Saturday, April 30, 2011

Congratulations!

Congratulations to my son, Ryan, who graduates with honors today from Indiana Wesleyan University!  I am truly proud of you!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Where are You Going?

Oliver Wendell Holmes, the great Supreme Court Justice, lost his train ticket one day. As he was frantically searching his pockets, the conductor recognized him and said, "Your Honor, if you do not find your ticket, you can simply mail it to the railroad. We know and trust you."


To this, Holmes replied, "I am not so concerned about getting my ticket; I just want to know where I am going!"

Sadly, many individuals have lost their ticket to life and happiness. They also do not know where they are going. Like nervous jack rabbits, they hop here and there, from one activity to another, without a deeper sense of purpose or direction.

They remind me of the hitchhiker I once saw who held a big sign stating his destination: "Anywhere!" People who are willing to go "anywhere" life takes them will end up going nowhere. You can count on it!

What do you want to accomplish with the rest of your life? What are you doing now to make this a reality?

What are your priorities? What is the most important thing in the world to you? Could somebody tell what you value by watching the way you spend your time?

Do you believe in God? Is your faith reflected in your daily choices, actions, and words?

Who are the most important people in your life? How do you treat them? Are you working at building loving relationships with your family? Do they receive your best energy, or do they only get your "leftovers"?

Put first things first! Chart your course! Set your direction! Don't forget where you are going!

Develop a dream - a long range plan for the future. Set some short range goals as well. These are the stairs that will get you to the second floor. You can wish for something until you are blue in the face, but it will never become a reality until you act - until you do something!

Little termites can destroy a house - and little "time gobblers" can eat up your time and energy - squeezing out the most important things. It takes vision, purpose, hard work, and determination to do what is important rather than what is urgent.

Do the important things! Spend time with your important people! Work on your important plans! Remember - first things first!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Froggy Playing Moonlight Sonata?

"I would as soon expect a frog to sit down and play Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata as expect to see some of the slick preachers of this hour preach with an anointing that would cause godly fear among the people."

-- Leonard Ravenhill  (Why Revival Tarries, pp. 46-47)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Problems Help You Grow

Your problems can help you grow!


Life’s difficulties can seem overwhelming. Disappointments, rejection, and painful experiences tempt us to cave into discouragement.

When faced with a Goliath sized obstacle, what do you do? Cower in fear? Ignore it? Throw a tantrum?

In The Hobbit, Tolkein remarks, “If a dragon lives with you, it’s best never to leave him out of your calculations.”

Genuine problems must not be ignored. If you sweep a dead skunk under the rug, it won’t get any better.

So how do we deal with difficulty?

Put the problem in the right perspective!

1. Realize that life is made up of problems. Troubles are everywhere and everybody has them. Don’t be surprised when they come your way.

2. Problems contain the seeds of their own solution. You can find the answer if you get on the “solution side” rather than the “problem side”. (By the way, you don’t have to be too smart to identify a problem. You need to stretch your brain a little, however, to see the solution.)

3. Problems are only temporary. Better days are ahead.

4. Focus on what you have, rather than what you’re lacking.

5. Be patient and learn something from this situation. Every pearl is the result of an oyster’s victory over an irritation.

6. If you don’t get bitter, you surely will get better!

7. Turn the problem over to your God. He can rectify what you have wrecked.

8. Don’t run from your problems. Instead, let them stretch, challenge, and develop you.

9. Deal with today’s problems today. Refuse to put off what needs to be done now. By the same token, do not allow worry to take over your life. As poet, Robert Frost stated, “Just take things as they come and handle them the best you can.”

Self Compassion

An insightful post by Kristen Neff:  Self Compassion:  Treating Yourself As You'd Treat a Good Friend.

"The golden rule tells us that we should treat others as we would want them to treat us. Maybe so, but hopefully we won't treat them even half as badly as we treat ourselves."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Serving in Obscurity

I stumbled across a wonderful blog by rural pastor, Steven Housewright:  Serving in Obscurity.

Show Your Best Stuff

It is always infelicitous when men fall into the habit of speaking of religion as the mother of trials, and oftheir Christian experience from the side of its restrictions and limitations ... When people want to make things attractive in farming, they give exhibitions of their products. The women bring their very best butter, molded into tempting golden lumps; and the men bring the noblest beets and vegetables of every kind; and from the orchards they bring the rarest fruits, and when you go into the room where all these things are displayed, they seem to you attractive and beautiful.

It seems to me that this is the way a Christian church ought to represent the Christian life. You ought to pile up your apples and pears and peaches and flowers and vegetables, to show what is the
positive fruit of religion. But many people in Christian life do as farmers would do who should go to a show, and carry -- one, pigweed; another, thistles; another, dock; and another, old hard lumps of clay; and should arrange these worthless things along the sides of the room, and mourn over them. What sort of husbandry would that be? Christians are too apt to represent the dark side of religion in their conversation and meetings.
-- Henry Ward Beecher

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wisdom For Young Worship Leaders

My friend, Dan Reiland, Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church, recently shared an inightful post regarding a conversation he recently had with an aspiring worship leader.  Great wisdom here, methinks.

Young Worship Leaders Finding Their Way

Traders

Combustion

"You are not the oil, you are not the air -- merely the point of combustion, the flashpoint where the light is born.  You are merely the lens in the beam.  You can only receive, give, and possess the light as a lens does."
--  Dag Hammarskjold

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Radical Together

"Unleasing the People of God for the Purpose of God."  That's the sub-title for David Platt's powerful little book, Radical Together.

This is the follow up volume to his best-seller, Radical, and I believe it's even better -- though that seems impossible.

Reading Platt reminds me of paying Battleship with my kids, when they're on a winning streak.  Every salvo is a direct hit.

For instance, consider this powerful point:  "One of the worst enemies of Christians can be good things in the church."

Operating from the call to radical discipleship issued in his first book, Platt describes what this commitment looks like in a congregation that has bought into the compelling vision.

I highly recommend it to church leadership teams and boards who want to get serious about the Great Commission.

More info here

Purchase Here.

(A complimentary copy of the book was provided to me for review by the publisher, Multnomah Books.)

Painting the Resurrection

Friday, April 22, 2011

Planting the Grace Tree

I can't recal another time when Good Friday and Earth Day occurred on the same day -- but somehow, that's fitting.

Good Friday was the original "Earth Day" -- when Jesus planted grace on Calvary's Tree, and "earthed" the Gospel in our hearts.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Something Tookish

While reading The Hobbit to my kids, I happened upon an interesting phrase: "something Tookish woke up inside him."
It refers to a mild mannered hobbit named Bilbo Baggins, who had an aversion to adventure of any kind. In the safety of his hobbit hole, mundane predictability seemed preferable to the risk of exploring new horizons.

But a visit from the magician, Gandolf, shook him out of his comfort zone.

"There's more to you than you know." Gandolf observed.

Then, something "Tookish" woke up inside Bilbo

. Although his father was a Baggins, (and the Baggins' were always ones to play it safe), his mother was a Took! The Tooks were known for their sense of adventure and exploration. After marrying Mr. Baggins, Bilbo's mother had settled into a life of Baggins respectability. And for that, the entire Baggins family was thankful.

But something "Tookish" woke up inside Bilbo, and he would never settle for the hum drum again. "Something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wanted to explore the great mountains, and hear the pine trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking stick."

And as you read this, perhaps something "Tookish" is waking up inside you! There is more to you than you know!

What uncharted horizons does your heart long to explore?

When are you most alive?

What untapped potential lies dormant within your soul?

You will never know the possibilities of adventure unless you move beyond the shell of your security.

"Fan into flame the gift that lies within you."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Utterly Disproportionate

Reading David Platt's powerful book, Radical Together, I was convicted by the following quote from John Piper, inspired by the Journal of David Brainerd:

"Lord, let me make a difference for you that is utterly disproportionate to who I am."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Evangelism Methods

"I don't like your methods of evangelism," someone said to D. L. Moody.

"What's yours?" Moody responded.

"I don't have any."

Moody replied, "then, I like my mine better than yours."

Friday, April 15, 2011

Grocery Store Church

What would we do differently if we viewed church as a spiritual grocery store
rather than a spiritual restaurant?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How Close to the Cliff?

A wealthy lady interviewed three men for a chauffer position.


“How close can you get to the edge of a cliff without falling off?” she asked.

The first guy said, “Twelve inches.”

The second guy said, “Six inches.”

The third guy said, “I’ll stay as far from the cliff as I can!”  He got the job.

We “manage” sin when staying close to the cliff appeals more to us than staying close to Christ. Spiritual victory is never found along the fuzzy edges of compromise. God calls us to steer clear from the cliff altogether.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Treasure Hunt

Here's a little challenge for you today.

