sit and pray for a while.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Hopefully individuals passionately expressing opinions from the left and the right will recognize that both of us have shown a commitment to model civility in America.
The Bible admonishes us to pray for our leaders. I am honored by this opportunity to pray God’s blessing on the office of the President and its current and future inhabitant, asking the Lord to provide wisdom to America’s leaders during this critical time in our nation’s history.
The irony is that if you look at the wide spectrum between conservative fundamentalism and left-wing liberalism, Rick is in the middle between them. He's a moderate, for heaven's sake!
Some are calling him a gay-hating bigot.
At the same time, fundamentalist watchdog groups are calling him a wolf in sheep's clothing.
John Leo has made some insightful observations at Huffington Post.
The problem with being a bridge is that you get stepped on from both sides!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
In part, the letter states:
We respect the right of the NAE to select spokespersons that represent the organization's stated priorities. At the same time, we release this letter to show our deep gratitude for Richard's 28 years of leadership at the NAE, in which he has had a guiding hand in shaping a broad Christian moral agenda that has helped define American evangelical's public witness.
It was unfortunate that Cizik overstepped his bound, and made statements that were not in line with NAE's values. His words did not accurately reflect the position of most of the people he was supposed to be respresenting. However, on the other hand, Cizik should be commended for broadening the scope of evangelical conscience in America and beyond. He helped pastors like me see that although we support the right to life and traditional marriage, there are other important concerns of compassion and social justice which demand our attention as well.
We're not exactly the same. Each person is unique, and has his/her own special gift and perspective to bring to each situation. Our ministry together is not normally "singing in unison", but we do a fantastic job of singing in harmony -- and that's much better. Ask any choir director!!
We finished the party by singing "Joy to the World" together.
Later in the day, I stepped into the rehearsal of the homeschool teen musicians preparing for their Christmas program -- with electric guitars, drums, keyboard, violin and bass. They were rockin' out ""Joy to the World." Splendid! Splendid! Isaac Watts would give two thumbs up.
Late afternoon found Cathy and I going on a double date with our dear friends, Steve and Linda to a Handel's Messiah Sing-a-long.
We stopped for a quick bite at Culver's, and to our surprise, there was a lady in there playing Christmas songs on a portable organ. That's the first fast food I've ever had with organ accompaniment. I went to the lady and requested "Joy to the World", which she gladly fulfilled.
Never did a burger and fries taste so heavenly! Let heaven and nature sing.
Finally, we made our way to the Mitchell Auditorium, where we joined the audience-choir, and sang the Messiah. Well, Cathy and Linda sang, I bumbled along after the beared bass sitting in front of me, and even Steve joined in on the Hallilujah Chorus!
I am reminded of a guy several years ago who came to me with $3,300. in cash and had me send it with no return address to needy families on two Christmases. In this envelope he had me place a $100.00 dollar bill and another envelope inside with $10.00 dollars in it with a note suggesting the recipient give this $10.00 dollars to someone else. We did that for thirty needy familes. This man that had me do this kind deed understood it is more blessed to give than to recieve.
Santa asks, “What do you want for Christmas?” Little kids write letters with lists of things they want. Some of those cute letters made their way to the Sawyer County Record last week.
That’s a precious thing, and I certainly don’t want to detract from the wonder little children experience at Christmas.
But, at the essence, Christmas is not for getting – it’s for giving!
Tis the season of unselfishness.
Tis the season to share with those you love.
Tis the season to be compassionate for those less fortunate.
It’s not about spending money you don’t have on stuff they don’t need. This year, especially, with financial squeeze we’re all feeling – how about simplifying? How about being creative, spending a little less, and giving a little more of yourself? How about shopping locally, so you when you DO spend, it’s helping your neighbors put food on their tables?
How about giving something homemade? How about giving your time?
How about remembering those who are in need? Did you know that Americans spent $450 billion on Christmas spent year and that we could provide safe, clean drinking water for every person in the world for $10 billion? What if this Christmas, we were less consumeristic and more compassionate? Consider joining the “Advent Conspiracy” (http://www.adventconspiracy.org/)
How about your neighbors who are suffering? As I was writing this article a desperate mother called me for help. They have no money. Her little girl has no winter boots, and a snow storm is approaching. There are many little children, right here in our own community, who go to bed hungry and don’t have adequate winter clothing. What can you do to help them?
How about putting something in the kettle, when you pass the Salvation Army bell ringer? Better yet, how about signing up for a stint of bell ringing? How about getting a few friends together and caroling at the home of someone who is sick?
Who knows? In the end, you might just say, “It was my best Christmas ever!”
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
We were honored to have the Uke-Ladies and Laddies perform a couple of Christmas numbers for us. A choir of enthusiastic children did a fantastic job singing "Born on this Day."
I preached on the following:
1. Christmas is For Giving. (showed the advent conspiracy video)
Then -- remove the space and it says --
2. Christmas is Forgiving
I used Col. 3:13 as my text and spoke on the importance of "removing the space in our hearts towards other people." I used Rembrandt's Return of the Prodigal as an illustration.
3. Christmas is Forbearing
Col. 3:13 in KJV says "Forbearing one another. . ." Rev. 3:10 in the message speaks of "passionate patience"
The inscription on Ruth Graham's grave reads, "End of Construction. Thanks for your Patience."
4. Christmas is Bearing. Bearing with one another. Bear with the failings of the weak. Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.
To illustrate, I used this powerful video.
We concluded the services by standing in a large circle, holding hands, and saying the Lord's Prayer together.
It was a beautiful morning.
This afternoon, the family had Chinese food and watched the Packers lose again. (I think I'm going to be a Jets fan -- or maybe Bears) Later in the day, we played in the snow together, and then I gave our dog, Vin, a bath. That was quite an ordeal!!
Learned this evening that The Crystal Cathedral is looking for a new Senior Pastor. Not interested!! We have our own natural (and much more beautiful) "Crystal Cathedral" right here in Hayward this morning.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Those who are consumed with doing church in a cool way
Those who are consumed with doing church that reaches lost people
They both end up doing similar things -- but with a different motive.
I'd like to adjust it a just little bit and say, there are two types of churches in general:
Those consumed with doing church
Those consumed with BEING the church
The next day the farmer drove up and said, 'Sorry son, but I have some bad news, the donkey died.'
Chuck replied, 'Well, then just give me my money back.'
The farmer said, 'Can't do that. I went and spent it already.'
Chuck said, 'Ok, then, just bring me the dead donkey.'
The farmer asked, 'What ya gonna do with him?
Chuck said, 'I'm going to raffle him off.'
The farmer said, 'You can't raffle off a dead donkey!'
Chuck said, 'Sure I can Watch me. I just won't tell anybody he's dead.'
A month later, the farmer met up with Chuck and asked, 'What happened with that dead donkey?'
Chuck said, 'I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars a piece and made $998.'
The farmer said, 'Didn't anyone complain?'
Chuck said, 'Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back.'
Chuck now leads the US bank bailout team.
(came to me via e-mail from Jim Garner. Thanks Jim!)
Friday, December 12, 2008
While we’re still the U.S. sales leader, we acknowledge we have disappointed you. At times we violated your trust by letting our quality fall below industry standards and our designs become lackluster. We proliferated our brands and dealer network to the point where we lost adequate focus on our core U.S. market. We also biased our product mix toward pickup trucks and SUVs. And we made commitments to compensation plans that have proven to be unsustainable in today’s globally competitive industry. We have paid dearly for these decisions, learned from them and are working hard to correct them by restructuring our U.S. business to be viable for the long-term.
I am working with a well-intentioned man who is considering becoming a part of our congregation. After exploring Wesleyan Doctrine, he is hung up on one thing- that we allow women in ministry. He believes that 1Timothy 2:8-15 is a clear Biblical prohibition against females in ministry.
I have always understood Paul's teaching on women in public worship environements in Corinthians and Timothy to be context driven and not a broad theological statement. This has been a learning experience for me because I learned that I was unprepared to defend our Wesleyan position, I had just accepted it. Any Biblical direction, orginal language clues, or historical perspective you could offer would be most welcomed. He is not bigoted about women, he feels they are equal in the eyes of the Lord but have been assigned different duties/roles in the kingdom.
How would you respond to his question?
Thursday, December 11, 2008
In a letter to the NAE Board, President Leith Anderson, stated:
". . . our NAE stand on marriage, abortion and other biblical values is long, clear and unchanged.”
A lot has happened over these past twelve months. Sometimes it seems like an eternity since Leah's death. At other times, it seems like just yesterday.
Please pray for Leah's family on this day of remembrance.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I must say, the Wilson family has a lot to be thankful for.
Stockdale was kept in solitary confinement for four years, placed in irons for two years, denied medical care and malnourished. Despite these terrible conditions, he led an “underground resistance movement” which brought hope and a sense of esprit de corps to his fellow POW’s. Still, many prisoners died under these grueling circumstances. Finally, in 1973, the brave admiral was released, and awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor is 1976 by President Ford.
Several years later, author and researcher, Jim Collins, interviewed Stockdale in the campus of Stanford University, and asked the decorated offer how he coped with the demoralizing effects of his imprisonment.
Stockdale replied, “I never lost faith in the end the end of the story. I never doubted that not only would I get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”
Then, Collins asked, “Who didn’t make it out?”
"Oh, that’s easy,” Stockdale responded, “The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, 'We're going to be out by Christmas.' And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they'd say, 'We're going to be out by Easter.' And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart."
Now, I certainly believe in optimism. The title of my newspaper column, “Positively Speaking”, speaks to that. However, I believe Stockdale was right.
A misplaced, short term optimism can lead to failure and disillusionment. It’ much better to focus on the long term.
I’m going to make it.
Things may not go as I’ve expected or desired, but I’m not going to let a few temporary setbacks keep me from my ultimate destiny. Rarely, does a person follow a straight path from success to success. Usually, there’s quite a winding road, replete with failures, frustrations, shortcomings, and disappointments.
The important thing is to keep plugging on, regardless of the short term circumstance. Eventually, you’ll find your way.
Success is getting up one more time than you fall down.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
She mentioned something about how yesterday's sermon helped them, and that really blessed my heart.
Please pray for Rocky and Kathy as they walk through this vally of uncertainty.
I recall once, a red faced guy came to me after church and told me I needed to preach more against sin. So, the next week, I preached against the "whitewashed sins" in the church, such as gossip, greed, sloth, self-centeredness and materialism.
He came up to me after the sermon and said, "I didn't mean THOSE sins!!"
Sunday, December 07, 2008
We enjoyed doing a rendition of "By the Rivers of Babylon" I preached on Exile from Habakkuk.
A terrible cold made me feel puny. It took all my my energy to get through the morning.
In the afternoon, we ordered Chinese food, and watched the Packers lose again.
1. Listen Carefully
2. Question Thoroughly
3. Act Decisively
Good stuff. So often, leaders want to tell rather than listen, argue rather than question, and discuss rather than act.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
It snowed a few inches overnight, so Vin and I shovelled the driveway together. We're getting along great.
I ran a couple of errands, and did a few fix-it projects at the house. I spent a couple hours watching "All the King's Men" on TCM -- it was a good lesson on how power can corrupt.
It was a joy to discover that Tom Raven, a key leader of my youth group back in California, is now the head baseball coach for Trinity International University, in Deerfield, IL. It's been years since we've been in touch with each other. He's an awesome man of God, and it feels good to know that I had a part in mentoring him during his early years.
A kind friend called to tell me that a Youtube Post I put up on the blog (Stethoscope) had some inappropriate links at the end. Oops -- didn't catch that. I took it down.
A great post by Craig Groeschel
- Prays as much, or more, publicly than privately.
- Is almost exclusively dependent on others’ sermons to preach than directly hearing from God.
- Cares more about his church than The Church.
- Preaches about evangelism but doesn’t practice evangelism privately.
- Tolerates and rationalizes unconfessed sin.
- Preaches for the approval of people rather than the approval of God.
- Is overly sensitive to criticism.
The Upside of Selfishness in a Downturned Market
When I am in Sudan, I never find myself thinking about the stock market, 401ks, health insurance and so forth. But, then again, I don’t have access to newspapers or television reports that devote 24 hours a day monitoring those things and warning me that they are losing their value and I’d better not count on them. Instead, while in Sudan, I find myself concerned about whether or not the child next to me has enough to eat and drink to make it through the night
Friday, December 05, 2008
Kingdom Impact increases in our ministry when we recognize that we are preaching BOTH to the individual and to the congregation. Both are needed, and the effective preacher is both aware of the opportunity and the privilege to address both needs.
What does it say?
What does it mean to me?
What should I do?
How does this speak to my present?
What does it mean?
What does it mean to us?
What changes should we make?
How does this speak to our future?
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Edwin now needed to write again in order to survive. He sat at his desk day after day but was unable to produce anything. He could think only of his loss. Bitterness and resentment were walls, shutting out his creativity. It was destroying his life.
One day, he began to doodle on the blank page before him. As usual, he could think of nothing to write. So, he drew circles on the paper.
Suddenly, as he gazed at the circles, he knew what he must do. Bowing his head in prayer, he poured out his resentment to God and asked for the strength to forgive.
Then he picked up his pen and began to write:
He drew a circle that shut me out,
Rebel, heretic, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win,
We drew a circle that took him in!
Has someone wronged you? Have you been hurt by a harsh word, a cruelty, a betrayal, or a snub? If so, you need to let go and forgive. Forgiveness really is a choice – and it’s for your own good.
“But she owes me an apology!” might say. It doesn’t matter. You must forgive anyway.
Forgiveness means adjusting our attitude. It is dealing with the bitterness so we can smile again. It is resolving the issues rather than allowing them to fester. You don’t need “permission” from the one who offended you to do that.
The Jewish philosopher, Hannah Arendt, remarked, “Forgiveness is the only power which can stop the stream of painful memories.”
The Lord’s Prayer says, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Can you honestly say these words? Are you able to release your resentment and forgive the one who hurt you?
Never is a human soul so strong as when it dares to forgive an injury.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Hello Pastor. I've got a bit of a toughie that I can't seem yet to explain. I'm preparing a Bible Study for Sunday School called the "Unfit Misfits" where I review the genealogies of Christ in Matthew and Luke. I've run across a name I can't find in any of my resources - Admin He's listed in Luke 3:33 as the son of Arni, aka Ram. do you know anything about him? Matthew omits this name, going directly from Ram to Amminidab.
Can anybody help Paul out? He needs an answer before Sunday.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I think they did an outstanding job of encouraging the churches to act in faith and wisdom during these troubled times.
They are calling us to be. . .
• Disciplined because many of us have consumed too much of the world’s resources on
ourselves. This can be a time to control our cravings and determine to live more simply.
• Generous because there are people who are (or will be) going without some of the
necessities of life and we have an obligation to share with them in Jesus’ name.
• Prayerful because the problems that plague our world will not be solved by throwing
money at them, but by God intervening with justice and grace.
• Courageous because fear and panic are not becoming to the people of God. The peace of
Christ allows us to approach life’s difficulties with calm, deliberate, confident steps.
• Creative because the mind of Christ inspires His followers to think more clearly of how
to minister to others and to society in ways that spread hope and holiness that transform
Friday, November 28, 2008
Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
-- printed in the Indiana South Wesleyan
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Right now, he feels like he was run over by a Mack Truck -- but at least he's on the mend. He wants me to thank you for your prayers.
Thanksgiving is "Thanks-living!"
Did you know that thankfulness and mental health go together? Counting your blessings can bring healing and strength into your life. Everything goes downhill when you are swamped with negativism and self pity.
How does a person cultivate a thankful heart?
1. Go hunting for small blessings.
Your life is packed with millions of small treasures! Sometimes, we are so hung up on petty annoyances, that we forget the abundance of joy.
2. Focus on what you have rather than what you wish you had.
Perhaps you don't have everything you'd like -- Is this really the end of the world?
Think about this: you are more wealthy than the majority of the world's population. Or consider this: You have a thousand times more stuff than the Pilgrims who landed on Plymouth Rock. Contentment is not found by obtaining more "things." It is a matter of the heart.
3. Quit waiting for someone to serve you, and commit yourself to serving others. Make it your goal to encourage and inspire others. Think "Here to Serve" when you walk into a room. Jesus said that the "greatest" person is the one who serves. Investing in servanthood was good enough for Jesus, so it should be good enough for the rest of us.
4. Become a generous giver.
Generous people are always the most happy individuals around -- they have discovered that giving brings tremendous fulfillment. Someone once said, "Give until it hurts." But I don't think it works that way. Instead, we ought to say, "Give until it feels great!"
Killing the stingy miser within you is the only thing that hurts -- once you get past that, giving is a joyful adventure!
5. Go on a complaint fast.
Intentionally refrain from complaining and criticizing. If a gripe comes to your mind, grab it, handcuff it, stick it in jail, and replace it with a praise.
6. Smile. Your day automatically goes better when you face it with a smile.
It makes you feel better, and look better too! All of your friends will thank you for smiling. Who wants to look at a grouch?
7. Pray and read the Bible regularly.
If your problems are big enough to stew over, they're big enough to bring to God in prayer. Good things happen when people pray. The Bible is filled with faith inspiring, love motivating, and hope producing passages. A daily dose of God's love letter will give you strength for every situation.
Count your gains instead of your losses.
Count your joys instead of your woes;
Count your friends instead of your foes.
Count your smiles instead of your tears;
Count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your full years instead of your lean;
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.
Count your health instead of your wealth;
Count on God instead of yourself.
(Sent to me yesterday by my up-north friend, Bill)
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I went immediately, and tried to help the officers, as well as Dean's daughter, who was sitting in a vehicle outside.
She had called her father several times, leaving messages -- but there was no response. Finally, in desperation, she contacted the law, and that's how they discovered he had passed away.
It appears he died sometime on Saturday.
My heart is sad. I'm thankful, however, that I followed the prompting a few days ago, and went to his home for a visit.
Monday, November 24, 2008
The Dangers of the Unconverted Seminary, Part 1
The Dangers of the Unconverted Seminary, Part 2
Sunday, November 23, 2008
John was a tremendous mentor to me in the art of leadership. Until moving away to be closer to his family, he was a pillar of the Hayward Wesleyan Church. (I fondly referred to John as our "quality control department.")
Here's what I wrote about him a while back.
John will be deeply missed. Please pray for his wife, Phyllis and their children.
In the 1990's, the three big words were:
In early 2000, the three big words were:
But as 2010 approaches, the three big words are:
Now, I really do appreciate Bob's obervations, and he correctly shows us that the times are changing. I would, however, like to propose three words that are bigger than ALL the above -- and at the core of ministry relevance:
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Fred loved Elvis, so the last couple of times we visited, I concluded our conversation with a some "Elvis hymns." Needless to say, I'm no Elvis Presley.
Fred and Judy have dogs and parrots. The first time I sang, the dogs howled. The second time, the parrots screeched. Fred really enjoyed it -- and that's what counts. It doen't matter what the dogs and parrots thought!
I think we'll do Peace in the Valley for his memorial service next week.
History is always moving. It never stops.
The only question is, “who will shape the conversations and what they will be?”
How will we as followers of Jesus participate in those conversations? What do we really have to say?
Thursday, November 20, 2008
People are being laid off. Homes are going into foreclosure. Businesses are folding. Families are running out of food.
Bad news from Wall Street leads to less business on Main Street.
Though we're in hard times, these are the only times we have -- thus, we need to keep a proper perspective. Here are some important reminders as we face adversity:
1. God is far bigger than the problem.
If the financial crisis looms like a mountain, remember -- God is the mountain mover! There's no challenge too great for the Almighty. There is not one situation beyond His ability. Instead of telling God how big your problem is, tell your problem how big God is!
2. Hard times teach us wisdom.
Difficult days force us to stop and evaluate where we are, what we're doing, and why we're doing it. Nobody becomes wise with ease. It takes trouble to grow in patience and understanding.
3. The valleys are where we grow.
We rejoice on the mountaintops -- but we grow in the valley. Hardship forges character and makes us better people. The sweetest people I've ever met are those who have gone through the most difficult experiences.
4. There's always a reason to be thankful.
If we look for blessings in the darkest days, we will find them. Thanksgiving brings a special joy and peace.
5. We are never poor if we are rich in love.
In loving relationships, we find true wealth. Money can buy things, but not true happiness.
