Celebrating The Reformation

October 13, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

Happy Reformation Day! 497 years ago, Martin Luther boldly nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the chapel door in Wittenberg Germany, outwardly condemning both the selling of indulgences and the Catholic Church as a whole. Little did he know that this would spark, arguably, the most influential event in church history since the Apostolic Age and forever change the church of the future.As a tribute to Luther’s legacy and in honor of this special day, here is a brief history of the events surrounding Martin Luther’s involvement in the Protestant Reformation.
In the 16th Century, a law student by the name of Martin Luther experienced a close encounter with death, being nearly struck by lightning. After this near death experience, Luther, in an effort to repay God for sparing his life, left law school and became a monk.
For years, Luther dedicated himself to monasticism. He spent long hours in prayer and confession, but still felt far from God. It wasn’t until he was pointed away from continual focus on his sin, but on the imputed righteousness of Christ. Luther began to feel less guilt for his sin, and recognized that man is saved by faith alone.
In 1512, Luther left the monastery and went to teach theology at the University of Wittenberg, where his old friend Johann von Staupitz was the dean. It was here that Luther started to question a lot of what the Catholic church taught about salvation.
By October 31st, 1517, Luther had finally had enough. In an act of spite, he nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the church door in Wittenberg Germany. In this document, Luther criticized the current practices of the church at that time, most significantly the selling of indulgences.
Luther had written his theses in Latin, desiring more of an intellectual discussion with others in academia, but in January of 1518, some of Luther’s friends translated his Theses from Latin into German and printed mass copies of the document, then sent it out. Within only a few weeks, Luther’s Theses had spread all throughout Germany. After only two months, Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses had spread throughout all of Europe.Eventually, word spread to the Pope about what Luther had written, and on June 15th, 1520 he warned Luther of excommunication with the papal bull. Luther, in response, publicly burned the papal bull in defiance of the Pope.

In the year 1521, Luther appeared before the Diet of Worms, an assembly that was conducted over a period of time for approximately four months.

On April 18th, 1517, when asked to recant his writings, Martin Luther gave this quiet but famous response:

 ”Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason, for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they often err and contradict themselves, I am bound to the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I cannot do otherwise. Here I stand. May God help me. Amen.”
Luther had refused to recant. Over the next five days, a series of meetings was held to determine Luther’s fate. On May 25th, the Emperor declared Luther an outlaw and demanded his arrest and punishment as a heretic of the church.Even that couldn’t stop Luther. By the help of his friend Frederick III, he fled Wittenberg and went on to continue to write and even translate the Bible into German so that everyone, from the clergy all the way to the common man, could read the Bible.Martin Luther was a remarkable man, used by God to restore Biblical truth to the church. If not for Luther, the church as we know it today would be very different. Let us celebrate this day and remember just how important the Protestant Reformation was then and still is today!

Finding Elijah

September 22, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

In the far away and long ago past there was a trivia game called ‘Finding Waldo’. The objective was to look at a picture featuring thousands of faces and in that collage of individuals ‘find Waldo’. This exercise provides an analogy of the way in which churches call Pastors.
They accumulate a catalog of ‘faces’ (Resumes of aspiring Candidates). They sort through the myriad of potential candidates until they identify the ‘top five’. They then parade them through the assembly in what amounts to a popularity contest. This is the equivalent of a ‘Beauty Contest’. The ‘Winner’ becomes their next Pastor.
How does this process rate in terms of effectiveness? Not so well. The average Pastoral Tenure is four and one-half (4 1/2) years. There is a better way. PLEASE think carefully about this issue.
Analysis – Why does this process fail to produce effective long-term Pastoral Leadership?
1.  This process if focused on the wrong priority.
2.  This process is seeking leadership while looking in the rear view mirror.
3.  This process does not match the man with the church and the church with the man.
4.  This process is most often executed in the ‘tyranny of the urgent mode’. Find a man quick.
5.  This process fails to consider the most essential quality of a man – Character.
Recommendation – Secure the services of an Outside Voice that provides a time tested process.
When you have a heart attack, you seek the counsel of the best Cardiologist you can find. When you have a serious fracture, you seek the counsel of the best Orthopedist you can find. Does it not make biblical rational sense to do the same when seeking a man that will shape the Spiritual Formation of God’s people for years to come?
1.  This process is focused on the right priority.
2.  This process seeks leadership looking to the ministry future of the church not the past.
3.  This process carefully matches the man with the church and the church with the man.
4.  This process is deliberate and precise, not hasty and frantic.
5.  This process applies multiple Assessments and strategic vetting to assess the man’s Character.
Summary – Sin in haste and repent at leisure.
When seeking Pastoral Leadership the dividends secured by engaging the best possible counsel and resources are significant. The church secures the benefit of a Pastor who is a ‘FIT’. They have some certainty that all the necessary skills and competencies are present in this new leader that will guide their journey into God’s future for their assembly.
You may not be interested in finding Waldo (I never was), but Finding Elijah is Priority #1 for the assembly in which you worship.

Training <> Developing

August 25, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

There is a great chasm between ‘training’ leaders and ‘developing leaders. Think through this excellent profile that distinguishes the difference. IgniteUS is dedicated to DEVELOPING leaders. Join us!

The solution to the leadership training problem is to scrap it in favor of development. Don’t train leaders, coach them, mentor them, disciple them, and develop them, but please don’t attempt to train them. Where training attempts to standardize by blending to a norm and acclimating to the status quo, development strives to call out the unique and differentiate by shattering the status quo. Training is something leaders dread and will try and avoid, whereas they will embrace and look forward to development. Development is nuanced, contextual, collaborative, fluid, and above all else, actionable.

The following 20 items point out some of the main differences between training and development:

1. Training blends to a norm – Development occurs beyond the norm.

2. Training focuses on technique/content/curriculum – Development focuses on people.

3. Training tests patience – Development tests courage.

4. Training focuses on the present – Development focuses on the future.

5. Training adheres to standards – Development focuses on maximizing potential.

6. Training is transactional – Development is transformational.

7. Training focuses on maintenance – Development focuses on growth.

8. Training focuses on the role – Development focuses on the person.

9. Training indoctrinates – Development educates.

10. Training maintains status quo – Development catalyzes innovation.

11. Training stifles culture – Development enriches culture.

12. Training encourages compliance – Development emphasizes performance.

13. Training focuses on efficiency – Development focuses on effectiveness.

14. Training focuses on problems  - Development focuses on solutions.

15. Training focuses on reporting lines – Development expands influence.

16. Training places people in a box – Development frees them from the box.

17. Training is mechanical – Development is intellectual.

18. Training focuses on the knowns – Development explores the unknowns.

19. Training places people in a comfort zone – Development moves people beyond their comfort zones.

20. Training is finite – Development is infinite.

If what you desire is a robotic, static thinker – train them. If you’re seeking innovative, critical thinkers – develop them. I have always said it is impossible to have an enterprise which is growing and evolving if leadership is not.




How To Develop Self-Discipline

July 26, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

Discipline is freedom. You may disagree with this statement, and if you do you are certainly not alone. For many people discipline is a dirty word that is equated with the absence of freedom. In fact the opposite is true. As Stephen R. Covey once wrote, “the undisciplined are slaves to moods, appetites and passions”. And in the longer term, the undisciplined lack the freedom that comes with possessing particular skills and abilities – e.g. to play a musical instrument or speak a foreign language.

Self-discipline involves acting according to what you think instead of how you feel in the moment. Often it involves sacrificing the pleasure and thrill of the moment for what matters most in life. Therefore it is self-discipline that drives you to:

  • Work on an idea or project after the initial rush of enthusiasm has faded away
  • Go to the gym when all you want to do is lie on the couch and watch TV
  • Wake early to work on yourself
  • Say “no” when tempted to break your diet
  • Only check your email a few of times per day at particular times

In the past self-discipline has been a weakness of mine, and as a result today I find myself lacking the ability to do a number of things which I would like – e.g. to play the guitar. But I have improved, and I can say that it is self-discipline that got me out of bed this morning at 5am to run and then write this article. Believe me, I would love to be curled up in bed right now, but this desire is subordinated by my inner sense of purpose.

If you struggle with self-discipline, the good news is that it can be developed. For example, it is only in the past two years that I have trained myself to wake early. The following are what I have found to be the five traits of self-discipline:

1. Self-Knowledge

Discipline means behaving according to what you have decided is best, regardless of how you feel in the moment. Therefore the first trait of discipline is self-knowledge. You need to decide what behavior best reflects your goals and values. This process requires introspection and self-analysis, and is most effective when tied to written expression. I highly recommend taking the time to write out your goals, dreams and ambitions. Even better, write out a personal mission statement. I found that writing such a statement gave me a greater understanding of who I am, what I am about and what I value. Dr. Covey has an excellent Mission Statement Builder on his site.

2. Conscious Awareness

Self-discipline depends upon conscious awareness as to both what you are doing and what you are not doing. Think about it. If you aren’t aware your behavior is undisciplined, how will you know to act otherwise?

As you begin to build self-discipline, you may catch yourself being in the act of being undisciplined – e.g. biting your nails, avoiding the gym, eating a piece of cake or checking your email constantly. Developing self-discipline takes time, and the key here is you are aware of your undisciplined behavior. With time this awareness will come earlier, meaning rather than catching yourself in the act of being undisciplined you will have awareness before you act in this way. This gives you the opportunity to make a decision that is in better alignment with your goals and values.

3. Commitment to Self-Discipline

It is not enough to simply write out your goals and values. You must make an internal commitment to them. Otherwise when your alarm clock goes off at 5am you will see no harm in hitting the snooze button for “just another 5 minutes….” Or, when initial rush of enthusiasm has faded away from a project you will struggle to see it through to completion.

If you struggle with commitment, start by making a conscious decision to follow through on what you say you’re going to do – both when you said you would do it and how you said you would do it. Then, I highly recommend putting in place a system to track these commitments. As the saying goes, “What gets measured gets improved”.

4. Courage

Did you notice the sweat dripping from the man in the picture at the start of this article? Make no mistake, self-discipline is often extremely difficult. Moods, appetites and passions can be powerful forces to go against. Therefore self-discipline is highly dependent on courage. Don’t pretend something is easy for you to do when it is in fact very difficult and/ or painful. Instead, find the courage to face this pain and difficulty. As you begin to accumulate small private victories, your self-confidence will grow and the courage that underpins self-discipline will come more naturally.

5. Internal Coaching

Self-talk is often harmful, but it can also be extremely beneficial if you have control of it. When you find yourself being tested, I suggest you talk to yourself, encourage yourself and reassure yourself. After all, it is self-talk that has the ability to remind you of your goals, call up courage, reinforce your commitment and keep you conscious of the task at hand. When I find my discipline being tested, I always recall the following quote: “The price of discipline is always less than the pain of regret”. Burn this quote into your memory, and recall in whenever you find yourself being tested. It may change your life.
This article is from http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/self-discipline/#qlBuLbSgSVSYXEmj.99 and is acknowledged here.

Don’t Quit

July 11, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow -
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
 Success is failure turned inside out -
The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It might be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit -
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

Freedom of Religion & Freedom of Worship

June 30, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

Today (06/30) the Supreme Court of the United States rendered a verdict in the case of Hobby Lobby et. al. While the decision was not comprehensive it did strike a blow for the Freedom of Religion.

I want to distinguish between the Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Worship.

The Freedom of Religion, protected by the First Amendment, guarantees the free exercise of religious conviction in The Marketplace as well as in the privacy of a church, school or private home.

The Freedom of Worship is an entirely different matter. That simply means that the Market Place is off limits for such expressions. This language was used by Hitler and Stalin to suppress and deny the Freedom of Religion in Germany and Russia. Millions lost their lives as a result of the capitulation of such deception by Pastors and the church. The time to rise up against such distortion of language is at the first moment it is spoken.

Both the current occupant of the Oval Office and the former Secretary of State who wants to occupy that office use ‘Freedom of Worship’ in their speeches. Lies pure and simple.

I issue a call to all Pastors to rally against this distortion. Teach your people this distinction. Teach the historical consequences of acquiescence to such nonsense. Proclaim with all authority the Truth. Pray earnestly. Prepare to suffer. Never ever give up!

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.


The Power of Purpose

June 12, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

Purpose brings focus. The absence of focus leads to petty conflicts and energy invested in activities that are utterly and absolutely unproductive. This leads to the establishment of territorial turf. Then the perpetrator must defend their territory out of a sense of ‘duty to the Truth!’

How sad and descriptive of much of what passes for ‘ministry’ in local churches.

When everyone owns a purpose that is defined and developed by the mandates of Scripture the myriad of petty turf wars is diminished if not eliminated.

Purpose is characterized by:

1.  Unconditional surrender to Jesus Christ as LORD.

2.  Embracing as your ‘first principle’ the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.

3.  Engaging each day with a passion to fulfill the tasks God has equipped you to accomplish.

4.  Understanding that the church is the Body of Christ.

5.  Living life “In Community”, putting others before self.

6.  An objective Metric by which effectiveness is evaluated – you did or did not accomplish the tasks.

7.  An Integrated life. All aspects of life are fulfilled with excellence.

So – - do you have PURPOSE?

Churches & Birds

May 12, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

We have a wide variety of birds that grace our lawn and the feeders we provide. They like the place.

Why are there so many and why do they frequent our lawn so often? Simple. There are ample trees and shrubs for nesting and protection. There is always food available. There is a constant supply of water for them to drink, Like I said – SIMPLE!

Now for the church. When people attend, do they discover a safe place where they are fed with accuracy and passion the unadulterated pure Word of God? Can they drink deeply from the riches that are Christ Jesus. Like I said – SIMPLE!

Want to see your church grow? Protection & Safety, rich portions of God’s Word accurately exegeted and delivered with passion and a constant supply of living Water. Like I said – SIMPLE!


April 13, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is an established fact, a fact that shapes all of time and eternity. Do you know Him? Have you come face to face with the Living God and surrendered unconditionally to Him? Take the time right now to examine what the text of Scripture says about Jesus Christ and about the eternal importance of surrender to Him. You will be eternally thankful you did.

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand,  2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you- unless you believed in vain.  3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,  4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,  5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.  7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.  8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.  9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.  11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.  12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.  15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.  16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.  17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.  18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  19 If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.  20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.  24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.  25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.  27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him.  28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

1 Corinthians 15:1-28

The “Grey Tsunami” & The Church

March 28, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

The ‘Grey Tsunami’ is the economic, ecological and social effects that the baby boom generation is creating as it gets older.

COLUMBIA, SC — Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell warned lawmakers Wednesday that a failure to prepare for South Carolina’s oncoming “gray tsunami” will cause a budget crisis and human tragedies.

RICHMOND, VA news – Gray and Howarth are part of a booming demographic colloquially dubbed the grey tsunami. According to Statistics Canada, in 2011 Richmond’s seniors population – those over the age of 65 – was 26,000, representing about 14 per cent of the population. In 10 years, that rate should be about one quarter as baby boomers reach retirement age. By 2040, roughly half the population will be over age 55.

The ‘Grey Tsunami’ is a major factor in considering the health and future of the local church. I am working with a church of 370 people. 47% of them are over the age of 70. 15% of them are over the age of 90! Only 15% are 30 or under.

The implications of this are obvious to anyone with even modest intelligence. But, churches deny this reality with impunity. Entire States, yea entire nations are alarmed and taking action to address the ramifications of this reality.

The church – not so much. The Median Age of the population of the United States is 39. The Median Age of the church in the United States is 58. The church will be swept away by the Grey Tsunami if they do not take immediate and significant steps to reach young people.

After all, isn’t that the mandate of the Great Commission in the first place?

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