Saturday, July 31, 2010
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
Friday, July 30, 2010
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
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 protect their own power, reputations , or resources.
- Look forward to heaven - and work to take as many people with them as possible.
- Try to deliver a positive, factual message about God's plan and power in loving truth.
- Do not harbor rebellious anger toward authority.
- Accept the costs of being loyal to the truth without rancor or bitterness.
Final Quote and Thought:
“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.
It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this one.” -- CS Lewis
Thursday, July 29, 2010
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 the magnitude and grandeur of creation was a deeply spiritual experience for him.
After they had landed on the moon, and he actually walked on it, he thought, “This is absolutely amazing! It has got to be the greatest event in human history – a man walking on the moon!”
But then, God’s quiet voice spoke to his heart and said, “No, Jim, you’re wrong. This is a great accomplishment – but I did something even better a long time ago! I walked on the earth!”
Irwin returned from his trip so deeply impacted by this spiritual encounter, that he spent the rest of his days (the next 20 years) serving as a minister of the Gospel. His greatest desire was to tell everybody everywhere that there really is a God and he cared enough to walk among us!
And that, my friend is the greatest story the world has ever heard: there is a God and He cares enough to walk among us.
It’s a true story. . .
a powerful story;
a life bringing story;
a hope filling story;
This story is the reason why all the churches in Hayward open up their doors to worship every weekend. It’s why we can find hope in the midst of suffering and comfort in the face of death. This story provides our secret for joy, peace and inner strength. “The Word became flesh and walked among us.”
“For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
-- Seth Godin, Linchpin (p. 197)
And to preachers, I'll add -- Make it sing! Preach it like you mean it!
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 cows!
Nah -- you wouldn't want to go back there and live.
Thank God we’re living in 2010 instead 1810!
Yet, there is something special about yesteryear. Perhaps we can bring the treasures of the past into the present.
Rich family values are passed along from one generation to another. Some of the greatest music was written two or three hundred years ago. The Bible, of course, composed in ancient times, brings fresh inspiration and insight today.
St. Augustine said, "You can only understand backwards, but you must live forwards."
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
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."
Friday, July 23, 2010
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 normal!
The huge pines in front of our church were approximately 100 years old. Now that they’re gone, the landscape is totally different. We’re going to have to get used to a new kind of normal. At least we have a clear view of the whole community, and nobody will be able to say they can’t find us because of the trees!
One is tempted to wonder, “Is this a punishment from God?” After almost every natural disaster, some goofball preacher gets on national television and claims that it’s some sort of divine retribution. That kind of talk isn’t helpful. I do not believe the storm last week was sent to zap the citizens of our community. It just happened.
As Jesus said, “It rains on the just and unjust alike.” We ALL experience the trials and tribulations of life – and God doesn’t play favorites or make exceptions. We all have to go through the storms together. It doesn’t do any good to try to fix blame.
Instead of considering last week’s storm a punishment, it would be better to view it as a reminder:
It reminds us of how fragile life is.
It reminds us of how important friends are.
It reminds us of how faithful God is
One reason we love old trees is because they have stood the test of time. They represent stability and security. On many occasions I have paid homage to the grand trees in front of the church. I’ve used them repeatedly as sermon illustrations about how we can stand strong in life’s trials. Now, the old trees have been taken from us, reminding us that we must gain our security and stability elsewhere. True safety comes from God alone.
I was totally overwhelmed by the support my friends gave to me during my hour of need. With thirty trees blown down in my front lawn, I didn’t know what to do. I only own two hand saws. It would take fifty years to clear away the fallen trees with that puny arsenal! But, fortunately, several friends showed up with chain saws, bob-cats, skid-loaders, dump trucks and trailers. It was absolutely amazing!
Words cannot express the gratitude I feel in my heart for all the friends and neighbors who showed up to help. I have been keenly reminded that we really do need each other. As the Scripture says, “Two are better than one, for if one falls into a pit, the other can reach down and pull him out.” I experienced this last week, as my friends helped me climb out of a deep pit!
The most important reminder is of God’s faithfulness. We should all be thankful that nobody was injured or killed in the 96 mph winds. There were several close calls, but we all came out unscathed. Sure, we have to repair, replace, and re-work a few things, but we’re alive to do it! God proves his faithfulness in life’s storms. When the winds are contrary, that’s when we need Him the most. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.”
Faith is worth the risk. As Tammy Felton observed, “We cannot abandon life because of its storms. The strongest trees are not found sheltered in the safety of the forest, rather they are in the open spaces--bent and twisted by winds of all seasons. God provides deep roots when there are wide-spreading branches"
Today, a little blue spruce stands alone in the front of our church property. He was donated about ten years ago, in memory of a loved one who had passed away. Ever since, he has been the runt of the Hayward Wesleyan trees, completely dwarfed and overshadowed by the big guys. Now, however, he IS the big guy! Sometimes, patience pays big dividends.
Here's the Facebook Photo Album of the storm.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
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.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
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 fruitless branches and prunes fruitful branches so that they can bear more fruit, he says in verse 3, "You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you."
The Greek word for "clean" is katharos which means pure or free from the adhesion of anything that soils or corrupts. So, in a sense, Jesus is saying to his audience that because of the word that he has spoken to them, there is a purifying or a separation from the stickiness of the world that has already taken place in them. Considering that the verse follows verse 2 about pruning, you could even argue that Jesus is saying that the disciples have already been pruned and prepared for fruitful living. Bringing an interpretation into our day and age, you could argue that the study of the Bible (God's word) does a cleansing or a purifying work in our hearts.
John 15:3 is one of those passages that make a compelling argument for daily Bible reading. One contemporary interpretation would be to say that when we reflect on God's Word (the Bible), we get a Teflon like coating sprayed on us that frees us from the stickiness of the issues of this world. In other words, I become like a non-stick cooking pan. I might get a whole lot of stuff thrown at me each day and there may be times when the temperature of life heats up, but because of the Word of God working in my life, a catharsis (origin: katharos) or a release of emotional tension can take place in me. In other words, stuff might want to stick to me, but because of God's Word in me, the stuff of this world should slide right off. In another sense, even if my circumstances don't change, I gain a new found ability to keep moving unhindered and unburdened because the problems of my circumstances can't stick to me.
Spend some time reading the Bible today, and see what kind of cleansing happens as God's Word is spoken into you.
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.
Commitment to parish ministry and ability to maintain boundaries.
Lay members and search committees generally expect their pastor to be primarily devoted to ministry and take minimal time for other pursuits. This criterion, Lummis suggests, is a key place where lay visions of ideal ministry run counter to current thinking among those who counsel clergy about the importance of maintaining boundaries and the need to find time for other interests.
Available, approachable, and warm pastor with good "people skills."
Regional leaders across denominations cited the pastor’s ability to show church members he or she likes and will care for them as an essential quality search committees try to find. This quality, however, can be situationally specific to the culture of a particular church or region.
Consensus builder, lay ministry coach and responsive leader.
Lay leaders want pastors who are responsive to their concerns, pastors who can initiate ideas to revitalize the church, while soliciting opinions of members and engaging them in putting ideas into operation.
Entrepreneurial evangelists, innovators and transformational reflexive leaders. This area often presents a disconnect between what churches say they want and what they really want. Many say they want a pastor to help grow the church but don’t want to undertake or think about the necessary changes that will be required.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
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.
Monday, July 19, 2010
-- Hyman Rickover, Admiral
(Special thanks to my friend, Steve Gerich for sharing this quote with me.)
Friday, July 16, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
-- Richard Rohr
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
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 as a wise person who has not gone through the dark valley. Your problems are your teachers. When you struggle through them, you glean valuable life lessons.
2. Problems keep us humble.
Just when you think you're the big cheese -- WHAMMO -- A huge difficulty plops into your life. It's hard to be puffed up when you're carrying a load of trouble. In bad times, we realize that we can't control everything, and we have to trust God more.
3. Problems bring patience.
James 1:2-3 states, "Is your life filled with difficulties and troubles? Then, be happy! It is only then that your patience will increase. So, let it grow and don't try to squirm out of your problems."
4. Hardship turns us into helpers.
We become more compassionate through suffering. Instead of nursing our sorrows, it is far better to encourage others in the same situation. There is nothing more comforting than a genuine friend who understands. The sweetest people you’ll ever meet are those who have gone through the suffering process.
We can face our problems with greater courage when we realize that they are only opportunities in disguise.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Friday, July 09, 2010
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.
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Monday, July 05, 2010
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 fishing for opportunities -- keep your eyes wide open! Some folks wouldn't recognize a good opportunity if it bit them on the toe! What opportunities are before you right now? What are you going to do about them?
3. Think possibility! Whenever I take my kids out fishing, we expect to catch something wonderful this time. We talk about the record muskies and the beautiful walleye we're anticipating. Even if we don't land any, it's fun to dream. When fishing for opportunities, you will maintain enthusiasm as you think about what could possibly be. Are you settling for small thoughts, or are you stretching you brain with big possibilities? Are you content with catching minnows, when you could be landing muskies?
4. Keep casting. If you get skunked, keep casting. many novice fishermen decide that fishing's just not for them because they don't catch anything right away. That happens with opportunities too. You have to keep plugging away. Keep looking for new, creative ideas. Keep your mind open -- and sooner or later, the big one will sink the bobber. Are you discouraged? Tempted to quit? Don't give up! Keep casting!
5. You can't catch all the fish. Don't mope and pout about missed opportunities. Every great fisherman has stories of the "one that got away." Missing an opportunity should simply be motivation for catching the next one. Are you spending too much time bemoaning the opportunity that passed you by? Bait your hook, and go fishing again!
6. Use the right bait. Different kinds of opportunities require different approaches. What kind of opportunity are you trying to land? Are you going about it the best way possible? If you are not landing the right kind of opportunities, perhaps you are going about it in the wrong way. Think again! Evaluate!
7. Take someone with you. Fishing with friends is a lot more fun than fishing alone. As you go after new opportunities, be sure you take others with you on the journey. Why is in the boat with you?
8. Timing is everything. The fish bite better at certain times than others -- and the same thing applies with potential opportunities. What are the natural "windows of opportunity" in your situation? How are you making the most of them?
9. Celebrate! Celebrate! Catching a wonderful fish is cause for great celebration -- and landing a great opportunity is too. Take a moment to rejoice -- and then toss out the line again!
Sunday, July 04, 2010
Saturday, July 03, 2010
Friday, July 02, 2010
Thursday, July 01, 2010
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 of bull, keep your mouth shut.
13. If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else's dog around.
14. It don't take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep.
15. When you give a lesson in meanness to a critter or a person, don't be surprised if they learn their lesson.
16. When you're throwin' your weight around, be ready to have it thrown around by somebody else.
18. Personally, I have always felt the best doctor in the world is the Veterinarian. He can't ask his patients what's the matter. He's just got to know.
19. Everybody is ignorant. Only on different subjects.
20. They may call me a rube and a hick, but I'd a lot rather be the man who bought the Brooklyn Bridge than the man who sold it.
21. Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else.
22. Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.
23. The American people are very generous people and will forgive almost any weakness, with the possible exception of stupidity.
24. The minute that you read something that you can't understand, you can almost be sure it was drawn up by a lawyer.
25. Income tax has made liars out of more Americans than golf
26. If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?
27. A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.
28. We can't all be heroes because someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.