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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Seven Months of Reading

Over the last seven months, I've had some time to catch up on some of my reading. Since it is the end of the year, I thought I would give a run down of the books I have completed and those I am still working through and will complete in January 2014. It has been a while since I shared the books I have read over a period of time (here is my last post about that). For what it is worth, here they are (pages include footnote, which I normally read). The books are in alphabetical order by author's last name in each section.

Pastoral/Preaching (completed)

Title: 12 Challenges Churches Face
Author: Mark Dever
Year: 2008
Pages: 192

Title: Pastoral Leadership Is...:How to Shepherd God's People with Passion and Confidence
Author: Dave Earley
Year: 2012
Pages: 310

Title: And the Place Was Shaken: How to Lead a Powerful Prayer Meeting
Author: John Franklin
Year: 2005
Pages: 195

Title: Preaching with a Plan: Sermon Strategies for Growing Mature Believers
Author: Scott Gibson
Year: 2012
Pages: 141

Title: Spirit-Led Preaching: The Holy Spirit`s Role in Sermon Preparation & Delivery
Author: Greg Heisler
Year: 2007
Pages: 156

Title: Vertical Church: What Every Heart Longs For. What Every Church Can Be.
Author: James MacDonald
Year: 2012
Pages: E-BOOK

Title: I am a Church Member: Discovering the Attitude that Makes the Difference
Author: Thom Rainer
Year: 2013
Pages: 79

Title: Preaching with BOLD Assurance: A Solid and Enduring Approach to Engaging Exposition
Author: Hershael York and Bert Decker
Year: 2003
Pages: 275

Pastoral/Preaching (In Progress - to finish in January 2014)

Title: Ministry Is...:How to Serve Jesus with Passion and Confidence
Author: Dave Early and Ben Gutierrez
Year: 2010
Pages: 313

Title: The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters
Author: Al Mohler
Year: 2012
Pages: 220

Christian and Non-Christian Fiction (Completed)

Series: The Book of Mortals
Author: Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee

     Title: Forbidden
     Year: 2011
     Pages: 376

Series: The Thrawn Trilogy
Author: Timothy Zahn

     Title: Heir to the Empire
     Year: 1991
     Pages: 404

     Title: Dark Forces Rising
     Year: 1993
     Pages: 439

     Title: The Last Command
     Year: 1994
     Pages: 467

Series: Quadrail (Since May, I read the last 3 of this 5 book series - I have read the first 2 previously)
Author: Timothy Zahn

     Title: Odd Girl Out
     Year: 2008
     Pages: 387

     Title: The Domino Pattern
     Year: 2009
     Pages: 382

     Title: Judgment at Proteus
     Year: 2012
     Pages: 513

Christian and Non-Christian Fiction (In Progress - to finish in January 2014)

Title: S.
Author: J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst
Year: 2013
Pages: 456 + Inserts

Series: The Book of Mortals
Author: Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee

     Title: Mortal
     Year: 2012
     Pages: 418

Title: Sargasso of Space
Author: Andrew North
Year: 1955
Pages: E-BOOK


Title: History Decoded: The 10 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time
Author: Brad Meltzer
Year: 2013
Pages: 152 + Inserts

Throughout the year, I read more books than these, but these all were since the end of May. Some that I read earlier in the year are worth noting (The Painful Side of Leadership by Jeff Iorg, and Who Stole My Church by Gordon MacDonald) but this post is concerned with those book I have read since the end of May.

I have really enjoyed reading the Dave Earley books (Pastoral Ministry Is..., Pastoral Leadership Is...). I have a couple more in this series and will continue with them. I read a chapter a day after my Bible time.

Also, if you have not read "S." by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst, it is the most unique book I have ever seen. If you like the T.V. show "Lost", you would like this book. The authors do the equivalent of flashbacks in the margins of the book you read, which is not a real book - you just have to see the book to understand. I got a copy for my daughter and a copy for me both at Sam's Club for about $20. It is worth far.

2014 should usher in another great list of reading. I already have a few books burning a whole on my night stand ready to get started. And when I get through them, I will post them. Maybe even some reviews. I hope this has been helpful.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Book Review: Pastoral Leadership Is...

Christian Leadership is always a sticky subject to handle. We know as Christian Leaders we are to be different than the world so "baptizing" secular leadership principles, which usually focuses on the personality of the leader, does not always seem the best way to go. However, there is a need in 21st century churches for biblical, pastoral leadership. So how should one lead biblically? What does it mean to be a pastor in the post-modern, Western world? Dave Early had addressed these issues in his book "Pastoral Leadership Is...: How to Shepherd God's People with Passion and Confidence." 

Using Exodus 18:19-23 as the main basis for his thesis, Early teaches that the main three aspects of biblical leadership is prayer, preaching, and raising up new leaders (or discipleship or equipping - however one wants to label that). These three facets of biblical, pastoral leadership also provide the main structure for the book.

