Category Archives: Just Good Stuff

Filling Up Those Kindles!

kindlereader.jpgWow…I’ve really been blessed by those who have responded to my request for help with a Christmas project to give a Kindle loaded with Christian and theology books for my pastor friends who are planting churches in central Cuba!  They have started arriving at my office and I can’t wait to start loading them up with books for the Cuban pastors.  (I still need about 12 more if you are thinking about helping out.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click HERE.)

Now is the time for me to start getting the books to load them.  I’ve made a “wish list” on my Amazon.com page that has links to various books I’ve located that I’d like to put on the Kindles and I’m in the process of contacting my Spanish-speaking friends in order to get more recommendations.  Some of the books are as cheap as $.99 and most are around $9.99 with a couple that are $14.99.  Still cheaper than individual books and I can load them onto multiple Kindles as well.  I hope to put as many as 100 books on each Kindle to start their Libraries.  I hope within a few years they will be permitted access to the Internet and they can continue with their Libraries — though a $14.99 book represents at least 2 weeks pay for them.

If you would like to purchase a book for the pastors, you can go to THIS LINK.  It will allow you to purchase the book and it will be sent to me.  I don’t read Spanish, but that won’t matter — they do!

Thanks again for your participation and feel free to send THIS LINK and THIS LINK to others to see if they’ll get involved or you can post it on your Facebook wall or Tweet it as well.

At Last! Charles Wood Launches His Blog – The Woodchuck’s Den

I’ve been nagging my friend and mentor, Dr. Charles Wood, for years about turning his huge archive of articles that he has written over the years into a blog.  For some reason known only to him, he has resisted.  To me, it’s been like having a library behind lock and key.  Finally, the doors have been opened and all can enter!

Dr. Wood is a “semi-retired” pastor who is still a prolific writer, sometimes guest speaker, occasional adjunct professor, an expert on stamp collecting and one of the few men I’ve ever had in my life who put up with incessant questioning and probing and other flaws and listened, counseled and let me vent.  Truly one of the most influential men I’ve had speak into my life during my adult ministry.  He is a friend, father figure and a real “hoot” if you hang around him much.

Do yourself a favor and bookmark his blog website and then return to it often.  Read the past articles.  Send him questions and ideas — he might even write on them sometime.  I can’t recommend him more highly — he is truly a treasure!

You’ll find his blog link in my blogroll or you can go to it directly HERE.

Me and My KJV

I’m not one of those guys that believes that the King James Version of the Bible is the only version that God has 0kjv-bible.jpgpreserved.  I’m mostly an ESV (English Standard Version) guy for reasons of scholarship and readability when I’m studying.  I find many who hold most vociferously to the KJV to be cultic and in some extreme cases, hold to heretical beliefs regarding Bible translations, inspiration and preservation.  Others hold a racist (Aryan) view of mankind that lends itself to an extreme KJVO belief.  Others wouldn’t know translation scholarship if it hit them in the head.  For the vast majority of them, they have an obnoxious attitude about the issue that renders them toxic and unbiblical.

But, neither am I “anti-KJV.”  I have hundreds of verses memorized in the King James Version and when I teach and preach, they flow easily from my conversations with a melodic fluidity that is as much who I am as is my faith so intertwined are they.   Many folks have an emotional attachment to the Scripture version of their early days as a Christian — and I’m no exception.  A crude similarity is my personal affection for the “Sally, Dick and Jane” books from which I learned to read.  There’s a familiar intimacy and a joy of discovery that defies logic and explanation, but which is quite palpable in my heart.  It’s like an old and trusted friend who knows your secrets and loves you still.

Today, I came across an essay on a website that I’ve sometimes visited for an easy laugh that is dedicated to a common heritage many of us have who trace our origins in some way to the stock of religious fundamentalism that no longer means what it did when we were young.  I won’t share the specific website here, because if you haven’t lived those experiences, you wouldn’t understand the website.  But the essay posted today was so moving and captured my heart on such a personal level, I asked for and received permission to share it with you.  I do not even know the author’s last name — he writes as “Darrell”.  But in my opinion, what follows is a moving soliloquy of why I love the KJV.  Enjoy.

————

By “Darrell”

I have a confession to make: I’m no longer an Independent Baptist Fundamentalist but I still love my King James Bible. Yes, she’s old-fashioned and in places she’s more than a bit obscure. And there are certainly plenty of trendy new Bible versions with stylish covers that scream to me from the shelves of the Christian bookstore about how much easier they are to read, learn, understand, ingest, and recycle. Some of them (if the advertising is to be believed) are even capable of reading themselves on my behalf to save me the bother.

I’ve brought a few of these versions home with me from time to time over the years and and set them next to my old KJV. But when the time comes to grab “my Bible” I know which one that is. It’s the leather-bound Old Scofield — the same Bible that my dad preached from for all those years when I was growing up. It’s the one with the “thees” and “thous” and thunder and blood and power and majesty in its pages. I’ll be disappointed if when I finally meet Abraham and Moses and Paul they don’t all sound like Alexander Scourby.

I’ll admit part of this appreciation is simple sentiment. It just sounds right to me. It contains the words I’ve got stored in my brain and hidden in my heart. It also contains breadth of vocabulary and poetry that allows me the childish joy of befuddling the general public when I allude to it (as I frequently do) in everyday conversation. But most of all, it’s simply a classic. A translation that for the past 400 years has been more read, memorized, disputed, preached from, quoted, hated, loved, railed against, treasured, denounced and cherished than any other printed work in the history of English literature. That’s pretty impressive.

I’m not unaware of the problems with this Grand Olde Version. It has a decidedly king-friendly political slant in some passages and some of its prose is downright prudish. I know that there are many people who, after having spent time in churches where the KJV is exalted more than the Saviour, can only hear in its archaic wording the language of judgment and wrath and prefer to turn instead to a fresher, gentler reading of text. And while I understand, I find it unspeakably sad that such a great old volume full of hope and truth should become a club swung at those those who need its message the most.

So why do I still turn to my KJV to refresh my spirit and comfort my heart? It’s not because it’s the only translation worth reading — there are quite a few good ones available (and I often double check my reading with more than one). It’s not because the Flesch–Kincaid readability test tells me that there may be a home-schooled third-grader somewhere in the world who actually understands most of it. It’s not because I feel that there is some magic in praying and reciting quaint phrases that have long since passed out of common use.

I suppose if I had to sum up my respect for the King James Version in few words, I’d say that it has in its translated pages a majesty and a nobility that rarely graces our speech and writing anymore. It is art. It is beauty. And it is inseparably entwined with my own spiritual journey.

When I read it, it transports me to memories of my father reading Proverbs at the breakfast table with its stern instructions that if “sinners entice thee, consent thou not.”

It evokes the images of my mother leading her seven children in recitation as we memorized entire books at a time including Philippians and its reminder of “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding.”

It leads me back to my grandfather’s graveside service with the hopeful words that “he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”

While it may not be the best choice for everyone, I think it would be a sin to allow a handful of fundamentalists to claim sole ownership of such a treasure as the King James Version has been the the English-speaking world. My own copy in the old leather binding remains one of my most prized possessions. I only wish that I could say that i have learned to live its message as much as I have loved to hear its words.

Introducing “The Beauregard Report” — Political Commentary for the 2012 Election Cycle

If you like politics, let me recommend a new political blog just in time for the start of the 2012 election season.  Founded by one of my former students, you’ll find commentary about politics, the candidates and other perspectives from a variety of viewpoints.  And as a matter of full disclosure, I’m one of the contributors.  Subscribe to the feed and visit often!

Check it out HERE.

The Deadly Fruit of Pride

I know it’s been a while without any updates.  I’ll explain some things in a few days on that.  I read something this morning that I felt like I wanted to share.  If you see me in the next few days, you’ll notice that I’m limping heavily.  My toes are sore from getting them stomped on by this list.

Pride is the original sin.  It is what gives life to a twisted Worldview.  It is at the root of damnation.  It robs God.  It causes idolatry.  It is such a wicked disease of the soul that we simply cannot afford to ignore it.

Gospel Centric blog posted a list of the “Fifty Fruits of Pride (A Self Diagnosis) compiled by Brent Detwiler.  If you can read this without feeling convicted, I stand in awe.  This tore me up.

Take a look at it here.

More later….

You Can Call Me a Redneck

I’ve never made it a secret that I’m a “Country Boy”.  Though I’ve lived in the city longer than I lived in the country, as the saying goes, “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.”  The values of Middle America, the Heartland, “Flyover Country”, Small-Town America, Norman Rockwell country, the Breadbasket, the Bible Belt or whatever else you want to call it are the values that made this country great.  We’re often called “Rednecks” because many of us worked in the sun and our red necks and farmer’s tans were evidence that showed what the callouses on our hands would confirm as soon as we greeted you.  We were people who knew how to work hard, love our family, keep commitments and worshiped God.

I’ve enjoyed the humor and jokes that go along with the term “Redneck” and some of them are uncomfortable accurate.  But for every cringe-worthy example and silly stereotype, you’ll find some mighty good habits and values as well.  Here are a few that someone recently passed on to me.

