Monday, December 28, 2009

"Good employees are everything in business..."

January is the time when I conduct staff reviews for the previous year and report the information to the elders and administrative council in February for goal setting, celebration and to aid in the recall process. Even though I have not formally begun the review process for 2009 I know a great deal about the performance of our pastoral staff over the past 12 months and the statement "good employees are everything in business" penned by Mark DeMoss in "The Little Red Book of Wisdom" (pg. 62) rings true in my mind regarding their performance. All of our staff have taken their calling and goals serious and worked tirelessly to create greater health and growth at WHFC and the greater community in which they serve.

DeMoss obviously puts substance to his words and does place high value on his employees at the DeMoss Group because the Gallup Management Journal recently ran a study that placed his organization in a small minority of American workplaces (27%) whose employees are "engaged," that is passionate and profoundly connected. Gallup is not alone in this finding ... the Atlanta Business Chronicle also gave the DeMoss Group an A+ rating as an employer. They also recently received special notation in Christianity Today magazine and from the Church Management Association as well. Something seems to be working at the DeMoss Group. What is it?

DeMoss writes, the "key to our success is our employees. They are our organization's best asset. We have learned that how you treat your people trumps what you do with your clients, schedules, output and spreadsheets. Happy employees affect everything else" (pg. 65).

DeMoss lists four motivational factors that contribute to employee retention and motivation with in their organization. The first motivator is mission. The DeMoss Group is more than a job description with a dollar sign attached. He says , we help our employees see where their employment is a mission to do something that matters beyond the bottom line (66).

The second motivator is a good leader. We do not look for the smartest or the brightest but people who are committed to the mission of the organization and to the people we employ. We find that people have an easier time serving a leader who is wholeheartedly serving them (67).

Third, we focus on the corporate culture at the DeMoss Group. Every company has an unwritten code for work environment, people chemistry, traditions and management style. Ours is focused on collaboration and teamwork. We preach and practice open-door management with the underlying assumption that each employee adds value and must be heard (68).

The fourth motivator is compensation and benefits. We compensate our employees according to industry standards, reward them with raises and profit sharing opportunities each year, and require them to take a four week sabbatical every five years. During the paid sabbatical employees are required to be unplugged from company phones, emails and computers. They are not permitted to do work of any kind for the company. We want them to rest and be refreshed (68).

Heavenly Father,
Help me to be a good leader for the staff at WHFC. Impart to me Your wisdom and attitude that will increase my sensitivity to their heartfelt needs and add value to their life and ministry. Please place a hedge around each one and their family at this time. May they feel You close by all the days of their life and know they are needed, loved and appreciated by the people they seek to serve at WHFC. In Jesus' name. Amen

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Salvation isn't a gift that I can just get, then I've got it and I'm fixed. Salvation is a byproduct of a relationship with Jesus Christ. God's name is "I AM", present tense ... Not "I Was." To be saved you must "saddle up" to Jesus every day. Full salvation is three things: "relationship, relationship, relationship with Jesus" - Dr. Dennis Kinlaw (Revive, Winter, 2009, pg. 17)

Seeing it all

There are two watershed events in human history. One was Moses' experience with God at the burning bush, when God told us His name: "I AM" and spoke of His passion to abide with men. The second was at Bethlehem, when God came to earth as a human: Jesus Christ, to abide with men. When you have experienced Jesus Christ in your life, you've seen all there is to see of God - Dr. Dennis Kinlaw (Revive, Winter, 2009, pg. 16)


"One of the best ways to get to know Jesus better is to shadow someone who already knows Jesus well" - Dr. Dennis Kinlaw

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Practicing Discernment # 5

Lon Fendall says that "becoming aware of God's movement and hearing His voice is all conditional on practicing the presence of Christ" (Practicing Discernment, page 37). Jesus taught us in John 15:3-4 that real intimacy with God is experienced through Jesus when we are with Jesus. The essence to real life and transformation occurs only through connection with Jesus. Being with Him daily is the most important thing in this life.

I read recently about an ordinary farmer who experienced this very thing. He is known to us today as Brother Lawrence. After his conversion in midlife, he joined a monastery, hoping to cultivate his relationship with Jesus. Instead, he was assigned to permanent dish duty in the kitchen.

Although he was initially discouraged because of no time to observe religious rites and formal studies of the scriptures, he began focusing his energy on practicing the presence of Christ as he washed pot and pans. Much to his joy, he soon discovered that it was possible to abide in the presence of Jesus while we worked in the kitchen.

He eventually found out that the activity of daily life was not impeding upon his communion with his Savior. In fact, whenever his mind began to drift from thoughts of Christ he would simply return his attention to the Lord and his relationship would quickly refresh. Soon Brother Lawrence was radiating the presence of Jesus to such a degree the the monks of the monastery where lining up at the door of the kitchen to learn the secret of the Christian life!

Brother Lawrence is only one example of countless numbers of ordinary people who have found extraordinary peace, joy, power, and purpose through living in a present reality with Jesus. When the goal of our lives change from trying to figure out what is right behavior to cultivating a present reality with Jesus we to will experience true life in the Son! Practicing discernment in life is simply walking in the reality of Jesus! What say you?

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, December 21, 2009

I'm weighing in on baptism today

Jesus said, "Wait for the gift My Father promised ... for John baptized with water, but ... you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:4-8).

I find myself in a unique setting here at Willoughby Hills Friends Church. We are both Quaker and have a baptistery. Yep, right under the platform where the the drums set each week in our worship center is a large walk-in hot tub that is uncovered a couple of times each year, filled with water and heated to a comfortable temperature for those who desire to be water baptized in a public setting. But as much as I enjoy baptizing people people with water I never want the Church to forget the significance of the Friends view on baptism.

For centuries Friends did not practice water baptism because of the teaching of Christ. Most Quaker historians would say that Friends started practicing water baptism because of the influence of other denominations and key people like John Wesley and Billy Sunday. Typically today, Friends who practice water baptism state "that it an outward symbol of an inward work of grace." I'm okay with that but I wonder if we are selling short the one true baptism that Jesus spoke of in the process? If we are not clear on our position we can mislead people from the truth of God's word.

Water baptism had a specific purpose in the Old Testament. In fact, it was one of three Old Covenant signs (works) which God required of His people. The signs of the covenant between God and man were "circumcision" (Genesis 17:9-11), "honoring the sabbath of God" (Exodus 20:8-10), and later "water baptism" (John 1:33). In fact, baptism is not mentioned in the Bible as another identifying sign for the Old Covenant until John began doing so in the River Jordon. Some theologians hold that it was only a sign intended for the era of Incarnation stating that Jesus was baptized only to fulfill the Old Testament law (covenant)and never baptized others in water.

Regardless, the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ provides us with spiritual circumcision and became the Lord of the Sabbath for us. So, I guess we must ask, "then why the need for water baptism?" Here's where I am weighing in on the subject.

John the Baptist's ministry was new and unique for his time. He preached to people who were interested in the coming Messiah and who believed the promises of scripture. Most accepted John as a prophet from God (he certainly did not fit the status quo) and were good practicing Jews (circumcision, Sabbath observing, etc.). Through the act of water baptism in the Jordan they were indicating their belief that God was about to send the Messiah and they were prepared to receive Him unto themselves. Thus, water baptism was a sign of preparation and expectancy for the Advent of Christ.

So when we practice water baptism today it should be as an indication that we believe the Messiah has come and that we have made preparation in our heart for Him. But we must be clear that the New Covenant sign for identification with God is not circumcision, keeping the Sabbath or being baptized with water. It is being baptized with the Holy Spirit and the evidenced is seen "by loving one another." Francis Shaeffer said, "the sign of Christian love is the mark of the true Christian."

John the Baptist understood this truth when he said at the water baptism of Jesus, "The man who you see the Spirit come down on and remain is He who will baptize with the Holy Spirit ... now I must decrease and He must increase."(John 1:33). The hour "now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23).

For the New Testament believer, love is the only outward sign of an inward work of grace. Jesus said, "A new covenant I give unto you (with as new sign of conformity) ... that you love one another. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for another" (John 15:12-14). "By this (Jesus said) will all men know you are My disciples, by how you love one another" (John 13:35).

Have you asked Jesus Christ to baptize you with the Holy Spirit yet? Friend, you need more than just the forgiveness of sin you need a heart transformation that will enable you to love the world to Jesus and show the world that you are a true follower of the Almighty!

Perhaps the water baptism we should practice today is the washing of each other's feet. What say you? Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Men's Fight Club

Hi guys,
I just want to remind you that we will meet in the Church Cafe this Saturday at 7:30 am for gooooood coffee and Bible study. Our passage for discussion will be I John 2:12-17. Come prepared to share your research with the group.

Also, you are invited to join others for breakfast the next two Thursdays (Christmas Eve & new Years Eve) at Flavors on the Vine in Eastlake at 7 am.

One more item, Wednesday night Men's Church will not meet on 12/23 but will assemble on 12/30 in room 152 at 7 pm.

I'm weighing in on church music today!

I've been thinking some about the purpose and place for music in the local church and would like to share my thoughts for discussion. First off, I have come to the conclusion that the music we use in public worship services should be "blended" in style. Why? Let's begin with the purpose of worship. First, because music is often so closely associated with how people view worship in the local Church. In the mind of many, good music equals good worship. But, in the context of scripture this mindset can be too limiting and even misleading.

