thoughts on life and theology from an ordinary pastor

Leading and Loving Your Flock at Home – Ironmen Summit

I had the privilege of attending and speaking at the annual Ironmen Summit, put on by Flint Hills Christian Church in Emporia, KS. Every year has been such a rich encouragement to my heart to bring a group of men and sit together under excellent plenary session sermons and practical break-out sessions that spark excellent conversation for weeks to come. This year was no exception. You can listen to all of the sessions HERE. I was honored this year to be a break-out speaker and join the others (Jack Hughes, Rick Goertzen, Craig Bowen, and Rick Holland) for a plenary question and answer session. My break-out group was a practical session focusing on how to be more thoughtful and practical in shepherding and discipling those in your home. As I promised the men, I have linked to a rough outline of my notes, and a few articles that I have found helpful to stimulate my thinking on being more practical in shepherding our homes. I pray they are helpful to the brothers who attended and any who may be able to make use of them. Leading and Loving Your Flock at Home, Session Notes, Outline A FEW HELPFUL ARTICLES 30 Practical Ways for Pastors to Love Their Wives and Families (great for anyone, not just pastors). God on Marriage, Danny Akin – notes from one of his seminars – good practical material here. 3 Ways to Nourish and Cherish Your Wife – notes from a message from C.J. Mahaney 6 Deadly Enemies of Marriage, Tim Challies Study Your Wife – see page 29 of this pdf on Biblical Productivity... read more

How Will You Read Your Bible This Year?

What is your approach to systematically reading through Scripture this year? You don’t necessarily have to have an annual plan that gets you through the whole thing in one year, but most find it most beneficial to have an intentional approach to Bible intake. Here’s a few suggestions: Jim Ellif offers an approach that will give you an excellent, slow, methodical approach to what I think is an excellent way to engage with Scripture in an in-depth manner. I would recommend this plan if you don’t have a significant in-depth approach to Bible study. I love reading through Scripture each year.  My regular teaching of Scripture has me studying Scripture at a slow and in-depth pace. I find it very helpful to have a reading plan that takes me through all of the Bible in a year, reminding me of the big picture of each book and of the Bible as a whole. If you are considering an annual trek through the Scriptures, you may find some of the other approaches linked here to be of use. Here are a number of Bible reading plans: Begin in Genesis and read about 4 chapters a day, 5 on Sunday.  I forget where I first heard about this one, but it was the first plan I used years ago, and it proved very helpful. Discipleship Journal Annual Plan.  I’ve used this plan for about the past four years. It keeps you in the Gospels all year, the Old Testament writings all year, and also takes you through the rest of the Old Testament and New Testament within the year.  I like staying... read more

President Obama and Productivity

Mixing two of my interests (Presidential History and productivity), I was intrigued by this Vanity Fair article on President Obama. I’m quite sure it was part of the 2012 election public relations strategy, but I did find a few interesting approaches from the current President to streamline decision making, keep himself focused, structure meetings, and working with people. Just two short excerpts: Routine and Its Impact on Decision-Making This time he covered a lot more ground and was willing to talk about the mundane details of presidential existence. “You have to exercise,” he said, for instance. “Or at some point you’ll just break down.” You also need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day. “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” he said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” He mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions. It’s why shopping is so exhausting. “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.” The self-discipline he believes is required to do the job well comes at a high price. “You can’t wander around,” he said. “It’s much harder to be surprised. You don’t have those moments of serendipity. You don’t bump into a friend in a restaurant you haven’t seen in years. The loss of anonymity and the loss of surprise is an... read more

Studying and Preaching Overviews of Biblical Books

For the past three summers, I have preached overview sermons through the Old Testament. Three years ago I spent the summer preaching through the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible). Last year I taught Joshua through the Kings. This summer I just completed a series through the Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel). To be honest, these are some of the most difficult sermons for me to prepare and to preach. The difficulty in study lies in the challenge of covering the entirety of large books in such a short time. Teaching these books is equally daunting in trying to cover large sections of very rich material in a short amount of time and often in what seems such a cursory manner. And yet, every summer, I receive a host of positive feedback from many in our congregation as to the benefit they derive in these overview series. Some have expressed their lack of exposure to preaching through the Old Testament. Others have indicated that they have never seen how a particular book was put together. Still others have mentioned how refreshing it has been to see the central theme of each book and how these books relate to one another. We have found much benefit from the past 3 years of studying the Old Testament together. Why should a preacher/teacher spend time preaching/teaching overviews of biblical books? What steps are most helpful in studying for these sorts of messages? What principles govern how you teach them? Let me see if I can help you with a few pointers from what I have been learning over the... read more

Preparing for Sunday – Daniel 7-12

For those attending Summit Woods Baptist Church this Sunday, here are a few ways to prepare. Carefully Think Read through Daniel 7. How was the imagery of Daniel’s vision interpreted for him in 7:15-27? Make a list of what you learn? What is God’s role in the events described in this vision? What phrases do you see in Daniel 7 that would give any indication as to the timing of these events? Read Daniel 8 – how does this vision differ from the one in chapter 7 in terms of its interpretation? What does Daniel 10 suggest about the unseen spiritual world and earthly affairs? What does all of the vast detail in the vision of chapters 11 and 12 reveal about God’s sovereignty over the affairs of history and the future? What indication do you see in Chapter 12 that these events are yet future? Prayerfully Meditate What effect should the kind of detail about historical and future events, like those described in Daniel 7-12, have on your view of God? Your choices? Your anxieties? Your confidence? How should Daniel’s description about the world’s future impact how we view what is happening in our culture now? What would a God-centered response to our own cultural changes be in light of what we read in Daniel? How could Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9 assist you in your own approach to confessing sin? How could Daniel’s prophecy as a whole assist you in praying about the coming of Christ? Intentionally Act Pray for Christ’s soon coming. How would he find you if the events of his coming were to begin... read more

The Musings of An Ordinary Pastor

Another re-post from over 4 years ago. I post it again as THE CAPRANICA re-launches its regularity as a reminder of what this blog is about. I am an ordinary pastor. That is, I know myself well enough and I have been around enough extraordinary pastors to be well aware of how ordinary I am. The content, regularity, and writing style found here at THE CAPRANICA all document the degree of my ordinariness. Actually, I enjoy being ordinary. Obscurity is often bliss. Normality, more often than not, is a blessing. The front-lines of the ordinary contain enough excitement, challenge, heartache, and doldrum to keep me focused and engaged in the Lord’s work. I have been an ordinary pastor for over 20 years (I began ministry in 1988 in a rural Texas Panhandle church) and I have never been bored with ministry; I’ve always been busy, and I’m as excited today about serving the church as I was twenty years ago when I began. I really do enjoy being among the ordinary. Ordinary is not often publicly celebrated, but ordinary pastors dominate the landscape of church life across our country; we are, by far, the vast majority. In reality, only a small percentage of pastors in the world could really be called or evaluated as extraordinary. I thank God for many of them . The Savior has used (and still does) a few of them in many influential ways in my life and ministry. Yet, most of us who serve the Lord as local church shepherds will not host presidential forums; books will not host our names as authors; national... read more
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