Thursday, January 31, 2008

Elmer Towns

Last night, I dreamed that the noted scholar and church growth authority, Elmer Towns, came to our church, and gave us a consultation for free!

He was delighted when he observed our congregation, and was tremendously encouraging. "You have great people!! You have a great staff!! You have great opportunities all around you!! The sky's the limit!! You're going to need to expand your facilities soon! What an exciting place to serve the Lord! There are lots of unreached people in those woods! What are you waiting for? Go get them!!"

Ol' Elmer sure had me pumped!! I was ready to charge hell with a water pistol.
Then I woke up.

I took the dream as a word from the Lord -- to have more faith, to think bigger, to be more excited about my work in Hayward, and to bring the love of Jesus to our whole commuity. This morning, I pulled Elmer's book of my shelf and started reading.

I figure, if I visit him in the day -- maybe he'll come by again and visit me in my dreams.

31 Ways to Pray for Your Children

Here's a powerful article by Bob Hostetler, on how to pray specifically for your children. It's really good. I copied it off and put it in my Bible to enrich my prayers for my own kids-- 31 ways to pray, or one for each day of the month!

Spiritual Gifts

Here's a nifty little Spiritual Gifts Assessment from James McDonald. (Thanks to Caitlyn)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

God Pie

Back in the Saddle

Well, I'm back in the saddle again. I spent the weekend with my relatives in Ohio. Conducting Donnie's funeral was one of the toughest assignments I've ever been given -- but God's grace carried me through it.

It was good to be with my brother Tim (Donnie's dad) and my mother, as well as my other brothers, Steve, Sam and Wayne, and their families. I also reconnected with several good friends from yesteryear.

Donnie's wife, Shawn, amazed me. When I opened the floor for people to share their hearts, she stepped forward -- and talked for 15 minutes! She really hit the nail on the head, when she spoke of eternity, and encouraged people to get their hearts right with God.

I think we have another preacher in the family.

I flew back to Minneapolis late Sunday night, and drove to Warrens, where I met my family around midnight at the Wisconsin Pastors' Retreat. Dave Holdren did a fantastic job speaking for us -- a real challenge and encouragement.

We drove home yesterday in a winter storm, with several whiteouts along the way. It was sure good to get home.

Friday, January 25, 2008

When You Need It

I'm flying out today for Donnie's funeral. This is going to be a hard one to conduct -- but I know God will give grace and strength to all of us. "As thy days, so shall thy strength be."

I recall Corrie Ten Boom's story, when she spoke to her father about her fear of death. Her daddy replied, "Corrie, when we are going somewhere on a train, when do I give you the ticket?"
"Just before we get on board", she replied.

"And that's the way God works -- He gives you what you need, right when you need it."

At Balmy Ten Below


Ten below zero this morning as I write this -- and I am thankful to be warm. I'm grateful for the two strangers who came knocking on our door last night.

The Hayward area experienced a major crisis yesterday: the loss of natural gas for 1700 homes. A major valve malfunction left a lot of us stranded without heat yesterday in frigid, arctic temperatures.

I was really pleased to see how the community rallied together. Pete Sanders, director of Health and Human Services, is to be commended for an outstanding job managing this crisis -- setting up a temporary shelter at the high school, where refugees from the bitter cold could find warm relief, and providing transportation.

Crews, from all over the region, spent all day locating the problem, fixing it, and then helping to restore heat to each home. Two overalled workers from Eau Claire knocked on our door towards evening -- and got us going again. Bless those crusty angels in hard-hats.

I thought about the cold reception most strangers receive when going door to door. This was certainly a different situation. These guys received the WARMEST reception -- because:

1. They came to bring warmth.
2. They came without expectation.
3. They didn't lecture, scold or debate.
4. They didn't charge any money.
5. They didn't try to get me to buy into a new heating system.
6. They didn't tell me how wrong I was to rely natural gas.

Nope, they just came to help. They brought what we needed, came in, lit our pilots, and left us with warm, thankful feelings in our hearts.

We were happy to receive strangers like that.





Thursday, January 24, 2008

Positively Kicked Out

My buddy, Phil, recounts his experience of getting kicked out of the Crystal Cathedral

The Accident

The news article regarding Donnie's accident. .

The obituary

Please Pray

I had just finished speaking to the South Carolina pastors yesterday, and was heading to the airport, when I received the tragic news -- my nephew, Donnie, was killed in an automobile accident on his way home from work.

They've asked me to do the funeral.

I'll be flying to Ohio tomorrow (Friday) in order to attend the visitation.

Donnie was only 30 years old. Please pray for his wife, Shawn, and their two precious children. Also, my brother, Tim (his daddy), as well as the whole family.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Blogging Break

Heading out to Brooksville, Florida to preach at the Campmeeting (Wesleyan Bible Conference Association.) The meetings are Tuesday - Sunday (Jan 15-20.) Following that, I'm flying to South Carolina to speak to a group of 60 Wesleyan pastors. I'm hoping to get some writing and planning done in the "in betweens."

On Wednesday this week, we're having a big Wisconsin Reunion at Brooksville. Several snowbird friends have told me they will be there! I'm looking forward to that.

I don't intend to be online until my return next week. Please say a prayer for me -- that God will anoint the speaking -- and use me to be a real encouragement and blessing. Also, for my family as I am away from them.

Happy Birthday Cathy


Happy birthday to Cathy, my beautiful sweeheart -- wise, kind, full of the Holy Spirit, understanding, discerning, and true. You're even more lovely now than the day we met.

You have blessed my life in more ways than words can express. It is, indeed, a privilege and a joy to journey through life together with you.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Stewardship

Today I preached on Stewardship -- "You Can't Take It With You. . . But You Can Send it On Ahead."

How do you know what TEAM you're on? It's where you invest your. . .

Time
Energy
Attention
Money

Friday, January 11, 2008

Big Sissy

At bedtime, one summer evening, a storm raged outside:
rain pelted the windows
lightening flashed
thunder rolled
Momma tucked little Johnny into bed. She was about to turn off the light when, in a trembling voice, he said, "Mommy, will you stay here all night with me?"
The mother smiled, and said, "Oh honey, you know I can't do that. I have to sleep in Daddy's room tonight."
After a long silence, the little boy muttered, "The big sissy!"

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Decembered Grief


One other book I've read in the past couple of weeks is A Decembered Grief, by Harold Ivan Smith. I'm thankful to Dale and Pam Argot for the recommendation. It was very helpful to me, as I ministered to several families in the valley of sorrow.

Fruitful Preaching

The better the life of the preacher, the more abundant the fruit, no matter how lowly his style, poor his rhetoric, and plain his doctrine -- For the Living Spirit enkindles FIRE!
-- St. John of the Cross

Reading

I've not done a very good job maintaining my reading list lately. But, for the few who may find it of interest -- here are three good books I've read lately:

1. Jesus, the Pastor, by John Frye. This is an outstanding book on pastoral ministry, using Jesus as our model. (Most writing on pastoral ministry uses St. Paul as the focus, rather than Jesus.) Frye inspired me to read the Gospels through the lens of "Jesus as Pastor" -- what does that say about my own pastoral work from day to day? One of the best three books I've read in the last year!

2. Unchristian: What A New Generation Thinks About Christianity. . . and Why it Matters, by David Kinnamon. Alarming research which reveals how the rising generation views Chrsitians -- especially Evangelicals. It's eye-opening.

3. Homiletics, by Donald E. Demaray This is going to be the textbook for a course I will be teaching soon. An easy and insightful read -- which covers all the various aspects of preaching the Gospel. Great book!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Free Church Planting Demographics

Denominational officials need to pay close attention over the next couple of months. Exit polls from the Republican primaries provide us free demographics for planting evangelical churches in America.

Evangelicals leaving Republican polling places:
Iowa -- 60%
New Hampshire -- 21%

Looks like someone needs to start planting churches in New Hampshire.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Optimism

The other day, I received a fantastic little newsletter, "Exceeding Expectations", from my good friends, Gary Nathan and Amanda Mavis, at Woodland Developments and Realty. What a treasure!! With their gracious permission, I am reprinting an outstanding article from the newsletter, "Could Optimism be the Secret of Living a Longer, Happier LIfe?"

Recent scientific research now confirms the secret ingredient to a longer life -- an optimistic attitude. And there's even better news. . . anyone can learn to be more optimistic.

A Dutch study found that optimistic people live longer; in fact, almost 30% longer than pessimists. Scientists found an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke and weakening of the immune system associated with pessimism.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic, reporting on a 30-year-study, found that optimistic people live about 19% longer than pessimists do. These findings come from studying 839 people living in Minnesota. The researchers found people classified as "optimists" had significantly better survival rates. Optimists were less likely to develop depression, sought medical help when needed, and took better care of themselves.

So how can you become more optimistic? Here are six tips for becoming a more optimistic person:

1. Set Specific Goals. A study of happy people found they set goals and consistently take action.
2. Project a Cheerful Voice. Research has shown people feel the emotion they are acting. Use a positive voice.
3. Use Postivie Language. Use upbeat words: opportunity, challenge, recharging, success, can do, solution.
4. Practice Good Posture. Optimists have good posture, stand tall, walk briskly, and take big steps.
5. Focus on Solutions. When a difficult situation comes up, focus on the solution and put it into action.
6. Be a Role Model. When you at as a role model for your co-workers, employees, family and friends, you'll become more optimistic.

Just by applying these six steps to your life, you can change your thinking, reduce your risk of physical illness, and a longer, more fulfilling life
.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Traveling Mercies


Our son, Ryan, left yesterday to return to college in Indiana. His original plan was to leave immediately after our early service. Instead, he waited until later, had a late lunch with us, and then left.
If he would have left at the original time, he'd have been right in the middle of this.
I am one grateful daddy.

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. (Psalm 91)

Grass on the Path

When the gospel first came to Africa, some of the early converts became so passionate about prayer that they built their own private prayer huts. Each hut was set aside for just one person, and a path used only by that person led up to its door.

If someone neglected the loving discipline of prayer, guess what happened. Grass would begin to grow on his or her path.

The straying brother or sister’s best friends were those with the courage to say, “I love you, and I see there’s grass growing on your path.” In other words, I love you enough to correct you. You’re not doing what God has called you to do.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Pray for Kenya



Please pray for Kenya. The nation is spinning out of control, with rioting and killing, in the aftermath of a stolen presidential election. One of our Hayward Wesleyan parishioners, Barb, spends several weeks each year there, in humanitarian work. The entire project is now in a precarious situation. This could be a great opportunity to serve the Kenyans in the love of Christ -- but we need to pray that God will help the team overcome the huge obstacles before them.

Also, we have a pastor from Kenya, Rev. Shege, speaking at our church on Sunday, Feb. 3. He has many loved ones and friends in harms way -- and they all need our prayer support.

Robyn Bjork and friends are going to perform at a Benefit Concert, Feb 14 and 16 at the Park Theater. Besides helping our youth mission teams, the proceeds will go for compassion projects in Kenya.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Sapp Retires

Warren Sapp's Retirement Announcement

Count Your Blessings

Instead of recounting your woes. . .
count your blessings!

Rather than hashing your frustrations. . .
count your blessings!

Why fuss with your family, when you can. . .
count your blessings?!

Don't fret about things you can't fix . . ..
count your blessings!

Quit grumbling about what you don't have. Focus on what you DO have and.. . .
count your blessings!

Instead of stewing in your circumstances, take a chance and . . .
count your blessings!

Sure, there's plenty wrong with this old world -- but there's plenty right too! Just stop for a moment and . .
Count your blessings!

Yesterday carries a load of baggage, but remember the glad days and . . .
count your blessings!

Tommorw brings uncertainties, but nothing you and God can't handle together. Throw your shoulders back with faith and . . .
count your blessings!

Life on earth is much too short to spend in swamps of discouragement. Look up! Help is on the way! You can smile and . .
count your blessings!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

God Is Able!

Are you in an impossible situation? Is your life filled with trouble and worry? If so, I have three golden words for you: God Is Able!

It's true. He is more than able to carry you through the perplexities of life. God is Able!

Tackle those problems by yourself and you will discover just how weak and frail you are. Take your troubles to the Lord, however, and you will realize a power and strength beyond anything you have ever known. God Is Able!

I challenge you to take the situation you are fretting over right now, and pray about it. Lift it up to heaven. Say, "God, I can't handle this one by myself. Give me strength to make it through. Show me the way. Show me your mercy. Show me what to do."

If you pray this honestly, He will answer powerfully. God is Able!

The Bible says, "With God, nothing is impossible!" A prayer of simple faith can move mountains of fear, doubt and discouragement. God Is Able!

Do you have a dream? Do you wonder if you have what it takes to accomplish it? Remember, my friend, God is Able!

Through His energy you can accomplish much! Without Him, nothing worthwhile was ever made. He plants creative ideas into the human imagination, and they blossom into new, amazing realities. God is Able!

Ask and it shall be given unto you. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened. God is Able!

Yes, God is Able, but the big question remains -- Are You Willing?

Are you willing to believe God can do it?
Are you willing to risk with faith?
Are you willing to release your burden in prayer?
Are you willing to trust His voice as He calls you through the darkness?

Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance, but laying hold of His highest willingness.

God is Able!
God is Able!
God is Able. . . Are You Willing?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008