Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Blogging Break

Taking  a blogging break while I take my son, Luke to Bethany Bible College in Sussex, New Brunswick.

Grow For It!

We either just "go" through life or we can GROW through it.

The difference between going and growing is the big "R" -- Reflection!

Life is not so much about what happens TO us as what happens IN and FROM us.

When we take the time to reflect upon our experiences, we learn important lessons from them.

Failing to glean truth from circumstances, leads to a long rough journey of difficult consequences. going from bump to bump with a few ditches between.

Reflection brings wisdom and understanding. Why just suffer through difficult experiences, when we can gain something from them? Why waste mistakes?

"Experience is not what happens to you," said Adlous Huxley, "It is what you do with what happens to you."

My good friend, Famous Dave, made the following observation:

"Failure is the hallmark of success. It can be the starting point of a new venture such as when a baby learns to walk, it has to fall down a lot to learn the new skill. Failure is also the mark of a success you've worked for. When a pole-vaulter finally misses in competition, it shows how far he's come. That failure becomes the starting point for his next effort, proving that failure is not final!"

I once heard John Maxwell say, "When you fall down, you might as well pick up something!"

I say, "Grow for it!"

Saturday, August 27, 2011

In Tenderness He Sought Me

I am sharing the following hymn lyrics today at the funeral service of a dear lady, born in a northwoods log cabin in 1914.  After a long career in downtown Chicago, she made her way back home:

In tenderness He sought me,
Weary and sick with sin,
And on His shoulders brought me
Into His flock again.
While angels in His presence sang
Until the courts of heaven rang.

He washed the bleeding sin-wounds,
And poured in oil and wine;
He whispered to assure me,
"I've found thee, thou art Mine:"
I never heard a sweeter voice,
It made my aching heart rejoice.

He pointed to the nail-prints,
For me His blood was shed;
A mocking crown so thorny,
Was placed upon His head:
I wondered what He saw in me,
To suffer such deep agony.

I'm sitting in His presence,
The sunshine of His face,
While with adoring wonder
His blessings I retrace.
It seems as if eternal days
Are far too short to sound His praise.

So while the hours are passing,
All now is perfect rest;
I'm waiting for the morning,
The brightest and the best,
When He will call us to His side,
To be with Him, His spotless Bride.

Despising Others

"Do not despise others because, as it seems to you, they do not possess the virtue you thought thay should: They may be pleasing to God for other reasons which you cannot discover."
-- St. John of the Cross, The Living Flame of Love

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Distinctive Mark of Being a Christian

"The concern for world evangelization is not something tacked on to a man's personal Christianity, which he may take or leave as he chooses. It is rooted in the character of the God who has come to us in Christ Jesus. Thus, it can never be the province of a few enthusiasts, a sideline or a specialty of those who happen to have a bent that way. It is the distinctive mark of being a Christian."
 — James S. Stewart

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Missional Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name. Amen..  (The Daily Office)

Empty Seats

Suddenly, I don't feel quite so bad about our 11:00 a.m. worship attendance.

The Parenting Challenge

Parenting is a tremendous challenge. No job in the entire world is more important that the molding of young lives. Your greatest legacy will be the investment you have made in your family.

Mom and Dad, please make sure you are taking time to treasure your children.

The following appeared in a church bulletin many years ago. The author is unknown.

If I Had My Child to Raise Again

If I had my child to raise all over again,
I'd finger paint more,
And point the finger less.
I would do less correcting,
And more connecting.
I'd take my eye off the watch,
And watch with my eyes.
I would care to know less and
Know to care more.
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious,
And seriously play.
I would run through more fields and
Gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging and less tugging.
I'd build self-esteem first,
And the house later.
I would be firm less often,
And affirm much more.
I'd teach less about the love of power,
And more about the power of love.

Eric Buehrer said, "Your child has many hidden treasures that, once uncovered, polished and held up to the light of encouragement, will lead him to success."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Impressive NFL Chart

Click on the picture for a larger image.
(HT Dave Drury)

Be A Bush if You Can't Be a Tree

If you can't be a pine on the top of the hill,
Be a scrub in the valley -- but be
The best little scrub by the side of the rill;
Be a bush if you can't be a tree.

