Beginning 2015 with An Excuse
What a horrible way to begin a New Year! I am speaking of beginning this year with an excuse. However, this may not be so much of an excuse as an explanation. As the year faded from spring to summer and then to fall and finally to the winter, I began to have inquiries as to why I had stopped blogging. In fact the last post I had put on the Barnabas Blog was way back in April when I was in the midst of the series on spiritual warfare from Kay Arthur’s study guide, Lord, Is It Warfare? So the questions that came my way were reasonable as to why I had “gone dark” on the Barnabas Blog. This is why I had nothing to post. . .
fountain pen (in fact several of them) in July 2013. At the time, I had no idea what it involved, nor did I realize the cost that could be accrued. Then I participated in an online expositors conference in March 2014 and I heard three pastors/preachers mention how that writing with a fountain pen slowed down the process so much that you retained so much more than if you were pounding out words on computer keyboard. I had reached the place where that I almost never wrote things down and when I did, my handwriting had deteriorated so horribly that my hieroglyphics could hardly be deciphered. So around March 2014, I got in earnest about handwriting.
I knew my handwriting skills were going to need some serious practice. One of the suggested ways for your handwriting to improve is to copy down text from books or magazine articles and other kinds of literature. I don’t even remember now what created the impulse but I purchased a journal and specifically designated it for copying the Psalms. This turned out to be a very profitable experience as I copied all the way from Psalm 1 to Psalm 83. Furthermore, it turned into a challenge for me to start preaching through a number of the Psalms this past year. I ended up preaching through Psalm 1-14, Psalm 27, Psalm 42, and Psalm 63. There will be more that I will do in 2015. I have found that a lot of Pentecostal preachers have a tendency to fear the verse-by-verse approach to preaching and resort to the spontaneity of topical and textual preaching. While one cannot make a wide-sweeping statement with this, I have found that when I preach textually or topically that I am merely rearranging what I already know. The discipline that is necessary to work through these passages of Scripture can be incredibly soul-enriching and our church generally is full and people keep coming back. Furthermore, I have noticed a drop-off in relying on iPhones/iPads for the Bible and people are bringing their Bibles to church because I am encouraging them to circle words, phrases, concepts, and to write things in the margins. When I die, I don’t want to leave my children an iPad but I want them to get several Bibles that are marked up, used up, and prayed over. I do not want any doubts that I was a man who tracked through the Scriptures.
Not only did I copy the Psalms, I took another different journal and devoted that to the Pastoral Epistles. I copied the KJV, NASB, and started the Weymouth translation. This was another experience that proved to be very soul enriching. When you begin writing down a pastor’s job description, which is what 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus is, it will free you up of a lot of distractions. You will began to note that God is quite concerned with character, faithfulness, personal holiness, and steadfastness in a minister’s life. It also caused me to seek after things in prayer that I had never entertained. I found that all men who are called to shepherd the church will have to contend with suffering. One of two things will happen, either a man will compromise in the middle of trouble or he will endure the afflictions. When I was copying down the words of Paul to Timothy and Titus, I also realized that these two young men who were in their thirties had to contend with the same manner of issues that we deal with in our day also. I found that there were 1st century principles that could be and must be lived out in the 21st century’s venue of church life.
One other thing that I started doing was using my pens when I was praying. This was an overflow of the material I gleaned from the Pastorals. A pastor is to pray for those whom he preaches to. A pastor is to pray for their spiritual well-being and that all spiritual blessings (not material or health or wealth or prosperity) would become evident in their lives. I already had a book for this. A long time ago, I had purchased on of those “RECORD” books from Office Depot with the intentions of logging in my preaching texts/subjects but I never did so. So I took that book and started writing down the people and the needs I was praying for in it. The great challenge with this record is that it has to be for your eyes only. In fact, I told my wife that if anything should happen to me, that book needed to be destroyed because I have poured out my soul in that book in writing down some of the needs of people in it. However it has been a fruitful exercise for me spiritually. The enemy would love for you to think that prayer does not matter and you really should not give yourself to the necessity of prayer. But what happened with this is that the more I would pray and write down the heart of the prayer, months later I would go back and see that the Lord had met some of the needs that I had prayed about. There were people who hadn’t darkened the doors of our church in ages, they started coming and the Lord started dealing with them. It became a faith-builder to me because I begin to see the value in the role of a pastor who prayed.
Several other of the journals I designated as those which I would take notes from the various books that I read. Whether they were Christian biographies, musings through the Puritans, or gleaning from old sermon books, all became a profitable experience to me. Additionally, I also preached 25-30 times this year with handwritten notes. Again it has to be reiterated that it takes time for you be able to write out the notes and for them to be in a manner which you can read them. I had a couple of journals devoted purely to sermon notes.
All in all, I think you would profit from buying yourself a fountain pen and beginning to this exercise. Don’t jump in over the top with an expensive pen like a Mont Blanc 146, Visconti, or Pelikan. Stick with a starter pen like a Pilot Metropolitan or go to eBay and buy a cheap Chinese pen like a Jinhao or a Bauer. Then as your preference changes, you can upgrade. There are a host of YouTube channels that host all kinds of instructions for you to learn.
As I got into it, I also discovered that paper quality matters. I had no idea that how many grams per square meter that deals with the density of the paper. All of this can cause “ghosting” or “feathering” which you will learn about (Stephen Brown & Brian Goulet are where I have gleaned the most). Even though Moleskine journals are probably the most well-known of journals they are not too fountain pen friendly. The journals that have Clairefontaine paper in them are the best. I also discovered that the best kind of paper and stationery is that which has its paper that is made in Brazil. I found this out from a couple of the fountain pen forums that I got on.
Lastly, I discovered the power of writing letters by hand, in cursive! I had long ago ditched cursive writing. I started printing in the hospital in earnest around 1990 and would only scribble out a half-legible signature of my name. When I started working with fountain pens there was something that just made me want to write in cursive. While it still needs much work, writing a letter to someone in longhand makes you feel like you have done something. I have no idea what the folks of the other end may think about it but the responses I have gotten seem to be very positive. It sounds old-fashioned and archaic but a handwritten letter or card means much to those who receive them.
On a closing note, I have intentions of getting back to more blogging in 2015 and am always thankful that you spend a bit of your time to read what is put here. . .
God Bless. . .