Monday, May 30, 2016

Eat this book - review

If you know me you know that I don't really like to review books. I don't feel I am able to do them justice, and it doesn't help that I finished this book awhile ago and am just now getting around to doing it. However, I felt this was a book I wanted to offer even a poor review on (as reviews go).

I recently read Eugene Peterson's 'Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading.' This is not something I would recommend for casual readers or reading. It's a tad on the heady side. However, for anyone interested in studying and/or understanding the Christian Bible on a deeper level, and being impacted by it, I would highly recommend it. Especially for people who believe the only Word that is God's is the King James Version.

My guess is 'Eat This Book' was written largely to explain why Peterson wrote his very popular paraphrase "The Message." He shares several stories of how and why it came to be, and part of the process he went through to create it. It is also written from a very pastorly standpoint - which is what he was when the journey began.

There is more I wanted to write, but basically I want to stress how good his explanation was for needing the bible written in common language - which is what the original bible was written in during its day. So... read this book (if you're interested), and read an *understandable bible translation (if you're interested in that). That's my sum-up.

*I will write about what I mean by "understandable translation" at a later date. For now, I basically mean not-the-King-James-Version. Not that it is bad, necessarily, but there are much better (imho).

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Visit from the boy

Son Isaac spent a few days with us this past week. He is on break from school and Ricci is not yet done, so he flew up by himself and stayed from Tuesday to Friday.

We had several late night chats, went out to eat, and generally hung out with his sister and his niece and nephews. The kids think it is so cool whenever Uncle Isaac is around. We kind of like it too. The pic is from their visit to the zoo - showing him all the stuff they love.

He did meet up with Stevo halfway between Fort Wayne and Anderson one day. His mom also took him shopping for clothes and shoes as a sort of early birthday present.

All in all it was a short visit, but it was nice to spend a little bit of time with him.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Steinbeck books

Several years ago I decided I wanted (or needed) to read some classic literature. I was pastoring a church at the time so I did a lot of non-fiction reading. I felt it would be a good idea to get some fiction into my mind during vacations. So, for some unknown-to-me-now reason, I determined I would read something by John Steinbeck every year. He seemed like sort of the "true American" or something. Anyway, here is a random sampling of some of his 27 books for my future consult in choosing material. I've crossed out the few I've read so far.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Coaching class for 2016: evangelism & discipleship

I spent Monday and Tuesday of this week in Findlay, Ohio taking the MCS 508 class: The Coach Approach to Evangelism & Discipleship. It was taught by Brian Miller and was held on the lovely Winebrenner Theological Seminary campus.

In order to maintain my coaching certification I am required to take at least one class per year. While I would love to take more, I can only financially justify taking one (and barely). So this will likely be it for me for this year.

The class ran from 8:30 am - 4:30 pm both days. Findlay is only 1 1/2 hours from my home, but I'm still glad I got a hotel room for Monday night. While it is highly invigorating for me to take these classes, I was plenty tired by the end of the day.

As far as the class itself, I love spending time talking about coaching, evangelism, discipleship, and anything of the like, so it was more than worthwhile to me just from that standpoint. I also like being around Brian Miller. He is one of those people who just makes me feel better by being with him. He is smart, and he makes other people feel smart too. I can't really say that the material was as useful to me as some other classes though. I didn't take many notes, but will include the ones I did take below.

The most surprising thing to me about the whole thing, though, was the number of people in attendance for this class. For as much lip service as we give to the importance of evangelism and discipleship I expected there to be a good crowd. I was completely taken off guard to discover it was just Brian, myself, and two other people - one of whom isn't a part of our denomination. I was disappointed more people didn't feel this was important, but I thought the smaller class was actually better for me. Everyone was forced to participate, and I got a lot out of the discussions. The other two people were Bill R (pastor at College First), and Chuck (a Christian Church pastor from Pittsburgh).

The takeaways from this class for me were as follows:
  • A reminder that the coach is not to be the expert of a clients "problem," but is to be the expert of the process and the person. Always coach the person, not the problem.
  • The Rob Bell video "Dust." I'm sure I've seen it before, but we watched it and I need to get ahold of this and watch it again. It is good.
  • "I hate to fail, but now I want to fail faster." Brian made this statement in regard to the fact that it's not necessarily bad to fail. We can learn from our failures. So it's better to fail sooner rather than later.
  • Another great reminder: "People don't want to buy coaching; they will buy results." Offering to coach someone is not the same thing as offering to help someone increase their capacity or output (or whatever).
  • The concept of "God's Waiters." They state, "When we offer coaching to those around us, we serve them a taste of heaven and invite them to partake of the banquet feast of God's kingdom that he is serving to the world. It's important to serve people what they are ready to eat." When it comes to serving people the kingdom through coaching, there are three approaches:
    • Picnic-style paper plates - more informal/conversational coaching
    • Everyday dinnerware - a little more formal, like asking someone over for dinner
    • Fine China - a formal coaching agreement/partnership
  • Perhaps the best resource was the 4-quadrant grid for the coach approach to the Great Commission on p. 30 of the workbook (and pictured below). It measures a person's Faith Level on the horizontal and Desire to Move Forward (motivation) on the perpendicular. So, for instance, an atheist would have a low level of faith and low desire to move forward. A fully devoted follower of Jesus would have a high level of each. Therefore you would want to coach each person very differently.

That was the majority of my notes. As with all these classes there was plenty of very practical coaching done during the two days, as well as plenty of challenge to utilize what we learned in our individual contexts. Again, it was very invigorating for me to spend 2 days doing, talking, and thinking along these lines. I'm glad I went.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Spring-green lawn visit #2

Yesterday we had our "Spring Visit"... which was the 2nd treatment for our lawn. They applied 25-0-3 fertilizer and spot treated broad leaf weeds as necessary. They also applied Preventative Grub Control - which provides season long protection against grubs.

The grub control needs watering within 48 hours to activate it, so I am hoping it actually does rain tonight like it's supposed to.

I do have to say, even though it is spring time anyway, the lawn does appear to look dramatically better than in previous years even after just the first visit.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Preschool graduate and babysitting

Our oldest grandchild graduated from preschool this past Friday. I can't believe it. I can actually remember her mother's preschool graduation like it was yesterday. Oh my.

Anna attended preschool at Avalon Missionary Church. It is basically right across the highway from us (more or less). Grandma bought her a pretty new yellow dress, and of course she looked adorable.

They had a nice little ceremony for the kids. Each separate class came out and did a song and bible verse, then all the classes did several songs together. As they gave each child their "diploma" they told what they wanted to be when they grew up. Anna said she wanted to be a doctor - though Carrie says she really wants to be an animal doctor. Either is a very noble profession. :)

As usual, Anna started out very shy, with her hand in her mouth and totally not following along. Eventually she felt comfortable enough to slowly begin participating, and by the end she was singing along and doing all the motions like a trooper. I actually kind of like that she does things in her own way. Hopefully that means no one will ever be able to talk her into following the crowd to do anything she doesn't want to do.

We were very proud of her, but also the boys too. Benny mostly played, but was very good sitting in the seats. Little Caleb, once he saw Anna, he was beaming with joy. He intently watch for awhile, but he also tried singing along and doing the motions. It was a hoot.

The ceremony was an appropriate length at just under an hour. We went out separate ways afterward, but then we babysat the kids overnight on Saturday. I had to work the SW facility from 9-3, so Jane had all three kids by herself most of the day. She took them to the zoo, and that wore them all down some (especially grandma). That night we rode bikes, played outside, cooked hot dogs on the grill, and made smores. Everyone stayed up late, but we all slept really good that night.

We feel very lucky to have the grandkids so close by. Having a preschool graduate seems like quite a milestone. Time is flying too fast.
Getting her diploma.

Benny being... Benny.

Caleb taking it all in.

Friday, May 20, 2016

First tincaps game of the year

We went to a Fort Wayne Tincaps game last night. It was our first one of the summer. The Tincaps are the local Class A professional baseball team - I believe they are affiliated with the San Diego Padres (or they used to be. I don't really know, or care).

We take in more than several games a year. It's a nice way to enjoy being outside, do some people-watching, and we usually get a little exercise by strolling the concourse several times.

It occurred to me last night, though, that often times people will hear us talk about how much we enjoy these games, and they perhaps think it's because of the 'game.' Not that there's anything wrong with the baseball team, or baseball in general, but our enjoyment has very very little to do with the actual game. Most of the time we have no idea who is wins or loses.

For us, or at least me, the enjoyment is just what I said earlier: we like being outside among people, and maybe even more than that, being together. I actually like crowds. Not that I want to be 'crowded' - I need my personal space - but for some odd reason I like being in crowded arenas, sports and/or music venues, and, yes, even church. Although it makes a difference if I am with my bride or not.

So, I guess that's really all there is to say about that.

We arrived last night just as they were singing the national anthem. We were going to buy lawn seats ($5) but they were sold out, so we had to buy the $8 tickets. We don't usually actually sit in seats when it's just the two of us. We each had 2 tacos for supper, and 2 beers over the course of a couple hours. I think it was the 5th inning when we'd had our fill and left.

As for parking... what with all the new construction downtown, we actually parked at the Y where Jane works. It was a bit longer of a walk than we thought, but it was a nice night and we didn't mind. It was also free.

Thursday, May 19, 2016


I started today off a little awestruck by the 'Verse of the Day' on my sidebar: James 3:17-18...
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”

Then Facebook reminded me that 6 years ago I posted this tidbit on Mother Teresa:
Mother Theresa was once asked about her prayer life. The interviewer asked, “When you pray, what do you say to God?” Mother Teresa replied, “I don’t talk, I simply listen.”
Believing he understood what she had just said, the interviewer next asked, “Ah, then what is it that God says to you when you pray?” Mother Teresa replied, “He also doesn’t talk. He also simply listens.”
There was a long silence, with the interviewer seeming a bit confused and not knowing what to ask next. Finally Mother Teresa breaks the silence by saying, “If you can’t understand the meaning of what I’ve just said, I’m sorry but there’s no way I can explain it any better.”

My bible reading for today was exceptionally inspiring also. And then I read the following in Eugene Peterson's 'Eat This Book: A Conversation in The Art of Spiritual Reading':
"...despite the money and time our society expends in teaching us to read, nobody gives much attention or energy to teaching HOW to read. Among our ancestors reading involved a seeking of wisdom, becoming a mature person. With us it is more likely to be a retrieval of information so that we can answer a question or do a job. Spiritual reading is not contemptuous of information, but it has wisdom for its goal: BECOMING true and good, not just knowing about the facts of life or how to change a tire."


I don't really know how to explain the beauty I find in those pieces of writing.

On the one hand I am mystified by the continued enamorment our society seems to have with Donald Trump. In my opinion - small as it may be - he is the "anti-wisdom." He represents all that is hateful, vengeful, ugly, and corrupt about our society. I do not understand how someone who claims to be a follower of Christ can read the Bible and justify supporting someone like Trump. I have an inkling the way it's done is merely to "claim" Christianity, but not look too closely at the bible.

On the other hand, though, aside from presidential politics and societal idiocracy... I discovered something that seems to be happening to me. The bible has become beautiful to me. I find great joy and comfort in reading it. And I'm not exactly sure why.

It could be because I no longer read the bible for "work." It is no longer necessary to write sermons or lead bible studies. As I have said before, I read a "two-year" bible. There is a passage from the Old Testament, New Testament, a Psalm and Proverb for each day's reading. It finally dawned on me one day that the stories - stories that I've read over and over - have caught my interest again. Some days I will actually read ahead, but then go back and read it again the next day.

I also like the Verse of the Day on my sidebar, as well as a different one I get on my phone.

There is such profound wisdom in the bible. I would think that even non-believers would be able to see it, and maybe they do. It is so much more beautiful than the spewage coming out of Trumps mouth. And it's really not just Trump. My guess is his popularity stems from the fact he is the perfect representative of all the anger, hate, racism, belligerence, hostility, animosity, lunacy, greed, and whatever other negative thing you can think of in America right now.

We live in a world and a time that needs wisdom. Hope is not going to come from a loud-mouthed politician or businessman. I guess what surprised me this morning is my own personal rediscovery of wisdom/beauty in the bible. I am far, far, far from wise myself, but I feel like my bible reading makes a difference. At least for me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Running (no compression)

I have recently started running outdoors again. I'm trying not to overdo it. I am quite out of shape compared to what I used to do. So I've just been doing around 3 miles at a time, at between 10-11 minute miles.

I will probably run less than usual this year. I'm getting older, plus I don't want to wear out my legs. So if I did regular runs 3 days a week, and a longer run 1 day a week, that would suit me just fine.

One thing I started this week was running without compression shorts. I have worn them for support under my shorts since I took up running. I can't stand to wear a jock strap, and I've never really had problems with the compression shorts. They seem to be a little hot sometimes though. So I bought a pair of actual running shorts with the built in liner. I had tried this a long time ago and it rubbed between my legs too bad. For some reason I just had an urge to try it again.

So far I have like the new shorts with the built in liner. They are much cooler and less cumbersome than the compression shorts. I also like the idea that all I really need are a pair of shoes, socks, shorts, and a shirt. That's basically the extent of my exercise equipment. Well, and a gps watch.

I've always tossed around getting compression socks - for when I run longer. I also need to get serious about some weight training/strengthening someday... in order to be a better runner. But, for now, I'm okay with starting here. I am an old-man runner, I go slow, I try to run safe, and hopefully I can work my way back into form.

This morning I ran 3 miles, in 30 minutes (with a .3-mile walk at the end). I went down to the Rivergreenway and over to Tillman Park and back. The route to Foster is under water in spots. I'd like to get into this habit again.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

[cl]Utter freedom

A couple people have commented that we seem so calm about the basement water situation and the prospect of losing some of our stuff. The truth is, for the most part, I would have been okay if even more of it had been ruined... because it's just "stuff."

There are a few items we have that hold sentimental value, but I've never been one of those people who takes pride in the things we have. In fact, I would prefer a much simpler life than we have found ourselves in. I find great freedom - utter freedom - in being without attachments to ...clutter.

One of my favorite things about living in the church parsonage, and an apartment before that, was the lack of clutter we had. The only furniture we had was a couch, chair, TV, kitchen table, and our beds and dressers. If anything I probably took pride in THAT.

It's not that I don't like having certain things. I like having the piano, and guitars, the grandfather clock, many of the antiques we have... but they do actually tend to complicate life for me.

So... anyway... I was just thinking about the joy I feel at being free of clutter. I'm not feeling deprived, nor anticipating any grand gestures... this is just what was on my mind. I like a simple life. An uncluttered life. That's all.

The garage is probably where I need to start the cleanse.

Monday, May 16, 2016


I have always liked Sundays. At different seasons in my life there have been different things I've liked about them. When I was growing up it was another day to sleep in. As a young adult I liked the ease of a lazy day. When I became a follower of Jesus I liked attending church gatherings. As a pastor I liked the rush of the Sunday show. And now... as a middle-aged whatever I am... I am back to liking sleeping in and ease of a lazy day.

A usual Sunday now includes not setting the alarm clock. We usually get up around 7 or 8-ish; enjoy a cup of coffee or three; and relax. Sometimes we will go on a run together. We normally leave for the church gathering around 10:30, stop at McD's and get coffee, and slide into the church space with no expectations placed on us. Most Sundays we will have lunch with the kids/grandkids, then come home and take an afternoon nap, then possibly do something Sunday evening or... not. I have started mowing on Sundays. My parents usually call every Sunday night. We will often call son Isaac on Sunday nights too.

Yesterday was pretty normal with just a slight variation. We went for a 3-mile run, went to church, then we were invited to someone's house for lunch afterward. That was fun because they seemed more similar to us than many of the people we've met so far at this church. After that we came home and I mowed the lawn before continuing to move things from the basement to the garage so it will be ready when it's time for new flooring. Then the kids/grandkids came over for supper and Drew helped me move the heavy things. After they left we relaxed for a bit before heading to bed. Again, a very nice day.

So, this is just a posterity post about Sundays. I like them. They are good to me.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Wedding anniversary #33

Today is our 33rd wedding anniversary. I am spending the morning and early afternoon working at the lovely Downtown storage location. This afternoon we have a graduation open house. Tonight we have reservations at a nice restaurant. So, it's a pretty full day, but that's okay.

I do have to say, I still enjoy spending time with my bride. It doesn't matter if it is going somewhere nice, or even just the grocery store. I guess we are two peas in a pod.

The weather on our wedding day was very similar to today. It was rainy and overcast. Though today might be a tad cooler now than it was then.

Jane and I each made cards for one another. I wrote a poem something like:
We've been to the tops of mountains
As well as the depths of the sea
There is no one I would rather have done it with
Than the one most beautiful to me.

I know, I know... :)

Well, that's about all I can think of to say right now. Here's another picture - from my high school graduation open house. It has always been one of my favorite pictures of m'Lady. Yes, I had big glasses and a mullet, and those are (some of) my dads guns in the case. :)