Showing posts from August, 2008

Isaiah 57:14

Build Up
Build Up
Prepare the Way
Remove the Obstacles out of the Way
of My People

What obstacles need to be removed?
What needs to be built up?

Small Town Politics

McCain picks country girl Palin as his running mate -- and the snooty city pundits mock her experience as a "small town mayor."

Seems to me, if she can successfully navigate the curious politics that happen in a small community, she certainly can handle the big city stuff.

(Note -- this is not an endorsement -- just an obervation about small town politics.)

A Heartbreaking Experience

Very early this morning, I was at the hospital with a dear couple who delivered a premature, stillborn baby.

In their grief, they looked to me, for answers that made some kind of sense. I didn't know what to say. There are no words sufficient for such a heart wrenching experience. It was so sad.

They asked me to baptize little LeAnn Marie. Surrounded by her loved ones, I held this precious infant in my arms, blessed her, baptized her and committed her into the loving arms of Jesus.

She was so fragile . . . yet beautiful and definitely cherished.

Please pray for LeAnn's mommy and daddy, as they walk the dark valley of grief.

As I drove home a little while ago, the hymn, "Children of the Heavenly Father" came to my mind:

Children of the heav’nly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in Heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given.

God His own doth tend and nourish;
In His holy courts they flourish;
From all evil things He spares them;
In His mighty arms He bears the…

26th Aniversary

Today, Cathy and I are celebrating our 26th Wedding Aniversary. In honor of our 25th, we decided to go on 25 "aniversary dates" throughout the year. I'm happy to report -- we did it!!
Yesterday, I cut out of the office a couple of hours early and picked up my sweetheart for "Date 25." We made our way to Stout's Island Lodge, a rustic resort built over a century ago. (Thanks to Kurt and Deb who told us about this special getaway.)
Mr. Frank Stout became one of the wealthiest men in America after inheriting his father's lumber fortune in 1900. In 1903, he built a 31 room summer home located on it's own 26 acre island, for his family to enjoy.
Today, it serves as a destination point for visitors from all over. National Geographic Adventure Magazine listed it as one of the "Eight Best Summer Escapes in the U.S." We found it to be a delightful and interesting experience. We glided around the island in a two person kayak. We played billiards. Af…

At Seneca Falls

In light of my last post, here's a shot from our visit to the "Wesleyan Methodist Chapel" at Seneca Falls last autumn. Cathy and Allegra are happy to exercise their right to vote!

The Wesleyan Connetion

Did you notice that Hillary referred to the Wesleyans last night in her speech at the Democratic National Convention? Well, she didn't say "Wesleyan" specifically -- but she did mention the "Women's Right to Vote" Convention held in Seneca Falls in 1848 at the Wesleyan Methodist Church! As I've said many times -- everything in America is connected somehow to Wesley.

Church in the Woods

Nature Sang.
Heaven Declared.
Rocks Cried.
Trees Clapped.
And I missed the whole service
Because I wasn't paying attention.

A Couple of Good Experiences

Sunday over to Monday, I went with my boys, Ryan, Luke and Wes, on an overnight campout on the Davis Flowage. It is a beautiful wilderness lake -- fairly close to town -- but feels like the Boundary Waters. There is no visible sign of civilization anywhere along the shoreline. It felt a million miles away from people.

I told the guys, "Whatever you catch, we're gonna eat!"

But the catching was slow. When Luke finally snagged a bullhead, I changed my mind. Good thing we brought apples, bacon and marshmallows.

We stayed up half the night swapping stories, watching stars and listening to loon calls. We were delighted to find patches of wild blackberries.

I returned, exhausted and content.

Today, Hannah and I went to St. Mary's Hospital in Duluth, to visit three ailing friends. We prayed with each one. It is beautiful to see my daughter desiring to bring blessing to those who are hurting.

After the hospital visit, she and I went out to eat at Grandma's Restaurant …

2012 Class Mindset List

Each August for the past 11 years, Beloit College in Beloit, Wis., has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college. It is the creation of Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and Public Affairs Director Ron Nief. The List is shared with faculty and with thousands who request it each year as the school year begins, as a reminder of the rapidly changing frame of reference for this new generation.

Read the list here.

Fighting Fear

Fear can really do a number on us emotionally. It hinders our hopes,
cripples our character and destroys our dreams. I recently read that anxiety
(fear) is most common mental health problem for women. For men it ranks
second -- right behind alcohol related issues. (I guess that means guys
drink booze in order to mask their fears.)

Researchers have discovered that one out of nine Americans has a
debilitating phobia. If we don't deal with fear in a healthy way, it takes
over like a cancer of the soul.

Lloyd C. Douglas said, "If a man harbors any sort of fear, it percolates
through all his thinking, damages his personality, makes him a landlord to a

Whatever you fear has power over you! You must face it if you wish to master
it. As Frank Tyger stated, "Fear fades when facts are faced." We can quickly
spot the "anxiety disease" in others. It's much more difficult for us to see
it in ourselves.

Do you know the difference between realistic and unrealistic fear…

Happy Birthday Luke!

Our son, Luke, is 16 years old today!

We're celebrating today by taking an overnight canoe-camping-fishing trip on the Davis Flowage.

Hi Mom!

A little bird told me that my mother is going to be checking my blog this afternoon --so, I guess I'd better be careful what I write today!

HI MOM!! I think you're awesome!

When I remember you, I recall these words of the great president, Abraham Lincoln, "All I am today, I owe to my dear mother."

And then Momma replies, "Now, don't go blaming me for that! I tried to raise you right!"


Passing A Precious Saint

I received the sad news, yesterday, that Beulah Heavilin passed away. Many years ago, her husband, John, served as pastor of Hayward Wesleyan Church. Beulah ministered faithfully beside him.

Then, she began to suffer from crippling rheumatoid arthritis, which severly limited her physical ability and caused much pain.

Still, Beulah was able to pray and love. For decades, her dear husband, John, devoted himself to caring for her. Instead of serving in a church, he served his wife, which was the higher calling.

I happened to teach alongside their outstanding senior pastor, Steve DeNeff, last week. We prayed together for John and Beulah -- and both agreed that this selfless servant stands as a tremendous example to us. The love and care John demonstrated towards his ailing wife is the ultimate definition of success.

Now, Beulah is free. All the pain and suffering is over. Safe in the arms of Jesus! Free from all the limitation. Free to move without pain!

Please pray for John, and Beula…

Little Preacher

Now, this little fellow is a preacher!

To Encourage New Preachers

To my Homiletics (Preaching) students: This video should serve as a real source of encouragement for you. No matter how awful your sermon is -- it probably won't be as bad as this.

(Thanks, Todd, for the lead)

Pastor Knievel

Robbie Knievel, son of the legendary, Evel Knievel, came to Hayward this past weekend, and set a new motorcycle jumping record, clearing four helicopters and a plane. (All with a broken shoulder, by the way.) Our family drove by (on the way to Famous Dave's) and glimpsed the action from a distance. Warning for Pastors: similar stunts at church may end up with results like this: Rev Tries To "Be One With the Bike!"
Or this. (Ingrid shares videos of Pastor Knievel in action)

"He Couldn't Have Beaten Me!"

Mark Spitz, on the amazing Olympic performance of Michael Phelps.

OK Mr. Spitz, let's just see you try to beat him now.


Here's a little video taken last week at FLAME, where I was teaching. No, I didn't tape any of my Homiletics students to the wall -- and I did not attack the small town pastors with water balloons.

Thanks to Dale Argot for the lead.

Results Through Delegation

Don't tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.
-- George S. Patton, US Army General


I encourage you to cast your vote at the poll at msnbc on removing "In God We Trust" from our U. S. currency.

Wild Goose Chase

My friend, Mark Batterson has knocked the ball out of the park again! A Grand Slam Homerun!!

His new book, Wild Goose Chase, is an inspiring and insightful call to live dangerously for God. Celtic Christians called The Holy Spirit "An Geadh-Glas", which means "The Wild Goose." Batterson challenges us to get out of the cage and "Chase the Goose!" You can read a sample chapter by clicking here or purchase it here.
Mark's first book, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, was one of the best books I've read in recent years. Now, I'm delighted to discover that his second work is just as wonderful!!


Last week, I taught FLAME Courses at Frankfort, Indiana. I had a class of 35 outstanding students in Homiletics (preaching) for the first half, and then, in the second part of the week, I conducted a special course for a good group of small town and rural pastors.

The "preachers in training" did much better than expected. I thought I was in for a long line of bad preaching. Instead, we were all surprised, inspired and blessed by the presentations in class. I took notes!!

My heart was deeply moved by the commitment and plight of the rural pastors. They love the Lord. They love their people. They want to serve wholeheartedly. However, they are often in a very difficult situation.

Over half the pastors in my second class have other jobs besides working at the church. Some of them work all day at the factory, school or post office -- and THEN their ministry at the church begins. They are willing to serve bi-vocationally in order to help struggling congregations that cannot afford t…


My friend, Augie, forwarded this picture of the sign in front of Waupun Assembly of God

Blogging Break

Heading out of town today to teach FLAME Courses in Indiana, and will not be posting again until after my return on Aug. 16.

The courses I'm teaching this time are Homiletics (preaching) and a seminar for small town and rural pastors.

I was sharing some details about the homiletics class with my daughter, Hannah this morning over breakfast at McDonald's. "I'm going to be teaching a class on how to prepare and preach sermons", I told her.

A tourist in the next booth was listening in on our conversation.

"I hope you teach them how to keep people awake!" he said, "Most of the sermons I've experienced have been dry and boring."

"I'll do my best to knock 'em alive", I replied.

Safe Purses

Just finished a powerful book by Paul Scanlon, called Crossing Over. It's the story of how a church transitioned from an internal focus to external. . . reaching out to their community with the love of Christ. Pastor Scanlon knew their church was in trouble one Sunday, when during a fellowship time, he noticed that all the ladies just left their purses sitting around unattended while they visited with each other. This meant, although their church was vibrant and growing, their increase came mostly from tranferring church people rather than bringing in the thieves.

Date 24

This past Wednesday, Cathy and I went to Eau Claire to the Fanny Hill Dinner Theater. This was date #24 of our 25 Aniversary Dates we've had this year. (for our 25th wedding aniversary)
After a chicken cordon bleu lunch, we were privileged to watch Forever Plaid, the tale of a young quartet, killed in a tragic accident, but given the opportunity to come back to earth and do "one more show." They sang a lot of oldies.
I nodded off in the first half. The music was excellent, but I was full, tired and comfortable. Sort of gave me some sympathy for the good folks at church on Sunday morning. After shaking myself awake, I glanced over at Cathy. She was nodding off too! The second half was much better, however, and kept us awake. (Diet Coke at intermission helped.)


I thought I would be creative for today's wedding and weave in a passage of Scripture that related to this special date -- 8/8/08

I wondered if Psalm 88:8 might be appropriate. So, I looked it up -- and decided I'd better not use it.

Walleyes, Dilly Bars and the Name of Jesus

This morning, Cody Conner, one of the best fisherman in the entire northwoods, took me fishing in his canoe. We caught some really big fish -- a dozen smallmouth bass and four walleyes (not to mention three suckers.) It was a fantastic day of fishing -- and I learned a lot from a master.

With so many things to do back at the church, I felt a little guilty about taking a half day to fish with Cody -- but, then I remembered -- It's biblical. Jesus spent time hanging out with fishermen too! Besides, there are several principles of fishing that apply to church leadership!

After a busy afternoon at the office, I officiated at a small, lakeside wedding. Later, I went to the Relay for Life event at the high school track field, where I said the prayer for their "Luminary Ceremony", and defended my title as Hayward's Dilly Bar Eating Champion. (Undefeated, after four contests! When you have five kids, you learn to eat fast!)

I happened to mention our upcoming baptism to a lady w…

Living in Hayward

A vacationing visitor from Chicago recently said, "I wish I could just quit my job and live in Hayward full time. It would be like living in heaven!"

I smiled, and thought, "He doesn't know what it's like to live here!"

Later, relating this conversation to a Hayward native, I said, "Poor fellow doesn't realize that living in the northwoods is a far cry from vacationing here."

To this, my Hayward friend replied, "If that's the way it is for you, then you're doing it wrong."

