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.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Church conflict

Church conflict author and guru Dr. Speed Leas said, "the most important thing to remember when working in a hot fight is to recognize that everybody wants to quickly simplify the issues so they have a clear reason for killing each other."

Saturday Men's Fight Club

This Saturday we will gather in the church Cafe at 7:30 am for coffee, fellowship and Bible study. Please plan to join us. This week we will resume our study of First John. We will continue with our introduction to the book and begin looking at section one (1:1-4).

This week on the blog I posted information on the Epistle. Please look over the four posts and come prepared to discuss this rich and exciting book. Have a great day and I'll see you tomorrow (Lord willing).


First John # 4

My detailed outline of the first section of First John is as follows.

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
3). This life is unstoppable - debar

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!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

First John # 3

As I am studying First John for my personal enrichment I find it helpful to create an outline of the book as I go. So far, I have identified two key themes from my reading. John wants his readers to (1) know right doctrine and (2) know what is right behavior for a follower of Jesus Christ. The following are the main points in my outline. See if you concur with your research.

I. An introduction and invitation to know the Embodiment of right doctrine and behavior (1:1-4)

II. Those who know right doctrine and behavior will demonstrate it in their relationship with one another (1:1-2:27)

III. Knowing right doctrine and behavior is derived only through a relationship with Jesus Christ (2:28-4:6)

IV. Knowing Jesus requires Christ followers to intentionally intermingle doctrine and behavior at all times and in every means of their existence (4:7-5:12).

V. Prayer is an important aspect for knowing and maintaining right doctrine and behavior (5:13-17)

VI. Knowing and practicing right doctrine and behavior gives assurance to the Christian that he/she is a true disciple of Christ (5:18-21)

What say you?

Thanks for stopping by!

Trust the Word

The Apostle Paul writes,
"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All of this is from God who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ ... And he has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf, Be reconciled to God" (II Corinthians 5:17-20, NIV).

As Christ followers we must trust the word of the Apostle that through Jesus Christ, provision has been made to reconcile the whole world unto God. The crux of this is seen through Paul's use of the Greek word katallage - meaning to unite and/or restore to divine favor. Here the written text is declaring that the Living Word - Jesus Christ (Logos, John 1:1, 14), provided the means to restore all of God's creation to its original intent.

Our understanding of Logos, referring to Christ, is partially derived from the Old Testament word, "dabar". It is translated from the Hebrew in our English Bibles as "word" but has significant implication in that it refers to both word and action as being one in the same. Dabar is both substance and process together. An example of this is seen in Genesis 1:3, when "God said, Let there is light; and there was light."

God's words have power and cannot simply be undone. When God declared he was reconciling the world unto himself through Jesus, he was not only communicating his heart's desire for his creation but was providing the means and initiating the process as well. As followers of Christ we must trust the word which presents Jesus as the embodiment of God who came to earth and set into motion an irreversible, world altering process which has taken hold in us, is actively working in the world today, and is something we are called to participate in for the glory of God.

To not participate in the reconciliation process of the world then is to stand in the way of God. Thus, we must lay down our differences and come together with our fellow man in order to fulfill the command of Christ to love both God and people unconditionally. As ambassadors of the Word we must unite our hearts and pool our resources in actively seeking the best, most fulfilling life possible for all of human kind. We must seek to make God's creation a better place through our word and deed demonstrating that "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us ... we have experienced his glory and been transformed through his grace and mercy ... and Jesus is actively sharing his blessing with the world" (John 1:14-16). Together we must trust the Word to this end!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The love of God

"If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on the door!" (as told by Bible teacher Evelyn Laycock)

First John # 2

Church tradition credits the Apostle John with penning the three Epistles of John. The author's name is not stated in any of the Epistles but the author does address himself as "the elder" in both Second and Third John (verse 1). In this context scholars believe this would have been a title given to an Apostle. Assuming so, John is the logical fit. The writing style and vocabulary of the three Epistles is similar to that of the Fourth Gospel and the dating of the Epistles is near the end of the first century. Historically we know that John would have been alive at that time.

the key word for the Epistle of First John is "know." It is found in the key verse (First John 5:13) and in numerous other verses as well. John also used "know" as a key word in the Fourth Gospel. He wants his readers to know there is nothing more important in life than to know the life and teachings of Jesus. By studying and emulating the life and teachings of Christ the Believer will know right doctrine and behavior.

There are two important phrases found in the Gospel and Epistles that bear John's name: "God is light" and "God is love." Light refers to doctrine and Love speaks of behavior. For those of us who want to please God our focus must be on Jesus Christ. He is the full manifestation of God in flesh and His example is the embodiment of the doctrine and behavior of God Himself.

As a follower of Jesus Christ I encourage you to be a student of the Gospels and the Epistles of John. Read and study the words in red because they are the articles of God. Note the behavior of Jesus for it is a true reflection of the heart of God which we are to emulate for His glory.

"He who loves his brother abides in the light" (I John 2:10)

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The journey of life

"It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end" (Ursula Leguin) ..... "Luggage is for the journey, not the journey for the luggage" (Jesuit theologian Gerard Hughes)

First John # 1

The book of First John is known as a general epistle because it contains no specific address to which it was sent. Tradition says it was circulated throughout several Asian churches near the end of the first century. William Barclay's take on the book is, "it is a pastoral letter of desperation written in words that are loving and anxious" (Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, pg 3).

Tradition holds that John was writing to offset the false teachers traveling through the churches in Asia espousing a form of Gnosticism. These teachers were most likely former prominent Jewish Christians who forfeited their faith in Jesus and fell prey to the teachings of the Gnosticism. The Gnostics believed they had a special relationship with God and could do no wrong; denied Jesus as the Messiah; taught that the incarnation did not occur; and, that one could have "higher revelation" - could know God other than through Jesus Christ.

The key verse for the book is First John 5:13 - "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God" (NKJV). Here John echoes the cry of other New Testament writers when he says "the important thing is to "know" Jesus Christ. May that be our daily passion for living -"to know the fullness of Jesus Christ." He is the "Revelation" of God. He is the God who became flesh and dwelt among us. Enlightenment comes to those who love Jesus Christ and live daily with and for Him, surrender their whole life to Him permitting Him to fill their heart with His love, and choose to study His teachings and emulate His life.

Do you "know Him" today?

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Saturday Men's Fight Club

Men, we will be in the church cafe this Saturday at 7:30 am for coffee, fellowship, and Bible study. This week we will begin a study of I John. Read up!

Sunday night's Bible study guide

This week we will once again study the topics of love and holiness. We will revisit the simple claim from scripture that God is love (I John 4:8, 16) and how it resides at the center of our understanding of divine holiness, and again how this three-word phrase sheds light on what it means to be holy. "God is love" illustrates the whole of the Bible's testimony regarding the character and identity of God.

Leftovers from last week:
There are couple of items from last week's we still need to discuss before we move deeper into our study:

1. (I John 3:16-17) God's love (agape) acts to promote well-being when responding to the caused ill-being. In other words, God's love repays evil with good. (Oord, Relational Holiness, pg. 79)

Example: God's love responded to man's sin by acting in a way that promoted abundant life (Romans 5:8).

2. If we love God ... we will respond to those who sin against us by acting/treating them in ways that promote abundant life (Romans 12:14).

3. How is God's love expressed to His creation?
(1) God's love (agape) is demonstrated to His creation through "eros". An expression of sensuality that conveys the value, beauty and desirability of a person or object to God. Eros promotes well-being of His creation by affirming and enjoying what is valuable to Him.

Can you recall any examples of this from the scriptures?

(2) God's love (agape) is also demonstrated through "philia" - a cooperative friendship. God's love promotes well-being by acting out His value for relationship with His creation.

Can you recall examples of this from the scriptures?

