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Showing posts from June, 2009

Looking At or Through?

A man that looks on glass,
On it may stay his eye;
Or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
And then the heaven espy.
-- George Herbert

(I found this insightful poem, while reading Thoreau's, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers)

Lest We Forget

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Put Your Dream to the Test

John Maxwell suggests asking the following questions to test your dream:

1. The Ownership Question: Is my dream really my dream?
2. The Clarity Question: Do I clearly see my dream?
3. The Reality Question: Am I depending on factors within my control to achieve my dream?
4. The Passion Question: Does my dream compel me to follow it?
5. The Pathway Question: Do I have a strategy to reach my dream?
6. The People Question: Have I included the people I need to realize my dream?
7. The Cost Question: Am I willing to pay the price for my dream?
8. The Tenacity Question: Am I moving closer to my dream?
9. The Fulfillment Question: Does working toward my dream bring satisfaction?
10. The Significance Question: Does my dream benefit others?

Sundays Off

I'm planning to take Sundays off from blogging from now on.

A Major Force in Education

To Rejoice is a Choice

To rejoice is a choice.

The longer I live, the more I’m convinced this is true. We will express joy only as much as we are determined to do it.

It’s commonly believed that rejoicing is simply a response. Certainly, there is some truth to that perspective. If my team wins the game, I rejoice. If I receive some unexpected money, I rejoice. If I experience a happy event (such as a marriage or birth of a new baby) I rejoice.

However, rejoicing goes far beyond the emotional response to life’s happenings.

If it’s only a response to the moment’s event – then it comes and goes – rises and falls – depending on what’s happening now. That kind of thinking makes our attitude a roller coaster – up one minute and down the next.

The Bible says to “Rejoice evermore” (I Thessalonians 5:16.) It also says, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and I say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4.) Now, the Bible does not command us to do the impossible. These verses of Scripture tell us to rejoice continuously – so it must…

More Than Dust

My favorite poet, Naomi Cochran, wrote this poem based on the passage of Scripture (Rev. 3) I used in the sermon last Sunday. She shared it in the services, and the people were really moved by it.
Thanks Naomi!

I was breathed into existence
by God himself,
exhaled from the All into this one vessel,
a temple, a life,
God's fullness contained in me.

God's fullness contained in me,
imperfect, weak,
inhaling dust from the nothingness of want,
my body a vacuum,
my fullness emptied of God.

My fullness emptied of God,
yet glowing, strong,
I work, I live, I give, I have it all,
though all is lost,
my solitude my soul's decay.

My solitude my soul's decay,
yet God himself
breathes into me, reforms, refills, exhales the dust,
his temple cleansed,
till I, unchained, exist in him.

Till I, unchained, exist in him
as more than dust,
or soulless flesh: and I, his child, his hands, his love,
link one to One,
an unbroken chain of brokenness.

Good Advice for Seminarians

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Scot McKnight at Out of Ur writes: At the end of his lecture and after answering a smattering of questions, the pristine and aged New Testament scholar, Bruce Metzger, asked Doug Moo if he could share something on his heart to the seminary students gathered that day.
With the moral vigor and verbal clarity Metzger was known for, he looked at his audience and simply said, "Stay married!"
read the rest of the article here

What About Me?

A great post by Perry Noble on the priority of Children's Minsitry

Small Churches Can Thrive

Great article by Ed Stetzer on strong, small congregations.

Sail!

Throw off the bowlines! Sail away from the safe harbor! Catch the trade winds in your sails!
-- Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain)

Vanishing Sculptor

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Donita K. Paul’s 250,000-plus-selling DragonKeeper Chronicles series has attracted a wide spectrum of dedicated fans–and they’re sure to fall in love with the new characters and adventures in her latest superbly-crafted novel for all ages. It’s a mind-boggling fantasy that inhabits the same world as the DragonKeeper Chronicles, but in a different country and an earlier time, where the people know little of Wulder and nothing of Paladin. In The Vanishing Sculptor, readers will meet Tipper, a young emerlindian who’s responsible for the upkeep of her family’s estate during her sculptor father’s absence. Tipper soon discovers that her actions have unbalanced the whole foundation of her world, and she must act quickly to undo the calamitous threat. But how can she save her father and her world on her own? The task is too huge for one person, so she gathers the help of some unlikely companions–including the nearly five-foot tall parrot Beccaroon–and eventually witnesses the loving care and m…

Rootedness

To be deeply rooted in the soil of the past makes life harder, but it also makes it richer and vigorous.

-- Dietrich Bohoeffer

Reputation and Character

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Your reputation is what people think of you – It’s who you are when others are watching.

