“2017 is now past. Learn from it, celebrate and honor it, but don’t focus on it. It is gone. Wholly embrace and boldly enter 2018 with expectations of new successes, greater personal growth, and special moments with family and friends that await you.” (Richard Blackaby)
The first Hoot’s Musing for 2018 started with this quote on January 4, with an entry entitled “2017 in the Rear View Mirror.” It was an entry about my desire to be a better disciple and preacher this year than last year. My goal is to continue to grow, and not become stagnant in my life of faith, and my life in ministry. This is the first report on how I am doing with the challenges that I presented to myself for 2018. You, the readers of Hoot’s Musings are my accountability group, and each month I will report to you how I am doing — and I want you to hold my feet to the fire.
My goal for 2018 is to read 78 books. Now there is nothing magic about reading a certain number of books, except that it will be a continual challenge to use my time more wisely. In the past I have used a lot of books in my study, but very seldom did I read that many books. For example, right now I am teaching a Sunday morning Bible class on Satan and His Dark Kingdom; and there are 15 books that I am reading in conjunction for that class. At the same time, I am preaching an expository series through the book of James, and there are 13 more books I am reading as a part of my preparation for that series of sermons. It is not my intention to count any of those books as a part of the 78, as I want those books to be just for the joy of reading.
There are three books that I am reading daily (or in one case, weekly) that I will put on this list. Each morning, I begin my day with some devotional reading from Psalms, and I am using two volumes to direct the thoughts of that reading: Psalms for Living: “Daily Prayers, Wisdom, and Guidance” (Mark Lanier), and Prayer, Praise and Promises: “A Daily Walk Through the Psalms” (Warren W. Wiersbe). Also, as a part of my desire to be a better preacher, I committed to read one book a month on preaching. The first book I chose to read was One Year to Better Preaching: “52 Exercises to Hone Your Skills“, and I would think that it would be obvious that is a book that you read one chapter weekly. So after one month, I am pleased with these books that will be a part of the whole year with me; and I am convinced that I will profit greatly from all of them.
To accomplish my goal of 78 books this year, I will need to average 6 1/2 books per month, and I am glad to report that I am a little ahead of schedule. In the month of January I read 6 books, and have two more that I am about two-thirds of the way through. The books that I have finished are:
- Book of Enoch: “All about the Three Books of Enoch” — Dr. A. Nyland
2. Captives of the Word — Louis and Bess Cochran
3. Praying for Sunday: “You, Your Pastor, and the Next Sermon” — by Dr. Michael Fabarez
4. The Last Lecture — Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow
5. Sermon Design and Delivery — Tom Holland
6. Alexander Campbell: “The Man and His Mission” — Leroy Garrett and Louis Cochran
The two books that I have not completed yet are:
7. Nial’s Crossing: “A Novel ( A Bill Maytubby and Hanna Bond Mystery) — Kris Lackey
8. The Blind Side — Michael Lewis
I will freely confess that three of those books are extremely short (less than 100 pages), but they were something that I wanted (and even, needed) to read. The real challenge will be ahead, as I continue to attempt to do this on a regular basis. I really believe that I will profit because of this effort, and ask for your encouragement in the process.
The sermons on James are really good for me, and I hope that they are blessing others. It is my prayer, that if the publisher finds them to be what he wants — that they will bless others for years to come. I hope to have them finished by the end of April, and that I will be able to turn them over to him by then. Writing a manuscript for a sermon has been really difficult for me, as I have never done that. BUT, I believe that in developing the discipline to do that, will enhance my communication skills as a preacher.
I posted 10 times on this site during the month of January, and I would like to get that up to about 12 to 15. In the last month I used two articles from another author (Bill Sherrill), three were from 2016 Facebook devotionals about Psalms, and five were new material from me (including one book review). That ratio of articles may continue in the future, and hopefully it will be a blessing to you (the readers) and helpful to me.
I have often said, I am not a pastor and don’t want to be called a pastor. I am a preacher, that ministers at a local congregation; under the leadership of men called elders (shepherds, or overseers). They should be responsible for more of the pastoring in this local church than I am. But as a local minister, I am expected by God, and the people of this church, to be involved with, care about, and love the members of the Prairie Grove church. I will never be as good as I should be, or even as good as I want to be. I must constantly remind my, provoking to love and good words, to be more involved in a pastoral ministry with the church I serve. Please pray that my efforts will be successful in this particular area.
HEALTH AND FITNESS
This is an area that I have added as a challenge for 2018. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, know that I had gastric bypass surgery on May 30, 2017. It has been really successful for me, but, in a way, it has created some other problems. I have lost some much weight, so rapidly; that I have lost a lot of muscle in the process. On top of losing muscle, I have never been one to exercise — regularly, or even sporadically. The last half of 2017, I really did well of walking on a regular basis (walked 230 miles in 77 days of walking). But the walking dried up the last 2 – 2 1/2 months of the year; as the weather got colder, and the days shorter. My weight has been pretty static since about the 15th of October, only losing about 16 1/2 pounds. Right after Christmas, I knew that I had to do something. I thought about buying a couple of pieces of exercise equipment, but that just did not seem logical to the wife (or me), because I had no history of persistence in exercising. So at the age of 67, I bought my first gym membership; and decided that I would work out on a regular basis for the first time in my life. It was my goal to average going to the gym 4 to 5 times a week. Monday – Wednesday – Friday, I would do lifting exercises to build some core strength back; and then on Tuesday – Thursday – Saturday, I would do a cardio workout. Since January 2, the day I bought my membership, I have had 30 opportunities to work out, minus the 4 Sundays, as I had other obligations and responsibilities on that day. In those 26 days, I have managed to go to the gym and exercise 19 days (73%). I feel really good about that, and want to continue doing at least that well. In my opinion, being in better condition physically, will be a part of improving as a preacher.
Weight – March 15, 2017 — 324 pounds
Weight – February 1, 2018 — 216 pounds
Richard Blackaby also said, and I quoted in the first entry of the year, “Warning! If you don’t make any adjustments to your attitude, skills, or habits in 2017; you are destined to be exactly the same person with the same results in 2018! Aim for more!” That is my goal for the year 2018! Pray for my efforts, in all the areas of endeavor! Peace.