Showing posts from October, 2008

Church Metrics

Church Metrics is a new free resource to help churches keep tabs on attendance, giving, salvations and baptisms.

Of course, these statistics, in themselves, do not show the whole picture. For instance, it is difficult to measure the depth of love, the strength of prayer and the heart of missional service.

However, it is wise for church leaders to keep an eye on the measurable "dashboard indicators."

If attendance, giving, salvations and baptisms are all going down, there's probably an issue somewhere that ought to be addressed.

Happy Reformation Day

Upright Christians pray without ceasing; though they pray not always with their mouths, yet their hearts pray continually, sleeping and waking; for the sigh of a true Christian is a prayer.. -- Martin Luther, Table Talk

On Shepherding the Flock

Yesterday, I found myself neck deep in suffering. That's the lot of a minister. We're called to enter into the sufferings of others.

On any given day, I find myself facing a plethora of heartaches, struggles, and fears. Some days bring more than others. The last two days, it just seemed overwhelming.

Late yesterday afternoon, I wrote down all the different issues and sufferings that came across my path. There were so many hurting people. My heart broke for them. I carried these heavy burdens home. I dreamed about them last night. Even this morning, the heaviness was there.

In my early morning prayer, I brought all these issues to the Lord.

Then Jesus said, "You give them something to eat." (Mark 6)

"I can't possibly give these dear people what they need! I don't have enough!"

"What do you have?"

"Just a few small loaves -- just crumbs of energy and insight. Surely, not enough to meet these desperate needs!"

"Give them to me"



Revival is when God gets so sick and tired of being misrepresented, He shows up Himself.

-- Leonard Ravenhill

Missional Church

A powerful observation from my blogger friend, Bob Roberts:

I must not know what Missional Church is. I received the current Leadership Journal issue that dealt with this issue. It was all about “converts” and “church”, absent as to engagement. That isn’t to say church and converts don’t matter, it is to say we have made missional about us, and not them, about redefining church and not enlarging and engaging the Kingdom of God, a big mistake. When will we get back to disciples and society? This was what “making disciples” of “all nations” is about, raising up spiritual and loving people to touch nations with the love of God glocally! I don’t know what I am, or what we would be labeled, as a church. I just don’t think it matters. The power is in the outflow of the love of God, not in the brand or label.

Read the rest of the post here

Revival Key

The key to revival is not getting our churches filled with people, but getting the people who come to our churches filled with God."
-- Duncan Campbell


God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.
-- Oswald Chambers

Hannah's Blog

After a seven month blogging break, my daugher, Hannah has a couple of new posts. You find them here.

First Snow



Arriving at church yesterday morning, we discovered that the First Lutheran Youth Group had blessed us with a large flock of Pink Flamingos -- right at the front entrance. Bless the dear Lutherans.

Not Too Late

It is never too late to become the person you might have been!
-- George Elliot

That Divine Moment

True revival is that divine moment when God bursts upon the scene and displays His glory.
-- Del Fehsenfeld Jr.

When Mission Gets Lost in the System

Ed Stetzer wrote a fascinating post in light of his recent trip to Europe. He observed a striking difference between European Church Planters and the Vatican.

When Donna an I talked on the plane coming home (faces 11 inches apart), we were struck by how these church planters live incarnationally. Europe was their home-- and they were seeking to live sent on God's mission.

When we went to the Vatican, we did not find it to be a spiritual experience. It spoke to us, but not about faith. It spoke to us of power. It did not evoke "go and tell." Rather, it was clearly "come and see." (And, that same sentence would be true in many non-Catholic settings as well-- including a few I know all too well.)
. . .

Most of us have a Constantinian model for church which, very simply, is summed up like this: building + clergy + program = church

A better equation is this: body + mission + kingdom = church. We need to be a body on mission for the Kingdom

Before He Speaks

The Temptation to Quit

Everyone feels like quitting from time to time. . . for pastors, it's usually on Monday morning.

Here's an insightful post on the subject of quitting from The Internet Monk. (found it via Mayberry Church)

Good food for thought.

