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It is common practice for a struggling company to call in a consultant – someone that can help the management team identify underlying problems and make improvement recommendations. While Senior Managers tend to focus on the standard financial reports (e.g., the balance sheet and income statement), the wise consultant knows that financial “struggling” is most often a symptom of poorly managed and measured activities further up the production lifecycle.

And so, they go looking. What they usually find are areas of the company that are trying to manage themselves using production and performance measurements that no longer match the vision and values of the company.

Take the church for example. I mean the church that Jesus Christ is building. That church has come upon hard times – particularly in North America and Europe. We have gotten to the point where measurements are no longer needed to recognize our struggles. The end product is certainly not up to the Master’s standards.

There are at least two reasons the Western church is struggling. First, we are measuring the wrong things. Secondly, we are not doing things God’s way. Put those together and we can say that the Western church is failing to measure itself in the way God has prescribed.

So, where do we start measuring in the right way? Scripture makes it clear that the shepherds will be held responsible for the health of their flocks (Hebrews 13:17). If I was the Master’s consultant, that is where I would begin.

Sometimes it is hard to point out the right way to do something without first identifying what’s being done wrong. In this case, I am relieved that such an approach is not necessary. Why is this? Because whatever way is not God’s way is the wrong way – and get this – no matter how successful that way may appear.

But who am I to judge? Exactly! Judgment is not my intent, nor is it my responsibility. I’m just the consultant. We are called to judge ourselves… and for good reasons.

For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. 1Corinthians 11:31-32

If we will not judge ourselves, the Lord will judge us. In either case, the chastening and correction are for our good and the good of our ministries. No one is perfect. The wise leader makes an assessment on a regular basis. Read the rest of this entry »

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This article is a bit of a walkabout. It reminds me of a tourist group out for a sight-seeing adventure. Not every sight will be for everyone, but each one will find something here to encourage, edify and equip them for the good work we have all been created to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).

Every Jesus follower is responsible to be (or become) a faithful steward of God’s mysteries (1Corinthians 4:1-2). So why do we so often play the mystery card to avoid our responsibility as stewards? For example, the fact that we have been made one in Christ Jesus is a mystery (Galatians 3:28). We would rather keep it that way than commit to the hard work of agreeing with Jesus’s prayer for the manifestation of that reality (John 17:23). And another: The Bible suggests that church discipline is necessary for strong healthy fellowships. Rather than search out its proper application, most church leaders treat it as a mystery – avoiding it altogether for fear of running off the wrong people.

God’s expects us to steward His mysteries for the advancement of His kingdom. Playing the mystery card for our own motives (e.g., to avoid difficult responsibilities, or excuse error in our teaching) is rebellion; many times unintended, but nevertheless adversarial to the purposes of God.

We must search out the mysteries of God. To the best of our ability? Yes, and no. With the help of others? Again, yes and no. Under the anointing and guidance of the Holy Spirit? Yes and yes.

With the anointing and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we search out the mysteries of God with our whole heart and the help of others – the purpose of our search being His glory and the advancement of His kingdom.

Let’s practice our searching with Ephesians 6:10:

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

Paul is encouraging us to be strong in two distinct ways. We are to be strong in the Lord, and we are to be strong in the power of His might. In my humble opinion, this is the most power-filled verse in the entire Bible. Three of God’s “power” words are included:

  1. Be strong (endynamoō): The root is dynamis – the explosive power of God.
  2. Power (kratos): The dominion of God – the power of His authority to reign.
  3. Might (ischys): The ability and force of God – to accomplish what He intends.

This is what Paul is talking about when he goes on to encourage us to put on the whole armor of God. This is what it takes to stand against the wiles of the devil. Get your head around that!

As leaders in the Workplace – that includes all segments (business, religion, education, government, etc.) – we are responsible for leading others into this kind of radical life. Note carefully: This is the normal Christian life!

Read the rest of this entry »

There once was a steward. We’ll call him Stewart. Stewart the steward – catchy name.

Stewart was given responsibility for a vineyard. It wasn’t a big vineyard, but it had potential. The Master of the vineyard, after encouraging Stewart to invest himself wisely, left for a faraway land.

For a time, Stewart enjoyed watching over the vineyard that had been left to his keeping. He cherished and nurtured each vine. He did his best to help every vine produce the best tasting fruit possible. Stewart felt that he was accomplishing something important for the Master.

As He had promised, the Master periodically looked in on Stewart. He always had an encouraging word – a “well done, faithful steward.”

Stewart the steward had done well. Each year, the fruit produced by the Master’s vineyard tasted sweeter than the year before. The fame of the vineyard began to spread, first in the town and then across the country side.

One day, Stewart decided to ask the Master to give him a larger vineyard to manage. The Master, pleased by Stewart’s request, asked His Father. The Master’s Father, without an explanation we are aware of, said, “No”. Forever obedient, the Master passed along His Father’s decision.

Regrettably (and predictably), Stewart the steward was not happy. He knew he could do more for the Master’s kingdom. He knew he could make his vineyard (oops!) the biggest and sweetest in the whole region; maybe even in the whole land.

Looking out over his vineyard, Steward decided to take matters into his own hands. He would grow his vineyard with or without the Master blessing. And that is what he set out to do.

Read the rest of this entry »

I don’t know who first said, “The Bible is the LORD’s manual for life,” but it is surely as true now as it was then. The LORD has a way for everything. We ignore His ways at our peril.

Most would readily agree that the Bible contains prescribed ways for salvation, sanctification, and all the other big Kingdom processes. Some have recognized His prescription for building the church (Ephesians 4:11-16) and evangelizing the world (John 17:21-23). When we follow the LORD’s ways, He gets involved – sometimes just to show that His ways are the best ways.

The Process

As important as success is to the LORD and man, it should not surprise us to discover that the LORD has prescribed a way of finding and securing success. He has revealed it in Psalm 37. Let’s take a look at it.

1 Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
And wither as the green herb.

Step 1: Taking our eyes off the world and focusing them on Jesus. Beholding His glory, we will be transformed into the same likeness, by the Holy Spirit (2Corinthians 3:18). Furthermore, knowing the fate of the worldly, we should fear the desire to become like them (James 4:4).

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

Step 2: The LORD desires and has commanded us to trust Him. To trust in anything or anyone else is idolatry.

Step 3: The LORD has created us to walk in good works (Ephesians 2:10). It is there that we find Him. Those works are determined by Him, and He is glorified in them (Matthew 5:16).

Step 4: The LORD promised “the land” to the Israelites. He has promised something much greater to the followers of Jesus Christ. He has promised us abundant life in His kingdom. We must dwell in Christ and learn to live in the kingdom of heaven. “The kingdom of heaven is like…” It is important to recognize this kingdom is here now.

Read the rest of this entry »

Much of the church has taken on the world’s way for training leaders; even promoting the teaching of unbelievers, as if the world has some wisdom that the sons and daughters of God need. Perhaps, we think God will sanctify it, and make us better at leadership (in the world’s ways).

The truth is, God will have none of it. He has a way for everything; and, in His kingdom, it is either His way, or the highway.

God has one way for developing leaders. It is called making disciples. He could not have been more clear about this.

At the beginning of His ministry, God’s Son called His disciples:  “Follow me and I will make you…”.

Upon His departure, He commissioned them: “Go and make disciples…”

In between, He walked in the Father’s way for a disciple that makes disciples – so they would know what to do when He left them:  “As the Father sent me, so also I send you.”

Jesus spent 3+ years showing us how to develop people that would lead His church. There is no excuse for the leadership vacuum that exists in most fellowships. Why do we call the Bible our guidebook for life and then ignore the clear instruction it gives for leadership development? Why are we looking to the world for the answer?

The sobering truth is this:  As God does with individuals, He is allowing us to continue in the way of our choosing until we recognize the foolishness of it. In the meantime, the lack of leaders that are true disciple makers only aggravates and accelerates the decline. If this goes on much longer, the whole system will have to be scrapped – for something He will bless.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

God is a process-oriented problem solver. Take the problem that Adam and Eve created in their rebellion. God lost His reign over, intimacy with, and habitation in His people. The Bible chronicles the process He has chosen to solve that problem – culminated in Revelation 21.

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:3-4

The second half of this passage – the part we most remember – represents the problem’s solution from mankind’s perspective. It too was solved via process – particularly, the process of salvation.

As a side note: The Bible regularly speaks of God’s processes as His “ways”. God’s ways are prescription for the normal Christian life. God has a way for everything – particularly the BIG things – and He is generally clear about them.

The process of salvation includes another critical process – the process of faith. Faith is not a static element of our salvation. It is important that we understand God’s way for its growth and vitality. Let us begin with an oft quoted passage. Read the rest of this entry »

CompassBeth and I are having a particularly blessed Christmas season. I find myself – like so many others – wanting to hang on; and I will, at least through the end of the year. Thankfully, the reason for this season stays with us for eternity.

But still, 2017 is coming up the driveway; and will be soon knocking at our door. I am already thinking about next week’s meetings and writing deadlines. There is no stopping the movement of time.

So, how do we move on from Christmas? How do we hold onto the reason for the season, as we move into the promise of New Year adventures?

Being a child that likes to ask questions, I asked those questions of our Father in heaven. Being a Father that likes to talk to His children, He answered. Being a brother who likes to pass on the Father’s encouragement, I am sharing with you, the beginnings of that answer.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:5-8

Finding the mind of Jesus, in His “coming in the likeness of men”, is the beginning point for our transition into the New Year. As the Father sent Jesus, so Jesus sends us (John 20:21). The parallels here are astounding. Read the rest of this entry »

Multi-ethnic pile of handsEvery organization has a structure. That structure tends to be hierarchical and based on worldly principles. Its primary purpose is to support organizational governance. We are all very familiar with these structures. I want you to ignore them for a moment.

Instead, I am encouraging you to consider a different structure – a structure that also exists in the place where you work. I am encouraging you to consider the spiritual structure that God intends to establish in your workplace.

Depending on the workplace, spiritual structures can be very hard to see; but, make no mistake about it: They are real. Spiritual structures do not readily align with hierarchical structures; primarily because they are organic in nature (think vine and branches). Spiritual structures do have an authority component, but the manifestation of that authority seldom looks like a worldly hierarchy (e.g., the greatest must be servant of all).

Point: Jesus is building His church outside the boundaries of meeting time and place. In fact, there is growing proof that He has turned His attention to the place where most of His followers spend most of their waking hours – in the workplace.

Point: Jesus gave gifts to the church; that we might grow up into the vision of the church He is building (Ephesians 4:11-16). Whether these gifts are real people or people that have these gifts, Jesus is working through designated individuals in the workplace.

Point: God is a careful orchestrator. There are no coincidences for His children. He has positioned leaders in the workplace to help assemble and supply a platoon there.

Question: What is your role in this movement of God? How has God defined and described your role? Are you an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher? Are you an elder; or a deacon? Is your role something more supportive; like watchman, or prayer warrior? Read the rest of this entry »

light-handsHave you ever noticed that The Model Prayer does not end with “in Jesus’ name”? It is interesting to me that the only time I remember praying, or hearing someone else pray, without that closing phrase, is when The Model Prayer was prayed… and when I purposely tried to close my prayer without it.

Yes, I have tried to close my prayers without “in Jesus’ name”. You may wonder, “Why would you do such a thing?” I will attempt to explain; but first, let me ask you: Why do you add “in Jesus’ name” to the end of your prayers? What does it mean to you?

Based on a small survey of my Christian family and friends, I have discovered five general motivations for this practice:

  1. It is the way they learned to pray (not that they were taught what it means).
  2. They are handing the prayer off to Jesus; to be the mediator of their prayer, with the Father.
  3. They are submitting their prayer to Jesus’ will; in essence praying, “your will be done”.
  4. They believe there is power in the name of Jesus; power necessary for the accomplishment of their prayer.
  5. They believe their prayer has been offered in alignment with Jesus’ will (and that of His Father).

I believe there are several good reasons for praying in Jesus’ name. Some are better than others; and some are only good to a point. Speaking of points, the point of this article is to encourage everyone that uses this phrase, to consider what it means and why they are using it – if for no other reason than to avoid disobeying the third commandment.

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. Exodus 20:7

It should give us pause that coming to Jesus, in His name, does not mean He know us; and that many will prophesy, cast out demons, and do many wonders, in His name – and still not enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 7:21-23). So, let’s pause and consider the motivations listed above. Read the rest of this entry »

Reach OutA dear friend of mine, who owns a business directory company (ChristiansinBusiness.com), recently asked me to search out and write an article about God’s way for resolving conflict between businesses and their customers – particularly in light of the growing importance of online reviews. I am blessed and excited that he intends to develop a system that will honor and please God. As a business owner or customer, I hope the following encourages you to find God’s way for conflict resolution.

The Potential Impact of Online Reviews

Customer reviews and ratings have become the “word-of-mouth” for 21st Century shoppers; with two noteworthy differences: Their reach is exponentially broader and, consequently, their impact can have significantly greater impact. This is particularly true for the small business owner.

According to an article on Psychology Today, “People are more likely to choose things based on their need to avoid negative experiences, rather than their desire to get positive experiences … psychologists concluded negative experiences or the fear of them has a greater impact on people than positive experiences.”

According to USA Today, “Harvard business school research says that a one-star increase on Yelp can lead to a 9 percent increase in sales. Four out of five consumers, or 80 percent, reverse their purchase decisions based on negative online reviews.

If people remember negative reviews more than the positive ones, which one would you want your small business to be remembered for? This is an important question for both business owners and their customers – particularly when those owners and customers are brothers or sisters in Christ. Read the rest of this entry »

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