Monday, June 29, 2015

Worship and War

My current book is titled "Called To Worship" by Vernon M. Whaley. I continue to find this reading insightful and encouraging as I study worship and the tainted view we have placed on it over time. It's not an old problem, as a matter of fact, it's been happening since the beginning of time. It's good for us to be reminded of this struggle and to refocus our attention on what is good and true.

Todays reading spoke about worship wars and how there is a price to be paid as a result. By juxtaposing Cain and Able's story with World War II, the author brought to light the fact that both instances were started by personal preference, the desire to make one's preferences acceptable to all. Cain and Able brought different offerings to God, of which God accepted Able's and not Cain's. This was not out of material refusal, but the heart of the matter. Able brought his offering at a cost to himself, while Cain brought his offering out of convenience to himself, therefore God rejected Cain's offering.

Cain didn't like being rejected, and perhaps in an attempt to make himself feel better or possibly to right the "injustice" done to him, he killed his brother Able. You could say he waged a war. Murder, jealously, self interest, tainted this act of worship. Whaley quotes; "War is never without fallout. Innocent people are caught in the crossfire. When Cain took Ables' life, he robbed Able of his worship.'' Able obviously suffered a physical death, but Cain also suffered. He will no longer enjoy the companionship of his brother, nor will he have an easy life.

"War always affects innocent people. The statistics of World War II prove it. It is noted as the single deadliest conflicts the world has ever seen. Germany, the nation most responsible for the war, lost more than 5.5 million soldiers...China 3.8 million...Japan 2 million...Soviet Union 10 million...USA 407,300...not counting Bulgaria, France, Hungary, Italy, Romania and the United Kingdom." There were over 25 million soldiers lost in this conflict, what's worse? There were over 47 MILLION civilians killed in this conflict. Hitlers heartless, selfish act of trying to eradicate the Jews brought the world to it's knees, and changed the lives of countless millions.

So what do these two things have to do with each other. Worship wars can have devastating effects on the church as well.
We, ourselves can be misled AND we can mislead the generations to come when we seek to push the issues of:
Tempo: faster slower
Style: (contemporary, classical, praise music, hymns)
Volume: louder, softer
Demonstrative worship: Raising hands, dancing, clapping, sitting, standing
Scripture translations: NASB, NIV, NLT, KJV, Message, The Voice

When we focus on these topics and allow our personal preferences to drive how we feel about worship, we take our focus off of the ONE thing that matters the most, GOD.

  John 4:23 says "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

Misguided worship begins in the Cain and Hitler, innocent lives are changed forever when we focus on the wrong stuff. When we worship God in Spirit and in truth, we worship with our whole focus on Him. Not what we like to hear, not what we like to sing, not what we prefer or think is more reverent. God looks on our hearts, I do not believe he looks at the song set, the stage design or the tempo of the song. I believe he looks on the heart of His people, and this alone he judges.

Each morning before I walk up to lead worship, I ask myself....What's on my heart? Why am I doing this today? I do what I call a "Heart Check" where I ask... Is my motive God honoring? Am I here to lead people in worship or to worship myself and my personal preferences? It serves to refocus my heart on God and what's important to Him rather me.

God is worthy of our worship, our unhindered and God honoring praise. 

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Called To Worship

I started reading a new book, "Called To Worship". OK it's actually an old school book that looks like it was never read........... I picked it up again today and found it refreshing to read these words.

"The Bible tells us that "the eyes of the Lord are always upon us" (Deut 11:12 kjv), and as He watches, His spirit is ever at work, moving, convicting, suggesting, calling. And today, God is calling men and women, boys and girls, from every race and culture. He is calling the professional and the laborer. He's calling me - and He's calling you - to worship Him."
(Vernon M. Whaley - Called To Worship)

Friday, July 01, 2011

In The Blink Of An Eye

It amazes me from time to time just how fast things can happen. Tonight we were enjoying a beautiful evening at a relatives house, celebrating Tylers 11th birthday with a pool party, good food and plenty of hyper boys. They spent time swimming and then eating and then back to swimming. In the course of the evening while I was talking to another relative about ministry, my youngest son came up to me and said he was done swimming and wanted me to take his life jacket off of him. I did and wrapped him up in a towel to warm up and went back to talking.

It was about 15 minutes later I hear Lisa yelling at one of the boys, saying: "Get him!! Get him!!" The fear in her voice caused me to jump to my feet and start heading her direction when I saw Ethan just going under the surface of the water unable to touch and NO lifejacket. It seemed all very slow motion for me but before I knew it I was jumping into the pool fully clothed to get him above water. I took him to the side as he gagged and coughed. I set him on the edge of the pool and all I could do was hug him, It scared the crap out of me to see his little face struggling to get above water to take a breath.

As I stood there in the pool hugging him, he said to me, " I couldn't breathe..." I hugged him again and sent him over to mom. It was at that moment I realized that I wasn't dressed to be in the pool, including my wallet, iPhone and keys. Somehow I didn't really care, in the instant I was on pure reaction to get my kid safe and sound. I don't think it bothered Ethan as much as it did Lisa and I. It really bothered me that I was the one that took his life jacket off in the first place. Thing is there was about 20 or so of us standing around and no one saw him go in except for his cousin who came and told us as we began to realize what was happening. It only took a second for a happy occasion to turn tense and dangerous.

I rode my motorcycle home from the party which gave me plenty of time to think about the events of the night. This will sound bad, but tonight I soaked everything in my wallet, soaked, maybe ruined my dress shoes, trashed my iPhone (which was borrowed)...........But none of that matters because I still have my son. I would do anything to make sure he is safe. Jumping into a pool isn't dangerous, but the truth is I would do it a thousand times over, even risking my life to save his. So if I, a sinful wretched miserable soul could do that, how much more could my Heavenly Father go out of His way to save me. For me, tonight was a huge reminder of how much God has done to rescue his children from the depths of death.

Father thank you for keeping Ethan safe, and thank you for rescuing me from death through your son Jesus Christ.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Survey of Jonah

Survey of Jonah (NIV)
Chris J. Kuntz

1. General Materials: Book of Prophecy with the themes of vengeance, obedience, compassion, and forgiveness.

2. Specific materials (Chapter Titles)
Chapter 1 – Jonahs plan for vengeance
Chapter 2 – Correction and repentance
Chapter 3 - Obedient servant
Chapter 4 – Compassion and forgiveness

3. Main Units and Subunits (Outline)

Prescript (1:1-2)

Part 1: God’s mission ignored (1:3 – 2:10)
Vengeance cast on people of Nineveh by Jonah (1:3)
Jonah the bad omen (1:4-16)
Jonah’s rescue (1:17)
Jonah’s recognizes his predicament (2:1- 6a)
Jonah’s repentance (2:6b-9)
Jonah delivered (2:10)

Part 2: God’s mission completed 3:1 – 4:11)
Prescript (3:1-2)
Jonah obeys (3:3)
The message delivered (3:4-5)

4. Major Structural Relationships and Questions:

A. Preparation/Realization: the Prescript in 1:1 sets up what happens in the following chapters by telling the reader that
God is speaking, and to whom He is speaking. Jonah, son of Amittai.


Definitional: How does this statement prepare the reader for what follows in the book?

Rational: Why is it important that we know who Jonah’s father was?

Implicational: What if Jonah was not of Israeli background?

B. Causation: Nineveh’s wickedness causes God to bring a word of judgment through Jonah. (1:2) Also Jonah decided to
ignore the word of the Lord and flee to Tarshish, which led to the events at sea. (1:3-17)


Definitional: Why is it important that we know where Jonah tried to flee? What does the author mean by “come before me”
when speaking about the wickedness of Nineveh?

Rational: Why does the author give so much detail in chapter two about the events on the boat, such as; where Jonah went
to sleep, and throwing cargo off to lighten the ship?

Implicational: Verse 5 indicates that the sailors were of various backgrounds as it states that “…each cried out to his own
god.” What would have happened if all the sailors would have been of Israel background and all claimed the One
True God as their own? How would have that changed how they reacted to Jonah’s running away?

C. Recurrence: It is mentioned that Jonah is fleeing the Lord in several different verses. 1:3a & 3b, 1:5b (I think that Jonah
going below deck during the great storm was another way of Jonah trying to ignore God and flee from Him.) 1:12
(Jonah asks to be thrown overboard into the raging sea, no doubt that was an attempt at suicide, yet another attempt
to avoid God.) 4:3 (Again Jonah tries to escape God’s plan by asking God to kill him.)


Definitional: What is it that causes Jonah to want to get out of this assignment so badly that he would be willing to take
his own life?

Rational: What is the message about fleeing that the author is trying to relay through the book?

Implicational: What if Jonah had not suggested to the sailors that he be thrown over board, would they have come to that
conclusion on their own? What if Jonah had not called out to God to save him after being thrown into the water,
would God have saved him anyway? And what does that tell us about God’s mercy and compassion?

D. Cruciality / Climax with Inclusio: There is a major shift of direction in chapter 2. Chapter 1 Jonah is fleeing from the Lord
attending to his own plans of not preaching to the people of Nineveh, so much so that he is willing to die before
going there. After he is thrown into the sea, he repents of his sin and pledges to fulfill what he vowed to do. This is
where I believe the climax happens in this section. Jonah states in 2:7 “When my life was ebbing away, I
remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you in your holy temple” Strong’s definition of the word “remember”
is “to remember, recall…to make a memorial, make remembrance” The word “remembered” is a turning point in
the mind of Jonah as he contemplates God and what he had done in Jonahs life. This small word is the climax
and axis point of the story, where it pertains to Jonah and his relationship with God. The inclusio happens in 2:1 and
again in 2:10 with the mention of the fish.


Definitional: What does Jonah intend to sacrifice as he states in 4:9?

Rational: Why does the author use inclusio in this section of scripture?

Implicational: How does Jonah’s repentance of his own sin, relate to the repentance of Nineveh’s, and how might this story
be different if God would have used a log for Jonah to float on instead of being swallowed by the fish? With the
view of the sea that many had in that day, how did that effect Jonah’s thankfulness for being swallowed by the
5. Strategic Areas:

1:1 Preparation/Realization: the Prescript in 1:1 sets up what happens in the following chapters by telling the reader that
God is speaking, and to whom He is speaking. Jonah, son of Amittai.

1:1-17 Causation: Nineveh’s wickedness causes God to bring a word of judgment through Jonah. (1:2) Also Jonah
decided to ignore the word of the Lord and flee to Tarshish, which led to the events at sea. (1:3-17)

Recurrence: It is mentioned that Jonah is fleeing the Lord in several different verses. 1:3a & 3b, 1:5b, 1:12, 4:3

Chapter 2 Cruciality / Climax with Inclusio – This is a major shift in the story

6. Major impressions

 Jonah is set on running away, then repents of his sin and does what he is commanded to do, but then turns again and is
angry at God for doing what he knew God would do. His memory seems to be short on the forgiveness and mercy just
afforded him in the sea.

 God’s sovereignty and compassion/Mercy seem to be a reoccurring theme in this book

 The biggest impression for me what just how quickly we tend to forget God’s mercy in our lives. Jonah forgets fairly
quickly, and after his experience, one would think that you would be changed forever. This event was written
approximately 785-760 B.C. and Nineveh is eventually destroyed in 612 B.C. so their memory and act of repentance must
have been short as well.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Communication in churches

Thesis Statement:
A clear and continuously cast vision, along with good consistent communication to ministry leaders within the church, are essential to keeping ministries aligned to the purpose and mission of the church, and functioning as one body moving forward to change the world. “Communication is defined as “the exchange and flow of information and ideas from one person to another. It involves a sender transmitting an idea to a receiver.” (

Communication is one of the biggest areas overlooked when it comes to working with groups of people. Many think that information can be given one or two times and that is enough, however; over time I have found that you cannot over communicate, especially information that is critical to the success of your organization and achieving your goals. The PISCO Model has been very helpful in giving decision-making teams the right tools and information, in the right order, to come to a decisive and functional answer to the issues they face. The PISCO Model was developed by Edward de Bono, and involves five specific steps that help effectively problem solve an issue in the simplest way. Let’s explore this model further by applying it to a real problem facing many small churches today.

P – Problem
Most small churches are comprised of volunteer ministry leaders. These are normal everyday people working a secular job and serving God by leading a specific ministry in the church. Through my own experience, in churches I have served in, I have seen these heroes’ lead, teach, organize their areas, and affect lives for the Kingdom, but mostly on their own accord, and often times un-skilled. “When people feel inadequate for the responsibility, they become discouraged. The Jews rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem became discouraged when they perceived the rubble to be beyond their ability to move (Nehemiah 4:10). Training for ministry enables people to develop confidence that they are competent for the tasks.” ( Unfortunately, I saw many of these ministry leaders go week to week serving in these areas having not sat down with the leadership of the church on a regular basis, seldom getting face time with the senior pastor or elder of the church to make sure what they were doing matched the purpose and mission of the church holistically. This usually leads to burn out and frustration of the volunteer because they are left to feel that what they do doesn’t matter or isn’t appreciated, and that is communicated to them by the leadership of the church not getting involved or being interested in that particular ministry.

The problem is not that the leadership of the church thinks the ministry isn’t important, it is the realization that there is a lack of regular communication and consistent vision casting coming from either the senior pastor or, leadership of the church. The other thing that is lacking is the encouragement and communication that should come from the leadership directly to the volunteer’s of these ministries. Subsequently they are left feeling unappreciated and out of the loop as the church moves on around them. As a result of this, the ministries begin to develop a mission statement all their own, and although it may be with the best intentions, many times end up causing friction with the churches mission statement, thereby causing a separation or negating of the effectiveness of that particular ministry at the church level.

So to summarize, a lack of regular communication and consistent vision casting for volunteer ministry leaders is lacking or non-existent, resulting in burnout, frustration in the ministry leader, and a feeling of being alone in their leadership. This issue needs to be corrected because it is unfair for the church to expect volunteers to lead ministries blindly. I believe there exists an opportunity to repair some damaged relationships and to align some powerful ministries with the vision and mission of the church as a whole.

I – Input
In order to gather the appropriate information to solve this issue, the following are some questions that should be asked of the volunteer ministry leaders and key leadership of the church:
1. How many times in the past year have you sat down with either the senior pastor or a member of the leadership team to discuss your part in the bigger picture of the churches mission and vision?
2. When was the last time the senior pastor or a member of the leadership team checked in on you to see if there was anything you needed to help you lead your ministry better and or more effectively?
3. How many times have you and other ministry leaders met, as a whole, to discuss your areas of ministry, creative ideas, and celebrate wins?
4. How can the senior leadership of the church best serve you and help you grow and succeed in this ministry you lead?

For the key leadership of the church the same questions could and should be asked in the reverse connotation, such as; State the last time you offered some support to a volunteer ministry leader or came along side them and served them so they could succeed in their ministry? I also believe that asking questions like: “What areas are causing information to not be communicated effectively? Is it our approach or style of communication? Or is it the infrequency of our communication with our volunteers? should be asked in order to gain some knowledge in the area of how our volunteers best receive information. This will aid us in communicating the solution to our problem in a manner in which they will understand and retain the data.

S – Solutions
Several solutions to the issue should arise during this process of analyzing the input gathered. Once the input has been collected and organized in like subjects, we should begin to think of creative solutions to our communication problem. Exploring solutions from different angles such as, solutions from the top down or bottom up, will offer a well-rounded view from all parties involved. One might even consider outside influences that could bridge the gap that exists. At this point, the imagination can usually be the most powerful tool as brainstorming allows for outside of the box thinking to happen. Once all the possible solutions have been thought out and listed, the team should begin analyzing each one with several filters in place. Is it practical? Which solution is the strongest in terms of effectiveness? Some possible solutions for this particular issue might be as follows:

1. The senior pastor or senior leadership of the church should meet on an individual basis with each volunteer ministry leader once a month to communicate vision, assess the progress and direction of the ministry in question. Once very month might be too much in some cases so the adjustment could be made at the discretion of the leadership team. During this meeting the goal will be to try to get a sense of what the volunteer needs to be successful in their leadership of that ministry. Communicate the vision and mission of the church and explain how this particular ministry can help fulfill that mission and vision. And to communicate any other vital information that might be needed. This will do two things, it will allow the senior pastor or leadership team to be aware of what is happening in that ministry and it will let the ministry leader know that what they do matters and that they matter in the grand scheme of things. “ Psychologist Abraham Maslow developed the concept of a hierarchy of needs through which people progress. In our society, most people have reasonably satisfied their two lower levels of needs: physiological needs (food and basic provision) and their security and safety needs (shelter and protection from the elements and physical danger). Beyond these two basic need levels, people progress to satisfy the three upper levels: )1) social needs for love, acceptance, and belonging; (2) ego needs to be heard, appreciated, and wanted; and (3) self-actualizing needs, including the need to achieve one’s fullest potential through professional, philanthropic, political, educational, and artistic channels.” (DeFrene & Lehman, 2006). I think this will enhance the leadership of that volunteer and therein enhance the success of their ministry.

2. Two times per year, the senior pastor and senior leadership of the church should get together with all the volunteer and staff ministry leaders to express their appreciation for the hard work that those involved put into their respective ministries. During this time of celebration and recognition, it would yet another opportunity for the leadership of the church to communicate why each ministry is important and how each ministry fits into the overall mission and vision of the church. Gathering all the volunteers and staff together in one location also provides the opportunity for community to happen. When ministry leaders know that they are not alone in their ministry, it gives them energy and drive to fight the good fight and continue to impact the world around them.

C – Choice
Once the team has explored all the solutions and have chosen what they believe to be the best of their list, a statement should be written that communicates clearly what solution has been chosen and why. It should include clear wording that explains what this solution is intended to do and why, and how will it affect those involved? Such a statement would be broken into three parts and it might look like this:

Choice Statement:
“We believe that creating an environment where the leadership team and the senior pastor can regularly sit down and discuss with each ministry leader their concerns and needs, they will then be able to come to a solution and aid in the success of that ministry leader.”
“We see a future where all ministry leaders are in tune with the overall mission and vision of the church as a result of clear constant communication between other ministry leaders and both the senior pastor and senior leadership team of the church.”
“Our goal is to create an environment in which excitement and passion fill the air on a daily basis, because everyone knows their part and how they fit into the big picture of life change within the church. Ministry leaders will understand why they do what they do and the importance of doing it well”
In order to effect change within the church and to close the gap in the lack of communication, the change team must put feet to the idea, and put it into action. Once again the change team will need to develop a statement that effectively communicates the problem, the solution, how it will work and what the intended result will be. Such a statement might sound something like this:

To all volunteer and staff ministry leaders:
We as the senior leadership team of the church recognize that we have not been communicating effectively or clearly with our volunteer or staff ministry leaders, for this we apologize. In order to correct the lack of communication that exists between senior leadership and volunteer ministry leaders, and to help remove the frustration that comes from said lack of communication; effective January 3, 2011, the senior leadership team and or the senior pastor will begin meeting with individual volunteer and staff ministry leaders once every two months to discuss the mission and vision of the church, and how that particular ministry fits into the bigger picture. At that time, they will also discuss any needs and or concerns the ministry leader has pertaining to their ministry, and together will work to find a solution to help the volunteer or staffer succeed as a leader and in their respective ministry.

Each volunteer and staff ministry leader will be asked to attend one ministry related conference or educational class per year. There will be $250 per ministry allocated for this training annually. The intended goal is for our volunteers and staff to continue to grow in their leadership and ministry area. In addition to the individual meetings and annual training opportunities, there will be a church wide volunteer and staff meeting two times per year to gather all ministry leaders together in one location for community, mission and vision casting, and to also celebrate together our wins and to recognize those who serve in these positions. This will create community, networking and a sense of body that has been lacking among our ministry leaders. 1 Corinthians 12: 24b-26 says, “…God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (NIV). Therefore, we desire to become as one body, serving with the same passion, knowledge, and mission in mind to impact the Kingdom of God.

In order to track our progress, and assess our goals, each ministry leader will be asked to fill out a monthly report that will focus on three key areas; (1) Communication with senior leadership. (2) Personal growth in leadership or their respective ministry area. (3) Ministry needs

As we continue to assess and adjust these areas, our communication should become clearer and more effective. Our ministry leaders should feel better connected and supported not only by the senior leadership, but by each other, and as a corporate body we should see growth both physically and spiritually. Thank you for your service and your assistance in finding a solution to this issue.

The Senior Leadership Team

I think that this particular scenario is far more common than most would think. Having been raised in small churches for first 37 years of my life, I understand all to clearly the issues that arise when senior leadership of the church doesn’t clearly and consistently communicate with the volunteers and staff of the church. Frustrations run high, people burn themselves out and end up walking away mad and dejected. Having served in a large church for the past two months, I have had the opportunity to see what good and clear communication can do for ministry leaders. I think that it is imperative for churches big and small, to take a good hard look at how they communicate both internally and externally. Things that go unsaid, most often speak louder than what is.

Bible. (NIV)
Daman, G.C., (2004, October 5). Raising morale in the small church. Ministry Health. Retrieved November 18, 2010. From html
DuFrene, D. D., & Lehman, C. M. (2006). Communications I and II: Eng 140/141. Mason, OH:Thomson
Massey, M. (2009, January 28). Common concern of church communication. Message posted to