Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Great Advice

“Hide not your talents.

They for use were made.
What’s a sundial in the shade?”
Benjamin Franklin

Great Quotes

I was listening to a sermon a couple of days ago.
Had some great quotes in it.

"You are not defined by your past.
You are prepared by your past."

"Nothing in life happens to me, but for me."

"Some of my enemies, I need to thank the most."

(What they meant for evil, God has used for good.)


Just read this this AM. Joy has a Psalms Daily Calendar in our kitchen. Thought it was very encouraging.

God's power is not diminished by any turn of events. Nothing happens without his knowledge and permission. When you feel like running away in difficult times----run to God. He will restore justice and goodness on the earth in his good time.
Life Application Bible

"The Lord still rules from heaven. He watches everything closely, examining everyone on earth."

Psalm 11:4 New Living Translation

Sunday, October 26, 2008


It is harvest time here in the Midwest.

The weatherman is calling for a hard freeze tonight and even colder tomorrow, so I went out at 10 PM, dodged the
coyotes (we have had two that have shown up in our backyard almost every day for the past 7 days) and picked the last apples on the apple tree.
It was 36 degrees, spitting rain (with some snow pell
ets mixed in), wind chill is 28.

Here's the last of the apples. They are so crisp and sweet. You just have to quarter them and remove the "protein." I guess that makes them ORGANIC apples.

On Thursday, my friend Parker
Rittgers and I drove back from downstate Illinois and we must have seen at least 100 combines bringing in the corn and soybeans.

This is such a beautiful time of the year.

We have been monitoring the cornfield behind our house.

I expect that in the next couple of day, it will be harvested as w
Here is a picture we took right after church today.

I am thankful God is using Joy and me in HIS harvest.


I love growing
  • growing plants in the garden. (this was not a good year for tomatoes [Dan Quayle spelling]. It was a good year for Joy's green peppers. Earl likes them, but they don't like Earl)
  • growing trees - my Quaking Aspen, River Birch and Red Maple trees were beautiful this fall.
  • growing apples - I have an apple tree that has five varieties of apples grafted onto it. My grand daughter Emma took an interest in the tree. I sent a box of the outstanding apples to Emma, Sam, Glenda and Erik. Upon opening the box, she announced to Sam, "Sam, these are from MY apple tree with Bakka (that is the name she gave me when she was about 16 months old). My daughter-in-law Glenda posted We got a package in the mail today from Bakka. He included the kids' favorite candies and, the best part, some apples from the apple tree in his backyard. Emma considers that tree exclusively her and Bakka's. She considers that tree something they did together...their private thing. It was so cute as she opened the was like she just knew he would be sending her apples so that she could sample the goods from THEIR tree. It made me smile.
That makes my heart SMILE!
  • About nine years ago, my son and I rescued some trees that had not grown the way a landscaper had hoped. They had pulled them out of the ground and thrown them away. I planted them in my "project area" in the backyard. It turned out that they were red maples and their colors are beautiful this Fall.
  • I love seeing people grow. I love to see them develop into the full potential that God has for them. I'm talking about, not only people that have been following Christ for some time, I'm talking about people that someone labeled as "pre-sheep".
  • I also love growing CHURCHES. This is the hardest of all. Over the years, I have discovered that too many churches, really don't want to grow. They have reached a place where they are "comfortable." They like the people they have, they have enough funds coming in to take care of the building and grounds. I guess, what I am saying is that they have enough for maintenance. But Jesus has not called us to JUST maintain. I remember an old song from many years ago... Hold The Fort, For I Am Coming. That is the problem! NO WHERE in God's Holy Word are we told to "HOLD THE FORT." As God's Army, we are to be advancing. There is no homeostasis. You're either advancing or retreating. There is no middle ground. (hmmmm, I'm not passionate about that, am I?!)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Who Stole My Church

Just finished reading Gordon MacDonald's book, Who Stole My Church.
I highly recommend it.
Brilliantly written.
Love the narrative style.
Points presented so well.

MacDonald presents powerfully how people take up an ownership attitude of THEIR church. That often means, I want to be COMFORTABLE and "Its' about ME! And people outside of my comfortable group, well, they can just go... someplace else."

Now, you may feel that is an overstatement, but MacDonald makes the point so strongly and clearly.
Jesus said, "
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (Luke 19:10)

How must the man who hung naked on a cruel cross feel about so-called "followers" that ignore, scorn, reject and overlook those He died for.

MacDonald has a beautiful section where he addresses what he labels as the Shelf Life of a Church. He asks, "how do churches and organizations and marriages and even friendships sometimes start out with such freshness and then, later on, go stale?"
He goes on to explain that all human relationships and organizations have a similar beginning that is based on the discovery of a need or opportunity.
Need and opportunity, when defined correctly, lead to vision.
Vision represents the moment someone articulates, "this is what we should do about the need."
It is important to periodically revisit both the original need and the corresponding vision to see if they still form the basis of the church's present existence.

A lot of churches have lost their "first love." All you have to do is read in Revelation 2 to see what Jesus feels about that.

Need or opportunity leads to vision.
Vision leads to initiative and after awhile programs are developed.
Churches are bundles of programs. As long as they continue to meet the need and fulfill the vision they are fine.

Here is the problem... society and cultures change. Needs change.
But by this time the "bundle of programs" have built a following and the programs morph to institutions.

MacDonald defines, "An institution is essentially a bundle of programs that have worked reasonably well over a long period of time. The leaders devise strategies and policies to keep the programs going. They recruit space and staff, because they are the core of what makes an institution.

Here is where the problems can begin to grow. If we are not careful, institutions breed a kind of politics and internal conflict. And if leaders are not alert, people become more interested in running the institution than getting the results defined by the need and the vision.

You can have a church with a million programs, none of which are doing anything but keeping people busy.

Tradition is a stage of shelf life where people do certain things over and over, but have no idea why.
This is the stage, the moment, when the INSIDERS see themselves as more important than the people outside the church that they are supposed to be reaching.

Every church must determine whether or not it prefers tradition and their own comfortable style of music and preaching to the work Jesus said we are supposed to be doing.

Get the book. Read it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Marital Problem Solution

I have found the solution to ALL marital problems and family relational issues!

You ask, what is that?

Simple, everyone goes on Wheel of Fortune.

We usually catch the Wheel right as we finish our evening meal (supper for those of you south of Interstate 80 in Illinois or the Mason-Dixon line - that is a joke. Take a breath and laugh).

I have noticed that EVERYONE says, when being interviewed by Pat Sajak..."my wonderful wife/husband, my beautiful wife, my terrific kids..."

I have never heard so many superlatives used in describing family members. Oops, I meant positive superlatives.

I am still waiting to hear someone describe a family member in a less than positive way. Now, wouldn't that be interesting.

So there is the solution..... get everyone onto Wheel of Fortune.

We will ALL be winners!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008


This past Sunday, I had the privilege of preaching for my friend Lou Wold.

The title of the message was, "Ya Gotta Have Heart."

1 Thessalonians 5:11

“…so encourage one another and help one another, just as you are now doing.”

Have you ever had a bad day?

A bad week?

A bad decade?

David was having a bad decade – Saul was out to kill him, and now he had lost everything.

And his men were ready to kill him.

Now these weren’t just any men. They were outcasts. When people encountered David's men, they crossed over to the other side of the street.

We face so many challenges, it’s important for us to have people in our lives that will get behind us to tell us they believe in us and that “we can do it”.

What do people need when they are struggling? ENCOURAGEMENT!!

The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:11" encourage one another and help one another, just as you are now doing."

Now this is notable, because earlier, Paul “had it out” with the man we refer to as the “son of encouragement.” Who is that? Barnabas.

Acts 15:36-39

36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing." 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus,

Here’s the problem…very few people are encouragers.

It is not the natural bent of man.

It seems that the natural inclination is to CRITIQUE.

Just listen to the constant debate about the "debates."

Or how the Cubs lost to the Dodgers. What happened, it was supposed to be their year. Now they're gonna have another bad century!

All we've heard is critiques.

Problem is, we allow that attitude to get into our hearts, our families, our churches.

Very few are encouragers, yet everyone CRAVES encouragement.

To encourage means to “come along side of “.

That is exactly what the Holy Spirit does with us.

In fact, that is the definition of His name – “paraclete.”

Encouragement makes the perfect gift. It requires nothing out of your pocket. You can custom design it, so that it is the perfect fit.

Proverbs 25:11 says,

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver (KJV)

Proverbs 15:23 (NLT)

Everyone enjoys a fitting reply;
it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!

Why is it that some feel that it is their job, responsibility, (dare I say it?) their God-give right to nail you with bricks and bats versus giving bouquets?

David had to face what we all will face.

What do you do when you have no one to encourage you?

1 Samuel 30:6 David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him. But David found strength in the Lord his God.

David encouraged himself in the Lord

You have to know how to ENCOURAGE YOURSELF.

99% of people want someone else to encourage them.

A crisis does not make a man, it reveals what the man is made of!

It is so easy, in a crisis, to blame somebody else or to look for a scapegoat!

What did David do? He was feeling the same anger and sorrow.

BUT…, he stopped feeling sorry for himself and turned to the Lord for help!

How can you get the encouragement you need in the tough times of our lives?

Before David made any move, he first determined the will of God in the matter.

David’s prayer was specific.

Rick Warren said concerning specific prayer:

1. realize that God cares about the details of your life.

2. ask a specific question.

When you're looking for guidance from God ask a specific question. The more specifically you ask, the more God is able to answer it.

3. Believe God wants to answer.


Isaiah 40:31 "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;”
Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

David just turned it all over to the Lord and trusted God to do the work!