Monthly Archives: June 2015

Be a coach, not a boss

“Great leadership is coaching, not bossing. It’s mentoring, not managing. It’s serving, not being served. It’s casting vision for what people can be, not limiting people to definitions of what they were or how they’ve fallen short. Leadership must make reality known and then help people face it. Yet how that’s done is a matter of huge variation in both style and impact.

Some people can deliver truth, but do so with no love or grace or respect—with little to no sense of affirmation and encouragement for growth and progress. Many people can give kindness, grace, and affirmation, but they can’t present the truth. Great leadership—true leadership—does both. The best coaches and leaders, the best teachers and mentors, the best bosses, politicians, rabbis, priests, and pastors, the best friends, the best parents, the best spouses … they share the precious balance of truth and love, of reality and encouragement.”

Jeff Kemp, in Facing the Blitz: Three Strategies for Turning Trials into Triumphs

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 30, 2015 in Books, Leadership, Quotes


David’s Mighty Men brought to life

Day of WarWhat would it have been like to be part of King David’s army? What kind of men were Benaiah, who killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day, and Eleazar, Shammah, and Josheb, the three greatest warriors of David’s men? Author Cliff Graham has brought these characters to life in his “Lion of War” series. I just finished reading Day of War, book one in the series, which my wife gave me as a Father’s Day gift.

When reading of their exploits in Scripture (2 Samuel 23 and 1 Chronicles 11), these men seem like outlandish heroes. Graham portrays them as real people with strengths, weaknesses, doubts, failures, and temptations. The author brings a degree of reality to these men and what warfare must have been like in 998 B.C. Graham offers a unique perspective as he serves as an officer in the United States Army National Guard, currently serving in the Chaplain Corps.

Book one, Day of War, portrays the events of 1 Samuel 27-31, from David’s defection to Achish in Philistia to the defeat of the Amalekites who attacked David’s stronghold at Ziklag and to the death of Saul and Jonathan on Mount Gilboa. The story is unique because it is told from the perspective of lesser known characters. David, Saul, and Jonathan certainly make an appearance. But the main characters in this novel are Benaiah and Gareb, Jonathan’s armor bearer.

It should be noted that the novel (and I’m assuming the series as well) is not for the faint of heart. In his “Note to the Reader,” the author states,

This book is extremely violent. However, it’s no more violent than Scripture itself—just more violent than many previous novels based on Scripture. It also contains mature themes of sexual temptation and lust that demand that readers be mature enough to understand them. Please exercise caution and discretion when passing this book to more sensitive readers.

David’s war years were both the best and worst of his life. The Lion of War Series, by painting a picture of David and his men at that time, is an attempt to help us understand these men in their proper context as products of a barbaric and troubled era. In what ways, for instance, might the trauma of those war years have contributed to the destructive decisions David made later in life? In modern times, we label the problems warriors face after battle Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Regardless of the name, it is clear that warriors are affected for the rest of their lives by the hellish nature of battlefields, David was no exception.

One element I appreciated in the book was how the author expressed David’s dependence on God during battle. David and his men refer to the “covering.” They ask, “Cover me in the day of war.” When one warrior asks David to explain, he says,

That night was the first time I understood the covering. The covering is the fire. It is the strength, courage, and power Yahweh equips us with. It girds a man’s loins when he needs it and lets a man know that Yahweh forgives him when he fails. It snaps our legs when we need it. It speaks Yahweh’s wise counsel, like the woman in Gath that we saw that night. It comes only from Yahweh, who alone is the shepherd that we need.

Later, the same warrior asks David,

But why the day of war: why do we only ask for it then? Why not when a man is in his field plowing? Why not when he is with his family, or when he has left them and wants them to be safe and protected? Why not every day?

Every day is the day of war.

I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading the rest of the series.

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 29, 2015 in Books, Scripture


Restoring the soul

During our time in Yosemite National Park, we experienced the truth of Psalm 23:1-3a

PowerPoint Presentation

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 28, 2015 in California, Photos, Scripture, Yosemite


Blessing the community through service

This morning, a handful of folks from First Central Baptist Church gathered at the River Mills Senior Center in Chicopee to pull weeds, clean out planters and help beautify the landscape. We even protected the nest of a sandpiper. The folks from our church have helped on previous occasions with city service projects, and the mayor called on us to help one more time. Some city workers and people paying fines to traffic court joined our team for the morning. Mayor Richard J. Kos stopped by to express his appreciation. Since the verse on the back of our shirts is Mark 10:45, we were happy to be of service.


My God, My Rock

While gazing at the sunset on Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, I was reminded of Psalm 18.

Psalm 18-2

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 27, 2015 in California, Photos, Sunset, Yosemite


California sunset

While in Cerritos, CA, at Carol’s parents’ home, we saw an incredible sunset on Monday evening. It was quite spectacular and beautiful.

