links to 4 helpful articles/video

1. Psalm 23 Pt 6: Rod and Staff (and Sling) [22 min. video]

“The rod and the staff, they comfort David. And likely the sling too! These are what the shepherd carries for various situations. Learning about these alone is utterly fascinating, especially when you find out how David uses them against lions, bears, and Goliath (which we discuss). But how these translate into what God does for us in in the midst of our deep valleys is where the power lies. And once we understand that, we’ll find comfort, courage, and hope just like David did.”

2. Apocalypse: Unveiling or Invasion

“The genesis of Paul’s apocalyptic–as we see it in Galatians–lies in the apostle’s certainty that God has invaded the present evil age by sending Christ and his Spirit into it. There was a “before,” the time when we were confined, imprisoned; and there is an “after,” the time of our deliverance. And the difference between the two is caused not by an unveiling, but rather by the coming of Christ and his Spirit.”

3. How Ancient Egyptians Moved Huge Stones 4500 Years Ago

“Dr. Waziry described the discovery that it is of a great importance as it is the first time to discover a system to move and transfer blocks from quarries and how the ancient Egyptians lifted the multi tons blocks off coarse ramps during the era of building the Great Pyramid which changes our understanding of how the pyramids were built.”

4. Does giving donors stuff actually raise more money?

“What should nonprofits and donors take away from our study? We conducted this experiment with just one organization, but the preponderance of the evidence from our work and the findings of others suggests that unconditional premiums are not worth it. These trinkets may have been a good idea when they were novel and unusual, a few decades ago. But they are so common now that many donors probably don’t even notice them.”

links to 4 helpful articles

1. Before Somebody Gets Hurt [essential reading]

“What we hold in our thoughts, we soon hold in our hearts. What we hold in our hearts, we soon do in our lives. So, my friends, hold Christ so that we live Christ. The world needs to see a viable alternative to violence.”

2. The problem with people is that they outnumber you

“One more reason to put in the effort to find the good.”

3. Shepherd’s Care: Time – the Inescapable Fact

… we must face the greatest challenge as leaders with respect to our use of time: we must be prepared to disappoint others.”

4. The Non-Angry Bob Dylan

“Can it be that in this day and age, when everyone seems angry, that Bob Dylan, once again countering the culture, is one of the few people who is purposefully not angry?”

pastor (8)

‘pastor: n. a Christian minister; a shepherd

[ This post is #8 in a 22-part series. So as to best comprehend this series, read the introduction to the opening installment (posted Mon., Oct. 2). ]

Mario & Marilyn Pineda. Mario and I were students together back in preaching school days. Mario was preaching a bit with a local congregation and would soon wind up preaching “full time” there.* I was the true newb at the time; I was yet to even preach my first sermon when Mario and I first met.

Neither was I wearing a ring on my left hand yet, but I would be in the near future. While on the other hand, Mario was already a married man. He and his sweet bride, Marilyn, were quite a pair; a marvelous young Christian couple. They both strove to be Christ-like, each in their own ways, and together. Their care and consideration for each other was deep, easy, natural, and flourishing. Their great love for each other lit up the room whenever they walked in together.

And believe me: I, and others, took frequent and joyful note of that.

I don’t know if Mario or Marilyn ever knew it at the time, but they were often the topic of conversation among instructors and fellow students.

“Isn’t it great the way Marilyn did ____ for him?” “Did you see the way Mario took care of ____ for her?” “Just look at the way those two look at each other, will ya’?” “They just seem to want to give each other the best they have all the time!” Etc.

Such were common comments by all whenever Mario and Marilyn would depart a larger group’s company. They made us all determined to be better people and for those who, like myself, were unmarried at the time, well, they gave us a sterling example.

Mario and Marilyn, you two silently taught, pastored, shepherded, and instructed no small number of people in some of the ways of true thoughtfulness and tenderness, consideration and service, for our mates. It was easy to see Christ at the center of your marriage and the Spirit’s fruit in your lives then, and I know such must be all the more the case today.

