Monday, November 26, 2007

New Books!

I got some new books lately that I am excited to read. As I wrote in my last post my wife Debbie and I are co-pastoring a church in the Grand Canyon National Park. So far things have been going well. However, I admit I kinda went over academic in my masters program at aGts and did not take a "how to be a pastor" class per se. So I went ahead and ordered some books I thought would help me in this area.

The first is Pastoral Theology: Essentials of Ministry by Thomas C. Oden from Drew University. This book is written specifically for those studying for ordained ministry and or those in ministry needing some review of pastoral ministry. He breaks it down into five different sections: Becoming a Minister; The Pastoral Office; What Clergy Do and Why; Pastoral Counsel; and Crisis Ministry. So, it looks to give a fairly broad scope of Pastoral Theology and I am looking forward to getting into it. It is a bit dated (1983) but I had trouble finding anything else remotely related to it that had the same breadth of coverage.

The next book is: The Competent Pastor: Skills and Self Knowledge for Serving Well by Ronald D. Sisk out of NABS in South Dakota. This book takes a slightly different approach from Oden. Instead of giving a broad scope of what pastoral ministry is about, Sisk focuses on specific aspects of what it takes to gain competency in ministry. He wants the reader to gain some insight into how a competent minister functions. One key issue in the book is understanding how one's family of origin and one's role in the family effects one's role as a pastor. They can deal with anything from how one handles conflict, how one deals with the dynamics of family life, whether tends to take a back seat or disengages when trouble arises or if one tends to overfunction and try to do too much. Even family history and family health can effect one's ministry. Other issues Sisk helps the reader gain competency are in self motivation, time management, stress management, communication skills, spiritual development, and professional development. I think it is going to be an interesting and challenging read.

The next pastoral book is a biblical theology of pastoral traditions called: Shepherds after My own Heart: Pastoral Traditions and Leadership in the Bible by Timothy S. Laniak out of GCTS. This books is apart of the series called New Studies in Biblical Theology. I accidentally discovered this book at the Phoenix Seminary Library one day and after thumbing through it decided I wanted to get it. It basically traces the shepherding motif through the scriptures starting with Moses and David as the main proto-types. He then goes to Isaiah and moves on through the NT to show Jesus as the ultimate type and model as the ideal shepherd/pastor and the dynamics involved. He ends in the book of Revelation with Jesus as the slain lamb and ruling Shepherd. I am thinking it is going to be quite a good read.

One last book is called Cry of the Soul: How Our Emotions Reveal Our Deepest Questions About God by Dan B. Allender and Tremper Longman III. This book tackles the subject of emotions and how they give us a glimpse of the true nature of God (and ourselves). These guys start with the Psalms and explore what the Bible says about our darker emotions and how in an attempt to control them - far from an attempt to be Christlike - are really a form of rebellion against God or an attempt to flee from him. I am thinking this book will help the reader understand the role of emotions in the spiritual life and for Pastors in particular how to deal with them so they do not disrupt one's ministry or one's ability to be effective in ministry.

One last book! I like study of the Gospels so I couldn't resist getting Richard Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. This book pretty much puts the final nail in the coffin of supposed scholarly claims of the Gospels being compilations and collections of "anonymous communities" and not actual eyewitness accounts of Jesus of Nazareth (contra Luke 1). I have only read a few pages so far and can already hear the anonymous communities advocates scampering across the floor and ducking for cover as their paradigm comes crashing down. It should be a fun and interesting read!

Well, I better get reading!


Friday, November 09, 2007


Hey all,

I haven't blogged much in a while though I do read others. I wanted to update y'all on what we've been up to. Debbie and I now live in the Grand Canyon National Park and we are pastoring an A/G church here. We were installed Oct 7th so we just past one month as pastors - yes, we are co-pastors and if we get technical Debbie is the head pastor since she has full ordination and I am working on lisencing stuff. But since ae egalitarian in our ministry approach I am fine with what we are doing. we pretty much share our responsibilties so it is not a big deal to me.

So, we like it here in the canyon but I wonder if others do. Since we've been here we've seen much discouragement and frustration among the folks who live here. I am still trying to find out why. I t may have to do with the fact that there is not much to to here and it is and hour and a half to the nearest major city (Flagstaff) so it can be hard for some folks to be so far from a city.

If you are the praying type when you think of the Grand Canyon Assembly of God, pray against discouragement. pray that hearts will be lifted and that people will not be in denial of the God who created the canyon as so many seem to do. We are praying too for a revival as we know that there are Christians here who come to hide or as they put it, to get away for a while, but we know that without Christ people will not be able to move forward in their lives or be able to ovecome life's struggles.

It all started earlier this year when the church was open and pastoring was the last thing on our minds. Debbie's dad, who is a retired chaplain, wanted to take the church so he could do chaplaincy in the park - he had a vision beyond just establishing a church there but rather a park wide ministry. Well, things never worked out and someone else was put in as an interim. I think this turned out to be good though because we are now friends with the interim pastor and his wife - they are really great people. They have another ministry they do with native americans so they have needed to move on so as to not get burned out.

Well, the church opened up again and Debbie's dad started poking at us to think about taking it - we weren't sure. We had other plans and were just desperate to survive financially. However, we decided to pray about and the Lord started to form a vision in us to consider the idea of pastoring (I for one will be the first to tell you I am the last person who should be a pastor, and I know others who would agree...but seminary does weird things to people...and as the saying goes, the Lord works in mysterious ways...). Well we sat on it and continued to pray and struggle to survive.

Early in September we decided to go up to the canyon and sort of spy out the land and see if he Lord would put anything in our hearts. Well, we went there and the vision started coming together - we had all sorts of ideas come to mind and so we decided to meet with the district superintendent - we have a fairly solid relationship with him since he used to be the Pastor of Debbie's home church and he also performed our wedding ceremony. We talked and decided to explore the possibilities - however his biggest concern, and the are presbyter's as well, was the financial side of things because the church is very small (10-15 people + tourists) hardly enough to support a pastor(s). Since our pursuing this, people have come out of the wood work who want to support us. But there are jobs in the park we could get part-time. We appreciated his concern but it was becoming obvious the Lord was in this and things were coming together.

Basically the situation with the church is that the previous pastor left but had not sufficiently set up any leadership. So when he left, the church nearly collapsed. The interim has spent the last 8 months working to re-establish the church and going again. He needs to move on. This is where we come in. We are in a perfect position to be able to move up there and carry on the work but also begin to expand it - beyond just having church. The possibilities are limitless, really. Outreach to the some 3-5 million tourists who come through the park, many of whom are not Americans. Ministry to the seasonal workers, again, many of who, are not Americans, ministry to the locals and permanent folks, many of whom are native americans, ministry to children and youth, english classes for the internationals, the list goes on. It is a mission field in more ways than one. In addition, we are excited to be able to be co-pastors - it is what we wanted and fortunately the presbyter brought it up, so that really helped! We want to do ministry together and so the Lord has opened the door for that to happen!

This is exciting for us because we want to do missions work - to work cross-culturally. We would love to go overseas, but since we can't right now for financial reasons, we really believe the Lord is making a way for us to fulfill his purposes for us in ways we had not even dreamed of! This will be a very non-traditional setting for a pastoral ministry and for us - because we are not really your typical AG ministers so it is really a perfect fit. God is amazing is he not? And faithful!