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Devotionals

ADVENTIST EDUCATION—TOWARDS DIGITAL EVANGELISM

“And the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt 24:14)

         Adventist education has a strategic intent and purpose that differentiates it from educational systems that are in the business of producing students with sharp qualifications and degrees, and even wholesome characters.  There is a continuous need for curricular realignment that equips our students to fulfill the ultimate purpose of Adventist education, and our church has made a provision to meet the needs of churches, schools and members.  What is the ultimate purpose of Adventist education, how and when is it promoted, packaged, delivered, distributed and transmitted, and to whom?  

        Our ultimate and deliberate goal is to lead students to Christ so that they can fulfill the gospel imperative of taking the Advent message to all the world.  We must then give them the means to do so. That process is continuous and uses education as an implementing tool, so that education is not an end in itself, but a means to an end.  We are not merely teaching the Common Core of subjects to students but using education as a tool to advance ministry. Our purpose is clear, our target population intact, and our timing immediate.  We now need a strategy to fit our purpose so that our curriculum delivers desired intent.  We no longer only live in a physical and geographical world, but one that is globally connected through technological and social media that has constricted geography, economics, society and politics into a new reality of fluid national boundaries. We live in a world of the instantaneous, the rapid and the ready.  Our curriculum, therefore, must respond to this new reality by adopting digital learning as part of a Common Core. The ministry of digital evangelism and discipleship is a must in schools and churches as we embed technological deliberately into our curriculum to equip students to digitally minister in a new era of reality. Only then, can the gospel of the kingdom be truly preached in all the world for a witness to all nations. “All the world”, then becomes all the accessible world. Our students can then reach the world with a message of salvation, having been taught the techniques of production and delivery through the spoken, written and technological world. The North American Digital Ministries Department is an ample resource. Click on it to revitalize your school and church with new ways of preaching, teaching and reaching. This is the practical intent and strategy of the Gospel Commission.

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Devotionals

THEY THAT BE WITH US ARE MORE…BLESSED ASSURANCE

“They that be with us are more than they that be with them”. (2 Kings 6:16).

Have you ever gotten to a point in your experience when you felt surrounded and besieged by a number of options in the light of present circumstance and you wondered what direction you should take?  You have run out of known resources, but there is a need to act. Enrollment is declining finances uncertain, and you feel the support for Adventist education is dwindling. Alas, you’ve rolled out the toolkit of marketing strategies, encompassed the latest technology and cutting edge research, yet nothing seems to be working.

It is only then it strikes you that there is great controversy raging for the minds and souls of leaders when apparent attractions and solutions can become distractions.  The things that you think you need and desire, as others may have, become your end focus, whether it is equipment or technology or building improvements to meet the minimum standards required by accreditation.  You’ve got to weigh mission versus reality for that which is real and present can be separate from the mission.  

I am reminded that it was the same with Elisha and his servant in Dothan.  Israel had been in constant struggle with Syria until the king of Syria decided to surprise Elisha with the overwhelming force of numbers, better equipment, better chariots, better intelligence, and a better fighting reputation. So is it with us sometimes—we are in the numbers game and thus like Elisha’s servant, our mission becomes limited by what we cannot see, for what we cannot see, we do not strive.  Yet very often, the solution lies in that which we cannot see or do not imagine, for our eyes are not opened to the impossible, but only the earthly possible.

It is time to pray for a vision that stretches beyond mere human endeavor and rationality; it is time to pray that our eyes may be opened so that we can see the forces of God surrounding and guiding us.  Like Solomon, we must pray for wisdom rather than riches, and with the wisdom will come the desired wealth.  God is our refuge, a very present help in the time of trouble; the angel of the Lord surrounds those that love Him; when we pass through the waters, God is with us; the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  No weapon formed against me shall prosper. If it were possible, the very elect would be deceived. Ultimately, we remember that they with us are more than they be with them, for we serve a “God of the Impossible”.  May our eyes be opened to see the armies of God surrounding us.

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Devotionals

Continuous Connections—Towards an Adventist Business Model

“And Enoch walked faithfully with God…” (Genesis 5:24)

Harvard Business Review (April 2019), features an article on continuous connections strategy.  Having read, I began to think of Adam and Enoch, and wondered why we could not replicate the same strategies.   Siggelkow and Terwiesch (April 2019) propose four connection strategies: response to desire, curated offerings, coached behavior and automatic execution.

In “response to desire” the leader and organization respond to the requests of customers (parents, students, church members) in timely and appropriate fashion, thus building confidence. That only comes from a relationship where there are opportunities for meaningful communication. Think of Enoch and God—Enoch took time off to communicate with God in reflection and prayer (White, 2019,egwwritings.org).

In “curated offerings”, based on the strength of communication, leaders anticipate the needs and desires and make proactive recommendations for consideration.  Have you ever wondered how Amazon produces a list of recommended books you should read? They are constantly tracking your purchase preferences and anticipating your desires. God did with Enoch.

In coached behavior, we are nudging and encouraging customers to move in a certain direction. I recall when IPADS were introduced to my community that there was an aspect of wariness, and we nudged and encouraged until individuals began to buy in. So it is with God—He nudges and encourages in the hope that we will buy into the plan of salvation, to the plan for Christian education, built upon a practice from the early years of Sabbath School.

        In automatic execution, we have combined all of the previous practices so that now, God knows our needs before we ask, and He is there already.  God automatically executes as He did for Enoch.  We are so tuned in as leaders to the desires, and needs of our constituents that when a situation arises, we can automatically execute and deliver, even before they ask.  I would like to think that this is a business model for Adventist leadership and followers in the 21st century.  We are to be distinct, different, unique—an Adventist education cannot be procured outside of the Adventist context of church, home and school.  Leaders, beware!  We’ve got a duty to deliver and a mission to execute. Let us remain connected to God, as Enoch did, so that we can then be connected to our customers and constituents, by responding to desires, making recommendations, coaching behavior and executing automatically.  Harvard Business Review–Continuous Connections

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Hats Off

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Devotionals

“HE HAS RISEN—SO WHAT?”

An Easter  Message from our Educational Complex–

the Greater Atlanta Adventist Academy, the Berean Christian Development Center

and the Berean Child Development Center

“He is not here; He has risen, just as He said”. (Matt 28:6)

Today, I thought of that moment many morns ago, when the ladies came to the tomb to find Jesus, and the angel said, “He is not here, He’s arisen”.   What joy, assurance and hope to the Christian to know that Jesus is not in the grave, but has arisen.  He has conquered death and the grave so that He can come again the second time. AT GAAA and BCJA, we believe in a risen, soon-coming Savior in real action time.  This causes us to be partners in the execution of a grand strategy, that of preparing leaders to serve in the end time as witnesses of the Gospel.  

That’s the big picture strategic plan—pattern the Gospels as our Curriculum guidebook.  Jesus prepared disciples who became leaders; we are preparing students to become leaders.  Jesus prepared disciples who became bold speakers; we are preparing students to speak clearly and fervently, through our oratorical program.  Jesus prepared the disciples who spoke before the Sanhedrin fearlessly—we are preparing students through our legal skills program to speak in courthouses everywhere as done in the recent Mock Trial in the Atlanta Superior Court. Today, there are mock trials, but tomorrow, they will be real and our students will be ready, fortified by the Word.   Whereas Jesus empowered the disciples to “go into all the world and preach the gospel, we are empowering our students to use technology to communicate the same Gospel, far and wide. We are combining core subjects, Bible passage memorization, oratory, legal skills and technology to produce a superior student that can lead the world.

If you’d like to break it down, our grand strategy destination is “heaven at last”. Our execution strategy (what we do to accomplish the grand strategy) is to prepare students to witness in these end times and to enter collegiate study.  Our execution strategy is “preparation”—the act of preparing–we are making every effort through smaller tactical maneuvers to achieve this leadership preparation.  Indeed, Jesus has arisen, but then, “so what?” What are you doing today about this fact?  We Shall Behold Him.

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Devotionals

CHOOSE TODAY—JUST LAYING BRICKS OR BUILDING A CATHEDRAL

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

Joshua faces a problem as leaders sometimes do.  He had given his farewell address after long years of service. He was about to retire.  Yet, there were some in the multitude that had not given up their old ways, and Joshua decided to make one last effort for consensus. Silent opposition may remain even after consensus. Joshua was giving another opportunity.

        Both Joshua and the people came to the table with a context—there is always a context in leadership. The people knew the Torah, had memories of the journey to Canaan and their flirtatious behavior with idolatry, but saw how God had delivered. Yet people are not always rational—there is emotion, intuition and bias with system 1 thinking (the quick and emotional) versus system 2 (the slow and rational). Each problem has its context, but Joshua had an end in mind, to re-forge a covenant between God and the people. There were a series of alternatives with trade-offs—continue serving the gods of the Amorites, the gods of their ancestors or Jehovah. There was a cost-benefit analysis with each option, based on selected criteria. There would have been the thrill of instant as against the patience of delayed gratification, and the cost of executing whatever decision was taken.  The people respond, “we will serve the Lord”, and a discussion ensued, and Joshua made his stance clear. The floor got to speak back with good order.  Joshua completed the vote with “All in favor, say aye”, and they said “Aye”, and it was carried. He then recorded it in the Minutes of the meeting with a solemn covenant at Shechem. Even after Joshua died, “Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that over-lived Joshua”.

        Leadership is about making choices with an end in mind and taking the people with you. It involves the context, the consideration of alternatives, the cost of each, as well as a risk analysis and trade-off. Sometimes, we must delay instant gratification to wait for the long-term result, while yet living practically in the present for all present actions must lead to some conclusion.  Leadership is about character development for God gives us choices which are inherent in character formation.  Keep the end in mind, remember the source of knowledge, then go on God’s errands.  Moses passed on, Joshua passed on, but the elders that outlived Joshua continued his work and kept the faith.  The quality of effort should be matched by the quality of execution.  We are all building a cathedral, not merely laying bricks.  All are laying bricks, but not all might be building a cathedral.  Let us keep the cathedral in mind. It is the end that drives present action.

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Devotionals News

Lead By Investing In People

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

Leadership is a modern-day buzzword with ongoing discussion on leadership definitions, styles and typologies. Where does the Christian fit into all of this and what is the role of the church and school?  More importantly, what is your personal role in the leadership discussion?

A study of the Gospels and the book of Acts reveals the saga of Christian leadership by recounting the story of Jesus in his relationship to the disciples. I’d like to outline some strategy steps that Jesus followed in what I’ve termed “leadership investment-mentoring.” Today we share several strategies for successful leadership and results:

  1. Identify your missionJesus clearly outlined, repeated and described his mission. He had not come to overthrow Caesar and to install himself as a King. He had come to reveal the true nature of who God was and to save men and women.
  2. Select a team. Jesus believed in and espoused team work. He selected a team of willing workers.
  3. Develop the teamHe focused on preparing people and not programs. By working steadily with the disciples, Jesus shared by example.
  4. Delegate dutiesJesus delegated several tasks to the disciples, such as the feeding of the five thousand—he did not attempt to do everything.
  5. Become a servant leader. Transformational, inclusive servant leadership—Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, and demonstrated a role reversal in the master-servant expectation of society.
  6. Establish a leadership structureHe had a flat structure; he was accessible to the disciples and to children. Jesus carried his office with him wherever he went.
  7. Commission and empowerHe dedicated and empowered the disciples, sending them out to minister.
  8. Reflect on mission in action. Take time to pray, meditate, discuss and reflect on what is happening, ever keeping the mission in view. “Do not let your hearts be troubled…My Father’s house has many rooms…I will come back and take you to be with me” (John 14:1-3).

When people, students, church members and parents see us, do they conclude that we have been with Jesus? Are we constantly trying to make heaven our home?

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Devotionals

“Clean, But Not All”

“And you are clean, but not every one of you. John 13:10.

It’s tough to have inside information and not act on it immediately.  Leaders always have “inside information” just like Jesus did with Peter and Judas.   The disciples had been with Jesus as part of the leadership internship program and they wondered why he spoke continuously about denial and betrayal.  He had come to earth as the Messiah with a strategic plan to build a team would help restore a nation using an eight-step process: Identify the PROBLEM, select a relatedPURPOSE defined by the vision of a returning Messiah; institute a PROGRAM(preach loving-kindness), specify the PEOPLE (a target audience of multitudes), select delivery PERSONNEL (the disciples), launch a PROMOTION (a witnessing drive), establish a PRICE (personal sacrifices and His death), and suffuse the entire plan with constant PRAYER and reflection. There’s nothing like a strategic design, fit for time and place.

The twelve disciples were called and chosen, an equal opportunity group.  The name Judas, meant “Jehovah Leads” and James and John were “sons of thunder”.  They hailed from northern Galilee, except one (Judas), a motely group of uncultured men, except one (Judas). They were all close to Jesus visibly, except one. They knew each other and hung out together, all except one (Judas).  They had pure motives of loyalty, all except one (Judas).  They were all clean, except one (Judas).  Sometimes, it is like that with leadership teams, but to all he gave miracle power.  James and John hoped for top positions and Judas figured that he would cash in on whatever treasury profits came by. Everybody was in it for something.  A group of common men, tackling an uncommon situation for holy purpose. And Jesus knew! 

    Jesus had a destination vision for the team to take them from where they were to an eternal future.  He saw the end, and discounted the beginning for where you are headed counts far more than where you are. Peter denied Jesus three times, but repented.  Judas never denied him visibly but in the end, really did—he had been all along, quietly.  Sometimes, you’ll have a team of fishermen, except one.  We are molding common teams to an uncommon purpose in Adventist leadership.  Its gruesome, but Judas will ultimately hang himself. Teams are made of imperfect people; patience is necessary, purpose is uppermost. Sometimes, Gethsemane comes.  The question remains, “have we been with Jesus”? This counts for more than experience, position and degrees, yet we are tempted to elevate these items. They took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). There is a Pentecost ahead.

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Devotionals News

FROM TRAGEDY TO TRIUMPH—THE LAST LAUGH!

“For we know that all things work together for good to them who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

That’s right!  You heard me right.  It is he that has the last laugh that wins the battle.  The human life is filled with acts of dramatic tragedy, and usually without warning?  We have had two world wars, the Holocaust, 9-11, natural disasters, and school and church violence, “for the heart of man, above all things is deceitfully and desperately wicked; who can know it” (Jeremiah 17:9).  These thoughts assailed me this past week, after the tragic event at my school, the sudden, and dramatic and shocking loss of a parent which catapulted our school community in a deep sense of grief.

Haven’t you ever wondered where God is in all this? Is it fair that innocent people should die, especially young children? The truth is that because of sin, there will be suffering, death and dying.  “In this world, you will have tribulation, but take heart! I have overcome the world” (1 Corinthians 16:33).  This is the crux.  We are caught in a great controversy between good and evil and we can either turn to God our Creator or become bitter. Remember Job’s wife—she said, Job, it’s unfair what is happening to you; just curse God and die, for you are going to die anyway”.  Yet, there is hope because He who created us in the beginning, is at the end of the road, waiting for us, when time shall have become eternity.  He will have the last laugh! Amen, Amen!

        Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).  “God shall wipe away all tears” (Revelation 21:4-5). “Death, where is thy sting and grave where is thy victory”. God is able to take the worst situation and use it to good purpose.  “For we know that all things work together for good to them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).  It’s the end of the road that counts, and this gives us hope.  “I have fought the good fight; I have finished my course; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:7).  Today, if you are saddened by tragedy, or you recall the loss of a loved one, remember that we are a people and a church of faith.  We have that blessed hope in the coming of the Lord—we are looking for “that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).  I am constantly working backwards from the hope of the future to the life of the present.  May God give us this hope today.  He has the last laugh.[Devotional–FROM%20TRAGEDY%20TO%20TRIUMPH.docx]It May be at Morn

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