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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"Good to Great and the Social Sectors" by Jim Collins. A Brief Review

Good to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to GreatGood to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great by James C. Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A short addendum to Collins' bigger book, "Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't". This 36 page monograph takes much from the larger book and applies those principles to the not-for-profit sector. In doing so the author makes some important observations, especially how business and the non-profit environments are distinctly different. "We need to reject the naïve imposition of the "language of business" on the social sectors, and instead jointly embrace a language of greatness" (2). For example, it means that in "the social sectors, money is only an input, and not a measure of greatness" (5). Collins delivers other rightly nuanced assessments that are germane to non-profit organizations that cover superior performance, the Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG), the hedge-hog principle, etc. One of my favorite lines from "Good to Great and the Social Sectors" has to do with leadership: "True leadership only exists if people follow when they have the freedom not to" (13). If you've read the bigger book, and need a hand in figuring out how Collins' work could benefit your church or not-for-profit agency, I happily and highly recommend this monograph.


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Sunday, August 28, 2016

"Father" - 28 August 2016


Father, who by your almighty and everywhere present power, upholds – as it were by your hand – heaven, earth, and all creatures, and so governs them that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, come not by chance but by your fatherly hand: In grateful solace and solicitous gratitude, may we be patient when things go against us, thankful when things go well, and for the future have good confidence in you, our faithful God and Father, that nothing in creation will separate us from your love; for we are convinced that all creatures are so completely in your hand that without your will they can neither move nor be moved (Heidelberg Catechism 27-28).

Lord of all power and might, author and giver of all good things; graft into our hearts a rich, deep love for you and your honor; increase in us true religion (that true religion that bridles tongues, visits and cares for orphans and widows, and keeps itself unspotted by the world); nourish us with all goodness, and of your great mercy, bring forth in us the fruit of good works.

We ask you to strengthen those who are fighting against the carnage, inhumanity and evil in their lands. Please stop human trafficking; please stop the harassment of your Church. May all nations come to bow the knee to the Lord Jesus, and goodwill and wellbeing abound in all places.

O Father, we cry out to you to have mercy on our nation! Change the direction of the people and the rulers that we may become a nation of hard-working, fair-minded, well-educated, morally-sound people; a hope-giving example to all the countries in our world. And please restrain our leaders that they would keep their noses out of places they ought not to be sticking them.

Give your aid and strength to all those in the U.S. Armed Forces….may they serve devotedly, fearlessly, admirably and honorably.

O Father of mercies and God of all comfort, our only help in time of need: please behold, visit and relieve these …. (as well as those in central Italy, and those flooded from Lake Charles to Lake Pontchartrain Louisiana). Mercifully look upon them; comfort them with a sense of your goodness; preserve them from the temptations of the enemy; and give them patience under their affliction. In your good time, restore them to health, and enable them to lead the residue of their life in your fear and to your glory; and grant that finally they may dwell with you in life everlasting.

Almighty God, for your Church worldwide, including Thailand; Timor-Leste; Togo; Tonga; Trinidad and Tobago; Tunisia; Turkey; Turkmenistan; and Tuvalu, grant grace to be courageously committed to you; supply all that is lacking, whether valor, assets, good shepherds, laborers or open doors. For the shepherds of your church, help us to maintain true doctrine and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and may we be truly holy, all for the good of your Church and your glory. And for those in the ministry who are atheists, agnostics, predators or pedophiles, convert them, and where necessary, remove them and prosecute them.

Finally, show your kindness and deploy your saving love to these who have never turned to Christ ….

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Critical Crossroads - Jeremiah 15.16


Critical Crossroads

“Your words were found, and I ate them,
and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart,
for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15.16).

God’s daughters and sons may well find themselves in tight places, difficult spaces, and hard races, and wanting to put words to their anguish; and that’s where we find Jeremiah in this passage where he is at a critical crossroads.

My first three points are primarily to give you the texture and atmosphere of this passage. But I am going to land on v.16 toward the end, which is where I’m going.

Grievance (15.10-18): Jeremiah has a problem. He’s the bearer of bad news; in fact his whole ministry has been and will be characterized by the shape of condemnation, correction, confrontation and conflict. His life is being threatened (Chapter 11 and 20); his friends are few; his “pulpit” will be taken away; and his reputation railed against. The vast majority of his fellow “prophets” are promising that Judah can live the high-life now (“They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace” 6.14); and that the people of Judah have a divine right to expect health, wealth, wellbeing and happiness (“Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD’” 7.4). That makes Jeremiah the odd-man-out! The pressure is such that he is near an emotional break down. He is bemoaning that fact that he has even been born (15.10) for such a time as this. Yet God keeps dragging him along the thorny path of being the bearer of bad news (15.11-14). And so he’s ready to turn in his ordination certificate and call it quits (15-18). This is his grievance.

Guidance (15.19a): Yet God beckons him to repent, “If you will return, I will restore you…” (19a). The LORD gives Jeremiah the opportunity to recommit himself to his God-given task and to the God of his task. Jeremiah is at something of a critical crossroads in his life, and the LORD guides him to choose the right path.

Resilience (15.19b-21): But see here how the LORD is not promising him a happy-clappy existence of treasure and triumph. Instead, he promises him resilience in the face of more adversity; a resilience that will keep him from giving in to the cultural and social pressures to comply and compromise (19b); a resilience that will leave Jeremiah standing when everything else has collapsed (20-21). [Daniel 1-6; Hebrews 5.7-10. Not delivered from trial, but delivered through. The pattern of death and resurrection – into fiery furnace, out alive; into lions’ den, out alive…]...

So, this is the texture and atmosphere of this scene – Jeremiah is at a critical crossroads.

Relish (15.16): As disappointing and disconcerting as all of this might be to us – here is a prophet about to quit and throw in the towel – nevertheless there’s something smack-dab in the middle of Jeremiah’s grievance that should catch our attention and give us some hopeful pause. It’s verse 16. Here is the vessel by which God has been delivering and will deliver sustenance to Jeremiah to help keep him holding on, even when it is only by faith’s splintered fingernails: God’s word. The very bad news Jeremiah delivered was also peppered with good news that kept him from coming completely unraveled.

  • Eater of the Word – Like a few of the other prophets – Ezekiel and John in Revelation – Jeremiah found the words of God nourishing, edible, and appetizing.
  • Relisher of the Word – Even though there was a bitterness to the words of God, a distasteful side, yet the prophet relished God’s speech, his revelation. In savoring these words he found liberty to voice his grievances because he knew this God better than many. He came to know who God is and how God is, so that in his critical crossroads, he could voice his “but I don’t get it, LORD?! How can this be? How could you do that?” It was from the intimacy that rose up from eating the word of the Lord that he found the ability to be honest with God, “for I am called by your name, O YHVH, God of hosts!”


It just may be that you are at a critical crossroads in your life or situation. You may well feel like throwing in the towel because there’s just too much pressure. The cracks are forming along your life, and chips are starting to flake off. Or it may be you’re not at a critical crossroads just yet. But the likelihood is that stormy days may well lie ahead; especially if you stick to God’s Law and Gospel guns. Whichever the case, be an eater of the word; let God’s speech and revelation become “a joy, and the delight of your heart.” Relish what he says, savoring it, rolling it around on the tongue of your heart and soul, because you are called by his name. Through his speech and revelation we come to know him more fully; we come to love him more dearly; and we come to follow him more nearly; day by day. And knowing him and knowing how he is can keep us glued together; or glue us back together.


Be eaters of the word before you come to the critical crossroads, and even when you’re standing in those crossroads.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

"O LORD, I Am your Servant" - 21 August 2016


“O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds. I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the LORD, ... Praise the LORD” (Psalm 116.16-19)! We do offer to you the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that acknowledge your name (Hebrews 13.15). We thank you for saving us from many dangers and catastrophes – known and unknown; for providing us with livelihoods and loves; for filling us with good things and being a God of steadfast love and faithfulness. Glory to you, O God Most High!

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name: O God, how we long to see you honored by all; to be reverenced and held in high regard by presidential candidates of all parties, voters in all regions, by multiple Medias world over, family members, fellow workers, friends and foes. Since the fear of the LORD is Zion’s treasure (Isaiah 33.6c), may the hallowing of your name become a red-flag priority amongst your people. Give your fatherly discipline, deliverance and direction to your Church in America as well as in Sudan; Suriname; Swaziland; Sweden; Switzerland; Syria; Taiwan; Tajikistan and Tanzania.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as in heaven: We desire to see your reign filled in and filled out from “the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24.31). Therefore we intercede on behalf of the Bangladesh Pastors Project; the Butlers in Australia; the Biggs in New Mexico; the Iverson’s in Japan; the Pardigons; Shane Hatfield at RUF OSU; Scott Morris at RUF OU; the Berrys of Serge in Peru; and the Youngs in North Mexico that you would provide support, strength, stamina and success in their work. And be with those who frequent our church playground that they would be drawn inside to hear the Gospel. And may your kingdom, your reign, come on our country and all nations of this earth.

Give us this day our daily bread: Father, you supply our every need. There are some here who have serious needs….provide them what they have need of. And we confess that all we have, in all of the plenty, comes from you. Help us to be rich in good works, to give abundantly, and to not neglect to do good and to share what we have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to you (Hebrews 13.16). And mighty God, be with those who have lost much in Milwaukee and South Louisiana, granting them help and hope.

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors: Instead of holding grudges and demanding our pound of flesh, may your gracious mercy strike us with such weight and force afresh that we would become quick to forgive those who have wronged us, and just as quick to ask forgiveness of those whom we have wronged.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil and the evil one: Look mercifully, O Good Shepherd, on this your flock; and suffer not the sheep which you have redeemed with your precious blood to be torn in pieces by the assaults of the devil.

For thine is the kingdom, and power, and the glory forever. Amen!

"O LORD, I Am your Servant" - 21 August 2016


“O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds. I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the LORD, ... Praise the LORD” (Psalm 116.16-19)! We do offer to you the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that acknowledge your name (Hebrews 13.15). We thank you for saving us from many dangers and catastrophes – known and unknown; for providing us with livelihoods and loves; for filling us with good things and being a God of steadfast love and faithfulness. Glory to you, O God Most High!

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name: O God, how we long to see you honored by all; to be reverenced and held in high regard by presidential candidates of all parties, voters in all regions, by multiple Medias world over, family members, fellow workers, friends and foes. Since the fear of the LORD is Zion’s treasure (Isaiah 33.6c), may the hallowing of your name become a red-flag priority amongst your people. Give your fatherly discipline, deliverance and direction to your Church in America as well as in Sudan; Suriname; Swaziland; Sweden; Switzerland; Syria; Taiwan; Tajikistan and Tanzania.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as in heaven: We desire to see your reign filled in and filled out from “the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24.31). Therefore we intercede on behalf of the Bangladesh Pastors Project; the Butlers in Australia; the Biggs in New Mexico; the Iverson’s in Japan; the Pardigons; Shane Hatfield at RUF OSU; Scott Morris at RUF OU; the Berrys of Serge in Peru; and the Youngs in North Mexico that you would provide support, strength, stamina and success in their work. And be with those who frequent our church playground that they would be drawn inside to hear the Gospel. And may your kingdom, your reign, come on our country and all nations of this earth.

Give us this day our daily bread: Father, you supply our every need. There are some here who have serious needs….provide them what they have need of. And we confess that all we have, in all of the plenty, comes from you. Help us to be rich in good works, to give abundantly, and to not neglect to do good and to share what we have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to you (Hebrews 13.16). And mighty God, be with those who have lost much in Milwaukee and South Louisiana, granting them help and hope.

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors: Instead of holding grudges and demanding our pound of flesh, may your gracious mercy strike us with such weight and force afresh that we would become quick to forgive those who have wronged us, and just as quick to ask forgiveness of those whom we have wronged.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil and the evil one: Look mercifully, O Good Shepherd, on this your flock; and suffer not the sheep which you have redeemed with your precious blood to be torn in pieces by the assaults of the devil.

For thine is the kingdom, and power, and the glory forever. Amen!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

"Blessed Is the Man Who Makes the LORD His Trust" - 14 August 2016


“Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told” (Psalm 40.4-5). We lift our hearts to you, mighty God, merciful God, majestic God, because you have cared for us in spiritual and bodily needs, and with our hearts and hands and voices we resound with your praises!!!!

Father, giver of all good gifts: we pray for the poor and hungry…., the homeless and mentally ill…, the unemployed and heavily employed…, the sad and scared…, the sick and lonely…, that help unlooked for may arrive at just the right time; that you would draw them up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set their feet upon a rock, making their steps secure. That you would put a new song in their mouth, a song of praise to our God, so that many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD (Psalm 40.2-3).

Saving God: we pray for those who do not rest on your Son Jesus – maybe some in here and those out there…; as well as those who are in deep spiritual need…; that by your Spirit active in their lives, they may find conviction, courage, and comfort in Jesus Christ.

Governor and Ruler of all creation, nations and peoples: we pray for the peace and security of the world’s nations, for an end to unjust war and violent oppression; that all of the peoples of the earth may come to receive the Prince of Peace.

Eternal God, who has made us pilgrims and sojourners: we pray for our own country, for those who govern, for all the people in this land. May we have justice, security and well-being. In these days of racial tensions, political rodeos, hot headedness, and terror threats, show yourself a mighty God on our behalf, that our own nation would finally say with deep conviction, “In God we trust!”

Lord God, our Father: we pray for your one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church – especially in Singapore; Sint Maarten; Slovakia; Slovenia; Solomon Islands; Somalia; South Africa; Spain; and Sri Lanka. We pray for all of her Bishops, elders, pastors, ministers, servers, that they would all be faithful to the Word of God and guide your Church to prove herself to be the light of Christ to the nations.


Abba, Father: For this congregation, all of our parents and the children in our homes; our students and young adults seeking to take out on their own path, for each of us in our vocations and conditions; that in all we do we would show ourselves Christ’s disciples in word and deed.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

"Take Heart, Daughter" - A Communion Meditation


A Communion Meditation Taken from Matthew 9.22

Early on in Matthew, the story is recounted where Jesus was walking through a crowd, and a woman who had some kind of hemorrhaging for 12 years – a woman who would have been considered and treated as impure and unfit to enter God’s worship, who would have been cut off from much of the fellowship and festal feasting of God’s people; a woman who would have felt like she dwelt “in a dry and weary land where there is no water" (Psalm 63.1) – alone, cut off, kicked out. She saw Jesus and secretly came up behind Jesus thinking, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well” (Matthew 9.21). She touched his robe in faith, and immediately “Jesus turned, and seeing her he said,"...He didn't say, "get away from me until you're clean enough!" Nor did he say, "Don't touch me until you have made yourself pure enough!" Instead,  “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well” (Matthew 9.22). 

What does this have to do with communion? This is a beautiful and heartening description of exactly how we need to approach Jesus; seeking him; wanting him; believing him! Just as he did not rant and rave at the woman kicking her away, but instead welcomed her – so he welcomes us as well! And just as the woman came to Jesus for her remedy, and found his assurance - “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well”- so it is for us. If you believe in the Lord Jesus, want him better, long to hear him say “Take heart, daughter/son; your faith has made you well,” have received the sacrament of baptism and belong to his people…then I beckon you to participate with us.

Followers