Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Spiritual Survival Handbook for Cross-Cultural Workers

The Spiritual Survival Handbook for Cross-Cultural Workers is not a great book, but it is filled with important concepts and is short (112 pages).  The intended audience is for those involved in team-based pioneer church planting.

Friday, August 26, 2011

All of Life is Repentance

Repentance is an important idea in Islam.  But it is a “religious” repentance that Muslims practice.  Here are some concepts from Tim Keller that might prove useful to bridge to the gospel with Muslims: All of Life is Repentance.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Poverty, Getting to the Heart of the Matter

This brief editorial from Rick Wood in the July-Aug 2011 issue of Mission Frontiers is worth reading:

We've all seen them, awful pictures of little children with emaciated bodies, video scenes of long lines of desperate parents seeking help for the children they love at some overrun clinic in some desolate, fly-infested area of Africa or Asia. Or perhaps you have seen stories about the people living off of the garbage piles in Manila or Tijuana. It breaks our hearts. We all wish that something could be done to 'fix' this problem and stop the suffering. We feel helpless against such overwhelming need. Is there anything that can be done? Does the Church of Jesus Christ really have the solution to this problem?

There are many believers who feel that caring for the poor is one of their highest priorities as an expression of their faith. Others say that church planting and discipleship must take priority. Perhaps God has called us to do both in ways that reinforce each other. But how do we go about helping to raise people out of poverty? We see one generation after another grow up and die in poverty with very little change. Is it even possible to make a difference?

Money Is Not the Answer. Aid Is Not Enough.

There are many voices inside and outside the Church that say, “We just need to be more generous.” But is this really the long-term answer? If everyone in the 'developed world' were to give the poor 10 percent of their income, would this solve the problem? Would trillions of dollars collected in the West and shipped off to Africa make any long-term difference in overcoming poverty? It hasn't so far.

As Peter Greer of Hope International reports on page 7, it is estimated that over three trillion dollars has been donated to Africa since 1970. In the process the economic growth rates of many African countries have plummeted. If generosity was all that was needed, should not the three trillion dollars have been enough to at least make a dent in the poverty problem in Africa? Yet things have actually gotten worse. Should we continue to send money in the vain hope of someday making a difference or do we need to rethink our approach?

Empower the Poor to Find the Answer

Regardless of how good our intentions are, without the essential foundation of biblical character all efforts to overcome poverty will fail-no matter how much money is sent. When it comes to poverty, a lack of money is not the cause of the problem, and tons of cash is not the solution. There is nothing wrong with helping people through a desperate situation, and we should do all we can when lives are in imminent danger, but we must focus our efforts on what helps people get out of poverty--not keep them continually dependent on outsiders for their survival.

The strategies employed to help the poor must encourage and support the individual and community efforts of the poor to change their own situation. No amount of outside aid and outside solutions can replace local initiative. No amount of hard work by outsiders can replace the ongoing hard work of the local people in creating jobs and staring their own businesses. The local people have to be empowered to take responsibility for their own lives and be given the spiritual tools, business skills and freedom that can enable them to lift themselves out of poverty. Is there a role for outside help? Yes, but it has to be centered around changing lives from the inside out, not simply putting expensive band-aids on the situation that will eventually wear off. The healing and transformation must come from inside. We can help in this process, but we cannot and should not do it for them.

The Church Has What the Poor Need Most

Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, the authors of the marvelous book, When Helping Hurts, explain on page 16 that poverty ultimately derives from the Fall of man and the four broken relationships that have resulted. These are with God, with others, with ourselves and with creation as a whole. These broken relationships have affected all of us, but for the poor they have become a crushing burden that Satan has used to convince the poor to believe a lie and keep them in poverty.

Scott Todd explains on page 17 that the poor have internalized the lies, “Give up! You don't matter. Nobody cares about you. Look around you: Things are terrible. Always have been, always will be.” These are the lies of fatalism, victimhood and powerlessness. They have lost the hope that they or anyone else can change their situation. They have come to believe that no amount of hard work can change their circumstances. These lies must be defeated in order for the poor to get out of poverty, and they can only be defeated by presenting them with the truth of God's love and power through Jesus Christ--just what the Church is best able to provide.

As we establish Church Planting Movements within every people, we will encounter the poor and the lies that have kept them in bondage. As they come to Christ and begin to believe the Truth, they will have the power to defeat these lies and to lay the spiritual foundation from which they can raise themselves out of poverty.

In order to overcome poverty and stay out of poverty, all of us, including the poor, must be committed to doing what is right in the eyes of God--living by biblical principles. When we do, we build up what Ken Eldred calls Spiritual Capital, which is essential for any economy to flourish. See "Spiritual Development" by Ken Eldred.

Biblical principles such as honesty, integrity, trustworthiness etc. are essential for an economy to work. The foundation of successful economies is the trust that is built through honest interaction between people. If you destroy trust between people in a society through dishonest transactions and corruption, the economy will decline. The poorest countries on Earth are often riddled with corruption and violence at every level of a society, from the government on down. The biblical character traits that make a prosperous society possible come from lives transformed by Jesus through an effective discipleship process.

Ken Eldred gives the following example: “If one sells something with true weights and measures, then he has completed an honest transaction and has added spiritual capital to his and the nation's account. However, if one fails to fulfill his commitment to replace any defective products he sells, then he has proven untrustworthy and dishonest and has withdrawn spiritual capital from his and the nation's account.

This has profound implications on the development, success, and culture of an economy” (including our own). There's a relationship between economic prosperity and the pervasiveness of biblical values in the culture. Douglass North won a Nobel Prize in economics for demonstrating which "institutions" in a society characterize successful economies. He proved that the trust factor, when pervasive in a society, is one of the "institutions" that lead to a better economy.

Without a moral structure based on biblical principles, short-term self-interest becomes the prime motivation, and people will lie, cheat and steal to get what they want instead of doing the hard honest work that builds the trust and spiritual capital that makes successful economic interaction possible. Transformed lives are the foundation upon which any society can build an economy and overcome poverty.

But economic growth does not come automatically when people commit their lives to Jesus. People need training in ordinary basics like personal money management, how to run a business and good work habits. This should be part of our discipleship too as we plant churches. Church planting should lead to economic growth among the poor. If it doesn't, then something is wrong.

With a combination of effective discipleship and practical, locally-based economic solutions the poor can come to believe that they can do all things through Christ, including raising themselves and others out of poverty. They can then create their own wealth and not be dependent on outsiders for their survival.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

9/11 Prayer Initiative

Here is something you might consider taking part in on Sunday, September 11. The ten year anniversary of 9/11 will be all over the news, so it might be good to bring a biblical perspective on it during church that day.


Allow us to share a five minute presentation during your Sunday morning service on 9/11/11.Ten years ago our nation was attacked by Muslim terrorists. Many agree that event forever changed the world. Our international relations are strained; our battle against an elusive global terrorist enemy has created fear and paranoia. What a difference it would make in the future if we moved from fear to faith, believing God's love can sweep over the Muslim world through our prayers and witness.

The 5 minute video will be available for download on 9/1/11.


Monday, August 22, 2011

"Kingdom" and "Church" in Frontier Mission

This ISFM conference in September looks really interesting:

"The terms ‘Kingdom’ and ‘Church’ are contested in mission today, but they are catalyzing exceptional ministries across religious and cultural frontiers. The prism of contemporary Kingdom interpretation includes the transformation of societies, bringing justice to the nations, and the eradication of evil. A younger generation in mission marches to this Kingdom cadence, opting for new models of community, deeper devotion, and more holistic service. How does this rising Kingdom commitment intersect with the emerging church movements we see and expect to see on the frontiers? At ISFM 2011 a range of international speakers will explore the interface of Kingdom, Church and Mission in frontier settings across the globe, setting a framework for interaction among participants. Students and younger adults are especially welcome."

