April 2004

The Church God Blesses : Thursday, April 15, 2004

April 15 2004 by Jim Cymbala with Stephen Sorenson. Zondervan Publishers. 2002. 154 pages. $9.99.

The Church God Blesses : Thursday, April 15, 2004
Thursday, April 15, 2004

The Church God Blesses

By Jim Cymbala with Stephen Sorenson. Zondervan Publishers. 2002. 154 pages. $9.99.
Review by Wayne Hager

I have been a fan of Jim Cymbala's writing since I first read Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire. He followed that book with Fresh Faith, Fresh Power. Both of these books are refreshing and provide a needed corrective too much of the church growth books (of which there are an abundance) that focus on slick strategies and marketing and leave the spiritual aspect (i.e. divine presence) out of the process.

With this book, I am afraid. Cymbala has succumbed to the publisher's desire to have another Cymbala book to sell. The book is small in size (the pages are half size) and really offers nothing that Cymbala has not already said. True, there is an occasional twist, but with his opening thought you know where he is going. I am also uncomfortable with Cymbala's heavy emphasis upon spiritual warfare. That aspect has always been present but it is harder to keep it in perspective in this book

If you have not read any of Cymbala's books you would probably have a different reaction to this one. Yes, there is some good stuff here, but remembering the earlier books; my main point is that this one is not needed. Cymbala's writing is still punctuated with great stories, some new and some old.

I simply prefer to recommend one of his first two books and use the purchase price to buy a book with new ideas.
4/15/2004 12:00:00 AM by Jim Cymbala with Stephen Sorenson. Zondervan Publishers. 2002. 154 pages. $9.99. | with 0 comments



There's No Such Things as "Business" Ethics: There's Only ONE RULE for Making Decisions : Thursday, April 15, 2004

April 15 2004 by John C. Maxwell. Warner Books. 2003. 124 pages. $14.95

There's No Such Things as "Business" Ethics: There's Only ONE RULE for Making Decisions : Thursday, April 15, 2004
Thursday, April 15, 2004

There's No Such Things as "Business" Ethics: There's Only ONE RULE for Making Decisions

By John C. Maxwell. Warner Books. 2003. 124 pages. $14.95
Review by Wayne Hager

In the past two years the subject of business ethics has moved from a voluntary weekend seminar to a mandated corporate class. Discussion of business ethics is no longer simply a way to pass time at a party but is now a matter of financial security and confidence for the future. Business guru John C. Maxwell has penned a simply stated yet profound book on the ethics of business.

Maxwell's basic argument is that there should be no difference between one's personal ethics and business ethics. The character a person nurtures in personal life should be the same character that shows up in business situations. He suggests that the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," is the simple but profound ethic for personal and business life.

In business, Maxwell suggests that decisions be made considering how one would want someone to treat them. He encourages people to not only abide by the Golden Rule but to go beyond it, what he calls developing the Midas touch.

The book is filled with business examples of both those who live by the Golden Rule and those who do not. Each chapter ends with some thought-provoking questions, which will require a lot more time to process than the contents of the chapter.

There is nothing overtly Christian about the book. Maxwell notes how the Golden Rule exists, in various wordings, in most major religions On the other hand, there is nothing he says that does not go hand in hand with Christianity.

This is a book that every employee would wish his or her employer would read and practice. It is also a good check for employers on how well they are doing at being consistent in their personal and business practices.
4/15/2004 12:00:00 AM by John C. Maxwell. Warner Books. 2003. 124 pages. $14.95 | with 0 comments



Dearest Dorothy, Are We There Yet? And Dearest Dorothy, Slow Down, You're Wearing Us Out! : Monday, April 5, 2004

April 5 2004 by Charlene Ann Baumbich. Penguin Books. 2004. $10.95 each.

Dearest Dorothy, Are We There Yet? And Dearest Dorothy, Slow Down, You're Wearing Us Out! : Monday, April 5, 2004
Monday, April 5, 2004

Dearest Dorothy, Are We There Yet? And Dearest Dorothy, Slow Down, You're Wearing Us Out!

By Charlene Ann Baumbich. Penguin Books. 2004. $10.95 each.
Review by Wayne Hager

Watch out Mitford, N.C. and Father Tim. Dorothy Jean Westray and her hometown of Partonville, Ill. have arrived on the scene. Fans of Jan Karon and her Mitford series will be pleased to meet a new hometown and its matriarch, octogenarian Dorothy Jean Westray. Dorothy is full of faith, spunk and humor enough to keep the reader chuckling all through the book. Dorothy is joined by a host of unforgettable characters that provide the backdrop for Dorothy's exploits. This series will warm your heart and draw you willingly into Dorothy's life as she lives in faith and confidence in a loving God.

As we meet Dorothy, she is trying to decide whether to sell her beloved farm to a development company. Her decision will not only change her life but will have profound effects for her community. All through her story, Dorothy's moves as easily in and out of conversation with God as she does the entertaining assortment of characters who live in Partonville.

Baumbich has created a delightful character in Dorothy and placed her among people that are most memorable. More mature adults will probably find one of their friends among the pages and younger adults will wish that they had someone like Dorothy to glean wisdom. If you want some enjoyable, good-hearted reading, try this series. I hope more books are in the works for the future.

4/5/2004 12:00:00 AM by Charlene Ann Baumbich. Penguin Books. 2004. $10.95 each. | with 0 comments



The Purposes of Scripture in Your Life : Monday, April 5, 2004

April 5 2004 by Gene Madeira. World Missions Associates. 2003. 382 pages. $19.95

The Purposes of Scripture in Your Life : Monday, April 5, 2004
Monday, April 5, 2004

The Purposes of Scripture in Your Life

By Gene Madeira. World Missions Associates. 2003. 382 pages. $19.95
Review by Wayne Hager

The subtitle of this book is "a user friendly, culturally relevant Bible handbook for lay people and Bible study teachers." The goal of the book is to raise the functional literacy of people in the pew and to expose non-church goers to a concise summary of the Bible.

Other books exist which try to do the same thing. What is unique about Madeira's work is what is included in its organization. There is the standard section dealing with purpose, theme, scope, application, etc. What is an exciting addition is the summary section that addresses how the particular book of the Bible meets the reader's needs. This section goes beyond application but explicitly addresses common needs of 21st century people and how the biblical text speaks a word.

Madeira does not get long-winded or preachy but simply shows the Bible's everyday relevance by highlighting three or four common needs (different ones each chapter) and how the Bible addresses that need.

Madeira is a retired missionary and part of the power of the book is his multi-cultural perspective. He has no theological or social ax to grind and what he writes is useful for any serious Bible student.

This book is going to be hard to find in bookstores since it is published by a missionary society. Bookstores and individuals may order the book by calling (800) 230-5265 or by visiting www.wmausa.org.

The book is not copyrighted so readers are encouraged to copy and distribute portions of the book. Should you choose to use the book with a group volume discounts are available from the publisher. This makes it a great resource for Bible studies for small or large groups. It can also serve as a valuable study aid in church or school libraries.
4/5/2004 12:00:00 AM by Gene Madeira. World Missions Associates. 2003. 382 pages. $19.95 | with 0 comments



Shepherd Leadership: Wisdom for Leaders from Psalm 23 : Monday, April 5, 2004

April 5 2004 by Blaine McCormick and David Davenport. Jossey-Bass. 149 pages. $14.95.

Shepherd Leadership: Wisdom for Leaders from Psalm 23 : Monday, April 5, 2004
Monday, April 5, 2004

Shepherd Leadership: Wisdom for Leaders from Psalm 23

By Blaine McCormick and David Davenport. Jossey-Bass. 149 pages. $14.95.
Review by Wayne Hager

The 23rd Psalm is possibly the most memorized passage of scripture in the Bible. Young children learn it and mature people recite it for comfort. McCormick and Davenport see more than just spiritual comfort in the 23rd Psalm. They see a good model for leaders, not only in churches but business as well.

In order to make their point, the authors sometimes stretch the analogy of the shepherd a bit too far, and they sometimes admit that they are moving beyond the strict boundaries of the image of a shepherd. Nevertheless, this is an excellent book that points out that leaders can be vigilant without being adversarial, serve without being passive, and can guide without commanding.

I particularly took chapter one to heart, which is entitled, "Shepherds Transform Conflict." Most leaders attempt to keep conflict from happening, but the authors point out there is such a thing as "healthy" conflict. The problem is that most conflict is interpersonal rather than intellectual. The shepherd leader seeks a culture in which destructive conflict is held in check, while healthy conflict contributes to productivity.

I also found their concept of "seeing the immortal soul" within people as an important adjustment to the attitude of a leader.

This book is well written and not overly detailed. It can be utilized by anyone, in any job situation where leadership and supervision are required. Shepherd Leadership is not a book of techniques but rather a guide to a particular spiritual life, which will make a more effective leader.

4/5/2004 12:00:00 AM by Blaine McCormick and David Davenport. Jossey-Bass. 149 pages. $14.95. | with 0 comments



The Church God Blesses : Monday, April 5, 2004

April 5 2004 by Jim Cymbala with Stephen Sorenson. Zondervan Publishers. 2002. 154 pages. $9.99.

The Church God Blesses : Monday, April 5, 2004
Monday, April 5, 2004

The Church God Blesses

By Jim Cymbala with Stephen Sorenson. Zondervan Publishers. 2002. 154 pages. $9.99.
Review by Wayne Hager

I have been a fan of Jim Cymbala's writing since I first read Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire. He followed that book with Fresh Faith, Fresh Power. Both of these books are refreshing and provide a needed corrective too much of the church growth books (of which there are an abundance) that focus on slick strategies and marketing and leave the spiritual aspect (i.e. divine presence) out of the process.

With this book, I am afraid. Cymbala has succumbed to the publisher's desire to have another Cymbala book to sell. The book is small in size (the pages are half size) and really offers nothing that Cymbala has not already said. True, there is an occasional twist, but with his opening thought you know where he is going. I am also uncomfortable with Cymbala's heavy emphasis upon spiritual warfare. That aspect has always been present but it is harder to keep it in perspective in this book

If you have not read any of Cymbala's books you would probably have a different reaction to this one. Yes, there is some good stuff here, but remembering the earlier books; my main point is that this one is not needed. Cymbala's writing is still punctuated with great stories, some new and some old.

I simply prefer to recommend one of his first two books and use the purchase price to buy a book with new ideas.
4/5/2004 12:00:00 AM by Jim Cymbala with Stephen Sorenson. Zondervan Publishers. 2002. 154 pages. $9.99. | with 0 comments



There's No Such Things as "Business" Ethics: There's Only ONE RULE for Making Decisions : Monday, April 5, 2004

April 5 2004 by John C. Maxwell. Warner Books. 2003. 124 pages. $14.95

There's No Such Things as "Business" Ethics: There's Only ONE RULE for Making Decisions : Monday, April 5, 2004
Monday, April 5, 2004

There's No Such Things as "Business" Ethics: There's Only ONE RULE for Making Decisions

By John C. Maxwell. Warner Books. 2003. 124 pages. $14.95
Review by Wayne Hager

In the past two years the subject of business ethics has moved from a voluntary weekend seminar to a mandated corporate class. Discussion of business ethics is no longer simply a way to pass time at a party but is now a matter of financial security and confidence for the future. Business guru John C. Maxwell has penned a simply stated yet profound book on the ethics of business.

Maxwell's basic argument is that there should be no difference between one's personal ethics and business ethics. The character a person nurtures in personal life should be the same character that shows up in business situations. He suggests that the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," is the simple but profound ethic for personal and business life.

In business, Maxwell suggests that decisions be made considering how one would want someone to treat them. He encourages people to not only abide by the Golden Rule but to go beyond it, what he calls developing the Midas touch.

The book is filled with business examples of both those who live by the Golden Rule and those who do not. Each chapter ends with some thought-provoking questions, which will require a lot more time to process than the contents of the chapter.

There is nothing overtly Christian about the book. Maxwell notes how the Golden Rule exists, in various wordings, in most major religions On the other hand, there is nothing he says that does not go hand in hand with Christianity.

This is a book that every employee would wish his or her employer would read and practice. It is also a good check for employers on how well they are doing at being consistent in their personal and business practices.
4/5/2004 12:00:00 AM by John C. Maxwell. Warner Books. 2003. 124 pages. $14.95 | with 0 comments



Bad things, good things : Monday, April 5, 2004

April 5 2004 by Tony W. Cartledge

Bad things, good things : Monday, April 5, 2004
Monday, April 5, 2004

Bad things, good things

By Tony W. Cartledge
BR Editor

I'm a fan of inspiring stories about people who face troubles or tragedy, but persevere and overcome. They choose not to live as victims, or merely as survivors, but as partners working with God to transform bad times into hopeful days.

Joseph Shabalala is one of those people. More than 40 years ago, during the dark days of apartheid in his native South Africa, the farm boy-turned-factory worker assembled a singing group of men, hoping to enter local singing competitions. They chose the name Ladysmith Black Mambazo, with "Ladysmith" deriving from Shabalala's rural hometown, and "Black" as an emblem of the ox, whose strength was legendary. "Mambazo" is the Zulu word for "ax." On the strength of their singing, the men from Ladysmith planned to chop down the competition all around Kwazulu Natal - and they did.

The group developed such tight, rich harmonies that no one else could touch them, and they were eventually banned from the competitions.

Most Americans first heard the group when Paul Simon introduced them as backup singers on his 1986 "Graceland" album. Simon then produced the group's "Shaka Zulu" recording, which won a Grammy in 1987.

The men of Ladysmith Black Mambazo sing in both Zulu and English, combining traditional coal-miners' music with the sentiments of Christian gospel. Shabalala became a Christian in the 1960's, and committed Mambazo to "to bring this gospel of loving one another all over the world."

The group produced more than 40 recordings by 1999, but their next release did not come without struggle. In 2002, Shabalala's beloved wife, Nellie, was murdered by masked assailants in the parking lot of their church. Shabalala said he could have given way to anger, grief and suspicion, but found refuge in God's Spirit. "Bad things happen," he said, "and the only thing to do is to raise your spirit higher."

Fittingly, the group's new release is entitled "Raise Your Spirit Higher - Wenyukela," English and Zulu translations of the same sentiment.

Mambazo's harmonies are as tight as ever, and their sentiments even richer. They have transformed trial into triumph.

North Carolina Baptists have an opportunity to bring good from evil by participating in "The Elliott Project," an effort to deliver 1,600 life-promoting health kits to the people of Iraq in memory of our own Larry and Jean Elliot, who gave their lives in an effort to bring health and hope to that ravaged land (see page 1).

As Shabalala would sing, "Wenyukela!"

And our spirits will not be the only ones lifted higher.

4/5/2004 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge | with 0 comments



North Carolina Baptists receive $1.5 million Lilly Endowment grant : Saturday, April 3, 2004

April 2 2004 by

North Carolina Baptists receive $1.5 million Lilly Endowment grant : Saturday, April 3, 2004
Saturday, April 3, 2004

North Carolina Baptists receive $1.5 million Lilly Endowment grant

From contributed reports

The Baptist State Convention (BSC) has received a $1.58 million grant to help sustain pastoral excellence in local churches.

The Lilly Endowment Inc., a private family foundation in Indianapolis, and BSC officials announced the grant Nov. 20. The money will be available Jan. 1, 2004 through Dec. 31, 2007.

The process, which is called Sustaining Pastoral Excellence, will be conducted through the Lake Hickory Learning Communities of Hollifield Leadership Center. The BSC owns Hollifield.

BSC Executive Director-treasurer Jim Royston said the BSC is humbled to be recognized as an organization that can provide long-term, innovative learning opportunities for pastors.

"At the same time, we are both excited and challenged by what the future holds in our work with leading edge pastors," he said.

The process will identify 44 pastors who are 35 and younger, in their first or second congregation as pastor and perceived to be models of excellence. These pastors, who will be called New Generation Pastors, will be from churches considered in the top 20 percent of churches in terms of faithfulness, effectiveness and innovation.

Pastors who are younger than 40 and have less than 10 years pastoral experience may also qualify.

In addition, the process will identify another 44 pastors who are older than age 35, have a proven track record of high quality ministry and are perceived to be models of pastoral excellence. These pastors will be called Leading Edge Pastors and will join the New Generation Pastors as leaders whose various characteristics are a model for others.

The two pastoral groups will work for three years alongside 15 Process Leadership Community Coaches through Lake Hickory Learning Communities.

During this time, the pastors will be able to:
  • Receive mentoring in two learning experiences annually by respected congregational and Christian ministry leaders;
  • Participate in peer-learning communities for three years with fellow participants and coaches;
  • Benefit from the services of a personal ministry coach for the three years;
  • Tell and write the past, present and future stories of their ministry practice, and use this as a basis for developing personal learning goals and project areas;
  • Engage in up to six capacity building learning experiences;
  • Utilize resource grants to participate in external learning experiences that fit their unique pastoral needs and contexts;
  • Allow self-selecting groups to design and implement plans for common areas of interest or skill development;
  • Become certified as coaches for congregational leadership and practice the skill; and,
  • Communicate their personal stories and experiences for the benefit of the North American church at large.
  • George Bullard, BSCNC associate executive director-treasurer and executive coach of Lake Hickory Learning Communities, will be the project manager for the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Process.

    Bullard served as author for the grant application.

    Royston said he is grateful for Bullard's creative leadership and passion for the project.

    "This is the result of his tireless effort to serve North Carolina Baptist churches and other evangelical leadership," Royston said.

    Bullard said most of the pastors will leave the program with a clear plan for how to sustain pastoral excellence.

    "Many of these pastors will also be equipped to serve as coaches to other congregational leadership beyond the process, and their stories can have far-reaching benefit to churches throughout North America," he said. "This is a very exciting day for North Carolina Baptists to be involved in a project of this importance."

    Since last year, Lilly Endowment Inc. has provided 63 grants for sustaining pastoral excellence. These grants ranged from $250,000 to $2 million, and were given to organizations believed to be helpful to pastors in sustaining excellence in ministry through a lifetime of service.
    4/2/2004 11:00:00 PM by | with 0 comments



    Evaluating funding options necessary for success : Friday, April 2, 2004

    April 1 2004 by Jane Page

    Evaluating funding options necessary for success : Friday, April 2, 2004
    Friday, April 2, 2004

    Evaluating funding options necessary for success

    By Jane Page
    Special to the Recorder

    Everyone is excited about the thought of a new church. A large sanctuary with plenty of seating, a Sunday School building with three floors and a fellowship hall large enough for Wednesday night dinners are being envisioned. It all sounds wonderful, but two unanswered questions are looming: "How much will it cost?" "How will we pay for it?"

    Early in the process, church leaders need to carefully analyze a church's financial resources, say church building consultants. No matter how great the needs and how glowing the visions, a church eventually will have to deal with the issue of financial resources.

    "One of the keys to a successful building program is focusing on the financial concerns at the proper time," said Jerry Grubbs, church architectural consultant with LifeWay Church Resources in Nashville, Tenn. "Ideally, this should be done as soon as needs have been defined and goals are being established. Financial realities become a part of the overall plan."

    In determining financial potential, a church has to look carefully at several resources: available cash, church budget allocations, anticipated income from a capital-funding program and estimated borrowing potential.

    Many churches have been able to accumulate a building fund, savings account or reserve funds to be used for a new building. These funds may come from memorials, special offerings, budget surpluses or monthly deposits from budget appropriations. These funds can make a big difference when the times arrives for building.

    "For years, many churches have followed the old adage that churches should not save money," said Grubbs. "This is wrong. Churches should make a habit of putting aside funds, and then they do not have to start at ground zero when deciding to build. They need to have a line item in the budget and regularly put money in there."

    Saving money on a regular basis can save a church three or four years in the fundraising process, he said.

    Churches also need to determine how much can be allocated for the building project from the budget. Churches can allocate about 25 percent of undesignated income to debt retirement, according to Grubbs. The exact percentage depends on a variety of factors such as economic conditions, growth in the community and church, and the facility being planned.

    That percentage can easily be misunderstood, according to Gwenn McCormick in his book Planning and Building Church Facilities. That rule does not mean a church can suddenly assign 25 percent of its budget to debt retirement and not miss those funds.

    "The rule of thumb simply indicates, even with proper preparations, a church can safely allocate no more than 25 to 35 percent of its undesignated income to long-term debt payments," he stated. This may involve changing the pattern of budgeting or raising the level of giving in the church so additional funds become available.

    Churches also need to consider a capital campaign. This program, often led by a consultant, can raise significant funds, according to Dan Euliss, team leader of stewardship education and offering promotion for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

    "Churches can expect to receive one-to-two times last year's receipts over a three-year commitment period," Euliss said. "Realistic goals need to be set when churches undertake a capital funding campaign."

    Most churches involved in a building program have to negotiate long-term loans. The critical issue is how much long-term debt a church can afford without being overextended.

    "Churches need to come to us before they get too deep into the planning process," said Hope Connell, executive vice president, business banking segment with First Citizens Bank.

    According to McCormick's book, churches can calculate the safe borrowing potential based on the value of the property and buildings, budget funds available for amortizing a loan, or a multiple of the church budget.

    Most churches go to a bank or other lending institution when the fundraising pledges have been received. If a church has not raised at least 50 percent of the cost in pledges, the building project lacks enough support from church members, Connell said.

    Most churches get 15 to 20-year bank loans, she said. Many churches pay back the money much quicker as the pledges start to come in over a typical three-year period.

    Connell said First Citizens works with churches of all sizes. "It is really important for a church to carefully select a bank or lending institution," she said. "The one that offers the lowest prices may not be the best one to go with. Developing a relationship and dealing with people who are knowledgeable about churches and church building projects is very important."

    Church bonds are another financing option. A church bond is a security instrument subject to state and federal security laws, according to McCormick. Churches will need the services of an attorney or other professional guidance to enable them to conduct a sales program that meets security regulations. Church leaders need to be aware of the total cost of bond issues, which includes interest paid to bond holders, sales and accounting costs.

    4/1/2004 11:00:00 PM by Jane Page | with 0 comments



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