4. God's love is manifest in these distinct ways. He perfectly demonstrates them "agape-unconditionally, (Omni-benevolently) to His creation. When we love in the proper context we are holy as God is holy. When we choose the best (act in agape-love through eros, philia) to which God calls in any particular moment we are acting in holiness. Walking in holiness is our moment by moment response to God's love.

5. Holiness is the result of a distinct and subsequent work(s) of grace that occurs at the time when a Christ follower fully surrenders self to Christ. At this time the believer's heart is filled with God's complete and perfect love which then pushes out of man's heart the things that have been in rebellion to God's love. Living the life of holiness then is abiding in the love of God - demonstrating the full manifestation of agape love to God, others, creation and self.

This week's material: focuses on the main reason why we love.

6. We love because Jesus Christ is God (I John 4:15; 4:9-10; John 1:1, 14) Jesus shares fully in God's character and being.

7. We love because we have fellowship with Jesus (I Jn. 1:3; 2:6; 3:23. Fellowship means to walk as He walked.

8. We love because Jesus' love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5)

9. MAYBE THE MOST IMPORTANT REASON... We love because Jesus first loved us (I Jn. 4:11-12, 19). A perfect love responds to others because God first loved us.

What implications does this have for us?

Oord, Relational Holiness, Beacon Hill, 2005
Sellon & Smith, Practicing Right Relationship, Alban, 2005
Len Sweet, So Beautiful, David C. Cook, 2009

I hope to see you Sunday night. Please come prepared to discuss this important topic. Thanks for stopping by!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Monkey and the Fish

An Eastern parable tells the story of how a typhoon stranded a monkey on an island. In a protected place on the shore, while waiting for the raging waters to recede, he spotted a fish swimming against the current. It seemed to the monkey that the fish was struggling and needed assistance. Being of kind heart, the monkey resolved to help the fish.

At considerable risk to himself, the monkey moved far out on the precarious limb of a tree, reached down, and snatched the fish from the waters. Scurrying back to the safety of his shelter, he carefully laid the fish on dry ground. For a few moments the fish showed signs of great excitement but soon settled into a peaceful rest and died.

The parable you just read starts out Dave Gibbons' book titled, "The Monkey and the Fish". In the book Gibbons talks about how the Church sometimes tries to help people but ends up hurting them. What are some ways our church may be acting like the monkey?

Spiders on organization

Healthy churches are complex in nature. The metaphor of the spider and web illustrate this point when it comes to gathering and processing information. A spider web has many connections but unlike a fishnet for example, the connections are all convergent. Often a spider will sit at the point of origination (convergent) and respond and process the trapping of the web. The point of convergence may be on the web or at a central location near the base of several webs ("If This is the Way the World Works", Avery & Gaede, pages 43 & 53).

The church must create many webs in which to gather information but the point of origination for each informational web created as well as the assessment of the information gathered must be "convergent", based upon WHFC's identity: the stated reason why we exist. Our vision, mission and objectives are the core values that give us continuity. Commitment and loyalty by all to the stated purpose of the congregation is essential for the well-being of the organization.

"Change and health in the church is situational; it is based upon the interconnectedness between the information gathered, the purpose of the organization and her ability to respond to the information received. It also requires a web of relationships with strong interconnectedness and leaders in the web who can learn to stand forward, stand behind and stand beside the web welcoming surprises, being curious about differences, delighting in inventiveness, and nurturing and connecting people in relationship" (Leadership Without Easy Answers by Ron Heifetz).

So who wants to help be a spider web builder for God? And, what questions do we need to ask the general congregation to begin gathering the life giving information we need? What say you?

Gandhi on leadership

There go my people, I must hurry and catch up with them.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein said, "The kind of thinking that will solve the world's problems will be of a different order to the kind of thinking that created those problems in the first place."

taken from Frost & Hirsch, The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the Twenty-first Century Church, page 7).

Monday, September 14, 2009


Autopoiesis is a word derived from the Greek and means "auto" - self and "poiesis" - creation. It is the fundamental process for creating and renewing self, for growth and change. Living systems do not self create in isolation however. They must be in constant communication with their environment. Information must flow freely to and from the system as well as within the system.

A healthy system will reorganize itself to deal with the new information. They are adaptive and resilient, rather than rigid and unchanging. A healthy organization will cope with new information; they will actively seek it, because this information tells the system how it might need to change in order to survive and grow.

The system processes the information based upon her identity. Identity is derived from a clear mission statement that communicates who they are and why they exist: the values, shared beliefs and desires, and state the objectives of the organization. From this she will determine what does and does not belong in the system. Change will promote stability in a system that has a clear identity and will enable her to develop in the way of her own choosing.

It is the leader's role to structure conversation to bring forth the information that will raise the intelligence of the organization. We must be willing to look beyond the obvious for information. We must converse with the Sunday school student and the home bound-not only people who serve on a board or committee. We must interview local owners of business,those who live in our neighborhoods and walk on our streets. We must ask the opinion of the local school board members and city fathers, check the activity calendar for city and school sporting activities as well as the local demographics. Congregations grow in intelligence by exercising unbridled curiosity and working with the information she receives.

(The above material is from "If This is How the World Works" by Avery & Gaede, pages 25-35)

What are your thoughts on how we can better gather information from our environment to filter through out vision, mission and objectives?

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Call me

Call me (that is if you want me to have your number). Actually my Palm Trio died today and Alltel could not transfer my contact info to the new phone. So, if you want me to have your number please give me a call. My cell number is the same.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sunday Night Bible Study - LOVE

This Sunday evening at 6 pm we will meet in room 227 for Bible study, singing, prayer and personal testimonies about the goodness of Jesus Christ. I hope you will make plans to join us. Our study will be a continuation of a topic we began a few weeks ago on love.

A refresher from our previous study includes:
> Love is the core of holiness.
> To understand love one must study the nature and character of God (see I Pet. 1:15-16; I Jn. 4:8)
> God's essence is love and God acts lovingly out of His essence.
> People are holy as God is holy when they act out of God's love. To be holy is to love: to love God, others, God's creation and self.
> What is love? To love is to act intentionally in response to God and others, to promote well being.
- Love is an action, a verb-intentional and deliberate to produce something good.
- Love involves a response from God's influence (I Jn. 4:19; Rom. 5:5)
- Love targets "well-being." Well-being means to address the whole person/thing. Specifically to help people flourish: spiritually, socially, emotionally, economically,mentally and even ecologically.
> Love and holiness is relational - people are interconnected with others and environment. Love and holiness must address all demensions/aspects of the person.
> To love with God's love one must be filled with God's love. As the heart fills with the love of God it pushes out the things that are unloving/un-Christlike. Result: we are filled with the essence of God which we then live out in our daily life (see II Pet. 1:4).

This week's discussion includes:
1. What are the forms of God's love (or "How is His love expressed")?

2. God's love is agape (Greek) meaning "full, complete or perfect love".

3. God's love (agape) acts to promote well-being when responding to actions that cause ill-being - it repays evil with good.(Oord, Relational Holiness, pg. 79)
> God's love responds to man's sin by acting in a way that promotes abundant life (Romans 5:8).
> We must respond to those who sin against us by acting in ways that promote abundant life (Romans 12:14).

4. God's love (agape) is expressed to His creation through "eros". An expression of sensuality that conveys the value, beauty and desirability of a person or object.
Eros promotes well-being by affirming and enjoying what is valuable.

5. God's love (agape) is "philia" - a cooperative friendship. God's love promotes well-being by acting out His value for relationship.

6. God's love is manifest in these distinct ways. He perfectly demonstrates them "agape-unconditionally, Omni-benevolently) to His creation. When we love in the proper context we are holy as God is holy.

7. When we choose the best (act in agape-love through eros, philia) to which God calls in any particular moment we are acting in holiness. Walking in holiness is our moment by moment response to God's love.

8. Holiness is the result of a distinct and subsequent work of grace that occurs at the time when a Christ follower fully surrenders self to Christ. At this time the believer's heart is filled with God's complete and perfect love which then pushes out of man's heart the things that have been in rebellion to God's love.

9. Living the life of holiness then is abiding in the love of God - demonstrating the full manifestation of agape love to God, others, creation and self.

I hope to see you Sunday night. Please come prepared to discuss this important topic. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Attributes of Love

The French philosopher La Rochefoucould said,"there is only one kind of love, but there are several thousand different versions"

Mother Teresa on Love

Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within the reach of every hand.

Men's Fight Club

This Saturday morning at 7:30 the Men's Fight Club will resume meeting after taking the holiday weekend off. The topic of our discussion will be on the "Core Truths about Jesus Christ found in the Gospels." This week's core truth is: "Jesus Christ offers New Beginnings." Our key texts for study are: John 3:1-7 and Luke 7:38-50.

Please read the texts and answer the following questions:
> What is meant by the phrase "a new beginning?"
> How does one get a "new beginning?"
> What does this core truth mean for me?
> What implication does it have for the Church?

I hope to see you on Saturday!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Communication is the lifeline of relationship. Without effective communication organizations like WHFC fail to thrive (maybe even survive). Do you agree?

I have been reading "Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World" by Margaret Wheatley. She writes,
"for any system to remain alive information must continually be generated. If there is nothing new, or the information merely confirms what already is, then the result will be death. Closed systems wind down and decay ... the source of life is new information - novelty - ordered into new structures. We need to have new information coursing through our systems, disturbing the peace, imbuing everything it touches with the possibility of new life. We need therefore, to develop new approaches to communication - not for management but encouragement, not control but genesis." (pg. 95ff)

In the church setting, communication is the difference that makes a difference because it is that which changes us (Stafford Beers). Communication is not a "thing we can get our hands around, move from place to place, and expect to remain unchanged but is a continuous process which only endures over time if it remains in process of evolution" (Wheatley, pg. 97).

How can we improve the system of communication at WHFC?

Why do we Worship Jesus Christ?

This past weekend we held our annual church wide retreat in Vermillion Ohio. One of the highlights for me was worshipping in the old fashioned tabernacle overlooking lake Erie. Let me share with you my sermon outline from Sunday morning.

The topic: "Why do we worship Jesus Christ?" We worship Jesus because He is worthy. Please note several aspects of His worthiness from the scriptures.

I. Jesus is worthy because He created all things.
Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:
“ You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist[and were created (Revelation 4:9-11).

II. Jesus is worthy because He determines the end of all things.
A. He was worthy to remove the scroll from God's hand (Revelation 5:1-7)
And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.
4 So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”
6 And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.

B. He was the only One worthy to unleash God's final judgment upon the earth (Revelation 6:1-8).
Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.” And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.

3 When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come and see.” Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.

5 When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius,[d] and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.”

7 When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.

III. Jesus is worthy of worship because He was slain and redeemed creation by His own blood.

Revelation 5:8-10
Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying:

“ You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.”

Revelation 5:11-14

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice:

“ Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:

“ Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

14 Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.

IV. Jesus Christ is worthy of our worship because He makes us worthy.
A. We should walk (live) worthy of Him (Ephesians 4:1)
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called...

B. To walk worthy means to emulate Jesus (Ephesians 4:2-5)
2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Have you made Jesus Christ worthy in your life?

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

The "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" from the book of Revelation speak of the devastation yet to occur during a the time period known as the Great Tribulation. Dr. John Gottman states that the "great tribulation" for relationships usually occurs when one or more of the "four horsemen" present. The "four relational horsemen of the apocalypse" are criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling. Interacting with others from any of these four places creates and magnifies distance and distrust. Their appearance often triggers a similar response in others. The result ... relational Armageddon! (Sellon and Smith, Practicing Right Relationship, pg. 72)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Character is shown by the criticism we forgive - Abe Lincoln

Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit - Peter Ustonov
In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
You can reach a point in life when it almost doesn't matter whether people love you in the way you want but are simply here, nearby enough, that they just bother at all" - Jerry Battle in Chang Rae Lee's Aloft (2204)