In the Book of Joshua we read of an altar being erected by the Tribes of Reuben, God and the half-tribe of Manasseh. This action brought much to the consternation of the other Tribes of Israel. They prepared to go to war over this incident.
War was not necessary. The motivation for building the altar was not to provide an alternative place to offer sacrifices. It was rather a sincere effort to preserve the identification of these 2 ½ Tribes with the majority of the nation. The concern was that future generations would be excluded and shunned. The text says on this action:
No, but we did it from fear that in time to come your children might say to our children, ‘What have you to do with the LORD, the God of Israel? For the LORD has made the Jordan a boundary between us and you, you people of Reuben and people of Gad. You have no portion in the LORD.’ So your children might make our children cease to worship the LORD. Therefore we said, ‘Let us now build an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice, but to be a witness between us and you, and between our generations after us, that we do perform the service of the LORD in his presence with our burnt offerings and sacrifices and peace offerings, so your children will not say to our children in time to come, “You have no portion in the LORD.”‘ And we thought, If this should be said to us or to our descendants in time to come, we should say, ‘Behold, the copy of the altar of the LORD, which our fathers made, not for burnt offerings, nor for sacrifice, but to be a witness between us and you.’ Far be it from us that we should rebel against the LORD and turn away this day from following the LORD by building an altar for burnt offering, grain offering, or sacrifice, other than the altar of the LORD our God that stands before his tabernacle!” (Joshua 22:24-29)
Perhaps the evangelical church in America needs to re-visit this principle. The younger generations are abandoning the faith in significant numbers.
The church needs Leaders with the conviction and integrity to embrace history and restore the remembrance of the ‘faith of our fathers’!
Complete the following exercise.
Think back over the past 30 days. Make a list of the instances in which people did not do what they told you they would do. This may occur in a multitude of disciplines and realms. However, it occurs frequently in Customer Service venues. If you fly, the airlines, all of them, provide an endless supply of such events.
By now you are asking, ‘What is the purpose of this exercise? Glad you asked.
James Kouzes and Barry Posner are the co-authors of The Leadership Challenge. This is an anthology published three times over a period of twenty-four years. They ask respondents from 85 cultures around the globe to rank order a list of important leadership characteristics. Mind you, that is a very significant and very diverse control group. The responses have Validity & Reliability. That is called The Truth as perceived by the respondents!
Each and every time this survey has been conducted the same issue surfaces as the #1 expectation on the part of people when they consider leaders – - DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU WILL DO!!
Now go back to that list you created. Compare your list to this principle. It is tragically rare in the American culture when people follow through. There are instances when the failure to deliver is not the culpability of the one who made the commitment. However, it remains their responsibility. The proper response is deliver or provide an honest and timely rationale for the failure and a revised target date for correcting the failure. Caution – don’t hold your breath while waiting for this to happen.
All people, mothers, fathers, vendors and most assuredly people in leadership roles MUST honor this principle. It is simple (not always easy but simple) and so vital.
The result? This is so rare that you will be regarded as one who delivers what you promise with excellence. You will be held in high esteem. Most importantly, you will honor the biblical principle of ‘let your yes be yes’ (James 5:12). That matters!
Are you a Lemming or a Leader?
Lemming – A member of a crowd with no originality or voice of his own. One who speaks or repeats only what he has been told. A tool. A cretin.(www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=lemming)
Leader - One who takes initiative, sets direction, makes decisions that lead to effective personal and corporate fulfillment of purpose.
Fred Smith was a Christian Business man who started the enormously successful FEDEX. When he was considering hiring a man for a key role in that business he would say, ‘Lets go to lunch, you drive.’
If on that trip the prospective hire simply followed the crowd, got in line, waited at all the traffic lights like all the other drivers, his opportunity for employment ended right then.
On the other hand, if he actively sought an alternative route that did not require wasting time in lines of traffic, he was accorded the next step in the selection process. He may or may not get the job but he at least put himself in the running.
The Application – Leaders get things done. They are focused on an objective and they take steps to achieve that in the most ethical and expeditious manner. They do not follow the crowd. They are not ‘aggressive’, which is often abusive and rude. They are ‘assertive’, which means they almost always choose a path that is economic (time) and effective (accomplishes a specific objective).
Are you a Lemming or a Leader?
