Thursday, April 30, 2009

Work out your Salvation - 4

Phil 2:12-13 - "…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure."

I found the Amplified Bible very useful on this part of the above passage. It describes "fear and trembling" as "reverence and awe and trembling [self distrust, that is, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation; timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ]."

In other words, the fear (meaning "reverence, respect, honor" in the Greek) is toward God, but the trembling is toward ourselves! The fear speaks of working out your salvation with a reverence and awe for God. It is working it out (living it out)while always being mindful that God is to remain in the driver's seat and the Holy Spirit is to be the GPS. It is knowing that you, the creation, are in desperate need of the Creator's strength for any of this to happen.

This is the same "fear" that the Bible says Jesus delighted in. (Isa 11:3). Jesus delighted in putting God first and allowing the Father’s will and strength to direct His actions and thoughts and be "worked out" for the world to see and experience. The trembling however, seems like more of a caution towards us. It means working out your salvation (letting Jesus out for the world to see) while at the same time having an attitude of self-distrust towards your ability to lead apart from God's Spirit. Unless you are following Jesus there is vulnerability toward temptation and actions that could discredit the name of Christ and/or thwart you in being conformed to His image.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Work out your Salvation - 3

"…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:12-13)

The phrase I want to focus on today from the above text is "... your own salvation…" It would have been very easy for the Philippi Church to look at the Apostle Paul and think "wow, what a legend that guy is ... I can never be like him!" And they would be right, He was a seasoned veteran in the Way but they were not called to target the image of Paul. They were commissioned to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus.

As we examine this phrase "your own salvation" two thoughts come to mind. One, we should not measure ourselves by the life or standard of other people. Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith, the book of Hebrews 12:2 says. So we must keep our eyes upon Jesus. He is the lighthouse that will guide us safely home, so to speak.

Two, even though we all have been given the same salvation through the atonement of Christ, the development of that salvation will be different for each one of us. Our journey will look different at times and in many ways. We need to be OK with that. And, we can be if we trust God for the end result in each other's life. God is creative, unique, and infinite. He will fashion a plan that is unique to each and everyone of us. The important part is following His lead and not to judging the progress of others.

We are commanded to be "perfect" in the Bible (Matt. 5:48; 2 Cor. 13:11, etc). The word means in the original language of the Bible "to be right where God wants you to be." How refreshing to know that God has YOU right where He wants you for today. I may not be where you are in my maturation process and most likely you are not where I am. But that's OK if we are both in relationship with Jesus and fully surrendered to His leading and daily work in our lives. So, are you perfect today?

Thanks for stopping by!


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Work out your Salvation - 2

"… work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:12-13)

This week we are considering various key words and phrases from the above passage. As we breakdown the text keep in mind that it is stated as a command. Now let me say this as clearly as I can … The Bible never calls us to "work for" our salvation, but to work it out! In other words, allow that which has happened within you to be manifested outwardly.

The Christian life is becoming (through your everyday existence) what you already are (through your position in Christ – such as righteous,holiness and the fruit of the Spirit). The Holy Spirit indwells every Spirit filled believer and imparts His nature and expresses Himself in love, joy, peace, faithfulness, forgiveness, etc. All the fruit and more are the characteristics of Him who lives within the person who has surrendered to the Lordship of Christ. So allow your life to openly manifest these things. Work out what He has worked in you!

This is especially important in our relationship with other people. We should treat them like God has treated us. One of the dictionaries I have gives the following definition for the term "work out." It means "to make its way out". Hopefully the grace, love, and acceptance the Holy Spirit has poured into our hearts will make its way out for others to experience today!

If you struggle is working out the character of Christ in your relationship with others then simply consecrate your life to Him. The fullness and fruit of the Holy Spirit can only enter a willing vessel. Then, once His nature is imparted into your life simply "work it out!"

Thanks for stopping by!

Work out your salvation

"…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:12-13)

Sometimes it pays to take a little time to break down each section of a verse to obtain its full meaning. This scripture is a good one to do it on. The Amplified Bible, which does its best to bring out the true meaning of the text, translates this verse as:
"Work out – cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete – your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling [self distrust, that is, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation; timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ]. [Not in your own strength] for it is God who is all the while effectually at work in you – energizing and creating in you the power and desire – both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight."

NICE! There is so much meaning in the words of this text. I would like to take a little time to examine each part of this verse over the next few days and gather your thoughts as well.

