Posts

Showing posts from December, 2011

I Am Resolved!

Image
This is a great song for the New Year! Be resolved to follow Jesus!

Carrying the Candle Against the Wind

Image
I know that I have life only insofar as I have love. I have no love except it come from Thee.
Help me, please, to carry this candle against the wind.

--  Wendell Berry, the Kentucky farmer poet

Hayward Wesleyan's March to the Manger 2012

March to the Manger 2011 from Jeremy Mavis on Vimeo. Thanks Jeremy for posting this up for us!

Count Your Blessings

Instead of recounting your woes. . .
count your blessings!

Rather than hashing your frustrations. . .
count your blessings!

Why fuss with your family, when you can. . .
count your blessings?!

Don't fret about things you can't fix . . ..
count your blessings!

Quit grumbling about what you don't have. Focus on what you DO have and.. . .
count your blessings!

Instead of stewing in your circumstances, take a chance and . . .
count your blessings!

Sure, there's plenty wrong with this old world -- but there's plenty right too! Just stop for a moment and . .
Count your blessings!

Yesterday carries a load of baggage, but remember the glad days and . . .
count your blessings!

Tomorrow brings uncertainties, but nothing you and God can't handle together. Throw your shoulders back with faith and . . .
count your blessings!

Life on earth is much too short to spend in swamps of discouragement. Look up! Help is on the way! You can smile and . .
count your blessings!

I Don't Think This is What Jesus Had in Mind

John Wesley Covenant Renewal Service

Image
This Sunday, Hayward Wesleyan Church is going to do the longer version of the Wesley Covenant Renewal Service, which was first published by John Wesley in 1780.  I've taken the liberty to adapt and combine a few versions of the Covenant for the pattern we're going to use.
The shorter version we've used for the past few years can be found here.   I drew heavily from the versions from George Lyons and Jeren Rowel.
Wesley Covenant Renewal Service An Adaptation by Mark O. Wilson from versions of the Covenant by George Lyon and Jeren Rowel
Introduction:Historical background of John Wesley, and the purpose for the covenant renewal. Hymn:“Come Let Us Use the Grace Divine” written by Charles Wesley especially for the covenant renewal. LEADER: "Come, let us join ourselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant which will never be forgotten" (Jer. 50:5, RSV). LEADER: Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden; cleanse th…

Spiritual Apathy a Major Concern

Millions Shrug a Religion

(Thanks to Mark Gorveatte for making me aware of this article.)

So, What Are Your Plans?

The launching of a New Year is a good time for new resolutions.  Real resolutions are not wish lists, "I should's" or "Wouldn't it be nice?"

Resolution literally means "wholehearted commitment."  Every river has bedrocks, and the water flows around the rocks.

The only way to make signficant change is to implement your commitments like rocks -- and then let the rest of life flows around them. 

Many well meaning people depend on inspiration to keep their spiritual resolutions.  Now, inspiration is a good booster to get the rocket off the ground -- but won't keep it flying.

Resolutions won't stick unless accompanied by solid plans!  These plans, when embraced, are the rocks -- the priorities -- and everything else flows around them.

With this in mind. . .

1.  What is your Bible Reading Plan?
If you don't have one, you won't do it.  You may intend to read the Bible regularly, but your efforts will be feeble at best.  Scripture is our s…

How Great Thou Art One Man Quartet

Image

Be Sure Your Sin Will Find You Out

Image

Top Ten Reads of 2011

Although, like John Wesley, I'm a man of one book, I consider it a pastoral duty to read deeply and widely, Good reading is essential to good preaching. That said, here's my Top Ten list for 2011:

1)  Parade of Faith by Ruth Tucker.  I consider this the best general church history book on the market.

2)  Soul Shiftby Steve DeNeff and David Drury.  An outstanding book on spiritual transformation -- getting us to move outside of ourselves.

3)  Circle Makerby Mark Batterson, my favorite pastoral author.  An inspiring book on prayer and faith, that has led me to start praying circles around people and projects.

4) The King Jesus Gospel by Scot McKnight.  A challenging call to a more robust Gospel understanding.  Beyond Jesus as Savior (which is vitally important) to Jesus as Lord.

5)  Nearing Homeby Billy Graham.  A beautiful gift from a wise pilgrim nearing the mountain top.

6)  Spiritual Waypointsby Bob Whitesel.  An excellent overview of the faith journey, and how we can best e…

Apprehended

Image

The Christmas Story

Image
As told by the children of St. Paul's Church, Aukland, New Zealand.

Jesus Was a Small Town Preacher

Image
The majority of protestant churches are in small towns and rural communities. Many pastors, upon graduation from seminary, find themselves in one of these "ends of the earth" assignments.

The attitude is "I'm stuck here in this one horse town for a while but after I learn the ropes, I'll move on and do something more important."

Today, as Christmas approaches, I'd like to challenge the assumption that small places are insignificant.

Jesus, God in human flesh, came to the earth on a mission from heaven to transform humanity. He looked the whole world over and picked the perfect place to launch his global and eternal enterprise.

Where did he go? What was his strategic missional selection? A small town!!

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times." (Micah 5:2)

You won't get any Christmas cards with pictu…

Fascinating Population Density Map

Check out this link from my good friend and fellow pastor, Jeremy Mavis of a very interesting map which displays the world via population density:  What Does Seven Billion Look LIke?

And our mission is to bring holy love to ALL of them!

Parade of Faith

Image
I'm a church history buff. That's the stuff I read for fun. The stories of faith heroes from the past stand as present inspiration. I was thrilled, therefore, when my dear friend, Ruth Tucker's Parade of Faith (Zondervan) was released this year.
Parade of Faith is, hands down, the best general church history book on the market today. I have several volumes of noteworthy histories on my shelves -- but Tucker's surpasses them all.

Here's why:

1) Ruth Tucker is a story-teller. She is a master of biographical history, and that's what makes it powerful and interesting. History is wonderful when it's told as a story, and horriblly boring without skin on.  Tucker makes it come alive!

2) The book is packed with outstanding pictures. I like that! A picture paints a thousand words. Tucker's excellent use of illustrations makes this book stand apart from the others.
3) The Parade of Faith includes branches from many different faith streams, and treats them all …

The Meaning of Handel's Messiah

Image
This past Tuesday, our family participated in St. Scholastica's Handel's Messiah Sing-a-Long.   The entire audience was the choir, and it was a rapturous experience!
Although we were lost in the notes half the time, the message of this grand oratorio was not lost on us.
Here's a basic recap:

*PART I*

OVERTURE

RECITATIVE. (Accompanied - Tenor) Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God; speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem; and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness:-Prepare ye the way of the Lord: make straight in the desert a
highway for our God.

AIR (Tenor)
Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight and the rough places plain.

CHORUS And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together;for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

RECITATIVE. (Accompanied - Bass)
Thus saith the Lord of Hosts:-Yet once a little while and I w…

Crowder Christmas with Cell Phones

Image

13 and 1

Image
Last Sunday, when the Packers lost their first game of the season to the Chiefs, I was really bummed, and grumbled all over the house,
My son, Ryan, brought some perspective to the situation when he informed me the Colts had just won their first game of the season on the same day.
“The Packers are 13 and 1 and the Colts are 1 and 13,” Ryan noted, “And I wonder what’s going on in their locker rooms right now?”
I imagined the Packers slumping to the lockers under a gloomy cloud of disappointment and discouragement.  Meanwhile, I pictured the Colts cheering in wild jubilation and slapping each other on the back.
Then Ryan said, “But despite how they’re feeling today, the fact is the Packers are still 13 and 1 – and on top of the league, while the Colts, at 1 and 13, are still in the basement.”
And I needed to hear that.
Sometimes, like the Packers, We end up getting beat by perplexing problems.   When life takes a negative turn, we tend to sag in discouragement.  If we’re not prayed up and fil…

This Was the Moment

Image
BC: AD by U. A. Fanthorpe This was the moment when Before
Turned into After, and the future's
Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.

This was the moment when nothing
Happened. Only dull peace
Sprawled boringly over the earth.

This was the moment when even energetic Romans
Could find nothing better to do
Than counting heads in remote provinces.

And this was the moment
When a few farm workers and three
Members of an obscure Persian sect
Walked haphazard by starlight straight
Into the kingdom of heaven.

Into This Silent Night

Image
Yesterday, at the memorial service for Jerry McAllister, I shared the following poem by Ann Weems, from her book, Kneeling in Bethlehem:
Into This Silent Night
Into this silent night As we make our weary way We know not where; Just when the night becomes its darkest And we cannot see our path; Just then is when the angels rush in, Their hands full of stars.