There have always been battles raging in the realm of Theology concerning the formation and validity of Theological Systems. They exist today. Some are quite intense and sadly some very crude and malicious.
The existence of different conclusions resulting from the interpretation of the text of Scripture is a reality. Paul makes reference to such differences in his First Epistle to the Corinthians.
No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. (1 Corinthians 11:19, NIV).
The challenge of the exegete is to come to the text free of pre-conceived notions or conclusions. This is no small task. Knowing that we are handling the very words of God should make every person engaging this noble endeavor think carefully and prayerfully about the process they apply and the conclusions they reach.
This brings me to my concern. Sound exegesis does not or should not produce any kind of “ism”! What we produce may be characterized by others as an “ism”. That does not ipso facto make it such. To engage in careful, accurate and irenic exegesis should produce sound theological conclusions that harmonize with God’s purpose. Every exegete is a sinner and therefore must submit to multiple valid principles of interpretation and also to a system of accountability. We should listen with humility to what other competent theologians say about our work.
There is a very important principle of logic that must be applied in this process of exegesis. It is the Law of Non-Contradiction. When two people interpret a portion of God’s word there are three identifiable and distinct possible outcomes.
1. Person A is correct and person B is incorrect.
2. Person B is correct and person A is incorrect.
3. Both person A and person B are incorrect.
What is absolutely impossible is that they reach different conclusions and both be considered correct. The Holy Spirit has one and only one correct meaning or interpretation for each and every portion of God’s word. Further, God’s Word does not say one thing in one place and then contradict that in another.
To characterize the results of sound accurate and irenic exegesis as an “ism” so that you may then posit your contrary interpretation as correct is to denigrate the Special Revelation we are privileged to hold and the God who made himself known.
I make no pretense or claim that I have perfected this skill. I adamantly and persistently declare that labeling sound interpretations of Scripture as an “ism” is an egregious and serious distortion of the noble task of exegesis.
Where were you when the lights went out in New Orleans?
Last night millions watched (sic) the Super Bowl. That is, until the lights went out. Like much of the American Culture the game has become as much or more about hype and commercials as the game of football. I must admit I watched the entire game, a rare feat for this viewer.
When I was a Senior in high school none other than Lou “The Toe” Groza was the speaker at our Football Banquet. He was the leading scorer in the NFL – - as a tackle. He kicked extra points and field goals. That was in the days when the Cleveland Browns scored touch downs! We were able to get him as our speaker because of his identity with many of the men in the community where I attended school. They were simple men. Many were first generation Americans. They worked in the stone quarry. Our nickname was the “Stonecrushers”.
I never saw Lou dance after a score. I never saw him abuse his coach or a referee. I never saw him rip his jersey to shreds and strut around like a wounded peacock. I never heard him use vulgar and foul language in an interview – there was no need to bleep bleep Mr. Groza’s speech. He just did his job and he did it so very well. He is an NFL Hall of Famer and rightly so.
There is a correlation between the conduct of contemporary athletes and leadership. Many leaders are all hype. They preen, prance and dance to draw attention to themselves. In the Old Testament only 3 in 10 leaders finished well. When they became proficient they also often became proud. You know the rest of that story. Pride comes before the fall and fall they did.
The world and most certainly the church can use some “Lou The Toe” types of leaders. Men who are incredibly proficient and effective. After they ‘score’ they simply go back to playing tackle with a quiet excellence that makes them true champions. Thanks Lou!
“You cannot measure what you have not defined.” (Edgar Schein). In my doctoral studies one of my Professors, Dr. Gordon Lewis, required us to define with exegetical validation each and every term we used in creating an Applied Theology. Dr. Al Mohler in his book The Conviction To Lead correctly states that unless convictions are translated into action the watching world has no comprehension of what we say we believe.
Nearly all churches claim that their purpose is to MAKE DISCIPLES. Yet, when asked what a disciple is, they have no clear and actionable definition and therefore no Metric by which they can measure ministry effectiveness. IgniteUS, Inc. has such a definition. We have developed 14 Effectiveness Criteria that enable the church to know with reasonable certainty if their ministry is Healthy & Effective. We provide a process of collecting “Artifacts” to validate the existence of operative ministry principles. Very important for genuine accountability.
Edgar Schein is a Professor Emeritus at MIT. He made significant contributions to leadership in the area of Organizational Behavior. The following graphic and text provide an overview of his thesis.
