Saturday, October 30, 2010

Trunk or Treat

Trunk or Treat is an event where we create a "street" of vehicle "trunks" in the parking lot of the church that children can "treat" from.  Lots of other fun surprises planned as well!

The families of the Hayward Wesleyan Church provide the "trunks" and the "treats".

All you have to do is show up between 4:00 - 6:00 pm on Sunday, October 31st, walk around the "trunks" and say: "TRUNK OR TREAT!"

Never Too Old To Make a Difference

Instead of retiring, 70 year old pastor, Don George, took his church to a whole new level:

Story Here

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Two Best Voter's Guides

Every year at election time, I'm handed stacks of "voter's guides" for my parishioners. I don't distribute them, because they are always slanted to one party, and feel like propaganda.

Instead, I'm referring my church to the two best voter's guides available:

1) Holy Bible: This is, by far, the best voter's guide available.  Bring your Bible to the ballot booth!  Christians should cast their ballots for the candidates they believe best reflect biblical values and worldview. If you don't know what biblical values and worldview are, your problem isn't political.

2) Project Vote Smart: This is an excellent resource created by people from both sides of the aisle to provide an unbiased resource for voters. It provides background information, position statements, campaign finances, and interest group ratings. If you know where you stand, biblically, on the issues. . . then then next step is to research the candidates and see where they stand.

I refuse to insult the intelligence of my congregation by allowing special interest groups to do their thinking for them.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Do Something About It!

The noted philosopher, Thomas Carlyle, dressed to speak before a large audience, was walking out the door when his mother spoke to him.

"And where might you be going, Thomas?" she asked.

"I'm going to tell the people what's wrong with the world."
"Aye, Thomas," his mother responded, "But are you going to tell them what to do about it?"

It doesn't take a genius to realize that there are a lot of problems in this world. Any simpleton can point out what's wrong. There are flaws and shortcomings in every organization, family, and individual.

If you're looking for faults - you'll find them. They're everywhere! In fact, you have a quite a few of them yourself! (If you're not sure about that, ask you family members.)
It is no great badge of honor to be a fault -finder. It takes a great person, however, to be a "good-finder".

I believe there is a direct link between attitude and emotional health. Negativity drains the joy right out of us. We were designed us to rise above our circumstances, rather than to sink in self pity.

Instead of despairing over a difficult situation, why not do something about it?

Instead of cursing the darkness, why not light a candle?

Instead of dealing in troubles, why not deal in hope?

Instead of focusing on what you've lost, why not focus on what you have left?

Instead of thinking about the problem, why not consider the solution?

Ever wonder why somebody doesn't do something about a certain situation? Guess what - you are somebody!

You can do something about it!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sunday's Worship Service at LCO Convention Center

Lacks Power

Over many a Christian leader's record could be stamped these words:  'Lacks Power'.  Why do so many ministers and lay leaders have a vague restless awareness that something is lacking in their leadersihp? 

They have had adequate training; they make all the needed preparation;  they work faithfully and hard.  But it all remains largely on the human level.

If you rely on training, you will accomplish what training can do. 

If you rely on skills and hard work, you obtain the results that hard and faithful work can do.

When you rely on committees, you get what committees can do. 

But when you rely on God, you get what God can do!

-- Dr. Wesley Duewel, Ablaze for God

Monday, October 25, 2010

Choosing to Forget

A couple of years, I had the privilege of spending the evening with a saintly mentor, Wesley Duewel who was in his 90’s. In the course of our conversation, I happened to mention a recent scandal involving a well known religious figure, which made national news.

Dr. Duewel seemed confused for a moment.

“I’m sure you remember. . .” I said and added a few juicy details. Then, the kind minister smiled and said, “Oh yes. ..That was completely out of my mind  until you brought it up.  I chose to forget about it”

I was appropriately rebuked. It didn’t do either one of us any good to rehash another person’s failures. Sometimes, the best alternative for everyone is to choose to forget the whole thing.

"There are three things that happen when you get old," I once heard a gentleman say, "The first one is a loss of memory - and I can't recall the other two!" Forgetting things can be rather frustrating. All of us know the stress of attempting to pull a lost memory from the dark, cobwebbed corners of the mind.

Some people are more forgetful than others. I hate to admit it, but I'm a member of the "forgetful club." We've organized "Forgetters Anonymous" - but nobody remembers to go to the meetings!

Fortunately, I haven't forgotten too many earth shattering things along the way. Probably the worst ones were: when I forgot about a baptism I was supposed to perform or when my brain blanked out and I forgot to write my column for the newspaper- or perhaps the time I forgot to take the offering at church! I was finishing the service with a benediction, when the ushers finally caught my attention by waving the offering plates like crazy. (Whew, that was a close one!)

So far, I've done pretty well remembering important stuff like my wife's birthday, our anniversary, funerals, Christmas and Packer games. Actually, forgetting isn't as bad as it's cracked up to be.

Sometimes, it's better to forget than to remember.

It's better to forget the hurt someone has caused you.
It's better to forget to "rub it in" when you were right.
It's better to forget what others "owe" you.
It's better to forget the minor annoyances - the bugs on life's windshield.
It's better to forget your failures, your past sins, and your losses.
It's better to forget to toot your own horn.
It's better to forget your resentment and disappointment.
It's better to forget to complain.

In this regard, choosing to forge is pretty good medicine for the soul.

"Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize.." Phil. 3:13

Friday, October 22, 2010

One Church Service

We're really looking forward to the BIG EVENT this weekend.  Would love to have you join us!
Use Lodge Entrance
(Normal worship services at Hayward Wesleyan Church will resume Oct. 31)


UNDER the wide and starry sky

Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you 'grave for me:
Here he lies where he long'd to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.
--  Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tell Me

Reflecting on the generational opinion differences which rose to the surface at last Thursday's board meeting.

The older generation says:  "Tell me what." 
Give me the bottom line.  Tell me what needs to be done and I'll do it -- but but don't muddle it up by getting in my way.

The middle generation says:  "Tell me how."
Let me know how it's to be done, and I'll do it, as long as it's not too inconvenient.  (Thus, the plethora of "how to" books on Amazon.)

The rising generation says:  "Tell me why."
Don't assume I will jump on board with the program.  I need a good reason to invest myself in something, and it has to be authentic, relational and organic.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

When You Feel Like Giving Up

Sometimes, we all feel like giving up. It comes with the territory of living.
When stress is high and energy is low. . .
When frustrations multiply and patience ebbs. . .
When conflicts abound and peace evaporates . . .,
When the outgo exceeds the inflow. . . it makes us feel like quitting.

But throwing in the towel is seldom the answer. I have discovered that hardship, endured with patience, faith and the best attitude you can muster, brings tremendous personal growth.

As my old football coach used to say, “No pain, no gain.”

So, what should you do when you feel like quitting?

1.  Face up to reality.
It pays to know the facts. Problems don’t usually disappear by ignoring them. A clear picture of reality – even if it’s bad – is better than an unrealistic hope.

Discern between a problem and a fact of life. If you can do something about it, it’s a problem. If you can’t – it’s just a fact of life. We need to fix the problems, and accept the facts of life.

2. Reach up to God
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1). There is no better place to turn in difficulty than to God.

One day, facing a hard situation, I felt like giving up, and then I sensed God’s whisper to my heart. “That’s exactly what you need to do. Give it UP. . . to Me!”

If your problems are deep seated and long standing – try kneeling!

3.  Fill up your tank.
Some activities drain you while others replenish you. Do you know which is which? In especially demanding seasons, make sure your energy is restored by replenishing. You will probably have to prioritize and schedule this in order to get it.

4. Straighten up your attitude
Don’t cave into “stinkin’ thinkin’. A bad attitude will spoil everything for you. Negativity multiplies the difficulty by ten.

The best way to adjust your attitude is to begin praising the Lord and counting your blessings blessings. It is nearly impossible to say “Praise the Lord” with a frown.

5. Lift up someone else
Another person is going through harder times than you. Find that person and bring encouragement.  Bringing blessing to others is like giving your dog a bath. You’ll both get soaked in the process.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Foiund Broken, "Never Alone"

My sons, Luke and Wes and friend, Trevor, performing in concert with Break the Grey.
Other songs on their Youtube Channel.

Monday, October 18, 2010

World Class

My dear friend, Ed Kleinhammer, is one the world's finest trombonists.  Retiring after 45 years with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, he moved up to Hayward -- and is now a member of my congregation.

Ed is a first class gentleman.  He is one of the most gracious, loving and encouraging people I've ever met. 

The senior saints group here at Hayward Wesleyan Church, don't really see Ed as a living legend (although he was declared so by Utica College.)  They just just know him as the delightful, kind-hearted man who makes the coffee.

In Mastering the Trombone, an the instruction book he wrote along with Douglas Yeo (of Boston Symphony Orchestra), Ed said:

"World class trombonists do not just happen. Their talents are forged in the dual furnaces of determination and diligence."

Right on!  And this isn't just about trombones.  It applies to "world class" anything. . .

Friday, October 15, 2010

Internt Infographic

(HT  Jeremy Mavis via Iblogo)
A few questions for church leaders:

1.  What does this data mean for the church engaging culture?

2.  How can we encourage the information highway kids to take a break and enjoy nature and outdoor play?

3.  How can we leverage this media to bless others with the Gospel?

4.  How can the internet help us fulfill the Great Commission? 

5.  How can we better use the internet for missional networking?

6.  How can we rescue those ensnared by the dark side of the internet?  Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.

7.  How might the internet forge global partnerships? 

8.  What wisdom and faith can we glean from our international brothers and sisters?  Specifically, how can American church leaders humbly cross the global bridge to learn from pastors in Africa, Latin America and Asia, where great revivals are occuring?

God's Doors

God's doors come equipped with automatic openers.  You don't have to pry them.

Mark Batterson said, "We love it when God opens doors.  We hate it when He closes them, but it's a package deal.  One Door Closed = Two Doors Opened.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

As Long as We're Down Here. . .

An inspiring example of missional thinking. . .

Buried 69 days under 700,000 tons of rubble, Chilean mine worker, Jose' Henriquez, formed a prayer group and requested 33 Bibles.

When things are looking down, look up!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Spindly Bush

He was just an unsightly, spindly bush who lived in front of the police station in Waveland, Mississippi-- neglected and unnoticed -- until the annoyed chief gave the order:
"Cut that ugly thing down! It's blocking the view of the station."

And so, plans were made to remove the anemic, red tipped eyesore.

"What is my life worth?" the little bush wondered. "Am I good for anything? Nobody loves me. Nobody appreciates me. They just want me out of the way."

But then a better thought took hold of him.

"I don't care what others think. While I'm alive, I'll live! I may not be the prettiest bush on the block, but I'll do the best I can as long as I can with what I've got."

Thus, the spindly bush stood boldly right where he was planted in front of the Waveland Police Station-- and on August 29, 2005, he became a national hero.

The scraggly tree destined for destruction became the rescuer of 14 blue clad rescuers.

In the howling winds and raging floods of Hurricane Katrina, the officers clung to him for eight hours as their small town was demolished around them.

The spindly bush saved their lives and became a national treasure. They’ll never cut him down.

As far as I know, he’s the only spindly bush in history to make the news.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How to Discover Your Unique Purpose

1. Look to Your Garden -- your current reality.  How can you best reflect God's glory in your particular situation?

2.  Look to Your Struggle --  What has been your greatest difficulty?  What has been the hardest thing you've ever faced?  How has God helped you?  This is where He wants to send you.  Mending for Sending!

3.  Look to Your Delight --  What do you love?  When are you most alive?  How can you use what delights you most to bring delight to God and others?

4.  Look to Your Heartbreak  --  What makes breaks your heart and makes you cry?  Your calling is in there somewhere.  As Bob Pierce said, "Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God."

5.  Look to Your Dream  --  What are your hopes for the future?  What is your dream?  You're never too old to have a dream.  If your dream seems out of reach, how do you get there?  Jump!  Not just one leap -- but litle hops.  You get there one little hop at a time.

Three Questions to Help You Clarify Your Unique Calling:
1.  What do my inspiring friends say?
2.  What would great faith have me do?
3.  What does love compel me to do?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Transition Plan

The legendary pastor, Bob Russell,  retired from his position as Senior Pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, 2006 

Under his dynamic leadership, Southeast Christian grew from 120 members into one of the largest congregations in America, with over 18,000 in attendance.

Recently, Pastor Russell wrote a book about their process of handing the leadership reigns over to the new senior pastor, Dave Stone, called Transition Plan.

I was privileged to receive a complimentary copy of this outstanding little book for review on this blog, and must say that it is well worth the read. 

A district superintendent friend recently told me that one of biggest challenges the Wesleyan Church faces is the transition of leadership in our larger churches.  More often than not, when a beloved, long-tenured pastor departs, there is significant trauma to the congregation.

An intentional succession plan, as modeled  by Southeast Christian Church is extremely helpful to making a healthy leadership change.

I appreciate Russell's wisdom and candor, as he described how they navigated the process, detailing their sucesses as well as their mistakes. 

A great read for all long-tenured pastors, district superintendents, and other denominational officials.

Pastor Orval Butcher Funeral Service

A most inspiring tribute to a most inspiring man of God.

Orval Butcher's Home Going Celebration from Skyline Church on Vimeo.

Breaking All the Rurals

I've recently had the opportunity to connect with a fellow small town church advocate, Pastor Shannon O'Dell, of Brand New Church in the thriving metropolis of Harrison, Arkansas.

Under Shannon's leadership the congregation has grown from 31 attendees to a multi-campus church, reaching thousands.

I was delighted to receive a free copy of his new book, Transforming Church in Rural America via Booksneeze, and read the whole thing in two days.

As one who connects with a lot of rural pastors every year through my speaking and writing, I'm always on the lookout for good resources for them.

There aren't very many. Most conferences, magazine articles and ministry books are geared to the suburban minister and the megachurch mentality.

Books about small town and rural ministry are quite rare, and often depressing. Authors tend to pity to pastor who serves in a small place. We pastors in small communities don't want to be pitied -- we want to be challenged!

In this book, O'Dell breaks the mold and challenges us!

Although readily admitting the hardship that comes with bringing congregational renewal, he radiates optimism and hope for the rural church in America.

I love his candid stories from the front lines -- and would love to swap tales with him, when we get a chance to meet face to face.

His book outlines their five key ministry goals: V.A.L.U.E.
Eduring Excellence

The last section of the book describes how they established satellite campuses -- absolutely outside the box for rural ministry -- but it's working for them, and made me stop and ponder. . . what if. . .?

Purchase Here

Thursday, October 07, 2010

A Missional Vision

The whole Church bringing the whole Gospel for the whole Person to the whole World.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Farewell to Orval Butcher

I received the news that my dear friend and mentor, Orval Butcher, passed away yesterday.  I am both happy and sad this morning.  Happy, that he is now experiencing the ultimate glory.  Sad, that he is gone now from this earth.

Dr. Butcher was one of the most influential people in my life.  He modeled a life of joyous love for God and others and stood as my example for maintaining a vibrant faith in the midst of multiple, demanding responsibilities.

Pastor Butcher was an early leader in the Youth for Christ movement, working closely with Billy Graham and the founding pastor of Skyline Chuch in San Diego. (Followed by John Maxwell and Jim Garlow.)

He was an outstanding pastor, leading the thriving congregation to become the largest Wesleyan church in the world.

In the early years, he took his stand for reaching out to young people, which cost him a few conservative, critical members who didn't get it.  It was definitely the right decision.  Hiring the first youth pastor in the Wesleyan Church (Jimmy Johnson), Skyline Church literally reached thousands of young people over the years.  The music program at Skyline was tremendous as well, serving as an inspiration and model for countless congregations around the world.

Upon retirement, he invested his life in serving pastors, missionaries and ministerial students.  Even during his later days, in failing health, he wrote many letters of blessing and encouragement.  He will be deeply missed.

Dr. Butcher was known for his deep love for God and people, as well as his outstanding tenor voice.

It has been a great privilege to call Pastor Butcher my friend. He prayed over me at my ordination, and  followed the progress of the church here in Hayward with keen interest.  He even popped in for a surprise visit in Wisconsin during my early years in the northwoods.
A few great quotes from Dr. Butcher:

"Everything we do in church falls under one of two verbs: Come or Go."

"Keep your soul moist."

"Virtually all the people who attend Skyline are brand new believers (or trying to be believers) so they always hear just three things from me:  1) God loves you.  2) Jesus died for you.  3) I care about you

"I can hire people to come in as Prophecy Experts, Revival Specialitsts, Bible Scholars, and Family Issue Authorities. . . but I can never hire anyone to love my people. That's my job."

Monday, October 04, 2010

Brand New Day

Today is a brand new day – a delightful opportunity to begin again.
I will not be held hostage by yesterday’s pain. If my heart remains open, and my spirit is right, yesterday’s pain becomes today’s gain. I will grow into a better person through the sufferings.

Today is a brand new day – and it needs to stand on it’s own.

I will not allow myself to be seduced by yesterday’s success, nor frustrated by yesterday’s failures. I shall fulfill my duty this day, and never look backwards for an excuse.

Today is a brand new day – and it’s the only one I have.

I refuse to let tomorrow’s concerns steal today’s joy. If tomorrow is going to be bad – why should it destroy the day I have? That would mean two bad days instead of just one. I want to make the best of what has been given to me.

Today is a brand new day – God’s gift for life investment. It is not to be squandered by worry or regret.

Consider the moments. Moments are the stuff life is made of. They march by us briskly in an unceasing parade. We can join in the march – or slump sullenly on the sidewalk, wondering why nobody throws candy anymore.

Today is a brand new day. Sunrise reminds us to practice resurrection.

No problem is greater than the God who holds this day in his hands. Each day breathes new life to broken dreams, shattered hopes, and rending disappointments. Somehow, situations always look better in the morning.

Today is a brand new day – so I’m going to go out and live it.

“This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Transcending the Barriers

"The best way a church can demonstrate unifying power of the Gospel before our very segregated world is to maintain a community that transcends cultural barriers,"  --  Pastor Tullian Tchividjian of Coral Presbyterian Church, explaining why they ended its model of different worship services designed to appeal to different ages, preferences and styles.

From Out of Ur:  Ending Age-Segmented Worship

Friday, October 01, 2010


"We are scattered, fragmented people; we do not know how to be fully present. Has not a chief measure of success become the ability to multi-task? Multi-tasking is simply a positive spin on not being fully present to any one task."  -- Pat Hannon