Aug 18

Essential Items for a New Preacher

by juliaf from

by juliaf from

I am thankful for young preachers going into the work.  I am particularly excited this year as there are a couple of my friends who are starting their freshman year studying to become preachers.  I am optimistic about their studies and the impact they will have for the Lord.  This got me to thinking about what a young preacher needs by way of material resources to do the work well.  My hope is that young men involved in preaching and preparing themselves to preach will be blessed by this list.  I also hope that older brethren who have some resources will be able to use this list to bless young preachers just starting out.

  1.  A Preaching Bible – I know you have Bibles.  But you need to get a good leather bound Bible that is comfortable to carry.  I have had a couple over the years.  My current one is an ESV leather-bound Bible which I love that my wife bought me for our 10th anniversary.
  2. A Navy Sport-coat – I know preachers dress more casually today than in the past, but you will still need to dress up sometimes.  Depending on the preferences of the church you preach for, you may be expected to wear a tie and coat each Sunday.  A navy sport-coat will go a long ways as it can be worn with different color pants and match an array of ties.
  3. A Black Suit – If you preach very long you will be asked to do weddings and funerals.  A black suit works great for both occasions.  I call mine my marry’em and bury’em suit!  It really is an important piece of clothing to have as a preacher.
  4. A Purchased Bible Program – I know there are tremendous free resources available online and through apps, but if you are going to be a preacher, I believe it is worth the investment in Bible software.  You can continue to add to this library of resources for the rest of your life.  You can take it with you wherever you go in a compact form.  The initial investment can be considerable, but it is a great blessing.  If you are taking Greek and Hebrew classes in school, I would recommend buying the Greek and Hebrew tools to aid you in these studies.  I use Accordance and like it very much.  Many of my friends prefer Logos.  Bibleworks, Olive Tree, and PC Study Bible are also options.  But I would recommend staying with Accordance or Logos.
  5. An iPad or Tablet – I made the switch to preaching from my iPad mini several years ago and love it.  It is so much easier than using paper notes and offers several advantages (I share how I do it this post).  The tablet should work well with the Bible study program and allow you to take a number of sermons, books, and other resources with you on the go!
  6. A Laptop – Many congregations will provide some type of computer for the preacher.  A computer is essential for the modern preacher.  You should save all of your sermons and Bible classes as your database will grow over the years and be a valuable tool for your work.  I have a Macbook Pro which the church provides that I use on a daily basis.

I am sure there are more items that a new preacher could use, but this list covers the basic essentials.  Obviously young preachers can be blessed with good books, commentaries, and other resources as well.

What else would you add to this list?  If I can help add any further clarifications let me know.

Permanent link to this article:

Aug 16

Being Like Judas

business piggy bank 3 by osito-plMost Christians would never think of being like Judas!  He was the wicked Apostle that betrayed Jesus.  He feigned friendship and love with a kiss, while secretly betraying our Lord.

Bible students have long struggled to explain how Judas could do such an act.  But the Holy Spirit is pretty clear in the reason Judas betrayed the Lord.  He was greedy!  He was bowing to the god of more!  He wanted more money and possessions.

Notice the Biblical description:.

  • He was a thief! (John 12:4-6)
  • He went to the Jewish leaders looking to negotiate an offer for betraying Jesus.  He settles on a sum of 30 pieces of silver (Mat. 26:14-18).
  • Peter describes him posthumously as receiving a field for the reward of his wickedness.  He is alluding to the money being used to purchase a field, a “field of blood” as Peter describes it, after he threw it back in the temple (Acts 1:16-20)

Judas was motivated by greed and hunger for more physical possessions.  He bowed at the altar of money (Mat. 6:24).

Many Christians must admit that they struggle with greed as well.  They spend their lives consumed with having more!  The church is neglected in their lives while they make this pursuit.  Families are put on the back burner as husbands and wives spend their days seeking more.  The self-storage business remains one of the fastest growing real estate industries.  We keep collecting more and more stuff!  Not that all of this is wrong, but it surely should caution us to check our hearts!

We would never betray Jesus by turning him over to be crucified!  But we fall to the same sin that prompted Judas to betray Jesus when we yield to greed.  We must fight greed through generosity, contentment, and maintaining a Biblical perspective on this world.   

