Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Two Kinds of People

I've discovered than in most of life's endeavors, there are two kinds of people -- the folks to make things happen, and those who sit on the bleachers and criticize.

Some make progress while others make suggestions.
Some find solutions while others find fault.
Some create while others critique.
Some see the answer while others see the obstacles.

A few good folks roll of their sleeves and try to make things better, while others point out how they're doing it wrong.

One day, the Packers were getting hammered, and I yelled at the television. "Get him!! Good grief!! Tackle him!! Can't you guys do anything right????"

My son, Wes, rolled his eyes at me, and said, "Dad, they're TRYING! Do you think you could do any better?"

Now, that shut me up real quick! It's a whole lot easier to yell than to perform!

You can gripe and complain about our elected officials (and those running for office), but how would you like to be in their shoes? Do you seriously think you would perform the job better? I seriously doubt it. One week in the Oval Office, and everybody would be complaining about you!

Here's a suggestion. Instead of wasting time griping from the sidelines, how about getting into the game, and investing yourself in something worthwhile? Throw yourself into the challenge. Encourage and inspire others. MAKE a difference, instead of just pointing out the differences.

Others might cluck and complain -- but you'll be too busy to notice.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Leadership in Crisis

Only those leaders who act boldly in times of crisis and change are willingly followed.
-- Jim Kouzes

Power Outage

Last evening, just as we were sitting down to dinner, we heard a loud "POP", and then the electricity went off. It took several hours for the repairmen to fix the problem.

So, with darkness descending, we made a campfire in the backyard, invited the neighbors over, and enjoyed s'mores together.
Good conversation around the fire reminded me of Sigurd Olson's observation in The Singing Wilderness:
Something happens to a man when he sits before a fire. Strange stirrings take place within him, and a light comes to his eyes which was not there before. An open flame suddenly changes his environment to one of adventure and romance.

As our company parted, one of the kids said, "I wish the power would go out more often."

Monday, May 26, 2008

Twin Leaning Towers

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, one of the world's great landmarks, was originally designed to stand up straight. It began to lean shortly after the onset of construction in 1173 due to a poorly laid foundation.

The word "pisa", I've heard, actually means "marshy land", which might explain why history's most famous church bell tower started going off kilter before it was even completed.

Several years ago, it looked like the Leaning Tower of Pisa was headed for toppling. Moving one-twentieth of an inch each year, it eventually ended up 17 feet out of plumb.

Alarmed architects and engineers puzzled over it, and in 1990 created a plan to remove 38 cubic meters of soil from underneath, straightening the tower by 18 inches. Now, they say, it is stable for another 300 years.

Perhaps you will be surpised to learn that The Leaning Tower of Pisa is NOT the most tilted tower in the world.

In November 2007, that honor was given to the Leaning Tower of Suurhusen in Germany. Though not as beautiful or old as her sister in Pisa, the 15th century Suurhusen bell tower is the greatest leaner on earth. You don't have to be pretty to be crooked. Once again, the sway from vertical is due to marshy soil and a faulty foundation.

So these twin towers teach us an important lesson. If you want to stand straight, you need to have a firm foundation.

Parents, if you want to grow good adults, start them off right when they're young. This is the most important task for mothers and fathers. Teach them the depths of truth, character and integrity in their childhood, and when they are old, they will display it.

Engaged couples can build a great marriage by building on the firm foundation of selfless love, faith and trust. Marriages built on shallow soil seldom last.

A life, built on the rock solid foundation of God, faith and the Bible, will stand straight and strong through all the storms of life.

Now, if you've started off wrong, and find youself leaning, there's still hope -- but it always goes back to foundational issues.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday Evening Reflections

It has been a beautiful Sunday. At services today, we took some time in the service to pause and remember our loved ones who passed away over the last twelve months. We projected a photo of each person (there were 29) as I read their names aloud. We also included a moment to remember those who sacrificed their lives in the service of our country. The Memorial Day Tribute ended with Brittany Adams playing "Taps". It was a deeply moving experience.

I preached on the last half of Ephesians 6, "The Armor of God." In the message, I told the story of how God helped me overcome the fear of speaking in public through this verse.

After the last service, a young Native American man approached me. I could tell that God was really working in his heart. He asked me to pray that verse over him, which I joyfully agreed to do. I sense that God has special plans for this young man, as he continues to grow in grace.

In the afternoon, our family went to some graduation parties to congratulate our high school seniors. I remember when they were just toddlers. Now, they're young adults. It made me feel old, but fulfilled.

