Friday, February 24, 2012

Lent Again!

Five years ago this week, February 21, 2007, I first posted to this blog. Actually it was Ash Wednesday when I first wrote here. And now, these years later, it is Lent once again. Time for reflection, introspection, repentance, changing my ways, renewing commitments and the like.

I am not the same person I was five years ago. A part of that change has to do with some of the reflections that I have posted here. I have grown and developed. Generally I think I am a better person today, but I am sure there are many ways that I am not. It would not be completely wrong to think of this period of time as one long Lenten period in which God has been molding me. For the most part I have willingly submitted to his work and am satisfied with the result.

The frequency with which I write has diminished greatly over these years. I have several possible explanations, or contributing factors.
  • I have found other outlets for my writing that have kept me from writing here. I have published a couple of Bible study books, a Vacation Bible School curriculum and written a novel.
  • I have moved to a different ministry setting that is occupying more of my time.
  • My family situation has changed several times and in significant ways. More of my attention is now required at home than it has been in the past.
But the significance of Lent is still present for me. In these 40 days, no matter how busy or distracted I am or may become, I will focus on my relationship with Jesus. He will be my priority.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Simple Bible Study Tools

This year I have been (and will continue) trying to encourage you (and me) to think seriously about developing spiritually. The focus of my articles (and sermons) has been to give you some practical tools for growing in faith. My hope is that by the end of 2012 we will all have matured as disciples of Jesus Christ.

There are two primary ways that we are looking at this year: Prayer and Bible Study. The more time we spend in each, the more we will find ourselves becoming like Christ. The problem that we have is that too often we are clueless about how to go about praying. We get easily overwhelmed by trying to read the Bible.

First of all, let me say that I believe it is a misconception to think that the Bible is hard to understand. In earlier English versions we find language that has become archaic. Consequently, since the language is difficult we assume that the concepts are difficult as well. This is a very easy issue to overcome. To understand the text of the Bible with complete clarity, get a Bible in a translation or version that you can understand. I use the New King James Version, but some more accessible versions include the New Living Translation, the Message and the New International Version.

There are some other resources that will easily help you as you learn more about God's Word. The internet has become a tool for many things, including the Bible. Some of my favorite, and most helpful websites, include . Bible Gateway is a collection of Bibles that can be searched by word, topic or verse reference. I use Bible Gateway on a weekly basis. Another excellent resource is It is a new translation that includes a multitude of study notes and explanations.

There are many other resources to consider in your Bible study as well.

  • A study Bible comes complete with commentary, explanatory notes and concordance.

  • A concordance will help you find a verse by know a word in the verse.

  • A Bible commentary will help to explain a particular passage in a way that makes it easier to understand and apply to life.

  • A Bible dictionary will offer definitions for hard to understand words and concepts.

All of these items are available for loan in the church library or the church office in addition to be available for purchase at any Christian bookstore or at

Happy Bible reading! Understanding God's word will make a world of difference in your life.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Adopt-a-Block Proposal

Purpose: Because we cannot expect hurting and unchurched persons to come to our worship services, we will take the message of the grace of God to them. We will become pastors to the various neighborhoods in and around Argos. Our priority will be to build relationships with people who need the grace of Christ, but may not even know it. We will serve everyone regardless of their past or their present reality. We believe that God is no respecter of persons, and therefore, we cannot judge or condemn either. We will work to build up those who are struggling, hurting, lonely, isolated and victimized. We will serve those who feel as though they do not need God. We will love all and serve all, while lifting up One.

Outline: The Adopt-a-Block ministry will include (but not be limited to) the following-

  • Each week (probably Saturday) a group from the church will serve in the same neighborhoods.

  • We will go in groups of two or three to knock on each door in the neighborhood.

  • We will ask for pray concerns and work requests.

  • We will become friends, mentors and confidants to those we serve.

  • We will clean and sweep the streets, walks and yards in the neighborhood.

  • We will collect and dispose of trash and debris.

  • We will offer assistance in any way we can.

  • If we cannot make contact with someone at a home, we will leave a connection card.

  • We will offer to pray for the residents of the neighborhood.

  • We will leave church and personal contact information so that residents may follow up with us as needed.

Philosophy: The most important elements of the Adopt-a-Block ministry are:

  • Consistency- We must be regular (weekly) with our contacts and visits.

  • Perseverance- We must be willing to continue this ministry for several months (years).

  • Relationships- We must be willing to love others and allow them to love us.

  • Transparency- We must be real. Phoniness will be recognized immediately.


February- Brainstorming and approval of ministry.

Promoting ministry to the congregation.

Prayer for success of ministry.

March- Recruiting of volunteer ministers.

Selection and scouting of neighborhoods.

Prayer for success of ministry.

April- Details of work projects finalized.

First Adopt-a-Block Saturdays.

May- First big event outreaches (block party)

Potential Ministries:

  • Feeding program

  • Home repair and maintenance

  • Emergency child care

  • Children's ministry

  • Community give aways

  • Job fair/ employment preparation

  • Worship services

  • Parenting workshops

  • Cooking classes

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Disadvantages to the Kindle

For almost a year I have been using the Kindle. I own the model that is now called the Kindle Keyboard. Let me be as brief as I can in analyzing my overall opinion of the Kindle: I love it. I like reading on it. I like the convenience, the flexibility and the size of the Kindle. I love that books are less expensive and take up less space. For example, I have six Bibles that I paid a total of 99cents for and I take them everywhere I go. I love that I can read many books (that means more than I will ever read) for FREE. I am sure that I will be reading electronically for the rest of my life.

However, I am also sure that I will never completely forsake the traditional form of the book. I love everything about books as well. I am sure that a large part of my reluctance to fully embrace the Kindle has to do with my deep affection for everything bookish. That is why I do see several disadvantages to the Kindle. Here are a few of them.

  • I miss book sales. Overstock and remaindered books never pop up on the Kindle. They don't take up inventory space. With the Kindle I will not find that Garrison Keillor book that I have been holding out for on the $3.99 table.
  • I miss used books. There is something exciting and romantic about books that have been in other hands and in other places. I can't buy Kindle books in my local second hand book store.
  • You cannot trade, share or exchange books on a Kindle. I would never pass along my machine to a friend. How can I share the books I love with someone else? Conversely, what great books will I miss because a friend can't loan them to me?
  • I miss the feel and smell of books. Oh sure, sometimes after reading a library book, or someone else's book I feel like I need to wash my hands, but there is nothing like the way that a book involves the senses.
  • I like the way books look. There is something about that shape that looks good. It feels good in your hands. My little screen is cool, but it doesn't feel the same.
  • I still want to turn the page. Let me see the progress that I am making in my book. I want to know how far it is to the end of the chapter. Those anticipatory moments are largely gone with the Kindle.