Today's word: Work

First the text says to "work out your own salvation…" What comes to mind when you think of the word work? What comes to my mind initially is effort, time, labor, energy, and spending resources. It doesn’t matter what the subject is, the word work implies putting time and energy into a task. You may "work on your tennis game", or "work at your marriage."

The thought implies spending time and effort to improve or perfect something. Well, in its context here, the object of our work is our salvation. It is speaking of putting time and energy into your relationship with Jesus Christ. Making the relationship a priority. For a married couple, "working at their marriage" involves spending time together, communicating effectively, being open, vulnerable and transparent. A healthy marriage should be measured by the couple's ability to share the "whole" of their lives with one another. So it is with our relationship with Jesus.

Today I encourage you to define "working out your salvation" as "rest." That's not an oxymoron. It actually takes work to rest. We must labor against the urge to contribute to Christ's completeness and to overcome the need to earn peace in our soul. We must rest in the atoning work of Jesus knowing full well that we cannot add to it through human effort.

Today I encourage you to rest in the peace and joy you have in your personal walk with the Savior. Rest in Christ's ability to lead you to His desired result in/for your life. Work at resting in Christ.

Thanks for stopping by!


Monday, April 27, 2009

FEAR - False Evidence Appearing Real

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not fear; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9).

If my calculations are correct, this is the third and most emphatic time God told the Joshua generation "not to fear" in chapter one. It was imperative they did not repeat the pattern of the Moses generation who chose to disobey God basically out of fear. For them Proverbs 29:25 proved true, "the fear of man proves to be a snare."

Usually what stops us from following God's will is fear. Fear is often times invisible...a wall of uncomfortable feelings. Some of the foundation stones in the wall is anxiety, foolishness, doubt, exposed, weak and incompetent. If you have time today, read Numbers 13 and 14 and note how the wall of fear kept the Moses generations from entering the Promised Land.

Human nature is such that we like a padded nest. We spend so much time and resource building it that it becomes the familiar, our security. We wrap ourselves in the quilt of human relationship. Friends make us feel good but often they sequester us from following God lead however. They too have fear... the fear of loosing something... their comfort. They'll say, "It's not safe; It's impossible; That's not the way we do it; I won't let you!"

We pad our nest with routine to make us feel good and our lives seem consistent and normal. We feel secure behind the fence of acceptable behavior while peering through the glass in the front door of our success. We work to "get all we can, can all we get and sit on the can" out of fear of there not being enough or selfishness.

Fear. It will keep us from following God. It will sap our strengthen and courage. It leads to discouragement and the feeling that God is not with us. May fear not hold us back from entering our Promised Land. What's your thoughts on fear?

Thanks for stopping by!


Friday, April 24, 2009

In the Groove

I use to be a sports nut but over the past several years my interests has wained. Now I seldom watch a game of any kind. But my Lisa on the other hand follows the Cavs. She knows most of the players and will watch the televised games when time permits.

Clearly Lebron James has breathed new life into Cleveland sports and has put us on the map, so to speak. And I must confess, it is exciting to watch a game or two when "King James" is in his zone. Sometimes it seems no matter who is guarding Lebron he appears to be unstoppable and the ball and rim magnetized to each other. Now if we can just get the Indians and Browns "in the zone" we will be all set.

What about the church ... does she have "a zone, a groove or a sweet spot" per se? What would "in the zone" look like for Willoughby Hills Friends? I value your input.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Anointing

"Not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit says the Lord of Hosts" (Zechariah 4:6)

One of the things that can get overlooked in the day to day rigors of a church our size is the anointing of God. How crazy does that sound? On hearing that one should ask "what could possibly be more important in the work of the church than securing God's anointing?" The right answer is "nothing." But reality is that many large churches place a lot of emphasis on organization at the expense of other things. And one of the first things to go is securing the anointing of God over the work of the church. That's what one definition of "institutionalism" is: "an emphasis on organization at the expense of other factors" (Don Cousins, Experiencing Leadershift. David C. Cook, 2008. Page 184).

Don't get me wrong, I feel we need sound organization, planning, programming and effort in the church today. But when a church becomes program driven and results focused (meaning that she is obsessed with counting nickles, notches and noses), and not so much with being Spirit fed/led then it has become institutionalized. When the primary focus is on doing the latest and the greatest to get people into seats to hear the talking head speak each week then the church has become institutionalized. When a church resorts to shaming or bribing people into service rather than out of a call of God and a passion for meeting the needs of others then she has become institutionalized.