Schein’s model of organizational culture originated in the 1980s. Schein (2004) identifies three distinct levels in organizational cultures:
1.artifacts and behaviors
The three levels refer to the degree to which the different cultural phenomena are visible to the observer.
•Artifacts include any tangible, overt or verbally identifiable elements in an organization. Architecture, furniture, dress code, office jokes, all exemplify organizational artifacts. Artifacts are the visible elements in a culture and they can be recognized by people not part of the culture.
•Espoused values are the organization’s stated values and rules of behavior. It is how the members represent the organization both to themselves and to others. This is often expressed in official philosophies and public statements of identity. It can sometimes often be a projection for the future, of what the members hope to become. Examples of this would be employee professionalism, or a “family first” mantra. Trouble may arise if espoused values by leaders are not in line with the general assumptions of the culture.
•Shared Basic Assumptions are the deeply embedded, taken-for-granted behaviors which is usually unconscious, but constitute the essence of culture. These assumptions are typically so well integrated in the office dynamic that they are hard to recognize from within.
Importance of Schein’s Model
One can easily understand the paradoxical organizational behaviors and have an in-depth knowledge of the culture. Interpersonal skills also help in understanding culture. Helps to know the culture at different levels. The assumptions can be identified. Organizational culture is the most difficult to change, this model brought to light understanding of the organizational culture and can be applied to lead change.
Does the church where you are serving measure ministry effectiveness with Objective Accuracy? Give us a call and we will launch you on a Journey to making disciples fully formed in the Image of Christ. 803 413 3509 or info@igniteUS.net.
WEBSTER, N.Y. — A gunman ambushed firefighters at a house fire in the Rochester suburb of Webster, N.Y., early Monday, killing two firemen and injuring two others before killing himself on a Lake Ontario beach.
Seven homes were destroyed as firefighters waited for police to secure the scene.
The gunman, who shot himself at the scene, was identified as 62-year-old William Spengler. He was charged in 1980 with beating his 92-year-old grandmother to death with a hammer in her home next door.
Spengler served 17 years in New York State prison on manslaughter charges, police officials said.
The individual guilty of murdering two firefighters in this incident should not have been alive to kill yet again. He was found guilty of killing his grandmother in 1980. The ‘culture’ has decided that Truth does not apply. As a culture we have abandoned Truth Absolute. The Scriptures, which are Transcendent and Absolute requires such individuals to be put to death -
And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. 6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image. (Genesis 9:5-6).
The application of the Moral Authority found in Scripture applied to this man’s case would have prevented the deaths of two fireman, two image bearers created in the Image of God. They died needlessly. Their lives were taken by a convicted killer. Their loss is not restricted to their families and loved ones alone. We all suffer from their deaths and more, from the loss of Marketplace Authority of the Scripture. Had this mandate been applied, these men would be alive.
Incarceration is not the solution. As a nation we spend millions of dollars on prisons and precious little on education.
Over the past 23 years, California constructed roughly one new prison per year, at a cost of $100 million each, while it built only one new public college during the same period. Nationwide, spending on prisons has risen six times faster than spending on higher education.
The Scripture calls for repentance – an honest admission by the guilty party of their crime, and, restitution, restoring to the injured party double what was taken. Had this been applied in the case of William Spangler he would have rightly been executed in 1980, the firemen would be living and we as a culture would be better served.
The issue is not decided by some smarmy emotional angst. It is rather determined by the Transcendent unchanging Moral Authority of Scripture. God is offended by murder. He has ordered governments to honor His authority by abiding by the consistent application of Truth.
Think on these things!
First, the Good News! Yesterday I completed the last flight for 2012. Home for the Holidays with family and to celebrate the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, Light of the World. STARBUCKS and a warm fire, contemplating time and eternity.
Now for the matter of “Pseudo Priority”. When boarding a DELTA flight, there are according to DELTA, different’ classes of people. Let me explain. They board people needing assistance and those with small children first. That is most appropriate. They recognize those serving in the military – also most appropriate. Next they board First Class passengers. These are folks that paid 10 times more for their ticket than the majority of people on this flight. Their choice but my observation after 42 years of travel is they arrive at precisely the same time as those sitting in coach seats.
Now it gets interesting. They then board those with “Priority Status”. There are carpets on the floor with a pylon separating the two colors, red for the really important people and blue for all the rest. Really? There is a sign that says “Priority” to the left on the red carpet and one that says “General Boarding” to the right using the blue carpet. They then board by zones, 1-3 or 4 etc.