6. It's only money.
My dear friend, Gerry Anderson, served on our church Stewardship Committee until he passed away last year. I recall several times, when the budget was tight, he would say, "It's only money." Life is much more than money. We must never let money troubles take our focus off the more important matters of life.
7. We're blessed to be a blessing.
Not everybody is suffering right now. If you are one of the lucky ones, you have a two-fold obligation:
a) be thankful
b) be a blessing to someobdy else who is less fortunate.
8) There's always hope at the end of the day.
No matter what happens, you'll get through it. The sun will rise tomorrow. When all is said and done, all will be well.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I wasn't sure where Fred stood spiritually, and prayed all the way to his house that a door would open, and that I would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's promptings. I didn't want to be pushy -- but I knew Fred needed assurance and peace.
The Lord arranged everything beautifully. We were able to talk deep. I shared several verses of Scripture, sang a few hymns, and prayed. God was present. The whole room was filled with love.
At the end of our conversation, Fred shared a clear testimony of his faith -- that he is trusting in the Lord completely.
I don't know how many days my friend has left upon this earth -- but I do know the peace of God will sustain him.
This Sunday, we're going to light the faith candle for Fred.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
The noise was so distracting, that we were unable to finish our business, and had to reschedule our phone conference to a time when everybody will be on land lines.
The lesson I learned from this experience: One person making a lot of static can mess things up and keep a group from accomplishing what they need to do.
O The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
’Tis an ocean full of blessing, ’tis a haven giving rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!
Friday, November 14, 2008
I was out of town speaking on the other side of the country and thus, was unable to attend this awesome event for pastors in small communities. Too bad. I really wanted to be a part of it.
Nevertheless, I can get a feel for it from reading Mark's blog as well as the following:
Samwise the Brave
Thursday, November 13, 2008
A rural or small town church is usually very positive. A rural pastor is usually positive too. However sometimes negative ideas and feelings can take control. Let me suggest 7 vital attitudes a small town or rural church and its pastor need to have in order to keep its ministry going and growing.
1. Never talk behind one another's back.
2. Always pray daily for the pastor and for one another.
3. If you have a difference with another member pray about that difference and go to that person with an open heart to him or her.
4. Tell the devil to get out of the church in the name of Jesus every day.
5. Keep the written word as your guide to faith and polity.
6. Listen to other's ideas about order of worship and music and try out some of their ideas.
7. Always respect your pastor and his or her ministry.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
We drove to Minneapolis the aftermoon before, so we could break up his trip, and have some special time together.
I was wondering how we were going to pass the time in the evening. I was fairly certain Dr. Duewel wouldn't be too interested in watching Monday Night Football or some crime drama.
It was about 7:00 p.m. -- three hours until bedtime. Do you know how we spent it?
We prayed and sang hymns together.
He went through his normal prayer routine, and I was invited to hover at the edges where the glory spilled over. It was an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.
As he prayed through his daily prayer list, he would often stop and ask me about the person he was praying for. . .
Do you know Leith Anderson? He has such responsibility! I've only met him a couple of times, but I pray for him every day!
Do you know John Maxwell? A few years ago, the Lord laid a heavy burden on my heart to pray for him every day.
I had been in a meeting with our new General Superintendent, Jo Anne Lyon, last week, and she told me that years ago, she and Dr. Duewel had crossed paths. "I think he might remember me," she said.
So, I asked Dr. Duewel, "Do you remember Jo Anne Lyon?"
"Do I remember her?? Of course I remember her! I remember her every day in prayer! I also remember the other two Wesleyan Generals, Tom Armiger and Jerry Pence. I don't recall if I've met Dr. Armiger and Dr. Pence, but I pray that God will bless and lead them daily."
This is amazing, because Dr. Duewel is a member of the Free Methodist Church. He's 92 and prays for our Wesleyan leaders by name every day. I'm 47 amd couldn't name a leader of the Free Methodist Church if you put a gun to my head!!
At the end of our prayer session, I knelt before him. He laid his hands on me and prayed a special blessing of anointing and empowering over me, my family and my ministry. It was a beautiful moment that I will cherish forever.
As we drove in rush hour traffic towards the airport yesterday morning, we sang "Victory in Jesus."