Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leonard Sweet Goes Viral

"The current generation is driven by a God-given desire to know others and to be known by others.  Most of them, in seeking to connect in meaningful ways, have found a place of belonging that is outside the organized church.  Why not bring the two together?"

Viral, the newest book by Leonard Sweet, explores the potential of social networking in an evangelism/ministry context. 
Initially, I cast a wary eye at the subtitle:  "How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite Revival."  Really??  Seems like a stretch.

However, as Sweet unpacks his point, I see where he's coming from.  It's all about relationships.  The TGIF Generation (a Sweet moniker for Twitter, Google, I-phone/pad, Facebook) is connecting in ways previous generations could never imagine.  How can we leverage this movement for the advancement of God's mission in the world?  Perhaps we can learn a few things about connecting from the rising generation, who can't stop texting, tweeting or updating their facebook status.

As usual with his writings, Sweet packs this book full of pithy quotes, and poetic phrases.

A good read, that challenges those of us in the Gutenberg generation to think a little more like Google.

Purchase Here

(A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review on this blog.)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Seven Personality Traits of Great Leaders

Thom Rainer recently researched common personality traits of great leaders, drawing from history as well as contemporary examples.  Here's what he discovered:

What then are the personality traits of effective leaders? Here are the seven I discovered in the order of frequency. I use the past tense in the seven items below since a majority of the leaders I studied were deceased.
  1. They had intense personalities. The list included both introverts and extroverts, so intensity is not the same as an exuberant personality. Rather, these leaders had a focus and determination that was evident even if they were quiet and calm on the surface.
  2. They had attitudes of gratitude. These leaders saw each day and each opportunity as a gift. They had the opposite of an entitlement mentality. As they rose through the ranks of their respective professions, they rarely complained or whined about their environment, pay, benefits, or lack of promotions. They were just grateful for the opportunities they had been given.
  3. They were intensely loyal. They were loyal to the organizations, to their superiors, to those who worked for them, and to their fellow employees and co-workers. Theirs was not a blind loyalty, but it was a deep and forgiving loyalty.
  4. They were joyous. Though their personalities were diverse, most of these leaders had a joy about them that was contagious. Some of the leaders manifest their joy with a winsome sense of humor. Others demonstrated joy by their ongoing contentment of life and its opportunities.
The other traits can be found on his post here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Posers


As police escorted him out, he shouted, "This is why you don't dine and dash, kiddies!"

Reminds me of those posing as pastors -- "Shepherds who feed only themselves.  They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind." -- Jude 1:12

Friday, February 24, 2012

Preparing to Preach -- Aaron's Drest

The following poem, Aaron, by English country parson, George Herbert, describes beautifully the necessary preparation of a preacher:

Holiness on the head,
Light and perfection on the breast,
Harmonious bells below, raising the dead
To led them unto life and rest.
Thus are true Aarons dressed.

Profaneness in my head,
Defects and darkness in my breast,
A noise of passions ringing me for dead
Unto a place where is no rest.
Poor priest thus am I dressed.

Only another head
I have, another heart and breast,
another music, making live not dead,
without whom I could have no rest:
In him I am well dressed.

Christ is my only head,
My alone only heart and breast,
My only music, striking me even dead;
That to the old man I may rest,
And be in him new dressed.

So holy in my head,
Perfect and light in my dear breast,
My doctrine tuned by Christ, (who is not dead,
But lives in me while I do rest)
Come people; Aaron's dressed

Three Signs of a Great Leader

Artie Davis hit the nail on the head with this one:  Three Signs of a Great Leader!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Nothing Personal, But. . .

When someone says "Nothing personal, but. . ." what follows is almost always personal.

