My Review of The Pastor Theologian

22574114When I went to college, I found a pastor who believed, by and through his sermons, there was a place for thinking in the life of faith and ministry.  Now I grew up with wonderful pastors who helped me grow in my Christian faith and one who helped me come to faith in Christ and baptized me. But my college pastor showed me there was a good place for thinking in the life of faith and in the local church.

Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson in their timely book The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision (Zondervan, 2015), make a case for what I think that Pastor Frank did from the pulpit of that college church when they argue, very well in my opinion, for a revival of Pastor Theologian.

Arguing for a robust “intellectual calling” Hiestand and Wilson, both local church pastors, take the reader on a highly readable review of church history from the perspective of the development of the pastorate and the pastor into what it is today – often more of a manager than the Chief Spiritual Officer. Then they address the theological amenia of both the church and ministry and how that has played out in both the church and society and concluding with what to this reviewer is the core of the book – A Taxonomy of The Pastor Theologian.

As they argue for the development of a Pastor Theologian Hiestand and Wilson acknowledge the tensions between the local church pastorate and the university and also what they call the “social location” of both academic theologians and local church pastors how this location affects their ability to be pastoral in one direction and academic in the other direction. Yet while they acknowledge the tensions, and lay out the challenges of scheduling for good thinking and writing for the benefit of the church while being in the pastorate, I believe that Hiestand and Wilson make a very good case for the calling of men, and I also think women, who combine solid thinking with a deep and warm faith.

I enjoyed the breadth and depth of this book that challenged both my thinking and my faith as a believer and a pastor.

I gave The Pastor Theologian a four-star rating on Goodreads.

Note: I received an electronic galley copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Weekday Meditation: The Constant Pressure of Temptation

This past Sunday was Pentecost Sunday and it has become for me an important Sunday because the place and work of the Holy Spirit in my faith and life is a critical part of it. I shared this past Sunday with the congregation I serve, that the Holy Spirit has moved and acted in some powerful ways in my life especially during the darkest times when I was not walking with God as I should have. He was both a convictor of my sinful state and my advocate with God the Father.

Here then is an edited excerpt from this past Pentecost Sunday’s sermon. May it be of help to you and others.

Romans 8:26-28

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

 

Got a problem with kindness? The Holy Spirit can help here.

Got a problem with loving someone close to you? The Holy Spirit can help here.

So often I think we think that “because I am weak, that I have done something that I know, that I need forgiveness that God doesn’t want to have anything to do with me…”

That.is.patently.false.

We read in 1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

When I have read this verse, and I have read it often over the years, the phrase that has caught my attention the most is this one

when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

But I know that others have been drawn to the phrase that precedes it:

And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.

The temptation to do what is wrong…

To cheat on a test

To lie to protect yourself

To let bitterness, take root in your heart and cause an important relationship to break up

To compromise your standards and values so that you will be liked and admired

To take what is not yours in the first place and justifying doing so for what you call right reasons…

All of these things, and more, are temptations.

Temptation never goes totally away. It is always present. It is always nearby and Satan knows that and knows how to strike us with it when we are both weak and when we are doing well.

How then do we say no?

How then do we stand firm in our faith and resist the pressure to say ‘yes,’ to compromise, to give in?

Here are four things to remember and practice.

Remember Job.

Job lost everything, except his wife who told him to ‘curse God and die, his possessions and wealth, even his reputation. But he did not curse God and die. Job stood strong even when overwhelming loss was all he experienced for a time.

Daily pray for the Lord to plant and nurture the Fruit of the Spirit in you.

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (patience), kindess, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

 

These qualities, these evidences of a maturing faith, come through both temptations and testing. They come when we are challenged to stand up in our faith and for our faith. But I also believe that as they are formed and lived out in our daily lives, the also become ways we stand up to temptation for when we are full of these wonderful qualities, the ability to resist temptation in increased because they evidence of a Holy Spirit filled life.

Tell the truth about what is going on in your heart.

James 5:16

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

I used to feel that being tempted was a sin. No, being tempted is not a sin. Giving into the temptation is a sin. Telling what is going on in our heart before we give into the temptation  is just as important as confessing what happened after we gave into the temptation.

Telling the truth can put us into a position where the power of the temptation can be taken away. It runs away because truth telling brings it into the light where it can be seen for what it is – a temptation.

Finally and this might sound strange… follow Jesus daily.

I recently heard a story about a man who had been part of a church for many decades and was involved in the church. But no one asked him about Jesus until a few years before his death. When I heard that story, it took my breath away. If we want to resist temptation, Jesus must become the center of our lives. Not the church not the family, important as those things are, it must be Jesus. The church cannot save us – only the God of the church can. Our family cannot save us – but they can point us to Jesus because it is only Jesus that can save us from our sins and help us overcome temptation.

Let the Holy Spirit live within you to be God’s person and resist the pressure of temptation.

South: Part Volunteer and Proud of It!

Today’s Daily Post prompt is South.

I immediately think of the Southern United States, more specifically the Southeastern United States.

My roots, from what I have been able to determine, extend throughout the Southeastern US from Virginia to South Carolina to Kentucky and to Tennessee, my mother’s birth place.

Her roots are Scot, Irish, and Native American.

But for 70 years she called the Buckeye State (Ohio) home, having packed up all her earthly possessions the day after she graduated from High School and moved to the southwestern part of Ohio.

I well remember a trip in 1969 to her hometown and how I woke up one morning in a feather bed well rested and sat down to a breakfast of steak and eggs! My 11 year old stomach welcomed the meal!

And I am a Tennessee Volunteer fan at heart! Go Vols!

And while I acknowledge the tensions of history in regard to the American south and the heinousness of slavery I also affirm and acknowledge the many contributions of the south including those of the African American community.

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Last summer with the family as we vacationed in Tennessee

 

My grandmother on the far right and my great-grandmother to her right. Around 1915 or 1916

My grandmother on the far right and my great-grandmother (in the hat) to her right. Around 1915 or 1916

 

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My mother in the center with her oldest sister and younger brother on my grandfather’s lap. Taken around 1930

Daily Prompt: A Buddy Named Hanna

Today’s daily prompt is Buddy.

While I am grateful for many buddies, such as college roommates who I still have contact with nearly 40 years later, and I have professional colleagues who I chat with from time to time, and I have other male friends that I can and do “tell the truth to” about what is going on inside of me, my buddy is our cat, Hanna.

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It has been eight and a half years ago since my youngest, flush with birthday cash, had an epiphany as he and my wife left the elementary school where he went and she worked at and, for the umpteenth time, drove past the county animal shelter.

“Mom, what if Jonathon and I, paid for a cat’s adoption?’

Well, as I said then, and still do, “the three Kane men suddenly had more than mom’s four votes. ”

Two weeks into the new year, 2008, we brought Hanna home and she has ruled, er, been, with us ever since. I can still remember her coming to the front of her cage as if to say, “You’re mine!”

This is the second black cat we have had (our first was a stray and we had him for 16 years until we had to humanely put him down due to thyroid cancer) and she has been fun have as part of our family.

Please check you local animal shelter for a pet if you are looking for one as there are many good ones ready to be adopted.

Daily Prompt: Generations

Today’s Daily Post is Generations.

The first word that has came to mind is generative.

Generative means according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

having the power or function of generating, originating, producing, or reproducing

But I am thinking of it as used by the late developmental psychologist Erik Erikson in his classic stage called Generativity vs Stagnation the positive side of which results in care.

Now in my late 50’s, I am reflecting on my active parenting years which will soon come to an end with my youngest heading off to college in the fall. I am grateful that my two sons have launched and are launching into early adulthood well grounded.

But I want to continue to be a person of deep generativity and care for those younger and older around me and the pull of stagnation is strong at times with the temptation to despair and cynicism close by.

So I must draw on my faith and ask my God for help to be a person of faith, hope, and love. I must also stay connected to my wife and family, my faith community, and the network of friends, far and wide, to be productive and generous

My Review of Charles Rappleye’s Herbert Hoover in the White House

25814436Charles Rappleye’s new biography of Herbert Hoover gave me a new perspective of both the 31st President of the United States and the economic depression of the late 1920’s and 1930’s which paralyzed both the United States, Hoover himself, and his administration.

Herbert Hoover in the White House: The Ordeal of the Presidency (Simon and Schuster, 2016) is a telling tale of a man, highly regarded as a great humanitarian, who is unable to lead America out of the Great Depression for a variety of reasons.  It is also a deeply personal study (fair and honest) of a man who did not, it seems, have the “tools of leadership” to do the job which needed to be done.

Using diaries and memoirs of the Hoover cabinet and advisors as key sources,  Rappleye gets behind the stoic facade of Hoover and reveals a man who seethes with anger at his enemies,  like another Quaker President, Richard Nixon. But it also reveals a man who grew up in poverty and understood what the county was going through but was unable to show that compassion as President. I enjoyed this book for its detailed account of the Hoover administration personalities as well as it being a study of American economic history as Hoover and his administration dealt with an increasingly deep and complex economic Great Depression which seemed resistant to Hoover’s policies.

Herber Hoover in the White House is a revealing portrait of a man who was a great humanitarian and engineer but who failed as President for a variety of reasons: his personal make-up which made him ill-suited for the Presidency; his conservative political viewpoint that resisted federal intervention for as long as possible; the overwhelming power and demands of the Presidency that seemed to paralyze him and his work as president; and a significant discussion of  the complex economic issues and origins which lead to the Great Depression which have important lessons for today.

I enjoyed this biography for both a study of Hoover but also for its discussion into the complex factors which triggered the Great Depression  I gave Herbert Hoover in the White House a five-star rating on Goodreads.

Note: I received a galley copy of this book from the Publisher via Net Galley in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.

 

 

My Review of Linda Carlson The Language of Publishing

downloadThe Language of Publishing (IBPA, Independent Book Publishers Association, 2016) is a wonderful resource for those interesting in the publishing industry.  Arranged alphabetically, it is a quick reference guide to terms vital to those both publishing books and I think, to those who write them. I found it informative, helpful, and having been a college newspaper editor many years ago, a reminder of those days when typesetting was the norm.

I gave The Language of Publishing a four-star rating on Goodreads

Note: I received a galley copy of this book from the Publisher via NetGalley in exchange of a review. I was not required to write a positive review.