Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rejected Super Bowl Ad

This is the Catholic Vote Ad NBC refused to air during the Super Bowl


I always get a headache when I try to fight today's battles with tomorrow's strength.
-- Johnny Hunt (via Steven Furtick)

Faith and the Super Bowl

Faith Mixes With Football for the Big Game

Friday, January 30, 2009

Christian Writer's Market 2009

The Christian Writer's Market has been a valuable help in getting my articles into magazines over the years.

This excellent guide lists all the different Christian publishers, magazines, newspapers, periodicals and agents. It gives the specifics of what they're looking for, the kind of manuscript they desire, what they pay, and how to go about submitting something you've written.

This is the best deal I know for aspiring writers. A small investment of around twenty bucks, can reap hundreds on just one or two articles. I know this is true, because I have experienced it personally.

I researched the Christian Writer's Market, picked out the ten companies that would most likely accept my articles, and then started sending them out.

On average, I get about ten rejections to every acceptance -- but, hey -- that's not too bad!! (About the same as my odds when casting a fishing line.)

Now, I've not gotten rich by writing -- but the Christian Writer's Market has helped me go on a few extra special dates with Cathy, and to have some fun experiences with my kids!

The 2009 Version of the Christian Writer's Market (buy it here), written by Sally Stuart, is better than ever! It includes:
* more than 1,200 markets for the written word
* 416 book publishers (32 new)
* 654 periodicals (52 new)
* 96 literary agents
* 100 new listings in Resources for Writers
* 226 poetry markets
* 316 photography markets
* 25 African-American markets
* and 166 contests (29 new.)

It also includes a fantastic cd rom with full text for the whole book for easy searches!

Sally E. Stuart is the author of thirty-six books and has sold more than one thousand articles and columns. Her long-term involvement with the Christian Writers’ Market Guide as well as her marketing columns for the Christian Communicator, Oregon Christian Writers, and The Advanced Christian Writer, make her a sought-after speaker and a leading authority on Christian markets and the business of writing. Stuart is the mother of three and grandmother of eight and lives near Portland, Oregon.


Again -- and it seems like the 20th time this winter, the mercury has dipped to over 20 below zero. (That's farenheit, for my international readers -- and that's COLD!!)

Just last week, I was trying to describe to an African pastor friend how the people here in the northwoods drive on the lakes, and drill holes in the ice to go fishing. He just couldn't comprehend it! (Of course, there are things HE experiences that I can't comprehend either.)

Next week, the Lord willing, our family will be celebrating Cathy's parents' 50th Anniversary in much warmer climes!

In the meantime, I'll just praise the Lord for gloves, hats, furnaces, hot chocolate, steaming coffee, and Old Faithful -- my 95 Yukon that, with one exception, has started every morning this entire winter.

Scott McKnight's perspective on Wisconsin winters made me smile.

Every day, since January 1, as I awake and get ready to face the day I've been repeating Psalm 188:24:
This is the day the Lord has made. I will REJOICE and be GLAD in it!

That puts everything in perspective.

Rufus, The Bean Shooter

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Global Humbling

My friend, Famous Dave, sent me an insightful and thought provoking e-mail yesterday. It's a brief essay written by Art Erickson, co-founder and CEO of Urban Ventures .

With Art's gracious permission, I am sharing it with you:

" 'Be careful that no one misleads you,' returned Jesus, 'for many will come in my name saying, "I am Christ",and they will mislead many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars - do not be alarmed. Such things must indeed happen, but that is not the end. For one nation will rise in arms against another, and one kingdom against and other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in different parts of the world. But all that is only the beginning of the birth-pangs." Matthew 24:4-8

You hear people ask today, "How long will it take before we get back to normal?" Wrong question! We will never go back to normal! There are only "new normals" ahead, and no one knows what they look like. In fact, in this new global political-economy, there will be many 'new normals'.

In the days ahead we must ask the following questions:
"When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?" Psalm 11:3 (NIV)
Who and what can you depend on when everything fades away?
How can businesses, non-profits, churches, and homes be the new triage centers?
This great Global Humbling is occurring today and we really don't know what is coming tomorrow for it is coming with rapidity

  • It is the Great World Leveler (the poor have always scrambled for their 'daily bread'... now everyone will)!

  • Realism is the new optimism!

  • Social Pragmatism is the ultimate social value!

In this environment it is important to:

  • Not be wed to the past.

  • Not be tied to your former role or any role.

  • Throw out the playbook...

  • Realize everyone is out on the front lines... ( and perhaps the streets).

The four distinguishing characteristics of those who will make it will be those who are:

  • Resilient

  • Agile

  • Creative

  • Choose their focus.

So in this new reality we need to accept and realize that:

  • I need a new pragmatism for these new normals.

