Saturday, February 28, 2009

I Will Miss Paul Harvey

Most of my adult life, wherever I have lived or traveled, I have searched for and found Paul Harvey on radio. Early in life I was attracted to his unique style, interesting stories, and entertaining presentation of the news. Additionally, I could not help but notice that his Christian ethics agreed with mine. He took many opportunities to share his faith. I admired that.

Today, Paul Harvey left this world. I know it is not Christmas, but on the occasion of his death, I want to document my favorite Paul Harvey story.

[PAUL HARVEY'S CHRISTMAS STORY; "THE MAN AND THE BIRDS" - By PAUL HARVEY, ABC RADIO - Dec 24, 2004, 01:57]

Unable to trace its proper parentage, I have designated this as my Christmas Story of the Man and the Birds. You know, THE Christmas Story, the God born a man in a manger and all that escapes some moderns, mostly, I think, because they seek complex answers to their questions and this one is so utterly simple. So for the cynics and the skeptics and the unconvinced I submit a modern parable.

Now the man to whom I'm going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind, decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn't believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas Time. It just didn't make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn't swallow the Jesus Story, about God coming to Earth as a man. "I'm truly sorry to distress you," he told his wife, "but I'm not going with you to church this Christmas Eve." He said he'd feel like a hypocrite. That he'd much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed and they went to the midnight service.

Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound. Then another, and then another. Sort of a thump or a thud. At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to the front door to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They'd been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window.

Well, he couldn't let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it. Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms. Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.

And then, he realized, that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me. That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him. "If only I could be a bird," he thought to himself, "and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to safe, warm ... to the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand."

At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells - Adeste Fidelis - listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow.

Obituary - Bishop R. O. Covey

The funeral service for Bishop Covey will be conducted tomorrow, Sunday afternoon at 4:00 PM at the North Ocoee Chapel of the Jim Rush Funeral Home in Cleveland, Tennessee with Reverends Lanny Carter, Rick Brenizer, Allen Davis Sr. and Stephen Smith officiating. Entombment will follow in the Sunset Memorial Gardens with Walter Lofton, Steven Woods, Kevin Werkheiser, Cornelius Butler, Allen Davis Jr. and Perry Horner serving as pallbearers. The North Ocoee Chapel of the Jim Rush Funeral Homes has charge of the arrangements.

Bishop R. O. Covey, age 97, a resident of Cleveland, Tennessee went to be with the Lord early yesterday morning, February 27, 2009. Rev. Rudolph Orval Covey was born November 7, 1911 to the late Charles W. and Flora Lowman Covey at Snowville, Pulaski County, Virginia. Because of the his mothers health and a promise she made to God, Rudolph was given to an uncle and his wife, the late Robert L. and Janie Bishop Covey, who reared him almost from birth. In 1914, they moved west to Warren County, Iowa, where he grew up as a farm boy. In 1929, he became a public school teacher and taught twelve years in the rural schools of Iowa.

In 1930, he spent the summer in the Ozark region of Southern Missouri. There, in a revival in a country Methodist church near Mountain View, he publicly confessed faith in Christ for the new birth. He was baptized by immersion and joined the Methodist church. On May 27, 1936, he was united in marriage to Golda Evelyn Albright, who was also a rural school teacher in Iowa. They were a devoted couple to whom God gave 64 years together.

In 1937, in another country church revival in Warren County, Iowa, they were both spiritually renewed. In July 1938, they became members of the Church of God (A. J. Tomlinson).

Church workers were scarce in Iowa, so, as an unlicensed lay minister, he ministered to the congregation at Shenandoah, Winterset and Ames, along with various state assignments in the church. He was licensed and ordained a bishop in the Church of God of Prophecy in March 1946 and graduated from Bible Training Camp in 1949. From July, 1946 to September, 1960, he and Golda worked in the Church’s Sunday school Orphanage (later known as the Tomlinson Home for Children) except for a year and a half (in 1950-51) of pastoral service at Altavista, Virginia.

His twenty-six years under General Appointment included: General Orphanage Superintendent, nine years; State Overseer of Colorado, two years; World Language Secretary, three years; and Assistant Editor of the White Wing Messenger, twelve years. Having reached “the golden years”, he requested his retirement, effective at the General Assembly in 1977.

He enjoyed writing Christian materials and continued this after his retirement. He published three novels, several inspirational books, and numerous Bible Study Materials. He covenanted with The Church of God in 1993.

He was preceded in death by his dear wife Golda on January 5, 2001. Survivors include: Of the family by which he was reared: his niece, Mrs. Jennye Septer of Indianaola, Iowa, of his blood family, his brother, Warren Covey of Fairbanks, Alaska and also several nieces and nephews from both families.

[My parents, Raymond and Ruby Brock, followed R.O. Covey and Warren Covey at Tomlinson Home for Children in Cleveland, Tennessee. Our prayers are with this precious family and we honor Bishop R. O. Covey for his many years of faithful leadership. Brother Tomlinson loved him, and we do too.]

Today's Prayer

Dear Lord,

I pray today for pastors. I pray that they would be supported and uplifted, like Aaron did Moses. I pray that laity and deacons would help the pastor carry out the ministry of the church, looking after the needs of the congregation, going about in an attitude of prayer, and seeking Your will in all circumstances and obstacles that arise.

I pray for their protection from harm and evil in any form. I pray that You will anoint, bless, and minister through them to reach people, to show them Your love, and to bring glory and honor to You.

Help these ministers to see their role in Your work, and give them the boldness, wisdom, and encouragement to carry on.

In Jesus' name, amen.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Interesting Read

While I do not necessarily endorse this book, I found an interesting read. It is free on Google Books.

The title is, "The Psychology of Religious Fundamentalism" by Ralph W. Hood, Peter C. Hill, William Paul Williamson.

CLICK HERE to read.

Pastor Passionate

Our passion for pastors runs deep as a church, and today we are challenged by the Spirit to raise up more means and new avenues to encourage these crucial leaders and to build them up in their ministries.

In addition to CBL, the Tomlinson Center continues to grow as an online college, offering Bachelor-level training; and next month, we are excited about the opportunity for pastoral inspiration and equipping offered through the Leadership Development Institute.

Recently, we as leaders have been gripped with the awareness that we must raise the intensity level of our service to pastors. We want to become more pastor-passionate than ever before.

Here, in the western world, it is obvious that the old idea of denominational unity and strength is eroding. Our conviction is that as this movement pours and invests into our pastors, we will be securing the future strength of our churches and ongoing ministries.

With passion, we want to serve pastors so that they can become the God-given, gracefilled, Spirit-activated leaders that will lead every local congregation.

Pastors are in the heart of God, and we want to place them in the heart of this ministry network as well. Join us in loving your pastor, praying for him or her, and encouraging him or her as he or she leads your church in great ministry.

[Church of God of Prophecy General Overseer Randall Howard, White Wing Messenger, March 2009 issue.]

Dr. James Dobson Resigns as Chairman of Focus on the Family

DENVER (AP) - Conservative evangelical leader James Dobson has resigned as chairman of Focus on the Family but will continue to play a prominent role at the organization he founded more than three decades ago.

Dobson notified the board of his decision Wednesday, and the 950 employees of the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based ministry were informed Friday morning at a monthly worship service, said Jim Daly, the group's president and chief executive officer.

Dobson, 72, will continue to host Focus on the Family's flagship radio program, write a monthly newsletter and speak out on moral issues, Daly said.

Dobson's resignation as board chairman "lessens his administrative burden" and is the latest step in a succession plan, the group said. Dobson began relinquishing control six years ago by stepping down as president and CEO.

"One of the common errors of founder-presidents is to hold to the reins of leadership too long, thereby preventing the next generation from being prepared for executive authority," Dobson said in a statement. "... Though letting go is difficult after three decades of intensive labor, it is the wise thing to do."

While Focus on the Family emphasizes that it devotes most of its resources to offering parenting and marriage advice, it is best known for promoting conservative moral stands in politics.

Dobson, a child psychologist and author, has gotten more involved in politics in recent years. He endorsed Republican John McCain last year after initially saying he would not, and also sharply criticized Democratic candidate Barack Obama.

On political matters, Dobson "will continue to speak out as he always has - a private citizen and not a representative of the organization he founded," said Gary Schneeberger, a Focus on the Family spokesman. He said the nonprofit ministry and Focus on the Family Action - an affiliate set up under a different section of the tax code that permits more political activity - will continue to be active on public policy.

Dobson has a devoted following. His radio broadcast reaches an estimated 1.5 million U.S. listeners daily. Yet critics say his influence is waning, pointing to evangelicals pushing to broaden the movement's agenda beyond abortion, gay marriage and other issues Dobson views as most vital.

"In the short term, in the near term, Dr. Dobson will stay committed to the issues close to his heart," Daly said in an interview. "He'll continue to speak out on those topics."

Daly said there is no timetable for Dobson to leave the radio program, and the group will "look for the next voice for the next generation" while Dobson remains on the air.

That will likely mean not one person behind the microphone but several speaking on their respective areas of expertise, Daly said. The organization, anticipating a post-Dobson era, for several years has tried out different voices on the broadcast and in giving media interviews on hot-button social issues.

At the same time, Focus officials have acknowledged difficulties in raising money from younger families critical to its future. The economy also has hurt. Last fall Focus on the Family eliminated more than 200 staff positions, its largest employee cutbacks ever.

Daly said the group is now "right on track" with a revised annual budget of $138 million.

Dobson's wife, Shirley, also resigned from the Focus board. The new board chairman is retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Patrick P. Caruana, a longtime board member and a former executive with defense contractor Northrup Grumman.

"I don't see any dramatic departure from what Focus stands for," Caruana said of Dobson's leaving the board. "There are obviously younger people the ministry would like to reach, and we're on track to do that."

[Copyright 2008 Associated Press.]

Today's Quote

"Prepare for old age. True, you may never make it; there are former students of mine who have died already. If you don't have some activity that you can engage in for the Lord, you will probably end up a sour and regretful old person." - Jay Adams

Death Announcement - R. O. Covey

Bishop R. O. Covey, age 97, passed away early this morning in a local health care facility in Cleveland, Tennessee.

Arrangements will be announced as soon as we know them.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lent Now Crosses Over to Protestants

[By OSEYE T. BOYD - The StarPress, East Central Indiana]

As a growing number of Protestants recognize the importance of the 40 days leading up to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, more of them are observing Lent.

Long associated with Catholic, Orthodox, Episcopalian and Lutheran denominations, Lent is the 40-day period beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending at Easter. It's a time for Christians to focus on their relationship with God and remember the 40 days the New Testament reports Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting, praying and resisting temptation from Satan.

Numbers of Protestants observing Lent aren't available. However, local pastors say it's growing as denominational walls crumble and more ministers of different denominations understand the importance of the tradition and share it with their church members.

How Christians commemorate Lent varies. Some give up food, known as fasting, while others pray or read the Bible more or volunteer their time in the community. Although it's not forced, some pastors do encourage members to fast while others give weekly sermons focused on Lent.

"It's just something that's individual to them, although I did share with them on Sunday that for something to be given up or for it to be a sacrifice, it should be meaningful to them," said Jack Anderson, pastor of the Church of God of Prophecy.

While High Street United Methodist Church isn't observing a Lenten fast, members are encouraged "to take the next step on our spiritual journey." It's up to individuals to determine what the next step should be, Senior Pastor Jack Hartman said. Hartman is giving a series of Lenten sermons.

"My analogy is it's kind of like courtship before you get married," Hartman said. "You really can't experience the fullness of Easter until you know the events that led to that."

Prayer Restrictions - A Presidential First

Notwithstanding the president’s righteous campaign talk about how committed he is to the separation of church and state, White House aides are now in the business of vetting prayers said before Obama rallies by individuals whom they’ve asked to do the praying.

Read this remarkable story by the enterprising Dan Gilgoff of U.S. News & World Report. Apparently no previous White House has gone down this road. If Bush had done so, Gilgoff wouldn’t be the only one on the story.

[from the Weekly Standard Blog by John McCormack]

Improving Your Leadership Presence

1. Get feedback. And don’t ask just anyone. You need to know how the people you serve really feel. You also need to know how your contemporaries feel. To know how people really feel, the feedback must be anonymous in some cases. Every organization's culture is different. But you cannot lead effectively without influence. You have to know if the influence is there. "He who thinks he leads and no one follows, is just taking a stroll in the woods."

2. Get advice. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Allow God to guide you through His Spirit and others He has placed around you. I heard one leader say, "I don't care what or how they are doing things in another state." Knowing where you stand against the target is important; so is getting advice on what to do differently. Every leader at every level needs more than one mentor. One mentor can sometimes be wrong. Also, get advice from your colleagues.

3. Observe role models. One leader said, "I am the role model." Be careful. Pride goes before a fall. Start paying attention to other leaders who are being effective. Watch how they conduct themselves, and see if there are things you can pick up.

4. Use a coach or consultant. External coaches or consultants are often used to help prepare high potential leaders to get ready for or transition into senior positions, and are often called on to assist with presence. It is easy to develop tunnel vision without the fresh look of an outside consultant.

5. Take a presentations skills course. A lot of leadership presence has to do with honed presentation skills. Giving good presentations is a known technology, and there are several workshops you can take, including:
- Blessing White’s Leading Out Loud
- Communispond’s Executive Presentation Skills
- Dale Carnegie has a number of programs
- Join your local Toastmaster’s

6. Take a media training course. Too many leaders do not understand how to effectively communicate with this generation. They use all technology and media. While learning how to deal with the media is something only the highest ranking executives will need to learn, you can use the same techniques to improve how you field tough questions thrown at you. There are also executive presentation and media training consultants.

7. Talk to an image consultant. This is a resource and industry I've only recently become familiar with. I was asked to find help for a leader who kept injuring his own reputation. There was no moral failure, but his likeability factor was just very low. After some research, it turns out there’s actually an Association for Image Consultants International that provides professional certification and a consultant directly.

8. Join a gym or work out regularly. Body language speaks volumes. And, much body language comes from how we move around. If our balance is off, we have difficulty getting up or down, or if we can't dodge a thrown shoe quickly, we come across as out of shape. People feel better about following a (physically) strong leader. It also speaks well of our health stewardship.

9. Learn how to lead meetings. Meetings are where we “show up” as a leader. Like presentation skills, there’s a science to meeting management that can be learned. And honing your meeting leadership skills helps you become a better meeting participant. Ask a skilled trainer to teach you "facilitation" (how to lead a discussion) skills.

10. Read. Among other titles, consider books on leadership, presentation skills, and biographies of role model leaders.

Are there other ways to improve leadership presence? Please comment with your ideas.

[Based on Great Leadership by Dan McCarthy]

Today's Word

"So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, 'Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.' His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'" — Matthew 25:20-21

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lent

Lent, in most Christian denominations, is the forty-day-long liturgical season of fasting and prayer before Easter. The forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the desert, where according to the Bible he endured temptation by Satan. Different churches calculate the forty days differently.

The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer — through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial — for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events linked to the Passion of Christ and culminates in Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In Western Christianity (with the exception of the Archdiocese of Milan which follows the Ambrosian Rite), Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes on Holy Saturday. The six Sundays in Lent are not counted among the forty days because each Sunday represents a "mini-Easter", a celebration of Jesus' victory over sin and death.

[From Wikipedia]

Today is Ash Wednesday, The Beginning of Lent

In the Western Christian calendar, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and occurs forty-six days (forty days not counting Sundays) before Easter. It falls on a different date each year, because it is dependent on the date of Easter; it can occur as early as February 4 or as late as March 10.

Ash Wednesday gets its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of the faithful as a sign of repentance. The ashes used are gathered after the Palm Crosses from the previous year's Palm Sunday are burned. In the liturgical practice of some churches, the ashes are mixed with the Oil of the Catechumens (one of the sacred oils used to anoint those about to be baptized), though some churches use ordinary oil. This paste is used to make the sign of the cross, first upon the forehead of the clergy, and then on each of those present who kneel before him at the altar rail. As he does so, he recites the words: "Remember (O man) that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

[From Wikipedia]

A Prayer for Lent, by Henri Nouwen

"How often have I lived through these weeks without paying much attention to penance, fasting, and prayer? How often have I missed the spiritual fruits of the season without even being aware of it? But how can I ever really celebrate Easter without observing Lent? How can I rejoice fully in your Resurrection when I have avoided participating in your death?

Yes, Lord, I have to die — with you, through you, and in you — and thus become ready to recognize you when you appear to me in your Resurrection. There is so much in me that needs to die: false attachments, greed and anger, impatience and stinginess.... I see clearly now how little I have died with you, really gone your way and been faithful to it.

O Lord, make this Lenten season different from the other ones. Let me find you again.

Amen."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How Are Denominations Doing?

The 77th annual edition of the Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches, long a highly regarded chronicler of growth and financial trends of religious institutions, records a slight but startling decline in membership of the nation's largest Christian communions.

Membership in the Roman Catholic Church declined 0.59 percent and the Southern Baptist Convention declined 0.24 percent, according to the 2009 edition of the Yearbook, edited by the National Council of Churches and published by Abingdon. The figures indicate that the Catholic church lost 398,000 members since the appearance of the 2008 Yearbook. Southern Baptists lost nearly 40,000 members. Both membership figures were compiled by the churches in 2007 and reported to the Yearbook in 2008. The 2009 Yearbook also includes an essay by the editor, the Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Lindner, on the various ways churches count their members. Neither figure is earth-shattering given the size of the churches. Roman Catholics comprise the nation's largest church with a membership of 67,117,016, and Southern Baptists rank second in the nation at 16,266,920. But this year's reported decline raises eyebrows because Catholic and Southern Baptist membership has grown dependably over the years. Now they join virtually every mainline church in reporting a membership decline...

Here is the breakdown of the largest 25 church groups in the US: (You can read more here)

- The Roman Catholic Church, 67,117,06 members, down 0.59 percent. (Ranked 1)
- The Southern Baptist Convention, 16,266,920 members, down 0.24 percent. (Ranked 2)
- The United Methodist Church, 7,931,733 members, down 0.80 percent. (Ranked 3)
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5,873,408 members, up 1.63 percent .(Ranked 4)
- The Church of God in Christ, 5,499,875 members, no change reported. (Ranked 5)
- National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc., 5,000,000 members, no change reported. (Ranked 6)
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 4,709,956 members, down 1.35 percent. (Ranked 7)
- National Baptist Convention of America, Inc., 3,500,000 members, no change reported. (Ranked 8)
- Presbyterian Church (USA), 2,941,412 members, down 2.79 percent (Ranked 9)
- Assemblies of God, 2,863,265 members, up 0.96 percent. (Ranked 10)
- African Methodist Episcopal Church, 2,500,000 members, no change reported. (Ranked 11)
- National Missionary Baptist Convention of America, 2,500,000 members, no change reported. (Ranked 11)
- Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., 2,500,000 members, no change reported. (Ranked 11)
- The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS), 2,383,084 members, down 1.44 percent. (Ranked 14)
- The Episcopal Church, 2,116,749 members, down 1.76 percent. (Ranked 15)
- Churches of Christ, 1,639,495 members, no change reported. (Ranked 16)
- Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 1,500,000 members, no change reported. (Ranked 17)
- Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc., 1,500,000 members, no change reported. (Ranked 17)
- The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, 1,400,000 members, down 3.01 percent. (Ranked 19)
- American Baptist Churches in the USA, 1,358,351, down 0.94 percent. (Ranked 20)
- Baptist Bible Fellowship International, 1,200,000, no change reported. (Ranked 21)
- United Church of Christ, 1,145,281 members, down 6.01 percent. (Ranked 22)
- Jehovah’s Witnesses, 1,092,169 members, up 2.12 percent (Ranked 23)
- Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, 1,071,616 members, no change reported. (Ranked 24)
- Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.), 1,053,642 members, up 2.04 percent. (Ranked 25)

[from MMI Weblog by Todd Rhoades]

Beware of Deception

Galatians 6:7-8: "Don't be misled -- you can not mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from their sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit." (NLT)

The first few words of this passage brought a challenge to my heart. I must be alert to the tactics of the enemy and not allow him to mislead me. The Bible declares that he is a predator (walking about as a roaring lion) and he is always seeking to lead me away from my walk with Christ.

Satan will use any and all means to mislead my heart so that I will have a broken relationship with God rather than a healthy and maturing relationship. I must be alert and awake to the tricks of the enemy and not allow the flesh to be in charge of my life.

We open ourself to deception if we think that we can disobey God and not suffer the consequences or that we can ignore God and still receive His blessings. We are opening the door to deception when we live with only this present world and what it has to offer as our major desire and priority. The Bible declares that this world will pass away but he that does the will of the Father will abide forever. I want to walk with eternity in my view and realize that only what I do for Christ will last.

Make sure that you are investing in eternal things that will produce a harvest of eternal blessings and rewards. The best way to defeat deception is to keep your heart open to God. An open heart toward God allows His Spirit the freedom to minister direction and correction to our lives. Ask Him to help you develop an open heart which lead you down the path of spiritual maturity which will ultimately place you in His presence for all of eternity.

[from Heart for America by michael]

Grand Bahamas Centennial Crusade

This year the Church of God of Prophecy celebrates their 100th year of existence in the Bahamas. Recently, they hosted their Grand Bahamas Centennial Crusade which was held at the Community at Heart Tabernacle on Coral Road, Freeport.