Jesus states that "true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship Him" (John 4:23). Worship is nothing more than centering Christ in our hearts so our lives can stay in balance and fulfill the purpose in which God intended for each of us. My studies indicate that worship mostly appears in the Bible as a verb. Why? Because worship is an act of our will through which we invite the Holy Spirit to center us in the life and customs of Jesus so we can go forth and emulate Him to the world to the glory of the Father.

True Spirit-led corporate worship will present Jesus in a manner that will address the personality and preferences of all. A blended style that presents a classic, traditional and contemporary palate for participants will give each one the opportunity to use music as a means to center Christ in their heart more easily in a public venue. It could be much like it was on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:6), where each one could sense the Holy Spirit and respond in their own language (so to speak). Through a blended venue each one's preference is valued and God can use corporate singing as a means to center Christ in the hearts of all who desire to worship Him through the Spirit and unto Truth (Jesus).

Speaking of Jesus, His take on worship was clearly stated in Luke 22:19, "this do in remembrance of Me." Paul echoes these very words to the Corinthians in his first letter (11:24) to address their disunity and unloving attitude towards each other in the local church. He reminds them that their attitude and structure was to cater to the needs of the Body (attendees) so that each one could center Christ in their heart without the selfish distraction of others. When we come together for corporate worship we need to present a full musical palate that permits the Holy Spirit to penetrate every life with the image of Jesus so they can leave the premise purposed in heart to love and serve their fellow man as He did.

According to Jack Wilcuts in his book "Why Friends are Friends," we gather in the meetinghouse with one another to "experience Christ in our midst" and to "practice the presence of Christ." What does that mean for us musically? It means that Christ is in each one who has gathered together corporately. It is through our coming together as the Body of Christ that Jesus is fully manifest. Presenting a full palate of musical style can be our way of practicing His presence in our midst by acknowledging His preeminence and honoring the unique way He chooses to express Himself through the likes and tastes of others. Perhaps that is what He meant by the phrase, "this do in remembrance of Me" musically speaking, for the Church today. What say you?

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Practicing Discernment # 4

Recently we heard in the news that a Northwest flight carrying 144 passengers overflew the airport by 150 miles. They tell us the pilots remained unresponsive to the air traffic controllers who were desperately trying to make contact with them. The plane finally turned around after the stewardess got the pilot's attention by pounding on the cockpit door. The seasoned pilots had become so absorbed with a new software program on their laptops that they had lost track of their destination.

The same thing can happen to us in our Christian walk if we are not careful. We need to keep our eyes on the face and feet of Jesus all the time. I think that's sort of what the author of Hebrews was saying when he penned the words "keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus" (12:2). It is possible to become so absorbed with "life" that our passion for following Jesus can be crowded out. None of us accidentally fall out of love with Christ rather it is the result of accumulating hundreds of wrong or poor decisions by simply not dwelling in His presence or discerning His will effectively. As a result our love cools and other things can gradually take priority and focus away from our Savior.

The discipline of practicing spiritual discernment everyday can help us make right decisions and keep Christ's love knocking at the door of our heart. And, it is a daily opportunity to maintain a passionate love for Jesus. We should view each new day is an opportunity to fall in love with Jesus all over again.

So what about you? Have you over-shot the airport, so to speak? Has the trail cooled in your venture with Jesus because you have lost sight of His face in lieu of life's distractions? Simply make Jesus your monarch rather than a mascot and re-engage the journey!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Practicing Discernment # 3

"Now then my children listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways... Blessed are they who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway" (Proverbs 8:32 & 34).

It's been three years since Lisa and I spent concentrated time together discerning God's will for our ministry like we have over the past two months. What a blessed journey this has been for the two of us! Over the course of many weeks Lisa walked with Jesus through a Wednesday night Bible study for women on knowing God's will and felt comfortable sharing her insights and experiences with me along the way. At the same time I've been probing the Holy Spirit through reading both sacred literature and reacquainting myself with some of my favorite classics on hearing the voice of God. Through our journey we are growing more intimate and seeing the face and GPS of Jesus more clearly.

What has been some of the ways God has stirred upon our hearts in this time of discernment? Probably in some of the same ways He moves your life. God tends to present a full palate for each of us to use when piece-mealing His will together for direction and clarity in life. The palate of discernment usually consists of:

1. The Scriptures. The old book is inspired by God and should always be an active part of our discernment process. God will use it to get our attention and keep our hearts attentive to His leading.

2. Friends. God will speak peace and illumination in times of transition from those in our sphere of influence. I am convinced that it is impossible to know God's will in isolation ... we need people. When facing times of discernment remember three important words: "relationship, relationship, relationship!" God will often times speak through our faith community.

3. Circumstances. Often times God is speaking through open and closed doors. Just be sure you are not the one kicking the door open or slamming it shut. Rather, permit God's hand to twist the knob on your behalf. Circumstances can also include supernatural intervention. We serve a God of signs and wonders so who knows, maybe God will cause the sea to part, the bush to burn or make your donkey speak. Hebrews 13:2 says we may even entertain an angel or two on occasion. So, we should never discount the miraculous power of God as a means of communication from God.

4. Emotions and physical sensations. Romans 14:17 reminds us that "the kingdom of God is not eating or drinking, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Sometimes the will of God cannot be seen so much on the bottom line of a contract but will always include "peace and joy". Believe me, I know from experience that the peace of God is more powerful than any night time medication one can take!

5. Dreams. By this I'm referring to "your heart's desire." What has God placed upon your heart that could possibly be seen through flights of imagination? What do you day dream about when you think of doing something different? This could be God's way of saying to you as He did to His servant Abraham, "Lech-Lekha", Hebrew for "Get up and Go!" (Genesis 22:2).

One thing for sure ... we must always keep our eyes fixed on the doorways of God's will. How cool is that? Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your journey with Jesus today!

Monday, December 14, 2009


In an uncertain and rapidly changing environment it is important that leaders demonstrate courage and dependability. Also, as values are being questioned and negotiated, character is more important than charisma and competencies. Before people are prepared to follow someone, they want to know that the person is one they can trust. (taken from ChurchNext by Eddie Gibbs, page 114)

I wonder what main attractional quality hooked the people of Galilee to Jesus ... Courage, dependability, charisma, competency or character?

What canst thou saith?

Practicing Discernment # 2

Psalm 139:7,12 makes it clear that God's presence is unquestionable in life. The Psalmist writes, "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? ... nothing can hide You from me ..."

God is accessible 24/7 and one of the greatest joys in life is learning to practice the presence of Christ in the midst of our agenda and distractions, daily clamor and human desires that jockey for our attention each day. We must be committed to creating space and inviting Christ into our lives.

"To settle into a holy awareness of God's presence does not requires us to quit doing what we are doing, but to discipline ourselves to focus on God in the midst of our daily living and working. While it may require intentionality to practice living fully in the presence of God, it is also very natural ... very similar to being in love.

When we are in love, we are constantly aware of our beloved, regardless of what we are doing or where we are. We have tuned in to the opinions, moods, wants and needs of that special one. We have a natural consciousness of him or her that rises from the heart of love and delight. And so it is with our relationship with Christ. It is not hard to be aware of someone that adores us. It is not difficult to want to know what our beloved is thinking and feeling. It isn't a chore to share our life with Jesus who is totally wonderful." (Practicing Discernment, pg. 28)

Heavenly Father,
Jesus Christ is centered in my heart this day and I choose to be singleness in vision and purpose. To see only my Savior and how He may present Himself through the needs of others this day. I lay at the feet of Jesus my will for it is Christ who lives in and through me. Together we will work my job, engage the circumstances of life, and continue to grow the man according to Your glory and good pleasure.

Love, Adrian

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Practicing Discernment

I have enjoyed re-reading the book, "Practicing Discernment" by Fendall, Wood and Bishop. They remind readers that discernment is a daily necessity for all who get serious about being the people of God (xiii). That we are called to be under a Theocracy where God is an active partner in our decision making and we must learn to hear and follow His voice continuously (xvi).

Our ability to discern God's leading is the direct result of Christ's atonement. His incarnation and atoning sacrifice makes provision for the impartation of the Divine nature of God to take up residence in our mortal bodies. The very essence of His heart and nature can purge and control ours (see Jeremiah 31:33-34). The incredible wonder is not just that God has made this available to us for our own good through Jesus Christ but that He personally invites ordinary people like you and me into intimate relationship with Him and to follow His lead from the inside out!

Practicing daily discernment is born out of a hunger to know and be with God ... to be able to follow His lead. It is a dialogue between us and the Living Christ(23). As Evangelical Friends we believe that God is speaking with us all the time, whispering in our ear, nudging our emotions, stirring our senses, and lighting our way through His Spirit and our circumstances. That He desires to be our partner and to journey through this life with us. "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you will hear the Voice saying, Here I am, this is the road ... now follow it!" (Isaiah 30:21 CEV).

Heavenly Father, I consecrate my life to You this day. Your love has purged my heart from everything that is unloving and Your Spirit is in control of my life this day. I will journey to the left and right throughout the course of this day but I will not intentionally wander from Your presence. Thanks for wanting to be with me today. Love Adrian.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 30, 2009

I John 2:7-11 summary

Based upon my research of I John 2:7-11 (which I posted last week) I think John is telling his readers the following:

(7) My fellow earthlings, there is no difference between any of us though our color, race or creed may vary. We are all from the womb of a woman and we should look out for the needs of one another. Loving and caring for the needs of people is what Jesus practiced and we should do the same. It was the passion which drove Him to do what He did and it was the command He gave us to obey, a mission to fulfill.

(9) Any one who has had the love of Christ fill his heart will be sensitive to the needs of others. They will not turn a blind eye or deaf ear to their pain or need but will reach out to them as Jesus did. (11) Those who do not care for the needs of others simply prove that Christ's love has not yet purged their heart and that they have not yet found the real purpose and meaning to life.

Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fight Club

Hello Men.
Happy Thanksgiving! Lord willing I'll see each of you on Saturday for our weekly Fight Club. We will meet in the church Cafe at 7:30 am. Our concentrated study will be I John 2. Come prepared to share!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I John 2:7-11 word study

As I continue my study of John's first epistle I find the author's focus in this section to be quite intriguing to say the least. He changes the manner in which he addresses his readers and his choice of words not only present a need for social action but also seems to suggest that the benevolent care of others is a true test for identifying genuine Christ followers.

I will share my interpretation of this passage later this week (Lord willing) but for now look over the word study below and see if you do not draw similar conclusions to mine. Be sure to conduct your own word study for comparison sake. The more research we have the better our interpretation will be.

The Text: I John 2:7-11
7 Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. 8 Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.
9 He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Word Study:
"Brethren" (adelphos) meaning humankind or coming from the womb in likeness

"new" (kainos), new in the sense of freshness; refreshing

"old" (palaios), worn out; obsolete

"commandment" (entole), injunction or precept

"beginning" (arche), point of commencement; first estate or ranking

"thing" (hen-heis), appears in the negative tense meaning certain and abundant

"true" (alethinos), meaning truthful or truth filled

"darkness" (skotia), shading, dimness, or obscurity

"past" (parago), meaning to lead near; to go along with; departed

"light" (phos), to make manifest; fire within

"shines" (phaino), meaning to be seen

"hates" (miseo), to detest; persecute; to be loveless for

"brother" (same as brethren, see above definition), meaning fellow human

"love" (agapeo-agan), to love in a social or moral sense.

"stumbling" (skandalon), to be trapped; to be or do a thing of offense

"walks" (peripateo), meaning to be occupied with

"blinded" (tuphloo), to make blind; to obscure

"eyes" (ophthalmos), vision or sight. Also used in reference to a jealous side glance

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, November 20, 2009

First John 2:3-6 study

As I continue my personal study of I John I would like to share some of my research and personal translation of 2:3-6. John writes (NKJV),

"Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked."

Word study of the Text:
"know" in verses 3 & 4 - (Ginosko, Greek), meaning to be sure of; feel; experiential understanding; allow.

"keep" - (Tereo), meaning to guard; keep watch over or eye upon.

"commandments" in verses 3 & 4 - (Entole), meaning injunction; authoritative perscription; precept.

"liar" - (Pseustes), meaning a falsifier.

"truth" - (Aletheia), meaning verity; to become truth.

"word" - (logos), the use of the Greek article indicates "maintaining a presence (or state) of mind.

"perfected" - (Teleioo), meaning consummated; shown complete. Is a derivative of the word (teleios) meaning complete, right standing; of full maturity.

"abides" - (Meno), meaning a given place or state; indwelling.

"walk" - (Peripateo), meaning votary; as a companion.

My Translation of I John 2:3-6:
John is writing to those who are near and dear to his heart, his spiritual children in Christ Jesus. In this section he gives them the litmus test for their faith to expose the heresy of the Gnostics. He is saying the assurance of their completeness in Christ, the proof that they have experienced the fullness of His salvation is their singleness of purpose to honor the greatest command of the Christ to love one another. Greater enlightenment or higher knowledge and revelation is a tactic used of Satan to distract and confuse people, and to discourage the children of God. It is a dead end street which leads to nowhere.

Once Christ has purged our hearts with His love we should consider ourselves complete in the sight of God. We have been refashioned into the image of Jesus and in complete approval and fellowship with God. We are right where God wants us to be! The only thing left for us to do is to love others out of the abundance of His love which has been placed in our heart. If that is the desire of your heart then you've got it! You have become truth because He (Truth) fully resides in you!

Those who say they have experienced Jesus but still think they need something else in addition are deceived. They have simply not become singleness of heart and purpose yet. For those of us who have been perfected through the indwelling fullness of the Holy Spirit the operating system of our life has changed. We can no longer run the old program of sin. Our system of life is set by our Controller, Jesus Christ. And we live in that reality every moment of our day.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Pilgrim

"Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah. Pilgrim through this barren land"

A pilgrimage is a journey undertaken in the light of a story. A great event that has happened; the pilgrim hears the reports and goes in search of the evidence, aspiring to be an eyewitness. The pilgrim seeks not only to confirm the experience of others firsthand but to be changed by the experience. (written by Paul Elie)

Heavenly Father, Paul told the Philippians that "the righteous that is from You is received by faith; so that I may have fellowship with You, know Jesus, and experience the power of His resurrection working within me this day. And though I have already attained Your favor and I am perfected in Your eyes through the righteousness of my Savior, I will press forward this day with Jesus as a pilgrim to lay hold of that which Christ has in store for me. So shall I walk by this rule today and this rule alone will be my mandate" (3:10-14, 16).

In Jesus' name, Amen.

Men's Fight Club

Men, you are invited to join me in the Church Cafe this Saturday morning at 7:30 am for the very best coffee served in northern Ohio. Yes you heard correctly. Why else would so many guys get up early on a sleeper day? Well, maybe it does have a little something to do with Bible study, Christian fellowship and men who are consecrated to Jesus Christ. But one should never under estimate the draw of a quality cup of Joe!

Anyhow, this will be a good week to attend. Rumor has it that chef Bubba will be in the house and breakfast will be cooked to your liking. Just think ... great coffee, a hot breakfast, Bible study ... does it get any better than this? I think not!

This week we will continue to work through I John 2. Come prepared to share what God is speaking to your heart from the text. Be sure to look over your Fight Club notes and the I John material posted on my blog as a refresher and to allow the Holy Spirit to prime your pump for Fight Club discussion!

See you Saturday. There is no extra charge this week for the coffee grounds served with every cup. They're on the house this week!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ancient wisdom

"The problem today is not a non-church going community but a non-community going church." (as quoted by A. Scott Matheson in his 1893 book titled: "The Church and Social Problems")

Papal pearls

Only those who are "on the way" aren't "in the way!" (taken from: Rise, Let us be on our Way, by Pope John Paul II)

Spanish advice

Caminante, no haycamino. Se hace camino al andar.

Translated, "Wayfarer, there is no way. You must make the way as you go." - Spanish poet Antonio Machado

I John 2:1-2 summary

John writes,

"My little children, these things I write to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world."

Summary of the original text:
"My little children, these things I write to you that you may not sin"
- "My", (emos) meaning "proceeding from me"

- "Little children," (teknion) meaning "darling one; to be near and dear to the heart"

- "Sin," (hamartano) meaning to miss the mark and not share in the prize.

"And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."
-"sins" (hamartia), meaning to be sin filled

- "Advocate," (parakletos) meaning intercessor or literally the one who brings to parties together.

- "righteous," (dikaios) meaning to make innocent. Derived from (dike) meaning to make equitable in character and action.

"And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world."
- "propitiation," (hilasmos) meaning an expiator. Webster says an expiator is one who puts an end to guilt and assiduous labor.

- "sins," (hamartia) meaning sin filled

- "world," (kosmos) meaning the world and all of its adorning; all of creation in both the wide and narrow sense, including its inhabitants.

My translation of I John 2:1-2:
John is saying, My dear readers of this letter, you are near and dear to my heart because I am your spiritual daddy. I write to you at this time because I do not want you to miss out on the prize given to you through Jesus Christ because of the deception of the Gnostics. You were once sinfilled (not according to the original design of God; not being found in His image or likeness) but Jesus Christ reconciled you with God and to His original design for your life. Now you are one with the Father and perfect in His sight (or right where He wants you to be at this time, "telios"). Jesus has made you innocent (perfect, "telios")by purging you of a nature that was not of Him and replaced it with His. Jesus has put an end to your guilt and labor to gain God's approval. You have peace with God and no one has the right to tell you otherwise. Tell the whole world and all of God's creation, that Jesus can put an end to the guilt and shame of sin once and for all!

Thanks for stopping by!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What are we called to next?

The Church's vision and mission does not change. It is set by our CEO Jesus Christ. Our vision is to fulfill His Great Command and our mission is to implement His Great Commission. Our objectives in fulfilling the two can be tweaked from time to time, and we expect our leaders to help us develop an annual strategy to keep us forward moving but let's be clear the CEO sets the vision and mission for the Church. So what's our role?

Our role is to keep our objectives as a Church relevant in all that we do. Whether we are reaching up to God in worship, over to one another for support, out to our world in service or inward for Christlikeness, we must ever be evangelizing, encouraging, equipping, edifying and helping others experience to best, most fulfilling life possible. We must continuously discern God's will and assess the needs of our community and strategize accordingly. We must set annual goals that are "SMART" (Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound) and then follow through.

As a Church we must re-strategize and re-structure at least annually to avoid stagnation. Let me share with you the typical life cycle of a ministry. It goes like this: "Dream, beliefs, goals, structure, ministry, nostalgia, questioning, polarization, dropout" (Pete Stenkie, Implementing Positive Change). In every ministry of the Church we must interrupt the nostalgia stage (and the consequent downward spiral) with our vision and mission each year. A healthy ministry cycle looks something like this: vision + mission + objectives leads to dream, belief, goals, structure ...(assessed through the lens of vision + mission + objectives) leads to re-dream, beliefs, goals, structure, ministry ...(assessed through the lens of vision + mission + objectives) leads to re-dream, beliefs, goals, structure, ministry ....

It is our responsibility as a Church - to follow the vision and mission of our CEO. We must structure our ministry and use our resources in such away that His objectives are met. We appoint leaders and call pastoral staff to assist us in the setting and implementation of our strategy and we need to measure our success accordingly in all areas of our corporation. God help us to keep on dreaming together and may we never grow stagnant in following our CEO - Jesus Christ.
Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Right talk

Two Jesuit priests both wanted a cigarette while they prayed. They decided to ask their bishop for permission. The first asked but was told no. A little while later he spotted his friend smoking. "Why did the bishop allow you to smoke and not me?" he asked. "Because you asked if you could smoke while you prayed and I asked if I could pray while I smoked!" the friend replied (taken from "Leading Change in the Congregation", p. 133).

Sometimes it all in how you ask, Eh? After 29 years of marriage I have come to understand the importance of asking the right questions of Lisa. Most of the time I want to be "Mr. Fix it" when listening to her frustrations but one of the smartest things I learned to do when Lisa is opening up to me about her day or a problem she is dealing with is to ask, "Honey, is this something you want me to help you fix or do you just want me to listen?" Now that is sage advise for any man! Men if you have not dropped this phrase into your relational tool belt then I suggest you memorize it and put it into action asap!

Emotions are an important part of the human life and they play a major role in the Church as well. The Church is known as an emotional system which must be dealt with accordingly. If leaders ignore the emotional aspects of the Church then change will be hard to come by. Transition in the Church is like riding a roller coaster. Emotionally there are a lot of ups and downs, twists and turns.

There are two sides to the roller coaster known as "change" in the Church. The right side is logic and the left is emotion. People enter the coaster from both sides. Often times leaders will hang out with those who enter the coaster from the right and have little interaction with the masses who need to be validated emotionally through emoting communication. As emotion escalates in the congregation leaders must do less explaining and more listening. Unless church people have the opportunity to vent their emotion in productive ways to leaders they will not buy into change no matter how logical it my seem.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What's God up too?

One of the most important questions a Church leader can ask during times of change is, "what is God up too?" I guess the same would hold true for individuals in times of transition as well. As Romans 8 reminds us, the Divine is using "all things" we experience for "His good and purpose" (28-29), whether we are speaking corporately or not. Either way, we need to pay attention to what God is doing and respond accordingly.

I like Rabbi Lawrence Kushner's take on this subject (as told by Rendle in Leading Change in the Congregation). He says, "I wonder why a God who can split the sea, create pillars of fire and make the sun stand still would resort to a cheap parlor trick like a burning bush to call Moses as a leader for His people? The answer is not that the burning bush that was not consumed by fire was not a miracle, it was a test. God was testing Moses attention span and ability to observe his surroundings.

It takes several minutes for a person to watch a bush burning to discover that it is not being consumed. Those who would simply glance at the bush would soon look away and only see a burning bush. In this case God was wanting to know if Moses could pay attention to something for more than a few minutes and if He could find the Divine in the midst of the common. When Moses did, God spoke."

What an interesting concept to ponder! Could it be the trick to healthy transition is to find and view what God is doing through our circumstances long enough to understand His will and experience His miracle? We need to hold on and not always rush to hasty decisions less we may miss God in the process.

Human nature is to run off and fix the problem. To distance ourselves as far away from the pain as we possibly can. God however, wants us to live in the moment as Jesus describes in the latter verses of Matthew 6. He says, do not fret over your circumstances but rather focus on Me and the need to be transformed into My image. Then eventually the path will be made clear and things will work out for your good and My glory (my paraphrase).

Lasting change requires some time in the wilderness. It is in the wilderness of pain, anxiety and disappointment that God gets our attention and reveals Himself to the keen observer in a life altering way. What extended the journey of the Israelites into year forty? Dwelling on the past and grumbling about the present. They said, "If only we had stayed in Egypt and died it would have been better than this! Here we are in the wilderness... surely we will die from hunger! (Exodus 16:1-2). How short sighted. Why it was only a few days since they witnessed the parting of the Red Sea, and were presently enjoying the warmth of the pillar of fire by night and the reprieve of sun through a cloud by day. Hello?

God help us to be aware of our surrounding and search Him out in the circumstances we face. Good things will be in store if we do! Thanks for stopping by...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

These changing times (part 2)

In his book, Leading change in the Congregation, Rendle asks, "why did it take Moses 40 years to cross the wilderness instead of 40 weeks or less, which would have been possible if a more direct route had been chosen?" Rendle states, the migration must be viewed as an act of transformation by the hand of God. It took the people 40 years to reorganize. Had they made the trip in 40 weeks they would have arrived in the Promised Land unchanged. They would have still had a slave mentality, still thinking and behaving like slave people. But during 40 years of being held in the wilderness, they were transformed into a people who had a new relationship with God in which they learned to trust His sufficiency and to consecrate themselves to His will. In the wilderness they gained a new understanding and identity of self, others, and a new way of organizing their community that went beyond Moses and Aaron. Through the wilderness they were genuinely transformed by God.

When facing change in the Church, leaders must be comfortable with their time in the wilderness and remain there long enough for divinely ordained transformation to take place. To be a leader in times of change does not require the ability to produce an answer or fix a problem; rather the patience and courage to hold people close to the pain and possibility that God can use to transform them. It's time to pay attention to people, hear their hurts and wishes, note what God is doing in people, and hold still long enough for significant change to occur.

The role of a leader is to pay attention long enough to what God is doing and not run off to fix something. Their role is to help people confront their pain, disappointments, and anxieties without diminishing them but also without being overwhelmed by them. It is to help people dream dreams that will provide direction and energy. It is to help people escape the boxes of their assumptions and learned behavior so that deep change can occur and not be subverted by old rules. Most importantly, it is the role of spiritual leaders to help hold people in the wilderness of their experience, the chaos of not knowing what comes next until it comes for the sake of their transformation brought on through the sovereign will of God.

Can you view the "wildernesses of life" as grace extending from God rather than a punitive act? Can you find comfort in the midst of uncertainty or is your obsession to quickly make something happen in order to dismiss the awkwardness and uncomfortableness of the circumstances? Can you enjoy the journey through the wilderness?

Thanks for stopping by!

These changing times ...

It's the time of year when a pastoral staff generally begins searching the heart of God for direction in ministry. Our staff is currently contemplating their call to WHFC and at the same time probing God for next year's ministry goals and objectives in their key areas of responsibility. Even if God should nudge their hearts towards a different opportunity there must be objectives in place to maintain consistency in ministry through the time of transition.

Our church must be comfortable with change. All living organisms (like the local Church for example) must change in order to thrive. I like the words of Michael Crichton in The Lost World, as they relate to the Church. He says, the Church is a complex system with a need to strike a balance between order and the imperative to change to achieve and maintain health. Healthy churches tend to position themselves at the place known as "the edge of chaos." A place where there is enough innovation to keep the Church vibrant and fluid, and enough stability to keep it from collapsing into anarchy. It is a place of unrest and upheaval, where the old and new are constantly at war. Finding the balance is a delicate and spiritually discerning matter ... only at the edge of chaos can healthy churches flourish.

Do you live on the edge of chaos? What say you? Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Old Fashioned Hymn Sing

I invite you to join me in the foyer of Willoughby Hills Friends Church this Sunday afternoon at 5 pm for an old fashioned hymn sing. My friend Marie will be taking requests from the grand piano. It should be a fun time for all! I hope you will make plans to attend.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Membership class

This Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm I will be leading a membership class in room 152. Perhaps you are new to Willoughby Hills Friends Church and would like to know more about our rich heritage and contemporary ministry. If so, then I invite you to come and be more informed.

Or, maybe you have been attending for awhile and would like to be more involved and expand your influence and activity through the ministry of WHFC for the glory of God and the good of our community. If so, then becoming a member is your next step! Please call or email me if you have questions or interest at this time in attending this next session. My office number is 440-944-1026 or email at

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday Men's Fight Club

Once again we will gather in the Meeting house on Saturday at 7:30 am for a time of fellowship and Bible study. This week we will continue our exploration of First John. In preparation I encourage you to read over the last few days of First John posts from this blog and write your summary of 1:5-10. Keep in mind that we are looking for the plain meaning of the text. Plain meaning of the text refers to what the original readers would have understood the Letter to mean in their setting.

I hope you can join me this week! We will be meeting in room 152 due to set up for the Image Arts Festival. So grab your cup of Joe from the Cafe and come on in. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

First John 1:6-10

As I continue with my personal study of First John I must consider the historical meaning of the words the author chose to use in order to find the plain meaning of the text (what John's original readers would have understood the words to mean in their setting or context). Let's view John's words in 1:6-10 verse by verse noting the meaning of some key words. John writes,

6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.

Claim - (Epo, Greek), meaning "to tell something through writing or speaking"

Fellowship - (Koinonia, Greek), meaning intimate participation; social intercourse; benefactor.

