Know Your Bible Translations

Here is a handy graphic to explain some of the most popular Bible versions (by way of Adam4D):

Church of the Week: San Juan Corps, San Juan, PR

Last Sunday morning, the lovely Robin and I were thrilled by our worship experience at the San Juan Central Corps of The Salvation Army in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We visited this lively group of Salvationists in the company of my brother Don and his wife, Arvilla, with whom we had ministered a few days earlier in Humacao, Puerto Rico.
The San Juan corps has recently occupied a new location and the chapel of their facility is stunning. State-of-the-art projection and amplification, as well as a roomy balcony, comfortable theater seating, and gorgeous wood decor makes this auditorium a fine place to worship (and, as we learned later, an attractive venue for gatherings and events such as film festivals and arts conferences).
What a blessing it was as we entered the chapel to see a circle of a dozen or so soldiers and leaders of the church gathering in heartfelt prayer for the worship of the morning and the needs of their congregation and community.
A brass ensemble (with an all-female tuba section!) provided excellent preliminary music and accompaniment to some of the congregational singing (a top-notch ensemble of guitar, drums, keyboard, and vocalists led a soul-stirring worship set as well).
Corps officer (pastor) Major Linda Lopez passionately and effectively delivered the message of the morning (associate officer Lieutenant Zuleika Echevarria, who also provided leadership in the service, reacts). Robin and I even understood some of it, in spite of our deficient (non-existent, really) Spanish-language skills.

The worship of the morning concluded with a beautiful guitar-and-vocal rendition of Esperar En Ti (Jesus Adrian Romero) that moved me to tears (it always amazes me how the Holy Spirit still displays his power to speak in and through language barriers), followed by a benediction by Puerto Rico divisional commander Major Jorge Marzan, who so graciously hosted us for the morning. 

What a joy it was to worship with our brothers and sisters at San Juan Corps, and one I would love to repeat, any day.

The Pastor's Desk (Episode 18)

The pastor's desk above is that of Jeremy Carr, lead pastor of Oxford Bible Fellowship in Oxford, Ohio. He explained that he did follow the rules, despite appearances: "This is actually a little cleaner than usual, but I didn't do it for the pic. Just happened to be a Thursday. Tues and Wed are the messy days."

(If you would like to participate in this recurring feature, submit a single photo of a pastor's study, office, or desk (but no tidying up before taking the picture) to, along with a short description identifying to whom it belongs)

Church of the Week: Church of St. Paul the Apostle, New York, NY

On a short visit to New York City last weekend, I had the opportunity to take a morning stroll up 8th Avenue to Columbus Circle and discovered the beautiful Church of St. Paul the Apostle at the corner of Columbus Avenue and West 60th Street. It is the "mother church" of the Paulist Fathers (missionaries to North America).  
The church's main structure dates to 1876, and was inspired by the fourth and fifth century Christian basilicas in Ravenna, Italy. The church's exterior reflects thirteenth century Old Gothic. Beautiful stained glass windows, murals, and sculptures adorn the church. 
The baptismal font, just inside the entrance to the sanctuary, spills into a shallow pool, guarded by a marble statue of Paul the Apostle. 

Fittingly, the church building has been named an official New York City Landmark. More photos and information are available at

A Martin Luther King Day tradition

The following post has become a Martin Luther King Day tradition here on the Desperate Pastor blog. I first featured it on Martin Luther King Day 2010. It is borrowed from a favorite blogger of mine, Michael Hyatt, and is a great way to mark this day:
My wife, Gail, and I watched the speech again on Saturday. It’s less than eighteen minutes long. However, it is profoundly moving. By the end of it, we were both in tears....[And w]hile the speech is a masterpiece of rhetoric, I believe it also provides eight insights into what it takes to be a truly great leader. (You can read the full transcript here.)

Great leaders do not sugar-coat reality. This speech came at a critical point in the civil rights movement. Dr. King did not pull any punches. He faced the most brutal facts of his current reality. Referring to Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation, he acknowledged,
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.”
Great leaders engage the heart. While logic may compel the mind, stories and metaphors move the heart. This is the difference between offering information and inspiration. To cite but one example in the speech, Dr. King states:
In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’”
Great leaders refuse to accept the status quo. In fact, I would say that this is the defining characteristic of real leaders. They are not passive; they are active. They are unwilling to acquiesce to their circumstances. Dr. King continues:
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”
Great leaders create a sense of urgency. They are impatient—in a good way. They refuse to just sit by and let things take their natural course. They have a sense of urgency and communicate it. Dr. King says,
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.”
Great leaders call people to act in accord with their highest values. It would be easy for the civil rights movement to change tactics and resort to violence. Some did. However, like Nelson Mandela did when he became president of South Africa, Dr. King called his people to a higher standard:
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must ever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”
Great leaders refuse to settle. It would have been easy for Dr. King to negotiate a compromise, to settle for less than his vision demanded. But he was stubborn—in a good sense. He persisted, and his called his followers to persevere:
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, ‘When will you be satisfied?’ We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
Great leaders acknowledge the sacrifice of their followers. They notice the effort their people have expended. They verbalize and affirm it:
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecutions and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.”
Great leaders paint a vivid picture of a better tomorrow. Leaders can never, never, never grow weary of articulating their vision. They must be clear and concrete. They have to help their followers see what they see:
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”
I have only scratched the surface. This speech is full of lessons and deserves careful study. I would encourage you, in the spirit of this holiday, to sit down with your family and watch the entire speech. It is less than eighteen minutes long. It will change forever the way you understand Martin Luther King Day.

Be an Answer to Prayer

Regular readers of this blog (or my prayer blog: know that the lovely Robin and have two beautiful, perfect, charming grandhildren who have been diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic disease that causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs, digestive tract, and other areas of the body, resulting in life-threatening lung infections and serious digestion problems. He and his sister must take synthetic enzymes with every meal or snack, do breathing and vest treatments several times a day to keep their lungs working properly, and their parents and others have to stay vigilant against infections and other complications. To increase their prospects for long and healthy lives, I participate in Great Strides, along with others in my family.

I want to invite you, my readers, to become an answer to my prayers by joining my team and helping to raise much needed funds to support cystic fibrosis research. If you also become a walker, you can also enjoy food, fun, and music at the Great Strides walk in uptown Oxford on Saturday, May 10, 2014! Great Strides is the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's largest, most successful, and most important national fundraising event.

So many young lives depend on the vital, ongoing advances in CF research. Real progress is being made, and our family has high hopes that the next few years will result in life-extending and life-enhancing breakthroughs for my grandchildren, four-year-old Calleigh and two-year-old Ryder. To keep that momentum going, we need your help now! Supporting Great Strides is such an easy but effective way to add tomorrows every day to the lives of those with cystic fibrosis.

It's so easy to help - just visit my Great Strides Home page here. There, you can help in several ways:

1) click on "Join My Team!" Then follow the step-by-step instructions on how to register and begin your fundraising campaign for the June walk. My goal this year is for five friends to join me as walkers/fundraisers. The CF website will help you in creating your own fundraising page and enlisting others in this worthy effort. The website also has other useful, easy-to-use features to help your efforts, including fundraising tips, tools to monitor your progress, and easy ways to invite people to make online donations to support your goal! PLEASE consider joining my team.

2) click on "Donate to Me." If you're not able to join my team, perhaps you can make an online donation to show your support. Just click that button (at the top of my page). It's incredibly easy, and any amount from $1 and up is deeply appreciated.

3) click on the Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn buttons at the top of my page and type a short message inviting your followers, friends, and associates to help. It takes seconds, but can be a huge help to me.

4) consider a business sponsorship. Your company can have a huge impact by adopting Calleigh and Ryder's cause as a company effort. Contact me for further information through this blog, and I'll walk you through the process. Some companies also offer "matching gifts" programs that can multiply the impact of your gift!

Joining my Great Strides team is such a simple and effective way for you to show your support for this important cause. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those with CF!

Thank you so much for any support you can give. I'll report back on this blog with further news about those who join the team, and my progress toward my goals, as well as the larger effort of "McCane's Miracles!"

The Pastor's Desk (Episode 17)

The pastor's desk is that of Justin Dunn, co-pastor of Legend Community Church in Oakley, Ohio (a Cincinnati community), who explains: "I usually work out at different places. I also don't use any computer or anything, I prefer to do my sermon/studying with paper and pen. But I do rely on my Kindle for resources and my phone for sermon listening, etc."

(If you would like to participate in this recurring feature, submit a single photo of a pastor's study, office, or desk (but no tidying up before taking the picture) to, along with a short description identifying to whom it belongs)

Do Love

One of the best living preachers--and author of one of my favorite books in recent years--Barbara Brown Taylor preached this fine sermon, "The Right Answer," at The Riverside Church in New York City.

The Pastor's Desk (Episode 16)

The pastor's desk above belongs to David Bullock, Lead Pastor of Eagle Heights Church in Somerset, Ky. He is also the author of Born To Fly.

(If you would like to participate in this recurring feature, submit a single photo of a pastor's study, office, or desk (but no tidying up before taking the picture) to, along with a short description identifying to whom it belongs)

The Teaching of the Twelve

Tony Jones calls the Didache the most important book you've never heard of.

In his book, The Teaching of the Twelve: Believing and Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community, he relates how the Didache (DID-uh-kay) was discovered and what it says about how the earliest Christians lived and tried to apply the teachings of Jesus and his apostles to their lives. It is a fascinating study, and one that not only challenged some of my assumptions and priorities, but also shed new light on numerous passages of Scripture for me.

An introductory chapter ("The Most Important Book You've Never Heard Of") and the translation of the complete text of the Didache (a mere 2,190 words in the original Greek) are followed by five short, easy-to-read chapters: "The Didache Community--Then and Now," "There Are Two Ways," "Sex, Money, and Other Means of Getting Along," "Living Together in Community," and "The End is Nigh." I found especially interesting the Didache's tone, as Jones puts it, of "centrist pragmatism," an approach that could benefit the twenty-first century church. In any case, the message of the Didache (which was considered for inclusion in the canon of Scripture, but rejected) and The Teaching of the Twelve has provoked thought and--I hope--prompted some changes in me.

Grace for a New Year

O Lord,

Length of days does not profit me except the days are passed in thy presence, in thy service, to thy glory.

Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides, sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour,
that I may not be one moment apart from thee,
but may rely on thy Spirit,
to supply every thought,
speak in every word,
direct every step,
prosper every work,
build up every mote of faith,
and give me a desire
to show forth thy praise,
testify thy love,
advance thy kingdom.

I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,
with thee, O Father, as my harbour,
thee, O Son, at my helm,
thee O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.

Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,
my lamp burning,
my ear open to thy calls,
my heart full of love,
my soul free.

Give me grace to sanctify me,
thy comforts to cheer,
thy wisdom to watch,
thy right hand to guide,
thy counsel to instruct,
thy law to judge,
thy presence to stabilize.

May thy fear be my awe,
thy triumphs my joy.

(from The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers, edited by Arthur Bennett; this post was cross-posted from Bob Hostetler's daily prayer blog)