Monday, January 31, 2011

Aaron Rodgers Shares His Faith

From Athletes in Action:  Leader of the Pack

As a result of watching his parents live their faith, Rodgers asked Jesus to be his Savior when he was very young. His faith grew through reading and studying the Bible and attending church.

There was a short time when Rodgers started to drift away; but he had two mentors to help steer him back in the right direction. Pastor Andrew Burchett was the youth pastor when Rodgers was a teen and Matt Hock was leader of their church youth group called “Young Life.” Their influence prompted Rodgers, at 16, to dedicate his life to living for Christ.

 “Matt Hock was the first person who showed me how much fun and how cool it can be to be a Christian,” Rodgers says. Through “Young Life” Rodgers got involved in service mission projects and camp experiences, and built relationships that encouraged his and others’ Christian faith to grow.

He went on to be involved with Athletes in Action during his two years at the University of California, Berkley, where he led the Golden Bears to two bowl games and “the great victory over Stanford my junior year,” Rodgers adds.


When it comes to talking to others about his faith, Rodgers is not one who preaches or pushes his faith on others. “I like the saying from St. Francis of Assisi, ‘Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words.’ I try to live my life in a way that reflects my faith in the Lord,” Rodgers says. “I don’t like to get in peoples’ faces. The best way for me is: Let your actions talk about your beliefs, start a relationship with others, then finally there is a chance for questions.”

full article here

Travel

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness." -- Mark Twain

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hubris and Leadership

A great post from Thom Rainer warning of  Hubris and Leadership (or we could say Hubris in Pastorship):

1.  Leaders with Hubris See Others as Inferior.
2.  Leaders with Hubris are Slow to See Deteriorating Conditions in the Organization They Lead.
3.  Leaders with Hubris are Quick Tempered.
4.  Leaders with Hubris Expect to be Served.

Sistine Chapel

Take a virtual trip to Rome and explore the Sistine Chapel here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Disparate Attention

"Capacity for disparate attention, jumping from one task to another, yet maintaining deep focus, is a key strength for leaders."
--  Marcus Buckingham

Teachable Moments

John Maxwell shared a great post recently: How Do I Maintain a Teachable Attitude?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

On Spiritual Transformation

Here's a video I made for the online Spiritual Formation Class I'm teaching for Wesley Seminary.

On Receiving Admonition

I love Andrew Tozer's writings, and drink them deeply -- a true refreshment and strengthening for the soul.

Here is an excerpt from The Root of Righteousness on receiving admonition, which is, in itself, a spiritual discipline:

Those who have already entered the state where they can no longer receive admonition are not likely to profit by this warning. After a man has gone over the precipice there is not much you can do for him; but we can place markers along the way to prevent the next traveler from going over. Here are a few:
1. Don't defend your church or your organization against criticism. If the criticism is false it can do no harm. If it is true you need to hear it and do something about it.

2. Be concerned not with what you have accomplished but over what you might have accomplished if you had followed the Lord completely. It is better to say (and feel), "We are unprofitable servants we have done that which was our duty to do."

3. When reproved, pay no attention to the source. Do not ask whether it is a friend or an enemy that reproves you. An enemy is often of greater value to you than a friend because he is not influenced by sympathy.

4. Keep your heart open to the correction of the Lord and be ready to receive His chastisement regardless of who holds the whip. The great saints all learned to take a licking gracefully - and that may be one reason why they were great saints.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Levels of Spirituality

Jesus Creed:  Levels of Spirituality

He Had Her Number

A woman sent her husband to the grocery store with a shopping list.

He returned home with. . .

One dozen eggs.
Two gallons of milk,
Three loaves of bread.
Four bags of sugar and
Five cans of cake frosting.

The wife signed and said, "I should never have numbered the grocery list!"

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Spiritual Walleye

Here in the northwoods, walleye is a dangerous delicacy.  Tender.  Tasty.  And you have to work around the bones.

The Sacred Journey, by Charles Foster, is like a spiritual walleye dinner.  If you can navigate the bones, you'll find inspiration and deep soul nourishment.

The Sacred Journey, the last in The Ancient Practices Series, is about pilgrimage.  When I received my free copy from Thomas Nelson for blog review, I wasn't too sure.  The whole concept of sacred pilgrimage smacks of supersititon and relic worship.

