Ends

INTRODUCTION
Worldviews have drastically morphed socially, politically, economically, demographically, and philosophically over the past fifty years.
[1] Secularization, globalization, and pluralism have all contributed to gradually de-church the culture. In response, the Biblical and practical theology of the church has largely failed to effectively communicate a message that propels believers into missional living that ultimately transforms individuals, families, communities and cultures. Current ecclesiological approaches have left the church with an identity crisis and an irrelevant presence. Some have settled for a syncretistic approach that compromises beliefs on behalf of the culture and results in a naive adaptation. Others have been guilty of a legalism that expects recipients to conform to norms, terms, and environment before being accepted into the community. Such motives have less to do with holiness as much as protecting the power base.[2] This reaction has by and far removed Christians from society and thus will soon find themselves in a state of gradual abandonment and an eventual demise.[3]

Jesus chose instead to make “himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.[4] He was reliant and transparent in sharing humanity’s necessities, difficulties, and meanings. The gospel’s essence is that God entered into the world with the intent of changing it. Christ’s message can never be reduced to mere words and concepts but rather to always be centered on the language and lifestyle of Jesus himself. Recipients should be challenged in their beliefs to the point where their behavior changes as well.[5] Charles H. Kraft proposes that, “What we seek is the kind of Christianity that is equivalent in its dynamics in today’s society to the Christianity we see in the pages of the New Testament.”[6] By drawing from Scripture, one might expand his knowledge of various situations, perceive how God has utilized these principles, and grow in the discipline of successful communication.[7] The following essay proposes a Biblical study of cross-cultural ministry that reflects the authority of God’s Kingdom, relies upon the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and reconciles the people of all nations.

HISTORICAL AND LITERARY CONTEXT OF THE PASSAGE
The historical narrative of Acts was likely written about sixty five years after Jesus’ death and resurrection and primarily from the location of the Apostle Paul’s house arrest. This date and setting would explain why the book seems to end so abruptly. These were the last events that the author was able to report upon.
[8] Most assuredly, Acts was written by the same author as Luke’s Gospel. Acts begins with “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach . . . .”[9] This statement indicates another piece of literature. Biblical academics have reached a general consensus, based upon early church history and analogous writing styles, which confirm the conclusion that the two historical narratives share the same writer. Commentators tend to highlight Luke 1:1-4 as to “account for the plausibility, careful reporting, and theological sensitivity” of the author.[10] This passage reiterates that trustworthy accounts concerning Christ and his followers have been passed on by first-hand observers, that Luke himself has taken great concern in the examination of these events, and that he has devoted his work to people’s understanding of and commitment to Jesus and his movement. As his Gospel explained Jesus’ birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension; so Acts shares what occurred after his return to the Father.[11]

On a theological level, Acts is not intended to be a methodical description of doctrines. However, in sharing the story of how the gospel went forward, the author unmistakably presents the words and actions of Jesus and his church. When combined with his Gospel, Luke’s writings add up to over a quarter of the New Covenant writings. He “explains how the kerygma, the earliest proclamation about the dead and risen Jesus, made its way into the ancient Roman world and thus acquired universal significance.”[12] Most scholars separate the narrative into a couple of segments. The arrangement centers on Christ’s mandate which reads, “And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”[13] Commentators have proposed that the first twelve chapters describe the church’s regional growth while the remaining chapters entail the expansion into the known world.[14] This essay will focus upon the passages preceding the Day of Pentecost. God’s Spirit would eventually empower the disciples to fulfill their divine assignment in the same manner that he inaugurated Christ for his. There was a span of fifty days between when Christ returned to the Father in heaven.[15] They were told to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the Father’s promise.

BIBLICAL AUTHOR’S INTERPRETATION OF PASSAGE
The passage opens with, “So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’”[16] The disciples’ inquiry stemmed from an entrenched Hebrew expectation that God’s Kingdom would include actual property, that it would eventually defeat the Roman Empire, and that the disciples themselves would have an influential position within the reign. One scholar proposes that “there is a certain poignancy in their failure right to the end to understand that the kingdom was not of this world but of the Spirit, to be entered only by repentance and faith.[17] A common belief in that day was that Israel’s re-establishment would be sealed with all believers receiving the Spirit. They did not grasp what he wanted to accomplish in and through them.[18] The disciples had often been distracted by power. Having authority in Christ’s Kingdom was different than having authority in an earthly kingdom. His rule is measured by a heart rather than on a map, is extended by the voice of messengers rather than by the weapons of soldiers, and is one of wholeness rather than of violence. That being said, God’s supremacy was never intended to be merely spiritual in nature. He demands an unwavering devotion and immeasurability in empathy.[19]

Luke’s narrative continues with Jesus responding, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.”[20] He was not suggesting that Israel had lost her place in God’s salvation story, but rather he was reconfiguring their perspectives concerning his Kingdom. By using terms such “times” and “seasons,” the implication is that of final restoration over humanity. The apostles were instructed to trust the Father with the details.[21] Though they were not to know a timeline, they were clear on what to do in the meantime – they were to be witnesses to Jesus Christ.[22]

Jesus concludes by saying, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”[23] His final teaching before the ascension is an unyielding charge to proclaim his life and ministry. Frank Macchia has proposed that “Spirit baptism gave rise to the global church and remains the very substance of the church’s life in the Spirit, including its charismatic life and mission.”[24] The commission has been describes as “a person, a power, and a program – the person of Jesus, on whose authority the church acts and who is the object of its witness; the power of the Holy Spirit . . . [without which there is nothing] . . . for the mission; and a program that begins at Jerusalem . . . and extends ‘to the ends of the earth.’” [25] The disciples valued, and in some respects were blinded by, their patriotism. His movement had in fact begun in their beloved city, but would eventually embrace the untouchable of Samaria, and would not cease until all people groups of all time periods had the opportunity to hear the gospel. Christ’s resurrection gives him “universal authority and gives his people a universal commission to go and disciple the nations. He rules over an international people in which race, nation, rank, and sex are not barriers to fellowship.[26]
This is what John described as, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”[27] Luke categorized a missional community as being dependent upon the Holy Spirit, faithful in developing other Christ followers, modeling a heart of care and compassion, and intentionally sharing God’s Kingdom with all people.[28]

THREE CONTEMPORARY APPLICATIONS
Based upon the text, one lesson of cross-cultural communication would be that the church should always be careful to declare allegiance to the heavenly Kingdom instead of an earthly empire. One must show caution concerning close associations with any political ideology – such alliances have left much of the gospel feeble and ineffective. Government procedures typically entice and ensnare Christianity with wealth, position, indictment, and devastation. George R. Hunsberger has called the church to be missional by way of grace, humility, courage, creativity, and hope. [29] A holy disconnect would swell up against all forms of consumption, domination, isolation, and immorality.[30] The church can respond with a Christ-centered perspective, to personal gratification with an unwavering devotion to God, to personal liberties with corporate responsibility, and to capitalism with service and generosity.[31]

The gospel should always include, but no longer be limited to, the personal salvation of just one individual. Rather, the message of Christ should permeate all areas of society. In his work, Good News and Good Works, Ronald Sider proposes that the church has been guilty of “sometimes [translating] Romans without also translating Amos.” Evangelicals have been effective in sharing God’s grace and yet have largely ignored any responsibility to social justice. Salvation should transform an individual who repents of his rebellion, dedicates his life to obedience, enjoys a renewed identity, and as a result confronts organizations of tyranny in the name of his Master.[32] A humanitarian outlook is being rediscovered by way of feeding and clothing those who are homeless, being available to help those who are facing catastrophe of all sorts (i.e. recovery from marital difficulties, substance abuse, or medical emergencies), and encouraging local improvements (i.e. educational, economic, environmental, and political developments). That being said, the church ought to be equally intentional in not focusing upon the symptoms of sin rather than the sources of that sin. A transformational life will emerge out of personal conversion rather than out of a desire to merely question the corruption of culture. The hope of the world ultimately rests in the manifest power and presence of God. Just as he entered into the anguish and understanding of creation, so do his people have the opportunity to experience the sorrow and sting of the less fortunate.[33]

A second characteristic of cross-cultural communication that one might draw upon from this passage is the need to depend upon the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. David J. Hesselgrave, Director of the School of World Mission and Evangelism at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, considers the command to be witnesses to “the uttermost parts of the world [as taking] on cultural as well as geographical significance. Yet numerous missionaries have entered their respondent cultures without any attention whatsoever to the social structures, evidently assuming that the new culture would be a carbon copy of their own or that the differences would prove to be unimportant.”[34] This text reveals how necessary the Spirit is to the church’s proclamation of the gospel and how crucial the proclamation of the gospel is to the church’s experience with the Spirit.[35] Frank Macchia has proposed that “Spirit baptism gave rise to the global church and remains the very substance of the church’s life in the Spirit, including its charismatic life and mission.”[36]

Methods must be fluid as changes and challenges arise but the essence and intent of the church must never be lost. The emphasis should never lie on the sign of tongues but instead on how that sign is a confirmation of the second work of empowerment for witnessing. Nonetheless, as the pattern in Acts, one ought to anticipate the sign will follow the indwelling of the Spirit. The motive behind the doctrine revolves around the belief that, just with the first disciples, the baptism will further “a prophetic community called and empowered to bear witness to the world.”[37] As the Father has sent the Son, the Son has sent the Spirit, and the Spirit has now sent the church.

The third feature of this selection which should be applied to cross-cultural communication is the command to share the gospel to the entire world. By participating in the mission, Christ followers are responding to their Master’s commission to reconcile all of humanity.[38] Evangelism must be local and global in its nature. Becoming missional starts with pursuing, adopting, and restoring the disconnected.[39] Jesus is revealed as the Healer not only of broken bodies, but also of splintered factions. God functions in the context of triune community between the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. He also entered into a divine covenant partnership with humanity. His people have the responsibility to exemplify that same equality and self-sacrifice.[40] Those who once were measured as unhealthy, unattractive, unworthy, and unholy are now transformed into the very dwelling places of Christ.[41] Each one brings and receives value from the corporate whole. For example, the church should promote cooperation amongst different ages. The Bible counsels the young to listen to the wisdom of the elders. Likewise, elders “should focus on the inherent values of Scripture rather than on the personal habits or stylistic differences . . . scriptural values, such as honestly, overcoming temptations, wise use of the tongue, and putting God first, are values all generations need to adopt.”[42]

Fellowship stands in stark contrast with the individualistic attitude that has infused much of Christianity where, according to the George Barna Group, nearly “ten million self-proclaimed believers have not attended church in the past six months (apart from Christmas and Easter).”[43] H. Richard Niebuhr, former professor at Yale Divinity School, defined a Christian as one who considered “himself belonging to that community of men for whom Jesus Christ – his life, words, deeds, and destiny – is of supreme importance as the key to the understanding of themselves and their world, the main source of the knowledge of God and man, good and evil, the constant companion of the conscience, and the expected deliverer of evil.”[44] God embraces “the poor, the orphaned, and the widowed, the alien and sojourner, and dead and the good as dead.”[45] This goes far beyond feeding the hungry but rather inviting them to identify with the community.

REFLECTIVE CONCLUSION
The introduction of Acts suggests that any cross-cultural communication ought to be committed to the characteristics of God’s Kingdom, show confidence in the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, and extend forgiveness to all those willing to receive it. The church has the privilege and responsibility to follow the apostle’s example of proclaiming and personifying a gospel that is “spiritual in its character (transforming the lives and values of its citizens), international in its membership (including Gentiles as well as Jews) and gradual in its expansion (beginning in Jerusalem, and then growing until it reaches the end of both time and earthly space).[46] Amos Yong has suggested that the church simply regain the idea of “following after the footsteps of Jesus the Christ, the one anointed by the Spirit to herald the kingdom of God.”[47] The church went on to renew individuals consistently and continually until one day they were able to peacefully and powerfully outlast an Empire. Perhaps Ajith Fernando articulates the challenge best when he reminds the church “that [Christ’s] last command should be our first concern.”[48]

APPENDIX ONE: DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. The disciples were somewhat entrenched in the Hebrew expectation that God’s Kingdom would one day include actual property, that it would eventually defeat the Roman Empire, and that they themselves would enjoy an influential position within the reign. With that being considered, what are some ways that the church has misinterpreted and misrepresented the Kingdom of God in the context of cross-cultural communication? How can this be improved?

2. Frank Macchia has proposed that “Spirit baptism gave rise to the global church and remains the very substance of the church’s life in the Spirit, including its charismatic life and mission.” Do you agree or disagree? What might that Spirit-empowerment look like in a cross-cultural situation?

3. Those who once were measured as unhealthy, unattractive, unworthy, and unholy are now transformed into the very dwelling places of Christ. What are the greatest needs in today’s world? Where is the majority of the church least likely to venture? What can be done to redirect the current situation?

WORKS CITED
Chiquete, Daniel. “Latin American Pentecostalism and Western Postmodernism:
Reflections on a Complex Relationship.” International Review of Mission 92, no. 364 (2003): 29-39. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed January 31, 2009).
Elwell, Walter A. Encountering the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998.
Fernando, Ajith. The NIV Application Commentary: Acts. Grand Rapids, MI:
Zondervan Publishing House, 1998.
Gaebelein, Frank E., et al., eds. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 9. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1981.
Hasselgrave, David. Communicating Christ Cross-Culturally. Grand Rapids, MI:
Zondervan Publishing House, 1991.
Hunsberger, George R. “The Mission of Public Theology: An Exploration.” Svensk
Missionstidskrift 93, no. 3 9 (2005): 315-324. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed January 31, 2009).
Kraft, Charles H. Communication Theory for Christian Witness. Rev. ed. Nashville, TN: Abington Press, 1994.
Macchia, Frank D. Baptized in the Spirit. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing
House, 2006.
McIntosh, Gary L. One Church, Four Generations: Understanding and Reaching All
Ages in Your Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002.
Menzies, William W. and Robert P. Menzies. Spirit and Power. Grand Rapids, MI:
Zondervan Publishing House, 2000.
Miller, Donald E. “2006 SSSR Presidential Address–Progressive Pentecostals: The New
Face of Christian Social Engagement.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 46, no. 4 (2007): 435-445. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost(accessed January 31, 2009).
Niebuhr, H. Richard. Christ and Culture. San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins, 1996.
Oudshoorn, Daniel. “Speaking Christianly as a Missional Activity in the Midst of
Babel: Christian Living as the Exegesis of the Gospel Proclamation After the End of History.” Stimulus 14, no. 1 (2006): 14-24. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed January 31, 2009).
Pinnock, Clark H. 2006. “Church in the Power of the Holy Spirit: the Promise of
Pentecostal ecclesiology.” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 14, no. 2: 147-165. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed January 31, 2009).
Richie, Tony Lee. “Revamping Pentecostal Evangelism: Appropriating Walter J.
Hollenweger’s Radical Proposal.” International Review of Mission 96, no. 382-383 (2007): 343-354. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed January 31, 2009).
Sider, Ronald J. Good News and Good Works. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999.
Stott, John R. W. The Message of Acts. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994.
Willimon, William H. “Evangelism in the Twenty-First Century: Mainliners at the
Margins.” Journal for Preachers 30, no. 4 (2007): 3-10. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed January 31, 2009).
Williams, David John. New International Biblical Commentary, Volume 5. Peabody,
MA: Henrickson Publishers, 1985.
Yong, Amos. The Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.

[1] Daniel Oudshoorn. “Speaking Christianly as a Missional Activity in the Midst of Babel:
Christian Living as the Exegesis of the Gospel Proclamation after the End of History.” Stimulus 14, no. 1 (2006): 14. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials,
[2] Charles H. Kraft, Communication Theory for Christian Witness (Nashville: Abington Press, 1994), 16.
[3] Daniel Oudshoorn, 14.
[4] Philippians 2:7, English Standard Version.
[5] Charles H. Kraft, 40.
[6] Ibid, 172.
[7] Ibid, viii.
[8] Walter A. Elwell, Encountering the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 210.
[9] Acts 1:1, English Standard Version.
[10]Walter A. Elwell, 210.
[11] Ajith Fernando, The NIV Application Commentary: Acts (Grand Rapids: Zondervan , 1998), 50.
[12] Walter A. Elwell, 212.
[13] Acts 1:8b, English Standard Version.
[14] Walter A. Elwell, 212.
[15] John R. W. Stott, The Message of Acts (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 39.
[16] Acts 1:6, English Standard Version.
[17] David John Williams, New International Biblical Commentary Series, Volume 5 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1985), 23.
[18] Frank E. Gaebelein, et al., eds., The Expositor’s Commentary, Volume 9 Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 256.
[19] John R. W. Stott, 42.
[20] Acts 1:7, English Standard Version.
[21] Frank E. Gaebelein, 256.
[22] John R. W. Stott, 44.
[23] Acts 1:8, English Standard Version.
[24] Frank D. Macchia, Baptized in the Spirit (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing, 2006): 155.
[25] Frank E. Gaebelein, 256.
[26] John R. W. Stott, 43.
[27] Revelation 7:9a, English Standard Vision.
[28] Frank E. Gaebelein, 256.
[29] George R. Hunsberger. “The Mission of Public Theology: An Exploration.” Svensk Missionstidskrift 93, no. 3 9 (2005): 318, 322. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed January 31, 2009).
[30] Daniel Oudshoorn, 21.
[31] Ronald Sider, Good News and Good Works (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999, 174.
[32] Ronald Sider, 175.
[33] Donald E. Miller. “2006 SSSR Presidential Address–Progressive Pentecostals:
The New Face of Christian Social Engagement.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 46, no. 4 (2007): 440, 444. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed January 31, 2009).
[34] David J. Hesselgrave. Communicating Christ Cross-Culturally (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991), 454.
[35] Ajith Fernando, 57.
[36] Frank D. Macchia, 155.
[37] William W. Menzies and Robert P. Menzies, Spirit and Power (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House 2000), 130.
[38] Tony Richie, “Revamping Pentecostal Evangelism: Appropriating Walter J.
Hollenweger’s Radical Proposal.” International Review of Mission 96, no. 382-383 (2007): ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed January 31, 2009), 347.
[39] William H Willimon, 3.
[40] Daniel Oudshoorn, 20.
[41] Daniel Chiquete. “Latin American Pentecostalism and Western Postmodernism:
Reflections on a Complex Relationship.” International Review of Mission 92, no. 364 (2003): 33. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed January 31, 2009).
[42] Gary L. McIntosh. One Church, Four Generations (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002), 232.
[43] Clark Pinnock, “Church in the Power of the Holy Spirit: the Promise of
Pentecostal ecclesiology.” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 14, no. 2: ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed January 31, 2009), 149.
[44] H. Richard Niebuhr. Christ and Culture (New York: Harper Collins, 1996) 11.
[45] William H Willimon, 7.
[46] John R. W. Stott, 45.
[47] Amos Yong, The Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2005), 152.
[48] Ajith Fernando, 57.

Ends

Need

Do you find greater joy in helping people or in buying things? Why?
Making new purchases brings quite the thrill but I find that my instant gratification rarely (if ever) leads to long term satisfaction. New items quickly turn to old ones. Toys break. Technology becomes obsolete. Automobiles began with a 1909 Model T and eventually morphed into a 2009 Bugatti Veyron (in which the sticker price is an incredible $1,192,060). As a teenager I was content with a Sony Discman which played sixteen songs and now I need an Apple iPod that holds anwhere between seven to forty thousand songs. Are their even that many good songs in the world? I remember when I saw my first cell phone on a Saturday morning episode of Saved By the Bell. Just one more reason why I wanted to be Zack Morris. Now I have an Apple iPhone that I use for everything but making calls (I hating talking on the telephone). Upon their release, Levis went for just $1.25. Now a pair of designer jeans like Rock & Republic begin at $150. I hope that we can actually fit into those expensive jeans – we also tend to drop a pretty penny on our reliance upon fast food. McDonalds netted an astounding 4.3 billion dollars last year.


Why do we commonly mistake our “wants” for our “needs”? How so?
It should come as no surprise that digital music, smart phones, designer jeans, and fast food are not true necessities. An authentic need would be global poverty. Our nation has been blessed beyond belief while eighty percent of the world lives on less than ten dollars a day. According to UNICEF, twenty-five thousand children die each day due to an impoverished environment. Consider that 640 million people go without adequate shelter, 400 million have no clean water, and 270 million have no real access to health services. The need is overwhelming. Can anything really be done about this issue? Absolutely. The US Census Bureau recently reported that teenagers spent $216 billion in 2008. That is a whole lot of zeros. A whole lot of potential houses, purification systems, feeding centers, and hospitals.
Students are not to blame for this situation – after all, consumerism and consumption has been modeled before them since the day they were born. That being said, they have been entrusted with these resources and have the opportunity to transform the culture and the world in which they are a part. Sometimes we just have do something. I love the story of Blake Mycsoskie. Upon a visit in Argentina, and the realization that forty percent of world has no shoes, he did something about it by founding TOMS Shoes. He sales a pair of shoes for $38 with the commitment that he will then donate a pair to a child (and they have given 150,000 pairs of shoes to date).

I wonder what compelled the first followers of Christ to have the faith to actually leave everything behind and invest in God’s Kingdom? Was it when they watched him look out for the untouchables, the unlovables, and the unlikelies? How about when he gave sight to the blind, legs to the lame, and life to the corpses? Could it be because he seemed as comfortable talking with the religious elite as he was with the cultural outsiders? Jesus believed in seeking and saving the lost – in calling crowds to love God and love others. The disciples were obviously far from selfless. After all, they left him when he was publicly, painfully, and shamefully executed. However, in his loving loyalty, Jesus sought them out after his resurrection with the intent of restoring them back on his mission. He empowered them with his Spirit at Pentecost and launched them out into the city as his witnesses. They began to build a community centered around prayer and generosity. Their movement was marked by performing miracles and proclaiming the gospel. I want that type of church. I want to be a part of that type of movement. This is one reason why our student ministry is in the midst of a series that we are calling Eliminate. We are calling this generation to be purposeful in removing obstacles that trip them up in following Christ. Last week we discussed the importance of replacing apathy with the desire to be about something bigger than ourselves. Now we must take that passion one step further.

God has called us to use things to love people in a world that commonly uses people to love things. Luke describes the early church when he writes, “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:32-37).


This is one example of why I appreciate the English Standard Version over the New International Version. The ESV translates “all the believers” literally to be “one in heart and soul.” The first Christ followers shared a common allegiance that naturally was lived out by sharing their personal possessions with each other. The New Covenant people took God’s instructions seriously which reads, “But there will be no poor among you; for the Lord will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess” (Deuteronomy 15:4). The disciples had difficulties that only you and I could imagine. Their land was in the midst of a great famine and their lives were in the midst of political unrest. To make matters worse, they had left their fishing and farming behind for the unpredictable (and unprofitable) mission of Christ. Being a Christian meant that they had lost any social standing that they might have had in their society (becoming enemies of both the Roman Empire and the Religious Elite).


The early church exemplified the careful balance of building community with each other but at the same time embracing the outsider. This has always been my hope and prayer with Life Groups. Small groups should be a place where others are invited and accepted – a place for strengthening relationships and fostering accountability. It was Jesus who once said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Joseph (AKA Barnabus) was a prime example of Christ’s movement. We commonly know him as the cousin of John Mark and mentor of the Apostle Paul. However, his friends nicknamed him “the Encourager.” What do my friends call me? Imagine being famous for your generosity!

Who is one person you know who is in need? What can you do about it?
I have been reflecting upon the story of Stanley Tam. About forty years ago he made the decision to make God the legal majority owner of his business. He committed to giving fifty-one percent of ownership and profits to God. He would go on to turn a plastic production company into a $100 million venture for the Kingdom. Or how about a youth ministry in Springfield, MO which raised $75,000 in eleven weeks on behalf of missionaries. They reached that goal because of people like Kayla who raised $600 during that span. Because she only makes $60 a week, she had to give every penny she makes from her job, she sold her valuables, gave up meals, and passed on going to movies with her friends. For three months she chose to give up everything so that she could be a part of something great.

How can we begin lovingly giving and living? What could we accomplish?
Our students have the capability and responsibility to support our missionaries by equipping them with adequate transportation and technology. We must be sacrificial and consistent in our offerings. Along with that, we are looking for students who will live with integrity and influence as Catalyst Student Leaders. May what was said of the first followers be said about Merge and MCA – that we “have turned the world upside down . . . .” (Acts 17:6b). Students are challenged to commit a semester to grow in the attitudes and actions of Christ (participating in worship gatherings and completing the Alpha course), to g
ive of their time, abilities, and resources (becoming a member of the local church and experiencing the ministry), and to guide others through encouragement and example (receiving mentoring from an Amp adult leader and sharing ideas and insights in leadership meetings). Let’s use things to love people in a world that commonly uses people in their love for things.

Need

Communication

I recently completed a reading critique of Charles H. Kraft’s Communication Theory for Christian Witness. Here are a few of my observations:

1. The author’s main purpose is his belief that the Bible presents systems to be directed by and an example to emulate. Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21, ESV). By drawing from the Scriptures, one might expand his knowledge of various situations, perceive how God has utilized these principles, and grow overall in the discipline of successful communication (Kraft, viii).

2. The author’s instruction about guiding an audience was helpful (Kraft, 143). One’s responsibility is to carefully select his recipients. Jesus was intentional with who, where, and when he was with people. He chose a mountain to renew the Law and the Sabbath to heal the sick. He functioned within their general context. An effective communicator maximizes different mediums (Kraft, 148). He also purposefully chose the language, sayings, and methods that best connected with his audience. Christ strived to achieve, preserve, and utilize his integrity and influence (Kraft, 149).

Another item of instruction that was appreciated was the focus on one’s “frame of reference” (Kraft, 16). Recipients are expected to conform to norms, terms, and environment before being accepted. This motive has less to do with holiness as with protecting one’s power base. Judaizers made the mistake of expecting gentiles to follow rituals instead of focusing upon grace. They expected converts to change outward actions while they themselves had not changed inwardly. Jesus chose instead to take “the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:7, ESV). He was reliant and transparent in sharing humanity’s necessities, difficulties, and meanings (Kraft, 16).

3. The most helpful part of the book was the author’s instruction concerning the natural connotations of the gospel’s essence (Kraft, 40). God entered into the world of humanity with the intent of transforming it. His life, death, and resurrection were incredibly relational in nature. The gospel can never be reduced to mere words and concepts but rather to always be centered on the language and lifestyle of Christ. Recipients should be challenged in their beliefs to the point where their behavior changes as well (Kraft, 42). The goal is to redirect them on their spiritual journey.

4. The quotation that seemed particularly important was, “What we seek is the kind of Christianity that is equivalent in its dynamics in today’s society to the Christianity we see in the pages of the New Testament” (Kraft, 172). Christ’s message should transform the unchurched and the outcast as well as those who are over-churched and ingrown. The church can respond to humanism with a Christ-centered perspective, to personal gratification with an unwavering devotion to God, to personal liberties with corporate responsibility, and to capitalism with service and generosity (Kraft, 174).

Communication

Heart

Who was my very first “crush”? How did I show my initial interest?
Her name was Suzie and she was eight years my senior. The opportune time to win her heart was my sister’s sixteenth birthday party. I spent the better part of that day with my plastic Disney guitar, writing her a song that would knock her off of her feet and into my eight year old arms. Late that night, I interrupted their slumber party with a serenade. I sang my heart out like I have never sung before (and since). My song was followed by an awkward silence. Suzie was probably overcome with indescribable emotion . . . that was until she burst out in uncontrollable laughter. My sister joined her in their hysterics. They ran out of the room, up three flights of stairs, and locked themselves in the bathroom. In typical teenage-girl fashion, the rest of the party had to follow them and resort to camping outside of the hallway, all the while enjoying a giggle-fest at my expense. It is a miracle that I learned to love again.

Love will make you do crazy things. In my pursuit of Jana’s affection I was willing to do pretty much anything. I watched chick-flicks, listened to county music (but never with a smile), and even changed the way that I dressed. Dating demanded that I spend my money differently, see my other friends less, and unfortunately do my homework at a lesser level (okay, I did that before). Love has a way of changing everything.

Are we really in love with God? How do we truly know if we are?
Our church is in the midst of a series based upon Francis Chan’s Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by Relentless God. We have been reminded of his majesty – that he is holy, eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful and incredibly just. Christ followers should have a different perspective on their existence – that the point of their lives is to point towards Jesus. This relationship calls for trust – that God desires, deserves, and demands our very best. All that said, do we approach God with the same affection as we do with those we love on earth?

Shortly after my parents’ divorce, I spent a good portion living with my father who was staying with good friends. It was during that time that I was able to get to know Bill Bailey. He was, at that point, in his mid to late eighties. The better part of his life was spent working out at Hanford as a millwright. His greatest hobby was woodworking (crafting some incredible canes, chairs, and birdhouses). Bill had survived two World Wars and one Great Depression, all the while helping his wife raise two girls who would grow up to love Jesus with their whole hearts. He himself became a Christ follower sometime in his late thirties or early forties. The rest of his life he would show an unwavering commitment to giving to global missions and interceding in prayer for others. I will never forget the times that I walked in on him while praying. He would be hunched over, his head buried in his hands, crying out, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” Over and over again. There was no doubt in my mind that Bill Bailey was longing after the heart of God.

I can’t help but reflect upon John Piper’s quote in God is the Gospel, when he writes, “A critical question for our generation – for every generation is if you could have heaven with no sickness, with all the friends, with all the food, with all the leisure you enjoyed, with all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters – could you be satisfied with heaven if Christ were not there?” Do we love God or just what he offers us? Do we truly share the deep love of God that Bill Bailey displayed? He would never be satisfied in heaven without Jesus. I am convinced that loving Jesus one day begins with loving him this day.

The Apostle Paul once wrote, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Gal. 5:6).
We tend to be pretty hard on the first disciples. However, they actually showed enough faith to actually leave everything they had behind and follow Jesus on a three year adventure. They had the opportunity to watch him invest so much in the untouchables, unlovables, and the unlikelies. I wonder what they were thinking as they saw him give sight to blind, legs to the lame, and life to corpses. They were attached to a Teacher who was as comfortable talking with the religious elite as he was with the cultural outsiders. When did they realize that Jesus’ mission was in seeking and saving the lost – in calling humanity to love God and to love others? Probably not early enough . . . because when he needed them the most they were nowhere to be found. They left him on the eve of his public execution. However, they were the first to respond to his resurrection and restoration. They re-enlisted to be a part of his Movement. Everything changed in their lives once they were empowered by the Holy Spirit in order to be witnesses. They were suddenly launched into building a transformational community which modeled prayer and generosity. They faithfully performed miracles and fearlessly proclaimed the message.

They knew what their love could cost them – and they were focused on the mission anyways. They remembered Jesus’ words when he said, “When men hate you, exclude you , insult you, and reject you; rejoice in that day and leap for joy because great is your reward in heaven” (Luke 6:22-23). The Gospel has a way of threatening the Establishment. In the face of persecution, the apostles expressed their faith in Christ through their love for Christ. The bible reads, “His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 5:40-42).

The apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin – a religious council of seventy to one hundred men. For Peter and John, this was their second meeting with the high priest. They knew they were to obey God rather than man. Thankfully, Gamaliel was a voice of reason, encouraging the leadership to allow the movement to play out (little did he know that the motley crew would quietly and peacefully turn an Empire upside-down). The apostles were flogged and released. The custom was to lash criminals thirty-nine times (forty was believed to be the blow that killed a man). The Council was clear – they were still banned from teaching in the name of Jesus. How would you feel with your back beaten to a bloody pulp? What would your natural response be? The disciples rejoiced! They counted themselves worthy to suffer the disgrace of their Beloved. In fact, they actually went out and taught and preached the gospel with that much more fervency and urgency. The Book of Acts shows that they went out to the synagogues and to the marketplaces (to both the over-churched and the unchurched).

What has your faith cost you? Is your devotion made obvious to others? According to the Voice of the Martyrs, over 175,000 Christ followers were killed in 2008 (persecution.com). Just last week, authorities arrested eighteen church leaders in China, three Christ followers died in Iraq, and the Taliban attacked six churches in Afghanistan. My natural reaction is to hate. To want revenge. However, our renewed response must be to love those who hate us. Pray for those who “flog” us. To rejoice. I do wonder, however, if they can die for their faith – why can’t we live for ours?

We get so caught up with our fear of offending someone who does not agree with us or understand our belief. Too much of our life is consumed with chasing pleasure or performance. Some of us struggle with our own unbelief and disobedience and thus are ineffective witnesses. Others of us mistakenly believe that the pastors are primarily responsible to carry the gospel and thus do next to nothing for the Cause. Nothing could be further from the truth. We as the church must aim to build bridges to all generations by connecting people to Christ and to one another. Expressing our faith in God means showing compassion to those who are needing, sharing our stories with those who will hear, having a conversation with those who are seeking, praying for friends who are hurting, and inviting those who are willing.

How can we begin lovingly living and giving? What could we accomplish collectively?
Bill Bailey’s love propelled a legacy. One of his grandchildren, Ron Galbreath, would go on to become a missionary to Japan. He has dedicated his life to a country where just one in one thousand are following Christ. Becoming a Christian in that area might mean being disowned and occasionally be a victim to violence. He is frugal enough, even with a family of eight, to stay an extra four year term without having to raise more support. After being there for well over a decade, they are just now building their first home (with an indoor bathroom) – before they just lived in the church building. I am encouraging our students and church to partner with his family by giving to Speed the Light. We have the privilege and responsibility to equip our friends transportation and technology.

Let’s have the faith enough to express our love through our living and giving. Let’s echo the Psalter who wrote, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you” (Psalm 63:1-5).

Heart

Holistic

I recently completed a reading critique of Ronald J. Sider’s Good News and Good Works. Here are a few of my observations:

1. The author’s main purpose in writing this book was to rediscover a holistic gospel that includes both sharing the gospel and caring for the disenfranchised (Sider, 18). A biblical perspective has to eventually transcend one’s belief in God and actually transform their behavior towards humanity. The intent is to move beyond denominational strategies, political ideologies, and cultural norms (James 2:26).

2. The author’s instruction on the anticipation of Christ’s Kingdom was helpful (Sider, 51). Declaration and display has been God’s plan since his established covenant with Abraham. Israel was selected to reveal God and defend the unhealthy, unworthy, and unholy (52). The community was to experience right relationship with God, surrounding nations, and their land. New covenant people should be careful to learn from Israel’s hard lessons. They must rediscover a way to live in the middle of repression, self-centeredness, and confinement. God desires a transformational community that thrives under his Spirit-empowerment (Sider, 53). People are attracted to a gathering of people who freely receive and impart forgiveness. Another item of instruction that was appreciated was the teaching on the needed confrontation of cultural norms – specifically with the mistreatment of women (Sider, 61). A common practice in Jesus’ time was for Jewish males to thank God that “they were not Gentiles, slaves, or women” (Sider, 65). The prophet Joel foresaw a day when the Spirit would indwell believers despite race, status, or gender. Paul surely had this in mind when he declared that, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28, NIV).

3. The most helpful part of the book was the contrast between the “cheap grace” of evangelicals and the “exorbitant grace” of social activists (Sider, 107). One errs in over-emphasizing discipleship and perfection while the other is distracted by politics. The two sides generally concur on the moral aspect of salvation responses, that spiritual growth as a process, “felt needs” are of value, and that the Western worldview comes with certain preconceptions (Sider, 109). Conversation must take place between the two for the church to be missional in the twenty-first century.

4. The quotation that seemed particularly important was that church has been guilty of “sometimes translated Romans without also translating Amos” (Sider, 175). Evangelicals are effective in sharing God’s grace and yet have largely ignored any responsibility to social justice. Salvation should transform an individual who repents of his rebellion, dedicates his life to obedience, enjoys a renewed identity, and as a result confronts organizations of tyranny in the name of his Master (Sider, 175).

Holistic

MannyWood

As you probably have heard, Manny Ramirez was recently suspended fifty games for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. As a die-hard Dodgers fan and baseball traditionalist, I have decided to list a few quick insights that I have taken away from this terrible situation:

  • I hope that Manny never wears Dodger blue again. Management should trade him immediately – even if that means that they get next to nothing for him. They should send a message that they will never compromise character for mere run production. LA Times sports columnist, Bill Plaschke, could not be more correct. The people of Los Angeles opened their heart to Ramirez. They loved him like they have never loved one ballplayer in history – and he cheated on them. There is no excuse or explanation for what he has done and the ball club should cut all ties with #99 without any sort of hesitation. However, I understand that this will not happen. He will return. He will produce. He will be cheered (eventually). I commit to never pull for him as an individual but I do reserve the right to celebrate when he contributes to an overall team effort (i.e. an RBI in a postseason game).
  • I am a fan of the team and never the player. Stars come and stars go. Some are traded. Others leave for a more lucrative deal. Others take woman fertility drugs when they think that no one is looking. Though I typically gravitate to one player for a season, such as Russell Martin currently, I have learned over the years to not attach myself to any one player long-term. This is the sad state of pro sports. Gone are the days of franchise players and team loyalties. Like many Dodger fans, I was excited to have Manny join the club for several reasons. He can hit. He makes every other batter around him better. He brought something fresh to the clubhouse and to the ballpark. That being said, I hope the Dodgers front office learn their lesson in all of this. They have never built their team around a personality – especially a hitter. All of the Mannywood propaganda ended up taking away from the spirit and tradition of Dodgers baseball. They need to return to what made the franchise great – teamwork, pitching, and tradition.
  • I must remember that Manny is still a human being. Though I am the first one to admit that he deserves to be punished for what he has done, I also do not want to be the one to humiliate the man. The press is infamous for building someone up just to one day tear them down. They then jump on the opportunity to bring them back up as some sort of comeback story. Their only motivations are ratings and profits – never are they interested in the game or the person involved in the mess. Sometimes these people seem larger than life and we therefore believe we have the right to publicly degrade them. I must choose to love and forgive everyone – even (maybe especially) when they do not deserve it. Pro athletes are not heroes. They never were and they should never be. They get paid millions of dollars to play a child’s game. They don’t sacrifice. They don’t serve. We must remember that what they do is entertainment – nothing more and nothing less. Our children need role models – soldiers, police officers, teachers, and parents.
  • He might have remorse but I have not seen repentance. King David, in response to his own rebellious actions, wrote, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me” (Psalm 51:1-3, NIV). Manny needs to come out of hiding. He needs to man-up and answer for what he has done. I am so tired of these cheaters making excuses. They avoid saying their sorry. For once, I would love to see one athlete actually acknowledge what he has done, explain why he did it, and admit that he was wrong. How dare he force his manager, a class act like Joe Torre, to cover his back by holding that press conference by himself. His team deserves an apology. His fans deserve it. Future players of the game deserve it. He can never redo the past but he can at least redirect his future.
  • I believe that baseball is bigger than this tragedy. Baseball has survived much worse. Manny is not the first to cheat and he will unfortunately not be the last. This is not an excuse but true nonetheless. Every team has at least one player who has used performance enhancing drugs (whether they have been caught or not). Baseball will live on. It might take time . . . it might never be the same . . . but there are still many more clean players than there are dirty ones. The Dodgers will survive. They will win without him and eventually win with him. This might not tarnish the team for a season but it will not destroy their legacy nor detour them from their future.

My prediction is that the Dodgers will still finish first in the National League West. They might even make the World Series. They will have a great team this year. They have great young talent. One player who is selfish and ignorant should not take away from that story – but we all know that it will.

MannyWood

Profile

INTRODUCTION
In his book, Leading from the Inside Out, Samuel D. Rima wrote, “To effectively master the art of self-leadership, a person must develop a strong connection with a sense of calling that guides his actions and elevates his daily activity above the mundane, imbuing all efforts with an intrinsic, metaphysical value” (55). No principle is more crucial in today’s climate than the art of self-leadership. Over half of all marriages are ending in divorce, pastors are resigning due to immoral behavior, CEOs are deceiving shareholders, and politicians continue to make empty campaign promises. Before I can lead others I must first be able to lead myself. Ron Martoia, lead pastor of Westwinds Community Church, warns, “Only after managing and leading self can we hope to lead laterally, lead up, and then, only then, lead our subordinates” (37). This is one reason why the Apostle Paul wrote, “But if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?” (1 Timothy 3:5, NASB).

Likewise, no title, position, or even career will ever bring lasting significance to one’s life. Rather, only one’s divine calling will bring true fulfillment to whatever role one has been entrusted with. The Apostle Paul spoke of his holy vocation when he wrote, “But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased” (Galatians, 1:15, NIV). God might very well be more concerned with my identity as a person more than he is with my accomplishments as a professional. The intent of this Personal and Ministry Profile is to share the details of my personal formation, sharpen the direction of my ministry, and to set a plan for deliberate life development. Over the years, I have come to realize that my personal mission statement is to fulfill the great commandment and great commission by engaging seekers, enabling followers, entrusting ministers, and encouraging leaders.

PERSONAL
I was the second of three children, born in Richland, Washington, on November 16, 1978. My father was a pipefitter and my mother a homemaker. To any onlooker at a Sunday church gathering, my family would have appeared to resemble a classic episode of The Brady Bunch. However, behind closed doors my parents were arguing exceedingly and excessively. Their marriage finally ended in a divorce sometime during my sixth grade year. My father eventually sought out pastoral counseling, asked for forgiveness for his decisions, and began the long road back to restoration that culminated with a marriage to a wonderful woman that just recently celebrated its fifteenth anniversary. On the other hand, my mother chose to go down the path of rebellion that included four marriages, several sudden location changes, and numerous career switches.

The darkest hours took place while I was just fourteen years of age. I was unable to come to terms with how the same woman who had spent hours praying for me as a child could resort to such lowly actions as verbal and physical abuse, alcohol addiction, and sexual promiscuity. The divorce and ensuing events hardened my heart and convinced me that there was no one worthy of my trust but myself. I had seen too many promises broken in too short a period of time. There appeared to be no one who could be depended upon to display either love or loyalty – especially a God who would allow such crisis and chaos to occur. As a result, I quickly became a young man full of escalating rage, isolating mistrust, and disparaging habits. My life epitomized the words penned by the Apostle Paul nearly two thousand years ago when he said, “ “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another (Titus 3:3, ESV).

Finally the mistreatment became too unbearable, and with the assistance of my older sister, my father invited me to return to his home. The only difficult stipulation was that I was forced to attend church while I lived with him. Needless to say, I was not happy with this mandate. I went as far as, upon being dropped off at the midweek youth gathering, to hide in the bushes located outside of the Family Activity Center until service was over. This plan was flawless until the day that my father decided to send me to summer camp. No matter how hard I tried, I was unable to avoid this scenario. Monty Hipp, the Northwest Ministry Network Youth Director at the time, was the speaker for the entire week. The first night he spoke on the idea of placing faith in the loving loyalty of Jesus Christ. I had been to church as a child and thus had heard previously about the cross. However, this was the night that I first understood the meaning behind his sacrifice. He explained how God, out of his covenant faithfulness, had offered humanity what they did not deserve. The Heavenly Father had sent his only Son to die so that I might be reconciled and renewed. Previous experiences at church had prepared me to anticipate some sort of altar experience. I was at the edge of my seat just waiting for the opportunity to respond. When the invitation was finally given, without the least bit of hesitation, I ran up to the front and fell on my knees to ask God to forgive me. For the first time in my life, I placed confidence in Someone other than myself.

A few days later, in a similar worship experience, Pastor Monty instructed the campers on the need to represent Jesus Christ through their language and lifestyle. He taught on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and then gave an opportunity for the students to seek Christ’s power and presence with the initial evidence of speaking in another language. Reception of the outward sign was a confirmation that I was appointed as a witness. I will forever value and continue this practice in my life. Later on I would stumble upon the following words which best articulate this week of encounters, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7, ESV).

I wish I could say that from that point on that I displayed an unwavering commitment to Christ. There had been significantly large steps taken in the right direction such as participation in water baptism, involvement in the local church, and progress in the area of forgiving those who had previously hurt me. However, at this point in my life I was motivated more by my fear of rejection from others than I was in finding acceptance through my relationship in God. Too make matters worse, the youth pastor who was greatly influential in my initial discipleship, resigned under difficult and dissentious circumstances. Instead of turning to Christ for comfort and stability I fell back to my natural inclinations of anger and blame. I failed to utilize the resources and habits, such as prayer and bible study, entrusted to me to take “God beyond the spiritual compartment of [my] private spiritual life and to give him free reign in all [my] daily actions and relationships, especially [my] leadership roles” (Blanchard and Hodges xiv). I had fallen into the same trap of too many followers of Christ who are content with gaining more understanding and not allowing that information to translate into a transformed perspective, accomplishment, or lifestyle. In other words, I was approaching a place where I could no longer afford to catalog my faith. Character and credibility demanded that I become holistic in my message and methods. Somewhere along the way I had deceived myself in believing that I could control an area of my life and thus was free to avoid bringing a certain attitude or action under submission to Jesus (such as dishonesty or laziness). I had to reach a place where I would finally decide to submit to the Scriptures which were challenging me to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV).

At least I showed the good judgment to make an appointment with my lead pastor. My hope was to not only show my support during the present conflict but also to seek guidance in the midst of my personal storm. Towards the end of the conversation he asked me about my plans following next year’s high school graduation. At that point I had all intention to either join the Navy or to pursue a teachings degree from a school in the Midwest. Pastor Darrell responded, “I am not being prophetic here, but I think you would make a great youth pastor. You should consider Northwest (University).” This comment completely infuriated me. There was no way that I would ever go into ministry. By no means would I ever step into a role where I had the potential of hurting someone as I had felt wounded. The next day my student ministry departed for a winter retreat at Ghormley Meadows Christian Camp in Rimrock, WA. Pastor Keith Bennett was the speaker. That night I was reminded of the love and leadership of Jesus Christ. I repented for my attempts at being in control of my life rather than placing my trust and obedience in my Heavenly Father. The pastor then asked if there was anyone that was sensing a call into vocational ministry. My heart began to race. I raised my hand just high enough in hopes of appearing submissive but not high enough for others to actually see to hold me accountable. Within seconds there were three youth leaders surrounding me in prayer. I was so terrified that I would one day fail as a pastor that I spent much of the next day crying in front of a few trusted leaders as they in turn took time to counsel and pray with me.

The next two years was a season that eventually brought me to terms with my calling. Navigating this process was largely due to the influences of several key people. My father and step-mother always wanted me to do my very best in life. They both where incredibly supportive and understanding when I shared with them my retreat experience. I would not have graduated from high school, let alone college, if they had not held me responsible along the way. Then there was my next youth pastor, Neil King, who gave me my first opportunities in student leadership and small group ministries. He was the first to see my passion for the bible and love for middle and high school students. The conversations that we shared would eventually help me to identify and to clarify a plan of meeting my goal of going into full-time youth ministry.

Above all else, the most significant relationship that I was given would be the one that I would share with Jana Beal. She was instrumental in helping me battle my fear of failure and rejection. In their book titled, Trust Me, Hastings and Potter write, “When we are paralyzed by fear, we tend to lose perspective and often make decisions or act in ways that do not support our integrity – fear-caused paralysis then leads to procrastination” (150). I came to realize that this trepidation was separating me from God because of the shame that was ensuing. The fear was also creating a crevice between me and others because I was ceasing to believe that people could ever understand or accept me in my authentic state. Along with that, fear was even driving me from who I was truly meant to be due to the fact that I was beginning to gravitate towards excuses instead of true repentance (Blanchard and Hodges 59). I still, at times, find myself settling for comparing myself to others. This response either gives me a false sense of confidence or leaves me with a general frustration with my present circumstances. Such a distorted perception of life commonly leads to mistakenly coming to expect constant disappointment and deceit (Blanchard and Hodges 60).

I have since strived to live by John C. Maxwell’s “Seven Signs of a Great Attitude.” He proposes that I understand my proper identity in Christ (“Roadmap” 57). Instead of being overwhelmed with my appearance or performance, I must aim to celebrate what I have done right and be intentional in growing in the areas in which I am presently weak. This has also caused me to highlight the positive in others. Not only will this decision help me keep a healthy perspective but it will also challenge the people I partner with to exceed those expectations. I also need to anticipate a possibility instead of always a problem with each and every situation. Life and leadership are rarely about fortune or title but rather about the willingness to obey even in the face of personal cost. Such a healthy outlook would also include great attention to bringing about resolution. My goal should be to get right with people rather than merely being right with people. This type of outlook naturally lends itself to also exemplify an authentic generosity. Maxwell reminds readers that “It’s not what you have that makes a difference [but] what you do with what you have” (60). I want to be one who models perseverance. Conquering a fear of failure and rejection gives one the desire to fight the fight, face disheartening times, and push through dissatisfaction. I am now confident enough to be held accountable for my own actions. Positive leaders are those who evaluate their performance, talent, failures, and take strategic steps to improve (61). The bible instructs that, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare.” (Proverbs 29:25, NIV). Mentors and friends have been strategically placed in my life to remind me to be careful to believe that only God is the “omniscient audience and authority for [one’s] decisions” (Blanchard and Hodges 63).

With the assistance and approval of both sets of parents, Jana became my wife on December 10, 1999. We have since welcomed three phenomenal children into the world – Julia, Jace, and Josslyn. My family has continued to not only instruct me on how to give and receive love, but also they have shown me that we all do so in different ways. Raising children has forced me to demonstrate unselfishness and brought about priceless memories along the way. During that same time I completed my formal ministry training by way of an Associate of Arts Degree in 2002 at Columbia Basin College in Pasco, WA and a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Biblical Literature in 2002 through Northwest University in Kirkland, WA. While in college, I interned for a total of five years between two different churches. This proper and practical training complimented one another in preparing me to not only study and communicate the bible but also to embark on formulating and articulating my philosophy of ministry. Following my education, I received a License to Preach with the Northwest Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God and was ordained three years later. Words cannot begin to express how valuable my cooperation with this affiliation has been over the few years. Involvement in the Network has included serving as Area Leader over two different sections, Ministry Director of summer camps and student leadership conferences, and also as a member of the Youth Council. The Network as not only offered me needed accountability in the area of doctrine and ethics but also has provided me the necessary community and instruction to ensure that I thrive in my ministry setting.

MINISTRY
As previously mentioned, Samuel D. Rima was careful to define vocation as being what God has selected and positioned for a person to be. In contrast, an occupation is merely the stage for that calling to be played out upon. He referred to this venue as an “avocation” (59). I, like many leaders, commonly mistake my vocation with my avocation. There are moments where I am tempted to gain my significance by way of my performance. I measure my success by way of attendance, appreciation, or awards. At other moments I am guilty of confusing my calling with the position that I currently hold. I have been witness to leaders who have quickly grown frustrated with people who ceased to follow them based solely upon their title. In order to effectively maintain and intentionally expand my influence, I have the responsibility to approach my calling with all humility and honesty by understanding that my vocation was entrusted to me as an act of grace. My position demands a measure of responsibility and should never be viewed as one of privilege. I have grown to realize that my passions in ministry are primarily to preach the bible, cast vision to the people, and build teams to accomplish the mission.

The first three and a half years of my time as youth pastor was spent at Moses Lake New Beginnings Christian Center. I am eternally grateful for the lifelong friendships that were started there. Pastor Skip Bennett trusted me in helping formulate vision and strategies such as small groups, internships, and servant evangelism projects. The church gave me the prospect to attempt much of what I had learned and had not yet learned in the classroom setting. I became a better communicator, administrator, and visionary through the victories and losses that occurred in those years. My first water baptism, baby dedication, and wedding took place within the life of that congregation. Yet, gradually there became this sense that my time in that church was coming to a close and events seemed to unfold which transitioned me out. Jana and I departed with confidence that we had given our very best and had left on relatively healthy terms.

Now for the last three years, my primary objective with the youth ministry of Maltby Christian Assembly has mainly been focused on realigning the department with the rest of the local church. I have come to understand that the mission of the church in its entirety must be a universal and unifying notion to which every ministry would cooperate and compliment with each other (Labovitz and Rosansky 42). Along with that, each ministry team should be able to see an undeviating association between what they are achieving and the overarching objective. As youth pastor, my role is not to create vision as much as it is to interpret that vision to a generation so that they might relate to it and participate alongside it. Therefore, that mission must be understandable, straightforward, and consistent with the overall approach of the church. Every partner of the congregation should be invited and engaged in the process (43). My time with this church is shaping the way I submit to and apply my own authority. I take note of Mark Rutland’s words which caution, “If loyalty is understood only in terms of isolated relationships, disillusionment and bitterness are inescapable. That is to say, a disloyal man is disloyal in his character rather than in respect to particular relationships” (29). With that in mind, I wish to display the loyalty to my lead pastor, David Brakke, as I demand from my respective teams.

In their book, Leading from the Second Chair, Bonem and Patterson define “contentment in the second chair [as my] choice to stay and grow and excel, for a season, regardless of current circumstances” (124). I should be secure in the role that God has entrusted me to fulfill at this time of my life which is to enjoy an emphasis in student ministries as well as to support and encourage the lead pastor in authority over me. Second, I must understand the overall calling upon my life. Vocation is chiefly a process of unearthing and enlargement. I must be sensitive to the voice of God concerning what I must learn and why I am where I am at this very moment. Satisfaction also comes through relationships. The people that I pastor deserve and demand my very best. The individuals of this congregation offer me lifelong friendships and memories that will forever enrich and encourage my family. Along with that, another basis of my fulfillment will be the direct result of my present work (131-132). Right now I have the privilege and responsibility to see students reach up to God and out to people, build a committed community of Christ followers, and send those Christ followers into service. Our church is devoted to building bridges to all generations by connecting people to Christ and to one another. The leadership is entering into an exciting time of dreaming about ways in which we can expand our influence in the region. I am confident that my role in helping make that vision a reality will be an exhilarating and educating experience.

That being said, I also recognize that there is an increasing restlessness attached to my current contentment. I absolutely enjoy and revel in where I have been presently placed but likewise am anticipating where I one day might be. Bill Hybels happens to define vision as “a picture of the future that produces passion” (32). Andy Stanley, in his book titled Visioneering, instructs his readers to understand that vision is often birthed out of uneasiness (19). In other words, there are natural moments in the life of a leader where he begins to dream about what his church could be or what that church could accomplish. The first step of coming to terms with this direction is to first imagine the vision. Such a moment could come suddenly or by way of a long process. He speaks of leaders who commonly come to sense that vision. Those feelings typically come in the form of a deep yearning, aspiration, or compelling idea. Similarly, Marc Estes claims that, “Passion is consuming – it’s tinged with discontent, restlessness, and determination that propel someone to action” (41). There will come a time where I must choose to act on my unique idea through a careful balance of risk and responsibility (33). However, I need to also recognize that vision does not automatically necessitate instantaneous implementation. Rather, I have to allow for time in which that vision establishes itself within me. Patience will allow me to carefully inspect and hone the dreams that I am having. Along with that, I recognize that current practices will work to train me for what is next (Stanley, “Visoneering” 20).

Specifically my dream is to one day be the lead pastor of a busy, programmatic, and attractional church and navigate the people through the transformation of becoming simple, intentional, and missional in their approach. The extended description of a simple church is one that “is designed around a straightforward and strategic process that moves people through the stages of spiritual growth. The leadership and the church are clear about the process and are committed to executing it. The process flows logically and is implemented in each area of the church. The church abandons everything that is not in the process” (Rainer and Geiger 68). My hope is to guide a church into clarity, movement, alignment, and focus (135). Such a church would be committed to the mission of connecting people to the love of Christ, the life of the church, and the need of the world. Imagine the impact a gathering of Christ followers could truly have if they would be experiential in their worship, authentic in their relationship, and incarnational in their evangelism.

In their book, The Leadership Challenge, James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner encouraged leaders to search for opportunities – what they called “seizing the initiative” (164). They proposed that transformation requires great influence. In other words, authentic leaders seek to improve their organization. That being said, such morphing goes far beyond the bottom line of budgets, buildings, and attendance. Some momentous cultural shifts far exceed that which can “be seen, felt, or measured by a new system, structure, or process” (168). The true test of a leader who successfully navigates through change is that the organization, and most importantly the actual people, is actually making a noticeable impact in their community. One of the greatest challenges that every leader will face is to translate one’s principles into procedures and one’s mission into actuality. I hope to exemplify the capability to one day guide my teams through moments of insecurity, to maximize the gifts and passions of their counterparts, to exemplify integrity and transparency, and to grow on a regular basis. I aim to become deliberate in building a lasting legacy by creating valued institutions that survive over time in developing both individuals and institutions who acclimatize, transform, flourish, and mature (Kouzes and Posner, “Challenge xii).

With this in mind, I have prepared extensively on the topic of one day leading a church through significant changes. As a part of a Harvard Business School study, John P. Kotter identified key components to transforming an organization. First, I ought to partner with the existing leadership in communicating the necessity behind the transition. In their book, Culture Shift, Robert Lewis and Wayne Cordeiro suggest that leadership gather together and evaluate the current situation (59). The common purpose behind the organization must be articulated. Kouzes and Posner claim that, “You can’t mobilize people to travel to places they don’t want to go” (“Challenge” 117). Therefore, I must be careful to pay attention to the people of the church and to establish what is most valuable to them. The gospel will need to be conveyed in such a way that the message becomes an invitation for them to be challenged, an opportunity to participate in something larger than themselves, a possibility to personify greatness, a prospect to do something good, and to then transform the world as they know it. One reason why many people have shown a lack of general lack of commitment might be because the leadership has failed to call them to devote themselves to the correct mission. Too much time and attention has been invested in a building, in a budget, or in a specific ministry program and all the while the people have largely neglected Christ’s great commission and great commandment.

Second, there must be an overseeing partnership willing to lead the people through the uncertainty. Alan Nelson and Gene Appel, in their supplementary research, propose that there be adequate leadership who are not content with managing but instead growing the church (59). Mark Rutland calls pastors to lead with meekness (122). Quiet strength assuredly leads to great achievements but will never take sole credit for them. Every leader should be careful to share that victory with the entire team. Meekness will often result in the transformation of many people but never the dependency of those individuals upon the leader. It is crucial for followers to recognize and respect their leader’s talents and teachings but equally important that the leaders in turn release those teammates to discover and develop their own strategies and passions. A meek leader welcomes the weight of leadership but will likewise refuse to resort to reminding others of his position or privileges.

Third, there must be a purpose and plan in place. In other words, there must be a clear direction for the congregation to participate in. I must clarify everyone’s responsibility in shifting the culture (Lewis and Cordeiro 60). E. Stanley Ott, in his book, Transform Your Church With Ministry Teams, clarifies the genuine characteristics of mobilizing Christ followers in ministry. Mobilization goes far beyond merely delegation. True sending entails encouraging and entrusting the ministry team to accomplish what they sense is their goal and objective (158). This process involves true training that adequately sets the people up for effective ministry. Along with that, mobilization includes giving the team consent to do what they communicated they were going to do (159). True and effective mobilization replicates and reproduces the culture of teams. Ministry in the team context becomes contagious. Mobilization is never to be an individualistic venture. The church would capture the value of spiritual journey being one meant to be taken in the context of community (160).

Fourth, the vision then needs to be shared with and studied over by the entire group. According to Reggie McNeal, sound judgment starts with asking the correct questions. Concerning ministry strategy, a church must constantly and honestly evaluate. Are the people playing church or are they actually becoming the church? Is the aim to increase the church or is the goal to bless the city? Is the church producing ministers within the building or propelling missionaries out in the community? Concerning discipleship, are the strategies in place making members of the church or are they truly mobilizing followers of Christ? The church has the opportunity not only to demonstrate the loving truth of Christ but also to invite the unchurched to join them on the journey. The leadership must assess if they are just scheduling more programs or getting ready for God’s upcoming potential. There is a definite difference between training personnel and launching a transformational community (McNeal 103)?

Fifth, steps must be taken in order to turn this dream into a reality. There is a time for action. One day I should show a willingness to tackle the obstacles that are keeping the congregation from completing Christ’s mission. Discernment must be given with how far and how fast the change is implemented (Nelson and Appel 60).

Sixth, the leadership needs to celebrate small victories along the journey. Tributes and commemorations will have to be put into place concerning the ministries and milestones that are accomplishing the mission (63). Kouzes and Posner write, “Participatory celebrations bring people together so that information can be exchanged, relationships can be nourished, and a sense of shared destiny can be sustained” (“Encouraging” 121). John C. Maxwell once said, “The most fundamental management truth I’ve ever learned is that what gets rewarded gets done” (Maxwell, “Teamwork” 188). Along with celebrations, a pertinent responsibility of every leader is to share the message through their language and lifestyle (62). I have to be intentional in doing regular personal audits of my habits, schedules, meetings, and responses to conflict.

Finally, there is a time for acknowledging progress and choosing to then bring about even more change. The leadership should continue to ground the values into the traditions and customs of the organization (Kotter 20). The pastoral and leadership team have a continued responsibility to align and attach the vision to a biblical foundation. Transforming a church will demand a united and diverse team of people. Strategies must be put into place in order to recruit, retrain, and release individuals to partner together in ministry. Any and all division will only weaken and possibly destroy the possibility of lasting and life-giving change. With that, the leaders must be careful and compassionate in addressing all quarreling. The most dangerous and destructive kind finds its source in arrogance and self-interest (Nelson and Appel 61). A lot of disagreements can develop merely by way of misunderstandings or miscommunication. Sharing of the new vision must be presented constantly and in different contexts (62).

PERSONAL AND SPIRITUAL GROWTH PLAN
God has specially created me with a distinctive mixture of behaviors, dispositions, abilities, and experiences. He intends to utilize and maximize those characteristics for his divine purposes in redeeming disconnected individuals (Hybels and Mittelberg 122). This is why the pursuit and preciousness of character development in the life of a leader is so vital. Mark Rutland defines character as “the composite of virtues and values” that will ultimately determine a person’s impact and influence on others (1). There is great concern that the moral fabric of the cultural landscape is quickly deteriorating. It is not that people lack values but rather that they hold to the wrong ones all together (5-6). By no means is Rutland proposing that humanity can succeed without faith in Jesus Christ. On the contrary, he begins with the precondition that “by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV). However, he does caution and correct those who have reacted excessively to “works-righteousness” by neglecting their responsibly to respond to God’s grace. Rutland sums up this idea by saying that, “God’s willingness to help must be met with our willingness to be helped” (10).

With that in mind, I am drawn back to Aubrey Malphur’s instructions on building upon strengths (136). So much of education and experience calls leaders to invest the majority of their attention up on their weaknesses. Though I should be aware of my limitations, I cannot be overwhelmed by them. The majority of my time, energy, and resources should be spent on what makes me feel thrilled and tested. My development as a leader is primarily about pursuing growth in the area of my expertise. It is vital to work on the limitations that most hinder or harm me and to staff the rest if possible. Along those same lines, the premise behind the Gallup StrengthFinder profile is to assist leaders in honing the awareness of what they could and would be good at (Buckingham and Clifton 76). My strengths are the equivalent of my natural talent and the effort I take to develop that talent. If that is the case, it makes more sense for me to “capitalize on [my] strengths, whatever they may be, and manage around [my] weaknesses, whatever they may be” (27).

The measurement gave me five top themes to consider and mature. First, I have the capability to be strategic. Leaders who exemplify this attribute typically produce optional ways to continue by efficiently choosing the pertinent conversations. Second, I scored high in the category of learner. This means that I have the possibility of being one who studies and grows on a daily basis. Third, I might be one of belief. People who are strong in this area embrace certain core values that are uncompromising and transforming concerning one’s purpose for life. Fourth, I might be one who excels in connectedness by believing there are few chances and that almost every situation has a meaning. Finally, my test showed a tendency towards intellection which is when one exemplifies and enjoys thoughtful and enthusiastic intellectual conversations.

Malphur’s Leadership Style Inventory confirmed my Inspirational-Analytical tendencies (210). One temperament indicator solidified these conclusions by showing that I am a strong introvert, slight in sensing and feeling, and strong in judgment (Malphurs 200). The DiSK assessment further explained these terms and conditions by scoring my strongest temperament type as Influence and my next highest as Conscientious/Thinker (194-195). My overall classical pattern was Practitioner. In other words, I am likely to search for possibilities of individual development. Upon reaching a plan for growth, I often will show progress in that selected area. Though I often look to be proficient in a definite skill this does not keep me from sharing my perspective on a diverse amount of topics. I can be secure in my own ability, particularly when it is my passion to take on new challenges that often invigorate me. Even while approaching uncertain methods, I often appear to be stress-free, even when that is usually far from being the case. In spite of my friendly approach, though, I still believe restraint and performance are crucial. There are moments that I think way too much about my own intentions which can often lead me down the road of comparing myself and competing with those around me (DiSK 10).

According to my personal inventory statement, my spiritual gifts are leader, teacher, pastor, encourager, and administrator (188). Likewise, the complimentary Natural Gifts and Abilities Indicator reviewed my occupational concentration as being passionately interested in ministry, strongly interested in teaching and writing, and slightly interested in coaching and politics (215).The Leadership Role Indicator reiterated these attributes by explaining my preference to be a leader rather that of a manager (203). Similarly, the Natural Gifts and Talents Inventory revealed my deepest concern to be that of ministry. I scored passionately interested in adolescents, adults, leadership, and preaching. I was evaluated as strongly interested in ministry assessment coaching, shepherding, small groups, teaching, and writing.

Finally, I was scored as slightly interested in evangelism (212-213). When it comes to reaching out to the disconnected and unchurched, I am naturally inclined towards the interpersonal approach. I depend largely upon relationships that I have begun with friends and look for ways to foster those friendships. This style is typically “personal, family-orientated, and emotional” and takes much long-suffering, fervency, and individual attention (Malphurs 67). Following the example of Matthew, the tax collector turned Christ follower, I thrive over an extended discussion over coffee or a meal. I authentically am concerned for them and hope to positively impact them in their journey towards Jesus. The greatest obstacle to my effectiveness is to actually pay attention to their questions without simply resorting to offering the answers all at once (Hybels and Mittelberg 128).

The biggest mistake I have seen people make, both in regards to their natural strengths and their spiritual gifts, is that they mistakenly believe that assessment is all they need. I recognize my responsibility to graciously and intentionally develop my abilities through practice, mentoring, and patience. Maturity in my strengths and gifts will only come with submission and humility. In Leading from the Inside Out, Samuel D. Rima offered exercises that I have found incredibly helpful in my personal goal-setting process. Throughout my leadership development, there have been four key elements that have arisen to become my core values. First, I see community as incredibly important to the health and effectiveness of my life. In other words, I am devoted to relating to God and with others in both truth and with love. Second, I hold the commission as being a central premise of my life. I will strive to always respond to Christ’s call to make more disciples. Third, I will value communication by consistently reflecting Christ in all of my attitudes and actions. Finally, commitment is a priority to me. I aim to represent humility and longevity in all of my relationships (53).

In his book The Next Generation Leader, Andy Stanley encourages leaders on the vital component of coaching. First, I must admit that I am not as good of a leader as I could be. In order to reach my greatest potential I must heed the voices of others. Second, I must invite coaches to examine me in various ministry situations. Third, I must be careful in choosing a mentor who understands the needs of the people who I am leading. Fourth, I must look for a mentor who can communicate his lessons with simplicity and accuracy. Finally, I too must be purposeful in mentoring others (128). Both my lead pastor and Network Youth Director have continued to present me with valuable life lessons and ministry opportunities. Along with that, my father-in-law is one of my most reliable resources when it comes to family life and Pentecostal passion. Adequate accountability is an absolute necessity. I seek out people who will ask the difficult questions and demand that I answer honestly. John Ortberg challenges his readers to confess their sins by asking two crucial questions: “Why did I choose to sin?” and “What was the consequence to my rebellious actions?” The first question goes directly to the heart of the matter by uncovering “the legitimate need” that I have attempted to fulfill in an “inappropriate way” (134). The second question helps me seek out ways for retribution or reconciliation. The author goes on to say, “True confession involves entering into the pain of the person we have hurt and entering into God’s pain over sin” (135). After all, the prodigal son once confessed, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer to be called your son” (Luke 15:21, ESV).

Along with the ongoing mentoring, I plan to graduate from Southeastern University with a Masters of Arts in Ministerial Leadership by May of 2011. This degree will continue to help strengthen my ministry gifts and philosophy by integrating my Christian faith and worldview through thinking, researching, and writing. The program will also develop my concepts related to understanding and improving organizations. Along with that, I hope to obtain the knowledge, disposition, and abilities that will make me a more effective organizational leader. I will complete the program by devoting an estimated 15-25 hours a week to studying. The part time pace of one to two classes a semester will ensure that the workload can be realistically and thoroughly completed on my evenings and weekends. While I recognize that there will be sacrifices, my hope is that my schedule guarantees that neither my family life nor church ministry suffers. As for family, I plan to be very purposeful in the quality and quantity of time that I spend with them during this season of life (Rima 92). For example, Jana and I will schedule date nights throughout the month – some that are more detailed than others. She also deserves nights out with her friends, whether they be afternoons over coffee or evenings dedicated to scrapbooking. As for my children, I am going to be deliberate in finding ways to spend time with each of them individually. Some of those interests and hobbies will reveal themselves as each grows older. Julia, my six year old, seems to gravitate towards the arts. Jace, my three year old, initially enjoys sports and activities. Josslyn, my one year old is our explorer.

I also plan to devote time to becoming a more effective communicator through my writing and speaking. My hope is that this time at Southeastern University sharpens my hermeneutic and homiletic skills. Persistent practice will also make a difference. I plan to take advantage of any outside speaking opportunities as well as the use of my personal blog. In addition, my goal is to read thirty books every year of my life in order to discover creative and diverse ways to write. Topics will include biblical and theological studies, leadership development, ministry philosophy, Christian living, and presidential biographies. I will be careful to choose from both classical and emerging authors. My hope is to write my own nonfiction book in the next fifteen years. In order for that to take place, I must continue to develop the way that I design sermons and formulate series.

Discipline is an absolute necessity to my personal growth. As for spiritual habits, I commit to dedicate time at home and at the office to pray for a minimum of fifteen to thirty minutes a day. In addition, I will set aside thirty minutes a day to study and meditate upon the Scripture by journaling on a selected passage of the day. For example, commonly read a portion from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and then maybe a chapter from one of the Wisdom books. Typically, I read three to six chapters a day and then select a passage that happens to speak to me – one which challenges me, corrects me, or confuses me – and then I dedicate a good amount of time to journaling on that portion of Scripture. My time of writing begins with searching after the meaning, then the application, and finally ending with a prayer of response. One area in which I must be intentional in improving is in scheduling one to two days out of the year for a time of solitude. There are definite moments where I need to disconnect from technology and spend some reflective moments with Christ. If I do not plan these times I know my calendar will quickly become overrun by the urgent needs of the week and the month.

When it comes to my physical health, one of my greatest obstacles to self-leadership is gluttony (157). Paul asked, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19, ESV). In December of 2006, I discovered that I was at my heaviest and was convicted to make a drastic change. To be honest, most of my weight came during my junior and senior year at Northwest University and the six years since I have slowly but surely kept adding on rather than taking off. With strong accountably and strategic action I took the small steps of changing my diet, a variation of South Beach, and adding the primary exercise of stationary cycling. I have since lost forty-five pounds in fifteen months. However, I have seemed to hit a wall in the last sixty days to the point of even losing a bit of ground. I still am set on losing an additional twenty-five pounds in the next twenty four months. This would mean that I would finally reach my target weight where I am committed to stay. I am devoted to a holistic faith which is submissive to Christ in all things (Rima 173).

CONCLUSION
I have come to recognize that my personal mission statement is to fulfill the great commandment and great commission by engaging seekers, enabling followers, entrusting ministers, and encouraging leaders. This Personal and Ministry Profile has been a useful exercise in reflecting on my spiritual journey, considering my ministry philosophy, and clarifying my forthcoming goals. I am eternally grateful for the renewal that Christ has imparted upon my life. My natural response is to participate in his Kingdom coming to earth through the transformational work of his church. Leadership is about “results and relationship” – influence and integrity (Blanchard and Hodges, 193). Jesus asked his disciples this way, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 6:26).

Servant leadership honors God and his commandments. With that in mind, I will guard myself from the danger of falling into a trap of loving the vocational ministry more than I love God and others. I commit to value others as they are regardless of if they are serving Christ or not. In a similar way, I will make sure that my love for Jesus is always matched with an action. In other words, I understand that my effectiveness will continue only as I follow God through trusting obedience. The ultimate goal of leadership is not to build a kingdom of programs and people but instead to see lives transformed. Solomon once observed that, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9, ESV). I look forward to not only the destination but also the path that leads me in that direction.


Works Cited

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