Showing posts from August, 2010

Getting to Church

Most people come to church by means the church does not allow, else there would be no need their getting to her at all. . . the operation of the church is entirely set up for the sinner, which creates much misunderstanding among the smug. -- Flannery O'Conner

A Good Education

"Education is that period of time between cocksure ignorance and thoughtful uncertainty."

Romans 8:28

God is All Loving . . . So He Wants What's Best for Me. God is All Knowing . . . So He Knows What's Best for Me. God is All Powerful . . . So He Can Do What's Best For Me. God is All Wise. . . So He Will Do What's Best for Me. -- from a semon by belated Baptist preacher, Jack Hyles. The will of God will never take you to where the grace of God cannot keep you.

It's Been a Great 28

28 years ago, Cathy and I were joined in holy matrimony. As I stood, shaking at the altar before my lovely bride, I thought I could never possibly love her more than I did at that moment. Well, I was wrong. I love her far more now than I did back then. Our love is far deeper, richer, fuller, and stronger than it was on our wedding day. She is also more beautiful now than the day she first captured my heart. When you process it right, a lot of livin' brings a lot of lovin'. We're celebrating by going to a little hideaway cabin nestled in the woods. I am such a lucky guy.

What is Christian?

Rightly understood, “Christian” is not a philosophy or a world view. It is not an adjective to make books, music, and movies more palatable. It is not a political leaning, a Kincade painting, a method of counseling or default birthright. Instead, it is simply the description of a person living in the fullness of Christ’s holy presence.

A Creative Solution to the Immigration Problem

In light of my last post, I thought you might be interested in Keith Drury's solution to the immigration problem.

Who Is My Neighbor?

Immigration is one of the most complicated issues of our time. Voices on all sides argue strongly for action and change. Christians find themselves torn between the desire to uphold laws and the call to minister to the vulnerable. My friend, Dr. Norm Wilson, a professor at Indiana Wesleyan University, recently informed me of the upcoming Evangelical Leader's Forum on Immigration, sponsored by The Wesleyan Church, World Relief, and the National Association of Evangelicals. The event will occur on Friday, September 24, 9:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. at The Wesleyan International Center. Speakers include: Dr. Danny Carroll R., Old Testament professor at Denver Seminary, and author of Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church and the Bible , Matthew Soerens, co-author of Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion and Truth in the Immigration Debate Staff member of World Relief Dr. Jerry Pence, General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Church, will serve as moderator. Indiana U. S. Senator

Building Togetherness in Marriage

Shortly before last week’s wedding ceremony, Frank, the bride’s father, shared the following marriage advice he’d heard a minister say decades ago during a ceremony. I found that quite amazing, as I’ve always assumed nobody recalls anything the preacher says during a wedding, except “I pronounce you husband and wife” and “you may kiss the bride!” Frank’s astute remembrance was so profound, I worked it into the ceremony, and am now passing it along to you. Here it is: “You must have space in your togetherness.” There is not enough togetherness in marriages today. Couples, working hard to fulfill massive responsibilities, hardly have the opportunity to develop this intimacy. By default, couples drift towards isolation. Husbands and wives lead such hectic lives, that developing the marriage relationship takes back seat to other, more pressing concerns. This is especially true when there are small children at home. What little scraps of time, left after work and household duties is gobbled

Death By Ministry

Why Is Being a Pastor so Unhealthy?


The man who never relaxes, however religious he may be, is likely to become morose, irritable, impatient, and a source of anxiety and perplexity to his dearest friends; or become melancholy and full of gloom, get into the dumps and doubt his call. -- Samuel Brengle, The Soul Winner’s Secret


Patton: The Pursuit of Desinty , by Agostino Von Hassell and Ed Breslin is my kind of military biography. Works of this nature are often voluminous collections of irrelevent facts. This book just tells the story of World War II's greatest general, simply and clearly. In less than 200 pages. Von Hassell and Breslin capture the heart behind Patton's leadership genius and and quirky personal shortcomings. The reader walks away with a deep appreciation for the general's contribution to American history, and a better understanding of his inner workings. It's an easy read, with ramifications for all who serve in leadership. Purchase here. (a complimentary copy of Patton was provided for review by Booksneeze.)

Kudos to Ken Dupin

Wesleyan pastor, Ken Dupin, received a shout out at Huffington Post for inventing the Mobile Medical Care Home for the Elderly.

Glass Houses

They say parsonages are glass houses. If so, then this would certainly make a nice parsonage.

Space in Togetherness

Yesterday, at the lovely wedding of Jeff and Jennifer Cvengros, the bride's father, Frank, shared something the preacher said during a marriage ceremony several decades ago. I found that quite astounding, as I've operated under the assumption that nobody ever remembers anything a minister says during the ceremony, except, "You may kiss the bride." Frank's observation struck me so much, I figured out a way to weave it into yesterday's wedding. Perhaps it will stick with somone! "In wedded life, you need space in your togetherness."

Daughter of Diban

See if you can figure out what this means: (on Jeremiah 48:18) Daughter of Diban where, now, is your crown? your scepter lies still on the floor. pompous vanity, it used to be, but, no more, no more, no more faded from glory, you sit on parched ground -- the place you used to deplore.

Pray for Theresa's Family

Please pray for the family of Theresa Anderson, a young wife and mother, who passed away yesterday at the tender age of 27. Her funeral will be next Wednesday at Hayward Wesleyan Church. She was a beautiful person -- full of love, faith, and kindness, and will be deeply missed.

The Bobby Richardson Prayer

The following prayer was delivered by baseball great, Bobby Richardson at a banquet years ago: Lord, your will. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else. Amen I think it would do us all good to pray the Richardson prayer today.

Optimism Beats Pessimism

I once heard my friend, John Maxwell, say, “Your attitude determines your altitude.” How true that is!! When you boil it down, just about everything in life is related to attitude. Did you know that a poor attitude is the number one reason why people are dismissed from their jobs? Do you realize that attitude is the primary difference between mediocre football teams and Super Bowl contenders? Do you understand that your success in marriage, work, and living depends largely on your attitude? Quality of life is not measured by what happens to you - but by how you respond. As Helen Workman said, "It's not what you have to meet, it's how you meet what you have." A doom -and -gloom pessimist will find problems in every possibility. An optimist will see the opportunities in every obstacle. A set-back is a dead end to a pessimist. For an optimist it is only a detour. A pessimist longs for the "good old days", while the optimist believes that the best is yet to co


Make your life extraordinary! Too often, we "settle", when we ought to be moving forward. As my friend, Famous Dave, says, "Good, Better, Best -- Never let it rest until the good gets better and the better gets best." Unfortunately, the extraordinary path is the one less traveled by. It's a lot easier to plod along in the swamps of mediocrity. Average seems o.k. -- but deep down in our hearts, we know it's not really good enough. For instance, how do you feel about going out to an "average" dinner at a restaurant? What if your waiter gives you "average" service? Would you be excited about spending good cash on an "average" movie? No, average isn't good enough. Why settle for an "average" life, when you can make it "extraordinary"? Extraordinary living requires a change in thinking and acting. Here's the difference: To rise above the level of mediocrity, you must: 1. Think beyond what "is" to

Wannabe Cool

The Perils of "Wannabe Cool" Christianity A fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal by Bret McCracken. He says: If the evangelical Christian leadership thinks that "cool Christianity" is a sustainable path forward, they are severely mistaken. As a twentysomething, I can say with confidence that when it comes to church, we don't want cool as much as we want real.

O, How He Loves Us

A few weejks ago, as the young people led us in worship, they sang the strangest song about hurricanes, sinking oceans, and a sloppy wet kiss. I struggled to make sense of all those metaphors. Sloppy wet kiss? Where in the world did that come from? Why were we singing such sophomoric emotings? I scratched my head, and jotted a note for Tuesday's staff meeting -- "No more sloppy wet kiss songs." In the days that followed, I couldn't get the chorus out of my mind, "O, how he loves us so. . ." I went online to see if I could find out a little more about the meaning behind the song . . . and WOAH, was I ever surprised. I'd misundertood the meaning and context. "How He Loves Us" was written by John Mark McMillan, after the death of a close friend. The main point is that even in our pain and anger, through the darkest fog of confusion, God's love breaks through. The song captures a heart of praise, from the crucible of suffering. Understood in t
"Forget The Pizza Parties," Teens Tell Churches

