Monday, November 27, 2006

Leadership in the Holding Pattern

I will admit, I do not like waiting. I believe that this is not the first time that I have had to post this message/confession either. Patience is no virtue of mine! Yet Joshua 3 has yielded some really helpful stuff for me as a leader in the holding pattern.

May I suggest some of them to you?
  1. A great leader gathers recon data and makes a decision to move forward, often without giving the data to the people. (note: ch. 2:22-24 is a private reporting of the news back to Joshua; ch. 3:1 begins with Joshua rising early to make the company march to Jericho)
  2. A great leader rises early. (3:1) I wonder if he doesn't rise before the rest of the crew. The morning walks around the camp at Lamoka before the cabins erupt with campers have always been an encouragement to me.
  3. A great leader delegates tasks (especially communication and direction) to his officers. (3:2)
  4. A great leader communicates great vision of the future possibilities to instill excitement in the troops. (3:5)
  5. A great leader who waits for God to exalt him in the sight of the people has a stronger ministrywith them. (3:7) (note: the strength of ministry is not mentioned, but the connection with Moses is; Moses is the standard for great leaders in the minds of the people)
  6. A great leader speaks the words of the LORD to the people with confidence. (3:9) His confidence as a leader must be built on truth. Following a leader is so much easier when he is on track with God. (cf. 1 Cor. 11:1)

The minutes preceding the attack is perhaps the hardest time to lead. You must instill courage and confidence in the men (and women) around you. You must be confident in the decisions that you have made and be committed to seeing them through. You must be ready to lead when the light turns green!

Pray for me as I lead that I will wait for the green light. Pray that I will lead with excellence through the wait and the charge/march into uncharted waters. Pray that I will watch my Leader and not rush ahead or lag behind.

Desiring to leave a leadership legacy like Moses and Joshua,


Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thanks to All Who Help Me to Be Excellent

Thanks to all of you who are faithful readers of this blog. But again, I want to thank those of you who are alert enough to realize, "Hey I already read that" and comment. I am afraid that it is akin to those conversations like "You've got spinach in your teeth" or "Your zipper is down" -- everyone wants to be told discreetly, but no one wants to be the bearer of the bad news. Thanks to all who are so bold and confident in their relationship with me to tell me that I had posted twice. You really are my friends. I hope to be able to repay you somehow.

Thanks to all of you who are faithful readers of this blog. But again, I want to thank those of you who are alert enough to realize, "Hey I already read that" and comment. I am afraid that it is akin to those conversations like "You've got spinach in your teeth" or "Your zipper is down" -- everyone wants to be told discreetly, but no one wants to be the bearer of the bad news. Thanks to all who are so bold and confident in their relationship with me to tell me that I had posted twice. You really are my friends. I hope to be able to repay you somehow.

Thanks for pointing out my stuttering issues,
Mike :)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sweet 16

Yesterday marked a great milestone in my/our life. It was our wedding anniversary -- the sixteenth actually. Sixteen years ago on a "black Friday", we avoided the malls and focused on saying we do in an evening service in our home church; black Friday became teal & rose Friday! :) It was a great celebratory event, filled with family and friends.

We have made many more aquaintances along this journey of marriage, but my wife still continues to have them all beat. She knows my most private thoughts and emotions. She can help me recover fastest from a botched, mangled day. She is a very suitable helper, fit for me. After Solomon tried a couple of models out, he came away with this appropriate jewel of wisdom, " He who findeth a wife, findeth a good thing" (Prov 18:22). I certainly have been favored by the LORD.

A rich, rich man,


Do you remember Little Orphan Annie singing this one word over and over in her Broadway hit song by the same title? Her confidence and ability to face a rainy day was in the fact that tomorrow started something new -- the chance at seeing sunshine again. The possibility of a different existence, the start of the next chapter, the freshness of another day all bring a charge of anticipation. Is it possible to plan for tomorrow without stressing over it's vulnerability and risk? Yes. In fact, Joshua gives a great pithy plan to the sons of Israel in Joshua 3:5:

Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among

I do not know if tomorrow will bring wonders for me or for you. We no longer communicate through prophets or audibles or oracles. But I do know that tomorrow holds that possibility. "My God" is the same God that did wonders with the Israelites -- parted the Red Sea and the raging Jordan. He can still do amazing miraculous intervention sorts of acts that totally separate Him from the rest of the field of suitors. That's one of the reasons why I love Him so much.

So if tomorrow is one of those days that he plans to bring about "water division" I want to be ready! I must consecrate or separate myself for his service. I must get up early and pack up my tent and get ready to travel. I believe that I am also called to lead others to do the same thing, so that God can do these wonders among US, not just me.

I don't know if the sun will come out, tomorrow, but I am packing my sunscreen and my Bermudas just in case! :) I know that of God desires me to get to the other side, He will make a way, where there seems to be no way. As I am ready and available to participate with Him, He will exalt me in the sight of others. I want to be there so that I can cast that spotlight on Christ -- the Living God!

Ready for dry ground through the waters,

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

What Will It Take to (re)Build the Church

Want to build a powerful, vibrant, emerging church? Or empower, revitalize, grow a stagnant plant? Hull may have nailed the concept in about 18 words:

"Inspired people must still communicate a contextualized message to those
who have been gathered by creative, powerful means."
Bill Hull, The Disciple-Making Church, p. 58

Preaching the word contextually (ancient and modern),
For genuine church growth,

Exercising Your Faith

Pastor Evans had this quote in his message Sunday AM:
"Faith puts God between us and our circumstances."
--Daniel Webster

As we journey through some tight financial times here at Wyoming Baptist, I am reminded that these times are refocusing times to bring us to into total reliance on Him. I want to have financial comfort and security. I want to have extra even. Is "provision for needs" or "daily bread" always to be at banquet level? Am I called to stop doing anything to support my family?

No, faith has substance in God (He has promised to supply all my needs + He who refuses to work ought not to eat + He has created me for good works) and has evidence (I will therefore stop worrying or fretting about it; be anxious for nothing + pray without ceasing). These are emotionally loaded, spiritually charged words of truth. I say that I believe them.

O Lord, help my unbelief -- increase my faith (acted on). I do not want to be a platitudinist (preacher who gives right words without appropriate action to match). I choose your faithful way (Ps 119:30); I shall run in your way (Ps 119:32). Enlarge my heart (Psalm 119:32)! What faith stretching exercises are you going through right now? Be comforted to know that you do not walk alone.

Relying on a relationship more than a religion,

Consciousness and Meditation

The US NEW & World Report magazine for October23, 2006 has an interesting (albeit disturbing) article in it entitled: Is There Room for the Soul? In it, the scientists from Salk Institute for Biological Studies suggest that the consciousness that separates us from animals is only a way to explain what we have already decided using our more evolutionary factors. The author of the article correctly assesses the situation: "There is something troubling about reducing consciousness to the operations of a 3-pound chunk of wrinkled brain tissue. ... Deny or attempt to disprove the immaterial character of the mind, and you elicit some of the same passions that have animated the culture wars over evolution in the classroom, exposing the deep divide between hard-core religious fundamentalists on one side and the equally hard-core scientific fundamentalists on the other." If we are simply a series of electronic pulses in the brain then why would the psalmist write, "...for I delight in your commands because I love them. I lift up my hands to your commands which I love, and I meditate on your decrees." (119:47-48). We are both material and immaterial. Both parts of our bodies are to be in subjection to God and His will. Both are involved in the service and celebration of the King of kings. The creation of man in the image of God suggests that we can relate to Him, He being a spirit being and we being spiritual beings. All this discussion reminds me that we must be careful not to allow the "discoveries" of science to drive the train. Is that anti-enlightenment? Perhaps. Or perhaps it is only a warning that the stuff of faith is not always that concrete. Think on these things (with both material and immaterial portions of your person), Mike

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Power of the Pastors

We are reading the Disciple-Making Church (Bill Hull, ISBN 0800756274) together with our leadership team (deacons and trustees). Hull has a great passion for disciple-making, for helping others grow and succeed. Thus he wrote a book with the expressed intention to "provide a scriptural apologetic for a full-bodied discipling model" (p.12). To seek to deliver people from bondage to sin, develop them into fully functioning disciples of Christ and to deploy them into the whitened harvest fields is discipleship in a nutshell.