Following that, Hannah and I went to the hospital to visit a couple of our ailing parishioners. One situation was very sad and heartwrenching. In the hallway, headed back towards the parking lot, I noticed that Hannah had tears flowing down her cheeks.

"Dad, that's the first time I've cried for somebody in the hospital," she said. "I think that was the compassion of Jesus crying in you." I responded. It was a divine moment shared with my 11 year old daughter.

We decided to top it off by going fishing as the sun set over Hospital Lake.

The Sum

The Gospel of John and the Epistle to the Romans are “the sum of the New Testament; Isaiah the prophet and the Psalms of David the sum of the Old.”

-- Dr. John Rainolds (father of the 1611 King James Bible)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

First Catch

On Wednesday, Hannah and I dropped a line at dusk at the shore of Hospital Lake. Just as the sky turned purple, nature's orchestra began to play (a blend of trilling, croaking, and peeping, to accompany an acro-BAT performance.)

Just then, SPOOSH -- Hannah's bobber went under, her pole bent with the weight of evening catch. It was a 14 inch largemouth bass.

We jumped and shouted and "high fived" each other. Then, I took a picture with my cell phone, and we released her prize back into the placid waters.

Moments later, something hit on MY line! "It's MY turn now!!" I shouted as I furiously reeled the line, " Come home to Daddy!"

It was a three inch sunfish.

Hannah and I laughed until our sides hurt, and she took my picture with the cell phone.

Sounds Like Today

Yet thus life rolls away with too many of us in a course of shapeless idleness. Its recreations constitute its chief business…amusements are multiplied, and combined, and varied, to fill up the void of a listless and languid life; and by the judicious use of these different resources, there is often a kind of sober settled plan of domestic dissipation, in which with all imaginable decency year after year wears away in unprofitable vacancy. Even old age often finds us pacing in the same round of amusements which our early youth had tracked out.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend Worship

Hayward Wesleyan Church Family,

This Sunday, May 25, we will be concluding our journey through the book of Ephesians. You can read the passage of Scripture here.

A few questions to ponder:

1) What does it mean to be strong "in the Lord" and in His mighty power? (compare with the third verse of chapter 1)

2) What are the devil's schemes? Have you encountered them in your own life?

3) Look at each piece of armor mentioned in chapter 6. What does each part represent? What does it protect? How do you use it?

4) In light of verse 18, please take a moment right now and pray for somebody else by name.

We will also take some time in the worship services to remember our loved ones who have passed away during the last year or so. We will display their picture on the screen and speak their name in a tribute of remembrance. We will also honor those who have sacrificed their lives in service for our country.

Songs include:
"It is You"
"That's Why We Praise Him"
"Take My Life""
"A Mighty Fortress"

It's going to be a great day, with many visitors from around the country. See you Sunday morning!!

Steven Curtis Chapman

Please pray for the Steven Curtis Chapman family.

Religion and Pain

Good religion transforms our pain. Bad religion transmits it.
-- Richard Rohr

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

You Gotta Break the Glass

Seth Godin passed along this thought provoking post (Thanks to Jerry for pointing me to it).

It's a clock, turned off, not ticking, showing no progress, encased in a beautiful glass sculpture.

When you're ready to make the leap, to commit, to make something happen, you break the glass. The sculpture is ruined. All you have are shards of broken glass. And a working clock. It's alive and it's changing and moving forward.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Off By A Mile

Tabulating all the statistics for the annual report, I discovered that we averaged 646 in worship attendance this past year -- and that's down 13 from last year.

It's the first time in twenty years that our church has averaged less in worship attendance than the year before.

The population density of Sawyer County is 13 people per square mile -- so I guess you could say we were "off by a mile!"

Of course, I need to remember that we gave a good group of people away to start our daughter church in Minong. They're running well over 100 people now in worship -- so maybe it's better to say "we lost a mile to gain ten."

Monday, May 19, 2008

Good Fishing and Late to Church

Yesterday, my daughter Hannah and I drove out to the Lake Chippewa Campground at 7:30 a.m. to hold chapel services for the participants of "Fishing Has No Boundaries."

This is an outstanding program, which, over the years, has provided fishing opportunities for literally thousands of disabled anglers. Many of them have never had the chance to go fishing before.

Launched in Hayward, FHNB has grown significantly, to twenty three chapters in eleven states. Hundreds of volunteers gather at each event, to assist in this wonderful cause. Hayward is still the Grand-daddy of the whole thing, and our local event is always the third weekend in May.

