Stephen F. Olford – Preaching the Word of God

20 Jan

My precious and beautiful spouse, Sylvia, found a 55-page booklet, PREACHING THE WORD OF GOD published in 1984 and began teaching me about preaching! I love her expository devotions she shares with me. However, my preaching opportunities seem to be mostly past these days.

Nonetheless, Reverend Olford–who has now gone to his eternal home–would be considered among the prince of expository preachers.  Sylvia than read a portion of  Dr. Ray C. Stedman’s foreword to Olford’s booklet:

“Men and women everywhere are impressed with power. We stand in awe before flashing computers, giant generators, whirling turbines. But the greatest power ever known is the spoken Word of God. It has  called worlds into being, toppled empires, healed and comforted the sick, shaken the proud, and resurrected the dead. Yet in far too many pulpits that powerful Word lies unopened, unspoken and therefore un- comprehended. The hungry sheep look up and are not fed.

This is the tragedy of a church where the preaching is not expository in nature.”

Then she when on in her picturesque way and visualized the crowds coming to our churches on Sunday mornings: singles, couples and families–parents carrying infants and leading children who are hopping and skipping at their sides. Talking, laughing and smiling. Their upturned faces filled with wonderment!

Sometimes they are fed spiritual truth when they come and sometimes they are not. What makes the difference?

I grew up in a church that had the pulpit front and center–to make sure the “Preached Word” was always front and center–they nailed the pulpit down! So the pulpit area could not be turned into a drama center.

In seminary I was taught the whys of expository preaching. This included teaching us how to stay with a portion of scripture or a book of the two testaments. Leading speaker, Dee Bresston said at a ladies seminar which my wife attended: “that a congregation that has a topical diet, will experience malnutrition.”

The pinnacle of our 7-day week is the sermon. Perhaps that why an old saint, Andrew Blackwood said, “A minister ought to be chained to his desk to study and prepare for

his sermon 20 hours a week! I know from experience how life gets in the way of life!

I was called upon to lead all the prayers at community events. etc. We have families to raise and are called upon those who lie on beds of affliction. There are emergencies, the dead to bury and the engaged to marry. You get the picture.

Recently, the Lititz Grace Church installed my good friend, Pastor Ivanildo Trindade as their Lead Pastor. As the elders laid the commission upon my brother, I gasped and said to myself, “Oh, that commission is impossible!”

Still the pastor’s top task is to preach the Word of God. 2 Timothy 4:1-5 is the commission that Paul gave to Timothy. At our house before I knew it, my wife and my children were giving me sermon titles, illustrations and portions of scriptures–topics if you will. They all knew the importance of Dad preaching the Word of God every week. 

This topic of preaching is so important that library shelves are lined with books on the subject of preaching. So let me encourage you to pray for your pastor. Support him in everyway that you can. Love him. Honor him. Invite him to your home.

 

 

 

Digging Spiritual Wells

16 Jan

   Today someone said to me In a phone conversation: “You deserve to be honored because in your lifetime you have dug a “spiritual well.” I had never heard that comment before. Last Sunday I was honored for my role in pastoral care at Lancaster Evangelical Free Church, Lititz, Pennsylvania. In the process they were saying things like: “We need to honor saints who go before us.”

   Now just exactly does that mean? A saint who goes before? Does it mean older folks who have passed on while younger people are still living? Or, does it mean older, faithful Christians who are still living?”

   But, here I am still very much alive at seventy-six (although I suffer extreme residual pain, 24/7, from a thalamic stroke syndrome I suffered 8-years ago tomorrow, January 16th.) I have retired several times in my lifetime. Nonetheless, as I tried to leave the service and walked with my cain to meet a driver on the curb, I was intercepted and given a beautiful handcrafted wooden clock.

   When God calls me home the scriptures promise that I will hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

   Have I “digged” a spiritual well? It is humbling to hear such words. It no doubt harkens back to Genesis 26 where Isaac’s servants dug wells that neighboring shepherds kept stealing. Our enemy, however, still tries to steal our souls. I have been blessed, indeed, to introduce  many individuals, congregations and tabernacles filled with people, to Jesus Christ the living water, .

   Have I “digged” a spiritual well? Perhaps–I have tried. I firmly believe that there is nothing that a person can do of more eternal value than to help another person spiritually on the road from earth to glory.

   Question. Have you, my friend, prayed to receive Christ as your Saviour? Or are you still stalling? The death angel may have you on his schedule and plans to wing his way to your house tomorrow!

   From experience I know when the death angel comes, you will not hear the rustle of angel wings, but you will know he is in the room! 

   “YEA THOUGH I WALK THROUGH THE THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH, I WILL FEAR NO EVIL. THY ROD AND THY STAFF THEY COMFORT ME…. PSALM 23

Eaves dropping musings

13 Jan

Ivanildo Trindade wrote a blog on eaves dropping under the heading of his Book of Lamentations. It was an excellent story of eaves dropping in Starbucks.

This stimulated my own life pilgrimage in eaves dropping. For starters, many moons ago I remember discussing this subject: “Is reading a newspaper story from a newspaper that you did not purchase stealing? That is often done by folks in a store that sells papers and magazines? His answer was “NO!” His arguement was this: Editors are marketing for profit printed stories and information that they received free–eaves dropping.

Journelists actually make a living at this career. Folks still do this in Barnes and Nobles.

I’ve always been amazed at how CEO,s and business types sit in coffee houses and other public forums and discuss what seems to be private information. They seem to go into an oblivious private bubble. Whenever I can, I love to oblige them.

Fifty years ago or so, our senior class trip traveled to our nation’s capitol to put a capstone on our education. I remember how a guide took us to the center of the huge magnificent rotunda and explained how conversation there could be heard in the peripherary, He said this is how the opposing side received information that changed the tide of the Civil War. Eaves dropping?

When a small child for a period of time I slept in a second bed in my parent’s bedroom. I often pretended to be asleep and listened to my parents talking. Eaves dropping?

How often have you been in conversation with someone in a public venue and suddenly one of you suddenly stops and cocks his head to pick up another conversation nearby. Eaves dropping?

How often have you heard someone tell you something they have overheard? Eaves dropping?

Yes, I confess I’ve been eaves dropping all my life. I also think other folks have been eaves dropping on me all of my life. Sometimes they say, “Pardon me, did I overhear you say….” It must be a basic form of communication.

I wish that I might be able to eaves drop and “hear” what folks might say when i lay “in state.” But then, maybe not.

 

 

Sheriff Thomas G. Maurer

9 Jan

Recently while on Christmas Vacation with family in Wooster, Ohio I found a “Letter to the Editor” in THE WOOSTER WEEKLY NEWS from Thomas G. Maurer, Sheriff who spoke of his intention to retire January 6, 2013. Mr. Maurer has served his community supremely well. Sylvia and I lived safely in Wooster, Wayne County, Ohio for seven years under his watch from 2001to 1008.

I would like to comment on the features of his letter:

1. This is what he said about his family: “I have been blessed to have a loving family who has sacrificed much for me.” A truly great man launches his life from his family base–a missing ingredient for many leaders.

2. Sheriff Maurer compliments his staff with these succint words: “a tremendous staff that works diligently every day to make this county as safe as possible.” He goes on to say, “The men and women of this office are the best.” Again, true great leaders–better than the best–are quick to honor their staff and fellow officers.

3. He then sums up his 30 years with these words: “This office has elimated the waiting list of all sentenced individuals waiting their time to serve in jail, solve homicides, major crimes and then he added (4) kept within our allocated annual budget and still performed all duties as required.”

5. As to be expected of a man of this caliber, he compliments his friends and community and cylces back to honor, Toni, his wife,  giving all who those who surround him  credit for everything! What a man!!

Yes the heartland of America “cling to their guns and their religion.” May Washington sit up and take notice. May all who have families and careers take notice. May we get on our knees and sincerely ask God to help us.

We only “get one shot at living” until God calls us home.

No doubt Sheriff Maurer’s shoes will be a gigantic task for those responsible to do so.

 

 

My Aunt Mary B

29 Dec

When my Aunt Mary B. & her 9 siblings were children, they were put in a horse-drawn wagon near Dover, Delaware with their meager belongings and then brought to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to be distributed among the members of the Conestoga Amish/Mennonite church families to care for them!

Since this event was about 1901 and the records are lost, one of Aunt Mary’s nephews, Kenneth Weaver whom I chanced to meet recently in Martin Chair Inc. shop and spoke of our common friendschaft this is what I learned.

Kenneth said, “I don’t know if they came by horse and wagon, or he said reflectively, they may have come by train or even stage-coach.” We know for certain that it was long before the age of automobiles.

Unfortunately, since the family historian is dead and the records are lost, some of the story is now only hearsay memories. Aunt Mary’s parents died early deaths–her father died of a back injury and her mother died giving birth to baby Elizabeth, who lived.

However, these young children came to Pennsylvania, the oldest child, Jacob was married, so he and his wife were caring for baby Elizabeth, they were on their way to be raised by strangers, persons they did not know. Can you imagine how these children must have felt when there were told of the coming journey to Pennsylvania to find new parents and what their questions and conversation must have been. Where there any tears? Was there any crying. Kenneth, now 70 said his father was 10-years old when he made the trip to Morgantown.

What day did the wagon arrive? Had a special meeting been announced to divide the orphan children? Did they have a meal ready for the children? Did the children huddled together? How were the 10 children divided? Several of the children were chosen to go the same families, as was the case of Kenneth’s father and his brother Walter. One has to ask, did the farmers select the young boys because they could use them to help on their farms. Perhaps childless couples took one or more children to raise.

Yes, it reminds me of how slaves were auctioned, but  these children were not sold, but selected out of compassion and they were raised in Christian homes. How different from the adoption agencies function today.

In adulthood, Aunt Mary B. Weaver (also Kenneth’s aunt–his father’s sister) married my Uncle Naaman Stoltzfus, also died  when he was young from back surgery after he and Aunt Mary after had 11 children. Fortunately, she was able to keep her family together, raising them as a widow on the farm.

One of her sons, Harvey and I were good friends. I remember his mother, my Aunt Mary B., (who died in her garden,) but I never knew her traumatic childhood story until recently. I ponder, if we knew of the past traumatic stuff in the lives of our friends and relative’s, how would it change our relationships?

Welcome Pastor Ivanildo Trindade

22 Dec

Good morning friends. I suppose you have heard that my very pastoral friend has come to town (Lititz, PA). He has begon his ministry among us as Senior Pastor at Lititz Grace Church the first of December. He is larger than life and filled with the Holy Spirit. Check out his blogs and if you at all can, come to hear him speak! You will find a welcoming congregation. For more information contact me at hsstoltz@frontier.com. Harold/lion of Judah.

`Evening Brazilian Guest

11 Dec

I’m glad he speaks English as a second language–his first being Portuguese!

He’s the kind of guy that keeps me stretched, and I enjoy the challenge.