Monday Meditation: A Freedom Mission

Isaiah61gIsaiah 61:1

Behind the Pulpit: the Art of Preaching

A highlight of Monday mornings  is a chat on Twitter (called tweet chats) that focuses on sermon preparation, or in Twitter parlance #sermonprep.

This week’s chat was another lively one as we discussed sermons based on

  • an expositional approach to scripture which is an explaining of a particular passage in the Bible, sometimes described as “verse-by-verse”
  • a topical approach in which a particular topic, such as prayer or healing or parenting, is address and relevant passages are shared on that topic
  • and a lectionary approach, based on the Lectionary that has been in use for hundreds of years by some denominations  in the Christian tradition, featuring selected readings from both the Old and New Testaments

As we discussed these approaches and shared our sermon development process the following exchange took place:

The exchange between us, as well as the thought provoking and at times, soul stirring, conversation also reminded me of two important things that are ever in my thinking as I prepare a sermon each week:

  • The guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit
  • And the Biblical basis of any preaching I do

I pay attention to my audience (congregation) and I do my best to listen to them so that I know what is going on in their lives and the issues they are seeking answers to and direction for. But I cannot forget that the truth of scripture and the movement of the Spirit must be primary each Sunday.

There is an art to preaching, guided and shaped by the Holy Spirit and informed by the truth of Scripture, that is both beautiful and holy.

As for the rubric?

I’m thinking! I’m thinking! Writing to follow….

A Prayer for those in Bondage

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free,” Luke 4:18


Father God,

We pray for those today who are in bondage.

Some are in bondage to others as sex slaves and slave workers.

We ask O God that you move in the hearts and minds and wills of all those who can do something TO do something to bring freedom from this bondage for someone’s daughter or son.

Some are in bondage to an addiction – alcohol, drugs, sex, food, the internet, approval, etc

We ask  Holy Spirit that you would again this day move and act within the hearts and wills of those who are in bondage that they would see their powerlessness and make that first step of admission of that powerlessness to You, themselves, and those who can help them get on the path of/to recovery.

Some are in bondage through domestic violence or they are in an abusive relationship.

We pray dear Jesus that You will intervene in the right way, NOW, on their behalf and bring freedom both physically as well as in every other way, to them. And we pray for the children caught in these situations, even now we ask that You will help them know You are there with them and that You are doing something about it.

Father others are in bondage to a state because they have chosen to worship You and Your one and only Son and are being held because of their refusal to renounce that faith. We stand with them this day as they stand for You and Your wonderful and redemptive grace and love. Help them to stand strong in the face of harassment, imprisonment, and even death so that You will receive them into Your great and Holy presence until that day when You will return and put all things to right.

And Lord many of us are in bondage though the lives we live are normal and free.

We are in bondage to fear, anxiety, and there is a smoldering resentment and anger that causes us to lash out and/or withdraw from our family and friends who, though they be seemingly powerless to help us, are the very ones who can often help us get started out of the inner hole we have dug for ourselves.

So God this day, we who have freedom, the freedom to move about, the freedom to protest, the freedom to say ‘NO!’… and ‘Yes!’ we pray for those who are not so fortunate. We ask for Your love, grace, and mercy, to do its good and wondrous thing now and in the days ahead for them that they will be… free!


My Review of Thomas McKelvey Cleaver’s Fabled Fifteen

21504505Thomas McKelvey Cleaver’s Fabled Fifteen: The Pacific War Saga of Carrier Air Group 15 is a wonderful recollection about a group of US naval aviators who were  in the air over the Western Pacific 70 years ago in two historic naval engagements – the Philippine Sea (also known as the Mariana Turkey Shoot) and Leyte Gulf – which broke the back of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Known as Carrier Air Group 15, this group of Naval Aviators, became a highly decorated unit with over 300 enemy aircraft shot down and  numerous ships including the world largest battleship Musashi  and the Zuikaku, the last of the Japanese carriers who participated in the Pearl Harbor attack, sunk.

Based on unit records and interviews with still living members of the unit, Cleaver tells a wonderful and very readable story about a unit whose seven month tour on the USS Essex demonstrated the value of strong leadership, excellent training, and group cohesiveness that created a true killing machine. As he does so, he details the daily life of carrier operations as well as providing the backgrounds of key officers and enlisted personnel and how they came to be part of the Fabled Fifteen.

I liked this book as it provides both a historical context of carrier operations as well as the human element of war. I was also struck, as I read the dates of the battles, that what I was reading was unfolding 70 years ago at this time!

Highly readable and well written, Fabled Fifteen is a great addition to the large body of literature on the US war effort in World War 2. It will be a welcome addition to anyone interested in both military and aviation history.

I rate this book a ‘great’ read.

Note: I was given a galley copy of this book from Net Galley via the publisher (Casemate Publishers)  in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.

On the Book Table and Kindle 10.13.14

After slowing down for about a month, the book table and the Kindle are again occupied with a variety of books and here they are!

Two books occupy the book table :

17978235The first is a novel by UK novelist Justin Cartwright called Lion Heart (Bloombury Press). I have barely started this book but after this post is written (on a Sunday night) I am going to open it and get further into it before bed. But a historical novel that speaks of Richard the Lion Heart and Robin Hood, has got to be a great read!