However, as Foster unpacked (or should I say back-packed) the process, I found myself drawn into the journey.

He explores the ancient practice of pilgrimage, relays his own travels to sacred sites, interviews modern day pilgrims, and mines the minds of historians and theologians on the subject.

Charles Foster is a professional wordsmith -- and the book is worth the read on that count alone.  About every other paragraph, I found myself, saying, "Wow!  I want to turn phrases like that." 

Although Foster draws primarily from Christian streams, he also explores other faith traditions as well:  Hindu, Muslim, etc -- which makes for muddy water.  Discernment is needed to navigate the text. You might want to filtrate before you drink deeply.

I would especially recommend this book for pastors preparing for sabbatical, and those sensing the need to "get away" -- even for a weekend.  The book is refreshing, and I gleaned much from the read.

It made me want to go climb a mountain and find a monastary.

Purchase Here

(A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me from Thomas Nelson Publishers for review on this blog.)

Free Book

Logos and John Piper's Desiring God have joined together to offer a free e-book:  Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne by Andrew Bonar.  Offer ends February 4.

I have read this devotional classic a couple of times, and have been deeply inspired by by the prayer life of the young Scottish pastor who dared to make a difference. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Youth Groups Destroy Children's Lives

Thia statement from David Fitch is definitely overblown -- but his post gives us some good food for thought.

Youth groups have literally saved countless lives -- and this should never be discounted.  A week ago, at the Wesleyan Pastor's Gathering in Jacksonville, I ran into Jaye, who was in my first youth group.

She joined our group as a Junior Higher, upon the invitation from her best friend.  She gave her life to Christ, and is now serving faithfully in ministry, beside her husband, Brian.

Brian and Jaye introduced me to another young lady, who was a teenager in their youth group.  When she grew up, she married a youth pastor too!  All of us were standing together in a circle at the ministers' conference -- and I felt like a proud grandpa!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

As Smart as a Goose

The Chicken Boss

Christian Herter, the former governor of Massachusetts, was running hard for a second term in office. Campaigning non-stop, he hardly had time to catch his breath.

After one busy morning chasing votes, and skipping lunch, he arrived at a church bar-b-que as the guest of honor.

It was late afternoon, and Governor Herter was famished. The aroma of the hot food nearly overwhelmed him.

Licking his chops, he joined the food line, eying the fried chicken with eager anticipation.The politician held out his plate to the woman serving the chicken and she quickly plopped down a tiny little piece and turned to the next person in line.

"Excuse me," the Governor said, "do you mind if I have another piece of chicken?"

"Sorry," the lady replied, "I'm supposed to give one piece of chicken to each person and that's all."

"But I'm famished!" Herter protested.

"Sorry, only one per customer!" The chicken woman held her ground.

Now, although Governor Herter was a modest and unassuming man, he decided that this was an emergency. He needed to pull rank.

"Do you know who I am?" he sputtered, "I am the Governor of this state!"

"Do you know who I am?" came the reply, "I'm the lady in charge of the chicken -- so move along mister!"

When they come face to face at a bar-b-que, a Governor is no match for a chicken boss.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chazown

Do you live purposefully and passionately?  Do you rise in the morning, ready to jump in to this grand adventure called living?  Vision produces purpose and passion.

"Everyone ends up somewhere," says Craig Groeschel, "but few end up somewhere on purpose."

What is God's vision for YOUR life?

"Chazown" (pronounced khaw-ZONE) is a Hebrew word meaning "dream, revelation or vision."

Groeschel, lead pastor of LifeChurch, recently wrote a practical guide for discovering this vision, simply called Chazown

This little book takes readers through a step by step process of exploring their core values, spiritual gifts and past experiences to discover their unique and specific purpose.  It's a great leadership resouce!

Even better, Groeschel and team developed an extraordinary website to help you navigate this experience, creating your personal timeline, discovering your gifts, determining your values -- determining your goals in light of this -- and then providing a 100 day action plan to accomplish them.

I intend to use this outstanding leadership resource as a text for ministerial students, and leadership groups within my congregation. 

