Wednesday, March 31, 2010

After You Believe

I have recently been enjoying N. T. Wright's latest book, After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters.

In this insightful work, Wright declares that there is much more to Christian conduct than "just keeping the rules" on one hand, or "just being yourself" on the other. He says Christian character is a matter of virtue. . . or Christlikeness. . . or living as Kingdom people.

The good bishop's emphasis on virtue reminds me of another Anglican -- John Wesley (although Wesley uses other words, it's the same concept of heart holiness.)

As usual, Wright brings it back around to eschatology. We are called to live virtuous lives, as a reflection of the Kingdom that has already come (in Christ) -- and WILL come in fullness.

We are Kingdom people -- and thus, our lives should reflect this citizenship.
If we're falling short, we need to keep practicing! As Peter Bohler told John Wesley (my paraphrase), "Preach it until you have it, and then. because you have it, you will preach it."
Or, "Practice it until you have it, and then, because you have it, you will practice it."

Experience and Doctrine

When people encounter the living God in worship or through another aspect of our ministries, they hunger to know the God they have met. This inner urge to "know God" is what doctrine or theology addresses.

Experience, by itself, is like a river without banks. We call that a flood. Conversely, doctrine without experience is like the banks of a river without any water. We call that a drought.

-- Michael Foss in A Servant's Manual

Why I'm Disillusioned

Why I'm Disillusioned-Short from Andrew Means on Vimeo.

What is your response to this video?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Taking the Risk

Late one night, in a massive ice storm, I drove my sons, Luke and Wes, from visiting their friend, Ben. I white-knuckled it on the steering wheel, and fretted as we crept along the treacherous road, heading home. Ice pelted the windshield, making it difficult to see the road.

We happened to pass our favorite sledding hill, and the boys remembered that our sleds were in the trunk.

“Hey, dad! Can you imagine how fast we could go down that hill tonight? Oh wow! That would be awesome!! Let’s do it! What do you say, Dad? Huh?”

“Uh – Hmmm – I dunno boys. That’s just about the craziest notion I’ve ever heard. Can’t you see we’re in the middle of a dangerous ice storm?”

“That’s exactly the point, Dad! We’re right here at the sledding hill. Our sleds are with us, and that hill is slicker than it’s ever been! Don’t you think we should take advantage of this rare opportunity?”

“Oh why not?” I answered, throwing caution aside, and hoping this decision wouldn’t land somebody in the emergency room. “Just one time down the hill, and we need to get home.”

We pulled out a three-person toboggan, managed our way, in pitch dark, to the top of the ice-glazed hill, and shoved off.

Luke and Wes yelled, ‘YEAH!! BONZAI!!”

I hung on for dear life and yelled too, ‘YAAAAARRRRGHHHH!!!”

We flew faster than an Olympian bobsled, hurdling down the hill, halfway across the frozen field at the bottom. My heart was in my stomach the whole way.

When we finally slowed to a stop, all three of us laughed until our sides hurt.

“Dad, that’s the coolest thing we’ve ever done!”

I was just glad I survived, and as we walked together back towards the car in the pelting ice, I thought, “Sometimes, faith is like that. It requires a risk; it’s quite a ride; and it’s guaranteed to make a memory.”

Friday, March 26, 2010

Pray for My Friend

Please pray for my friend, Dr. Hanna Massad. He is stuck in the Gaza Strip. They won't let him cross the border to return to his wife and children who are staying in Jordan.

Pray for his safetly, as intense violence erupts again.

He has been in Gaza on a mission of mercy, but now is being treated like a prisoner.
Pray that God will open up the path for him to be reunited with his family.
Ten Signs a Leader is Losing It

A Preaching Thought

What is most personal is most general – Carl Rogers

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Mission and the Church

"The church does not have a mission. The mission has a church. The crosshairs of God's mission is the world." -- Reggie McNeal
(HT Pat Hannon)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Beautiful Life

This is a Chuckwagon Gang song I fondly recall from my childhood days. I love hillbilly gospel music!

Youtube of the original 1936 recording session

Each day I'll do a golden deed
By helping those who are in need
My life on earth is but a span
And so I'll do the best I can.

Life's evening sun is sinking low
A few more days and I must go
To meet the deed that I have done
Where there will be no setting sun

To be a child of God each day
My light must shine along the way
I'll sing His praise while the ages roll
And strive to help some troubled soul.

While going down life's weary road
I'll try to lift some traveller's load
I'll try to turn the night to day
Make flowers bloom along the way.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Play to Your Identity

"The most frustrating part for me as the head coach is you play 16 games, you create an identity as a football team and then the biggest game you play in that year you don't play to your identity in segments of the game."