My part is to conduct the chapel services in the big tent. Armed with Bible, guitar and Hannah's violin, we sang and preached hope and faith into the weary fisherman (Saturday had not been a good day for catching -- Sunday, I hear was much more successful.)

At the end of the service, dashing out of the tent to get to my church on time, I was halted by a young man named Rich. "Excuse me," he said, "but can I ask you a question?"

I knew if I stopped, I'd be late for church services, but I could see this young man was troubled in spirit and really needed prayer. So, I paused to listen to him.

Rich proceeded to unburden his heart to me. He was seeking release from guilt, and peace with God. Hannah and I prayed with Rich to receive Christ into his heart and cleansing for all his sins. It was a beautiful and powerful experience! The blood of Jesus washes us clean! Whiter than snow!

After we finished praying, Rich was beaming! He said to me, "I AM FORGIVEN!! I AM FORGIVEN!!"

Although we were certainly going to be late now, Hannah and I rejoiced all the way to church!

It was stilll early in the morning, and we'd already had a good day fishing!


God's Word is to be Trusted
not just Dusted

Sunday, May 18, 2008


1. God commands it (1 Peter 1:16)

2. God provides it (Eph. 1:4)

3. God inspires it (Eph. 4:24)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Wrightly Dividing the Truth

Note -- I think Wright is Wrong on a number of important issues --however, I found this piece on his preaching quite interesting.
A couple of other observations. A few weeks ago, I watched a Larry King interview about Obama's relationship with his pastor.
"Do you attend the church regularly?" King inquired.
"Yes" answered Obama, "In spurts."
As a pastor, I understood that statement. I have a lot of people who "come regularly in spurts."
Finally, a word of comfort and challenge for the preachers in light of the Wright fiasco -- What you say from the pulpit DOES make a difference after all!! If YOUR people were judged by what YOU say, what would the verdict be??

Friday, May 16, 2008


"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
-- Thomas Edison, Inventor

Backsliding Preachers

Preachers are as liable to backslide as any other class of men. When they do backslide in heart, they often become extremely dangerous.

-- B. T. Roberts (Founder of the Free Methodist Church)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Vision Sunday

Hayward Wesleyan Family,

Each year, at this time, we stop and look at where we've been, where we are, and where we're headed.

I'm breaking away from Ephesians this week, and will be speaking from Isaiah 40 (NKJV.) You can read it by clicking here. Note, specifically verses 28-31.

A highlight of the morning will be showing the video of Last Year's Baptism. You can see the previous year's video by clicking here.

We are going to be singing something old and something new:
1. "Nothing But the Blood/ I Stand Amazed"
2. "You Never Let Go"

We will also be receiving nine new members and commissioning two missionary couples: David and Leah Teran to Mexico, and Ryan and Heather Reissner to Camp Forest Springs. Heather will share her Faith Story.

The service will conclude with receiving Communion together.

It's going to be a powerful Sunday morning. You won't want to miss it!

Old Skins

Sometimes snakes can't slough. They can't burst their old skin. Then they go sick and die inside the old skin, and nobody ever sees the new pattern. It needs a real desperate recklessness to burst your old skin at last. You simply don't care what happens to you, if you rip yourself in two, so long as you do get out.
-- D. H. Lawrence

If You Think You Can

I once heard my friend, John Maxwell, say, “Your attitude determines your altitude.” How true that is!!

When you boil it down, just about everything in life is related to attitude. Did you know that a poor attitude is the number one reason why people are dismissed from their jobs? Do you realize that attitude is the primary difference between mediocre football teams and Super Bowl contenders? Do you understand that your success in marriage, work, and living depends largely on your attitude? Quality of life is not measured by what happens to you - but by how you respond.

As Helen Workman said, "It's not what you have to meet, it's how you meet what you have."

A doom -and -gloom pessimist will find problems in every possibility. An optimist will see the opportunities in every obstacle. A set-back is a dead end to a pessimist. For an optimist it is only a detour. A pessimist longs for the "good old days", while the optimist believes that the best is yet to come. Pessimism drains energy and shrivels the soul. Optimism, on the other hand, brings refreshing hope and enthusiasm.

Pessimists criticize and complain about people. Optimists use their words to encourage and inspire.

The pessimist declares, "The sky is falling!" The optimist says, "The sky's the limit!"

An anonymous bard penned these words almost a century ago:

If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you like to win, but think you can't
It's almost certain you won't.
Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man;
But soon or late the man who wins is the one who thinks he can.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Make That a Diet Coke!

