Sunday, November 22, 2015

When (not if) the bottom drops out of your life...

Are you trying to cope with devastating hurt? Loss? Sadness? Anger? Broken-heartedness? Or _______? (If not right now, it's inevitable that you will, so keep reading.)

Then let it out to God and your closest friends.

I dare you to give it full vent.

Yes, I'm serious.

Be very careful to not prolong and compound your grief by pretending it's all good—or covering it over with a thin layer of spiritual verbiage.

If it hurts, keep it real.

Why?  Because sometimes, life sucks. And some of the most spiritual people in the Bible weren't afraid to express their deepest hurts and pain to God and their friends.

At our times of greatest sorrows, we would do well to learn to grieve as pictured in the book of Lamentations.

Bible in Five: Lamentations on Vimeo.

I know.

In our strange, consumeristic God-wants-you-to-be-happy Christian culture, we don't talk a lot about how to grieve well.

But God sure speaks to this in many places in his Book.

Check out the book of Lamentations now.

Read it. Live it. Grieve it.

Ponder: God wrote a book that is really just five raw blues songs. How cool is that?

So it's more than okay for your heart to sing the blues—to hurt and express the rawness of that hurt to God. That's deeply biblical. And healing.

Turns out, God can handle it. Expressing our hurting hearts to God doesn't that mean we don't love God. It simply means we're human. And the pain we feel doesn't mean that God doesn't love us—nothing could be further from the truth.

News Flash: Sometimes life totally sucks—even if you love Jesus, tithe, read your Bible, pray, and volunteer in the church.

When the bottom does drop out of our lives, let's not be quick to offer pious and simplistic platitudes to each other. Instead, let's do the right thing—the human thing—the biblical thing—and grieve well together.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn."
—Romans 12:15

Now, who in your world needs to read this?

Copy this: and share it with them right now.

And thanks for stopping by Cup O' Joe with Bill.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Why you don't have to be afraid of bad news...

1             Praise the Lord.
Blessed are those who fear the Lord,
    who find great delight in his commands.
Their children will be mighty in the land;
    the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses,
    and their righteousness endures forever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
    for those who are gracious and compassionate 
    and righteous.
Good will come to those who are generous and 
    lend freely,
    who conduct their affairs with justice.
Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
    they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in 
    the Lord.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
    in the end they will look in triumph on their 
They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,
    their righteousness endures forever;
    their horn will be lifted high in honor.
10 The wicked will see and be vexed,
    they will gnash their teeth and waste away;
    the longings of the wicked will come to nothing
This word of hope and encouragement is from God via Psalm 112 and is for those who "fear the LORD" and those who "find great delight in his commands" (see verse 1 above).

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My Encounter with Moses...

I just received word that my 109 year-old friend, George H. Reader, aka, Moses, died Thursday, November 5, 2015.

Below is a tribute I wrote about Moses in 2004. Read and be encouraged and instructed by a life well-lived.

My Encounter with Moses...
The scene: September 12, 2004. After the morning community service. I've finished preaching, and I am simply connecting with the people of Chrisman, IL in the city square....

"Ninety-eight years old tomorrow?" I asked incredulously.

"That's right, I'll be ninety-eight years old tomorrow," said the man in a voice that could barely be heard. He looked much stronger than his voice sounded.

"What did you do for work?" I asked.

"I was in the ministry for seventy-two years. That's why you can barely hear me. Over the years, I preached so much that I preached my voice out."

I don't know exactly what happened in my heart at that moment other than to say that it was like an electrical shock ran through my body. God got my attention. Here was the man that I hope to be some day--a man who faithfully preached God's Word until his voice finally gave out.

I asked curiously, "Were you married?"

He said, "I was married to the best minister's wife in the world. We were married and did ministry together for seventy years." He looked away from me for a moment and continued, "She has been in Heaven now for the last four years." He looked to his right and left and said, "Two of my sons are with me today."

It began to dawn on me that I was in the presence of a man I want to be like with all my heart. I was not about to lose this opportunity. So I went into sponge/learner mode as fast as I could--determined not to lose one bit of this opportunity to sit at the feet of this experienced godly man. "What advice would you give to a young preacher like me?" I asked sincerely.

Without a second of hesitation, he said, "Preach the Word! That is exactly what I tried to do my whole life. So I say preach the Word!" I've read this exhortation in Scripture many many times. Even at my official commissioning and licensing for the ministry, the same words were said. And they were meaningful to me then. But somehow, coming from this gentle senior saint, it felt like it was coming from Moses himself!

Thinking back to a conversation I had with a very discouraged ministry friend last week, and knowing that the number one reason many leave vocational ministry is because of discouragement, I asked, "Were you ever deeply discouraged during your seventy-two years of ministry?"

"Yes, I was discouraged from time to time. But it was God's Word that kept me going. I knew God wanted me to preach his Word since I was fourteen. I preached my first sermon when I was seventeen. Throughout my life, God's Word has sustained me--even during the discouraging times."

Again, I've heard this, knew this, and even said similar things. But somehow, because of his years of experience with walking with God, his authentic words drilled deep into my heart.

Other people from the community began to approach our small circle and engage me in conversation. I watched out of the corner of my eye as this man and his two sons slowly walked away. My heart began to race. I was filled with urgency. I MUST ASK THIS MAN TO PRAY FOR ME! The man and his sons were about twenty-five yards away from me when I suddenly ran to them. I did not mean to be rude to the people who had gathered around me, but I HAD to do this. When I caught up with them, I said from behind them, "Sir, will you please put your hands on me and pray for me?" I could not believe those words came out of my mouth. But I felt COMPELLED to have this man pray for me.

