Coach or Cheerleader?

Coach or cheerleader

It was a beautiful fall day. One of those days when you wished that it was twenty-five years earlier and you were the one suiting up for a thrilling soccer match. There is something about the cool, crisp air in the fall that just beckons any true soccer player to the pitch. Although I was not the one playing, I was equally excited to see my three boys playing on that fine afternoon.

As the game progressed, I stood on the sideline and listened to the coach. To be honest, I couldn’t tell if I was listening to a cheerleader or a coach. To be fair, he was trying to inspire nearly every player that got close to the ball. However, looking at the level of play on the team, it was apparent that there had been more inspiration dispensed than instruction over the course of the year to that point. Continuing to watch their level of play, I was convinced that there had been much more cheerleading than coaching. Certainly a coach should inspire his players. There are times when he needs to encourage them to play above their level. However, the primary responsibility of a coach is to instruct, to teach, to train.

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Books I Read in 2014

Stack of booksCharles William Eliot said, “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” Ah! Such wisdom in this quote.

Personally, this year of 2014 has been a new high for me when it comes to the reading of books. Not only have I read more than at any time of my life, the books I read were quite rewarding in a variety of ways. The longer I live, the more I believe that reading can shape a life unlike nearly anything else. Although I am one who enjoys a good movie, in my opinion, a good book will trump a good movie every time. It does concern me that more & more men that I meet read so little. It is through a Book that God communicated His truth to us. Often, no desire to read will lead to a struggle for a Christian to read the Word of God.

My wife and I constantly encourage and direct our children to learn to love reading. We do this in a multitude of ways: taking them to the library (we encourage them to find at least one book to check out every visit we make), purchasing good books for them as gifts throughout the year, raving about certain books my wife & I have read, and in general, making much of reading.

Like last year, I used Evernote to track/compile this list. In addition, I am constantly revising my current list of “books to read.” For something that I believe this important, why wouldn’t I want to be organized? One more note – two items that I read on a regular/constant basis are the Bible (daily) and WORLD magazine (a Christian biweekly news magazine). Enjoy the list and may 2015 be a rich year when it comes to reading for you!

Books That I Read in 2014

Top Five (in order)
1. The Rest of God, Mark Buchanan
2. Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, John Maxwell
3. Autopsy of a Deceased Church, Thom Rainer
4. The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller
5. Out of Commission, Paul Chappell
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Book Review: Preaching That Pleases God by Tom Farrell

preachingI started reading this book the third week of September 2014 – the same week I attended a “Preach the Word” conference in Baltimore, Maryland. That conference, along with this book, has really challenged me concerning the preaching of the Word of God!

Outstanding, solid read! If I was teaching a college-level class on the subject of preaching, this would definitely make the list of textbooks for the students to read, study, and dissect.

It does not take long for one to realize that the author has done his homework concerning this book. Of course, his preaching ministry over the past thirty years only adds to his vast knowledge and wisdom concerning this topic. I love the humility of this author as he teaches all of the facets of preaching.

The material is very applicable but I also find it quite inspiring. Going back through the book, I found I had underlined over one-hundred sixty sentences, thoughts, or illustrations. The book has four parts:

1. The Commission for Preaching
2. The Comprehension of Preaching
3. The Construction of Preaching
4. The Communication of Preaching
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In the Grand Scheme of Things

TrainLast month, I set out for work on what I thought would be a typical Monday morning commute – long, but necessary. After 45-50 minutes of driving, I parked my car and made my way onto the loading platform at the train station. It seemed that the trains were delayed (not unusual during this railway construction phase here in Philly) but I didn’t think anything of it. Boarded the train and away we went. The train stopped after only a few minutes. A voice crackled over the intercom, “There will be a twenty-minute delay due to a medical emergency.” After a low murmur arose from the train’s irritated commuters, we all sat and waited.

After what seemed longer than the promised twenty-minute delay, the train started moving in the right direction. It’s about time, I thought to myself. After pulling in to the next stop, we were all met with unpleasant news. Due to the nature of the medical emergency ahead of us, they were shutting down the westbound track that crossed over the river into Philly. We were advised to get on a train heading eastbound. Eastbound? That is not in the direction of my destination. That is the opposite direction of the work, people, and meetings that were waiting for me.

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Book Review: Autopsy of a Deceased Church by Thom Rainer

autopsyAbsolutely loved the start to this book…what a powerful word picture the author uses to describe what the reader comes to know as a dying church!

You say, “Why in the world would I want to read about dying churches?” This book is not so much about dying churches, but observations from the “autopsies” of fourteen churches who had died. Rainer describes the thought of an autopsy as disconcerting and one that no one enjoys. However, in his introduction, he makes a very poignant statement. “The trauma of observing an autopsy is only beneficial if it is received as a warning to the living.” He then goes on to state that this book is not about dwelling on the past, but bearing fruit in the future.

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Book Review: Everyone Communicates, Few Connect by John Maxwell

MaxwellIt has been quite a few years since I have read anything by John Maxwell. This book, given to me by a friend in the ministry, tops my book list thus far for 2014. Absolutely loved the humility by Maxwell throughout the book along with all of the quotes, illustrations, and proven principles of connecting with people around you. In matter of fact, I underlined or highlighted 101 different quotes, lines, or illustrations in the book.

This book was extremely helpful to me as a public speaker. However, Maxwell deliberately states that this will not only help the public communicator but anyone who deals with people on a regular basis. He also reiterates throughout the book that anyone can learn to connect with people…that it is NOT a natural born trait. He uses himself as an example who did very poorly in connecting with others as a young pastor for the first few years.

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Book Review: Out of Commission by Paul Chappell

CommissionHaving read quite a few of Paul Chappell’s book, I believe this has been one of his finest. Some of his books are a bit dry, but I found this one to be a compelling, balanced approach to the subject of the Great Commission.

It is often that you find two camps pitted at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the Great Commission. There are many churches who teach and preach and practice soul winning, soul winning, soul winning but do a poor job of discipleship (which is just as much a part of the Great Commission). At the other end are churches who are excellent at the discipleship piece of the Great Commission but are not reaching anyone with their evangelistic or soul winning efforts because they basically are not pursuing souls. This book is call for a balanced approach.

Chappell has done a superb job writing a Biblically sound book filled with philosophy and practicality concerning the Great Commission. And from what I can tell, he and his church successfully practice what he teaches in the book. It is no wonder that his church is a very solid, growing (quite young still), balanced work.

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