You Need More Than That

A young man in Bible school offered to help David Wilkerson years ago when he was ministering on the streets of New York City. Wilkerson asked him how much time he spent in prayer. The young student estimated about 20 minutes a day. Wilkerson told him, “Go back, young man. Go back for a month and pray two hours a day, every day for 30 days. When you’ve done that, come back. Come back, and I might consider turning you loose on the streets where there is murder, rape, violence and danger...If I sent you out now on 20 minutes a day, I’d be sending a soldier into battle without any weapons, and you would get killed.” (-- from the Heartbeat of the Remnant, newsletter of Charity Ministries)

Slow, Steady and Faithful

Margaret Feinberg reported the following encounter with a rural pastor in her book, The Sacred Echo:
Recently, we were with a church on the East Coast, and one of the leaders began sharing some of the struggles of growing a congregation in a rural environment.
"It's hard to translate some of the things that edgier churches are doing into our congregation," he confessed. "In an effort to be sensitive to the landscape of our community, I have to be careful in what elements we add to our services. I love hearing what God's doing in other churches, but being here makes me feel insulated and behind the times."
"It's got to be hard," I conceded, "But don't forget the insulation is also your protection. You're not called to be the next so-and-so church. Though these institutions offer insightful best practices and helpful techniques, at the end of the day, you are called to follow Jesus right here, right now, right in this community with t…

Most of Mosts

With God, the most of mosts is lighter than nothing, and without Him the least of leasts is heavier than any burden.
~ One of the ladies of the Scottish Covenant

The Lost Word That Wasn't Lost

I lost a very little word
only the other day.
It was a very nasty word
I really had not meant to say;
But then, it was not really lost
as from my lips it flew,
my child picked it up
and now he says it too.
(Guy King)

Towards an Integrated Spirituality

Taking the Plunge

Give the Old Lady a Break

89 year old Edna Jester, is facing charges of petty theft because she refused to return a football to the neighbor kids after it landed in her yard.

I say, buy another pigskin and give the old lady a break.

Manzini Church

Recently, I received an e-mail from a fellow Wesleyan Pastor, Jim Machuku, who is doing a wonderful job, planting a church in Swaziland. Now that's really cool!!

I encourage you to check out his blog.

It's a small world, after all.

Brand New Day

Today is a brand new day – a delightful opportunity to begin again.

I must not be held hostage by yesterday’s pain. If my heart remains open, and my spirit is right, yesterday’s pain becomes today’s gain. I will grow into a better person through the sufferings.

Today is a brand new day – and it needs to stand on it’s own.

I will not allow myself to be seduced by yesterday’s success, nor frustrated by yesterday’s failures. I shall fulfill my duty this day, and never look backwards for an excuse.

Today is a brand new day – and it’s the only one I have.

I refuse to let tomorrow’s concerns steal today’s joy. If tomorrow is going to be bad – why should it destroy the day I have? That would mean two bad days instead of just one. I want to make the best of what has been given to me.

Today is a brand new day – a gift from God for the investment of life. It is not to be squandered by worry or regret.

Consider the moments. Moments are the stuff life is made of. They march by us briskly in an unceasing…

Heart and Mouth

“The heart of a fool is in his mouth, but the mouth of a wise man is in his heart”.
-- Ben Franklin

In Jesus' Name

This is not right.

Six Virginia State Police Chaplains were recently forced to resign because they publicly prayed "in Jesus' name."

Seems to me, ministers of the Gospel ought to be allowed to pray in the name of Jesus whenever they are asked to call upon Him.

As the Virginia Constitution states:
"All men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience, and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice CHRISTIAN forbearance, love, and charity towards each other."

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionist; but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!”
-- Patrick Henry (Founding Father)

A Cool Way to Feed the Hungry

Free Rice: For each answer you get right, they donate 20 grains of rice through the UN World Food Program to eliminate hunger.

Go Hurricanes!

Hayward Hurricanes - 42
Bloomer Blackhawks - 24

Hayward is still undefeated!

Learning the Hymns

My friend, Naomi Cochran, poet laureate of the northwoods, wrote the following piece recently about how her mother taught her to read by following the words in the hymnal at the old Lutheran Church in Phipps, Wisconsin.

The words were flowers on my tongue,
God's holy language becoming mine;
Arranged in sweet bouquets, and sung
As death and life and love entwined.

Her fingers slowly traced each path
Where I, her child, would gladly go.
The mysteries of love and wrath
Revealed in song, so long ago.

The ceaseless praise, the stain of sin,
Forgiveness, grace, eternity--
Such tangled words, made smooth through hymns
Safe in my heart, God's treasury.

