Thursday, July 31, 2008
Read the rest here at Tom Peters' blog.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
This is not the first time Jesus showed up in a package of Cheetos. Last March a Houston youth pastor was surprised to find Jesus praying as he snacked in the church office.
And here's another: In New Mexico, a praising Jesus came out of the Cheeto bag to encourage Dorothy to lose weight. She has not eaten a Cheeto since.
Maybe we should erect the Shrine of Holy Cheetos. . . then, again. . .
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
The Bammo post was in preparation for Sunday's sermon. "Bammo" is going into my Positively Speaking column in the Sawyer County Record this week. Normally, I stay away from being "preachy" in the column -- as it serves a different purpose than my sermons on Sunday.
However, I felt compelled to share this message of God's Powerful Word with a wider audience and pray that when the good folks of Hayward receive their newspapers on Thursday, that they will understand what I'm trying to say and that hearts will be infused with faith.
As I wrote about "Getting Up on Summer Mornings", I was lamenting the thought that I'd have to get up around 5:30 a.m. on Monday, my day off.
It was for a fun cause, however -- Cathy and I led a group of 23 Bible Quizzers to Valleyfair Amusement Park in Shakopee, MN. We came back around midnight red and slow-moving.
Now, this morning, God woke me up at 5:30 a.m. to spend some sweet time with Him in conversation before the busy day began. I'm so glad!! I love mornings. Bammo!!
Monday, July 28, 2008
In Genesis 1, God says, "Let there be light. . ." and BAMMO. There was light.
In Genesis 2, God said, "It is not good for man to be alone" and BAMMO -- here comes Eve!
In Genesis 15:1, the WORD of the Lord came to Abraham (Abram) "Don't be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward." BAMMO!! There was strength and security.
You see it over and over again in the Bible. God says it and its a fact. He literally speaks things into existence.
Quite interesting that in John 1, Jesus is called "The Word". Jesus shows up and BAMMO!! The Kingdom of Heaven is near!
Jesus declared, "Lazarus, come forth!" (John 11) and BAMMO!! His friend comes hopping out of the grave.
On the stormy Sea of Galilee, Jesus shouts to the raging waves, "Peace! Be Still!" and BAMMO!! All is calm and tranquil (Mark 4.)
No wonder, the Word of God is called the Sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17) BAMMO! Power for living!
No wonder the writer of Hebrews said "the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword ." (Heb. 4:12) BAMMO!!
Now, here's something that will blow your mind, regarding the promises in the Bible. God always keeps His Word. It becomes reality even as He declares it. This means every promise of Scripture packs the BAMMO!
"Peace I give to you. . . Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27) BAMMO!
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will go with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9) BAMMO!
"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles." (Isa. 40:31) BAMMO!
"God is my refuge and strength, an ever present help in time of trouble." (Psalm 46:1) BAMMO!
One final note: here's a word your will never hear God say: "OOPS!"
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
I was Katie's soccer coach when she was only four years old. The kids ran helter skelter up and down the field, and I tried to keep up. Once, the soccer game came to a screeching halt, because one of the players found a toad a midfield. Forgetting the match, they all gathered in a circle (both teams) and marveled at the little creature.
And now, Katie is all grown up and married!! Mrs. Riemer!! It's still hard for me to figure out how she grew up so quickly.
One of the joyful rewards of a long pastorate is to share life's passages with families, and to watch the children grow up. I found myself with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes a few times during the ceremony.
Both Katie and David love God, and hold deep faith. They are both from good and godly families. There is a huge benefit for young people raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
In keeping with Katie's great sense of humor, they played this for the recessional.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
It was great to connect with our son, Adam and his sweetheart, Allegra. They gave us a tour of University of Northern Iowa, where they will be enrolled this fall.
The kids enjoyed taking turns spending the night at their big brother's apartment.
Allegra was an excellent hostess and tour guide. While Adam worked, she showed us around. We visited a fascinating museum at the University and lunched at Panera Bread. The girls went to a matinee (Kit Kittredge) while the guys went next door and watched Wall-E
Later in the day, we met up with Cathy's mother, Madelyn, who drove in from Chicago. In the evening, we joined several members of Allegra's family (a party of 17 in total) at Steamboat Gardens and enjoyed tenderloin sandwiches for a buck. (Uncle Clarion, a good-hearted Iowa farmer picked up the tab.)
After dinner, we attended Sundown Serenade, an outdoor concert at Overman Park, performed by the Cedar Falls Orchestra (the oldest concert band in the state of Iowa.) By the way, they have the oldest tuba player in the nation. He's been huffing and puffing for over 60 years.
Homemade ice cream topped off the evening.
After bidding farewell the next morning, we returned home via St. Paul, Minnesota, where we stopped by the Science Museum, watched an Omnimax presentation on "Special Effects" and then visited the travelling Star Wars exhibit. It was fun to see the original costumes and models from the movies, and to do a little "hands on" science in the process.
Luke, Wes and I decided to have a "Star Wars Marathon" night pretty soon.
We took lots of pictures -- but I'm too busy to publish them on my blog at this point.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
-- Seth Godin (via Tony Morgan)
Friday, July 18, 2008
Who mourns in barren field,
Whose heart and flesh now fail
And naught but weeping yield–
When fears increase as life departs,
Where is the balm for broken hearts?
The weary Savior died
And in the grave was sown
To bear the wrath of God
For sin though not His own
Then He arose from where He lay,
The firstfruits of the harvest day.
O weary saint look up
For from the barren field
Will rise, in Christ, His own
With heart and flesh then healed.
Our hope is this, that death is gain,
Our tears and sighs will not remain.
John Ireland (1918) Reformed Praise
Thursday, July 17, 2008
The church overflowed with people from every imaginable background and belief system.
I knew that this was going to be a challenging funeral, given the wide disparity of perspectives. I hoped we'd all be able to come together in one heart as we remembered Ollie, and I knew my typical funeral message wouldn't cut it.
Before the crowds arrived, Joyce and Dessie showed up to pray with me. I thank God for these mighty prayer warriors.
In the stillness of the morning hour, these two godly women saturated our sanctuary with intercession. Together, we agreed in prayer that God's presence would be manifested in mighty love. We prayed that all the people attending the funeral would feel a deep and overwhelming love surrounding them.
Joyce and Dessie prayed over the pews -- and over the entrance. Then, slipped away unnoticed.
God answered their prayer of faith. When the service was over, everybody marvelled at how much love filled that room.
Love is what brings us together.
Love makes the difference.
Prayer brought the love.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
She posted about her visit to Hayward Wesleyan Church here. . . Little Pastor in the Woods. So glad you could be with us, Greg and Keetha!!
If you poke around, you'll see several good pictures of various Hayward tourist destinations at Keetha's blog as well!
His unexpected death is still a mystery. He just didn't show up for work for a couple of days -- and those who went to check on him, found he had died in his sleep.
O. J.'s daddy is a member of our congregation. My heart breaks for this precious family in their hour of darkest sorrow.
In times like this, we are left bewildered. It is in regard to this sort of confusion that Larry Crabb writes:
Our shattered dreams are never random. They are always a piece in a larger puzzle, a chapter in a larger story. Pain is a tragedy. But it's never only a tragedy. . . The journey to joy takes us through shattered dreams. (Crabb, Shattered Dreams)
Monday, July 14, 2008
“To make your life small when it could be great is sin and heresy!” -- Elton Trueblood
When babies are born into this world, they are really cute – and they are characterized by helplessness, sensitivity, and unfulfilled potential. Now, that’s perfectly normal for a baby – but not a grown up.
God gave us all potential so we can discover and live it!
You have to grow to grow up! Maturity means you can’t allow yourself to stay helpless. Don't let yourself harbor hurt feelings. Strive to be your best, and refuse to settle for mediocrity.
As the wise old bard once said “The saddest words in tongue or pen are simply these: It might have been.”
What is Potential?
NA + SD + D + P + FOF + WTL
Natural Ability + Self Discipline + Drive + Persistence + Faith Overcoming Fear + Willingness to Learn = Potential!
How do you determine your potential?
P – Prayerfully determine what God wants you to do with the rest of your life.
O – Organize your life around this mission
T – Take time to develop your inner life (to grow, to learn, to reflect, to pray)
E – Embrace setbacks and failures as learning experiences
N – Never settle for small living
T – Take others with you on the journey
I – Increase your capacity with pro-active learning (stretch your mind with new ideas!)
A – Attitude adjustments must be made regularly (check up from the neck up!)
L – Leave the final results to God
“Few of us ever have risen equal to our best vision. The place at the top is only won by the brave; and the average person’s courage leaks out before he reaches the top.” -- A.P. Gouthey
Sunday, July 13, 2008
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes (The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, 1891, p. 17)
Mark's note: Some sermons are like that. I recently told a young preacher in training: "You should have only ONE "in conclusion" -- not two or three. If you don't know how to land the plane, it's much better to turn off the engine and crash land, than just circle until you run out of gas."
Saturday, July 12, 2008
1. Welcome Brett back and let him take up where he left off:
Most Packer fans would like that -- but it would be very detrimental to their relationship with Aaron Rogers who has been very patient in the "grooming process." Also, Brett's dismal performance in the frigid championship game at Lambeau makes me wonder if the gipper still has it in him for the long haul. He had a wonderful season -- with a few horrible moments. At this point, he's still great -- but wouldn't it be better for him to go out in greatness than to continue until he is booed off the field? What if things unravel? How do you tell a legend that he's washed up?
2. Bring him back, but let Rogers start:
That won't go over very well in Packerland. I cannot imagine Brett as a benchwarmer. If they choose this option, poor Rogers will have a huge target on his back. Every mistake he makes will be magnified -- and every decision will be "second guessed." There will be a "quarterback controversy."
3. Release him and let him sign up with another team:
This is what Favre is requesting -- and it's the worst possible option for the Packers. This opens up the possibility that he would end up with a rival like the Bears or Vikings. Packer fans would rend their garments!! Can you image Brett coming back to play AGAINST Green Bay wearing a Purple 4? Can you imagine Brett BEATING us at Lambeau?? ARRRGGGHHH!
4. Trade him:
The fans would scream their heads off in protest -- but it might be the best scenario. Of course they would have to be picky. They would have to trade him to some dumpy team that:
- Doesn't have a chance of going to the Super Bowl.
- Won't be playing against the Packers for the next year or two.
- Has a superstar athlete they're willing to trade to shore up a Packer weakness.
None of the four options above are appealing.
Brett ought to rethink this whole thing. As far as the future is concerned, the best solution is for him to go back to Mississippi, run his tractor, and thank the Lord for all the good memories.Here's the Packers statement -- which doesn't state anything.
The boys won the penny offering with a bang (although the girls are quick to point out they won three of the five nights.) We collected several hundred dollars in pennies, which will be given away to Mercy Ships, where children will receive life-saving operations. (When you look at the result, everybody wins!)
I love VBS. It's an opportunity for me to get to know the children -- and to be THEIR pastor. I don't get to do that very often. The grown ups keep me too busy.
Of course, the kids already have an outstanding pastor in Jeremy Mavis, who leads the excellent children's ministry of Hayward Wesleyan Church. He's fantastic.
During VBS week, however, Jeremy gave me the privilege of showing the students a brief film clip (Chadder's Theater) -- and then leading them in prayer. That was the sweet part!
I love the prayers of children. I love their faith. I wish grown ups had half as much faith as that!
On Thursday evening, we "brought in the net", asking the children to open their hearts and give their lives to Jesus. Over 60 of our children responded to that invitation! It was precious.
Last night (Friday), a beaming mother sought me out. She had tears in her eyes. She said, "Something wonderful happened to my little boy! He's had some troubles -- but last night, my son came home from Bible School and announced that he invited Jesus into his heart.
'I'm a NEW MAN now, mom! The empty hole I had inside me has been filled up!'"
Another young fellow (3rd grade) pulled me aside on Wednesday and asked, "Am I too young to ask Jesus to come into my life?" On Thursday, he was the first one to respond to the invitation. Friday, he came -- glowing with joy -- carrying a homemade construction paper card for me. It had a big cross on the front. Inside, it said:
"Pastor Mark, Thank you for helping me know Jesus."
I love Vacation Bible School
Friday, July 11, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Here's how I define a "We relationship": When your customer never thinks of you without thinking of both of you. A customer can think that your company is wonderful, as in "They do a great job." But, when your customer can't think of you without thinking of her relationship with you at the same time, then you've achieved a higher level of connectedness.
Read the rest here.
In Quiet Moments - Worship God
In Painful Moments - Trust God
In Every Moment - Thank God
(My good friend, Harold Adolph (missionary doctor to Ethiopia) recently shared this nugget of inspiration with me.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Research results can be found here.
Likewise, you will note the states LEAST impacted by alcohol problems -- another band, across the south.
Why are the northern states more prone to alcohol abuse than the south?
I'm certain the difference has something to do with THIS map.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Monday, July 07, 2008
Sunday, July 06, 2008
1. She had a Hard Life
- Bad decisions
- Jericho prostitute
- Baal worship -- child sacrifice, rampant immorality
- unworthy, unloved, unaccepted
2. She made a Hard Choice
- The decision: turn in the spies (be a "good citizen") or hide the spies (be "God's citizen")
- You can never make the necessary change if you are unwilling to make the hard decision.
3. She reaped a Harvest of Righteousness
- Her hard decision blessed her family (see Josh. 6) Her mother, father, brothers and sisters.
- She left a legacy -- married Salmon -- baby was Boaz -- husband of Ruth -- grandparents of David!
- If Rahab had not made the hard decision, we would not have most of the Psalms!
- Hebrews 11 -- Hall of Fame -- Rahab is there!
- Lineage of Jesus -- Matthew 1 -- Rahab is there too!
We had full house -- about 700 people -- with several out of town visitors.
I really love the old hymns. (I love the new songs too -- but the old hymns are still my favorite.) They are a special part of my daily quiet time with God.
Here's an insightful article (from the RUF site) by Kevin Twit about why young people are returning to old hymn texts: My Grandmother Saved It, My Mother Threw It Away, and Now I'm Buying It Back.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
Friday, July 04, 2008
Sure, she has her flaws and failures. Sometimes I get frustrated and disagree strongly with hurtful policies and decisions made by our national leaders and courts.
But, this morning, I am reminded of how fortunate we are to live in this great land of bounty and freedom. I thank God for America and pray His blessing and protection over her.
I thank God for our president, congress, and supreme court -- convicted that I 've spent far more time and energy griping about them, than praying for them.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
1. Helen Hoover's A Place in the Woods.
Hoover and her husband, Ade, left the rat race of the big city, and bought a place deep in the northwoods. This is a description of their life with the animals, birds, forest -- and occasional neighbor. It doesn't really have plot, and moves slowly -- but it's great for relaxation! Also, living the woods myself, I'm inspired to take better notice of the details around me.
2. Listening Point by Sigurd Olson
I have read all of Olson's works, as well as his biography. He is, by far, my favorite nature writer.
"Listening Point" was the moniker Olson gave to the special place he found by canoe near Ely, Minnesota.
In Olson's words, "I named this place 'Listening Point' because only when I come to listen, only when one is aware, and still, can things be seen and heard. It does not have to be in the north or close to the wilderness, but some place of quiet where the universe can be contemplated with awe."
3. Wilderness Visionaries by Dale Vickery
This is a collection of short biographies of several "champions of nature." He highlights the lives of Leopold, Thoreau, Muir, and Sig Olson, along with a few others.
These books help me to grasp the line of William Blake, which says:
To see eternity in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower;
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
and eternity in an hour.