The book is divided up into 5 sections of 6 chapters each. This provides the reader with a nice format for using this book as a daily devotion, which is suggested by Early. This is how I utilized this book and when I am at a church with pastoral staff members, we will use this book as a devotional guide in staff meetings. Going through the book over 5 weeks allows the reader to think through each topic addressed and time to incorporate suggestions given in the book into the reader's life.

The first section of the book is about the internal man. Pastoral leadership begins with a personal relationship with Christ that is growing and constant. Addressing issues as the call to ministry, spiritual warfare, purity, and other topics, the case is made that leadership begins internally and flows outward. A leader is a lifelong disciple of Christ, always growing in Him.

The section part of the book deal with the first of the three facets of pastoral leadership. Prayer should be paramount in the pastor's life. Moving again from the internal to the external, Early deals with the pastor's personal prayer life and moves to leading the church to be a house of prayer.

Thirdly, Early writes about preaching. Here he moves from theoretical to practical. Beginning with the importance of preaching and moving to some basic "how-to" chapters, the author helps the reader understand that the pulpit cannot be neglected when it comes to pastoral ministry. One of the best ways pastors care for their flock is a strong sermon from the pulpit every week.

Part four of the book approaches the topic of equipping the people of God to do the work of God. Early focuses on the investment a pastor can make in the lives of a few men so they can go and do more work than one man can do. Additionally, these faithful men can go and invest in more men to do more of God's work. This is obviously a model based on 2 Timothy 2:2, which is near and dear to my heart.

Early finishes the book with a very practical section on shepherding God's people. These 6 chapters deal with issues like how to resolve conflict in the church and how to council people all the way to how to do a wedding and funeral. These are filled with very practical helps for any pastor, but especially those new to the pastorate.

Overall, this was an excellent read and may be the most helpful Pastoral Leadership book I have read. Pastoral Leadership Is... is filled with verses providing biblical instruction, and Early has given many practical helps to make sure the theory is put into the practice of the lives of pastors. For example, at the end of the chapter entitled "Training Yourself for Godliness," the author provides a simple and straightforward way to make some personal growth goals, ranging from mental, to physical, to spiritual, and then a quick guide on making these personal growth goals into a plan. Personally, I have adopted this plan and have been working to implement this into my life. Each chapter in this book is like this: filled with biblical instruction and practical help.

As stated, I incorporated this book into my personal devotion time. After time of bible reading and prayer, I would read a chapter of this book, marking any significant information that would stir my mind that day. I found that I was looking forward to my quiet time not only to hear from God through His word, but also to spend time reading and thinking about pastoral leadership. I would recommend this book to ANY pastor. If you are looking for a gift for pastor appreciation month, this would be a nice gift to your pastor.

2t22 rating:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wait for It...

After a few posts of eclectic topics, I wanted to get back to posting about Nehemiah. In Nehemiah 2, we see the movement of Nehemiah from Babylon to Jerusalem, from servant to leader, and from consuming sadness to consuming vision.

The chapter begins with Nehemiah standing before the most powerful man in the world and being asked by this powerful leader for anything Nehemiah wanted. When asked what Nehemiah wanted, Nehemiah went to someone more powerful than any man - He went to the God of Heaven. God would lead him to ask the right thing from Artaxerxes. I am sure Nehemiah had many thing pop into his mind about what he wanted but he allowed his will to be bent to God's will concerning the rebuilding of Jerusalem. After all, according to Nehemiah 1:10, they were God's people and He would be the one taking care of them.

Nehemiah requested to travel to Jerusalem and for material to rebuild. He was given these things, not because of who Nehemiah was, nor because the king was so generous. He received these things because God's hand was on him.

After getting to Jerusalem, the Lord laid a direction on Nehemiah's heart. Nehemiah did not immediately share this with everyone but inspected the work to be done so that he would understand what God was asking Him to do. Eventually, Nehemiah shares what God was doing in Susa, how God provided for the work, and what God was asking them to do. They all jumped on board - "Let us arise and do this good work" (Nehemiah 2:18).

Immediately, conflict and opposition arose. The enemies of God and His people began mocking them and attempting to discourage them from the work God had called them to do. Nehemiah assured the enemies of the success of God's people, not because of their resolve but because it was God's plan and he was sure it was God's plan.

A few lessons from this chapter stand out to me. First, when confronted with a very important decision, Nehemiah prayed. It should be noted that this was done out of habit. He did not pray because it was important decision and all important decisions were prayed on. His habit was to go to the Lord and so when this pivotal moment came, Nehemiah did what he did habitually. The result of his faithful prayer was that "the king granted" and "God strengthened" (Nehemiah 2:8 - See the HCSB).

Second, when God granted the request, there were two reactions. The king sent reinforcement even though they were not requested by Nehemiah. God gave more than requested through the king. God knew Nehemiah would need some back-up and gave generously. Additionally, the enemies of God and His people were greatly displeased. When God's people begin to move toward God's plans, and God grants the prayers of His people, the enemies of God and His people will begin to get irritated.