You might be a redneck if: It never occurred to you to
be offended by the phrase, ‘One nation, under God..’

You might be a redneck if: You’ve never protested about seeing 
the 10 Commandments posted in public places.

You might be a redneck if: You still say ‘ Christmas’
instead of ‘Winter Festival’


You might be a redneck if:
 You bow your head when
someone prays.

You might be a redneck if:
 You stand and place your
hand over your heart when they play the National Anthem


You might be a redneck if:
 You treat our armed forces
veterans with great respect, and always have.

You might be a redneck if: You’ve never burned an
American flag, nor intend to.

You might be a redneck if: You know what you believe
and you aren’t afraid to say so, no matter who is listening.

You might be a redneck if: You respect your elders and
raised your kids to do the same.

You might be a redneck if: You’d give your last dollar to
a friend.
 

Good Resource — 26 Rules of Bible Study

My good friend and colleague in the ministry, Dr. Kent Haralson, Pastor of Grace Church in Osceola, Wisconsin has developed an important new resource that I’d like to recommend to the readers of “Whirled Views”.   Kent was on our pastoral team when I was the Senior Pastor at Berean Baptist Church (now Grace Fellowship) in West Palm Beach, FL during the 1980′s and 90′s.  He has since had successful pastorates in Montana and Wisconsin.

For several years, Kent has been teaching a class at his churches entitled “Rules of Bible study.” Over the years that study  has grown to include 26 basic rules that will enable one to “rightly divide the word of truth” and greatly enhance their ability to study the word. One of the last times he taught this class, he taped it and have now has professionally produced his six-hour lecture on three DVD’s.

There is also a 27-page student workbook that goes with the DVD series.  His church is now making that DVD series available to others for $25.

All proceeds for the sale of this DVD are put right back into their church budget. Let me encourage you to consider adding this resource to the tool bag that your church offers or your own personal library.

If you would rather not go through the hassle of cutting a check, you can pay for the materials using PayPal (his account is doc_haralson@centurytel.net).  Below you can find an abbreviated list of the 26 rules (although there is much more on the DVD and which also gives several examples for each rule) to whet your appetite.

If you want to mail a check or request more information, you can contact Kent at:

Dr. Kent Haralson
Grace Church

722 Seminole Ave.

Osceola, WI 54020

You can also locate information on this DVD and other books and DVD’s at their church website under the “resources” button at  www.gracechurchosceola.com

 The Rules of Bible Study

                                                                                                                 

  1. Before you ask what a verse means, determine the context.                                                           
  2. The Bible is written to three groups of people: Jews, Gentiles, and the Church.                          
  3. The Bible has proper divisions, and you must put those divisions in the right place.                     
  4. All scripture has three applications – doctrinal, historical and inspirational.                                   
  5. God chooses the exact words he wants to use and the events recorded to show you something.
  6. God has three distinct plans revealed in his word. He has a plan for the universe, for the earth and for your life.
  7. The invisible things of God can be seen by studying the things God made.                               
  8. The Bible is of no private interpretation. All “interpretations” must be done by comparing scripture with scripture.
  9. The individual words of the Bible are the key to the Bible.                                                            
  10.  Always give the Bible the benefit of the doubt.                                                                         
  11.  Never forget the consistency of the Bible.                                                                                 
  12.  Remember the law of first mention.                                                                                           
  13.  Always take a passage literally until it is impossible to take it literally.                                        
  14.  Always be prepared to change whatever you have been taught or you have believed when it goes contrary to the Bible. Never make the Bible line up with what you believe. Always line yourself up to what the Bible says.
  15.  Numbers are a major key in the Bible.                                                          
  16.  Never violate a clear passage when trying to understand an obscure passage.   
  17.  Never base a doctrine on a question.                                                               
  18.  Never base a doctrine on one verse or passage.                                                                                  
  19.  Pay attention to the “warnings” in the Bible.                                                                                          
  20.  Allegorical truths are of secondary importance.                                                                        
  21.  Let the Bible interpret its own symbols.                                                                                     
  22.  The survey principle – We must see the whole before becoming too immersed in its parts.        
  23.  Things that differ – we must make a difference where God makes a difference.                         
  24.  Interpret prophecies relative to the four Great Mountain Peaks of fulfillment.                            
  25.  The law of further mention – God has revealed truth progressively.                                            
  26.  Be sensitive to literary style

Quite the Parody of What Church has Become for Many Today

I always said that today’s CGM/Contemporary Church has as much potential to become a caricature as did the polyester-suit/pompadoured pastors and the first/second/last-stanza hymn singing of the past did.  Well, here it is.  Funny video HERE with some interesting irony unintentionally included.

What Your Pastor Wishes You Knew About Him – Part 2

I’ve been rather gratified with the response I’ve received on Part 1 of this article via blog comments, Facebook comments (my blog articles are automatically posted on Facebook) and private emails.  It has actually been linked on several blogs and discussion boards as well.  So today, I’m going to continue with my thoughts on this topic.  If you haven’t read Part 1 as of yet, you may do so by clicking HERE.

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6. Your Pastor probably views you differently than you view him.

Being someone’s pastor is actually a very intimate experience.  If your pastor is a good one — he loves you.  He’s been there during some of your most difficult moments.  He’s caught tears, perhaps had to be the one to tell you difficult news, has seen you at your best and at your worst.  You may have confided some personal things in him that are known only to you, him and God as you work through the consequences of sin, personal tragedies and other pains.  He has invested his heart and soul in you by praying for you, weeping with you, perhaps even putting your needs ahead of his or his family’s at times.

Then a church down the street calls a new pastor, builds a new building or offers a service style that you find a bit more appealing and you switch as if you were changing from Wal-Mart to Target or finding a new chiropractor.  And of course, people are going to ask “why” and often excuses like “We’re just not being fed” or “Our needs aren’t being met” or “We just need a change” are offered.  For you, it’s a new adventure.  For him, it feels painfully like rejection.

That’s not to say that there are no good reasons for changing churches.  It doesn’t justify those renegade pastors who then grow angry and defensive and say unkind things.  It doesn’t mean that you are leaving God’s will for you life necessarily and are making the first step on a trek toward leaving the faith.  But it does hurt.  Pastors are human too.  And while you may see him as a distant leader or provider of services, if he knows you personally, he probably sees you more like family or a friend.  It’s simply a difference in roles and perspective and you might never understand that.  Sometimes where you stand on things depends on where you sit.  But I think you should know — pastors usually see their church members differently than they are viewed by their church members.

7. Pastors sometimes find it difficult to have friendships.

For better or for worse, there is a celebrity element to being a pastor.  If you don’t believe that then check out the New Testament account of those who were “Paul fans” verses those who liked Apollos.  A wise pastor resists being viewed as “special”, but this tendency is why humility in leadership is so necessary.  Any celebrity, politician or person of wealth will tell you that one of the greatest frustrations is that one never knows which friendships are genuine.  There is always the difficulty in knowing who is genuinely a friend or who is simply there to exploit their position or fame or influence.  Pastors struggle with this on several levels.  Some pastors purposefully choose not to be friends with people in their congregation — it’s too risky in their opinion.  Some pastors refuse to have friendships with their staff — they are afraid it will hurt objectivity, communicate favoritism or just simply be too complicated.  Some pastors have been burned by past friendships and thus become almost reclusive and over-guarded.  Some pastors naturally migrate toward friendships exclusively with peers — fellow pastors who can relate to the unique role and scrutiny being a pastor encompasses.

Several years ago,  a pastor of a large and prestigious church in the same city where I was a pastor had a very close friend as a church member.  A local seeker-sensitive church in town “caught fire” and all of us were experiencing mass migrations out of our pews to the new “cool/hip” church.  His church was among those hardest hit.  But then his very best friend, the person who had introduced him to the church before he was pastor, his closest confident, took him to lunch and let him know that he was leaving for the new “fellowship”.  The pastor said all the perfunctory things about following the Lord, etc… and then went to his already scheduled staff meeting.  After he opened with prayer, he looked at his team of pastors — broke down in wracking sobs, explained what had just happened, apologized and excused himself.  I wish that wasn’t the only story like this that I’ve heard, but I’ve got many more — people meeting privately for the “dismissal” of their pastor, people trying to arrange financial gain/business with the church, people who expected their sins to be covered and undealt with — all while claiming “friendship”.

I don’t have any solutions to this.  I’ve experienced it personally.  I don’t know of many pastors who haven’t.  It is what it is.  But maybe it will give you some insight into your Pastor’s world.

8. Your pastor may well be different out of the pulpit than when he’s in the pulpit and that doesn’t necessarily make him a hypocrite.

I’ve laughed over the years at how people often describe me — outgoing, super confident, “people person”, extrovert.  I can understand why they would say that, but they don’t know the “real me”.  The “real me” is actually rather shy, mostly an introvert, hopes that the people in the seat next to him in the airplane go to sleep and don’t want to talk, am a veritable cauldron of insecurities and often would rather have a quiet evening at home with his family or a book than be with a large group of people.  So why do they suddenly go “electric” when they walk behind the lectern?  It’s a God thing.  It’s His gift, His calling, His annointing — whatever you want to call it.  Moses experienced it.  Coarse Peter overcame his own proclivities.  Odd John the Baptist certainly got beyond his idiosycracies enough that he was heard.  The delivery of the Gospel is never about the man, but always about the message — so don’t get too enamored or distracted by the amplification system.

Some of my most important spiritual moments have regularly been before I preached on a topic that God had led me to address, but on which I was still struggling.  Your pastor probably doesn’t sleep in a suit, sing praise choruses before every meal and memorizes Spurgeon and the Reformers in lieu of watching Reality TV.  He has morning breath, he sometimes fusses with his wife, he yells at the kids when they forget to take the dog out and he steps in a wet spot on the carpet, gets frustrated in heavy traffic and might have a secret affinity for Roller Coasters or deer hunting or restoring old cars.  In other words — he’s just a regular guy.  He certainly isn’t perfect.  But if he’s a good pastor, he’s earnest and sincere and also man enough to admit his faults and make them right when he needs to do so.

Take time to get to know your pastor as a person before you make huge assumptions about him as a “professional”.  You might be shocked at how much like you he really is even though your callings are different.

9. Your Pastor has bills too.

This area is touchy.  There’s nothing like a conversation about money to get people stirred up.  Let me just say this.  Scripture is very clear that spiritual leadership should be supported by the tithes and offerings of the people who benefit from and need their ministry.  It’s God’s plan.  Paul referenced it as the “double honor”.  Someday, your pastor will need a home to live in that isn’t owned by the church.  There will come a day when he will need, because of age or infirmity, to transition out of being a full-time pastor so he needs a retirement strategy.  (There are few things sadder than a pastor who has faithfully served a congregation for years and years who can’t “afford” to retire and thus inflicts himself on a poor church or has to beg for “meetings” because he has no income.  Many pastors foolishly opt out of Social Security and when it comes time to fund their 403b retirement plans, they get cut because of tight budgets.)  Your pastor’s kids need to go to college.  There are weddings that need to be paid for, children that need braces, cars that need repaired.

Please don’t demean him by noting every purchase he makes, vacation he takes or gift he receives with a “It must be nice to be in the ministry to be able to afford that!” or “I guess that explains that special offering last month!” or some other witty little cutting remark that puts him on the defensive.  It’s unkind and petty.  Stop it.  Instead, show some maturity and say something like, “Wow….I’m so pleased that God has blessed you and provided that for you.  If anyone deserves it — you do!” and then notice how you are blessed for rejoicing with those who are rejoicing and how he is blessed in receiving your kind words.

If you think your pastor is a crook, given to filthy lucre, too wealthy — then confront him Biblically or shut up.  If you are a church leader and wonder what is appropriate compensation, may I recommend a study that is produced each year called the “Church Compensation Report” and HERE‘s the link to it.

Finally, I want to state for the record that all three of the churches where I have ministered have been a genuine blessing to me and my family in this regard.  They very generously honored us with a living wage, they gave me freedom to write, teach and speak which allowed me to squirrel away money for life’s unexpected or bigger expenses as they came and provided me with the necessary tools for ministry.  I wish every pastor was treated as I have been treated in the matter of financial support.

10.  Your pastor loves the work of the ministry.

You might say, “duh” — but I would ask, how many people do you know who really, deep down inside, would like to be doing something else as a vocation?  If you are like me — a ton.  Preaching the Gospel, seeing people accept Christ, watching lives transformed by Truth, seeing healing and reconciliation occur in families — wow….that’s just the best.

Over the years, I have wearied over the administrative load of ministry.  I do not get excited about trying to get budgets to balance, dealing with maintenance issues, making sure that risk-management is taken into consideration every time we start a new initiative and dealing with governmental and even church bureaucracy and politics.  But that’s simply the price a pastor pays for being able to stand up, open the Word of God and share what the Holy Spirit has laid on his heart for that day.  I can be absolutely exhausted, frustrated, depressed or overwhelmed, but the moment I crack open my Bible before a group of people ready to hear — I realize once again that I’m doing what I was created to do.  Whether you pastor a mega-church, lead a Sunday School class, host a home Bible study or simply leading your family in devotions — when you are called to the ministry of the Word, everything is as it should be every time you get the chance.  It simply doesn’t get much better than that!

I’m going to stop here.  I know I have not exhausted the list, but I’ve probably exhausted you.  I would invite pastors to add additional points if you’d like to do so.  You may forward, link, print, copy or otherwise use these articles as they would bless you or others.  The purpose in writing this has not been to complain, but to explain.  Pray for your pastor today — or even right now.  I’m guessing he’s already been praying for you.

Expecting HIS Best……Dan