Though I’m sure I’m exceedingly far from anything like a great husband, there is no doubt in my mind that I am a better partner for my mate due to the model Mario and Marilyn set before me over and over. I’m very thankful for that.

Father God, in the name of Jesus, I thank you for good men who love their wives, and by so doing, show that way clearly to others. Thank you for the shepherding your servants, Mario and Marilyn, silently gave me in this regard. Lavish your riches on them forever, I pray. Amen.

[ * To this day, Mario & Marilyn still minister with the Prairie Hill Church of Christ, located just south of Duncan, OK. ]

pastor (5)

pastor: n. a Christian minister; a shepherd
(#5 in a 22-part series)

First, to grasp what’s going on in this series, read the introduction to the first post in this series (Mon., Oct. 2).

This installment is a bit different from those preceding in that today I’m especially thankful for those whom I have immediately followed, in terms of time. That is, wherever I have been, I know I’m profoundly indebted to those who preceded me. Some of them I knew/know personally, and some, even very well (e.g. – David Bryan, Duard Givens, Kirk Givens, Jim Hance, Leon Sharp, and Jerry Sullins).

And, of course, if we extend things back in time, most I did not know personally, if even at all.

They all did some very good, often challenging, work and I realize I have been privileged by our Father to have entered into their shepherding of souls, pastoring of people, and labors of brotherly love.

But, more on some of these in particular, God willing, in coming installments this month. And, in a broader sense, in my sermon this coming Sunday morning with MoSt Church. 😉

Father God, great is everything you do and great is your grace to work your good through us your weak, earthly vessels. Thank you for these men, and their mates, that I sense you have led me, by your providence, to follow. In the name of your Son, I ask that as you used them as you pleased in their place and time, use me and mine here and now to accomplish your will among your people and beyond. To your glory. Amen.

pastor (4)

pastor: n. a Christian minister; a shepherd
(#4 in a 22-part series)

To understand what’s going on with this series, read the intro to the first installment (posted Mon., Oct. 2).

Stanley Sayers. Stanley blessed me years before we knew each other. He did that by being a prolific reader and an accomplished author.

Understand, I grew up an avid reader and the bookcase along the north wall of my parent’s living room was my primary library. I grew up reading virtually everything my parents placed on the shelves there. The World Book Encyclopedia (yes, I read, not merely referenced, encyclopedias). Hardback copies of American Heritage magazine (my favorite). Years and years of The Reader’s Digest (my second favorite). Volumes of biographies on World War Two veterans from Oklahoma. Two Dr. Seuss books. Issues of ‘Popular Science’ and ‘The Voice of Freedom.’ A picture Bible. Many letters from my grandmothers and some of my aunts. Religious tracts that my Grandmother Smith mailed us. Assorted books and magazines from the far right of the political spectrum (e.g. – John Birch Society material).

And … a handful of religious books, nearly all of them authored by a man named Stanley Sayers. His work entitled For This Cause I read again and again. (I don’t have a clue how his books got on our shelf, but I suspect they were likely either gifts from my Grandma Smith or from a very close family friend, Louis Chenault, who was a deacon in the Northside Church of Christ in my hometown … where Stanley preached during a portion of my growing up years).

Now when I first enrolled in the Westside School of Preaching (1978), Stanley was one of the instructors there and was also one of the first instructors that I met. I’d never met anyone who had written a book before nor anyone I had knowledge of having had authored articles for magazines. That was true though it was one of my distant kin who founded and edited ‘The Voice of Freedom.’ I mentioned such to him when we were introduced and, much to my delight, we talked books and writing in practically every conversation we ever shared in the years following. Time and again, standing together in his study, he’d think of something in a book that he’d want to show me, walk over to one of the shelves, find the volume, and almost immediately turn to the selection he wanted me to read, usually just a few sentences or paragraph. Simply amazing. Further, his tremendous memory was exceeded by his great kindness and thoughtfulness, ever abundant and free.

