Team Hack #6: Free Software (2) Organizing Pictures

I have a gazillion digital pictures. Each trip i ask my students to send me their pictures, so I get a trip times thirteen or fourteen = photo memory overload. Whether it is for a team project (producing a newsletter, webpage) or just a photo album of a mission’s trip, etc. I have found that a great piece of software to have is photo software. This simple download can order all the pictures on my drives with the ability to add captions, notes and titles to each picture. The discipline of purging from “My Pictures” became much easier when I started using this one software package. Yes, it is FREE!

Team Hack #5: Free Software on the Web! (1)

There is an abundance of free software (shareware) out on the web. Some of it teams need to operate smoothly. In these hacks, I will try to survey some of it that I have found helpful. There are many blogs that do this well, but I know that there are Pastors and business owners in my circle of friends that may not read them. Nothing in these hacks will be included unless I have tried the software, and deemed it personally useful (a rating that virtually no one acknowledged!). Here it goes!

Last year a student came to Great Commission Bible Institute with no Microsoft Office suite. They went to the store and bought a student edition for about $150 before I realized what they did. Because of that, I will post this one first: The whole suite that works with Word, Excel and many other productivity pieces can be found absolutely free (from Sun Microsystems) at ! This is not a new announcement, and thousands use it everyday. It is easily downloaded from their site and works like anything I have ever purchased from Microsoft. You DON’T NEED to spend money updating to newer versions of MS products every time one office somewhere updates theirs. Your whole team can download this and keep it current at no charge.

We have already written in a previous hack about the use of online based document software available through Google docs. Another excellent piece of software (also free) is their Google Presentation software, that has worked for me seamlessly with my Microsoft Power Point files. There are options to work with a presentation that is located on the web, or that is kept on my own drive. If you are familiar with Power Point, this web based application will be very helpful, and did I mention, FREE. A simple but entertaining presentation of all of this software and the concept can be found at:

Another freebie for this hack is a personal favorite. Recently I have been a part of several conference calls and meetings where a group of individuals have needed to coordinate schedules and “poll” each other on a good time to get together or call. “Doodle” is a free website where I can create the poll, ask my questions, send the link to my list of those involved, and watch responses in near real time.

How can I use this? Let’s say five couples want to go out on Friday night. We need a time and a place, right? I can send them a simple link with time choices and restaurant choices and “poll” them. That’s a simple example, but think of how this can work on team based projects. What day of three is best for us to have the upcoming meeting? Is it better in the morning or afternoon? If you are spread out across the globe and you need a quick straw poll, this is your simplest answer. Go to and check this out! It is effective and fast. Yes, of course it is also FREE!

Team Hack#4: Working Together on Notes and Documents

Something remarkable is happening in the team working world. The software framework of our lives is shifting beneath our feet. Yes, Bill Gates is retiring from Microsoft operations, but something even more profound is shifting… More people are using “Team software” or collaboration software. What’s more, is most of this new software is FREE.

Instead of using Microsoft Word or Word Perfect x.0, try a collaboration of writing notes among team members using the Google Docs software, all free online. Set up an online free Google account for your office use and have all of your team members able to log on. When you create a document or update a document, every person who has web access can view the document in real time. In fact, every person on the team who has been given access to the document on the system can change it. If two work on it at the same time, Google will let you know when you go to save that there are two docs competing to become the revised version. You can rename one and compare them, making a choice.

The best part of working online with documents is that you can avoid emailing back and forth fifteen revisions, trying to keep which one is the most recent and best. In addition, no matter where in the world you are, you can access the team’s most recent collaborative document. Simple solutions have already been made for working offline on materials, so you needn’t stay online all the time to be working on them. You can set your laptop to automatically update files you have been working on at the time you next go online.

Someone is reading this and asking, “What about security?” Fair question. Yet, I don’t know many people that have that much secure information that they collaborate on and send via an email or web. Obviously there are ways to encrypt and do that, it just doesn’t happen in my world that much. Most of what we work on simply isn’t that sensitive. If yours is, I would suggest working another way.

All of my students are required to turn in all work digitally. In team projects, I want them to get used to the idea of using online software, because many of them will work on teams that are not geographically bound to the same area as them. Life is changing and even social networks are electronic for many around the world. What makes us think we need the team in the same office to work together.

In my travel office (one of the businesses that we set up years ago) I can get a photo from that day’s Jerusalem event, put into a document written in Florida with travel flight  of a recent teaching details from our booking agent’s office in Ohio and match it to a video clip from our producer in South Africa from a DVD we shot in Israel six months before, link them all and have them on the web by nightfall in Florida. The next morning (Jerusalem time) a brochure can be generated at the printer’s office in West Jerusalem and a pdf copy can be emailed to me for final approval before the press runs. We call that a Tuesday, it happens all time in businesses around the world. I choose color printing based on where I can get a good deal, in Asia or New Jersey. All of it will be shipped anyway.

Our place of business is increasingly becoming wherever I am sitting with a cell phone and laptop. As much business is being accomplished in my local Starbucks on a Wednesday morning, as in the local strip mall. Business is changing. Teams can keep up and work together with no monetary investment!

Team Hack #3: Organizing Your Life

Because my life includes a substantial amount of travel, I have learned some things about hotel rooms. I know that Orlando is still the best dollar for value city anywhere, with rooms in palatial buildings costing me $60-75 a night (thank the Lord for priceline – name your own price!). I know where in the hotel I don’t want to stay (the room next to or across from any exit point, (elevator or maintenance room). A third thing I know, as sure as I am breathing, is that organizing my room is the secret to a good trip. You may laugh, but I try to put my things in the exact same place in every room I stay. If I need something in the dark of a night, I can find it without turning on a light. My toiletries are placed in the same order (sounds OCD doesn’t it). But it helps.

The problem comes when I am traveling with my sweetheart, or my kids or colleagues. They move things. It can become the subject of some tension when I can’t find something that I reach for on my way out the door and haven’t left time to search around. One of the tips I took some time ago from leadership books was to try to organize my life. The life organizer Gina Trapani has written a number of articles on this.

Any team must decide where to keep the uniforms. In other words, we can’t build solid communication between us on detailed plans for next quarter if we can’t agree on where to recharge the cell phones in the office. We can’t use each other’s files if we all keep a different filing system (we will talk in another hack about organizing files in the computer later). We must agree on the “common space” and the “common needs”. In the school where I teach, each student has a bed and desk that belong to them for the year. In addition, they have some common areas. In the common areas the cleaning and the organizing becomes an issue each year, as the students must learn the principle of “Team Organization”.

The principle is this: “For the good of the team we must agree to maintain common areas and property by putting each item where we have predetermined it should go.” If everyone moves one thing and places it somewhere else in a dorm of twelve students or an office of five workers, all will be completely disorganized in one week.

There is a natural law of organization. All of us have experienced it. Have you ever put a flat surface (like a table, cabinet or dresser) next to an entry door? What happens? Within a short time, a pile forms of collected “stuff” on the surface. The natural law of organization is that we will put things in the easiest place to put them down, not in the easiest way to find them. In that way we make life easier on the front end, but harder on the back end. We don’t naturally place something according to the “finding point”. In a way, “we sabotage our future” (Trapani’s expression for it). She’s right!

Hack #3 is to organize all common space in the office according to two guidelines. First, what location for this item makes the most sense to the team (where will they naturally expect it to be). If we all decide each time we buy coffee where we will put it, we will spend an inordinate amount to time looking for it every time we go to make it. A simple discussion in the team on common space can eliminate any mystery when a sudden coffee urge overpowers us.

Second, how can we make that location easier to get to without intermediate points. If each team member has an inbox or “hotfile” (a wall mounted inbox outside or inside their office door), we don’t want to have a “general inbox” near the front door. If we did, we wouldn’t be sure if a new item went to our box or was still in the holding bin.

Sounds simple, right? You’d be surprised. In our homes and in our offices, common space needs to be defined by or for the team, refined over time and maintained. We have to agree to do it together, or someone will end up being the “mom” and doing it for us. Since most offices don’t have a “mom”, we probably need to do it for ourselves.

Team Hack #2: Preparing for You 2.0

It may seem a bit self serving to have a blog talk about blogs. Yet, I truly believe that this hack will be particularly helpful to my students. Get your own domain and begin a blog that becomes the “digital YOU”. There are some several reasons I want my students to pick up on this hack. At the stage of life that most of my students are (in their 20’s), it is important to look to the future and the exciting things that are in store for you. Because most of those things will require MONEY, you may want to consider how you are going to get a job in the future. Because a job is in your future, building a significant resume is in your present.

How can you distinguish yourself among your peers to make your God-given abilities and talents shine above others in the field by the time you seek that position you long for? In the old days I told students to write a book. It helped people look at you in a more serious way, and it showed that you: a) had cohesive thoughts you felt were worth recording; and b) you could finish a project your started. Now I offer different advice. I encourage every student to get a domain and blog. This transformation happened just recently, when a good friend helped me to see that my old school methods needed updating. Here are some rules worth considering:

Rule #1: Buy your name – the domain, that is. Life is moving quickly, and one of the only things you will always have is your name. If you begin to “brand” your name, you make yourself easily trackable to those you will meet along life’s journey. This won’t work if you are planning a great career in fund embezzling, but for the honest and hard working person, it will pay off. You need your friends a acquaintances, they weave the net of a social circle under you.

Rule#2: You can have a MySpace or FaceBook, but your blog should reflect the serious you that a potential employer will see. Collect your school articles here. Make this the digital portrait you want the world to see. Is that fair? Of course it is! Didn’t you ever see those “Glamour shots” pictures that some people have in their home. If done properly makeup isn’t a deception, it is accenting the best parts of your natural beauty. Use FaceBook to share your favs in mp3s. Use your blog for things that you will collect over a lifetime and hook your domain name to it. Think about the pictures you put on your blog. They will probably differ in character from those on your FaceBook.

Rule #3: Make the categories match your serious pursuits. Every employer asks the same question when hiring, “What makes this candidate a more serious contender than all the others.” In the interview, show them your blog at and help them to get a glimpse of who you have become. In the better companies and ministries, they already checked you out before you got there.

Rule #4: Never post anything online that you think is personal or hidden. Ten years from now, the stunt you pulled in the dorm with your buddies will be accessible to your future employer, insurance underwriter, and maybe even your child. Think about that. If it looks dumb now, it’ll really look dumb then! Remember, jackasses get the worst jobs – they carry the weight of the packs.

Team Hack #1: Communication requires some rules

 Email has turned out to be the greatest tool of communication in many team efforts that I know of. At the same time, most managers and leaders find that there are a number of hacks that new team members need to know in order to help the team. This hack is designed to keep us from making each other crazy with inbox dread. Everyone on the teams I have the privilege to lead has probably heard me say, “I can say anything, but when I email it, that is when it becomes real.” What I mean by that is I simply won’t try to make any serious decisions without an e-paper trail. I know my memory, and I know there is no way I will recall all the commitments I make without a bread crumb trail back home.

Because we have probably all experienced both inbox anxiety and its evil twin e-exhaustion, we need some team rules as to the use of email. This hack is to lay a foundation to our e-communication. Every team should take some time to form some basic policies and a script or short hand that will help the team communicate more smoothly. Here are rules I ask my students and team mates to utilize.

Rule #1: If the team sends you a communication, it is for one of three reasons: We have a question that you can address (Q); we have a request for you to attempt to fulfill (REQ); or we have information you will require (FYI or INF). These should be in the subject line of the email, such as: “INF Time and place of Friday staff mtg.” Please send out emails that reflect in the subject line what you expect of the team member.

Rule #2: Sometimes you will want to cc or bcc team members. If you do, the subject line cannot reflect what you want for each person on the cc list. In that case, put at the bottom of the email, after offering your information a list of those you cc’d and what you expect from each of us as follows:

“Staff meeting is at RJ Gators at noon this Friday. The team leader for each department is required to attend.

Cc: Matt REQ: Please have new budget reports copied for distribution.

Cc: Aaron REQ: Please have pics of last trip ready for selection for website.

Cc: Dave REQ: Please have list of calls made this week and responses.”

Rule #3: Email is not IM (instant messaging), but neither is it delivery by slow moving lame camels. If you don’t respond in a timely manner, we all know you aren’t managing your time properly. Generally, we will communicate the time schedule for any REQ we make from you. If you know you can’t get to the issue on the email, send a quick e and tell the team that you anticipate being tied up until __ . Everyone will know that you got the communication and are putting it into the schedule of “future you”.

Rule #4: Keep it as short and sweet as possible. Short means using numbered points (in that way responses can follow the same format without rewriting the Qs). Sweet means, “Be careful of the tone.” Please is a normal word we use to ask for something. Email is a curt communication, but we try very hard to be civil and project how much we appreciate being on the team with each other.

Leadership Lessons Distilled

As I continue to round out this site with things that I want my students to understand about both the Scriptures and life, I thought it was time to add another category or channel to The Wandering Shepherd. I am calling this category of articles “Team Hacks” in the classic blog tradition of life hackers, etc. A “hacker” is not simply a term for some subversive youth that seeks to break into the computers of the corporate in some sneaky Green Peace activity. A hacker is one who finds a solution to a problem, a key to access something closed before. A hacker is a problem solver. A “hack” is a solution.

I am convinced that we are living in a time desperate for problem solvers. I was standing in the Orlando Airport a short time ago. A young couple was standing near me at the beltway where we all awaited our incoming luggage. As the luggage came along the belt, one piece had obviously broken open. I watched as the couple began to discern that the loose articles of clothing coming down the beltway were, in fact, their clothes! The young man turned to his wife and began immediately to raise his voice, “I told you that suitcase wouldn’t make the journey!” She replied, “Did you put the strap on the case like I told you?” What ensured was an embarrassing and loud argument. Even the door guard began to pay attention.

What shocked me was not the argument. They were young, and they were both embarrassed. Yet, while they raised their voices at each other, neither collected the clumps of clothing strewn across the beltway. About thirty feet beyond the arguing couple, there she was, an elderly woman, seemingly unconnected to the loud couple, collecting the loose articles into a pile atop the broken luggage.

I moved closer as I heard someone say, “Ma’am, are these things yours?” “No!” she replied, “But they look too busy to take care of the problem!” I chuckled at her answer.

We can look for someone to blame because working together isn’t always easy, or we can look for a “hack” for the team – a solution to the trouble that keeps us from pressing ahead. Today, we are surrounded by issues that seemingly defy answers. Yet, I serve the Creator hacker, and He already knows a way to make things work. Moreover, I serve with a number of colleagues that I believe are master hackers in all things team. This category will address a few of the scraps I pick up along their trail…

1 Kings 2: What is a "Real Man"? Leadership and Masculinity

The Truth About Men:

“God’s purpose and plan for masculinity”


Solomon was called upon by his dying father to “show himself a man”. What does that mean? Is masculinity a cultural value? Can we determine what God wanted men to essentially be like? Solomon discovered what a man WAS and WAS NOT by comparing what God called on him to do with the men in his life.

In 1555, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley walked out of prison for the last time. They both were condemned to be burned at the stake for refusing to recant their personal faith in Jesus Christ. As they approached the stake, Latimer uttered these unforgettable words to his good friend: “Be of good cheer, Ridley. Show yourself a man! We shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace…as I trust shall never be put out.” Where did Hugh Latimer learn such a phrase as “show yourself a man?”

He learned it from the lips of an ancient king named David. David was approaching death and wanted to speak to his son Solomon.  Solomon learned to be what God wanted for a man, when he stood for God’s program and learned the role of a godly man (2:2 “show yourself a man”). When he did, he secured the kingdom God put in his hands.

Key Principle: When a man understands and acts in his God-given role, he secures those placed in his care.

Solomon had to learn what a man was to be a king over men. He had to learn what a godly man was to bring the blessing of God to his family and his kingdom.

What did David mean when he told his son to “show yourself a man?” (1 Kings 2:2). Turn with me to the book of Genesis. God originally gave man what some call the “Four Roles of Manhood “. In the beginning, God created. That is the nature of our God. His creativity is astounding: galaxies and giraffes, atoms and aardvarks, mountains and molecules all show the genius of our creator God.

I read something this week entitled 50 Reasons Why It’s Good To Be a Man.I won’t read all of them but I did put together my own top-10 list:

10 You know stuff about tanks.
9 You can go to the bathroom without a support group.
8 If someone forgets to invite you to something he can still be your friend.
7 You can drop by to see a friend without bringing a little gift.
6 If another guy shows up at the same party in the same outfit, you might become lifelong buddies.
5 One wallet, one pair of shoes, one color, all seasons.
4 There is always a game on somewhere.
3 Your pals can be trusted never to trap you with, “So…notice anything different?”
2 If something mechanical doesn’t work, you can bash it with a hammer and throw it across the room.
1 You can do your nails with a pocketknife.

Turn to Genesis 2. We read of God creating something completely different and new: …the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Gen 2:7). God created a man, in His own image and he became a living being. Masculinity is not a culturally defined term. God created men for a purpose. What are these purposes? What are the specific reasons and roles God created the man?

  1. Skip down to verse 15: “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Gen 2:15). The man was created to “take dominion” as chapter 1 verse 28 reads in the New King James version. Adam was to be the administrator of the Garden. The same is true today. Inside every man of God beats the heart of a leader. They want to explore, and they want others to respect that they can.
  1. “And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…” (Genesis 2:16-17). The man was not only called to steward the land’s resources but also to steward information. Remember, Eve had not been formed yet. It is as if God were telling Adam, “I’m going to tell you this and I want you to pass it on, to teach it to others.” Inside of every godly man beats the heart of a mentor. Godly men don’t just want to get there, they want to get OTHERS there!
  1. Verse 17 concludes with this ominous warning: “…or when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Gen 2:17b). Adam was clearly warned of potential danger. It was his role to be alert, to be on guard, to stand watch over himself and his family. Inside every godly man beats the heart of a guardian. This impulse leads men to war in defense of their homes and families.
  1. Verse 18 introduces a new character into this cosmic drama: “The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Gen 2:18). Adam was given Eve to satisfy his deep longing for companionship. In more general sense, men were created to be in community. Inside every godly man beats the heart of a companion. What fun is it conquering the world if SHE doesn’t notice?

Something went wrong in the Garden though. After Eve ate the apple, God asked this question of Adam: “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:8). God was not confused about Adam’s geographical location. The question was more of “Where were you?”

• Where was your influence as a leader when Eve and the serpent were chatting under the tree?

• Where was the guardian I created to protect and keep watch over her?

• Where did the mentoring process breakdown?

• Where was the faithful companion when Eve needed you most?

Adam failed, the human race fell, and men have been frustrated every since. The four callings of God into a man’s heart are that of Leader, Guardian, Mentor, and Companion. This is how God defines real manhood. Solomon was to face David’s death by adopting the essence of David’s life – a walk with God living the purposes of God!

Adonijah: The Poor Leader (1 Kings 2:13-25)

  1. Poor leaders leave people guessing whether they are safe to be with or not (2:13-14).
  2. Poor leaders confuse the standard of truth (what the world thinks versus what God says – 2:15).
  3. Poor leaders hide behind others and lead others into wickedness (2:16-21).
  4. Poor leaders force God’s leaders to defend what God has said and done (2:22-25).

Abiathar: The Poor Mentor (1 Kings 2:26-27)

Remember his story: He was at Nob when David came and ate of the bread of the Tabernacle (1 Samuel 21). He fled when Doeg the Edomite came in the name of King Saul and killed all the priestly families (including his!). David took him in (1 Sam. 22). He brought the Ephod when he came (1 Samuel 23). He went on to serve as a priest in David’s administration and did reconnaissance for David when Absalom sat for awhile on David’s throne (2 Samuel 15). When David lay dying, Abiathar foolishly sided with Adonijah.

  1. Bad mentors most often come from bad mentors. Solomon knew that a bad mentor had existed in his family generations ago (1 Kings 2:26-27; The house of Eli, see 1 Samuel 2:30-35).
  2. Bad mentors must be stopped from destroying the future. (2:27) Solomon knew that a bad mentor would keep infecting the priesthood, and dismissed him to his home in Anathoth to work a field. He LOST the WORK OF A LEVITE and was demoted to a land farmer. (Levites had no land).

Joab: The guardian who defended the wrong things! (1 Kings 2:28-35).

When Solomon came to the throne Adonijah was afraid for his life, and fled to the horns of the altar at the tabernacle for shelter. Solomon permitted him to find sanctuary there, and forgave him his offence, and said that if he proved himself a worthy man he should live without further molestation. But very soon he began plotting again, and sought to undermine Solomon now that their venerable father was dead. Solomon determined to wipe clean all of the rebellion.

Joab ran for the altar at the Tent of the Lord. Hadn’t Adonijah done this successfully before? Of course, he had no Biblical right to enter into the holy place, and lay hold on the horns of the altar; but he was desperate! (2:28)

After two premeditated murders and now a failed plot, his sin came home to him. He decided to run to the altar, though his life was not one of a fervent follower of God. There is no reference to any passion for God that we can discern, but there was a record of rebellion and murder. Solomon knew he was illegally at the altar, and ordered him executed. Benaiah tried first to get him to come out of the area (2:29), but Joan decided he would die at the altar (2:30).

Joab offers two lessons:

1) Joab found no sanctuary even though he laid hold of the horns of the altar of God’s house, because an outward show with no inner change means absolutely nothing to God.

There are man who put their trust in religious observances of different kinds. People do it all the time. Some trust in the horns of the sacraments. Men with no walk with God nor passion to have one, come to some religious sacramental communion table, looking for a blessing. Our county is filled with people who believe that a priest or pastor can dispense God in a wafer to a person who has no intention of truly surrendering to Jesus.

Spurgeon offers this insight: “Do they conceive that grace comes to men by bits of bread and drops of wine? These things are meant to put us in memory of the Lord Jesus Christ, and, as far as they do that, and quicken our thoughts of him, they are useful to us; but there is no wizardry or witchcraft linked with these two emblems, so they convey as form of grace. If you do rely upon such things, I can only say that this error is all of a piece: it is a superstition which begins with, “In my baptism, wherein I was made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven“; which statement is altogether false; and then it continues the delusion by prostituting an ordinance meant for the living child of God, and giving it to the ungodly, the ignorant, and the superstitious, as though it could make them meet for entering heaven.”

Others think that they are all right because they frequent sermons. Another says, “I attend prayer meetings.” “But I regularly read the Bible,” says one. Some are foolish enough to put their confidence in the special last rights powers of ministers. Yet, sadly, there is no hope in them. I have been a member of a church for many years.” You may be a member of a church fifty years, but you will be damned at last unless you are a heart member of the body of Christ through repentance and acceptance of Jesus’ work atCalvary to pay for sin. A heart faith, a born again experience of one that deliberately and truthfully surrenders their heart to Jesus is what is required. Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. He was a Pharisee and a devoutly religious man. Jesus told him “You must be born again!” Cornelius was a praying centurion that called upon God, and yet Peter came to him and told him he must surrender to Jesus to be saved.

2) Joab reminds us that there is an opportunity for us to come TO THE SPIRITUAL ALTAR, AND LAYING OUR HAND UPON the sacrifice of Jesus, HE WILL SAVE US.

Notice what Joab DID. First, Joab came to the tabernacle, the area where sin was dealt with. Then he decided to come to the altar where sin was paid for with blood. Though he entered on false pretense, YOU have the opportunity to come in truth and take hold on Christ Jesus. Place your hand of faith upon your Lord, and say, “This Jesus is mine. I accept it as the gift of God to me, though I am wholly unworthy.”

Remember, nobody ever perished trusting in Jesus. Spurgeon: “There has not been through all these centuries a single instance of a soul being cast away that came all guilty and hell-deserving, and took Christ to be its salvation. If you perish, you will then be the first that perished with his hand laid upon Christ. His love and power can never fail a sinner’s confidence. Wherefore, may God the Holy Spirit lead you to resolve, “If I must die, I will die here.”

You have heard the gospel long enough; now obey it. You have heard about Christ long enough; now trust in him. You have been invited and entreated, and pleaded with; now yield to his grace. Yield to joy and peace by trusting in him who will give you both of these as soon as you have rested in him. Look! sinner, look! A look out of thyself will save thee. Look away from all thy works, and prayers, and tears, and feelings, and church-goings, and chapel-goings, and sacraments, and ministers. Look alone to Jesus.”

Shimei: The poor companion that lost his workers (2:36-46)


  1. A poor companion can’t keep his word (2:36-38,40-46).
  2. A poor companion has people trying to get away from them (2:39).

Our ability to think and reason is similar to the way a computer functions. The computer hardware with all of its wires and circuitry is like our brain; it is the physical part. However, the computer is useless without the software. Programs must be installed to the memory of the computer in order for it to function. The software, like the mind is not physical; you can add or remove software from your computer and yet you won’t make the computer heavier or lighter.

Many in our society assume that if something is not working right inside, then it is a HARDWARE PROBLEM. Suicidal thoughts, depression, paranoia, anxiousness, fear, every mental or emotional problem – some think it MUST be caused by some chemical imbalance or some other physical problem with your brain. Take the right pill, eat the right foods, rest and exercise, reduce stress and we can cure your brain and the problem will go away. IF the problem is HARDWARE, then these things will often work. But there is more to you than just HARDWARE.

It equally may be a spiritual issue, or a SOFTWARE PROBLEM. All of us have issues that need to change in the programming within our thinking, to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. You have developed certain patterns of thought that have given Satan a stronghold in your life; if Satan can control the way you think he can control your life. You don’t need a pill; you need to stop waging war as the world and use weapons with divine power to demolish strongholds by taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.

Men: we were made to be Leader, Guardian, Mentor, and Companion. This is how God defines real manhood. Solomon had to learn it. Yet, when a man understands and acts in his god-given role, he secures those placed in his care.

Men just aren’t like women: One night a wife found her husband standing over their newborn baby’s crib. Silently she watched him. As he stood looking down at the sleeping infant, she saw on his face a mixture of emotions: disbelief, doubt, delight, amazement, enchantment, skepticism. He would stand back, shake his head and say, “Amazing,” while smiling from ear to ear. Touched by his unusual display and the deep emotions it aroused, her eyes glistened as she slipped her arms around him. “A penny for your thoughts,” she whispered in his ear. “Isn’t it amazing!” he replied. “When you take the time and really look close, how can anyone make a crib like that for only $45.99!”

The Making of a Leader: The Call of Moses

Leadership seems to be the subject of much of the Biblical narrative surrounding Moses. The beginning of his leadership was shaped by his “call” to the place in history he was to fulfill. If you are interested in the process of becoming a leader, Watch The Call of Moses on You Tube:

For information on ordering this DVD (US) email me, other countries email Kerugma Productions:

What are "Deacons" in the Bible?


Anyone who studies administrative service in the New Testament as it pertains to the local Church will become aware quite quickly that the Scriptures relate much information concerning the character of the individual seeking an office in the church. What seems to be lacking, is the description of what they are to do. Obviously, God must be far more interested in who we are, than what we do as church leaders. If the church is lead by Godly leaders, this certainly is more important than any “job description” for them could be.

The Descriptive Term “Deacon

1. The term deacon is a transliteration of the Greek “diakonos”. The term was used in three common forms in the Christian Scriptures: “diakonos” (a servant);”diakonia” (service); and “diakoneo” (to serve). The use of the word apparently originated in serving food:
a. The wine servants in Jn. 2:5 and 9 at the wedding of Cana, where Jesus turned water to wine.
b. Lk.4:39 where it refers to a “waitress” as in Jn. 12:2; Lk.10:40; Lk. 17:8.
2. The word was also used in a general sense of serving and meeting of practical daily needs”. Roman government workers were seen as servants in this context (Rom. 13:3 and 4).
3. Those Hellenistic Jews who desired to be followers of Jesus (Jn. 12:36) are told that they must be willing to follow Him, as well as serve Him.
4. The term is used in the letters to the Corinthians in a “spiritual” form of service:
a. The support of saints is called service (2 Cor. 8:3-4).
b. The “ministries” of 1 Cor. 12:5 of the Spirit of God through believers are “service”. This same idea is employed in Rev. 2:19; 2 Cor. 4:1, 9:1.

Questions about Official Recognition of the Office in Scripture

1. An officer in the church?
The office of Deacon was established early in church history, by Apostolic authority, to care for temporal needs of the church.
a. They appear to have been the group called out to care for the financial divisions of needs for the
widows in Acts 6, though the term Deacon is not used in the noun form in the passage. (The verb “serve” is used in v.2).
b. We know that they held an office in the church, because they were mentioned in connection to it (Phil. 1:1), and standards concerning their character were specified in the Word (1 Timothy 3).
c. It apparently was understood to be people who were gifted with the intense desire and ability to serve people (Rom. 12:7).

2. What do they do? What is their function?
A deacon, from what we can discern from the passages above, is one who “God has equipped with a serving heart, and practical hands.” He is a man who has the greatest satisfaction in the Lord, serving Him in the temporal needs of the church.
a. In the first century, this idea included serving food to tables of hungry crowds, and dividing to the widows according to their need. It still includes such things.
b. A modern application of the office is to make them the caretakers of the buildings and practical needs (under the direction of the Elders), which God has entrusted to His church, (including the recording of the financial stewardship). They care for the bills as they come in, and keep accurate records of such things as are necessary to be responsible stewards.
c. They accept the direction of the Elders in caring for the flock. In practice, they may be called upon by the Elders to aid individuals by issuing them financial help, or some practical assistance. They must be prepared to call on congregants to aid each other as well.

3. Is it an all male group in the Bible? Are the women mentioned the wives of Deacons?
Women have an office. Though the passage of 1 Timothy 3:11 may be unclear in English, (as it regards this problem) it appears somewhat more clear in the original language.
a. The context of the passage is the selection of officers, and their qualifications (3:1).
b. The term translated in many texts “their wives” is the word “gunaikos”, and means “women”, not “wives”. There are many instances in the Bible where the term is clearly not the wife, and this term is used.
c. The key to seeing these women as “officers” is the term translated “likewise” at the beginning of verse 11. Note it is used in the beginning of verse 8 when the discussion shifts from Elders to Deacons. It appears the discussion shifted again in verse 11 to an office of females who desire to serve.
d. The women are not necessarily the wives of Deacons: The “Deaconess” in verse 11 is not specifically the wife of a Deacon (though this may be the case). She is simply a woman who meets the qualifications of character, with four special qualifications: reverent, not a slanderer, temperate (balanced), and faithful in all things.

4. Who Qualifies to be in an official office of Administrative service (The Deaconate)?
The following qualifications may be drawn from the principles of Paul’s writing to Timothy:

a. Deacons (1 Timothy 3:8-16)
1. reverent
2. not double-tongued
3. not given to much wine
4. not greedy
5. holding the faith in pure conscience
6. tested
7. found blameless
8. one wife
9. ruling children and household well

b. Deaconesses (1 Timothy 3:11)
1. reverent
2. not a slanderer
3. temperate
4. faithful in all things

5. What is the difference between the Elders and Deacons?
Functionally, we may illustrate the relationship and the difference by a godly “marriage”. Elders have the responsibility for the vision and direction of the flock, and spend much of their time in the study of the Word to identify the timeless principles that should be governing the congregation. Deacons focus on the practical service of the flock, under the direction of the Elders. Elders listen to the needs and desires
of the Deaconate, and try to act in a way that builds them up. Deacons try to offer faithful service to reflect well on the Council of Elders.

a. Eight Important Priorities of Eldership were sketched out by Paul in Acts 20:28-35, when he was addressing the Ephesian Council of Elders:
1. To keep right (personally) with God and lead others to do so (20:28).
2. To feed the flock (Biblically with truth) and lead (“oversee” in v. 28).
3. To warn, defend and protect the flock from the enemy and his representatives (20:29-31).
4. To study the Word, share it with a gracious and optimistic spirit (20:32).
5. To stay free from self interest (20:33).
6. To work hard at caring for themselves and those around them (20:34).
7. To be models of unselfish giving, especially to those who are weak (20:35).
8. To be public examples of prayerful men (20:36).

b. The Functional Work of the Deaconate is only inferred in Scripture, but the passages help us see they:
1. Are recognized as appointed servants of the flock (Rom. 16:1; Phil. 1:1; Acts 6:6).
2. Are people who accept appointment and direction from the Elders (Acts 6:6).
3. Are men and women of industriousness and busy (Rom. 16:2).
4. Are well thought of in the congregation, filled with the Spirit and faith (Acts 6:3-5).
5. Are known as care givers to many (Rom. 16:2).
6. May be gifted speakers and teachers, as in the case of Stephen (Acts 6:5; cp. 7:1ff)
7. Serve practical needs of the flock (“tables” in Acts 6:2).