Friday, January 27, 2012

Fear Not

This video really hits home. As a pastor, I spend far too much time worrying what people think and too little worrying what God thinks, too much time worrying that my sermons are not good and not enough worrying whether they are of God. What about you? Do you fear the right things?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Shooting with the boys

Since I was on such a roll with Sara, I decided to take the boys shooting on Monday. It was holiday, it was warm for January, the club I recently joined is minutes from my house, and the boys have been begging to go, so I was all out of excuses (Not that they exactly had to twist my arm). So we loaded up two BB guns and my new .22 rifle, my target stand, ammo, enough BBs to keep Red Ryder supplied for 3 years, earplugs, eye protection, a stack of targets, plus the necessities-three bottles of pop and two theater size boxes of Swedish fish. It wasn't quite as much stuff as the Special Forces took to get bin Laden, but we were close.

That gathered, we shot till I ran through 2 boxes of .22 shells and we ran both BB guns dry. They had a blast. We stuck some old 12 gauge hulls through the holes in the target boards set up at 25 yards, and Nate actually hit one of those nickel sized target with my .22, though I'm still not sure how that happened, since we won't be nicknaming him "Deadeye" any time soon. Then it was time to shoot the now-empty pop bottles, which they throughly enjoyed shredding. Hollow point bullets, even in a .22, really do a number on whatever they hit. So of course we had to take pictures and bring the bottles home to Mom to show off.

Total cost of the day? I think I'm out roughly 20 bucks including ammo, targets, and food. But the memory? Priceless. And giving the boys something they can always enjoy doing with their daddy? Beyond measure.

A hunting we will go...

So my eldest and I went hunting for the first time this past Sunday. I had been waiting for the complete end of deer season so that I would not spoil my hunting partner's chances at a last-minute deer. Also, I didn't think there was any great hurry since the place seems to have a squirrel in virtually every other tree during deer season.

Alas, such was not the case the day we went. I think it may have had something to do with the fact that we went out mid-afternoon rather than either at sunrise (my preferred time) or sunset (which can also be good). I was hopeful that Sara's first squirrel would fall, but we actually did. not. see. a. single. one. Which was kind of sad and disappointing. I consoled her with the thought that "sometimes you get 'em and sometimes you talk your shotgun for a walk." Which is what we wound up doing. I think I can talk her into going with again, but we should definitely go in the morning next time. Still, I think if nothing else, she and I got time alone to just talk and be together (a rare thing in a house with three siblings), and we got to be in the woods together (and collect my trail camera, by which this photo-among others-was taken).

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Scenes from a deer stand

My dear wife Karen loves me deeply and so she encourages me in my passion for hunting. For Christmas, she gave me a Wildlife Innovations trail camera, which I promptly installed at a large scrape about 10 yards from my favorite tree stand. Here's a few of my favorite pics I've gotten so far:

What I'm Reading...

I believe it was Erasmus who said, "When I get a little money, I buy books. If I have some left over, I buy food and clothing." Apart from the occasional firearms purchase, I can fully relate to that brother. I dearly love books and never seem to have enough time to read. And as is typical, I've got several going at the same time. Here's what on the stack and newly added to the Kindle that I'm chomping through:
  • The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I'm 2/3 of the way through Mockingjay, the last book in the series. It's pretty dark, taking place in a dystopian future, but as someone who doesn't read much fiction, I'm enjoying the author's exploration of warfare, morality, freedom and government through its pages. Also it's a ripping good tale!
  • Don't Call It A Comeback by Kevin DeYoung, Colin Smith and friends. Offers Reformation influenced theology in modern, accessible language. Great stuff for high school and college students.
  • Christ-Centered Preaching by Bryan Chapell. I finished this some time ago, but as I'm leading the Elders at our church through a discussion on preaching this weekend, it was worth picking up again for a review of the first couple chapters. This is a very practical book, not only for those seeking to develop their preaching gift, but for those of us who are trying to preach Christ from all the Scriptures.
  • Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders. This is my 4th or 5th trip through this little book, but I keep coming back to it every time I need to meet with men who want to be leaders. This book, probably more than any other I've read, comes closest to describing what it means to actually live and embody the qualities of spiritual leadership.
  • The NIV Application Commentary: Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephenaih. I'm currently preaching a series on Habakkuk. This is what I'm using to make sure what I think and say is in line with what the text actually means. Good stuff that's not overly technical, written so that well-informed laymen can get their arms around it.
  • Geneis in Space and Time by Francis Schaeffer. Not started yet, but I was taught, once upon a time, by one of Schaeffer's students and this book greatly influenced his thinking on some things, so I'm looking forward to it. Summer is coming, so perhaps then.
  • The Genesis Flood by John C. Whitcomb and Henry Morris and The Genesis Record by Henry Morris. I'm a historic creationist. That is, I believe in an old earth, prepared for a young humanity in six literal days at a point in time less than 30,000 years ago. But these books were given to me by a dear brother who is a young earth creationist. I intend to read them, as they seem to be the most comprehensive of the young earth books out there. Perhaps I will change my mind. Perhaps not, but it's always healthy to read others' best arguments as you shape your position.
  • Creation and Blessing by Allen P. Ross. I'm finishing up Genesis (chapter 25-50) this year and this should help, as it comes highly recommended by my old friend and mentor, Steve Benton.
  • God with Us: Divine Condescension and the Attributes of God by K. Scott Oliphant. This is one I haven't started through yet, but is about how Jesus is the complete revelation of God and God's complete explanation of his character and relationship with us.
  • The Bible Story Handbook by John H. Walton and Kim E. Walton. This is a book about how to teach kids each one of 175 Bible stories, not just as a story, but giving each story's focus, theme, application, place in the Bible, and mistakes to avoid. Since a lot of kids in Sunday School learn the Bible's stories as episodic incidents, divorced from both context and all but the most moralistic application, I'm hoping this gives me some good ideas toward a different approach I can use with my own kids and perhaps recommend reading to the Children's Ministry Team here at CBC.
  • The Cross of Christ by John Stott. I've never had the opportunity to read this, but since I'm starting a new series on the Cross next week, I'm going to be reading it to sharpen my own thinking and enrich my own preaching of the Cross.
This will probably keep me busy for a few months. But then on to others, still unread. Maybe if I get a sabbatical in a few years, I can read (and write!) as much as I want to. Till then, I fit these in as I am able. Maybe there's a few of you, dear readers, who might like to chomp through one of these with me and offer me your thoughts?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Things worth celebrating

In the words of the great theologian Ferris Bueller, "Life goes by pretty fast sometimes. If you don't slow down once in a while, you might miss it." In that spirit, I've decided that this morning, I should slow down and think about some of the great things God is doing in my life right now. Here's a partial list:
  1. Pastoring. I'm entering my 11th year of life as a pastor and finding that the opportunities for ministry are just growing by the day. Every day brings fresh opportunities to share the gospel, build into the life of a younger believer, give counsel to those needing advice, encouragement to the beat down, and provide leadership to God's flock. Most days I wonder how and why God chose me (of all people!) to do these things, but I feel blessed to have the privilege.
  2. Ordination. I got ordained the first time back in '04, three years into my first pastorate at an independent Bible church. Now I'm seeking ordination from the EFCA, the denomination to which my church belongs and the one I've decided to make my theological home. Since the processes are not the same, I've found myself having to do a significant amount of writing from scratch on the paper, but praise God, I've had time and space to think and write. Very often, I find the demands of life provide too little of either, so this is a true blessing. 15 pages in, 25 more remain till I hit the absolute limit they will accept.
  3. Fathering. I got into Cub Scouts two years ago so I'd have an organized, planned, regular time to spend with the boys doing things I'd like to do with them anyway. Pinewood derby races are upon me, and I am frantically finishing up their cars, but it has produced a lot of good interaction along the way. The girls are reading and discovering fantasy literature, one of my semi-geeky fascinations and as they are growing up (way too soon, in my view. Time to oil the shotgun!), we're having really good talks, especially at night as we pray together and I tuck them in.
  4. Husband. Karen the Fair and I seem to be entering into that stage of marriage I've heard other old married couples talk about, where you're content just to be in each other's presence and sharing life together. It's very good. She knows me as fully as anyone ever did, and still loves me, warts and all.
It's a blessed life. I'm glad I get to live it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


It has been my privilege to preach at Chilli Bible for the past 4 1/2 years. If you are wondering what I actually sound like or what a sermon by yours truly is all about, you can quench that desire over at Click on the "Resources" button, followed by "Podcasts." There are sermons going back to January 2009, I believe, from both yours truly as well as Pastor Jim (and other gifted men too!).

Blogging in the New Year

So no, I haven't died, dear reader. I've just realized in recent weeks that over the past couple years I have indulged my innate tendencies toward having a hyper-critical, cynical, crabby spirit, and that this blog had become a place where I allowed that to happen more than I should have. It's easy to criticize, hard to build up; easy to be cynical, harder to be hopeful. And it's hard to know when "wisdom" is just the name we give to being jaded and pessimistic. Moreover, I think that, as a Christian, whose eternal hope is secure and who present is carried by a loving Father, it's wrong for me to be so crabby. So while I hardly want to sound like this is my New Years' Resolution, it is my confession, which comes with a hope that this year and in years to come, my writing will be more reflective of my theology.

With that in mind, here are my BHAGs for 2012:
  1. Read the entire Bible in 90 days. Anybody want to take up that challenge with me?
  2. Take all of the kids hunting and to Disney World. This is part of my sacred responsibility as a Dad, not only to pass on the spiritual life to them, but to just have pure fun together.
  3. Romance Karen through our 16th year of marriage
  4. Finish my EFCA ordination process. I've been ordained since 2004, but i promised Chilli Bible that I would transfer my ordiantion to the Free Church, and I am a man of my word.
  5. Finish the Mini-Marathon in Indy. I turn 39 later this year, so running farther at one time than I ever have in my life sounds like a good way to proclaim to myself that while I'm older, I'm a long way from dead!
  6. Launch a 2nd service at CBC. This one isn't entirely dependent on me, as attendance would need to rise a little bit to justify it, and many people would have to be on board with it, but I'd love to see God's blessing on our ministry to the extent that we need to do this.
  7. Personally introduce 10 people to Jesus. I've shared the Gospel with hundreds of people over the course of my life, but I've never personally been used to lead 10 to Christ in one year. I'd love that privilege. We'll see what God does...