Posts

Showing posts from 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

Image
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…

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.

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 …

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

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!
Image

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.")

The Christmas Crossing

Image
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."

In the Bleak Midwinter

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!

Which is It?

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

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

It's What You Do Next That Counts

Image
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. HT Patt Hannon via Doug Pagitt

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?

Farewell to Oral Roberts

Image
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

Image
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]

Primal

Image
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/
Order here

Make This The Moment!

Image
“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 (from An Account of the Experiences of Hester Ann Rogers and her Funeral Sermonby Hester Ann Rogers and Thomas Coke)

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.)

40 Loaves

Image
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.
Order here.

Catching Cows

Image
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.)

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)

Coming of the Snow

Image
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)

Clearing Ice

Image
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 relat…

Frosty's Baby Picture

Image
It's going to be raining snow babies today

Wesleyan Life Online

Image
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.

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!"

A New Christmas Carol

Image
I'm tempted to have our choir sing this one at the Candlelight Christmas Eve Services. . . and then preach a sermon on repentance.

(HT Frank Viola)

60 Years in One Church and Still Going

Image
Prairie Hill Baptist Church Church called Fred Sain to be their pastor 60 years ago, and he's still there! He says he never heard God say, "Move!"

There's Someone Stalking Me

Image
Seriously!!
A powerful post by my dear friend, Keith Drury -- convicting and oh, so true.

Hunting Party

Image
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.

Preaching that Sticks

Hiebert for Dummies

Image
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…

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!

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

Backyard Victory

Image
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

Image
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?
Take the Turkey Day Quiz Here

As The Sun Rises

Image
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

Alcohol Related Fatality?

Image
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 belon…

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

Image
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!"

Billy Joe Daugherty

Image
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."

The Other Holy Week

Image
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 h…

Undertakers and Bad Gas

Image
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.

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 A…

Most Misunderstood Missiologist

Image
An insightful article by Bill Eason about Don McGavran, the father of the church growth movement.
I was privileged to sit under his teaching a few times during my days at Fuller.

Winning over Worry

Image
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 a…

Perplexities

"By such things men live, and my spirit finds life in them too." Isa. 38:16

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 p…

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!

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.

Stand Fast

Image
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

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

Image
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

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

White Picket Fences

Image
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." Excerpt Here Order here (Preview copy was provided for review by the publisher.)

I Love it When God Does Things Like This!

Image
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!

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)

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.

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

Image
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)

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…

Tapped Out: Pastor's Job Can Easily Breed Depression

Image
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 t…

Pray Back

Image
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 almo…

Some Days are Like That

Image

Trunk or Treat

Image

Light a Candle

Image
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.)
More information on Hanna and his ministry here
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

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 …

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 t…

Wisdom Hunter

Image
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. Order here (book provided for review by the publisher)

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! :)

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.

Scriptural Truth

Image
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

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?

A Powerful Prayer Pattern

Image
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 f…

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.

H2N2

I want to spread H2N2:

Holiness and Hope to Neighbors and Nations

To the Ends of the Earth

Image
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 par…

Fool's Gold

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

It's really good.

Juicy

Image
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 laug…

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.

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!

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 …