The Lamb of God

Image

What Christmas Means to Me

The following poem was written by my 89 year old mother, Elsie Wilson.  Way to go Momma!!

What does Christmas mean to me? Is it lots of gifts beneath the tree? Is it lovely lights, which brightly glow? Is it sending cards to all we know? Is it rushing from store to store? Shop till you drop and then some more?
Is it Santa Claus, with a load of toys? Dolls for the girls and trucks for the boys? Is it cooking and baking those good Christmas treats? Is it just a time when the whole family meets? No, none of these things mean Christmas to me. There’s a far greater meaning than any of these.
God sent His Son, His Gift to the earth, To be born in a manger, a lowly birth, To die on a cross, God’s salvation plan, This gift of salvation is offered to man. This gift is given to all who believe, Our sins are forgiven when we confess and receive. This gift of salvation, so wonderful and free, This is what Christmas means to me.

How to Have a Successful Marriage

Global Christianity

Dave Wilkerson's Last Blog Post

Image
Pastor David Wilkerson's last blog post before he was killed in a tragic automobile accident, on April 27, 2011:
"To those going through the valley and shadow of death, hear this word: Weeping will last through some dark, awful nights," he wrote, "and in that darkness you will soon hear the Father whisper, `I am with you. I cannot tell you why right now, but one day it will all make sense. You will see it was all part of my plan. It was no accident."'

The Original GPS

Image

On the Death of Christopher Hitchens

Image

Seven Temptations Leaders Face

If Joseph and Mary Had Facebook

Image

The Aim of God at Christmas

The aim of God at Christmas is to make the goodies of the world lose all their attraction in comparison to the surpassing glory of hte divine Name.  The essence of Christmas purity is not what you stand against, but what you stand in awe of, the glorious name of God.
-- John Piper, "You Shall Go Forth Leaping Like Calves"

The Cupboards are About to Burst!

A good friend recently shared this encouraging vision on her blog, Random Inspirations:

The cupboard doors are bulging (with abundance and blessings). They are about to spring open because they cannot be contained much longer. It is HE who holds the doors. His time is perfect.

He will release them when it is time and they will pour out like when a dam bursts and all the water gushes. They will come all at once. He has great plans - plans which cause us to rejoice. Plans for a "great" future. AND because of that we will say, "There is joy in the house of the Lord".

It just seems so obvious that we will be joyful because of what He does. We won't be able to do anything except rejoice. It will overflow from us, just like a dam bursting. It will gush forth.

I'll receive that!  It's just the good word I needed to hear today! 

Read the rest of the wonderful post here.

He Giveth More Grace

Among the great promises, precious true,
Is this, all sufficient for me and for you.
Whatever you need, anytime, anyplace,
Just trust and remember, "He giveth more grace."

When grief thrusts you through with its cold piercing dart;
When friends pass you by, almost breaking your heart;
Just look through your tears for a glimpse of God's face.
And cling to the promise, "He giveth more grace."

When petty annoyances, problems and cares
Take up their abode in your mind unawares;
Go into your closet and earnestly pray --
"I need just a little more grace, Lord, today."

If burdens rest lightly and troubles seem few,
Or strike like a thunderbolt out of the blue,
Serene may you go, clinging close to His hand --
"He giveth more grace" as your need may demand.

--  Kathryn Blackburn Peck (Herald of Holiness)

The Greatest Barrier to Revival

"Vast tracts of fallow ground in the hearts of professing Christians surely constitute the greatest barrier to the rain of revival." -- Arthur Wallis

Small Church Sustainability

Image
My blogger buddy, Chuck Warnock, recently shared a very insightful post -- Sustainability:  A Small Church Concern.

Small churches are concerned about a lot of things including growth, finances, and ministry programs.  But one issue seems to cut across all of these small church concerns — sustainability. Small churches often do not ask the question, “How are we going to sustain this?” before launching a new program or ministry.

The Anyway Poem

Last week, during the funeral service of my friend, Nan Burns, one of the finest eulogies I’ve ever heard was delivered.
As it concluded, I leaned over to Heath, who sat beside me, and whispered, Wow!”
Three immediately came to my mind:
1)Nan was an extraordinary person – thus giving her friend plenty of good material to use for the eulogy. 2)The right words, spoken in the right way, can capture the beauty of a life. 3)The best way to have beautiful things spoken about you at your funeral is to live a beautiful life.
This moving tribute included a reading, which Nan had penned in calligraphy and given to the reader as a gift.  As he read it, I immediately sensed that I should share it in this week’s Positively Speaking column.  Someone – perhaps you -- needs to hear this message.
The author is unknown, though some attribute it to Mother Teresa.  It is reported to have hung on the wall in her orphanage in Calcutta.  There are different versions of it, but I’m just sharing Nan’s rendition:
“Peo…

A Rendition of O Holy Night You'll Never Forget . . . But Wish You Had

Image
At least he's making a joyful noise. . .

A Helpful Philanthropy Guide

Image
I've always considered philanthropy an activity reserved only for the rich and famous.  Laura Arrillaga-Anderson, in Giving 2.0, sees it differently.  "A philanthropist", she says, "is anyone who gives anything -- time, money, experience, skills, and networks -- in any amount to create a better world."
In other words, if you use what you have to make a positive difference, then you're a philanthropist, just like Bill and Melinda Gates!
The inclusion of volunteerism in the philanthropy category was a new concept for me -- but I see point.  Investing ourselves is the highest level of giving.  It is truly rewarding,a nd makes the greatest impact.
Investing our money to transform the world is also a worthwhile endeavor.
Giving 2.0 is a a comprehensive guide to assist donors in making wise decisions with their charitable funds.

Arrilaga-Anderson gives brilliant advice for making strategic charitable investments.  She provides practical advice on how to research a…

"Here Am I, Lord Send Me"

Image

Nearing Home

Image
Billy Graham's final book, Nearing Home,is a road map for growing old.  After all, as the great Christian statesman declares, "Old age is not for sissies."
This mighty man of God has given us a wonderful gift by sharing this part of his life with us.  Standing at the peak of the mountain, he looks back, sees how far he has climbed, shares wisdom from the journey, and marvels at the glorious summit.
 As I turned the pages, I felt as if I was holding a precious treasure in my hands.
This book especially encourages those who are in life's final chapters, infusing hope and blessing into the difficulties common to aging.
The last chapter, on heaven, thrilled my soul, and made me want to be there! 
Senior saints will find tremendous blessing and spiritual help from these pages.  Young pastors will benefit from them as well.  It will help them understand and treat the older members of the congregation better.
Purchase Here
(A complimentary copy was provided for review on th…

The Christmas Story on Facebook

If they had facebook back when Jesus was born, it might have gone like this.

Silent Monks Hallelujah Chorus

Image

One in Seven Billion

Image
The world is at seven billion people now.  Where do you fit in that number?  BBC has a handy tool to help you figure it out:  The World At Seven Billion.

Oops!

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from my friend Bill, sharing a snappy Country Gospel song, which really inspired me.

I also received a "spiritual journey" assignment from one of the ministerial students I teach. In her 17 page paper she shared many deep and personal experiences from her life. It was truly a dramatic story of redemption.

Somehow, by mistake, I replied to the ministerial student, when I thought I was responding to Bill.

My e-mail read: "I love it!! I’m going to link it to my blog – and see how we can fit this into a country gospel jam. Thanks Bill!"

The baffled ministerial student replied, "I'm glad you loved it, but I'm not sure I want my spiritual journey in a country gospel jam.  Who is Bill?  I don't remember any Bill in all those 17 pages."

Use Your Wings!

Image
The other day, while digging through old files, I found some interesting clippings from The Wesleyan Methodist Magazine.  These articles, written over five decades ago, by Dr. Oliver G. Wilson, struck a deep chord with me.  Although culture has changed considerably since that time, the essence and need of humanity remains the same.  We all need to belong, to be loved, and to be encouraged.  This is true for all people at all times, in any cultures.
One delightful article told of Dr. Wilson’s friend who, driving down the street, saw a mallard sitting on the sidewalk.
The gentleman was intrigued by the unusual sight.  He stopped his vehicle, got out and approached the sitting duck.
Alarmed, the duck sprang to his feet and started running as fast as his little ducky legs could carry him.  The man decided to follow the worried bird.
Anxiously looking back over his shoulder, the terrified mallard ran faster, and the man speeded up behind him.
Finally, after a running a couple of city blocks, th…