Thursday, December 31, 2009

Just a Nickel!

Another idea to help Rick Warren and Saddleback Church out of their financial bind.

If everybody who bought a copy of the Purpose Driven Life gave them a nickel, that would more than cover the shortfall.

I'll send my nickel today!

Just Laffy Taffy Money


Reading about Saddleback's financial shortfall, and Rick Warren's urgent plea for a million in two days, reminds me that we're not in such bad financial shape in Hayward after all.

2009 was a very difficult year financially for a lot of people -- including congregations (our own included.) However, God is always faithful. Jehovah Jirah is Our Provider and He never fails His people.

When things are tight financially, it's simply a call to reconsider the wisest way to use the money entrusted to us as faithful stewards. It forces us to make decisions and adjustments we probably should have made in the first place. In times of plenty, it is human nature to become less careful in spending practices. Financial hardship is good "quality control."

Sometimes, a big financial problem isn't nearly as big as it seems. I did a little math and figured that the Saddleback shortfall is less than a dollar per attendee per week (or fouteen cents per day -- and Hannah tells me that's less than the price of a Laffy Taffy.)
Now, that's manageable.

A Hymn for the New Year

All the Way My Savior Leads Me by Fanny Crosby

All the way my Savior leads me;
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread;
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter,
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see;Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see.

All the way my Savior leads me
O the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages—Jesus led me all the way;
This my song through endless ages—Jesus led me all the way.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ten Biggest Events of 2009

Hayward Wesleyan Church's
Ten Biggest Events
of 2009
1. Children's Ministry Facility Expansion
We voted to increase the gathering space for our children and teens, broke ground, and construction is nearly completed.
2. Hanna Massad's Visit
Dr. Massad, who is a Baptist pastor from Gaza, came on November 1 and shared a gripping first-hand account of our suffering brothers and sisters in the Middle East.
3. "The Way of Well Being" Holiness Series
Major spiritual breakthroughs occurred this fall, as we made a special focus on holiness of heart and life. On September 27, at the 11:00 service, there was an absolutely amazing moving of the Holy Spirit. Everyone present was overwhelmed by the powerful love of Christ. Dozens of people came forward to pray, and many received significant spiritual help. We broke into joyful praises -- and there wasn't time to give the sermon!
4. Pastor Andi Wittwer
Our dear friend and parishioner, Andrea Wittwer, was installed as pastor of the Woodland Wesleyan Church. She hit the ground running, and is taking that little northwoods community by storm!
5. John LaFontaine's Testimony
John discovered in early 2009 that he had an aggressive cancer. He passed away on Good Friday, at the age of 33. Although he had only been following Jesus for three years, John had a powerful message of redemption -- and he shared it to the end. Hundreds of people attended a benefit dinner held in his honor, just a few weeks before he died. He stood up and gave one of the most powerful testimonies I've ever heard. There was not a dry eye in the place. John was truly a man of great faith -- leaving a beautiful legacy for his twin daughters (Johnnie Jo and Candice Rain) who were born a few weeks after his passing.
6. Big Tent Sunday
In August, we combined all of our worship services into one HUGE worship celebration under a big tent. It was exciting to see so many volunteers come and help set things up. Over 700 attended the service, where Famous Dave gave a powerful and inspiring talk, and a half dozen new believers were baptized.
7. March to the Manger
This is one of the best Christmas events we've ever done. On December 20, we had a live nativity in the front of the church, and the entire congregation joined in the story by bringing THEIR gifts to Jesus. I'll write more about this soon. It's going to be an annual tradition.
8. Passport to the World Missions Expo
On the first weekend in March, we turned the entire church building into "the world" with different rooms representing various countries and mission fields. Several missionaries joined us for the special day (from Nicaragua, Czech Republic, South Africa, Croatia, and North America.) The attendees received a passport and had to go through customs as they entered the building. Then, they "travelled" around the world, learning about God's work in many different places, got to know the missionaries personally, ate ethnic food, and participated in a wide variety of international activities and games. It was homerun for missions!
9. Dr. JoAnne Lyon Visit
Our General Superintendent, Dr. JoAnne Lyon came to the northwoods for a whirlwind speaking tour in October. She spoke at our daughter church (The River in Minong) on Sunday morning, at Andi Wittwer's church (Woodland) on Sunday night, and finally here at Hayward Wesleyan on Monday Night. There was a great turnout for our Hayward event, and our people were truly inspired to reach out and bless others with the love of Jesus. Monday Night Church is better than Monday Night Football!
10. Fireproof Movie
Before the movie was released to the public (via dvd), we had the opportunity to show it here at the church. The response was absolutely overwhelming. The church was packed to overflowing, and we ended up having a second showing. This movie helped a lot of marriages.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

God of Second Chances

This is an inspiring story. Musician, Los Whittaker, was filming the song, "God of Second Chances" for his upcoming album, when a homeless man (Danny) happened upon the scene -- and ended up joining in the music.



Read the whole story here.

HT- Charles Hill

Monday, December 28, 2009

On a Wing and a Prayer

On Christmas Sunday, my friend, Rachel Skime, shared the inspiring story of God's loving faithfulness as she serves as a school teacher in the remote fishing village of Quinhagak, Alaska(and here some of you thought Hayward was the end of the earth!)

I think you'll be blessed by the latest post on her blog, Alaska at Last.

It's the heartwarming account of how her ailing grandmother, Betty Ronning, prayed her home.

Betty suffered a stroke about three weeks ago. Rachel tried desperately to get a flight home to be with her family, but the high winds kept all the local bush planes grounded.

Over the phone, Betty prayed with Rachel, "Da wind, da wind, end da wind, end da wind."

And da wind ended just enough for Rachel's flight to depart.

There's real power in a grandmother's prayers!

A Good Verse for the New Year

Enlarge the place of your tent. Stretch the tent curtains wide. Do not hold back. Strengthen your stakes. Break Forth (Spread out) to the right and to the left. -- Isa. 54:2-3a

(The great prayer warrior, Wesley Duewel told me this has been his life verse, and it was also the text William Carey used when he preached his landmark missionary sermon, "Expect Great Things from God, Attempt Great Things for God.")

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Christmas Crossing


Robert Park, a 28 year old American missionary, crossed the frozen Tumen River from China into North Korea on Christmas day, with a letter to leader Kim Jong II.

He did this to call attention to the thousands of political prisoners in the nation's concentration camps.

As he crossed, he shouted, "I am an American citizen. I bring God's love. God loves you and God bless you!"

Presently his fate is uncertain. Please pray for the safely of this courageous young man, and that the North Korean leaders will heed his message.

This event reminds me of an earlier Christmas Crossing referenced in Isaiah 61:1-2.

Jesus crossed over to us, in order to set the captives free and to proclaim (demonstrate) God's love in a tangible way.

New Again



We used this video during our Christmas Eve services

How Many Kings

Did You Get Everything You Wanted?

"Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas?" Aunt Mae asked little Cassidy.

"No, but that's ok." Cassidy replied, "It's not my birthday."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fighting Alcohol Problems with Prayer

In relationship to my last post about the importance of religion in America, I stumbled across a fascinating discovery.

There seems to be a direct relationship between a community's engagement in prayer and the level of alcohol problems.

Eight of the top ten states on the "frequency of prayer" list are on the bottom ten list when it comes to "frequency of alcohol problems."

All ten of the "worst drinking problem" states are in the bottom half of the "frequency of prayer" list.

My hypothesis: When more people pray regularly in a community, there are less alcohol problems.

How Religious is Your State?

Pew Research Center recently released the results of a poll which reveals the importance of religion to U. S. citizens by state.

Methinks this provides an excellent guide for church planting strategy!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Which is It?

"High expectations are the key to everything." -- Sam Walton

"The secret to happiness is low expectations." -- Barry Schwartz

Friday, December 18, 2009

It's What You Do Next That Counts

This airport ad says more than ever. It's true for Tiger as well as the rest of us.

What you do after you do what you do matters as much as what you do.

Great Questions for Leadership Teams

A wonderful post from Perry Noble: Seven Leadership Questions Teams Should Be Asking.

1. What do we need to stop doing?
2. What bothers us about our church?
3. What bothers us about our community?
4. What bothers us about the world?
5. How can we do things better?
6. Who do we need to be talking to?
7. What's next?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Farewell to Oral Roberts

Pentecostal evangelist, Oral Roberts, went home to glory this week at the ripe old age of 91.

I wrote this little poem in his honor:

He passes through the Pearly Gates,
Looks around and humbly states,
"Just LOOK at what a word of FAITH creates!"

Blind Side Take Home Points


My friend, Shawn Cossin, posted some excellent reflections upon viewing the Blind Side (which our family greatly enjoyed when we saw it last Saturday.) Good stuff!

Shawn's take home points:
1. Practice More than you Preach.
2. Walk the Walk
3. Do Something

He also threw in a few challenging questions for personal consideration:

- Am I living safe or sent?
- Do I have more than I need?
- Am I giving just enough or what I can?
- What limits have I put on loving people?
- Who do I know that I can help?
- Whose life will be changed because I loved them?
- Am I making the most of every opportunity? [Colossians 4:5]

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Don't Take Yes for an Answer

Primal


Mark Batterson, my blogger buddy, is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. The way he says it is the way I feel it -- and I love it!

I just finished his new book, Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity, and it's absolutely wonderful! Challenging! Inspiring! Convicting!
You should seriously consider making it a "must read" for 2010.

Basically, Batterson goes to the simple heart of our faith -- back to what the earliest followers of Christ experienced and believed.

This book is a joyful invitation to rediscover the compassion, wonder, curiosity and energy that turned the world upside down two thousand years ago.

To download a free chapter, visit http://www.theprimalmovement.com/

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Make This The Moment!


“Lord, make this the moment of my full salvation!
Baptize me now with the Holy Ghost, and the fire of pure love.
Now, cleanse the thoughts of my heart,
Let me perfectly love thee.”
-- Prayer of Hester Ann Rogers, early Methodist leader

Jerry's Birthday

Happy Birthday to my friend, Jerry Zamber. You made it! I had a hunch you would!

For the past few weeks, Jerry has hovered near death's door, in a valiant struggle against cancer. It's nothing short of a miracle that he made it to this special day.

Although Jerry's body grows a bit weaker daily -- he still smiles.

I ask my readers to remember Jerry and Lorraine today in your thoughts and prayers.

(By the way, Jerry is the artist who crafted our awesome pulpit.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

40 Loaves


I recently had the privilege of reading a delightful little devotional book, 40 Loaves, by C. D. Baker. (A sample copy was provided for review by the publisher.)

It's a 40 day discipleship journey, for those who are hungry for more than the stale crusts the world has to offer.

Through a series of thought provoking questions, Baker challenges the reader to dig deeper spiritually and emotionally.

Each chapter heading is a question, such as the following:

Why can't I overcome sin in my life?
Why are my feelings hurt so easily?
Why don't I know what I want in life?
Why am I so desperate to be understood?
Why am I stuck in the past?
Why do I always feel exhausted?
Why have I stopped dreaming?


The answers, though brief, provide excellent insights and each chapter concludes with a list of " food for thought" questions for further personal reflection.

40 Loaves would make an outstanding Lenten resource for congregations or individuals.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Catching Cows

Suburbanite, Emrys Tyler, upon graduation from Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California, received the call to Ninevah -- Ninevah Presbyterian Church -- a rural congregation on the banks of the Susquehanna River in New York.
Tyler quickly discovered that Ninevah is a place "where folks measure themselves, not by what they build, but by what they grow. And to grow the fruit of the land, you have to put your fingers in the soil, sweat in the sun, and wait with patience through the winter."

Along this line, he wrote an outstanding article in a recent edition of Fuller Focus: The Spiritual Gift of Catching Cows.
(Special thanks to my friend, Ron McClung, who sent this article to me.)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Obligation

A man said to the universe,
"Sir, I exist."
"However, replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."


Stephen Crane
in War Is Kind and Other Lines (1899)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Coming of the Snow


From The Singing Wilderness, by Sigurd Olson, my favorite nature writer:

There is a new excitement in the air, a feeling of release. Life will now be lived in an established white world where conditions of food and shelter will not change for a long time.

Stability has come to the northwoods, and to my own life as well.

The coming of the snow adds zest to my activities. Now, there will be time for a multitude of things that during the feverish moving about of summer and fall, were denied me, leisure after the long and constant busyness.

To me, that is the meaning of the first snowfall -- not a cessation of effort but a drawing of the curtain on so many of the warm-weather activities that consume so much time.

The snow means a return to a world of order, peace and simplicity. Those first drifting flakes are a benediction and the day on which they come is different from any other in the year.
(pp. 192-193)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Clearing Ice


Arctic December air glazed my windshield over with thick ice overnight. Early in the morning before the sun woke up, I found myself trying to carve a hole.

I searched for my scraper in vain. It was gone. Some dear friend borrowed it and forgot to bring it back. I improvised by using a cd case, which, though handy and somewhat practical, seemed hardly sufficient for the task.

Undaunted, I attacked the windshield with vigorous enthusiasm, struggling in the frigid blasts to shape some semblance of visibility.

Unfortunately, as soon as I scraped the ice away, it just frosted over again.

A half hour of scratching and scraping brought nothing more than a small peep hole, barely big enough to see while driving.

At lunch time, the same, day, however, I went to my car and was surprised to discover all of the windows were clear! Not a patch of ice on them! When the sun rose, it melted all the ice away.

I thought, “Now, there’s a lesson on how to deal with difficult situations and relationships. Love is the sun. When it rises, warming beams melt away all the resentment, bitterness and misunderstanding.”

Grim, determined chiseling (or hammering away) hardly ever brings the desired result. Force rarely solves a perplexing dilemma. You can’t clear up a frozen relationship by attacking. That just brings more ice.

Perhaps, if you find yourself in a heart-chilling struggle, you should stop working so hard to fix it, be patient, and just let the sun come up.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Frosty's Baby Picture

It's going to be raining snow babies today

Wesleyan Life Online

I've been invited to guest-blog at Wesleyan Life Online. It's an outstanding ministry resource aimed at those serving in the Wesleyan Church.

Kudos to Jerry Brecheisen, for his excellent leadership in this new endeavor.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Country Parson

Tim Keller's advice to young ministers -- "Consider Becoming a Country Parson."

That's good advice for those who are eager to get out into the field of ministry. As a solo pastor, you'll get a chance to do just about everything everything.

Most young people upon graduation, hope for a staff position in a larger suburban church, but that kind of ministry does not equip one for the multiple demands of senior/solo pastorate or church planting.

The fact is -- there is a shortage of rural/small town pastors -- and a glut of people hoping for staff positions.

One important reminder, however, is in order: a country pastorate is NOT merely the stepping stone to a "bigger and better" ministry. It may BE the bigger and better ministry for you.

With over 18 years of experience as a country parson, I can honestly say it is the most rewarding ministry position I could possibly imagine.

Family Tree

A while back, I was telling my kids where various members of our family were born.

"Your grandpa was born in Indiana, and Grandma came from Tennessee," I said.

"My brothers were born in South Dakota, and I was born in Ohio. Your mom was born in Illinois. Adam and Ryan were born in California. Luke and Hannah were born in Minnesota, and Wes was born in Wisconsin.

"Wow!" said Wes, "It's amazing that we all found each other!"

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Hunting Party


I have never seen a group of hunters heading off to the woods in a valiant quest for mice.

(This thought came from seminary professor, W. L. Muncy Jr., challenging the church to tackle bigger issues.)

Spreading Lonliness

An insightful article on Lonliness in the Group Context which has direct implications for church relationships.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Preaching that Sticks

An outstanding post for preachers from Ed Stetzer

Hiebert for Dummies


The outstanding missiologist, Paul Hiebert, taught at my alma mater, Fuller Seminary and then finished his career at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
I have always admired his thoughtful work, and recall his thought provoking lectures, which usually left my head spinning.

His textbook, Anthropological Reflections on Missiological Issues, proved helpful in navigating the murky waters of contextualization vs. syncretism in Native American ministry. (Though there were several occasions when I read a paragraph a half dozen times before I understand what he was trying to communicate.)

Jon and Mindy Hirst, have recently brought some basic Hiebert concepts within the reach of simple-minded readers like me. I love warm cookies from the bottom shelf!

Ooze Viral Bloggers recently provided me a copy of their new book, Through the River: Understanding Your Assumptions about Truth.

The Hirsts have captured some pretty deep philosophy, and traslated it, via delightful story form, into something the rest of us can grasp. Their mythical village of "River Town", illustrates the the three primary ways people understand truth.

The Rock Dwellers (positivists) see everything as black and white. "I have all the truth and if you disagree, you don't have any!" They engage others via argument and refutation.

The Island Dwellers (instrumentalists) see everything as relative. "I have my truth. You have your truth. There is no absolute truth. Every perspective is equally valid." The operative term: "whatever!"

The Valley Dwellers (critical realists) believe that there certainly IS absolute truth -- but that nobody grasps it absolutely. They value the sincere quest for a deeper understanding. They believe that we can learn something from anybody, and this requires genuine humility. "Tell me your experiences and I'll tell you mine. Then we will see how that fits together into the larger picture."

An excellent read, If I ever teach a course on philosphy, world view, or anthropology, this will be a text.

Order here.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Chester Marcol


Chester Marcol is coming to Hayward this Wednesday night to speak at a rally sponsored by FCA. Special thanks to my good friend, Randy Young, who followed the inner prompting, and opened the door for this opportunity.

What do Teachers Make?

A Difference!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Helping the World

"We cannot help the world unless we change our way of being in it."

-- Hope & Action, an advent pastoral letter from Methodist bishops

Friday, November 27, 2009

Backyard Victory


Stellar quarterbacks, Rogers and Wilson, both facing vicious Lions, emerged victorious on Thanksgiving Day -- but Wilson had to nurse a sore toe afterwards.

Turkey Census

The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that 250 million turkeys were raised in the United States in 2009.

I wonder what the turkey census is today?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

As The Sun Rises


Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity.
Be fair in thy judgement, and guarded in thy speech.
Be a lamp unto those who walk in darkness, and a home to the stranger.
Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring.
Be a breath of life to the body of humankind, a dew to the soil of the human heart, and a fruit upon the tree of humility. -- Anonymous

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Alcohol Related Fatality?


The other day, the kids and I were driving north on highway 53, when we passed a dead bear lying on the side of the road.

I stopped to pay my respects, and thought maybe it was alcohol related.

Two Hammers

I have a sledgehammer in my garage, and I also have a small finishing hammer. They are both equally important to me.

If I had to choose between the two, I suppose I'd pick the little guy. He's been a real help to me over the years -- but I'd rather not choose at all. Both hammers are my good friends and trusted companions.

Thus, the hammers teach me a valuable lesson; bigger isn't always better! Smaller isn't always better either.

The value of the tool is determined by the task ahead.

Driving stakes for a circus tent? Use the sledge!
Repairing the living room coffee table? The finishing hammer will do perfectly. (My wife would not appreciate me using the sledge for that!)

This brings me to an important point. Why do we compare ourselves with others? Why do we allow ourselves to feel inferior (or superior) to the people around us? We're all equally important -- though we have different roles and functions in life. We're all a part of the same toolbox! We all belong to the same garage.

It would be silly for the finishing hammer to glance furtively at the sledge and murmur, "I'm so small and insignificant! Compared to that guy, I'm just useless!"
Likewise, the sledge could say, "I'm too awkward and clumsy. I wish I wasn't such a klutz and could be more graceful, like the finishing hammer."

Comparison with others is always a dead end street -- leading to inferiority or arrogance.

The importance of the hammer is determined only by the carpenter, not the hammer (or any other tool in the box!)

All the hammers -- both big and little -- are needed to build great cathedrals.

When it all is said and done, it won't matter which hammer was used for which part. Nobody will look at the majestic cathedral and say, "Wow, what a hammer!" Instead they will be inspired to glorify God and say, "What a Carpenter!"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Go At It!

"You go at it! The best way to learn is to go at it! How to do it is to do it!"

-- D. L. Moody, when asked by three young seminarians (including R. A. Torrey) to teach them how to evangalize.

Big Business


A family was on vacation in a Minnesota northwoods small town. As they drove down Main Street, Mother pointed and said, "Look Johnny! There's First Lutheran Church!"

To this, Johnny replied, "Those guys must be a franchise. We have one of those in our town too!"

Monday, November 23, 2009

Billy Joe Daugherty


Received word this morning that Billy Joe Daugherty, pastor of Victory Christian Center in Tulsa died yesterday after a brief battle with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He was only 57.

Pastor Daugherty was a great spiritual leader. Although I disagreed with a bit of his theology, I've always admired his ministry, and have been inspired by his teaching.
His congregation launched the Tulsa Dream Center, which houses a food and clothing distribution, dental/medical clinic, legal counseling, recreation facilities and other programs to help needy people of Tulsa.
Through his influence, 523 Victory Bible Institutes have been started in 85 countries around the world.
I'd call that a missional ministry. Well done, thou good and faithful servant.

I Don't Have the Gift of Mercy

Several times, over the years, I've heard visionary pastors use this phrase in sermons and conversation:

I don't have the gift of mercy!

When they say that, it's never in an apologetic manner. They don't seem to feel bad about being "mercy deficient." In fact, it's more like they're bragging about it.

Whenever I hear a pastor boast about unmerciful he is, I cringe.

"Oh, don't say that!! If you struggle with being a merciful person -- that's a spiritual maturity issue! That means you don't love people very much. Why would any pastor brag about not loving people?

People who operate without mercy tend to be bullies and jerks. Who wants a bully or a jerk for a pastor?

Jesus said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Other Holy Week


Through 18 years of living in the north country, I’ve come to recognize that, by default, deer hunting season is Wisconsin’s other “holy week.”

It took me a while to figure this out. Year after year, I stood behind the pulpit on the third Sunday of November, and looked with dismay upon an empty sanctuary.
In Hayward, most of the men, and half the ladies vanish into the woods on deer opener, and they normally don’t re-appear for church on Sunday morning.

Of course, there are always a few devoted members of the flock who endure the annual Thanksgiving sermon, anxiously awaiting the concluding “amen” so then can hurry up and get out there. I’m happy to report that my Thanksgiving sermon usually has the intended effect. When it’s over, there’s a collective “Whew, Thank God!” then a mad scramble for the doors.

I regretfully admit that in years past, I’ve attempted to heap guilt and shame on the poor hunters of the congregation in the weeks leading up to “the great departure.” They hung their heads, as I poured it on. “Surely, you can give your Creator ONE hour of your precious hunting time. Where is your commitment? Where is your sacrifice? Where is your priority?” I even made a vague suggestion that if they agreed to sit in church for an hour, that heaven would take note of such devotion, and perhaps reward them with a trophy buck.

They didn’t buy it.

Several years ago, in mid-November, I went for the nuclear option. “People, if you truly love Jesus, then you’re going to prove it by coming HERE next Sunday morning, rather than traipsing out into the woods before dawn!”

They didn’t buy that either.

The good folks of Hayward instinctively know the odds of bagging big buck are much greater from a deer stand than a church pew.

One older fellow shook my hand afterwards and said, “Pastor, thank you for sharing your perspective, but next Sunday, I’ll be lovin’ Jesus in my tree stand.” (I think he was giving a Norwegian rebuke.)

That day, I learned a valuable lesson. My job, as a northwoods pastor, is to bless the dear hunters, and not try to force them into being something else.

Besides, what other season affords such opportunity for solitude and reflection? What occasion brings a better place for prayer? In the normal course of life, most folks don’t carve out enough time to be quiet and listen to God’s voice.

One can certainly worship in the woods. In fact, there is no greater cathedral. The splendor of creation inspires the soul to greater heights.

Hunting season imposes “Sabbath” on us. The entire town slows down, and it’s hard to find a mechanic, a repairman, or a barber. Slowing is good medicine for the soul.

Wisconsin’s deer hunting season includes Thanksgiving – and that certainly is appropriate for such a holy week.

Undertakers and Bad Gas


I might have entered the ministry if certain clergymen I knew had not looked and acted so much like undertakers.
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes (legendary U. S. Supreme Court Justice)

A man approached a fellow passenger on an airplane and inquired, "Excuse me sir, but as I passed you just now I noticed that you look like a minister. Am I right?"

"No," came the reply, "I just have bad gas.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Day by Day

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day, the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He Whose Name is Counselor and Power;
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in every tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
Ever to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

"Blott en Dag" by Karolina W. Sandell-Berg, translated into English by Andrew L. Skoog)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Winning over Worry


Two men were climbing a steep hill on a bicycle built for two. When they finally made it to the top, the first man said, "Whew! That was a stiff climb. I think it was the hardest hill I've ever been on.""It certainly was," his companion replied, "and if I hadn't kept the brake on, we would have slid down backwards!"

When we worry, it's like pedaling uphill with the brakes on. Anxious thoughts make life ten times harder.

Unfortunately, our natural human tendency is to worry about our situations. Is there anybody on this earth who is not familiar with the uncomfortable gnawing of worry in the belly? I seriously doubt it.

Yet, although worry is familiar to us all, we don't have to treat it like a welcomed guest. In fact, we have every right in the world to kick it out! "No Vacancy" -- There's no place for anxious thinking here!

How can we evict worry from our lives? Let me offer a few suggestions:

1. Talk to yourself!
A great way to abolish worry is to ask yourself the right questions such as,
* Why am I feeling tense right now?
* Will the world end if what I'm worrying about comes true?
* Is stewing over this making it any better?
* Who else is worked up over this issue? Why or why not?
* Is this worth losing sleep?
* What is the bottom line fear in this situation?
* So what?

2. Sell yourself some hope.
Y ou've already been selling yourself on fear, tension, and all the "What if's". Why not switch gears and start looking for what's going right?

Elmer Wheeler, in The Wealth Within You, said, "we become courageous by the same process that we become fearful; successful and confident by the same process that we become failures. Both are ideas that we sell ourselves. If you are timid and fearful or feel inferior, you do not need to learn the technique of selling ideas to yourself. You are already a past master at the art. All you need to do is change the ideas you sell. Suggest confidence to yourself in exactly the same way you have been suggesting failure."

3. Seek wise counsel.
It really helps to talk the issue through with someone who has a level head and the wisdom of experience. Good advice is worth more than gold.

4. Pray about it.
A burden is really a call to prayer. If it's big enough to fret about, it's big enough to pray about. The Bible tells us to cast our cares upon the Lord because He cares for us! Prayer increases faith, which puts the kabosh on worry.

5. Take a dose of reality.
Worry casts long shadows on little things. It exaggerates the problem, and turns mice into monsters. If you think your situation is really bad, why not look around? You will find lots of people who have it worse. Chances are, your problems are not nearly as terrible as they seem.

6. Think "through" not "to".
Often, people think "to" a difficulty and then panic. When we come up against a big problem and then camp out, it only leads to frustration and worry. The much better path is to keep exploring solutions. Refuse to let the issue get the best of you. Working at a solution drains the worry away.

7. Keep moving forward.
Worry and positive action don't usually go together -- You're either invested in one or the other. If you're spinning the worry wheels -- it's better to get onto another track of thinking.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Procrastination

Ideas are a dime a dozen. Millions of people have good ideas, but never get around to doing anything with them.

What a tragedy to see so many unrealized hopes and dreams. Why do we put off the important tasks of life? Why do we allow ourselves to settle into the plateau of mediocrity?

Here are a few possible explanations for this phenomenon:
1) We tend to value comfort more than accomplishment. When forced to make a choice between the two, most people follow the path of least resistance.

2) Fear of failure can keep us from starting. Of course, the greatest failure is not trying. I'd rather attempt something great, and fail -- than to attempt nothing and succeed.

3) Poor time management keeps us from fulfilling our dreams. If we don't schedule the important things into our lives, they won't get done. Poor planning leads to hectic living - with little to show for it.

4) Our actions reveal our true priorities. We live what we really believe - regardless of what we say. Rethinking priorities helps to turn the vision into a reality.

5) Often, a huge goal seems impossible to attain. We stand, immobilized, as we stare at it. However, a mighty mountain can be moved one shovel at a time. What small steps can you take today which will set you in the direction of the dream?

6) Critics and small thinkers can derail the best ideas. Always welcome wise counsel, but refuse to allow petty people to sidetrack you from your mission.

7) Believe it can be done - and it will! (Believe it CAN'T be done - and it wont!)

8) You say you don't have the time? Yes you do! "I don't have time" is just an excuse. You have 24 hours in a day just like everybody else. Use 'em or lose 'em.

Hudson Taylor said there are three stages in any worthwhile project -
Impossible
Difficult
Done!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Filled Up and Poured Out

We are filled up to be poured out.

Fill up with love -- and then pour it out.
Fill up with faith -- and then pour it out.
Fill up with hope -- and then pour it out.
Fill up with joy -- and then pour it out.
Fill up with the Spirit -- and then pour it out.

We're blessed to be a blessing.

If we fill up. but don't pour it out -- we're bloated.
If we pour it out, but don't fill up -- we're depleted.

Keep filling up and pouring out! That's how we're created to live and serve in this world. Let the river flow!

Friday, November 13, 2009

When You Don't Feel Like It

John Bloom has written a great post over at Desiring God -- When You Don't Feel Like It, Take Heart.

The Sabbath Demise

Found an interesting Wall Street Journal article a while back about the demise of Sabbath Keeping in America.

Sundays changed when the world changed. Stopping farming in the Middle Ages was easy. But to close restaurants, shut up amusement parks or clear the airwaves when Americans with money were trying to spend it that day was impossible.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stand Fast


Above all, stand fast in obedient faith,
faith in the God of pardoning mercy,
in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who hath loved you, and given himself for you.

Ascribe to him all the good you find in yourself,
all your peace, and joy, and love,
all your power to do and suffer his will,
through the Spirit of the living God.v.v.

Abhor every approach, in any kind or degree.
to the spirit of persecution.

If you cannot reason or persuade a man into the truth,
never attempt to force him into it.
If love will not compel him to come in,
leave him to God.

-- John Wesley

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Holy Candidness

My blogger buddy, Mark Batterson shared some powerful insights from his recent staff retreat.

Most of our ministries get stuck at the point where we're less than honest. We aren't willing to verbalize or confront an issue because it might hurt someone's feelings. That is where a ministry will stop growing. . . You have to cut through the issues to get to the heart of the matter.

Good News in a Twitter

The Gospel is the counterintuitive, joyous, exuberant news that Jesus has brought the unending, limitless, stunning, love of God to even us!

(140 character Twitter message -- thanks to Art Erickson for passing it on.)

As the Grains of Wheat

as the grains of wheat
once scattered on the hill
were gathered into one
to become one bread

so may all your people
from all the ends of the earth
be gathered into one in you

-- Marty Haugen

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Prayer Carries It

Prayer must carry our work, as well as our preaching. He does not heartily preach to his people who does not pray for them. If we do not prevail with God to give them repentance and faith, we are not likely to prevail with them to repent and believe.
-- Richard Baxter

Monday, November 09, 2009

White Picket Fences


Susan Meissner has done it again. (Previously, I reviewed Shape of Mercy, which ended up winning the Christian book award for fiction.) Now, she's given us another powerful novel which leaves the readers reflecting on their relationships and the deeper meanings of life's experiences.

White Picket Fences tells the gripping story of a seemingly "perfect" suburban family. Beneath a thin layer of varnish, however, lies major unresolved issues. Things are not always as they seem and people often go to great measures to hide from the truth which will set them free.
A good read -- haunting -- intriguing -- which reminds us of the old adage, "You're only as sick as your secrets."
(Preview copy was provided for review by the publisher.)


Saturday, November 07, 2009

I Love it When God Does Things Like This!


Last August, when teaching FLAME Courses in Frankfort, Indiana, I met a wonderful brother, Dr. Thuam Khai, who is providing leadership for the Burmese Bible College in Syracuse, New York.
After classes, Brother Thuam needed transportation to Chicago, Providentially, I was heading the same direction myself, so I gave him a lift.

While we travelled, he told me about a small group of Burmese believers in Milwaukee, that needed an affiliation.
Through this Divine appointment, the wheels began to roll.
I helped Brother Thuam connect with our Wisconsin District Superintendent, Dan Bickel -- and last week, they all met together to begin the groundwork for a brand new Burmese Wesleyan Church!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Tragedy

A few days ago, a young man in our community, Arthur Garcia, killed another man, David Palm (his ex-girlfriend's brother) and then committed suicide.

It was a sad and shocking turn of events -- which hits awfully close to home. Just today, I discovered that Arthur attended services here at Hayward Wesleyan Church five out of the last seven Sundays of his life. I even prayed with him one Sunday after church last month.

It really breaks my heart -- and I wonder how this possibly could have happened. Oh, how I wish we would have reached out to him further.

Please remember the families in your prayers.

Something to Ponder

The average church member has listened to 6000 sermons and 8000 prayers, sung 20,000 hymns, and asked zero people to receive Christ.


-- Herb Miller (Fishing on the Asphalt)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Comfort Zone

Simply to enclose oneself in "the given" is no glory to God. It is an evasion of life and of growth, a hiding your light under the bushel.

-- Thomas Merton, A Vow of Conversation (p. 24)

Seven Year Old Steals Car to Keep from Going to Church



Poor kid. There have been times when I've felt the same way myself.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Driver's Education

A quote from my son, Wes, after I took him driving last night:

"Dad, it really doesn't help me much when you grab the dash and yell, 'WOAH! WOAH! WOAH! WOAH! WOAH!"

Why So Many Marriages Fail


One of the chief reasons so many marriages fail is that the functions of a date and mate differ radically: that of a date is to be charming; that of a mate is to be responsible; and, unfortunately, the most charming individuals are not necessarily the most responsible, while the most responsible are just as often deficient in charm.
-- Sydney Harris (journalist)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Defining Success

How do you define success?”

A good friend asked me that question recently, and I’ve been mulling over it.

Many people define it as MORE:

More money.
More toys
More vacations
More luxuries
More things.

Others define it as BETTER:

Driving a better car.
Living in a better house.
Having better vacations.
Being promoted to a better position.

Still, others define it as ATTRACTION:

Being beautiful
Being intelligent
Being popular
Being acclaimed

Some define it as POWER:

Influence
Authority
Strength
Conquest

But how does the Bible define success?

Read the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. They are considered wisdom literature, written by Solomon, noted as the wisest man who ever lived. How is success defined in the world’s greatest wisdom guides?

1) Trusting God.
2) Being Faithful
3) Seeking Wisdom and Understanding
4) Enjoying your Work
5) Enjoying your Relationships
6) Staying Sweet
7) Doing Good
8) Blessing (Refreshing) Others

In other words, true success goes far deeper than the outward appearance. It is a matter of the heart.

“Commit to the Lord all that you do and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. . .” Ecclesiastes 9:10
“A generous man will prosper. He who refreshes others, will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25

Monday, November 02, 2009

Tapped Out: Pastor's Job Can Easily Breed Depression


What kind of personal pain would cause a 42-year-old pastor to abandon his family, his calling and even life itself? Members of a Baptist church are asking that question after their pastor committed suicide in his parked car in September.

Those who counsel pastors say Christian culture, especially Southern evangelicalism, creates the perfect environment for depression. Pastors suffer in silence, unwilling or unable to ask for help or even talk about it. Sometimes they leave the ministry. Occasionally the result is the unthinkable.

Experts say clergy suicide is a rare outcome to a common problem. But Baptists in the Carolinas are soul searching after a spate of suicides and suicide attempts by pastors. In addition to the September suicide of David Treadway, two others in North Carolina attempted suicide, and three in South Carolina succeeded, all in the last four years.

Being a pastor -- a high-profile, high-stress job with nearly impossible expectations for success -- can send one down the road to depression, according to pastoral counselors.

Pray Back


A friend from another church sought my advice some time ago about a conflict she had with the pastor. "Do you ever pray together?" I asked.

"Well," she replied, "He has prayed FOR me several times, but no, we have never really prayed together."

Those words haunted me long after the conversation. How many times in my life and ministry have I been guilty of the same thing -- praying FOR people, but not really WITH them.

As a direct result of that encounter, I began conducting a prayer experiment.

Almost always now, whever it comes time to pray with someone, I say, "I'd like to pray for you, but then would you be willing to say a prayer for me?"

I've done this with staff and ministry leaders of course -- but I've also done it with people who have come in for counseling, during nursing home, hospital and shut in visits -- even with folks coming in seeking benevolence assistance.

At first, they look stunned -- then they normally smile, and almost everyone is willing to pray back. (Even the few who say they'd rather not pray out loud, always tell me that they will remember me in their private prayers.)

A few outstanding things have come from this new approach:

1) Empowerment:
The request gives them confidence. It tells them that we are not in a hierachical relationship -- but are on the level. God listens to their prayers too.

2) Tears:
Often, people cry when they're praying aloud for me. It deeply touches their hearts -- and ministers to their souls. (mine too!)

3) Responsibility:
It reminds them that they have a duty to pray for others -- and it is more blessed to give than to receive.

4) Fulfillment:
It brings great joy and more love to their hearts.

5) Faith:
It stretches their faith -- and that's always a good thing.

I recommend that every pastor give the "Pray Back" a try. It's a great way to hit heaven.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Light a Candle


Dr. Hannah Massad will be the guest speaker at Hayward Wesleyan Church this Sunday (8:20, 9:40 and 11:00 a.m.)

He the pastor of Gaza Evangelical Baptist Church in the Gaza Strip, and professor at Bethlehem Bible College.

This precious saint has suffered much, and knows firsthand what it means to be "persecuted for righteousness' sake", as he serves in one of the most violent places on earth.

His message is one of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Brother Andrew has written about Pastor Hanna in his book, Light Force. (Copies of this book will be available at the church on Sunday.)


When you find yourself surrounded by darkness, light a candle!

The Secret to a Vibrant Prayer Life

How many Christians there are who cannot pray, and who seek by effort, resolve, joining prayer circles, etc, to cultivate in themselves the holy art of intercession, and all to no purpose.

Here, for them, and for all is the only secret of a real prayer life -- Be filled with the Spirit -- who is the Spirit of grace and supplication.

-- Rev. J. Stuart Holden

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bringing a Blessing from Hayward

For my readers who have never been here, Hayward is pretty remote. It's a land of wilderness forest -- and there are more deer than people.

We're not quite the end of the earth, but you can see it from here!

However, I've been blessed to see our people engage in missional activity around the world.

Right now, members of the Hayward Wesleyan Church family are serving in the following areas:

1) Robyn Bjork is returning from bringing a blessing to Ethiopia, where she has spent the last several weeks training medical workers in wound care.

2) Rachel Skime is teaching school and bringing a blessing in the remote Alaskan village of Quinhagak.

3) David and Leah Teran are bringing a blessing in Vera Cruz, Mexico, where they are launching some powerful community based ministries.

4) Ralph Jacobson is bringing a blessing to the people of the Philippines. He has just finished reconstructing an airplane by his own hand -- which he will sell and donate the proceeds for a scholarship fund for Bible translation in the various regional dialects.

5) Next Friday, a team from our congregation is departing to bring a blessing to the Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala.

6) Ryan and Heather Reissner are bringing a blessing to the campers and alumni of Camp Forest Springs, where they are now serving in full time ministry.

7) Michael and Heather Drown are bringing a blessing via Mercy Ships.

8) Jathan and Becky Brubaker are bringing a blessing to the LCO Reservation by establishing a ministry center called Hope Haven.

9) Linda Talboom, the beautician with a mission, is bringing a blessing to the Sawyer County Jail.

10) Charlene Rohr just returned from taking a month off work to bring a blessing to the hip hop culture of Detroit. She organized a Christian Hip Hop event in a city park.

And I'm just barely scratching the surface!! It is so exciting to be a part of a church where the people really get the idea of blessing their neighbors and the nations.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Long Haul Living

You were designed to live for the long haul! Life’s a long distance marathon, not a 50 yard dash.With that in mind, it's vital to keep the big picture in mind. Most of us get tangled in the minutia of the moment and forget to look beyond the current situation.

Most worries aren't really that important in light of the big picture – the long haul. The next time you find yourself “all worked up” about something, ask this question, "Will this really matter ten years from now?" That question puts it in perspective. I’ve discovered that most of my frettings of very little consequence.

Long haul living requires some long range thinking.
What are you willing to sacrifice today for a greater gain tomorrow?
What habits today will destroy your health and/or relationships tomorrow? I
f you continue in the same direction and at the same pace as you are going today, where will that lead you tomorrow?
If your money management patterns today continue, what will your financial picture be tomorrow?
What does your spiritual condition today say about your spiritual destination tomorrow?
Are you content with where you are heading in your life? If not, what changes need to be made?

Here's a wild idea: Think of something you really should be doing -- but you've just not gotten around to it.

Get up from reading this and go find a mirror. Look at yourself in that mirror and say, “Do it now! Do it now! Do it now! Do it now! I’m not going to delay another day. I’ve been wanting to do this someday – and someday starts today. I’m going to do it now! “

Then, go out and do it!

This very instant is the first moment of the rest of your life. There’s no better time to get going than right now!

Wisdom Hunter


I recently read Wisdom Hunter, a fascinating novel, by Randall Arthur.
It's the gripping tale(a re-release) of Pastor Jason Faircloth's journey through tragedy -- from a cold-hearted, rigid legalism to rich and vibrant faith.
An eighteen year quest across the globe to locate his only suriving family member (a grandaughter he has never met) takes Faircloth through several hair raising and heart breaking experiences -- which ultimately lead to the discovery of true peace.
Although Arthur probably won't win a Pulitzer for this piece of literature, it's a great story -- liberating for people who have been ensnared by legalistic systems.
(book provided for review by the publisher)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Church Sponsors Bible Burning??

Amazing Grace Baptist Church has scheduled a Bible burning and bar-b-que on Halloween night

They're burning other versions of the Bible besides King James.

Pastor Marc Grizzard claims the King James version of the Bible is the only true word of God, and that all other versions are "satanic" and "perversions" of God's Word.

Other books by Christian authors such as Rick Warren and Billy Graham will also be fuel for the flames.

Hmmm. I wonder how many lost, broken and hurting people will be drawn into God's family through this outreach event?

Deuteronomy 28:28 (KJV), "The Lord shall smite thee with madness. . ."

What is Your Ministry Age?

Quiz: Determine Your Ministry Age.

I'm younger than I thought! :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bible Reading Resources

As I mentioned yesterday in the sermon, Bible Gateway is an outstanding resource for Scripture reading and study.

There is also an option for listening to audio rather than reading it.

A couple of other helpful tools I use are Crosswalk and Strong's Concordance.

Best devotional books: My Utmost for His Highest and Streams in the Desert.

A great place where you can donate Bibles to international pastors.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Scriptural Truth


Spiritual men and women – those filled with the Holy Spirit – are not unduly concerned with either higher or lower criticism. They do not rest merely in the letter which must be defended by argument.

They have a broader and more substantial basis for the faith.

It rests in their risen Lord,
the glorified Christ.

They know that the Bible is true, not primarily through the efforts of apologists, but because they are acquainted with its Author.

The Spirit which inspired the Word dwells in them and witnesses to its truth.

-- H. Orton Wiley, in Christian Theology

Friday, October 23, 2009

Oblivious Serenity

If you can stay calm while all around you is chaos. . .


you probably haven't completely understood the seriousness of the situation.

Double Days

Bill Easum on How to Have Three Easters a Year. What pastor wouldn't want that?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Powerful Prayer Pattern


A couple of weeks ago, I suggested a pattern for prayer in the worship services, using five points that all start with the letter "F" (one for each finger!)

Since then, several people have asked me for them again -- so here they are:

1. Focus: Tune your mind and heart into God -- His greatness, His depth, His love, His grace. What about distractions? Here's an idea: capture the distracting thoughts and turn them into prayers! (A friend also suggested writing the prayers as a way to deal with distractions -- you don't go on rabbit trails quite so much when writing it down.)

2. Faith: As we recognize the mighty power of God, it brings faith to the praying!
Faith, as Corrie Ten Boom said is: "Fantastic Adventures in Trusting Him!"

3. Forgiveness: Search your heart. Ask God to cleanse your heart of anything wrong, and to heal you of anything broken. Open your heart to forgive those who have wronged you.

4. Filling: Seek the fullness of Christ's presence -- the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Don't just ask for things. Ask for Him! Don't just ask Him to "come through for you" but ask Him to come ("maranatha")

5. Flowing: "Send me!" Prepare your heart to go out and be a blessing to others -- bringing love, grace, hope, encouragement. "Flow through me, Lord. Flow through me."
Also, some time ago, my dear friend and prayer partner, Judy Gorud, taught me a wonderful way to bless loved ones via prayer:
B -- Body (for strength, stamina, health and healing)
L -- Livelihood (school, work, details of the day)
E -- Emotional (dealing with the issues of life)
S -- Social (relationships)
S-- Spiritual (love for God and spiritual growth)


A Church on the Move

Washington D. C.'s National Community Church, pastored by my blogger buddy, Mark Batterson, was given six days notice to relocate after the theater where they've been meeting for thirteen years (Union Station) was closed

This is a major blow, as the location served around 700 people.

Good thing this congregation is thoroughly missional and understands that a church consists of people rather than a building.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

H2N2

I want to spread H2N2:

Holiness and Hope to Neighbors and Nations

To the Ends of the Earth


Dr. JoAnne Lyon, founder of World Hope International and General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Church, was here with us in the northwoods of Wisconsin for the past few days.

On Sunday morning, she preached to a full house (two services) at our daughter church, The River, in Minong (led by the dynamic young pastor, Ben Kidder.)

Then, on Sunday night, she travelled into the deep woods and spoke at the Woodland Wesleyan Church, enthusiastically pastored by Hayward's own Andrea Wittwer. Andi is doing an outstanding job of beating the bushes. Her little church was full Sunday night -- full of people, full of joy, and full of praise to God. (Woodland is really remote. We saw quite a bit of wildlife on the way home, including a bear and a wild turkey! Andi said she hit a bear on the way home from church the other week. She took him home, and they had him for supper.)

On Monday night, Dr. Lyon spoke at Hayward to a gathering of our congregation. As usual, she hit the ball out of the park -- a grand slam home run! Several people spoke to me afterwards, using the same word to describe what happened in their hearts as she spoke: courage.
I don't know how she does it, but Dr. Lyon infuses courage every time she speaks.

Yesterday, she met with several northern Wisconsin Wesleyan pastors, in a forum, where she listened to our perspectives about ministry on the front lines, what we need from the denomination, and our opinions on how to be more effective in bringing hope and holiness to a broken and needy world.

It was great stuff -- I left totally energized, pumped up and ready to charge out and bless everybody!

What a powerful series of events! What an honor to have this great leader take the time to share her life with us.
Of course, she would probably say she was just fulfilling her duty, the Great Commission -- going to the "ends of the earth."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fool's Gold

My son, Ryan's song: Fool's Gold

It's really good.

Juicy

We were honored to have Dr. Ronald B. Allen as our guest speaker at Hayward Wesleyan Church this past Sunday morning. Dr. Allen is an Old Testament scholar and Bible translator, who teaches at Dallas Theological Seminary.

He was one of the senior editors of the New King James Version of the Bible, the Old Testament editor for the Nelson Study Bible, and the Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary.

Dr. Allen shared a rich exposition of Psalm 40. He unpacked the passage -- line upon line -- precept upon precept -- and opened up some tremendous insights none of us had ever seen before. (Waiting, I waited on the Lord.)

Bible scholars are reputed to be as dry as yesterday's toast -- but this was certainly not the case with Dr. Allen. He's not dry at all -- but juicy!
Dr. Allen is a gracious and gentle servant, with a heart flowing over with love for the Lord and His people.
It was truly a blessing to have him with us, and to sit under his teaching.

Drinking Your Way to Health?

Perhaps Not

. . .Experts with the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association say that though these studies do show some benefits to moderate drinking, the health risks from alcohol consumption far outweigh the potential rewards.

The Mood of the Leader

"Smile and the world smiles with you."

Recently, I read some interesting facts indicating that the old adage is really true! Researcher and Psychologist, Daniel Goleman, along with his associates, did a study on the "bottom line performance" of companies. They discovered that the thing which influences a company's bottom line performance more than anything else is the mood of the leader.

Hmmmm -- now, that's interesting. If you are a leader, and everything is a big mess -- the first thing to start fixing is your own attitude! This applies in business, school, sports teams, church, and home. If you don't like what's going on around you, it's time to change what's going on within you!

"A cheerful heart is good medicine", Proverbs 17:22. Or, as Madeleine L' Engle said, A good laugh heals a lot of hurts."

We cannot afford to allow little nit-picky annoyances to rob us of joyful health. We were created for joy. We were made to laugh. When the worries and burdens of life bind us up and squeeze the happiness out of our soul, we are living below our rightful inheritance as children of God.

"Mirth is God's medicine. Everybody ought to bathe in it," said Henry Ward Beecher, "Grim care, moroseness, anxiety -- all this rust of life - ought to be scoured off by the oil of mirth.

"Unfortunately, people have the mistaken notion that Christians are a miserable lot. "Are you a minister?" someone asked a gentleman. "No," he replied, "I just have bad gas.

"A little kid, visiting his grandfather's farm, observed the sorry looking mule. "Poor ol' mule," the boy declared, "I think he has Grandpa's religion.

"It ought not to be so! Christian people have the privilege of being the happiest people in the whole world!I agree with C. S. Lewis, who said, "Joy is the serious business of heaven."

Jesus reminded us of this heavenly attitude when he said, "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you -- and that your joy may be full." Joy is the natural result of spiritual health. Fear, worry, resentment, and other "joy robbers" are symptoms of spiritual disease. They need to be released if the joy is going to flow.

Just a few practical pointers on how to have a joyful life:
1. Don't take yourself so seriously -- nobody else does!
2. Worry is the "red light" that indicates a low joy level.
3. Joy comes by voluntarily serving others.
4. Enjoy the little things each day. Take time to stop and smell the roses.
5. Focus on joy in the hard times. Remember -- This too shall pass!
6. Share life honestly with a good friend. This will divide the sorrows and double the joys.
7. Look for the humor in every situation.

"Give me a sense of humor, Lord.
Give me grace to take a joke.
To get some happiness from life
And pass it on to other folk."
-- Chester Cathedral

Monday, October 19, 2009

Beer Bear Made the News

The Bear and the Beer

Sometimes, my big city friends ask me, "What do you guys do for excitement?"

Well, here's the latest buzz from Hayward: Friday night, a bear made his way into the Marketplace Liquor Store, and hung out for an hour in the beer cooler. Apparently he is not a Wesleyan bear.

Yogi's great adventure made national news:
Bear Makes Beer Run in Wisconsin

Who says nothing happens in a small town?

The DNR officials came and tranquilized him. I hear they're taking him to detox.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Beautician with a Mission

I received some news this week that made me beam with joy.

My friend, Linda has been visiting female inmates at the jail each week, and taking them through the Celebrate Recovery program.

One of the young ladies heard that Linda is trained beautician, and asked if she could cut her hair. Linda knew it was a long shot, but asked Kurt, the head jailor.

He agreed -- and so now Linda is the official jail beautician! She's going to play Celebrate Recovery teaching tapes while she cuts hair!

Kudos to Linda, who is helping these young ladies be beautiful on the inside as well as outside. She is demonstrating what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus -- the beautician with a mission!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Stetzer on Speaking to the Wesleyans

Ed Stetzer referred to an address he gave at the Wesleyan Pastors' Gathering in his recent blog post: Why I Speak to Other Groups and How I Decide.

As one of the Wesleyan pastors in the audience, I'd like to say, I was glad to have him come. He treated us respectfully and his message was powerful, inspiring us to engage our communities for Jesus Christ.

After reading his blog post, however, I'm glad he kept to the subject of the day (Evangelism and Church Planting), and didn't talk about his perspective of women in ministry.

I pondered his three questions regarding accepting speaking engagements:
1. Can I Be Clear on the Gospel?
2. Am I Restricted in What I Can Say?
3. Will My Presence be Used Inappropriately?

In light of this blog post, wouldn't #2 on the list keep us from inviting him back to speak at a future Wesleyan Pastors' Gathering?

Of course, we didn't restrict him the first time -- and he was very respectful and true to us, his audience. I appreciated that.

This respect, however, is not guaranteed in a speaker. We didn't restrict Ms. Lotz either, and she disrespected us -- chastising us for our "obviously flawed" views on eternal security. It didn't go over very well.

If a speaker holds some views contrary to that of the audience, it seems that an honest discussion and agreement beforehand is certainly in order.