Friday, February 23, 2018

Hobbies & Interests

I've been incredibly busy w/ various projects (recording & otherwise) so since I have a backlog of blogs I thought I'd share one about my favorite hobbies & interests. I'll be honest, I'm not that great an athlete. Growing up, my interests were always more on the academic/artistic side & my hobbies involved as little physical effort as possible: chess, cards, billiards, music… but in high school I did manage to participate in track: mainly the 50 yard dash & pole vaulting; that was then, this is now. 

Note: all images may be subject to their respective copyright owners

Trac Ball



Whamo's best product! The poor man's lacrosse... 'played it as a kid & still play it now: at the park, at the beach, anywhere & everywhere! This game is so fun & usually draws a pretty good crowd; it takes about 3 – 4 minutes to get the hang of catching & throwing but after that, pure enjoyment.

Badminton



As a kid, I always considered this a sissy girls game but as I grew older I really started to enjoy it & now I play it quite often w/ my folks or nieces/nephews. It's also a great church activity: a friendly game of Men's Group vs the Women's Group is always fun to watch & brings everyone together.

Tennis



I'm not a fan of high-cardio sports; I tried raquetball once & almost went into cardiac arrest but tennis is different, especially when playing doubles, it's what I call cardio-leisure. It can get intense but the way I play it's a casual pastime... 

Bocce



I've only recently (in the last couple of years) started playing this 2,000 year old game but I really like it as it's very challenging & can be played on grass, in sand, on clay, etc. Bocce courts & clubs are springing up all over the US in both large & small communities & I can see why.  

Croquet



This is a game my entire family likes, even my 79 year old dad (who's not too active) comes alive when I set this up for him & my mom 'cause he's really good at it! No family reunion is complete w/o a round or two of Croquet. 

Golf



I know some people hate it but there's something about golf: it's fun, relaxing & therapeutic. I never take score & never take myself seriously. Nine holes is more than enough for me, I get tired around the 6th or 7th hole... 

Cycling



This is the only cardio workout I like on a consistent basis. I have two 10-speed bikes: a road bike & an off-road bike & every Spring/Summer I'm on a pre-dawn/dawn ride at least three days a week; it's a great time to take in the scenery, pray, etc.

Kayaking/Canoeing 



I've canoed before but never kayaked, despite that I'm saving up to buy a kayak; one of the most relaxing things to me has always been hopping into a canoe & taking a leisurely 20 mile jaunt on the river or coastline...

Skin Diving/Snorkeling



If there's a deserted part of a beach you'll probably find me there w/ some fins & a snorkel. The thing about snorkeling is you swim along the surface for miles or dive a little deeper & explore; the solitude is indescribable….

Rock Climbing



Whether it's a canyon wall or a rock face, I love rock climbing, it's a great challenge; especially the way I do it: freestyle = no ropes for me, just a pair of gloves & a good pair of shoes & I'm off!  If I fall & die then I guess I'll see most of you in Heaven :)

Muay Thai/Kickboxing



My childhood was filled w/ Bruce Lee movies so I always wanted to learn a martial art (minus the eastern philosophies of course). I took a little Karate when I was young… then switched to Aikido... then switched to Muay Thai & Kickboxing. I'm always learning but I can take care of myself if I have to.

Kendo



I've always been drawn to the weapon arts & once a week (or so) I'll pull out my training weapons: bokken, kali sticks, nunchakus, bo staff & stretch, keep myself limber, etc...  The shinai is the bamboo sword of kendo & I love pulling it out & giving myself a fairly intense workout.


Chess



I really love chess but after several years of playing & studying it, I became seriously bored.  My uncles were avid players & they came up w/ their own version which intrigued me so I invented three versions myself which I now play exclusively. 

Backgammon



I never did “get” this game until I finally tried it online, man is it fun! When I have a few extra minutes I'll hop online & play a game or two. Somewhere I read where this game is around 5,000 years old...

Billiards/Bumper Pool



Billiards has always been a great pastime for me: Straight Pool, 9-Ball, 7-Ball… however I do also love Bumper Pool, it's a fun game, very strategic & incredibly relaxing. 

Michigan Rummy



Many a Saturday night in my youth was spent playing this game w/ my brothers & now that their kids are grown they can't seem to live without all of us getting together & playing it at least once a month.

7 Card Stud



7 Card Stud was THE card game for years & years & it's still my favorite though it's hard to find other people who play it or have even heard of it! 

Air Shooting



When I was a kid, shooting air rifles was a part of boys growing up. Now, I've shot .22 rifles & .22 pistols & I can handle a gun but there's something about air shooting & w/ technology now there are air guns for every occasion: varmints, plinking, marksman, Olympic shooting, etc.  

So, those are my hobbies & interests! 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Personal Log 2.8.2018

So I was reading the blog of a lady in my Christian Bloggers Circle on Google+; she's from Finland where she lives w/ her husband/family & as always, I'm curious to know how other Christians view things, not only here in America but around the world. Her most recent post was titled “Seek God and His Presence” & in this blog she quoted 1 Chronicles 16:11 AMP

“Seek the Lord and His strength; 
Seek His face continually [longing to be in His presence]”

It caught my interest because I had recently blogged on entering & exiting God's presence: how there's verses for entering but none for exiting therefore it's implied we're to enter (per se) & remain in God's presence, taking it w/ us & being aware of it everywhere we go…

I'm a grace person, I like to think & operate from a new covenant standpoint rather than an old covenant standpoint so my mind is constantly being renewed to new covenant position, thinking, prayers, lifestyle, etc… the more I meditated on her blog & on this verse in particular the more I wanted to respond but the Lord checked me on it & I felt impressed to research it, so here's the verse broken down in Hebrew (emphasis in bold are mine):

Seek | h1875 | darash
the Lord | 3068 | Yehovah
and His strength | h5797 | oz
seek | h1245 | baqash
His face | h6440 | paniym
continually | h8548 | tamiyd 

Darash = 
  • to resort to, seek, seek w/ care, enquire, require
  • to frequent (a place), (tread a place)
  • to consult, enquire of, seek = of God
  • to seek deity in prayer & worship
  • to investigate
  • to practice, study, follow, seek w/ application
  • to be sought [out]


Yehovah =
  • “the existing One”


Oz = 
  • might, strength (also translated boldness)
  • material or physical
  • personal or social or political


Baqash =
  • to seek, require, exact, request, ask
  • to seek to find
  • to seek to secure
  • to seek the face
  • to desire, demand
  • to be sought


Paniym =
  • face
  • presence
  • in the presence of
  • from the presence of


Tamiyd =
  • continuity
  • perpetuity
  • to stretch
  • continually, continuously


I'm always intrigued when I break down a Scripture & find two different Hebrew or Greek words for the same English word (in this case "seek"), so breaking down the entire verse the gist of it is this (brackets are mine for flow of thought):

Frequent the existing One
 for strength & boldness [in/for] personal, social & political [situations/influence], 
desire His face, [operate] in & from His presence continuously.

Wow!

I had wanted to respond to this blogger to impart my knowledge of this in relation to grace but I'm actually really glad the Lord checked me on my motive because instead of trying to teach her something I learned something instead.

I'm not going to add anything more, 'just going to let you dwell on this verse & let God reveal some things to you...

    

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Personal Log 2.6.2018



Unless you're blind, you've probably noticed there's been this dedicated indoctrination of the ideology of relevant truth along w/ the idea of "safe spaces". In other words, if anything makes you feel uncomfortable, inconveniences you or challenges your thinking and/or [your version of] truth, it's wrong & not to be tolerated.

I know of no where in the US Constitution where it guarantees a citizen personal comfort & safe spaces; if it's in there I can't find it...  

The concept seems to be contrary to Scripture too as the Bible commands us in 2 Timothy 2:3 to "endure hardness as a good soldier...". The word(s) for "endure hardness" is kakopatheĊ = to suffer (endure) evils (hardships, troubles), to be afflicted.

Kinda flies in the face of the current culture, huh?

The only way that muscles grow is through resistance. You cannot sit on the couch or at your desk all day & expect your muscles to grow, your body to get toned, your cardio to get fine-tuned, etc. It's through effort, discipline & resistance. You cannot expect to develop character if there are no challenges to it just as you cannot expect your faith to grow if everything is peachy. 

Life happens. 
Things happen. 
People do & say things that 
may hurt or offend you. 
Not everyone is on the 
same page or even the same book.

In my life I've:  
  • had my faith challenged in many different areas…
  • been hurt, healed, hurt & healed time & again…
  • been insulted, disrespected, rejected, ostracized, threatened, harassed, beat up…
  • had to walk by faith in many areas, oftentimes having to choose between gas or groceries…
  • been cold & been hungry...
  • been persecuted & ridiculed for my faith... 
  • been called everything but a white boy...    

If I had not lived the life I did & experienced what I went through, where would my faith be? What level would my faith in God be? How far & how deep would I know & trust Him? 

It's hard to be a crockpot in a microwave society: some things take time, some things are hard, not everything is a quick fix like removing irritations or offenses. 

There are no safe spaces in the real world.

Freedom, healing, spiritual growth & character development comes through the process of conflict, confrontation, affliction & suffering, not through safe spaces.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Personal Log 2.5.2018

Sometimes you just have to take a step back & look at things anew; see what the Lord wants… & sometimes there's a different or better way of doing things that were once a given or even a sacred cow (for lack of a better term).

You see this in: 
  • the Us Stock Market in 2018: the way investing was done thirty years ago is not the way investing is done now, it's a completely different paradigm 
  • The US Presidential Election in 2016 & politics in general from that point on: what worked in regards to campaigning & political rule before is not working now
  • the way businesses were run & operated in the 20th Century is vastly different than they are in 21st Century: brick & mortar buildings taking a back seat to online shopping 
  • the way social norms have morphed: in the 1950's the hub of social interaction was the local drug store & barbershop, in the 1980's the local Mall was were the bulk of social interaction took place, in 2018 it's 90%+ social media
  • the independent musician industry: thirty years ago you needed to tour constantly & get signed by a record label to have any kind of success; in 2018 all you need is Youtube or Google+ Hangouts & an iTunes account & you can become an Internet sensation & make something of a living
  • even in the local Church, many fellowships are discovering that the template/format for service and/or prayer that has “worked” for decades is not working now… 


I read a book a few years ago by grace teacher Andrew Wommack called “A Better Way To Pray” & he said this; “If you aren’t getting the results you know the Lord wants you to have, maybe it’s time to consider a better way to pray. I’m not saying that anyone who doesn’t pray as I do is “of the devil.” I wasn’t “of the devil” in the way I used to pray. I loved God with all my heart, and the Lord loved me. But the results weren’t there.”

About 15 years ago, when the Prayer of Jabez was the flavor of the year month, our prayer team was instructed by leadership to pray the Prayer of Jabez whenever we got together & that always bothered my spirit because in I Chronicles 4:10 Jabez was pleading for God's blessing “oh Lord, that you would bless me indeed”  when in Ephesians 1:3 we're told that we [as Believers] are “blessed with every spiritual blessing”; something wasn't jiving. So, I began really looking at the way I was taught to pray & how old-covenant prayers aren't for new-covenant people. The Lord began opening my eyes to the gospel of grace & all that entails.

Instead of: 
  • pleading for God's blessing, I thanked Him for already blessing me w/ every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3)
  • asking for God's anointing, I thanked Him that I was already anointed w/ the same anointing as Jesus (I John 2:27)
  • asking God to be w/ me or go w/ me I thanked Him that He's always w/ me (Matthew 28:20)
  • praying for victory I began praying from a position of victory (Colossians 2:15, Romans 8:37)


Things began to change, I started seeing more results not only in my prayer life but also in my daily life, interactions & decisions: the way I do ministry... the way I invest my time & money… the way I interact w/ people.

Now, I'm not slamming those who haven't changed their investment/management/ministry methods or prayers; if it's working it's working, if it's not it's not but the Lord may have something different in mind that may bring some different results...



Friday, January 12, 2018

Personal Log 1.13.18

“The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; 
but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, 
as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, 
in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” 
― Henry Ward Beecher



I've been thinking about my Grandma Cooper lately… this May she'll have been gone 3 years & I really, really miss her; she & I were very close. I used to drive up to South Haven to pick her up & bring her back to my folks house for a few days during the Summer & repeat that during the Holidays. During those long drives we'd have the best talks & I wouldn't trade one second of those conversations for anything this world could offer.

My grandma was a very thankful woman but I didn't realize just how thankful she was until I picked her up on the Thanksgiving before her death. I noticed the following words/phrases that weekend:
  • thank you for picking me up
  • thank you for opening the door for me
  • thank you for driving safely
  • thank you for walking me to the door
  • thank you for filling my glass
  • thank you for getting my sweater
  • thank you for checking on me
  • thank you for making a fire in the fireplace
  • thank you for tending the fire
  • thank you for driving me back
  • thank you for taking me grocery shopping 
  • thank you for reaching that on the top shelf
  • thank you for putting my groceries away
  • thank you for fixing my clock, etc

I finally asked her why she was so thankful all the time:

“I've had a good life, God has blessed me. 
I've done a lot of things on my own but when you get to be my age 
& can't do what you used to, you realize you took those things for granted 
& you become thankful for even the simple acts that people do for you.”

She taught me a great lesson that week, one that I've tried to actively & consistently incorporate into my own life, so now, pretty much every day in my prayer life I'm like:
  • thank You for a good night's sleep
  • thank You for a place to lay head
  • thank You for another day
  • thank You for protecting me
  • thank You that I walked away from an accident
  • thank You I wasn't seriously hurt
  • thank You for the healing process
  • thank You for the family I have here now 
  • for those who've passed on thank You for the time I had w/ them
  • thank You that I have all my limbs
  • thank You for America (as flawed as it is right now)
  • thank You for Your love/grace/mercy

& then really, truly thanking people:
  • thank for pastoring
  • thank you for leading worship
  • thank you for teaching the kids
  • thank you for helping
  • thank you for doing this
  • thank you for heading this up
  • thank you for caring/calling/texting
  • thank you for checking on that for me
  • thank you for inviting me over
  • thank you for meeting w/ me
  • thank you for serving (military, police officers, teachers, church workers, waiters/waitresses, etc)

There are so many things & so many people to be thankful for; never take anything nor anyone for granted, a thankful life is the best kind of life…

Colossians 4:2 
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful”









 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Personal Log 1.10.2018

I try not to make New Years resolutions; of course there's goals that I set & try to meet but resolutions? Nah… too many times I've said, “This year I'm going to do this… & that..  & all these things…” & too many times I've fallen short on every single one.

One of my favorite verses concerning goals & aspirations is 1 Kings 20:11 AMP, “… a man who puts on [his armor to go to battle] should not boast like the man who takes it off [after the battle has been won].”

Here it is in the GNT: “Tell King Benhadad that a real soldier does his bragging after a battle, not before it.”

James 4:13-16 AMP has something to say about plans & schemes too: “Come now [and pay attention to this], you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and carry on our business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen in your life tomorrow. [What is secure in your life?] You are merely a vapor [like a puff of smoke or a wisp of steam from a cooking pot] that is visible for a little while and then vanishes [into thin air]. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and we will do this or that.” But as it is, you boast [vainly] in your pretension and arrogance. All such boasting is evil.”

These verses have a tendency to ground me, bring me back to earth so to speak. I'm all for goals, I'm all for having a vision & working toward it but I've learned to be very flexible on how & when those things come about; especially if the vision & goals involve other people.



One of my goals for 2018 is to be more sociable. By nature, I'm an introvert, I'm a very quiet individual & I have no problems being by myself for long periods of time. I think if I had lived 200 years ago I would have been a mountain man or a hermit…  but one of the reasons the Lord brought me back to my fellowship was for me to be more sociable, to connect w/ people where they're at & w/ their interests. I'm trying to make a concerted effort to engage more in both social media & real life fellowship. 

So many times people have a tendency to sequester themselves in their own little bubbles, I don't want to be that way. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Ideas For Church Growth

The local & global Church is a living organism, however as long as I've been alive it's been treated as an organization & as a former pastor's kid I can attest to this. I've seen the ins & outs & the working mechanisms of “Church” as an organization (salaries, utilities, etc) so I'm going to be a realist & approach this topic as such. 

Over the last few years I've been intensely researching Church growth & what's worked/hasn't worked for fellowships all over the country.

Here's a few ideas that have worked:

Add Another Service

This is the number one thing that has worked; people generally like options: if an ice cream store only served vanilla it probably wouldn't last…  because of our 24/7 lifestyle/work shifts people not only like but need options. 

For some, a Wednesday night service/Bible Study more suits their community, for others an additional Sunday morning service works but for the ones who saw the most growth in sustained attendance it was adding a hour long Saturday evening service.   

If you're going to consider this option then it has to be something different. I know of a fellowship who tried a Saturday evening service but it was the same format as their Sunday morning service: same songs, same sermon & it was a dud; no one wanted the same thing but leadership didn't listen; live & [hopefully] learn...

For a Saturday evening service to work, it must be different:
  • try a seeker sensitive approach = up songs & up message
  • try a soaking/acoustic worship/corporate prayer approach

There's a fellowship in my area that has a successful Saturday evening service; I personally like it, it's nice… & it's not only the senior pastor who takes it, sometimes it's the associate or youth pastor or an elder/board member.  I like the option of a Saturday evening service, who doesn't? 

In the Spring/Summer, I have a lot of family functions: reunions, dinners, various activities... so I may occasionally miss my Sunday morning service & this is where a Saturday evening service is convenient.  

Community/Interest-Based Events

Despite the name, Small Groups are huge; they really are. 

I read of one fellowship in Texas who bought the woods behind their church building & converted those woods into a disc golf course! They got w/ their township & co-designed it, then built it. It was a huge success. People would come on Sunday mornings for service & play afterwards (they eventually created a special early service to accommodate all the new members who played disc golf). The course is open to the public weekdays/weekends, it's a very popular course & their sustained attendance grew by 40-50% annually. 

I read of another fellowship who had a large number of golfers; it was a major ministry outlet for them. They'd meet on Mondays at the course, pray/minister then play. It got so big they added a Sunday morning golf ministry. Some people balked at this, “On a Sunday morning? Are you serious?” Well, because leadership didn't make a big issue out of it or pressure people about attendance, people started coming to their services. 

Note: I can't remember but I think this fellowship also added a Saturday evening service to minister to the ministers who headed up the golf ministry on Sunday mornings & to the golfers.  

One last example: Saddleback Church has a badminton ministry; so every Wednesday morning & evening, people from all over the community would gather for prayer, ministry & badminton. They'd open the gym about 11 & then again at 7. Rain or shine, Summer or Winter, this is ongoing.

Things like these are great, if your fellowship owns land then consider using it to engage w/ your community:

  • create a bocce court
  • create a croquet course
  • create a putting range
  • create a coffeehouse/open mic setting

Find out what your community lacks, what your community is interested in & fulfill that need. Start w/ once a month events designed around these interests & invite the community to be a part of it. Promote it in the newspapers, on your social media accounts, take videos of these events, put them on your church website so people see you're human & like to have fun.

Preach Jesus

Of course preach/teach whatever the Lord lays on your heart to preach/teach but Jesus fascinates most people; they were drawn to Him when He was ministering on Earth & they're drawn to Him now. I read of where this one one pastor felt led to just preach Jesus for one year = His character, His Person, etc & word soon got out & again, his fellowship exploded in attendance, so much so that he extended his teaching another year & they had to add onto the building & add staff to accommodate all the people coming just to learn about Jesus.

These examples worked for these fellowships; they may or may not work for yours, each fellowship & each community is different; only God knows what will cause growth but these  are some examples of how different fellowships thought outside the box & it worked for them...