The anointing of God ... It's God's felt presence and manifest power in ministry. It's when He shows up in and through a believer's life and bestows His blessings on others. God's anointing puts the believer in a place of faithful, fruitful and fulfilling ministry.

So the question is: How does a church body acquire God's anointing? What say you?

Thanks for stopping by!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009


You have probably seen research statistics such as the following from Strategic Renewal International that reveal startling and distrubing facts about the state of the church in America today:
> Church attendance has decreased 9.5% in the last 10 years, while the population has increased 11.4%
> Over the last 15 years $500 billion has been spent on ministry, with no appreciable growth in the impact of the church (Don Cousins, Experiencing Leadershift. David C. Cook, 2008. Page 151).

The church cannot continue with "business as usual" and expect to reach the world for Christ or even survive through another generation. We must change. We need to let go of everything that prevents God's people from experiencing the power of His anointing and we must embrace the timely words of Zechariah, "It's not by human might nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord of Hosts" (4:6). It's all got to start on the inside. It will require a change of heart for the American church.

The church has been following an institutional model for ministry and it is time for her to return to a biblical perspective. The life changing power of God cannot be mass produced in church government or activity. It requires the infilling of God's Spirit which comes through surrendered lives to Jesus Christ and a dependence upon the Holy Spirit.

This will require several things. One, will be discontentment. Nothing drives change like emotional, mental, and spiritual dissatisfaction associated with ministering in the flesh and not by the Spirit. Are we tired yet?

Two, change will require vision. Discontentment should lead the church to give up dated practice and embrace a new biblical paradigm for who she is and what she does. Are we ready to embrace God's way yet?

Three, change will require prayer. The American church is for the most part, a prayer-less church. And what little bit she does engage is often superficial or programmed based. Are we ready to call upon God for help yet?

My hope is that our leaders will not follow an institutional line when establishing our strategic three year plan this year. Our old model has failed to produce the desired results and our new model must be forged from the fire of sacred literature and tempered by fervent prayer. How can we practically facilitate this plan? What say you?

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


The Entrepreneur Journal reports that 1 in 8 people will leave an organization because of incivility and not report it. Also their study reveals that 80% of those who experienced impoliteness lost work time worrying about the incident while nearly 50% deliberately decreased their work efforts. "People perform a lot worse when they experience incivility" (Chris Penttila, Employees, Leave your Attitude at the Door. April, 2009. Page 60).

The Apostle Paul writes, But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.
(Philippians 1:12-18)

In these verses we catch a glimpse of Paul’s heart and attitude. In verse 12 he reminds the Philippians that what has happened to him has turned out for good. That his imprisonment was for the promotion and defense of the Gospel (17). That he will continue to rejoice in suffering for the cause of Christ Jesus (18).

"Continue to rejoice in suffering for the cause of Christ." Wow! We know in Paul’s life that he was beaten, shipwrecked, thrown in prison and much more, but he always seemed to remained true to his calling and never wavered in the face of difficulties. His positive attitude showed through in every circumstance. He never surrendered to the circumstances of his life and always stood fast as far as we know.

This is a reminder to us that we should never surrender our attitude to our circumstances. We need to be true to our calling and purpose in life knowing that Jesus Who began a good work in us will complete it. May we be reminded that our attitude is controlled by us and we get to choose whether we will or will not go forward with singleness of mind and purpose for the glory of God. Let's choose to cultivate and keep a great attitude today for the cause of Christ and the support of others!

Thanks for stopping by!


Monday, April 20, 2009


Lisa and I just returned from a four day trip to the Smokies. It was a last minute invitation to fill another couple's spot from the church in a mountain cabin deal and it was a blast! It was a new cabin with all of the amenities and creature comforts one needs, perched high in Foot Hill mountains of Tennessee with a beautiful view of the Smokie Mountain range from our private outdoor hot tub. We had warm sunny weather and enjoyed the company of the dear folks we traveled with. NICE!

I try to visit the Smokies at least once each year on my motorcycle. It is one of my favorite places to ride. However this trip I traveled in a comfortable SUV over the rocky mountain tops gazing at the beauty of God's creation holding Lisa's hand rather than the throttle grip of my Kawasaki. I did not feel disappointed in the least. Lisa is the second greatest wonder in my life and truly the love of my life. The only thing that captivates my heart more than Lisa is Jesus Christ.