Head coach Mike McCarthy, speaking two months after the Packers' 51-45 overtime loss at the Arizona Cardinals in the wild-card round of the NFC playoffs Jan. 10.
This makes me think. How many times, when the pressure is on, do we fail to "play to our identity" as followers of Christ?

A Dozen 'Un's"

There are a lot of things that get messed up pretty bad when you put an “un” in front of it.

For instance, “grateful” is pretty lousy when it becomes “ungrateful” and “faithful” is bitter when it becomes “unfaithful.”

I searched the Bible the other day, digging for “un” words, and came away with quite a load of them. I was surprised, however, to discover than not ALL of the “un’s” are negative. In fact a few of them are excellent qualities to possess.

On the negative side, the Bible speaks clearly against the following “un’s”:

Faith is a central foundation for life. That’s why Jesus rebuked his disciples for their unbelief when they acted or spoke out of fear and mistrust.

The heart of the Gospel is love. When somebody behaves in an unloving way, it always hurts. We are commanded to love our neighbors.

We are called to be pure and holy. Impure motives lead to selfish manipulation. Foul speech reveals an unclean heart. The Bible says, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

Wavering between two opinions brings instability. When we live in fear, trying to please everybody, we won’t stand strong. The secret to standing firm is to get your feet planted down on the solid ground of truth.

When we do things that aren’t right, we know it deep inside. Our conscience tells us so. We are called to live uprightly – to do the right thing – to make the right choices -- regardless of the price. If you live right, you won’t have to cover with lame excuses.

We are called to care about the important issues of life, and for the people around us who are hurting. A lack of concern demonstrates a love shortage.

On the other hand, there are a half dozen positive “un’s” the Bible encourages:

An undivided heart is one that is focused on God. No one can serve two masters.

This requires listening without jumping to conclusions.

In a sense of humility, receive the blessings of life as a gift, rather than “what I deserve.”

The Scripture demonstrates God’s undying love for us. It will never end, and nothing can separate us from it.

This is the beauty and glory of our lives as we live by faith. Even as we grow older and we begin to fade away, our inner beauty will always be unfading.

God’s never fails. He hasn’t failed you yet, and He won’t start failing you now.

Friday, March 19, 2010

All Religions are Not the Same

In case you're thinking all religions are the same -- read this
(HT Phil Johnson)

Best Excuse for Speeding

When asked by a young patrol officer " Do You know you were speeding " ?

This 83-year-old woman talked herself out of a ticket by stating ......

"Yes , but....I had to get there before I forgot where I was going".

(Thanks to my sister in law, Sandy, who sent this treasure to me.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Stealing from a Terrorist

"But whatever you do, don’t wait for tomorrow to do what can be done today, and don’t wait for others to do what you can do yourself.”
-- Adam Gadhahn, American born terrorist and Al Qaeda spokesman

Global news outlets reported last week that Gadhahn was arrested in Pakistan, but, unfortunately, it was a case of mistaken identity.

For the life of me, I cannot understand how someone could turn on his own people like this, and devote himself to such a horrible cause in the name of religion.

Normally, I don't quote terrorists. I despise their cause and hateful methodologies. However, Gadhahn's words made me stop and think.

I decided to swipe his quote.

What would happen if Christian people applied this perspective to THEIR mission -- the greatest and most beautiful cause on earth?

What if every follower of Jesus Christ reflected this kind of commitment?

What if we all decided to live intentionally, bringing God's love with us wherever we go?
What if every church member assumed this kind of personal responsiblity?

1. Don't wait for tomorrow.
2. Do what can be done today.
3. Don't wait for others to do what you can do yourself.

As Joseph told his wayward brothers, "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good."

Taking the Risk

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
-- Anais Nin

A Great Opportunity for Fried Turkeys


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Come Ye Disconsolate

by Thomas Moore

Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish,
Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.

Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,
Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!
Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
“Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot cure.”

Here see the Bread of Life, see waters flowing
Forth from the throne of God, pure from above.
Come to the feast of love; come, ever knowing
Earth has no sorrow but heaven can remove.

Name the Dame Contest

My friend, Keetha Broyles, held a "Name the Grand Old Dame" contest on her delightful blog, The Eclectic Company.

Not only did her blog readers name the dame -- they also provided a poignant story about her and the place she lives -- Somewhere Special, USA.

Now, I just happen to recognize this old gal. She's a summer sidewalk resident of Main Street here in Hayward, Wisconsin, and that's "Someplace Special" alright!

MBWA North Korean Style

Management By Wandering Around

(Thanks, Todd, for pointing to this link on your fb)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Glenn Beck on Social Justice

I beg you, look for the words "social justice" or "economic justice" on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can.
Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes! If I'm going to Jeremiah's Wright's church? Yes! Leave your church.
Social justice and economic justice. They are code words. If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish. Go alert your bishop and tell them, "Excuse me are you down with this whole social justice thing?"
I don't care what the church is. If it's my church, I'm alerting the church authorities: "Excuse me, what's this social justice thing?" And if they say, "Yeah, we're all in that social justice thing," I'm in the wrong place.
-- Glenn Beck, March 2, 2010 radio broadcast
I'm curious. What is your take Glenn Beck's statement?

Mr. G Goes to BBC

Congratulations to Mark Gorveatte, who was just appointed as the new president of Bethany Bible College. Hold on to your hats! It's going to be an awesome ride.

Mark has been a good friend for many years. He is one of the most inspiring leaders I've ever met -- always stretching my possibility thinking.

BBC will be blessed by Mark's extraordinary vision and leadership.

The Missional Center

The plan for a Christ­ian church is much more than an as­so­ci­a­tion of con­gen­i­al friends who lis­ten once a week to an in­tel­lect­u­al dis­course and mus­ic­al en­ter­tain­ment and car­ry on by proxy a mech­a­nism of Christ­ian work.

But ra­ther, it is a church that can be at once:

1. The mo­ther and home of ev­e­ry form of help and bless­ing which Je­sus came to give to lost and suf­fer­ing people.

2. The birth­place and the home of souls

3. The foun­tain of heal­ing and cleans­ing.

4. The shel­ter­ing home for the or­phan and dis­tressed.

5. The school for the cul­ture and train­ing of God’s child­ren.

6. The ar­mory where they are equipped for the bat­tle of the Lord and the ar­my which fights those bat­tles in His name.

Such a cen­ter of pop­u­la­tion in this sad and sin­ful world!

-- A. B. Simpson, slightly edited from A Larger Christian Life

Prayerful Planning

"Careful planning helps us maintain a sense of perspective, purpose and ordered priorities."
-- Stephen Covey, Author and Speaker

I like this quote, but think I can make it better -- by replacing the word "careful" with the word "prayerful."

Monday, March 15, 2010

A New Favorite Blog

Stop in for a visit!

In Remembrance

A cowboy, who just moved to Montana from Texas, walks into a bar and orders three mugs of Bud. He sits in the back of the room, drinking a sip out of each one in turn. When he finishes them, he comes back to the bar and orders three more.

The bartender approaches and tells the cowboy, "You know, a mug goes flat after I draw it. It would taste better if you bought one at a time."

The cowboy replies, "Well, you see, I have two brothers. One is in Arizona, the other is in Colorado. When we all left our home in Texas , we promised that we'd drink this way to remember the days when we drank together. So I'm drinking one beer for each of my brothers and one for myself."

The bartender admits that this is a nice custom, and leaves it there.

The cowboy becomes a regular in the bar, and always drinks the same way. He orders three mugs and drinks them in turn.

One day, he comes in and only orders two mugs. All the regulars take notice and fall silent. When he comes back to the bar for the second round, the bartender says, "I don't want to intrude on your grief, but I wanted to offer my condolences on your loss."

The cowboy looks quite puzzled for a moment, then a light dawns in his eyes and he laughs.

"Oh, no, everybody's just fine," he explains, "It's just that my wife and I joined the Baptist Church and I had to quit drinking..."

"...Hasn't affected my brothers though."

(Thanks to my friend, Famous Dave, for sending this to me!)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Storm of Grace

My sons, Luke and Wes, along with their friends, Cord and Trevor, have formed a band called Storm of Grace. Tonight, they are performing their first full concert at the Veterans' Center -- 5:30 p.m.

Their original compositions are missional. The bottom line message -- "God has brought grace (love, help, strength, hope, salvation) to me, so I can bring it to others.

I am really looking forward to the big event.
And to top it all off, making the day even more extra-special -- my oldest son, Adam, and his beautiful wife, Allegra, came from Iowa to be with us for the weekend!
Yay!! I'm a happy pappy!!

A Case of Civic Insantiy

Arizona Town Bans Church Meetings, Bible Studies in Homes

Friday, March 12, 2010

Probing Questions for Church Leadership Teams

As you see it, what is the vision of our church? Where are we going?

Are we headed in the right direction? Are we doing what we're supposed to be doing?

What is our business? How's business?

What impedes our progress?

What gets in the way of the growth of our congregation:

What 3-5 things should we do to move forward with God's vision for our church?

