Wednesday, November 18, 2009

eDevotional 2

What makes a great leader? We live in an age where unprecedented attention is being paid to leadership. You walk in a bookstore and you find shelves and shelves bulging with books on leadership. There’s servant leadership, visionary leadership, strategic leadership, team leadership, co-leadership, Leadership by the book, Leadership with a Stick, The Marshmallow Leader… (OK, I made those last couple up)

You can get books on what makes a great corporate leader, a great political leader, a great non profit leader…there is even a genre of leadership books about leaders in history:

---Abraham Lincoln on Leadership

---Jesus as CEO

---Attila the Hun’s Leadership Secrets

---Elvis on Leadership (Just kidding!)

But, here’s a book that is hard to find…What makes a great follower? See, very little, if anything is said about the art of following/follow-ship. I think it is because there’s this idea in our culture that follow-ship is what you get stuck with if you don’t get to lead. Have you seen the t-shirt “If you ain’t the lead dog, the scenery never changes”? I think that says a lot about what our culture thinks about leaders and followers.

However, the truth is that followership is a fundamental part of all of our lives. We are born as followers: Little kids follow their parents around and learn from them, players are taught to follow the coach, students to follow their teachers, etc…

More than that, Jesus said that if anyone wants to be associated with him, following is essential. He did not say, “Deny yourself, pick up your cross, and lead me.” See, it is not about doing what I want, but what he wants for us. His one call is “Follow me. Be with me. Watch me. Trust me. Obey me. Devote yourself to me.”

Christians are followers. That is what a disciple does. And, when we follow Christ, we seek to give him our full devotion. That is why our mission statement is “Loving people toward full devotion to Jesus Christ.”

So, what makes a great follower? Great followers are proactive. They are people of initiative. This is countercultural…which says great followers hang around waiting for someone to tell them what to do. This is not a great follower. This type of person is characterized by passivity, by the ability to drift… See, people think of great followers as sheep…who follow the lead sheep over a cliff. The Bible does not call people to this kind of followership.

God wants us to follow him actively, and to invite others to follow as well.

Monday, November 2, 2009

What Makes You Mad?

What makes you mad? I am not talking about your personal preferences. I am not talking about getting mad at the guy that cuts you off in traffic, or at the lady who takes your parking spot. I am not talking about things that annoy you that trigger your anger because of sinful issues in your life. I am talking about righteous anger, things that make you mad on God’s behalf?

Jesus got angry. He once entered the temple in Jerusalem and found merchants who had turned the place into a zoo. They were not interested in honoring God. All they wanted was to make money. So, Jesus made a whip and drove them out! Worship is something that God takes seriously.

Another time, Jesus confronted a bunch of religious leaders about their hypocrisy. He was so upset he chewed them out. I bet his voice was hoarse after that encounter. Integrity is something that God takes seriously.

You know what else I think makes God mad? Those who say they love him, but don't extend that love to others.

Matthew 22:34-40 puts it simply: If you love God, you will love people. Simple, yet profound. I don't think it is a coincidence that Jesus reserved his sternest comments to those who mistreated or took advantage of others.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What's the deal with 2012?

These days there's an increasing amount of talk about the year 2012, and as it nears, it will probably increase. "Why is it that some people are talking about 2012," you might ask?

Well, in December, 2012, at the winter solstice, the Mayan Long Count calendar will come to an end. Why is this a big deal? Because it is one of the oldest calendars in existence. It started 500 years before the pyramids, 1500 years before the exodus, and according to this calendar the end of this world cycle will be December 21, 2012.

In our day, it seems that with something ends, even something as innocent as an ancient calendar, people seem to think up the most extreme possibilities for the end of civilization as we know it. So, how are we to react to this?

My best answer is to look at what the Bible has to say about this. The first thing that comes to mind is Matthew 24:36, "no one knows about the day or the hour (of Jesus' coming), not even the angels in heaven, nor the son, but only the Father." Later on in verses 42, 44, we are told to keep watch, to be ready, because he will come at a time when we do not expect him.