Now, it’s a wonderful thing to have a good reputation. According to the Bible, it is one of the marks of effective leadership. When followers do not respect the leader, he/she has lost the right to lead. This is true of sports teams, businesses, churches, educational institutions, and governments.

With respect, a leader can achieve amazing results. Without it, nothing can be accomplished.

A good reputation takes a lifetime to build, but it can be lost in a moment. One stupid act might wreck and destroy all the good will that has accumulated for years. One hasty reaction, inappropriate behavior, or careless word may wipe out everything.

Thus, it pays us to value our reputation, and to make sure we are following the golden rule: doing unto others as we would have them do to us. Thomas Paine observed that character is “much easier kept than recovered.”

Yes, your reputation is important – but it is NOT th…

Happy Dad's Day

I love Father's Day! It's the day I get to call all the shots about what our family gets to do -- and they have to go along with me without complaining :)

Old Churches!
Cemeteries!
Fishing Holes!
Bluegrass Music!
Here we come!!

O yeah -- I guess I'd better go preach first!

Good Music

Recently found the myspace for our northwoods friend, Wendy Wills, who now resides in Nashville, writing wonderful, heart-moving songs.

I think you'll enjoy her music too: Here it is.

New Rules in Brooksville

Looks like the good folks of Wesleyan Village in Brooksville, Florida, are going to have to shape up now.

Giving Gap

From Crosswalk:

Christian News Wire reports that a recent survey of almost 1,100 church leaders revealed an increasing gap between income and projected expenses for churches. According to the survey results from Your Church magazine, tithes and offerings, which comprise an average of 87 percent of the average church's budget, have declined for 40 percent of the churches surveyed within the past six months. At the same time, 32 percent say budgets have increased between 2 to 10 percent over last year's expenses. "Historically, evangelical Protestant churches tend to be tithe-driven," says Ed Stetzer, president of Lifeway Research. "Effects of unemployment tend to lag a bit for churches that emphasize tithing, but as the unemployment rate continues to increase, more congregations will get hit financially. Churches need to be ready for this impact."

Distractions

“If distractions are good football players, we’ll take all the distractions we can get.”
-- Brad Childress, Vikings coach on the Favre saga.

Application for ministry: If distractions are people, we'll take all the distractions we can get!

Dear pastor, people are not a distraction from your ministry -- they ARE your ministry.

You Can't Advertise Problems Away

Ad Campaigns of the Mainline Denominations ( from CMS -- I'm not too crazy about their name, but they provide good food for thought.)

"Study after study has shown that religions that grow are the ones that are hard-core in some way. They have something that differs sharply from the culture in which they operate," says Boston University's [Stephen] Prothero. "That's the problem with mainline Protestantism: It's not different enough from mainstream America."

UP

I took Luke and Wes to see the movie, Up, earlier this week. It was a wonderful film, with a powerful message. Two thumbs up!!

I agree with Greg Boyd assessment:

The most brilliant and entertaining aspect of this superb movie is the profound life-messages it delivers and the powerful way it delivers them. The “great adventure” you’re yearning for is the life you’re living right now, not the one you dreamed of living. You must let go of old adventures in order to embark on new ones. It’s the “boring” things in life that often matter most. Life always moves forward and if you hang too long to the past you’re dying.

Kneeling Camel

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The camel at the close of day Kneels down upon the sandy plain To have his burden lifted off And rest to gain.
My soul, thou too shouldst to thy knees When the daylight draweth to a close, And let thy Master lift thy load And grant repose:
Else, how canst thou tomorrow meet, With all tomorrow's work to do, If thou thy burden all the night Dost carry through?
The camel kneels at break of day To have his guide replace his load. Then rises up again to take The desert road.
So thou shouldst kneel at morning's dawn That God may give thee daily care Assured that He no load too great Will make thee bear.
-- Anna Temple

Northwoods Bass

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Something We Do

My good friend, (West Michigan D. S.) Mark Gorveatte, recently reported on the amazing church planting efforts of Linwood Wesleyan Church of Sioux Falls, SD.

Senior Pastor, Bill Kinnan, says, "Church planting is not something we've done, it's something we DO!"

A Couple of Good Books

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I recently finished reading The Disappearance of Godby Al Mohler (President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.) It was a powerful and convicting read.
Dr. Mohler raises a clarion call for the evangelical world -- Wake up! There's danger ahead!
His concern is that evangelicals are tossing aside essential doctrines of the faith in their quest for a more "generous orthodoxy." He reminds us that we should be in the business of transforming culture rather than being absorbed by it. (or as Tullian Tchividjian says, "Contextualize without Compromise!")
I especially appreciated Mohler's perspetive on three theological circles: (This is my description -- and not his wording)
Level 1: Essential Core Beliefs Level 2: Doctrinal Distinctives (i.e. the difference between Baptist, Lutherans, Presbyterians and Pentecostals) Level 3: Personal Preferences and Opinions.
Mohler says that the error of the fundamentalists is that they make Level 3 issues Leve…

Prepare to Be Inspired

This is one of my favorite blog sites -- Random Inspirations from Nellie Dee

Forgetting

"There are three things that happen when you get old," I once heard a gentleman say, "The first one is a loss of memory - and I can't recall the other two!" Forgetting things can be rather frustrating. All of us know the stress of attempting to pull a lost memory from the dark, cobwebbed corners of the mind.