Thank you, Stanley, for nurturing within me the joy of learning, the love of religious reflection and writing, the value and importance of printed words, the need to understand the views of others and to learn from them, and the deep conviction that can come from all of those matters combined. You spoke to me most, ministered to me best, and in a sense you still do, through the printed word, and I will ever be grateful for that.

pastor (3)

pastor: n. a Christian minister; a shepherd
(#3 in a 22-part series)

To understand what’s going on with this series, read the intro to the first installment (posted Mon., Oct. 2).

Jerry Hurst. Jerry became the Westside Church’s associate minister roughly around the time I became a Christian (1976) and we became fast friends. He was also the director of a school of Bible and preaching* he had begun and, in fact, soon became Westside’s pulpit minister. Needless to say, he had a full plate.

And yet, I will tell you that few men in my life have ministered as powerfully to me as Jerry Hurst. How so? Primarily in three ways: (1) making time for me, (2) persisting in patient listening as I peppered him with a seemingly endless stream of questions and newborn babble, and (3) like an offensive tackle opening up all kinds of big and little doors of challenge and opportunity for me over and over and over again, he’d blast a hole in the line and then, in effect, tell me to run for daylight.

Four decades have passed and, at this moment, I can only recall a very few of the questions I ever posed him (i.e – what do you see I can do to help around here?; what on earth is Matthew 24 about?; and what are some good books I’d do well to read and own?), but his patience with me I will never, ever forget. He was patience personified. The way he’d roll his eyes at me whenever I’d always (rudely) barge in on him unannounced, gently shake his head, ask me what on earth it was that I wanted this time, give me that trademark Jerry Hurst smile, and then tell me (sometimes) to sit down, all the while knowing full well that whatever was about to happen was not going to be over with quickly.

LOL. Good times … that no doubt cost him way more time than I could have ever imagined at the time. Jerry was the first preacher I ever knew that I would come to know really well and refer to as “friend.”

Thank you, my friend, for investing much time in me and shepherding me in so many ways. Father God, do bless my friend in all ways and forever. Amen.

[ * The Westside School of Bible & Preaching was a three-year school in Duncan, OK, meeting all day long on Saturdays. I enrolled in WSBP in Jan. 1978 with no intent whatsoever of preaching, but simply to try to grow a bit as a Christian. However, by the time I early- graduated from WSBP (May 1980), I had been engaged in fill-in and part-time preaching on a virtually every week basis for close to a year. It was Jerry who first got me up to preach a sermon to a church and until Jan. 1980, every time I spoke with any church, anywhere, had been by his arrangement. ]

pastor (2)

pastor: n. a Christian minister; a shepherd
(#2 in a 22-part series)

To understand what’s going on with this series, read the intro to the first installment in this series. I posted that here yesterday (Oct. 2).

J.T. Marlin.* We had nothing in common. He was a very formal old-school preacher and I was a long-haired, awkward teen who wrestled with just trying to grasp what he was saying. Not for lack of education, eloquence, or effort on his part, you understand; if anything, he was highly polished and professional. It was simply that we were so very different and how can you “hear” anyone so different from yourself? But, I applied myself to the task, truly – though mainly just out of curiosity and respect, I must confess – and J.T. quickly picked up on that; he noticed that I was “listening,” not merely “hearing.”

And though he struggled for an exceedingly long time to simply learn and remember my name (something I found very humorous at the time, but I can oh, so relate to now!) I could tell that he knew I was trying. And so, somewhere in the course of virtually every sermon, he’d make what I could tell was deliberate just-for-me eye contact, multiple times. No small thing in a church of well over 400 in average attendance! Way more communication went on between us with eye contact than anything he ever verbalized to me. In fact, I don’t recall us ever even sharing so much as a single extended conversation! But, what he communicated with his eyes reinforced what Hubert Plumlee had conveyed to me in other ways. “We may be very different, but you matter to me (whoever your name is – LOL!) and what I’m saying matters to you.”

And so with his eyes, J.T. opened my eyes to God a bit more. Or as the old adage puts it well, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” J.T. cared, and I knew it.

Thank you for shepherding that then lost sheep with just your look, brother.

[* J.T. preached with what was then known as the Westside Church in Duncan, OK, across town from Eastside where Hubert Plumlee preached. Their ministries partially overlapped each other in time.]