Saturday, December 01, 2018

The Coming of the King - My Advent Journey 2018

This is my schedule for a "Five-Week Spiritual Journey."

Week 1 – December 2nd – Focus: Preparation for the Journey

Week 2 - December 9th – Focus: The Throne of God

Week 3 – December 16th – Focus: The Darkness of the World

Week 4 - December 23rd – Focus: The Hope of the World - Christ the Light

Week 5 - December 30th – Focus: The Mission of God

Epiphany – January 6th – Focus: Celebration of the Journey - The Presence of Christ the King

An Advent Journey

In 2014 after spending time with Oscar and Kat Delgado in Mexico City, I felt impressed to share with them an “Advent Journey.” Our purpose was to set aside time in anticipation of a fresh appearing of Christ and that He would speak to us regarding our future. The weeks we shared even at a distance helped me to hear the voice of God and to give me hope in God’s work of redemption, particularly in Mexico City.

Since then I have tried to set aside during the busy holiday season time to focus my heart on the coming of the “Messiah” and the coming of the “Day of the Lord.” I think of this as a journey with God to seek Him in order that I might follow Him. Advent traditionally begins on the Sunday four weeks before Christmas Day. This year, Advent begins on Dec. 2. Church traditions include special times of prayer and fasting. During Advent those traditions include wreaths and lighted candles and the singing of hymns are sung --- one of my favorites is “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”

This verse from the prophet Isaiah is often associated with the Advent Season:

“Rain down, O heavens, from above,
Let the skies pour down righteousness;
Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation,
Let righteousness spring up together.
I, the Lord, have created all.” (Isaiah 45:8)

Christmas Day, which has been traditionally celebrated by the church on Dec. 25th. In some traditions it is the first day of the "12 days of Christmas." In America, we have commercialized Christmas Day and often it has become simply a day of eating a Christmas Dinner and gift exchanges. Once we clean-up the wrapping paper, Christmas is over and we start making plans for New Year’s Eve parties.

At the end of the twelve days of Christmas the day of Epiphany is celebrated. In some traditions, Epiphany is observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi. In the Eastern Orthodox Church tradition, it commemorates the baptism of Christ. An epiphany is “a sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something,” such as the appearance or manifestation of the Messiah and a revelation of the mystery of the gospel.

For me, Epiphany is a “celebration” of God’s revelation to me of His work in my own life and an anticipation of His work of redemption in my world. This has led me to affirm and anticipate the plans God has for me for the coming year, as opposed to making my own New Year’s resolutions. I am asking God to guide me on a new Advent journey and that I will have a deep sense of the presence of the Lord during this holiday season.  I plan to share my journey in the days ahead. Perhaps this will be an encouragement to you to seek the coming of the Messiah.

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Mystery of the Gospel

The Mystery of the Gospel: Jesus is a Revolutionary  

True revolutionaries change everything in the existing order.  Everything that was before is now turned around or turned upside down. Jesus was a true revolutionary. He was the fulfillment of the first order. He was the promised Messiah. Jesus came in the fulfillment of time when the culmination and completion of the Old Covenant which was made by God with mankind in Creation.  This New Covenant plan of the Triune God was made in the heavenly realm, in the throne room of God the Father, Son and Spirit before the creation of the heavens and earth, of space and time, of human-beings, and of the entire physical universe.

The plan of God was to establish a new order in society and in the universe through Jesus. The New Covenant began when Jesus was crucified, was buried, was raised from the dead, ascended to the heavenly realm and together with the God the Father sent the Spirit of God to fill the hearts of human-beings on the day of Pentecost.  The revolution of Jesus overruled the old order which was only a shadow of the new order. The revolution gives new meaning to mankind’s place in society and in the universe.