(View an excerpt here)

(a complimentary copy of Chazown was provided to me by Waterbrook Multnomah for review.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Bus Test

An insightful post from Children's Minister, Anthony Price, regarding ministry staff cohesion and working togther:

The Bus Test is simple: A month before an event or program launches, and each week during the lead up, we ask each other this question, “If I got hit by a bus tomorrow, would you know what to do?”  The answer isn’t “call 911″… well, it IS that… but it’s also a way for us to consider the fact that an event or program will fail if only one person holds all of the information leading up to that event in their head.  Asking this question FORCES us to share information and delegate.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Gracism

In recognition of Martin Luther King Day, here's a great quote from 19th Century African American Evangelist, Amanda Smith:

"I think some people would understand the quintessence of sanctifying grace if they could be black about twenty-four hours."

This quote can be found in the outstanding article in Christian History:  "I Received My Commission From Him, Brother"
(HT Dr. JoAnne Lyon)

Thinking and Doing

Pondering Scot McKnight's take on  Pastors as Theologians. in response to Gerald Hiestand's The Pastor as Wider Theologian, or What's Wrong with Theology Today. . .

We all tend to be either Thinkers or Doers.  There are plenty of Thinkers who don't Do, and even more Doers who don't Think.

The world would be better served by Thinking Doers and Doing Thinkers.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Wesleyan Fox

This little guy lives on our church property, by a bush just outside our youth room window!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Finding Redemption in Everyday Life

When Lela Buchanan was my student in FLAME classes, I was impressed by her writing ability. 

She recently sent me a copy of her first book, Finding Redemption in Everyday Life, a homespun guide for finding the redeeming moments amidst the struggles of daily, mundane life.

Through a wide range of delightful short stories, she demonstrates the value of love, resilience, faith and family.  She opens the window, and allows us to take a peek into her soul.

I am reminded that we all GO through life -- but GROWING through it is much better!

Happy Birthday Cathy!


Happy Birthday to Cathy, my lovely sweetheart!  May this be the  best year you've ever had!

Saturation

After several years of continuous growth, our worship attendance plateaued, so a worried pastor friend approached me. He was trying to help, but it felt like Job’s comforters.

“Aren’t you concerned about saturation?” he intoned, “After all, Hayward is a very small town. Maybe you’re at the spot where you’re not going to reach any more people. There are only so many fish in the pond, you know.”

“Saturation?”

I’d never considered it, but now that the “S-word” was spoken, it sank like a brick in my spirit.

I went home depressed, and told Cathy, “My friend thinks we’ve hit saturation. We’re not going to grow any more. I guess we’ll have to spend the rest of our days just propping up the people we’ve already got.”

“It’s God’s church, not yours,” Cathy reminded me, “Your job is to plant, water and weed. The harvest is up to Him. Don’t fret about it. I’m sure He still has plenty of reaping for you to do.” I wasn’t quite convinced.

The next morning, I found myself moaning to God about our saturation. “Why did you stick me with this?” I complained.

Then, the light bulb turned on. The word saturation means to be filled and overflowing.

Do I want my people to be saturated with God’s presence, promise, peace and power? Absolutely! Are they there yet? Not quite! There’s still plenty of work to do!

Do I desire our congregation to saturate the community with compassion, blessing, righteousness and glory? You bet! Has this been accomplished? Not yet! Plenty of work on that front too!

Are there still people in our community lost without Jesus? Ten times more than all the sanctuaries in town combined can hold! Do we quit picking berries just because the easy ones are already plucked? No way! Do we stop fishing when the biting is slow? Not on your life! Keep picking! Keep fishing! There’s still plenty of work to do!

As long as one unreached person remains in our community, then our church isn’t big enough! We must never settle! One lost sheep means keep on seeking. Our job isn’t close to completion.

The next time a worried pastor asks if saturation concerns me, I’ll say, “Absolutely! It’s what I’ve been praying for! Bring it on!”

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Compassionate Candor

Most of us are less than candid. We don’t want to hurt feelings or upset people, so we keep quiet and let troubling things slide by.

Of course, we’re taught that from childhood. Parents and teachers said “good boys and girls stay in their places with zipped lips.” “Tattle tale” is the worst possible childhood crime.

This mindset is reinforced in the workplace, where people who rock the boat often receive the boot. Most bosses are more concerned about “keeping peace” than “making things right.” Of course, as Teddy Roosevelt said, “There is no unrighteous peace.” Thus, the whole environment becomes a haze of unspoken tension and discontent. The very peace we’re trying to attain by silence eludes us.