– – – –

You can study all of the Apostles through my workbook “The Twelve” available on Amazon for $5.99.  

Permanent link to this article:

Aug 11

Honoring the Homeschool Mom

Mom Teaches Kids Math

              Mom Teaches Kids Math

She rises early in the morning just to have a few minutes to herself before her day begins.  She loves her job, but most days she wonders if she can do it.  She constantly is feeling like someone could do better.  She carries the weight of her children’s future success upon her shoulders.  She feels responsible for not only their character and kindness, but their math and science.  She is only a woman, but she feels like she must be a locomotive motor pulling, pushing, and sometimes huffing and puffing her children through the day.  She will hear her name at least 1,000 times today.  Her kids are so connected to her, that they often ask questions of dad through her while dad is there!  Her day will see laughter and tears; silly moments and serious stares; heartfelt hugs and quick swats.  She switches back and froth from being a mom to a teacher like Clark Kent to Superman. She struggles to know when to push and when to yield.  She must constantly motivate herself to teach another lesson.  She juggles teaching a high-school, middle-school, and elementary, all while still caring for a toddler!

The world doesn’t understand why she would do such a task.  Many assume it is because the family just wants an easy way out and likes to sleep past 8:00.  Some think they are just quirky and weird.  She often questions it herself, when she realizes all the time she would have if she wasn’t teaching.  Her reputation is pulled down by many who have given a bad image of homeschooling, but she churns on none-the-less trying to intentionally set her own expectations and patterns.

She struggles with getting school done with all of the extra activities she is involved in with the children.  From trips to the library to get books, to teaching and participating in a weekly COOP program, to monthly field trips with other families, and church activities in-between; she knows they all have value, but they wear her out!  She still has to do the laundry, cook the meals, and be a wife to a husband who only knows one thing for sure, he could never do what she does!

Yet, in this world she is seldom recognized.  There is no pay check at the end of the month, nor award at the end of the year.  Kids don’t appreciate the sacrifice of their mom until they are much older.  The father gets the pay and time out in the public, while the mom holds down the homeplace.  Yet, she continues to labor and serve.  The only explanation is love, convictions, and determination.  She doesn’t want to be arrogant, haughty, or prideful.  She isn’t condescending of others and their choices, she is just trying to do what fits her family best for the time.  Her goal is mature, healthy, adult children who love God with their whole heart and can be successful at whatever they try.  They are independent, self-starters, who know the value of family, hard-work, and have not been harmfully scared by the influences of the world.

It is the HOMESCHOOL MOM that I describe.  It is the description of my wife, whom I dearly love and appreciate that I honor.  I thank her and I honor all others.  May God bless their efforts and dedication as they find the motivation and determination to teach another year!

Permanent link to this article:

Aug 10

The Difference Jesus Makes in Your Marriage

The Difference Jesus Makes in Our Marriages  copy.001

The Difference Jesus Makes in Our Marriages  copy.002

The Difference Jesus Makes in Our Marriages  copy.003

The Difference Jesus Makes in Our Marriages  copy.004


The Difference Jesus Makes in Our Marriages  copy.005

The Difference Jesus Makes in Our Marriages  copy.006

The Difference Jesus Makes in Our Marriages  copy.007

The Difference Jesus Makes in Our Marriages  copy.008

The Difference Jesus Makes in Our Marriages  copy.009

The Difference Jesus Makes in Our Marriages  copy.010

The Difference Jesus Makes in Our Marriages  copy.011

The Difference Jesus Makes in Our Marriages  copy.012

These six characteristics were taken from the book pictured – The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages. You can also listen to this sermon in the Audio Resources page.

Permanent link to this article:

Aug 03

A Stop by Focus on the Family

Focus-on-the-FamilyOur our vacation we stopped by the campus of Focus on the Family (See this link about visiting their campus).  Focus on the Family is a ministry started by James Dobson dedicated to strengthening the family.  We have been blessed through the writings of Dr. Dobson.  He has written classics on parenting and disciplining children.  Their website is a great resource for families and church workers.  While I do not agree with some of the doctrinal position of Dr. Dobson or the organization Focus on the Family, I appreciate their work for families.  Also, it should be noted that Dr. Dobson is no longer with Focus having stepped aside in the last several years.  He has started a separate radio program.