I am a true cyclist at heart and even though I was not on two wheels this trip I enjoyed the memories of past experiences with good friends and family as we made our way down some of my favorite roads last weekend such as Highway 129, the Tail of the Dragon in Deal's Gap, the Foot Hills Parkway and Cherahola Skyway, just to mention a few. Roads that are beautiful in setting and challenging in nature for a biker. Most leave little to no margin for error and demand one to stay alert and focused all the time while riding.

One of the first things a motorcycle rider learns is this: you go where you look. And it is absolutely true. Focus on a pothole and you hit it; look at the median and you're in it; gaze to long at the mountain vista and you'll kiss a tree or ride over a cliff. That is one of the reasons a rider never looks at the ground while riding - its a bad place to end up! The focus must be on where you are going.

Hebrews reminds us to "fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith" (12:2). As a cyclist I understand this concept well. "You go where you look." Allow Jesus to be the focal point of your life today. You will experience many things this week, some filled with danger other with beauty but do not loose focus with Jesus. Those other things are real and must be experienced but treat them more like a mountain overlook and not the GPS settings for your day.

Heavenly Father, as we begin this new week help us to center our attention on Jesus. The road we will travel will no doubt have twists and turns, danger and excitement, beauty and ashes. May we fully experience it all but maintain our perspective in Jesus. For the greatest wonder of all wonders is that You love us and want to live out our days with us. Both transforming and conforming us into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Forgivness - Part 5

Go to Hell?

Is that what Jesus is inferring when He said, "for if you forgive men of their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But, if you do not forgive men their trespasses neither will your heavenly Father forgive yours?" (Matthew 6:14-15) Several thoughts come to mind when I read this passage. One, the immediate consequence of unforgiveness is that it breaks personal fellowship with God.

Two, I am reminded that if if I refuse to forgive another then a root of bitterness will spring up that can defile myself and others. That is what Hebrews 12:15 says, "watch carefully so that you do not fall short of the grace of God: allowing a root of bitterness to spring up and cause trouble and defile many people." If I choose not to forgive it can defile people I care about. This is one reason why the Lord attaches a sense of urgency to the command to forgive.

But let's take off the kid gloves and play some hard ball for a moment ... Is Jesus saying in Matthew 6 that if we choose not to forgive that we will not be permitted into heaven? Does unforgiveness really carry such eternal consequences? What say you?

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Forgiveness - Part 4

Seventy times seven?

What in the world did Jesus mean by that statement?

Have you ever wrestled with this text from Matthew 18? Peter is obviously upset with one of his brothers and comes to Jesus in verse 21 and asks, "how many times should I forgive my brother ... up to seven times?" We can only assume what his motives were for asking such a question. Maybe Peter just wanted to vent his frustration or possibly he was trying to gain brownie points with the Lord in that Jewish law only required a person to forgive an offender four times and he was willing to go seven.

It really doesn't matter why Peter asked the question but the answer he received does. Is Jesus telling us in His response to Peter that we must practice "unconditional forgiveness?" What say you ... is forgiveness conditional or not?

I like this quote from Tim Grissom, editor of Familylife Publishing: "Forgiveness is a funny thing. It's like keeping your garden weeded. The rows can be clean today but when you come back in a few days, they're full of weeds again. It's a constant upkeep, because Satan would love to worm back in without you knowing it."

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Forgiveness - Part 3

Emotions play an important role in life and seems to impact every aspect of it. Yep, they are real no matter how many times we have tried to stuff or ignore them. They are there and will get expressed one way or another so we might as well take ownership of them.

Craig Boreth has sage advise for men regarding emotion. I believe it appears in the section of his book he calls "The Mothering Male." He has just shared how a Canadian study recently found that men's testosterone levels drop by as much as one third after their first baby is born and continues to decrease in similar increments with each additional child causing nasty side effects such as emotional imbalance, weakening of muscle, etc.(page 7).

Boreth continues with "men either you face up to your feelings and bring them out into the open, or they will fester inside you and be expressed physically. However, if you notice yourself experiencing symptom's that are very similar to your wife's, tell your brain that you know what's going on and you are not going to fall for it. I would recommend that you do not do this out loud, especially not in a public place with heavy security. If that doesn't work and you think you are becoming "too emotional" you may need to take more drastic measures ... quickly grab some Double stuffed Oreos or a bag of chips and a big honkin' piece of meat and watch TV until your feelings return to normal! (How to Feel Manly in a Minivan, pages 60-66)

Well, maybe that is not such sage advise after all but hopefully you got a chuckle out of reading it. Clearly, one of the reasons why people choose not to forgive is because they simply do not feel like it! They will state that their painful feelings are too intense.

However, forgiveness is an act of the will, not of the emotions. We will never be free from anger or depression unless we release the individual from their debt to us. It will take time but feelings of forgiveness and the ability to move on will come. Thank God, He did not wait until it felt good to forgive us!

Here is some real sage advise to take into your day. "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14)

Wait, it just dawned on me ... I have three children! Yikes, does that mean I have no testosterone left? Maybe that is why I bought a minivan! Hmmmm....interesting.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Forgiveness - Part 2

The Power of Forgiveness

Ephesians 1 tells us that "the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is at work in us..." Often when people talk about the power of Christ working in them they're thinking of the "walking on water" type of stuff. But the ability to forgive someone else is nothing short of a miracle and is a true demonstration of the power of Christ. Let me give you an example.

In the summer of 1994, over the course of 100 days more than one million Rwandan Tutsi were slaughtered by the Hutu militias. The brutality of such ethnic hatred shocked the world and left Rwanda in shambles. Many asked, would it even be possible to rebuild a society ravaged by genocide and steeped with such fear, hurt and hatred for one another?

Then the Christians stepped forward with a radical solution based upon the example of Jesus Christ. Instead of relying on the government to put things right the Rwandans were invited to tap into the healing power of forgiveness. The concept was called "restorative justice" and was implemented in village tribunals rather than in government buildings and courtrooms.

Through restorative justice victims and perpetrators would voluntarily assemble before the entire village and panel of elders. There the criminals would openly confess what they had done and cast themselves on the mercy of those whom they had grossly offended and abused. Giant billboards were erected along the roadsides with the words: "Tell us what you know. Admit what you have done. The Truth will heal the land." Slowly, forgiveness began to heal the land and the hearts of the Rwandan people. (this information was adapted from Revive, Vol. 40, Issue 1, Spring 2009, page 5)

What a wonderful picture of the power of God working through people. This is nothing less than the resurrection "miracle working" power of Jesus Christ manifesting in the lives of the Rwandan people. The question is: Do you have this same power working in you?

I want to encourage you to get alone with God sometime today. Ask Him if you are harboring any unforgiveness in your life. Consecrate your life to "walking on the waters of forgiveness" from this day forward. Make a covenant with God to seek restorative justice from this day forward with those who have/will hurt you ... for your good and God's glory.

What is God speaking to your heart today? I would like to hear from you ... Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 13, 2009



"Schadenfreude is a word from German decent meaning to take pleasure in the suffering of another." In context Craig Boreth is writing to new fathers and says "there is no sweeter sound than someone else's kid screaming in a public place while yours silently sleeps on your lap. (How to Feel Manly in a Minivan, page 133)

Schadenfreude ... I have included this phrase this morning for a couple of reasons. One, even though my babies are 27, 25 and 21 years old I can still recall some of the awkward moments of having a screaming kid in a quiet church service. For some reason the boys never quite got it ... didn't they know that the preacher's kids are not suppose to act out during prayer times, sermons or altar calls?

Another reason I am including Boreth's quote is because it is a theme I see over and over again in counseling. People just simply enjoy schadenfreude for those who have harmed them in some way or another. As if suffering for the one who has hurt us is some how viewed as righteous justice from on High.

I suppose we all have a story. Some difficulty, tragedy, or sin that requires us to respond. Like someone trapped in a loveless marriage, where the hurts keep piling on with no end in sight. Or someone who has been falsely accused, slandered, humiliated, violated or cheated.

Perhaps we have chosen not to deal with it through forgiveness thinking that we are not harboring unforgiveness or bitterness and yet we keep talking about how deeply we have been hurt or sinned against by another. Implying that we are merely helpless victims. But are we destined to live damaged lives? Or is there real healing for life's hurts? I say there is ... through Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 53 states "that by His stripes we are healed!" The Easter season serves as a reminder that Jesus Christ is all about forgiveness, relationship and restoration. We cannot truly experience it in our own heart, family or church until we learn to forgive those who have caused us pain. Until we are set free from the shackles of bitterness.

What say you ... What are your thoughts on forgiveness? Will it stop the power of Christ's resurrection from being fully manifest in a person's life?

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Manhood - Part 5

What lens are you looking through?

In 1896, Berkley psychologist George Stratton published the findings from a study in which he wore mirror glasses that inverted his view of the world. For three weeks his view of the world was literally turned upside-down. At first he would get nauseous whenever he would move his head, let alone when he tried (and failed) to walk. But after about a week, his eyes and brain adjusted so that he saw the world as normal again, and was able to function as he had without the glasses (Craig Boreth, How to Feel Manly in a Mini Van, page 4).

This quote reminds me of the need I have for God to define me as an individual and to reset my spiritual compass to true north. I need Jesus Christ. Without His atoning work in my life I would be separated from the redemptive and restorative power of God. I would be subject to the view of self and world that comes through the lens of sin that once sat upon my face. Talk about being upside down ... wow!

Isaiah 53 says so poetically that Jesus was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering... He took up our infirmities, and carried our sorrows, He was stricken, afflicted, smitten and pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.

By His wounds I am healed. That is my story on this Good Friday. That God loves me, gave His life for me by coming to earth through the person of Jesus Christ, suffered death on a Roman cross some two thousands years ago, was buried and three days later arose from the dead. I believe this... I have centered my life in Jesus Christ and I have reconciled with my God. Now He is in the process of transforming me into the likeness of Jesus Christ. Jesus has placed new lens on my face.

This is my story. What is yours? I would like to hear it.

Have a blessed Easter and thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Manhood - Part 4

"How to Feel Manly in a Mini Van"

I can be a sucker for a good deal. I actually found a book on for a penny (plus $2.00 for shipping of course) a few weeks ago with the above title and could not help myself. I had to buy it because the price was right. That's an unwritten law for men, you know. Besides, I thought it could be used as a ministry tool. Now mind you, "I" do not need such a book, but I am suspicious that some of my friends may. So I really bought it for them.

All kidding aside, society seeks to define men in ways that contradicts God's original design. Most men I know seem to want more in life and often demonstrate an unsettledness that either drives them forward in determination or deeper into despair. Would this be true to your experience or observations as well? What contrasts or contradictions do you see regarding where men are today compared to God's original design described in the Bible?

Also, what does it take to transform a man back to God's original design? Is it attainable, if so then what process is involved? Could the answer be a dog and mini van? Hummmmmm............. :-)

P.S. As a pastor I am sworn to secrecy. So men, if you want to read my book I won't tell anyone about your struggles. Remember, I bought it for you! :-)

I bet you are dieing to see a picture of a mini van tent, aren't you? Check this out!


OK, one quote from my new book How to Feel Manly in a Mini Van for your enrichment. Author Craig Boreth writes, "I am reminded of a quote from the movie, The Man Who Wasn't There: When you are in the maze you go through it willy-nilly, turning where you think you have to turn, banging into the dead ends, one thing after another. But when you get some distance on it, and all of those twists and turns ... why, you find out they are the shape of your life."

Thanks for stopping by!


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Manhood - Part 3

This experience started it all!

Yes indeed. The day after Lisa totaled my Jeep on I-480 I discovered that my "manly man" Jeep had a pink airbag! You talk about a blow to the masculinity! I waited 47 years for such a vehicle. It was Army Green in color and "trail rated." It was a "man's man" kind of vehicle. It came directly from the showroom with the smell of "testosterone." What more could a guy ask for? But a pink airbag... what's up with dat?

Well, the Jeep has been replaced and I have moved on. Now, I am proud to say that I drive a mini van and it feels good! Not only that, I found a great deal online for a "mini van tent." Yes, that's right. A mini van tent that attaches to the lift gate and transforms the average "run of the mill" people hauler into a state of the art "recreational vehicle." NICE! All feels right in my world once again.

Emotion ... feelings. Words that are not commonly associated with men. However, men are emotional beings. Yes a man's focus may be different in someways from a that of a woman when it comes to understanding and demonstrating emotion. But nonetheless, men have and value emotion too. How do you see emotion playing out in a man's life? How does God intent for it to be used?

Does anyone have a "Real men drive a mini van" sticker I could have?

Thanks for stopping by!


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Blogging made easier - Email set up

If you look to the left of the blog page you will see under "Favorite Links" a line called: "Get "Fodder" comments by email." Click on it and you will be given instructions on how to receive an email each time comments are posted on the blog. It can make blogging a lot easier.