When Christ walked the earth, he was a one-stop discipler. Twelve men followed him closely and came away having been discipled. Hull suggests that these twelve, however, could not do it alone. They needed twos and threes and twelves to accomplish the same effect. We need the body of Christ to be engaged in discipling, not just the pastors or leaders. This may have even been the issue in Corinth as disciples began to hold their key discipler up as a model for others -- the ultimate discipler. Yet Paul's begging message is for reconnection of the body with all of its pieces. Each person must be discipling his neighbor and involved in the call to obedience and holding each other accountable.

Hull also says that

...pastoral care plays a vital role in drawing people to the church and supporting them in Christ. Unless a loving, caring community exists to help new-born babes and heal the wounded, people won't come to Him or stick around long enough to be trained. Love within the community of Christ is the most powerful of all the church's evangelistic tools. pp.31-32

If Hull is right, then the old Baptist adage, "every member is a minister" is true in a church that understands its evangelistic and disciple-making mandate. If the nurturing to disciple factoid is added to the no solo, lone ranger disciplers factoid, then the result is a strong Biblical belief in multiplicity of pastors (even if you don't believe in ordaining every person to the position/office).

Discussion Q's:
  1. Whose responsibility is disciple-making?
  2. If people are getting saved (responding to the gospel personally) and not growing or becoming functional members of the church, what is missing?
  3. How many people does it take to grow a fully functioning mature disciple of Christ? Is it higher or lower than the number of Baptists it takes to change a light bulb?

Passionate about disciplemaking (relationship combined with instruction),


Monday, November 20, 2006

To Be Or Not To Be A Disciple-making Congregation

We are reading a book together as a leadership team here at WyBC -- The Disciple-making Church (Bill Hull). Actually, I am re-reading it; I read it for a course at seminary. It is a great book with lots of good reminders of the mandate for disciplemaking. Bill Hull writes:

Unless the church makes making disciples its main agenda, world evangelism is a fantasy. There is no way to reprodcue, multiply, and decentralize people and the Gospel without diligently making disciples. [p. 11]

This conclusion only stands to reason as the Great Commission begins with the making disciples participle. Hull further comments:

Denominations that change their methods and cast off unproductive tradition will flourish and experience God's power, while those who insist on the status quo will die a slow, unpleasant death. [p. 11]
I would like to change "denominations" to "churches" or even "pastors/leaders" since as an independent Baptist, I believe in the autonomy of the local church and the responsibility of the local church leadership to shepherd/grow/nurture/disciple its local flock. That is not a denominational thing. I don't like slow, unpleasant death. That sounds like good motivation to evaluate! :)

Desiring to experience God's power and flourish-ment,

Rollie's Love Connection

My good friend Rollin called me the other day and we had an in depth conversation about Scriptural stuff. We talked about:

  1. How the Hebrew letters are really pictographs (picture characters), much like chinese or hieroglyphics
  2. How we have used arabic script to write and Greek conceptual definition to describe these Hebrew pictures (example: the word for father is actually the construction of two characters, aleph = strength and beth=house; therefore, "father" is the strength of the house; hmmmmmm)
  3. The difference in nuance of the two Grk words used for will (of God) in NT; thelema and boole. Rollin suggested that the thelema of God is a desire that expects and waits for our response or action on it, while boole is the will of God that he will act upon himself. That gives some interesting discussion and thought on some key passages! Words mean something and there are no true synonyms!
  4. Rollin talked about some work that he had done on the prepostion phrases beginning with "according to" in NT Greek. He suggested again that there was a two part formual implied. One part was the need or requirement and the other part was the resource or the answer for the request. The resource of God is always enough, with some left-over! This has some cool implications to a group of phrases that I was chasing down in Psalm 119; "according to your promise", "according to your word", "according to your love". Thanks God -- cool timing! :)
  5. He recommended a website ( and a book (Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti).

All that was incredibly enriching and we talked about some of the ramifications on some key texts in 1 John and in 1 Peter. I love talking with my friend Rollie. But then he made another reflection on a huge area that just boggled my mind. I want to share it with you for your discussion and comment. So here is the set-up:

  • Again, remember that words mean something and there are no real synonyms in language
  • Inspiration means that God (the HS) superintended the selection of words for a purpose without mechanically dictating these words; the message was clearly communicated!
  • There are four spearate words translated "love" in the NT: storge, philo, agape, eros; each of course has a separate nuance or field of meaning
  • storge = the traditions or mechanics of loving; philo = the being in fellowship or friendship with one another love; agape = the self-sacrificing, compassion love; eros = the ecstatic experience love
  • The statement: In the book of Ephesians, and in the whole of the NT, eros is never used in connection with the normal Christian life or the description of the love of the body of Christ.
  • The impact: Epehesus was into Diana worship. They uderstood the climax of sex to be the ultimate human experience and thought that during that moment they could actually touch God. Thus it made "sense" to employ thousands of temple prostitutes for the worship of Diana.
  • In order to avoid this pagan connection, Paul used every other word for love to describe Christianity.
  • YET, in our modern church, we have intorduced ecstatic experience back into our services through the "worship experience". This is especially true of the church growth movement and charismatic groups.
  • While Rollin was not saying he had direct evidence to the conclusion, he suggested that perhap sthat is the reason why we have so much sexual immorality adultery and divorce running amock in our Christian communities.

Whow! (combination of wow and whoa) That will make you think twice about leading worship towards experiential goose-bumping. Caution. Do not lead towards a fabricated "frenetic" worship lest you exchange worship of God for worship of experience. Some of our worship choruses are just packed with that intimacy language. Hmmmmmm.

Let's engage in a careful dialogue about this topic.

I look forward to your insights,


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Are You A Threat to the Survival of the Species?

How can a theory of origins affect your life? Read the following quote from a popular news magazine;

"Not only do the new atheists find religion intellectually irredeemable, morally dubious, and socially unnecessary, they judge it as a clear and present danger, maybe even the greatest threat to the survival of the species."
The New Unbelievers, Jay Tolson, US News & World Report, Nov 13, 2006, p.40-41.

Darwin's theory has farther reaching tentacles than just to biology! Evolution is more than a scientific premise; it is a worldview! It affects the way that one looks at the world and evaluates the data. It is a philosophy; it searches to apply a wisdom structure to the observation of life.

I choose instead to be a creationist who believes that a relationship with a holy God through the sacrifice of his one and only Son. His death burial and resurrection on my behalf for my sins has made all of the difference. This gift is life! It is for the preservation of the species and is intellectually superior, morally significant, and totally socially necessary. WITHOUT it (his sacrifice) we will die!

I am a sin survivor and a soul rescue technician,

Fur Todd, Not Elise

Todd is the blogger hound. He loves to challeneg me to blog. He loves to challenge other family members to blog. He does not have the gift of encouragement. He has the gift of exhortation and prophecy (calling it as he/God sees it). As I type this post then, I am writing it to get Todd off of my back first of all. Accountability does work! But as I am writing I find that I have missed this aspect of my QT. I enjoy writing. And I enjoy reading the Word and other books. Here's a quote that I found while studying in Psalms 119.

No man is holy by chance.
CH Spurgeon

Discipline isn't like falling off a log -- it takes effort. In fact, spiritual disciplines are more like staying on the log! Balance and concentration and practice.

So now, I say thanks Todd. You have called me to get back on the log -- or rather back on the Blog. So this one is for you brother! :)

Your falling off the blogging wagon and getting right back on again brother,