"I think the citizens of Hayward ought to act like tourists," he continued, "We should take advantage of all our community has to offer! We should jump in the lake, canoe down the river, hike in the forest, go fishing, attend the Lumberjack Show, and buy candy at Trembley's. We should travel the bike path, go camping, have a feast at Famous Dave's, window shop on on Main Street, drive go karts, play mini-golf, and have homemade ice cream …

Pastor Favre Traded

After much deliberation, and despite loud protests by the congregation, the church board voted to trade Pastor Favre to the Presbyterians.

Going Soft

From subtle love of softening things, From easy choices, weakenings, Not thus are spirits fortified, Not this way went the Crucified. From all that dims Thy Calvary Oh Lamb of God deliver me! -Amy Carmichael

Blaming the Wrong Guy

A Mighty Deacon

My old friend from yesteryear, Sam Crabtree, serves on staff with John Piper at Bethlehem Baptist Church. Recently, following a discussion about changes in their Deacon Ministry, Sam penned a new hymn. It is posted at Desiring God, and sung to the tune of "A Mighty Fortress".

A mighty deacon is our man; He does what others think he can. Qualifications he doth meet. Electing him they thinketh sweet. And so they cast their vote; They do not rock the boat Their craft and pow’r are great: Quorum! Electorate! That deacon look is in his eye.
Did he in his own strength confide, That deacon would be freakin’. But what’s a deacon spozed to do? His job is what we’re tweakin’. Dost ask what tasks they be? Might they be two? Or three? How shall he play the game? From age to age the same: With deacon look there in his eye.
And though this world with deacons filled Should threaten to undo us, We will not fear, for votes have willed: Electing deacons to us. If you’re a deacon, deek! If you’re a beacon, beak! Let g…

Racial Issues in Church

Northwoods Adventure

Adventure, with all its requisite danger and wilderness, is a deeply spiritual longing written into the soul of man.
-- John Eldridge (Wild at Heart)

We bought a used lightweight canoe, to meet this deeply spiritual longing! It is patched -- but "lakeworthy."

Just before dusk, a couple of evenings ago, Ryan, Hannah and I took the old boat out on the Davis Flowage for her "maiden voyage" with the Wilson's. It was a delightful, heart-thumping experience.

We paddled silently towards the sunset into another world of pristine nature. The stillness of the lake was interrupted only by the dipping of our paddles.

Suddenly ---- KASPLOOSHHH!!!!!!

There was a humongous splash right in front of us! Then a leap and a long slithering of green and pink. It seemed to go directly underneath us.

"Holy cow!" Ryan shouted, "That was like a crocodile or hippo or something! It's nose was sticking out of the water!"

It was neither a crocodole nor hippo -- but a …

Uncle Buddy's Prayer

Oh Lord, give me a backbone as big as a sawlog, ribs like the sleepers under the church floor, put iron shoes on me and galvanized breeches, give me a rhinoceros hide for a skin, and hang a wagonload of determination up in the gable-end of my soul, and help me to sign the contract to fight the devil as long as I've got a fist and bite him as long as I have a tooth, then gum him till I die. All this I ask for Christ's sake. Amen. -- Early 20th Century Nazarene Evangelist, Uncle Buddy Robinson

Touch One

Just finished Touch One by Chris Shimel. It's a powerful and heart-touching story, reminding us that each individual is precious in the eyes of God. Ministry to the hurting individual is just as important (even more) than ministry to the masses. Shimel writes: If you are too busy to help one person, then you are way too busy. If you are too busy to touch the one you may meet along the way -- the one who may come as an interruption to your objectives and your schedule -- then you have ceased to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
With Jesus, the one in need always took precedence over any objective He pursued, whether it was a location, an appointment or a ministry. (p. 135)

Pastor Favre

"Tell you what Pastor. In honor of your good and faithful service to the church for all these years, the board voted to pay you $20,000 if you'll quit preaching and be an usher.

Ease on Down the Road


Preaching for a Decision

The Christian Gospel is a matter of decision. It is to be accepted or rejected. All that we who communicate this Gospel can do is to make possible a genuine decision. . . .
True communication of the Gospel means making possible a definite decision for or against it. We who communicate the Gospel must understand the others, we much somehow participate in (their) existence so that their rejection means partly an ejection, a throwing it out in the moment in which it starts to take root in them. To this point we can bring them, and that is what communicating the Gospel means. -- Paul Tillich