Disunity Halts Progress

“[...the spirit of division and discord, which prevails in the church…] is one of the leading causes by which Christianity has been staid in its progress through the world, and the precious blessings have been retained within a narrow compass, which God designed to have no bounds but those of the inhabitable globe. It is also one of the darkest clouds which overhand our prospect for the future; for the signs of the times hold out little or not promise of its disappearing, and so long as it exists it must operate most injuriously upon the interests of religion, and hinder its revival in the hearts of men...”
--  Rev. Patrick Fairbairn
From Worldview Church Pastor to Pastor

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

John Fletcher's Heart Check Questions


My hero, John Fletcher, the 18th Century Vicar of Madeley, was a seeker after God. His heart's desire was to press in to love Him more fully.

When I visited his grave a few years ago, I prayed, "Lord, make me a John Fletcher."

He drew up this list of questions for personal reflection at the end of the day:

1 Did I awake spiritual, and was I watchful in keeping my mind from wandering this morning when I was rising?

2 Have I this day got nearer to God in times of prayer, or have I given way to a lazy, idle spirit?

3 Has my faith been weakened by unwatchfulness, or quickened by diligence this day?

4 Have I this day walked by faith and eyed God in all things?

5 Have I denied myself in all unkind words and thoughts? Have I delighted in seeing others preferred before me?

6 Have I made the most of my precious time, as far as I had light, strength, and opportunity?

7 Have I kept the issues of my heart in the means of grace, so as to profit by them?

8 What have I done this day for the souls and bodies of God’s dear saints?

9 Have I laid out anything to please myself when I might have saved the money for the cause of God?

10 Have I governed well my tongue this day, remembering that “in a multitude of words there wanteth not sin”?

11 In how many instances have I denied myself this day?

12 Do my life and conversation adorn the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Old Warmth is a Cold Notion

"A manifestation of the Spirit last year will no more support a soul this year, than air breathed yesterday will nourish the flame of life today. The sun which warmed us last week must shine again this week. Old light is dead light. A notion of old warmth is a very cold notion. " 
-- Rev. John Fletcher of Madeley

Friday, February 17, 2012

He Shall Drink by the Brook in the Way

Yesterday morning, I found great refreshment from this poem by Susan Coolidge.  It was in an old 19th Century volume in my collection,  Guests of the Heart, by Adam Craig:

The way is hot, the way is long,
'Tis weary hours to even-song,
And we must travel though we tire;
But all the time beside the road
Trickle the small rills of God,
At hand for our desire.

Quick mercies, small amenities,
Brief moments of repose and ease,
We stoop, and drink, and so fare on,
Unpausing, but re-nerved in strength
From hour to hour, until at length,
Night falleth, and the day is done.

The birds sip of the wayside rill,
And raise their heads in praises, still
Upborne upon their flashing wings:
So drinking thus along the way,
Our little meed of thanks we pay
To Him who fills the water spring.

And deals with equal tenderness
The larger mercies and the less:
"O Lord, of good the fountain free,
Close by our hard day's journeying
Be thou the all-sufficient spring,
And hourly let us drink of thee.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Church Business

"I was at a meeting of the Superiors General in Europe.  They talked only of changing the structures of society, organizing things in a different way.  It all came to nothing.  It did not do something for the poor, or preach Christ to those without religion, to those totally ignorant of God.
I was happy when it was all over."

-- Motherer Teresa in My Life for the Poor

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Great Small Town Ministry Blog

A great blog by small town pastor, Andy Wiebe:  Pastoring in a Small Town and Loving It

162 Reasons to Marry

Just in time for Valentine's Day!  From the Family Research Council. . . 162 Reasons to Marry.

The findings reveal that married persons enjoy stronger relationships with their children, have better mental and physical health, and are less likely to commit a crime.

Aside from curbing violence and crime, marriage is also linked to a stable economy. "Taxpayers spend at least $112 billion a year for divorce and unwed childbearing. Marriage brings vastly more financial stability to individuals,"

"Research shows that virtually all of the growth in child poverty in the United States since 1970 can be attributed to the nation's retreat from marriage."

FRC concluded in its study that the strength of the nation "depends on good marriages to yield strong revenues, good health, low crime, high education, and high human capital. Smart parents and smart societies pay attention to the state and strength of marriage."

Monday, February 13, 2012

Church Reclaims OMG

"People forget what they are actually saying when they say 'OMG'" explained Rev. Howard Langmead of St. Paul's Anglican Church in Caulfield North, Australia.  "We're reclaiming 'oh my God' for the church!"

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Remembering Whitney Houston

"A lot of artists can hit notes but they don't hit us. Say words but they have no meaning. Have gifts and talent but no anointing. Something about Whitney that would reach in you and make you feel."
-- Al Sharpton speaking at Second Baptist Church, Los Angeles.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Filled Up, Poured Out Table of Contents

Below you will find the table of contents for my new book which will be released March 15.  You will notice three parts with Latin titles:  Vacuus means "empty or devoid of".  Repleo means  to replenish, fill up or satisfy",  Fluo means "to flow, pour or stream."
Notice the parallels between the Filled Up and the Poured Out:  Presence, Promise, Peace and Power -- and yet how the outflow differs from the inflow of the same stuff.
Part 1. Vacuus
1. Clouds without Rain: Empty Pastors
2. Broken Cisterns: Empty Churches
3. Catharsis: Empty Out to Fill Up
Part 2. Repleo
4. Immersion: Filled with God’s Presence
5. Faith: Filled with God’s Promise
6. Contentment: Filled with God’s Peace
7. Enduement: Filled with God’s Power
8. Confluence: Prayer Is the Filling Station
Part 3. Fluo
9. Compassion: Pour Out God’s Presence
10. Blessing: Pour Out God’s Promise
11. Righteousness: Pour Out God’s Peace
12. Influence: Pour Out God’s Power
13. Saturation: Go Be the Church

Fascinating Data About America's Churches

The Hartford Institute for Religion Research has released some fascinating demographics of the churches in America.  There's a lot to ponder here.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Winner Is. . .

Several people voted in the Hayward Wesleyan Fun Day Poll and the results are in!

*  Winner -- Potluck Cookoff -- 43%
Prizes awarded to the best main dish, best salad, best dessert and one other category to be determined.

Now, when would be the best time to do it?  Cast your vote at the poll on the sidebar of my blog!

(Hawaiian Party took second with 19%, and Hot Dogs and Brats took third with 16% of the votes.)

Preacher Dies After Sermon

His last word, "Amen!"  Now, that's the way I'd like to go!

Welcome home, Bishop Barnett Thoroughgood.  Your benediction was call to worship beyond the gates of glory.

Five Views of the Bible

1) Uninspired and Uninspiring:
How could a book written thousands of years ago possibly have any relevance for my life?  Many secular people hold this view.

 2) Uninspired but Inspiring:
Like Shakespeare's poems, or Greek mythology -- interesting literature, but nothing divine about it.  Often, "Bible scholars" interviewed on the History Channel have this view.

3) Inspired by Uninspiring:
The Bible is God's Holy Word, but remains unread because it is boring.  Many professing Christians think this, though very few say it.  They think this way because have not yet read the entire Bible, and do not care to study it deeply.  After a good start in Genesis, they get bogged down in Leviticus and quit.  It's like the little boy who "doesn't like" Chinese food because he hasn't given it a real chance.

 4) Partly Inspired:
Some parts are God's Word and some parts aren't.  This is the cut and paste approach, where we eliminate the passages we wish weren't in there.  But what is our standard for determining which parts are which?  The Bible message of people who hold this view looks very much like the editor.

5) Inspired and Inspiring:
This is what I think!  The Bible is God's Word and the most helpful, inspiring, relevant guide for living ever written.  There's a good reason why it continues to be the world's bestseller every year. 

Boring?  Are you kidding??  This book is packed with mystery, action adventure, romance, mystery, intrigue, drama, poetry, and predictions for the future.

