Thursday, May 28, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
It seems like every time we turn around, there are more challenges on the horizon. Several of my friends are out of work right now, and many local businesses are struggling. Retirement and savings accounts, although beginning to climb again, have taken a severe beating. Auto dealers are barely surviving. The housing industry has been hammered relentlessly.
There has been a substantial rise in requests for assistance from agencies such as Salvation Army and community food shelves, and at the same time, donations to these charities have been faltering.
I have a good friend who is an astute businessman. His company has suffered greatly during this recession. Recently, I asked him how business is going, and he made a very insightful observation.
“This whole economy thing has played havoc in many ways. However, I tell people that when you say "the economy” has caused businesses to go under and people to lose their jobs, you’re missing something important. "The Economy" seems like it’s "out there" and there is nothing you can do about it... like you are victims. Everything changes, however, when you say..."MY Economy." When you think in terms of “MY Economy” rather than “The Economy”, then you have to take responsibility for what is happening in your life.”
My friend is absolutely right. It’s much easier to point fingers and make excuses than to take personal responsibility and navigate the challenges and changes we are forced to endure.
Hard economic times are good for us – because they force us to really think about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. It helps us sharpen our focus, and do what we should have been doing all along.
In easy times, we tend to get lazy and sloppy in the way we do manage our lives and businesses. An economic belt-tightening, squeezes out all the fluff.
I’d like to add one more layer of perspective to my friend’s idea of “MY economy.”
The Bible says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 24:1.) Since that’s the case, it’s helpful for us to take a larger look, and see life from heaven’s perspective: “God’s Economy!”
According to “God’s Economy”, all of our needs will provided according to His riches in glory (Phil 4:19.) We may not get everything we want, or receive what we pray for – but He will meet our needs somehow. (He has promised to meet our NEEDS, not our GREEDS.)
From the perspective of “God’s Economy” we realize that our happiness does not depend on an abundance of things. (Luke 12:15)
In light of ‘God’s Economy” we discover the secret of contentment in every situation. (Phil 4:11)
A downturn in the economy doesn’t have to translate into a downturn in life. When things start looking down, LOOK UP!! That’s where you’ll find the Answer.
For instance, some of the most inspiring hymns and poems ever written were crafted during the depths of the Great Depression.
“Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)
“According to your faith, it shall be done unto you.” (Mat. 9:29)
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
It reminds me of something I read about a guy named Oscar, who helped start a little church up here in the northwoods about a hundred years ago. A friend, reflecting on those early church services remarked, "Oscar couldn't carry a tune very well -- but he sang, "When the Roll is Called up Yonder" with such fervor that everybody present knew he FULLY INTENDED to be there!
The Coming Evangelical Future
He provides a necessary attitude correction.
I especially like his short definition of what it means to be an evangelical: Someone who takes the Bible seriously and believes in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Struggling with his new physical disability and severe depression, Quinn turns to whiskey, scorn, and a job as a night watchman to numb the pain. But when a pastor and dancer are found dead in an apparent murder-suicide, the pastor’s sister approaches Quinn for help.
Reluctantly, Quinn takes the case and is plunged into the perilous Orlando. Soon he discovers that, not only was the pastor murdered, but the case may be linked to his and Trisha’s ambush. Torn between seeking revenge or responsibility, Quinn is thrust into the case of his life.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
I believe their aversion to traditional churches is a little over the top, but a couple of their concepts have been transformational for me. (Like having walleye for dinner. Eat the fish and spit out the bones.)
In a little while, I'll do a review of the book, but there's a related event coming up this week I'd like to mention.
Authors, Tony and Felicity Dale, will join Chris Walker for a free webinar on Tuesday, May 26 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern (8:00 Central.) More information here.
Time after time, the Sultan of Swat strode to the plate and hammered one out of the park. He was the first major leaguer to hit 60 homers in one season. His career record of 714 homeruns stood for nearly four decades (without steroids!) and he still remains the all time slugging leader.
Every survey and ranking lists Babe among the “greatest of the greats” – usually at the top of the heap. It’s no wonder the old Yankee Stadium is still known as “The House that Ruth Built.”
There’s another major league record holder worth noting. His name was Eddie “Cocky” Collins, who played as an infielder for the Athletics and White Sox. Collins played in the early 1900’s, and several seasons overlapped with Ruth.
Like Babe, Collins was at the top of his game. He led the Athletics to four pennants and three World Series titles. He was selected as the League’s Most Valuable Player in 1914 (Babe Ruth’s rookie season.) One sportswriter recently called him the greatest second baseman in history.
Cocky Collins set a record that still stands today – almost a century after he retired from baseball. He is the all time major league BUNT leader. 512 bunts! That’s over 100 more than the guy in second place, and twice as many as the active bunt leader, Omar Vizqual.
So we have two baseball greats before us – one is famous for homeruns and other (not so famous) for bunting.
At first glance, holding the bunting record seems less than inspiring. Who would want that distinction? Homeruns are much more exiting! The crowd, for instance, doesn’t go bananas when a player decides to lay down a sacrifice bunt.
With a deeper look, however, a bunt is a many splendored thing! Sacrificial acts for others are, indeed, noble and praiseworthy. We should all assume this posture as we relate to the people around us. The most valuable players in any team, business, or organization are those who ask “How can I serve you?” (Rather than “How can YOU serve ME?”)
Those who selflessly invest their lives behind the scenes to help others advance are the greatest heroes – I think of teachers, medical workers, mothers, cooks, technicians, nurses, custodians, mentors, secretaries and other support staff. The world couldn’t exist without these unsung heroes.
This is the Lesson from Cocky Collins: Give yourself away. It doesn’t matter who gets the credit, as long as the team is moving forward in the right direction. There is great virtue in standing aside for the advancement of others. “There is no greater love than this,that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
However, we can learn a lesson from Babe Ruth too. Swing for the fence!! The Bambino didn’t hold back. He didn’t hesitate. He went for it and took the necessary risk. He committed himself FULLY and didn’t just play it safe. Sometimes the Babe hit leather and other times he hit air (1330 strikeouts) but all the time, he was swinging the bat!
Have a heart like Cocky Collins with a faith like Babe Ruth..
When it comes to serving others -- make the sacrificial bunt.
When it comes to taking bold steps of faith – swing for the fence!
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Though one of the deepest thinkers in the Wesleyan Church, Dr. Schenck takes a very complicated theme (biblical hermeneutics) and makes it simple. This is, by far, the best book I have ever read on interpreting the Scriptures.
In a clear, step-by-step process, the reader is led on a journey of understanding – from the historical and literary context to life experience and today’s application.
This little book will prove to be a valuable tool for teachers, preachers, and others concerned with “rightly dividing the Word of Truth.”
Friday, May 22, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Two things cannot be imitated; God's sunset and man's sincerity.
It is better to establish a solid precident than to follow a poor one.
It is better to lose a good fight than to win a bad one. And --
Always be content with what you have, but never with what you are.
-- Dr. William Barrett Millard
Monday, May 18, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
After the seminar, he took me on a little tour of the area, which included the place Larry Byrd built, the amazing West Baden Springs Hotel in French Lick, and John Maxwell's first church in Hilham.
They put me up at the lovely Big Locust Farm Bed and Breakfast.
This morning, I had the privilege of preaching at the Paoli Wesleyan Church. It's a wonderful congregation with a very bright future. Pastor Bob England is doing an outstanding job of leading this flock.
Friday, May 15, 2009
They are billing the event, Super Saturday.
We're going to have a great time together, and I'm sure we're all going to be blessed.
On the other hand, however, it's quite a sacrifice for them. They have to sit indoors all day on a beautiful spring Saturday in southern Indiana while I'm flapping my jaws.
The return flight arrangements didn't work out for me to come back until Sunday. So, I've agreed to preach at the Paoli Wesleyan Church since I'll be in the neighborhood anyway.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Life Is Not Fair:
There are many things in life that are not fair.
Life should be fair, when it is not, we mistakenly feel that this is wrong.
It is wrong...
But unfair things happen!
When you are treated completely unfairly, you have an opportunity to become bitter or better. It is a choice you choose! A choice to give into the hurt, anger, resentment, bitterness cycle - our a choice to choose another option.
The difference is in the letters I or E.
If I choose to be self-centered and demand my rights, I become bitter (bItter).
On the other hand, if I am willing to surrender my ego, the big I can change to better (bEtter).
I must allow the values of eternity to guide me, and surrender The Big E.
10 years ago I happened to sit at a table next to Terry Anderson at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC. In 1988 Terry was one of a group of hostages and news reporters who were released after being held captive in the Middle East for 6 3/4 years. When they got off the plane in Washington, DC they were interviewed.
There were two opposite reactions from people who had been locked up and mistreated:
Thomas Southerland: "Retaliate! Make them pay! Punish them! We must get retribution for what they have done! "
Terry Anderson: "I forgive them for what they have done to me."
Time magazine's evaluation of Terry Anderson's experiences and responses follows:
"As the last Americans came out, they were freed from their symbolism - no longer did they stand for national helplessness and failed presidencies, for the ill-fated scheme and foreign policy with its principles and held hostages. Instead they were real, grateful, living people with daughters they had never seen, scars of that will never heal, long nights full of lessons they will never forget."
What is the best unit of measure for courage? It is registered in the 2,455 days lost, the countless millions of ribbons tied, the prayers asked, the letters sent, the rumors of death, the hopes dashed and then raised again? Where did he find a generosity of spirit to smile when he walked out of captivity into a room full of colleagues and told them, 'You can't imagine how glad I him to see you. I've thought about this moment for a long time, and now it's here, and I'm scared to death. I don't know what to say.'
In a way, what was most impressive was what he didn't say. Here was a man who had been wrapped like a corpse from head to foot in adhesive tape and moved from one hiding place to another in a coffin. With others, he endured beatings and blindfolds and boredom, months spent chained to furniture, months without bathing, without real food, nor his professional staple - news of the world outside his grave. And yet there was no hatred, little bitterness, only that great wide smile and a promise of forgiveness that prompted the millions who watched to wonder: How would I have fared? Would I have that strength?"
(Time Magazine, December 16, 1988, p.16. )
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
"The Herefords taught me one of life's most important lessons," he replied. "We used to breed cattle for a living, but the winter storms would come and kill 'em off. It would take a terrible toll on the herd.
"Time and time again, after a cold winter storm, we'd find most of our cattle piled up against the fences, dead as doornails!
"They would turn their backs to the icy wind, and slowly drift downward until the fences stopped them. There, they just piled up and died."
"But the Herefords were different than that," he continued. "They would head straight into the wind and slowly walk the other way until they came to the upper boundary fence where they stood, facing the storm.
"We always found our Herefords alive and well. They saved their hides by facing the storm!"
When the storms of life are raging, our natural inclination is to duck and hide. It is easier to turn our backs on reality than to face the brutal facts.
The path of least resistance, however, is a deadly course. Instead, we must face the storm head-on!
When a problem arises in your life, you have to face it before you can fix it. Facing life's storms brings renewed strength, hope, and power for living:
1. Facing the storm strengthens character.
"Softies" who have never experienced any hardship tend to go all to pieces whenever troubles arise. "On no! The sky is falling!" If the sky falls on you a few times, and you're still kicking, you realize that you can make it! You are too big of a person to let the little problems get you.
One day, when I was in a jam, a good friend remarked, "Not to worry -- Your ship was made to sail in seas like these!"
2. Facing the storm sweetens the spirit.
The sweetest people I've ever met are those who have endured much hardship. Somehow, they figured out how to come through it all rejoicing. Of course, negative processing can leave a person sour and bitter -- I've met plenty of those. But if you're determined to stay sweet, the problems will make you sweeter.
3. Facing the storm deepens compassion.
When we suffer, we are more able to identify with others who are hurting. My friend and co-worker, Tim Young, is a good example of that. An accident several years ago, left him with chronic stabbing pain in his back and legs. He bears an unusually heavy cross. Instead of using this as an excuse to stay bottled up in himself, however, he has transformed this pain into a deep compassion for others. Tim is one of the most caring people I've ever met, and is a living example of what Henri Nouwen calls, “the wounded healer.”
4. Facing the storm broadens the horizon.
Hardship helps us to look forward to better days. It makes us realize that our current situation isn't forever, this world is not our home, and the best is yet to come.
Monday, May 11, 2009
In this photo, John's the guy in the front on the left. Juda is in the middle.
I was surprised to find an old handkerchief in the Bible, which I surmise, belonged to Juda. . . It was quite a treasure to discover and set me to pondering . . . what made Juda cry? What life experiences brought tears to her eyes?
That led me to wonder what the Bible says about tears. So, I launched into a deep Scripture study -- which really blessed my heart.
On Sunday morning, I shared my findings with the congregation.
Here are my notes for you to decipher:
What does Bible Say About Tears?
1, Tears of Grief and Sorrow:
(John 11:35 “Jesus Wept”)
St. Mary’s chaplain called our tears "holy water"
American novelist Washington Irving wrote, "There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than 10,000 tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief — and unspeakable love."
But we sorrow not as those who have no hope!
The Bible Speaks to our Sorrow!
Jesus said in John 16:20 – You might be grieving for a while – but someday -- Your sorrow will turn to great joy!
Isa. 51:11 -- “Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return and come with singing unto Zion – and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads. They shall obtain gladness and joy – and sorrow and sighing will flee away!
2. Tears of Suffering and Lament
Psalm 137 – “By the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept
When we remembered Zion. We hung our harps on the willows
Psalm 42:3 – My tears have been my food day and night
The Bible Speaks to our Suffering!
Weeping May Endure for the Night – but Joy Comes in the Morning!
Hezekiah was suffering – cried out in prayer – and the Lord responded.
Isa. 38:5 – “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears.”
3. Tears of Heartfelt Reunion
Jacob and Esau – estranged – Gen 33:4 – But Esau ran to
Meet Jacob, and embraced him; he threw his arms around
His neck and kissed him. And they wept.
Joseph and Brothers – Gen 43-45
Terry Anderson – hostage late 80’s Lebanon nearly 7 yrs
Wife -- Madeline – planned what to say – but just cried.
My mother in accident. I was able to see her on Easter Sunday. They told me not to cry because It would upset her -- but as soon as I walked into the door, all we could do was cry. They were good tears! A heartfelt reunion!
The Bible speaks to our reunions!
Love one another deeply from the heart.
Col 3:13 – Bear w/ each other & forgive whatever grievances you have vs one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you!
4. Tears of Burden and Intercession
Lk. 13:34 – “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem – how I have longed How I have longed to gather you – but you would not.
Ps. 119:136 -- “Streams of water flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed.
Paul – I say again w/ tears that may live as ENEMIES of the cross.
Early logging days in Hayward -- Charles Johnson came
Preaching – but couldn’t get through – but then sang: "Where is my Wandering Boy Tonight?" and the lumberjacks all blubbered and Johnson had an open door for the Gospel!
The Bible speaks to our Burden!
The Lord reminds us to pray without ceasing (I Thess. 5:17) Pray without doubting (Mark 11:23) & to be FAITHFUL in prayer (Romans 12:12)
5. Tears of Reverent Worship
Luke 7:38 – “She washed his feet with her tears”
The question Jesus had for Peter at the end of John - -do you love me more than these??
The Bible speaks to our Worship!
Psalm 34 says, Taste and See that the Lord is Good. Blessed is the Man who Trusts in Him!
6. Tears of Sacrificial Responsibility
Acts 20 – Paul served Lord w/ humility and tears.
I have not ceased praying for you night and day w/ tears.
The Bible speaks to the overwhelmed heart:
“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy!
He who goes forth weeping, carrying precious seed to so
will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.”
7. Tears of Regret, Remorse and Repentance
Peter – Mat 26:75 – rooster crowed – wept bitterly
John Watson: Eyes made for seeing and weeping. Unless
We see our sin and weep over it like Peter, we will weep like Judas
Chet Davis a member of our church family wrote this poem:
O how many tears must fall before we accept the Savior?
Tears of remorse, regret and sinfulness – Jesus knows them all
Jesus wants to catch them before they fall
And wash them away with the blood
That he shed on the cross
And replace them with tears of forgiveness and joy
O how many tears must fall before we accept the Savior?
The Bible speaks to the wayward heart!
Acts 3:19 – “Repent then, and turn to God that your sins may be wiped out and that times of REFRESHING may come from the Lord.
Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call upon his name while he is near! (Isa 55:6)
And in the end – Revelation 21: 4-5: Glory!!! God will be WITH his people.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain – for the former things have passed away.
Behold I make ALL THINGS NEW!!
-- Dr. Dan Bagby, Baptist Theological Seminary in Seeing Through Our Tears
Sunday, May 10, 2009
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind to animals.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make my favorite cake for me, and I learned that the little things can be the special things in life.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I heard you say a prayer, and I knew that there is a God I could always talk to, and I learned to trust in Him.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you give of your time and money to help people who had nothing, and I learned that those who have something should give to those who don't.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you take care of our house and everyone in it, and I learned we have to take care of what we are given.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw how you handled your responsibilities, even when you didn't feel good, and I learned that I would have to be responsible when I grow up.
When you thought I wasn't looking I saw tears come from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it's all right to cry.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw that you cared, and I wanted to be everything that I could be.
When you thought I wasn't looking I learned most of life's lessons that I need to know to be a good and productive person when I grow up.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I looked at you and wanted to say, "Thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn't looking."
(Special Thanks to Lavonne, who sent this to me, so I could share it on Mother's Day!)
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Friday, May 08, 2009
Here's an interesting article about Mother's Day from my friend, Ron McClung, Assistant General Secretary for the Wesleyan Church:
Anna disliked Mother's Day. Can you imagine anyone feeling negative toward that special day?
Actually, I have known people who were uncomfortable with Mother’s Day. Some have had mothers who mistreated, abused, or neglected them. Others are uncomfortable because they have been unable to have children themselves and Mother's Day reminds them of this disappointment.
Still others have lost children, either through miscarriage or other untimely deaths, and Mother's Day opens a fresh wound, stimulating the pain all over again. Some have borne children, but gave them up for adoption or lost their children through some other means. Mother's Day becomes a negative reminder for such people.
But none of these were reasons why Anna disliked Mother's Day. She didn't like it because it was so commercialized. She watched people sending greeting cards to their mothers and said, "A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world."
She had similar bitter words for those who gave sweets. "And candy!" she spat. "You take a box to Mother – and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment!"
She and her sister felt so strongly opposed to Mother's Day that they campaigned against it. On one occasion she was arrested for disturbing the peace. Further, the sisters spent their entire family inheritance fighting Mother's Day and died in poverty.
Anna never married and had no children herself.
It's a shame when you realize what a wonderful mother she had. She was the ninth of eleven children and her mother was devoted to Anna and her siblings.
But don’t let Anna's bitterness discourage you. Mother's Day is an opportunity for you to do what the Bible says, "Honor your father and your mother" (Exodus 20:12 NIV).
Oh, did I tell you the ironic thing about Anna? She is the woman who almost single-handedly brought Mother's Day into existence. Two years after her mother's death in 1907, she campaigned to make Mother's Day a national holiday. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed it such in 1914.
Just because Anna Marie Jarvis, the woman who started Mother's Day, lost her enthusiasm, it doesn't mean you should. Honor your mother in person if you can, long-distance if you must. Even if she is deceased, you can honor her memory.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
I was honored to hold this precious little one in my arms and speak a blessing over her.
Ode'iminikwe is the Ojibwe name for "Strawberry Girl" -- or more literally, "Heart-Berry Girl." Here's her picture!
My prayer is that she will always have a sweet heart for Jesus!
Yesterday, the oldest member of our congregation, Florence Farnsworth, passed away. She was 95, and had been suffering long with ahzheimer's. Even as her memory faded, Florence's loving heart continued to blossom. She, too, was truly a "Heart-Berry Girl."
-- George Washington Carver
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Monday, May 04, 2009
ASSESSING THE HEALTH OF CHURCHES IN LOW-DENSITY POPULATION AREAS
(By Dr. Harold Longenecker)
May Be Reproduced With Their Permission
Sunday, May 03, 2009
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Governor Doyle was up here again to drop a line-- but it seemed like he was gone before he arrived, much to the disappointment of the Hayward anglers and news crews.
Yesterday's Expo at the Fishing Hall of Fame was a smashing success. Several area restaurants provided free samples of their fish dinners. My favorite dish was walleye cheeks from Tally Ho Supper Club.
Read more: "Catalyst West: Perry Noble TonyMorganLive.com" - http://tonymorganlive.com/2009/04/24/catalyst-west-perry-noble/#ixzz0Dpl1Jsig&A
Friday, May 01, 2009
-- B. F. Westcott, in a commentary on the Books of Samuel