Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14

As we see in Hebrews chapter twelve, once we “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus,” we will be aware of how we should then live. Now the writer teaches us about the value of peace and holiness. It is difficult to live in peace with others until you have made your peace with God.

Pastor Haik Hovsepian in Iran (who was martyred in January 1994) once preached on the topic “Salvation or Religion.” It was a very powerful message that goes through five differences between religion and salvation in Christ. Thousands of his tapes on this topic have been distributed in Iran.

One of the people who recently got hold of this tape is a Quran reciter. He has a very powerful voice and many times he has been invited to recite the Quran in different mosques in Iran. He also passionately recited about the life of the Imams (Muhammad’s descendants), who have died in mourning ceremonies in order to make people cry. He used to be a very religious person himself.

When he got hold of the tape with the sermon of Haik, he realized that through religion he cannot be saved. He was in captivity of some immoral sins such as alcohol abuse and adultery. He was a very high-tempered and depressed person too. When he heard about the difference between religion and the salvation of Jesus, the Spirit of God spoke to his heart. He was so moved by the message that he listened to the tape a few more times. Every time he listened to this tape, he felt even more convinced that he needed the salvation of Jesus, until he finally gave his life to the Lord.

Then he was not only liberated from the captivity of his sins, but also from the captivity of the religion with which he was identifying. There was an extraordinary joy and happiness in his face after this experience. In the past, he wore black shirts, as his job was to make people in the mosques cry. But after experiencing Jesus in his life, even his shirts changed to lighter colors! He is now using his voice to sing for the Lord and shares about Jesus wherever he goes.

Being a well-known person among Muslim religious leaders and other people, one evening the secret police knocked at his door. Two weeks later, they released him from prison on bail until his trial time. He had to borrow half of that money from his relatives. As he lost his job as a Quran reciter, he does not have any source of income, so it is difficult for him to live and to pay the money back to his family. But he is trying to live at peace with all people and show God’s holiness in his life. Praise God for the faith of this brother and for his steadfastness in following Jesus.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Did you hear?

Did you hear the news?

I have been fighting a terrible cold since the first of the year and with the increasing responsibilities of ministry - my blog post for the beginning of 2017 has suffered.  My goal of posting each day has given way to other responsibilities. 

Have you missed the daily post?

Please comment to let me know if you are there and following my post.  I plan to resume daily posting soon.

Any subjects you would like for me to write about?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Innovation in church ministry

Last evening at the church board meeting of First Wesleyan Church in Gastonia – we took time as leaders to discuss a chapter in a book we are going through together. Our discussion centered around innovation. This morning I arose early and read this article as part of my daily routine.  Enjoy!

In today’s rapidly changing spiritual and cultural context, pastors and church leaders are being forced to choose between leading like a missionary or curating a historical preservation society. The days of successfully blending these two perspectives are long gone.

Those who choose a missionary mindset tend to value results. They hold fast to the eternal truths of Scripture. But they’re also quick to jettison methods and paradigms that no longer work. They’re agile and open to change, adapting their ministry to the real world, not the world they wished they lived in. Like the apostle Paul, they become all things to all people so that they might save some (1 Cor. 9:22).

Those who choose a curator mindset tend to value the past. They’re resistant to change because of a belief that the intrinsic beauty of our old methods and paradigms are worth protecting—even if they no longer work.

Those who know me know that I lean heavily toward a missionary mindset. I’m a curator’s worst nightmare. But the fact is, we need some curators, because when everyone has a missionary mindset, we can become so focused on creating the future that we forget to protect the past. Those who create the future without protecting the past inevitably end up building a house without a foundation. It might look great for a while, but it won’t last long.

Obviously, organizational agility and flexibility are incredibly important traits. Without them a ministry has no long-range future. But agility involves more than just the ability to quickly try new things. It also includes the ability to quickly retreat when things don’t work out like we thought they would.

Unfortunately, this aspect of organizational agility and flexibility is often overlooked. Change and innovation are almost always cast in a positive light. No one talks about their dirty little secret: Most attempts at change and innovation fail. Always have. Always will.

We don’t hear much about these failures because there’s no market for motivational speakers or authors who chronicle a long list of failures. Instead, all we hear about are stories of folks who bet the farm, burned the boats or otherwise went out on a limb and succeeded spectacularly. (Which, by the way, tends to leave the rest of us wondering, “What’s wrong with me?” after we go out on a limb and the limb breaks off.)