  • I need to Reset My Buttons.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Pope

I got a kick out of this picture of the Snow Pope at IWU. Found it via Keith Drury's facebook. Thanks Keith!

Converts to What?

A thought provoking article by Ed Stetzer

. . . don't defend your lack of converts, repent of it, weep over it, and resolve to change it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


An intriguing review Crushed: The Perilous Journey Called Ministry

As I travel and speak across the country, I often am approached by pastors (or sometimes ministry couples) who have been broken and shattered by mistreatment from their congregations.

Now, often, on this blog, the issue of minister mistreating the congregation comes up -- and I absolutely believe that spiritual (or emotional) abuse at the hands of a shepherd is intolerable.

However, there's another side which is not often stated. There are a lot of dysfunctional churches that "eat pastors alive."

Thankfully, I'm serving in a healthy congregation where that is not the case. Our people aren't perfect (and neither am I) -- but as a rule of thumb, we get along, and are going somewhere together.

Sadly, in a huge number of churches, the environment is one of negative warfare.

Expectations for ministers are unbelievably high. Pastors are expected to be "supermen" (or "superwomen"). They are often regarded as a function rather than as a person. If they fall short of "expectations" then are shredded up one side and down the other.

They become targets for continual criticism, gossip and nit-picking. This situation is depleting and only leads to frustration and discouragment for everybody.

To the lay people who read this blog: Cut your pastor some slack. Pray for the family in the parsonage. Look for ways to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Instead of finding fault, ask God to bless your pastor, and lend a helping hand.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A "Warner-ful" Life

A couple of friends have recently e-mailed a heart touching story about the Cardinals' Super Bowl quarterback, Kurt Warner and his wife, Brenda.

It's a great story -- but just sounded too good to be true. A quick check at Snopes, however, shows that's it's fairly accurate.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Still Carrying Her

Two ministers were walking to church one day along a winding, wooded path.

As they rounded a bend, they came upon an elderly, heavy-set woman standing at the edge of a mud puddle in the middle of the road.

“Oh dear! Oh dear!” the old lady worried, “How am I ever going to get past this puddle without getting my shoes and dress wet and filthy? I just don’t know what to do!”

Then, her eyes brightened as she saw the two preachers approaching. “Excuse me! Is there any way you fine gentlemen could help me get over this puddle of water?”

Brother Bob, the younger minister, smiled brightly, “Sure! We’d be glad to help! Wouldn’t we, Fred?

Brother Fred, an older clergyman, glared at his friend, cleared his throat, and grudgingly replied, “Uh… Sure, Uh… I,,,. I guess so.”

After a quick assessment, Brother Bob put an action plan together. “Brother Fred, Let’s carry her across! You take her left side, and I’ll cover the right!”

“Uh,,,Yeah. . . O.K. , , , If you say so Brother Bob.”

“One, two, three. . . LIFT!”

The two ministers picked up the heavy lady, and struggling, sloshed through the puddle. They deposited her safely, clean and dry, on the other side.

“Good! Good!!” the woman gushed, “I didn’t get a bit muddy!” Then, without at word of thanks, she scurried on her way.

For the next twenty minutes, Brother Fred fussed and fumed about what had happened.

“I can’t believe you volunteered us to carry that lady through the mud puddle!!” he muttered, Then, the angry minister proceeded to give a litany of complaints:

“My shoes are muddy!”
“My socks are soaking wet!”
“My pants have mud all over them!”
“My back hurts!”
“Why in the world did you agree to something stupid like this?”
“She didn’t even say thanks!”

To this, his good hearted friend replied, “For twenty minutes now, you’ve been griping about helping that dear old lady over the mud. You obviously didn’t want to carry her from the very beginning. The funny thing is, I sat her down as soon as we got her across the puddle. But, you, Brother Fred, YOU’RE STILL CARRYING HER!”

Friday, January 23, 2009

Silence is Unconstitutional??

Country Gospel Choir

Last evening, I had a blast with the 25 - 30 friends who showed up for our "Country Gospel Choir" rehearsal. Leading a music rehearsal is unfamilar territory to me, but we had a fantastic time together -- and at the end, did a couple of extra songs just for fun!

We have seven guitars, two ukeleles, bass, drums and fiddle -- and a partridge in a pear tree!

So, on Sunday mornin' we're doin': I'll Fly Away, Just Over in the Glory Land, Daddy Sang Bass, Peace in the Valley, Just a Closer Walk with Thee, Precious Lord, Take my Hand and Amazing Grace.

And all God's people said: "Yeee Haw and Hallilujah!"

She's A Keeper

I heard I'm going to be on television this weekend -- John Gillespie's Waters and Woods on FSN, They recorded the New Year's Eve wedding of fishing great Pete Maina and his lovely bride, Esther, which has held at the beautiful Spider Lake Lodge.
As I said to Pete, "She's a keeper."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Your Church Stinks?

So, you think you're church stinks?
It's nothin' compared to these guys.

The President, The Passengers and the Patience of God

Some profound insights from John Piper making a connection between the inauguration of President Obama and the flight that went down in the Hudson last week.
(Thanks to Bud Wesche for sending this to me)

God of our Weary Years

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God,
where we met Thee,
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world,
we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.

James Weldon Johnson (Quoted in benediction prayer at the inauguration by Joseph Lowrey)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pastors' Connection Webcast

Pastors are invited to join in a personal conversation via webcast with Pastor Rick Warren from our Nation's Capitol, today at 2:00 p.m. Eastern (1:00 p.m. Central.)

Rick will connect with pastors from around the world about his experiences and insights following the Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration on Monday and the Inauguration of President Barrack Obama on Tuesday. .

A Batch of Great Blogs on One Page

From Church Relevance:

In 2008, Guy Kawasaki created a website called Alltop that aggregates the latest content from the world’s top websites and organizes them by topic.
It is a good idea turned great idea. In fact,
Alltop’s church page has grown into a phenomenal resource that lists about 100 church related blogs worth reading.
Since Alltop lists the 5 most recent posts for each website,
the church page gives you about 500 posts from a wide scope of church leaders, influencers, and practitioners.

Revitalize Your Church has been included on the Alltop Church Page!

Chips off the Butcher Block

About a week ago, I received my eagerly anticipated copy of Chips off the Butcher Block in the mail. This delightful volume, written by Derek Johnson, is a compendium of insights gleaned from his years of working side by side with Pastor Orval Butcher.

Pastor Butcher was the founding pastor of Skyline Chuch in San Diego. (Followed by John Maxwell and Jim Garlow.) He was an outstanding pastor, leading the thriving congregation to become the largest Wesleyan church in the world.

He was known for his deep love for God and people, as well as his outstanding tenor voice.

I am privileged to call Pastor Butcher my friend. He said the prayer over me at my ordination, and even popped in for a surprise visit in Wisconsin during my early years in the northwoods.

I devoured Chips off the Butcher Block in ONE sitting!! The leadership principles contained in this book are rich and timeless.

A few examples:
"Truth is like cream. . . it will rise to the top."
"Think it through. Things go better with a prepared heart and mind."
"Everything we do in church falls under one of two verbs: Come or Go."
"Keep your soul moist."

"Virtually all the people who attend Skyline are brand new believers (or trying to be believers) so they always hear just three things from me:
1) God loves you
2) Jesus died for you
3) I care about you

"I can hire people to come in as Prophecy Experts, Revival Specialitsts, Bible Scholars, and Family Issue Authorities. . . but I can never hire anyone to love my people. That's my job."

"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Rick Warren's Prayer

Almighty God, our Father:
Everything we see, and everything we can’t see, exists because of you alone.
It all comes from you, it all belongs to you, it all exists for your glory.
History is your story.
The Scripture tells us, "Hear, O Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD is one." And you are the compassionate and merciful one. And you are loving to everyone you have made.
Now today we rejoice not only in America’s peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time, we celebrate a hinge point of history with the inauguration of our first African American president of the United States.
We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where a son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership. And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven.
Give to our new president, Barack Obama,
the wisdom to lead us with humility,
the courage to lead us with integrity,
the compassion to lead us with generosity.
Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the Cabinet, and every one of our freely elected leaders.
Help us, O God, to remember that we are Americans--united not by race or religion or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all.
When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you--forgive us.
When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone--forgive us.
When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve--forgive us.
And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes—even when we differ.
Help us to share, to serve, and to seek the common good of all.
May all people of good will today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy, and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet.
And may we never forget that one day, all nations--and all people--will stand accountable before you.
We now commit our new president and his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care.
I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life—Yeshua, 'Isa, Jesus [Spanish pronunciation], Jesus—who taught us to pray:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,
for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

(found text at Buzzard Blog)

George Washington's Inauguration Prayer

Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy Holy protection, that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of obedience, and to entertain a Brotherly affection and love for one another as fellow citizens. May we be pleased to do justice, to love mercy, and to conduct ourselves in charity, humility and gentle temper of mind, which were the charactistics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without whose humble example we can never hope to be a happy nation. God grant us our supplication through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Street Sweeper

In honor of MLK day, my blogger buddy and fellow cheesehead, Mark Batterson, shared one of his favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quotes.

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven will pause to say, 'There lived a great street sweeper who did his job well'."

Put the Preachers in Jail

Allen Perdue has an outstanding blog, Life and Ministry in ADHD (I can relate to that!!)

Recently, he made this astute comment which really made me think:

I've heard multiple people say: "the best thing that could happen to the Church in America is to put all the paid clergy in jail."Well, as harsh as it sounds, I actually think they're right.

You can read the rest of Allen's Jail Time For Preachers Post here.
It's definitely worth pondering -- but I'd rather be "just visiting."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cramming for the Final

Photo of bride-to-be, Tammy Suino, fifteen minutes before the wedding. (Photo by Bonnie Salzman)


I preached today on John 3:16 -- the Gospel in a nutshell.

At the end of the services about 20 people responded to the invitation to receive Christ as their Savior. My heart is overflowing with joy.

You just can't go wrong when you preach on John 3:16

Friday, January 16, 2009

At Minus 33

At minus 33 . . .

  • my old faithful 1995 Yukon won't start.
  • nostrils stick together when you breathe in
  • school is cancelled, and children rejoice
  • we're looking forward to a heat wave of zero
  • if you toss boiling water in the air, it immediately turns into a cloud of ice crystals (see yesterday's posts about that)
  • if you blow bubbles, they freeze up and roll around on the ground
  • people still show up at the coffee shop

As I took our dog, Vin, out this morning to do his business, I spoke the same words to him that Jesus said to Judas: "What you are about to do, DO QUICKLY!"

Winter in Wisconsin

It's winter in Wisconsin
And the gentle breezes blow
Seventy miles an hour
At twenty-five below.
Yes, the weather here is wonderful
So I guess I'll hang around
I could never leave Wisconsin
'Cause I'm frozen to the ground!
(from a poem sent to me by my friend, Shirley)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Never Say Diet

Never Say Diet, and the accompanying 16 week Never Say Diet Personal Fitness Trainer, brings a positive approach to healthy living.
Author, Chantel Hobbs, is an amazing woman who has mastered the art of self-control -- overcoming many obstacles (and excuses) to lose over 200 pounds.
Now, Chantel is a personal fitness trainer, runs marathons and inspires thousands to lose weight and choose a more healthy lifestyle. She has appeared on Oprah, The Today Show and Good Morning America!
The keys to success, according to Chantel, are:
a change of thinking about food (treat it as fuel rather than your best friend)
discipline in exercise (which seems to be the centerpiece of her approach),
and courage to follow your dreams (rather than settling for mediocrity.)
From the back cover:
If you want to lose weight for good, learn a secret from Chantel Hobbs: to change your life you first have to change the way you think.
After years of failed diets, Chantel discovered the power of the “brain change.” She made five nonnegotiable decisions, developed a balanced plan for exercise and nutrition, and lost 200 pounds.
Now, through writing, speaking, and her work as a personal trainer, she inspires others to achieve far more than they thought possible.

With Never Say Diet, you can:
•Ditch your self-defeating habits and start dreaming big again
•Develop a driving passion for personal fitness
•Look at food as fuel and not as your best friend
•Learn how God wants to help you win!

Put an end to the diet drama. Whether you want to lose fifteen pounds, fifty, or one hundred fifty, Chantel will show you how to make your commitments stick–producing results that last!

It’s not easy, but it really is as simple as it sounds. First you lose your excuses, then you lose weight for good. You’ll never say “diet” again.

Making Ice Clouds

Arctic Adventure

What an adventure! 28 below zero -- with windchills coming in around 50 below farenheit!
School's cancelled and the kids are going outside to play. The whole town rejoices in the arctic experience which gives us bragging rights, proving just how hardy these northwoods folks can be.
I heard that if you tossed a cup of boiling water in the air in temperatures like this, it immediately evaporates into a cloud of ice crystals.
We tried it -- and it WORKS!!

Lean Only On Christ

“Every thing tht a man leans upon but God, will be a dart that will certainly pierce his heart through and through. He who leans only upon Christ, lives the highest, choicest, safest, and sweetest life.”

-- Thomas Brooks

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Happy Birthday to Cathy!!

Beautiful Bride
Marvelous Mom
Tremendous Teacher
Outstanding Organizer
Purposeful Planner
Listening Leader
Wonderful Wife
Courageous Conqueror
Majestic Musician
Comfortable Companion
Lovely Lady

She's a Keeper

Here are some pictures from the wedding ceremony I conducted for fishing great, Pete Maina, and his beautiful bride, Esther.

Photographer, Hannah Hudson, is top of the line. I think she did a beautiful job capturing the special moments.

Deep Freeze, Brain Freeze

It's 12 below zero and falling. The weather man says it will get down to 22 below today and tomorrow, with wind chills up to 50 below.

