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Showing posts from February, 2010

Two Dozen Symptoms of Insanity

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1) Trying to talk your way out of a problem you behaved your way into.

2) Believing that your situation will get better, but refusing to make changes.

3) Blaming others for your failures and shortcomings.

4) Neglecting the important priorities (God, family, personal health), while chasing after trivia.

5) Thinking you won't get caught when you do something wrong.

6) Lying to "make things better". (You can cover up a skunk, but it still smells!)

7) Hoping money will buy happiness.

8) Procrastination (Putting off the important matters because of the "urgent".)

9) Trying to please everybody.

10) Self-centeredness (The world doesn't revolve around you.)

11) Thinking another person will make you happy.

12) Expecting your children to follow your orders rather than your example.

13) Falling into a pattern of complaint, criticism and negativity. (Gratitude is an important aspect of mental and spiritual health.)

14) Thinking you can fix a problem by yelling.

15) Thinking a big pr…

Birkie Day

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10,000 cross country skiers have converged on our little village to ski the great American Birkebeiner. The Birkie is a 51 km (32 mi) race from Cable to Hayward, ending on our snow covered main street.
My job: Ring cow bells at the finish line.

Engaging Younger Donors in Missions Giving

I've been giving some thought to how we can help the younger people in our church engage more passionately in global missions. Here are a few of my observations:
Younger Donors give to Specific Issues rather than Programs or Fields.
Issues close to the hearts of younger donors: Clean drinking water for a village
b. Hunger
c. Human Trafficking
d. Aids Orphans
e. Missional Church Planting
f. Justice issues – persecuted church
g. Tragedy – such as Haiti
h. Micro-loans
Younger Donors are more likely to give BY project – for issues.
a. i.e. Benefit concert
b. 30 Hour Famine
c. Ski for a cause
Young Donors give relationally. How can we build relationships between the missionaries – our mission faith promise – and the young donors?
Images speak louder than words to Young Donors.
Young Donors give when they know their gift will really make a difference for a specific person.
a. i.e. youth group “adopts” an orphan
b. when they really know the missionary
Young Donors give electronically. Web site, facebo…

At What Price?

Reading this morning in 1 Kings 16, about Hiel of Bethel who rebuilt Jericho -- a tremendous accomplishment -- but at what price?

v 34 -- "He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son, Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son, Segub."

He sacrificed his family on the altar of success.

Charismatic Leadership

"In ministry, charismatic leaders are often the church planters who dream of reaching a city for Christ and building a great church. But charismatic leaders also include the more mature pastors who dare a church in decline to dream again, recover its past glory, and build beyond its heritage."

- The Good Book on Leadership

Check Out Margaret's Blog

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Hey everybody, stop in at Margaret Bossow's new blog, Becoming a Minister, and give her a welcome.
Margaret, a member of our congregation, is a real dynamo for God who gives herself away in service for God and others. I admire her willingness to follow the call, wherever it may lead.

My Times Are In His Hands All Day Long

Last spring, I found myself having one of those difficult days. Many issues clamored for my attention, my schedule was packed full of appointments, and my energy level was low. The needs around me seemed overwhelming, the phone rang off the hook, at least a half dozen people were upset with me about something, and I had a headache.

Realizing that I had not yet had my quiet time with God, I decided to escape from the office for a little while and find a place for solitude. A long time ago, I learned that if my soul is not anchored, I’m not much good for anybody.

I drove to a beautiful lake, and spent some time centering my mind on my Creator. It seemed as if my Heavenly Father was speaking his love, strength and peace to my troubled heart.

I opened my Bible and found this wonderful verse, “My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:15.)

What a wonderful thought! All my times are in God’s hands.

My good times,
My bad times,
My glad times,
My sad times,
My stressed times,
My rest times
My best times – t…

Training for Godliness

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In light of the Winter Olympic Games, I really appreciate Pat Hannon's insights in this recent post:
Training for Godliness

Kairos Journal

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It was a joy to have our District Superintendent Dan Bickel with us in Hayward this past weekend. Dan gave an inspiring sermon which challenged and encouraged us all. Not only is Pastor Dan an excellent speaker and leader, but he is also a top notch pirate! Here is Pirate Dan chumming around with First Mate Scurvy Luke. Shiver me timbers! Seriously, Pastor Dan recently shared a great ministry website with me: Kairos Journal. The purpose of this timely resource is to " embolden, educate, equip, and support pastors and church leaders as they strive to transform the moral conscience of the culture and restore the prophetic voice of the Church. "

Peace, Gratitude, Victory, Hope

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"Peace, Gratitude, Victory, Hope."
These were the last words of the world's oldest pastor, Tsuneharu Oshima, of Japan, age 101, who died last weekend. He served 74 years in active ministry, up to the time of his departure.
Well done, thou good and faithful servant -- also, well said!

A Little Church with a Big Welcome

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Here are some pictures from Woodland Wesleyan's Valentine Luau -- complete with coconut shrimp! Kudos to Pastor Andi and Ron Wittwer, along with their leadership team for a job well done!


Focus, Focus, Focus

“the number one cause of failure in the private sector is lack of focus, and the first rule of turning around any troubled enterprise is focus, focus, focus.”

-- Mitt Romney in his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference

I'm not posting this for any political reasons whatsoever, but thought the statement from Romney was intriguing.

Is lack of focus the number one cause of failure in the church? Is the first rule of turning around a troubled church focus, focus, focus?

If so, what should that focus be?

Christian Consumerism

An outstanding post by Brian Mosley: 5 Reasons We are Outsourcing our Faith

We live in an extremely consumer-driven culture that tells us that the customer is number one. The customer is always right. I can have it my way. I deserve the best. This consumerism has crept into the church and turned church members into customers. The church exists to serve me and my family.

Mosley goes on to address the following questions:
1) How did we get here?
2) How do you and I turn things around?

The Missional Bishop

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While working on my book, I did a google search trying to discover the first time the word "missional" was used.

Thanks to the Tall Skinny Kiwi -- Andrew Jones, who directed me to this line in The Heroes of African Discovery and Adventure written by C. E. Bourne and published in 1883:
"Bishop Tozer, the Missional Bishop of Central Africa"
(Link to the page via google books -- my favorite source for old book research.)
I guess the good Rev. N. T. Wright isn't the first Missional Bishop after all.

"Bunsen, My Flame!"

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A small piece of ice which lived in a test tube fell in love with a Bunsen burner. "Bunsen! my flame! I melt whenever I see you" said the ice. The Bunsen burner replied :"It's just a phase you're going through". (Found this treasure on my daughter in law's facebook status. Thanks Allegra!)

Yesterday's Praise

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Yesterday, my daughter, Hannah, helped me burn palm branches to make ashes for today's Ash Wednesday Service.
The dry, brittle palm branches have been stashed away in my filing cabinet since last Easter, awaiting their fate.
Palm Sunday praises fade to ashes. We can't rely on yesterday's praise. How is it with your soul -- today? That's the big question.
As John Wesley asked, "Are you being saved today?"
It's appropriate that the Lenten journey begins with ashes -- honesty -- humility -- earthing -- repentance.
"Remember, o man, that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return."

Summer's on the Way

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Summer's almost here! We can now see the deer moving around. Yep, it won't be long now! (Thanks to my sister in law, Sandy, for sending this to me.)

New Church Report

Here's a wonderful resource The New Church Report: Collecting Thoughts and Inspiring Action.

Kudos to my blogger buddy, Chuck Warnock for creating this fabulous site!

Welcome to Hazelton -- Now Go Home

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Florida family gives up on Small North Dakota Town

Michael and Jeanette Tristani are moving back to Miami, after giving rural Hazelton, North Dakota a whirl.

During their four exile to Siberia, they never did figure out how to fit in.

It's been quite an experience, 50-50 at best," Tristani said. "It hasn't been easy. No one really wants new people here."

Not everybody can hack it in a smalll town. It takes a good dose of time, patience and adaptability.

It was about four years after moving to Hayward from southern California before I began to feel like I belonged -- and that was only after a few funerals, ice fishing, coffee at the Co-op, and hunting.

When in Hazelton, do as the Hazeltoners do.

The village don't adust to the newcomers. The newcomer must adjust to the village in order to survive it.

There is one exception to this rule. Perhaps, a vibrant small town-rural church could help with this transition -- creating the open and welcoming space for newcomers, an…

Great Rural Church Blog

I was delighted to discover Tennessee Rural Church. It's a great blog geared for rural Baptist congregations in Tennessee.

There are lots of interesting and helpful posts -- even if you're neither Baptist nor from Tennessee.

Holy Kiss

As it was Valentine's Day, the ushers gave the congregation a holy kiss on the way out the door.

A Marriage Prayer

Lord, help us remember when we first met and the strong Love that grew between us.
To work that Love into practical things so nothing can divide us.
We ask for words both kind and loving, and for hearts always ready to ask for forgiveness as well as to forgive.

Dear Lord, we put our marriage into your hands.
We pray this Marriage Prayer in the name of Jesus Christ,
- AMEN
(Prayer for Marriage)

Three Recent Reads

Three fairly new books I've read recently:

1) Crazy for God by Frank Schaeffer
Mostly sour grapes, with a few sweet grapes intermingled.

2) Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
Eulogy preparation interviews with a joyful and enthusiastic rabbi

3) Ford County Stories by John Grisham
My next to least favorite of Grisham's works. He really should stick with his strength (legal thrillers)

Loving Your Nearest Neighbor

Recently, in church, I’ve been preaching on the Great Commandment, which is love in two parts:
1. “Love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength.”
2. “Love your neighbor as yourself.”


It’s interesting that this is called the Great Commandment, because by its very nature, love cannot be commanded. How can force another person to love? The threat of force normally accompanies a command:

“Stop, in the name of the Law!”
“Quit whining or I’ll give you something to whine about!”
“If you don’t come to work on time tomorrow, you’re fired!”

Commanding and loving just don’t fit together at all. If someone declares, “You HAVE to love me or else!” or “I DEMAND that you love me!”, it pushes the other person the opposite direction. Authentic love is never commanded or demanded.

In light of this, there is only one way “The Great Commandment” makes sense. It happens through divine personal demonstration.

The only way love can be commanded is through the example of overwhelmi…

My316.com

My316.com is a wonderful new resource for sharing the Gospel.

It's an online community of people who are taking it personally!

Winter Olympics

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If they held the Winter Olympics in Hayward, they wouldn't have to import any snow.

Confused Quotes

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If crime went down 100%, it would still be 50 times higher than it should be. ~Washington, D.C. councilman John Bowman

The doctors x-rayed my head and found nothing ~Dizzy Dean, baseball star
Most of our future lies ahead ~Harry Truman
I have opinions of my own, strong opinions, but I don't always agree with them ~George Bush, Sr.
Things are more like they are now than they've ever been ~Gerald Ford
Every man loves his native land, whether he was born there or not ~Thomas Fitch, author.
I'm always open to honest criticism from you judgmental creeps ~Robert Altman, film director on critics
I hate intolerant people ~Gloria Steinem
HT Steve Camp. More Confused Quotes Here

It Froze Over!

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For those who told me they will come to church "when hell freezes over." Well, it froze over! I'll see you next Sunday morning! My friend, Keetha Broyles, a Hoosier who used to live in the northern tundra, has written a good piece at her blog, Eclectic Bits, on the common upnorth phrase, "Hayward, Hurley and Hell." A couple of interesting tidbits along this line: 1. My good friend, Father Bill Green, was first stationed at Hurley. Then he was sent to Hayward. . . He retired a couple of years ago. . . and told me he's making his way to Heaven. 2. Another good friend, Andi Wittwer, pastors a church in the woods a little over an hour west of Hayward on Hwy. 77. She suggests that we shoot down the same road an hour east and start a baby church in Hurley. Wouldn't that be something?? Hayward, Hurley and Heaven!

Pure Christianity

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"Christianity is rarely found pure . . . The truth is so vast and mighty that no one is capable of taking it all in. . . It requires the whole company of ransomed souls properly to reflect the whole body of revealed truth." -- A.W. Tozer

Shucks -- and just when we Wesleyans thought we had the corner on the market!

Measured by Character

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A few years ago, our family visited the birthplaces of two famous Americans on the same day - inventor, Thomas Edison and former president, Warren G. Harding.

When we arrived in Milan, Ohio, we immediately noticed that they were proud of their native son, Thomas Edison. A big sign on the edge of the small village proclaimed this was his birthplace. A statue of Edison graced the public square in the center of town. His family home had been restored, with a museum dedicated to his honor. Even the street lights were erected in Edison's memory, as was the Edison Family Restaurant, and the Edison Memorial Methodist Church.

Leaving Milan, I remarked that those folks sure were proud of Thomas Edison - especially considering the fact that he moved away in early childhood.

A couple of hours later, we arrived in Blooming Grove, Ohio, where Warren G. Harding was born.

We were amazed to discover the only thing to denote Harding's birth was a small, faded historical marker in the front yard of…

The Book of the Shepherd

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When Joshua the shepherd observes a man mercilessly beating his son, he is deeply troubled that the laws of their land permit such inhumanity.

Later than night, Joshua prayed to God. "Why didn't you send help for that child?" God replied, "I did send help. I sent you."

In this profound and heartwarming parable, we follow Joshua as he embarks on the quest for "the better way."

Accompanied by his newfound friends, Elizabeth (a former slave) and David (the castaway child), Joshua searches for an ancient text that has been hidden in a distant cave near the Great Inland Sea

Along their journey to uncover long buried secrets, they meet an unusual assortment of characters -- The Storyteller, The Apothecary, The Bind Man, and the Stranger, who teach them valuable lessons to aid them in the pilgrimage.

This little book, written by JoAnn Davis, is like a simplified blend of Pilgrim's Progress, Aesop's Fables, The Shack, and The Hobbit (Children's Illust…

Sandcastle Character

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Jonathan Edwards stands among the greatest Americans who have ever lived. He is noted for his significant role in the Great Awakening and was appointed as the third president of Princeton University.

His prolific writings still influence countless thousands today.

If we could boil Edwards' life down to one word, it would be "character." The commitment to integrity marked everything he did.

Even as a young man, he understood the importance of being true and standing strong. In 1722, at age 19, he penned the following commitments in his journal:

RESOLVED:

Resolved, to live with all my might while I do live.
Resolved, never to lose one moment of time, to improve it in the most profitable way I can.
Resolved, never to do anything which I should despise or think meanly in another.
Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.
Resolved, never do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.
Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that in…

Tell Me What To Do

I think every pastor can relate to this post from Seth Godin:

If you've ever hired or managed or taught, you know the feeling.

People are just begging to be told what to do. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I think the biggest one is: "If you tell me what to do, the responsibility for the outcome is yours, not mine. I'm safe."

When asked. . . resist!

Missional Skiers

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Skiing for a Cause -- Tuesday, February 16

Wisconsin Wilderness Campus is a one year college program located on Lake Owen in Cable, and is an extension of Philadelphia Biblical University.

Limited to an enrollment of 35 students, this unique school in the northwoods offers students a dynamic one-year accredited university experience that builds a foundation for further academic study, character development and spiritual growth.

Several of the students, faculty and staff attend Hayward Wesleyan Church, where I serve as Senior Pastor.

Each year, the WWC students ski 40K (25 miles) on the American Birkebeiner Trail for physical education. On February 16 this year they are skiing for a cause. They are skiing to raise money for Transitions Global which works to help women and children escape the snare of human trafficking in the United States and around the world (particularly, Cambodia and Viet Nam.)

Seth Fisher, the event organizer explains:

Keep in mind that most of them have never worn a pa…

The Pastor Favred

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Some Things Never Change

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A new word is being added to the dictionary:

Favred (FAHrv'd), v.

To bring ones team to the brink of victory through brilliant maneuver, but to lose by committing a colossal unforced blunder. Example: The Democrats favred their chances for health care reform when they lost the Massachusetts Senate seat.

(Thanks to my friend Joel Gerich for sharing this treasure with his dad, who shared it with me.)

Friendliest Place in Town?

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Live Sent

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Jason Dukes gets it! I've just finished reading his wonderful book, Live Sent: You Are a Letter, and found myself saying, "That's so true! Amen brother!" the whole way through.
Dukes, who describes himself as a follower and a leader, a learner and a teacher, a writer and a dreamer, a pastor and an entrepreneur and someone who tries to live sent daily, has captured the heartbeat of what the church ought to be.
Church is not a "what", Duke declares, It is a "WHO!"
Church is not a place and time on Sunday morning. Church is the people of God -- sent into the world as letters of grace. Church health is not measured by how many people show up on Sunday morning -- but how the people show up to bring God's love everywhere they go.
Dukes advocates a decentralized approach to ministry -- encouraging people to LIVE the mission every day.
This does not mean trying to find time in your schedule to fulfill God's mission -- your WHOLE schedule IS God's mi…

The Atheist Got This One Right

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Renowned atheist, Christopher Hitchens, was interviewed recently by Unitarian Minister, Marilyn Sewell in Portland Monthly. Hitchens, author of God is Not Great, holds perspectives and opinions that are quite contrary to those shared by Bible believing Christians.
However, in this interview, there was one little part where Mr. Hitchens was spot on!
Sewell: The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I’m a liberal Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make any distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?

Hitchens: I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian. Sewell: Let's go someplace else. . .
Amen, Mr. Hitchens!
HT Pol…

Forgive Gladly

Love God.
Thrust Down Pride.
Forgive Gladly. --John Colet

Groundhog Pastor

My pastor saw his shadow, which means six more weeks of bad sermons!

(Adapted from a church sign noted by Bill, my upnorth friend. The original sign said six weeks of good sermons -- but I thought bad sermons was funnier!)