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!