Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Anyhow, here are my ten favorite reads of 2008:
1) Ablaze for God (Wesley Duewel)
2) It (Craig Groeschl)
3) Wild Goose Chase (Mark Batterson)
4) The Ultimate Blessing (Jo Anne Lyon)
5) Return of the Prodigal (Henri Nouwen)
6) Lumberjack Sky Pilot (Frank Reed)
7) The Way Forward (Matthew Leroy and Jeremy Summers)
8) On the Side of the Angels (D'Souza and Rogers)
9) God Size Your Church (John Jackson)
10) Wilderness Visionaries (Jim Dale Vickery)
The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher (Rob Stennett)
My Beautiful Idol (Peter Gall)
The Pastor and Prayer (R. A. Torrey)
The Revival We Need (Oswald Smith)
Touch One (Chris Schimel)
Crossing Over (Paul Scanlon)
White Robes and Spiritual Feasts (G. D. Watson)
Helps to Holiness (Samuel Brengle)
Sunday, December 28, 2008
For instance, together, through our Giving Tree, we provided Christmas gifts to 175 children. When many of us did a little bit, it ended up making a big difference!
On Christmas Day, over 200 people came to the church for Christmas Dinner. My heart was warmed as I sat with my family, and looked over the Fellowship Hall at the happy faces. Many of these folks would have spent Christmas alone. Afterwards, I spoke with Mike, the head cook, who, with misty eyes, told me how much this experience blessed him. Several families of the church served together joyfully. I'm so happy to see the young children of the congregation learning this valuable lesson: It is more blessed to give than to receive.
The SHARE program, which provides a marvelous deal on food packages, is centered at our church. I was overwhelmed by the buzz of happy activity, as Mary Ann and the gang, prepared boxes of groceries for the waiting "customers."
Several of our church people were involved in Toys for Tots, as well as community food drives.
Some of our small groups went Christmas Caroling to the shut-ins. They came back reporting what a meaningful experience it was. Hannah and I conducted Chapel Services at the Nursing Home two days before Christmas. I noticed one dear lady, who cannot carry on a conversation, sang every word of the familiar Christmas songs. It brought back the joy of childhood.
Entering the store a couple of weeks ago, I was met by a group from our church, singing carols at the Salvation Army Bucket. They shook me down!
On the 23rd, a kind man brought a gift to the office to "help a family going through a hard time." I was delighted to play "Santa" and deliver the gift to a family who truly needed and appreciated the help.
Now, for a Missional New Year!!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
My son, Ryan, wrote a special song for the evening, and sang it: It was powerful. I hope he posts it soon on his myspace.
We thank Thee, O God, for the return of the wondrous spell of this Christmas season the brings its own sweet joy into our jaded and troubled hearts.
Forbid us, Lord that we should celebrate without understanding what we celebrate, or like our counterparts so long ago, fail to see the star or to hear the song of glorious promise.
As our hearts yield to the spirits of Christmas, may we discover that it is Thy Holy Spirit who comes -- not a sentiment, but a power -- to remind us of the only way by which there may be peace on earth and good will among men.
May we not spend Christmas, but keep it, that we may be kept in its hope, through Him who emptied Himself in coming to us that we might be filled with peace and joy in returning to God.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
The UPS man arrived late morning with three wonderful books from Amazon. I tore the box open and dug right in to Craig Groeschel's IT: How Churches and Leaders can Get It and Keep It.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Dr. Kenneth Schenck, associate professor of religion at Indiana Wesleyan University, has written an insightful and concise guide for reading the Bible: Making Sense of God’s Word.
Though one of the deepest thinkers in our tradition, Schenck handily simplifies the very complicated issue of biblical hermeneutics. Through a clear, step-by-step process, the reader is taught to move from the historical and literary context of a passage to life experience and today’s application.
This is helpful guide is easily one of the best-ever books on interpreting the Scriptures. It will prove to be a valuable tool for teachers, preachers, and others concerned with “rightly
dividing the Word of Truth.”
(The book will be available for purchase in early 2009)
Christmas is FORGIVING.
Forgiving means removing the space between others and ourselves. It’s taking away the distance from our hearts.