The week long crusade was held under the theme "We've Come This Far by Faith" with much anticipation people from everywhere flocked the church house nightly and the excitement grew as the nights went on.

The special guest speaker for the week was Dr. Bishop Robert Jones of Kingston Jamaica, who is also a pastor of the Church of God of Prophecy. Each night Bishop Jones encouraged those in attendance with a quick and powerful word with precision and clarity. With topics such as "In My Time," "Engaging God;" "Closure-Guilt and For-giveness" There was no doubt that this man was hearing from God during the week.

Many accepted the Lord, received the Holy Spirit and brought closure to personal situations in their lives. No one left the church house disappointed as the Lord showed up nightly pouring out of His Spirit and meeting the needs of crowds of hungry and thirsty souls.

The National Overseers of the Church of God Of Prophecy, Bahamas Bishop Dr. Elgarnet. B. Rahming was also at this great Crusade nightly and welcomed those visiting. Also on hand were Bishop Cleophas Capron, District Overseer, Bishop Rudolph Arthur, National Field Director, Rev. Steve Dean Administrative Assistant to Bishop Arthur Knowles, District Overseer of Church of God.

The Word for the week was accompanied by great musical renditions by, The Remnant, Glenda Stubbs, Charo Charles, Peter Gray, Hattie Williams, Annamae Delva. the Church of God District Choir and Praise Team, the Centennial Praise Team. The Boyz and special guest the Interdenominational Mass Choir.

Coordinators of the Crusade were: Pastor Steven Cefort, Minister Cecil Bethel and Minister Barbara Gray.

[from The Freeport News]

WALL-E: Best Animated Feature and Best Spiritual Film of 2008

Disney’s "WALL-E" has been recognized as last year’s best movie for families, the best spiritual movie, and now the best feature-length animation.

The robot romance blockbuster won the Academy Award for animated feature on Sunday, beating out doggy hero flick “Bolt” and martial arts tale “Kung Fu Panda.” It had also been nominated for five other Academy Awards, including original screenplay, original score, original song, sound editing, and sound mixing.
"Creative seeds are sown in the oddest of places,” said director Andrew Stanton upon receiving the Oscar.

”WALL-E” tells the story of a garbage collecting robot who has been left on an abandoned earth to clean up the mess in a “distant, but not so unrealistic future” where the planet has become covered with trash from products sold by the powerful multi-national Buy N Large corporation. Though very much alone, WALL-E eventually falls in love with an advanced, feminine probe robot named EVE who lands on the planet, and follows her into outer space on an adventure.

“WALL-E not only does what Andrew Stanton says is the essence of the movie, directly quoting Jesus in John 15:13 of the New Testament, ‘No greater love hath a man than that he lay down his life for his friends,’” stated a review by faith-based media ministry Movieguide, which earlier this month selected “WALL-E” as the best movie for families in 2008. “It also clearly manifests Christian acts of compassion, kindness, respect, and all the other cardinal virtues throughout the story.”

In addition to Movieguide, multi-faith site http://www.beliefnet.com/ also declared “WALL-E” at the top of its annual list, recently dubbing it the “Best Spiritual Film of 2008” out of a pool of films that “are bound to touch your soul in some way.”

Film judge Sr. Rose Pacatte called the movie "Disney's best film ever in terms of its themes of the consequences of soulless consumerism and the need – the hunger for truth, beauty, and goodness that we all share.”

“Spirituality is living our beliefs in relationship with God and others,” Pacatte added. “The word God was not present, but the reality was in WALL-E."

Walt Disney Pictures released “WALL-E” in the United States and Canada on June 27, 2008. After a $63 million opening weekend, the movie went on to gross $533 million worldwide. The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on Nov. 18, 2008.

[By Josh Kimball - Christian Post Reporter]

Monday, February 23, 2009

True Team Leadership

There are a few leaders out there today who have jumped on the plurality of leadership bandwagon just because they think it to be in vogue. They tout themselves as leading with a team, but they continue to revert back to old habits of leading from authority. When challenged, they may even resort to using fear and intimidation. They publish a list of team members, but the team is never given vision, purpose, nor structure (because the leader really doesn't intend to use them fully).

If you are serious about using team leadership, if you fully intend to use them, the team will need structure. Your ministry will not effectively meet the needs of others without it. Selecting the wrong structure will not only impact how you execute as a ministry, it often leads to dysfunction across the church.

Here are some measurements:

- Does your team have a well-defined structure (peer-based, team-based, or depth-based)?Without structure, your volunteers will not know where and when to go when they need help. They’ll feel helpless and give up.

- Is your team structure documented (organizational chart or outline)? Your team needs to know where to go when they need help, so make it easy on them by keeping a chart available and up-to-date.

- Does your team have job descriptions for each job role your team performs, including the duration required for new signups? How can your team do their job if they don’t know what their job is? Make short, easy to understand job descriptions that help everyone stay focused.

- Do you have a process for locating new managers and leaders to grow your team? Developing structure helps you to see where future managers and leaders are needed. Develop a simple process for locating these future team members.

[from Agile Ministry by James Higginbotham]

FREE Leadership E-Book

Exponential Network just gave the church world a huge gift. They sifted through thousands of blog posts from some great church leaders and compiled an e-book of the best of the best.

You can get your free PDF copy here ... click Leadership Learnings From Bloggers.

[from LeadingSmart by Tim Stevens]

Wall Street Worries About Nationalization

U.S. stock futures pointed to a strong opening Monday as a report the U.S. government would increase its stake but not fully take over Citigroup eased some of the nationalization fears rampant in the market.

U.S. stocks slumped on Friday on concerns that Citi and Bank of America would have to be taken over by the government -- stoked by an interview Sen. Christopher Dodd gave to Bloomberg Television in which he suggested as much. The Dow industrials fell 100 points, the S&P 500 lost 8 points, while the Nasdaq Composite fell a point.

However, The Wall Street Journal reported that Citigroup is in talks with the government on Uncle Sam converting its preference shares into common equity. The U.S. government may hold between 25% and 40% of Citi, according to the report.

[By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch]

Today's Word

"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself." — Philippians 2:3

Technology Drives The Generation Gap

Young people have always been at the forefront of adopting new technologies. The latest Barna research shows just how significant this “generation gap” is today.

Find out about the types of technologies used by every generation and those that are becoming the domain of the young.

Click here

Sunday, February 22, 2009

New Pastor Appointed to Peerless Road Church

Pastor Steve Wilson has been appointed as the new pastor at Peerless Road Church of God of Prophecy in Cleveland, Tennessee.

Pastor Steve began preaching and evangelizing at age 18. In 1993 he married his beautiful wife Lee and they began their team ministry together. Their gifted ministry of singing and preaching has allowed them to serve as the key note speakers and singers for many regional, state, and international youth conferences for the kingdom of God.

For many years they served as youth pastors and music directors at the local level before accepting the call to pastoral ministry. They are noted for their innovative approach to ministry.

Pastor Wilson is recognized for his unique ability to bring the Bible to life in memorable ways using vivid illustrations mixed with humor and practical life application. His down to earth approach, relevance, genuine love for others, and passion to see them experience a growing relationship with God appeals to people of all ages and backgrounds.