Shape of Mercy

In the mornings, I only do spiritual reading. That is, I limit my reading to books that nourish and strengthen my soul, deepen my prayer life, and challenge my walk with God.

In the evenings, I read more widely. On any given day, I'm reading books on history, relationships, leadership, or fiction. Just last night, I finished a novel, The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner. I began the book only out of obligation (told someone I would read it) -- but by the end, it had drawn me in and I couldn't put it down. An accomplished writer, Meissner masterfully weaves fiction, history, relationships, spiritual growth and self-understanding into an amazing and heart-moving tapestry. It's the story of a privileged Literature Major, Lauren Durough, who takes a part time job transcribing the 400 year old journal of a young lady (Mercy Hayworth) who lived in Salem, MA during the witch trials. As she works through the journal she discovers a growing affinity with Mercy, and embarks on a journey…

Debate Winner

The winner of last night's presidential debate?
Drum roll please. . . .
Joe the Plumber!!

I'll bet no plumber in history has ever received such acclaim and advertisement.

Left and Right

The Left mocks the Right. The Right knows it's right. Two ugly traits. How far should we go to try to understand each other's point of view? Maybe the distance grace covered on the cross is a clue.
-- Bono

The Sharp Point of the Spear

A great thought by my blogger buddy, Chuck Warnock on launching new efforts in a congregation. A spear has a sharp point, not a broad blade. Most of the time in churches we think we need a broad blade — lots of people involved in every ministry we start. But, when you really think about it, new ministries mostly are “spear-shaped.” The leading edge of the spear is sharp, pointed, and thin. Read the entire post here.

In God We Trust

The recent financial crisis on Wall Street has caused more than its share of alarm. In fact, recent polls have shown that over 80 percent of Americans are experiencing tremendous anxiety concerning our economy. It’s hard not to worry when your investments go down the tube. This has certainly been a stressful season.

Just last week, however, a sales clerk gave me a dollar in change. I happened to notice the little inspiring message on the back: “In God We Trust.” Did you realize that your money is a faith statement? There it is in plain sight. In God we trust! Using money is like passing out little gospel pamphlets:

In God We Trust!
In God We Trust!
In God We Trust!
Your wallet’s full of ‘em!

Buy a Dilly Bar at Dairy Queen, and you’re telling the clerk to trust the Lord!

How ironic! We have such a hard time trusting God with our money, when all along our money is telling us that’s exactly what we should do!

It is far better to trust in God than in possessions. Jesus said you cannot serve both…

Pray With All Your Might

You must pray with all your might. That does not mean saying your prayers, or sitting gazing about in church or chapel with eyes wide open while someone else says them for you. It means fervent, effectual, untiring wrestling with God...This kind of prayer be sure the devil and the world and your own indolent, unbelieving nature will oppose. They will pour water on this flame.
- William Booth

Soul Stirring

Was deeply moved this past week by two powerful little books --
How to Pray by R. A. Torrey
The Revival We Need by Oswald Smith

They reveal the leanness in my own soul -- and kindle a strong desire to pray deeper and love God more fully.

Our people have been praying around the clock, now, for three weeks. Yesterday morning, we saw fruit for the labor. At the end of the services, several came forward to pray concerning spiritual needs. There was a glorious outpouring of the Lord's presence, as we sought Him together. Significant victories were gained! Transformation! Praise the Lord!

Last Wednesday night, I saw the fulfillment of Joel 2 -- "our songs and your daughters shall prophesy." Two young ladies from our congregation, Saskia and Meghan, organized a prayer event at the high school football field.

The bleachers were full of young people singing praises to the Lord. Then, a half dozen or so young people stood before the crowd and shared testimonies of God's redee…

Mean Altar

O Thou Who camest from above,
The pure celestial fire to impart,
Kindle a flame of sacred love
Upon the mean altar of my heart.
-- Charles Wesley, "O Thou Who Camest from Above"

So -- what does "mean" mean? Webster's Dictionary gives a glimpse beyond the obvious:
* To Intend
* To Express
* To Have Good Intentions
* To Have a Degree of Importance
* Poor
* Shabby
* Petty
* Stingy
* Nasty
* Bad Tempered
* Halfway Between

Seems to me, all of these apply in one way or another.

