Yes, you read the title correctly! This post marks a milestone.
What you reading on your screen is the 200th installment of the weekly blog post (bulletin insert for church) that I call the Word from the Pastor (or what Pastor Joe affectionately calls “That Extra Bulletin Insert Which Costs Us Precious Time and Money to Print Each Week Which Nobody Actually Reads.” Just kidding, Joe. Although, I do know for a fact that he rarely reads my article. *sniff*sniff* [Insert “The Sound of My Feelings Being Hurt” here.] Haha!)
It was on December 13, 2006, my second Sunday as the pastor, that we printed the first ever Word. I wrote that first article as…
…a one-time welcome for that morning’s Christmas program. At the time, I had no plans of making it a weekly insert. In fact, my initial thought was to occasionally include articles as the need arose. Well, guess what happened? That very next week, a need arose. And, said need has continued to arise just about every week since then.
A few things have changed about the Word from the Pastor since that very first insert. For instance, the layout has changed (from one-sided to two-sided). In addition, the design has changed (from “sorta cool looking” to “even cooler looking but not as cool looking as it could be”). And, occasionally, the color scheme changes (from boring black and white to less boring color.) The weekly Word has also become my blog entry online for those that prefer reading digital words to printed ones.
In the end, however, my goal for the Word from the Pastor has not changed. Each week I want to further shepherd you towards Christ-likeness by addressing current events as well as other significant topics from a biblical worldview. Through it, I hope to raise our church’s level of biblical literacy, educate us about church history and generate a degree of like-mindedness. Please understand, the Word is not simply a pastoral Op-Ed piece. In short, my goal is to show you some small portion of our world from God’s perspective.
For those wondering, most articles that I write require about 4 hours of my week. (If I weren’t such a stickler about grammar and cohesive arguments, I could probably do it in about 30 minutes.) Typically, I stay two weeks ahead in writing my articles (that is, unless there’s a breaking news story that I decide to address.)
I try to start the article on Monday or Tuesday and work on it a little each day. I usually finish by Thursday. Depending on the font size that I use, the articles are typically about 1,000 words in length. After my kilo of words are finished, I have two wonderful proofreaders, namely my wife and Shelley (the church secretary) who read an advanced copy of it every single week. (They do a great job!)
Someone once asked me, “Where do you get your article ideas from?” I get them from anywhere and everywhere. They may come from a book I’m reading, a news story in the headlines, my daily devotions or even a conversation that I had. On my computer desktop, I keep a yellow, digital Post-It note that I jot ideas on from time to time. Some make it, and some don’t.
Of the articles that have failed to make the cut, there have been some interesting ones. (Up front, let me warn the naïve reader among us that the following paragraph is satire.)
For instance, I scratched the idea of writing on, “2009 Reasons Why I Believe Jesus Is Probably Not Returning in 2009.” I have included pictures of my kids, but I have yet to include pictures of “The Oil Stain in My Driveway that Looks Like the Virgin Mary.” I have not written about my “Prediction of Oscar Winners,” “Super Bowl Picks That Are So Reliable You Can Bet On Them,” or how to “Win Against Your Kids at Checkers Every Time.” I’ve thought a few times about sharing my “Recipe for Awesome Banana Bread”, but haven’t printed that just yet (it is delicious by the way.)
All of these ideas, and many others, have fallen short of my purpose for the Word from the Pastor. My goal is to think well about the world and the Bible on paper for our church’s sake. (If banana bread does somehow become a topic that intersects with an issue of spiritual interest, trust me, I will find a way to share it.)
As I reflect upon the previous 199 articles that I have written, I can’t help but mention a few blessings along the way.
1. The previous 199 Words from the Pastor have helped me become a better writer and thinker.
(Ironically, when I first typed that previous sentence I accidentally misspelled the word “writer” as “writter.” Apparently, that was my hubris typing.)
These benefits have been among the best but least expected aspects of doing the Word from the Pastor. I love reading and writing. The Word has become a personal outlet for both.
This weekly article has helped me figure out how to present an issue, explain it, address it biblically, illustrate it and conclude my thoughts, all in a very limited amount of space. I believe it has made me a better thinker and, ultimately, a better preacher.
2. The previous 199 Words from the Pastor have helped me appreciate the sovereign work of the Spirit.
Over the past four years, I have had countless conversations, after Sunday worship, when someone has said something like, “You know that article you had in the bulletin today? We were JUST talking about that at dinner last night. It was so helpful to see how the Bible relates to all of this.”
How did I know what they were discussing around the dinner table? I didn’t. But God did. He sovereignly directs my hectic week, scattered thoughts, and feeble fingers to work together for His honor. Soli Deo Gloria!
3. The previous 199 Words from the Pastor have helped me appreciate the never-ending applicability of Scripture to real life.
Over the past few years, I have written about some rather unusual topics. (This is not satire.) In case you missed them, I have written about theology and snow, meterology, and psychology. I’ve discussed the Bible and Ebay, Mickey Mouse, Sigmund Freud, and video games. I even wrote a biblical perspective on Michael Vick’s dog-abuse scandal. Seeing, each week, how contemporary life can be interpreted by biblical truth is yet one more reminder that “all Scripture is given by inspiration…and is profitable.”
As much as I have enjoyed the first 200 articles, I am looking forward even more to the next 200. Stay tuned.