Lee's anointed and gifted ministry in the creative arts and music ministry brings a fresh and life changing experience that enhances the whole body of Christ. Her Love for all people is felt by everyone and her leadership is undeniable.

Pastor Wilson is a graduate of Beacon Seminary with a bachelor's degree in Biblical Theology. He was also recently honored to become an ordained Bishop in the Church of God of Prophecy. He has been married to the love of his life, Lee, for more than 13 years and enjoys spending time with their two children Zack and Greg.

Pastor Wilson most recently served the RTP Church of God of Prophecy located in Research Triangle Park, NC.

This new appointment was announced this morning by Pastor Wilson at his local church, and by State Overseer E. C. McKinley at the Peerless Road Church.

So You Are A Leader?

Here are seven diagnostic questions you need to keep asking yourself as a leader, to determine if you are fulfilling God's Call with your personal life, and staying holy and healthy.

DO I REALLY KNOW GOD? If ministry activity were taken away from me, would I still have a personal, growing relationship with Jesus?

DO I TRULY PURSUE INTEGRITY? Are there areas of ongoing secrecy in my life that I am intentionally hiding from those closest to me?

AM I BEING MYSELF? Am I living under the self-imposed pressure of always having to prove something to somebody?

DO I OWN RESPONSIBILITY? Do I acknowledge my mistakes or do I project blame and use my influence to vent unresolved anger?

DO I EMBRACE CHANGE? Is my attitude faith-filled and future-focused or am I overly nostalgic of the past and fearful of taking risks in the present?

DO I LOVE LEARNING? Am I coasting intellectually or am I applying myself to the disciplines of personal study and reflection?

DO I LIVE JOYFULLY? Do I love what I am doing or have I taken the pressures of ministry onto myself?

[by Pastor Jim Bradford]

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Three Local Churches Split From Denomination

Citing concerns over the Presbyterian Church's (U.S.A.) liberal direction, three local churches will be leaving to join the smaller and more conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

For Covenant Presbyterian Church in West Lafayette, Ind., their dismissal was granted on Tuesday by the Wabash Valley Presbytery – a regional governing body in the PC (USA). The presbytery voted 115 to 2 in favor of dismissal.

The West Lafayette congregation, which has over 1,000 members, had been trying to leave the PC (USA) for more than a year but the presbytery had placed an administrative commission in charge of the church to prevent a split.

Similar events took place for First Presbyterian Church of Frankfort and First Presbyterian Church of Nappanee, which were both also granted dismissal this week.

David Henderson, pastor of Covenant and also part of the leadership for New Wineskins Association of Churches – a network of churches discontent with the PC (USA) – explained that there was concern the denomination was accepting a wider range of theological positions that local leadership didn't agree with, as reported by the Journal and Courier.

"There was also disagreement over what it meant to be faithful to Jesus' teaching in certain areas of ethics, such as in the area of sexuality," Henderson explained, according to the local newspaper.

The dismissal agreement with the Presbytery of Wabash Valley includes a payment of $975,000 by the three churches and a transfer of ownership by the presbytery of each church's property, the Journal and Courier reports.

"We were determined to let love have the last word, not disagreement or frustration or hurt. And I think it has," Henderson commented to the local newspaper.

The three churches will officially split on April 15, according to the local publication, and a joint closing worship service with the Wabash Valley Presbytery will be held around that time.

In recent years, a growing number of congregations have voted to leave the PC (USA) – the largest Presbyterian denomination in the country – and join the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Some date the beginning of the exodus to 2001 when the General Assembly – the highest governing – would not affirm the singular saving Lordship of Jesus Christ. Also, a 2006 decision by the General Assembly that some believe allowed leeway for the ordination of partnered homosexuals led to more splits.

This year, the denomination's 173 presbyteries are voting on a proposal to delete language in the constitution that requires clergy to live in "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between and a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness." Approval by a majority of the presbyteries would allow for the ordination of non-celibate gays and lesbians.

[By Lillian Kwon, Christian Post Reporter]

Friday, February 20, 2009

Some Things I've Noticed About Pastoring

- It is a very rewarding position
- It is a very painful position
- It cost you your life
- One mistake can cancel a thousand rights
- There is no time clock it is 24 hrs a day 7 days a week and 52 weeks a year...
- Your mind is always on the church.
- It requires nerves of steel and guts to stand up to people who oppose the Vision
- Good people will become casualties of the Vision ... If they can't see it by now they never will
- You have to learn to say good bye
- Decisions are made not based on one person or one group of people but they are made by what is best for the Body(Congregation) as a whole. (This perhaps is one of the most difficult)
- Sometimes the right decisions are the most painful
- Somebody in the church always knows better

[from The daily story of a growing church by David Boggs]

Pastor Jim Bradford Is Selected To Lead The Assemblies of God

With An Emphasis on Church Planting

Less than a week after Assemblies of God announced John Palmer’s resignation as General Secretary, his replacement is named, Dr. James Bradford, who says he’s looking forward to the new challenge.

“The Assemblies of God is at a wonderful moment right now, nationally. We’re seeing the emergence of a lot of young leaders, very creative leaders. A whole new emphasis on planting new churches, revitalizing existing churches and I hope to especially be a part of fueling that process and encouraging young leaders.” says Dr. Bradford.

Dr. Bradford is currently the pastor of Central Assembly of God. To read Pastor Jim's blog, click on the list of pastor blogs in the right column of this Blog.

The Executive Presbytery unanimously appointed him and he’ll assume the duties of the General Secretary’s office immediately. Those duties include keeping records of the minutes, official documents and issuing the credentials for the 35,000 AG pastors and ministers. Bradford will continue as pastor of Central Assembly through Easter.

READ MORE

Nepotism in the Church

In an organization which promotes very high standards of ethics and morality, the church is practicing nepotism as being acceptable. For years, church leaders have hired, promoted, paid, and protected their wives and family members - effectively doubling their household income. Leaders that pay their wife as secretary, administrative assistant, or office manager with church funds, claim the benefits of loyalty and confidentiality. God only knows how often it also protects secrecy.

Nepotism is the practice of allowing employment and economic policies that permit favoritism toward one's family. It includes giving favored employment positions to family members as well as encouraging business transactions with other family members.

I don’t think it’s possible for a leader to fairly evaluate the work of his or her spouse. Even if it were possible (and I don’t think it is), the simple perception of wrongdoing that arises in the minds of the others is reason enough to consider such relationships to be inadvisable and unethical.

Church leaders are more involved in the business of the church today than ever. Some even appoint their own Finance Committee (which opens the door to conflicts of interest, and closes the door to independent thinking and review). Some pastors even appoint their wife as local church Treasurer, a clear conflict of interest which should never happen.

Clergy leaders are expected to establish a reputation (and live up to it). Their conduct determines their reputation. And the people they serve expect their conduct to be scrupulous.

Conflict of interest refers to a situation where a person’s financial or professional loyalty or objectivity in doing his job may be compromised by an outside interest of the person. We are used to hearing the term used with respect to outside business ownership interests of executives or public officials. For non-executives, the concept comes up more vaguely in conjunction with issues like trade secrets, confidentiality, and non-compete clauses. The term also refers to nepotism.

Of all entities, the church should never cause or allow any decision, action, condition or organizational circumstance that is illegal, imprudent, or in violation of commonly accepted ethics. The church should be committed to strict compliance with all issues of morality and ethics. Committees have a duty to help protect the assets of the church and to report reasonable suspicions of non-compliance in the church. The church must be a place where the reporting of unethical situations is welcomed.

Leaders must be committed to providing an environment in which people will, in good faith, report reasonable suspicions of compliance violations in the church. Church members, committees, and employees of the church must be encouraged to attempt to resolve their concerns by reporting them to church leaders. If they feel uncomfortable addressing their concerns at the local level, or wish for any other reason to address them elsewhere, they should be allowed to make their reports directly to the highest offices of the organization. If that is not acted on, ethics violations could be reported to the public.

Church leaders should never allow conditions, procedures, or decisions that are unsafe, undignified, unnecessarily intrusive, or that fail to provide appropriate care and support, confidentiality and privacy. The godly leader would never cause or allow conditions that are dismissive, unfair, unsafe, unprofessional or undignified. He should never operate without written personnel policies that clarify personnel rules for staff, provide for effective handling of grievances, and protect against wrongful conditions such as nepotism and grossly preferential treatment for personal reasons; discriminate against any staff member; nor fail to apply the standards of the Church’s mission and values.

Accountability to God is vital, but people form their impressions of leaders and churches by looking at the outward appearances (1 Samuel 16:7). The basis for establishing and developing ethical standards is stated clearly by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 8:21 (NIV): “For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.” Or, as the New American Standard puts it in verses 20 and 21, “taking precaution that no one should discredit us in our administration of this generous gift, for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.” Standards, drawn from Scripture, are fundamental to operating with integrity.

The first sign of an unethical leader is when he begins accusing everyone else of being unethical, and attempts to create a secret environment. Look into that leader's ethics immediately. You will almost always find conflicts of interest and nepotism.

When it comes to ethical acts and decisions, church leaders have a special obligation that transcends that of, say, a corporate leader. Church leaders have a responsibility to make sure the leadership they provide is expansive, embracing not only diligence and accuracy but also imagination and creativity and an ethical dimension that addresses moral obligations and decision making.

Interestingly enough, nepotism began in the church and gained its name after the church practice in the Middle Ages, when some Catholic popes and bishops — who had taken vows of chastity, and therefore usually had no children of their own — gave their nephews positions of preference such as were often accorded by fathers to sons. Some nephews, however, were in fact illegitimate sons of popes – thus, in older dictionaries it is possible to find "nephew" defined as "illegitimate son of an ecclesiastic". Several popes are known to have elevated nephews and other relatives to the cardinalate. Often, such appointments were used as a means of continuing a papal "dynasty". For instance, Pope Callixtus III, head of the Borgia family, made two of his nephews Cardinals; one of them, Rodrigo, later used his position as a Cardinal as a stepping stone to the papacy, becoming Pope Alexander VI. Coincidentally, Alexander elevated Alessandro Farnese, his mistress's brother, to the cardinalate; Farnese would later go on to become Pope Paul III. Paul also engaged in nepotism, appointing, for instance, two nephews, aged fourteen and sixteen, as cardinals. The practice was finally ended when Pope Innocent XII issued the bull Romanum decet Pontificem in 1692. The papal bull prohibited popes in all times from bestowing estates, offices, or revenues on any relative, with the exception that one qualified relative (at most) could be made a Cardinal.

It began in the church and an attempt was made to preclude it from the church. It is past time to finish that effort.

Worship Leader in American Idol Top 36

Felicia Barton, a worship leader at Freedom Fellowship Church of God in Virginia Beach, Virginia, has been selected to be in the top 36 of Season 8 of American Idol.

Read More

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

10 Ways to Avoid the Arrogance of Power

Something naturally happens to people who stay in power too long. Its called arrogance.

This happens most often in churches (for various reasons). Few positions in government or industry hold as much power at times as ministry. And if you are prone to be a take charge person, you can quickly find yourself taking a bit too much joy in your position of power ... joy that many times will evolve, over time, into arrogance. A godly leader will look for ways to avoid this.

The "Great Leadership" blog recently featured a list of ten ways that you can avoid the arrogance of power ... and I thought that they would be good as a reminder to those of us in ministry:

1. Encourage and reward dissent.
2. Spend time with the people you serve.
3. Read and answer your own email.
4. Be visible and accessible.
5. Have regular “fireside chats” with randomly selected, vertical slices of the people you serve.
6. Do regular “deep dives” with as many departments as possible.
7. Don't spend too much time in the office.
8. Conduct regular surveys in a way that tells you what people are really thinking.
9. Work with a coach or mentor who’s willing to get in your face and tell it like it is.
10. Leverage technology and social networking, allowing feedback.

[from MMI Weblog by Todd Rhoades]

"Empowered" for the 21st Century

Pentecostal-charismatic scholars are meeting this week in Tulsa, Okla., to discus the movement's future as part of the Commission on Holy Spirit Empowerment in the 21st Century.

CONTINUE READING ARTICLE

Obituary - Rev. G. Curtis Flippo

The Rev. G. Curtis Flippo, age 77, of Cordova, Alabama (Argo community) went home to be with the Lord on Sunday Februrary 15, 2009. He was formerly employed at Bessie Mines.

Brother Flippo was a minister in the Church of God of Prophecy; he was also a renowned pianist and recording artist. He was a member of the Cordova Church of God of Prophecy. He also served in the Prison Ministry since 1982.

Funeral services will be Wednesday February 18, 2009 at 2:00 pm in the New Horizon Memorial Chapel. Pastor Gary Smith and Rev. Bobby Patterson will officiate. Burial will follow in New Horizon Memorial Gardens.

Visitation was Tuesday night 6-8 pm at the funeral home.

He was preceded in death by his parents, George and Willie Lee Flippo, and his brother, Edward Flippo.

Survivors include his wife of 60 1/2 years, Patsy Flippo; his children, Michael Flippo and wife Mary Sue of Kissimmee, FL, Janis Smith and husband Pastor Gary of St. Cloud, FL, Steve Flippo of Sumiton and Dirk Flippo of Cordova; daughter-in-law, Bonnie Flippo; grandchildren, Clarke Flippo, Jeffrey, Stacey and Tyler Smith, Dirk Flippo, Jr. and Erica Belan; great grandchildren, Mia and Jude; sisters, Margaret Samons and husband Walter of Dora and Kathryn Ricker and husband Bill of Snowtown; brothers, Charles Flippo and wife Marilyn of Snowtown and Donald Flippo and wife Annette of Dora; several nieces, nephews and a host of friends.

New Horizon Memorial Funeral Home in Dora, Alabama directing 648-2323.

Why do people insult other people?

I believe those who insult others do this to make themselves feel more superior. By putting someone else down, you falsely elevate your position (but only in your mind; to the outside world, you look even more inferior).

Insulting is a sign of immaturity, and immaturity is frowned upon in this society.

The act of insulting others is particularly common among people who are deeply insecure. If you're not feeling good about yourself, you try to bring other people down to your level.

Christ-like leadership never uses insults against God's precious people. "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." Matthew 18:6.

"But if you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you'll soon wish you hadn't. You'd be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck. Doom to the world for giving these God-believing children a hard time! Hard times are inevitable, but you don't have to make it worse — and it's doomsday to you if you do." (Matthew 18:6-7 MSG)

Monday, February 16, 2009

God's Design for Trans-Local Church Leadership

Leaders are often selected because of who their father was, or because of who they or their family is connected with in the organization, financial contributions, or outside political connections. These are the criteria or qualifications organizations frequently use when selecting trans-local leaders.

But the major criteria that is usually ignored is spiritual maturity. The marks of spiritual maturity are often minimized or even ignored. The concept of real, vital, spiritually mature leaders to oversee the church is foreign in some cases. "Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and consider the result of their conduct, imitate their faith . . ." (NASB) Heb.13:7.

The scripture is very specific. The Holy Spirit says that we are to imitate the faith of our leaders. It does not give us an option. But, it tells us to look for three things before we follow anyone’s spiritual example. First, he must have sufficient experience in proven leadership in the church (not just a couple of years here or there). Second, the leader must have been a teacher of the Word of God. That means the leader was an effective teacher. Third, we must evaluate “the result of the leader’s spiritual life before imitating him.” What does it mean to evaluate a leader’s spiritual life? It means to look at the spiritual character or spiritual maturity and ask, “Are they spiritually mature?” If so, then imitate them; if not, look for someone else.

What does spiritual maturity look like? The depth of a man’s spiritual maturity is a mark of the depth of his love-walk with Jesus, and his service to people.

The church must be biblically organized; our leaders must fulfill the responsibilities that God has given them out of the overflow of their relationship with Him, and they must be spiritually mature, or it is all meaningless. True Godly leaders are committed to these principles. This is why it is safe for the writer of Hebrews to say, "Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith . . ." Heb. 13:7. Spiritual leadership is “followable.” You will not have to be made or forced to follow a leader who has spiritual maturity and a heart for God (remembering that God is love). It will not be a dynamic, spiritually growing church unless there is servant leadership.

The presbuteroi and episkopoi are of most importance. Any organization rises or falls based upon its leadership. The former name simply means “elders,” that is, older ones, and the latter, “overseers.” The term presbuteroi is used in Scripture to denote old men, and to designate a class of officers somewhat similar to those who functioned in the synagogue. Elders (presbuterous) are synonymous with overseers or bishops. The former connotes their dignity, and the latter their function.

Leaders in the church are to be different from the world’s concept of leadership. (Jesus states that biblical leadership is contrary to that practiced in the world). Jesus tells us that leaders are to be servant-leaders. In Matthew 23:10-12 He said, “And do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be called your servant. And whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”

Again in Mark 10:42-45, “ . . . You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them, But it is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.”

Our Lord uses two very important words in this last passage. They are the Greek words for servant and slave. Lenski summarizes the meaning of the passage wonderfully, “A [servant] is one who is intent on the service he is rendering to others. Greatness in the kingdom is measured by the readiness and the amount of blessed ministrations rendered to Christ’s people. Whether they reward and exalt us for this service or not makes no difference. The idea is carried to its climax. One may will with a holy will to be 'first,' above even those who are 'great' in the kingdom. The way to attain this height is to be your slave . . . the humblest and lowest of all servants who actually slaves for others for Christ’s sake, and who despite all his slaving is ready to be left without reward of honor.”

God is looking for spiritually qualified leaders to lead. He is looking for Daniels and Jeremiahs who are standing for Him today and will remain committed to Him when everyone else has abandoned Him. He wants leaders who know the truth and stand for truth, and He seeks leaders whose hearts long for Him (Ps. 42:1-2) - hearts that want to know Him deeper and love Him more. God is not interested in leaders who administrate well and are great teachers and preachers if there is no passion for Him! That is the message of Revelation 2:4. Joseph is a great example of a Godly leader who ran from sin and remained true to Jehovah God even when honored by a pharaoh. The great saints of old were men of holiness, men committed to God. They were not men who did clever things, or ruled with an iron fist. They loved God and wanted a closer relationship with Him than they had yesterday. God is looking for David; not his older brothers. He is looking at the hearts of men, not the outward appearances, as man does. When a man longs and seeks after God day-after-day, Godly, spiritual maturity follows over time. It is the passion for God that develops a leader. It is a passion that grows with time and turns the man back to God. It is the mark of actual maturity, and the marks are evident in his walk among the people. It takes years to develop, but the passion must start somewhere in his life.

God’s leadership qualifications are outlined in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. These are actually marks of spiritual maturity. They define the type of leader God wants. These qualifications or marks of spiritual maturity were true of the Abrahams, Moseses and the Davids of our times as well as the more ordinary Stephens, Aquilas, Timothys and Marks. God is not looking for perfect men, but men whose pattern of life evidences the marks of Godly, spiritual maturity. Unfortunately, many good Christian brothers and sisters are selected for leadership for the wrong reasons. They do not evidence the marks of spiritual maturity required in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. These wonderful brethren may be selected because they are wealthy, politically connected or influential in the church. They may be professionals, the social elite, charismatic, educated, church founding fathers or significant donors. But if the lives of leaders do not have the marks of spiritual maturity as outlined in 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1, then the church has selected those whom God has rejected as leaders.

Among the other scriptural attributes, Godly leaders are to be gentle. No poison-pen threatening letters. No superiority attitude. No intentional intimidation. The Godly leader does not lord over God's kingdom, and does not exercise authority just because he can. The Greek word translated as “gentle” is epiekh and it literally means “forbearing, gentle, and yields his rights.” It has a sense of gentleness and grace, but the key thought is that he is willing to yield his rights. The Godly leader must not insist on having his own way; in fact, he must be willing to yield his rights. He has an eternal focus. This does not mean that he never speaks up, and on occasions may not be able to support a decision. But the pattern of his life is that he yields his rights.

The Godly leader will not be arrogant. Ne never looses sight of the fact that he is not the only person on earth who can hear from God. The Greek word in scripture means that he encourages others at his own expense. He does not promote himself. He does not seek his own honor. Instead, he gives honor to others, not judgement.

The Godly leader is not contentious. The Greek word is amacon. It literally means “not argumentative, non-verbal violence, or peaceable.” It has the idea that the leader does not always express his opinion about everything and every topic. This type of person is usually an arguer or debater. He usually feels strongly about the topics and wants to influence the decision. He usually wants to be the “king of many mountains.”

But, the Godly leader seeks unity of purpose and mind among those he serves. The Apostle Paul gives us direction when he writes, ". . . make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose." (NASB) Phil. 2:2. The goal is to have one mind, and to be intent on one purpose. That does not mean that the “one mind” is the one of the leader. Together with those they serve, they are to seek the direction of the Lord. The same thought is repeated in Romans 12:16.

The Godly leader will not be quick-tempered. He must be longsuffering and slow to anger. He seeks to bring others along. The goal of a trans-local leader is to shepherd the shepherds. The goal is not personal honor, personal wealth, nor personal wishes. The goal is to oversee the church of Jesus Christ and to be a good shepherd.

The Godly leader will not focus on money. It will not always be about money - every meeting, every letter, every discussion. This qualification means that the leader is not a lover of money (which is the root of all evil). His focus in not on money. His life is not centered on money. If it were, he would have a difficult time in making financial decisions, especially when it comes to trusting the Lord to supply all the needs of his office. He will not feel it necessary to pressure churches, ministries, nor people about money.

The Godly leader manages his own house well. Here is the verse, "He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity . . ." (NASB) 1 Tim. 3:4. The Greek word translated as “manages” is proistamenon. It has the same root that "ruling” comes from in 1 Timothy 5;17. In 1 Tim. 5:17 we saw that the leader must be a caring and loving person. That begins at home. He was also to lead by his Godly spiritual character. That is the same idea here. The leader must have demonstrated his ability to lead by having shepherded his family first. There is more to this requirement than just organizational stuff . It looks at the man’s heart for his family. His wife will not be abused nor treated with a lack of respect publicly nor privately. His children will testify of his love, affection, and spiritual maturity. So will his extended family. The family usually reflect the character and life of their parents, because children model mom and dad. The children are barometers of the character of a leader’s walk with Jesus. These are important marks of maturity. They are insights into the man and his life.

A leader’s responsibility in the body of Christ is first and foremost one of servitude. He is a servant-leader. His priority is to serve and then to lead. Leaders dare not view individual ministry responsibilities as acquisition of power or influence! Christ did not intend for eldership to be a position of personal honor, prestige or glory. Jesus’ instruction to His disciples was that their role was one of service (being a servant) and slaving for others. The people should be at the top of the church’s organization chart, with the leaders at the bottom and not the reverse. Jesus speaking of the Gentiles in Matthew 20:25-28 said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not so among you . . . just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve . . ." Any organizational structure is inherently vulnerable to abuse. To reduce the human tendency to acquire power and obtain influence, lines of responsibility and accountability within the leadership team should be clearly outlined and followed, or centralization of responsibility (or authority) will occur, usually to a small group within the leadership, or to one man.

God is not looking for attractive leaders, charismatic leaders, warm leaders, leaders who can develop superb church organization, create multiplied programs, creatively use slick gimmicks, or anything else. He is not interested primarily in excellent oratory, warm worship services, raised hands, “worship songs,” or large offerings. There is nothing wrong with these things, but God is looking for holy, spiritual, committed and responsible leaders who honor Jesus above themselves. He is looking for men who long to know Him and love Him. He is looking for men who are seeking and searching for Him just as Moses, David, and Paul did.

The conclusion is simple, for God the central issue is the elder’s heart-love for Jesus. That love relationship will change him and those to whom he ministers. It is a mark of spiritual maturity. It is the mark of a walk with Jesus. This was the characteristic that Jesus was looking for in Peter. Jesus told Peter, who is every leader’s fellow-elder, that there was only room for one thing in his life - that was loving Jesus - “tend My lambs” - “shepherd My sheep.”

Dealing With Critics

Abe Lincoln once said: "If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what's said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference."

Wow. I can't think of anyone that this could apply to more than today's pastor.

Let's face it ... if you're not coming under some fire and attacks, you're probably not being very effective. Attacks and confrontation are just part of being in ministry. But Lincoln had a great perspective on his critics:

1. He acknowledged the existence of his critics. Abe knew he had critics. No doubt he knew their names and what their overall beef was with him. But it did not steal his passion for doing what he thought was right.

2. While he acknowledged that there were attacks against him, he didn’t feel the necessity to answer every one of his critics. As Lincoln put it, if he did this, he might as well close up shop. It would consume the time he needed to actually do his job.

3. He realized that all he could do is all he could do. He is motivated by doing his best; not by making people happy.

4. He kept perspective. Lincoln knew that his long-term success was determined, not by his short-term critics, but by the long-term results of his actions.

As you think of President’s Day … think of how you deal with your critics. And what can you learn today from Abe Lincoln?

[from MMI Weblog by Todd Rhoades]

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Death Notice - Curtis Flippo

Life-long friend, minister and musician Curtis Flippo (Alabama) went to be with the Lord this afternoon. The memories are many, but most of all, Curtis Flippo was a witness to the saving grace of Jesus Christ. His prison ministry touched thousands. His music touched just as many.

Personal Financial Stewardship - Mutual Funds

Mutual funds are hazardous to your wealth.

Most investors sustained serious damage to their wealth last year -- damage that, in many cases, will be difficult to recover from. Certainly Wall Street titans, reckless lenders and irresponsible home buyers all deserve their share of the blame.

But one part of the financial world has not received much scrutiny for its role in the evaporation of investor wealth, and that is the mutual fund industry.

Mutual funds control the majority of Americans' retirement assets through 401(k)s, IRAs and annuities. Sadly, a gullible public has bought into the idea that steady investments in mutual funds, regardless of market conditions, is the way to make their financial dreams come true. This is one of the biggest fallacies of investing, and why mutual funds are hazardous to your wealth.

To give you a sense of just how flawed the buy-and-hold philosophy advocated by the mutual fund industry was in 2008, just look at the numbers. According to the mutual fund industry's own Investment Company Institute, investors lost almost $3.7 trillion in mutual funds in 2008. Yet how often do you read about mutual funds leading the public down a losing path? How often do you hear about a fund manager whose performance was drastically lower than the benchmark?

My problems with mutual funds don't stop merely at poor performance or inept fund managers. There are serious problems with mutual funds that have more to do with the design and structure of these investment vehicles. In fact, there are so many fundamental flaws inherent with mutual funds that they have become obstacles to successfully growing your investment portfolio -- chiefly:

1. The fund's interests are at odds with yours

Mutual fund companies have one primary objective: to make a profit. Unfortunately, this profit is not for you, but for them. While I will never disparage a company for having a self-interested goal of making a profit, when that profit comes at the expense of your best interest it deserves condemnation.

2. No transparency of holdings

A murky understanding of what securities you own at any given moment is another fundamental flaw of mutual funds. This lack of transparency essentially leaves you guessing about what you own and why. I can't think of a more unsettling feeling in a bear market than not knowing if you have exposure to toxic assets.

3. No transparency of fees

Here again we have a lack of clarity, but this time it's about what kind of fees you are paying. Sure, mutual funds are required to tell you they charge fees, but do you really know what you're paying for? In this bear market, the last thing you need is to be hit with some obscure cost you don't understand. But mutual funds are able to bury the specifics of their often very high management fees, which means you really have no idea what you are being charged.

4. All invested, all the time

The charter of most equity mutual funds compels the fund's manager to be allocated to stocks in virtual perpetuity. Most funds must maintain a significant allocation to the market no matter the conditions. It doesn't matter if stocks descend to near Depression-era values, according to their charter most fund managers must remain almost fully invested. To be sure, a small percentage of funds don't have that restriction, but most do.

5. Peddling bad advice

Perhaps the most onerous of these flaws is the bad advice that mutual funds dish out. Fund companies have incentive for you to be in the market all of the time because that's how they make money. It doesn't matter if the market undergoes a downward spiral the likes of what it did in 2008. The mutual fund folks want you to stay the course, and that's what they'll advise you to do.

Advocating buy-and-hold investing is the backbone thesis of most mutual funds. A fund company will never tell you to move to cash when things get tough because it's just not in their best interest. Because most mutual funds must stay fully invested all the time, their concern for managing risk is secondary to their concern for keeping you fully invested.

[by Doug Fabian, president of Fabian Wealth Strategies and editor of the Successful Investing and ETF Trader newsletters]