On Pity and Compassion

"What in the world am I doing here in Ethiopia?" I wondered, as I rode in the jeep with missionary doctor, Dr. Harold Adolph.

Our motor vehicle was the only one in sight. Slowly, we navigated our way through a sea of pedestrians, ox carts, and chickens, down the dirt road into in the village of Soddo. It was just as if I had been plucked from the northwoods and dropped into a National Geographic documentary on Africa.

Arriving at the clinic, we got emerged from the jeep, and were immediately met with hundreds of needy people seeking medical attention. Most had been waiting for hours to see the doctor. Many would have to wait much longer. I saw a grieving mother, holding a lifeless infant in her arms. She looked at me with pleading eyes. I looked away.

The immensity of poverty and human suffering was absolutely overwhelming. Never, in all my life, had I witnessed such need, and felt so powerless to do anything about it.

A grotesque begger approached me. One eye and most of his te…


A sign my Dad had on his desk: The Lord Never Panics Another thought: Instead of staying awake tossing and turning, hand the situation over to the Lord. He will be up all night anyway.

Just What I Intend to Do

My friend, Jim, sent me this e-mail today:

Pastor Mark,
This Sunday please spend a few minutes addressing the financial disaster that some families have faced the past 2 weeks.......Please remind them:

1) Jesus knows just where they are at.
2) Jesus will meet all their needs.
3) This world is only temporary, the kingdom is eternal.

The Heaven of Heavens

The heaven of heavens is love. There is nothing higher in religion; there is , in effect, nothing else.

If you look for anything more than love, you are looking wide of the mark. You are getting out of the royal way.

When you are asking others, "Have you received this or that blessing?", if you mean anything but more love, you mean wrong. You are leading them out of the way and putting them upon a false scent.

Settle it, then, in your heart, that from the moment God has saved you from all sin, you are to aim at nothing more, but more of that love described in the thirteenth of the Corinthians.

You can go no higher than this, till you are carried into Abraham's bosom.

-- John Wesley, "A Plain Account of Christian Perfection"

Prayer Doesn't Bring Revival

I am delighted to see the deepened commitment to prayer among the people of Hayward Wesleyan Church. We are taking prayer seriously -- and we've seen some amazing results!

Still, here's something important to remember (I found this in the writings of Samuel Chadwick): Prayer doesn't bring revival (renewal.) Yes, it's true -- prayer does not bring revival.

Now, prayer is very important. In fact, it the most important activity on the face of this earth. Every great spiritual renewal movement began with prayer -- but let me repeat -- prayer, by itself does not bring revival.

If prayer alone brought renewal, then the Pharisees would have been the greatest renewal leaders in history -- they prayed a lot. However, their prayers were mostly perfunctory.

The secret is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then they shall hear from heaven. I will forgive their si…

Status Quo

The modern day church is often a weak and ineffectual church and is often an arch-supporter of the status quo.
-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Who Said This?

Teachers might not change the world in dramatic fashion, but we certainly change the people who will change the world.

So who do you think said this?


Chet Davis attends Hayward Wesleyan Church. I had the privilege of baptizing him a year ago. His faith and love for God is an inspiration.

Recently, he wrote the following poem:

Tears O how many tears must fall before we accept the Savior? Tears of remorse, regreat and sinfulness; Jesus knows them all. Jesus wants to catch them before they fall And wash them away with the blood that he shed on the cross And replace them with tears of forgiveness and joy. O how many tears must fall Before we accept the Savior?

Finding Joy

If you need an Inspiration Break -- Try This.

Get a Grip

Our generation is rapidly losing its grip upon the supernatural; and as a consequence, the pulpit is dropping rapidly to the level of the platform. And this decline is due, we believe, more than anything else, to an ignoring of the Holy Spirit as the supreme inspirer of preaching.
-- Dr. A. J. Gordon

Gordon's words certainly apply to today's church. God help us.

For Young Men Only

In honor of my 47th Birthday last week, I decided to read a little volume entitled, For Young Men Only. Now, I realize that's a stretch -- but after attending the funeral visitation of a dear 104 year old woman yesterday, I realized that compared to her, "young" still applies to me!!

Actually, I was previewing the book before handing it off to my teenage sons. For Young Men Only, written by Jeff Feldhahn and Eric Rice (with Shaunti Feldhan), is a delightful guide for young guys who are trying to navigate the comlex and confusing relationship between the sexes.

