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


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

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


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!"

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.