Finally, when the time was right, Nehemiah shared with the people what God had been stirring in his heart for a while. God began a moving in Nehemiah's heart back in Susa. Then Nehemiah gave his request. Then all the supplies had to be gathered for his trip. Then he traveled to Jerusalem. Then, after being there for three days, he inspected the scope of the work. It was only after all of that that Nehemiah began to share the vision God had placed in His heart. It was only then that he had the full story of what God had done, what the king had said to him, and enormity of the task at hand so he could lead the people to participate in the "good work," which they were eager to do (Nehemiah 2:18).

We see in this passage the journey a leader takes when leading the people under his care in a direction God has put in that leader's heart. God has to be working in the heart of the leader, and God has to be working out the circumstances in order for the people to get to where God wants them. When the leader waits until he has the whole of what God wants him to communicate to the people, it benefits the people and encourages them to participate in the plan of God.

Verse to remember: Nehemiah 2:18 - I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king's words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, "Let us arise and build." So they put their hands to the good work.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Unique Trains - Addendum

In the previous post, I have pictures of some unique trains. My friend, Brian, who works for the railroad, informed me that I was close on my guesses of what these strange machines actually do. However, I was not exactly correct and he guided me to understand each piece. I wanted to share that information for my memory and for anyone else interested.

I guessed the first engine, which was unusually long, cleaned the rocks that lay in between the rails. This is, in fact, what that machine does. It picks up the rocks, cleans them, and then returns them back down on the track (it is this last part I was not sure of). Because of the coal dust or other grime that may make the track less effective, they clean the rocks.

I speculated that the second device was a tamping tool, since that was written in large letters on its side. I said I thought it straightened the ties or made sure the ties were secure. This part was wrong. Brian indicated that this device picks up the rail, shoves the rocks under the rail, and then make sure the rail is level. That impressed me! I wished I had gotten a better video of that process.

Finally, the last car did what I deduced it did. It moves the rocks all back into place so that the rail is secure and the rocks are not scattered everywhere.

Again, I am not a train enthusiast, but maybe someone reading this is and did not know about these type of trains. I hope this has been educational. I know it is not all that spiritual, but it is at least fun!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Another Funeral, Another Road Trip, and Unique Trains

I attended another funeral today in Sterling. Since the lady who passed was the wife of a fellow pastor in my Association, I went to support him. Sterling is only about an hour from my house, so it was nothing close to my 970 mile trip in my previous post. However, whenever I go on some sort of road trip, I have been trying to take my camera because I always see something I want to remember or something unique. This road trip did not disappoint.

When I got close to home, I saw some very unique equipment running along the railroad route which runs through Wiggins. I am not exactly sure what they are but I can guess on a couple. If you know what these are, please post so we all can be educated.

First on the track, I saw this contraption. It was so long, I had to take it with a panoramic setting (with all the following, click image for larger picture).

Ok. So this fascinates me. My guess, in the context of the following pictures of vehicles, this digs up the rocks found between the tracks so it will expose the ties. It looks like these rocks are maybe shuttled up a conveyer and then through another conveyer to a container? I am not sure. Maybe the rocks are getting cleaned and the residue is going to the container? I have absolutely no clue but I am putting my money on that this may be a machine to remove the rocks from the between the rails. This is due to the next piece of equipment.
The key to this piece is the orange apparatus located on the front end. This is obviously a Dynamic Tamping Express. I know this because...
it says it right on the side of the machine. It is my guess that this interesting looking engine straightens out the ties and make sure they are securely in place. Perhaps it just beats the nails, or whatever holds the ties in place, so they are secure. I liked watching this process. Here is a video.
This looks like some sort of sci-fi, robot, construction device or something. I love the way it moves. Finally, following these two distinctive pieces of machinery was a final mystery.
 To me, this mechanism looks like it takes the rocks and moves them back on to the ties. I have a video of this process as well.
 I have no idea what these are (Brian, if by any chance you read my blog, let me know what these are!) and I guess that is what interested me in these. I am not a train enthusiast, per se, but trains are an integral part of our country's economy. It seems like these strange looking pieces of technology help those trains keep running. Or not...I have no idea.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Funeral, Swink, and a Sleeping Indian

I recently took a 970 mile road trip which covered three corners of Colorado. I left on a Friday morning to go to La Junta to attend the funeral of my friend's father. I did not know him but I wanted to support my friend. His father was a church planter, a pastor, and essentially a missionary in Eastern Colorado. It was encouraging to hear everyone speak of how he led through prayer, raised up leaders, and served the Lord all his life.

Because the next day I needed to be in Creede, I did not go home but instead went to my in-laws in Colorado Springs. So, on my way home, I went through Swink (click image for larger picture). I took a picture of the town's water tower with my phone on the fly so it is not the best picture but OK. When I was in La Junta, I stopped at the local Wal-Mart and picked up a Swink Lions shirt (click here for my post about high school mascots). I also stopped in Rocky Ford and picked up Meloneer shirts for my wife, my daughter, and myself. It was good to drive through some of these small towns I have not really heard of before.

Saturday, I headed out for Creede, as I was to preach there on Sunday morning. It is about 4 hours from Colorado Springs but I was going to take my time. It was a beautiful trip. If you have not been to the Southwestern part of Colorado, I would encourage you to take some time and visit.

The church had me stay with a very nice couple. They had a lovely cabin (click image for larger picture). They had a fantastic view from their front porch. The husband pointed to a formation of mountains and said, "They call that 'The Sleeping Indian'. Can you see it?" I indeed could see why they called it that. Here is a picture of that formation (click image for larger picture).

I preached Sunday morning for a great group of folks from all over the country. They all come and spend the summer in Creede and then go home for the winter. It was a good group of folks. They were very receptive to the message and were very gracious and hospitable. I also preached Sunday evening for them. There was a good group who came back for Sunday Evening worship, which I thought was impressive. Here is the church building (click image for larger picture).

After church the husband drove me around the area for a little bit. He showed me some of the sites and gave me some great history of the area. He was quite the historian and knew the place very well. The leaves were not quite their brilliant color they would normally be this time of year, but they were still an amazing display of God's creativity. Here are a couple of pictures of the landscape (click images for larger pictures).

I believe this is the San Luis Valley. The river is the Rio Grande, whose head waters are close to Creed. It flows from here all the way down to form the border between Mexico and Texas. This was such an expansive view, showing the river and the valley, the hills and the mountains, I had to stop and take a shot.

I took this shot down one of the roads we were traveling. I am pretty sure the mountain is Bristol Head Mountain. I liked this picture of the road, the trees and the mountain in the back ground.

I traveled back to Colorado Springs that Sunday evening, and the back home the following day. All in all, I drove 970 miles in 4 days to 3 corners of this beautiful state I live in. I had the privilege of attending the funeral of a fine man of God, and was able not only able to enjoy some very scenic views, but was able to proclaim the Word of the One who created all of this and allows us to enjoy it. It was a good weekend!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mine! Not Yours!

The first chapter of Nehemiah plunges us right into the story of God's people about 100 years after some of the people had returned to Jerusalem. Even after so many years, Jerusalem was exposed and vulnerable to attack because the wall had not been rebuilt. We are immediately introduced to Nehemiah, the one God will use to change Jerusalem's condition.

When Nehemiah heard there was trouble with the people of God, that is, the wall had still not been rebuilt, he first went to God. He stopped what he was doing, wept, mourned, fasted, and prayed. God's people were in "great trouble and disgrace" (1:3, HCSB) because the wall was in disrepair. There was no protection there.

Nehemiah had genuine concern for God's people and this led to an impassioned prayer to God. He began his prayer by acknowledging God's greatness and His love for His people - No one loves God's people more than God does. Nehemiah asks God to hear his constant prayer on behalf of God's people. Next, he begins to confess the sins of the people including himself in that group. Accompanying the confessions is a request for forgiveness, specifically, for God to remember His gracious words to Moses.

Nehemiah then comes to the truth about God's people: "They are Your servants and Your people whom You redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand." Again, Nehemiah's concern does not and cannot outweigh God's love and concern for His own people. Nehemiah finished his prayer with another request to be heard and that his plan will be successful.

This chapter teaches me several lessons. First, it teaches me that those who God calls to shepherd His people must have a genuine concern for them. Nehemiah shows a real investment in God's people by asking about their condition, being emotionally and spiritually moved by the report, and then acting to help their condition (note that he saw the best thing he could was to take this burden to God).

Second, Nehemiah 1 teaches me that shepherd should passionately pray for God's people. Understanding that the pastor is in the same boat spiritually, so to speak, as the rest of God's people, the he is to carry the burdens of the people to God, who is the only one who can do anything about their situation.

Finally, I see that the shepherd must keep in mind that no matter how much he begins to love the people of God, God loves them infinitely more. They are HIS people who are to serve HIS desires. HE redeemed them by HIS great power and HIS strong hand. In the Old Testament, this is referring to God freeing His people from slavery from the Egyptians through Moses and from slavery from the Babylonians/Persians, which is the current context. In the New Testament, this is referring to God freeing us from the slavery of sin through His Son, Jesus. God has given His people the True Shepherd in the person of Jesus Christ (John 10:1-18). While He has given pastors the job of watching over His flock, and they are to care for His people (1 Peter 5:1-4), none of them can come close to the love God has for His people.

In this passage, I hear God reminding us through Nehemiah that His people are His. I hear Him reminding pastors "They are Mine; Not yours. Treat them as such." This is a good lesson to remember.

Verse to Remember: Nehemiah 1:10 - "They are Your servants and Your people whom You redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand."

