Thursday, February 28, 2008

On the DVR

Just saw the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival- so many of my favorites- Jorma Kaukonen, Earl Scruggs, Del McCoury, and a lot of new faces i was unfamiliar with...

Now American Masters has Pete Seeger- what a banner night!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Time travel for Idiots

Now this is funny.



In accustomed amazement- unified harmony
With expected atonishment from slaves who are free
With familiar surprise- and unexpected certainty
Fools and clowns who are wise
Shall see…With unfathomable clarity.

In our satisfying hunger-And in shocking expectation
And a disciplined freedom See the hidden revelation
In diversity unified In a difficult delight
And intoxicating soberness made right
We live in the light of this unseen sight.

It is both a departure and a return
Both a fire to build and to burn
A resolution and a second verse
Now the blessing is found in the curse.
Because the Worthy One owned poverty
He died like a thief so this thief could go free.

It both a great journey and a dear destination
Where the mourners rejoice in the poor’s exaltation
Now the weak are made strong, made rich as we give
In this life where we die and this death where we live.
In this life where we die and this death where we live.

In this life where we die and this death where we live.

Anthony Foster
Inspired by G. M. Prince "The Paradox of Creativity"
February 26, 2008

Hold on Tight

We need to hold on tight right now
With all our might right now
And know the Father is holding you
And none can break His grip- we know it's true

Hold on to God in this circumstance
Hold on to God in a daily dance
And let Him call the holy tune
As we dance by the light of the moon.

Righteous romance
A delightful dance
Step by step and turn by turn
Kept in the arms for which we yearn…

And then when the dancing is done
We shall rest in the arms of our beloved One
There to weep with rejoicing and dry with delight
To be drawn to his side as He holds us so tight.

Anthony Foster
February 25, 2008

Become the Light

Sitting in darkness and see the great light
In this deathly shadowland
Dawn breaks upon our sight
Repent for the Kingdom is at hand

Repent, repent
Salvation is heaven sent
He will dispel the darkest night
When we become the light

Repent, repent,
The darkness will relent
The blind will gain their sight
When we become the light

You are the shining city of God
Set on a hill for all to see
You are the light of the world
Christ in us shines from eternity

Oh the light drives the darkness out
The light shines on our sin and doubt
So open up your eyes to see
The sun of righteousness arise in you and me.

Anthony Foster
February 25,2008

Friday, February 22, 2008

Shopping for the Supernatural

A quote from Moving On Moving Forward by Anthony and Boersma:

"Watching what other churches are doing is a popular activity for contemporary ministry leaders today. After all, why waste your energy trying to gain a new vision for your ministry if you can easily replicate one that's working in a nearby neighborhood?" (77)

Regardless of ministry, how much looking around at other institutions/ministries does your institution/ministry do to gain new ideas?

What harm or gain results from this type of behavior by the church? Seminary? Textbook publisher?

What does one need to do to guard against looking around instead of looking to the Lord and at his/her own ministry setting?

We can learn from what others before us have done, and we stand on the shoulders of giants, as Newton said. A general awareness of what is going on in the world around you is important, but not for the reason of lifting someone else’s paradigm to tattoo it on the Body. That’s one reason why we do research- to see what works and to gain wisdom that is applicable in our situation. To take an agricultural metaphor, you can’t go harvest someone else’s planting, but you can learn what works in general terms. Then you apply it in your field, plowing around your own particular stumps, hoeing your weeds, irrigating properly, or whatever technique has been shown to aid in producing the results you seek.

Organizational structures, programs and approaches are tools to use to till in the vineyard, not an end in themselves. He makes all things new. We should be willing and anticipatory that God will do something marvelous in our calling if we lay it on the altar. Wherever we work, as we do it as unto the Lord, he will supernaturally empower and form our ministry. This is the kind of service that is pleasing to God, living sacrifices grow ministries from within and up from the soils God has watered with living water. So you can use the tools of programs to till the soil, but that is about all. It is all of grace of Him and through Him and to Him.

So can something be gained by seeing what works in other contexts? Sure, as long as you remember that pretexts are born out of a lack of context. We can and should look to the Scriptures to derive principles, but our models are something best sculpted with hammer and chisel and fire. The individuals God calls out as the local church will be the artists he fills with the Spirit of Wisdom and Skill. The idea that we can import other peoples’ models in toto presumes that it is the model itself that brings change, success in ministry, and efficacy our organization.

One cannot clone a living, breathing work of the Lord. There is a supernatural element that is distinctive of this work. That’s what we all want to be a part of, not some programmatic approach to success. Ministry is first ministry unto the Lord. It is born out of a fire in our bones, not out of shopping a smorgasbord of ideas that are on the market. The idea that “easy replication” of another person’s vision is possible is not aligned with the realities we face in this world. Vision is Spirit-imparted from within, not imposed from without. One cannot annex it or import it anymore than you can truly preach someone else’s sermon.

New ideas are a synergistic outpouring of new wine that only God can grace us with, but they are born in the fires of Holy passion and koinonia, the intersection of our situation’s great need and our great desire. We join with our Creator in partnership to effect this kind of new work as agents of redemption and change in this sojourn we call life. New ideas are a natural outflow of a walk in the deep grace of our Jesus; however, ideas can be nurtured just as soil can be tilled.

A call from God to labor in whatever vineyard you are planted in must first and foremost be accompanied by the understanding that it is He that gives the increase. If we believe that we are unique and that our calling is specific to a people, place and time, than we must seek the face of God in humble Spirit and contrite heart. If we let God form the ministry it will always be different and better than anything we could presuppose or import from another work. If we dare to try something that has never been tried, by His Spirit’s leading, he will provide for the blessing and breaking of ourselves, to be poured out and distributed as wine and bread and fruit to nourish others.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Holy Devotion

Set us apart at your pleasure
Set us apart for you alone
Set us apart as your treasure
Reserve our hearts as your home

Righteous and upright
Draw us up from our knees
Our souls will take flight
When we do as You please

In holy devotion we come
In your holy presence undone
Take our broken spirits
Take our contrite hearts
And make us one, make us one.

You are the path to salvation
The journey and the journey’s end
You are our one destination
And strong is the heart you defend.

In holy devotion we come
In your holy presence undone
Take our broken spirits
Take our contrite hearts
And make us one, make us one.

Anthony Foster
February 21, 2008

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

New Question

Random Question:
Compose the lyrics to a new national anthem that features an animal sound at least once.
So that's a question?

Help for your poor old PC

From MSN.

or you can just get a Mac.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Top Down Leadership

DISCUSSIONS - 12:04am Feb 18, 2008 EST -

Question: Who gets to lead in a team environment? Not to be short, but “The greatest among you will be your servant” (Matt. 23:11). I know that's a loaded answer.

Luke 22:25-26 fills it out more.

[25] Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. [26] But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.

So I would say that "taking" the lead is more about "receiving" the lead on the basis of our willingness to serve deeply. Along the same lines, no leader in the church can efffectively lead without first being a devoted follower.

I had a question in regard to this as follows: "Therefore, in short here is what I understand Anthony to be communicating; Jesus' motive and even reason for being in a place of leadership was solely restricted to the need to serve his team/organizational purpose. Anthony, is this a correct analysis?"

My rejoinder: It depends on a correct assessment of his "team/organizational purpose" as well as an understanding that man's perceptions of Jesus' leadership are not in alignment with His purposes. "Top Down" takes on a curious meaning in the light of being lifted up on a cross. John 3 points to the Nehustan as being a picture of this- the symbol of suffering. The cross comes before the crown.

We are not Jesus, yet we can draw principles from His servanthood, and apply them by the indwelling Spirit. His finished work was done by One uniquely qualified to accomplish it. Being a "leader" in worldly terms was not on his mind at all. Cf. his response to Pilate regarding "if my kingdom were of this world..." I don't believe the biblical witness to be that he suffered pre-eminently for the sake of his disciples. They (and we) certainly gain corollary blessed salvation from his obedience of faith when we believe and receive it, but his primary purpose was doing the Father's will.

In short, I believe the song "Above All" to be theologically flawed. (He thought of me above all?)

The organizational purpose of the church is the same as that of Jesus- to exalt and glorify God. Jesus' motive was absolute obedience even to death on a cross, thus He is the ultimate servant. On the basis of this, he was exalted to the Glory of the Father. See Phil 2, and Heb 12:2 : who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. "So I would say that "taking" the lead is more about "receiving" the lead on the basis of our willingness to serve deeply."

Distributed Leadership

Most of the leadership theory we read centers on one person as THE leader.

There are other theories such as Ken Blanchard’s situational leadership approach that in my mind describes reality pretty well. Roles are critical to this type of model. When setting up such a situation it is probably necessary to have external authority as well to guide the potential chaos that could ensue while the right leadership mix is attained. It was Harry Truman said “the buck stops here.” Makes one wonder why the buck was being passed in the first place. It should have stopped sooner.

The self managed team model relies on using several leaders in tandem or sequentially in a group. There are four basic kinds of leadership in view- envisioning leadership which focuses on creativity and overall vision; spanning leadership, which is focused on acquiring and stewarding resources external to the group’s social leadership, which centers on interpersonal relationships within the group, and organizing leadership, which focuses on developing task structures and maintenance of the control systems that are related to the group.

In many churches you see this taken on in the form of various staff to meet the organizational needs. Hierarchies need not attain, necessarily. But there is one thing I can say about this – a “bossless” group needs MORE leadership not less- it’s just that it is distributed. More gifts are exercised in the process. Formal authority must be there or things tend to degrade into power struggles and politics. However this authority ned not be centralized in one person in the group. It derives from the ONE who is the head over all, though He be not present physically.

Unity is the keyword. If we all sink or swim together, if we have a corporate covenantal view of the blessed bride, distributed leadership can make a lot of sense and actually accomplish marvelous things. Developing heterogenous leadership styles within the same group increases the possibility of serious conflicts, but this requires that they be exercised at different times- to every thing there is a season and a time for every purpose… when you are hitting on all cylinders, a breakthrough can be expected.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Creative Team Building

So what are the challenges involved in managing creative teams? I'd say the greatest difficulty of the model is building the team and keeping it firing on all cylinders- sustainability. So the internal relationships come to mind first. Human nature would require that each sacrifice for the good of the others on the team, so maturity is required. The issue that arises from time to time is that if one individual has a morale problem, it can affect the whole team and yield gridlock quickly. Remediation for that type of team member can take incredible time and emotional energy to accomplish.

Next issue would be how the team deals with change- what happens when redirection is necessary- who takes the lead on refocusing the team after setbacks? Flip side of this is how do you foster innovation and keep from becoming stagnant? How does the team deal with change of the landscape that comes with growth or dimunition?

The other problem is when you finally have to take someone off the bus after they will not go quietly into that good night. This can be personally painful, especially if you have invested love and energy into their success.

I've been at all levels of the team oriented model and have had the attitude of meeting whatever needs came to my attention- that of completer; the completer cannot do what someone else can lest he impinge upon the others' area of responsibility. Completers keep the team functioning and have to be able to wear many (and sometimes unseen) hats. My best contribution probably would be that of discerning the outcomes and anticipating potential problems of decisions before they happen.

Not much to say...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Where's the Old Blog?

It's over at this location.

After Five Years, This Blog is Moving...

To make for a more satisfying blog experience, I am hiking over to blogspot. I'll be redirecting traffic here from ....