Saturday, July 30, 2011

Reflections from Greater Ohio Family Gathering

It was truly an honor to speak at the Greater Ohio Wesleyan District Family Gathering last week, held at Mt. Vernon Nazarene University. Jeff Mansell, their District Superintendent, an outstanding leader, is moving the work forward in Buckeye Land.

Growing up, I attended this event annually (though at that time it was located at rustic Victory Camp in Westerville, Ohio), and some of my fondest childhood memories are from there.

Cathy and Hannah travelled with me on this trip, and we picked up my 88 year old mother along the way. Thus,I was privileged to share this experience with the three most important ladies in my life!

My earliest memory is standing on a chair before the vast congregation at Victory Camp, singing "O Happy Day" at the top of my lungs when I was just two years old. My momma bribed me with ice cream.

Last week, during Saturday night's rally, a dynamic worship team led us in a rockin' rendition of "O Happy Day", which delighted me. Different version -- but the same idea. It brought me back to the chair -- but,this time, Momma didn't bribe me with ice cream.

NASCAR Prayer Remix

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Blogging Break

I'm taking a little hiatus from blogging, while on the road to speak at the Greater Ohio Wesleyan Family Gathering.  If you happen to think of it, please say a prayer that God will anoint my speaking, and that many will receive spiritual help.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

God Can Handle It!

Do you think God would ask you to do something that you and he together couldn’t handle?

Don’t let your lack of resources blind you to seeing God’s power.

Argue, Decide, Salute

Mark Batterson shared the following insight he gleaned from a conversation he had with a military general who attends his church:

"He introduced me to an interesting army principle that certainly has application in the church.  He talked about how they “argue to decision” but once the decision is made, they salute.  I love that. So simple. So powerful.

Unity doesn’t mean we won’t argue on any issue.  In fact, sometimes it means airing our differences of opinion.  But the key is the salute.  The salute is submission to the will of the authority.  And without submission, there is no unity. Unity is subjugating our will when certain situations call for it.

We need to argue to decision, but then we need to salute!"

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Ramblings

Our board meeting went late last night -- but we accomplished a lot.  I am grateful to have such a strong group of committed spiritual leaders, who care deeply about Hayward Wesleyan Church and our mission to the world.

Vacation Bible School ends tonight.  Michael Drown (of Mercy Ships) and I are in charge of the penny offering -- a huge contest between the boys and the girls -- with all the proceeds going to help little children receive needed medical procedures.  The enthusiasm is off the charts.  Kids come running to the front with fistfulls of pennies -- gleefully throwing them into the buckets.  I wish the grown ups had that much enthusiasm for the Sunday morning offering!

Speaking of medical procedures -- I had a small one on my back a couple of days ago.  Someone has said the difference between a minor operation and a major one is that a minor is what happens to someone else -- and a major one is what happens to you!  Although my little operation was not a big deal, it felt pretty major to me!

I'm moving slower than normal -- but that's ok.  My pace had been too fast and my soul needed to catch up with me.

We have missionaries from Belgium,  Phil and Becky Davis, joining us in Hayward this weekend, along with their two sons.  He is working on his PhD, focusing on postmodernism -- and will talk about disciplemaking in that context.  Fascinating!

I head to Ohio in a few days, to speak at the Greater Ohio District Gathering -- my old home stomping ground.  I look forward to it, but not without trepidation -- as a prophet is without honor in his own country.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

In the Heart of Milwaukee

Transformation City Church, led by Pastor Jason Butler, is doing an amazing job of reaching out to their inner-city community.  I appreciate their passion  -- and am pondering what role small town and rural churches play in reaching the urban areas for Christ.

Here's an article regarding their work:  Milwaukee Wesleyans Bring Hope to Their Community.

On the Verge

My heart leaped for joy as I read On the Verge by missional guru, Alan Hirsch and Dave Ferguson.  They speak directly to the situation my congregation is facing.

In recent years, there has been a growing disconnect between those using an attractional model of church ministry, and those advocating an incarnational model.

The missional proponents often criticize those following the attractional model as caving into contemporary consumerism.  On the opposite end of the specrum are church leaders who accuse the incarnational folks of small thinking and ineffectiveness.

Hirsch (guru of the missional community movement) and Ferguson (champion of ministry multiplication) have joined forces to offer a third way.  Verge Churches, they explain, harness the very best of
1)  Church growth practices
2)  Exponential systems and
3)  Missional incarnational approaches.

This convergence leads to an Apostolic Movement -- where all members of a church are engaged in the mission of multiplying disciples and faith communities.

Hirsch and Ferguson note that 60% of Americans are unchurched.  These folks are not likely to find Christ by attending a traditional/contemporary/program-based church.  Instead, the church needs to go to them!  Each congregation should ask this question:  How can we bring Christ's love to those who won't come to us? 

Rather than rejecting solid congregations as "irrelevent" and "consumeristic", why not leverage them for maximum mission?  Why not transform them into sending agencies -- multiplying disciples in missional communities.

On the Verge blends theory with practical application.  Hirsch gives the theory and Ferguson follows along and tells how this can work on the ground.

I plan to rely heavily on this book as we steer Hayward Wesleyan Church into the uncharted waters of full throttle mission engagement.  As Buzz Lightyear says,  "To infinity and beyond!"

For a deeper look at this movement -- check our The Verge Network.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Know Any Good Jokes?

I found the following excerpt from Robert Fulghum's What on Earth Have I Done? delightful:

"Know any good jokes?"

Usually a reasonable question at an all-male convivial social occasion.


To ask a bishop of the Greek Orthodox Church at Sunday lunch at his own table is risky.  His Emminence, tge Dispotis of Chania, slowly turned his pale, white bearded face to me, gave me his Blessed-Are-The-Meek look, smiled thinly, and went back to dissecting the small broiled fish on his fine china plate.


No, I guess he doesn't know any good jokes.  And that's funny.

Here is a man sitting at host at a fine Sunday feed, dressed in a long black dress, with glitzy gold jewelry around his neck, and on his head a stovepipe with a lid on it.

I don't mean to be disrespectful, but I would think you'd have to have a sense of humor to dress like that at luch.  But he doesn't know any good jokes.  Yet, he's so close to a good laugh.  All he needs is a red rubber nose on his schnoz and a mirror.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

God's Lessons

Let us only be patient and let God our Father teach us His own lessons in His own way.  Let us try to learn it well, and learn it quickly, but do not let us fancy that He will ring the school bell and send us to play before our lesson is learned.  -- Charles Kingsley.

Finding Fault

So long as we are full of self, we are shocked at the faults of others.  Let us think often of our own shortcomings, and we shall be lenient of the shortcomings of others.

-- Francois Fenelon

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Theology of the Hammer

Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity, often referred to the "theology of the hammer" when speaking of putting his faith into action and investing energy to provide housing for others.

I've been applying that same principle this week as I've gotten away from my desk and joined the FLAME Gives Back Mission Team in their projects.

This has been a good eye-opener for me.  In recent years, I've been too much in the office and not enough "out in the field."

Of course, there are many administrative demands, and communications required to lead a church of our size and complexity -- yet, this week, I'm realizing that the finest ministry is in the trenches rather than in the office.

I'm reminded that "the view of the world is extremely limited from behind a desk.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

I'm Thor!

While our mission team dismantled the shed at Hope Haven Farm yesterday, I held a sledgehammer above my head and shouted, "I'm Thor!"

Another team member grinned and said, "I'm sure you will be Thor tomorrow!"

He was right.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Iranian Pastor Sentenced to Death

This is insanity! Pastor Youcef Nardarkhani, was charged with apostasy and sentenced to death.

From Voice of the Martyrs: Pray that God will continue to equip Pastor Youcef to stand firm in his faith. Pray that he will sense the love and support of all those praying for him and working on his behalf. Pray that the Iranian authorities involved will be convicted of their injustice and overturn the case. Pray for comfort to abound in the hearts and minds of Pastor Youcef's wife and children.

In and Out Burger's Raving Fans

As a former Californian, I understand this enthusiasm for In and Out Burger -- and wish followers of Jesus were this passionate about His mission in the world.

Friday, July 01, 2011

A Net for Catching Days

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.  What we do with this hour, and that one is what we are doing.  A schedule defends us from chaos and whim.  It is a net for catching days.  It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands, a section at a time."
--  Annie Dillard