Category Archive: Monday Manna

  1. Considering A Leader Who Would Impress Jesus

    Leave a Comment

    August 3, 2020 – Rick Boxx  One of the underestimated keys to business success is the ability to make a good impression on people we meet, especially those in positions of influence. And we all know the truth of the adage, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. So, if you had the opportunity, what individual would you like to impress?

    Shifting from the realm of the marketplace, what do you think it would have taken to impress someone of the magnitude of Jesus Christ? He arguably has had more influence over people from every nation and culture than anyone else in history. Yet, in chapter 7 of the gospel of Luke we read about a man who caused Jesus to marvel. This is particularly notable because unlike Jesus, this leader was not even a Jew; instead, he was a Gentile, a Roman centurion.

    This brief story tells us about a military leader, an official who commanded hundreds, asking Jesus to heal his servant. In this centurion we see several qualities which can help each of us become better leaders, even in the often impersonal, even harsh business and professional world.

    The leader’s deep compassion. In Luke 7:2, we read, “And a centurion’s slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die.”The first quality we discover is the officer’s compassion. We are told he regarded his slave highly and cared enough to pursue divine healing for him. This was extremely uncommon for that day, given the different standing of the two individuals, and very compassionate. How far would you go to care for each member of your team, including those who are under your authority?

    The leader’s strategic wisdom. A second attribute about this centurion that stands out is his strategic wisdom. He could have pleaded his case personally, or even tried to exert his official power to intimidate Jesus. Being a Gentile, however, this Roman leader suspected he would not have much sway over Jesus. Instead, Luke 7:3 states, “When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave.” This centurion wisely chose the Jewish leaders, people with a direct connection to Jesus, to ask on his behalf. Selecting the right people to represent you and your cause reveals strategic wisdom.

    The leader’s courageous faith. The final attribute we see exhibited by this Roman centurion who asked Jesus to miraculously heal his servant is his courageous faith. He had obviously heard about Jesus and His miracles. Despite being a Gentile and not a Jew, basically an outsider to Jesus’ immediate sphere of influence, the officer completely believed that Jesus could heal his servant. What is even more remarkable, he was also convinced that Jesus could command healing without even being present!

    This is why in Luke 7:9 we are told, “Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, ‘I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.’” The centurion not only believed Jesus could restore his servant to health, but also that He could accomplish it by long distance.

    The centurion’s act of intercession showed that nothing – serious illness, cultural differences or distance – could deter his faith in Jesus’ healing ministry. In a similar way, we should all pray that our faith in Jesus remains strong enough to overcome whatever obstacles and business problems come our way.

    © 2020, 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 or to sign up for Rick’s daily Integrity Moments emails, visitwww.unconventionalbusiness.org. His latest book, Unconventional Business, provides “Five Keys to Growing a Business God’s Way.”

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How did you answer the opening question: Who, if given the opportunity, would you like to impress?

     

    1. Can you imagine the tension the Roman centurion must have felt in determining to reach out to the amazing Jesus, the worker of miracles, to help his beloved but very sick slave? What do you think must have been going through the officer’s mind?

     

    1. What is the role of compassion in the business and professional world today? Do you see it being demonstrated very often? If so, in what ways? If not, why is it so unusual in your opinion?

     

    1. This “Monday Manna” refers to “strategic wisdom” in the centurion’s knowing who should represent his case to Jesus. What are some examples of strategic wisdom you have experienced – or even been able to utilize in your own work situations?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Joshua 1:6,7,9; Proverbs 1:7, 2:6, 10:14-15, 14:8; John 13:34-35; James 1:5-6

  2. Panic Or Peace – The Choice Is Up To Us

    Leave a Comment

    July 27, 2020 – Ken Korkow  What we see determines what we do. What we see also tends to dictate how we feel.

    Since the start of the year, we have lived through unprecedented, extremely turbulent circumstances. If you have seen times of great physical, economic and political problems, you likely have become anxious, withdrawn, controlling, and perhaps looking for ways to medicate your pain.

    After relentless news reports that essentially insist, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” we start to think maybe they are right. Bombarded with messages of gloom and doom, we start to see a world of complex, unsolvable problems – and begin to see our own lives in much the same way.

    That, however, is not our only option. There is also the option of seeing the world – and our lives in general – through the eyes of trusting, unwavering faith. As 2 Corinthians 5:7 admonishes, “for we walk by faith, not by sight.”

    As a result, if we believe and trust that God, our heavenly Father is sovereign, completely in control with a perfect plan – even when everything around us seems to be in absolute chaos – we will then see these present challenges very differently. We can see them as opportunities, camouflaged opportunities to grow in faith and to share His love, hope, joy, peace and resources with others.

    But these times have been painful, filled with stress, anxiety, and for some of us, genuine loss. How can we help but see the darkness and despair that seems pressed all around us? Because, as I and many people I know have discovered, pain is a great teacher – possibly the greatest teacher we can have in life.

    The reality is, people tend not to change unless there is significant pain. They have to be forced, often after much resistance, out of their comfort with the known and familiar. When that happens, they can come to a revelation that they have been betting on the wrong horse, so to speak. Once they understand that, they become willing to consider change.

    Who do you know that is stressing out over current events, who has become ensnared by the pervasive panic and hysteria? Perhaps this describes you, if all you can see are the perplexing problems that seem beyond solving. If that is the case, you need to shift where you are looking. “While we look not at things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

    And if you have succeeded in looking past the problems and focusing instead on God’s promises, this is the perfect time to share them with others. Look for opportunities to ask questions and go deeper in relationships with people – friends, coworkers, even your boss – because so many people are fearful. Without faith, they cannot begin to see how good can possibly arise out of hard times.

    Remember this: God does not waste pain. And given the circumstances we have all been in, we have unique opportunities to tell others about His truth that changes our lives. There is God’s part, to bring light into the darkness. And we have our part, to be His representatives, His ambassadors for communicating His eternal message. We cannot do God’s part. And the Lord will not do ours.

    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. How have you handled the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, the coronavirus? Have you found yourself overcome by fear or anxiety? Has your job or business suffered during as the many restrictions were put in place? Have you wondered how you could possibly survive?

     

    1. What does it mean to see the world, your life, the circumstances around you, through the eyes of faith rather than perceiving them in light of the pervasive bad news we have seen and heard almost every day?

     

    1. One of the Bible verses cited above says we are to look not at things that are seen, but things that are not seen. What do you think that means? How do you react to such an admonition?

     

    1. Have you had any opportunities to talk with anyone who did not share the same faith that you had? If so, what has been their response? Have you found people more responsive to considering spiritual truth, given the uncertainties and grim realities of our times?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
    Psalm 23:1-6, 27:1-5, 46:1-3, 118:13-14; Isaiah 41:10; Matthew 6:13-16; 2 Corinthians 5:16-6:2

  3. Just One Star In An Infinite Galaxy

    Leave a Comment

    July 20, 2020 – Robert J. Tamasy  Recently my wife and I watched an excellent film, “I Still Believe,” based on the story of musician and songwriter Jeremy Camp and tragedy that dramatically shapes his life. At one point, Camp’s soon-to-be girlfriend looks up at a museum depiction of the universe and says, “I’m just one star in an infinite galaxy.”

    That humble observation impressed me, especially when Camp replied, “But some stars shine brighter than others.” Do you ever look up in the sky on a cloudless night and marvel at the stars? With the naked eye, we see only a tiny fraction of the billions of stars astronomers tell us inhabit the universe. So what difference can one star possibly make? Quite a lot, actually.

    If we come back much closer to home and consider the star we call the sun, we know that without it, life on earth would be impossible. To us it seems like a huge ball of fire, yet compared to many stars in myriad galaxies, it is among the smallest. Nevertheless, we and all of life on our planet depend on it for warmth, illumination, and many light-inducing properties such as photosynthesis.

    So, being “just one star in an infinite galaxy” does not mean we are unimportant. I love the story of a man running across the beach, picking up objects one at a time, and then throwing them back into the ocean. When a passer-by asked what he was doing, the man replied, “Throwing starfish into the sea so they don’t die.” The passer-by responded, but there are hundreds of starfish out here on the beach. You can’t save them all. What difference can you make?” Without looking up, the man picked up another starfish, ran toward the water and threw it in. “I made a difference for that one,” he announced.