Although I read it every morning, and have read it all many times, I find something fresh and new daily in these sacred pages.  Granted, not all parts of the Bible are equally inspiring -- but they are all equally inspired.  There's a good reason why every part is included, and the more we dig into it, the more treasure we find!

The most meaningful moments in my life have been wrapped in Scripture.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Country Church Pastor

Check out this new blog by Travis Cox.  He's a rural pastor, sharing insights, stories, and how-to's of country church life.

Realistic Love Songs

In light of Valentine's Day approaching, My friend, Jim Watkins, has provided a few realistic love songs.

For example: The Rose—and Thorns

Some say love it is a feeling, that makes the heart rate rise,
Some say love it is a hormone, that makes our race survive.
I say love it is a diaper that's changed at three A.M.
It's attendance at recitals, and games that never end.
I say love is buying Playtex products for your mate,
I say love it does for others, the things you truly hate.

Several more here

Monday, February 06, 2012

Halftime in America

This was a great Super Bowl commercial!

Serve in the Overflow of God's Love

A synopsis of my upcoming book from Wesleyan Publishing House:

Thirsty people are looking to the church for fountains of
life-giving water. Too often, they find leaky buckets instead.
Pastors, often running on empty themselves, are enticed
by the latest fad rather than seeking to serve in the power
of the Spirit. And thirsty people walk away empty,
convinced the church has nothing unique to offer.

Pastor Mark O. Wilson says it’s time for the church to rise
up in the power of the Holy Spirit to serve this present
age. In Filled Up, Poured Out, he challenges and inspires
fellow pastors to prepare their hearts to be filled with the
Holy Spirit, so that they can in turn pour out God’s
presence, promise, peace, and power on to their
congregations and communities.

Filled with personal, inspirational stories from Mark’s
experience with growing a thriving congregation in a
Wisconsin Northwoods town, this book will inspire you to
seek the replenishing waters of God’s Spirit and show you
the pathway to revival for your parched soul.

Like Filled Up, Poured Out on Facebook

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Historic Ordination in Nicaragua

The Wisconsin Wesleyans have a partnership with Nicaragua, and we've been able to train pastors, build schools, and launch several congregations.  I was privileged to go there to train pastors a few years ago, and fell in love with these precious brothers and sisters.

Just two weeks ago, the very first Wesleyan ordination service was held in Nicaragua -- a truly historic event!  I wish I could have been there.  What a milestone!

A special congratulations to my friend, Alfonzo (I called him "The Fonz") who was among those ordained.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Win a Free Copy of Filled Up, Poured Out!

My book, Filled Up, Poured Out: How God's Spirit Can Revive Your Passion and Purpose, will be released on April 1.

"Like" the Filled Up, Poured Out Facebook Page by March 15 and you could be one of five randomly selected people to receive a free copy!

Pre-order information here

The God I Never Knew

I recently received a complimentary review copy of The God I Never Knew: How Friendship with the Holy Spirit Can Change Your Life by Robert Morris, and found it to be an delightfully engaging text.

This book is, by far, the clearest explanation I've ever heard of Charismatic-Pentecostal theology/experience, and does a great job of shattering stereotypes.  For instance, "pentecostals are those groups whose women either wear too much makeup or none at all."

Morris celebrates the joy of the Spirit-filled life, while challenging the excess baggage that often comes with people who speak that kind of language.  He's definitely from the Charismatic camp, but isn't pushy or arrogant with it.  Instead, Morris presents a very balanced perspective, reminding me somewhat of Jack Hayford.

As a Wesleyan, I appreciate this book's emphasis on the richness of the Spirit filled life, and agree with more than 90% of it.  My differences are in the details, and I'd rather not quibble over them.  I'm in favor of anything that helps people love God more.   

A concerned mother approached me a while back.  "Pastor, I'm worried sick about my son."

"What's the issue?" I asked.

"He's joined a pentecostal church!  I'm afraid he's becoming a religious nut case!"

I replied, "I know a hundred mothers who would gladly trade places with you."

Purchase Here