I have slowed down the blogging this year, and significantly cut down on Twitter. Facebook is where I spend most of my social media time. That said, I thought it would be good for me to give a mid-year update here on my blog.
First, I am using a new Bible reading plan this year. It is a simple read through the Bible in one year schedule from Ligonier Ministries. This particular plan divides the Bible into six Old Testament and six New Testament readings per week (M-F and one Weekend reading assignment). I like how this approach gives you one day per week for catch up, because no matter how disciplined a person is, life has a way of causing you to miss a day here and there. The one weekend reading is a little longer than those during the weekdays, especially in the Old Testament.
Second, I wrote earlier this year about how 2016 was the first year in which I reached my goal of reading an average of one book per week. This year I’m a little behind schedule in accomplishing that, but I am not so far behind as to make the goal unreachable. The genre in which I have been reading the most is fiction, and more specifically, westerns. I have been reading an excellent series by Elmer Kelton on the Texas Rangers. His fictional stories are considered to be very accurate when it comes to the history of the western frontier.
One ministry book that I am currently reading that is outstanding is Daniel Henderson’s Old Paths, New Power. Henderson believes that more than anything, churches need to have pastors and leaders who spend much time in the Word and in prayer, based on Acts 6:4. I agree. The challenge is keeping this priority front and center.
Third, I have been doing more traveling than I have done in years. This April my mother was diagnosed with cancer for the third time in her life. I’m basically visiting her (both driving up and flying up) about once every four to six weeks. Add to that our summer vacation with my in-laws at the beach in South Carolina in June and this has turned into the summer of travel!
Returning from one of our visits to Nonna in May, we were able to take a little side trip to Stone Mountain where we made the 40 minute hike to the top. Above is a picture from the summit.
I was saddened this week to read about a young man getting killed in an accident at a coal mine in my home county back in southern Illinois. It brought back memories for me. When most people think about coal mines, they usually think about West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. I’ve learned that many people don’t realize that southern Illinois has one of the richest coal mining veins in the United States.
I can remember as a young boy going to spend the night at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house and Grandpa coming home from finishing the 2nd shift. He’d wake me up so I could join him for a midnight snack in the kitchen: Pringles and a bottle of cold Mountain Dew.
I also remember in grade school getting news of a classmate’s Dad being killed in the mine. One of my Dad’s best buddies had his face crushed in mine accident. Several surgeries were required to reconstruct his face. One of my best friends spent several weeks in a hospital recuperating after nearly dying in a coal mining accident.
I don’t recall when I first heard of Voddie Baucham but we did have the privilege of seeing him live at the Desiring God National Conference in Minneapolis back in 2006. During that same timeframe I called him and talked with him about twenty-five minutes. He was gracious and I recall our conversation went very well. What I cannot recall is why I called him in the first place!
I started reading his first book, The Ever-Loving Truth, but did not finish it, which is nothing new in my world. This book, Family-Driven Faith, which I purchased through the Amazon Kindle Store and read over three devices (my iPad, my iPhone, and my wife’s Kindle Fire), was more engaging to me because of my interest in the subject matter. Two areas of interest drove me to read this book: (1) how to do a better job as the spiritual leader of my home and (2) how to more effectively lead our church to equip parents in discipling their children. Family-Driven Faith is the only book I have ever read that that I can recall addresses these two issues, and Baucham does so boldly and directly.
One of my good longtime friends, Ben Phillips, is my guest for this post. He recently penned this excellent piece on modesty. Ben is currently serving as the Family Ministry Team Leader at the Arkansas Baptist Convention.
Modest Choices by Ben Phillips
Gaze at the TV, view a hit music video, examine a magazine, saunter through the mall, (dare I say enter a sanctuary?) and it’s easy to observe that modesty is not the fashion trend in today’s American culture. A 2007 report by the American Psychological Association on the sexualization of girls reveals the negative consequences of this pervasive societal drift.
As a father of a teenage daughter and two sons, I’ve wrestled with this issue from a biblical perspective. One writer quotes, “modesty is more about the heart than the hemline.” In order to apprehend modesty correctly, one must inform the heart with Scripture.