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Showing posts from November, 2008

Explanation

This quote really hit me between the eyes:

Could it be your arrogance that makes you think God owes you an explanation?
-- Francis Chan, in Crazy Love

A New Family Member

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This morning, we adopted Vin from the Northwoods Humane Society. He's a good mutt -- a year old -- and full of affection.

Happiness Paradox

Great article by Nancy Ortberg, The Gospel and the Happiness Paradox

Pastoral Letter on the Economy

The Board of General Superintendents of the Wesleyan Church has released a Pastoral Letter on the Economy.

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
t…

True Hope and Change

Bishop N. T. Wright speaks at Harvard -- "Christianity is the answer for those who want to change the world."

Thankful

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The great Bible scholar, Matthew Henry was attacked by thieves and robbed of his purse. He wrote the following words in his diary:

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.

Cold Turkey

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Gratitude

Gratitude = Doing Dishes

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Gratitute requires action. I have heard that the difference between thankfulness and gratitude is similar to going to eat at someone else's house. A thankful person will compliment the good food and company. A grateful person will clean off the table and help with the dishes.
-- printed in the Indiana South Wesleyan

My Brother Steve

I talked with Steve tonight. He came through surgery well and is now on the mend. He's been through a lot lately -- but the Lord has carried him all the way.

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.

The Thanksgiving Attitude

Thanksgiving is not a holiday -- it's an attitude! If it's just a holiday for us -- then we let ourselves off the hook too easily. "I'll celebrate Thanksgiving one day a year, and be grumpy the other 364!" Actually, Thanksgiving Day is simply a reminder of how we ought to live every moment-- a special day to celebrate what we are called to be all year long!

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 wo…

On Writing

I never want to write to write. I want to write because I can't not write.
- Mark Batterson

Church Basement Ladies

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Cathy and I went on a double date with our friends, Steve and Linda, to Olive Garden and a performance of the musical comedy, Church Basement Ladies last evening.
The play was thoroughly enjoyable -- with an odd familiarity -- bringing to mind many "long-forgotten" church basement memories. "This is most certainly true!"
Count your blessings instead of your crosses;
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.
~~Author Unknown.~~
(Sent to me yesterday by my up-north friend, Bill)

Dean

Late last night, I received a phone call, telling me that the authorities had just entered my friend, Dean's house, and found him lying dead on the floor.

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.

$250

Hindu extremist groups are offering money, food and alcohol to anyone who murders Christians and destroys their homes. The going price to kill a pastor: $250. Seriously.

More Here

Momentum

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Andy Stanley on Gaining and Sustaining Momentum When we ask churches that are experiencing momentum, “Why?” they will often respond, “God is just blessing.” Now that is a good answer, but that is not a helpful answer. The follow-up question needs to be, “what is God blessing?”

Pray for Steve

My brother, Steve, who lives in Ohio, is having surgery Tuesday morning. Please pray him.

Food For Thought

Dr. Scott W. Sunquist, Professor of World Mission and Evangelism at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, recently wrote a powerful two-part article on how the church is not training leaders to engage the present culture.
The Dangers of the Unconverted Seminary, Part 1

The Dangers of the Unconverted Seminary, Part 2

John Metz

Just received word that my dear friend, John Metz passed away this evening. My heart is sad right now.

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.

3 Big Words

Observations from Bob Roberts concerning shifts in thinking about church leadership:

In the 1990's, the three big words were:
1. Excellence
2. Relevance
3. Anonymity

In early 2000, the three big words were:
1. Belonging
2. Real
3. Community

But as 2010 approaches, the three big words are:
1. Spiritual
2. Global
3. Activism

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:
1. Pray
2. Obey
3. Love

Only In Wisconsin

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Preacher and the Bear

In honor ofWisconsin's Deer Opener

Robust Gospel

Sad News

I wrote about my friend, Fred, a couple of days ago. This morning, at 5:00 a.m., he passed away. I'm so thankful to have had the opportunity to be his friend and to be near him during his final days.

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.

Shaping Conversations

My missional friend, Bob Roberts asks this profound question:

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?

Luther the Blogger

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Found this at Charles Hill's blog

In Times Like These

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The recent economic downturn has had a devastating impact on many families in the Hayward area. I've served as a pastor here in the northwoods for nearly 18 years, and have never seen conditions like this before.

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 …

Fred

Yesterday morning, I was called to the bedside of my friend, Fred, who is dying of cancer. I was deeply honored that he had invited me to come and enter this part of his life with him.

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.

Bible On One Page

Here's a cool site that provides the entire Bible on one page. Special thanks to my friend, Shirley Boyle, for passing it along to me!

Limited View

From a desk, the view of the world is very limited

My Mother's Wish

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Recently, I read a heartwarming Christmas Story -- My Mother's Wish, by Jerry Camery-Hoggatt. It's a tiny little work, only 81 pages. I devoured it in one sitting!
It's the enchanting tale of "contrariwise" Ellee Crumb McKutcheson, and her complicated relationship with her domineering mother.
Ultimately, it's a parable about hopes, expectations and love.
Hoggatt, a professor at Vangaurd University, is a master story teller. His humor is fabulous! There were several "laugh out loud" occasions as well as a couple of Kleenex moments.
A great read for Christmas, but I would suggest reading it first before giving it to your mother.

Broken Windows

In Answer

Nothing comes but in answer to prayer.
-- John Wesley

Static

I participated in telephone conference call yesterday afternoon. One of the members (nobody knew who) of the group had a cell phone that was acting up -- squealing, feedback -- a bunch of static.

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.

Challenging

Unfailing Love

Be persuaded, timid soul, that He has loved you too much to cease loving you. ~ Fenelon

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!

Purple Cows and the Sticks Conference

My blogger buddy, Mark Batterson posted on his recent talk at the Sticks Conference.

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:

Charles Hill

Kevin Rush

Samwise the Brave

Tim Stevens

Church Requel

Jeff Borden

Kris Sorenson

Courage

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You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, "I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along." . . . You must do the thing you think you cannot do.-- Eleanor Roosevelt

7 Vital Attitudes for Effective Ministry

My good friend, Gary Exman, has a fantastic ministry encouraging and blessing those who serve in small towns and rural communities. I found the following post on his blog, and am passing it along to you. I also encourage you to pay him a visit at Come and See:

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 t…

First Snowman

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Introducing the first Wilson snowman of 2008. Hannah named him Herbie.

Missional Shift or Drift?

A Picture with Dr. Duewel

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A Special Experience

Yesterday morning, I dropped Dr. Duewel off at the airport for his return trip to Indiana.

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 hear…

Apostles and Earrings

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I wonder if this belonged to one of the apostles? Simon the Zealot strikes me as the kind of guy who would wear an earring.

I recall the time, when I was graduating from seminary, I received an invitation to start a new congregation in a college town. In the letter, they outlined the vision, the demographics of the community, and their expectations for the pastor.
The letter ended with a p.s. -- "and of course, your wife will not be permitted to wear earrings."
They forgot say anything about ME wearing earrings. For a while, I was tempted to go ahead, take the position, and get my ear pierced.

Pressurized

Just in case you're in the "pressure cooker", here are a few stress busters. Take one or two as needed.
1) God is bigger than any problem you have.
2) You can accomplish big things only when you can say "no" to little things.
3) When you've done all you can -- let it go.
4) Not much is worth worrying about. Worry selectively.
5) With God all things are possible!
6) An ounce of action is worth a ton of worry.
7) Most of the things we worry about never come true.
8) Live on purpose! Set priorities and use them to chart your course.
9) It's not the big job, but the little worries that drain our energy.
10) Refuse to allow fear to direct your life.
11) Relax. Don't sweat the small stuff.
12) Problems will come. You can't avoid them. The real you will "show through" when the pressure is on.
13) Life goes on.
14) Look for the joyful surprises -- the postcards from heaven -- in every day. They are there, but you must search for them.
15) Few things are wort…

A Beautiful Day with a Precious Saint

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We had a wonderful day at church with Dr. Wesley Duewel.(Author of Ablaze for God.) Dr. Duewel is a true saint of God. In his life, there is a thin veil between earth and heaven. He has walked with God so long and so deeply, that he lives the spiritual realm as naturally (even more so perhaps) than the physical realm.
Our people were deeply touched by his total dedication to the Savior, his fervent prayer, and his overflowing love.
Tomorrow morning, we're hosting a meeting for pastors in the area -- and I'm going to turn Dr. Duewel loose on them!!

Home

Finally home -- after a full week away teaching Evangelism in South Carolina and speaking to a group of pastors in Oregon. I was privileged to have dinner last night with our General Superintendent, Jo Anne Lyon along with Karl and Sharon Westfall. Karl is the DS for the Northwest District, and Sharon's daddy is one of my heroes -- Orval Butcher.

We dined at a lovely restaurant with a panoramic view overlooking the city. Beautiful!

JoAnne and I found several amazing connections -- including a mutual apostolic succession!

Awoke at 4:15 this morning, to catch an early flight back to Minneapolis. Arriving at the airport, I scuttled over to Gate C18, and served as the "Welcoming Committee" for Dr. Wesley Duewel.

Dr. Duewel, author of Ablaze for God and several other books, will be our special guest speaker at church tomorrow.

We had a delightful visit all the way back to Hayward.

I discovered that Dr. Duewel was personal friends with the great missionary E. Stanley Jones. He knew …

North by Northwest

I'm having a delightful time speaking at the Northwest District Pastor's Retreat in Neuberg, Oregon. Their District Superintendent, Karl Westfall, has been a good friend for many years. He's doing a great job of leadership in a very challenging culture.

Last night, I spoke on bringing dry bones to life (Ezekiel 37) and shared about our Ablaze for God series. The Lord helped me and the message seemed to hit home with them.

Trunk Or Treat

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About a thousand kids showed up at our Trunk or Treat last Friday evening. Pastor Jeremy and crew did a fantastic job providing a safe, fun and kid-friendly environment at the church. The moms, the kids and the dentists were all happy!

Propostion 8

Dirty Laundry

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A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning, while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees the neighbor hang up the wash outside. "That laundry is not very clean", she said. "She doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs another laundry soap."
The husband looked on, but remained silent.
Every time her neighbor would hang out the wash, the young woman would make the same comment. About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband, "Look! she has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this?"
Her husband said, "I got up early this morning and washed the windows." (sent by a friend via e-mail)

Our Christian Responsibility

"I urge you then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone -- for kings (Presidents) and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

This is good and pleases God our Savior,. . .

I Timothy 2:1-2a

A Good Thought on Election Day

Meet the sun every morning as if it could cast a ballot.
-- Henry Cabot Lodge Jr.

The Winning Blow

Prayer is striking the winning blow. Ministry is merely gathering the results in.
-- E. M. Bounds

Table Rock South Carolina

I am at Table Rock, South Carolina, teaching a course on Evangelism to a wonderful group of 24 eager students. They are insightful and engaging. It's fun to teach a group so ready to learn and grow.

Ryan's New Song

Check out my son Ryan's new song. It's really profound.

Lonely Man's Hymn

Blogging Break

After church today, I am flying to South Carolina to teach a FLAME Evangelism Class, and then to Oregon, to speak to a group of pastors.

For the first time, I'm planning on taking my laptop with me as I travel. However, I don't know what kind of internet access I'll have on the road and my schedule will be pretty demanding.

Thus, this may -- or may not be the last post you'll see here for a while.

Zehnder

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Zehnder's a new group that's just now breaking out and getting known beyond LA.
Twins, Tom and Tim Zehnder present a wide repertoire of missional music. Their pastor says they are musicians, disciples and theologians "all in one." Here's a Youtube performance of Spirit Born Blow through me, Wind, breathe on me, Breath, make Spirit born, All of my soul, make Spirit born, Spirit born. The Nicodemus in me can’t believe how The Nicodemus in me is too long in religious categories The Nicodemus in me still runs to the rebel rabbi In the middle of the night…”