Making Sense

"If plain sense makes common sense, seek no other sense."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cultivating the Soul

The interior life is everything when it comes to ministry.

There's nothing more difficult and frustrating than trying to "minister" to others when your own soul is dehydrated.

Operating out of the overflow, on the other hand, works spendidly. That's the way we are designed to serve -- in the rivers of Living Water!"

In the Spirit, you can "go with the flow!"

Happy Meals

New post from Ryan at Wesleyan Life Online

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ageless Faith

Father and son authors, Keith and David Drury, have written an fabulous book together called Ageless Faith: A Conversation Between Generations About Church.

With a delightful dialogue form, the book feels much like a spirited coffee shop conversation.

As the reader opens the book, Keith and David look up, smile and say, "Grab some java, pull up a chair and join us!"

Keith represents the boomer generation and David brings the emergent perspective to the table. They respectfully express different viewpoints on important issues of church life, pointing out the strengths and weakenesses of each others' perspectives.

Topics explored are:
Women in Leadership
Denominational Leadership
Ordained Ministry

The conversation is within the context of the Wesleyan "tribe", but certainly fits the dynamics of other denominations as well.

I found it to be a very thought provoking read, as it challenged some of my assumptions, and helped me gain a better understanding of of the rising generation.
My most important take-home point is this. Godly wisdom must not be ignored. There's a good reason why we hold our positions. However, the younger Wesleyans bring a fresh set of eyes to the church, and we need to listen to what they have to say.
If we want to be relevent in the coming decades, our younger brothers and sisters must to be empowered for leadership at every level of the church, and I am enlisting to champion that cause.
This resource will be an outstanding catalyst for intergenerational dialogue within congregations, perhaps used as a guide in a small group or class. There are some excellent discussion questions at the end of each chapter.

It's All about Who?

For most Americans, worship is to satisfy or please them, not to honor or please God. Amazingly, few worship-service regulars argue that worship is something they do primarily for God; a substantially larger percentage of attenders claim that attending worship services is something that they do for personal benefit and pleasure. -- George Barna

Raise Your Happiness Level

Great post by the good bishop, Don Bastian, How to Raise Your Happiness Level

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Give Me Thy Hand

Let us resolve, first, not to hurt one another,
to do nothing unkind or unfriendly to each other . . .
Let us resolve, secondly, God being our helper,
to speak nothing harsh or unkind of each other . . .
to say all the good we can, both of and to one another . . .
Let us, thirdly, resolve to harbour no unkind thought,
no unfriendly temper towards each other . . .
Let us, fourthly, endeavour to help each other on
in whatever we are agreed leads to the Kingdom.
So far as we can, let us always rejoice to strengthen each other's hands in God.

-- John Wesley, Letter to a Roman Catholic, July 18, 1749

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Melting

The long-standing northwoods snow has begun to melt these last couple of days. It's a welcome sight after the long winter.

We've not seen the ground since November, and now glorious patches of brownish green are peeping through.

When my dog, Vin and I took our daily stroll this morning, we went "shloosh, shlish, shloosh" rather than the normal "crunch, crunch, crunch."

It's melting time.

The whole northwoods experiences the melting together. You can't get away from it.

Rivers are rising. Snow lines are receding. Neighbors are rejoicing. Roadways are waterways.
Every place we step is touched by it.

I know, because my socks are wet this morning.

And this is my deepest prayer for our church.

I am praying for a spiritual melting. I pray that we will pour out from the freezer (Sunday morning church) and permeate the entire community.

May we love God and our neighbors in such a way, that a person can't go anywhere in town without stepping in it.

May we get their socks wet with blessing.
May we shloosh instead of crunch.

Thy Kingdom Come!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Solid and Liquid

Taking a few people up to Duluth today for the Twin Ports Ministry Institute Today, where I'm giving a seminar on Solid Church, Liquid Church.

Friday, March 05, 2010

A Rockin' Debut

My sons, Luke and Wes, and their friends, Trevor and Cord, are in a band called Storm of Grace. Tonight, they made their debut with the opening performance at the Park Theater's Night of Christian Music. They sang a couple of original compositions, "King of the Nations" and "Shipwreck World" as well as the rockin' Newsboys song, "I am Free."

They did an awesome job, rocking out the place. There was a wide variety of music, from Bach to Rock, and I must say, they started the whole thing out with a bang!

Here's a fuzzy picture from my cell phone.

That's My Son!

Yesterday, Wesleyan Life Online published a post written by my son, Ryan -- Ink and Earthquakes.

Congratulations, Ryan, on getting published! Great article.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


"The church is redemptive, and when it ceases to be redemptive, it ceases to be the church."
-- J. R. Mitchell