Category Archive: Monday Manna

  1. Refusing To Let Fear Get The Best Of Us

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    October 21, 2019 – Jim Mathis  U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” It is interesting that the Bible uses the phrases, “Do not fear” and “fear not,” more than any others. Fear can be a motivator, but often it becomes a de-motivator. It can cause us to get us moving or paralyze us into doing nothing. Rational action results when we put aside fear and act in a well-thought-out and pragmatic manner.

    Chapman University in Orange, California conducted an annual survey asking Americans what are their greatest fears. I always assumed it was fear of public speaking, financial insecurity, or maybe dying. So, the results were a little surprising. Only two of the top 10 fears concern financial issues; five of the top 10 things we fear most are environmental issues.

    Dying did not even make the top 10! I heard a speaker comment on this survey, suggesting environmental issues are not legitimate fears. As if only the fear of dying or fear of cancer or some other dreaded disease were real fears, dismissing pollution and the environment as not being worthy of concern.

    Personally, I was very encouraged by this survey because it tells me people are not as afraid of the things that some politicians and TV news tell us we ought to be afraid of, but see a bigger picture. According to this survey, the three biggest causative factors of fear are poor education; talk shows on both radio and TV, and crime TV programs. This apparently is why so many people fear things like crime, immigration, and natural disasters. If you want to be less fearful, turn off the TV and go to the library.

    It is easy to get trapped by the fear of the day. We could term it, “the tyranny of the urgent.” It takes discipline to stay focused on the big picture. My wife and I are always talking about five years from now: Where do we want to be and what do we want to be doing in five years? With these things in mind, what do we need to be doing today to get there? Here are a few things the Scriptures teach about why we should “fear not”:

    Remember we are not alone. When we start thinking we must face life’s challenges and problems alone, we can remind ourselves that God promises to be with us. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

    Remember how we are valued. God places value on everything He has created, but the highest value by far is humankind. Because of this, we can trust in His guidance and provision. “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill to soul. Rather be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Ye not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father…. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:28-31).

    Remember God has a plan.When we feel fearful of what lies ahead, we have the assurance that God has His plans prepared for us and will see that they are fulfilled. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11).

    When Roosevelt talked about fearing fear, he meant do not panic. Do not let those fear-mongers who devote themselves to spreading fear get to you. We need to get back to work, focusing on things we can control and affect, rather than worrying about things we cannot control. Then trust in God who is in control.

    © 2019. Jim Mathis is the owner of a photography studio in Overland Park, Kansas, specializing in executive, commercial and theatrical portraits, and operates a school of photography. He formerly was a coffee shop manager and executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. What are some of the things that cause fear and anxiety for you?

     

    1. How many of these things that cause you to feel afraid can you control? What is the purpose in worrying about things you cannot control?

     

    1. When you find yourself feeling fearful or anxious, do you ever find yourself turning to God and placing your concerns into His hands? Why or why not?

     

    1. Which of the promises cited – we are not alone; we are highly valued, and God has a plan for each of us – is most meaningful or helpful for you in overcoming the fears that threaten to overwhelm us? Explain your answer.

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages: Joshua 1:6-9; 1 Kings 2:3;
    1 Chronicles 22:12-13; Isaiah 43:1-7; Luke 12:32; 1 John 4:12,18

  2. Margin: Making Room For The Important

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    October 14, 2019 – Robert J. Tamasy  Margin. It is critical for our lives in many ways, even though we often fail to appreciate it. For instance, the margins on a typewritten page help the eyes in focusing on the words. If the entire sheet of paper were covered with words, with no white space around them, the task of reading would be tedious at best, even impossible.

    Unfortunately, many of us fail to appreciate the importance of margin in our finances and our daily schedules. We attempt to cram in as much as possible, even if we know we cannot possibly handle everything we are trying to accomplish. As a result, we experience stress – lots and lots of stress.

    A communication from an organization called Gather Ministries offered this description: “Margin is the amount of time, money, or whatever, that we hold back – in order to maintain productivity, stability, integrity. ‘Calendar margin’ means reserving time for rest, for solitude, for other people. ‘Financial margin’ means living within our means, even changing our lifestyles, if necessary. ‘Work margin’ means focusing on what we’re made to do, and excluding the things we aren’t.”