He turned around to look me right in the eyes. His eyes widened and he immediately placed his hands on my shoulders and, in that sweet, raspy, and worn out voice prayed the most beautiful quiet prayer of blessing I have ever heard. He prayed that I would flourish in my relationship with God, my wife, and my kids. He prayed I would be faithful to preach the Word. He prayed God would bless me and my ministry beyond all I could ever ask or think--for God's glory. As he prayed I quietly began to weep. I was thinking two things: 1) This must be what it was like to receive the blessing of a patriarch in the Old Testament, and 2) Am I nuts? Am I starting to unravel emotionally here? The answer to this last question--yes. But as crazy as this whole deal was--I KNEW God was in it--and I am glad I listened to the Spirit's voice and promptings.

When he pronounced the "amen," his two sons and I looked up--and I could see one was weeping like I was--and the other was also glassy-eyed. I made eye contact with the man of God and as I went to say "thank you" I could not get the words out because a flood of new tears came. I finally regained my composure, shook the man's hand in gratitude, and watched them walk away.

Frankly, God did something so deep in my heart in this brief encounter with this senior saint that I am still processing it. But it was deep and it was God--and I will never forget it. In some strange God-way, I feel like I received a blessing from Moses himself.

As is often the case, I went to minister, but ended up getting ministered to.
Me with "Moses" (a.k.a., the Reverend George H. D. Reader). This picture was taken before he prayed for me.

More tributes about this amazing man...
* A short obituary.
* Honored by the college he attended.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Monday, November 02, 2015

Your Job Matters to God...

I'm proud to be friends with this guy since he was a teenager!

If video doesn't appear, go here.

Mike nailed it! Lives it! Models it!

All of life IS a missions trip... including your job!

But let's be honest: Most people don't approach their job/work as if it really matters to God... do they?

So, practically speaking, how can you move toward this all-of-life-IS-a-missions-trip way of living?

Great question.

Start here.

Then check out the related posts near the bottom of this post.

And he has a bathroom in his house filled with fun Elvis stuff! Not your average pastor!

Me with Pastor Mike back when he looked a lot like Lemmy from Moorhead. (As you can see, Mike and I like the same football team too. It's the same football team Jesus likes.)

Disciplemaking friends... with a selfie stick.

Related Posts:

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Monday Funday: #Awkward #Twinning #Igotthememo

That awkward moment when you show up at church and another guy is basically wearing the same shirt as you. #awkward #twinning #Igotthememo

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

WHY we do Disciplemaking Learning Communities in this way...

Here are some pictures from our Southern WI Disciplemaking Learning Community (aka, DLC).

See any similarities in the pictures?

WHY do we do DLCs this way? 

Now that's a GREAT question. For the answer, keep scrolling down....

We call it "havering" and...

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Monday Funday: Pastor Appreciation Month and the greatest gift you could give to your pastor(s)

It's Pastor Appreciation Month.

Why not get THIS for the crabbiest people in your church?

I know. I can't believe I just said that.

Seriously, if you're NOT a pastor, you need to share this post.

Do it now. Do it for you pastor(s)

If you are a pastor, please resist the urge to share this post.

Seriously. Don't do it.

For the sake of your job and family.


Okay, you can get this and then anonymously mail it to the crabbiest people in your church.

Be sure to wipe off any finger prints before mailing.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Just having fun being a Cubs fan...

True Confessions of a Cubs Fan...
Yeah, we got beat in the playoffs by the Mets this year. To be brutally honest, we were manhandled.

However, all is not lost. 

Not only is there a very promising "next year," but there is something else absolutely delightful that we, as Cub fans, can celebrate.  And in many ways, what we can celebrate this year is better than actually winning a World Series.

What can be better than winning a World Series?

It's this: Beating the Cardinals in the playoffs! 
Make no mistake about it: Beating the Cardinal in the playoffs was our World Series this year!

That's a satisfaction we will savor all year.

The Cubs dynasty over the Cardinals has begun!

It's "The Cubs Way."

About Those Commercials...
Hoping for a #Cubs win tonight AND a few less Viagra commercials. 

Yes, I'm serious. 

The Cubs Beat the Cardinals!
When your friend ask you to go to the Cubs game with him, it would be rude to say no, right?

But once we we're inside Wrigley, we were surrounded by friends, including my pal Joe from WI. (Last year, Joe and I had a football adventure together that I will never forget.)

The game was nail-biter all the way to the end. I captured this video on the last play of the game as the Cubs won! As far as I'm concerned, beating the Cardinals in the playoffs was as good as winning a world series.

There's only one way to celebrate the Cub's victory over the Cardinals: Chicago pizza and Kickapoo Joy Joice (think Mountain Dew). 

That's what I'm talking about.

The Cubs Will Take the Cards!
Is it just me, or can you also feel the fear Cardinal fans have about the game today? 

It's almost palpable. 

And, I must say, it IS enjoyable.

Hmm. Notice any resemblance?

About that Wild Card game against the Pirates...

I agree with Pete Rose on this one!

Go Cubbies!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

If you need a little good news...

As you may remember, we had an incredibly great time of ministry earlier this year in Laredo, TX. I just got this text from our friend, Tim Rowley, youth pastor of Grace Bible Church in Laredo, TX: 

"Today I'm baptizing two students, Dorianne and Dylan, who accepted Christ at Epic Weekend last March as God used you to share the Gospel. Love you brother and thankful for your ministry. Prayers for these young disciples would be greatly appreciated."
"They're so thankful as a family. Great to see those smiles."

Would you join us in praying this prayer for Dorianne and Dylan right now?

And before you go, here's something from my heart to yours: I'm so thankful for friends like you who pray for us and $upport us as Disciplemaking Missionaries with Cadre Ministries.

I'm thanking God and you for this Psalm 115:1 moment...
"Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness."

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