Usually, everybody knows the issue, but nobody wants to talk about “the elephant in the room.” We’re like the villagers in Hans Christian Anderson’s tale, who gawked at their emperor strutting his stuff in the buff, believing he was fully clothed. It took a guileless child to point out the obvious truth that no one was willing to speak.

The problem is, our situation won’t change unless it’s resolved, and that won’t happen until someone has the gumption to bring it up. The truth shall set you free.

Unresolved issues, like dead skunks, won’t smell better by hiding them under the bed! If you know of a situation that needs changing, and are wondering why somebody doesn’t do something about it -- guess what – YOU are somebody! Maybe it’s up to you to speak the truth.

Of course, the truth must be spoken in love.

Candor without compassion makes one a jerk. Nobody wants to hear from a jerk, even if that jerk is right.

In every communication there are two communications:

1. What I need to say.
2. Whether or not I care about you.

The second communication should be the first and last! In other words, a difficult conversation should go something like this:

1. I care about you.
2. Here’s what I need to say.
3. Again, I really care about you.

Compassionate candor is the primary communication key that unlocks the door to resolution.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wesleyan Pastors' Gathering Top Ten Take Home Points

I decided to wait a few days before posting the gleanings I brought back home from last week's Wesleyan Pastors' Gathering in Jacksonville.

The real take home points are the ones that stick. Here are the insights that stuck with me:

1. There's a time for doing, a time for designing and a time for dreaming. When your schedule is packed with doing, there's little time for dreaming. The urgency of pastoral ministry pulls us into doing -- but if the leader doesn't do the dreaming, who will? (Gary McIntosh)

2. The significant factors shared by young people who have sustained spiritual strength are
a. The spiritual vitality of their parents.
b. Significant friendships with adults who share their faith.

This reveals the importance of cross-generational ministry and equipping of parents. (Christian Smith)

3. Over 80% of the U.S. population lives in cities, while the majority of Wesleyan Churches are in small towns and rural communities. What is the responsibility of the rural church to the city? (JoAnne Lyon).

4. Who are the old men that young people like? Why do they like them? How can I grow to become an old man like that? (Gordon McDonald)

5. There are ways of doing church that no one has thought of yet. Are we doing ministry out of memory or imagination? (Mark Batterson)

6. When we start protecting what we like, we stop pursuing what He loves. (Keith Loy)

7. Do for the one what you wish could be done for the many. (Kevin Myers)

8. Regarding missions suppoort: What is our beef? our main dish? One or two specific targets, callings? The rest of it can be defined as carrots, potatoes and onions. (Mick Veach)

9. Sometimes we're called to do what we'd rather not. It's a matter of mission, not personal comfort. You must do hard things to do great things. What calls you forth? The key question is not "Are you enjoying it?" but "Is God enjoying it?" (Brenda Salter McNeil, Wayne Schmidt, Kevin Myers)

10. There is a definite connection between beauty and worship. What can we do to intentionally bring beauty into worship and ministry? (Gordon McDonald)

Bonus: To resolve feelings, get off the facts (events that cause a negative reaction.) Arguments are like opposing counsel making a case -- but resolution doesn't happen that way. (Michael Smalley)

Post Emurgency Conference Interview

I was privileged to join a few brothers in discussing Christian Smith's fascinating presentation on Emerging Adults.

Kudos to the Techology Guys!

My pastor buddies from South Carolina host a weekly webcast called the Techology Show.

They did an outstanding job covering the Wesleyan Pastors' Gathering last week, including several outstanding interviews with speakers, musicians and church leaders. Great job guys!

Next stop, General Conference!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Beats Fourth and Twenty-Six!

Big Fish, Small Towns

Leadership Journal recently published my article regarding the advantages of being a small town pastor: Big Fish and Small Towns.

We rural pastors are blessed far more than we realize, and should engage our ministry with gratitude, grace and gumption.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Timber Tina on Extreme Home Makeover

Kudos to my good friend, Timber Tina Scheer and her Lumberjack crew, who will be featured tonight on Extreme Home Makeover.  (8:00 Eastern, 7:00 Central.)

Monday, January 03, 2011

Sponge-ology

As I head to the Wesleyan Pastors' Gathering in Jacksonville today, this is my prayer:

"Make me a sponge., O Lord.  Submerge me deep in the blessing bucket, that I make emerge overflowing with blessing for others."
Ministry and Streaming Videos Online

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves!