One of my goals for the new year was to read 25 books in 2014. I am on track to do this and possibly go beyond my goal!
I have a bit of a rotation that I go through to keep my reading diverse. I usually read what I call a “heart book” that speaks to my heart and challenges me personally. Then I move on to a book under the leadership genre. After that, I grab a book that aims to grow my pastoral skills (counseling, preaching, theology). Then I like to read a dead guy (either a biography or a famous work). To top it off I read a light hearted book (usually before bed) which is either fiction or something entertaining.
So far this rotation works petty well. I typically have 3 or 4 books going at a time, I just shift my primary focus between my categories. There are times when a book might take precedence over another book and I have to press pause, but I usually come back to it within a month. Here are the books that I am currently reading:
+ Redemption by Mike Wilkerson
+ Sonship by World Harvest Mission
+ Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
+ Galatians for You by Tim Keller
+ Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Ministry by Eugene Peterson
+ Preaching in a Postmodern World (course syllabus & lectures) by Tim Keller and Ed Clowney
+ Center Church by Tim Keller
+ Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians by CK Barrett
+ Yes to the Mess by Frank Barrett
+ 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell
+ A Good Man is Hard to Find and other Short Stories by Flannery O’Conner
+ The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Do you know the meaning of productivity? In his book “What’s Best Next,” Matt Perman does a superb job of explaining how the gospel directly influences our productivity. Not only does he provide a solid biblical theology of productivity but he offers valuable insights and suggestions on how to live in a way that allows you to do more good for others.
Although this book isn’t considered a book about discipleship, I found it very valuable in my own discipleship and in the way that I disciple others. I highly recommend this read and can guarantee that you will learn something new.
This past week our new little family was able to take our first family vacation and it was quite enjoyable. I always get a little worried that I will turn sour when I go a long period of time without getting some “alone time” (introvert problems). Thankfully, this past week turned out to be very enjoyable and I even got some alone time.
Every summer my mom’s side of the family gets a few cabins at Platt River State Park and stay for an extended weekend. There are lots of things to do around the camp to stay busy and if you just want to lounge around and chat then you have almost 30 aunt/uncle/cousins to catch up with. From what I can remember we have been doing this for almost 10 years and I don’t think that we are going to stop doing it anytime soon.
After we spent a few days with my family we were able to stay with Becca’s parents for a few days as well. We didn’t really have anything on the agenda so it ended up being a pretty relaxing time as well. Becca and I were even able to leave Kuyper with Grandma and Grandpa Voss while we went to Des Moines for a little day trip. At the end of the day we met my little brother, Adam, at the Des Moines Airport as he had just come home from Vietnam after a 8 week mission trip. It was really great to see him and talk to him after having very little communication while he was away.
I really enjoyed my time in Des Moines and the more that I think about it the more I am drawn to the idea of planting a church there someday. We will see what neighborhood and when the Lord is going to call us to take the big first steps of planting a church. I would really appreciate some prayers for clarity on that topic.
All in all it was a great little vacation. We all had fun. Kuyper did great in the car. I finished two books and smoked a couple cigars. We swam. We saw some cool art. Saw our families. Slept in. Ate good food. Listened to some great podcasts. It was a time well spent.
However, as enjoyable as vacation was I am ready to get back to work. Around day 3 of the vacation I felt the Spirit reminding me of Jesus said in Mark chapter 2, ”The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” I realize it is slightly out of context from its original passage but this verse reminded that man was made to work and I am ready to get back to pushing my plow.
ND Wilson has quickly become my favorite author. After reading Death by Living in February (which has been my favorite book of the year thus far) I was eager to pick this book up and give it a read. I love the way he bounces from story to story, weaving together a collection of intriguing stories that increase your view of God’s grandeur.
This book was an excellent read. Not only is Hugh funny and easy to read but he has some very insightful things to say about living in a way that makes Jesus known. If anything, it showed me how bad I am at living incarnationally and has given me a desire to grow in this arena. The most exciting thing is that I don’t have to add anything new to my schedule, I just need to do the things that I am doing with intentionality and be loose with my plans to allow the Spirit to work in the way He does. I am looking forward to reading my highlights in the future.
I have been (slowly) reading through a great book that came out earlier in the year by Matt Perman titled “What’s Best Next.” In this book, Perman takes a gospel-centered approach to productivity and getting things done. As I am getting toward the end of the book there is a section about knowing your purpose and it ends by having you write down your core purpose, guiding principles, core beliefs and life goals. Although there is room for edits and additions as my life carries on I would like to share with you what I wrote down.
To continually and increasingly delight in the work of Jesus as it redeems and renews all areas of my life. I am to do this in a way that promotes the delight of Jesus in others.
I am not my own but am grafted into Christ by the power of God and for the purpose of God’s glory.
My life goal is to remain faithful to the Lord until my last breath which includes being a faithful and loving husband to Becca, an attentive and life-giving father to Kuyper (and the little ones to come) and to be a faithful steward who is diligent in the ministry of making the delights of Christ known.
I have been pretty absent on my blog over the last few months due to things getting busy. In April, Becca and I welcomed our first child into the world (that my my last real blog post). That was a monumental event that shifted everything in our life. We had family and friends staying with us over two weeks which put some pressure on my introverted tendencies, but it was great to have them around. Then a couple weeks later I had the busiest weeks of my work life preparing for and executing our Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday services.
Then in May we were super busy with life things. We celebrated Becca’s birthday in Ames and got to introduce Kuyper to the rest of his great grandparents. Then we celebrated my 26th birthday by signing up for healthcare (oh joy). Mid-month we traveled to Omaha where Becca (and about 20 others from our church) went for a Porterbrook Omaha Seminar Day. I preached the following Sunday. Then at the end of the month Becca and I celebrated two years of marriage.
God has been so gracious to us. Not only has two years flew by but it has been an exciting, joyful, adventurous, busy, love-filled two years. We have seen the gospel at work in one anther, especially since Kuyper is in the picture. Parenthood shakes up your neat little life and reveals how badly you need a Savior who offers peace, rest, comfort, strength and wisdom. There is not one other person in the world I would rather call my wife and baby momma than Becca. Life is so much sweeter and more precious with her as my best friend.
June has also been chaotic because I had the opportunity to preach two weeks back to back. It wouldn’t have been too bad if that were one of a few things on my schedule but in the month of June I have also started premarital counseling with a couple that I will marry in August, a men’s study that meets at 6am Tuesdays and Thursdays, been focusing on how to take our children’s ministry to the next level, leading a missional community, meetings upon meetings and trying to respond to the emails that come my way. It has been a very busy time but it has also brought forth some of the most fruit.
One of the things that I have been really excited about is our Authentic Manhood study that we have been doing. God has been incredibly gracious to Sacred City Church in bringing forth men who are willing and are being equipped to lead their families and in the church. There have been many mornings where I have been moved to tears to see the Lord building his church while using broken men. As we have shared a little bit of our stories I am so thankful that God is a Father to the fatherless and how he has given us Jesus; not only as an example of how to be a man, but to save us from where we fall short. God is doing some really cool stuff and I can’t wait to see what will come of this. Please be praying for the dudes to be refreshed in the gospel and also challenged to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have have been called.”
Another awesome thing that has happened is that our Worship Leader and good friend, Joel Bickford, came on staff full time as a worship intern. It is exciting to see God growing the church in a way where there is a need for more staff as well as the resources. Joel, like myself, is also funded by generous givers who have made a financial sacrifice to support him in his pursuit of ministry. Please pray for him as he gets settled in to his new role and that his supporters would remain faithful to their pledges as he follows God’s call into vocational ministry.
On a familial note, my youngest brother, Adam, is in Vietnam with three other college students on a (long) short term mission trip. They have been over there for about a month and will be back toward the end of July. They have been sharing Jesus with the locals by inviting them to come and improve their English speaking skills. They will talk about friendship or love (or something of the like) and then wrap up their conversation talking about how Jesus is the perfect friend or how the Father loves his children. Please be praying for him in that he would be safe, healthy and faithful to the work laid before him.
As for me my roles have been shifting a little bit as my internship is on it’s last few months. I have been able to hand off a lot of the creative stuff I was doing to Joel which allows me to focus more on our children’s ministry, formal discipleship training (more to come), pastoring & discipleship relationships, reading formative books (leadership, gospel centered, preaching, church planting) and my hope is that I will be able to spend some time honing my writing skills (makes me wish I would have tried to retain information from high school). I am excited for the shift because it means I can do less, better.
This internship has been incredibly valuable for many reasons. It has validated my call to ministry. Ever since my last few years of college I felt that I would be in vocational ministry, however I wasn’t sure what that would look like. Over the last year and a half I and the leaders around me have confirmed my pastoral giftings and now we are testing to see if I am a church planter. I (Becca is on board, too) have a dream of planting a church in the center of Des Moines sometime within the next 10 years. The rest of my internship will be spent determining if I am gifted for such a venture.
This time as an intern has also done a great job of revealing my strengths as well as my weaknesses. It shows me where I am gifted and how I can best serve the church and also where I need to work to be a young man of integrity.
There is some benefit to formal theological training, however I have found that this method of development has been tremendously beneficial. I am naturally an academic/head knowledge type of guy and seminar would cater to that well. However, I have found that what I need most is for my heart to be pushed into the gospel and you typically won’t get that in a typical seminary experience.
I have also had some awesome opportunities to network with other church leaders as well as attend some top tier conferences. I have been able to be under the teaching of some of the most gifted gospel-centered pastors of our day, which to me is priceless. I could keep rambling about all the great opportunities and experiences I have had but I will spare you.
I would appreciate some prayer over the next few months over a few specific things: