Friday, June 29, 2012

Rinse your Cottage Cheese and other Great Leadership Tips

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A great leadership tip is like a good toothbrush to a dentist, it helps a leader brush up on their skills and not get bogged down by plaque!

Leaders are not simply born, they are made. I assume Winston Churchill never woke up one morning and said, 'Ladies and Gentlemen, I am now a leader'.

This is the thing: leadership development is not just gleaned from a one off conference where the facilitators are nice enough to let you get to keep the name-tag! The leadership development process is a day-to-day adventure, of grabbing hold of God-given dreams, inspiring others to help you, and to change the world in the process!

Amongst the plethora of leadership teachings, tips and ideas, leadership Blogs, leadership articles and great leadership books, here's another Blog post. A Blog post that offers ten leadership tips and will take you a step further along the adventurous road of leadership discovery and growth. 

So here is my 'Rinse your Cottage Cheese and other Great Leadership Tips' post:

Leadership Tip No. 1: Rinse your cottage cheese. One small step of discipline can make all the difference. Jim Collins in Good to Great writes:
The analogy comes from a disciplined world-class athlete named Dave Scott, who won the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon six times. In training, Scott would ride his bike 75 miles, swim 20,000 meters, and run 17 miles - on average, every single day. Dave Scott did not have a weight problem! Yet he believed that a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet would give him an extra edge. So, Dave Scott - a man who burned at least 5,000 calories a day in training - would literally rinse his cottage cheese to get the extra fat off. (p. 127)

Leadership Tip No. 2: Integrity  and trust are the foundations of leadership. Without good character, and developing trust, sooner or lately the foundations will crack.

Leadership Tip No. 3: A positive mental attitude is much better than a mind that wanders down a road of negativity.

Leadership Tip No. 4: Without vision the people wander aimlessly (Proverbs 29:18).

Leadership Tip No. 5: Developing leaders who develop other leaders creates multiplication.

Leadership Tip No. 6: The sweet potato credibility test - You cannot take a sweet potato and sniff it, bake it and garnish it, and thus make it into a normal potato. It will always be a sweet potato. Likewise, you cannot dress up someone without good character and sustain credibility for very long. People will see right through it.

Leadership Tip No. 7: Leaders have a different vocabulary. You do not hear words like mediocrity, apathy and half-heartedness often. Tenacity and perseverance is the order of the day.

Leadership Tip No. 8: Godly leaders set their hearts on things above (Col 3:2); not on worldly success, fame, fortune or any other hedonistic ambition.

Leadership Tip No. 9: Proximity changes perception. Allowing people in your circles of influence to be involved in understanding your decision making processes, and to be up close and personal to the leadership challenges you face, will change their perception. Proximity builds understanding. How often have you whined about a Prime Minister, Queen or President? Now, how often have you been inside their office, read their emails, understood the pressure they are under and worked as hard as they work? Proximity changes perception. 

Leadership Tip No. 10: Leaders create, build and sustain momentum. Like the winning team in a game of football, the momentum shifts. It is hard to knuckle down what this element is, but holding on to it is great!

Now that you have brushed up a little on some leadership tips, keep scrubbing and check out more leadership tips and teachings here.

Join Disciples in Training on Facebook for more discussion.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Little Move of God...

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Well let me share the story.

A couple of years ago, a young woman was invited to Mainly Music (Palmerston Salvation Army) , and found herself bringing her little munch-kin along every few weeks.

We have a few laughs. Dance on our happy feet. Sip some coffee. Then we repeat it all again a week or two later.

The husband comes along once or twice. The ice is broken.

Messy Church starts up once a month and this little family is there. Tipping the toe in, and seeing what it's all about.

"Who are these religious people, and why are they enjoying life so much and cracking so many jokes?"

We invite the guy to join our indoor cricket team.

(Right now, he's probably reading this, saying, "Hey! You're talking about me, I hope you're going to pay me money for this?!" Sorry mate, my Blog does not have the same budget as Sixty Minutes... yet).

After months of pats on the back; laughs and lemon squashes, these guys rock up at church.

STOP! Let me tell you a secret... 

I don't think these guys thought they would enjoy the church quite as much as they did.

Now, it was not because of the quality of the music, nor the sermon, not even the morning tea (as good as it was). It may have something to do with relationship, but that's not the main ingredient.

I think it's something that runs deeper than the glaringly obvious and the otherwise meaningless superficialities...

Something hard to explain. Something hard to put the finger on. Something that pervades the atmosphere, but is not found when you lick your finger and put it in the air. Something that every church needs every day.

What am I talking about?

I'm talking about a little move of God.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

School Chaplaincy at Threat at the High Court of Australia

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School Chaplain Andrea Eadie
and SU Qld CEO Peter James

The Federal Government's funding model for School Chaplains is not valid according to a ruling today from the High Court of Australia.

What does this mean?

Does this mean school chaplaincy in Australia is getting the axe? Does it mean chaplaincy in Australia is not something that can or should be funded by the Australian Government?

We haven't become THAT secular yet.

The High Court ruling means the funding agreement between SUQ (Scripture Union Queensland) and the Commonwealth Government of Australia needs to be reworked. In fact Labor politicians such as Nicola Roxon (Attorney-General) and Peter Garrett (Minister for School Education) came out today saying School Chaplaincy will continue in Australian schools.

Praise God.

You can find a summary of the High Court ruling here.

Some may say that freedom of religion was on trial; another step towards the secularisation of Australian culture. Dare I say, it resembles the push towards endorsing same-sex marriages, a debate that pops its head up into the media every couple of days.

Interestingly the High Court ruling said this:

The High Court unanimously dismissed [the] part of Mr Williams' challenge [about freedom of religion]  based on s 116 of the Constitution. Relevantly, s 116 provides that "no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth". Mr Williams contended that the definition of "school chaplain" in the  NSCP Guidelines imposed a religious test for that office, and that the position of a "school chaplain" was an "office ... under the Commonwealth". The High Court held that the school chaplain engaged by SUQ to provide services at the School did not hold office under the Commonwealth. The chaplain did not enter into any contractual or other arrangement with the Commonwealth.
That is, this was not a finding that said Government was in the wrong for working with a religious organisation! This case did NOT say, that Government cannot fund religious work. It DID say that the Government's funding agreement, was invalid (though not because it was faith based!) Ronald Williams possibly then didn't achieve all he had hoped for in his case against the Commonwealth.

Knowing Dave Tolputt (State Director -Scripture Union Victoria) very well, and currently working closely along Glen Simpkins (Director - Scripture Union Northern Territory), I can personally attest to the amazing, selfless work the guys at Scripture Union do; bringing hope into the lives of thousands of people across Australia.

Lord, let such great life changing ministry continue.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Darren Hayes, The Salvation Army and Gay Marriage

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The Gay Marriage debate in Australia is on again. This time the media erupted into a frenzy when popular singer Darren Hayes tweeted to his 60,000 twitter followers, "Important for gay people to know the true position of the Salvation Army when considering who to donate to. Sad." 
(On an aside note. I wish my twitter posts would cause the media to pay that much attention!)

The Salvation Army then released a
media release attempting to clarify their position on 'human sexuality' with references to homosexuality, inclusiveness, and The Salvation Army's continual involvement in non-discriminatory social work.

The international mission statement of The Salvation Army is:

The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church.Its message is based on the Bible.Its ministry is motivated by the love of God.Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in his name without discrimination.

A parliamentary committee met recently to discuss the two bills put forward to the Australian Parliament related to the Marriage Act. 
Sydney Morning Herald writes, "ADVOCATES of same-sex marriage accept Parliament will defeat two bills later this year calling to legalise gay marriage but believe public pressure will ultimately prevail."
Time will tell.

276,000 responses were put forth by the Australian public in the inquiry. See ninemsn's take on it. 
 The responses were about 65% supportive of same-sex marriages, and 35% not supportive of same-sex marriages.

All I have to say is this...

Happy reading to someone in Canberra!

Do you support Gay Marriage? Are you opposed? Why?

Christianity is for Wimps?

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What a Load of Christian Baloney!

I have a relative who is absolutely convinced, that if he becomes a ‘Christian’ then life would be terribly religious, rigid and unexciting. Let’s be honest, that’s what he believes. He’ll be stuck in church for the rest of his life, and then stuck in heaven with a bunch of bible bashers and people wearing light brown woollen sweaters for all of eternity. Wow. Sounds like something worth pursuing...

He assumes that he would have to give up the drink, sit in the church and sing hymns, offer too much of his pay-check to ‘religion’ and his life would be miserable. I bet you've thought this before.

Don't stop reading here, even though you know, what comes next may be a religious attempt to justify the church’s position on particular theological viewpoints and attempt to woo you from your current way of living. Let’s not beat around the bush – Jesus calls for a life of self-sacrifice. He calls people to live for God and others, more than they live for themselves. That goes against the grain of the individualistic, self-centred culture that is trumpeted by media advertising. They say, ‘It’s time to upgrade your TV to a bigger one’ ‘It’s time to be dissatisfied with what you wear – come and shop here...’ ‘Get all the options YOU need, when you get this insurance.’ That is what makes the whole Christian thing counter-cultural. It says, ‘Hey, stop living for yourself and live for others’.

If I’m brutally honest, I don’t like organised religion. I am uncomfortable living life under excessive rules and regulations, and Christianity is at times, a Western World construct that unknowingly burdens people into religiosity. BUT, the message behind the religion is not about rules and regulations, per se, but about a relationship. What are some words that are relevant here...? I am thinking, love God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength and love your neighbour as yourself. This is, ultimately about relationship, not religiosity, and is about living for God, and living for others.

I’m not going to sugar coat Christianity, by saying following the God who created you is going to make life all rosy and peachy. I’m also not saying, that following God still allows you to live as you please and hold onto this, ‘I’m gonna live the way I want to live’ kind of mantra. Though, I will say, that following Jesus, gives eternal purpose to your existence. It offers a counter-cultural way of living, that kicks the consumerist self-centred life where it hurts. It calls you to live for God and to focus on others more than yourself.

Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate pre-conceived ideas about religion, 'becoming a Christian' and church. A relationship is offered to you from God, through Christ, and all you have to do, is believe in him through faith. Why not consider offering up a prayer today, that says, ‘God, I want to know who you are, help me to know Jesus...’

It’s that easy.
Send me an email if you make that decision today.

God bless!


Public Speaking - How to Speak Without Notes

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Public speaking is a scary concept for many people, though many have learnt the art of public speaking. I am still learning this art, but after 12 years of preaching, speaking in front of Rotary Clubs, school classrooms, etc, I have learnt some tips on communicating along the way!

This post is about speaking without notes. Now, to clarify, if you are a nervous public speaker, then this may seem like a huge jump for you, and speaking without notes may seem like too big a jump. If so, go have a coffee, and read a different post. Check out this one on tips on communicating effectively. Though, if you're willing to take a dive into this style of communication, then read on.

Communicating to a crowd without notes can have many benefits. Before I offer some tips on how to arrive at the point of ditching the notes, let me explain the benefits of not using them:

  • Your eyes are more likely to be focused towards the listening audience, and not the notes
  • There is a certain level of freedom that you can feel
  • People are not distracted as much by shuffling with notes and nervously holding on to a pulpit/podium
  • The listening audience generally sense you are more knowledgeable about your topic and more confident.
  • The listening audience are more engaged. (I sense this to be generally true when you speak without notes, as you are 'eye-balling' the crowd more - you are not hiding behind the podium).
Generally speaking, the benefits then of public speaking is a more engaged crowd. A crowd that is actively listening. (Of course you can still communicate without notes and still be absolutely terrible!)

So how do you speak to a crowd with no notes?

Here are some tips I have personally found helpful to engage in public speaking without notes:

  • Study your subject matter extensively. If it's preaching, then read up on the Scriptures, Biblical Commentaries, books by credible authors, etc. This takes time, but if you want to arrive at communicating with freedom, then you need to know your content!
  • Not only study your subject matter, but learn it. There's a difference.
  • Write out the presentation/sermon/talk in full. Some times people skip this step, and I have skipped this step at times. I find when I do skip the discipline of writing out what I want to communicate in full, I do not speak with as much clarity and depth if I then choose to use no notes.
  • Once you have written out your message in full, break it down into points. You can keep a copy of the fully written piece and open a new document. You are now on the way to public speaking without notes! Make sure the points spark in your mind the content that is connected to that point.
  • All you have to do now, is memorize the points and you can communicate without notes!
If you choose to engage in public speaking, for whatever reason (and for me, it's to preach about Christ and the hope he gives), then you need to honour your listeners with the best. Sometimes people speak with fully written notes and bore everyone to death, and sometimes people speak without notes and have not done the ground work, and so it lacks depth and focus.

This all being said, you can speak well and inspire the listeners with notes. 

Though, there have been times I have invested in learning the material, writing it out extensively, shortening the message into points and then memorizing the points, and I must say, I have sensed a little adrenaline rush and freedom in speaking without being tied to the pulpit.

Public speaking is a privilege. Listeners deserve our best. 

God help us learn the art of public speaking!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Twitter Q&A - Add your Prickly, Challenging Question on Faith and Leadership HERE!

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We are currently collating questions to be used for a new TWITTER Q&A page, where answers will be intended to be answered succinctly and clearly. Links will be given for questions that require a deeper answer.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mentoring: What to Look for in a Mentor


Good mentors are like chewing gum to bad breath.

Personally, without good mentors over the last 12 years, who knows where I would be in spiritual leadership, and what characteristics would be most evident in my life. I tell you, I would be 10 steps further back, if you know what I mean.

Some of you are nodding your heads, because you understand the value of good mentors.

So lets have a brief look at mentoring, and what makes a good mentor.

Edward Sellner in his book called, 'Mentoring' lists characteristics on what to look for in a mentor:
  • Maturity - wisdom that comes only from age.
  • Compassion - the ability to listen to the person being mentored and to not judge. The mentor should be able to offer advice, of course, but in a way that shows compassion.
  • Genuine respect - People being mentored can quickly glean whether there is a deep level of respect present, and whether the mentor is really listening or not.
  • Trust - The ability to keep things confidential. A mentor needs to be trusted to keep what's said in the room, IN the room.
  • Self-disclosure - The willingness for the mentor to share their own stories in order to encourage the person being mentored. An impact is made when the stories are their own and are stories that encapsulate things like pushing through the pain, not giving up, faithfulness, trusting God even when the chips were down, etc.
  • A mentor who is continually learning (or as Sellner says, a 'Scholar') - If someone being mentored is being asked to learn and grow, then there is respect and authenticity when the mentor is on that same kind of journey of growth!
  • A discerning spirit - There may be moments when the mentor should just sit there and listen. There are other times, they should drive a point home with passion. It is all in the discernment. It is all relative to the context, of what is being said, the emotional baggage that surrounds the topic and this is where the mentor needs discernment. (Adapted from Leighton Ford in Leaders on Leadership). 
Mentoring is a privilege. I thank God for good mentors over the years. I thank God for the mentoring that is to come, that will encourage and further equip me for serving God in the future.

Hats off to all the mentors out there! Well done!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Jamie Oliver, Artichokes and the Local Church

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What do Jamie Oliver, artichokes and the local church have in common?

At first glance, there are little strands of commonality. Jamie Oliver a famous, respected chef, that has informed millions of people on the art of healthy cooking. The local church, a group of people striving after wholeness, fulfilment and a better world that better reflects God and his purposes.

Lets go beyond the pine nut and broccoli dish, with the side serve of calamari chilli.

There is something about Jamie Oliver AND the local church that has my bells ringing.

Ring, Ring.

You know what it is?

It's freedom of style. It's the generous nature. It's the "give it all you've got" kind of attitude. It's the vision to transform society with the core mission at hand. It's the capacity to use resources and influence to make a positive change. It's the 'breaking the rules' kind of mantra, that respects the fundamentals, but tests the boundaries. It's about giving it a go.

Jamie Oliver is king at that.

The church still has a way to go, but in many places is making it happen.

When the church grasps the idea of adaptation, lays down its fear of change and wholeheartedly explores new expressions of Christ-centred ministry, great stories evolve.

Will you be a part of one of those stories?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Letter of Sincere Apology to those Scarred by Organised Religion

1 comment:

Dear Friend,

I am deeply saddened by the stories of pain and hurt I have been hearing lately. Stories of broken relationships and examples of religious abuse that have caused a falling away from 'organized religion'. I am deeply saddened  because of the long lasting, personal effects this has had on many reading this letter.

As an officer in The Salvation Army I have heard the pain. I am just as privy as others to the throw away lines; you know, the comments people say, that when the layers are peeled back, reveals a complex story of abuse, neglect, pain and fear. The cause of the pain and the reason for the feelings of resentment are varied, but for some, they are reasons that are rarely spoken of; atleast not overtly. For others, that's all that they can speak about, because the pain is still so raw.

I want to say sorry.

Not because I have much ecclesiastical authority. Not because I intend to sell my latest book. Not because I need you to sign a dotted line.

I am sorry.

I don't even hold much influence. I don't have a large church, and 97% of those following me on twitter would not notice if I stopped posting.

I am simply offering an apology.

All I can pray right now, is that God may cause the pain to subside. Maybe there could be reconciliation. Maybe there could be forgiveness. I don't know.

The Word offers us encouragement when it says: Colossians 3:12-13 - "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."

Forgiveness will set the heart free. It will clear the mind. It will pressure spray the dirt away from the clogged up mess of broken relationships.

I can't say I know your story and I can't even say that I understand your story, nor the effects it has had on your outlook on faith, religion, leadership or relationships. Though I can say I pray God will be close to you, and heal the pain that has simmered away for some time.

I hope some may forward this on to those it may be applicable to...

God bless,


Blessed are the Beatitudes, for Blog Readers shall understand them

1 comment:

BLESSED are the Beatitudes, for Blog Readers shall understand them.

The Sermon on the Mount is about to be preached. What do you start with?

If I could write the beatitudes, and you were able to help me, maybe we would come up with the following words:

Blessed are you when you are rich in possessions and gifting, because that's the results of following me.Blessed are you when you are continuously joyful, because that is just what happens for Christians.Blessed are you when everything works out well, because that's the outcome of following me.Blessed are you when all your family problems are automatically solved, andBlessed are you when I rig the tatts lotto for you, so that you can live a healthy, rich and happy life...

These are Pete’s Beatitudes! Check out Pete's cheeky beginner's guide to attending church!

This is not what Jesus says. What he says is countercultural.

It was countercultural then, and it’s definitely countercultural now.

Jesus sat down with the disciples on the mountain top and began to teach them. What is recorded in Matthew chapters 5 – 7 is what is labelled the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus begins with what we now know as the beatitudes. 'Blessed are the poor in spirit...' 'Blessed are the meek...' 'Blessed are the peacemakers...' 

Jesus’ Beatitudes

Mat 5:1  Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 
Mat 5:2  and he began to teach them. He said: 
Mat 5:3  "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
Mat 5:4  Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 
Mat 5:5  Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 
Mat 5:6  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 
Mat 5:7  Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 
Mat 5:8  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 
Mat 5:9  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 
Mat 5:10  Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
Mat 5:11  "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 
Mat 5:12  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven...’ (Matthew 5:3)

Jesus isn’t saying that people that are poor in spirit automatically get into heaven. No. What he’s saying, I think, is this:

If you are poor, feeling low or depressed, you are more likely to respond to Jesus. You are more likely to enter his kingdom. We only have to think of a family member who has a nice, comfortable full-time job, the kids are well behaved, and the holiday is almost payed for. Why would they respond to Jesus? It’s not that they can’t, it’s that they generally don’t. One day, they’ll hopefully realise how empty they are without God in their life... But the statement stands true, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’

What about you? Maybe you are questioning why you even find yourself reading this post! Maybe though, you’re sensing, I am that person you’re talking about. I am poor in spirit. I need something more. I’m reaching out, calling out, saying some prayers, and I need God. Well, let me tell you, ‘The kingdom of heaven is for you!’ Respond to him today!

“Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

Again, I think, when you are in grief because of a death in the family, or mourning over the loss of a job, a relationship or even a little lost children’s toy, you are more likely to reach after God. And when you reach out to God, you will be comforted. One of the amazing aspects of the Holy Spirit is to be a comforter. Someone to come alongside you! So if you are grieving, take encouragement from this beatitude. Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)

Let me relay a story to you:
(From "In his book Humilitas, pastor John Dickson illustrates the beauty of humility in the life of Sir Edmund Hillary. In 1953 Hillary conquered Mount Everest with his Sherpa friend and guide, Tenzin Norgay. Consequently, in that same year Hillary was knighted; in 1985 he was made New Zealand's highest commissioner to India, Nepal, and Bangladesh; and in 1995 he received the British realm's highest award, the Order of the Gater (membership of which is limited to just twenty-four individuals). But despite Hilary's achievements and rewards, he maintained a humble outlook and a readiness to serve others.
John Dickson captures one story that reveals Sir Edmund's profound humility:
On one of his many trips back to the Himalayas he was spotted by a group of tourist climbers. They begged for a photo with the great man, and Hillary obliged. They handed him an ice pick so he would look the part and set up for the photograph. Just then another climber passed the group and, not recognizing the man at the centre, strode up to Hillary saying, "Excuse me, that's not how you hold an ice pick. Let me show you."
Everyone stood around in amazed silence as Hillary thanked the man, let him adjust the pick, and happily went on with the photograph.
It doesn't matter how experienced that other climber was; his greatness was diminished by this intrusive presumption. We are repelled by pride. Edmund Hillary's greatness, however, is somehow enhanced by this humility."

Have you ever heard of the upside down kingdom of God? We think in society, the people who will be reward most in the end will be the most successful, the most powerful, and the most intelligent. In fact, it is not PRIDE that God smiles upon. It is not being prideful that Jesus says will be rewarded. It’s the upside down nature of God’s kingdom. Humility will be rewarded. Meekness will be rewarded. And in the end of the days, what Jesus will bless the most will be those that served and loved him, with humility.
See verses like Matt 19:30, 20:16, Mark 10:31, Luke 13:30 – The first will be last, and the last will be first.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)

Let me begin this section by saying, that I am a part of The Salvation Army and The Salvation Army is a holiness movement. We hunger and thirst for righteousness. Or more simply put, we long to do what is right for God.
Matthew 5:8 picks up the same kind of idea.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 
I heard a story once of a charismatic church that was ‘successful’. The pastor had a book deal. People gave generously. The church was well known. They had just entered their new auditorium. Successful in the eyes of the world, I guess. A mate of mine, a Salvation Army Officer, who knows the pastor from a local minister’s network, had coffee with the pastor. They discussed many things, but one discussion was about ‘doctrines’, about what the church believes; their belief system.
In The Salvation Army we have eleven doctrines that outline what we believe. Like, we believe that Jesus has by his death and resurrection made an atonement for the whole world, so that whosoever will may be saved. We believe in the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), and so on. As they were discussing these beliefs, The Salvation Army officer said, ‘You know what the issue is. Your church doesn’t have a doctrine about holiness’.
Let me explain. This particular charismatic church has a whole set of beliefs similar to many churches, but they were missing one vital doctrine. Within The Salvation Army this is the tenth doctrinein our doctrinal statements:
“We believe that it is a privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified, and that their whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Let me clarify. The church in this example, was doing well in many respects, though the focus seemed to be more on the success of the church, than it was about Christ and his kingdom. Holiness seemed to be lacking. The Pastor was more concerned in chatting about himself, than anything else!
For Salvationists, Wesleyans and others, hungering and thirsting for righteousness is key. It’s part of the DNA. Holiness is a must. It’s one of the doctrines.
It is fundamental to the church’s existence. It must permeate the culture of the church. It stops us from running after ‘success’ from a worldly perspective but ‘success’ in the eyes of Jesus. Souls saved. The oppressed set free. We MUST hunger and thirst for righteousness. And we will be filled; filled with purpose, holiness and the Spirit’s power.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7)

There was a famous pilot who was doing a routine fly, and then there were engine problems. The plane was in deep trouble. He would have to make an emergency landing. The engines had failed and he would have to strive to land the plane safely without the proper functions within the plane. He landed the plane safely... Just.
As he gets off the plane, he heads towards the hangar. The serviceman, who had serviced the man’s plane, had put the wrong fuel into the plane. The serviceman was nervous. He had sweaty palms, was upset and beside himself. He began to consider what other profession he might be able to start. Maybe Costco, Wal-Mart or Toyota were looking for new employees.
The famous pilot walked towards the engineer. “Excuse me, are you the one that serviced my plane.”
“Yes sir.”
“Well, here are my keys for my plane. Please have it ready for me to fly out tomorrow morning. And I’m confident you’ll never make that mistake again...”
That’s mercy.  That’s grace.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. As they had shown mercy on others, Jesus will show mercy on them.
Matthew 5:9 touches on a similar thought.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 

Matthew 5:10  Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:11  Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Matthew 5:12  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 

The last three verses of the beatitudes are about persecution. As I’m a resident in Australia, I understand persecution to be expressed quite differently to some third world countries. Many people are still being executed for their Christian faith in 2012, not to mention electrocution, torture, solitary confinement and all forms of abuse.
In Australia and probably the Western World, persecution has a different look. It looks like a pastor being taken to court by an Islamic group for allegedly vilifying Muslims during a sermon. It happens when I’m watching “Q&A on ABC” with Tony Jones, when a conservative says they don’t believe in gay marriage and people laugh and jeer at them. It happens at School, when someone asks you what you did on Sunday, and you say you went to church, and then they disown you. It happens in the workplace when you choose to be what people label a ‘goody-goody two shoes’ and you feel like an outsider.
But here’s the good news, rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven!
So if you are poor in spirit, mourning, merciful, persecuted, then be blessed!

To finish off this sermon on the beatitudes, here is Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of the first part of the Sermon on the Mount:

MESSAGE Version (Matthew 5:1-12): 1 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down 2 and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
3 "You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. 4 "You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.5 "You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.6 "You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.7 "You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'carefull,' you find yourselves cared for.8 "You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.9 "You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.10 "You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.11 "Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. 12 You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

BLESSED are the Beatitudes, for Blog Readers shall understand them.

Friday, June 8, 2012

I'll never give up until something is different...

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I'll never give up.

I can't. I won't.

There's too much at stake.

While people live their hedonistic, secular lives, with Friday night booze ups and Saturday morning hangovers; there's opportunity to offer something different.

While some consume their life with football, dance, soccer and music practice, there's opportunity to offer something different.

While TV is the obsession, food is the focus and 'family-time' is extremely precious, there's opportunity to offer something different.


When you try Christ, or rather, when you follow Christ, something becomes different. Life changes. You have something to live for, and purpose behind your existence.

When you have Christ, you have forgiveness, hope, faith, purpose, love, joy and all the rest that surrounds him.

So, there you have it. I want people to know him.

That's why...

I'll never give up.

I can't. I won't.

There's too much at stake.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Salvation Army Officer's Covenant: Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

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When I became a Salvation Army Officer, I signed a covenant (an agreement with God). I signed this document in the presence of others as my witness. I have eagerly revisited these words lately, as my passion has been to keep the main thing, the main thing. Let me say this:

While the demands of life seemingly force me into a vortex of mediocrity (the same old things everyday), this officer's covenant keeps me focused on the main reason for my existence. 

Even if you have read the Salvation Army Officer's Covenant before, have a read of what this covenant says:


to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
as an officer of The Salvation Army

to love and serve him supremely all my days,

to live to win souls and make their salvation the first purpose of my life,

to care for the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, love the unlovable, and befriend those who have no friends,

to maintain the doctrines and principles of The Salvation Army, and, by God's grace to prove myself a worthy officer.
Done in the strength of my Lord and Saviour, and in the presence of (the following wording to be adapted to local circumstances) the Territorial Commander, training college officers and fellow cadets.

So I intend on keeping the main thing, the main thing. I will not be distracted by the busyness of life, the temptations of the devil, or the niceness of church programs and ministries. I will live to fulfil this covenant and by God's grace, I'll one day hear God say, 'Hey, well done, good and faithful servant!'

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Speak Simply! Communicate God's Word so People Understand

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Now, I know you are a complex human being, but please, speak simply!

In George Muller's autobiography, he writes:
Simplicity in expression is of utmost importance. The teacher should speak so that even children and people who cannot read may be able to understand him, as far as the natural mind can comprehend the things of God. Every congregation has people of various educational and social backgrounds. The expounder of the truth of God speaks for God and for eternity. It is unlikely that he will benefit the hearers unless he uses plain speech (p. 34).
Even back in the mid 1800s, George Muller had a passion to communicate the Word of God in a way that the masses understood. Though Muller was an intelligent man, who spent much time studying Hebrew, Greek, etc, he was passionate about people understanding what is written in the Bible.

No doubt the Bible contains deep truths, that even the brightest of theologians struggle to grasp, but the challenge is to take complex ideas and thoughts and communicate them with simplicity.

I am always amazed when I read social media sites, and read of Christians quoting the King James Version of the Bible. I am sure King James, if he were alive today, would be very proud. In fact, thus saith the Lord, he speaketh very much happiness of this. What irks me about this, is not the message of the KJV per se, but rather the unnecessary hurdles we put in front of people in order for them to respond to the message of Christ.

Here are some tips on communicating effectively.

Let's make the gospel of Christ accessible to the average person.

Jesus died for your sins. Ask him for forgiveness. Start living for him today.

The challenge we each have, is to take the Word of God, in all of its fullness and its complexity and communicate the nuggets of truth that we derive from our engagement with it.

Take complex thought and make it simple.      

George Muller on Preaching

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Here are some excerpts from George Muller from The Autobiography of George Muller (compiled in 1984):
Sometimes I still do not have a text [to preach on] after praying. At first I was puzzled by this, but I have learned to simply continue with my regular reading of the Scriptures, praying while I read for a text. I have had to read five, ten, even twenty chapters before the Lord has given me a text. Many times I have even had to go to the meeting place without a subject. But I have always obtained it, perhaps, only a few minutes before I was going to speak (p. 31-32).
As a preacher myself, I am trying hard to imagine what I would be feeling, if I still did not have any clue what I was communicating to the listeners, three minutes before speaking! Then George Muller goes on to offer his advice on preaching:
The preparation for the public ministry of the Word is even more excellent than preaching in church. To live in constant communion with the Lord, and to be habitually and frequently in meditation over the truth is its own reward. 
Expounding the Scriptures [Exegesis] is more beneficial especially when studying a whole gospel or epistle. This may be done either by entering minutely into the meaning of every verse or by giving the main points and leading the hearers to see the overall meaning of the whole book. Expounding the Scriptures encourages the congregation that leads believers to value the Scriptures is important (p. 33).
Then Muller throws a punch with this comment:
This method of preaching is more beneficial to the hearers than if, on a single verse, some remarks are made so that the portion of Scripture is scarcely anything but a motto for the subject (p. 33).
Here's a man, George Muller, known for his faith, in living without a wage, and praying and watching God constantly provide. Here's a man, passionate about the Word of God, and encouraging preachers of the Word, to study it, meditate on it, and expound the Scriptures so as to have the most effect on its listeners when they preach the Word.

Good on you George Muller. Well said.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

French and Raven's Five Sources of Power - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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Five Sources of Power - French and Raven

We all have power to some degree and exert that power in everyday life. John R. P. French and Bertram Raven in 1959 developed an organisational study on power, and came up with five forms of power. Others have suggested adaptations of these leadership teachings, but French and Raven offer the foundational understanding of power. These cover the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to power and influence. Maybe you know some people who exhibit some of these.

The five sources of power are legitimate power, coercive power, reward power, expert power and referent power. Let me explain briefly these five forms of power.

(Also have a look at the TOP 100 Leadership Tips here.)

Legitimate Power (Positional Power)

Legitimate power is the power that comes out of the position that is held. Some examples are CEOs, parents, politicians, fire chiefs, etc. The mere fact that you have that position allows you to have positional power.

John C. Maxwell says that leaders who operate solely out of their position are really on the lowest level of leadership and will only empower people so much. Legitimate power is like the first level of leadership; leading from your position. It is a form of power, where people follow because of 'the position' and not because you have inspired them, or because of your expertise. The power that exists within legitimate power derives itself primarily from the position someone holds.

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Coercive Power

Coercive power is the most destructive use of power, that has short term advantages but will create terrible problems in the long term. Coercive power is what it infers - using coercion to get the results that are sought. This form of power might look like a demanding boss, who says, 'I want that on my desk by Friday, and no arguments... remember who's boss?' When we consider examples of coercive power, we might conjure up pictures of family abuse, autocratic business leaders, or political dictators.

I have seen first hand the effects of coercive power. Whether it be micromanagement that disempowers an employee, or strong words from the boss wanting an employee to fulfil a particular task.

The effects of this kind of negative coercive power from an employer to an employee are:
  • Employees will end up disliking their job
  • Employees will themselves become negative
  • Employees end up gossiping and 'debriefing' all too often
  • Employees spend much of their time seeking mentors and support
  • Employees look for another job
  • Employers gain short term outcomes from coercive power
  • Employers lose the loyalty and respect of employees
  • Coercive, forthright leadership is possibly satisfying for the employer
  • The employer feels in control when using 'coercive' power tactics
  • The employer has a low opinion of the quality and potential of the employee
Let's look at the next form of power that Raven and French mention.

Reward Power

Reward power is power that bases itself on the gifts and bonuses that one gives another. When a boss offers a pay rise to an employee, there is a sense that the boss has power in this relationship, albeit a positive one for the employee. The boss is using reward power in this instance. A parent knows too well the short term advantages of reward power, especially when attempting to discipline and guide children. If you are a parent, you no doubt would have tried saying, 'If you finish your dinner, I'll give you some icecream' (Reward = icecream!). Maybe you've said, 'If you put away those toys, we'll go down the park for awhile...' (Reward = playtime!).

Reward power at first glance is a positive form of power, though it is limited. If our ability to influence someone and the power that is exerted within this relationship is based soley on rewarding them, then we have limited leadership capacity. What do you do for an employee down the track when they already have a pay rise, employee of the month, and free tickets to the cinemas? Reward power is limited, and can at times be used to manipulate; although rewards and benefits when used occassionally can and do work well.

Expert Power

When you are knowledgeable and skilled in a particular area, generally you have power or leadership influence within that particular subject. Have a quick glance at the power and influence these people have and their particular fields of expertise:

The list goes on. The point is this - When you are knowledgeable in a particular area. When you are gifted in a particular subject, you have power based on the expertise you have. 

Let me explain. Recently we have had ambitions to begin a Community Garden at our Salvation Army premises. Recently the local Council organised a photo shoot with myself, the Council, other Non-for-profit groups and a Gardening Celebrity from Television. When this guy got out from the car, you could sense the power. I'm trying to sound weird here, but you know what I mean, you could sense the influence this man had. It was in the air! Now, this man had influence and 'power' in the relationships with others, because of his expertise in gardening. He had implemented lots of gardening ventures around Australia, funded many projects and has project managed many horticultural events and projects. His influence came from expert power.

(Check out the TOP 100 Leadership Tips here).

Referent Power

Referent power could better be named Charismatic Power. It is the power/influence that someone has because of their charisma, their bubbly personality, their appeal and their likeability. Maybe you are thinking about someone right now, who fits this bill. Maybe it's you? Referent power can be abused very easily, and this is a danger. People can rise to popularity, rise up the ranks in an organisation, expand their influence, etc, because of their charismatic ability to have people follow them. This referent power as such, says nothing about the persons character, integrity, life choices as such, and thus CAN be (but not necessarily), a superficial kind of power.

I know of friends who have charisma. I probably have it to a degree too. Though, if I rely solely on power that derives itself from charisma, I set myself up for issues with humility, and abuse of that power.

Use referent power carefully.

Godly Power

John R. P. French and Bertram Raven in 1959 did not offer Godly power as a source of power. This is my inclusion. Could I rename this, the six source of power, instead of five?

It is true to say, that you can be influential in life, make a great difference to society, transform organisational workplaces and the like, and not have Godly power. Though, if you are a follower of Jesus, you understand that Godly power is the most important. Acts 1:8 in the Bible says, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you... to be an effective witness to the truth.

Any desire to have an eternal impact on your community, with a message that transcends human structures and capacities, then you need Godly power. Godly power, given to you in Christ, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, ensures that you are not leaning on your own power for influence.

With Godly power, the tables are turned. Coercive power is out the window. Positional power comes from the positions in which God ordains. Referent power is used only as a way to point to God and expert power is used humbly before God, that always directs people beyond yourself to the Creator. Reward power is used only as God intends for you to be a blessing to others, not in a self-gratifying way, that means you reward others because YOU want to be influential and significant.

There you are. That's the five sources of power from French and Raven, including my addition of a sixth power, that of, Godly power.

Let me conclude this leadership synopsis with some words from Romans 12:2 - Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

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Friday, June 1, 2012

Salvation Army Global Statistics

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The Salvation Army's 2012 Yearbook highlights some of the following global statistics:

  • How many countries does The Salvation Army work in?
    • As of the High Council 2013 (August, 2013), The Salvation Army serves in 126 countries/territories.
  • How many languages are used within the work of The Salvation Army?
    • 175 languages.
  • How many Salvation Army Corps are there in the world?
    • Including outposts, societies, new corps plants and recovery churches, there are 15,765 Salvation Army Corps.
  • How many officers are in The Salvation Army?
    • The are 26,244 officers in The Salvation Army. 17,070 are active officers, 9,174 are retired officers.
  • How many Cadets are there currently in The Salvation Army?
    • As of 1st January 2011, there were 1,173 cadets in training within The Salvation Army.
  • How many senior soldiers are there in The Salvation Army?
    • There are currently 1,132,823 soldiers serving in The Salvation Army.
  • How many junior soldiers are there in The Salvation Army?
    • There are currently 383,349 junior soldiers (8-12 year olds) in The Salvation Army.
  • How many Homeless shelters and Emergency lodges do The Salvation Army have?
    • 422 Homeless hostels worldwide, with a capacity of 24,464 and 381 Emergency lodges worldwide, with a capacity of 19,074.
  • 288,380 prisoners are visited worldwide in The Salvation Army.
There is so much more that The Salvation Army do around the world, and this is simply a glimpse into some numbers. Naturally, this fails to encapsulate the significance of the relationships that are developed in Salvation Army Corps and Social Centres right around the world. Read for example, Commissioner Jim Knaggs blog on the work of The Salvation Army on the west coast of the United States.

When you hear of a young person kneeling at the mercy seat offering their life over to Christ, or you hear of the drug dependant 40 year old who has finally made a change, then and ONLY then, do you begin to describe living and breathing Salvation Army ministry! A global movement that sets its sights on winning the world for Jesus.

Read more of Pete Brookshaw's blog here

The Doctrines of The Salvation Army

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What are the doctrines of The Salvation Army?

There are eleven statements of faith that The Salvation Army adhere to. They are the fundamental beliefs that underpin the work of The Salvation Army:

We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice.

We believe that there is only one God, who is infinitely perfect, the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of all things, and who is the only proper object of religious worship.
We believe that there are three persons in the Godhead-the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, undivided in essence and co-equal in power and glory.
We believe that in the person of Jesus Christ the Divine and human natures are united, so that He is truly and properly God and truly and properly man.
We believe that our first parents were created in a state of innocency, but by their disobedience they lost their purity and happiness, and that in consequence of their fall all men have become sinners, totally depraved, and as such are justly exposed to the wrath of God.
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has by His suffering and death made an atonement for the whole world so that whosoever will may be saved.
We believe that repentance towards God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit, are necessary to salvation.
We believe that we are justified by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and that he that believeth hath the witness in himself.
We believe that continuance in a state of salvation depends upon continued obedient faith in Christ.
We believe that it is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified, and that their whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We believe in the immortality of the soul; in the resurrection of the body; in the general judgment at the end of the world; in the eternal happiness of the righteous; and in the endless punishment of the wicked.
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