Dr. Tennies ~ Servant Leader

The moment I heard that Dr. Tennies would take time away during the summer and seek the Lord for what scripture should be the theme for the following school year, was the moment I knew that my children must attend Boca Raton Christian School. The very notion that such a great amount of intentionality was set aside for this was inspiring. In a world where some Christian leaders take the easy way out and download sermons from the internet or pick themes randomly like its a game of ‘pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey’, it was both refreshing and inspiring to see a leader prayerfully seek the Lord for a theme. I knew in that moment that my children would be safe under his authority and leadership.


As a parent, I always apprenticed his heart of bringing a Gospel presentation at every main school event. Many times after a production, Dr. Tennies would finish the evening by sharing about Christ. He would do it in his way and in his style. One of my all-time favourite moments was during one Easter event. During this one evening, Dr. Tennies took us all on a wonderful, historical journey of Christ’s resurrection through a collection of artwork. There was one beautiful painting by the Czechoslovakian-born Josef Žáček, called ‘Resurrection’ that Dr. Tennies beautifully expounded upon. His love of Christ and art was clearly displayed for all to see.

Dr. Tennies’ love was always magnified when he was around children. There is a great video on Facebook of him playing jump rope with two young students that fills the viewer’s heart with so much joy every time it is watched. Great leadership is not just leading from the front with directions and guidance, but it is also leading from ‘among’. True Christ-like leadership is to be able to, as the poet Rudyard Kipling says; “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch.” Dr. Tennies regularly exhibited these leadership attributes.

The scripture that is undoubtedly resonating in all of our minds is; “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.” If there were a Servant’s Heart Award to be given, Dr. Tennies would be awarded it every day. How many of us parents watched as he donned his hat, shades and safety vest and stood at his post in the sweltering Florida heat every day to ensure safe passage for our children across the parking lot. Dr. Tennies did jobs that most leaders would think were ‘beneath them’. Just a few days ago at the parent-teacher evening I was standing in the foyer, wondering if I wanted to make the journey to Module 3 as the rain battered down. Then, there came Dr. Tennies holding six or seven umbrellas and started to hand them out to any parent that needed them. Once again, he never had someone else go fetch these umbrellas, but as a true servant to those he was responsible for and to, he exemplified the servant leadership of Christ.


Yesterday as we all stood with Mrs. Tennies in the waiting area at the hospital, there was a wonderful time or prayer and praise. As we stood there holding hands the word ‘Joy’ would not leave me. The ending part of the servant scripture we just mentioned is; “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Dr. Tennies experiences that joy this very moment. This promise of joy is a very present hope for all of us that called Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. One day we all will experience this celestial joy. Likewise, the words of Nehemiah concerning joy bring comfort. Nehemiah said; “The joy of the Lord is your strength”. This same joy that Dr. Tennies is basking in, is the same joy that we pray will now sustain and bless Mrs. Tennies during this time of temporary sorrow. May the joy of our Lord be her strength.

Finally, Dr. Tennies has left us all with a spiritual challenge. Birthed out of the time of prayer over the summer, the verse for this school year is taken from Acts 17:28; “Know God…For in Him we live, move and have our being.” May we all carry these words like a mantle upon our shoulders. Let us all, faculty, parents and students draw closer to God. Let us all know Him more today than we did yesterday. Dr. Tennies has reminded us that there is nothing more important in this life than to truly know our God. He is our everything.

From an eternally grateful parent…



Ezra 8:18; “And by the good hand of our God upon us they brought us a man of understanding.”

I remember on one of many visits to the country of Albania, I was a part of a OneHope conference for the Balkan countries. These conferences were always a highlight on my calendar. Being around believers that had a heart to reach out to the children and youth in their postwar and Islamic strong countries was a great honor. On one of the mornings, I awoke early and decided that a morning run on the beach was in order (something I had done on previous trips). However, this was the first run I had done early in the morning. I was about 3km into the run when I saw two BIG stray dogs coming in my direction. I quickly turned around and started to return towards my hotel. However, the dogs ran faster and started gaining on me. The faster I ran, the faster they ran. They looked hungry and I’m guessing they never had their shots. After several moments of panic, I eventually fought them off with the help of two dear old ladies.

My point is this: I knew that the dogs were out roaming the beach on the morning and yet I never sought the counsel of anybody who knew the area. I never asked those who knew best, “Is it a good idea to run on the beach when these dogs are out there?” I just went for it, not seeing or knowing the dangers. This nerve-racking experience could have been averted if I had just sought some counsel.

Proverbs 15:22; “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.”

Whilst mediating on this aforementioned morning on an Albanian beach, I was reminded of a story found in Ezra 8. Ezra had appointed a meeting point by the river, Ahava, to lead the people out of Babylon and return to Jerusalem. When the day came to leave, he realized that whilst there may have been some priests there, there were no sons of Levi present. Concerned by this, he immediately sent for some. When the priests arrived, they had amongst them a man called Sherebiah. Ezra states that it was by the good hand of the God that He brought this man Sherebiah, who was called a man of understanding. Later when we read in Nehemiah, we see that he was also one of the priests that would declare the Word of God to the people once they were in Jerusalem. He stood (with others) for one fourth of the day reading the Word of God, and spent another forth of the day confessing and worshipping.

It is the term “A man of understanding” that I want us to focus on. In some sense, as I read about Sherebiah I am reminded of a man called Jabez. In 1 Chronicles 4, we see Jabez stand out from the rest of the geology due to an added story line. I feel the same about Sherebiah. There is a reason why God thought it necessary to add to the narrative concerning him. Here we have a man that I would want in my life. For those times of trial, temptation or worry, I want a man of great understanding to be in my corner.

I have made a personal effort to pick a close circle men to be my mentors—to be my Sherebiahs. Having Sherebiahs in our lives is one of the ways we can maintain and gain great spiritual sight, wisdom and knowledge. The Hebrew word used for ‘understanding’ in Ezra’s text is ‘Sekel’ (שֶׂכֶל). This is not limited to the English word knowledge but gives us the further meanings of wisdom, intelligence and interestingly, discretion. A mentor who has ‘understanding and knowledge’ yet lacks ‘wisdom and discretion’ is probably not a good reflection of having a Sherebiah in your life. Since you are likely to open up to these men and woman about things you are unlikely to share with the general public. Select people that are knowledgeable AND have discretion. If we surround ourselves with the Sherebiahs of this world then we will be wise in our actions and not be in constant danger of having our lives crumble in certain areas.

Proverbs 13:20; “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.”

I was reminded of an Aesop fable called ‘The Ass and his Purchaser.’ In this fable a man purchased an ass from a seller and when he brought it to a new stable, it immediately chose to place itself next the laziest and the most greediest of beasts. The new owner took him straight back and the seller was asked if he had tested the animal already. The purchaser said “I don’t need to test him, I know what kind of beast he is.” Aesop’s lesson was this; “A man is known by the company he keeps”. The question for us then is a very searching one: Who are your closest friends? Who do you like to surround yourself with? This is not to say we can’t have friends that are outside of the Church, but surely, any such friendships should be with the foundational desire to bring them ‘into the sheep fold’. I pray that those friends that you regularly surround yourself with are those that will cultivate spiritual health in you and not draw you away from the planned works of God for your life.

Concerning then this great man called Sherebiah whose name means, “The Flame of the Lord.” His fiery counsel has the potential to purify us. Yes, it may hurt a bit, but it is essential to a life dedicated to the pursuit of Holiness. Sometimes, God gives us Sherebiahs to be his purify flame in our lives.

Growing up I worked for four years with gold and precious stones and was always intrigued with the gold purification process. Leaving out a lot of technical details, the gold is heated up so hot that begins to melt. Once it is melted, the pure gold which is heavy, separates itself from the other metals in the gold. As the pure gold sinks to the bottom the other metals rise to the top and then are scraped away. You will find that when the ‘Flame of the Lord’ through the vessel of Sherebiah comes and visits you, there will be times of intense heat. This heat is very uncomfortable but it is serving a purpose. It is allowing of our impurities to be separated and removed so that we are left as ‘pure gold’.

Who are your Sherebiahs?


Soccer + Scripture #Celebration (Part 7)

This post was originally featured on Experience the Story (xts.onehope.net)

One of the best parts of soccer is goal celebrations—the joy and elation, passion, pride, delight (and possibly relief) expressed after scoring a goal and securing the win.

There have been many famous goal celebrations over the years, all with their own unique signature. A few I consider iconic:

  • Alan Shearer, one of the most prolific goal scorers of the modern era with a record 260 Premier League goals, kept his celebrations simple. He would simply run away from the goal with his right arm raised to the sky.
  • 38-year old Roger Milla stole the hearts of every fan by scoring 4 goals during the 1990 World Cup in Italy, leading the first African national team to the quarter finals. He also dazzled us with a samba-styled dance at the corner flag which emanated pure joy.
  • Though they were only playing in front of about 50 fans, Icelandic football team Stjarnan FC produced one of the most well-rehearsed goal celebrations of all time. The now infamous “Going Fishing” routine went viral and encouraged multiple other creative goal celebrations around the globe.

But no example could be more poignant than what happened this summer at the Junior Soccer World Challenge tournament. The world was shocked and touched by the unexpected win reaction of Barcelona’s Under 12 team. They ended the match 1-0 after scoring late in the game against Japanese team Omiya Ardija Junior. The young Barcelona team started to celebrate their victory—until they noticed how distraught the defeated Japanese players looked. Led by captain Adria Capdevila Puigmal they went to each opposing player and encouraged them with words, hugs and face slaps. In that moment, those 12-year-olds demonstrated more maturity than many professional athletes. They knew how to be humble in victory and taught us all a lesson in how to win well.

The mentality to “win at any cost” that is constantly drilled into our children from a young age can produce major imbalances in their ability to handle victories and defeats and to demonstrate good sportsmanship. From what is portrayed in media to what they witness on the sports field, our children are bombarded with the message that winning is everything and second place is the first loser.

This ethos is dangerous. It creates dissatisfaction with their great efforts if they do not result in victory. How many times have we seen the glum faces of silver and bronze medalists on the Olympic podium? Why is second and third place met with such great displeasure? They shouldn’t be!

In his 1910 poem “IF”, Rudyard Kipling wrote: “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same – then you’ll be a man my son!” There is a danger in being overly invested in either victory or defeat. Letting our emotions ride on either one produces unhealthy results.

The Bible has plenty to say on this subject. These are just two examples that come to mind.

That Barcelona team of 12-year-olds knew how to be humble in victory and value others because they were “lowly in spirit.” They knew they could just as easily have been on the other side of that defeat, and that knowledge gave them empathy for the players who were.

Enjoy the game of soccer and all it has to offer. If you have the chance, coach your children in the sport and help them grow – but never lose sight of the fact that our aim as parents is to create men and women of God.

May our greatest celebration be that our children grow up into biblically grounded adults, strong in both word and deed in Jesus’ name.

**This was a guest blog post from the OneHope Blog. To see more excellent posts on raising kids to be strong in the Word of God, visit; Experience the Story


1 Sam 20:3; “Mas, na verdade, como vive o Senhor, e como vive a tua alma, há apenas um passo entre mim e a morte.” 

Do jeito que a semana passada prosseguiu para a nossa família, essas palavras de Davi têm sido a nossa realidade. Havia uma sombra iminente, durante o tempo que nossa matriarca brasileira guerreou por sua vida contra o câncer, e o fenômeno que assaltava seus pulmões. Essa sombra escura trazia consigo as palavras, “há apenas um passo entre ela e a morte”, acabou por descer as cortinhas de uma vida bem vivida, como o fim de uma magnífica peça teatral. Infelizmente, para a família não haveria mais repetições, no entanto, Marlene Leonart acabou de entrar na melhor “produção” de todos os tempos, com Cristo o Senhor sendo o Diretor de sua vida aqui na terra e sua nova vida no céu. O palco está pronto e Ele tem um novo papel para sua filha encenar.

Marlene sempre teve uma propensão para desfrutar de algumas das coisas mais saborosas e chiques da vida. Ela gostava que as coisas tivessem um toque de delicadeza e talento. Quando eu conheci Marlene, eu era um menino de vinte anos que não falava nem um pingo de português, e ela nunca realmente falou inglês. Lembro-me do dia em que a ouvi dizer algumas palavras em inglês pela primeira vez na minha presença. Eu tive que pedir Luiza para confirmar se o que eu ouvi foi, de fato, “Let’s kick it up a notch”, que quer dizer algo como, “Vamos apimentar as coisas, levar a outro nível”. Você pode imaginar a minha surpresa ao ouvir essa frase vindo dos lábios de alguém que eu não sabia que falava inglês. Foi-me explicado que ela era uma grande fã de Emeril Lagasse. “BAM”. Agora fazia sentido. O que eu não percebi foi que eu estava prestes a entrar em uma nova época da minha vida, que iria incluir a “renovação” e “expansão” do meu paladar. Eu não tenho espaço suficiente nesta homenagem para nomear todos os pratos que ela amava fazer para mim, mas basta dizer que meu pai e eu nunca mais vamos receber outro bolo de esponja com frutas, ou que eu nunca mais vou ter seu bife de alcatra recheado com uma grande cenoura e salsicha; isso tornou-se agora uma realidade desalentadora. Ela conhecia as comidas que eu gostava e ela se desdobrava para prepará-los para mim. Ela também conhecia os pratos que eu a desencorajava de cozinhar para mim. A família sabe que três pratos são. (Eu digo isso com um sorriso irreverente).

Nos últimos anos, fomos abençoados o suficiente para viajarmos juntos como família. Um dos maiores desejos de Marlene era poder viajar para Portugal. Alguns anos atrás este desejo se tornou realidade quando passamos algum tempo como uma família em Lisboa, nos deliciando no pastel de nata, eu tenho que admitir com gula. Oh, como apreciamos essas iguarias. Lembro-me de levá-la para o nordeste da Inglaterra e vê-la se apaixonar por todas as ovelhas vagando livre nos montes ondulantes ingleses. Todos nós sempre dávamos uma risadinha toda vez que tínhamos que diminuir a velocidade do carro, ou parar completamente, para que ela pudesse ver os cordeiros pelos montes. No entanto, o maior momento de riso, tanto para Marlene como para nós, foi em Veneza. Se você já tentou entrar em uma dessas gôndolas que balançam para a ca e para a la, você vai entender que elas não são as mais fáceis de subir a bordo. Acrescente o fato de que Marlene nunca aprendeu a nadar, e assim foi criada uma situação que invocava muita risada nervosa. Mas como ela adorava estar na gôndola! Segurando em a sua bolsa (uma de muitas, mas isso é outra história), ela ficava emocionada ao ser levada por seu “chauffeur” pelas das ruas de Veneza onde ela apreciava este lugar único e sua história que se apresentava em cada esquina. Quando Marlene sorria e ria, você podia ver a garotinha de oito anos brilhando.

Marlene era também uma mulher de Deus e uma mulher do santuário. Ela tinha o maior respeito pelas santas ordenanças de Cristo. Igreja para ela era um lugar para louvar ao Senhor, receber Dele, e um lugar para buscar a cura. Ela vivia sua vida “na igreja” e estava sempre disposta a abrir sua casa para o ministério do Evangelho e, claro, cozinhar uma grande refeição para qualquer hóspede. Tal era sua reverência pelas coisas de Deus dentro da igreja, que ela decidiu abençoar a igreja I.C.I. com seus primeiros pratos da Santa Ceia. Isso era algo que ela sentia que o Senhor lhe pedira para fazer. Até hoje a igreja ainda serve a Ceia nesses pratos.

marlene-1Depois de Jesus, seu maior amor foi sua família. Amou suas filhas inabalavelmente, e o laço que criou com suas três princesas era forte. É a força desse laço que tornará difícil o processo de sua separação com suas filhas. Sim, elas estão perdendo sua mãe, mas elas estão perdendo uma mãe que sempre estava do lado delas para o que elas precisassem. Ela estava ao lado, e amando, serviu seu marido, que neste momento vai exigir nossas orações para navegar essas novas águas turbulentas. E ela também era uma irmã amorosa para sua irmã e irmão. O vazio que ela deixa é grande. Mas, devo atrever-me em dizer que nada trouxe a vida e alegria para seus olhos como seus netos? Que avó ela tem sido para todos os seus netos! Eles vão ter sempre memórias de festas na piscina, diversos doces, e uma infinidade de palavras amáveis e adoráveis faladas sobre eles. Ser avó foi uma de suas maiores alegrias e todos os netos vão sentir sua falta.

Esta semana, como temos andado este caminho juntos como uma família, fomos esmagados com as memórias do que uma vez foi e o que agora vai cessar. Nas minhas viagens ao longo dos últimos anos, sei que suas orações me sustentaram, ainda mais em alguns dos locais interessantes que visitei recentemente. Serei eternamente grato por essas orações. Em minhas viagens eu comecei a colecionar “pratos de parede de países” para ela, e ela os pendurava em sua cozinha. Saber que ela não vai ver pessoalmente os últimos pratos que eu tenho para ela, e saber o tempo de colecionarmos pratos juntos chegou ao fim, é uma daquelas “pequenas-grandes-coisas”. Pouco no sentido de que eles eram apenas pratos de parede, mas grande no sentido de que era “nossa coleção”.

Agora que o último grão de areia em sua ampulheta caiu e sua presença connosco não é mais, conforto é o que todos nós procuramos. Esta semana no OneHope nós tivemos nosso meio dia de oração, e uma linha em uma canção que cantamos falou tanto em meu espírito que eu tive que imediatamente mandar uma mensagem de texto para Luiza. A letra dizia, “Eu sou cercado pelos braços do pai; Estou cercado por canções de libertação “. Senti que Deus estava nos dizendo que esses eram e são os pensamentos de Marlene sobre seu estado atual. Deus é tão bom. Ele sabe como nos falar em momentos de necessidade.

Conhecer seu amor pelo Senhor suaviza essa tristeza temporária e eleva nossa alegria eterna.

Para sempre seu genro,