Posts

Showing posts from November, 2009

Chester Marcol

Chester Marcol is coming to Hayward this Wednesday night to speak at a rally sponsored by FCA. Special thanks to my good friend, Randy Young, who followed the inner prompting, and opened the door for this opportunity.

What do Teachers Make?

A Difference!

Helping the World

"We cannot help the world unless we change our way of being in it."

-- Hope & Action, an advent pastoral letter from Methodist bishops

Backyard Victory

Image
Stellar quarterbacks, Rogers and Wilson, both facing vicious Lions, emerged victorious on Thanksgiving Day -- but Wilson had to nurse a sore toe afterwards.

Turkey Census

Image
The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that 250 million turkeys were raised in the United States in 2009.

I wonder what the turkey census is today?
Take the Turkey Day Quiz Here

As The Sun Rises

Image
Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity.
Be fair in thy judgement, and guarded in thy speech.
Be a lamp unto those who walk in darkness, and a home to the stranger.
Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring.
Be a breath of life to the body of humankind, a dew to the soil of the human heart, and a fruit upon the tree of humility. -- Anonymous

Alcohol Related Fatality?

Image
The other day, the kids and I were driving north on highway 53, when we passed a dead bear lying on the side of the road.
I stopped to pay my respects, and thought maybe it was alcohol related.

Two Hammers

I have a sledgehammer in my garage, and I also have a small finishing hammer. They are both equally important to me.

If I had to choose between the two, I suppose I'd pick the little guy. He's been a real help to me over the years -- but I'd rather not choose at all. Both hammers are my good friends and trusted companions.

Thus, the hammers teach me a valuable lesson; bigger isn't always better! Smaller isn't always better either.

The value of the tool is determined by the task ahead.

Driving stakes for a circus tent? Use the sledge!
Repairing the living room coffee table? The finishing hammer will do perfectly. (My wife would not appreciate me using the sledge for that!)

This brings me to an important point. Why do we compare ourselves with others? Why do we allow ourselves to feel inferior (or superior) to the people around us? We're all equally important -- though we have different roles and functions in life. We're all a part of the same toolbox! We all belon…

Go At It!

"You go at it! The best way to learn is to go at it! How to do it is to do it!"

-- D. L. Moody, when asked by three young seminarians (including R. A. Torrey) to teach them how to evangalize.

Big Business

Image
A family was on vacation in a Minnesota northwoods small town. As they drove down Main Street, Mother pointed and said, "Look Johnny! There's First Lutheran Church!"

To this, Johnny replied, "Those guys must be a franchise. We have one of those in our town too!"

Billy Joe Daugherty

Image
Received word this morning that Billy Joe Daugherty, pastor of Victory Christian Center in Tulsa died yesterday after a brief battle with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He was only 57.
Pastor Daugherty was a great spiritual leader. Although I disagreed with a bit of his theology, I've always admired his ministry, and have been inspired by his teaching. His congregation launched the Tulsa Dream Center, which houses a food and clothing distribution, dental/medical clinic, legal counseling, recreation facilities and other programs to help needy people of Tulsa. Through his influence, 523 Victory Bible Institutes have been started in 85 countries around the world. I'd call that a missional ministry. Well done, thou good and faithful servant.

I Don't Have the Gift of Mercy

Several times, over the years, I've heard visionary pastors use this phrase in sermons and conversation:

I don't have the gift of mercy!

When they say that, it's never in an apologetic manner. They don't seem to feel bad about being "mercy deficient." In fact, it's more like they're bragging about it.

Whenever I hear a pastor boast about unmerciful he is, I cringe.

"Oh, don't say that!! If you struggle with being a merciful person -- that's a spiritual maturity issue! That means you don't love people very much. Why would any pastor brag about not loving people?

People who operate without mercy tend to be bullies and jerks. Who wants a bully or a jerk for a pastor?

Jesus said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."

The Other Holy Week

Image
Through 18 years of living in the north country, I’ve come to recognize that, by default, deer hunting season is Wisconsin’s other “holy week.”
It took me a while to figure this out. Year after year, I stood behind the pulpit on the third Sunday of November, and looked with dismay upon an empty sanctuary.
In Hayward, most of the men, and half the ladies vanish into the woods on deer opener, and they normally don’t re-appear for church on Sunday morning.
Of course, there are always a few devoted members of the flock who endure the annual Thanksgiving sermon, anxiously awaiting the concluding “amen” so then can hurry up and get out there. I’m happy to report that my Thanksgiving sermon usually has the intended effect. When it’s over, there’s a collective “Whew, Thank God!” then a mad scramble for the doors.
I regretfully admit that in years past, I’ve attempted to heap guilt and shame on the poor hunters of the congregation in the weeks leading up to “the great departure.” They hung their h…

Undertakers and Bad Gas

Image
I might have entered the ministry if certain clergymen I knew had not looked and acted so much like undertakers. -- Oliver Wendell Holmes (legendary U. S. Supreme Court Justice)
A man approached a fellow passenger on an airplane and inquired, "Excuse me sir, but as I passed you just now I noticed that you look like a minister. Am I right?"
"No," came the reply, "I just have bad gas.

