Thursday, May 24, 2012

What I'm reading...

Those who know me know that reading will be an important, and enjoyable, part of this sabbatical season.  As I progress in my reading, I'll be posting any recommendations I have.  I just finished a short book in the 9 Marks series, Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus  by Jonathan Leeman.  It's one of those books that you read and say, "I've thought some of this for a long time, but never could have said it better!"  Leeman makes a strong case for a strong, and high, view of church membership.  He argues that the church does not have membership, like a social club, but rather that a church is its membership.

His descriptions of membership are powerful, and in some areas he challenges my own thinking by taking contrary positions--I want to think about these things well, and Leeman's book makes me do so.  But it is a great little read on an important subject.

And for fun?  Well, my friend Jim Leightenheimer got me started reading the history of our region during the pre-Revolutionary times and onward in the works of Allan Eckert, a local historian/author who passed away recently.  He loaned me The Frontiersman  (the story of the settlement of Ohio by men like Simon Kenton) right after my arrival in Cedarville.  I loved it, but it takes a while and some uninterrupted time to read these compelling, well-written, and engrossing histories.  Kathy recently got me the next two books in the series, and I am a third of the way into Wilderness Empire, the record of the intrigues and schemes of the French and British beginning in the 1740s as they sought to out-maneuver the other through gaining the trust of the various Indian tribes.  There is so much of this history most of us don't know, and Eckert's non-fiction reads like the best novels.  It is a great beach chair and poolside reading experience.

I'm reading some articles, journals, and magazines I want to catch up on as well.  But that's for another day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

When Sales Becomes Something Else

As a part of our stays here in our Myrtle Beach timeshare, there is the annual "owners' update"--a misnamed annual time when we hear a sales pitch for the resort.  We listen because we get some nice gift for doing so, and it is always interesting to see what they offer!

This time, we were talking with our sales rep, who asked what kind of job I did, and I mentioned I was a pastor.  As we continued, the discussion turned, and before we knew it, he was sharing with Kathy and me some very personal tragedies and challenges to faith.  We both had a chance to offer some encouragement to seek the Lord and his people, and while we didn't buy anything, it was a reminder that we never know when we will have an opportunity to speak a word of grace and truth.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

On the Road, Sabbatical Style

Thanks, Fran Henderson, for our little
solar powered hula girl on the dashboard
Well, we've made it to our first "destination" for our sabbatical, Myrtle Beach, and even getting here was different.  We left around 11 am on Saturday, having packed over Friday, adding the things we found we had forgotten to pack on Saturday morning.  And unlike our normal "vacation" travel, we didn't even push to get here in one day--we stopped and spent the night along the way!  A comfortable little Holiday Inn Express near Hillsville, VA was a restful stop along the way. 

Comfort food!
We also had our introduction to a ubiquitous southern institution among restaurants--Shoney's.  I can now say that we have eaten there, and actually liked it.  I knew it would be a hit when we saw the special--fresh strawberry pie, one of Kathy's favorites.  Yes, it is comfort food heaven, and on the road it was just right for a first night out.  I don't know that it would be a good steady diet for me, if for no other reason that I don't want to be twice the man I was when I left!

Community Bible Church
High Point, NC
This morning we got up and had breakfast and hit the road to go to church--and what a switch to go to church and a) not preach, and b) be a visitor!  We headed about 100 miles down the road to High Point, NC, where we had found Community Bible Church, a thriving congregation in the midst of a growth spurt.  Pastor Rob McKeehan preached a message on "Ridiculous Prayers" from Luke 11:1-13.  His main point:  our God can do anything for anyone at anytime, so we are to pray audaciously.  It was a great reminder to me of something I know I've preached but not always practiced--praying big prayers that only God can answer.  

[BTW--I'm praying like that for Brian and Mandi Hanson now--and I hope all of you who know them are, too, that God will bring in their support by the end of July so that they can hit the ground running in their new ministry in August.  Of course we can't just pray--some of us need to be giving too!  I know that they shared at Grace today, and I trust many who heard will be praying AND joining their support team!]

Sitting right behind us at church was the Pastor of Adult Ministries, Tom Black.  He and his wife Sue made Kathy and I feel at home as we chatted about our lives and ministries.  It was a great start to the day.  

From church, we stopped for sandwiches to go and headed on down the road to Myrtle Beach--arriving this evening, unpacking, and getting ready to RELAX!

Thanks, everyone, for praying for us!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Happy birthday, Warren Wiersbe!

Long before we had John Piper, we had Warren Wiersbe, faithfully teaching the Word, writing his "Be..." commentaries, and offering pithy gems of wisdom.  Today is his 83rd birthday.  Thank you, Dr. Wiersbe for teaching faithfully over the years (I still love his sermon on John 15).  Here is one of many quotes of his for your edification:
"If you serve only to earn a salary, you will never do your best as long as you think you’re underpaid. If you minister to get recognition, you will start doing less when people don’t show their appreciation. The only motivation that will take you through the storms and keep you on the job is, ‘I’m serving Jesus Christ.'"

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

We feel loved!

There are times when you know you are loved, and there are times when you not only know it, but feel it.  Sunday was one of those times.  As our church family gathered around us in the morning service and prayed a blessing upon us and our sabbatical, we knew that our Grace family loved us, and we certainly felt it.

Being prayed over by our Grace Family.Can you find
us in the picture? (Photo courtesy of @scotthuckphoto)
Beyond the time of prayer, so many expressed their love, and their commitment to pray for us as we go.  We will be praying for all of our Grace family as well.  This will be an amazing three months away, but we are already excited about the opportunities we will have together when we return.

We love you back, Grace Family!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

If you think your marriage can be hard sometimes...

...then watch this video, from Desiring God Ministries, and rejoice, and weep, and pray, and give thanks.