Showing posts from February, 2009

Integrity Lessons from the Blender

Words of wisdom from my friend, Barb Bennett, who serves as Pastor of Community Care at Westview Community Church in Manhattan (Kansas, that is.)
On our blender, there are several settings, and depending on how we set it, we end up with a mixture containing chunks of fruit and ice-cream still identifiable, or the ingredients are liquefied and thoroughly mixed so none of the original items are recognizable.
We all hear and read great words and ideas that others have created, and sometimes we "borrow" those things to share with our group. When we study we gather information from a variety of sources; sometimes we cannot even remember exactly where we first learned something. As you sit down to prepare a lesson, imagine all that information is being put into a blender, whirred around, and then poured out when you present the lesson.
If your lesson still has identifiable "chunks" from someone else, you need to give credit to the person. We usually do this for direct quo…

It's Easier

It is easier to fix the blame than to fix the problem.
It is easier to make excuses than to make progress.
It is easier to duck responsibility than to take it.
It is easer to find fault than to appreciate good qualities.
It is easier to daydream than it is to pursue a dream.
It is easier to rock the boat than to row it.
It is easier to worry than to pray.
It is easer to put off a chore than to tackle it.
It is easer to blame society than to improve it.
It is easier to be self-serving than to be self-sacrificing.
It is easier to critique from the stands than to play on the field.
It is easier to spend money than to save it.
It is easier to waste time than to invest it.
It is easier to watch the news than to make it.
It is easier to follow the familiar path than to blaze a new trail.
It is easier to complain than to cheer..
It is easier to condemn than to bless.
It is easier to reprimand than to encourage.
It is easier to argue than to understand.
It is easier to talk than to listen.
It is easier to gossip…

Wedding Bells

Congratulations to Dr. Wesley Duewel and his new bride, Hilda, who were married at the end of December.
Dr. Duewel , 92, is an amazing man of faith and prayer. His inspiring writings have blessed people all over the world. 1.7 million of his books are now in circulation in 61 languages.
My favorite, Ablaze for God, has had a tremendous impact on my life, personally, as well as our congregation. It is the best book in my personal library besides the Bible.
We were honored to have Dr. Duewel as our special guest at Hayward Wesleyan Church last November. (I blogged about it here and here.) During the process, I became acquainted with Hilda.
She is a special lady, full of grace and love for the Lord. For many years, she has served as Dr. Duewel's capable administrative assistant.
Now, she stands beside him as his wife!
Both Dr. Duewel and Hilda lost their first companion by death. I am so happy that God drew them to each other for this special chapter in their lives.
Congratulations are cer…

Headed to my Buckeye Homeland

Today, I am flying to Columbus, Ohio, in order to spend some time with my dearly beloved mother and four older brothers (who are almost as dearly beloved!)

I am looking forward to spending time with my family in Ohio.

On Sunday afternoon, I'll be speaking with a group small church pastors and laypeople. I hope I can bring some encouragement and blessing to them!

Rupert Murdoch, the Economy, and Church Leadership

From a memo recently issued by Rupert Murdoch to his staff:
"We are in the midst of a phase of history in which nations will be redefined and their futures fundamentally altered."
"Let me be very clear about our company: where others might step back from their commitment to their viewers, their users, readers and customers – we will renew ours."The direction of the business now and over the next few years will define the character of our company for decades."
Applying this to church: 1) How will churches be "redefined" in coming days? 2) How will our "futures be altered?" 3) What commitments must be renewed in the economic downturn? 4) What choices, made now, will define our church for decades?

Take Two Pills and Call Me In the Morning

RX For Spiritual Health:

Starting Ash Wednesday (Feb. 25) and continuing though Easter Sunday (April 12)
Take Two Spiritual Pills Three Times a Day

1) Before You Get Out of Bed:

“This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24)

“Satisfy me in the morning with your unfailing love that I may sing for joy and be glad all my days. (Psalm 90:14)

2) At Mid-Day, During Lunch:

“All things work together for good for those who love the Lord” (Rom. 8:28)
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13)

3) In the Evening as You are Preparing for Bed:

“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you, alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." (Psalm 4:8)
“When I lie down, I will not be afraid. When I lie down, my sleep will be sweet." (Prov. 3:24)

Ashes, Ashes

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. For about a decade, now, we have held Lenten Services each Wednesday at noon -- and we always kick off with the imposition of the ashes.

Until last year, I borrowed ashes from my buddy, Father Bill at the Catholic Church -- but then he retired, and my "ash stash" disappeared.

During my last borrowing, I asked the good reverend where he got the ashes. With a somber expression, he replied, "The funeral home, of course." Later, he admitted, to my disappointment, that he didn't get them from the funeral home at all ("And we wouldn't want THOSE ashes anyway" he explained, "They're much too clunky!") Rather, the ashes are from burning last year's palm branches.