Day by Day

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day, the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He Whose Name is Counselor and Power;
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in every tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
Ever to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

"Blott en Dag" by Karolina W. Sandell-Berg, translated into English by A…

Most Misunderstood Missiologist

Image
An insightful article by Bill Eason about Don McGavran, the father of the church growth movement.
I was privileged to sit under his teaching a few times during my days at Fuller.

Winning over Worry

Image
Two men were climbing a steep hill on a bicycle built for two. When they finally made it to the top, the first man said, "Whew! That was a stiff climb. I think it was the hardest hill I've ever been on.""It certainly was," his companion replied, "and if I hadn't kept the brake on, we would have slid down backwards!"
When we worry, it's like pedaling uphill with the brakes on. Anxious thoughts make life ten times harder.
Unfortunately, our natural human tendency is to worry about our situations. Is there anybody on this earth who is not familiar with the uncomfortable gnawing of worry in the belly? I seriously doubt it.
Yet, although worry is familiar to us all, we don't have to treat it like a welcomed guest. In fact, we have every right in the world to kick it out! "No Vacancy" -- There's no place for anxious thinking here!
How can we evict worry from our lives? Let me offer a few suggestions:
1. Talk to yourself!
A great way to a…

Perplexities

"By such things men live, and my spirit finds life in them too." Isa. 38:16

Procrastination

Ideas are a dime a dozen. Millions of people have good ideas, but never get around to doing anything with them.

What a tragedy to see so many unrealized hopes and dreams. Why do we put off the important tasks of life? Why do we allow ourselves to settle into the plateau of mediocrity?

Here are a few possible explanations for this phenomenon:
1) We tend to value comfort more than accomplishment. When forced to make a choice between the two, most people follow the path of least resistance.

2) Fear of failure can keep us from starting. Of course, the greatest failure is not trying. I'd rather attempt something great, and fail -- than to attempt nothing and succeed.

3) Poor time management keeps us from fulfilling our dreams. If we don't schedule the important things into our lives, they won't get done. Poor planning leads to hectic living - with little to show for it.

4) Our actions reveal our true priorities. We live what we really believe - regardless of what we say. Rethinking p…

Filled Up and Poured Out

We are filled up to be poured out.

Fill up with love -- and then pour it out.
Fill up with faith -- and then pour it out.
Fill up with hope -- and then pour it out.
Fill up with joy -- and then pour it out.
Fill up with the Spirit -- and then pour it out.

We're blessed to be a blessing.

If we fill up. but don't pour it out -- we're bloated.
If we pour it out, but don't fill up -- we're depleted.

Keep filling up and pouring out! That's how we're created to live and serve in this world. Let the river flow!

When You Don't Feel Like It

John Bloom has written a great post over at Desiring God -- When You Don't Feel Like It, Take Heart.

The Sabbath Demise

Found an interesting Wall Street Journal article a while back about the demise of Sabbath Keeping in America.
Sundays changed when the world changed. Stopping farming in the Middle Ages was easy. But to close restaurants, shut up amusement parks or clear the airwaves when Americans with money were trying to spend it that day was impossible.

Stand Fast

Image
Above all, stand fast in obedient faith, faith in the God of pardoning mercy, in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath loved you, and given himself for you.
Ascribe to him all the good you find in yourself, all your peace, and joy, and love, all your power to do and suffer his will, through the Spirit of the living God.v.v.
Abhor every approach, in any kind or degree. to the spirit of persecution.
If you cannot reason or persuade a man into the truth, never attempt to force him into it. If love will not compel him to come in, leave him to God.
-- John Wesley

Holy Candidness

My blogger buddy, Mark Batterson shared some powerful insights from his recent staff retreat.

Most of our ministries get stuck at the point where we're less than honest. We aren't willing to verbalize or confront an issue because it might hurt someone's feelings. That is where a ministry will stop growing. . . You have to cut through the issues to get to the heart of the matter.

Good News in a Twitter

The Gospel is the counterintuitive, joyous, exuberant news that Jesus has brought the unending, limitless, stunning, love of God to even us!

(140 character Twitter message -- thanks to Art Erickson for passing it on.)

As the Grains of Wheat

Image
as the grains of wheat
once scattered on the hill
were gathered into one
to become one bread

so may all your people
from all the ends of the earth
be gathered into one in you
-- Marty Haugen

Prayer Carries It

Prayer must carry our work, as well as our preaching. He does not heartily preach to his people who does not pray for them. If we do not prevail with God to give them repentance and faith, we are not likely to prevail with them to repent and believe.-- Richard Baxter

White Picket Fences

Image
Susan Meissner has done it again. (Previously, I reviewed Shape of Mercy, which ended up winning the Christian book award for fiction.) Now, she's given us another powerful novel which leaves the readers reflecting on their relationships and the deeper meanings of life's experiences.
White Picket Fences tells the gripping story of a seemingly "perfect" suburban family. Beneath a thin layer of varnish, however, lies major unresolved issues. Things are not always as they seem and people often go to great measures to hide from the truth which will set them free. A good read -- haunting -- intriguing -- which reminds us of the old adage, "You're only as sick as your secrets." Excerpt Here Order here (Preview copy was provided for review by the publisher.)

