Friday, June 01, 2012

Wow, I'm a bad blogger. I have to do much better with this. I'll just post an update, that way at least I will have written something new. I'm living in Toronto right now work on my ThD (soon to be PhD) in homiletics at Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto. The family consists of Sharie and I, Kate who is 7 as I write this, C.J. who is 15.5 months old, and Sammy (our nephew) who is 12. We live right next door to the elementary school the kids attend. They love it. We attend the Milliken Wesleyan Methodist Church. It's a Wesleyan church that decided to keep methodist in their name because people might more readily relate to that name in the greater Toronto area. The whole family love the church and are happy to find a church where we feel we belong and can also contribute. The subject of my doctoral work is a Wesleyan Holiness homiletic. Right now I'm working on papers about John Wesley's preaching and theology but will also be studying the distinctives of the holiness message as it relates to preaching. I think this is a timely focus in my own the denomination and our sister denominations.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Preachers Should Watch Their Own Preaching!

I preached my final sermon in PR602 - Preaching for Modern Listeners. I got a pretty good grade on it but I thought that I should have gotten an even better grade so I mentioned that to the professor. He suggested I meet with him to discuss the sermon. He even mentioned that he would be open to reevaluating my grade. So in preparation for that meeting I watched my sermon on DVD. Long story short — I didn't ask him to reevaluate my grade. My sermon was a decent one but it wasn't nearly as good as what I thought it was. I'm now glad to receive the grade that I did. Dr. Jeffrey Arthurs, my prof, was quick to tell me that video magnifies every flaw because all the focus is on the preacher. In person, you would be looking around once in a while, seeing the entire stage, etc. But on video the preacher is right in the center of the screen. It magnifies every flaw. That means my sermon wasn't as bad as I thought when I watched the DVD but it wasn't as good as it felt with I was preaching it.

I learned some important lessons about myself and how I preach. I won't share them here but suffice it so say that I'll make this a regular practice in the future. Every preacher should regularly watch their own preaching with a critical eye. Not to tear themselves down but to get better. It will have a huge impact on becoming a better preacher.

BTW, if video magnifies the flaws of the preacher that means that they preachers we admire on TV or DVD are actually really, really good! They overcome the flaws.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Popcorn Made Me Feel Old: and How to Make It Real Good

Sharie and I had some friends over a while back and I made popcorn for us. Now, I like microwave popcorn, don't get me wrong, but when I'm getting serious I make it on the stove top like Paul and Silas used to. Our friends are in their mid twenties and when I made the popcorn they couldn't believe I made it the old fashioned way. I got a kick out of their surprise. I felt like a popcorn rock star for a second. Later I was thinking about it and it finally occurred to me: they have never had it any other way than from the microwave. To them I was making it like the pioneers did. I went from feeling somewhat cool to feeling old real fast.

It amazes me how quickly times change. I just turned 40 about six weeks ago and I can remember when we didn't have microwaves, personal computers, cordless phones (let alone cell phones), VCRs or DVD's, or cassettes and CD's. How did we get along without these essential things? Are they really essential? I suppose these are the kind of things that one begins to ponder in old age.

By the way, here is how I make such great stovetop popcorn. Some of you might think, "Well, duh." But younger folks are losing this art form quickly. It is truly a tragedy.

1. Orville Redenbacher is the man. I use a mixture of his white and yellow popcorn. Yes, I buy two different kinds and mix it. I'm serious about this stuff. It comes in a jar with the actual kernels, you know, like Paul and Silas used to buy.
2. Peanut Oil. Yes it has a little more fat but it's the good kind of fat so don't worry about it.
3. Here is the big secret: You've got to use popcorn salt. It's real fine, almost a powder and it sticks to the popcorn much better than table salt. You don't need any butter to make the salt stick and you don't have to use that much. As a matter of fact, I never use butter, you just don't need it when you use these fine ingredients. Popcorn salt is hard to find sometimes but if you look hard you can find it. I buy it online.

I put about three or four tablespoons of peanut oil in my Revereware pan and heat it up on medium/high. I go ahead and pour out about a little more than a third of a cup of popcorn so it is ready to go. I place one kernel in the center of the pan and put the lid on. I listen closely and when it pops I quickly pour the rest of the popcorn in. I shake it a bit and when the popping starts to slow down I take the pan off the stove quickly and pour it in a huge bowl. I have just a few seconds before it burns so I have to move quickly at the end. Then I dust the bowl with popcorn salt. Yes, that's right, I dust it. Then I toss the popcorn several times and I dust it once more. That's all it takes.

BTW, I make good popcorn but my father-in-law is the real master. He puts a huge butch of the corn in a little sauce pan and pops it up till the lid starts to raise. Then he pours off the popped corn and puts the pan back on the burner and pops more. He repeats this until all the corn is popped. He doesn't even lose any popcorn. When I try his technique I always pour too much in the bowl so that it pops in the bowl, blowing popcorn everywhere. He is the master, I am simply a padawan learner.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Book Meme

I was tagged by IWU professor, Ken Schenck, for a book meme. This is a new thing for me but it's kind of like a chain letter for blogs. Only there there is no terrible life threatening consequence if you don't follow through with it, I hope. I'm assuming the point is to just get the word about other people's blogs. So I'm supposed to pick up the nearest book, turn to page 123, find the fifth sentence, and post the three sentences after it. So here goes, on my desk is a book called, Islam by Caesar E. Farah. The first two sentences are a quote from the Koran.

"Say, my prayers, my offerings, my life and my death are for God, Lord of the Worlds Who has no partner with Him. This I have been ordered (to believe), and I am the first to submit (unto Him.)"
It is also argued that belief in predestination prevents fortune or misfortune to sway the believer from the "right path."

