Posts

Showing posts from July, 2010

A Prayer for Further Grace

O God, I have tasted Your goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more.

I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace.

I am ashamed of my lack of desire, O God, the Triune God, I want to want You;

I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still.

Show me Your glory, I pray, so that I may know You indeed.

Begin in Your mercy a new work of love within me.

Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’

Then give me grace to rise and follow You up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.


A.W.Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Twitter Disciples

Image

How Committed Are You?

Art Erickson recently posed this challenging question:

Am I a follower of Jesus Christ? If I am, what is my commitment: 100%, 50%, or 10%?

50% and 10% Folks Want:
A safe neighborhood, a nice marriage, kids who behave, a good church, and good retirement benefits. Choose what is acceptable rather than what is right. Are moved by stories about the oppressed and the neglected… but do nothing. God is a part of their lives… but only a part (a small, controlled, and self-determined part). Will serve God… “But there are limits you know”. Hardly, if ever, share their faith with family, friends, neighbors or fellow workers. Hang with the rich… Do not hang with the poor To live by faith, but their lives are so structured that they never have to because they:

Have a savings account
Retirement plan in place
Full refrigerators
Good health mostly
Have their lives figured out and planned
Think more about this world than the next one.



100% Folks Want:
To serve and glorify God. Are not motivated by ego nor out to…

The Greatest Event in Human History

Image
On July 29 1971, James Irwin accomplished something extraordinary, which hardly anybody in history in history has ever done. Every little boy and girl dreams of it – but very, very, few have actually experienced it.

Care to venture a guess as to what James Irwin did that day? He was the first guy to drive on the moon! I remember, as a child, watching it on black and white television, although I also recall fidgeting a lot. It took a loooong time before the action started.

As the commander of Apollo 15, Irwin had the privilege blasting off to the moon and driving the first Lunar Rover – sort of like a four wheel drive dune buggy. Va-room!

Can you imagine what that must have been like? No traffic jams! No parking problems on Main Street! No stop signs! No pesky pedestrians! No patrol officers! It must have been a blast! Someday, they’ll probably dub Jim Irwin the “Patron Saint of Four Wheelers.”

While on that historic mission, Irwin said that he had never felt so close to God. Experiencing …

Sing It!

If you're going to go to all the trouble of learning the song and performing it -- then SING IT! Sing it loud. Sing it with feeling and like you mean it!
-- Seth Godin, Linchpin (p. 197)

And to preachers, I'll add -- Make it sing! Preach it like you mean it!

These are the Good Old Days

The past is a nice place to visit from time to time -- but it's a terrible place to live.

Sometimes, we see a television show or visit a museum exhibit showing life a couple hundred years ago. Perhaps, you've thought, "Those were the good old days! I wish we could go back and live like that."

I don't think you really do.

A couple hundred years ago the life expectancy was 38 years, the average work week was 72 hours, and the median annual income was $300.

Cholera, typhoid and yellow fever were common. For instance, one out of five people in Philadelphia in 1793 died from these diseases.

Many women died in childbirth, and the flu also claimed the lives of many. Almost every home experienced the sorrow of losing a child.

No indoor plumbing, no refrigerators, no microwaves, no soft mattresses, no electric heat, no lights, no cars, no tv, no computers, no recorded music, no tupperware, no plastic, no power tools, no soft drinks, no cheeseburgers.

Everybody milked their own c…

Church Unity

“Church unity comes from corporate humility.”

-- Leonard Ravenhill

Finding the Beautiful

"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

But By the Grace of God

Image
A harried pastor, late for a budget committee meeting, rushed anxiously across the parking lot. With briefcase clutched in a vice-like grip, he charged forward -- the heavy load of stress etching his face into a disagreeable scowl.

A homeless man, huddled near the front door of the church, lifted his shabby head as he saw the preacher coming. He raised a crusty eyebrow towards heaven and declared,

"There, but by the grace of God, go I."

Contrary Winds

Image
An old farmer placed a weather vane on the roof of his barn with the words “God is Love” painted on it.

His neighbor commented, “Doesn’t your weather vane indicate that God’s love is fickle? That it blows one way and then another?”
To this, the old farmer replied, “No, it means that ‘God is Love’ no matter which way the wind blows!”

Nahum 1:3 says “The Lord has his way in the whirlwind and the clouds are the dust of his feet.” Well, we certainly had some divine foot dust last week in Hayward! We lost most of the majestic old pines in front of our church. The winds also caused some damage at my home, though it is rather insignificant, compared with what a few of our neighbors have experienced. Our hearts and prayers go out to them.