My approach is this: Don't worry about end of the world scenarios that come and go (I remember the same conversation leading up to 1984 and the year 2000), instead focus on being ready today to meet the God that loves you and can't wait to see you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Role of the pastor

"Pastoral work takes Dame Religion by the hand and drags her into the everyday world, introducing her to friends, neighbors, and associates. Religion left to herself is shy, retiring, and private; or else decorative and proud--a prima donna. But she is not personal and she is not ordinary. The pastor insists on taking her where she must mix with the crowd."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Book Review

I picked this book up last month. I was initially drawn to it by its title, “the monkey and the fish”. Leafing through it, I discovered it was about an area of church that I have been doing a lot of reading and teaching on, culture (not ethnicity), and how culture gets created and formed, and how to understand the culture we live in and connect with it, and the importance of developing a church culture that in outward thinking (instead of inward focused).
This is a pretty short read, just over 200 pages, and the author uses one word to connect his thoughts: liquid. We live in a different world, and the author talks about the cultural shifts at work in the world, and of how important it is to understand these shifts so we can communicate the gospel effectively in our day.
For many years our church culture’s only means of communicating the Gospel has been informational, yet the culture of today, driven by younger generations, learns best relationally. Being liquid is about adaptability, adjusting and communicating the Gospel in a way that resonates with our culture today. The author also use the term, third culture. First culture is the dominant homogenous culture we live in. Second culture is about how folks live who are not comfortable with the first culture. But, third culture is "the mindset and will to live, learn, ad serve in any culture, even in the midst of pain and discomfort." This reminded me of Matthew 5:16, 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Jesus reminded us that information sharing is not the best avenue to sharing God, our good deeds, our actions are. The author also asks three questions that liquid, third culture Christians should be asking:
(1) Where is Nazareth (Can anything good come from Nazareth)? Where is that area in our town or city where nothing good is happening and how can we serve there?
(2) What is my pain (where he talks about prosperity theology versus the value of pain)?
(3) What is in my hand (what has God given you to do or contribute)? There is so much here for pastors in this short little book. The chart of what the church is known for versus what Jesus was known for is worth the price of the book.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Check out this article by Michael Moore

Monday, October 5, 2009

The changing church?

Our church organization and churches are in an interesting place. The average age of an Adventist in North America is 59, which means that in 20 years, we will barely exist, unless something changes. But, change comes slow, if at all. The median age in our country is between 37-38 years of age, but most local churches are led by those who are 60 and above. It’s no wonder change is not happening. See, you attract who you are.

These days there is a lot of discussion about who different generations think: the “retirees” think differently than the boomers, who think differently than Generation X, who think differently than Generation Y…and what out for the Millenial generation. They are growing up fast!

I am not sure we have thought much about this generational divide that exist. It's in just about every church. Most Adventist churches do not contextualized their message or approach to reach people in different segments of culture influenced by media, music, entertainment and technology. For most, multi-generational church ministry is uncharted territory.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Check it out!


Why do I believe in the Seventh-day Sabbath?
One: It was institued by God at creation (Genesis 2:2, 3). In fact, God did three things with the Sabbath at creation: he told us to rest, he set it apart (or made it holy), and he blessed it. He did not bless Tuesday, he did not bless Thursday, he did not bless Sunday, he blessed the seventh day.

Two: The 4th Commandment (Exodus 20:8-11). Knowing we would forget his commandment, he said, "Remember" and he points back to the reasons given at creation (see above)

Three: Jesus kept the Sabbath (Luke 4:16), his disciples kept the Sabbath...

Seems to me these are some pretty good reasons to start with. What do you think?