Instead of blaming India and other developing nations for the rise in food prices, Americans should rethink their energy policy and go on a diet
-- Herald Tribune article quoting Pradeep Mehta (Secretary General of CUTS Center for International Trade, Economics and Environment)

Evangelical Manifesto

Too often, "evangelical" has been widely used to label and stereotype people of faith. I consider myself an evangelical -- but don't always "fit neatly inside the box" "Representative" evangelicals in television news interviews (both left and right) rarely represent my perspective.

That's why I was delighted with the release of The Evangelical Manifesto. These guys are speaking my language.

Stumbling onto Truth

Some people stumble over the truth and then get up, dust themselves off, and go on their way.
-- Winston Churchill

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Clue Management

Clue management is the practice of reading between lines and detecting trends.

-- Michael Kami

Monday, May 12, 2008

Thoughts on Communication

Communication is to love what blood is to the body. When it comes to a halt, love dies, as resentment and bitterness set in.

The ancient prophet, Amos, asked the rhetorical question, "Can two walk together except they be agreed?"

Bob, walking by his neighbor's house, saw him struggling with a couch halfway in the front door. He walked up to his friend and asked, "Hey Fred, need a hand?"

"Sure!" came the reply, "I'm glad you stopped by. This has been a real challenge,"

So, he grabbed the end of the couch and started pushing -- but it wouldn't budge an inch. For about twenty minutes, both men struggled and strained as hard as they could, but made absolutely no progress.

Finally, dropping the couch from exhaustion, Bob said, "You know, Fred, this is just crazy! I can't understand why it's so hard for us to get this couch into the house."

"Into the house??" Fred replied, "I've been trying to push it OUT of the house!!"

When we don't communicate we, we often end up working against each other. You can't walk together unless you're going the same direction.

None of us are mind readers, so the only way to go the same direction is through clear, loving communication.

Doesn't communication cause fights? What if the things I need to communicate are hurtful? Isn't it better to just shut up and bear it?

Certainly, unwise and thoughtless communication can cause fights, but the LACK of communication causes far more fights -- a hundred times more! It's better to communicate even the unpleasant things, rather than bottling them up inside, if you want your relationship to thrive.

The secret here is to practice the fine art of "disagreeing agreeably." This is mostly a matter of keeping a right attitude and sweet spirit as you deal with challenging issues.

All relationships require give and take. Great relationships require GIVE and GIVE!

1) Give In. You don't have to always get your way to be happy. Sometimes, the best and most loving thing is to submit to the other person's point of view.

2) Give More. Can you give more love, attention and energy to this relationship? Make it your aim to outdo one another in love.

3) Give Way. Allow the other person some latitude.

But Don't Give Up!! You can't love somebody deeply until you've been through some difficult times together. Don't quit when times are tough. Instead, dig in deep together, and discover the riches of love.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Farewell Dottie Rambo

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mom's Day!
An elementary school teacher was teaching a science lesson to her class one day. Describing a magnet, she said, "Class, I'm thinking of a word with six letter, starts with 'M' and picks things up. Can you guess what it is?"

Half the class shouted, "MOTHER!!!!"

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Lord, make me as sensitive to the feelings and rights of others as I have often been to my own, and let me live and love like Thee.

-- A. B. Simpson

Friday, May 09, 2008

This Sunday

Hayward Wesleyan Family,

At Church, this Sunday, Mother's Day, I'm going to talk about "How to Have a Happy Home." The text for my message is Eph. 5:21-6:9. You can read it here.

Some food for thought:

1. What does this Scripture say about submitting? How does verse 21 relate to verse 22?
2. According to the passage, what is the wife's duty to her husband?
3. The husband's duty to his wife?
4. Children's duty to parents?
5. Parent's duty to children?
6. How should we handle the passage about slaves and masters? How do we bring that to today's context?

Songs we're doing Sunday include:
All Things are Possible
Blessed Be Your Name
Come, Now is the Time to Worship
I Surrender All
Jesus, All for Jesus

We'll also honor the moms and dedicate a couple of babies (9:40 & 11:00). We'll enjoy a delightful Mother's Day Tribute video, and a trumpet solo by Sam Yoder.

I look forward to seeing you!

Touching Them All

I love this story. A true demonstration of selfless servanthood. Be sure to grab a kleenex before you watch it:

Was Jesus a Pacifist?

"Was Jesus a pacifist?"

A friend asked me this last week.

How would you respond to that question?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

A Warring Holiness

The "watchdogs" could benefit from these words of B. T. Roberts, founder of the Free Methodist Church.

A professor of religion who is all alive to his own importance, ready to join issue with everybody on every occasion who differs with him, to put the worst construction upon the actions and the worst meaning to the words of others, who stirs up strife and divisions wherever he goes, has a bad kind of warring holiness.

He may be zealous to reform yet does but little towards promoting “on earth peace, and good will toward men.” He is very apt to substitute bitterness for love, presumption for faith, obstinacy for firmness. Men who are naturally pugnacious, even when truly sanctified, are liable to lose the fullness of love, and then become quarrelsome.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Two More Good Leadership Questions

1. What are the "fires" in our church that need to be extinguished? (trouble points, problems with the system and structure, issues that must not be ignored, relational conflicts, communication gaps, prayerlessness, unmet needs, frustrations, lack of love and unity, division, doctrinal disharmony, areas of congregational vulnurability)

2. What are the "smoldering embers" that might become a fire if we ignore them?

Addressing the second question regularly and honestly will save church leaders countless hours of trouble, heartache and clean up work.

A Good Leadership Question

Where are we vulnerable?

This should be asked for clarity -- not blame.

Listen to the song beyond the words.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

What Have We Done Today?

I found this great poem at Lisa Johnson's blog, Surviving Motherhood:

We shall do much in the years to come,
But what have we done today?
We shall give our gold in a princely sum,
But what did we give today?

We shall lift the heart and dry the tear,
We shall plant a hope in the place of fear,
We shall speak the words of love and cheer,
But what did we speak today?

We shall be so kind in the after while,
But have we been today?
We shall bring to each lonely life a smile,
But what have we brought today?

We shall give to truth a grander birth,
And to steadfast faith a deeper worth,
We shall feed the hungering souls of earth,
But whom have we fed today?

We shall reap such joys in the by and by,
But what have we sown today?
We shall build us mansions in the sky,
But what have we built today?

'Tis sweet in the idle dreams to bask;
But here and now, do we our task?
Yet, this is the thing our souls must ask,
What have we done today?

-- Nixon Waterman

Bad Idea

One Boy, One Girl, One Dorm Room -- One Bad Idea.

Note: Connecticut Wesleyan University is NOT one of our schools. Same name (Wesleyan) but different codes of conduct. I'm pretty sure John Wesley would side with the "concerned parents" on this one.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

A Biblical Case for Seeking Medical Attention

A lady e-mailed me last week and told me that her best friend is suffering from cancer. Her friend refuses any medical treatment, because she believes Jesus is the Great Physician who will heal her. Any effort to receive medical attention from physicians is seen as a lack of faith -- and doing the "human" way v.s. following God's way.

She asked me if I could give her some biblical support which would show her friend that seeking medical treatment is not a sin -- or against "God's way" of healing.

I had a few ideas -- but am wondering what you would have said.


Abolitionist Luther Lee, one of the early founders of the Wesleyan Church tells the story of the clever rescue of a fugitive slave from the Eldridge Street Jail.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Continuing Through Ephesians

Hayward Wesleyan Church Family,

This Sunday, we will continue the "Livin' It" series, by digging into Ephesians 4:17-5:21. You can read it by clicking here.

As you prayerfully read the passage, look for how we're NOT to live -- and how we ARE to live -- the deeds of darkness v.s. the fruit of the light. (What do we put OFF? What do we put ON?)

What does it mean to walk as children of the light?

Key verse in this passage: "Wake up, O sleeper and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

Songs for Sunday:
Trading My Sorrows
Everlasting God
Shout to the Lord
More Love to Thee
My Jesus, I Love Thee

Main Course

On this National Day of Prayer, I am again reading the greatest book in my library besides the Bible. It's a powerful and convicting little volume, by E. M. Bounds entitled Preacher and Prayer. (note -- the link is to an online version.)
Prayer is the first thing, the second thing, the third thing necessary to a minister. Pray, then, my dear brother; pray, pray, pray. - EDWARD PAYSON.
I am discovering that prayer is neither the "appetizer" nor the "dessert" of ministry. It's the Main Course!

Making Vision Stick

Andy Stanley recently shared five vision principles at the "Exponential" conference. I didn't attend the event -- but picked up these powerful insights from my blogger friend, Mark Batterson, who was there.

1) Make it simple
Boil it down to an irreducible minimum. Andy cited the One Campaign's vision statement as an example: make poverty history.Andy also shared Northpoint's vision: to create a church that unchurched people love to attend.

2) Cast it Convincingly

3) Repeat it Regularly
"Vision leaks." As your church gets larger, you need more vision and you need to share it more frequently.

4) Celebrate it Systematically
Stories do more to clarify and illustrate vision than anything else.

5) Embrace it Personally and Publicly