    Many of us would respond, “Calendar margin? Financial margin? Work margin? What is that?!” Because our lifestyles are packed with commitments, obligations – and expenses. We work to excess to acquire an excess of things we think we need; in the process we sacrifice things that are far more important – like relationships, being able to set aside time for personal, physical and spiritual restoration, experiencing true joy rather than temporary happiness, and most of all, an abiding sense of peace in a world filled with unrest.

    Even though our social culture encourages us to pursue hectic lifestyles, the Bible admonishes us to do the opposite: to slow down, to rest, to pause long enough to enjoy the moment. In the book of Job, the central character uttered words most of us can identify with: “I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil” (Job 3:26). But life does not have to be that way. Here are some things the Scriptures have to say:

    Take time to rest. So many times it seems the rallying cry of the business world is, “Do something, anything – just do it now!” Sometimes, even when the pressures of the day seem to be bearing down on us, the best thing we can do is hit the “pause” button and wait for what God wants us to do. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7).

    Take time to seek God. We tend to get so caught up in our activities and schedules, we easily lose sight of God and where He fits into our lives at the moment. But when decisions are pending and crises seem looming, there are times when the best thing is to act counter-intuitively. Instead of working up a frenzy, we can, as Psalm 46:10 urges, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

    Focus on what will last. Much of our hard work and sleep-deprived days are devoted to achievements and acquisitions that lose value and meaning over time. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare(Isaiah 55:2).

    Make our priorities God’s priorities. When we put God first and strive to do as He directs, He has a way of ensuring that our daily needs are more than satisfied. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well” (Matthew 6:33-34).

    © 2019. Robert J. Tamasy has written Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies;coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and edited numerous other books, including Advancing Through Adversityby Mike Landry. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How would you define “margin” in our lives and our work? Do you have it in your life? Explain your answer.

     

    1. What are the factors that oppose being able to create margin in our daily lives?

     

    1. How can you go about seeking to build margin into your life? What changes would be necessary to have more of it?

     

    1. Which of the Bible passages cited seems most helpful for you in terms of finding more margin in life, more “space” for the unexpected and what is most important? In what ways?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages: 1 Kings 3:7-15; Psalm 112:1-5; Proverbs 8:18-21; Isaiah 33:5-6; 1 Timothy 4:8

  3. The Five ‘P’s’ Of Work From God’s Perspective

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    October 7, 2019 – Rick Boxx  Many leaders have a very limited view of the plans and intentions God has for our work. So it helps to have an occasional reminder that when we go to work, we are there as His servants. Here are some of God’s reasons for establishing work, each of which in the English language begin with the letter “P”: purpose, provision, productivity, pleasing to the eyes, and providing order.

    Let’s begin with Purpose. Think of God as a military commander overseeing a war. Many of His people are soldiers, but some are cooks, mechanics, bookkeepers, or marketing people who recruit soldiers. Each person has an individual role to play toward the overarching purpose of winning the war. In Proverbs 19:21 we read, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”We need to understand that our work matters to God, whatever our role happens to be. Strive to discover and carry out your appointed vocational purpose in a way that contributes toward God’s ultimate, eternal purpose.

    The second of God’s reasons for work is ProvisionWhen God was creating the heavens and the earth, He performed His work in a way to assure that man and all animals had a means of provision and sustenance. In Genesis 1:29 we read, “Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”Likewise, the work that God has ordained for us to do is partially designed for us to provide daily provisions for our needs. Unfortunately, many people believe provision is the only purpose for their work, leaving a void in life.

    A third of God’s reasons for work isProductivity. In the 19th century, it would have seemed impossible that the earth could ever produce enough food to feed seven billion people. However, God provided divine insight to a number of inventors that helped to usher in the Industrial Revolution. Their inventions took productivity to a level that allowed food production to skyrocket, exceeding all expectations.

    When God created man his first command was, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it”(Genesis 1:28). He desires for us to be fruitful or productive in all that we do, including our work. Increased productivity better serves our customers, and is more fulfilling for us personally as we strive to improve.

    The fourth reason God ordained work can be termed, Pleasing to the Eyes. When I was a banker, I handled the financing for a new pristine golf course. When the course was completed, I played the second round of golf ever played on that course! As I stood on the impeccably manicured fairway, nestled in a stunningly beautiful setting, and surrounded by animal life, I found my heart instantly connected to God by the beauty I had experienced.

    In Genesis 2:9 we read, “The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.”God was concerned about creating something not only practical and functional, but also aesthetically pleasing to others. As we approach our work, we should strive to do likewise.

    The last of the “P’s” for the Lord’s reasons for creating work for humankind is Providing Order. We serve a God of order, not chaos. He took a dark, formless world and gave order to it, including days and seasons, allowing us to better manage our time. Genesis 1:14 tells us, “Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years.’”Lawyers, accountants, and many other professionals help those of us who create chaos to put some structure and order to our lives. Our work sometimes best serves God by bringing order into a chaotic world.

    Copyright 2019, Unconventional Business Network Adapted with permission from “Integrity Moments with Rick Boxx,” a commentary on issues of integrity in the workplace from a Christian perspective. To learn more, visitwww.unconventionalbusiness.org.His latest book, Unconventional Business,provides “Five Keys to Growing a Business God’s Way.”

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Before reading this “Monday Manna,” if someone had asked you to describe God’s purpose for work, how would you have responded?

     

    1. Does this discussion give you a different perspective about how God intends for us to approach and perform our work each day? Why or why not?

     

    1. Which of the five purposes cited for work makes the most sense for you – and why? Which do you find most difficult to understand or to apply? Explain your answer.

     

    1. If God truly does have specific reasons for us to pursue our work, what difference should that make as you prepare to go to work each day?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages: Ecclesiastes 2:24-25, 3:22;
    2 Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 6:5-9: Colossians 3:17,23-24; 4:1

  4. ‘Never Try To Be The Smartest Person In The Room’

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    September 30, 2019 – Robert J. Tamasy  There is a common saying, particularly in the world of sports, that “you win with people.” Even the best coach will fail without having quality, skilled players and support staff. The same holds true in the business and professional world. A visionary without a team of people to help in bringing his or her ideas into reality is just a dreamer.

    Unfortunately, whether it is because they are poor judges of talent, or because they want to protect their own fragile egos, some high-ranking executives hire only individuals of lesser capabilities. For those “leaders,” it gives a sense of protection from being surpassed by more gifted, better trained and educated staff members.

    Fortunately, not all CEOs and top executives feel that way. In fact, Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Technologies, one of the world’s largest infrastructure companies, feels just the opposite. He stated, “Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people…or find a different room.”

    That says a lot about Dell and other leaders like him. First of all, they are humble enough to not feel threatened by people who know more or can do more than he can. Second, they understand that for the benefit of the company and all of its stakeholders, they have the obligation to present the best product possible – and that would require having individuals on the team with expertise in some areas that they lack. And third, the true mark of a good leader is not accomplishing all the work alone, but recruiting the best people to share the load.

    I recall the days when I was a magazine editor. For me, some of the most enjoyable, exhilarating days were when we held planning meetings for each issue. We would take the articles and columns that had been written, then brainstorm about titles, illustrations and other graphics to give them as much reader appeal as possible.

    Although I had some strong opinions about some things, I recognized the graphic designers would come up with better visual concepts than I could. They brought compelling, creative ideas I could never have imagined. Some people in the room were more detail-oriented than I was, so they noticed things I probably would have let fall through the proverbial “cracks.” And others just offered perspectives I never would have considered. When the magazine was produced and printed, it became clear, as I heard a wise person say, that “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” The Scriptures have much to say about this:

    Trusting in God can provide the humility needed. Some in leadership positions may fear being “shown up” by others and losing their positions of authority and responsibility. However, trusting in God gives us the confidence to believe He has directed the right people in our lives at the right time, even in the workplace. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).

    Recognizing the gifts and contributions of others. Whether in a family, a church, or a company, everyone has a specific, important role to play. Even seemingly lesser parts are critical for producing the desired end result. “Now the body is not made up of one part but of many…. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be?… But in fact God has arranged the parts of the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be…” (1 Corinthians 12:14-20).

    The more people involved, the more we can get done. Walking with God in the workplace, we can discover He can far exceed our hopes and expectations – often working through other people . “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power at work within us…” (Ephesians 3:20).

    © 2019. Robert J. Tamasy has written Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies;coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and edited numerous other books, including Advancing Through Adversityby Mike Landry. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How do you typically feel when you are in a meeting, or involved in a team project, and discover some of the other people are smarter or more talented than you are?

     

    1. What are some ways you can think of to overcome feelings of being threatened by individuals who seem more skills or capable?

     

    1. Looking at the question from a different angle, have there been times when you felt thankful for not being the smartest person in the room? If so, describe a situation when you were able to do that.

     

    1. Can you think of a time when the team of people you were working with actually accomplished more than you thought possible? What was that experience like for you – and for them?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
    Nehemiah 6:15-16, 9:5-6; Proverbs 27:17; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

  5. What Do You Want In Life?

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    September 23, 2019 – Jim Langley  “What do you want in life?”Has anyone ever asked you that question? The best way to answer is by determining what is most important to you. Over more than 50 years, I have watched many business people become obsessed with success in their chosen profession. Some have even prayed for personal gain.

    I see nothing wrong with striving for success, but believe God wants us to direct our prayers not toward ourselves, but for the needs of others and the advancement of His kingdom. I do not envision God anxiously waiting to fulfill our every selfish prayer when there is so much good we could be doing for others.

    Sometimes I think of the Lord’s sobering words to Baruch who became despondent and questioned the prophet Jeremiah in his time of sorrow and pain. Here is what God said through the prophet to Baruch and anyone looking for special treatment in this life: “The Lord said, Say this to him: ‘This is what the Lord says: I will overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted, throughout the land. Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life’”(Jeremiah 45:4-5).

    We need to understand we are not owed any special dispensation. Some come into this world with much, while many arrive with very little. But we all arrive naked and will leave the same way. There was a time in my life when I often prayed for success and financial reward. That changed drastically after reading a book by Bruce Wilkinson, The Prayer of Jabez,in 2001. It helped me realize how superficial my prayer life was.

    The book is based on two verses in a passage tracing the lineage of the tribe of Judah. It starts, “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers”(1 Chronicles 4:9-10). Why was this guy more honorable? Wilkinson explains Jabez specifically prayed for God to bless him, enlarge his territory, be with him continually, and not let him be harmed so that he would be free from pain. It says God granted his request!

    Since then I have been praying my own customized version of Jabez’ prayer. I pray, “Lord, I ask you to bless me beyond my expectations. Expand my borders, my areas of influence for Your glory. Keep Your hand on me constantly Lord and keep evil from me so I may not cause pain.”I continue to pray that without any expectations, and have been blessed immensely over the years. As we pray, what is most important is the condition of our heart – more than the specific words we direct to our Heavenly Father. He knows our heart and wants to bless us in ways we cannot comprehend.

    This has helped define what I want in life, but has nothing to do with earthly wealth and riches. Many of my blessings did not even seem like blessings at the time. Yet through it all, I have drawn closer to God; His hand has been on me constantly. He has expanded my borders and areas of influence, and used me in ways I would never have imagined. He’s truly blessed me beyond my expectations.

    I have come to realize it is not about my own accomplishments or skills. All that matters is knowing I am in His will and one day will know Him, as described in 1 John 3:2: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”Is a relationship with Jesus your main focus – what you want in life?

    © 2019, all rights reserved. Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God and his goal to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. He is a long-time member of CBMC.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Suppose someone were to look you in the eye and ask, “What do you want in life? What do you really hope to get out of it?” How would you respond?

     

    1. If you pray about your job and the work you do, have you prayed for success and achievement? If so, in what ways – and what has been the response to those prayers? Explain your answer.

     

    1. In the book mentioned, The Prayer of Jabez, two verses from the Bible’s Old Testament highlight the prayer of an obscure man for personal blessings? Some people would be eager to submit such a request to God, while others might consider it inappropriate to do. What is you view about this? Explain your answer.

     

    1. How do you think expressing a prayer as Jabez did could affect one’s perspective on what they want in life? If you were to personalize this prayer, how would you like it to be answered?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible, read and reflect on the following passages:
    Psalms 1:1-6, 23:1-6; Matthew 6:9-13; 18:2-4; John 17:20-22

  6. Humble, Hungry And Hard-Working

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    September 16, 2019 – Robert J. Tamasy  Everyone, it seems, wants to know the secret to success. I recall as a young journalist looking around and seeing people I admired, individuals who were already making their mark in the world. “I want to be like them!” I thought. “How do I get to where they are?”

    Unfortunately, there is no single, universal secret to success. Bookstores and libraries are filled with copies of books by authors who claim to know the secret. If we go to an online retail site that sells books, and enter “Success” in the search box, we can find numerous choices written by people who will tell us with great conviction how they achieved success.

    There are countless slogans, philosophies and strategies for becoming successful, but sometimes it helps to realize that while there is no magic, one-size-fits-all formula. For most people, success requires a few very simple ingredients, things that do not require very specific skill sets.

    Usually I put little stock in what actors and other entertainers have to say, even rich and famous ones. Because their careers consist of pretending to be other people that they are not, living in worlds that do not exist. So how can they be experts on reality? However, recently I came across a quotation by an actor that suggested a time-tested path to success that made so much sense I could not ignore it.

    Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, an actor who has appeared in many commercially successful films, said, “Be humble. Be hungry. And always be the hardest worker in the room.” That resonated with me, and I suspect it has appeal for others as well. He did not say we must be the smartest people, or the ones with the most status, or the most impressive resumes. Johnson simply said we must be humble, hungry, and willing to outwork everyone else. This is exactly what the Bible teaches in the book of Proverbs:

    Humility can be a very attractive quality. In a world where many people are seeking to draw attention to themselves, there is something refreshing about people who work quietly, efficiently and with excellence, not overflowing with egotism. “Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor” (Proverbs 18:12).“Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4).

    Hunger can be an excellent motivator. Complacency and self-satisfaction can inhibit top performance, but hunger – whether to pay bills, gain a client, make a sale, or achieve a goal – can inspire our best work. “The laborer’s appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on” (Proverbs 16:26). “He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment” (Proverbs 12:11).

    Hard work, with excellence, receives notice. Which would you rather see: Someone trying everything possible to be noticed, or someone whose work is of such high quality that it speaks for itself? One’s diligence and excellence serve as outstanding character references.“Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth” (Proverbs 10:4). “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men” (Proverbs 22:29).

    If success is what you seek, cultivate humility, stay hungry, and never stop working hard.

    © 2019. Robert J. Tamasy has written Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies;coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and edited numerous other books, including Advancing Through Adversityby Mike Landry. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. If someone had asked you before reading this, what would you have said is the secret to success? Has reading this week’s “Monday Manna” given you a new perspective on that?

     

    1. How does a person cultivate true humility?

     

    1. What good does hunger serve in a person’s quest to achieve success? What does this look like, in your opinion?

     

    1. Why is being known as a hard worker cited as a key ingredient for attaining some level of success? What should we do if people not working as hard as we are receive recognition and promotions?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
    Proverbs 10:5, 11:2, 12:24, 13:4, 13:10, 16:18, 18:9, 25:6-7, 27:2

  7. Life Is Usually Best With Others

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    September 9, 2019 – Jim Mathis  On a Sunday early this year, my wife and I went to church. At our church, worship could best be described as a party for God. We always have a great time. Even though each service officially lasts only an hour, typically we are there for at least three hours, drinking coffee, talking with old friends, and meeting new ones. This seems to be part of what the Bible means when it says,“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25).

    Later that afternoon I went to my seasonal job with a tax preparation company. Since it was the day for professional football’s Super Bowl, business was slow, but we have an international office with some brilliant, funny, immigrant tax professionals. We had a good time and the hours went by quickly.

    After that I went to a Super Bowl watch party put on by our homeowner’s association. I probably would not have even watched the game if I had been at home, but hanging out with the neighbors, talking and enjoying each other’s company made for a good evening.

    Being a natural introvert, I need a few hours by myself to regroup after spending an entire day being around people like that, but I can say without a doubt that “life is better together.” The good times are better – and the bad times are not so bad – if we share them with neighbors, co-workers, church family, friends and relatives.

    In the Scriptures we read a lot about the virtues of being with other people, not only for socializing but also for accomplishing important work. Here are some principles it teaches that have universal application:

    Together we can share the load. It has often been observed that two horses pulling together can move multiple times the load that one horse can pull. The same often applies for us in the workplace, especially when the project we undertake is especially challenging. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity that man who falls and has no one to help him up!… Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

    Together we can work to improve our skill levels. Even the most talented individuals can benefit from interacting with others. We can reinforce one another’s strengths, make suggestions for improvement, and even point out one another’s blind spots. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).

    Together we can shoulder responsibilities that one person cannot bear alone. Moses had been given the responsibility of leading the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt. Before long he realized he was incapable to resolving all of their problems and addressing their conflicts. In response, God appointed elders – other respected leaders – to take on the lesser responsibilities and free Moses to deal only with the most important issues that arose. We would be wise to seek similar assistance when needed. I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me”(Numbers 11:14).

    Looking at my calendar, I can see that this is going to be a good week because I have four times scheduled to get together with friends for breakfast, lunch, or just to talk. Life is best when we treat it like a team sport. Live it – and work it – with friends wherever you find them.

    © 2019. Jim Mathis is the owner of a photography studio in Overland Park, Kansas, specializing in executive, commercial and theatrical portraits, and operates a school of photography.  He formerly was executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How would you compare a person who is introverted with a person who is extroverted? Someone has defined an extrovert as some who draws energy from people and needs to be around them, while an introvert is someone whose energy is gradually drained by being with people. Do you agree with that? Why or why not?

     

    1. Which do you tend to be – more extroverted, or more introverted? How do you find that trait being manifested in your life?

     

    1. Do you agree that even if a person is shy, or an introvert, they still need to be with people, willingly interacting with them not only socially but also in working cooperatively? What can be some of the pitfalls of not spending time with people?

     

    1. In Genesis 2:18, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Do you think He was referring to companionship, or does this principle apply to other areas of life? Explain your answer.

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages: Exodus 18:18; Mark 6:7-8;
    Acts 13:2-5; 2 Corinthians 5:20; 2 Timothy 2:2

  8. Trusting In God’s Direction, No Matter What

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    September 2, 2019 – Rick Boxx  When Larry was CEO of an information systems company, someone filed an unwarranted lawsuit against the company. Along the way, even though Larry’s company was innocent of any wrongdoing, many people urged him to settle the lawsuit. The cost of mounting a defense, even if unjustified, as well as the time defending the case would require, made an out of court settlement the most reasonable course of action, they contended.

    Rather than conceding to those recommendations, Larry prayed for wisdom and direction. As he did that, God impressed upon Larry that rather than settling, he should defend the company because it was innocent. The prolonged legal process did cost millions of dollars in legal fees, but the company was ultimately vindicated and cleared of the wrongful claims.

    In the meantime, God blessed and prospered the business so much that the legal fees became insignificant in size. Reflecting back on that troublesome and stressful time, Larry concluded that the fact his company had thrived in the midst of great adversity was a reflection of God’s favor for obedience.

    Repeatedly in the Scriptures we read that we should seek God-inspired counsel when confronted with difficult decisions. For instance, Proverbs 15:22 states, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” However, that does not guarantee that all the advice we receive is necessarily correct. We need to consult the Lord directly, and when He leads us in ways contrary to the counsel we have received, we still must do as He instructs.

    Close, trusted friends are an asset, without question. But they can never replace and should not supplant the counsel of the One we should trust the most. Jesus spoke to His followers and admonished them about the importance of remaining close to Him: If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” John 15:7). The Bible often underscores the importance of having complete trust in God:

    Trust even when we don’t understand. Sometimes God calls us to act in counterintuitive ways, as Larry did in rejecting the recommendation to settle the unwarranted suit. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight”(Proverbs 3:5-6).

    Trust even when we fear disaster. Emotions may cause us to seek the fastest, seemingly easiest solutions to pressing problems. However, belief that God has our best interests at heart should encourage us to look to Him, rather than at our circumstances. “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11).

    Trust even when God’s way doesn’t seem practical. If God is leading you to take a stand, trust in Him, even when others disagree. “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun” (Psalm 37:4-5).