The clean-up effort is in full swing.

Last Thursday, after a long day of clearing debris, I thought, “How long will it take until we get back to normal?” Then I realized we won’t. Normal is not something you can go BACK to – you have to move forward to a new norm…

Pastor Rick Warren's Eyes Burned By Firestick Plant

Image
Here's his account of the incident:
Monday morning (my day off) I was cutting back a huge African Fire Stick plant in my yard (a smaller version is pictured below.) Even though I was wearing gloves, I somehow later accidentally got some of the toxic sap on my hands and then in my eyes. The resin is quite corrosive and burned both of my eyes. In excruciating pain, Kay called 911 paramedics who rushed me to a hospital. For the next four hours, doctors irrigated my blistered eyes with 14 liters of saline solution to flush out the poison and ease the pain. I’d have to say, I had no idea that eye burns are so painful! I was kept overnight so I could be given shots of Dilaudid and Morphine, plus Percocet, numbing drops, and several eye meds. A doctor inserted protective contact lenses to aid in healing the scarred tissue. He told me he expects a full recovery of my vision and each day it has improved.

Great Blog

I think you will enjoy the new blog created by my good friend, and co-worker, Jeremy Mavis. He's the pastor to children and families at Hayward Wesleyan Church.

Stop in a pay him a visit!

Missed Opportunities

How shall I feel at the judgement, if multitudes of missed opportunities pass before me in full review, and all my excuses prove to be disguises of my cowardice and pride?

-- Dr. W. E. Sangster

Gary's Trip to Alaska

My friend, Gary Petrich, blogged about his recent trip to Alaska. Makes me want to go fish there!

Teflon Coated Christians

Image
Kyle Ray, senior pastor of Kentwood Community Church, recently wrote this thought provoking piece for his congregation. With his gracious permission, I am passing it along to my readers at Revitalize Your Church.

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:1-5)

Jesus reminds his listeners that apart from him they can do nothing. Connectedness leads to fruitfulness. Connectedness to the vine leads to fruitfulness in the kingdom. After Jesus describes that God cuts off fruitle…

What Search Committees Are Looking for in a Pastor

A few years ago, Pulpit & Pew Research on Pastoral Leadership shared a fascinating report: "What do Lay People Want in Pastors?"

Demonstrated competence and religious authenticity.
Search committees want pastors who have the ability to do the work required and a genuine religious life that brings together both "head and heart."

Good preacher and leader of worship.
Regional leaders and lay leaders differ regarding what constitutes good preaching. Lay leaders generally care less than judicatory officials whether the sermon reflects careful scholarship and organization and are concerned instead that it relates to their own life and engages them personally.

Strong spiritual leader.
Lay leaders want a pastor with a deep commitment to religious beliefs and an ability to inspire spirituality in others. But many judicatory executives regard this as problematic because of the difficulty of determining who will be a good spiritual leader for a particular congregation.

Commitmen…

Detours

Image
Life's little detours are only temporary.
-- Susan Pearson

Keetha's Stuff

My friend, Keetha, blogged about her recent vacation to Hayward -- including some great pictures of our little resort town -- and a few shots of the storm damage at Hayward Wesleyan Church.

Who Speaks for You?

John Ortberg wrote a fascinating piece at Leadership Journal about the growing diversity within the evangelical ranks: Who Speaks for You?

So who does speak for evangelicals? We produce diverse voices: Jim Packer; Jim Bakker; Jimmy Draper, Jimmy Swaggart, James Kennedy, Jim Wallis, Jim Dobson—the Jim's alone will make your head spin.

How to Implement New Ideas

"Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous patience."
-- Hyman Rickover, Admiral

(Special thanks to my friend, Steve Gerich for sharing this quote with me.)

Contrary Winds

Image

How to Implement New Ideas

"Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous patience."
-- Hyman Rickover, Admiral
(Special thanks to my friend, Steve Gerich for sharing this quote with me.)

Rushing Mighty Wind

Image
Yesterday morning, tornado-like winds swept through our community, snapping trees like toothpicks. We lost a lot of trees, and our house sustained some damage, but fortunately, nobody was harmed. My friends, Pat and Terry Cross took this photo while we were clearing debris. We hauled away seventeen truckloads before the day was through. Our house used to be nestled away behind a protective grove of trees. Now, as you can see in the photo, we now have a clear view -- all the way to the church (1/2 mile away.) Ironically, the only tree in the line left standing tall was a dead Charlie Brown jack pine! Another funny thing is that our pop-up camper in the side yard was totally unscathed. Next time the warning comes, we'll run to the camper! Channel Six News interviewed Cathy and me. Cathy did beautifully. I felt like Mr. Magoo -- but here's link to the news report. Puts a new perspective on Acts 2, when it speaks about the Holy Spirit coming as a rushing mighty wind!