Some people are more forgetful than others. I hate to admit it, but I'm a member of the "forgetful club." We've organized "Forgetters Anonymous" - but nobody remembers to go to the meetings!

Fortunately, I haven't forgotten too many earth shattering things along the way. Probably the worst one was when I forgot to show up for a funeral I was supposed to conduct. I remembered an hour and a half too late. Fortunately, they had a beloved aunt who was willing to step in and give the eulogy. I apologized all over the place, and they forgave me.

Once, I forgot a baptism I was supposed to perform – and there have been a few times over …

Thank God it's Monday

Monday is my "Day Off" and I love it!

The whole week ramps up to Sunday -- with everything building towards the worship service. This weekend, I had a funeral and a wedding, on top of all my other duties and responsibilities. So, my Monday was extra sweet today! (Don't get me wrong. I love Sundays -- but it's nice to have the recharge day.)

I read a little -- wrote in my journal -- watched some talking heads on tv -- facebooked -- did some yard work -- planted flowers and jalapenos -- went to the store -- grilled pork chops for lunch -- took Luke and Wes to see the movie, "Up" -- and went fishing. (Caught some nice bass and a couple of less impressive fish.)

Building

Don't use your people to build a great church. Use your church to build a great people!

-- Jack Hyles

Sacred Texts

My friend, Pastor Steve Uhtoff, recently directed me to this fascinating research site: Internet Sacred Text Archive

Precious Memories

My father, Rev. Andrew Wilson, went home to be with the Lord on June 13, 1991 (18 years yesterday.) I miss him.

I Thought Tulsa was the Buckle of the Bible Belt

A Wesleyan Hermeneutic

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Last week, several scholars, church leaders and pastors met in Indianapolis for a Doctrinal Symposium on Hermeneutics: How Wesleyans Interpret Scripture.

In limited doses, I love events like this. I was looking forward to attending -- but another commitment (unexpected wedding) derailed my plans.

Most of the presenters are my good friend -- and they certainly do a great job of stretching both mind and heart.

You can find the papers which were presented and a brief synopsis by Dr. Tom Armiger here. Plenty of good meat to chew on!

Keith Drury, in a rare move, emerged from his summer writing sabbatical and posted his perspective here.

Nasdaq Dave

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Congratulations to my friend, Famous Dave (best BBQ ribs in America) who rang the Nasdaq Bell yesterday. We cheered along in the Hayward Wesleyan Church office.

Video of the ceremony can be found here



Brothers from Cuba

Pastor Jon, of North Park Wesleyan Church (in Cuba, NY) and Mel (a key leader in their congregation) came to Hayward this week to learn from us. They've been following me around the last couple of days -- meeting with leaders, attending committee meetings and groups -- observing how we attempt to do effective ministry in a small town.

I'm utterly amazed that would want to do that. For instance, they attended our Stewardship Committee meeting yesterday afternoon by choice!

They're meeting with the Paint Daubers this morning, as well as our church planter (Ben) in Minong. That's sure to bless their socks off!

One encouragement for our brothers from Cuba, is that they are discovering we are very ordinary. God uses regular, ordinary people.

Earlier in the week, when I explained to Cathy that brothers from Cuba, NY were coming to visit me, she didn't hear the NY part of it and asked, "Do they speak English?"

Who's Attending Megachuch?

Missional

Either you are a minister or you need one.
Either you are a missionary or you need one.
-- John Huffman (Presbyterian pastor)

NASDAVE

My good friend, Famous Dave, is going to ring the NASDAQ bell this morning.

"Come and Get It!!"

I think I'll have him ring the church bell next Sunday!

On Earthly Things

"I leave it to your good sense to decide which is better: To say now to all that is earthly, 'What does it profit a person?' Or to cry in vain later on,' What did it profit?' "

-- St. Ignatius Loyola

Take The Time

Sometimes life seems like an exercise bicycle – we spin our wheels furiously and never seem to get anywhere. Often, we are caught up in a rat race of hectic schedules and deadlines. We become some busy with the urgent that we forget the more important things of life.

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone, including you, would stop right now and appreciate the small, but precious gifts each moment brings? Take time for them and they will deliver much joy.

