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Showing posts from September, 2015

Shooting Blessings

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The following excerpt is adapted from my first book, Filled Up, Poured Out: How God’s Spirit Can Revive Your Passion and Purpose:

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Driving down Main Street, several years ago with my little girl in the back seat, I glanced in the rearview mirror, and caught her aiming a finger gun at unsuspecting pedestrians. “Pow! Pow! Pow!”

“Hannah, cut that out!” I scolded, “It’s not nice. We don’t shoot people; we bless them.”

After riding in silence for a few minutes, she started up again—this time with two fingers, “Pow! Pow! Pow!”

“Hannah, didn’t I tell you to stop shooting people?”

“But Daddy,” she replied, “this time, I’m shooting blessings!”

Shooting blessings requires a few essentials.

Positive Energy
Some folks run on positive juice, and others run on negative. We bring blessing with the positive.

Encouraging Words
Everyone’s imperfect, but we must look for the good rather than finding fault. Building up others is called edification, and this begins at home. Are you speaking y…

How to Evict Worry From Your Life

Two men were climbing a steep hill on a bicycle built for two. When they finally made it to the top, the first man said, "Whew! That was a stiff climb. I think it was the hardest hill I've ever been on.""It certainly was," his companion replied, "and if I hadn't kept the brake on, we would have slid down backwards!"
When we worry, it's like pedaling uphill with the brakes on. Anxious thoughts make life ten times harder.
Unfortunately, our natural human tendency is to worry about our situations. Is there anybody on this earth who is not familiar with the uncomfortable gnawing of worry in the belly? I seriously doubt it.
Yet, although worry is familiar to us all, we don't have to treat it like a welcomed guest. In fact, we have every right in the world to kick it out! "No Vacancy" -- There's no place for anxious thinking here!
How can we evict worry from our lives? Let me offer a few suggestions:
1. Talk to yourself!
A great wa…

A Bike Race Brings the Difference Down

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A poem I wrote a few years ago 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.

 Republ…

Bigger than a Megachurch

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J. D. Greear shared a great article recently: How I Dumped the Megachurch Model and Found Something Bigger    Excellent food for thought.  Multiplication is higher math.

A Bingo Hall Invocation for Veterans

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Today, I was privileged to give the invocation for the Field of Honor, a tribute to veterans, sponsored by the Boys and Girls Club of the LCO Ojibwe Reservation.  A couple hundred people gathered to honor the veterans in a heartwarming ceremony.

We started at the Bingo Hall and then went in silent procession to the field of flags, a few hundred yards away.

  I have never been asked to pray at the Bingo Hall before -- but there is a first for everything.

I decided to share "When You are a Soldier" by Steven Curtis Chapman.  Sometimes, a prayer is expressing our heart to our Creator.  Sometimes, it is the other way around:  our Creator expressing His heart to us.  The invocation I chose is the second type.

Steven Curtis Chapman -- When You Are a Soldier

When you are a soldier I will be your shield
I will go with you into the battlefield
And when the arrows start to fly take my hand and hold on tight
I will be your shield, 'cause I know how it feels
When you are a soldier

W…

A Great Redemption Price

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Pinky was a little slave girl -- only nine years old when her mother died. To lose your mother at such a young age is terrible -- but being a slave child made it even worse.

Pinky would not go to the home of loving relatives. Neither she nor her loved ones had any voice in her future whatsovever. She was considered "property".

Pinky's owner decided to sell her on the slave market. He figured he might get up to $900 for her.

It just so happened that Henry Ward Beecher, a pastor from New York was visiting in town and heard of Pinky's plight. He approached the slave owner and asked if, perhaps, he could take Pinky back home with him. "I'm sure the kind people of Plymouth Church would be happy to provide a loving home for her.", he said.

"Not on your life!" declared Pinky's owner. "I could get $900 for this girl! I'll tell you what, give me the $900 and she's yours."

Rev. Beecher did not have $900 -- but her persuaded the owner to…

A Parable in Pictures

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Ancient Pastoral Search Committee Report

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A report from an ancient pastoral search committee (from my-pastor.com):

We do not have a happy report to give. We’ve not been able to find a suitable candidate for this church, though we have one promising prospect still. We do appreciate all the suggestions from the church members, and we’ve followed up each one with interviews or calling at least three references. The following is our confidential report on the present candidates.
Adam: Good man but problems with his wife. Also one reference told of how his wife and he enjoy walking nude in the woods.
Noah: Former pastorate of 120 years with no converts. Prone to unrealistic building projects.
Abraham: Though the references reported wife-swapping, the facts seem to show he never slept with another man’s wife, but did offer to share his own wife with another man.
Joseph: A big thinker, but a braggart, believes in dream-interpreting, and has a prison record.
Moses: A modest and meek man, but poor communicator, even stuttering at times. S…

This Cleaning Lady Was Invited Back

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Recently, my friend, Ron McClung passed along the following story (from my friend Kevin Myers) of an entrepreneurial woman, who started her own cleaning business:

As in most businesses, the competition was keen. She heard about a wealthy woman in her town who never asked any particular cleaning service to come back a second time. She had a large home, but never asked any organization to clean her house twice.

Our entrepreneur finally got her turn. When the lady called, she was determined to do her very best. She and her workers went into the home and cleaned it as thoroughly as possible. Along the way, they found a variety of loose change and put it in a cup in the kitchen.

When she completed the job, the lady paid her and she left.

She could hardly believe it when, a few weeks later, the lady who never used the same cleaning service twice called her to come back and clean her house a second time. She was amazed at getting a second chance.

She told the woman, “I would love to clean yo…

What Effective Church Boards do Well

An effective church board will do the following things well: 

B --  Believe:  Operate by faith rather than fear.  Prayer for guidance is essential.  When faced with a big challenge, what you do next reveals what you  really believe about God.

O --  Optimize:  Look for ways build up, strengthen and move forward.  Focus on the possibilities, rather than the problems.  No nit picking or circle spinning.

A --  Argue:  Perhaps I should say "argue constructively."  A good board is not just a bunch of rubber stampers.  Nor should it be a collection of cantankerous cranks.  On a healthy board, divergent viewpoints are encouraged and expressed positively.  The best outcomes occur after the various perspectives are weighed.  There's a way to disagree agreeably, keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  Of course, this requires humility, love and understanding.

R --Respond:  Difficult issues come before every board.  The quality of the board is displayed in how it responds…

When You're In the Pressure Cooker

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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…