Okay, now I have to tag five other bloggers. So, Red Rover, Red Rover, send Mark Wilson, Larry Wilson, John Drury, Ryan Budde, and Andy Rowell right over!

There I did it, now I'll have good luck for a long, long time!!

I'm a bad blogger, but I am still alive

I wanted to take a few moments to update my blog. I have not blogged for two reasons: I've been too lazy and I'm a wimp. I've preached to a thousand people before sang for way over five thousand and felt completely comfortable. But in those settings no one was giving me feedback. If I blog anything that is substantial people might disagree and I've been a wimp about that. I'm seriously going to try and change that. I'm going to start blogging for two reasons: I want to sharpen my writing and it is good discipline. Now, that isn't going to happen today, I have a load of papers to finish, but soon.

Here's where I am in life: I will be halfway through my second full year in seminary in a few weeks. I'm still enjoying it but antsy to be done too. As it stand right and if it all goes according to plan I will be finished with the MDiv except for one class by the end of this summer. I have to take that class on campus because it is an exegesis class and Gordon Conwell won't except anyone else's Bible classes in transfer. They are snooty like that. So rather than waste a whole semester on one class or take more electives just for the fun of it, I'm going to pick up a Master's of Theology degree in preaching. That's a one year academic degree. So if that works out I'll be able to leave here with two master's degrees in three years on campus. We'll see what happens though.

Kate is doing great in pre-school and loves it. She goes three days a week for four hours. It's right on campus so I have fun walking down and picking her up every day. Sharie is still working hard with our graphic design company, Maxim Design Group. She is a truly exceptional woman and I still don't know how I was able to snag her. It's a God thing, gotta be!

About the future: I just don't know. I can see myself going back to the local church. I miss preaching a bunch and I miss being a part of people's lives as a pastor. Sharie and I knew all along that my time at seminary will have been a blessing and benefit to me whether or not I end up teaching anywhere. My plan all along was that I would go on to doctoral work after being here. I don't know if I will or not. That world of academics, especially at the PhD level, is a strange one. I might lose my mind in that world. I want to focus on preaching and most PhD programs don't take preaching seriously as an academic pursuit. But I am starting to formulate some ideas about what I could focus on for a doctorate. I want to do something that will benefit my denomination, the Wesleyan Church. Please pray that God will guide us in the months ahead. I'll need to start working towards where I will go next this summer.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Light at the end of the tunnel

Well, it's almost the end of the semester. I have to do two major papers, two minor ones, and take two finals. A lot of work but doable. This school year has challenged me more than I thought it would. One of the biggest challenges was simply adjusting to being in school full time. This is a different life, especially when you have a family that comes first.

Greek has continued to be very difficult. I have discovered though that I am simply a slow Greek learner. My professor told me that there are two kinds of Greek strugglers. The first kind simply take a little longer to sink in, the second kind just won't get it, no matter what. The concepts that are so hard for me to get seem to get easier over time. I am encouraged by that. I may even take intermediate Greek if I can fit it into my schedule.

I have become a teaching fellow for the Semlink program. That means I am over the five classes in the online program that cover the ministry of the church. The classes are: Spiritual Formation for Ministry, Educational Ministry of the Church, Pastoral Counseling, Family and Marriage Counseling, and The Theology of Effective Youth Ministry. I am enjoying that immensely and feel like I am doing some good with the practical ministry experience I bring to the table. This is what I prayed for before I came to seminary.

I'll post more later, just wanted to add to this and prove that I'm still here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Treading water

It's been way to long since I've posted. Our lives have changed so much in the last two months. We moved to South Hamilton, Massachusetts and I started seminary full time at Gordon Conwell. I love it but it is more difficult than I ever imagined. Why is it hard? One word, GREEK! It's really tough for me. I'm getting it and I don't worry about passing the class (most of the time) but it takes a huge amount of time and focus to keep up. On top of that there is the reading for the other classes, plus family time on top of that. I'm not complaining, it is my dream to be here. It's just that I'm working to keep my head above water right now. Someday I hope to get caught up and then post here more often.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Awesome wedding vows

In June I was privileged to perform the wedding of Christa Jacobs and Jon Hewett. Christa's family was a part of the church I used to pastor in Howell, MI. I can't express how honored I was to be able to marry them.

Anyways, I got permission from Jon and Christa to post their vows. Jon is a writer and he wrote his vows and Christa adapted them for herself. I wanted to post these because they are the most biblical and mature of any I have seen. Admittedly, some people might not like the submit part that Christa affirms from Ephesians 5, but when a husband is loving his wife as a Christ loves the church it isn't a dangerous thing to submit. So without further ado:

Jon's vows:
I, Jon, take you, Christa, to be my wife from this day forward, to join with you and share all that is to come.
I vow to love you as Christ has commanded me, striving daily to die to myself for your sake.
I vow to cherish you above all people and things, God being the only exception.
I vow to serve you sacrificially, putting your needs above my own.
I vow to protect you from all evil within my strength, and to entrust your ultimate safety to God.
I vow to lead you in the pattern Christ has set before us, so that we may honor Him.
I vow to forgive as Christ has forgiven us.
I promise to be faithful to you until death do us part.

Christa's vows:
I, Christa, take you, Jon, to be my husband from this day forward, to join with you and share all that is to come.
I vow to respect you as Christ has commanded me, striving daily to die to myself for your sake.
I vow to love you above all people and things, God being the only exception.
I vow to serve you sacrificially, putting your needs above my own.
I vow to submit to you in everything as to the Lord.
I vow to follow you in the path Christ has set before us, so that we may honor Him.
I vow to forgive as Christ has forgiven us.
I promise to be faithful to you until death do us part.

Pretty cool, huh?