Feldhan and Rice report on insights gained by interviewing young women about their perspectives and wishes concerning male/fenmale relationships. The results are surprising.

For Young Men Only tackles such issues as:
* what she is looking for in a guy
* why girls sometimes fall for "bad guys"
* how to have a meaningful converation with a girl
* why girls go from "in love" to "get lost" so fas…

The Modern Church Historical

How Bob Hope Learned to Dance

I grew up with six brothers and sisters. That's how I learned to dance -- waiting for the bathroom. -- Bob Hope

6 and 0

Took the kids last night to the Hayward Hurricanes homecoming game vs Ladysmith. We won the nailbiter, 14-7, continuing an undefeated season. It's the first time the 'Canes have gone 6-0 since 1972. The whole town showed up to cheer.

Poetic Justice

Poetice: Poetic Justice. I like what these guys are doing.

A Special Birthday Gift

My son, Ryan, found some poor, old abandoned hymnals looking for a home, and brought them to me for my birthday!

Early this morning, during my devotions, I looked them over.

One of them was a songbook used in Gipsy Smith's revival meetings. (Smith was one of the greatest evangelists at the turn of the 20th century.)

When I opened the Smith songbook, and found this birthday greeting:

A Year of Precious Blessing by Fanny J. Crosby A year of precious blessing and glorious vict'ries won Of earnest work progressing , it's onward course has run; To Thee, O God, our Refuge, whose goodness crowns our days Within Thy eathly temple. we lift our souls in praise. In a second hymnal, Songs for Service, I found another birthday message: Better Every Day By Alice Horton When the shadows dark and drear Tempt my sould to doubt and fear I will look to Jesus, for He knows the way. He has kept me through the years Wiped away my bitter tears. I love my Savior better every day. O how sweet the joy He gives For wi…

47 Years old Today

Age is mostly a matter of mind.
If you don't mind -- it doesn't matter.

Wow and Amen!

My cup is running over!! Yesterday, I had a wonderful phone conversation with Dr. Wesley Duewel, author of Ablaze for God.
This precious 92 year old saint invested almost an hour with me. He shared some of his powerful poems. We discussed the need for revival and spiritual renewal in our land -- and then, I was blessed to have him pray for me and our church.
He is planning to travel to Hayward and speak for us on November 9. I know God is going to give him something special to share with us. Wow and Amen!!

Around the Clock Prayers

Hayward Wesleyan Church is literally praying around the clock during our Ablaze for God series! There are 168 hours in a week -- people have signed up for every hour -- except two on Saturday (1 and 4 pm) -- and we'll get those filled too! Just think -- at every hour of every day, someone is on prayer watch. Someone is lifting up our families, church, community, nation and world. Wow!!

The 24 -7 prayer will continue through the month of October! I am so happy to see my people rising up to the prayer challenge.

You can't go wrong by praying!! Things happen when people pray.

Psalm 16:8 says, "I have se the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."

Praise Gets You Airborne!

I was at O'Hare Airport in Chicago about a week ago, in a jet preparing for takeoff. As we taxied down the runway, I read these words in Knocked Down but not Out by Billy Joe Daugherty:

Praise is what gets you airborne. A lot of people are taxiing up and down the runway saying, "I'm a hopin' and a prayin'. You all pray with me." Get off the runway and get into praise: :Lord, I praise you. I thank you that you have redeemed me. You are going to make a way for me where there seems to be no way!" Suddenly, you are airborne and you are on your way!

I nudged the guy sitting next to me -- "Look at this! Look at this! Isn't that something!! We're taxiing down the runway and I'm reading this! Praise gets you airborne!"

Just as I was saying "praise gets you airborne" the jet lifted into the air.

Boil Thrice

My friend, Lola, gave my family a container of wild rice that had been harvested by her late husband, Russell.

I tried to cook it -- but the results weren't very satisfactory.

I called Lola to ask her advice. She replied, "Wild rice -- boil thrice! For it to taste right, you need to bring it to a boil three times."

Aha! That's the way it is with problem solving too. Difficult decisions are like wild rice. Usually, the first boiling is not enough for a satisfactory solution. We need to go back and mull over it some more -- boil it a couple more times -- and then, we'll have something!


Not all who wander are lost. -- J. R. R. Tolkein