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Keys to Remember Nehemiah

I have been spending a lot of time in Nehemiah in my personal time with God and I have truly been growing through this great book. One of the tools I have been attempting to utilize is identifying a key verse for each chapter so it would be easier for me to remember the flow of the book. I want to post these verses first, for me so I can see them laid out in order to see if they indeed work as mnemonic devices. Secondly, I would like to have any feedback you may have about them.

I will be the first to admit that I am sure many scholars would disagree that each of these are the key verses found in Nehemiah. My goal was not to necessarily find the theological key verse or the structural key verse but instead find the verse in each chapter that I could easily memorize, that would help me remember what that chapter was about, and that I could use in my Christian walk. With that said, here are the 13 verses I think summarize Nehemiah:

Nehemiah 1:10 - "They are Your servants and Your people whom You redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand."

Nehemiah 2:18 - "I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king's words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, "Let us arise and build." So they put their hands to the good work."

Nehemiah 3:20 - "After him Baruch the son of Zabbai zealously repaired another section, from the Angle to the doorway of the house of Eliashib the high priest."

Nehemiah 4:17 - "Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon."

Nehemiah 5:8 - "I said to them, 'We according to our ability have redeemed our Jewish brothers who were sold to the nations; now would you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us?' Then they were silent and could not find a word to say."

Nehemiah 6:9"For all of them were trying to frighten us, thinking, 'They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done.' But now, O God, strengthen my hands."

Nehemiah 7:2"then I put Hanani my brother, and Hananiah the commander of the fortress, in charge of Jerusalem, for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many."

Nehemiah 8:8 - "They read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading."

Nehemiah 9:17"They refused to listen, And did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had performed among them; So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But You are a God of forgiveness, Gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness; And You did not forsake them."

Nehemiah 10:39b - "... Thus we will not neglect the house of our God."

Nehemiah 11:2 - "And the people blessed all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem."

Nehemiah 12:43 - "and on that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced because God had given them great joy, even the women and children rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard from afar."

Nehemiah 13:14 - "Remember me for this, O my God, and do not blot out my loyal deeds which I have performed for the house of my God and its services."

I will post more about each chapter and why I chose these verses but for now I would simply ask the question, "If you have read the book of Nehemiah a couple of times and then memorized these 13 verses, do you think you would be able to remember the book in general in the order in which it was written?" I am attempting to memorize these 13 verses and thus have a better understanding of this important book.

In the upcoming days, I will be posting a brief summary of each chapter and lessons we can take away from the chapter.

Let me know what you think of these verses, or, if you have a different verse from a particular chapter, let me know why you would choose a different verse.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Deal of the Day

One of my favorite places to get books is the Nazarene Bible College's Library. This is for two reasons. First, when the library has books for sale, hardback books are 50 cents and paper backs are 25 cents. It is hard to pass up a 50 cent book. The second reason is that because it is a Nazarene school there are always a bunch of Baptist books that they are clearing out (I really don't know if this is why there are always Baptist books for sale but it seems strange that the majority in their store seem to be Baptist authors). But Baptist or not, they usually have some interesting finds that one could not find anywhere else. 
However, today they had just finished their book sale (I was pretty sad I missed that but it was probably better that I missed it. I would have need a U-Haul to get all the books home). During the book sale, they were selling the books $1 per bag! They were gracious enough to extend that price to me. So the picture is the of the books I got for $1 - total! So, the picture today was my deal of the day(Click image for larger picture).

Granted, they are mostly old but feel that old commentaries don't go out of style. After all, if what the author had to say was truly clarifying to the biblical text, then it should be helpful no matter how old it is. Additionally, a person can track an interpretation of a passage over time.

I have written about my thoughts about commentaries and books here, here, and here so I won't repeat my thoughts.

In short, I was excited to get a bag of brief commentaries for $1. I am sure they will be useful when I preach through the respective books.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Best. Mascot. Ever!

Ah...Texas. Home of seriously scary obsession of High School football and great High School mascots. I saw the BEST mascot EVER yesterday in New Braunfels, Texas. I am not sure you can make out the picture on the left so in case you can't, here is another pictures which is a clearer indication of their mascot.

Now, before too many crazed Texans send me hate mail or something, let me assure I am not making fun of this mascot. Instead, I truly think it is a great mascot. There are so many mascots that are over used across the country. My high school mascot was a mustang. My daughter was first a lion, then was a tiger, and if she went to University of Northern Colorado she would have been a bear (oh my). She actually is now a pioneer (which is another more unique mascot). I know of schools that are bulldogs, wildcats, eagles, wolves, and on and on.

I really like unique mascots and Colorado has many unique teams as well. I try to find shirts with these mascots on them and wear them and support them in that manner. I am not making fun; I applaud them for their unique take on the High School mascot. So, I like the Brush Beetdiggers, the Rocky Ford Meloneers, the Clear Creek Golddiggers, AND the New Braunsfels Unicorns!

If you know of a unique High School or College mascot, please post it. I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

How I Spent My Day - 9.5.2013

Here is how I spent my day...well, part of my day. I needed a piece of trim to get a color match at the store for some touch up but I could not find an inconspicuous piece to take off the wall. Then I found this small piece behind a door. By the time I got it off, it was in three pieces. So, now, not only do I have put on the trim in some places that don't have it, I have to fix this little area. Something about two steps forward and one step back comes to mind.

Anyway, this is the just the latest in the house maintenance I am doing. I will show the completed work when done. Hopefully by the beginning of next week.

This post not only shows my recent house demolition maintenance, but it also starts a new subject of posts of "How I Spent My Day." Recently, I have been taking a picture of some beautiful place I have been and then texting that to some friends who are working and rubbing it in that I am there and they are not (aren't I a great friend? Here is an example of what I am talking about). That made me think I should do that for the blog. We will see how it goes.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

My Gravestone

" What do you want written on your gravestone?"

This is a question that is asked by many to get people to think about how they want their life remembered. I have spend some time...not a lot but some...thinking "What would I want on my gravestone?" Or maybe more accurate a question is "How would I want to be remembered?"

I have been reading Dave Earley's book Pastor Leadership Is... and in the chapter about Feeding God's Sheep he has this quote:

At the end of one's ministry in any given place, the preacher should be able to say that he did not shun, he never hesitated, to proclaim the whole counsel of God, that Christ-centered, biblical agenda was evident throughout his preaching ministry; that preaching was not deceptively selective, nor was there negligence in this matter; and from the center to circumference, the truths of the Word of God were declared. (Steven Olford, Anointed Expository Preaching, 91 - quoted by Dave Earley in Pastoral Leadership Is..., 154).

As I read this I thought, "THIS is how I would like to be remembered!" I hope those who have sat under my preaching can say, Rolland "did not shun, he never hesitated, to proclaim the whole counsel of God, that Christ-centered, biblical agenda was evident throughout his preaching ministry; that preaching was not deceptively selective, nor was there negligence in this matter; and from the center to circumference, the truths of the Word of God were declared." If that was on my gravestone, and those who put it there did so because it was true, I would think that would mean I was faithful in the ministries to which God called me.

I am not all that concerned about remembered, nor do I care all that much about my gravestone...after all, when this body passes my attention will consumed with much more glorious things than what this world has to offer. I guess the point I am making is that I desire to be a faithful minister of the Word of God.

I pray that my ministry as a whole can be described as the above. I would think this would be the prayer of every preacher.

What do you want written on your gravestone?


Thursday, August 22, 2013

How I Spent My Tuesday and Wednesday

I live in beautiful state. One of the great benefits of living in Colorado is that when the state convention has conferences, I get to travel to various parts of the state and enjoy the beauty our God has created. This last Tuesday and Wednesday I attended a conference in Buena Vista, Colorado. As I drove there, I had to stop and take a picture of this scene (you HAVE to click the image for a larger picture - really...). Truly, what a beautiful vista this was. This picture was taken on Wilkerson Pass on Highway 24 about 45 miles east of Buena Vista. Just a benefit of going to the conference.

I have a little Fujifilm Finepix S1500 (I did not pay what it sells for on Amazon - I got it much cheaper) and it try to take it wherever I go in case I need to take a picture. One day I might join the 21st century and get an iPhone or a Galaxy or something like that and take pictures with my phone, but there is something satisfying about lining up a shot in your view finder, trying to capture the Rule of Thirds, and producing a picture like the one above (the picture above was captured using the panoramic option on the camera but I still tried to use the Rule of Thirds).

The conference was really good but the drive there and back was absolutely beautiful. In fact, I took the "Top of the Rockies National Scenic and Historic Byway" on the way home. Thank you, Yahweh, for the magnificence of Your creation!

Let me know what you think of the picture. Make sure you view it at 100%.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I'm in Good Company

During the sermon today, we read this passage in Luke where Jesus reads Isaiah and then preached a short, short sermon (nine words, in fact). The crowd's reaction to that sermon made me think I am in good company.

And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, He went His way. Luke 4:28-30

'Nuff said.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Screens and Grates

I have not posted anything new since I have gotten back from Honduras because I have been completing several "honey-do's" around the house. Now that my schedule is a little more open than in the past (long story), I have some time to get some of the items off the list that have been there for over four years.

First, I repaired every window screen on our house. You may not be able to see it in the picture (click picture for larger image) but almost every screen on our house had a hole in it. We have intended to repair these for several years and I have not had the time. We have twenty-nine screens in total. While it was not a hard job, it did take a lot of time. However, I took it at my own pace and just enjoyed the time. My daughter helped me with the last few.

Second, I put covers on our basement window wells (technically, they are grates but they are used to keep things and people from falling down the hole. I do not have a before shot, but here are the completed pictures of the grate and the window wall (click pictures for larger images). We have four window wells, each about six foot deep. I cleaned out the bottom of the window well, put some landscaping fabric down, and poured some river rock into it. Then, I installed the ladder and the security cable. These are so if there is a fire, a person can climb out the window, pull the safety release, climb the ladder, lift the grate, and get away from the house.