If you can't be a bush, be a bit of the grass,
Doing something for somebody's sake.
If you can't be a muskie, then just be a bass --
But the livliest bass in the lake.

We can't all be captains, some have to be crew,
There's something for all of us here,
There's big work, and little for people to do,
And the task we must do is the near.

If you can't be the highway, then just be a trail,
If you can't be the sun, be a star;
It isn't by size that you win or you fail --
Be the best of whatever you are!

--  Douglas Malloch

Monday, August 22, 2011

Love Shines Through

Love, the greatest human virtue, is the primary measuring stick of the goodness in one's life.

Nothing is more delightful than loving, and nothing feels better than being loved.

A wise old minister once said Love is. . .
Slow to suspect - quick to trust
Slow to condemn - quick to encourage
Slow to offend - quick to defend
Slow to expose - quick to shield
Slow to reprimand - quick to forbear
Slow to belittle - quick to appreciate
Slow to demand - quick to give
Slow to provoke - quick to reconcile
Slow to hinder - quick to help
Slow to resent - quick to forgive.

True love is much more than a feeling or an emotion - it is an act of the will!
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.

Real love moves beyond intentions. It shines through our actions, attitudes and words.

Unfortunately, un-love shines through too. You can pretend to love others - but they will find you out before too long.

Fault finding and criticizing others are signs of love deficiency.  Faults grow thick when love is thin.

Loving is risky business. There is a chance of being deeply hurt if you open your heart.

However, we must remember these words from Eleanor Roosevelt:
It takes courage to love, but pain through love is the purifying fire, which those who love generously know. We all know people who are so much afraid of pain that they shut themselves up like clams in a shell. Giving out nothing, they receive nothing and therefore shrink until life is a mere living death.

Also, consider what Mother Teresa said about the subject, "I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no more hurt, but only more love.

"Tennis - the only activity in which love means nothing

Friday, August 19, 2011


"Time is free, but it's priceless.  You can't own it, but you can use it.  You can't keep it, but you can spend it.  Once you've lost it, you can never get it back." --  Harvey Mackay

Thursday, August 18, 2011

All Day Long Song

Love Him in the morning, when you see the sun arising,
Love Him in the evening 'cause He took you through the day,
And in the in-between time when you feel the pressure coming,
Remember that He loves you and He promises to stay.

~  John Fischer

"To him whose elastic and vigorous thought keeps pace with the sun, the day is a perpetual morning."  ~Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lives Like Stars

"It is not necessarily the busiest, who are ever on the rush after some visible work; it is the lives like stars, which simply pour down upon us the calm light of their bright and faithful being, out of which we gather the deepest calm and courage.  It is good to know that no man or woman can be strong, gentle, good, without somebody being helped and comforted by the very existence of that goodness."
--  Phillips Brooks

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kipling's Advice to His Son

In a conversation about literature a while back, I asked, “Do you like Kipling?”  To that, my friend responded, “I don’t know.  I’ve never Kipled.”

The British author, Rudyard Kipling is best known for his classic piece, “The Jungle Book”, as well as his collection of short animal stories.  A few years ago, while digging in the archives of the British Museum, I was privileged to actually hold an aged letter Kipling had written with his own hand.  It was a surreal moment, spanning the centuries, and drawing kindred hearts together.

In my opinion, Kipling’s most inspiring work is a short poem entitled, “If”, which he penned for his son’s birthday:

If you can keep your head when all about they are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting.  Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies.
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating.  And yet, don’t look too good, nor talk too wise.

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same.

If you can bear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Of watch the things you gave your life to broken, and stoop to build them up with work-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings and risk it on one turn of pitch and toss,
And lose and start again at your beginnings, and never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerves and sinew to serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you except the will which says to them, “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run;
Yours is the earth and everything that’s in it;

And – which is more – you’ll  be a man, my son!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Blogging Break

Unplugging for a few days, in order to climb Pike's Peak with my son, Luke.

Throw Deep!

Give it your best shot!

The world is filled with half-hearted people who give half-hearted effort to half hearted causes.

Every now and then, somebody rises up to make a difference – and the barbs start flying.  Like lobsters in the pot, we’d much rather pull each other down than to see someone else climb ahead and succeed.  Misery loves company.

Watching a news channel on television the other night, I was amused by hearing the talking heads squabble.  They argued, growled and vented their spleens about society’s ills.

I thought, “If they spent as much time doing something about the problems as they’ve spent complaining about them, we’d all be a lot better off.”

Unfortunately, it is much easier to sit around on the sidelines and find fault than to roll up our sleeves and make a difference.

So often, we punish those who make an effort by clucking our tongues, shaking our heads, and pointing out all the mistakes.

Consider the NFL quarterback who is striving to do his best – giving it 100%, while the beer bellied commentators frown and belittle him.  I’d like to see them switch places for about twenty minutes.  That would be a relief to the quarterback and an education for the commentators!

I think it’s better to be the one criticized than the one doing the criticizing.  I’d rather be an eagle who soars in the sky than a chicken who squawks in the coop. 

Life is packed with wonderful opportunities.  They are like raspberries growing on the vine – all you have to do is go get them!  Sure, you’ll be poked with thorns, bitten by bugs, and bothered with a sore back – but just think of the end result!  Fresh raspberry pie!

Author Jack London said, “I would rather be ashes than dust!  I would rather that my sparks should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot.  I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.  The function of man is to live, not to exist.  I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.  I shall use my time.”

Someone once asked former NFL quarterback, Kenny Stabler what London’s quote meant to him.  He grinned and replied, “Throw deep!”

Marriage Check Up

“A man and a woman should choose each other for life,” said Dr. George Truett, “for the simple reason that a long life is barely enough time for them to understand each other – and to understand is to love.”

Understanding is the key to true love and intimacy.

Although it is a process, you can deepen and develop your relationship along the way. Sometimes, along the path, it’s good to stop and evaluate how you’re doing as a couple.

Good maintenance prevents major breakdowns.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself  concerning your marriage:

How can I best serve my partner?
Am I a good listener?
Do I really hear what my partner is saying, or am I busy thinking about how I am going to respond?
Can we disagree agreeably? If not, what it is that causes us to argue?
Do I know what really pleases my partner? Have I pursuing this?
Do I know what really annoys my partner? Have I been doing this?
What are my dreams and hopes for our marriage?
What are yours?
How do we express our spirituality as a couple? Are we satisfied with the present level of spiritual commitment?
What are we not doing that we ought to be doing?
What would it take to start doing it?
Have I been completely honest with my partner? About the past? About how I am feeling? About my activities?
Are there any roadblocks to emotional intimacy in our marriage? Do we know what they are? Do we know how to get rid of them?
Have I been making selfish demands?
Am I willing to change?
Do we agree on money issues? What can we learn from each other in this area?
Is there something wrong that needs to be confronted?
Is there something good that needs to be celebrated?
Do I need to take more responsibility for creating a healthy and happy home?
Am I willing to forgive?
Am I willing to deal with issues, rather than attacking or sulking in silence?
What three things can I do which would bring great joy to my partner?

Monday, August 08, 2011

I'm Absolutely Shocked!

"So long as we are full of self, we are shocked at the faults of others.  Let us think often of our own sin, and we shall be lenient  of the sins of others."
--  Francois Fenelon

Friday, August 05, 2011

If You Don't Take the Sabbath, the Sabbath Will Take You

An important reminder to ministry leaders from Carie Nieuwhof:

“It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.” Psalm 127.2

If You Don't Take the Sabbath, the Sabbath Will Take You

(HT JoAnne Lyon)

Worthless without Love

Whatever you may possess,
and however fruitful your activities,
regard them all as worthless
without the inward certainty
and experience of Jesus' love.
--  The Cloud of Unknowing

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Dan Reiland's New Blog

My old friend from California days, Dan Reiland, now executive pastor at 12stone Church, has created an outstanding new blog, The Pastor's Coach:  Equipping Leaders for Today's Church.

Dan is one of the most strategic ministry thinkers I've ever met.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Evangelism In the Forest Among the Wild Beasts

I found this interesting quote regarding Thomas Aquinas in John Sanders' No Other Name:

Aquinas believed the world had been thoroughly evangelized by his day, and that there were only a handful of people in the world who remained unevangelized.

". . .those brought up in the forest or among the wild beasts."  (Sanders, No Other Name, p. 254, Aquinas, Disputed Questions on Truth, q. 14, a 11.)

Thus, the reason why I pastor in the wilderness of northern Wisconsin!  It's the land of forest and wild beasts!  Within the last week, I saw two black bears, countless whitetails, a coyote, and three bald eagles in my parish.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

A Simple and Sincere Conversation

"This is our rejoicing, the testimony of our own conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world."
 -- 2 Cor. 1:12.

Noting this verse, in his sermon, The Witness of Our Spirit, John Wesley added, "Such is the voice of every true believer in Christ, so long as he abides in faith and love.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Purity and Maturity

"Purity is accepting Christ's sacrifice for us.  Maturity is accepting our sacrifice for Christ."  -- Margie Myers

Positive Juice

What kind of juice do you have in your tank?

Lawnmowers and cars run on gasoline.
Chainsaws and weed eaters run on a gas/oil mixture.
Sailboats and kites run with the wind.
Campfires run on wood --And you run on one of two kinds of energy: positive or negative (or, more likely, a mixture of both.)

What's the difference between running on positive vs. negative juice?

1. Negative juice is the "default" mode. If you don't deliberately choose the positive path, you'll end up operating in the negative. We are grumpy by nature -- and cheerful by choice. Nobody is positive by accident -- It requires a strong commitment and a new way of thinking.

2. Running on negative juice is easier at first -- but much harder in the long run. Since it is the default mode, you don't have to work at becoming negative -- it just happens! No extra effort is required. However, those who operate with negative energy find that life is much more difficult. Positive energy takes more effort up front -- and less effort all the rest of the way. Guaranteed -- a negative life is harder than a positive life.

3. Positive juice continually refills its own tank. In other words -- this energy creates more energy. Negative juice, on the other hand, is always draining. The tank is continually empty. When you're running in the negative, you will find yourself always tired, burdened and depleted.

4. The biggest difference between positive and negative juice people is the way they think:

Positive juice people think about solutions rather than problems.
They think about their blessings rather than their rights.
They focus on serving others rather than themselves.
They are givers rather than takers.
They talk about what can be done, rather than what can't be accomplished.
They realize that happiness is a choice rather than a reaction.
They are directed by principles rather than situations.
They find the good rather than the faults.
They are encouragers rather than discouragers.

Nobody wants to be a negative person -- but most folks end up that way, because they have not determined to change the course.

Your canoe will not go upstream unless you're willing to paddle!

Here are a few suggestions to help you paddle upstream and fill your emotional tank with positive energy:

1. Intend to be a positive person. Your life will never rise above the level of your intentions. Generally speaking, you become what you intend to be.

2. Surround yourself with positive people. Who is the most positive person you know? See if you can spend some time with that person. Positive people lift and encourage us to be our best.

3. Spend time in prayer and meditation every day. Connecting with God puts everything else in perspective.

4. Read the Bible as well as other inspiring books. Biographies of great people instill hope and inner strength.

5. Listen to "soul filling" music. What type of music fills your soul? How can you build this into your life?

6. Capture your negative thoughts. When these emotional terrorists attack, you need to capture them and hold them as prisoners of war. You can replace old mullings with new, inspiring ideas. The Bible instructs us to take our thoughts captive.

7. Find a 'replenishing" place. Certain places help us to order our hearts. It is good to discover beautiful, inspiring places where we can be refilled.You can become a positive inspiring person if you make the commitment and the effort. Your family and friends will certainly be delighted if you do!