    Let’s sharpen the focus even more, narrowing it down to what we do in the marketplace. Some aspire to become the next internationally known industry leader, while others dream about being a game-changing inventor, innovator or visionary. Even if we will attain such status, we can still succeed in becoming that single star that becomes a difference-maker.

    Executives and supervisors can serve as teachers, trainers, encouragers or even friends for up-and-coming employees showing promise. They can become mentors, sharing experience and wisdom to help them make key life and career decisions. We can all positively influence coworkers and peers in many ways: “As iron sharpens iron, so one many sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).

    I owe much to people who had a strong impact in my life: An elementary school teacher who told my parents that I was “college material.” The college English instructor who encouraged me to pursue writing. The managing editor of a suburban newspaper who offered practical professional tips that served me well throughout my career as a journalist. My first boss at CBMC, who was willing to work with me, a “diamond in the rough,” so I could expand my horizons as a magazine editor and book author.

    People familiar with the Bible know about the apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament; not nearly as many are familiar with Barnabas, his courageous mentor. Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, but it was his protégé, Joshua, who led them into the Promised Land. The prophet Elijah trained his successor, Elisha, to be God’s instrument in even greater miracles. If you perceive yourself as “just one star in an infinite galaxy,” consider who can you help to shine brighter than others.

    © 2020. Robert J. Tamasy has written numerous books, including Marketplace Ambassadors: CBMC’s Continuing Legacy of Evangelism and Discipleship; Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies; The Heart of Mentoring, coauthored with David A. Stoddard; and has edited other books. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. When you gaze into the night sky, seeing hundreds, even thousands of stars, what thoughts come to your mind?

     

    1. How do you relate personally to the comment from the movie, “I am just one star in an infinite galaxy?” Does that seem like a good thing, or not? Explain your answer.

     

    1. Who has had a profound impact in your life – professionally, personally, or spiritually? What difference did they make for you? That is, what do you think your life and career would be like, if they had not been a part of it?

     

    1. Who do you know – who is in your sphere of influence – that you might come alongside to assist, perhaps to become one of those people who shine brighter than others?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
    Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Daniel 12:3; Isaiah 43:4; Philippians 2:15; Timothy 2:2

  4. Overcoming Our Seasons Of Discontent Together

    Leave a Comment

    July 13, 2020 – Jim Langley  Perhaps you can relate to what I call our “seasons of discontent.” Much of life is not the proverbial bed of roses we wish it could be. Everyone has times when we wish life were less stressful and more comfortable, when our primary emotion is discontent. Many people act as if everything is wonderful, when in reality their circumstances are anything but that.

    These individuals typically put on a front, not telling even those closest to them the extent of their problems and concerns. They act as if hiding their troubles will make them disappear. Have you ever experienced this? I have been fortunate to have close friends in whom I can confide, no matter what life throws my way. Many of my business dealings these days create a lot of stress, so it is good to have a few close Christian businessmen I can count on, both to listen and to offer sage advice.

    My involvement in CBMC has been a wonderful resource over these past 33 years. It has been good to be around others who can identify with the common trials and challenges in life. Being around such like-minded men has given me the strength to not surrender to the enemy, and instead to persevere through the fiery trials of entrepreneurship.

    One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Ecclesiastes 4:12, which reads “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Life works best when it is played as a team sport! I have been involved in team sports most of my life. When a team plays together, without concern for individual performance and glory, a synergistic phenomenon often takes place. There is a unique sense of satisfaction associated with team victories – and even defeats – in sports and in life.

    Teamwork in business can have similar results. And when shared with fellow believers in Jesus Christ, we can experience even sweeter victory. We can celebrate not only personal accomplishments, but also the joy of teaming together, sharing our different skills and talents, to achieve a common goal or mission.

    I am reminded of a passage, Luke 24:31-32, which describes two disciples walking and talking with Jesus – following His death, burial and resurrection – on the road to Emmaus, not realizing it was their Lord. At the end of this scene, Jesus breaks bread with them and then vanishes. It says, “Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’”

    With the Holy Spirit living inside all who follow Christ, we too can have that burning in our hearts and minds as we endure life’s trials here on earth together. The apostle Paul certainly experienced his own share of seasons of discontent following his conversion from a persecutor of Christians to a zealous ambassador for Christ. Throughout his letters to the churches in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae and Thessalonica he tells of the struggles he faced for the cause of Christ.

    Through them all, he remained strong and unwavering in His immense love and devotion for his Lord and Savior. I can only imagine there were times when Paul overcame despair by receiving comfort from close brothers and sisters in Christ who encouraged him in the great work our Lord had given him to do.

    As followers of Jesus Christ, we all have the opportunity to weather seasons of suffering and challenges as we gradually learn to place Him first in all things. By working together in teams, sharing a common passion for serving the Lord, we can shorten our seasons of discontent, replacing them with joy.

    © 2020, 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 relationship with God. His goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. A long-time member of CBMC, he started writing “Fourth Quarter Strategies” in 2014.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Have you heard the term “seasons of discontent” before? What does that mean to you? Have you experienced them yourself – perhaps even right now? If so, what has that been like?

     

    1. Why do you think teaming up with others, or benefiting from the friendship and support of others, can help us in overcoming these times of being discontented – with our work, our present circumstances, or life in general?

     

    1. In what specific ways does working in concert with others prove to be superior to trying to handle life – and overcome its challenges – on our own?

     

    1. Do you ever think it is unfair to be striving to serve Jesus Christ, not only through your personal life but also through your work, and then encountering struggles and opposition? What can you gain from sharing your discontent – your frustrations – with others?

     

    NOTE: For more about what the Bible says, consider the following passages:
    Acts 9:15-17; 2 Corinthians 1:5-7; Philippians 1:29; Hebrews 2:17-18; 1 Peter 2:21-25

  5. The 3 P’s Of Business Authority

    Leave a Comment

    July 6, 2020 – Rick Boxx  A former executive of the General Mills food company, Marc Belton, talked in an interview about what he called the “three P’s” of business status: Perks, Privilege, and Power. His observations were very insightful, and I could relate with much of what he said. I would like to summarize his points, beginning with Perks – extra benefits received due to position and achievements.

    As a young banker, I once presented a loan request from a country club to our loan committee. The CEO of the bank was so excited that I was bringing in this new business, he announced to everyone in the room that the bank should buy me a membership to this country club! Envy spread throughout the bank, however. Soon afterward, some of my superiors had negotiated country club memberships for themselves, and my original “perk” was significantly modified to make it less attractive. I decided to forgo this “opportunity.”

    A passage in the Bible, Galatians 5:26, warns, “Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.” As employers, we should be cautious about what perks we offer to certain employees. Whether we intend it or not, these can bring envy and conflict within the team.

    Another point Belton made was that as leaders rise through the ranks of an organization, their positions often afford them with more Privilege. Maybe this takes the form of additional freedom in how they spend their time, the availability of company cars, or exclusive invitations to meet with influential leaders.

    These privileges can allow pride to surface in the individuals who receive them, which can set the stage for moral and ethical failure. For instance, they could determine to do whatever is necessary to retain and add to those privileges. In addition, what becomes “normal” to someone of privilege, might be viewed by others as wasteful, unnecessary extravagance.

    The Bible teaches, “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2). Gaining added privilege as a reward for hard work can be admirable, but we would be advised to be careful that pride in our privilege does not lead us into dishonor.

    Belton’s third point regarded Power. The uses and abuses of power are manifested in many ways, but he cited as an example the fact that labor unions have been in decline for many years. Many believe that one contributing factor has been the power some union leaders and officials have abused and misused.

    Years ago, a friend of mine attended a union meeting, expecting to listen to and perhaps participate in a discussion of a potential work stoppage. One union member stood up to protest the strike. However, before he could voice more than a few words, two large men immediately escorted this dissenter from the room. This action made it clear there would be no more “discussion.”

    Another passage from the Scriptures addresses this type of business behavior: “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate” (Proverbs 8:13). Success in business usually brings with it the opportunity for increased power. This power can be used in many beneficial ways, but it also can be misdirected. We should be aware of this temptation and not to allow power to lead to pride and arrogance.

    © 2020, 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, visit www.unconventionalbusiness.org. His latest book, Unconventional Business, provides “Five Keys to Growing a Business God’s Way.”

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. What “perks” – extra benefits – have been offered to you, or to others in positions of influence within your organization? Do you think they are appropriate? Have you seen negative effects that they have generated? How do you think those can be avoided?

     

    1. How have you seen “privilege” being demonstrated, either at your own workplace or in other environments? What are the positive benefits of extending those to certain individuals? Again, what are some of the potential pitfalls of providing privileges to some, and not to others? How should this be properly managed, in your opinion?

     

    1. What are some ways that you have seen “power” utilized in the marketplace? In what ways have you seen it used well – properly, in your view? How have you seen it abused?

     

    1. How do you think the realities of perks, privilege and power can help to advance not only specific individuals within a company, but also to challenge and encourage those who do not necessarily qualify for such benefits?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
    Proverbs 3:27-28, 11:25, 22:29; Mark 10:45, 12:30-31; Luke 6:31; John 15:13; Philippians 2:3-4

  6. A Time To ‘Reboot’ How We Approach Our Work

    Leave a Comment

    June 29, 2020 – Robert J. Tamasy  Being a confirmed “non-techie,” someone who does not understand the what’s and why’s of computer technology, I have a very simple strategy when my computer is not working right. I shut it down and restart it to “reboot” the system and software. Most of the time it works, resetting things so they work properly – even though I do not understand why.

    When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and began to spread around the world, virtually all of us were affected in a variety of ways. Our workplace schedules and routines were disrupted. Many found themselves either out of work temporarily or learning how to work from home. Lots of people suffered financial hardships because of reduced pay, or no income at all.

    Such global adversity was unprecedented and unexpected, but like my computer, when things are not functioning as usual, perhaps that was a signal for time to “reboot” – to shut down and make a fresh start. It occurred to me that for those who follow Jesus Christ in the marketplace, it might have become a time to reconsider our approach to our vocations. What are our motives, our purpose and objectives?

    Ephesians 2:10 declares, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” And 1 Corinthians 3:9 states, “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” If that is true, what does it look like in a practical sense? I think portions from another passage, 2 Corinthians 5:14-20, give us clarification:

    “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again…. All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

    There is much we can learn from this passage, but a central theme is that since Jesus Christ died on our behalf and reconciled us to God, we are called to represent Him to others – including those we encounter in the marketplace every day – as His ambassadors. Here are some key points we might consider as we have this time to “reboot”:

    We are God’s workmanship. We each are unique persons, with a combination of gifts, talents, experience and passions unlike anyone else. We are to use them all for His glory.

    We are “His field, His building.” Countless people all around us, in offices and stores and manufacturing plants, need to hear the reconciling message of Jesus Christ. The fact that God has seen fit to place us where we are is evidence He wants us to represent Him there.

    We are the Lord’s ambassadors. An ambassador does not pursue his or her own agenda, but the goals and purposes of those being represented. In a similar way, in the marketplace we are to serve and represent our Lord, through our actions and our words.

    © 2020. Robert J. Tamasy has written numerous books, including Marketplace Ambassadors: CBMC’s Continuing Legacy of Evangelism and Discipleship; Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies; The Heart of Mentoring, coauthored with David A. Stoddard; and has edited other books. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How has the COVID-19 virus pandemic affected you personally? What has been its impact on your company? At this point, how far along the path to recovery are you?

     

    1. Since all of our normal work routines have been disrupted in some way during this time, have you ever thought about taking this opportunity for a “reset,” to re-evaluate what you have been doing, why you have been doing it, and how things could be different once things return to “normal”?

     

    1. What do you think of the idea that we are “God’s workmanship”? What does that mean to you? If you were to make that understanding an intentional, conscious part of how you approach each workday, would it make a difference in your conduct on the job, your goals and motivations? Explain your answer.