    © 2019, Unconventional Business Adapted with permission from “Integrity Moments with Rick Boxx,” a commentary on issues of integrity in the workplace from a Christian perspective. To learn more, visitwww.unconventionalbusiness.org.His latest book, Unconventional Business,provides “Five Keys to Growing a Business God’s Way.”

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Do you understand why people urged Larry to seek an out of court settlement, even though he knew his company had done no wrong? Why do you think they recommended he take that course of action?

     

    1. How easy – or difficult – do you think it is to make decisions the run counter to the seemingly well-intended counsel you are receiving from people around you? Explain your answer.

     

    1. In the case described, Larry prayed about what he should do and then felt impressed to act contrary to the advice he had received. Have you ever done something like this? How would you go about seeking God’s wisdom and will regarding a difficult challenge you were facing?

     

    1. What does it feel like to “not lean on your own understanding,” as Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs? Can you think of a time when you had to do this, even if with reluctance? Describe the situation and what its outcome. What did you learn from it?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
    Psalm 37:1-7,34; Proverbs 11:14, 12:5, 12:26, 18:24, 19:20, 24:5-6

  9. The Business Of Brokenness

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    August 26, 2019 – Robert J. Tamasy  What do you typically do with something that gets broken, like a smartphone, a watch, a pen, or even a car? Try getting it repaired? Dispose of it? Or find a suitable replacement? Such responses are common, but recently I was reading about a better way of repairing cherished possessions that can actually make them more valuable.

    Have you heard about “Kintsugi”? Also called Kintsukuroi, it means “golden repair.” It’s a centuries-old Japanese art for restoring broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with precious metal, such as gold, silver or platinum. This process is rooted in a philosophy that regards breakage and repair as part of the valued object’s history, rather than something to be disguised or forgotten. In effect, this amounts to a celebration of the brokenness.

    This caused me to think about the episodes of brokenness we experience throughout the course of this journey we call life. No matter how much we try to avoid it, failure figures as prominently in our careers as does success: Job interviews for promising jobs don’t work out. Much-anticipated promotions don’t come. Well-conceived business ventures don’t succeed. Sales contracts are not finalized. Entrepreneurs have to file for bankruptcy, sometimes more than once, when risks are not rewarded.

    What if, instead of trying to ignore or conceal such failures and broken times, we gave them the Kintsugi treatment, seeing negative experiences as opportunities for growth, to persevere until we achieve success?

    Brokenness can serve valuable purposes in our personal lives as well. In fact, the Bible teaches that God uses it to build us into the men and women He desires for us to become. Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Why is this? Let’s look at some other Scripture passages to find an answer:

    Brokenness develops necessary humility. Success has the tendency to make us feel puffed up, filled with pride and thinking more highly of ourselves than we should. For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in a high and holy place, and with the oppressed and humble of spirit, to restore the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the contrite’(Isaiah 57:15).

    Brokenness gets our hearts back on the right course. Sometimes our outward actions seem right, but deep down we realize they are based on the wrong motives. Being broken can cause us to reexamine not only what we do, but also why we are doing it. Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, obedience is better than sacrifice, and attentiveness is better than the fat of rams(1 Samuel 15:22).

    Brokenness can turn our eyes back to God. When things are going well for us, both professionally and personally, we can become tempted to forget our reliance on God. “So rend your hearts and not your garments, and return to the LORD your God. For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in loving devotion”(Joel2:13).

    Brokenness helps us learn to be dependent. The business and professional world often promotes an attitude of, “I can do this all by myself.” Experiencing brokenness can bring us to the end of our trust in self-sufficiency. Jesus declared, declared, “I am the vine, you are the branches…apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

    © 2019. Robert J. Tamasy has written Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies;coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and edited numerous other books, including Advancing Through Adversityby Mike Landry. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. What do you usually do with things once they become broken? Do you opt for trying to repair them, discarding them, or replacing them? Give a recent example.

     

    1. Had you ever heard of the Kintsugi process for repairing valuable broken pottery? What do you think of letting broken areas remain visible, recognizing them as part of the object’s history? Are there areas of your life and career that you would be willing to have treated with the Kintsugi approach? What about areas you wouldn’t want to be seen?

     

    1. How do you think God uses a process similar to Kintsugi in making needed repairs in our lives in a spiritual sense? Read 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Galatians 2:20. What do these verses tell us about how the Lord deals with brokenness?

     

    1. Psalm 12:6 tells us, “the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.” How might this relate to our desire to overcome brokenness in our lives?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages:
    Psalm 51:10-12; Proverbs 15:33, 16:18, 17:3, 27:21; Isaiah 40:28-31; Philippians 4:13

  10. Begin With The End In Mind

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    August 19, 2019 – Ken Korkow  Two years ago, after having subscribed to the Wall Street Journalfor more than 40 years and to the Omaha World-Heraldfor more than 30, I canceled both. They were consuming my time and I had concluded most of the news only represented a record of what our spiritual enemy, Satan, had done the day before.

    Then, after returning to my home in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A. after a weekend at my family’s ranch, I canceled my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Again because I have limited time and energy, and want to expend it while being focused on God’s higher purposes. I have finally come to this conclusion: I must concentrate on knowing God more intimately – and living for Him more intentionally.

    Every day I ask the Lord to provide divine appointments and keep the time-wasters away – and He does it. I am allowed to participate in His divine purposes in ways I could never orchestrate. Life’s Highest Adventure is seeing where God is working and getting involved with what He is doing.

    Recently I had an appointment with a Marine Corps veteran. We had no previous contact, so as we sat over lunch I went first in telling my story. When I do this, my intent to “blow them out, or blow them in” – because if someone isn’t serious about dealing with issues in their life, then now is not when they are ready for change and my time is better invested in other ways. But even if they do not seem interested, I do my best to leave the door open so that when their pain hurts enough, they might remember I cared enough to be honest and transparent – and that I said that I would be available.

    Midway through sharing my story, this person stopped me. With tears he asked, “Can you be a Christian and still consider suicide?” Then this Marine veteran told me about a very serious suicide attempt the day before. He admitted that he should have been dead.

    We did meet again, and the life transformation of this Marine has been amazing. The overflow of his life into the lives of other veterans is equally amazing. Others now want to meet, come to our ranch where we minister to veterans dealing with wartime trauma, or find out how a personal encounter with God might heal their pains.

    I look at the life of Jesus Christ and recognize the truth of a statement Oswald Chambers made: “The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for Him.” Christ ministered to people, but that ministry resulted from the overflow of God’s Spirit. In a similar way, I recognize more and more the necessity of marinating in God’s Word, and being alone to pray and listen. Which means eliminating unnecessary distractions.

    Forty-eight years ago I earned my master’s degree in business administration. Today I recall only one thing of value from that huge investment of time and expense. That thing is: BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND.

    My personal observation is that very few people who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ finish well. They lose their desire to seek, grow and obey in their walk with God. When asked what they see the Lord doing in and through their lives, most people recount a story from 10 years ago. But I have been blessed to watch a few men finish well. You might not recognize their names, but they include Ted DeMoss, Dean Parrack, Ted Hubbard, Hank Grasmick and Jim Wilson. All finished their lives still devoted to knowing and serving their Lord.

    Will you be one of those who finish well? Will I? We decide each day – by how we allocate the time, talent, and treasure God has entrusted. If we do not finish well, we will have no positive eternal impact in the lives of others.

    Ken Korkow lives in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A., where he serves as an area director for CBMC. This is adapted from his “Fax of Life” column. Used with permission.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. What do you think of the writer’s decision to terminate subscriptions to publications he had received for many years? Do you think this is necessary, based on his reasoning? Have you ever done anything like this? Explain your answer.

     

    1. How might interesting but unnecessary distractions keep us from pursuing the things God might have for us to do?

     

    1. What do you think the statement, “Begin with the end in mind,” means? How would you apply it to your own personal and professional circumstances?

     

    1. Many years ago a British missionary named C.T. Studd wrote a poem that ended with these words: “Only one life ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” Think about that for a few moments. Do you agree with what he said? How do you think someone can seek to apply that perspective in their everyday life and work?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:
    Ecclesiastes 3:1-17; Galatians 6:9-10; Ephesians 5:16, 6:10-20; Colossians 4:5-6