Friday, August 19, 2011

Speaking About Muslim Ministry

Here are some guidelines I use for myself when speaking publicly with Westerners about Muslim ministry:

1. Motivate by love, not fear.

2. Emphasize the commonalities, not the differences.

3. Focus on the life, cross, and resurrection of Jesus, not Christianity.

4. Share stories of real people, not (just) abstracts.

5. Point to Muslims' lack of access to the gospel, not their failure to respond. "How will they hear without someone preaching?"

6. Compare the best of Islam with Christianity, not the worst of Islam with Christianity.

7. Build peace, respect, and understanding, not stereotypes.

8. Inspire with the hope of the church, freedom in Christ, and the spread of the Kingdom, not democracy.

9. Explain the dark side of Islam and spiritual blindness, not demonizing Muslims.

10. Empathize with Westerners' ignorance of Islam and be humble, not a know-it-all.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Eleventh Hour

Here is a mild rebuke for those of us who, like myself, can be a bit proud of our Christian pedigree.  What a sight it will be one day in God's Kingdom when those who have been Christians for generations, who have recited the creeds and catechisms from memory, who can articulate the finer points of theology, will find themselves taken aback by the rewards of Life that Jesus will bestow upon Muslims who have just now at the eleventh hour come into the Kingdom through faith in Christ and know NOTHING of church history, the creeds and catechisms, or theology.  All they know is Christ and him crucified!  Let us not be among those who are surprised, pharisaic or bitter.  Let us rather stand by and applaud the mercy of our Lord in saving them...
Jesus said:
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace,and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house,saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”
(Matthew 20:1–16 ESV)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

GLS Session 8: Erwin McManus “Chasing Daylight”

erwin_mcmanusGlobal Leadership Summit Session 8: Erwin McManus

[This is the final session.]

We need a different relationship to the future.

Read Ecclesiastes 1.  “Meaningless…”  This is difficult passage to agree with.  People quote it all the time, “There is nothing new under the sun.”  McManus felt he was suffocating under the theological framework of this passage.  He disagrees with Solomon here.

No, God is the God of the new.  Everything he does is new. But outside of God, nothing is new.  Outside of God, it is all meaningless.

We are uncomfortable with creating the future.  But we are to live our lives connected with the Creator, and thus we are to create in him, because that is what God does.

McManus said that Noah saved the world.  We don’t have to say that God saved the world through Noah.  But we can just say that Noah saved the world. [Ummm…?]

Why are we waiting for someone else to create the future that God has in mind?  We need to become the stewards of human potential.  We need to redeem the image of God in each person.

What would happen if the world would know Christians as the epicenter of creativity?

When McManus came to Christ, something came alive inside of him. We have to set the human spirit free to live.  People will die with their dreams dead inside them.

We have to do something creative so that the world will see.  Human talent and the glory of God coexist.

We need to become the narrators of the human story.  We need a revival of great storytelling. Avatar and Star Wars are being told as better stories than ours.  But when people see themselves in THE story they will be captivated.

When we treasure the treasure inside each person, people will be drawn into our communities.

He makes all things new.

GLS Session 7B: Patrick Lencioni “Getting Naked: The Importance of Vulnerability in Service”

patrick_lencioniGlobal Leadership Summit Session 7B: Patrick Lencioni

Author of the famous Five Dysfunctions of a Team.  Pat is an ENFP, and he is very funny.

One of the ways we manifest humility is by being vulnerable.  There are massive potential rewards for vulnerability, but it’s not guaranteed and you could loose a lot.  It involves suffering and pain sometimes.  But we are called to be humble and vulnerable by Jesus.  What are the three fears that keep us from being vulnerable?

1. Fear of Being Rejected.  Fear of losing the business.  We have to exercise our willingness to be rejected- that is how we are going to draw people to us.  We have to enter the danger.  Jesus was rejected, it is really possible that it will happen to us as well.  We need to be hungry to hear the kind truth, and to tell the kind truth.

2. Fear of Being Embarrassed.  We have to do things that embarrass us.  We need to ask dumb questions and be prepared to look stupid.  We have to celebrate our mistakes. 

3. Fear of Being Inferior.  We are afraid of putting ourselves in a lower position.  We have to do the dirty work.  Show people that you are willing to do what you’re asking them to do.  We need to be really interested in others.  Make everything about others and not about yourself.  It’s not about looking good.

[There was a lot of good overlap between this session and the previous one.]

GLS Session 7a: John Dickson “Humilitas”

john_dicksonGlobal Leadership Summit Session 7a: John Dickson

Dickson is the of the book Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership.

Humility is not humiliation, it is not low self esterme.  It is the noble choice to forgo your statues and use your influence for the good of others, not yourself.  To withhold power for the good of others.  Humility makes the great greater.  [It doesn’t make you great?]

1. Humility is common sense.  None of us is an expert at everything.  Expertise in one area counts for very little in another.  A true expert should know this better than anyone.  “Competency extrapolation” is when you think that just because you can be an expert in one area will mean that you be competent in another area.

2. Humility is beautiful.  We are more attracted to the great who are humble, rather than to the great who want everyone to know it.  Humility has not always been been beautiful.  In Ancient Greece, love of honor was prized.  People used to seek honor.  Historically speaking, a humility revolution took place in the middle of the first century.  It started with the crucifixion of Jesus. Phil 2:3-8.  Our culture has been massively influenced by the cross of Christ.  Greatness and humility are one because of Jesus.

3. Humility is generative.  It generates new knowledge and abilities.  A proud person will go away from a conference taking very little with him, while the humble person will take away more.  The Scientific Revolution is because of humility, you must test and expose your science to critical examination.  Humility is the place of flourishing.  Humility is the fast-track to improvement.

4. Humility is persuasive.  Aristotle “On Rhetoric” 1.2.4: “Character is the controlling factor of persuasion.”  People are interested in you when you are interested in them.  We are biased towards people who are humble.  The most persuasive person is the person who has your best in mind.

5. Humility is inspiring.  You can only empower someone if you want them to succeed.  When leaders are aloof, we admire them, but we don’t want to be like them.  When great leaders are humble, they want to spend time with us, we want to be just like them.  Four tools of leadership, ability authority, character, persuasion.  But the most inspiring leaders don’t have structural authority.  You don’t need the keys to the kingdom to impact the kingdom.

Humility is not just another leadership technique.  It is a reflection of reality.  The cruciform life is a life in touch with reality.

Friday, August 12, 2011

GLS Session 6: Michelle Rhee “Students First” and Dr. Henry Cloud “The Evil, The Foolish, The Wise”

michelle_rheeGlobal Leadership Summit Session 6: Michelle Rhee and Dr. Henry Cloud

For more on Michelle Rhee, see the The Bee Eater and Waiting for Superman.  Big take-away: sometimes leaders must be able to make the difficult, unpopular decisions.  I would like to watch her documentary.


Cloud: wherever you are, God has called you to be a steward of a vision.  Are you could to allow “that guy” (problem people) stand in the way of the vision.  These “problem people” job your joy, keep you up at night, and have the power to stop an organization.

What does a problem person do when reality/truth comes to them?  What are you doing with people who are allergic to reality?  You make certain assumptions as a leader, but not everyone is like you.  You cannot lead every person like they are the same. There are three types of people: the wise, the fools, and the evil.  (All of us have these parts in us.)

1. What is a wise person: when the light comes to them (when you confront them with truth), that person adjusts themselves.  “Correct a wise person and he will be wiser still.“  Wise people appreciate the correction.  As a leader, you just talk to wise people.  You resource them.  You need to make sure they are a match for what they want and you need.  And you have to keep them appropriately challenged.

2. The fool is maybe the most gifted person.  But the fool tries to adjust the truth when it comes to them. They deny it, change it, or they minimize it.  Or they shoot the messenger!  They will get angry when you confront them, and they make the messenger the problem.  Fools do not own their problems.  Fools don’t change.  “Do not confront or correct a fool, unless you incur insults upon yourself.”  They have stopped the vision.  As a leader you have to protect the vision and the culture of the team.  You must address the pattern of the fool who keeps denying their problems.  Fools have shame and fear issues.  There is great hope for fools.  Jesus died for fools.  But it takes guts to lead fools well.  But you need to limit your exposure, give them consequences, and give them a timeframe.

3. Evil people.  They need a different strategy.  They have destruction in their hearts.  They want to divide things and people.  “Reject a divisive person after a second warning, and then have nothing to do with that person.”

God has called you to lead people.  It’s about getting people to implement the plan/vision.  Don’t let someone’s character problem derail the vision.

GLS Session 5: Mama Maggie Gobran, Wess Staford, Bill Hybels “Tough Callings”

mama_maggieGlobal Leadership Summit Session 5: Mama Maggie Gobran (Coptic Christian from Egypt), Wess Staford, Bill Hybels

From Bill Hybels: How addicted are we to the narcotic of growth and success?  Could you lead something that had a low probability of succeeding?  That is why it is important to understand your “calling.”

Story from Wes Staford and the persecution Ethiopian believers endure.  In the West we don’t understand how easy it is to be apathetic.

From Mama Maggie (she gets a standing ovation):

We don’t choose where to be born, but we do chose whether to be sinners, or to be saints. Christians in Egypt pay the highest price for their faith.  There more martyrs in Egypt than any other place.  25 years ago she heard her “tough calling.” Mama Maggie’s ministry cares for slum women and children in Egypt.  They put a Bible in every home they visit. True love is to forgive.  The toughest thing for us is to have a pure heart and to know the almighty.  She devotes a lot of time to silence.  She wants us to be silent with our tongue and thoughts and hearts and spirits.  “We leave many and are with the one.”

Back to Hybels:

Jeremiah received a “tough calling” from God.  Initially Jeremiah is excited, but nothing goes well.  People want him to shut up.  He gets beat up. Jeremiah is bitter at God.  See Jer. chapter 20.  Aren’t things supposed to go well when God is involved?  Jeremiah is torn between his calling and his ache for success.  Jeremiah is bewildered by the suffering he is facing.  But he realizes that he has to die to his desire to be successful.  Jeremiah writes a lament about what is in his heart (Lamentations).  But he has a moment of clarity, “Great is thy faithfulness, your mercies are new every morning.” (Lam. 3:22-23)  In the midst of tough ministry we have the assurance of a great relationship with God in Christ.

Hybels reflects on leading a successful, affluent ministry.  He admits he has a nice house, a nice car, a nice office.  Hybels says everything has gone well, and that people in his community who come to Christ are already managers or educated, and they know how to lead.  So Willow Creek has been very successful.  “I stand in awe of leaders who get tough assignments.”

This session was about perseverance and suffering in ministry.  We need to die to the idol of success.  Look at the example of Jeremiah, and other leaders today who have tough callings.  I think most of all of Jesus, how difficult his calling was.  He had it worse than anyone!  Yet he persevered and purchased us back for God through his cross.  And I think also of those of who are involved in Muslim ministry.  God has called us to make the glorious Messiah continually visible before Muslims.  It’s not easy.  We may not be “successful.”  But we need to persevere and be willing to suffer.  In the end we will know.  Our hope is in God.

Piper on Ramadan


"It seems to me, therefore, that the way Jesus calls us to pray during Ramadan is that God would reveal to Muslims the emptiness of their worship. Jesus says they are not connecting with the true God. This is tragic. And it is more tragic when they think they are. Awakening to this emptiness would be a precious awakening.

And, of course, Muslims are not the only ones who are not connecting with the true God in their outward acts of worship. Any person who rejects the Jesus of the Gospels, whatever their religion (including professing Christians), is worshiping “in vain” (Matthew 15:9).

So pray that all such people would realize this. Pray for a precious sense of emptiness for every non-worshiping worshiper (in churches, synagogues, and mosques). Pray that millions would sense profoundly the need for a Mediator, a Redeemer, a Messiah who “was wounded for our transgressions” (Isaiah 53:5).

And every chance you get, open your mouth and offer Christ crucified and risen. The prayers of millions of Christians may have made a way of faith that you never dreamed."

Read the whole thing.

GLS 4: Steven Furtick “Audacious Faith”

steven_furtickGlobal Leadership Summit Session Four: Steven Furtick

[This guy is really funny too.  But I should mention that he’s wearing skinny jeans.  Just have to mention that.]

Must read 2 Kings 3:9-20 - “It is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord” (vs. 18)

God filled the land with water, but he told the people to dig ditches first so that it could hold the water.  You have to believe God for something great, but prepare by digging ditches.  Faith without works is dead.

One of the reasons why we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our-behind-the-scenes to other people’s highlight reel.  People who are fruitful in ministry is usually because they have been digging ditches for a while.

If your vision isn’t something only God could do, then it’s too small.  You have to have bold, audacious faith.

GLS 3b: Seth Godin “Poke the Box”

seth_godinGlobal Leadership Summit Session Three B: Seth Godin

[This is really funny stuff.  Sorry I can’t keep track.  His blog is one of the most popular in the world.]

“Artists are people with a genius for finding a new answer, a new connection, or a new way of getting things done.  That would be you.”

[I’m attending the GLS with my dad too, and I think he summarized Godin’s point well: leadership requires creativity.]

GLS 3a: McNeil “Courageous Leadership for Catalytic Times”

brenda_salter_mcneilGlobal Leadership Summit Session Three A: Rev. Brenda Salter McNeil  (She was one of the featured speakers at Lausanne III in Cape Town. Video.)

She’s talking about globalization, and how important it is to know what is going on in the world.  It is important to be a global Christian.

We live in catalytic time.  Various forces are making our world more connected.  How are you responding as a leader to the horrific social issues created by globalization?

Her talk is organized around Acts 1:8 Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, even to the ends of the earth.

In Jerusalem we have to face people like ourselves and call ourselves to justice and equality.  Tell ourselves and our friends and our family not to be racist.

Judea represents the place in our world that is quite to home but not quite home.  It is the subcultures that exist in the same society between different political parties.  Ministry in Judea is not simple.  We must help the people in Judea.

Samaria are the issues that are hostile to us, where we not in control.  It is the place of sex trafficking, child soldiers, and corporate greed.  We need to get involved in all these issues.  We will receive spiritual power to face these issues.  We need the Holy Spirit.  Go as a learner.  Ultimately we should go to the ends of the earth.

Without a catalyst we won’t be moved to deal with these issues.

God wants to bring people together through globalization so that the church has to deal with these issues.  In response we should:

1. “Pray for a Divine Mandate.” “God break our hearts for what breaks your heart.”

2. “Name your Catalytic Events.”  Crisis is an opportunity for God to move in.

3. “Mobilize people to go!”

[Do we care about lost or unreached people knowing Jesus too?  I think Brenda cares about this, but it would be nice to hear her say it.]

Thursday, August 11, 2011

GLS 2b: Mayor Cory Booker “Stand Up”

cory_bookerGlobal Leadership Summit Session Two B: Cory Booker Mayor of Newark, New Jersey.

What does it mean to standup for something?  You will always face adversaries.  The world will try to reduce you to meritocracy.  But you are original.  Don’t let the world tell you who you are.  Rise.  We are here because people before us had vision and courage to stand up.

The only way to make change in the world is to start with oneself.  Right now in this moment, in any given set of circumstances, you can change the world.

[I bet this guy is going to run for president some day. You heard it here first.  He was really rockin’ the US constitution there at the end.]

GLS 2a: Len Schlesinger “Action Trumps Everything”

len_schlesingerGlobal Leadership Summit Session Two A: Len Schlesinger

[I had a hard time understanding his point. Read below at your own risk.]

Leaders try to get people from “here” to “there.” 

Before Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a dream” speech, he spent 3-5 years working on it and living it, hammering it out.

What is the “here?”  Global poverty, poor education, world hunger, unemployment that leads to violence, inadequate political processes.  How can we change it?  Create an alternative future, a better human future.

Entrepreneurship: believe in the future by creating it first.  Entrepreneurship is a disciplined that can be earned.  We are all entrepreneurs.

Most stories of successful entrepreneurs (Jobs, Gates, Zuckerberg) are nonsense.   Its not all about silicone valley.  The half-life of Fortune 25 companies is 10 years.

Successful serial entrepreneurs (according to studies) have a low appetite for risk.   Most don’t start with a clear vision. They don’t necessarily start original businesses, they just do things better.  42/50 successful entrepreneur teams just got together at first because they liked each other- there was no idea.

How can we all practice entrepreneurship? 

Understand the natural limitations of everything you have ever learned all your life.  The future cannot be extrapolated from the past.  Believing this can paralyze people.  We must live with unpredictability. 

If you can’t predict the future, create it. How?  Take small steps with what you’ve got at hand.  Limit the risk for each step.  Learn from each step.  Start with things you care about.  Successful entrepreneurs are always doing what they want to do.

Start worrying about what you want to do next, not what you’re doing now.

Failure doesn’t mean game over, it just means try again with experience.  You will learn things that nobody else knows.

Lead where you are.

GLS 1: Bill Hybels “5 Critical Questions of Leadership”

bill_hybelsGlobal Leadership Summit Session One: Bill Hybels

Disclaimer: These are my notes. They might not be exact quotes from speakers, and some of it below is just my reflections or summary.  But I’m trying to capture during the session what the speaker is saying.

Purpose of the Summit: When leaders stop learning, they stop leading.  When a leader gets better, everyone wins.  Every leader can get better, if they want to.

5 Critical Questions of Leadership:

1.  What is your current challenge level at work?

Everyone is at one of three levels: Under challenged, appropriately challenged, or dangerously over challenged.  Which one are you? You do your best work if you’re a little bit more than appropriately challenged.

For Senior Leaders in an organization: step it up.  Add something to get you more challenged.  You leadership gifts will atrophy if you’re not challenged enough.  BUT if you’re over-challenged, you will break down.  Senior leaders need to set the example.  If you’re stressed, your performance will increase, but if you’re over-stressed your performance will decrease.

Under challenged people/leaders usually leave their organization.

2.  What is your plan for dealing with challenging people in your organization?

I need to field and develop a fantastic leadership team for our fantastic ministry for our fantastic God.  But some people can do a lot of damage if they have bad attitudes.

How long should a person with a bad attitude be allowed to stay around?  Your team needs to set a limit, a time frame, in order to deal with it.

How do you deal with under performers (people who don’t carry their weight)?  Bill says three months.

The single most challenging issue is to deal with people who don’t have a high capacity, even though their great nice people.  Some people don’t have enough “elasticity” to grow, and thus limit their organization.

If you don’t deal with challenging people, your fantastic people will be really discouraged.

3.  Are you naming, facing, and resolving the problems that exist in your organization?

Denial is destructive.  Acts 2-4: there was a problem. Racial profiling, unequal distribution.  Acts 6: the leaders said we’re going to address this problem.  They built trust.  Acts 6:7 then the church grew even more.

We need to call problems problems and deal with them.  Part of your job is to look problems straight in the eye and address them.  All ideas, initiatives will decelerate eventually.

4.  When was the last time you examined the core of what your organization was all about?

What is our main thing?  Are we clear about our core?  It is easy for churches to lose the plot.

Churches are in the life-transforming business.  There is only one power able to do this- the gospel.  But what is the very message of the gospel?  You need to talk about this with your team.  What are the 5 words that best describe the good news of Jesus Christ?  Bill’s 5 words: 1. Love, 2. Evil (we have to discern evil, especially within us), 3. Rescue “substitutionary atoning work” of Christ 4. Choice (each person has to choose), 5. Restoration, God is trying to restore this broken world.

When teams talk through this they get more excited about it and more passionate about declaring it.

5.  Have you had your leadership bell rung recently?

What book or issue or talk or crisis rocked your leadership lately?  We don’t learn or grow without getting seriously challenged.

How you finish in leadership is how you will be remembered.  Make the next 5 years your best 5 in leadership.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Encountering the World of Islam, Online Course from Sept. 5 - Dec. 4

From Encountering the World of Islam:

EWI is a 12-week course for people interested in learning about God's heart for Muslims and about the history and culture of the Muslim world.

Encountering the World of Islam presents a fresh perspective on the Islamic faith to the body of Christ in the United States and internationally. Students work to understand Muslims from a variety of perspectives, wrestle with what it means to be a good neighbor to a Muslim, and think about how to communicate the gospel as good news to Muslims.

EWI Online's 12 lessons follow the 12 chapters in the book Encountering the World of Islam. Course includes lectures by expert speakers with experience living and working among Muslims and hands-on assignments, all facilitated by an online classroom.

Live EWI class locations can be found here.

To learn more about EWI Online classes, click here.

When: September 5th, 2011 8:00 AM through December 4th, 2011 11:00 PM

Gospel Clothing Part III

First, see Gospel Clothing, then Gospel Clothing Part II.

Here is part 3, from David Wells:

It is the task of theology, then, to discover what God has said in and through Scripture and to clothe that in a conceptuality which is native to our own age.  Scripture, at its terminus a quo [starting point], needs to be de-contextualized in order to grasp its transcultural content, and it needs to be re-contextualized in order that its content may be meshed with the cognitive assumptions and social patterns of our own time.

Read the whole thing.

This is such an important concept, especially for those who want to preach the “pure gospel” to Muslims.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Global Leadership Summit

This week my wife and I will be attending the Global Leadership Summit:

The Global Leadership Summit exists to transform Christian leaders around the world with an injection of vision, skill development, and inspiration for the sake of the local church.

I’ll try to blog about some of the key moments or insights from the conference.

See this interesting article about the Summit in Fast Company: How Willow Creek Is Leading Evangelicals by Learning From the Business World.

“Incarnational” Mission?

Some people I really respect, such as Andreas Köstenberger, argue that the term “incarnational” as used to describe our mode or model of ministry is unhelpful and misleading, because it makes Jesus’ specific mission of atonement for sin less unique and trivializes the actual incarnation event.  But I think the term is great.  As Alan Hirsch says, “The implications of the incarnation for mission are massive.

Ed Stetzer has a great series arguing that the term “incarnational ministry” is not only biblically justifiable, but necessary and incredibly helpful.  You can read it here: Why We Should Use the Phrase "Incarnational Mission" (Part 1 of 3), Part 2, and Part 3.

See also the Infinite Translatability of the Christian Faith.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Al Qeada is to Islam what the KKK is to Christianity.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fasting and Sacrifice Evangelism Resources that Only Use the Qur’an

From the Arabic website: www.beautyamongtheruins.com.  These two are in English:

The Secrets of the Blessed Feast Id Al-Adha

The Acceptable Fast

Other resources at the website as well.  Those at the bottom use the Bible.


I watched the film Amreeka (2009) last night.  Go to www.amreeka.com for a preview and more info.  The film did a good job showing the Arab (and Muslim) experience of immigrating to and living in the US.  (I didn’t like the plot and the ending left me wanting more, but I did like Transformers 3 so I guess you can’t trust me.)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Welcome to our Muslim Brothers - !أهلا وسهلا

I have noticed that recently we have had a lot of visitors from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Pakistan, Iraq, Jordan, and other nations.  I want to welcome our brothers (and sisters) from the Muslim world to Circumpolar.  I want you to know that although we have a general idea of where our visitors come from through viewing national ISP's, we do not precisely track your visits, so that you retain your privacy.  Even though we do not know exactly who you are, Allah does!  And we welcome you to this blog.  I hope that you find our discussions here to be respectful, appropriate, and truthful.  May we all learn what it means to walk the straight path (الطريق المستقيم) of 'Isa al-Masih, insh'allah!  Ramadan mubarak wa Ramadan kareem, insh'allah!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ramadan Begins - 30 Days of Prayer for Muslims

Ramadan begins today, August 1.  Might I encourage some of you to fast for all or part of the month, asking the Lord to move mightily?

Learn all you need to know about praying for Muslims during Ramadan: