Tuesday, March 3, 2015

FREE consulting offered for certain group enrollments ...

I have been sharing information about an outstanding course for equipping Christians to become highly effective disciple-makers (learn more about the course here). Now, the originator of this evangelistic model and professor for the course, John Hendee, is offering a FREE consulting package for certain group enrollments.

This is a great opportunity for churches, ministries, or missions interested in becoming disciple-making churches or disciple-making organizations to get some expert help in making the transition. Here is the information John provided about how to get FREE consulting for some of you enrolling in the course:

Any congregation, ministry, or mission that signs up at least 15 people from among their members, staff, or leadership for the March 16, 2015 eight-week online course I teach (Relational Evangelism using It’s All About Relationship) with Hope International University will receive FREE consultation from me on how to set up and operate an effective outreach program to help insure this training results in multiplication and reproduction of trained people to help reach people for Christ.

People can take the Open Class Course for $50 (no credit) or they can take it for undergrad or graduate credit for $300 (a three unit class). They will all be taking it at the same time.

You can sign up by writing Phil Towne at pbtowne@hiu.edu. Tell him you want to sign up your group for the March 16 class. Once we confirm you have 15 or more from your ministry, we will set up the consultation. If you have any questions about this write me at john.hendee@cox.net. We can talk ahead of time about the details. I can also send you an e-brochure with more details about the course.

My experience as a Consultant includes:
John Hendee
I served with Central Christian Church in Mesa, Arizona for 17 years as it grew into a mega-church. I wrote a book about the strategy we used titled “Smart Fishing.” I have also worked with smaller congregations. I developed the evangelism tool and model using the “It’s All About Relationship” (IAAR) over the past 35 years. I have also served for 22 years in missions in South America. I’ve written over ten books with more on the way. I’m currently working with Team Expansion to get the IAAR studies in other languages. Missionaries are taking the Relational Evangelism course even from overseas. I’m also serving as Chair of World Evangelism at Hope International University.

The consultation would include learning about your current ministry and making recommendations as to how you can have a multiplication and reproduction plan for your congregation. If your ministry is reasonably close, I can drive there or we could do this over the phone or via Skype. If you are farther away and you want to meet “live,” you will need to fly me there. I don’t need to be paid an honorarium for working with you. The consultation is free. I will be available to consult with you during the first year after your people start taking the online course.
I encourage you to take advantage of this great special opportunity. Get enrolled for the course today, it starts March 16!


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Running the race of life to win ...

The writer of the book of Hebrews in the Bible did a masterful job of wanting to motivate, encourage, and challenge his readers to run the race of life to win it!

Before making that challenge, he spends all of chapter 11 presenting to us the great "Hall of Faith," the men and women in the Bible who lived lives of great faith even though they may have been extraordinarily ordinary, or particularly sinful folks we wouldn't have initially thought would become heroes of faith.

Then the challenge begins with this in chapter 12 ...

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us," Hebrews 12:1.

The last part of that verse deserves our attention first. So many people think they get to design the race they'll be running in life, but look closely at that last sentence ...

"... And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us."

It is God who designs the race course, it's our role to run it! When we see the path God has laid out for us, many attempt to re-route themselves on a different, easier, preferable course than the one God has designed. All of us experience places along the course God has put in front of us that are easy and breathtakingly beautiful, but others parts of the race are less so and extremely difficult. Nonetheless, the challenge and encouragement is to endure through the race that God has set before us.

Forunately, the author of Hebrews provides us with the means of being able to win the race God has designed for each of us ...

"... let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up ..."

To make better sense of this great insight and point of wisdom provided to us, let's take a look at two different stories about a race of endurance ...

In 1845, the ill-fated Franklin Expedition sailed from England to find a passage across the Arctic Ocean.

The crew loaded their two sailing ships with a lot of things they didn't need: a 1,200 volume library, fine china, crystal goblets, and sterling silverware for each officer with his initials engraved on the handles. Amazingly, each ship took only a 12-day supply of coal for their auxiliary steam engines.

The ships became stuck in vast frozen plains of ice. After several months, Lord Franklin died. His men decided to try to trek to safety in small groups, but none of them survived.

One story about their attempt to survive is especially heart-breaking. Two officers pulled a large sled more than 65 miles across the treacherous ice. When rescuers found their bodies, they discovered that the sled was filled with table silver.

Those men contributed to their own demise by carrying what they didn't need.

The other story is that of the army of Alexander the Great as it was advancing on Persia. At one critical point, it looked like his army might be defeated. The soldiers had taken so much plunder from their previous campaigns that they had become weighted down and were losing their effectiveness in combat.

Alexander commanded that all the spoils be thrown into a heap and burned. The men complained bitterly but soon saw the wisdom for the order. Someone wrote, "It was as if wings had been given to them --- they walked lightly again."

God has designed a race for us to run, one which will require our endurance. To finish the race with a win, we need to heed those words of the writer of Hebrews, "... let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up ..."

The Apostle Paul provides for us an example of how he stripped away what was weighing him down ...

"I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him," Philippians 3:7-9a.

Is there anything in your life you need to strip away to victoriously run the race God has set before you?


Saturday, February 28, 2015

How "the dress" blew the lid off "perspective" ...

I've found it both interesting and disturbing how several pastors over the last few years have vaunted the concept of "perspective." But the value of "perspective" was blown away yesterday by a simple dress.

If you were online for any period of time yesterday, or tuned into the news, you probably heard the buzz about the dress shown above. I see the dress as being white and gold, but I'm told the dress is actually blue and black, and many people see it as being blue and black.

Yes, I think they're nuts because my eyes tell me that dress is white and gold (it is!).

But I'm informed by reports from people in the know the dress is really blue and black. In that case, my perspective that the dress is white and gold is completely wrong and of no benefit to me.

Do you catch the lesson we have with this dress?

The issue isn't our perspective, but what is actually true. We may see something as being one way, when in reality it is quite another. We need people and resources to step into our lives and tell us we're seeing the wrong thing when we are.

That's what Jesus did ...

"Jesus told him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to Father except through me'," John 14:6.

Jesus, who is God, is the Truth, and when sin separated us from God, it wrecked out capacity to see and understand truth. We need Jesus Christ to be able to see what is true. Satan, our enemy, feeds us with lies and perspectives that are anything but the truth.

"For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies," John 8:44.

Just like that dress, what is true isn't necessarily what our eyes tell us. Our eyes may provide a false perspective instead of the truth. But focusing our eyes on the Word of God, and upon Jesus, the living Word, will reveal what is the truth.

Do you look to Jesus for the truth?


Friday, February 27, 2015

Do you know who you're talking to?

We complain a lot about doctrine and theology, but when you look at how so many professing Christians live their lives, I think we're woefully lacking in and ignorant about both of them!

For example, do we really understand what it means that God is omnipotent and sovereign? Or does the way we interact with God often look like we think we know better than God does about how our life and this world should function?

In the Globe and Mail, Allison Lawlor relates the following story ...

"In 1969, in a science lab in New Jersey, Canadian physicist Willard Boyle and his colleagues invented the concept of an electronic eye. Using their knowledge of mathematics and the behavior of light they provided the science behind digital cameras known as a charged-coupled device or CCD. The CCD technology revolutionized photography, as light could now be captured electronically instead of on film. CCD technology is used on the Hubble telescope and the Mars Lunar probe. It was Boyle's invention that allowed us to see the surface of Mars for the first time. In 2009 Boyle was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics.

"A few years after the original invention of CCD technology, Boyle walked into a store to purchase a new digital camera based on his invention. During the visit, the salesman tried to explain the intricacies of the digital camera, but stopped, feeling it was too complicated for his customer to understand. According to one long-time friend, Boyle was normally a humble man, but on this occasion he was taken aback by the salesman's arrogance and disrespect. So Boyle bluntly replied: 'No need to explain. I invented it.' When the salesman didn't believe him, Boyle told the salesman to type 'Willard S. Boyle' into his computer and see for himself. A Nikon representative in the store heard the exchange and immediately came over to have his photograph taken with the famous inventor.

"At times we almost act like that impatient salesman in our relationship with God. We tell God how life works or how we think it should work. But God simply and confidently responds, 'No need to explain. I invented life'."

Humility is an important element in our relationship with God ...

"No, O people,  the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God," Micah 6:8.

"So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor," 1 Peter 5:6.

"And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble'," James 4:6.

There is nothing we know more about than does God. Put another way, God knows more about anything and everything than any of us! He's the Maker of life, and the Creator of all. He's omnipotent and sovereign. He really does know what's what, and what's best!

Do you approach God with that kind of humility? Or do you interact with God like that impatient salesman? When you come before God, do you really know who you're talking to?


Thursday, February 26, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: An insightful read for real football fans ...

There are multiple sports internationally that are more popular than American football, but few can compete with the financial success of the National Football League (NFL) and the popularity of the game in the U.S.

At the center of football's draw is the quarterback, and making it as a quarterback in the NFL is a boy's dream only few will ever realize. Bruce Feldman has written a book, "The QB: The Making of Modern Quarterbacks" (published by Crown Archetype) that takes you behind the scenes in the NFL and reveals what it really takes to become a professional quarterback.

Feldman writes, "Everything in football, of course, operates through the quarterback, now more than ever in a game that went warp speed in the twentieth century, long after it lapped baseball in popularity and meaning in American society. Therefore, there is no position in all of sports that is quite like the quarterback. Not even close. Quarterback is not only sports' most complex position but the most important to a team's success, too. It's also the hardest to evaluate."

Over the past decade, a major change that has impacted football is the rise of a nearly $6 billon quarterback coaching industry. And not just for professional QBs. Now, parents of boys as young as eight years old are seeking out quarterback gurus to coach their sons. Steve Clarkson was a pioneer in the QB coaching industry, and is quoted by Feldman as saying ...

"... They started to see these younger kids, and then the question became, 'How young is too young?' Well, the market has really changed, and I saw this six or seven years ago. When I first started, I usually didn't get kids till they were sophomores and juniors in high school. But now, with all of these camps and combines and things like that, for the most part, if a kid is not good enough by his junior year, it's already too late for him. And if he is good enough by his junior year, they already spend so much time traveling on that circuit, they really don't have time to train as much. So your work is really done by that point."

But that's just in the initial budding development of a potential QB. Feldman introduces readers to QB experts such as Trent Dilfer and his role in the Elite 11, George Whitfield who is known as the "QB whisperer," quarterback coaching pioneer Steve Clarkson, the "mad scientist" Tom House, and others who not only work with the best of high school athletes, but delves into their work developing college level and professional QBs as well. In fact, the book offers (as touted by the publisher) "unprecedented insight into Heisman trophy winning phenom Johnny Manziel" and an "all-access look at the making of the next superstars in football's most important position ..."

Feldman shares the behind-the-scenes making of QBs by detailing a recent year in football. If you're a real fan of the game and have an interest in knowing what makes a quarterback successful or not, you'll find yourself absorbed by the stories and personalities detailed in this book. It's a fun and insightful read for football fans interested in knowing more about the inner workings of the dominant position of their favorite sport.


I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The church is sick and dying. Here's what you can do about it ...

When I used to train people in the gym as a Personal Trainer, it wasn't uncommon for a 50-something to come into the gym and, with a sincerely grave concern, share their health woes and the necessity to get fit before serious illness overcomes them.

Part of their story was that up until that time, they did whatever they wanted to do. They ate what the wanted to eat, as much as they wanted to eat, whenever they wanted to eat, and indulged in comfort without exercise. Their history up until then (perhaps excluding some sports in high school) was one of not being good stewards of their bodies. Now, they had to radically change that or face serious consequences to their health.

What that meant for these people was a much tougher fight to get fit. They had more to accomplish than they would have if they would have taken a little better care of themselves.

The Western Church today is in a very similar predicament.

We have played at church and failed to be faithful children of God. The Gospel has been absent from many of our pulpits for decades, and many preachers still mislead their congregations by urging them to embrace the lost culture rather than engage it for Christ. Most churches don't do anything to equip true followers of Christ in how to share the Gospel with non-Christians, and still aren't interested in doing that. And studies tell us most people professing to be Christians will never share their faith with anyone ... ever!

We have become ashamed of the Gospel and we have failed to carry out Christ's commission to His church to make disciples.

Not "grow" the church, or even plant churches, but MAKE DISCIPLES.

And we have failed --- almost utterly so --- to be the ambassadors for Christ that God expects each one of us to be.

Now we are seeing the results of our failure. Now we're in a situation where the Church must take radical action or our spiritual health will be ruined. Many churches in America are already in the throes of death, and more will be if we don't change things.

How can we affect change?

First, don't look to someone else to make this change happen. It's not someone else's responsibility, it beings with YOU and me. YOU must take responsibility to be completely surrendered and fully obedient to Jesus Christ. We've gone too long watching the church suffer and fade, all the while hoping someone else will fix it. Now YOU need to take up your own cross on a daily basis and follow Jesus.

Part of this first step is learning to once again CARE! Tragically, the love of Christ has been a key missing element within His Church, and that must change. We have to learn to care about others more than ourselves, and live out Christ's foremost commands of loving God completely and above any and all else, and then loving our neighbors as ourselves. We have to start actually doing this rather than just talk about and intellectually agree to it.

Second, you need to get equipped to be able to share the Gospel effectively with non-Christians, and leaders need to meet their responsibility to provide this training (Eph. 4:11-12).

Third, every Christian needs to be the ambassador God has called them to be (2 Cor. 5:18-20). God has given to US the ministry of reconciling people to Him, along with a message of reconciliation (the Gospel), and His plan is to make His appeal through us. Failure to offer yourself as an equipped ambassador of Jesus Christ shuts off a key source for God making His appeal to the lost. That must change for the church to revive. The lost, broken world will not be saved by inviting it to church. Instead of having the majority of our efforts be focused on trying to get spiritually dead people to come to church --- the one place they aren't interested in being --- we must GO INTO THE WORLD and make disciples (being obedient to Christ's command to His Church!). Doing that will eventually fill our churches and create demand for many more new churches.

The church isn't just fat and out-of-shape.

The church isn't just sick.

Many churches are DYING.

Many more will unless we take these steps to become the children of God and ambassadors for Christ that we should have been all along.

Let me offer you some help in a key area. Here is a link for a great opportunity to become equipped to be a highly effective disciple-maker. It's a means of providing you with the training you need as Christ's ambassador.

All of us who call ourselves Christians need to be taking these steps to do our part in making the Church the living, thriving body of Christ that our King desires it to be. Are you willing to do YOUR part?


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Jesus knows His name!

We're told in the video of the 21 Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS in Libya that you could hear the name of Jesus on the lips of those about to meet their Maker.

A list of the names of those 21 Christian martyrs has been released, with the various reprinting of that list looking like this:

1. Milad Makeen Zaky
2. Abanub Ayad Atiya
3. Maged Solaiman Shehata
4. Yusuf Shukry Yunan
5. Kirollos Shokry Fawzy
6. Bishoy Astafanus Kamel
7. Somaily Astafanus Kamel
8. Malak Ibrahim Sinweet
9. Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros
10. Girgis Milad Sinweet
11. Mina Fayez Aziz
12. Hany Abdelmesih Salib
13. Bishoy Adel Khalaf
14. Samuel Alham Wilson
15. Worker from Awr village
16. Ezat Bishri Naseef
17. Loqa Nagaty
18. Gaber Munir Adly
19. Esam Badir Samir
20. Malak Farag Abram
21. Sameh Salah Faruq

What struck me immediately from this list is number 15. It appears none of the lists identify the name of this person who gave his life in order to remain faithful to Jesus Christ.

We don't know his name.

But Jesus knows his name!

This unknown believer is with his Savior today, and Jesus calls him by his name!

"The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out," John 10:3.