The second book is The Making of An Ordinary Saint: My Journey From Frustration to Joy with the Spiritual Disciplines by Nathan Foster 20665251(Baker Books.) Nathan is the son of Richard Foster who wrote the classic book Celebration of Discipline in the 1970’s, who shares his struggles in practicing the classic spiritual disciplines.





20785896And speaking of spiritual disciplines, the Kindle has another wonderful updated edition of a favorite of mine, Marjorie Thompson’s Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life (Westminster John Knox Press). I read the first edition several years ago and have gone back through it since then. I have already found a great deal of food for thought.




When I was approved by Zondervan via Net Galley to read Philip Yancey’s newest book Vanishing Grace, I was elated! And I have not been 21816684disappointed by what I have read so far. As usual Yancey gets to the heart of the matter very quickly and with insight.





20587906Peter Ackroyd’s biography of silent film legend Charlie Chaplin, Chaplin: A Brief Life (Nan A. Talese)  is the biography on the Kindle right now. His description of Mack Stennett’s studio (where Chaplin made his first films 100 years ago) and what kinds of noises were never heard in the silent film era as a movie was being brings a “you are there” feel to the book.




Well, lots to read… better get on with it!

Have a great week everyone!


See you behind the page!



Monday Meditiation: Children Matter to God!


Abraham: One Nomad’s Amazing Journey of Faith by Chuck Swindoll: A Review

22782825A vintage Swindoll book. I have always appreciated the thorough Biblical scholarship and practical application of Chuck Swindoll in his speaking and writing. This is an inspirational re-telling of Abraham’s life with an emphasis on his faithful obedience to God throughout his long life in spite of his human frailties and tendencies which led him to attempt short-cutting God’s plans and purposes.

There are so many helpful insights in this book that to name them all would be impossible but one that stands out to me is Swindoll’s emphasis on Abraham (and Sarah) waiting on God to act and even speak for 13 years after his fathering of Ishmael. The value and purpose of such waiting to deepen faith and character is given strong emphasis.

I will return to this book and re-read the underlined passages and notes because this book has given many pauses for reflection.

I rate this book a “great” read.

Note: I was given a copy of this book from the publisher Tyndale House in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.

A Review of Vanderbloemen and Bird’s NEXT: Pastoral Succession That Works

“Every pastor is an interim pastor.” 

20665260Though I still have several years of ministry left before retirement/semi-retirement/whatever it is called these days becomes a reality for me, it is something that I think about more and more these days. William Vanderbloemen and Warren Bird’s new book, published by Baker Books, NEXT: Pastoral Succession That Works, has provided some very helpful guidelines and suggestions as to the process of pastoral succession and ways to insure (hopefully) that when I do move on, from my present congregation and any other congregation I might serve in the future, it will be a helpful transition for the benefit of both the congregation and my successor.

NEXT is also a helpful book when it comes to other kinds of transitional and successional moments in congregational and pastoral life as well. For example, what happens if a pastor is suddenly ill and incapacitated for a period of time? What are the steps, already in place or need to be in place, to help the congregation maintain pastoral ministry and leadership? These kinds of sudden changes are ones that pastors, as well as congregations, often fail to consider.

A major strength of this book is that it combines a love of the ministry and the church with some solid research, some of which is detailed in several appendices that provided, for me at least, a surprising view of pastoral tenure across a wide range of denominations. I also found helpful and insightful their comments and stories about the effect of transitions on pastors’ wives and families and the potential for conflict to be a very real thing.

I personally resonated with chapter 12, Unintentional Interim, and chapter 14,  Where to Find A Successor, as they dealt with the issue of following a popular pastor and what the options are regarding pastoral staff who stay through pastoral successions. I observed and experienced both situations as a staff pastor.

Vanderbloemen and Bird have given pastors, their families, and congregations a very helpful resource to help in navigating the very important transition of pastoral succession. I hope that they will continue to add to this good book in the years ahead.

On my review rating scale, I rate NEXT, an ‘outstanding’ read.

Note: I was given a copy of the book from its publisher, Baker Books, via their book bloggers program in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday Meditation: The Motive for Forgiveness


A Hump Day Prayer for “Full Hope and Unfailing Strength”

“Do not look forward to the changes and chances of life in fear; rather look to them with full hope that, as they arise, God, whose you are, will deliver you out of them… Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give unfailing strength to bear it.”

Francis de Sales

Good and gracious God

We are facing challenges today, this week, and in this season of life

Changes have come to our lives:

a health issue which reminds us of our mortality

a family change which reminds us of the passing of time

a habit or an addiction which has flared up again and is challenging our sanity and sobriety

a conflict with someone we really don’t like or care for but know that You call us to care and resolve

and we are being pulled out to sea by an undertow of fear, anxiety, anger, and frustration

We are taking chances because life and circumstances have presented them:

a chance at a new relationship that we don’t want to blow after having a previous one blow up in our face (and heart)

a chance at a new job because it was time for a change but it has been fifteen years since we changed jobs

a chance with a new chapter and season in life because one chapter and another season have come to an end

a chance that is a second chance with someone important to us

So Lord we cry out to You to help us..

to not allow fear and company to drown us in self-pity, depression, fear, and the like

but to help us to have full hope in and unfailing strength from You so that we can navigate these changes and chances in the strength and power from You and through You.



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