Missional Dog Bakery

I'm conducting a blessing of the pets at 1:00 p.m. today at Sophie's Dog Bakery on Main Street. In recent years, Jan and Bob, the shop owners, have come into a rich and vibrant faith, deeply desiring to bring blessing to others. So, in conjunction with some other special events occurring this weekend, Jan came up with the splendid idea of blessing the pets. When first approached about it, I'm embarrassed to admit, I tried to pawn 'em off on the Episcopalians. Those guys are the "Pet Blessing Pro's. Fortunately, Father Art was unavailable, so the responsibility bounced back to me. I'm glad it did! The way I see it, this is much bigger than a pet blessing. It's primarily a Pet OWNER blessing! When people meet my dog, Vin, and love him, I feel like they're loving me too. Blessing pets means blessing those who love them. It's a blessing for Jan and Bob. They felt led to go through this door, and went for it. They even put their neck on the l

Social Side of Leadership

" 8 Points on the Social Side of Leadership " by Brad Lomenick

Missional Living in Northern Rural America

I swiped this from a great post at TN Rural Church, called "Missional Living in Southern Rural America." The same truths apply up north too -- so I switched the word "southern" to "northern" and am passing it on to you: 1. Northern Rural Churches must see themselves within the context of a vast mission field. 2. Northern Rural Churches must see themselves as missionaries (not just church members) within their own rural context. 3. Northern Rural Churches must begin to see the growing lostness that exists in their very churched culture. The assumption that most people are saved is just wrong. Many have been exposed to the Gospel, but have not yet made decisions for Christ. 4. Northern Rural Churches must figure out how to invest their resources (buildings, dollars, people, spiritual gifts, etc) incarnationally. 5. Northern Rural Churches must get past their “smallness” and realize thier potential in Kingdom Work. We, by and large, are small. Get over it a

Post -Mom

"A Post-Christian World and A Post-Mom Home" -- thought provoking article by Bojidar Marinov.

IWU Grad Killed By Taliban

Sad news from my Alma Mater. Cheryl Marie Beckett, who graduated with honors from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2000, was among the 10 medical volunteers who were shot to death last week in Afghanistan by the Taliban. She was 32 years old. “The entire Indiana Wesleyan University family is shocked and saddened to learn of the brutal death of this courageous young woman,” Dr. Henry Smith, IWU President, said. More here So sad. I cannot comprehend a religion that condones such atrocity.

Trigger Moments

My good friend, Wendy Sanders, early childhood college professor and doctoral candidate at at Fuller Seminary recently posted the following on her new blog, Walking With Children: What we know from brain and psychology research, problem-solving is creative, memory is longer lasting and compassion is triggered by emotion and thought working together, not thought over emotion or emotion instead of thought. Damasio and Immordino Yang call it, "emotional thought." Mimi Michaelson did her doctoral research on adolescent moral exemplars who have developed far-reaching activities, such as what Ryan Hreljac did in building wells in Africa. She found each of the youth she interviewed had experienced a "trigger" incident--something that caught their attention. In my research on the processes of compassion within children, ages 6-11, I found that an emotional reaction triggered their recognition of the needs of others. In a way, re-writing my dissertation and re-thinking Micha

Pew Sleeper's Prayer

Now I lay me down to sleep. The sermon's long; the subject's deep. If he should quit before I wake, I ask someone, "Give me a shake!" -- from John Maxwell's book, Everyone Communicates but Few Connect

Taking a Break from the Lord's Work

An insightful NY Times article on clergy burnout and stress.

Brush Piles

While making brush piles of broken branches in the aftermath of the recent wind storm, I recalled the following account shared by former Wesleyan leader, Dr. Oliver G. Wilson: Driving across the plains of Kansas where there are but few trees, I saw in the distance what appeared to be the outline of one of those scrub oaks for which this particular part of Kansas is noted. As I drew nearer, however, and the object began to take form, I said to myself, “Not a tree, only a brush-pile.” This started a line of thinking: Just what is the difference between a brush-pile and a tree? The brush pile lacks two essentials: life and organization. It might be that at one time this brush-pile by the Kansas highway had been a beautiful tree. It may be that it produced shade and possibly food for weary travelers who chanced to pass that way. What had caused the change? Something had destroyed its life and had broken down its organization. At one time it had been symmetrical and beautiful. Now, it was a

The Metanarrative

Here's a fabulous statement regarding the grand story of Scripture from my good friend, Mark Jalovick, director of Wisconsin Wilderness Campus. From Genesis to Revelation, God is seeking to rebuild his kingdom through obedient servants for the purpose of world redemption. And here's the translation by Jeremy Mavis, our Children's Pastor: The Bible is about God continually working to fix this world through his kind of special people in order to make his kind of world.

Serious Business

Joy is serious business! It is the natural state of the soul. Joylessness is like a toothache, which indicates an internal cavity -- or worse. When we discover that the joy has evaporated -- it's time to do some inner heart examination. Where did the joy go? What poisons have entered my soul, resulting this negativism? What do I need to do to re-capture the joy? Leaking seems to be a part of the human condition. We're all a bunch of "joy leakers!" One lady tearfully prayed, “Please fill me with joy again!" Her husband, overhearing her request, prayed, "Don't do it Lord! She leaks!" It might be a good idea to patch up the holes. Perhaps, a spiritual root canal? Holding a wrong perspective towards life will drain the joy right out of your heart. As the hero in Red Badge of Courage stated, "elfin thoughts made cowards of us all." The ancient desert fathers spoke of "logismoi", the dark thoughts -- the false thoughts and desires that
Personality Set for Life By First Grade

Can You Join Us?

Little Micah Greene is having major surgery on Monday. His family has asked if we can cover them in a blanket of prayer. You can go to their blog, and sign up by leaving a comment.

Clouds Without Water

Yesterday, I worked on a book chapter entitled, Empty Pastors: Clouds Without Water. In it, I explore the reasons why ministers end up running on empty, when the Gospel they carry is so rich and FULL of life, joy and peace. Pastors Run Empty. . . 1. When Responsibilities Exceed Energy. 2. When Pretentions Exceed Reality. 3. When Pleasing Exceeds Shepherding. 4. When Outflow Exceeds Inflow. 4. When Serving Exceeds Loving. 5. When Duty Exceeds Delight.
Healthy Families, Religious Involvement Reduce Risk for Adolescent Substance Abuse

The Church Exists by Mission

"The Church exists by mission, just as a fire exists by burning. Where there is no mission, there is no Church." — Emil Bruner, The Word and the World (1931) HT Pat Hannon

Holy Complications

Sin will complicate your life in unholy ways. The blessings of God will complicate your life in holy ways. -- Mark Batterson


"Politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed regularly, and for the same reason." -- unknown (Discovered this little gem on Rich Avery's facebook status.)

When Swarmed by Annoyances

While watering my new planted grass the other day, a swarm of mosquitoes decided to attack me. I ended up on the losing end of that altercation, though I jumped, smacked, flailed and flapped around like a maniac. I’m pretty sure the neighbors wondered why I was break-dancing with a garden hose. Annoyances are like a swarm mosquitoes. They’re everywhere, come at you from every direction, attack when it’s least convenient, and usually they come in swarms. Everybody has to deal with them, as they’re simply an unpleasant part of life. Why do we expect life to be trouble free? No person in the course of human history has experienced a trouble free week, so why should this week be any different for you? Some troubles are huge and life altering. Most, however, are just pesky annoyances that get under our skin and bother us. Here are a few thoughts to help when you’re swarmed by these annoyances. 1. Look for the blessing in it. When faced with annoyances we have a choice. Are we going to focus

Honoring Your Leader

Steve Furtick recently shared the following thoughts regarding giving honor to the person who is over you in leadership: 1. What is your leader’s favorite way to communicate?-Adapt to it. Even if it’s not your favorite way to communicate. 2. What makes your leader’s day?-Do it. 3. What does your leader dread?-Nuke it before it ever gets to them. 4. What is the thing you can do for your leader that only you can do?-Keep doing it and do it better. 5. What sets your leader back?-Do everything in your power to make sure it doesn’t happen.
John Piper Explains His Method of Sermon Preparation

The Preacher's Job

Realize God has called and prepared you for it. (Jer. 1:5) Feel insignificant? That's insignificant. The Lord is your significance. (Jer. 1:6-7) Awareness of God's helping presence takes care of fear. (Jer. 1:8) The anointing delivers the message. (1:9) An anointed message uproots, tears down, destroys, overthrows, builds and plants (Jer. 1:10) Look for lessons in almond trees and boiling pots. (Jer. 1:11-16) Sermon preparation begins with preparation of the preacher. (Jer. 1:17)

My First Fresh Raspberry Pie

And it tasted better than it looked! Maybe I'll moonlight at Norske Nook.
Five Major Tends for Churches in America