Sadly, a Hayward man, sleepwalking, perished in the bitter cold yesterday.

From USA Today:
A 51-year-old man in northern Wisconsin died from exposure after wandering from his Hayward home. Deputies followed footprints in the snow to find the man about 190 yards from his house, Sawyer County Chief Deputy Tim Zeigle said.

I think my brain froze yesterday. I went to Valley Nursing Home to conduct chapel services. There was an unusually large crowd in the day room, and they engaged wholeheartedly. Then, running a bit late, I hurried to Hayward Nursing Home for my "chapel encore."

Carrying my guitar into the home, it dawned on me -- My brain had frozen!! I was behind by a whole hour! It was 5:00 and I had been scheduled to do the chapel at 4:00 p.m.! I did the first chapel service at 4:15 -- but it was supposed to have been 3:15!!

No wonder so many people showed up in the day room!! They wanted to play Bingo!

Sheepishly, I admitted my mistake to the Hayward Nursing Home staff, who laughed it off and told me to go home. They'd already done chapel without me and were setting the tables for dinner. "Next time," they said, "double check your clock!"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Whassamatta U?

Keith Drury on What's Wrong With the Church

The Old Man and the Sea

Last evening, I finished The Old Man and the Sea, which I had borrowed from the Hayward Library.

It's the profound tale of an old fisherman who displays courage against all odds, and his absolute commitment to bring in the "big one"

Made me want to go fishing for muskies this summer.

At first, it was hard to get into the book, and I couldn't quite figure out why Hemingway had won a Pulitzer for it. . . but by the end, I was hooked!


Monday, January 12, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Listening Point

Sigurd Olson, the great naturalist and inspiring writer, with strong Hayward connections, had a cabin in northern Minnesota, which he affectionately dubbed, “Listening Point.”

In 1956, after a long search for the perfect “get-away” spot, Sig happened upon the property one day, and instantly knew had found a treasure. A farm, seven miles south of Ely, had been condemned to make way for the airport. Seeing the land with eyes of the soul, Sig bought it, and built a rustic cabin where “we could just move in, spend a few hours, a night or two, or if in the mood, even a week, an outpost away from the phone and interruptions.”

Surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of pristine nature, this place, overlooking Burntside Lake, served as a special “get-away” for Sig and his dear wife, Elizabeth.

The 36 acres of property included a small beach, a quiet cove, and a prominent westward point of glaciated greenstone.

The name “Listening Point” came in 1958 when their son, Bob and daughter-in-law, Yvonne, arrived for a visit from the Middle East, where Bob served as a foreign service officer. As Yvonne explored the property with her father-in-law and heard him explain the depth of meaning this place held for him, she was struck with a profound insight.

The diplomatic community in Africa, referred to certain places as “Listening Posts.” A Listening Post was where one could hear and discern the truth of the matter about various issues. It was a way of getting the “pulse beat” along the northern coast. The key is in the “hearing” and not in the “telling.” True listening brings understanding.

“This place is a Listening Post for the wilderness!” she remarked.

Thus, “Listening Point” became the name of their special northwoods retreat from that time forward, as well as the title of Sig’s second book (which happens to be my favorite.)

In the book, Sigurd noted:
"I named this place Listening Point because only when one comes to listen, only when one is aware and still, can things be seen and heard. Everyone has a listening-point somewhere. It does not have to be in the north or close to the wilderness, but some place of quiet where the universe can be contemplated with awe....The adventures that have been mine can be known by anyone."

Dear reader – Do you have a Listening Point? Can you carve out some time to get away into the stillness of nature and listen? Too often, we cram our lives full of busy activity and do not allow breathing space for our souls. Our society is afflicted with “hurry sickness”, much to our detriment.

“We live in a very tense society," observed Helen Hayes, “We are pulled apart... and we all need to learn how to pull ourselves together.... I think that at least part of the answer lies in solitude.”
As a minister of the Gospel, I believe that God wants to speak truth, grace and peace to every human heart. His voice, however, almost always comes as a whisper. You won’t be able to hear the voice if your life is jammed with noisy bustle. We are created for stillness and solitude.

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
“In quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isa. 30:15)

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” -- John Muir

True silence is the rest of the mind, and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.” -- William Penn

Stop! Slow down! Find your Listening Point and you will be able to hear yourself think.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Pastors Who Will Do Anything

Thanks to Todd at Monday Morning Insight

Throw It Back

The self is like a baseball
Throw it back to the Divine Pitcher
who pitched it to you in the first place
And the game of love goes on.

Hold it, and the game is over

-- Peter Kreeft

Friday, January 09, 2009

Happy Birthday Ryan!!

Today, Ryan is officially a twenty-something!

The Rising Generation

Our church board met last night at the Larson Lodge.

We invited a group of young adults to the meeting, provided pizza, and listened.

The focus of our conversation was “How can we help young adults to feel more included in the life, ministry and mission of Hayward Wesleyan Church?”

Key points drawn from the meeting are:
  • Young adults desire and need mentoring relationships with older believers.
  • Young adults want to be challenged rather than accommodated.
  • Young believers want to go deeper in the Scripture, and the spiritual walk.
  • Young adults are looking for “genuine” Christians, who walk the walk. A major component of this is relational.
  • Young adults want to see healthy family relationships modeled.
  • Many young adults will not go to church first. They need another connecting point where they can develop friendships in a non-threatening environment.
  • It’s more important to do ministry WITH young adults than to create a ministry FOR them.

Our discussion was positive, powerful and enlightening. The board was deeply blessed by the depth of spiritual commitment demonstrated by the young people who participated and left encouraged that we are in the mission together.

Late last evening, reflecting on the meeting, I rejoiced and thanked the Lord for the rising generation. There is, indeed, hope for tomorrow, when we have godly young people who want to make a difference.

This Atheist Sees It Better Than Some Christians

In a Times Online column, Matthew Parris says "As An Atheist, I Truly Believe Africa Needs God"

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Is Your Marriage Normal?


On Friday night, we're showing the movie, Fireproof, at our church. The movie is just finishing up its theater run -- but not out yet to the public on dvd. (I believe it releases the end of January)

So -- we have a golden opportunity to bless the people of our community! The film has not been shown within an hour's drive of Hayward. I'm fairly certain a lot of people are going to take advantage of our "free date night" (complete with popcorn, soda pop, and child care.)

This is a powerful movie about marriage and faith. A guaranteed "marriage building" experience for the couples who see it.
Let's Blame It On the Baptists!

Pastor Pages

I say "Amen" to Scott McKnight's assessment of Pastor Pages on Church Websites.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Double Hankie

Better get your hankies out for this one: Cardboard Testimonies at Richland Hills Church of Christ

This is so moving! God truly makes the difference!

(Thanks to my up north friend, Bill, for the lead!)

When the Soul Mends

I don't really know why I agreed to review When the Soul Mends by Cindy Woodsmall. It's a chick book! Now, I love good literature -- more than most men, probably -- but I'm not "chick-a-fied!!"

My wife, Cathy, saw it lying around, picked it up -- and for a few days, she disappeared. I'd find her curled up a blanket, a cup of tea, and When the Soul Mends.

"Oooo -- This is good," she said, "really good."
Aha! Eureka!! My way out of having to read the chick book -- and still fulfill my commitment to review it! I could review When the Soul Mends vicariously!!

"Sooo, Cathy, honey, if you were to describe this book to a friend, what would you say?" I threw the line out casually.

"It's one of those. . . you know. . . Amish romance novels."

Hmmmm. Now that's something I don't know much about. I didn't realize that Amish and romance went together. The only thing close to Amish romance I've ever encoutered was Harrison Ford's "Witness" and Weird Al's classic hit, "Amish Paradise." (but I seriously doubt that Cathy was thinking of Weird Al when she said that.)

Nevertheless, Cathy insists that it's wonderfully romantic -- and a great read for those who like that sort of thing! I'll take her word for it. She says it's the third in The Sisters of the Quilt series, and now she wants to read the first two.

Sample Chapter Here

Purchase Here

Monday, January 05, 2009

A Child Shall Lead Them

In God We Trust

The Atheist and the Bible

Had some difficulty with the Penn Video (Atheist and the Bible) from yesterday. Thanks, Keetha, for pointing it out.

So, decided to just add the link here rather than embed the video. It's really powerful.

Or better yet, you can find it here -- and give a kind blogger some traffic.

Women In Ministry

A follow up to my post a couple of weeks ago: How Would You Answer My Friend?

Joe Coleson, who teaches at Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, recently sent me this e-mail in response to the post. Joe and I have been friends ever since we went to Israel together back in 2000. I thought Joe's comments were insightful, and with his permission, am posting them for you:
I was directed to your blog question about women in ministry, but a little late to join the discussion.

I’m saddened that not one of your nineteen respondents is aware of the book that settled the 1 Timothy 2:12 question sixteen years ago. Catherine Clark Kroeger published I Suffer Not a Woman with Baker in 1992. She proved the standard English translations wrong at several points in that verse. I abstracted and referenced her most important evidence in my booklet published in 1996, and available ever since for free download on the Wesleyan/Holiness Women Clergy website.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry over the anonymous posting suggesting God will forgive his (her?) willful ignorance on all the Bible. I wonder if that person uses a physician who never has studied medicine, an attorney who never has studied law, or an auto mechanic who never has read anything about the subject(s), and the knowledge needed to keep him/her alive on the highway in the vehicle brought to him/her for service?

God’s Shalom,
Joseph Coleson

Sunday, January 04, 2009

A New Year

My good friend, Ron McClung, recently wrote a delightful and insightful article, for his weekly column, “Positive Perspective”, that captured how a lot of us feel as we bid farewell to 2008. It’s really true – and with Ron’s gracious permission, I am passing it along to you:

The old man limped off the stage. Lines of regret creased his face as he turned and gave one last mournful glance over his shoulder. His unkempt hair and matted white beard befitted his torn and disheveled clothes. Without question, he had been through an ordeal.

He testified to his experience with floods, tornadoes, and devastating economic loss. His personal financial worth had plummeted. He watched as friends and acquaintances lost their jobs, the value of their real estate, and the worth of their 401k plans.

On the other side of the stage, a child bounced into view. A top hat adorned his golden locks, a bright smile spread across his face, and he walked with the jauntiness of youth.

“Naïve!” muttered the old man, pausing to watch the grand entrance. “He’ll learn!” The shadow of a cynical grimace creased his tired, worn face.

The child sported a banner, “Happy New Year,” as he pranced into the spotlight. He gave a slight glance toward the departing old man. “Good riddance!” he said, as 2008 stumbled out of sight.

It’s easy to be cynical. The old year was a tough one for many people.
It’s also easy to be naïve. The New Year is full of promise.

I advise a middle road. No need to be cynical. The old year was what it was. We can’t go back and do it over. The losses were real for many people. The better choice is to learn what we can without giving in to the cynicism.

On the other hand, we can be enthusiastic and hopeful without being naïve. No need to make the same mistakes. Wise people learn from the mistakes of others, without having to make every blunder themselves.

I prefer to take the attitude of reflecting on the past, learning the lessons we can, and making the best possible plans for the future.

Through the prophet, God assured His people during a difficult time: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV).

This ancient advice is excellent for today. Whatever you experienced in 2008, the New Year is as bright as the promises of God. You can move forward with confidence, especially if you walk with God.

Agnus Dei

Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, grant us peace

Saturday, January 03, 2009

A Couple of Good Blogs By Rural Pastors

Rural Route Church
Rural American Pastor

Resolutions of the Heart

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association hopes it has come up with three New Year’s resolutions that will not prove too difficult to keep the whole year. They are:
1. Live Generously
2. Reflect All Year Long
3. Grow Closer to God.

More here

Friday, January 02, 2009

Bono on Incarnation

"I remember coming back from a very long tour.... On Christmas Eve I went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. ...It had dawned on me before, but it really sank in: the Christmas story. The idea that God, if there is a force of Love and Logic in the universe, that it would seek to explain itself is amazing enough. That it would seek to explain itself and describe itself by becoming a child born in straw poverty... a child, I just thought: “Wow!” Just the poetry. Unknowable love, unknowable power, describes itself as the most vulnerable. There it was. I was sitting there, and ...tears came down my face, and I saw the genius of this, utter genius of picking a particular point in time and deciding to turn on this. Because that’s exactly what we were talking about earlier: love needs to find form, intimacy needs to be whispered. To me, it makes sense. It’s actually logical. It’s pure logic. Essence has to manifest itself. It’s inevitable. Love has to become an action or something concrete. It would have to happen. There must be an incarnation. Love must be made flesh." - Bono

Total Commitment

Great article by Bill Hybels on Preaching for Total Commitment.

Too Good to Be True

Seth Godin posted an intriguing thought recently: Why Be Good?

Was Jackson Pollock a good painter? The critics at the time certainly didn't think so.
Twyla Tharp's London debut was panned.

The Prius was largely ignored by car magazines, mostly because it wasn't a very good car.

If we define 'good' as showing reasonable skill in the expected areas of performance, then good is not only useless, it's dangerous. Good authors rarely change minds. Good politicians rarely get elected.

The worst thing you can be given as a marketer is a good product to sell.


I'm pondering: What does this say about being a "good" church or a "good" pastor?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Northwoods New Year Experiences

Yesterday, I conducted two weddings and a funeral.

The funeral was a graveside service for Mary Smith, who died in the Chicago area two days before Christmas. I was impressed that her family brought her back to the northwoods via SUV.

It was ten below zero (without windchill factored in) when we did the service. I asked them, "Do you want the long version or the short version?" The vote was unamimous: 'SHORT!"

So we kept it short and sweet.

In the afternoon, I performed a little wedding ceremony at the church for Bret and Laura. It was a beautiful and intimate occasion.

Then, with Hannah as my helper, I made my way through snow covered roads to Spider Lake Lodge, where I officiated at the wedding for fishing great, Pete Maina, and his beautiful bride, Esther.

John Gillespie's Waters and Woods television program filmed the occasion for a future episode -- so I guess sometime in the next few weeks, I'll have my two seconds of fame.

It was a beautiful candle-lit affair, in a cozy northwoods setting. After I introduced the bride and groom, and the crowd was cheering, the producer called out: "Hey, just a second! We didn't catch everything. Can you do it again??"

So, we did a vow renewal! I joked that I'd officiated at several vow renewals (25th and 50th aniversaries) but had never before been asked to renewal the vows after only fifteen seconds.

We did it again -- and I suppose you could say that we tied a double knot of matrimony!!

After the nuptials, they took the good-sport bride (in her wedding dress) out on the ice and filmed her dropping a line. They said she needed to catch a fish to consummate the marriage.

Today, I mostly just hung around the house. Cathy and I jammed (fiddle and guitar) on some bluegrass gospel for a while. I watched the Rose Parade, washed the car, cleaned house and listened to a cd of old Larry Norman songs I received for Christmas.

For the last couple of days, our boys (Luke, Wes, and Ryan) were in Aitkin, Minnesota for a Bible Quizzing Tournament. They called with the happy news that their team made it to the championship stage quiz -- and all the guys did really well. I'm a proud pappy!

Ouch Charlie!

Listen and Do

Happy New Year! Every January, instead of making a bunch of resolutions, I like to develop a theme for the New Year.

Sometimes, I make the theme rhyme, such as, “Knock ‘em Alive in 2005” and “Make it Great in 2008.” This year, I’m going off rhyme. (although I could say “Things Will Be Fine in 2009” or “Walk the Line in 2009.” Nope, I’m not going to rhyme it this year. Instead, I want LIVE it.

Here’s my 2009 New Year’s Focus: “Listen and Do.”

Yep, that’s it. Simple and sweet. Listen and Do.

1) Listen:

You and I have been given two ears and one mouth. That’s because we’re supposed to listen twice as much as we speak. However, I’ve discovered that talking is easer than hearing. Explaining is easier than listening deeply.

Why is it so hard to listen? Consider this. We speak at 100-150 words per minute. We are able to comprehend at 250-300 words per minute. We think at 600 words per minute.

So, if you are a fast thinker (600 wpm) and the other person is a slow talker (100 wpm), you still have 500 words per minute left over for thinking about other stuff. For efficient folks, that’s a lot of wasted communication space. Therefore, the fast listener zones out, and ends up thinking about things besides what the other person is saying.

When someone zones out, they respond like this: “uh, huh”, “Yes, dear”, “I don’t know” – and all the while, they’re filling up the empty communication space with other things. True listening is HARD WORK!

As I declare 2009 the Year of Listening, I don’t mean listening to the 100 words and then zoning out. Instead, I mean listening to the 100 words – really hearing those words – processing those words – seeking to understand the depth of those words – thinking about those words – mulling them over!

As Margaret Wheatley said, “Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present, and that takes practice, but we don’t have to do anything else. We don’t have to advise, or coach, or sound wise. We just have to be willing to sit there and listen.

Listening means hearing everything without creating a rebuttal while the other person is still talking. It means not cutting people off mid-sentence because you already know what they’re going to say. It means, in the words of Steven Covey, “Seeking to understand before seeking to be understood.”

The best kind of prayer, by the way, is a listening prayer. Seek to hear to God’s voice. Listen for direction and wisdom. The Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

2) Do:
Now, I was just going to call 2009 the Year of Listening, but realized that we are called to DO something about what we hear. We won’t make any progress if we let the communication flow in one ear and out the other.

Jesus said, “Therefore, everyone who hears my words and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matt. 7:24)

A lot of folks spend tons of time thinking and discussing, but don’t get around to doing what must be done. They spend too much energy “chewing the fat” and not enough “burning the fat.” It would pay us all to be DOERS and not HEARERS only (James 1:22.) I believe in a practical faith. That is, a faith that you can put into practice every day. It’s action oriented!

Life is about action. What we do is more important than what we say or think. Annie Dillard said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” It’s better to attempt something and fail than to attempt nothing and succeed.

A friend once told me that Divine Guidance is like a rudder on a boat. If the boat is tied to the dock, the rudder is not much help. Unleash the boat, however, and set sail – then the rudder does its work! You have to be MOVING in order for the rudder to operate! You might even start by moving in the wrong direction, but the rudder will guide and correct your course. If you want to discover your destiny, you need to hoist the anchor and set sail. In other words, you’ve gotta DO something!

So, there you have it – My 2009 Plan: Listen and Do.

Maybe, just maybe, that plan will do for you too!