Walk - (Peripateo, Greek), meaning to be occupied with; the companion of.

Darkness - (Skotos, Greek), meaning shadiness

Lie - (Pseudomai, Greek), meaning utter or proclaim an untruth.

Live - (Poieo, Greek), meaning to be moved within; to make or to do.

Truth - (Aletheia, Greek), meaning "verity - have become" (Strong's)

7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Walk - (Peripateo), meaning occupied with.

Light - (Phos, Greek), meaning to be illuminated by an original source.

Fellowship - (Koinonia, Greek), meaning intimate participation; social intercourse; benefactor.

Purifies - (Katharizo, Greek), meaning to be purged and purified.

All Sin - (Pas, Greek), meaning the whole of, or all there is. John uses two words for "sin" in this section which I assume "all" is referencing.

Sin - (Hamartia, used in verses 7 & 9), meaning offense; and filled with sin or sin nature.

Sin - (Hamartano, used in verse 10), meaning to not share in the prize (benefactor) because of condition or action; personal action.

8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

Claim - (Epo, Greek), meaning "to tell something through writing or speaking"

Sin - (Hamartia, used in verses 7 & 9), meaning offense; filled with sin or sin nature.

Deceive - (Planao, Greek), meaning wander, to be astray, seduced, to be found out of the way or off track.

Truth - (Aletheia, Greek), meaning "verity - have become"

9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Confess - (Homologeo, Greek), meaning to acknowledge, make a covenant with gratitude.

Sin - (Hamartia, used in verses 7 & 9), meaning offense; filled with sin or sin nature.

Forgive - (Aphiemi, Greek), meaning to send away.

Sins - (Hamartia, used in verses 7 & 9), meaning offense; filled with sin or sin nature.

Purify - (Katharizo, Greek), meaning to be purged and purified.

All - (Pas, Greek), meaning the whole of, or all there is.

Unrighteousness - (Adikia, Greek), meaning legal injustice; wrongfulness of character, life, act.

10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. (I John 1:5-10, NIV)

Claim - (Epo, Greek), meaning "to tell something through writing or speaking"

Sin - (Hamartano, used in verse 10), meaning to not share in the prize (benefactor) because of condition or action; personal action.

Liar - (Pseustes, Greek), meaning falsifier or one who conceals a truth

Word - (Logos, Greek), meaning Divine expression or revelation

As John continues to address the false teaching of the Gnostics he comes face to face with something we struggle with today; something the Church has wrestled with in every generation - the mixing in of man's philosophies with the interpretation of the text. The reason we study the Gospel writers and their subsequent Letters is because they witnessed (experienced if you will), the Truth firsthand (note I Jn. 1:1). His words and deeds became their faith, practice and teaching. They no doubt chose their words wisely in order to accurately communicate Jesus to their readers.

As Evangelical Friends we believe that any doctrine that does not keep to the plain meaning of the Bible is less than accurate. Our book of doctrine states that such teachings should be considered delusional in nature and avoided by the Christian. Sadly many today have tainted their understanding of scripture and skewed their theology by adding various philosophies (Greek, etc) to the interpretation of the Bible. Biblical Theologians (like Evangelical Friends) do not.

So what is John saying in these verses through his choice of words? I'll give my summary later but for now, I would like to hear from you! What say you?

Thanks for stopping by!

What do you think?

Your Yearly Dementia Test

It's that time of year any take an annual senior citizen test. Exercise of the brain is as important as exercise of the muscles. As we grow older, it's important to keep mentally alert. If you don't use it, you lose it! Below is a very private way to gauge your loss or non-loss of intelligence/memory.

Take the test presented here to determine if you're losing it or not. The spaces below are so you don't see the answers until you've made your answer.
OK, relax, clear your mind and begin.

1. What do you put in a toaster?

Answer: 'bread.' If you said 'toast,' give up now and do something else.
Try not to hurt yourself. If you said, bread, go to Question 2.

2. Say 'silk' five times. Now spell 'silk.' What do cows drink?

Answer: Cows drink water. If you said 'milk,' don't attempt the next question Your brain is over-stressed and may even overheat. Content yourself with reading a more appropriate literature such as Auto World. However, if you said 'water', proceed to question 3.

3. If a red house is made from red bricks and a blue house is made from blue bricks and a pink house is made from pink bricks and a black house is made from black brick s, what is a green house made from?

Answer: Greenhouses are made from glass. If you said 'green bricks,' why are you still reading these???
If you said 'glass,' go on to Question 4.

4. It's twenty years ago, and a plane is flying at 20,000 feet over Germany (If you will recall, Germany at the time was politically divided into West Germany and East Germany). Anyway, during the flight, two engines fail. The pilot, realizing that the last remaining engine is also failing, decides on a crash landing procedure. Unfortunately the engine fails before he can do so and the plane fatally crashes smack in the middle of 'no man's land' between East Germany and West Germany . Where would you bury the survivors? East Germany, West Germany , or no man's land'?

Answer: You don't bury survivors.
If you said ANYTHING else, you are in serious trouble and should schedule a counseling appointment with your pastor immediately. If you said, 'You don't bury survivors', proceed to the next question.

5. Without using a calculator - You are driving a bus from London to Milford Haven in Wales. In London, 17 people get on the bus.
In Reading, 6 people get off the bus and 9 people get on.
In Swindon, 2 people get off and 4 get on.
In Cardiff, 11 people get off and 16 people get on.
In Swansea, 3 people get off and 5 people get on.
In Carmathen, 6 people get off and 3 get on.
You then arrive at Milford Haven.
Without scrolling back to review, how old is the bus driver?

Answer: Oh, for crying out loud!
Don't you remember your own age? It was YOU driving the bus!!

PS: 95% of people fail most of the questions...

Thanks Duane for sending this along.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I John 1:5-10 summary

In verse five of the first chapter of John's First Epistle the author introduces a two-fold test Christians can use to determine if they possess correct doctrine and practice right behavior according to God's standards. The first part of the two-fold test is fellowship (1:5-2:29). In this section of scripture John begins by stating that "walking in the Light is a true sign of fellowship and that true Christians walk in the Light.

First we must ask, what do these key words (Light, darkness, fellowship, walk) mean in the context in which John uses them?
Light - (phos, Greek) meaning is the only source of illumination.

Darkness - (skotia, Greek), meaning dimness or obscurity.

Walk - (peripateo, Greek), meaning to be occupied with; as proof of ability; to deport oneself; to be the companion of.

Fellowship - (koinonia, Greek), meaning intimate participation with; social intercourse (Strong's N. T. Word Dictionary); benefactor.

Jesus Christ is "the Word of life" (1:1). He is the Word (Logos, Greek) meaning the full revelation of God and the source of life (zoe, Greek - literally meaning the life of God or eternal life). John is writing these words so his readers can experience the fullness of God's life that comes only through a relationship with Jesus Christ (1:4).

As the Light of the world, Jesus Christ is the only source of God's life. There is nothing more one needs (no darkness remains) to have God's life than to have intimacy with Jesus. Intimacy requires a deporting of self however. Intimate participation with Jesus only occurs through full surrender (consecration) of self. Only then will Christians see and experience Jesus Christ completely without obscurity (fullness of joy). Only when Christ's life is imparted through the full consecration to Jesus will the Christian become the full benefactor (fellowship) of God's life.

My testimony:
I asked Jesus Christ to forgive me of my sins before I entered High School. After doing so, I knew if I died that I would go to heaven and yet I did not have peace and joy in my life. Later on however, I discovered from the Bible a need I had for a deeper working of God that comes only through full surrender to God and a request to be filled with the perfect love of Jesus Christ. At that time Christ imparted His love into my life and I how have peace and joy.

What say you?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Eternal security

My friendly theologian Marie sent this Fodder for us to chew on.

The Shave
After twenty years of shaving himself every morning, a man in a
small Southern town decided he had enough. He told his wife
that he intended to let the local barber shave him each day. He
put on his hat and coat and went to the barber shop, which was
owned by the pastor of the town's Baptist Church. The barber's
wife, Grace, was working that day, so she performed the task.
Grace shaved him and sprayed him with lilac water, and said,
"That will be $20."

The man thought the price was a bit high, but he paid the bill
and went to work. The next morning the man looked in the
mirror, and his face was as smooth as it had been when he left
the barber shop the day before.

Not bad, he thought. At least I don't need to get a shave every
day. The next morning, the man's face was still smooth. Two
weeks later, the man was still unable to find any trace of
whiskers on his face. It was more than he could take, so he
returned to the barber shop.

"I thought $20 was high for a shave", he told the barber's
wife, "but you must have done a great job. It's been two weeks
and my whiskers still haven't started growing back."

The expression on her face didn't even change, expecting his
comment. She responded,

"You were shaved by Grace and once shaved, always shaved!"

~Author Unknown~

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why all the fuss John?

In the Epistle of First John the author is addressing a heresy common to the first century known as Gnosticism. So what is this Gnosticism that caused such a ruckus in the churches scattered throughout Asia Minor?

Well, that was a question asked at Fight Club last Saturday and my friend Kurt said he would look into it. This is what he sent me this afternoon. Thanks Kurt for your friendship and faithful attendance on Saturday mornings.

Anyone else want to contribute to the research? You know, I need all the help I can get these days! So, who will write tomorrow's blog for me? :-)


Consensus on a definition of gnosticism has proved difficult. The groups conventionally classified as gnostic did not constitute a single movement with relatively homogeneous organization, teachings, and rituals. Even the self-designation gnostic is problematic, since it is attested for only some of the traditions conventionally treated as gnostic and its connotations are ambiguous. Whereas some researchers argue that the term gnostic should be restricted to the sects or schools that called themselves by this name, others extend the category to include additional religious movements that allegedly shared various distinctive features.

Gnostics believe that they have secret knowledge about God, humanity and the rest of the universe of which the general population was unaware. It became one of the three main belief systems within 1st century Christianity, and was noted for four factors by which differed from the two other branches of Christianity:

Novel beliefs about Gods, the Bible and the world which differed from those of other Christian groups.

Tolerance of different religious beliefs within and outside of Gnosticism.

Lack of discrimination against women. Although Jesus treated women as equals, and Paul mostly did the same, the other Christian belief systems started to oppress women in later generations.

A belief that salvation is achieved through relational and experiential knowledge. In the words of The contemporary Gnostic Apostolic Church, humanity needs to be awakened and brought "to a realisation of his true nature. Mankind is moving towards the Omega Point, the Great day when all must graduate or fall. This day is also the Day of Judgment in that only those who have entered the Path of Transfiguration and are being reborn can return to the Treasury of Light."

Many of the so-called gnostic groups are characterized by a mythology that distinguishes between an inferior creator of the world (a demiurge) and a more transcendent god or order of being. Another frequently encountered theme is that there is a special class or race of humans that is descended from the transcendent realm and is destined to achieve salvation and to return to its spiritual origins.

Salvation is understood as a revelation that reawakens knowledge (gnosis) of the race’s divine identity; in contrast, the more “orthodox” Christian emphasis is on redemption through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Although the myth of a demiurge and the theme of reawakened awareness of divine origins have parallels in Platonic and Neo-Pythagorean philosophy—and in fact were partly derived from those traditions—it is often asserted that in the gnostic myths there is a far sharper dualism, involving a much more negative attitude toward the inferior creator god, the material cosmos, and the human body.

The doctrine of salvation by knowledge. This definition, based on the etymology of the word (gnosis "knowledge", gnostikos, "good at knowing"), is correct as far as it goes, but it gives only one, though perhaps the predominant, characteristic of Gnostic systems of thought. Whereas Judaism and Christianity, and almost all pagan systems, hold that the soul attains its proper end by obedience of mind and will to the Supreme Power, i.e. by faith and works, it is markedly peculiar to Gnosticism that it places the salvation of the soul merely in the possession of a quasi-intuitive knowledge of the mysteries of the universe and of magic formulae indicative of that knowledge.

Gnostics were "people who knew", and their knowledge at once constituted them a superior class of beings, whose present and future status was essentially different from that of those who, for whatever reason, did not know. A more complete and historical definition of Gnosticism would be: A collective name for a large number of greatly-varying and pantheistic-idealistic sects, which flourished from some time before the Christian Era down to the fifth century, and which, while borrowing the phraseology and some of the tenets of the chief religions of the day, and especially of Christianity, held matter to be a deterioration of spirit, and the whole universe a deprivation of the Deity, and taught the ultimate end of all being to be the overcoming of the grossness of matter and the return to the Parent-Spirit, which return they held to be inaugurated and facilitated by the appearance of some God-sent Savior.

Tuesday humor

A guy walks into a bar wearing a Browns jersey and carrying a cat that also has a Browns jersey on with a little Browns helmet on his head, too.

The guy says to the bartender, "Can my cat and I watch the Browns game here? My TV at home is broke, and my cat and I always watch the game together."

The bartender replies, "Normally, cats wouldn't be allowed in the bar, but it's not very busy in here right now, so you and the cat can have a seat at the end of the bar. But, if there's any trouble with you or the cat, I'll have to ask you to leave"

The guy agrees, and he and his cat start watching the game. Pretty soon the Browns kick a field goal and the excited cat jumps up on the bar and walks down the bar and gives everyone a high five.

The bartender says, "Hey, that's pretty cool! What does he do for a touchdown?"

The guys answers, "I don't know, I've only had him for 2 years!

Thanks for sharing this one with me Kurt. I loved it! Obviously the cat was not a member of our church :-)

God -vs- the Scienctist

My friend Chuck Ruth sent this out today. I have got to share it with you!

God is sitting in Heaven when a scientist says to Him, "Lord, we don't
need you anymore. Science has finally figured out a way to create life
out of nothing. In other words, we can now do what you did in the

"Oh, is that so? Tell me..." replies God.

"Well", says the scientist, "we can take dirt and form it into the
likeness of you and breathe life into it, thus creating man."

"Well, that's interesting. Show Me. "

So the scientist bends down to the earth and starts to mold the soil.

"Oh no, no, no...." interrupts God,

"Get your own dirt."

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Well ... what do you know?

As I continue my personal study of First John I keep bumping into the word "know." John chose to use it frequently in his Epistle. He was writing to dispel the false doctrine of the Gnostic and to remind his readers of what true doctrine and behavior looks like. What does it mean to be "in the know" according to John?

There are several words from the Greek which are translated into the English word "know" in the Bible. Each one offers a different meaning which I will briefly share with you in the next paragraph. It is important to note that John only uses two of them in his First Epistle.

The two Greek words John does not use are: "Epiginosko" - which means to have complete knowledge of something, or to have something figured out completely. The other word is "Proginosko" - meaning to know before hand, or to have foreknowledge.

The two words John does use in the Epistle are "Ginosko" and "Eido". These are great words which give meaning and understanding to the text in study. Ginosko means "to know intuitively, to feel the knowledge. To be one with an object both abstractly and dynamically." It is commonly used in the scriptures when speaking of sexual intercourse between a husband and wife. John uses "Ginosko" in the following verses: 2:3, 4, 5, 13, 14, 18, 29; 3:1, 6, 19, 20, 24; 4:2, 6, 7, 8, 16, 18; 5:2, 20b.

The second word John uses for "know" in the Epistle is "Eido". Eido refers to the acquiring of knowledge. It's often used in the past tense, meaning "to be taught or come to understand or realize something through an educational process or intellectual accent. The references for John's use of "Eido" in his First Epistle are 2:11, 20, 21,29a; 3:2, 5, 14, 15; 5: 13, 15, 18, 19, 20a.

John's point (at least one of them) in using these two Greek words for "know" is clear. The more we subject ourselves (eido) to the life and teaching of Jesus the more intuitive, natural (ginosko) they will become in us. When you study the Bible, whether it is Old Testament or New, look for Jesus. To become one with God's will and way is conditional upon Jesus. He must be the common thread we use to find meaning in the Bible and purpose for life.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Saturday Men's Fight Club

Oh my... It looks like an entire week has gone by since my last post. Wow, where has this week gone? Anyhow, this week (Lord willing) men will gather once again on Saturday at 7:30 am in the WHFC Cafe for Fight Club. Our study time will take us deeper into the Epistle of First John.

We will begin this week with section two of John's writings. In this section John is describing for his readers how Jesus Christ is the embodiment of right doctrine and behavior. In verses 1:5 through 4:6 John presents a two-fold test which determines if a Christian has right doctrine and practices right behavior according to God's expectations and standards. The first part of the two-fold test is fellowship. The following is a portion of the outline we will be using as a guide over the next few weeks.

The Two Part Test of Right Doctrine and Behavior (I John 1:5-4:6)

I. The First Part of the Two-fold Test for Right Doctrine and Behavior is Fellowship (1:5-2:29).

A. Walking in the Light is a true sign of fellowship (1:5-2:4)

1. God is Light (1:5)

What is significant about this statement?

2. True Christians walk in the Light (1:6-10)

What are the two results of walking in the Light? (1:7)

a) _________

b) _________

What are the three consequence of not walking in the Light? (1:6, 8, 10)

a) _________ (1:6)

b) _________ (1:8)

c) _________ (1:10)

3. To not walk in the Light is the meaning of sin (1:6, 10)

4. Jesus Christ provides forgiveness of sin for those who have not walked in the Light (2:1-2)

5. The benefit that comes from walking in the Light (2:3-29)

1) The assurance of knowing Christ (2:3)

2) Is deemed perfect in the eyes of God (2:5)

a. Perfection equals obedience in God's eyes (2:3-6)

b. Perfection is demonstrated through love for fellow man (2:7-11)

c. Perfection is the litmus test for ones love for God (2:12-17)

d. Perfection proves loyalty to Christ (2:18-25)

e. Perfection is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer (2:26-27)

f. Perfection is the only source of confidence one can have in preparation for Christ's appearing (2:28-29)

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Men's fight club

This Saturday at 7:30 am we will gather in the church Cafe to discuss the beginning section of John's First Epistle. We will continue to work through the outline I posted a few weeks back. I'll include another copy just incase you have misplaced yours. I hope to see you Saturday!

I. John Shares an Introduction and Invitation for his Readers to Know the Embodiment of Right Doctrine and Behavior (I Jn. 1:1-4)

A. John's Introduction to the Embodiment of God - Jesus Christ (1:1-2)

1. As God Jesus Christ is Eternal (1:1)
1). Jesus is in Genesis 1:1
2). Jesus is the Word in John 1:1
3). Jesus' life parallels God's life

2. Jesus Christ is the Source of God's life (1:1)
1). This life is Zoe
2). This life is the work of God - Logos (Greek)
3). This life is unstoppable - deber (Hebrew)

3. John's Testimony about Jesus Christ (1:1)
1). John is testifying against Docetism (a form of Gnosticism)
(1) Docetism taught that all matter is evil
(2) Docetism taught that sin cannot be separated from the material nature of man
(3) Docetism taught that if Jesus Christ was divine and sinless he had to be a spirit who simply appeared in human form.

2). John's testimony is as a credible witness (1:3)
(1) He saw Jesus with his own eyes (beheld, KJV: watched for a long time)
(2) He touched Jesus with his own hands
(3) He heard Jesus with his own ears
(4) Later John writes, "this is how you test if a person/spirit is from God: can they say Jesus Christ came in the flesh" (4:2)

B. John's Invitation for his Readers to Know the Embodiment of Right Doctrine and Behavior (1:3-4).

1. Fellowship is the Reason for the Invitation (1:3)
1) Fellowship refers to relationship
2) Fellowship connotes a mutual sharing of life forces
3) John wants his readers to have fellowship with one another, God, Jesus

2. Fellowship provides complete joy (1:4)
1) A divine joy
2) Complete joy (360 degree - up, in, out, and over)

3. Fellowship means to walk in the reality of truth and revelation

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What can I control? (part 2)

Have you noticed that there is really not a whole lot in life we can control? For example, I received my first Christmas card today! What's up with that? If I was in control there would be no Christmas cards sent until after Thanksgiving Day weekend. My heart would have been much more receptive to the salesman had he sent me a bag of peanut M & M's in a Halloween card or a "thinking of you" penned in a Happy Thanksgiving card. Oh well, that is just another one of those things (variables) that I cannot control in life.

Recently I dug out some old Systems notes from my doctoral studies and refreshed myself on the "Holon" principle referred to a lot in the field of conflict management. It's a theory put forth by Arthur Koestler which suggests that everything is always a part and a whole simultaneously. It alerts leaders to the awareness that information can be obtained from any level of the congregation and use to understand what the Church is experiencing at any given time. This is particularly useful to the leader during times of unrest or transition in the Church. The Halon theory also reminds the leader that in order to accurately discern what the congregation is experiencing at any given time they must gather information from all the levels within the organization.

So back to my original question, "What can I control as a leader?" The Halon theory encourages those in Church leadership to remain mindful that the way they relate, react, and respond to information and circumstances in times of change and unrest, is the property of the relational system of the Church and not just the individual leader. Eventually what the leader is feeling, reacting and responding to will impact others because all provide emotional energy and impact to the organization.

So it is beneficial for leaders to process their experiences well. And, to know the more effectively they are able to record, recall and communicate their experience, feelings, reactions to others in times of transaction the better off others will be in their transformational journey. Knowing what leaders experience in decision making process will build trust and confidence, and give hope to others in times of transition.

God help me to be such a man.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, October 12, 2009

What can I control?

I have enjoyed re-reading "Leading Change in the Congregation" by Gilbert Rendle. Many of the thoughts he presents stimulate me widening the narrow box(s)of my thinking. I like the insight he gives on what one can and cannot control in leadership. Rendle writes, "Given the variables of the world today and the impact it has on the local congregation, only 40 or 50 percent are actually under the control of the congregation: Such as shifting values and lifestyles of people; people moving; changing neighborhoods, etc. These are just a few examples of significant change that congregations cannot control but impact the ongoing life of the congregation" (page 60).

Rendle continues by saying, that "it is the role of leadership to recognize the uncontrollable variables impacting and influencing the congregation and to inform people within the congregation. The role and responsibility of the leaders is not to fix whatever is causing the problem but to describe and understand what various issues or variables they will need to address in order to lead change in the system" (p. 61). Leaders are to be a point of convergence for communication and information within the local church fellowship and they are to be social connectors in that they invite people to the table of discussion and discernment to formulate a response to/for the information received.

What variables can a leader control? Rendle lists five that are within the control of every leader. One, present a positive identity (personally and corporately); Two, promote congregational harmony and unity; Three, generate enthusiasm within the leader's area(s) of influence; Four, be involved in spiritual action and social service; Five, participate in the programming of the congregation" (ps. 61-62).

I guess that is all I can really control as a leader. What say you? My prayer is that God would help me to be found faithful in each of these areas and raise up others in the church to do the same.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Men's Fight Club

This Saturday men, we will meet in the church Cafe at 7:30 am to study the Bible. Our topic will focus on the worthiness of Jesus Christ. Our study will concentrate on select passages from John's Revelation. Here is the outline we will follow. Please print it off and come prepared to share your thoughts.

Why do we worship Jesus Christ? Because Jesus Christ is Worthy of our worship

We will examine four aspects of His worthiness:

I. He created all things Rev. 4:9-11
Genesis 1

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, Word was with God … was God (Word became flesh 1:14); All things were made through Him. Without Him nothing was made

II. He determines the end of all things Rev. 5:1-7; 6:1-8
(5:1-7) Setting is heaven – “no one” is worthy to take the scroll of God. Some of the highest order of God’s creation is listed. (v. 7) Jesus is worthy to take the scroll from God

(6:1-8) Content of the scroll: the release of God’s judgment on the earth …identified as the 4 horseman of the apocalypse.

III. He redeems all things Rev. 5:8-10; 11-14
(5:9, 12) Worthy is Jesus because He was slain; redeemed us by His own blood

IV. He is worthy and He can extend His worthiness to you Rev. 5:10; Eph. 4:1
(5:10) He has made us priests and kings before our God

(Eph 4:1) He calls us to walk worthy. What does this mean?

Thanks for stopping by!

Surf's Up!

Leadership Weekly posted an article called “Open Source Activists: The surprising impact when leaders tap the power of a generation of influencers,” by J.R. Kerr (posted 10/01/2009). It states that not long ago the term "open source" was common lingo among technology geeks and computer programmers but few others. However with the advent of popular websites like YouTube and Wikipedia, the masses are now experiencing the power of open source platforms. They allow ordinary people, who were once passive observers, to now create and contribute to all most anything in previously unimaginable ways.

J.R. Kerr states that the younger generation has been deeply impacted by this trend, and they now expect the church to be an open source missional platform. Its known as “Wiki-ministry” and it requires church leaders to shift from a posture of command and control, and allow the people to shape and influence the mission of the church.

Open source is everywhere and it is changing the world. Thomas Friedman's book “The World is Flat” documents the way open source is changing how software is developed and how news is reported. Past generations went to a trusted authority, like the Encyclopedia Britannica, to find answers to their questions. The new generation logs on to Wikipedia, an open source web encyclopedia that doesn't just provide answers but allows users to contribute their knowledge as well. The Apple iPhone now has thousands of user-created applications available as a result of becoming an open source platform. The younger generation expects to participate in the creation and formation of products and organizations in a way earlier generations simply did not. This is a fact that the Church cannot ignore.

We need new ways to look at and understand our congregation. Its not that our old ways are wrong, rather they are simply too limiting at times. When we start to view the situations our congregation faces as spiritual and not managerial or problematic in nature, we will respond differently to them. We must view the uneasy situations we face in the Church not as problems to be fixed but opportunities for us to see the hand of God in our midst and discern His will.

“Open source” for us in this case involves people in relationship contributing and communicating their passion and discernment with one another. It involves fact finding, information gathering, with each one trying to figure out how to ride the wave God is sending our way. God is in the business of making waves. In His sovereignty He chooses the areas of change and influence for His Church. Through His stirring He captures our attention for the need to engage and change. In a healthy situation the Church will declare: “SURF’s UP!” and invite everyone to the beach of discernment and planning.

We currently have a generational gap in the leadership of WHFC. There is a missing generation who should be poised to assume headship of the congregation but are not. How do we engage them? How do we get them to the beach of discernment and planning with us? How do we open source with them for the health of our congregation? Ideas?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A matter of perspective

If people naturally assume their congregation is besieged by problems when dis-ease, anxiety and change occurs then the only response they can visualize is to identify the problem and fix it. But, if the Church can frame unrest as "Theo-emotional" (how do you like that word? I just made it up), meaning, emotion stemming from God in order to stimulate change and growth in His Church (a transformational moment) then leaders will seek to do more than just make things right using old paradigms.

Maybe we should consider "Theo-cycles" more often? (another word I just made up! I'm on a roll today!). Theo -cycles in the sense that God intentionally transitions His Church in change. This is not a new thought in scripture for sure! He seems to always be shaking the status quo. He instructed Abram to walk; Jacob to wrestle; Why look at the crazy stuff He had Ezekiel and Jeremiah do! He instructed Solomon to write in Ecclesiastes 3, "There is a season for everything" ... ready or not, here it comes! In the New Testament Paul tells the Romans that God is using "all things" for His purpose ... to conform His bride into the likeness of His Groom. (8:28-29).

"All things" ... Theo-cycles? It works for me. I can see God dumping emotion into the Church system in the way, creating dis-ease for the sake of our maturation and effectiveness. Otherwise like stupid sheep we would be content to graze down the same field and miss being lead to the streams of living waters and feast at the table He has prepared for us (Psalm 23). We would run "into the fields that are ripe unto harvest" with tools that no longer work.

Yep, the Church needs "Theo-stirrings" (nice word... You can use it if you want) for health, growth and effectiveness. So what are we to do when Theo - "emotion, cycles and stirrings" occur in the Church? One, embrace it as normal. Two, Assume God is in it for the maturation and effectiveness of His people. Three, come together in prayer petitioning God for discernment, direction and unity as a body. Four, gather as much information as possible, process it, fashion a plan and ask God to bless the plan for His glory. Five, talk with God and others about the feelings we are experiencing in/through the change process. Six, celebrate the relationship and passion God has for the Church and world as demonstrated through the dynamic relationship He has with both. Seven, anticipate more anxiety and dis-ease stemming from God (you know... that Theo - emotional, cycle, stirring thingy we talked about).

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The two greatest fears in Church

The two greatest fears associated with "change" in the Church today are: (1) there will not be enough change take place and (2) too much change will take place. Factor into this the idea that the Church is a living organism filled with free floating anxiety as a result of ongoing challenges and disappointments ... well you can see why people in the congregation search for what is wrong and try to fix it.

A lot of what the Church deals with is external in nature however. The world we live in is ever-changing, requiring the Church to adjust her methodology in order to address her mission. Change however makes people feel uncomfortable and most will try to hang on to the staus quo if they can. Instead of viewing change as an opportunity to "grow and go" into greater effectiveness many will look at the changing world and the emotional impact it is having on the local church and view it as a problem. We know from studies in conflict management that the emotional impulse of people prompts them to search for what is wrong. When they do not find clear and agreeable answers, they quickly try to determine who is wrong and label them as the problem. One of the basic principles in conflict management is to separate the people from the issues and to teach them how to talk about and address change focused on the issues and not personalities.

Rendle states in his book "Leading Change in the Congregation" that an emotionally/spiritually immature Church will generally follow the "Three P approach" when charged by the pressure to change. Rendle says, the three P's are "often quick fix exercises intuitively designed not to bring any real change to the congregation but to offer the feeling that a problem has been identified and something has been done. The three P's of problem solving in the Church are: people, programs and policy (page 34-35).

Rendle continues by saying, "The most popular people for congregations to change are the clergy. They often will call a pastor to change the staus quo but collusively enforce old rules that make it impossible for any real change to occur. A new strategy sounds and feels good until it confronts the old rules of people's tradition" (p. 35). Generally this leads to the demise of the change agent.

The second P is programming. Rendle states that because most anxiety "stems from poor attendance and money a congregation will invent a program to address the problem. For most, a common solution is to invent a ministry as a way of increasing growth in attendance and giving" (p. 36). However, "the rush to do something, to come up with a solution to decrease the anxiety of the congregation, subverts a solution to the deeper issue at the heart of the people and leads to greater loss of motivation, trust and intimacy (p. 37). The third P is policy. "The rush to do stimulates activity that leads to further discomfort among leaders so policies are created to control the anxiety" (36-37).

How do we avoid the "Three P's" at WHFC? Embrace anxiety as normal and view it as a sign of a healthy church. To remember that the Church is a living organism and not a business. Some business practices will prove valuable and some to be fatal. We must discern wisely between the two.

We must consistently remind one another that the intelligence of our Church is determined by our ability to communicate effectively throughout our organization and to gather, process and respond to information based upon our vision, mission and objectives. We need information! We must also frame anxiety that occurs in the fellowship as God presenting an opportunity for our greater effectiveness and unity rather than as a bone of contention and just a problem to be solved.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Saturday Men's Fight Club


This Saturday we will gather in the church Cafe for prayer, fellowship and Bible study. This week Kurt will lead a discussion based upon a DVD he will show on the "Great Emergence." This is a 30 minute teaching I highly recommend you see. The speaker is Dr. Alice Tickle and the material shared is an accurate recounting of the changes that have occured in the Church since its conception and what we are experiencing at this time. Be sure to bring a note pad. You will want to take notes and review them several times I'm sure!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A game for the church ...

There is a saying that Fredrick the Great (1712-1786) lost the battle of Jena(1806). That means that for 20 years after his death, the army perpetuated his form of organization instead of adapting to meet the changes in the art of war.

What practices in our/your congregation have been successful in the past but are limiting our growth, effectiveness and leadership?

(taken from Rendle, Leading Change in Your Congregation. Alban, 1998)

What say you?

What the Church needs now is ...

One of the problematic areas for the Church in America has to do with lay leadership. A recent publication by The Alban Institute states that for those who do serve as lay leaders in the local church, "it is not uncommon for them to become less active rather than more active in their congregation when their term or office is complete and they move off of a board or committee." A part of the reason for this: "leaders often times view their role as a decision-making manager rather than a spiritual leader."

Another problem we face with our lay leaders has to do with the changing times. The task of leading is becoming more difficult, especially for senior, managerial or traditional minded leaders. The old solutions and programs they want to revert back to more frequently seem not to fit the contemporary situations the Church faces today. Or, "they lean more heavily to the management side of the operation and can get stuck in the status quo that eventually strangles growth and development in a changing environment."

Another problem we face in the Church today has become known today as "the missing generation." Most churches (including ours) is missing a generation of people available and equipped to serve in leadership. For us, it's not that they do not attend but that they simply choose not to become members and submit themselves to leadership training and positions. This makes it difficult to pass on leadership responsibilities simply by handing it off to the next person in line (generationally speaking). In many congregations (including ours) the missing generation has interrupted the smooth flow and transition we need to to fulfill our mission.

Do you have any thoughts or suggestions on how we can change this scenario in our congregation?

(The quotes are from Gilbert Rendle's book, Leading Change in the Congregation. Alban, 2008)

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Please pray

Today I hosted a district gathering for our Friends pastors and staff. As district superintendent I am responsible for the enrichment, encouragement and continuing education of our pastors. Today we did not get past encouragement.

From 10 am until noon our men and women of God shared their hearts with one another confessing their struggles, frustration and hurts. There seems to be a cloud of discouragement over many of our district pastors at this time. Please join me in praying for their encouragement,to experience joy in serving Jesus, and experience unity of heart and purpose in their churches.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Working towards a whole church

The Monday Morning Insight posted a summary of Mel Lawrenz new book called “Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement”. The article offers some good fodder for chewing. MMI notes how Mel talks about the need for the leader to engage the people of his/her church. How effective healthy churches give attention to relationship, relationship, relationship at every level of the organization. They also cite a few of Mel's practical ways that any leader can begin to engage with the people they serve. Mel serves up 25 ideas. MMI lists what they believe are the "top ten." These are all things that we can try today.

1. Have a cup of coffee with another leader in the church who tends to pull in a different direction from you. Insofar as possible, make a personal connection.

2. Apologize to someone you hurt in some way that created a fracture.

3. Talk with your family members about whether you bring frustration from ministry work into your family, and decide together on what standards you will hold.

4. Find five things your church should stop doing because they are ineffective, drain energy and resources, and probably take away from the church more than they give.

5. Develop confidential friendships with leaders from other churches who can be a sounding board for you.

6. Take a prayer and meditation day to give yourself some time to assess your personal ministry right now.

7. Give up any desire to please everybody. Recommit to the role of the shepherd (who feeds, protects, and leads).

8. Think of some way in which you can “see to it that no one misses the grace of God,” by telling a story of grace sometime in the next week.

9. Discuss with two or three longtime, very mature members of the church what the long-standing history of the church is. Where are there deep-running fractures? Where is there unity?

10. Confess with God the ways in which you have been the cause of fragmentation in someone else’s life.


My thoughts on Leadership

My goal is to use a participatory style of leadership in my executive duties at Willoughby Hills Friends Church. The power behind this style lies in relationship. Through relationship I believe people have the power and ability to influence and affect others and to be affected.

I believe that power and change must be the product of relationship in the Church. In a participatory style of leadership all involved work together in dialogue gathering information, assessing the changes going on in the organization and environment and what these changes demand in response to the purpose of the organization. It also involves people assessing and improving their own abilities to respond to the challenge to change that surface both internally and externally. It involves using the leadership in the people who are present to make the best decisions possible and to be constantly looking for and developing new leadership resources.

I am convinced that for maximum effectiveness to occur through participatory leadership WHFC will need authentic, continuous conversation and genuine dialogue throughout the entire organization. This is my greatest challenge at this time. The intelligence of our organization must measured by her ability to gather, assess, process, and respond to information based upon the mission of the organization. In order for this to occur we need greater flow of information.

I am in the process of charting the current flow of information and hopefully I will be able to discover several areas of improvement and re-map to enhance communication and the vital flow of information.To this end our leaders must strive to keep two questions in the forefront of their thinking. One, what is the quality of relationship in the organization and two, who in the organization is not contributing? It is the leader's goal to remind and help everyone in the organization pay attention to the information flowing into, out of, and through the organization.

It is also my responsibility to pay attention to the overall relational vitality of the organization and provide a point of convergence for the flow of information particularly for staff, elders and denomination. It is imperative that I pay attention to the past and re-present it through various forms of communication so as to maintain consistency, continuity and help people connect our values with God, one another and their world in a contemporary setting. I must ensure that our vision be collectively shaped by past history, current practice, and future opportunities and call.

It is also my responsibility to build trust in the organization. Trust is essential otherwise the organization will be fearful and reactive to the information received and will naturally squelch open dialogue, curiosity and creativity. Trust is built through service to one another, showing respect, being truthful, acting appropriately, being competent and emotionally healthy, and by demonstrating a dependence upon the leadership of the Holy Spirit and a life centered in Christ.

Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings.