Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Working at the Streams

Many in our churches make the serious blunder of confining their attention to the outer, to the neglect of the inner life.

They work at the streams, and fail to give their first and chief attention to their great necessity -- purity at the fountain.

They struggle in a life-long effort to raise the streams higher than the fountain or to purify the fountain by working at the streams.

Their only success in this effort is to get the outward and apparent of their life out of all proportion or harmony with their inner and true character.

Who can bring a clean thing ouf of an unclean? Not one!

-- J. A. Wood Purity and Maturity

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Foot of Faith

The foot of faith fell on the seeming void,
And found the rock beneath.

-- John Greenleaf Whittier

Saturday, September 26, 2009

George Herbert, Country Parson

Izaak Walton, the patron saint of fishing, wrote a beautiful biography of his friend, George Herbert, who served a minister in a small village (Bemerton, England), until his life was cut short.

Herbert's life was a candle, buring bright for Christ.

As a young man, he desired a place in the courts of the King - -and was on the fast track towards such a royal position during the reign of King James.

God had other plans for George, however -- and selected him to serve in HIS court -- The Court of THE King of kings.

George served a small parish, St. Andrew's Church at Bemerton with gladness and wholehearted enthusiasm, demonstrating the love of Christ in all his doings. He considered his small town ministry the most important mission on earth.

He wrote a wonderful book on pastoral work called The Country Parson which is packed with excellent advice for ministers who serve in small places (or large places for that matter.)

I few quotes from Herbert:
"In God and His service is fullness of joy and pleasure."

During a serious illness: "Lord, abate my great affliction or increase my patience."

Here's the best one: "I am bound, so far as it is in my power, to practice what I pray for."

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Scripture Way of Salvation


Look for it then every day, every hour, every moment! Why not this hour? This moment?

Certainly, you may look for it now, if you believe it is by faith. And by this token, you may surely know whether you seek it by faith or by works.

If by works, you want something to be done first, before you are sanctified. You think I must first be or do thus or thus. Then you are seeking it by works unto this day.

If you seek it by faith, you may expect it as you are; and if as you are, then expect it now!

It is importance to observe that there is an inseperable connection between these three points:
1) Expect it by faith
2) Expect it as you are
3) Expect it now

To deny one of them is to deny them all.
-- John Wesley, Sermon Forty Three, "The Scripture Way of Salvation"

Hayward Wesleyan's Response to H1N1


This will be announced next Sunday -- and will also be included in our bulletin during the flu season. (Special thanks to Pastor Tim Young who put this good common sense advice together.)

1. If you don’t feel well -- stay at home!
If you have symptoms of a cough, fever, or sore throat, it might be best to stay home, rather than risk infecting someone else.

2. Use good cough and sneeze etiquette!
Make sure that your cough and sneeze are covered, to prevent from spreading the germs.

3. Wash your hands often!
You can’t wash your hands enough, this will reduce the possibility of spreading germs. We will have hand sanitizers around the church, if you can’t wash your hands, this is the next best thing, until you can.

4. You don’t have to shake someone’s hand or hug them if you don’t want to.
Don’t take it personally, if someone doesn’t want to shake your hand, or wants to be hugged by you. Find another method of greeting, that doesn’t require touch.
5. Let’s keep trusting in the Lord, and keep loving one another!
Let’s don’t be paranoid, but let’s be cautious!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

If God is Good


Randy Alcorn has done it again!
First he tackled the touchy subject of money (The Treasure Principle), then he addressed the mysterious subject of the afterlife (Heaven.) Now, he's taking on the problem of evil and suffering (If God is Good.)

With his clear and simple style, Alcorn takes the reader through the baffling maze of why bad things happen to us. He addresses such issues as sin, natural disasters, God's sovereignty, free will, the nature of evil, and how to handle the "why" question.
Usually, when people wade into these waters, their answers are less than satisfacory. Alcorn fares better than most in this regard. Even when he's attempting to explain the unexplainable, he makes good sense for the most part.

He includes an insightful case study of Bart Erhman, the "Christian" who lost his faith, and lived to tell the whole world about it.

I especially appreciated how he addressed the false "quick fix" solutions to the problem of evil:
1. That God's Power is limited
2. That God's Knowledge is limited.
3. That God's Goodness is limited.
4. That God's Love is limited.

Any assumption that limits God brings us to the wrong conclusion about Him. He is limitless!

If God is Good is a great read -- especially for people who are struggling to find faith in the face of suffering.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Techology Show


This morning, I was honored to be the guest on the Techology Show, a weekly podcast featuring technology, theology and everything in between.

Hosted by my delightful South Carolina pastor friends, Tony Casey, Steve Stanley and Matthew Tietje, the weekly show is a great source of inspiration and food for thought.

Today's episode here

School in Session

Life is a classroom – school always in session. There are no summer breaks, and you even have to go on the weekends.

Mr. Experience and Ms. Difficulty are the instructors. They are our constant companions, teaching us valuable insights concerning ourselves and others.

At first glance, these schoolmasters appear to be cruel tyrants. Their lessons are difficult and painful. Upon a closer examination, however, we discover that they are often our best friends.

Instead of complaining when trouble comes knocking, why not try looking for the lessons you can glean from it? Seems to me, painful experiences hurt too much to waste. We ought to get something out of them.

I recently visited a friend in the hospital. From the outward appearance, it seemed like life had dealt him a bad deal. He had good reasons to complain – but he didn’t. “I’ve learned to be grateful for every day,” he told me, “I’ve discovered the importance of loving friends, and God is the greatest friend of all.”

Our attitude makes all the difference.

Several years ago, Country Singer, Jimmy Dean was interviewed on Good Morning America. The conversation turned to some of the hardships he had experienced. Dean remarked, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

Are you a good student in the school of life? Are you learning the valuable lessons? Are you on the “honor roll?” Are you learning from Mr. Experience and Ms. Difficulty? What will they say at your parent-teacher conference?

“Life is so unfair!” some protest, “Why do the problems come my way?” Of course, they are forgetting that everybody has problems – it’s a part of life. As long as you’re living, you’re going to have them! As the legendary author, Tolkien remarked, “It does not pay to leave a dragon out of your calculations if you live near him!”

A better question to ask is this: “What can I learn about life, myself and others from this situation? How can I turn my trouble into my tutor?”

May there be enough clouds in your sky to make a beautiful sunset!

In the beautiful words of Helen Steiner Rice:

After the clouds, the sunshine,
after the winter, the spring,
after the shower, the rainbow,
for life is a changeable thing.
After the night, the morning,
bidding all darkness cease,
after life's cares and sorrows,
the comfort and sweetness of peace


Yes, the tests we have to take in the school of life are difficult, but they are preparing us to face the final exam.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!


My precious mother, Elsie Wilson, turns 87 today!
Here's a picture of her from last Christmas -- but I haven't figured out who that white haired guy is she's hugging!
Mom's a true saint. She had to be, after raising us five boys!

Martin Luther said that becoming a saint requires much prayer and great affliction.

We gave Momma the latter -- which led to the former!
A gracious and godly mother is a tremendous heritage. (Proverbs 31)
She keeps busy with work at the church and volunteering for hospice. She visits several hospice patients each week, and sings hymns to them. Not long ago, she told me how much her visits meant to the "dear old people." Then she laughed and said, "I guess they're not so old after all! They're younger than me!"

Happy Birthday Mom!

To the Ends of the Earth!!

Rachel Skime, who is a member of the Hayward Wesleyan Church family, is teaching school this year in the remote coastal village of Quinhagak, Alaska (pop. 555.)

And here I thought Hayward, Wisconsin was what Jesus meant when he said we should go to the "ends of the earth."

I recently learned that Rachel and a few friends gather at her home and listen to the Hayward Wesleyan sermons online. Just think -- a baby church in Quinhagak! (Where two are three are gathered. . .)

A week ago, during the worship service, I prayed for Rachel and her friends -- using Isaiah 35 as the prayer guide.

Later, I discovered that the prayer came at the exactly the right time -- just when she needed it the most!

Rachel posted about it here on her blog: Alaska At Last

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kiss Me Again

An excellent resource for marriage counseling is Barbara Wilson's new book, Kiss Me Again.
Written for women, Kiss Me Again gently offers a biblical plan for rekindling the closeness and passion women long for in marriage.
This is a good reminder that no past is beyond the reach of God’s healing touch.

A, B, C's of Positive Living

A – Attitude determines altitude.
B – Be kind and gracious.
C – Consider the consequences before you act.
D -- Don’t be anybody but yourself.
E -- Enthusiasm makes the difference.
F -- Forgive all who offend you, and release all bitterness.
G -- Give joyfully and generously.
H -- Honestly evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.
I – Instead of complaining about a problem, do something about it.
J -- Joy = Jesus first, Others Second, You Third.
K -- Keep away from people and habits that drag you down.
L -- Live today, refusing to carry yesterday’s regrets and tomorrow’s fears.
M -- Make the most of every opportunity.
N -- Never reject a hurting friend.
O -- Organize your calendar around your values and priorities.
P -- Plan carefully and pray continually.
Q -- Quitting is seldom the answer.
R – Read and apply the Bible daily.
S – Stop and rest when you are weary.
T – Think positive, faith inspiring thoughts.
U -- Undertake a mission greater than yourself.
V -- Value precious moments and true friends.
W -- Worry has never solved a problem.
Y -- You are responsible for your own life, actions and decisions. Don’t fall into the blame game.
Z -- Zip your lip if you don’t have something good to say.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Enthusiasm and Brains

Some people have brains, but no enthusiasm. Others have enthusiasm, but no brains. It's best to possess both.

Fred Smith, the CEO and founder of FedEx first developed the idea for his company while he was a student at Yale. The professor didn't think it was such a great idea, and gave Fred a "C" for the project. Fortunately, Fred did not heed the "intelligent" professor's advice. Instead he went out and enthusiastically developed the world's largest express transportation company.

Sometimes "conventional wisdom" is the enemy of innovation and progress.

Unenthusiastic intelligence results in half-hearted living. It is, as Voltaire describes, "like a warming oven - always heating, but never cooking anything."

Enthusiastic people aren't necessarily shallow thinkers (despite what some folks might believe.) Peter Marshall said, "Enthusiasm is not contrary to reason. It is reason - on fire!

Enthusiasm is a positive, forceful energy that leads to vitality, success and achievement.

Missionary, Jim Elliot, wrote, "Wherever you are - be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God."

Unfortunately, sometimes enthusiasm is not accompanied by wisdom. A blind, brainless enthusiasm leads to frustration and failure.

Once a valiant knight knelt before his king and announced, "Your Majesty, we have just attacked and plundered all of your enemies to the west!"

To this the king responded, "What? We don't have any enemies to the west!"

"We do now!" the enthusiastic knight replied.

"Zeal without knowledge," said Thomas Fuller, "is like fire without light."

Intelligent enthusiasm is a powerful combination! Use both your heart and head to rise above the ordinary.

"Be renewed in the spirit of your mind." Eph. 4:23

Missional Holiness

The yearning for holiness is not at odds with the desire for relevance. For while holiness sets us apart unto God, it is God who calls us into the world.

-- Jacques Ellul

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Surrender


Oh, the bitter shame and sorrow,
That a time could ever be
When I let the Savior's pity
Plead in vain, and proudly answered,
"All of self, and none of Thee!"

Yet He found me; I beheld Him
Bleeding on the accursed tree;
Heard Him pray, "Forgive them, Father."
And my wistful heart said faintly,
"Some of self, and some of Thee!"

Day by day His tender mercy,
Healing, helping, full and free,
Sweet and strong, and oh! so patient,
Brought me lower, while I whispered,
"Less of self, and more of Thee!"

Higher than the highest heavens,
Deeper than the deepest sea,
Lord, Thy love at last has conquered.
Grant me now my soul's petition,
"None of self, and all of Thee!"

-- Theodore Monod
Cyber Hymnal: O The Bitter Shame and Sorrow

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Difference Between Legalists and Disciples

"A legalist is hard on others and easy on himself, a disciple is easy on others and hard on himself" -Myron S. Augsburger

Tenure and Viability

Here's an insightful post from George Bullard, regarding how the average tenure of members in a congregation determines the chances its future viability:

Your congregation is more likely to exist ten years from now if the average tenure of membership or regular attendance of the active congregation is less than 15 years. If it is 15 to 25 years then its future vital existence is marginal to uncertain. When the average tenure is more than 25 years the long-term future vitality and even existence of the congregation is in doubt.

More Here

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

An Hour in Prayer

How to Spend an Hour in Prayer

Insurrection!!


Keith Drury definitely made me think in his new post: The Spirit of Insurrection

Agatha Christie's Birthday

Today let's pause and celebrate the birthday of my favorite mystery writer, Agatha Christie. (Born September 15, 1890.)

Her intriguing tales never cease to surprise me.
My favorites are:
1) The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
2) The Murder at the Vicarage
3) Murder in Mesopotamia

As Cathy's grandmother used to say. . . "Murder!!"

Monday, September 14, 2009

God Wants to Do a Miracle Through You

You Were Born for This


Bruce Wilkinsson has written a new book, You Were Born for This, which is absolutely transformational!

The basic idea is that God invites us to join Him on his Miracle Mission in the world. If we make ourselves available, the Holy Spirit will guide us to people who need a special blessing. This often happens through the most unexpected encounters. We have to always be open, with the radar on!

Anyone can do a good deed -- but some good works can only happen by an act of God -- and He can act through us!

With inspiring personal stories, Wilkinson provides a step by step guide for joining the Miracle Mission. What a joy!! What a journey!! This book is a good reminder that God REALLY DOES work "that way!"

Upon reading the book, I've tried some of the things he suggests -- and was blown away by the results. Good stuff!

A Heart's Cry

I think your heart will be touched by this beautiful poem, written by my friend, Michelle Meade (Creator of Remember Me Jewelry.)

A Heart's Cry
many a tear, many a sigh
times of wondering, questioning why
is there purpose in the pain?
will the sun come out again?
all i see is steady rain
hear this faint heart up above
hear me calling out to ~ Love


Love's Response
yes, My love you'll fly again
higher and farther than you've ever been above the mist of the past you'll soar with Me, free at last don't give up, don't give in keep the ground your standing in I'm right here next to you holding you up, seeing you through with every breath Trust in Me with every step, press closer to Me look for the rainbow in the rain and hear Love calling out your name...
"Beloved, you are Mine."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Smashing Success

20,000 pastors and church leaders attended the Nines Conference (online) last Tuesday.

E Pluribus Unum

"One sees the pluribus. But where is the unum?"

Externally Focused

4 Characteristics of an Externally Focused Church:

1. Externally focused churches are convinced that good deeds and good news can't and shouldn't be separated. Just as it takes two wings to lift an airplane off the ground, so externally focused churches couple good news with good deeds to make an impact in their communities. The good news explains the purpose of the good deeds.

2. They see themselves as vital to the health and well-being of their communities. They believe that their communities, with all of their aspirations and challenges, cannot be truly healthy without the church's involvement. It is only when the church is mixed into the very life and conversation of the city that it can be an effective force for change.

3. They believe that ministering and serving are the normal expressions of Christian living. Even more, they believe that Christians grow best when they are serving and giving themselves away to others. They are convinced that Christians can learn through good instruction, but they really cannot grow if they remain uninvolved in ministry and service.

4. Externally focused churches are evangelistically effective. People are looking for places of authenticity where the walk matches the talk, where faith is making a difference.

— Excerpted from “The Externally Focused Church” by Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson

Friday, September 11, 2009

God's 9-1-1

"He that dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the almighty."
-- Psalm 91:1

Long Range Planning


"Long-range goals keep you from being frustrated by short-term failures."
-- J.C. Penney, Retailer

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Worship = Response to Revelation

Great insights from Eugene Cho

Covered

A wonderful Savior is Jesus, my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me.
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
Where rivers of pleasure I see.

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depth of His love,
And covers me there with His hand.
-- Fanny Crosby

Stray Affections

My sweetheart, Cathy, recommends a delightful book she just finished called Stray Affections (A Snowglobe Connections Novel) by Charlene Ann Baumbich.

She reports that it's a light hearted, yet touching tale of family relationships and the growth that comes when God moves in mysterious ways.

There are plenty of unexpected turns in the story, wonderful character development and a few good recipes thrown in as well.

Behind the scenes with author, Charlene.

Purchase here

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Nines

Nines Conference is going on all day today! Awesome! Free! Inspiring! Great stuff!

Our staff watched several presentations this morning, and consider it time well invested.

Each 9 minute presentation from outstanding Christian leaders, will be archived for future use. This would be a great resource for board meetings, leadership gatherings, staff meetings, etc.

The Book that Made America

Revisionists, in recent years, have neutered American history -- cutting away anything that speaks of our Christian heritage. For the sake of politically correctness, references to the Bible, Jesus Christ, and God, have been mostly eliminated from history curriculum.

This is astounding, when one considers the important role Christianity played in the founding of our nation.

Jerry Newcombe attempts to set the record straight with The Book That Made America: How the Bible Formed Our Nation.

Newcombe, who is stepping in to fill the empty shoes left by the late D. James Kennedy (the OTHER Kennedy who passed away recently) does an outstanding job demonstrating that the Bible was viewed as a central and common authority by our founding fathers.

Citing the charters from ALL the American colonies, quotes from numerous presidents (including several inspirational words from George Washington), founding documents of the earliest American Universities, and the lessons from the New England Primer, Newcombe shows that every aspect of society in America's early years was literally saturated with Scripture.

Newcombe also makes a compelling case that the Bible-based covenants of the Puritans served as forerunners to the United States Constitution.

This is an excellent resource for Christian parents (and teachers) who want to make sure the true story is told.

The best chapter, I believe, is when he answers the question, "Where Did We Go Wrong?" I was wondering the same question myself!

"If American democracy is to remain the greatest hope of humanity, it must contine abundantly in the faith of the Bible." -- Calvin Coolidge

Order Here

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Lineup for the Nines Conference

The Nines Conference

Tomorrow's "On Line Conference" for church leaders (sponsored by Leadership Network and Catalyst) is going to be outstanding! Over 8500 people have already signed up!

It's free!! Over 70 leading speakers, sharing wonderful insights -- 9 minutes each.

The conference begins at 9:09 AM (Central) and goes all day long.

Here's the lineup:
9AM -- Troy Gramling, Mark Beeson, Anne Jackson, Dave Ferguson, Scott Hodge
10AM -- Perry Noble, Stacy Spencer
11AM -- Dino Rizzo, Nancy Beach, Steven Furtick, Reggie McNeal
12PM -- Craig Groeschel, Leonard Sweet, Greg Surratt, Jon Tyson
1PM -- Margaret Feinberg, Larry Osborne, Matt Carter, Pete Wilson
2PM -- Neil Cole, Reggie Joiner, JD Greear
3PM -- Mark Batterson, Dan Kimball, Mark DeYmaz
4PM -- Jud Wilhite, Brian McLaren, Bob Roberts, Rick McKinley, John Ortberg
5PM -- Alan Hirsch, John Bishop, Toby Slough, Ed Stetzer
6PM -- Mark Driscoll, Darrin Patrick, Brad Powell
7PM -- Darrin Whitehead, Brian Bloye
8PM -- Eric Bryant, Nancy Ortberg, Rick Warren

He's Baaack!


Yippee!! My dear friend and mentor, Keith Drury is back in the saddle again, cranking out his weekly columns, after his annual summer hiatus. I always look forward to reading his weekly insights and inspirations.

His two latest posts:
Over two decades ago, Keith had a profound influence on a growing group of youth workers who dubbed themselves "The Cadre." I was privileged to be a part of that special movement, which truly shaped my course of life and ministry.
Through monthly mailings and yearly gatherings, Keith challenged us to live 100% for Christ, to develop our leadership skills, and to really love the people we serve.
Today, many of the most influential leaders across the Wesleyan Church have emerged from from this movement.
It's mind boggling to think of the enormous impact Keith has made. Through the leaders he inspired and discipled,he has literally impacted millions of lives around the world. Amazing!!
Thanks, Keith, for investing your life in us! You have truly made a difference,

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Two Wings

Simplicity and purity are the two wings that lift the soul up to heaven: Simplicity, which is in the intention; and purity, which is in the affections.

-- Jeremy Taylor (Holy Living and Dying)

Steve Deneff's Heart Holiness Questions

Normally, I don't post on Sunday -- but I felt that I should not delay providing the six questions for personal reflection from Steve Deneff, which I mentioned in this morning's sermon.

1. Is my conscience clear?
2. Is my religion (faith) an obsession or a hobby?
3. Do the people closest to me see this holiness in my life?
4. Do I have power over sin?
5. Do I have perfect love?
6. Do I have genuine joy?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

How Would You Respond to my Friend?

A troubled friend recently wrote these words. How would you respond to him?


I tend to espouse reason over belief. There is a two thousand year divide between the religious and the rational which has created so much misery. Life has become something to be endured, promising more adversity than joy.

The Bible espouses a tradition which evokes images that can be found alien and frightening: unyielding rules; a paradoxical mixture of mysticism and literal belief; the repression of women; the suppression of dissent, whether philosophical or scientific, and that's not even the Old Testament. . .

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Stop Worrying and Start Living!


Stop worrying and start living!

Worry is not a new problem for the human race. It’s been around from the very beginning.

In the early 1600’s, Francis de Sales made the following observations about the nature of worry. I found it to be a source of refreshing encouragement – just as good for today as 400 years ago.

Stop worrying.
Whatever it is that you must do to follow the path that God has shown you,
Do the best of your ability.
And when you have done it, move on to the next thing.

Don’t keep re-running it in your mind, trying to decide
whether your efforts were too little or too much.
whether it was a great deed or a small one.
whether you might have done better.

If it wasn’t sinful and you were trying to do the will of God,
It is enough.

Don’t worry. Move on.
Simply. Calmly. Peacefully.

Follow the path the Lord shows you, free from anxiety.
Otherwise, your anxiety will undermine your efforts to grow.

If you do fail, don’t let anxiety overcome you.
But admit your failure quietly, humbly, and in God’s presence.

Then, get on with following the path that God will continue to show you.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Construction Update




Special Thanks to Jeremy Mavis for keeping us posted with Construction Updates on our Children's Ministry Facility Expansion.

Appreciation

50% of a leader's job is saying "Thank You."

The Stranger


"The Stranger" is back!!
Pistol packin', Bible quotin' Chief Marshal, John Brockman, is once again pursuing the bad guys in Al & Joanna Lacy's latest western, Deadlock.

The Lacy's give us a fun read (for folks who like this genre) -- full of non-stop adventure. It's kind of like reading a Christianized version of Zane Gray or Louis L'Amour. (I have to admit, I like L'Amour much better -- but his heroes don''t share the Gospel with every villian.)
Though the outcomes are rather predictable (in the same manner as Gunsmoke or Bonanza), the plot brings new twists and turns all along the trail.

This edition of "The Stranger" series (Book 2) brings Marshal Brockman face to face with the terrible outlaw Zarbo brothers, and the danger truly hits home.