Band of Brothers

Today is the last full day of this unique retreat for pastors on the beautiful Gordon-Conwell Seminary campus.  Over the past nine days we have dived deeply into God’s Word in the original languages as we  have interacted with our teacher over an important and contentious theological issue of our day.

Dr. Scott Hafemann is a gracious man who has a very unique gift of being a pastor to other pastors.  He is not only passionate about Christ and His glory, but he also possesses a keen intellect and a good sense of humor.  He also oozes humility.

We have shared our stories together and prayed for one another.  We have worshiped together and laughed heartily together.  But most importantly of all we have become a band of brothers in Christ united by our common calling to be pastors.

What a diverse group of 15 men we are!  We come from Florida,  South Dakota, Iowa, California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maine,  two men from Canada, and one  from Singapore. And tomorrow (Thursday) we shall begin to make our way home to our respective outposts.

Mike

Nothing like fresh lobsta in Boston

It’s Sunday evening as I write this entry and I am still salivating over the excellent lobster I had for lunch today at a  friend’s  home out here in the Boston area.  There was a group of us who ate much at the Little’s home today.  The hospitality was outstanding.  Thanks Elizabeth and Julia!

This area is, of course, chock full of history because this area is where the West first came ashore.  In fact the first wagon train that headed west left from within 100 yards of the First Congregational Church in Hamilton, of which my friend is the Senior Pastor. click here to see the history of this church.

After drinking deeply from the wells of rejuvenation in heart, mind, and physical exercise these past five days it was nice to have some time to relax today and allow the mind and body to get ready to go again tomorrow morning.  This is a great experience that will come to an end on Thursday concluding with breakfast.

As I walk around the Gordon Conwell Seminary campus (I power walk for at least 45 minutes/ night out here…in addition to doing 75-100 push-ups) I can’t help but notice all the cars that line the parking lots here with out-of-state license plates.

So far I have seen the following states represented:  Maine, New York, Indiana, Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Oregon, Mississippi, Ohio, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Florida, Oklahoma, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Washington, Texas, and New Jersey.  That’s just 20 states but each one of these plates represents a story.  Somehow each of these family’s lives have come to intersect with this place in this time.

Makes for a good trip down memory lane as someone could have well been walking through the Bethel Seminary parking lot in 1988-1992 making a similar observation by looking at license plates….when Karla was at the U. of Minnesota going to grad school and I was the one in seminary.  We too have a story to tell…one that keeps getting more interesting with each passing year.

But for today the story is about a lobster that is no more.

Filled and satisfied,

Mike

Bring the Books! One large helping of “dead men’s brains” please.

The following quotation is an excerpt from a sermon preached by Charles Spurgeon on November 29, 1863 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.  The sermon was based on the text from II Timothy 4:13.

“When you (Timothy)  come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.”

“II. We will LOOK AT HIS BOOKS. We do not know what the books were about, and we can only form some guess as to what the parchments were. Paul had a few books which were left, perhaps wrapped up in the cloak, and Timothy was to be careful to bring them. Even an apostle must read. Some of our very ultra Calvinistic brethren think that a minister who reads books and studies his sermon must be a very deplorable specimen of a preacher. A man who comes up into the pulpit, professes to take his text on the spot, and talks any quantity of nonsense, is the idol of many. If he will speak without premeditation, or pretend to do so, and never produce what they call a dish of dead men’s brains—oh! that is the preacher. How rebuked are they by the apostle! He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a men to utter, yet he wants books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books! The apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every preacher, “Give thyself unto reading.” The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own. Brethren, what is true of ministers is true of all our people. You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritanic writers, and expositions of the Bible. We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure, is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master’s service. Paul cries, “Bring the books”—join in the cry.

He says, “Especially the parchments.” I think the books were Latin and Greek works, but that the parchments were Oriental; and possibly they were the parchments of Holy Scripture; or as likely, they were his own parchments, on which were written the originals of his letters which stand in our Bible as the Epistles to the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Colossians, and so on. Now, it must be “Especially the parchments” with all our reading; let it be especially the Bible. Do you attach no weight to this advice? This advice is more needed in England now than almost at any other time, for the number of persons who read the Bible, I believe, is becoming smaller every day. Persons read the views of their denominations as set forth in the periodicals; they read the views of their leader as set forth in his sermons or his works, but the Book, the good old Book, the divine fountain-head from which all revelation wells up—this is too often left. You may go to human puddles, until you forsake the clear crystal stream which flows from the throne of God. Read the books, by all manner of means, but especially the parchments. Search human literature, if you will, but especially stand fast by that Book which is infallible, the revelation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

If you would like to read the sermon in its entirety cut and paste the following link      http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0542.htm

Mike

Looking Forward to Another Spurgeon Sabbatical

If you have been a long time follower of this blog you probably already know that the past year-and-a-half has been an adventure of a lifetime for the Evans family.  Thankfully, the excitement has been steadily decreasing  over the past year much like a straight line graph..not to be confused with wind. 

Or perhaps a better analogy might be a calm day fishing at the pond chewing on a cat-o-nine-tails with a cool summer breeze blowing on my face versus facing an F5 tornado head on.

Also, you may recall that last year about this time I received a call from a study program in Boston, Ma, and Gordon Conwell Seminary.   The program is called the Spurgeon Sabbatical and includes 10 days of intense study, fellowship, worship, playing, laughing, and eating, with 12-13 other men all to the glory of God! 

Last year as you may or may not remember I received a last minute call just days before the Spurgeon Sabbatical was to begin.  A space had opened up for me at the last minute (I had been first on the waiting list).  Last year at this time I was still doing physical, occupational, and speech therapy.  This year I am primed to go and am excited to be much nearer to the top of my game than I was a year ago! 

If you would like to see what I posted last year regarding this smiling Providence of God you can click here

From the website I have cut and pasted in the purpose of the Spurgeon Sabbatical:

“The purpose of the Spurgeon Sabbatical for Pastors is to offer renewal for those who are called to carry the ‘weight of souls.’ The conviction that drives the Spurgeon Sabbatical is that the best way to gain new perspectives and power for the pastoral ministry is through serious study of the Scriptures within a community context of worship, prayer, discussion and fellowship.”

I leave on Monday June 21st and return home on July 1st. 

Thanks Karla for letting me go once again!  And of all places to Boston, the one place in the continental U.S. to which you have always dreamed of going.  Oh yea, and thanks again for letting me go to Romania last month for 10 days as well!

Filled with anticipation once again,

Mike

A Neat Story of Beauty from Ashes

I read with great  interest in last Friday’s (June 4, 2010) Des Moines Register of the parallel lives of a 15 year old girl named Lisa Darling from Humboldt (Iowa) and a 39 year old woman from Woodward by the name of April Gross.

Little did either of them know that though they would never meet their lives would intersect at a critical juncture where the death of one would mean life for the other…a sort of vicarious atonement if you will.

Continue reading A Neat Story of Beauty from Ashes