Again, none of these were tough but they took some time, especially at the speed I was working. I will say that lugging 16 bags of river rock down the stairs was quite an aerobic workout, but it was good.

In between these jobs, I had to repair my "weed wacker" by replacing the broken trigger mechanism. I also changed the blades on my John Deere riding mower. We have had so much rain lately it seems like I am mowing all the time.

I am sure there is a sermon illustration about screens and/or grates but just cannot think of it right now. Maybe I will post one later.

Anyway, my point is that I have been too busy to post since getting home but hope to post some thoughts soon. Just thought I would share my blood, sweat, and tears.

One more thing, check out my new visitor cluster map on the sidebar. I like the rotating globe. Let me know what you think about it.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pictures from Honduras #6

For my final posting of pictures from my mission trip, I thought I would post some of the fun parts of the trip. These are some of unique things that I saw or did and some of the fun people I met (Click pictures for larger images):

The two ladies in this picture with me were the translators for the group from Houston. Donya is on the left and Ruth is on the right. They never really translated for me officially, although Ruth translated for me the first day while in the car and was my navigator (more on that below when I talk about my driving experience in Honduras). They both understood English very well and did a great job translating for the group as they did evangelism.
Ruth was a goofball, as you can see here. And she had A LOT of hair!
When the group went to the T.V. station to perform their dramas live on the air, Pastor Moises wanted to interview me. So he took a few minutes and asked me some questions about what I was doing in Olanchito. I think he thought I was employed by World Hope and right before we started the interview I corrected him. Anyway, I guess my 15 minutes of fame is that I was on Honduran T.V. very briefly.
We got a little bit of rain while I was there. This is the road outside Pastor Juan's church were we had the Bible Institute. I thought Pastor Jorge's van (the silver one sitting there) was going to get washed away when we started driving down the little river.
I enjoyed meeting the pastors at the Institute. Here are some who agreed to pose for a picture with me (actually, Pastor Jorge really did not give them a choice). They are all very busy pastors. The right-most pastor in the striped shirt had to leave the Institute for few minutes to make sure he paid his workers who were working his farm while he was learning about doctrine. The pastor immediately left of me (while looking at the picture) came from 6 hours away to go to the Institute. Again, it was a privilege to help equip these committed ministers to serve their congregations.

We had to stop on the highway because the cattle had to cross the road. The little boy came out with his flag and began waving it, all the cars stopped, and the cattle crossed the road. The cattle have the right-of-way I was told.
We saw some kids trying to cool off in the river we crossed. I cannot imagine this water was at all safe to be in but they were having a ball anyway.
So here is the vehicle I drove the first day in Honduras (Click link so read about that). It is a Hyundai H-1000 van-truck-thing. This is the van part... 
This is the truck part. The back was LOADED with our luggage (much more than what is shown) and because the speedometer was in KPH I had no idea how fast I was going nor did I know how fast I was supposed to be going because there were no speed limit signs. I had the pedal down as far as it was going and they still said I was driving too slow. It was fine with me that they did not let me drive again while there.
This would have been more my speed. There were a lot of horses, horse and carts, motorcycles, bikes, and various modes of transportation.

Sunday after the worship service, Pastor Moises gave each of the group a certificate from his church and the Baptist Convention of Honduras thanking us for our service there. It was a very kind gesture. I will be hanging it somewhere prominent. 

Here is the group I spent the week with - except the lady in the green shirt on the left. She ran the Hotel Beverly. We took this picture so that we could hand our picture in their lobby. So, if you are ever at the Hotel Beverly, look for our picture!
I hope you have enjoyed the pictures from my mission trip to Honduras. It was a good trip. I am praying about going again next year. The main hindrance is the money to go (it is about $2000 per trip). World Hope Bible Institute could use more and more pastors with a Master's Degree from an accredited seminary to go on trips like these. There is such a great need to help these pastors so they can train indigenous leaders. They have these Bible Institutes not only in Honduras but all over the world.
World Hope also sends church groups all over the world to do a variety of mission trips. Please pray about the possibility of your involvement or the involvement of your church. Contact WHMI for more information.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Pictures from Honduras #5

Honduras is a beautiful place and while we were there we had very nice accommodations. I love the scenery while we traveled and the hotels where we stayed were comfortable and friendly. Here are some pictures about the places in Honduras (click the pictures for larger images):

The first hotel we stayed at and the last one we stayed at was the La Qunita in La Ceiba. It is nice hotel with a restaurant and a pool. I did not take advantage of the pool - I figure if you cannot drink the water it may not be good to plunge oneself in it. Showering was as much as I would get in the water. However, the rooms were very nice and the staff were very friendly and bi-lingual, which was a great help, at least for me.

This was the view from the door of my room. There was a nice courtyard where I was able to rest on our free day (see previous posts). It was quite beautiful.
We stayed at the Hotel Beverly while in Olanchito. This, too, was a nice hotel, but not as nice as the La Quinta. But it was clean, each room had A.C. and there was an attached restaurant that would take our requests for what we wanted to eat the following day. If you are in Olanchito and go to the restaurant, look for my name on the wall. Also, look for our picture hanging in the lobby!
I am always impressed on how clean Honduras is. You always see someone sweeping or cleaning up the area. Here is one of the streets in Olanchito. I was a nice scene showing the street, the mountains in the background, and the rain clouds coming in. I am not sure the picture captures it.
Buildings are close in Olanchito. I took a panoramic picture of the church and the houses next door. The truck is a small truck, not even a midsized truck. The house on the right is occupied by Pastor Juan's daughter, Myra, and her husband, Daniel. I had the honor of going to their house one evening and chatting with them for a little bit. I prayed for them before we left over a specific need. Anyway, it is close quarters in Honduras.

The scenery is beautiful with the mountains covered in different kinds of trees. Everything is very green from the daily rains (at least it rained every day I was there).

Another scene from Olanchito.
I liked this picture a lot.

Here you see how the farmers grow African Palm Trees like any other crop. You will see fields like this all over - even over a mountain. It is my understanding that it takes about five years for the palm to grow and begin to produce its fruit, which I was unclear what the fruit was. I thought it was coconuts but was told it was something else. Click Here to see what the fruit of the African Palm Tree looks like.  

We did not only see the nice parts of Olanchito and La Ceiba. When we were leaving Olanchito, Pastor Jorge and Pastor Moises took us out toward the town dump where some of the incredibly poor people live. This is a house made out of mud. It may look like bricks but it is only mud bricks.

Here is another mud brick house. These folks are really destitute. I think Pastor Jorge was talking to the World Hope representative to show there was work they could do in this part of town. I also think he was doing whatever he could to make sure we would all come back the next year.
Honduras is a beautiful country and the people are very hospitable. They seem to enjoy having us gringos locos running around their town. Granted, I have had limited exposure to the country. I have been there exactly twice and have been to only four towns along the northern coast. But I have enjoyed my time there.
More pictures to come...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pictures from Honduras #4

One of the things I most appreciated while in Honduras was the Hondurans inhibitions when worshipping God. At every church service I attended while I was there, the people sang with all their hearts, prayed with fervency, and listened to the Word of God intently. It was quite refreshing. Here are some pictures about what I am talking about (click on picture for larger image):

Before every service, people would come forward and use the stage as an altar and lift the service up to God. Even before I taught at the Institute, there were men and women up front praying for the day. In the picture above, the church has laid down a little strip of carpet so people can kneel (the floor was rough concrete).
Here is a man at Pastor Moises' church before Sunday's worship service.

Additionally, at every church they had a worship team. They may not have lights, they definitely did not have air conditioning, but they had a great sound system and instruments and musicians who played them. In the previous two pictures above, you see drum sets on the stage. In this picture, the pastor said these men who played for this church's worship team didn't even know what a guitar looked like six months ago but their worship leader taught each of them to play and sing. They did a fine job leading worship. I thought it was interesting that they all coordinated by wearing pink shirts with black pants. They obviously had thought about leading worship for that evening.
The reason they were to effectively lead worship, in my opinion, was because they realized they had an audience of One. They were not playing for those in attendance; they were worshiping the One True God. This is evident in the fact that when they were finished tuning and practicing, they gathered to pray. Again, you see how prayer is integral to the worship service in Honduras.

I had to include this picture. They would use whatever they could as a musical instrument to praise God with. The man above is using a turtle shell as a type of cow bell (I have a disease, and the only cure is more turtle shell....I gotta have more turtle shell).

In each church, the people responded in worship with passion and loud, unhindered singing and praying (I will note here that I realize worship is more than singing but I am just focusing on the singing part of worship). There was a point while at the church in this picture where the electricity cut off and the piano stopped and the microphones cut off. This did not stop the people singing their hearts out. It was so beautiful to hear them singing acapello, with all the parts present. I tried to record it with video on my camera but failed to do get it.

Here is another worship service and you see the people praising God unashamedly, raising their hands in praise to God. Their worship services were really celebrations of God and His grace given to us. I would encourage you listen to Louie Giglio about this phenomenon of raising hands in worship (just click his name to watch a video - if you do not have an hour, then start at about 28 minutes and listen for about 8 minutes - it is worth listening to).
I was so glad to be able to experience worship in another culture. It is a great thought to remember that Jesus' grace is spread around the world and it is not just America that impacting the world for the Kingdom of God. Nations around the world are ministering to those in their country and bringing people to Christ. It was also refreshing to worship with Christians who are not stunted in their worship but instead pour their hearts and soul out to worshipping God in a manner in which He deserves.
More pictures coming...