Monday, May 31, 2010

Stop Making Excuses!

Excuses are a dime a dozen. You can come up with all kinds of good reasons why you haven't been your best.

You can blame the boss.
You can blame the environment.
You can blame your family.
You can blame the clock (I just don't have time.)
You can blame the situation.

If you're looking for a way to weasel out of what you should be doing, you'll find it. The human mind has the uncanny ability to rationalize anything.

The bottom line, however, is that if you continue making excuses for mediocrity, you will never realize your true, God-given, potential. It does no good to dream about what you are going to accomplish tomorrow if you're unwilling to pay the price today.

Inspiration without commitment vanishes at the first hint of difficulty. A vision without careful planning is only a daydream. An idea isn't worth much unless it is accompanied by shoe leather.

Refuse to cave into "somewhere over the rainbow" thinking. Your "ship" isn’t coming in. Might as well quit standing on the shoreline waiting for the grand arrival.

Instead, why not start building your boat? Put down the binoculars and pick up the hammer! Sometimes people complain about "bad luck". They need to understand that "luck" is not nearly as important as attitude.

You can make the best of your "bad luck" or the worst of your "good fortune." It's not what life hands you - but what you make of it that counts.

Instead of focusing on your problems, how about moving to the solution side?

You will discover that your "luck" will improve tremendously when you stop making excuses and start making progress.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

What About Mediocre Churches?

They Went A Fishing

Thirteen Baptists from Milwaukee were arrested last week here in the Hayward area, with 2,238 fish, mostly crappies, well beyond the bag limit of 15 each.

The Department of Natural Resources will now sponsor fish fries for various community organizations.

Some locals, close to the situation, have wondered, "What's up with these guys? Shouldn't a church group know better? How on earth could they disregard the laws so flagrantly?"

I wonder if maybe they were just trying to follow in the footsteps of St. Peter. He said, "I go a fishing" and the rest of the gang said, "we'll go a fishing too!"

1) Maybe they fished all night and then cast their nets on the other side of the boat.

2) Maybe they were trying to feed five thousand.

3) Maybe they were looking for the elusive fish with a golden coin in its belly.

One thing is clear. They're certainly going to "render unto Caesar, that which is Caesars."

I hope our Milwaukee Baptist brethren have learned a good lesson from this experience, and that they will redirect their fishing zeal to people. After all, souls don't have bag limits.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Eternity's Sunrise

Read the following poem three times slowly:

He who binds to himself a joy, does the winged life destroy.
But he who kisses the joy as it flies, lives in eternity's sunrise. -- William Blake

What does this mean to you?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bubba and the Mission Fund Drive

A concerned Pastor Jones addressed the Missions Committee. "Folks, we have a big problem," he began, "Several of our members are not fulfilling their pledges to support the missionaries. Our fund is dangerously low, and I'm not sure what to do."

"I've got an idea," said Bubba, "How about if I write a letter in your name to all the people who haven't paid up. Surely, they will come around once they know how important it is."

"Why thank you, Bubba!" Pastor Jones replied, "I'll provide you a list of all the people who need the reminder, along with the stationary, envelopes, stamps."

Sure enough, a week later, the mission pledges started pouring in.

A personal note accompanied one contribution which read:

"Dear Pastor Jones,
Thank you for your passionate letter regarding the Mission Fund. My wife and I are very sorry that we have gotten behind on our giving to support missionaries. We apologize deeply, and you will find a check enclosed for the outstanding balance.
Bert Smith

p.s. For future reference, "dirty" on has only one "t" in it, and "skunk" is spelled with a "k."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Good at Talking vs Good at Doing

Seth Godin recently posted an insightful piece concerning the chasm of the new marketing:

The marketing department used to be in charge of talking. Ads are talking. Flyers are talking. Billboards are talking. Trade shows are talking.
Now, of course, marketing can't talk so much, because people can't be easily forced to listen.

So the only option is to be in charge of doing.

Read the whole post here

Makes me wonder how this applies to church.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

At 100

1. Honor the Past without Worshiping It
2. Celebrate the Present without Settling for It.
3. Embrace the Future without Fearing It.

My friend, Mark Gorveatte, shared these thoughts last Sunday at the 100th Anniversary of the Owosso Wesleyan Church in Michigan.

A great reminders for ALL congregations regardless of how old they are.

