Pictures of the Yuma Territorial Prison

I took these photos of the Yuma Territorial Prison.

Another picture worth seeing is the mug shot of Pearl Hart, a media savvy prisoner who was part of a scandal (or was it a con?), that got her a pardon and early release on the condition that she’d leave and never return to Arizona.

Our Visit To Yuma, AZ

Dear Covenant,

As you know, this last Saturday through Monday I went with my family to Yuma. While there, my wife was able to take an art class with a master painter from Canada (here’s what she’s working on), my kids and I spent time together exploring this unique part of our state, and on Sunday we were able to spend the day getting to know the mission work better.

Though I’ve not been able to visit very many times, Yuma OPC is close to my heart. I helped get the mission work started in the early days and our congregation has done what it can from a distance to help see a new church planted in this part of the state. In the pictures below, you’ll notice that they are still using the logo Bryce designed a few years ago.

The last time I was there, I was with a group of us from Covenant that went to help pass out flyers around town for the mission work, but I had to get back to Tucson quickly that day and wasn’t able to worship or even visit with the saints for very long. So I was happy for the extended time we had last Sunday.

The mission work meets at First Presbyterian Church, a generous and friendly congregation of the PCUSA that allows the OPC to use the entire basement of their building, which includes a kitchen, a classroom, an eating hall, and a meeting room. Last Sunday, the meeting room was packed with more than eighty people. A quarter of the congregation were visitors, many who were Canadians preparing to head back to Vancouver and other places.

I was invited to preach, which I did, and worshipped with the others there. It was exciting to see what God has done since the earliest days when all this was just an prayer request. And it was a joy to connect with old friends as well as meet new ones.

The afternoon was spent getting to know Pastor Baker and his family better. They treated us to a St. Patrick’s Day lunch of corned beef stew, cornbread with butter, and some of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had, thanks to Pastor Baker’s middle daughter.

Throughout the afternoon, while the kids played, we talked about evangelism and pastoral ministry. Lessons we’ve learned; lessons we’re trying to learn. We all agreed that we were mutually blessed by the encouragement, fresh ideas, and fellowship.

Then, back to church in the evening. This is when the mission work has their Sunday school. The small children met separately, while Pastor Baker helped the rest of us through some catechism questions, singing, prayer, and a lesson. He taught about the sacrificial death of Christ. And I was reminded of how many terms we have to describe Christ’s sacrifice and how important it is for us to understand them. It’s something I’ll be reflecting on going forward.

By the time we said our goodbyes, we were already excited about our next time together, when the Bakers visit Tucson.

Thank you for your prayerful support this weekend, for donating your money to home missions, and for your zeal for the evangelistic mission of Christ’s church.


Pastor Chelpka

Imperial National Wildlife RefugeYuma Orthodox Presbtyerian ChurchFirst Presbyterian Church of YumaFirst Presbyterian Church of YumaCastle Park, West Wetlands Park in Yuma, AZRoad Sign for Popular Yuma, AZ Restaurant, Mr. G'sGuard Tower at the Yuma Territorial Prison State ParkPrison Cells at the Yuma Territorial Prison State ParkDodger at the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge Visitor's Center

Helicopter on a stick.

Golden fried alligator.

I’ve posted an update on what I’m doing now.

I wrote some summary notes on John Owen and Herbert Croft’s thoughts on deacons. Their books on the nature of the church were published in London only a year apart from one another.

Review of Think Again: How to Reason and Argue by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

Every so often I find it helpful to read a book about reasoning. It was about that time again when Alan Jacobs recommended Think Again: How to Reason and Argue in his newsletter, so I decided to get a copy.

Here’s what @ayjay said about the book:

“In my book How to Think, my goal was to encourage my readers towards a thoughtful disposition rather than give them methodical guidance. But since my book came out, Walter Sinnot-Armstrong has published Think Again, which provides a lot of that step-by-step direction, and does so very well indeed. When I was giving a talk at Duke last year I met with Walter and his students, and I was pleasantly surprised at how neatly our books converged.”

I had previously read and enjoyed Jacobs’ book, so this seemed like a great idea.

Sinnott-Armstrong’s book is an introduction to the principles of good reasoning. He teaches you how to identify, analyze, evaluate, and make arguments. He helped me remember things I had forgotten and understand some things I was unclear on.

In addition to addressing how to reason and argue, Sinnott-Armstrong explains why it’s important. One reason is that civil, reasoned discussion, “gives us more chance of arriving at mutual understanding and respect as well as true beliefs and good policies.” (46) It has the potential to reduce polarization.

“Most people see arguments as ways to persuade other people or to beat them in some kind of verbal fight, debate, or competition. That view is not all wrong, but it is limited and incomplete. Some people do present arguments as displays of prowess or power, but arguments can also play more constructive roles in social interactions.” (56)

Learning how to reason and argue can teach us how to “get beyond name-calling and figure out how strong an argument really is”; we aim to “reconstruct the argument as charitably as possible and then ask how strong it is in its best form.” (199) In this way, arguments can lead to good results like learning, humility, and compromise..

By teaching how to do more than merely assert, Think Again can help you reach those noble goals.

Review of How to Think by Alan Jacobs, Plus Quotes

The following is a repost from my November 2017 review on Goodreads.

Alan Jacobs. 2017. How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds. Currency. WorldCat link.

I loved How to Think and highly recommend it for anyone who is committed to knowing the truth or helping others know the truth (e.g. journalists, politicians, scholars, pastors, etc.).

Thinking well requires one to take a certain posture towards the truth, oneself, and others. The posture toward “others” is a main idea of this book. Alan Jacobs shows how thinking is always relational. And he describes how truth seeking and community ought relate to each other and what happens when they don’t—a topic of central importance to me as pastor.

Here are some choice quotes:

“The more useful a term is for marking my inclusion in a group, the less interested I will be in testing the validity of my use of that term aginast—well, against any kind of standard.”

“The only real remedy for dangers of false belonging is the true belonging to, true membership in, a fellowship of people wo are not so much like-minded as like-hearted.”

“The problem, of course, and sadly, is that we all have some convictions that are unsettled when they ought to be settled, and others that are settled when they ought to be unsettled.”

“As I’ve said before: Thinking is hard.”

Thanks to @ayjay, I read Think Again: How to Reason and Argue by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong. This is an introductory book on the principles of good reasoning. But WSA teaches more than how to reason and argue, he also explains why. I’ll write a little more on this tomorrow.

Private Conversations in a Very Public World

Prof. Kate Klonick teaches her students about privacy with a “creepy assignment”.

She has them go to public places and then learn what they can about a person by watching, listening, and googling. What her students learn is that our privacy is protected in public partly by being unknown to others. But, with the power and accesibility of the internet and its tools, it’s like we’re all living in a small town. Which is why Prof. Klonick advises us to

“Treat every place as if it were a small town, and give everyone the privacy that you would give to your neighbor — and that you would want your neighbor to give to you.”

That’s excellent advice. Let me suggest three ways to do that.

First, when possible, move private converastions to private places. This applies to both viritual spaces and physical ones.

Second, keep your voice down. Just because that guy over there is wearing headphones or holding a book, it doesn’t mean he’s not listening. And if you’re sharing secrets, you can guarantee he is listening.

Third, start noticing how some public and semi-public places work well for private conversations and some don’t. As a pastor who does disciples people over a large metro area, I keep a list handy of the places I find that offer privacy. Here are some examples from my list:

  • “Wide, open park with paved paths. Not much decision making necessary for choosing which direction to go. Easy to see who is around you.”
  • “Free. Quiet garden. Take the path on the left and find the bench by the back wall.”
  • “Burgers. Loud music and kitchen noise. Open floor plan with lots of space between tables.”