Monday, September 7, 2009


The second "S" is salvation, which is available through Jesus Christ...a free gift, at a great cost (not to us) to God. Romans 3:23, Roamns 6:23, John 3:16, 1 John 1:9, John 1:12

Thursday, August 20, 2009


At the Santa Rosa Adventist church, we have seven eSSentials that are at the foundation of what we believe. They all start with the letter "S".

The first one is Scripture. Three things:
We believe the Bible is the inspired word of God.
It provides direction for our lives.
It reveals the character of God.

2 Timothy 2:3:16, 17
2 Peter 1:20, 21
John 17:17
Acts 17:11

Monday, August 17, 2009


I am in the process of reading David Gergen's book, "Eyewitness to Power" in which Gergen talks about the lessons he has learned from serving in the White House for four different presidents: Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton.

One of the things that jumps out at me is Gergen's comment that strength of character is the single most important factor in the success of failure of any leader...

Hmmm...can you think of anything or anyone in any industry in our country that has proven this to be true?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Some of you know that I concentrate my reading in a few different areas:

One: The Bible. I have currently finished a study of the Gospels and the outlining of every question Jesus asks.

Two: History. My goal is to read a biography of every American President. A few years ago, I decided to read them chronologically. I have really enjoyed getting a sense of history as I read consecutive biographies. I am currently reading a biography on our 7th President, Andrew Jackson titled, “American Lion, by Jon Meacham...and am also reading "Eyewitness to Power," by David Gergen.

Three: The 100 greatest books in history, the Classics, so to speak. I have three “List of the Greatest 100 books” that I use as reference (plus my own opinion). Currently, I have been working through, The Brothers Karamasov by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Four: Books on spiritual growth, religion, theology, etc…This is the category I think Indelible Ink falls in.

Five: Books on leadership

What are you reading?

Monday, August 10, 2009

I'm Back

Ok, Ok...where have I been? Wow! Where do I start? This summer has been crazy. I had the opportunity to go to Egypt and Spain, I got back and had a lot going on...and I have been trying to come up with a new replenishment strategy. Am I the only one who needs one of these? I would love to hear what you do in this area.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What is the church for?

Jesus didn’t launch the church for people with a common interest, but for people with a common problem. The problem? People did not know where they stood with God, they did not know how God felt about them. This is still the problem today.

Jesus came with a very personal message…to invite us to call God our heavenly Father and to answer the question “Where do I stand with God?” This is the common problem. And, the answer, his goal, is for us to have a personal relationship with God.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Out for a while

I am out of the country until the end of June. Blogs will resume then.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Who knows where this is from?

"...don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to such a pass that he cannot distinguish truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceaces to love, and in order to occupy and distract himself without love he gives way to passion and coarse pleasures, and sinks to bestiality in his vices, all from contiueal lying to other men and to himself."

This is a quote from Elder Zossina in the book???

Quite a powerful and accurate description of the path that leads towards darkeness. Hmmm

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I love books

The writer Umberto Eco is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories:
…those who react with "Wow! Signore professore dottore Eco, what a library you have! How many of these books have you read?"
…and the others -- a very small minority -- who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool….

Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an anti-library. (From the introduction to “The Black Swan,” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Life is a gift

I am reminded again today that life is a gift, and that we often take it for granted. Things like: taking your children to school, kissing your wife goodbye, eating lunch with a friend, having a place to work at...even hearing the rain pound on the roof last night, are all gifts from God.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that God is present in the midst of all these things, and most of the time God gives us room to recognize his presence or to not recognize him. But, one things is for sure, life is a gift and God is present. Today, I invite you to look at it as the fathomless mystery life is and to look for God for in the moments of your day.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Indelible Ink, pt. 2

Last night, I read another chapter of Indelible Ink. This chapter was written by Charles Colson, special counsel to President Nixon, who spent time in prison and became a Christian and started Prison Fellowship.

Colson top three books that have shaped his faith are:
"Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis (who knows what the C. and the S. stand for?)
"Confessions" and "The City of God" by Augustine of Hippo (also known as St. Augustine)
"How should we then live?" by Francis Schaeffer

I find it very interesting to read about how books impact and shape people's lives. What books have shaped your life? If you haven't developed your own list, maybe you should.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Reading "Indelible Ink"

Yesterday, I was talking to a friend a mine, I'll call him Big C, and he asked me if I had started reading this book, Indelible Ink. I hadn't, so last night I read a chapter. Indelible Ink is a book where 22 Christian Leaders discuss books that have shaped their faith.

Last night, I read Calvin Miller's chapter. In it, he shares his top three: the complete works of Shakespeare, the complete works of T.S. Elliot, and Silence by Shusako Endo. Endo's book is a story of Martyrs in the Samurai Era of Japan. I am going to have to pick this one up. Miller said "The power of Jesuit believers captured my soul as no other novel has ever done." (Reminds me of the movie, The Mission)

Here's another thing that struck me, Miller says that over the last 50 years he has read 100-200 books a year or about 7000 books. I thought I was doing well with 10-15 a year. For some, Miller's avid reading can be disempowering, but for me, it increases my motivation to read more and watch TV less. Because, as Miller says books have the power to confront us, change us and make us wise.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty's crown will reopen July 4

I last visited NYC in 2003 after the 9/11 attacks. My whole focus during that visit was the World Trace Center site. But, before that, my favorite landmark in NYC was the Stautue of Liberty. I remember years ago climbing to the crown with my father, uncle and cousins. What a thrill!

Well, the Statue of Liberty’s crown was closed after the 9/11 attacks, and now, on July 4th of this eyar, it will be open to the public again. This decision reversed the policy of the Bush administration.

Under President George W. Bush, the Interior Department, which includes the National Park Service, had insisted that visitors could not be permitted because the crown, reachable only by a very narrow, 12-story spiral staircase with a low guardrail, which did not meet modern fire, building and safety codes (seemed OK to me).

So, if you have never had a chance to go and you have a chance, go, go , go...and enjoy one of our best landmarks.

an exodus

I was recently talking to a pastor friend of mine who is leaving pastoral ministry. He is not the first friend or colleague to do...and this got me thinking. Why? Why does this happen so often?

Last year, I read an article that said 1500 pastors leave the church each month. Some do so because of failure (moral, ethical, spiritual) but the vast majority do so because of stress. The article said that the main cause of stress by a two to one margin was the pressure for church growth.

Some pastors feel pressured to adopt a different model that might facililtate growth, even if it does not fit thier personality, capabilites, or values. This leads to depression or burn out. See, pastors feel guilty if thier churches are not showing numerical growth, and most feel they cannot talk to denomination al leaders about thier issues or exhausted spirits. And, most also feel that they cannot talk to other pastors in their denomination.

As I think about this, my desire is to try to discover ways to offer support. How about you? Who can you offer support to?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Local news

The New York Times reports:
Robert Redford, the actor and environmental superhero, is a vocal supporter of renewable power and sustainable growth — but it seems that doesn’t include a proposal for an ecofriendly housing development in his corner of the Napa Valley.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


I just picked up a book I am looking forward to starting soon. It's called Indelible Ink. This book was put together by someone who sat down with 22 prominent Christian leaders and asked them which books, other than the Bible, most shaped thier faith.

Some of the leaders in this book include: Joni Aereckson Tada, Charles Colson, Calvin Miller, Michael Card, Dallas Willard, J.I. Packer, Liz Curtis Higgs, John Stott, Josh McDowell, and Larry Crabb. It should be interesting to discover the different avenues God has used to grow these men. My guess is that I will see God in a new way by exploring their experiences with God.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I was watching a talk show on MSNBC. The topic was religion in a religiously diverse America. Around the table was a group of "religious leaders": A Christian pastor, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, and a young man who practiced witchcraft and represented Wicca. And, it struck me...we live in a "Christian" nation? A nation so "Christian" that a Christian pastor can sit beside a witch and both to be considered representatives of a viable religious alternative.

Things have changed. The text that comes to mind is Acts 17:22, "Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said, 'Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious'."

That culture was so diverse, so pluralistic, that there was no one true God, but many gods to choose from. Looks to me like we are in the same place today.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

There is a hymn that has these lyrics:

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him
How I've proved him o'er and o'er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus
O for grace to trust him more...

The writer of this hymn(Louisa Stead) seems to find herself in the place that I believe many of us are in, a place of brokenness. She confesses that she needs to trust in Jesus and that only by grace is such reckless trust possible.

We've been told to trust in Jesus,to confess our sins, receive forgiveness, and become redeemed children of God. And yet, we worry about tomorrow... You are not alone, it is tough to trust, especially when you consider the world we live in(terrorism, the plummeting economies,crime, and all other distractions). Trusting in Jesus is probably the most difficult calling of a Christ-follower. And yet, we're given very little room in God's word to not trust in Jesus.

So, that's what I am going to pray for today... "Lord, increase my faith. Give me the grace to trust you more."

Thursday, April 30, 2009

One of French artist Gustave Doré (1832-1883) paintings...

Did you know...

...that the unchurched population in the United States is so extensive that, if it were a nation, it would be the fifth most populated nation on the planet after China, the former Soviet Union, India, and Brazil.

So much for a Christian nation.

For me, it puts Matthew 9:37, 38, into a different perspective, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Are we crazy?

A man lives in a society that is cave bound, where everyone inside believes that the cave is the only reality and is content with that. When the man finally steps out of the cave and sees the sun, the seasons, and the wonder of the world outside the cave, he returns and tries to explain it to the people inside. But they call him crazy and refuse to listen.

How de we communicate to others what we have experienced, but seems out of this world? It’s not a surprise, that to many, it makes us seem crazy.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I find this A. W. Tozer quote interesting, "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In 1st Corinthians 9:20, 22, Paul says, “To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like on under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law…To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.”

What do you think this means for us today? What does it mean to "become all things to all men so that by all possible means we might save some?" Some today might say “…it sounds like Paul stood for nothing.” I often hear that when I do things differently than we traditionally do. as a church.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Arguments against Christianity

Here are some of the most common arguments non-believers use against Christianity.
One: Christianity is filled with man-made rules based on opinion, tradition, and politics.
Two: Christians are judgmental, critical, and close minded...
Three: Christians are very shallow thinkers, who not only don't understand how other people think, but can't even defend what they say they believe.
Four: Christians are arrogant. They love to point out how they are right and others are wrong.

Someone once said the best way to build a bridge toward those who do not believe is to not expect nonbelievers to act, think, or feel like believers UNTIL they are. Hmmm

Monday, April 20, 2009

Violence in America

These days everywhere you turn you read or hear about violence in America. Battered wives and children, gang violence, the increasing murder rate…add to that terrorism, World of Warcraft (if you don’t know what this is, you should), nuclear warhead testing…violence is everywhere.

In the top 20 most popular television shows this season are:

4. CSI (storytelling about gruesome murders)
6. NCIS (storytelling about gruesome murders)
8. The Mentalist (storytelling about gruesome murders)
11. Criminal Minds (storytelling about gruesome murders)
14. CSI: Miami (storytelling about gruesome murders)
15. CSI: New York (storytelling about gruesome murders)
16. Without a Trace (storytelling about gruesome murders)
19. Cold Case (storytelling about gruesome murders)I wonder if there’s any correlation?

The Bible says, “…the Lord regretted that he had made human beings on earth, and his heart was deeply troubled…. Now the earth was corrupt in god’s sight and was full of violence…. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them.” Genesis 6:13

Any thoughts...?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Susan Boyle’s on Britain's Got Talent (Cory mentioned this in church...)

We can be so judgmental...we need to strive to be like Christ who looks not at the outward appearance but at the heart. Check this out...

Also read the article...