Relationships

Relationship cannot be sought as an end in itself. If it is, it smothers us and destroys us. Relationship is a byproduct of a journey shared between those seeking the same goal, between those who eat the same bread and drink from the same cup.

-- Richard Rohr

Power in Ministry

There's power in ministry when the preaching comes from the praying and the leading comes from the loving.

Troubled?

Have problems? If so, you're certainly in good company. Life is loaded with them! Everybody has their share.

Troubles are simply a part of living. It's a package deal. You have to accept the bad along with the good.

Some folks think they should be excused from problems. Whenever a difficulty arises, they whine and complain about how unfair life is to them. These poor "victims" are swamped in the mire of their own misery.

Instead of griping about a difficult situation, wouldn't it be better to face it boldly with a commitment to make things better? You can cry till the cows come home, and that won't fix the situation one bit. It takes courage to buckle down and face the truth.

I do not know why heavy hardships are a part of life's package. I don't have pat answers for the difficult and perplexing questions of life.

However, I do know that our struggles will make us grow, if we maintain the right attitude.

1. Trouble teaches us wisdom.


There is no such thing …

Everyday Transformation

Have your heart right with Christ, and He will visit you often,
and so turn weekdays into Sundays,
meals into sacraments,
homes into temples,
and earth into heaven.

--Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Beware of Denominational Business Meetings in Minneapolis

A Child Shall Lead Them

"You get the children and the parents are pretty apt to follow."
-- D. L. Moody

Most Popular Religion

Pastoral Free Agency

Image
You don’t need to be a fan of professional basketball to have heard talk this week about free agents. Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, among others, are all contemplating changing teams in a quest for championship rings (and dollars).

Building short-term dream teams to win championships may be an effective strategy for winning championships in the NBA, but churches rarely become more effective when pastors keep changing, moving in and out like free agents of the church.

The truth is pastoral longevity is one of the untold secrets of church health. My experience is this –

A long pastorate does not guarantee a church will grow, but changing pastors every few years guarantees a church won’t grow.

-- Rich Warren (Pastor's Toolbox) More here.

Running or Managing?

Set Godin shared an insightful post on the difference between running and managing a project.

Would you rather hire, a manager or a runner?

A Day at the Beach

Image
A day at the beach in Daying County in Sichuan, China. I guess I won't gripe any longer about crowded conditions at Hayward's water holes.

Resurrection Sunday!

Image

Go Fish!

Image
The other day, while casting a line, I began to think about how fishing and discovering opportunities are alike.

If you want to "land" a few golden opportunities -- you have to go fishing! Whether at home, work, church, or civic organization -- you can catch a few golden opportunities, if you apply certain laws of fishing.

1. Go where they are.
Nobody has ever caught a fish in the bathtub or the backyard wading pool -- and you won't catch opportunities by waiting around for them to come to you. The chances of catching a fish increase greatly when you go fishing. How much energy and time are you investing in future possibilities? How often do you look for the opportunities around you? Where do you want to go in life? Does the path you are currently following lead to that destination?

2. Keep your eyes open. Good fishermen are always watching for signs of a hungry fish. Often, a causual observer will not even notice -- but an angler will see the slightest indication. When fis…

Out In Front

Une Nation Under God

A link to Jon McNaughton's painting, One Nation Under God, with a descriptiopn of each person included.

I Was a Wesleyan and You Took Me In

Image
My friend, Josh Johnson, pastor of Hope Wesleyan Church, in Fowler, Indiana recently shared a heartwarming which demonstrates what Christian fellowship should look like.

When their church experienced significant flood damage last week, another congregation in town, First Presbyterian Church, opened of their doors, and took them in.
Both congregations will meet at the Presbyterian Church until the necessary repairs are made to the Wesleyan facility.
This kind gensture made the news, serving as a beautiful witness to the entire community.

Validation

A Quick Way to Meet Jesus

Image

How NOT to Recognize Religious Freedom Day

Wisdom from Will Rogers

Image
1. Never slap a man who's chewing tobacco.
2. Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.

3. There are two theories to arguing with a woman . . Neither works.

4. Never miss a good chance to shut up.

5. Always drink upstream from the herd.

6. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

7. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it back into your pocket.

8. There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves.

9. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

10. If you're riding' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there.

11. Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier'n puttin' it back.

12. After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: When you're full …