I Love it When God Does Things Like This!

Image
Last August, when teaching FLAME Courses in Frankfort, Indiana, I met a wonderful brother, Dr. Thuam Khai, who is providing leadership for the Burmese Bible College in Syracuse, New York. After classes, Brother Thuam needed transportation to Chicago, Providentially, I was heading the same direction myself, so I gave him a lift.
While we travelled, he told me about a small group of Burmese believers in Milwaukee, that needed an affiliation. Through this Divine appointment, the wheels began to roll. I helped Brother Thuam connect with our Wisconsin District Superintendent, Dan Bickel -- and last week, they all met together to begin the groundwork for a brand new Burmese Wesleyan Church!

Tragedy

A few days ago, a young man in our community, Arthur Garcia, killed another man, David Palm (his ex-girlfriend's brother) and then committed suicide.

It was a sad and shocking turn of events -- which hits awfully close to home. Just today, I discovered that Arthur attended services here at Hayward Wesleyan Church five out of the last seven Sundays of his life. I even prayed with him one Sunday after church last month.

It really breaks my heart -- and I wonder how this possibly could have happened. Oh, how I wish we would have reached out to him further.

Please remember the families in your prayers.

Something to Ponder

The average church member has listened to 6000 sermons and 8000 prayers, sung 20,000 hymns, and asked zero people to receive Christ.


-- Herb Miller (Fishing on the Asphalt)

Comfort Zone

Simply to enclose oneself in "the given" is no glory to God. It is an evasion of life and of growth, a hiding your light under the bushel.

-- Thomas Merton, A Vow of Conversation (p. 24)

Seven Year Old Steals Car to Keep from Going to Church

Poor kid. There have been times when I've felt the same way myself.

Driver's Education

A quote from my son, Wes, after I took him driving last night:

"Dad, it really doesn't help me much when you grab the dash and yell, 'WOAH! WOAH! WOAH! WOAH! WOAH!"

Why So Many Marriages Fail

Image
One of the chief reasons so many marriages fail is that the functions of a date and mate differ radically: that of a date is to be charming; that of a mate is to be responsible; and, unfortunately, the most charming individuals are not necessarily the most responsible, while the most responsible are just as often deficient in charm. -- Sydney Harris (journalist)

Defining Success

How do you define success?”

A good friend asked me that question recently, and I’ve been mulling over it.

Many people define it as MORE:

More money.
More toys
More vacations
More luxuries
More things.

Others define it as BETTER:

Driving a better car.
Living in a better house.
Having better vacations.
Being promoted to a better position.

Still, others define it as ATTRACTION:

Being beautiful
Being intelligent
Being popular
Being acclaimed

Some define it as POWER:

Influence
Authority
Strength
Conquest

But how does the Bible define success?

Read the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. They are considered wisdom literature, written by Solomon, noted as the wisest man who ever lived. How is success defined in the world’s greatest wisdom guides?

1) Trusting God.
2) Being Faithful
3) Seeking Wisdom and Understanding
4) Enjoying your Work
5) Enjoying your Relationships
6) Staying Sweet
7) Doing Good
8) Blessing (Refreshing) Others

In other words, true success goes far deeper than the outward appearance. It is a matter of the…

Tapped Out: Pastor's Job Can Easily Breed Depression

Image
What kind of personal pain would cause a 42-year-old pastor to abandon his family, his calling and even life itself? Members of a Baptist church are asking that question after their pastor committed suicide in his parked car in September.
Those who counsel pastors say Christian culture, especially Southern evangelicalism, creates the perfect environment for depression. Pastors suffer in silence, unwilling or unable to ask for help or even talk about it. Sometimes they leave the ministry. Occasionally the result is the unthinkable.
Experts say clergy suicide is a rare outcome to a common problem. But Baptists in the Carolinas are soul searching after a spate of suicides and suicide attempts by pastors. In addition to the September suicide of David Treadway, two others in North Carolina attempted suicide, and three in South Carolina succeeded, all in the last four years.
Being a pastor -- a high-profile, high-stress job with nearly impossible expectations for success -- can send one down t…

Pray Back

Image
A friend from another church sought my advice some time ago about a conflict she had with the pastor. "Do you ever pray together?" I asked.

"Well," she replied, "He has prayed FOR me several times, but no, we have never really prayed together."

Those words haunted me long after the conversation. How many times in my life and ministry have I been guilty of the same thing -- praying FOR people, but not really WITH them.

As a direct result of that encounter, I began conducting a prayer experiment.

Almost always now, whever it comes time to pray with someone, I say, "I'd like to pray for you, but then would you be willing to say a prayer for me?"

I've done this with staff and ministry leaders of course -- but I've also done it with people who have come in for counseling, during nursing home, hospital and shut in visits -- even with folks coming in seeking benevolence assistance.

At first, they look stunned -- then they normally smile, and almo…