Manhood - Part 2

I wear the pants in my family ... because I is da Man! These pictures prove it ...

That's Buster and he is the latest edition to the Halverstadt family. He is a nine month old shepherd/beagle mix that Lisa and Tim brought home from the Lake County Dog Shelter last Saturday while I was at work. Needless to say, I was quite surprised when I got home to discover a dog had moved in to my castle!

So you are probably thinking "how does this prove that Adrian wears the pants in his family?" Well, it's like this, I decided 29 years ago that "I" would make all of the major decisions in our marriage and Lisa would handle the minor ones. And, getting Buster was a minor decision. So you see, "I" actually made the decision to get a dog even though I didn't know it at the time. ANYONE HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT? :-)

The only issue I have found with my decision making process is determining the difference between a major and minor decision. So far, all of the decisions in 29 years of marital bliss have been minor ones (or so Lisa tells me). But, I want you to know that "I" am ready, willing and capable of making a major decision when one comes along ... cause, I is da man!

All kidding aside, the scriptures teach that man is to be the "head of the wife" in Ephesians 5:23 and elsewhere. Some may think that is an antiquated notion in the 21st century. Is God's blueprint for familial organization dated and demeaning to women? How could a women ever reach her fullest potential if she is not independent of a man's authority? What does biblical male headship mean to you?

I would like to chat more but I have got to go... Lisa gave me a "honey-do" list that I need to finish up before I can go to the office. Another one of those minor decisions, don't you know?

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 6, 2009


What is man that Thou art mindful of him? (Psalm 8:4)

That is a question asked by one of the Old Testament prophets in an attempt to understand God's perspective on man. Why would He love us so? What is it about man that God would give His life in ransom for man? That is a question each generation asks and the scriptures clearly answers in John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son ..." SWEET! That says it all, does it not?

But let's play off the first part of the above phrase for a moment. "What is man...?" Good question, huh? What is God's expection for a man today? What is a biblical definition for mansulinity? Sounds like good fodder for discussion to me!

What say you? Can you embellish this subject with me for a few days? As you contemplate the Christian male role today what topics/subjects come to mind for discussion? Who is man to be by oringinal design?

(Lady bloggers, I would really like your perspective on this subject. I understand if you feel compelled to post comments anonymously. But by all means, be sure to read the comments posted over the next few days. If nothing more you may get a chuckle from the men!)

Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Membership - Conclusion

For me this has been a great week of dialogue on the subject of church membership. As I stated in my first posting for the week it is my desire for more participation among our attendees in the decision making process of the church. I hope over the next several months our Spiritual Life Commission, elders and staff will continue to discern what is in the best interest of our fellowship regarding this matter. We have certainly provided them a lot of fodder to chew on through the blog.

I would like to thank those of you who participated in this discussion. I value your opinion on matters such as this. The older I become the more I appreciate the truth that rings forth from the old Quaker saying that "Friends do not go where Friends do not go together." As a body we must move together on important decisions and constantly assessing our practices for relevance and effectiveness. Through discernment of the Holy Spirit, open dialogue, and consensus we can get to where God wants us to be and continually stay there.

I am excited for Willoughby Hills Friends Church. God is uniting us through His love and purpose. We have spirit filled leaders who believe that God still speaks to His people today and they are bent on hearing and obeying His voice. I am encouraged to hear from this week's discussion that you want to include and not exclude people in the body life our church while still maintaining doctrinal integrity and the heritage of our testimonies. SWEET!

Heavenly Father,
We your humble servants at WHFC want to glorify You in every way. We consecrate our lives and church to You. Lead us we pray. May our joy be found in serving our fellow man and through the kindred spirits with have with one another. Please give our leadership discernment regarding our membership procedure. And Lord, as in other matters, we will patiently, prayerful, humbly wait Your leading and direction.

In Jesus' name, Amen

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Membership - Part 6

Organizational Structure

George Barna, Donald Cousins and other church guru of statistics report that the average church in America aligns with the following (or similar) organizational structure:
> Board Led
> Staff Run (or solo pastor)
> Congregation Served
> World Ignored

I believe a biblical organizational model for a church is:
> Board Protected
> Staff Led (paid/unpaid people who are commissioned by the church)
> Congregation Serving
> World Served

I believe the above biblical model is close to how we are organizationally structured at this time. We are still defining roles and very much in the process of providing our key lay leaders with more responsibility over the membership of the church (namely, elders and overseers). I assume a healthy change in the membership procedure at WHFC would require us to view the role of elders and overseers all the more in this way.

Instead of screening membership applicants for conformity to the doctrine and testimonies of Friends the overseers would focus more on searching out the relationship candidates have with Christ and their commitment to the vision, mission and objectives of WHFC. Then they would make recommendations for membership to Administrative Council assuring these two primary objectives have been met. They would also be empowered to spend more of their time and resources assessing the giftedness of members, discerning the calling of the Holy Spirit for ministry among members, making recommendations to the Nominating Committee for action, and assume greater responsibility to thoroughly disciple and develop those under their sphere of responsibility and care.

In addition, we would need for the elders to be able to spend less of their time and energy each month assessing and developing policy and procedure and function more in a biblical role of protecting the body of Christ. The scriptures make this matter of importance very clear. In Acts 20 Paul tells the elders in Miletus, "Be on guard for all the flock which the Holy Spirit has made you an overseers, to shepherd the church of God." Paul goes on to say to the elders that "savage wolves" would come and "speak perverse things that will draw people away." Paul's admonition to elders was to protect the flock from harm.

Peter tells elders in his first book "to shepherd the flock of God among you... with eagerness" (5:2). In Hebrews the church is told to submit to the elders "who are to keep watch over their souls and who will one day give account to God" (13:17). James states, the congregation should "call upon the elders when they are sick for anointing and prayer and to seek how help when struggling with sin" (5:13-15). Clearly scripture calls elders to pastor people as priority number one.

Specific to this discussion on membership is Acts 6:1-6. Here scripture presents the role of elders as given to the ministry of prayer and teaching the Bible and searching out needs in the body of Christ and the appointment of Spirit filled, qualified people to serve. Clearly elders are given the duty of delegation in the New Testament as priority number two.

I believe these objectives will require further consideration in order to change our membership practice from being "doctrinally driven" to "relationship based" and still maintain integrity in discipleship, discipline and screening for leadership. I guess it would be the Spiritual life elders responsibility to make all of this happen. What say you?

Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Membership - Part 5

He who loves disciplines... Proverbs 13:24

"Spare the rod and spoil the child; The Lord disciplines those whom He loves," and "He who loves disciplines" are common citings used from the Bible to emphasis the need for discipline in the House of God. As we progress in our discussion about church membership I am wondering how you see church discipline fitting into the mix?

Up until this point our church membership has had a strong affinity with the doctrine and testimonies of Friends. There had to be some level of conformity pledged and demonstrated before membership was granted. It sounds to me like the majority of people want membership to be more relational in orientation. Members need to have relationship with Christ and affinity with the vision of the church but not necessarily be in compliance or have conformity with doctrine and testimonies of Friends. And yet, most of you see the value of doctrine and testimonies.

So where does church discipline fit into your membership scheme? What does church discipline look like in your model? Do we not need some level of conformity in the meetinghouse? If our vision is to love God and people unconditionally... and God equates loving with discipline... then how is it embraced and enforced if not in or through the membership process?

Thanks for your comments and for stopping by today!


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Membership - Part 4

What I hear you saying is ...

That was one of the phrases I remember from the late 70's that was said to enrich interpersonal communication. I still use it some in counseling sessions today. It helps communicate understanding and clarity in communication. So much of problem solving requires effective communication. The issues/problems must be surfaced, emotion expressed and validated, needs communicated, solutions found, etc.

So, if I hear you correctly on the subject of membership your sense of the Spirit is:
One, the threshold for membership is relationship with Christ and affinity with the vision, mission and objectives of the local church. Two, adhering to doctrine and testimonies should not be a stopper for membership but has value in the maturation of the Christian life and in the health of body life. Three, discernment of leadership qualities should come through relationship. That one should not serve in leadership positions unless testimony is given by others in the fellowship that includes: call, character, competence and commitment on the part of the candidate. Right?

Who then has the responsibility to oversee this discerning process? How would information flow and to whom would it be funneled? This seems like it would be quite a task in a church of 1200 don't you think?

By the way, I like this venue. When you get all of my professional needs addressed can you fix the rest of me too? "How does that make you feel?" (That's another one of those psycho-babble phrases from the 70's)

Thanks for stopping by!