Take Time To Listen: Most of us are self-centered. We need to step back from ourselves and lend a listening ear to others. God has given you two ears and one mouth. They should be used in that proportion.

Take Time to Learn: Life is a classroom always in session. Never stop learning about your world, your God, your friends and yourself. A living brain is a learning brain. Keep the “learning switch” on all day long and you will make many exciting discoveries!

Take Time To Laugh: Laughter is medicine for the soul. Show me a person wh…

Good Advice for Congregations and Families

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I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly to each other the things we hold in our hearts and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other, to learn from each other, to respect one another, and to seek common ground.
-- President Barak Obama in his June 4, 2009 Cairo speech to the Muslim world

Two Helpful Qualities

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Patience and Wisdom

Trouble

Never trouble trouble
Until trouble troubles you;
For you only make your trouble
Double-trouble when you do;
And the trouble — like a bubble —
That you're troubling about,
May be nothing but a zero
With its rim rubbed out.
-- David Keppel

Connecting with Young Adults

Ed Stetzer on Nine Traits of Churches Who are Effective Reaching Young Adults

Something definitely worth considering.

Free Book

Get a free book from Injoy Stewardship Services, Raising More Than Money, by clicking here.

Curious

Manly Stuff

A Double Blessing

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Congratulations to my friend, Candice LaFontaine, who gave birth Tuesday to two precious little girls: Candice Rain Wildflower and Johnni Jo Oak.

Their daddy, John, was a good and godly young man, who went home to be with Jesus just a couple of months ago on Good Friday.

One thing is certain -- their daddy left a beautiful legacy, and his prayers and love will be with them forever.

They also have a wonderful mother, who is truly gifted with an extra measure of faith and grace. I know that the Lord will overshadow her as she raises these little ones.

Please pray that God will pour out abundant blessings upon Candice and her daughters.

Faith Stimulus Package

Summer Reading

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In the early morning hours, I only read devotional literature, but in the evenings, I love to read fiction. I've found that when I have a good story going, my days are sweeter.

Here are a couple of good summer reads for literature lovers.
Saints in Limbo, by River Jordan: A heart touching tale that reminds us of how precious life is.
Ever since her husband Joe died, Velma True’s world has been limited to what she can see while clinging to one of the multicolored threads tied to the porch railing of her home outside Echo, Florida.
When a mysterious stranger appears at her door on her birthday and presents Velma with a special gift, she is rattled by the object’s ability to take her into her memories–a place where Joe still lives, her son Rudy is still young, unaffected by the world’s hardness, and the beginning is closer than the end. As secrets old and new come to light, Velma wonders if it’s possible to be unmoored from the past’s deep roots and find a reason to hope again
Stealing H…

Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right

I agree with Al Mohler's perspective on the slaying of Kansas abortion doctor, George Tiller.

Violence in the name of protesting abortion is immoral, unjustified, and horribly harmful to the pro-life cause. Now, the premeditated murder of Dr. George Tiller in the foyer of his church is the headline scandal - not the abortions he performed and the cause he represented.

We have no right to take the law into our own hands in an act of criminal violence. We are not given the right to take this power into our own hands, for God has granted this power to governing authorities. The horror of abortion cannot be rightly confronted, much less corrected, by means of violence and acts outside the law and lawful means of remedy. This is not merely a legal technicality - it is a vital test of the morality of the pro-life movement.

Amish Love

What’s all the hubbub about Amish fiction? Major media outlets like Time and ABC Nightline are covering it, and authors like Cindy Woodsmall are making the New York Times bestseller list regularly. What makes these books so interesting?

Check out the recent ABC Nightline piece here about Cindy and her titles When the Heart Cries, When the Morning Comes, and When the Soul Mends. It’s an intriguing look at Amish culture and the time Cindy has spent with Amish friends.

And don’t forget that Cindy’s new book The Hope of Refuge hits store shelves August 11, and is available for preorder now.

Rabbit and Elephant

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The Rabbit and the Elephantby Tony and Felicity Dale provides an intriguing perspective on "doing church": Put two elephants in a room together, close the door and in 22 months you'll end up with one baby elephant. Put two rabbits in a room together, close the door, and in 22 months you'll end up with thousands of baby rabbits!
The Dale's, teamed with George Barna, make a case for Rabbit Churches (house churches -- or at least congregations that have that kind of mindset) as opposed to Elephant Churches (or the traditional approach.)
Although they overlook some major advantages to the classic church structure, they bring a refreshing new way of thinking about doing church in a way that is relevent and real.
One concept of the book was absolutely transformational for me -- thinking of church as liquid rather than solid.
Solid church is the structure -- the budget -- the program - -the building -- the policy. Liquid church is the relationship -- the love -- the flowing w…