For those of us who are like the wise men who saw the star of Bethlehem, we must find and follow the new King of heaven and earth who was born of a virgin lying in a manger. Matthew writes in chapter 2, “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”

Herod and others who are the guardians of power of the old order conspired together to maintain their positions by rebelling against God and killing all the children born around the birth of Jesus. Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.” This way of dealing with Jesus also led humanly speaking to his death on a cross. The kings and religious authorities of the earth are always seeking to destroy anyone who threatens their authority or their power position in society.  This way of dealing with Jesus as a revolutionary and of those who have joined the ranks of Jesus continues to this day, but this should not deter us on our journey of following Christ.

As wise men and women, we could begin our journey in the Gospel of John, as John knew Jesus and understood that He was the incarnate eternal living “Word” of God.  John writes, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth…And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (Chapter 1:14-16) John then writes of himself, “This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (Chapter 21:24-25)

Jesus becomes the living Word of God then completes the written word of God for the Old Order of human history.  How then do we understand the Law and the Prophets of the old covenant? They all find their fulfillment in Jesus.  For example, Jesus makes it clear that the laws given to Moses had served their purpose and now the “Great Commandment” was to be followed, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.” Matthew 22:36 Paul, the writer of the letter to the believers in Corinth teaches that the rules of the new covenant are not the “ten commandments written on tablets of stone,” but written on human hearts by the Spirit of God. “Clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.” 2nd Corinthians 3:3.

The mystery of the gospel cannot be debated and understand by reason but only by “revelation.” So today any human authority who claims a unique understanding of the mystery of the gospel stands against the revolution of the new covenant that Jesus initiated as the first-born from the dead and denies the power of the resurrection, the ascension and of the new life of the Spirit that flows from the throne of God.  Jesus as the Head (Source) of the church, which is the temple of God is not being built with stones but with men and women who have joined in the revolution of Jesus and who are together in a community of mutual submission regardless of ethnic background, gender, or station in life. They live in submission to the Rule of Jesus who is building a new order in society in the midst of His enemies.

What then is the mystery of the gospel? One answer may be that Jesus was both fully human and fully God at the same moment in human history in space and time.  Another mystery of the gospel is that Jesus serves as the only true Prophet, Priest and King of God all in the same eternal visible expression of an invisible God.  Another mystery of the gospel is that God the Father, Son and Spirit is one person forever complete with one mind, one heart, one spirit and one personality. He is both the Creator and Sustainer of the whole universe, both visible and invisible, both transcendent and eminent, He was and is and ever will be forever and forever, and in so many ways He is beyond our human understanding.  Another mystery of the gospel is that Jesus could be in his humanity both biologically masculine and complete as a human being made in the image of God, male and female together in his being at the same time just as he was both fully human and fully divine at the same time. For me as a man I must follow Jesus who fully understood women, who described himself as a mother would in caring for her own children, and in his death became the Savior of both men and women completely.

This Advent Season of 2018 may men and women of good will everywhere know the unmeasurable, unconditional love and forgiveness of God. May we humbly renounce our human arrogance that keeps ourselves and other human-beings in the prisons of our own making. May we pray for the revolution that Jesus leads to succeed in overturning every power and authority that stands in opposition to God and to the truth of God. It is the truth of God that sets each of us free to be the full and whole human-being that God created us to be. May we by grace through faith receive the mystery of the gospel.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

A Prayer for My Brothers: Sons of Adam

Red Clay Pots in Pieces on the Ground

How far have we fallen since the days of our youth?

Who can put our broken souls together again and make us whole? Only the worship of the triune God, one person, one soul, with one heart and one personality.  Only the experiential knowledge of the “whole gospel” of promise with the power to save us here and now, with the power to transform us here and now, and with the fullness of glory of the risen Lord of heaven and earth in us and through us here and now.

I pray for myself and my brothers we are “born again to new life” every day. I pray for the bread “manna” of the heavenly realm to cover us each day as the dew covers the dawn of a new day in Athens, Georgia in October. May we by faith have our senses opened to the revealed truth of God so that we may by faith receive the grace of God

A Prayer for My Brother Boomers

1976 - A rainy day but a bright future
Born in a world of promise. A bright future was ours.

Our father's fought and died to crush the head of the serpents of tyranny and ethnic cleansing.

God was held in high esteem by our “fellow Americans” because He had delivered our band of brothers from the valley of the shadow of death.  One nation “under God” with liberty and justice for all was added to the pledge of loyalty to our flag which proudly flew over the conquered cities of Berlin and Tokyo.  The “rule of law” had triumphed over the rule of “fascists in Europe” and “emperor gods in Asia.” We stood together as we sang, “We are the home of brave and the land of the free.”

In society the power of the Spirit of God unleashed a great civil rights movement lead by a King who had the voice of a Prophet and the non-violence of a Priest. He inspired our nation with a dream of a new day when the rights of former slaves denied by injustice of their birth-right declared on July 4, 1776 on the day of our nation’s independence, “All men and women are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

We the people, a nation of immigrants hoped that we would live in peace as brothers and sisters regardless of our station in life, our age, our religion, the color of our skin, our ethnic background, or our language. As citizens we hoped equality would become a reality. But with gunshots in Dallas on November 22, 1963 and Memphis on April 4, 1968 the dreams of our nation were dashed.

As Christians, we witnessed a new season of revival and individual salvation. Giant gatherings born of the Spirit of God with a vision from Mount Herman. A humble man named Billy from North Carolina was the leader. We also witnessed a season of renewal on the great universities of America where Christ-centered radicals recaptured the intellectual high-ground with the banner of the cross and a message of “revolution.” I witnessed a gathering in Dallas, Texas in 1972 on the cover of Life Magazine. The Word of God was a “Blueprint for Revolution,” and the gospel of salvation was proclaimed without apology. I responded to the challenge by Bill Bright to “Come Help Change the World” at the Atlanta Solution Bowl in December of 1976 as a junior in college. I returned to launch a movement of spiritual multiplication among students at Augusta College with my new found friend Angela Givens.

I soon realized that my home church under the teaching of John Oliver and my conversations with missionaries and the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ, I was a part of the larger global movement of "Evangelicals." The “Evangelical” movement was born in 1942 at a conference in St Louis seeking a thoughtful middle way. The movement grew in the rise tide of revival in America to unite Christians of different institutions in order to fulfill the Great Commission.  A great gathering of 150 nations was convened in Lausanne Switzerland in 1974. A covenant was written to inspire cooperation among evangelicals around the world and a committee was formed in 1976 to give guidance to this movement.

As followers of Jesus we hoped to stand together against the powers and authorities that were held captive to the ancient Angels of Death and we hoped the love of our neighbors would change the world. From the Lausanne Covenant, "We affirm that God is both the Creator and the Judge of all men. We therefore should share his concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men and women from every kind of oppression. Because men and women are made in the image of God, every person, regardless of race, religion, color, culture, class, sex or age, has an intrinsic dignity because of which he or she should be respected and served, not exploited."

Friday, October 19, 2018

A Prayer of Thanksgiving for the Women in My Life

I am so grateful for the women of our community of Global Service.  I am honored by your presence and your willingness to be in a mutual relationship with the men of Global Service. Together we are servant leaders and ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ our Savior.  I encourage you to continue “speaking the truth in love, that together we may grow up in all things in Him who is the First Born of Creation and who is the Source ("Head") of the Church.  Jesus Christ the Lord of Heaven and Earth.” (Ephesians 4:11-16 and 5:15-21)

This is my prayer on the morning of September 26th 2018 beside the Crystal River near Redstone, Colorado:

"Thank-you Holy Father, Holy Son, and Holy Spirit three in One for opening my eyes to see the wonder of the virgin Mary the mother of the body of Jesus. Mary, you gave life to the Savior and Redeemer of the heavens and earth. Mary, thank-you that you as a young woman in spite of the cultural norms of your day choose to receive by grace through faith the gift of God in your womb to conceive the body of Jesus who was born in Bethlehem on that first Christmas Day. Mary, you are the giver of the life of God, and therefore, of love, of beauty, of joy, of grace, of reconciliation, of nurture, of learning, of language. Because of your surrender to the will of God I can now experience the presence of God. May the heavens and earth be filled with the Glory of God forever and ever." Amen

For all the women of Global Service who I love (“phileo”) as a brother, I pray for you to enjoy all the gifts of creation today. I pray for healing from the wounds of angry sinful men who covet the power of life that you possess. I pray for you to have wholeness of life, for abundance, for provision of food and clothing, protection and shelter. I pray that you may have freedom of movement and expression in your home, in your workplace, in the marketplace, in your neighborhood, in your church, and in society. I pray that you will experience the love of God and be energized by the life (“eros”) of God so that your mind will be renewed, your body will be strengthened, your voice will sing of the truth of God and your soul will be refreshed by the unconditional love (“agape”) of God.

Today I pray that you will see the beauty of creation, that you will smell the fresh air of the Spirit of God, that you will taste the goodness of God, and that you will hear the voice of God’s assurance, and feel the gentle touch and comfort of the heart of God. May all creation be filled with the voices of women today to drown out the voices of self-serving and self-centered men who have joined in the rebellion of the ages against God.

I pray Holy Father, Holy Son, Holy Spirit three in one that you hear my voice, a man broken by my own sin and the sins of men who are held captive by the angel of Death (“Azreal” in Hebrew and “Thanatos” in Greek).

By His Grace and For His Glory! Amen

Originally, I wrote this pray for my wife of 41 years, Brenda, my daughter of 37 years, Kelly, and my granddaughter Ruby who is 4 years old. I later decided to share this prayer with the women of our mission.

Born Again Church

In every generation the Lord extends his kingdom through the church as it is born again by the gospel of the kingdom. This new birth in no way diminishes the timeless "never-changing" truth of the scripture or the timeless "never-changing" message of the gospel, but the "church" must be recreated so that it will be salt and light in an "ever-changing" culture where it lives. Peter refers to the church as "aliens" in a foreign land living a life that is radically different then the world.

The church through no malice will naturally seek to either conform, to confront or to hide from the changing culture and world around. She grows comfortable with it's forms, with it's practices and with it's expectations of what it is supposed to be and as the world changes the church loses it's ability to "connect to the culture," and to "influence the world with kingdom values." The salt becomes tasteless and the light grows dim or is covered by the forms and practices that seemed best 40 years ago.

So as followers of Jesus we are faced with the choice of being "crucified, dead and buried with Christ," in order that we might by faith be reborn as a new creation to reflect the beauty and the new life of the resurrected Jesus in this new generation. The church must see herself as entering into the mission of God in the earthly realm with wisdom from the heavenly realm.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Birkman Consulting

Recently I had the opportunity to spend the morning with my freind Doug Holm and a campus ministry director from Chile'. Marie' Jose' was a new staff member in Chile' when my daughter Kelly went to Chile' on a summer mission project to Santiago, Chile in 2003. I had met her when doing a week of team building with Doug in Concepcion. So now in July of 2009 Marie Jose was in the US to share her story and ministry. Doug asked me to go over her Birkman profile with her to help her better understand herself and to advise her on her future.
She is a delightful person who has had a very fruitful ministry over the years. I pray that our time together will be used by God to help her move forward in her life and ministry. It is not unusual for those who have spent seven years as a minister and also who are around 30 years old to need a fresh perspective and an objective "sounding board."

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Coaching Leaders for Campus Ventures

Over a year ago I began a relationship with Campus Ventures a campus ministry active on universities in Wyoming and South Dakota. Here is the website address:

I had completed the Birkman reports with the ministry leaders. I was invited to spend a morning with them during their staff conference. Of course this crew found a retreat center 45 minutes west of Fort Collins literally at the end of the road. I reviewed the main elements of the Birkman report and did an exercise in how each area of interest would look at the future. It was a great time of ministry. Here is what Jack Hall the general director wrote in reviewing the time. "Thank you for your words of encouragement. It was a pleasure working with you. You did an outstanding job with the limited time and number of people you had to deal with."

Thanks to the many ministry partners who enable me to serve in this way. I pray that these leaders will be deeply encouraged by understanding themselves and others they work with.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Alliance for Vulnerable Mission

The Alliance for Vulnerable Mission (formed 2007) seeks to promote Christian mission to non-Western people using a Biblical model of ‘vulnerability’, more precisely defined as – using the language of the people being reached, and not using foreign funds to support one’s key project or ministry. My friend and ministry partner Jay Gary serves on the board of the alliance. Jim Harries serves as the chairman of the alliance is a Church of God Missionary in Kenya, Africa.

In light of globilization and the advance of the church in the southern hemisphere, I believe it is important for the missionaries and the mission projects that are coming from the "economically developed" nations to review their future mission efforts to ensure that our good intentions are measured by the effects of our presence on the mission field. We must move from positions of "power" to to a position of "presence" with humility.

A series of meetings have been arranged in the USA and Europe in 2009 to further discuss the issues raised by the alliance. These one-day "conferences" are open to anyone interested in better understanding "vulnerable mission." While oriented especially to the mission specialists of churches, denominational mission leaders, mission professors, mission agencies and so on. The conferences have been arranged on a regional basis to make it as easy as possible for people to attend. I have agreed for Global Service Associates to serve as the coordinator of the meeting in Colorado Springs on Friday January 16 at the Penrose House. To register your attendance you can follow the link to

The 4th Gathering of the Atlanta EFCLC

I am very excited to be a part of the 4th and final gathering of the Atlanta Externally Focused Church Leadership Community. The gathering will be at Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, and our topic of discussion and action will be RECONCILIATION. Chip Sweeney the community director writes, "Obviously, we will undergird our time with the truth of our reconciliation with God and then we will dive into reconciliation as it relates to the different ethnicities and cultures that we represent AND practically how we can work together and be a model for the rest of Atlanta. This will truly be an inspiring time that you and your church will not want to miss!"

We will start at 7:30 am on Thursday January 15th, and we will go through dinner and into the evening with a fun activity together – maybe bowling? On Friday, the 16th, we will start at 7:30 am and we will be done by 4:00pm.

It has been a great ministry opportunity to serve as the facilitator of these gatherings. I believe that the spirit of love and comraderie will continue to mark the relationship of these ministry leaders as they trust the Lord with a "2020 Vision" to see the city of Atlanta transformed by the mercy and grace of God.

To learn more about the Leadership Community format and how to faciltate the gatherings feel free to e-mail me and let me know how I can be of service to you.

A Vision Large Enough to Encompass a Whole City

One of the most enjoyable ministry opportunities in the last two years has been to visit the ministry leaders in Mexico. I continue to hear the good reports of how God is blessing the service of those leaders that I had the privelege of spending time with. One of those leaders is a man named Joe Cross.

He recently wrote this update, "Coming to Mexico City over two years ago I had no idea what to expect. (And the unexpected certainly has happened during our time here, perhaps even on a weekly basis.) But I did have one clear objective upon arrival: Help lead an effort to start Christ-centered movements on more than 400 university campuses. At the time, I felt that was a “big” dream, and one that would involve a lot of people and resources and a whole lot of faith. But as our group of leaders stared at this awesome possibility placed within our small hands, God lifted up our chins ever so slightly and helped us see a broader horizon. What I beheld caused me to tremble. God wasn’t just asking us to seclude ourselves to the safe confines of the college campus, but He was requiring our participation in an effort already long underway – the transformation of His supercity. I won’t ever forget that gut-wrenching moment when the Lord spoke His will so clearly. We would launch movements on every college campus, but we must also focus our attention on the pressing needs of the whole city.

Fortunately for us, this really wasn’t so much of a pioneering effort as it was a collaboration effort. Without much ado, God opened up doors that would connect us with the rest of His body well at work within the city, and other believers from outside that would aide the venture. And in a short time, miracles happened as literally thousands of laborers mobilized together to raise up a network of over 50 campus movements and numerous other initiatives that encompassed everything from assisting the poor and caring for street children to engaging business executives and high-ranking government officials."

Please pray for Joe as well as other "kingdom-minded" ministry leaders to have a vision that grows so large that the only way to work is in collaboration. Thanks Joe for embracing the vision and know that your work for the Lord done in faith and the power of the Spirit is never in vain. The great thing that God does is change your way of thinking, relating and planning that will affect you for the rest of your life regardless of which city you live in or which path you may take.

Leadership Models

Models are important way of thinking and discussing any issue. This is particularly true of leadership. Some models are complex while others can be very simple
The test: "If some idea is Biblical then it should transcultural. It should be easy to translate into many languages." I never forget when I was in Cyprus and I was having a discussion about vision with a group of middle east leaders. Often in America we embrace the importance of a group of leaders developing a shared or common vision in a collaborative way and then write a simple vision statement to communicate to our "followers." We were looking at a well known verse, Proverbs 29:18 which is translated in English, "Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law." NIV "Where there is no vision, the people perish (scatter): but he that keepeth the law, happy is he." KJV Even in the English context "vision" is associated with "law." What came as a surprise in Arabic this verse is translated, "Where there is no seer (or prophet) (literally a person who gives the law of God) Vision is not simply a statement of direction to communicate to followers to motivate them toward a common purpose, it is very personal. The question then become if a leader listens to God then why should they work with other leaders to develop a statement of vision, are they not the vision and would they not speak for God?

Do You Need and Executive Coach?

This is the title of an article that appeared on written by Hannah Clark dated 01/12/07. Some of the highlights:

"You may be a brilliant negotiator, a financial whiz or a technical genius. But do you have what it takes to manage other high-level employees? If your communication skills have been a sore spot during your annual reviews, a leadership coach might be able to help. Once a tiny industry, dominated by boutique firms, leadership coaches have moved into the mainstream."

The trend is driven partly by demographic shifts. In North America and Europe, the executive-age population--i.e., baby boomers--is nearing retirement. Companies need to start focusing on developing internal leaders, rather than just recruiting from the outside.
"There is going to be a real premium for companies to try to retain talent," says Mark Marcon, an analyst with Robert. W. Baird. "And the talent out there to replace the people retiring is going to be scarcer and scarcer."
Meanwhile, India and China are growing faster than their business schools can churn out candidates. While the twin tigers are developing a large class of professional workers, the executive ranks are still thin.
"It's going to take another generation before they have enough management talent," says Peter Felix, president of the Association of Executive Search Consultants, which recently published a survey about the executive job market worldwide. "It takes a whole generation to train effective, modern management."
Leadership coaches often work with managers who have been highly successful, but see barriers preventing them from reaching the C-suite. Some are technical whizzes who don't have the interpersonal skills to manage a large staff. In other cases, coaches are called in when there has been turnover on an executive team, and the senior officers need to get to know each other. Leadership coaches can help a new CEO adjust to his or her position, or aid a board trying to develop a succession plan. The price for such leadership insight can vary, but it's not for executives with low bank balances. LeaderSource charges anywhere from $25,000 to $65,000 for a coaching engagement, which lasts a year or more and involves 20 to 30 sessions."

I believe that more and more leaders in new missional efforts will require a leader coach to help them make sense of themselves because most of the traditional support systems friends, family, traditions, experience can be relied on to continue to give encouragement to move ahead.