This is not to say that change and innovation are too risky to try. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s just to say that the possibility of failure (and a plan for how to deal with it) should be baked into every attempt at significant change or innovation.

So how can we balance the need for change and innovation with the reality that most attempts won’t work out so well?

The answer is quite simple: Never implement a significant change or innovation until you have an exit strategy in place. That’s not a lack of faith or commitment. It’s common sense. When it comes to leadership in a fallen world, our exit strategies are always going to be just as important as our implementation strategies.

Here are four things to keep in mind as you lead your church or ministry through any significant change or innovation. They will allow you to enjoy the benefits of quick implementation without losing credibility if things don’t work out so well.

1. Use the language of experimentation.

Whenever possible, use the language of experimentation. “Try” things instead of “changing” things. Words are important. Change stirs up resistance. Experiments stir up interest. People who fiercely resist a change will often stand by to watch an experiment.

Experiments provide you with lots of wiggle room. People expect that experiments and trial runs will need midcourse corrections. No one is shocked if they fail. And when they fail, the cost in lost trust and credibility is essentially zero.

Contrast that with what happens when a new initiative or major change is oversold or overhyped. The harder you push and sell, the more position papers you write and distribute, the less wiggle room you’ll have.

Unfortunately, this is a hard concept for many leaders and organizations to grasp. Once we’ve decided to move forward with a major change or initiative, our natural impulse is to immediately move into sales mode. We use the language of persuasion. We try to convince the unconvinced, treating naysayers as obstacles to overcome. We become obsessed with proving we’re right.

As a result, we tend to see any hint of compromise or retreat as a sign of weakness rather than a sign of wisdom. And when that happens, we’ve effectively backed ourselves into a corner. There’s no way out.

The language of experimentation provides exactly what unproven and untested ideas need most: plenty of room for midcourse correction—and sometimes, an escape hatch for bailing out altogether.

Remember, a failed change equals a failed leader. But a failed experiment equals a brilliant scientist.

2. Plan in pencil.

Nothing ever goes as planned.

Even the apostle Paul had to make midcourse corrections. This is a guy who knew God well enough to write a large portion of the Bible. Yet, in Acts 16:6-10 we find the story of one of his mission trips gone haywire. Paul had a plan, but his plan kept running into roadblocks. His itinerary ended up being completely rewritten. Nothing worked as planned.

It’s the same with our plans. We need them. But they are best made in pencil. And this is especially true when it comes to our plans for change or innovation. We don’t really know how something will work until it hits the real world. Only then do we know what we have on our hands. Until then, it’s just a concept or a theory.

Planning in pencil simply means keeping your options open as long as possible. It involves using the language of flexibility rather than certainty. It’s being careful to say, “This is what we do for now,” rather than, “This is what we will do forever.” It’s making sure that everyone knows that midcourse corrections aren’t simply allowed; they’re encouraged.

The only thing you and your leadership team can know for sure about the future is that it will be different from what you expect. So the best way to prepare is to keep as many options open as long as possible.

Never forget that successful change agents and innovators deal with what is. They don’t worry much about what should be. They don’t worry much about what they thought would be. They just worry about what is. And when things change, they change. They plan in pencil.

3. Avoid the hype.

When it’s time to make a significant change or to add something new, avoid the hype trap. It leaves no room for retreat.

If your primary goal is to get something off to a great start, hype works well. But if your goal is long-term success (or the chance to try something else should your latest brilliant idea not work out so well), hype will kill your leadership future.

If we hype something that succeeds, all is well. But if we hype something that fails, the loss in leadership chips is always significant. Even worse, if we hype everything, it’s not long until our words become white noise, turning us into the leadership equivalent of a carnival barker.

Most often, the hype trap is the result of over communication. In a sincere (but misguided) effort to secure buy-in, we put together sermon series, position papers and a host of other marketing ploys to convince everyone that the changes we are about to make are the best thing since flush toilets.

It seldom works. Because when it comes to significant change, buy-in is nearly impossible to get. Studies consistently show that more than half the population resists change until they see that it works for them and everyone else is for it. By definition, that can’t happen on the front end of a new endeavor.

What we actually need is permission to try something. And that’s a lot easier to get—and a lot easier to make midcourse corrections or even back away from if things go sour.

4. Avoid leadership ADHD.

Idea-a-minute leadership can be exhilarating, especially when there’s a charismatic leader with a gift for selling at the helm. His or her innate ability to make every idea seem like the next big thing never leaves a trace of doubt.

But after a while, most people figure it out. Instead of charging off to chase the latest butterfly, they feign agreement, but actually do nothing. They’ve learned that “this too shall pass.” So they keep on doing whatever they were doing before, while the newbies who haven’t figured it out yet jump on the latest bandwagon.

Once the default response to a new idea becomes “this too will pass,” a leader’s ability to innovate or implement significant change is pretty much lost. When your staff sets up an office pool to see how long your latest idea or program will last, you’ve become a leader without followers.

Ironically, ADHD leadership is not that far from innovative leadership. It’s just a few degrees off. But they’re important degrees. Both try lots of stuff. But non-ADHD leadership tries it in an experimental mode. Nothing is oversold. Everything is subservient to, and judged by, its impact on the mission.

In contrast, leaders with leadership ADHD never slow down to experiment. Every idea that passes through their heads is pursued full speed ahead. It’s the only speed they know.

It reminds me of the difference between Jack in the Box and In-N-Out Burger. (Humor me … I live in Southern California, birthplace of the famous In-N-Out chain.) In-N-Out never changes its menu and seldom advertises. Everyone knows that if you want a consistently excellent burger, fries and a drink, you go to In-N-Out. That’s all they do. You can’t get a salad. You can’t get a taco. But you can get a great burger, fries and a drink.

Jack in the Box, on the other hand, always has a new item on the menu and a funny commercial to advertise it. But Jack is usually so busy marketing his latest peanut butter, bacon and grilled-jalapeno sandwich that he never seems to notice that the cheeseburgers and fries are disgusting.

That’s what happens when leadership ADHD takes over. It results in a constant stream of new initiatives and failed projects that eventually numbs everyone to the importance of the core items on the menu.

Change and innovation are a necessary part of creating the future. Without the organizational agility to make necessary changes, your church will soon die and God will have to raise up wildfire down the street (and trust me, he will). At the end of the day, change is a lot like electricity. Handled well, it brings great blessings. Handled carelessly or without understanding, it can burn the house down.

Larry Osborne, an Outreach magazine consulting editor, is one of the senior pastors and teaching pastors at North Coast Church in Vista, California. For more on unlocking innovation, pick up Osborne’s latest book, Sticky Leaders: The Secret to Lasting Change and Innovation (previously released under the title Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret).

Monday, January 16, 2017

Master your goals

In the world of personal development, motivation, public speaking and sales, there will never be another Zig Ziglar (1962-2012). His infectious sense of humor, his masterful story-telling skills, his uncanny ability to inspire, and his down home Southern charm... that is the legacy of Zig Ziglar. An original concept of Zig Ziglar was to Master your goals.  I had the unique opportunity to meet and have a meaningful dialog with Zig Ziglar.

The Office of Human Resources at Dartmouth College recommends that you write down your goals and follow this simple scheme. Make sure that your goals are:

  • M – Measurable: For example, you might want to raise your grade point average by at least one percentage point — this is easy to measure and realistic.
  • A – Achievable (yet challenging!): Be sure to include goals for the short-term rather than only focusing on goals that will take longer than a year to achieve.
  • S – Specific: Instead of just aiming for any internship, you might want to fine-tune your goal to include a description of the type of skills you’ll be learning or the location of the internship.
  • T – Time-based: Setting a deadline helps to create a sense of urgency that keeps you motivated.
  • E – Energizing: Go for goals that will keep you energized and inspired.
  • R – Relevant: Aim for goals that will feed into your ultimate personal and career aspirations.
Be specific

I like to use the “W” words:  Who, What, When, Why.  Using action words will help you be clear, and be specific.”

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Preparing for worship on Sunday Janaury 15, 2017

Last Sunday the roads were covered with ice with a coating of snow.  It took several hours of exchanging text and phone calls to make the final decision to cancel services.
I posted the following to Facebook:

With our paramount concern being SAFTEY! All ministry activities at Gastonia First Wesleyan Church are cancelled on Sunday January 8th. Stay home, stay warm and stay safe.

I had been fighting a cold that week but the antibiotics prescribed from a recent visit to a doctor is doing it's work and I feel much better and ready to preach.

Here are the songs being prepared for tomorrow in worship:

Often times we are hesitant to actually identify a specific area in which to pursue holiness because now failure is both possible and identifiable. And the resulting pain and shame can often cripple us. We may cope by blaming others, or claiming, “nobody’s perfect,” or offering an unreflective “I’m sorry.”  But none of those things move us any closer to the holy lives that God desires us to live. There is, however, another way to authentically pursue holiness and not be paralyzed by our failures. It is to face failure head on through the act of genuine repentance. Failure followed by repentance results in life and hope.

Join us tomorrow at Gastonia First Wesleyan Church!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday Janaury 13, 2017 - A day of superstitions....

With Jan. 13, 2017, falling on a Friday, here are 13 facts about the date that is synonymous with bad luck and superstitions. These are taken from a Lifestyle post on MSN.

1.   The apprehension surrounding Friday the 13th may have biblical origins, as Christ's crucifixion is believed to have taken place on a Friday. Thirteen was also the number of guests present at the Last Supper, and the apostle Judas, who would later betray Jesus with the infamous Kiss of Judas, supposedly was the 13th person seated at the table, according to the New Testament. 

2.   The scientific term for the fear of Friday the 13th is "paraskavedekatriaphobia," derived from the Greek words "paraskev√≠" meaning "Friday" and "dekatre√≠s" meaning "thirteen." Another term used to refer to the irrational fear of Friday the 13th is "friggatriskaidekaphobia" with "Frigga" referring to the Norse goddess and seer Frigg, after whom Friday is named in English. 

3. During World War II, five German bombs hit Buckingham Palace in       the U.K. on Friday, Sept. 13, 1940, and destroyed the Palace Chapel,  as part of Adolf Hitler's strategic "Blitz" bombing campaign.

4. On Friday, Oct. 13, 1989, the U.S. stock exchange suffered a major crash. The day is sometimes referred to as "Black Friday." 

5.   It is estimated that every Friday the 13th costs the U.S. economy approximately $800-900 million in losses, according to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute, as many people refuse          to do business or travel by air.

6.   British filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense, was born    on Aug. 13, 1899, which was a Friday. He was supposed to make his directorial debut with a film called "Number 13," which never saw the  light of the day owing to financial troubles. 

7.   The Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapels in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., offers special zombie, vampire and horror-themed wedding ceremonies on Friday the 13th.

8.   On Oct. 13, 1307, which was a Friday, King Philip IV of France ordered his officers to raid the homes of the Knights Templar, who were warrior monks during the Crusades. Hundreds of the Knights Templar were subjected to excruciating torture in order to force confessions from them. More than a hundred succumbed to death in the process. 

9.   For a month to have a Friday on the 13th day, it must begin on a Sunday.

10. Hotel and hospital buildings often skip the 13th floor, and airports sometimes don’t have a gate no. 13

11.   Former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt reportedly had a great  fear of Friday the 13th. He avoided starting a trip on a Friday, wasn’t keen on traveling on the 13th day of any month and would never host   13 people at the dinner table.

12.   Pop star Taylor Swift believes 13 is her lucky number and has some connections with Friday the 13th. "I was born on the 13th. I turned 13   on Friday the 13th. My first album went gold in 13 weeks. My first #1 song had a 13-second intro," she told MTV in 2009.

13.   Friday the 13th occurs twice in 2017 – in January and October.

Hope you found this interesting.  I cannot give credit for the photos due to the download on the pictures did not include the source credit. Just click on Lifestyle MSN for more information.  

I do not find fear on Friday the 13th. Each day is a gift from God.

In fact, my wife Sharron added today that today is one month away from a celebration time. Check back on February 13, 2017 for more....

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Take Off the Old, Put On the New

If you want to have lasting change in your life, you have to start with your body, and that includes changing the way you think so that you honor God through the things you think and through the things you let into your mind.

Ephesians 4:22b-24 says, 
“Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and ... put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (NIV).

Notice that there’s a putting off and a putting on. Your health really comes down to stopping some stuff you need to stop doing and starting some stuff you need to start doing. Stop putting negative, hurtful things in your body, and start putting in things that edify.

Stop putting negative, hurtful things into your mind, and start watching and listening to things that edify Jesus and make you more like him. In the renewal of your mind, you’ve got to put off before you can put on.

Let’s say you go to a department store to look for a new coat. You find one and take it into one of those little changing rooms. If you’re wearing a coat already, you don’t go in there and put the new coat on over your old coat. That would be silly, because you’re not going to know if it fits! It makes sense to take off the old one before you put on the new one.

That’s true spiritually and emotionally and mentally, too. You’ve got to take off the old before you can put on the new.