Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Little Overwhelmed........

One of my "heroes" during my formative years was a pastor named E.V. Hill.  I would try to attend conferences where he was speaking, get "cassettes" (remember those?) of his messages, and basically absorb everything I could from his teaching.  He was humorous, enthusiastic, and often times very helpful.

I heard him tell the story of an elderly pastor who was the go to guy for all the young preachers in E.V. Hill's network.  Whenever these young pastors needed encouragement they would make an appointment with this seasoned elder in the faith.  This weathered brother would listen carefully, sometimes make suggestions, but invariably always came to the same conclusion.  Go back to your ministry and "Preach a Little!"  Preaching always seemed to make things right.  Discouraged?  Preach a little!  Frustrated?  Preach a little!......etc....

If my memory serves me correctly, the first time I heard E.V. Hill tell this story was at a Billy Graham Conference at Wheaton in 1984 where E.V. Hill was speaking.  I could have the location details wrong, but I still have the notebook in my archives and could easily check the dates.......but the story still impacts me when I get to the place where I am feeling a little overwhelmed.  The lessons that event taught me have served me through three decades of life and ministry.

1.  It is good to have some experienced leaders to talk to during difficult times.

2.  Going to God's Word for perspective during difficult days always has a calming effect.

3.  Focus on what has to be done for sure, when things get a little confusing.  In my case as a pastor, regardless of what is going on around me, conflict, sorrow, fatigue etc., Sunday is never far away.  So, whenever circumstances tend to fog my vision, I know I have to be ready to preach that weekend.  So, to settle down, I have learned to shut the door, break out the Scriptures, and dig in to what God wants to say that week to me and through me.  Because in a few short days, I will have one more chance to "Preach a Little!"  

I know that your vocational focus may be different than mine, but the habit of dialing in on what has to happen is a good first step in re-establishing equilibrium during confusing times.

Until next time,

Pastor Mike      

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A vacation visit to a cool, hip, modern, with it, church

While Sharon and I were on vacation this summer we made it a point to attend worship services that we thought would  be different for us.  What you are about to read is a compilation of what we observed. We were some of the oldest people in the room in each church we visited.  As you look at the list of traits we thought were noteworthy, keep in mind that these churches are lively, regularly conduct multiple services, are apparently attracting large crowds, and going through growing pains as a result.

1.  NO PAPER - There were no what we would call bulletins, no printed orders of worship, no bulletin board with brochures about anything.  There were some index card like informational handouts, but they all referred you to the website.  I used the back of response envelopes to take notes about what we saw, three of them.

2.  NO ANNOUNCEMENTS - There was no time in the service where the upcoming events were mentioned, described, or highlighted.  Lines of communication included texting, email, or announcements on the website.

3.  NO OFFERING - We could only conclude that if you attended the church regularly you knew how to give.........if you wanted to.......

4.  CONCERT TYPE WORSHIP - The worship time was a series of songs mostly unfamiliar to us, presented in a way that made us feel like we were at a band concert, surrounded by fellow worshipers who were watching rather than outwardly participating with the professionally proficient worship band while they conducted a concert.  Tight jeans, boy band hair, swallowing the mic, and "giving it up" in applause for the band's exceptional performance were all part of the gig. The band's skill level really was exceptional.

5.  DARKNESS - The auditorium lights were out almost completely during the worship time, and during the "talk" it was a little lighter, but not enough to read along or take notes.   The stage was lit up with rotating lights, lots of theatrical type stage lighting which was used a lot during the worship time.  It was so dark that when we first arrived we were personally escorted into the room, and led to a seat.  Without that escort we would not have known where worship was taking place, nor would our eyes have been adjusted enough to navigate to a seat.  All of these elements are deliberate choices made for a specific reason by a leadership team of some sort.

6.  EMPHASIS ON TECHNOLOGY - The room probably seated three hundred people, yet had 6 projectors illuminating the entire front of the meeting room.  The band had all the latest gadgets, the website was mentioned repeatedly, and the whole service was visually busy.  This event they kept calling an experience was no doubt a lot of work to put together every week.

7.  A GADGET GUY ON FULL TIME STAFF - In each case there was a media/computer person dealing with the gadgets and production who was part of the full time staff.  The emphasis on media no doubt gave these people plenty to do, and illustrated that if you are going to make a production like this every week, volunteers alone would not do the job.

8.  LOTS OF "VISION CASTING" -   Here is where we are headed, here is how you can give financially or with your time to fulfilling the vision given to the pastor.  There was a strong emphasis on the pastor hearing from God and passing "God's" agenda on to the rest of the people.

So, as you look at this list, what are the priorities you see highlighted here?  What is not listed?  What priorities listed here are important to you?  This isn't about what I think is right or wrong, but "what is" in these churches we visited.  How does this list match up with what you think is important?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Getting the Word Out

I just returned from two weeks of travelling to Gettysburg, Plymouth Rock, Mystic Seaport, and the city of Boston, Massachusetts.  We had a great time and we were happy to be home.  I learned a lot, remembered a lot, and saw some rather disturbing habits in fellow travelers.

First thing was somewhat humorous.  As we visited the replica of the Plymouth Native American settlement, we were treated to some guides in original garb explaining how to construct a dugout canoe, among other things.  Catch the situation.......  We were looking at a person dressed like a member of the Wampanoag tribe, but talked with a New Jersey accent.  The guide was most informative, but the visual incongruency made us chuckle.  Here is a picture to help you get a feel for the situation.

On a more serious note, I observed something that I found quite disturbing.  As I motored along the interstate highways, it seemed that a good one third of the people I passed or passed me were texting as they drove.  Sometimes they were totally immersed in a message while travelling just behind a tractor trailer at 70 miles an hour.  Others were texting while passing me at speeds far exceeding the 65 miles an hour I was travelling.  If the person in front of them had to stop, or something ran out in front of them, they would have certainly caused a messy pile up.  Made me think about the prayer for protection that we prayed that morning before we left on the trip.  I am sure these people had heard the numerous warnings in print and on the airwaves about the dangers of texting and driving.  Yet they chose to ignore them.  Not just ignore them but ignore them with a brazen and complete disregard the potential danger they were creating.  Sounds familiar.

As I reviewed things for this weekend's talk I was reminded of the constant warnings in Scripture about rejecting the good news of Jesus.  I know that mentioning judgment nowadays is quite unpopular. Our culture has worked so hard at eliminating any penalties in life that in many circles it is actually believed they no longer exist.  And if you are crazy enough to be the one who mentions this concept called the judgment of God, I hope you know how to duck! Jesus, however, had no such hesitation nor did he live under such misconceptions.  I suspect because he was all too aware of the nature of the judgment awaiting those who reject Him.  Luke 10 describes it quite well. But that is why Jesus shows up in their neighborhoods, why he sends his representatives to declare the Kingdom of God is near and to prep the towns and villages for his coming. His preference is that we respond to his offer for rescue and avoid the painful pile ups of life.  That is what makes Him such good news.  Ultimately, if we ignore the warnings and end up running into the back end of a semi, that will be our own choice.   

May God grant us the grace to avoid the back ends of semi's.  

Until later.............

On the Bluewater Frontier,


Monday, July 22, 2013

This Year's Conference with Fellow Wizards

I spent last week in Fort Wayne, Indiana attending our church's international business meeting.  My father used to refer to these meetings as my gatherings with fellow wizards, a description that would concern some fellow wizards.  Nonetheless, pastors and leaders from all around the world gather every other year to conduct official business, catch up with one another, and share reports about what God is doing in different corners of the globe.  This year's theme was Shift, as you can see from the promotional banner.  It was encouraging to spend time with Don Cousins, Francis Chan, and Alan and Deb Hirsch. Their teaching and interaction was a great source of encouragement and insight.  Time well spent.

The three areas of SHIFT we discussed were....

Shift from church building to disciplemaking
Shift from program shaping to life shaping
Shift from participation to reproduction

Some thought provoking quotes............

Something happens when we pray that doesn’t happen when we don’t
Without Him we can’t and without us He won’t
Jesus didn’t say go and make “attendees”
God has called us to more than merely managing human activity
When you build a church you seldom get disciples, but when you make disciples you always get a church. 

Each one of these represent an hour or two of teaching and conversation.  I will be talking more about them for the next few weeks.

On a lighter note, I wore my Alabama shirt when we were relaxing.  I received it two weeks ago when my brother visited from Birmingham.  I got two SEC! fist bumps, a couple of strange looks from some Florida Gator fans, and one Roll Tide! in the hotel lobby.  Seems there are Alabama fans all over the place.  

This picture was taken in the 7th inning of a Fort Wayne Tin Caps game, a minor league team there in Fort Wayne.  They are in the same league as the Lansing Lug Nuts.  It was fun sharing a game with AL, Sue and others.  I enjoyed visiting with everyone and we returned home glad to be back in the land of the Maize and Blue.

Friday, June 14, 2013

What are you reading this Summer?

Summertime is a great time to read.  So, I thought I would share with you what I hope to read over the summer, along with some personal notes for the fun of it.......  

Reading Tools:

On my laptop if I am at home or at a favorite restaurant.

On my ipad if I need to travel light and can't bring my laptop.  Although, it seems I am
          learning to carry my ipad around more and more and my lap top less and less.

On my kindle, which is my favorite reading tool.  The color is great, there are lots of
          interesting resources that are free, it's the easiest to use,and it's the first e-reading device
          my wife purchased for me.

On plain ole paper, especially if I need to use the book as an on-going interactive resource.
          I like to do a lot of high lighting, and writing comments in the margins.  This is difficult to do
          in the e-readers.

Reading Locations:

     1.  My study at home.  
Here is my sanctuary.  I think here, journal here, and pray here.  It is a
          warm inviting place.

     2.  My boat.  
Half the time, especially in the summer, I look forward to launching my boat on the
          St. Clair river and then floating down as I read the latest good book on my list.  It is quiet,
          unless a 1000 foot freighter comes by, or another boater, or the Coast
          Guard zooms past on their way to help someone in distress.....maybe it's not as quiet.....  If I
          catch fish that day it is a bonus, but getting more read in my book of the day is the goal.

    3.  A quiet pull off on Harsen's Island.  
The island is dotted with these little driveways that
         border the canals.  They are great places to sit and read and think....until the "sqiutos" come

     4.  In the car.  
When Sharon and I go on vacation we usually have one book picked out to read
          to each other along the trip.  This summer will be no different.  It is better than the radio,
          which fades in and out as you move along the highway, and we sometimes use the book to
          launch into some great discussions.

Reading List:

     1.  MockingJay.  
We have read the first two, have seen the movie Hunger Games, and now are
          ready to finish the tale with the third and final installment.

Chesterton's biography of St. Thomas Aquinas on my Kindle.

     3.  The Ministry of Intercession
by Andrew Murray on my Kindle.

     4.  Multiplying Missional Leaders
and Leading Kingdom Movements by Mike Breen.  

     5.  The Personal Life of David Livingston by Willaim Blaikie on my Kindle.

This was probably more information than you needed about my summer reading  list, but it is fun to write about it as I look forward to a great summer.  I hope your summer is looking good as well.  A great book makes it even better.

Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct DetailsMockingjay (The Hunger Games, Book 3)

Product DetailsProduct Details

Pastor Mike

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Every once in awhile......

Well, here it is.......the Bible study guide from my first every training event with Inter-Varsity.  It was the winter of 1976.  I went with Wally, Paul, Stretch, and a few others.  The main instructor was so hairy he looked like he had just finished an audition as the lion in the Lion King.  I forget his name.  I forget exactly what he said.  But I do remember his encouragement to us about reading the Word of God, studying the gospel of Mark in particular, about following Jesus with passion, and his exhortations about leading a small group study back on our campus.

Every once in awhile..... I pull this study guide out.  I look it over.  I safeguard it.  I thank God for it.  I return it to its place of safety, to be retrieved one again the next time I find myself thankful for God's sustaining grace at the feet of leaders with Inter-varsity Christian Fellowship.  

Every once in awhile..... I get real nostalgic.  I remember younger days on campus as a skinny, scared, lonely kid.  The only one on my floor who didn't have a live-in girlfriend or spend Friday nights getting high at the community bong party.  I was considered a bit of a misfit.  

Every once in a while.....I have a conversation with a parent whose son or daughter is headed off to college.   This parent, on this day, was telling me how his son was planning to spend a month this summer training with Inter-Varsity.  Thus the walk down memory lane.

This will be some of the best time this young man will ever spend.  It is some sort of leadership training.  I don't even know what it is, but I do know that it will strengthen his walk with Jesus, sharpen his skills as a leader, and lead to even greater influence on the campus where he regularly leads a discussion group.

Every once in a while.....I am compelled to pray for the young leaders God is raising up to take the reigns of His church.  Whether it is the leaders at Oakland, Western, Albion, or U of M, Germany, or Ole Miss......we pray for them all, and the young people from our church who are encouraged by the Inter-Varsity leaders on site, as well as the leaders themselves whom we support.

Every once in awhile.....I return to their website ( to see what new resources have been produced for our young followers of Jesus.

Every once in awhile.....I reflect back on 30 years of pastoral ministry and wonder how these young leaders of today will be used by God for His glory because of the preparation and training they experienced in Inter-Varstiy......and I am encouraged.  Because I know how I was prepared and trained.......

Schools are wrapping up, winding down, and staffers are preparing for the shift to summer ministries.  If you know of someone who is actively working with college students in Inter-Varsity, this is a good time of year to let them know of your prayer support.  It is a good time of year to inquire if they have need of any financial support.  If you need a name and address, contact me.  We support several staff members.  Then write them a note, and write them a check.  Who knows what God will do with that investment.

A Grateful Soul on the Bluewater Frontier,

Mike Cadrette

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Arriving at Peace

peace symbolpeace symbol

Strange.  Peace.  Inner peace.  Inner peace that flows out of a solid connection with the Prince of peace - Jesus.  The above signs of course are what we normally think about when we hear the word peace.  I have been struck lately while reading through the gospel of Luke with how many times Jesus says, "Go in peace."  I have often asked my self how that is even possible with all the turmoil going on in the world.  And yet lately, I find myself in a place of extraordinary peace.  That led me to examine how I have arrived here.

Peace - the absence of conflict, but even more than that, an overall sense of well being that flows out of an inner confidence in someone or something.  The peace that Jesus offers is not a declaration that turmoil or tragedy no longer exists, but rather in the midst of troubling turmoil or tragedy, we are not troubled as a result.  That state of peace can come only when you understand how Jesus is the best source of Peace.  He is called the Prince of Peace.  Royalty, ultimately ruling over that which leaves us troubled. Well, I could go on about all this, but I looked at how, for the first time in awhile, I am actually at peace.  Here are what I think may be the contributing factors.

Physical Health - last summer I was two weeks away from major surgery for what turned out to be a lifelong sinus problem.  What a difference a year makes.  I was almost totally incapacitated last year at this time, useless to my co-workers, frustrated, and generally distressed by the problem that existed in my head.  This Spring has been such a contrast.  Thank God for good physicians and the healing grace of God.

Released Some Bitterness - The problem has not gone away, those who caused the bitterness are still exactly where they were, and my solution has been completely ignored.  But, through prayer to a sovereign God, supportive friends, and the patient love of a good wife, I have been able to "let it go."  What a relief.

Contentment - The apostle Paul says (Philippians 4:12-13) that getting to the place where you are satisfied, without the need to be driven, or compelled to reach for more for the wrong reasons, well, takes awhile to learn.  Seems I have at least gotten close to reaching that point.  This is not complacency or slothfulness.  But contentment.  I think the road to contentment is paved partly with a heart of gratitude.  Being thankful for what one has rather than focusing on what one doesn't or can't have.  Seems that was one of Satan's tactics in the garden.  He was successful in getting Adam and Eve to focus on the one thing they couldn't do, eat the fruit of the tree, the one thing they didn't have, the knowledge of good and evil.  And so by disobeying God, refusing to believe God and decided to make up their own rules......Ooops.  Sorry, started preaching.....

Focusing on Relationships - I am by nature a task oriented person.  I have shifted my energy to work more on the people around me rather than the tasks in front of me.  Big difference.  About eighteen months ago I asked the Lord to teach me how to love people, I mean really love them.  Well, let's just say that my learning curve has been pretty steep.  Oh, by the way, how good are you at actually loving your enemies?  Or your neighbors?  School is still in session.

Working in my giftedness -

     I say no, a lot.  Twice this month I said no to people who wanted me to do what they wanted me to do, instead of what I know God has given me to do.  At 55, it is more obvious than ever that I have only so much time left on earth.  I am going to be about what I know God wants me to be about.      

    I act with intentionality.  My work week is very focused, has a margin in it for people, and is a direct reflection of what I believe are my God given goals for this year......well, at least more than in the past. Maybe this is practice, skill training, or God's Spirit working through me,
but whatever it is, God is actually using me to help people change and grow.  It is quite satisfying.

     I know my strengths.  My base gifting is teaching.  The other four gifts listed in Ephesians 4 are phases I have drifted in and out of over time. See Building A Discipling Culture for a greater explanation of the five fold gifts.   Working on your areas of weakness over time actually helps you increase your capacity for influencing others.  But by interacting with others, consulting my wife and evaluating failures, one can fine tune activity in a way that leads to strong relationships as well as meaningful accomplishment.  
peace symbol

The end result is peace.  That is where I am today.  And I thank God for it.