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Showing posts from September, 2014

God Sent the Rain: An Amazing Display of God's Power in Africa

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I received the following update recently from my dear missionary friend, Dr. Harold Adolph.  I have visited the Soddo Christian Hospital and have met many of the staff.  This report of God's miraculous power reminds me of Elijah vs the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel:

We are back from our emergency trip to Ethiopia. . . and getting our feet back on the ground in Florida. We are full of praise to God for His obvious blessing of the ministry of Soddo Christian Hospital.

A small team from the hospital recently felt very burdened for the Borano people along the southern border of Ethiopia. This is the same language group of nomadic people that our son David and his family have worked with for over 26 years! They went for a short visit to help medically, with food and also with the Gospel.

They were stopped and told to return without rendering help. But in the process they were final told that if their God could make it rain within 24 hours they would all believe and become Christians. It…

20 Stress Busters

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When you are under tremendous stress, and life feels like a pressure cooker, then it's time to stop and evaluate what's happening inside of you.  Stress is like the red lights on the automobile dashboard.  It indicates a warning that something under the hood needs attention.  Here are a few questions to consider when you feel the tension rising:

1)  What symptoms indicate that I am stressed out?  
2)  What are the immediate and underlying causes of my tension?  Often, the thing that is "stressing us out", is just a symptom and not the cause.  Look beneath the immediate situation.
3)  Am I living at a sustainable pace?  Look back at your schedule over the past two weeks and ask yourself, "Is this sane?"
4)  Do I have enough breathing room between events and responsibilities?  If not, what can I eliminate from my life?
5)  Is this temporary or permanent?  Is there light at the end of the tunnel, or am I just digging a deeper hole?
6)  Am I operating out of my…

A Bike Race Brings the Difference Down

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A poem I write in honor of Hayward's Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival

Amid cheers of loved ones, out-of-towners, and smatterings of locals
congregated on Main Street's crowded side, 

The vast Bicycle Armada glides.

Two thousand five hundred, did I hear?
Sailing furiously down Main Street
Into wooded wilderness.

Two thousand five hundred look-alikes
On fat tired bikes.
But they, themselves seem neither fat nor tired (yet!)

Hunched over handlebars, determined
The helmeted hopefuls fly
In wild-eyed animation.

Wave after wave, the countless waves go by
inspiring awe, and even tears from sidewalk sentimentalists
who with wave and cheer, race on with them -- vicariously.

Two thousand five hundred souls hodgepodged,
Cobbled together from different ilk.
Following the clarion call. . .

From Minnesota and Montana
Texas and Kentucky.
From urban sprawl and hamlet

Together, they ride.

Farmer and Banker
Undertaker and Mechanic
Minister and Bartender

Together, they ride.

Republican and Democrat
Believer and Skeptic
Liberal…

Build a Little Fence of Trust Around Today

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I referred to the following experience in my book, Filled Up, Poured Out: How God's Spirit Can Revive Your Passion and Purpose.  It holds deep meaning for me.

One day, after making a hospital visit in Duluth, Minnesota, I was drawn by the spire of the old First Presbyterian Church. A kind secretary opened up the sanctuary for me to sit and pray for a while.

Gazing around, my eyes fell upon a beautiful stained glass window. It was the picture of a gravestone with dark purple and black hues overshadowing it. But at the top of the window, squarely in the center of a black night, shone a bright golden star -- which seemed to exude hope and light. The star was the focal point of the window.

At the bottom, the following words were inscribed: In memory of Sarah Agnes Graff 1853-1889 Build a little fence of trust around today. Fill the space with loving work and therein stay. Look not through the sheltering bars upon tomorrow. God will help thee bear whatever comes, if joy or sorrow.
I wonder…

On the Demise of an Angry Minister

poison in his brain
a volcanic couldron
boiling beneath pastoral toil.

one cannot force bitterness down.
it erupts sooner or later, violently
to the pity and slight suprise of those around,

who shake their heads in dark dismay.
cluck their tongues and sadly say,
he saved others, but himself, he cannot save.

Worry Sinks the Boat

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Anxiety pokes a hole in the bottom of the boat.  If you don't plug the hole, your spirit will sink.

I have faced many problems and difficult situations in life, and have never found one that improved with worry.  Worry only multiplies negative energy.
Think about it for a moment.  If you worry about something bad that doesn't happen, you expend emotional energy needlessly.  If you worry about something bad that DOES happen, you expend emotional energy twice -- on both ends of the problem.
Why not just let things unfold -- and conserve your emotional energy until you actually have to deal with the bad situation?
We cannot control most of what we worry about.  This is our feeble attempt to manage the uncontrollable.  If you can't do something about it, then the issue is not a problem -- it is a fact of life.  No use fretting and stewing over something you cannot control.
Worry is contagious.  Verbalizing anxieties is like sneezing in the car -- you pass the virus on to every…

When Earth Born Clouds Arise

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I ran across the phrase, "earth born clouds" in John Keble's classic book of poetry, The Christian Year, based on The Book of Common Prayer.

Keble, a 19th Century Anglican, was trying to connect his church liturgy with common language of the heart.

Here's the phrase I read that captured me:

Sun of my soul, Thou Savior, dear.
It is not night if Thou be near.
Oh! May no earth born clouds arise
to hide thee from thy servant's eyes.

I've been pondering -- what are the earth born clouds that keep us from seeing Jesus? What is the hazy mist that obscures our vision?

Here are six --

1. compartmentalization (segregating the sacred from the common)
2. inordinate affection (loving the things of earth too much)
3. discouragement (a spirit of heaviness)
4. negativity (unbelief disguised as wisdom)
5. anxiety (F.E.A.R. -- False Evidence Appearing Real)
6. turmoil (relational snags)

I have experienced all of the above as earth born clouds at one time or another.

The good news -- beyond th…

The Cross,The Switchblade and the Man who Believed

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David Wilkerson's recent biography, The Cross, The Switchblade and the Man who Believed is an excellent read.  I found tremendous insight for my own spiritual journey in these pages.

Written by Wilkerson's son, Gary, this book presents the unvarnished story of a man who was completely sold out for Jesus, willing to sacrifice -- but who also experienced significant emotional/relational struggles along the way.  Gary is respectful and honest as he interprets the life of his father, and reflects on what it was like "living with David Wilkerson."

Exploring Wilkerson's harsh ultra-conservative Pentecostal roots helps me understand the shrill tone I often picked up from his books, newsletters and messages.  For much of his life and ministry, Wilkerson was high on holiness and low on grace.

However, he remained humble and open for personal growth.  Surprisingly, it was Leonard Ravenhill who supplied Wilkerson with a fresh understanding of what it really means to live i…