Now we come to the “Pseudo Pious” aspect of this article. Those who boarded first, using the red carpet for the really important people, are already seated as those in the ‘general boarding’ category enter the plane. Those already seated look with a jaundiced sneer at these poor underlings that must sit in coach. They even tilt their noses in the air a bit so that all are aware of their “priority status”.
How sad. We would all be well served if we simply regarded one another as Image Bearers made in the image of God and worthy of honor, dignity and respect. If we cared enough to notice when a fellow passenger may be struggling. Speak with them. Ask how we might help. Give them a Business Card. Tell them to call or send an email.
There is nothing wrong with priority status or seating. There is however something very very wrong when one thinks they are better than the others on this flight. Thus the “Pseudo Priority” label. Next time you board a flight be sure you understand that we are all pilgrims on a journey to our eternal destiny. Humility is a rare commodity. and it brings such a refreshing reality to life!
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matt. 1:23)
This is the moment for the ages – God is with us. God took upon Himself our humanity. In doing so he is perfectly qualified to be the Savior of all who call upon his name.
The Greeks held that God was far off and not at all involved in the affairs of men. Christian Theism turns that myth on it’s ear. God is not only involved, He became a man, walked this earth, was in all points tested as we are and did not sin. Theologians refer to this as the Impeccability of Christ. Indeed! What a Savior.
What are the implications of this for Pastors? If God had intended that the Gospel be mere information He could have used any variety of means. The Incarnation makes the Gospel intensely personal. When Jesus taught He modeled Truth. It was not mere didactic instruction. It was a living vital way of life. The disciples saw first hand on a daily basis who and what God was.
Aubrey Malphurs, Dallas Seminary recently cited the lack of Modeling as one of the primary reasons the church does not make disciples. Followers need to hear the Truth. Followers need to see that Truth lived out in real time by the one teaching that Truth.
When Pastors Model Truth those who follow are captured by the beauty and consistency of that Truth. They are compelled by the authenticity of what they see to imitate that way of life. It is my contention that when Pastors and leaders do this there will be a ground swell of renewal in the church.
John said it this way. No man has ever seen God. But, the miracle of the Incarnation led Him out into the open and put this God of The Ages on full display. We will do well to obey all that Jesus commanded and in doing so we honor Christ and begin to fulfill His purpose in the Incarnation. Emmanuel!
When you come to the end of your days which of these three (3) statements will best characterize your desire:
1. I wish I had invested more time in Planning.
2. I wish I had invested more time in Preparing Sermons.
3. I wish I had invested more time in Prayer.
Option #3 is almost always the response I receive from Pastors when asked to respond to this issue.
Answering the question is the easy part. Now let’s dig deeper. Why is that so?
Unrelenting self-reliance. Sin deceives us. It tells us with persistent wooing that we are in control, that we can do ‘whatever we set our mind to do’. Really!
We can Plan. We will invest hours, days planning, plotting and pondering all that ‘we will do’. James provides copious wisdom in a few words – Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil (James 4:13-16).
We can Preach. We will invest hours, days, months preparing sermons. Indeed, that we should. Time invested in careful exegesis and the development of the logic and content of the text is time well invested. Delivering this carefully crafted material to God’s people is honoring His call upon our life. Close, but no cigar!
We can Pray. The problem is, we don’t. Why? Because in our heart of hearts we still do not fully comprehend what Jesus meant when He said – - “without me you can do nothing.” One significant dimension of sin is self-reliance. Pastors are generally “Type A” personalities. We will conquer the world. Just get out of our way and be amazed at what we can do. Oh how foolish. Oh how arrogant. Oh how tragic.
Planning and Preaching are vital. Our God is honored when we express diligence in both of these activities. He is not honored by mediocrity. We should always deliver excellence. He delights even more when we come in humble adoring joy, seeking His grace and provision through quiet pensive prayer. Listening more than speaking. Praying through the Scripture. Learning in Prayer what God taught those who have gone before us and recorded their journey for our benefit (1Cor. 10; Hebrews 11).
So imagine yourself on the threshold of eternity, ready to step from this life to the next. What will you wish you had done more of? I thought so.
The link takes the reader to a very helpful article on the importance of prayer if we are to find optimal effectiveness in ministry.