"Wow, that's really something!" I exclaimed, "Recycled palm branches!!" There's some significance in that -- Last year's praise can be THIS year's ashes! But the beauty of Easter is that after the ashes -- we wil…

The Right Reverend Zen Master

Chicken Wonderful

This recipe, from Jeanette Vermilya, was in the Hephzibah Children's Home Magazine a couple of months ago. (Jeanette has been a friend for a long time. She and her husband Jim provide a ministry of encouragement to missionaries at Shunem House, in Noblesville, Indiana.

Now, I'm not much of a "recipe hunter" -- but this caught my eye, so I tore it out -- and surprised my family the next Monday, by cooking it for them. (I know -- big risk for them!!)

It was AWESOME!! No joke!! No wonder they call it "Chicken Wonderful!" (Or, some folks call it "Engagement Chicken" because when a single gal cooks it for her uncommitted boyfriend. . . Voila! A ring wondrously appears!!)

So here it is: (drumroll please)

1 Can of Cream of Chicken soup + a half can of Cream of Mushroom soup (or milk)
4-6 boneless chicken breasts (uncooked)
Swiss cheese slices
8 oz. Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix (dry)
4 Tbsp. Butter

Place chicken in 13 X 9 pan. Lay cheese slices on chicken. Pour so…

Seems Like Somebody Would Have Noticed


Blind Man Sermon

In John 9, we find the story of the man who was blind from birth.

1) The Neighbors saw him as a beggar
2) The Disciples saw him as a sinner
3) Jesus saw him as a man -- a person with potential.

The method of healing: mud on the eyes.

That hurt!! Have you ever had dirt or sand in your eyes?? Ouch!! Sometimes, when Jesus begins a healing process, it HURTS!

Jesus used dirt -- why?? Maybe. . .
1) Humans created from earth. A creative process.
2) Symbolizes the "earthly things" that blind us.
3) The beggar was treated like dirt. Maybe he thought of himself as dirt. And Jesus took dirt and made a miracle out of it.

Pool of Siloam was a Mikvah -- a place of ritual cleansing.
Jer. 17:13 -- The Lord is the hope ("MIKVAH") of Israel.
John 8 -- Springs of Living Water!

Jesus, Himself, is the cleansing place!

Two times you can't see:
1) When you're in the dark.
2) When something is in the way

The blind man saw Jesus -- via a process:

1) Saw him as a stranger -- "Who are yo…

On His Blindness

A poem by the literary great, John Milton: WHEN I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide,
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide,
'Doth God exact day labor, light denied?'
I fondly ask. But Patience to prevent
That murmur soon replies, 'God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.'

12Stone Tithe Rap


GM Shares Hit 74 Year Low

My 95 Yukon with the golden steering wheel (affectionately dubbed "The God-mobile") is shuddering!!

Then, again, this might be a good time to buy GM Stock.

They Did. . .We Will

I'm really impressed by what these guys are doing. Shawn Cossin, Director of Evangelism and Church Growth for the Western Pennsylvania District (Wesleyan Church), exudes vision and passion for reaching people for Jesus.

Their D.S., Randy Swink is an outstanding leader. His son, Brad, served as an intern with us last year, and became a hero to my sons, Luke and Wes. (They talk about him all the time.)

Next month, I'm scheduled to fly there and speak to these guys -- but methinks I'll learn as much as I teach.

Check the 3 One Day Learning Events and the Videos at the bottom of the page!

Bloomin' Gardeners

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls bloom.
Marcel Proust

(HT Reflections from the Southside, Dale Argot)

Suicide at the Crystal Cathedral

Preacher's Wife

Keith Drury on Roles for a Preacher's Wife.

My reponse: A pastor's wife is a person -- not a role.

In that respect -- she should be who she is, using her unique gifts and graces to be a blessing however she can.

The only job description that comes with being a Pastor's Wife is: Love God and Love the People.

Outlaw Marshal

While on vacation, I read Outlaw Marshal by Al and Joanna Lacy. (First installment of the Return of the Stranger Series)
It's a Christian Western -- an unusual blend reminding me of Louis L'Amour, The Lone Ranger, Mary Poppins, Matt Dillon (the Gunsmoke guy -- not the actor), Florence Nightingale, and Bob Jones.
John Brockman, the gun-slingin' Baptist Colorado Marshal, rides around helping poor folks in crisis, and quoting salvation Gospel verses. I included Mary Poppins in the above list, because Marshal Brockman is "practically perfect in every way." The crowds "ooh and aw" as our hero rides off into the sunset. A little too syrupy for my taste, but a fun read nevertheless. Purchase here.

You Can't Sing What You Can't Hear

Here's a great post from my blogger buddy, Mark Batterson.

Please Pray. . .

for John LaFontaine, a young man connected with our church, who discovered yesterday that he has three tumors on his brain. They operated today.

I haven't heard the results yet -- but it's serious.

Pray also for his lovely wife, Candice, who is pregnant with twins.

They are an awesome couple -- so full of faith and love. Over the last several months, they have served faithfully in jail ministry, and have had a tremendous impact on the LCO Reservation.

Just over a week ago, John shared a powerful testimony at church. The congregation was deeply moved, and uplifted.

We now need to lift John and Candice up in our prayers.


Today, I am going to be speaking to a group of pastors in Colorado -- without even leaving my office! We're going to use Skype to "beam me in."

Technology is amazing!

Things Are Not Always As They Seem

Things are not always as they seem.

The story is told of two angels who came to earth in disguise to interact with humans. Of course, this is just a tale – but it pays us to remember the biblical adage to be careful as we entertain strangers for we might be entertaining angels unaware.

Well, these two angels stopped at a house and knocked at the door, hoping for some food and lodging. The residents of the house proved to be terribly rude and obnoxious. They were negative and greedy, giving barely (and resentfully) a crust of bread, and a very small serving of putrid water. Grudgingly, they allowed the strangers to spend the night, but made them sleep in the back room on a cold, hard floor without blankets or pillows.

As the two angels prepared to turn in, they noticed a hole in the wall. One of the angels immediately went to the wall and began to patch it. He worked until the wall was completely repaired – smooth, without any evidence of the hole.

“I sure don’t understand why you we…

Dealing with Critics

In honor of President's Day, Todd Rhoades has a great post: Abe Lincoln on Dealing with Critics

Top 100 Leadership Blogs

It was an honor to see that Revitalize Your Church was included in Best Universities' Top 100 Leadership Blogs

Categories are:
Leadership Development
Youth and Student Leadership
Community Leadership
Managing Others
Female Leadership
Religious Leadership
Workplace Leadership
Team Leadership

Cruise Dinner


Rural Route Wisdom

Family Cruise

Last week, we celebrated Cathy's parents' (Phil and Madelyn Crail) 50th anniversay with a beautiful reception in Lakeland, Florida, and then a family cruise to the Bahamas. It was a wonderful experience!

I had written posts for the blog ahead of time, so Revitalize Your Church continued in my absence! I wasn't even able to check for over a week!!

There's Always Hope

This sixth grader beats the buzzer in an awesome last second shot



God's Dawg

ABC's of a Great Marriage

(My beautiful wife, Cathy, helped me put this list together.)

A - Accept your partner as he/she is - no strings attached.
B - Be attentive, thoughtful and considerate.
C - Commit yourself and your marriage to God.
D - Date each other regularly and often.
E - Endure the difficult times with a good spirit.
F - Forgive any grievances you may have against each other.
G - Give affection generously.
H - Have fun together. Make wonderful memories!
I - Involve your partner totally in your life. Don't shut him/her out.
J - Journey through life together, looking forward to what's around the bend.
K - Keep the lines of communication open. Always be honest.
L - Listen, really listen to your partner.
M - Make love often.
N - Never gripe about your mate to others.
O - Openly praise your mate.
P - Pray together. The couple that prays together, stays together.
Q - Quit doing stupid things that annoy your partner.
R - Remember to put the lid on the toothpaste tube.
S - Start something new. Don't let your lov…


(Fretting) always ends in sin. We imagine that a little anxiety and worry are an indication of how really wise we are; it is much more an indication of how really wicked we are. Fretting springs from a determination to get our own way.

-- Oswald Chambers, Lectures at Clapham

The Baby Leaped

A great post by David Mathis at Desiring God: The Baby in My Womb Leaped for Joy:
Luke uses the word "baby" to denote not only the post-born Jesus in the manger (2:16) but also the preborn John in the womb (Luke 1:41, 44). Luke also notes that the preborn John was "filled with the Holy Spirit," a reality which the Bible only ascribes to persons.
The assumption is that the baby in the womb is a person. And the implication is that human life in the womb should be protected.

3 Great Relationship Reads

As Valentine's Day approaches, I'd like to recommend three excellent books on the Marriage Relationship:
1) Love As A Way of Life Devotional, by Dr. Gary Chapman (author of the Five Love Languages), is a heartwarming spiritual guide for couples. This 90-day journey is a great way for couples to begin the habit of sharing a few moments of spiritual reflection together in a non-threatening way. It shows how to be a loving person -- full of kindness, patience, forgiveness, courtesy, humility, generosity and honesty. Good stuff!
2) Cheryl and Jeff Scruggs tell their amazing story of brokenness and redemption in I Do Again. Their marriage was broken beyond repair. Too much damage had been done. Yet, through spiritual renewal, they found their way back to each other. (This one is a triple hankee!) Conflicted couples ought to read it.
3) For Couples Only: Eye Opening Insights on How the Opposite Sex Thinks by Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn, is really a two-book combo. The first book is For…

Common Leadership Mistakes

Rick Warren made a list of seven common church leadeship mistakes to avoid:

1. You stop growing.
2. You stop caring.
3. You stop listening.
4. You get distracted.
5. You get complacent.
6. You become arrogant.
7. You fail to delegate.

(via Church Relevance)

Top Ten Religious States

The Christian Post recently reported on the Top Ten Religious States in America.

Atheism Defined

An atheist is someone who believes that nothing created everything.
-- Ray Comfort (Pull the Plug on Atheism)


If your ship hasn't come in, swim out to it!
-- Jonathan Winters

This is the Day

Each morning, before I get out of bed to begin the day, I repeat psalm 118:24: “This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it!”

This simple little practice, which I began on January 1, has been transformational for me. It is truly a daily “faith lift.”

THIS IS THE DAY -- It reminds me that today really counts. In fact, it’s the only day I have! I don’t have yesterday. It’s already gone. There’s no guarantee about tomorrow. But I DO have this golden opportunity called today! It’s important to treasure and make the most of it!

John Wesley encourages us to “redeem the time, for that’s the stuff life is made of!” Moments are precious. Every breath we take is a special gift.

This is the day to live! Some folks live in the memories of the past. Others live in the anticipation and fear of the future. But, we are called to LIVE TODAY!!

Make it count! Make it count!

THE LORD HAS MADE -- I realize that I’m not in charge.

A guaranteed way to be miserable is to try to control outco…

Economy Hurting U.S. Families

The Economy is Hurting U.S. Families

Requests for therapists have soared and domestic-violence and suicide hotlines are reporting increased calls. The demand for therapists surged 40% from June to December at ComPsych. Calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline have also increased. For example, there were 21% more calls in September than in September 2007. In October, there were 18% more calls than in October 2007.

(HT Church Relevance)

Rural Exodus

Collin Hansen reports on the decline in pastors willing to serve rural America.
That's really sad. I followed God's call to the rural northwoods of Wisconsin from urban southern California 18 years ago. It's been an amazing place to raise a family and serve a community.
It's rewarding -- but not as cushy as ministering in the suburbs.
I like what one rural pastor, Jeff, said in the comment section of the article: "If your God is your belly, you won't make it!"

Our Baptism Videos

Thanks to our Children's Pastor, Jeremy Mavis for putting three baptism videos on our church website. (Famous Mavis Productions!) If you haven't had the opportunity to see them, I encourage you to do so - -they're really moving -- and they remind us why we do what we do!

The video of our last baptism isn't out yet -- but when it is, we'll post it here as well.

What Worship Leaders Can Learn from Springsteen

Rob O'Connor ripped Springsteen's Super Bowl halftime show at List of the Day. In light of these observations, I'd like to suggest ten things worship leaders can learn for Springsteen's performance: 1. "Drop the Guacamole Dip": People resent being told they HAVE to do something musically (i.e. Everybody raise your hands! or Let's all clap together on this one!) 2. Don't Start with Something Stilted and Corny. 3. More isn't Necessarily Merrier. 4. This is Not a Place for Self Promotion 5. Gospel Choir: O'Connor was wrong on that one. Bring 'em on! They add exuberance! 6. "Fastball, not Speedball": Be Sure your References are Accurate 7. Boss Time: Beware of Cheesy Introductions. 8. Overcompensation: When you're trying to Make an Impression, That's Exactly the Impression You're going to Make. 9. Don't Stick Clarence on Cowbell: I'll leave the interpretation of that one up to you! 10. No Wardrobe Malfunctions: That's a…

Relevant Revival

In light of my last post, here's another great conference for pastors in "The Sticks" Some good articles here to challenge us as well.

Looks to me like there are some differences between these two conferences.

Here's my interpretation:

The RHMA Conference says the great need of rural churches is revival.
The Sticks Conference says the great need of rural churches is relevance.

I believe we need a good dose of BOTH -- starting with revival in our hearts and relationships - then engaging our world missionally, in a transparent and relevant way.

I say the great need of the rural church is Relevant Revival!

Small Talk

RHMA's Small Talk is a great resource -- providing a dozen relevant articles especially for small town and rural pastors.

RHMA (Rural Home Ministry Association) also will host an outstanding conference in April:

Seeking Revival in Rural America

This is right down my alley. Sadly, I already am committed to teaching elsewhere, or I would sign up on the spot!


Congratulations to George Beverly Shea, legendary singer for Billy Graham Crusades, and author of the sacred classic, "I'd Rather Have Jesus", who turned turned 100 years old today. (HT New Church Report)

Kurt Warner's Faith Story

Professional Football

In honor of Super Bowl Sunday, there's a reason these guys are called professionals!