Good to Great – Jim Collins

Jim Collins offers some interesting insights in his executive bestseller Good to Great — Why some Companies Make the Leap — and Others Don’t. But the principle that I would like to extract and apply to the preaching arena is known as the hedgehog concept. As I studied the presentation by Collins, I was struck with the similarity to the “Big Idea” focus of Haddon Robinson’s approach to expositional preaching in his seminary textbook Biblical Preaching (long a favorite of mine). The contrast between the hedgehog and the fox has been dissected for many years. Isaiah Berlin has been credited with highlighting the initial quote on the subject from the Greek poet Archilochus: The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. Berlin goes on to explain: Scholars have differed about the correct interpretation of these dark words, which may mean no more than that the fox, for all his cunning, is defeated by the hedgehog’s one defense. But, taken figuratively, the words can be made to yield a sense in which they mark one of the deepest differences which divide writers and thinkers, and, it may be, human beings in general. For there exists a great chasm between those, on one side, who relate everything to a single central vision, one system less or more coherent or articulate, in terms of which they understand, think and feel-a single, universal, organizing principle in terms of which alone all that they are and say has significance-and, on the other side, those who pursue many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory, connected, if at all, only in some de facto way, for some psychological or physiological cause, related by no moral or aesthetic principle . . . Jim Collins unfolds this hedgehog concept in the business arena: The pivot point in Good to Great is the Hedgehog Concept. The essence of a Hedgehog Concept is to attain piercing clarity about how to produce the best long-term results, and then exercising the relentless discipline to say, “No thank you” to opportunities that fail the hedgehog test. When we examined the Hedgehog Concepts of the good-to-great companies, we found they reflected deep understanding of three intersecting circles: 1) what you are deeply passionate about, 2) what you can be the best in the world at, and 3) what best drives your economic engine. Collins demands that business leaders be rigorous...
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Summer Reading – A Passport To Anywhere

Here is an excellent feature article by Rebecca Grace in Agape Press: She offers a wide range of reading suggestions and closes with some Reading Tips for Parents Urge your child to read consistently Get your child his own library card Subscribe to a magazine for kids Encourage your child to read for at least 15 minutes before bed Read with and to your child; Discuss what you’re reading Read together about a trip or vacation destination Introduce your child to reading book series Always have books on hand for your child to read as she...
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The Discipline Of Grace: God’s Role And Our Role In The Pursuit Of Holiness – Jerry Bridges

What role does grace play in our Christian growth and sanctification? It is difficult for many believers to come to grips with the tension between divine sovereignty (election, predestination, effectual calling, irresistible grace, etc.) and human responsibility (the necessity of repentance and faith) when it comes to our salvation. But the same tension exists in trying to grapple with God’s role and our role in the pursuit of holiness. If you ignore the mysterious sovereign working of God’s grace and strive for Christian maturity on the basis of self discipline and works you end up a frustrated legalist. On the other hand, the Christian walk is much more than simply “Let Go and Let God!” Jerry Bridges wrestles with these dynamics: “Grace is every bit as important for growing as a Christian as it is for becoming a Christian. The pursuit of holiness must be anchored in the grace of God; otherwise it is doomed to failure. Grace is at the heart of the gospel, and without a clear understanding of the gospel and grace we can easily slip into a performance-based lifestyle that bears little resemblance to what the gospel offers us.” “The Holy Spirit’s work in transforming us more and more into the likeness of Christ is called sanctification. Our involvement and cooperation with Him in His work is what I call the pursuit of holiness. . . The pursuit of holiness requires sustained and vigorous effort. . . Grace and the personal discipline required to pursue holiness, however, are not opposed to one another. In fact, they go hand in hand.” Bridges calls believers back to the centrality of the simple, but all-powerful gospel message. This gospel is not just for unbelievers as the message to bring them into the kingdom. It should be the ongoing meditation of every believer in order to respond to the love and forgiveness of our God with the type of consecrated pursuit of holiness that relies on the power of the Holy Spirit. “Preaching the gospel to ourselves every day addresses both the self-righteous Pharisee and the guilt-laden sinner that dwell in our hearts. Since the gospel is only for sinners, preaching it to ourselves every day reminds us that we are indeed sinners in need of God’s grace. It causes us to say to God, in the words of an old hymn, “Nothing in my hands I bring; simply...
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Princeton Thesis Investigates Movers And Shakers In Evangelical Movement

D. Michael Lindsay, a Princeton graduate student, interviewed more than 350 people including 2 U.S. presidents in studying the impact of evangelicalism on the realms of politics, business and culture. Of course you have to wonder at the widespread application of the designation “evangelical.” But the criteria to be characterized as an evangelical seems quite straightforward: People were included in Lindsay’s project in one of two ways. Either they defined themselves as an evangelical, or born-again Christian, or they passed three criteria: Each participant had to believe in the primary authority of the Bible (as opposed to, for example, the teachings of the Vatican); they had to have a “personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ” – the born-again experience; and they had to have an “activist approach to faith.” Then again, maybe a lot of people define themselves as an “evangelical” without meeting the three criteria specified. I especially like the reaction of Lindsay’s adviser, one of the sophisticated Princeton professors who reviewed the findings: “This dissertation is giving us an entirely different look at evangelical Protestantism,” said Lindsay’s adviser, Robert Wuthnow, the Gerhard R. Andlinger ’52 Professor of Social Sciences. “Academics often think of conservative Christians as rubes and dupes. The reality is that the real movers and shakers behind the evangelical movement are highly educated, thoughtful people with entrepreneurial skills, wealth and extraordinary management savvy.” How can this be a revelation to these highly educated professors? It only exposes the depths of their prejudice against Christianity. Lindsay’s findings did not seem all that startling to me: Lindsay argued that faith-based activism has helped the evangelical movement grow from a largely grassroots organization associated with the poor and disenfranchised into the powerful force that it is today. “Religion has this binding power over people’s lives,” said Lindsay. “It’s even more powerful a factor in unity than race or education or socioeconomic status. What I’ve found in my research on the evangelical movement is that shared religious conviction unites members across many social boundaries, from Hollywood to Silicon Valley to Washington.” What he should be investigating is how evangelicalism has degenerated into such a watered down misrepresentation of genuine godliness – so that now what is seen on such a widespread scale in the political realm is religion that holds to a form of godliness while lacking the power of vital union with Jesus Christ in genuine...
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Spiritual Disciplines Within The Church – Donald S. Whitney

This book is used at Hope Bible Church as a resource for the new members’ study group to give people a proper orientation to some of the fundamental priorities of a local church. Instead of seeking after personal fulfillment like the surrounding individualistic culture, believers must refocus on the Christian core values of community and service. The publisher summarizes: In a world committed to self-seeking and the thirst for individual rights, it is hard to create a genuine community based on self-sacrifice and mutual commitment–but that is just what the church must do. In Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church seminary professor, author and former pastor Don Whitney shows how the local church can build a sense of community and turn church people from passive attendees into active participants. In my typical Cliff Notes approach, I will just make some observations or highlight some points of interest from the various chapters: Why Go to Church? Certainly the church presents its own set of challenges and disappointments, but you can never escape the biblical imperative of assembling together as believers. What helps from the motivational side is a better understanding of the importance of church. “If you can miss church and not miss church, then something is absent from your heart and faith.” (p.18) “In ways that He does not do when we worship Him alone, God blesses us with strength, instruction, and encouragement when we come together at church to worship Him.” (p.25) “you don’t have to look long or hard to find valid criticisms of any church. But mature thinkers realize this and love God’s church anyway.” (p.30) Why Seek Baptism in the Church? Many believers overlook the importance of baptism today. They miss the essential connection to publicly identifying with following Jesus Christ. They don’t see it as an initial step of obedience and commitment. “Although baptism is never equated with faith or salvation in the New Testament, it is closely associated with both.” (p.33) “To receive baptism in His name is like receiving a wedding ring. It marks you as one who belongs to Christ.” (p.33) The symbolism of water baptism by immersion highlights many important fundamental truths about our relationship to Jesus Christ. I agree with the author’s insight that for some who struggle with assurance of salvation, submitting to the Lord in believer baptism can be a significant encouragement (p.40). Why Join a Church? The...
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Oddest Book Title Award

For aspiring authors out there I thought I would perform the public service function of alerting you to a novel way to gain some notoriety. You don’t necessarily have to strive for the best written or the most insightful analysis. Why not shoot for the category award that requires no particular talent: “the oddest book title” as determined by readers of The Bookseller magazine! A book about the paranormal called People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It, has been voted the oddest book title of 2005 by readers of The Bookseller magazine. Michael Karber, president of its American publisher, Red Wheel, said yesterday: “With the notoriety that comes with this award we’re now considering making this book part of a series. “Future titles under consideration include ‘People Who Don’t Know They’re Stupid’, ‘People Who Don’t Know They’re Fat’ and ‘People Who Don’t Know They Don’t Know How to Read’. Past oddest book winners include How to Bombproof Your Horse and How to Avoid Huge Ships. As you can see, the competition is wide open. Go for...
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