Now, nobody wants to walk around with a heavy load of resentment and bitterness. Yet, finding a path to forgiveness is one of the most difficult things a human being can do. If it was easy, everybody would do it. But it’s hard – particularly if the offense was deep.
Sometimes, the people who should be closest to us are the ones we struggle to forgive. That’s because the closer we are to somebody, the more opportunities we (and they) have to do or say hurtful things.
Forgiveness is about letting it go and not holding the bitterness in your heart. It means placing the hurt and the one who hurt you over into God’s hands.
You might be tempted to “punish” the wrongdoer by holding tight to resentment. However, the only person you punish with a grudge is yourself. I recall my mother saying, “Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
The only way to find release is to release – to let it go.
Often, people fail to forgive because they can’t say “that’s ok.” However, you don’t have to say “that’s ok” in order to forgive. There are many evil actions and words that are NOT ok – and they never will be ok. It would be an offensive lie to say “that’s ok”
A better way to deal with it is to say, “What you did was NOT ok. It was wrong and hurtful. But, I choose to forgive you anyway.”
That’s what Christmas is all about, isn’t it? Extending forgiveness and grace? That’s the very reason Jesus came to earth, taking on the form of human flesh. He came to extend forgiveness and grace. He came, bringing mercy.
This Christmas, the best gift you could give to yourself is to forgive the one who has wronged you. When you let it go, you will find an overwhelming sense of peace. You will discover just how heavy that burden has been for your spirit.
Open your heart and your hand. Release the resentment. Let peace fill you completely.
Peace on Earth.
Good will towards men.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
One day, after making a hospital visit in Duluth, Minnesota, I was drawn by the spire of the old First Presbyterian Church. A kind secretary opened up the sanctuary for me to sit and pray for a while.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Hopefully individuals passionately expressing opinions from the left and the right will recognize that both of us have shown a commitment to model civility in America.
The Bible admonishes us to pray for our leaders. I am honored by this opportunity to pray God’s blessing on the office of the President and its current and future inhabitant, asking the Lord to provide wisdom to America’s leaders during this critical time in our nation’s history.
The irony is that if you look at the wide spectrum between conservative fundamentalism and left-wing liberalism, Rick is in the middle between them. He's a moderate, for heaven's sake!
Some are calling him a gay-hating bigot.
At the same time, fundamentalist watchdog groups are calling him a wolf in sheep's clothing.
John Leo has made some insightful observations at Huffington Post.
The problem with being a bridge is that you get stepped on from both sides!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
In part, the letter states:
We respect the right of the NAE to select spokespersons that represent the organization's stated priorities. At the same time, we release this letter to show our deep gratitude for Richard's 28 years of leadership at the NAE, in which he has had a guiding hand in shaping a broad Christian moral agenda that has helped define American evangelical's public witness.
It was unfortunate that Cizik overstepped his bound, and made statements that were not in line with NAE's values. His words did not accurately reflect the position of most of the people he was supposed to be respresenting. However, on the other hand, Cizik should be commended for broadening the scope of evangelical conscience in America and beyond. He helped pastors like me see that although we support the right to life and traditional marriage, there are other important concerns of compassion and social justice which demand our attention as well.
We're not exactly the same. Each person is unique, and has his/her own special gift and perspective to bring to each situation. Our ministry together is not normally "singing in unison", but we do a fantastic job of singing in harmony -- and that's much better. Ask any choir director!!
We finished the party by singing "Joy to the World" together.
Later in the day, I stepped into the rehearsal of the homeschool teen musicians preparing for their Christmas program -- with electric guitars, drums, keyboard, violin and bass. They were rockin' out ""Joy to the World." Splendid! Splendid! Isaac Watts would give two thumbs up.
Late afternoon found Cathy and I going on a double date with our dear friends, Steve and Linda to a Handel's Messiah Sing-a-long.
We stopped for a quick bite at Culver's, and to our surprise, there was a lady in there playing Christmas songs on a portable organ. That's the first fast food I've ever had with organ accompaniment. I went to the lady and requested "Joy to the World", which she gladly fulfilled.
Never did a burger and fries taste so heavenly! Let heaven and nature sing.
Finally, we made our way to the Mitchell Auditorium, where we joined the audience-choir, and sang the Messiah. Well, Cathy and Linda sang, I bumbled along after the beared bass sitting in front of me, and even Steve joined in on the Hallilujah Chorus!
I am reminded of a guy several years ago who came to me with $3,300. in cash and had me send it with no return address to needy families on two Christmases. In this envelope he had me place a $100.00 dollar bill and another envelope inside with $10.00 dollars in it with a note suggesting the recipient give this $10.00 dollars to someone else. We did that for thirty needy familes. This man that had me do this kind deed understood it is more blessed to give than to recieve.
Santa asks, “What do you want for Christmas?” Little kids write letters with lists of things they want. Some of those cute letters made their way to the Sawyer County Record last week.
That’s a precious thing, and I certainly don’t want to detract from the wonder little children experience at Christmas.
But, at the essence, Christmas is not for getting – it’s for giving!
Tis the season of unselfishness.
Tis the season to share with those you love.
Tis the season to be compassionate for those less fortunate.
It’s not about spending money you don’t have on stuff they don’t need. This year, especially, with financial squeeze we’re all feeling – how about simplifying? How about being creative, spending a little less, and giving a little more of yourself? How about shopping locally, so you when you DO spend, it’s helping your neighbors put food on their tables?
How about giving something homemade? How about giving your time?
How about remembering those who are in need? Did you know that Americans spent $450 billion on Christmas spent year and that we could provide safe, clean drinking water for every person in the world for $10 billion? What if this Christmas, we were less consumeristic and more compassionate? Consider joining the “Advent Conspiracy” (http://www.adventconspiracy.org/)
How about your neighbors who are suffering? As I was writing this article a desperate mother called me for help. They have no money. Her little girl has no winter boots, and a snow storm is approaching. There are many little children, right here in our own community, who go to bed hungry and don’t have adequate winter clothing. What can you do to help them?
How about putting something in the kettle, when you pass the Salvation Army bell ringer? Better yet, how about signing up for a stint of bell ringing? How about getting a few friends together and caroling at the home of someone who is sick?
Who knows? In the end, you might just say, “It was my best Christmas ever!”
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
The same applies to churches who desire to impact their communities.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
We were honored to have the Uke-Ladies and Laddies perform a couple of Christmas numbers for us. A choir of enthusiastic children did a fantastic job singing "Born on this Day."
I preached on the following:
1. Christmas is For Giving. (showed the advent conspiracy video)
Then -- remove the space and it says --
2. Christmas is Forgiving
I used Col. 3:13 as my text and spoke on the importance of "removing the space in our hearts towards other people." I used Rembrandt's Return of the Prodigal as an illustration.
3. Christmas is Forbearing
Col. 3:13 in KJV says "Forbearing one another. . ." Rev. 3:10 in the message speaks of "passionate patience"
The inscription on Ruth Graham's grave reads, "End of Construction. Thanks for your Patience."
4. Christmas is Bearing. Bearing with one another. Bear with the failings of the weak. Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.
To illustrate, I used this powerful video.
We concluded the services by standing in a large circle, holding hands, and saying the Lord's Prayer together.
It was a beautiful morning.
This afternoon, the family had Chinese food and watched the Packers lose again. (I think I'm going to be a Jets fan -- or maybe Bears) Later in the day, we played in the snow together, and then I gave our dog, Vin, a bath. That was quite an ordeal!!
Learned this evening that The Crystal Cathedral is looking for a new Senior Pastor. Not interested!! We have our own natural (and much more beautiful) "Crystal Cathedral" right here in Hayward this morning.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Those who are consumed with doing church in a cool way
Those who are consumed with doing church that reaches lost people
They both end up doing similar things -- but with a different motive.
I'd like to adjust it a just little bit and say, there are two types of churches in general:
Those consumed with doing church
Those consumed with BEING the church
The next day the farmer drove up and said, 'Sorry son, but I have some bad news, the donkey died.'
Chuck replied, 'Well, then just give me my money back.'
The farmer said, 'Can't do that. I went and spent it already.'
Chuck said, 'Ok, then, just bring me the dead donkey.'
The farmer asked, 'What ya gonna do with him?
Chuck said, 'I'm going to raffle him off.'
The farmer said, 'You can't raffle off a dead donkey!'
Chuck said, 'Sure I can Watch me. I just won't tell anybody he's dead.'
A month later, the farmer met up with Chuck and asked, 'What happened with that dead donkey?'
Chuck said, 'I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars a piece and made $998.'
The farmer said, 'Didn't anyone complain?'
Chuck said, 'Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back.'
Chuck now leads the US bank bailout team.
(came to me via e-mail from Jim Garner. Thanks Jim!)
Friday, December 12, 2008
While we’re still the U.S. sales leader, we acknowledge we have disappointed you. At times we violated your trust by letting our quality fall below industry standards and our designs become lackluster. We proliferated our brands and dealer network to the point where we lost adequate focus on our core U.S. market. We also biased our product mix toward pickup trucks and SUVs. And we made commitments to compensation plans that have proven to be unsustainable in today’s globally competitive industry. We have paid dearly for these decisions, learned from them and are working hard to correct them by restructuring our U.S. business to be viable for the long-term.
I am working with a well-intentioned man who is considering becoming a part of our congregation. After exploring Wesleyan Doctrine, he is hung up on one thing- that we allow women in ministry. He believes that 1Timothy 2:8-15 is a clear Biblical prohibition against females in ministry.
I have always understood Paul's teaching on women in public worship environements in Corinthians and Timothy to be context driven and not a broad theological statement. This has been a learning experience for me because I learned that I was unprepared to defend our Wesleyan position, I had just accepted it. Any Biblical direction, orginal language clues, or historical perspective you could offer would be most welcomed. He is not bigoted about women, he feels they are equal in the eyes of the Lord but have been assigned different duties/roles in the kingdom.
How would you respond to his question?
Thursday, December 11, 2008
In a letter to the NAE Board, President Leith Anderson, stated:
". . . our NAE stand on marriage, abortion and other biblical values is long, clear and unchanged.”
A lot has happened over these past twelve months. Sometimes it seems like an eternity since Leah's death. At other times, it seems like just yesterday.
Please pray for Leah's family on this day of remembrance.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I must say, the Wilson family has a lot to be thankful for.
Stockdale was kept in solitary confinement for four years, placed in irons for two years, denied medical care and malnourished. Despite these terrible conditions, he led an “underground resistance movement” which brought hope and a sense of esprit de corps to his fellow POW’s. Still, many prisoners died under these grueling circumstances. Finally, in 1973, the brave admiral was released, and awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor is 1976 by President Ford.
Several years later, author and researcher, Jim Collins, interviewed Stockdale in the campus of Stanford University, and asked the decorated offer how he coped with the demoralizing effects of his imprisonment.
Stockdale replied, “I never lost faith in the end the end of the story. I never doubted that not only would I get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”
Then, Collins asked, “Who didn’t make it out?”
"Oh, that’s easy,” Stockdale responded, “The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, 'We're going to be out by Christmas.' And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they'd say, 'We're going to be out by Easter.' And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart."
Now, I certainly believe in optimism. The title of my newspaper column, “Positively Speaking”, speaks to that. However, I believe Stockdale was right.
A misplaced, short term optimism can lead to failure and disillusionment. It’ much better to focus on the long term.
I’m going to make it.
Things may not go as I’ve expected or desired, but I’m not going to let a few temporary setbacks keep me from my ultimate destiny. Rarely, does a person follow a straight path from success to success. Usually, there’s quite a winding road, replete with failures, frustrations, shortcomings, and disappointments.
The important thing is to keep plugging on, regardless of the short term circumstance. Eventually, you’ll find your way.
Success is getting up one more time than you fall down.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
She mentioned something about how yesterday's sermon helped them, and that really blessed my heart.
Please pray for Rocky and Kathy as they walk through this vally of uncertainty.
I recall once, a red faced guy came to me after church and told me I needed to preach more against sin. So, the next week, I preached against the "whitewashed sins" in the church, such as gossip, greed, sloth, self-centeredness and materialism.
He came up to me after the sermon and said, "I didn't mean THOSE sins!!"
Sunday, December 07, 2008
We enjoyed doing a rendition of "By the Rivers of Babylon" I preached on Exile from Habakkuk.
A terrible cold made me feel puny. It took all my my energy to get through the morning.
In the afternoon, we ordered Chinese food, and watched the Packers lose again.
1. Listen Carefully
2. Question Thoroughly
3. Act Decisively
Good stuff. So often, leaders want to tell rather than listen, argue rather than question, and discuss rather than act.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
It snowed a few inches overnight, so Vin and I shovelled the driveway together. We're getting along great.
I ran a couple of errands, and did a few fix-it projects at the house. I spent a couple hours watching "All the King's Men" on TCM -- it was a good lesson on how power can corrupt.
It was a joy to discover that Tom Raven, a key leader of my youth group back in California, is now the head baseball coach for Trinity International University, in Deerfield, IL. It's been years since we've been in touch with each other. He's an awesome man of God, and it feels good to know that I had a part in mentoring him during his early years.
A kind friend called to tell me that a Youtube Post I put up on the blog (Stethoscope) had some inappropriate links at the end. Oops -- didn't catch that. I took it down.
A great post by Craig Groeschel
- Prays as much, or more, publicly than privately.
- Is almost exclusively dependent on others’ sermons to preach than directly hearing from God.
- Cares more about his church than The Church.
- Preaches about evangelism but doesn’t practice evangelism privately.
- Tolerates and rationalizes unconfessed sin.
- Preaches for the approval of people rather than the approval of God.
- Is overly sensitive to criticism.
The Upside of Selfishness in a Downturned Market
When I am in Sudan, I never find myself thinking about the stock market, 401ks, health insurance and so forth. But, then again, I don’t have access to newspapers or television reports that devote 24 hours a day monitoring those things and warning me that they are losing their value and I’d better not count on them. Instead, while in Sudan, I find myself concerned about whether or not the child next to me has enough to eat and drink to make it through the night
Friday, December 05, 2008
Kingdom Impact increases in our ministry when we recognize that we are preaching BOTH to the individual and to the congregation. Both are needed, and the effective preacher is both aware of the opportunity and the privilege to address both needs.
What does it say?
What does it mean to me?
What should I do?
How does this speak to my present?
What does it mean?
What does it mean to us?
What changes should we make?
How does this speak to our future?
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Edwin now needed to write again in order to survive. He sat at his desk day after day but was unable to produce anything. He could think only of his loss. Bitterness and resentment were walls, shutting out his creativity. It was destroying his life.
One day, he began to doodle on the blank page before him. As usual, he could think of nothing to write. So, he drew circles on the paper.
Suddenly, as he gazed at the circles, he knew what he must do. Bowing his head in prayer, he poured out his resentment to God and asked for the strength to forgive.
Then he picked up his pen and began to write:
He drew a circle that shut me out,
Rebel, heretic, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win,
We drew a circle that took him in!
Has someone wronged you? Have you been hurt by a harsh word, a cruelty, a betrayal, or a snub? If so, you need to let go and forgive. Forgiveness really is a choice – and it’s for your own good.
“But she owes me an apology!” might say. It doesn’t matter. You must forgive anyway.
Forgiveness means adjusting our attitude. It is dealing with the bitterness so we can smile again. It is resolving the issues rather than allowing them to fester. You don’t need “permission” from the one who offended you to do that.
The Jewish philosopher, Hannah Arendt, remarked, “Forgiveness is the only power which can stop the stream of painful memories.”
The Lord’s Prayer says, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Can you honestly say these words? Are you able to release your resentment and forgive the one who hurt you?
Never is a human soul so strong as when it dares to forgive an injury.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Hello Pastor. I've got a bit of a toughie that I can't seem yet to explain. I'm preparing a Bible Study for Sunday School called the "Unfit Misfits" where I review the genealogies of Christ in Matthew and Luke. I've run across a name I can't find in any of my resources - Admin He's listed in Luke 3:33 as the son of Arni, aka Ram. do you know anything about him? Matthew omits this name, going directly from Ram to Amminidab.
Can anybody help Paul out? He needs an answer before Sunday.