(I swiped this from his facebook status.)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Will Preach for Food

Out of Ur reported on a sobering Wall Street Journal article on pastoral unemployment:

Unemployed pastors in 2005: 2000
Unemployed pastors in 2007: 3000
Unemployed pastors in 2009: 5000

WSJ article here

The Burden of the Calling

It is easier to serve God without a vision, easier to work for God without a call, because then you are not bothered by what God requires; common sense is your guide, veneered over with Christian sentiment.

You will be more prosperous and successful, more leisure-hearted, if you never realize the call of God.

But if once you receive a commission from Jesus Christ, the memory of what God wants will always come like a goad; you will no longer be able to work for Him on the common-sense basis.

-- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bearing the Beams of Love

“We are put on earth a little space,” said poet, William Blake, “that we may learn to bear the beams of love.”

What does it mean to “bear the beams of love?”

The Risk of Receiving It:

When the light of pure love shines brightly, our natural tendency is to scamper away like frightened mice and hole up in a good hiding place.

Hiding is much safer than loving. You can hide from a distance. If you’re going to love, you have to do that up close. This brings the possibility of pain. Loving and pain are Siamese twins; they’re always connected together.

The beams of love shine the light of truth on any given situation. Sometimes, we don’t want to know the whole truth. It’s too hard for us to accept. By lingering in the shadows, we do not have to face the brutal facts.

Exposing ourselves to beams of love brings a certain vulnerability and risk that many are unwilling to take.

You can hardly live without loving, however. A loveless life leads directly to despair. You might feel “safe” behind cast iron emotional walls – but you will be merely existing and not living.

The Burden of Bearing It.

Though taking liberty with Blake’s intentions, I find a second meaning in the phrase “bear the beams of love.”

This is thinking of them as burdens (logs or planks) rather than brightness(sunbeams.)

We are called to carry the heavy beams of love on our shoulders.

Here’s the truth of the matter: Love requires is to carry the burdens of others. Love is in the lifting! It goes much deeper than feelings of affection and fondness. Personal sacrifice is a part of the package.

“Let us not love with words only” the Bible reminds us, “but with action and with truth.”

Love is inconvenient. If you love people only at the convenience level, you’re not really loving – you’re just using them.

Genuine love is the selfless commitment to the other person’s good.

The beams of love are heavy – but somehow loving makes the lifting lighter. The extra mile doesn’t seem nearly as long when you have the right motivation for the walk.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Great post by my friend, Heath Davis, Why Safe Isn't Enough

Shake It Up!

According to a recent survey conducted by IBM's Institute for Business Values, the primary competency CEO'S value above all others is. . .

Creative Disruption!

Business leaders are looking for people who can
1) Distrupt the status quo
2) Disrupt existing business models
3) Disrupt organizational paralysis

More here in a post by Frank Kern, senior vice president of Global Business Services.

So, how does this apply to the church?

Amena Brown "Be The One"

Amena Brown's monologue at the Chick-fi-A Leadercast

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Missional Potlucks

A great idea from Mount Union Wesleyan Church in Pennsylvania.
Kudos to Pastor Josh Rhone and his missional, small town congregation who really get what Jesus meant when he said, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself."

A Wake Up Call for Butterflies and the Rest of Us

Waken, sleeping butterflies,
Burst your narrow prison!
Spread your golden wings and rise,
For the Lord is risen!

-- Easter Song by Mary A. Lathbury

Your Most Valuable Coin

"Time is the most valuable coin in your life. You and you alone will determine how that coin will be spent. Be careful that you do not let other people spend it for you."
-- Carl Sandburg

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sage Conference

My staff is attending a Church Leadership Conference -- for free! On Wednesday, we'll travel all the way to our church sanctuary, where it's going to be beamed online to the big scren.

The Sage Conference will be held Wednesday, May 19 at 11:00 (central,) concluding about four hours later.

Around 40 well seasoned ministry leaders will answer the question, "What things have you done, that if given the chance, you would have done differently?"

A great resource, for pastors and other church leaders. Register here.
You can't beat the price, the content is excellent, and here in Ojibwe country, the word "sage" has unique connotations.

Don't Let Troubles Trouble You

Don't let troubles trouble you. Problems are opportunities in disguise!

Some of us are blessed with dozens of such opportunities. Perhaps you would like give a few of them to somebody else.

We shouldn't really think it's strange when trials come. That's merely a part of the human condition. Trouble comes to everybody. Jesus Christ, himself, said, "In this world, you WILL have tribulation."

The more responsibility you have, the more difficulty you will encounter. If your life is full of struggles, it means you are doing something right. A wise old bard once said, "You know when you are on the road to success -- it's uphill all the way!"

The other day I thought I would drive to a place in town where there were no troubles. I couldn't go to the hospital -- problems there. I couldn't go to the bank -- problems there. Couldn't go to church either -- problems there. The only place I could find where the people didn't have problems was Greenwood Cemetery! The only way you won't have problems is if you're pushing up daisies!

Problems, then, aren't really problems at all. They're just facts of life. Let's just roll up our sleeves and deal with them.

How do we overcome the troubles when they come, instead of allowing them to overwhelm us?

1. Change Your Vocabulary!
Instead of calling them "problems", why not try "challenges". Instead of marriage problems, you simply have a few marital challenges! Instead of a "problem child", you have a parenting challenge. Instead of 'trouble at work", you have a challenging job! Somehow, it feels better to call them challenges instead of problems. The new term adds a fresh dimension of hope.

2. Get on the Solution Side.
Problems have a tendency to suck us into a negative cycle, draining away our emotional energy and strength. The best course of action is to get on the solution side. Instead of focusing on the problem, start looking for the solution. Any pea brain can point out the things that are wrong. Being a fault-finder is no sign of intelligence. Here's my challenge -- rise above the ordinary! Ordinary people point out the problems. Extraordinary people find the answers! You can find the answer if you are persistent and keep on looking!

3. Consider the Faith Factor.
I.O. + A.G. = U.O. Translated: Impossible Odds plus Almighty God equals an Unbelievable Outcome!

God is bigger than any problem you have! When you have faith, the "tight place" opens into the "right place."

Beware the pathway that has no obstacles. It won't get you anywhere. Nobody has ever coasted to greater heights.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mending Fences

In this wonderful post at Just Call Me Pastor, Bishop Donald Bastian shares some insight given to him as a young minister from great preacher, C. W. Burbank:

During one of my first conversations with him he shared a bit of wisdom. He explained that some ministers are more skilled at mending their fences than others. He meant that when a misunderstanding or even an unintended interpersonal rift developed, such pastors seem to have a knack for restoring trusting relationships.

Others, he went on, leave the gap unaddressed and allow it to take on a certain permanence. If this happens with another family, and then another, Rev. Burbank explained, the misunderstandings accumulate sufficiently to destroy the trust of the congregation as a whole. A wall develops and the minister loses the trust of the congregation and he must move on.

Bishop Bastian goes on to share some thoughts on how to mend the fence here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

"Sunday Morning"

"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

Too Busy

John Frederic Oberlin is widely considered to be one of the most successful small town pastors in history. Ministering at the turn of the 17th Century in the Ban de la Roche, France, he devoted his life to the people in this remote region.

He never wrote a book, nor did he travel and speak outside his parish -- yet, over 100 books have been written about him. An Ohio college (and town) was named after him.

While reading John W. Kurtz's biography, John Frederic Oberlin, I was impressed by Oberlin's predecessor, Pastor Stuber.

Rev. Stuber tilled the garden Oberlin planted. He recruited the young pastor, and served as his mentor.

During Oberlin's first year of ministry, the wise Stuber wrote:

You have an engaging quality that makes you really more capable than I have been, provided that you remain fearless of all except God and that you not allow yourself to be stifled or overwhelmed by a multiplicity of projects. I do want to remind you that one can be turned away from Christianity even by good works.

If you are not on your guard out there, if you do not immerse yourself in God while having so much to do, so much to think about, and so many agreeable and praiseworthy projects before you, then, for lack of inspirational contacts and other encouragements that are more readily found here than in solitude out there, you could gradually grow cold and could fall away from God exactly through that which you are doing for God.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
- Henry Ford

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Plant a Garden

We cannot always choose our setting, situation or circumstance. Our plans and ideas don't always go the way we had hoped.

Life has a funny way of suddenly careening out of control, and putting us in the ditch. One thing I know about the ditch - nobody ever intends to go there. It just happens. (A variation of a popular bumper sticker: "Stuff Happens")

"Bad Luck" often brings with it a sense of despair and pessimism. When the problems pile up, we lose our hope, and find ourselves singing the children's jump-rope rhyme: "Same song, second verse. It ought to get better, but it's gonna get worse."

Whatever happens -- you can make the worst of it, or you can make the best of it. The choice is yours. Wherever you are in life, you can just sit there and complain, or you can start planting a garden.

If you plant, you may not see the results right away. The tiny seeds need time to grow - but they will sprout and bear fruit if you keep the faith alive.

Perhaps your dreams have been shattered. Maybe life has been one big disappointment for you - not at all like you had thought it was going to be.

It could be that you are facing: Financial struggles, poor health, relational difficulties, failure in business, inadequacy and loss.

Here's a question to ponder. Will the situation get better by feeling bad about it? Will anything improve if you operate out of self pity? I don't think so. Problems are like babies - they grow bigger by nursing!

The only way things will get better is if you take positive action. Inaction means no change. The first thing to change is your mental attitude. Focus on what you have left, rather than what you have lost. Think about your blessings instead of your troubles. Spend your energy on what can be done rather than what can't. Reflect on the good instead of the bad.

Whatever your lot in life - plant a garden!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Shooting Lessons

Best Option = Ready, Aim, Fire!

Second Best Option = Ready, Fire, Aim!

Second Worst Option = Ready or Not, Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!

Worst Option = Ready, Ready, Ready, Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim

Monday, May 10, 2010

We Dropped the Vase

"Mom, remember that beautiful vase that has been passed down through our family from one generation to another?" Larry wondered.

"Yes, darling, it's very precious to me.", his mother replied, "Why do you ask?"

"Because this generation dropped it!"

As I look at what's happening across our land, I can't help but conclude that this generation of parents has "dropped the vase."

We have dropped the vase of moral values. "What feels right" has replaced "What IS right".

We have dropped the vase of authentic spirituality. We substitute busy religious activity for a vibrant and genuine relationship with Christ. Then, we wonder why our children don't seem enthused about spiritual matters.

We have dropped the vase of responsibility. When things go wrong, the first reaction is to hide from and/or blame others. It must be someone else's fault.

We have dropped the vase of industry -- hard work. Today's emphasis on amusements have deprived the rising generation the noble satisfaction of completing a good day's work.

We have dropped the vase of grand ideas. Brains shrivel when they're not stretched. Television and video games are mind shrinkers! Instead of reading excellent literature, we plop on the couch or stare at a screen like zombies.

We have dropped the vase of wonder. Lives stuffed with trivia leave little room for exploration. How sad to see folks slouch through an existence of mere electronic adventures. Life was meant to LIVE. It is not a spectator sport!

We have dropped the vase of discipline. Unlike the generations that have come before us, we are a "soft" people. We do not know how to endure hardship because we have never really had it. This softness leads to a lack of self discipline in most areas of life.

Once the vase is dropped, how can we put it back together again?

We can use spiritual super glue! God can rectify what we have wrecked!

Let's take a look at the G.L.U.E. that can put the next generation together:
G -- Good decisions based on timeless biblical principles.
L -- Love expressed by selfless servanthood rather than selfish demands.
U -- Unity built on truth rather than the lowest common denominator.
E -- Endurance fueled by the quest for self improvement.

Lives built on eternal values will stand the test of time and situation. The further away we get from these values, the more prone we are to live below our best potential. As every archer knows, error increases with distance.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Important Mother's Day Lesson

Never irritate a woman who can operate a backhoe!
(special thanks to sister in law, Sandy, for sending this along to me.)

Friday, May 07, 2010


A summer visitor to our church wrote this poem about our church after her visit last June. She recently sent it to me, and it was truly an encouragement. Thanks Jeannie!


Take me to a country church
on a clear blue day in June
where smiling strangers shake your hand
overwhelm you with grace.

Let there be a young man
strumming on a guitar
his voice strong
and scrubbed clean.

Let there be children
small enough to fit
in the laps of their fathers
resting their heads on his chest.

Let there be truth
spoken plainly, gently
about simple devotion to a gracious God
mercy and peace pouring in waves.

Let joy fill the sanctuary
and overflow out of open windows
to where angels inhale the sweet aroma
and dance in the light.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Why God Made Moms

A class of second graders was asked why God made Moms. One little girl replied, "She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is!"