Start with a prayer like this, "God, I know your love is amazing and beyond compare.  I also know that you treasure the people you have created -- but many do not realize how deeply they're loved.  Lead me to someone today who needs your encouragement and blessing.  Use me as channel of your grace to show them how much you treasure them."

Then -- clear you mind of clutter and wait for clues and/or nudges.

The Lord might give you a clue up front for your treasure hunt -- a specific place, a unique hint, something special to look for - follow the clue!

During the day, He may nudge your -- "Stop in at this store" -- or "Take this route home instead of your normal routine."  If you receive a nudge like that, then follow it!  God has something special in store.

"Lord, make me a blessing" is a prayer He almost always answers with "Yes!"

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Prayer of Faith

A prayer of faith is not telling God what to do -- it is asking Him what to do.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Should I?

When we are asked to do something on such and such date, our normal response is to ask ourselves. "Can I? Am I available?" A better response, however, is "Should I?"

Craig Groeschel in an interview with Ed Stetzer.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Ministry Mulligans

A great article from Leadership Journal by Jack Connell: Ministry Mulligans.

I concur with what he's saying -- and could add a few more to the list.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Love is in the Listening

Lately, my family has been making fun of my hearing loss. I make them repeat everything, then accuse them of mumbling. It’s my price for Bob Dylan through headphones as a teenager.

Since I can’t hear as well these days, I’m trying to listen better.

Being hard of hearing, however, is not nearly as bad as hard of listening.

Northwoods naturalist, Sigurd Olson, affectionately dubbed his wilderness cabin on Burntside Lake, “Listening Point.” Sig explained, “I named this place Listening Point because only when one comes to listen, only when one is aware and still, can things be seen and heard.”

Can you imagine how rich our relationships would be if we approached them all as Listening Points?

You and I have been given two ears and one mouth. That’s because we’re supposed to listen twice as much as we speak, but talking and explaining come easier than hearing and understanding.

Why is it so hard to listen?

Consider this. We speak at 100-150 words per minute. We are able to comprehend at 250-300 words per minute. We think at 600 words per minute.

So, if you are a fast thinker (600 wpm) and the other person is a slow talker (100 wpm), you still have 500 words per minute left over for thinking about other stuff. For efficient folks, that’s a lot of wasted communication space. Therefore, the fast listener tends to zone out and think about a myriad of other things.

Zoning out is evidenced by such responses: “umm-hmm”, “Yes, dear”, “I don’t know”, and “whatever.” Listening is hard work!

True listening is more than hearing the words. It’s processing those words, and seeking to understand their depth and meaning. As Jim Elliot journaled, “Wherever you are, be all there!”

Margaret Wheatley said, “Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present, and that takes practice but we don’t have to do anything else. We don’t have to advise, or coach, or sound wise. We just have to be willing to sit there and listen.”

“Momma, are you listening to me?” little Heidi wondered. “Umm-Hmmm” the distracted mother replied.

“No, Momma, I need you to listen with your eyes!”

Monday, April 04, 2011

We Ask for Only You

This beautiful song, written by Brian Cheney and Reilley Reilley Gibby, was brought to my attention by my friend, Amanda Mavis -- I would like to teach this one to our congregation.

Radical

I've just finished reading Radical by David Platt -- and the best word I can use to describe is -- radical!

In this powerful bestseller, Platt argues for a new approach to living our faith, which flies in the face of American consumerism.  This is truly a wake up call for the church.

Warning:  I suggest putting on your steel toed shoes before reading this.  You're bound to be convicted.

The author challenges us to think deeply about why we're doing what we're doing in the church, and to rely on God's power rather than slick programs and productions.  e also urges us to give sacrifically as we think about others before ourselves.

Radical is an easy read -- but not so easy to live.  However, I'm sure those who take Platt up on his radical experiment will find their lives transformed.

The Radical Experiment Platt Suggests:

Commit, for one year, to the following:

1)  Pray for the entire world.
2)  Read through the entire Bible.
3)  Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose.
4)  Spend time in another context.
5)  Commit your life to a multiplying community.

Powerful stuff.  Purchase Here.

(A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher, Multnomah.)

Friday, April 01, 2011

Multi-Tasking and Solo-Purposing

Ministry is multi-tasking. You can't be a pastor without doing a lot of different, random things most days.

However,in the larger scope, it is solo-purposing. All of the tasks should be towards one central theme.

When tasks get in the way of the purpose, we get frazzled.

It's important to keep the main purpose in focus, as we go about the various tasks of the day.

What is the purpose? To live in the flow of Holy Love.