DSC_0001 DSC_0005

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 26, 2015 in California, Photos, Sunset


State of Marriage

Considering the cover story of Vanity Fair is the story of Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner’s transgender change, and considering Entertainment Weekly recently published an issue devoted to LGBT in media, it should come as no surprise the US Supreme Court ruled today that same-sex marriage is now legal.

It should also come as no surprise that the court’s ruling was a split vote, a 5-4 majority. Like our nation, the Supreme Court is not unanimous in its opinion.

While the highest court in the land has ruled that same-sex marriage is now legal, the highest judge in the universe still maintains the definition established at the beginning of time.

Genesis 2:24 – Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Matthew 19:4–5 – He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?

Ephesians 5:31–32 – “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

At my daughter’s wedding last week, I spoke about the importance of defining a marriage by what Scripture says.

What is a husband? What is a wife? What is your respective role and responsibility in marriage? How do you carry out that role? How do you fulfill that responsibility?

There are a variety of resources you can turn to in order to find an answer. You can turn to culture. How does the world, the media, society define the role of husband and wife?

You can turn to other Christians. What do your friends, your parents, bestselling Christian authors say about marriage?

You can examine your capabilities, your skills, your gifts, and your abilities. Based on what you discover, you can define how you will relate to one another.

Or you can turn to the commandments of Scripture. What does the Bible say about the role and responsibility of a husband and a wife? Now it shouldn’t surprise you that as your dad and as a pastor, that’s the one I recommend.

Rather than asking what the Supreme Court, the White House, or Entertainment Weekly says about marriage, we need to ask, “What does the Bible say about marriage?”

Regardless of what is determined to be legal or illegal, popular or unpopular, I know that I will one day stand before a much higher judge. He will ask whether or not I obeyed his commandments in Scripture. Though it is clearly counter-cultural, I choose to follow God’s instructions.

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 26, 2015 in Marriage, News stories, Scripture


Stewardship vs. Generosity

I am currently preaching through the Gospel of Mark. In the fall, we will come to the story of the widow’s offering (Mark 12:41-44). I planned to use the passage as the beginning of a five-week series on stewardship.

Like most churches, First Central Baptist Church tends not to talk about money at all, unless we are running behind in budget, and then we only remind people of the need to give. And like most churches, we tend to run behind in budget.

While on vacation, I started reading Leadership Axioms by Bill Hybels. In one article, he made a passing comment about teaching a series on generosity. It started me thinking about the contrast between stewardship and generosity. I put together the following chart of my initial thoughts to compare and contrast the two. I’m sure I will add to it and change it as time goes on.





God has entrusted us with his possessions

God has blessed us so that we can bless others


1 Corinthians 4:2

2 Corinthians 8:2



Channels of blessing

Attitude Duty





There’s only so much to go around; once it’s gone, it’s gone

There’s plenty to go around;

if we are generous, God will bless us with even more


Fear of punishment

Desire for praise




How can I manage what God has given me?

How can I express my thanks to God by blessing other people?

How can I make it last as long as possible?

How can I make it go as far as possible?

How much do I HAVE to give?

How much CAN I give?

How much can I keep for myself?

How much can I give away?


Parable of the Talents

(Matthew 25:14-30)

  • Master entrusted servants with his property; each according to ability
  • They were to use the master’s resources for his benefit
  • The master would hold them accountable for what they did
  • 2 servants invested everything and received praise
  • 1 servant protected the resources out of fear and lost everything
  • Stewardship is measured not by results, but by whether or not you are faithful with what you have been given

Widow’s offering

(Mark 12:41-44)

  • Most people give a portion from their abundance
  • Widow gave everything out of her poverty
  • Generosity is determined not by the amount, but by how much you give when you have little or nothing

Bottom line

Scripture teaches both stewardship and generosity.

We should manage God’s resources in order to bless others through generosity

At this point, my feeling is that we have overemphasized the responsibility of stewardship and underemphasized the privilege of giving. (I know that I have.) We have bought into a scarcity mentality rather than an abundance mentality. As I look towards the series in the fall, rather than teach principles of stewardship, what I want to promote is an attitude and lifestyle of generosity. So I will be retitling the fall series.


Disneyland – Day Two

Before returning home to MA, Carol and I spent a second day at Disneyland. This was more of a decompression, people-watching day than one to conquer to rides. We rode a few rides in the morning, saw the movie Inside Out in the afternoon, had dinner with our son, Jonathan, and then returned to the park to see “World of Color–Celebrate” which is a combination of water fountains, colored lights, and projected images onto the water screens. It was an enjoyable day.

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 25, 2015 in Disneyland, Family & Friends, Photos


More wedding photos

A few more wedding photos, courtesy of Naomi Musgrave, and others who posted them on Facebook.

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 25, 2015 in Family & Friends, Photos, Weddings