We enjoyed our visit to Focus, which is located in Colorado Springs.  We did not realize the campus was so large.  It involved several large office buildings.  We only visited the welcome center and bookstore.  The welcome center told their story and had an entire downstairs play area for the kids.  The kids loved the experience and learned about their Adventures in Odyssey series for kids.

I found the historical display upstairs fascinating about Dr. Dobson.  Here are a few of the details that are inspirational and insightful.

Cool Story # 1


This plague told this story about how Focus got its start and his first book “Dare to Discipline.”.  After beginning with a successful career at University of Southern California, Dr. Dobson had a choice between career aspiration and starting a new ministry to families.  After two years of deliberation, Dr. Dobson took a one-year leave of absence to open a two-office suite in Arcadia, California.  A small sign was posted on the front door:  “Help for Families Here.”  That was the beginning of Focus which now employs over 800.

His book “Dare to Discipline” came off of the press in 1970.  They requested 250 copies.  They prayed over the books and then mailed them out to a group of select recipients.  That was the beginning of his first best seller!

Cool Story # 2

In 1978, Dr. Dobson was speaking all over the country on marriage and family topics.  It was beginning to take a toll on his own family. So he decided to stop speaking.  Word Publishing suggested filming his final speaking engagement.  This was done in San Antonio, Texas in September of 1978.  The film series became an overnight sensation.  As a result of Dr. Dobson’s choice to stay home with his family, his message reached a much larger audience than he ever could have reached in person–an estimated 70 million viewers.


Permanent link to this article:

Aug 02

It is Just a Little Creek!

We just returned from vacation in Colorado.  It was a wonderful time.  We visited the Rocky Mountain National Park on Friday, July 29th.  We were walking to this historic site when we crossed this creek.


This creek looks very ordinary and small.  You wouldn’t think much about it, except to observe its natural beauty as you crossed it.

Would you believe it if I told you this small creek is the beginnings of the great Colorado River?  Some 10 miles upstream in the mountains of the park this river finds its headwaters.  It is from this little stream, a little creek that looks very ordinary and inconsequential, that one of the most important rivers in the Southwestern United States originates.  It is 1,450 miles long and drains a watershed that encompasses seven U.S. and two Mexican states.  It is known for its dramatic canyons and whitewater rapids.  It is the river that has cut the Grand Canyon.  It is a vital source of water for agriculture and urban areas of the Southwest.  It furnishes irrigation and municipal water supply for 40 million people.  It is used to generate electricity and is a major source of recreation through its rapids, lakes, and fishing.  The recreation on the river provides jobs for 250,000 people and contributes $26 billion to the economy.¹

All from this little creek!

by Paul Hermans - 9-27-12, Creative commons - Wikipedia

by Paul Hermans – 9-27-12, Creative commons – Wikipedia

This encounter with the Colorado brings several thoughts to my mind about ministry and church work.

  • It is easy to underestimate the longterm significance of something at the start!  If I didn’t know the name of this little river, I would have estimated that this was just a small insignificant creek.  I would have thought it did very little besides provide some fishing recreation in the National Park.  This is how it is with church ministries as well.  When we are close to the start, we cannot properly estimate the greater significance they will have in the future.  Jack Zorn could not estimate the tremendous impact for thousands that his Lads to Leaders program would do when he started with a handful of boys in an Alabama church.
  • It often only takes a start and then lots of contributions along the way to make something succeed.  The river is successful because it grows!  It has seven large tributaries and many other streams and creeks that contribute to it.  It receives water from snow melt and rainfall that cause it to swell as it flows from this small creek south.  Church projects are successful because of the contributions and efforts of people along the way!  Good works grow and swell over time as other Christians come on board and contribute to the cause.  Our job as church leaders is to be visionary and start ministries trusting that others will come on board and contribute.  I think of our Youth Camps across the country as an example.  Someone had to start them, often with meager beginnings, but through the years the continuing efforts of many Christians have helped them grow and develop.
  • God is in the business of excelling our expectations and doing far more than we ever imagined he could when we step out in faith and start!  God created the Colorado River!  The famous miracle of Jesus multiplying the fish and loaves illustrates that little is much in the hands of Jesus.  The church itself is an example of God’s power to start something small and increase it to have world-wide influence and significance.  Kingdom business is about God multiplying and working his greater purposes through our meager efforts.

The Colorado River reminded me of these wonderful truths.  I returned from vacation inspired to dig back in my heels and get more works started for the Lord.  I want to start some new ministries over the next year.  I want to trust in the Lord to give the increase.  I want to not be discouraged when I see existing ministries struggling, knowing my vision is very limited!

Will you join me?

¹ – Wikipedia page on the Colorado River


Permanent link to this article:

Jul 07

Taking a Month Break!

I appreciate all of you who read and follow the blog.  Your willingness to read and words of encouragement mean very much to me.

I have a busy month ahead.  I have struggled lately with having something to write about and I need to use the time for some other projects, therefore, I don’t plan to post any over the next month.  I hope to start writing again in early August.  Hopefully, I will have some new post ideas and will have more time to write.


Permanent link to this article:

Jun 29

Farm Report # 8: Living at the Farm!

We moved to our new home on the farm in December.  Living at the farm has made it much easier to take care of the animals and land.


Though, we have been surprised with how much mud, dirt, and dust there is when living on the farm!  I haven’t given a farm report since October, so here are some of the highlights of things on the farm.

  1. We started our chicken flock.  The end of March we purchased 50 chicks.  30 meat chickens called Cornish Rocks and 20 various other breeds for egg laying.  We built them a coop in one of the horse stalls in the barn.  The meat birds eat like starving POWs and grew really fast.  We had a problem with some of them dying, but was never able to determine the cause.
  2. We have finally been able to harvest some animals and the reward is great!  We had two Berkshire hogs slaughtered.  They weighed about 350 and 400 lbs.  We have been very pleased with their meat.  I even cured and smoked some of the bacon from one of them.  The bacon turned out a bit salty, but is still very good.  The pork chops have been tender and the sausage great.  We had a Dexter steer slaughtered as well in early June.  We haven’t eaten much of his meat yet, but are excited to have it.  The cow was grass-fed solely and both the pigs and the cow were not given any shots or antibiotics.  So the meat is as natural as it comes.  We had 19 meat chickens make it to full size.  We processed them all ourselves.  It wasn’t too bad, just took some time and wasn’t the most pleasant experience ever!  But we have plenty of chicken in the freezer.  We should have three sheep that will be ready for processing in September to October range.


    Two of the chickens ready for the freezer.

  3. We had two calves born and lost one calf to still-birth.  We were blessed with two calves, both little girls born this spring.  We were disappointed that one of our cows, which gave us a calf last year, had a premature birth of a still-born calf.  So we will settle for two new calves this year instead of three as we had hoped.IMG_0957
  4. We milked a cow for over 2 months.  One of our biggest ventures on the farm was milking a cow.  We milked Pippin, our four year old Dexter cow.   She was the cow that had the still-born calf.  We had never milked a cow and she had never been milked, so it was new to us all.  We enjoyed the raw milk we got from her.  We made ice cream, kefir, butter, and used it for all other milk purposes.  Amanda, and a few of the kids, have dairy allergy problems.  They found they were able to use the raw milk without any of their typical symptoms. It was a real blessing for our family.  The challenge involved having to be tied down so much to do it daily.  Also here milk supply decreased to the point that the result did not justify the time.  We tried various things to increase her milk supply, but they didn’t seem to work, so we decided to stop when it got down to only 3-4 cups a milking.  Amanda and I did it together.  We found it was a blessing to get up and get our day started talking and working together.  Sometimes it was frustrating but most days it was an enjoyable shared experience.  We hope to do it again in the future with hopefully better results.

    Amanda was great at milking!! She could handle the poop, pee, flies, and tail swats.

    Amanda was great at milking!! She could handle the poop, pee, flies, and tail swats.

  5. We finally have a successful garden at the farm.  Our gardens at the farm have not gone well the last two years.  We didn’t live at the farm and the place we tried for the garden was very rocky, poor soil.  So this year we tried a different spot and we changed the primary gardener!  Amanda took over as the driving force behind the garden.  I was busy the first weekend of May leveling our yard and putting in drainage pipe when she planted the garden with some help from Ashley and the kids.  She has done a great job of keeping it clean, organically fertilized, and picked. We are getting lots of veggies off of it already and looking forward to much more.  We even canned our first few jars of pickles.  We have never canned before, but hope to preserve much of the veggies for later use.IMG_0895

    Our garden now!

    Our garden now!

This gives you a quick report on some of the things that have gone on at “Happy Home Farm.”


Permanent link to this article:

Jun 26

A Lesson from an Auschwitz Survivor Who Was Not One!

Did you hear about the 91 year old man who had claimed for years he was an Auschwitz death camp survivor?  He confessed he made the story up this week.  You can read the news article here.  Joseph Hirt had lectured school groups and told his story for years.  He even had a prisoner number tattooed on his arm.  He recently came public after a history teacher began to investigate his story.  While I feel the confession was good for him bringing a sense of relief and freedom, his motive for doing it is instructive for all of us.

In the article he says he was determined to tell the story of the survivors after visiting Auschwitz several years after WW2.  He said his goal was to “prevent the loss of truth.”  How ironic that truth was his motive!  He had good intentions.  He wanted the world to remember the tragedy and lessons from the Nazi crimes.  But he went overboard by creating a great presentation and appealing story to better share the truth. It was great, it just wasn’t true, and truth matters! 

But he crossed the line when he did so.  The end did not justify the means.  He was dishonest. He was lying, probably a thoroughly justified, rationalized lie in his mind, but a lie none-the-less.

Christians can learn from this story.  We want to share truth.  We are highly motivated to share the truth of Jesus and His word.  But we must not compromise truth in the process.  Missionaries that are zealous for the cross must not rationalize the misuse of funds just because they are doing good.  Preachers must not stretch or change the truth of God’s word, in order to grow the church.

Joesph Hirt harmed the power of his message and the work of his life, by compromising his integrity.  We must remember good intentions do not justify immoral conduct.  Doing good and making a difference in this world, does not justify dishonesty.  So many Christians have fallen to the same temptation.

“For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 2:17 ESV)

Permanent link to this article:

Jun 24

How We Can Save Marriage!

by hisks from

by hisks from

Here are some things we are doing in the church today to save marriage.

  • Marriage sermons
  • Marriage classes
  • Marriage seminars
  • Marriage counseling
  • Marriage mentoring
  • Marriage small-gropus
  • Pre-martial counseling
  • Marriage books
  • Marriage retreats

We have tremendous resources available now to save marriage and build families.  There are great books that you can find to teach you how to have a good marriage.  There are wonderful sermons and workshops you can attend and listen to that will equip you for having a good marriage.  There are trained Christian counselors who are able to save marriages when people listen to their advice.

But are any of these going to be our solution at turning back the marriage crisis we face in our country?  They are all a part of the solution.  I am thankful for each of them and participate in many of them.  But I believe the one primary way that we are going to change the future of marriage, and strengthen the American family, is by displaying Christ-like marriages to the world. 

Marriage is intended to be a lived out analogy of the love Christ has for the church and the church for Christ.  It is intended to be a witness and example to the world.  Every Christian couple, that loves each other sacrificially putting the other above themselves, is powerful weapon in the battle to save marriage.  The next generation is changed because they grow up in a home seeing a Christ-like marriage.  Friends of the couple are inspired to have a better marriage because they see a Christ-like marriage.  Worldly neighbors see their home and desire to have what they have in their marriage because they see a Christ-like marriage.

Sermons, books, and seminars are important, but the way we are going to save marriage and the American family is through Christian couples having a Christ-like marriage!

This is why each of us who are married must first examine our own marriage and the example we are giving to our children, fellow Christians, and the world.  You may be the only marriage book or sermon that your friends and kids ever truly listen to about marriage!  


Ephesians 5:22-33

Permanent link to this article:

Older posts «