Showing posts from November, 2010

March to the Manger

A Note to Hayward Wesleyan Church Family:
On December 19, we're going to hold our second annual March to the Manger at Hayward Wesleyan Church.

We will have a living nativity with Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, shepherds, wise men bearing gifts -- and then the whole church family will join the story by bringing our gifts to Jesus.

Every man, woman, boy and girl is encouraged to participate!

What is your Christmas gift to Jesus? A spiritual commitment? An act of loving service? Canned food for the needy? A financial gift? A letter expressing your heart? Something you made with your hands?

Wrap it up, and bring it to church on Sunday, December 19 8:20, 9:40 or 11:00 a.m.

Hallelujah Chorus @ a Mall Food Court


Dance it Today

"Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future; faith is the courage to dance to it today."
~Peter Kuzmic

Build a Retaining Wall

To retain the grace of God is much more than to gain it; scarcely one in three does this, and this should be strongly urged on all who have tasted of Perfect Love.
-- John Wesley

Thanksgiving Song

Ten Reasons to Give Thanks

An insightful post from my friend, Jim Watkins:  Top Ten Reasons to Give Thanks When You Think You Don't Have Any.

One Baked Turkey


Which Did God Believe?

A little girl listened intently as her father asked the blessing as usual for the morning meal. He thanked the Lord for the things God had so bountifully provided. Immediately after praying, however, he began to complain. He grumbled about the hard times. He griped about the quality of the food. He criticized the way it had been cooked.

Finally, the little girl interrupted him. “Daddy, do you suppose God heard what you said a little while ago when you prayed such a nice prayer?”

“Certainly.” Her father lifted his chin with the confident air of one who possesses superior knowledge.

“Do you think he also heard what you said about the bacon and the coffee?”

He stopped chewing and paused, with fork in mid-air between his plate and his mouth. He stared at his daughter as if trying to read her mind. He dropped his gaze and cleared his throat. “Yes, of course, he did.”

“Then, Daddy, which did God believe?”

(HT Ron McClung)

The Hunt Is On


On This Day in Christian History

Recently, I found a preacher's gold mine --  Robert J. Morgan'sOn This Day in Christian History.
It's a compilation of inspiring faith stories from Christian history presented as daily devotionals.
When I teach Church History courses, I always launch the first session with "Without the 'story', history is just 'hiss.'  In high school and college, teachers often missed the point, taking us from "hiss" to "hiss" without engaging in the story.
On This Day in Christian History is a collection of stories with no "hiss'!

Drawing from multiple wells (Catholic, Evangelical, Holiness, Fundamentalist, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Missionaries, Monastaries and Seminaries) Morgan presents biographical sketches of saints and spiritual heroes who stand as models of sacrifice, love, courage, faith and Christian character.

Several of his tales made me want to dig deeper, to learn more (a great source for that is Google Books)

It's an outstandin…

Marriage Obsolete?

News reports this week told of a recent poll indicated that a growing percentage of Americans (39%) believe the institution of marriage is obsolete.

Hold your horses!  A deeper look reveals another picture, as reported by the Christian Post.

I'm reminded of Mark Twain's comment, "Reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated."

Building a Marriage that Lasts

A report from the Family Research Institute on the State of Marriage in Wisconsin reported that 70% of people believe that the institution of marriage is weaker than it was 20 years ago. Statistics prove the case. In the 1930's, 1 out of 7 marriages ended in divorce. In the 1960's it was 1 out of 4. This year, it is predicted that at least half of the marriages will not survive. Each year, more than 200,000 new marriages end prior to the second anniversary. Around half of recently married couples expressed doubts as to whether their marriage union will last. 49% of these reported serious marriage problems.

What can be done to stem the tide and turn marriage back around? How can we build marriages that last?

The first step to building stronger marriages is to start the relationship on the right foot.

Most ministers in our community require extensive pre-marital counseling. Although some couples seem to view this as an annoyance -- it is vital to building a positive foundation fo…

77 Hours a Week

My good friend and co-laborer, Jeremy Mavis, recently shared a profound insight on the importance of investing time in our children.  A real eye opener.  Read his post here.

Stress Busters

Just in case you're in the "pressure cooker", here are a few stress busters. Take one or two as needed.
1) You can accomplish big things only when you can say "no" to little things.
2) When you've done all you can -- let it go.
3) Not much is worth worrying about. Worry selectively.
4) It’s not what you do, but what doesn’t get done that drains you.
5) An ounce of action is worth a ton of worry.
6) Most of the things we worry about never come true.
7) Live on purpose! Set priorities and use them to chart your course.
8) God is bigger than any problem you have.
9) It's not the big job, but the little worries that drain our energy.
10) Refuse to allow fear to direct your life.
11) Relax. Don't sweat the small stuff.
12) Problems will come. You can't avoid them. The real you "shows through" when the pressure is on.
13) Life goes on.
14) Look for the joyful surprises -- the postcards from heaven -- in every day. They are there, but you mus…

Myanmar Christian Fellowship Anniversary

Congratulations to Myanmar Christian Fellowship of Milwaukee, who celebrated their one year anniversay last Sunday!

In August of 2009, by divine appointment, I gave Dr. Thuam Khai a ride from Indiana to O'Hare Airport in Chicago.  Journeying together, he shared his vision of organizing a small group of Burmese refugees in Milwaukee into a Wesleyan Church.

Returning home, I contacted our District Superintendent, Dan Bickel, who  immediately followed through and helped launch the work under the fine leadership of Dr. Khai and Rev. Richard Concklin (who doesn't know the Burmese language, but certainly loves the people, and makes his point through an interpreter.)

I was honored to visit the Burmese Bible College in Syracuse, New York last spring, and to share a meal with the dear brothers and sisters who "mothered" our Burmese work in Wisconsin.  It's truly extraordinary and apostolic.

A Nazarene Wesleyan Call for Immigration Reform

My friend, Dr. Norman Wilson, recently informed me of an open letter to President Obama from Nazarene and Wesleyan leaders regarding the pressing need for comprehensive immigration reform.  The list of signatories and information on how to add your name to this document can be obtained at Norman's blog, Evangelicals and Illegal Immigrants.
An Open Letter To President Obama, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate:

As denominational leaders, pastors of churches, and lay leaders in the Nazarene and Wesleyan denominations, we express to you our deep concern over the broken immigration system facing our nation. Because of Congress’s failure to pass immigration reform in the last several years, we have seen this debate spill over into states in ways that may divide our communities, confuse enforcement procedures and contribute to the hateful rhetoric, which is currently dominating the national dialogue.
The United States is home to immigrants of all backgrounds – Hispanic,…

Thankful in the Cold

Alexander Whyte, the Scottish preacher, always began every prayer with praise. One brutally cold Sunday, his people filed into the church, wondering what the preacher could possibly find to praise God for on such a miserable day. Alexander Whyte stood, bowed his head and prayed,
"O Lord, we thank Thee that it is not always like this."

A Blessing for Deer Hunters

May the Lord God make you an honorable hunter who respects his fellow hunters, the animals, the land, and all creation.

May He keep you safe, and all who share the forest and field.

May He make all hunters proud of their kill, gracious with their meat, and thankful in all circumstances.

May God bless you: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Amen  (adapted from Blessing of the Hunters by Fr. Mitch Pacwa)

A Prayer from Oswald of Northumbria

All that I am, Lord,
I place into your hands.

All that I do, Lord,
I place into your hands.

Everything I work for
I place into your hands.

Everything I hope for
I place into your hands.

The troubles that weary me
I place into your hands.

The thoughts that disturb me
I place into your hands.

Each that I pray for
I place into your hands.

Each that I care for
I place into your hands. . .

Keep me close to you, Lord.

Keep me close to you.
I lift my hands to you, Lord,
I lift them up to you.

Hands, Lord, Your gift to us,
We stretch them up to You.
Always You hold us.

Help me to find my happiness
in my acceptance of what is Your will for me
in friendly eyes, in work well done,

in quietness born of trust, and most of all,
in the awareness of Your presence in my spirit.

-- Oswald of Northumbria (605-642)

One Thirsty Person to Another

One Thirsty Person to Another is an outstanding blog, from my friend, Greg Teegarden.  As the director of the Wesleyan Church Archives,  Greg been tremendously helpful in my historical quests!

Stop by and pay him a visit!

Prayer of St. Ephraim

O Lord and Master of my life, give me not a spirit of sloth, of despondency, of lost or of vain talking; but bestow on me, thy servant, a spirit of chastity, of humility, of patience and love.

You, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages. Amen
-- St. Ephraim

Computer Break

Immediately after church on Sunday, I'm flying to South Carolina teaching FLAME (Ministerial Preparation) Courses in South Carolina, and will take a break from blogging , e-mails, facebook, etc. until my return.

Trouble Gets Around

"A person never knows how trouble gets around the way it does, but it manages to keep most people occupied."
- R. Wiebe

A Franciscan Benediction

I shared the following benediction last Sunday, which was given to me by my friend, Dana Jalovick:

May God bless us with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships
So that we may live from deep within our hearts.

May God bless us with anger
At injustice, oppression and exploitation of God's creations
So that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless us with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war,
So that we may reach out our hands to comfort them and
To turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless us with just enough foolishness
To believe that we can make a difference in the world,
So that we can do what others claim cannot be done:
To bring justice and kindness to all our children
And all our neighbors who are poor.


Your Secret Name

Kary Oberbrunner has written a new book called Your Secret Name.  (I discovered this via an interview with Ed Stetzer.)

You have three names, Oberbrunner asserts:
1.  Birth Name -- The name assigned to you when you arrived in this world.
2.  Given Name --  The names you inherit while walking in this world.
3.  Secret Name -- The name granted to you by the one who made you.

Now, ready for a treasure?   Here's a powerful little test on the Secret Name website, which gives clarity to the names you've inherited -- and what God's secret name for you might be.  Awesome stuff!!

Simple Trust

Be still my soul! The Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still my soul! Thy best. thy heavenly friend
Thro' thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

(Romans 8:28 -- ALL means ALL)


Obituary for Someone Else

A few years ago, Pastor Alan Newton wrote this tongue in cheek obituary for one of the most valuable members of his congregation, “Someone Else.” This is appropriately fitting, not only for churches, but also communities, schools, businesses, civic organizations and families:
Dear Friends, I know all of you were saddened to learn this week of the death of one our church’s most valuable members – Someone Else. Someone’s passing created a vacancy that will be difficult to fill. Else has been with us for many years, and for every one of those years Someone did far more than the normal person’s share of the work.
Whenever leadership was mentioned, this wonderful person was looked to for inspiration as well as results. Someone Else can work with that group. Whenever there was a job to do, a class to teach, or a meeting to attend, one name was on everyone’s lips, “Let Someone Else do it.”

It was common knowledge that Someone Else was among the largest contributors to the church. Whenever there …