Monday, December 31, 2018

Might have not been my most exciting year of life; but it was jammed packed with great memories and experiences! Now releasing:
Top 25 Adventures and Life Stories of 2017
1. Another year of following Jesus and seeing where he leads us
2. Amber and I experienced our 5th year anniversary and first monumental point, we are halfway to our 10th
3. A fun year with many stories of being a dad and spending time with Nathaniel 
4. Being part of the staff at South Haven. Working with great leadership and people that want to share Jesus and invest in the community. Seeing 25 decisions at VBS and being slimed for seeing 200 kids, 35 baptisms, Love Loud, and so much more 
5. Finishing another year of seminary and experiencing Midwestern. I ended with a 3.6 gpa, wrote my all-time favorite paper on George Whitefield and had an amazing semester of Greek. Now I can officially be admitted into a doctorate program 
6. Buying our first house which was probably the hardest commitment that I have made
7. Moving to Kansas City after living six plus years of ministry and life in Green Bay, WI
8. Having family and friends visit us in our new home
9. Might have not been a joyful experience, but 5 days in the hospital with a very sick kid. He survived and we saw so much love from friends. We also love Children’s Mercy and all the leaders there
10. Being treated wonderfully by First Baptist of Arnold as they invited Amber and I to be part of the Young Leaders Encounter. Those two days were encouraging and uplifting as they invested in us as leaders
11. Attending the For the Church Conference and gleaning much leadership wisdom
12. Preaching two services in one morning. I wasn’t sure how it would go, seeing in the past, one sermon wiped me out. I was sure tired and hungry, but was so blessed to be able to share a message twice and have the energy to do so
13. The many meaningful conversations I had, but one sticks out the most. A girl with a bottle and a countenance that spoke, there is no hope. A conversation that I was able to have with her as she explained about the suicide of her friend and the brokenness in her life. The ability to encourage and pray for her. Chelsey, her name, is still etched in my brain and I sure hope that she looked to God and pray that God keeps putting believers in her life
14. Visiting another baseball ballpark. I was able to experience a Royals game, meet Salvy’s family and eat a delicious bbq delight out of a Royals baseball helmet
15. Experiencing the solar eclipse where it was at it’s strongest
16. Winning my fourth straight year of fantasy baseball and second year of fantasy football
17. Experienced my first Kansas City BBQ (previously I had Birmingham, Carolina, St. Louis) and now I have had Jack Stacks, BB Lawnside, Joes and Sneads
18. Almost dropping my first online class, Hermeneutics. I put my head down, caught back up and finished with an A
19. Visiting the Kansas City and the St. Louis zoo for my first time
20. The ability to train leaders for VBS at the Blue River Association VBS Training 
21. Leaving St. Louis early in the morning to beat out a major ice storm
22. Experiencing Fritz Railroad Restaurant where your food is brought to you by trains
23. Taking Nathaniel on trips to the Deanna Rose Farm
24. Home projects on the house. Installing a tv on the wall, light fixtures, smoke detectors and a variety of first time homeowner projects and things I have never experienced before 
25. Baking and decorating my first creative cake for my wife’s birthday

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

If I wrote a Babylon Bee Article...

Church Discovers a New Impressions Approach While Keeping their Beloved Foyer Coffee

A church in the greater Kansas City area is making great strides towards first impressions. Their biggest contribution to excellence is their approach to distribute coffee to their first-time guests. As guests flood their building and make their way to the foyer coffee there is a covert team that does it’s best to distinguish the newbies and motion them to a secret area. The area is an old abandoned coat closet that been developed into a hidden coffee paradise. The guest has the opportunity to choose fresh coffee from Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Caribou coffee before continuing their journey to the Worship Center. 

We interviewed a few individuals to see how this creative approach was working:

A recent guest shared their experience saying, “We have attended many churches and have had our share of foyer coffee, but this church was a keeper because of their first time experience.”

One long-time attending church member shared with us his experiences of foyer coffee. “Every Sunday, I show up and expect no change. I take one sip of coffee and I am comforted that the coffee still takes like the first cup I had twenty-seven years ago when we first started to attend.”

The pastor shared that it is a win-win situation. The members are comforted that we will never change and the guest are comforted with great tasting coffee. When asked about the transition from guest to church member, the pastor shrugged and said: “Since we started this strategy three years ago, we have not had that transition happen.”

Michael P. Ott

Friday, August 24, 2018

If I knew what I know now, back then, it would have not been so energizing and rewarding...

A few years ago, I remember pacing in the dark outside our home in Green Bay. I was sharing with my dad this crazy notion of possibly going back to school to receive my Master of Divinity and then possibly, my doctorate. At the time, I thought, I needed the MDiv before entering a doctoral degree. He asked me about the idea of teaching and if that was a path that I was thinking about. Yes, it has always been on my radar; but something I would do late in my life as I have felt the desire to train up the next generation of leaders.    

We moved our family to Kansas City at the beginning of 2017. Everything after that snowballed into place. I took a year of master level classes and planned for many years of studies. One day, I stopped to check how a professor’s family was doing. The conversation took many turns till we were talking about my desire to have a doctorate someday. The individual in charge of doctoral admissions overheard our conversation and by that afternoon, I found that I was one class away from entry into a doctoral program. The next semester, I received an acceptance letter into the doctoral program. As I write, today was the last day of my first doctoral class. I am a doctoral student.

Blue Ridge Christian School had their own story. They have been working closely with Calvary University on a variety of things. One was introducing several opportunities for duel-credit classes. This is where our stories would merge. After multiple conversations and emails, it looked like a possibility for me to teach duel-credit Old and New Testament Surveys classes. Calvary looked at my transcripts and gave me the green light to teach this area as I had the needed amount of credits in the area of study. This past Monday, I taught my first high school class. 

Today, I taught my second class. I was up till 1:30am preparing, I had high expectations for this class as we were to dive into the book of Genesis and set up a strong foundation for the course. That class period will go down as one of the best life stories of this year. I had so much fun teaching and interacting with the students. Throughout my life, I have had people ask if I would teach. I pondered the desire to teach for over a decade and today as I left my class, reality sunk in and I realized I am a teacher.

I never imagined that in less than two years of leaving Green Bay, I would be in a doctoral program and teaching young leaders in a classroom. 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

First Doctoral Writing: A Book Review on How to Read a Book

Over almost a century of time, the author Mortimer J. Adler has impacted and challenged our society. As a major writer, he has contributed around fifty booksand even more articles that were added to the academic field2. Yet, this is an amazing feat when you look at the start of his life. He was a dropout in high school by age 15, he was denied his bachelors because he refused to take part in the required physical activity needed to graduate and he never received a master degree. The one degree that he would achieve was a PH.D in experimental psychology and at that time was the only person in the country to receive a PH.D without a high school, bachelors or masters diploma.Many of his works were saturated in philosophy and western thought which was his major contribution; but he also wrote with regards to ethics, religion and even included an autobiography towards the end of his life. His last work, The Great Ideas: From the Great Books of Western Civilization4, was published when he was ninety-nine years old. The following year Mortimer died leaving a long legacy in the world of philosophy, contributions of writings and a book called How to Read a Book.

How to Read a Book, one of his earliest works, will grasp for your attention just within its title. What can one learn from a book with a title that suggests that you need to learn to read a book before reading? Specifically, this book will challenge the reader in many areas to improve their reading and not to settle. This timeless classic will not be a letdown, it can be read time and time again.

Mortimer J. Adler. How to Think about The Great Ideas: From the Great Books of Western Civilization (Chicago, IL. Open Court Publishing Company. 2000).Mortimer J. Adler. A Second Look in the Review Mirror (New York, NY. Macmillian Publishing Company. 1992), 306-314.
Mortimer J. Adler. How to Think about The Great Ideas: From the Great Books of Western Civilization (Chicago, IL. Open Court Publishing Company. 2000), xvii.Mortimer J. Adler. How to Think about The Great Ideas: From the Great Books of Western Civilization (Chicago, IL. Open Court Publishing Company. 2000).

Adler’s first edition of his book How to Read a Book was first published in 1940. This review will be looking at his revised and updated 1972 book. In the preface, he goes into detail on how culture had changed and the importance of updates for his book. He emphasized that part two of his four-part book stayed close to the original.Upon inspection of the front of this book, it can be noticed that the credit for authorship on the revised and updated book mentions two authors. Adler partnered with Charles Van Doren to revise his first edition. His partnership with Doren would be also joined together again when they worked on Great Treasury of Western Thought that was published in 1977.6

The book truly starts before page one of chapter one. It begins in the table of contents, as Adler brilliantly maps out the course of the book. Just a brief scan over this section will alert the reader to where the writer is taking them, what areas are important to the writer and what the writer wants the reader to grasp. The book is broken down into four major parts filled with specific chapters. Most books would be good with that, but Adler takes it one step further and highlights main points in those chapters. It would be a shame for a reader to overlook the table of contents, as well as, Adler will convict the reader in chapter four for skipping over that section. The preface comes next and does a great job of explaining the importance of culture changes and continue growing in the area of reading.

Part one covers the dimensions of reading and is broken down into five chapters. Chapter one sets the tone for the importance of learning the art of reading and actively challenge oneself to become a better reader. The second chapter introduces the four main levels of reading; elementary, inspectional, analytical and syntopical reading. The first two reading levels are

5Mortimer J. Adler. How to Read a Book (New York, NY. Simon & Schuster. 1972), ix-xiii.Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren. Great Treasury of Western Thought (New York, NY. R. R. Bowker Company. 1977).

covered in the next two chapters, while analytical is covered in part two and syntopical reading is covered in part four. Elementary reading, the beginning level of reading, is discussed in chapter three. The writer will express that the reader of this book will have accomplished elementary reading to be able read this how to do book.He will also share the four stages of reading that most individuals will accomplish throughout their time leading up to high school. Inspectional reading, the second level of reading, is addressed in chapter four and is only possible if elementary reading was achieved effectively. Two types of inspectional reading are evaluated, one being the art of skimming and the other is superficial reading. The final chapter of part one challenges the reader to take ownership in their habits on reading.

Part two takes an insightful look and perhaps spends the most time focusing on the third type of reading, analytical reading. The first chapter of part two is pigeonholing a book and will challenge a reader like myself, to go find an answer to what pigeonholing means. Upon understanding the terminology, this is a very practical first step in observing the basics of any book and setting the first stages of analytical reading. Chapter seven challenges the reader to x- ray the book. What can the book tell you? Can you explain the book in a sentence? Do you know what the subject matter is? Adler does a great job in this chapter of making one think even towhat the thoughts of the book’s title might entail. Chapters eight and nine focus on the relationship with the author; finding key words and sentences, noting the arguments, and looking to find the writers purpose of writing and what he is trying to get across. Chapters ten and eleven sets the bar for reader criticism and handling the authors work within reasonable methods of reading. Adler challenges that for healthy criticism, a reader must read the whole book, know what the writer is saying and recognize that the reader has the last say in a closed-ended

Mortimer J. Adler. How to Read a Book (New York, NY. Simon & Schuster. 1972), 37.

conversation. The last chapter of part two, chapter twelve, gives a well-rounded use of resources to be used as guides in the analytical reading process.
Part three covers a wide range of approaches to reading a variety of works. Starting in chapter thirteen with practical reading moving to imaginative reading in chapter fourteen and then to chapter fifteen for direction in reading plays, stories and poems. The next four chapters cover areas of History, Science and Mathematics, Philosophy and Social Science readings. Part four covers the last and most challenging levels of reading, syntopical or comparative reading. Adler stresses back in chapter two that synoptic reading is not easy, but is the most rewarding when one masters it.Chapter twenty goes into detail including addressing five recommended steps to take when reading synoptically. The final chapter, twenty-one, concludes part four and the book. The chapter’s main focus is challenging the reader to be wise in his books choices, seeing there are millions of books available; and to search out the books that will be the most impactful to your life.

I have found push back on the fact that this is an outdated book and irrelevant today. I believe that if Adler was alive today, he would agree and probably look to revise another copy of the book. Though, with any book this should not be a conclusion, after all, no books are perfect and there should be things that the reader casts away. Any reader should be looking for the golden nuggets that come out of a book. I only want to offer one negative critique, and this is just my opinion from reading, that part three “Approaches to Different Kinds of Reading Materials”would have been better placed at the end of the book. I, personally, read part three (which was not required) by conviction of Adler comment in part two that If you are only reading part of a book, it is more difficult to be sure that you understand, and hence you should be more hesitate
Mortimer J. Adler. How to Read a Book (New York, NY. Simon & Schuster. 1972), 20.

to criticize.The elementary, inspectional and analytical levels of reading fall nicely in place together, but then part three covers over a hundred pages of reading about various approaches to reading before circling around to hit the fourth reading level. By the time, I got to the fourth; I lost the connection with the other three. I think that part three is important, but its placement felt forced or out of place. If you can come away from your reading with one negative critique and push through some things are not timeless in books, then any book can be valuable for learning and growing. Overall How to Read a Book is one of these valuable books. It will be beneficial to a person who wants to excel in his reading, a student that desires to stretch his learning ability or a writer that needs insight on how to best reach his readers.

Mortimer J. Adler. How to Read a Book (New York, NY. Simon & Schuster. 1972), 145.

Works Cited

Adler, Mortimer J. A Second Look in the Review Mirror New York, NY: Macmillian Publishing Company, 1992.

Adler, Mortimer J. Desires Right and Wrong: The Ethics of Enough New York, NY: Macmillian Publishing Company, 1991.

Adler, Mortimer J. How to Read a Book New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1972.

Adler, Mortimer J. How to Think about The Great Ideas: From the Great Books of Western
Civilization Chicago, IL: Open Court Publishing Company, 2000.

Adler, Mortimer J. and Doren, Charles Van. Great Treasury of Western Thought New York, NY: R. R. Bowker Company, 1977.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Hey Leaders!

Introducing a new thing for our kids ministry at South Haven! Originally, I was going to hang this on a wall; but with future changes coming in the future, I resorted to keeping it on an easel making it mobile. The purpose behind this leadership board is two-fold:

First, we want to encourage each other with win stories in our area! It might be a substitute teacher filling a need, a visitor parent giving us a good report or most important, a kid giving their life to Jesus! These "share a win story" cards are designed to be hung on the wire and will encourage those who read.

Second, there are "fan postcards." These are designed to encourage leaders to write to a kid from time to time. Write your message on the left, the child's first and last name on the address side and hang it on the wire. I will collect them, add addresses and will mail them out. Please space them out and try to write all your kids in your class at least once in a year. If there is a visitor, feel free to write them a card.