     

    1. It has been said that for those who follow Jesus Christ, whenever we step out of our offices, or our cubicles, the buildings where we work, or even travel somewhere for business, we are entering the mission field. Do you believe this? Why or why not?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
    Proverbs 13:6, 14:23, 22:29, 28:2; Matthew 6:19-21,33-34. 25:14-30

  7. Must It Be ‘Every Man For Himself’?

    Leave a Comment

    June 22, 2020 – Jim Mathis  As we pursue our livelihoods in the contemporary marketplace, should we take the approach of “Every man for himself,” or should our attitude be, “We are all on the same team?” This might be one of the fundamental questions of a society. A basic principle of capitalism is that everyone should run their own race. Even in the Bible, the apostle Paul uses running as a metaphor for life. In 1 Corinthians 9:24, he says, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

    Reading this, it seems as if he is saying we should all run our own race, without bothering to be concerned about other people. But is that what he means? In most industrialized countries for the past 200 years or so, people have been encouraged to look out for themselves. We talk in terms of individual responsibility, and if someone is falling behind, that is their problem, not ours.

    Sadly, this attitude has resulted in all kinds of meanness. Everything from racism and slavery to predatory lending have taken place in the name of capitalism and the general understanding of laissez-faire – a matter of looking out only for your own self. Even Christians often use the term, “Personal relationship with Christ,” which would suggest this is just between us and Jesus.

    But the overall understanding of Jesus’ teaching is quite the opposite. And we are probably taking Paul’s race metaphor too far. For instance, in Hebrews 10:24-25 we see the admonition for coming together in a spirit of unity and cooperation: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

    Living in community and helping one another is foundational for all who wish to follow Christ. We know from Acts 2 that the early church took this seriously, seeing many examples of believers helping one other, including materially, so that there would be no one in need within their group.

    In other words, rather than “Every man for himself,” their conviction was, “We are all on the same team.” In team sports, if one player insists on scoring all of the points, will not share the ball with others, or refuses to help the team, the team is eventually going to lose. When a team loses, everyone on the team loses. If the team wins, all the players share in the glory.

    Much has been written about the benefits of strong relationships. People are healthier, live longer, and are generally happier if they have strong friendships beneficial for helping and encouraging each other.

    Personally, one big change that took place when I decided to follow Christ was shifting from a self-centered existence to community-centered living. My life changed dramatically for the better when I stopped looking out only for myself and started finding ways to help others with a sense of community. Life went from an individual sport like a race to a team sport, working toward our mutual benefit.

    There is no such thing as a “lone wolf,” because even wolves live and work in a pack – a community – to help the entire pack to thrive. As human beings following Christ, we are called to be on the same team, striving to make the world a better place. That is one way we bring glory to God.

    © 2020. Jim Mathis is a writer, photographer and small business owner in Overland Park, Kansas. His latest book is The Camel and the Needle, A Christian Looks at Wealth and Money. He formerly was a coffee shop manager and executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Have you heard the term “every man for himself” (or every woman for herself)? When you think about such a philosophy, what does it mean to you?

     

    1. What do you think are some of the fundamental differences between the “every man for himself” and “we are all on the same team” approaches to our work and ways we interact with others – our coworkers, our employers or employees, customers and suppliers?

     

    1. In terms of faith, how do you see these distinctives being worked out in a real sense? Is there a danger of putting too much emphasis on an individualized, “personal relationship with Jesus Christ”? If so, in what ways?

     

    1.       How can we all benefit from taking a more team-oriented approach in how we live out our faith, not only in religious and worship settings, but also in the workplace where we are called to be “ambassadors for Christ”?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
    Proverbs 27:17; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; 1 Corinthians 3:9, 6:19, 12:12-27; 2 Timothy 2:2

  8. Combating Fear Of The Unknown, Focusing On The Known

    Leave a Comment

    June 15, 2020 – Robert J. Tamasy  Years ago, discussing the challenges of making decisions during a war in the Middle East, described the variable factors involved as “known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns.” Most of us will never have to handle such wartime responsibilities but given the uncertainties of the marketplace – even when we are not in the middle of a global pandemic, the unknowns can weigh heavily on us.

    As we entered 2020, one of the “known knowns” was that the economy in many parts of the world was flourishing. Based on what we had been experiencing, there was great anticipation that prosperous times would continue throughout the marketplace. Among the “known unknowns” was that some major event could arise to cause a sudden shift in the economic climate. Everyone knew that was a possibility, but no one knew for certain what that might be. The greatest “unknown unknown” as we started the new year, of course, was the emergence of COVID-19, an incredibly aggressive virus that would spread from China and bring about a global pandemic.

    Our tendency is to let the unknowns – ones we know about, and those we do not – to overwhelm us, filling us with fear and worry. However, there is an alternative. We can choose instead to focus on the “knowns,” those things we can trust in and depend upon. The problem is, in turbulent times such as we have experienced recently, there are few knowns we can concentrate on with confidence.

    This where faith – the confident assurance and earnest expectation we have in the God of the Bible – can sustain us. Corrie ten Boom, who with her family in The Netherlands helped many Jews escape the Nazis during World War II, wrote about this. She said, “Never be afraid to commit an unknown future to a known God.”

    In the Word of God, we find hundreds of promises and precepts, assurances we have from God as followers of Jesus Christ that apply as directly to the marketplace as they do to any area of life. Here are some of them, and I would encourage you to search the Scriptures for many more:

    We can know God has a specific purpose for our lives. “’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…. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11).

    We can know God uses adversities we face for our benefit. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

    We can know God is not distant, that He is approachable. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are yet was without sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16). “In [Christ] and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence” (Ephesians 3:12).

    We can know God hears and responds to our prayers. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked on him” (1 John 5:14-15).

    © 2020. Robert J. Tamasy has written numerous books, including Marketplace Ambassadors: CBMC’s Continuing Legacy of Evangelism and Discipleship; Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies; The Heart of Mentoring, coauthored with David A. Stoddard; and has edited other books. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. What are some of your “known knowns,” things you believe you can count on every day with confidence and assurance as you pursue your vocation and everyday life?

     

    1. What are some of the “known unknowns” that cause you concern? What about the “unknown unknowns” that could cause you to have sleepless nights?

     

    1. Why are the unknowns of life so problematic for many of us? How can they cause stress – at times unnecessary – when we focus on things beyond our control?

     

    1. Do the “known knowns” that we find the Bible bring you peace and comfort in times of adversity? Why or why not? If you do find sources of reassurance in the Scriptures, what are some that seem most important to you?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
    Isaiah 40:31, 41:10; Jeremiah 33:3; John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 4:6-9

  9. A Life-Changing Encounter Like No Other

    Leave a Comment

    June 8, 2020 – Ray Kerwood  [Editor’s Note: The following is an adapted excerpt from Cross Currents: A World War II Survivor’s Voyage through Life’s Storms to God’s Safe Port, an autobiography by Ray Kerwood]. A longtime member of CBMC, Ray served with distinction as an officer with the Merchant Marines during World War II. He served 28 years in various management roles with Gulf Oil, before launching his own company, Alpine Petroleum. His book in its entirety is available FREE on CBMC International’s website]

    One of the turning points in my spiritual life was attending an adult Sunday school class at a church just blocks from where my wife, Donna, and I lived in Charleston, West Virginia. A man named C.W. Lee was teaching the class. He wasn’t a clergyman, but a laboratory technician with Union Carbide. I was very impressed with his teaching and made a point of talking with him before class the following Sunday.

    At the time, Donna and I were experiencing some difficulties in our marriage, and C.W. and his wife, Ruth, agreed to meet with us. By the time we had all exchanged greetings, it was clear to both Donna and me that this couple was different from anyone we had ever known. It was obvious that Jesus Christ was the center of their life.

    Within a short time, C.W. had his Bible open and was explaining what it meant to know God personally and to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. First he read John 3:16 to us: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” I had heard those words before, but somehow on this evening it sank into my heart as never before that God, my Creator, the Ruler of this Universe, actually loved me personally, enough to send His Son Jesus Christ to be born on this earth.

    I could see on Donna’s face that she was responding to this message as intensely as I was. C.W. then took us through a series of verses from the New Testament book of Romans. When he was done, he did not need to explain it was now our turn. Donna and I both prayed aloud, asking forgiveness for our sins and asking Jesus into our hearts. C.W. and Ruth then spent time explaining what it meant to live our lives in following Jesus Christ. Maybe we didn’t know then the complete significance of what had happened to us, but we both knew this was the most important event in either of our lives.

    After leading Donna and me to Christ, C.W. and Ruth did not just walk away, but poured themselves into helping us grow as Christians. This is even more significant because we were complete strangers to them before that night, and both of them were so busy. I don’t know how they found the time to do all they did, much less add on becoming our spiritual mentors. They made sure we got into a good, Bible-teaching church, but their main “mentoring program” consisted of taking us with them anywhere they went.

    Through C.W., I got involved in CBMC and began meeting with other God-fearing Christian men who had a major impact on my life and Christian growth in a variety of ways. C.W. and Ruth remained our closest friends and spiritual mentors until we moved from West Virginia. Even then, we would talk on the phone. By the time he passed into God’s presence at the age of 92, he had impacted thousands of lives through his godly life and faithful testimony.

    C.W. always told people that when he died, he did not want to leave anything behind. That he wanted to give everything he had to the Lord’s work. That’s how I remember him. That’s how I want people to remember me.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How do you relate to this brief account of Ray’s spiritual journey?

     

    1. Have you had a spiritual mentor – or perhaps more than one? If so, what has that experience been like for you?

     

    1. What is the importance of having someone not only point the way to a relationship with Jesus Christ, but also having them stay with you teaching and modeling what it means to be a faithful, consistent follower of Christ? Have you ever done that with someone else?

     

    1. Ray’s mentor, C.W. Lee, said he did not want to leave anything behind when he died. That during his lifetime he wanted to expend everything he had to help in advancing God’s work on earth. What is your reaction to this type of commitment?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
    Matthew 6:19-21,33; Romans 3:23, 5:8, 6:23, 8:1, 10:9-10; Philippians 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:2

  10. Unconventional Hiring Strategies

    Leave a Comment

    June 1, 2020 – Rick Boxx  The respected business periodical, Wall Street Journal, featured a story about Nehemiah Manufacturing, a company in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A. that has some interesting – and unusual – hiring practices. Approximately 80 percent of its employees have criminal records!

    In reading the article, I discovered that as I expected, the founders of this business are followers of Jesus Christ who had more in mind than to grow a profitable company. Their vision was much greater than that. They wanted to help in rebuilding a city, more than a building a company. And they are succeeding at both.

    With the company situated within the inner city of Cincinnati, the owners are engaged in rebuilding the lives of people living there who rarely have an opportunity to succeed. For many people convicted of felonies, their recidivism rate – likelihood of committing other crimes and returning to prison – is very high. One reason for this is their inability to find gainful employment. The owners of Nehemiah Manufacturing resolved to address this problem by offering jobs for people desiring to get a second chance in life, to make a fresh start.

    Interestingly, the idea of taking a calculated risk to rebuild a city is one firmly rooted in the Bible. In fact, the entire book of Nehemiah is the story of one visionary man who obeyed the Lord’s leading and pursued the seemingly impossible mission of rebuilding the city of Jerusalem. He knew the circumstances were not good, and the task would not be an easy one, but he was determined – with God’s help – to restore the ruined city.

    Nehemiah had a rallying cry probably similar to the founders of the Cincinnati company when he declared, “You see the bad situation we are in: Jerusalem is in ruins, and its gates have been burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace” (Nehemiah 2:17).

    Reading further, we find that Nehemiah’s motivation behind this massive endeavor was not for profit or for fame, but simply to rebuild “the city of David” that had been ravaged during a series of attacks while the Israelites were taken into captivity. Despite opposition and many detractors, Nehemiah and those working with him succeeded in the work.

    We should be inspired by the vision and enterprise of Nehemiah Manufacturing and its namesake. This does not necessarily mean we must hire convicted criminals who have completed their prison sentences. That is not always possible. But we can prayerfully seek to be involved in other “reclamation projects.” For instance, we might know of someone in our organization whom others have given up on. He or she may be a “diamond in the rough” who, if given an opportunity and some direction, could prove to become a valued member of the team.

    God’s call for us, like Nehemiah Manufacturing, is usually more important than just making money. Being what the Bible calls “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20), we are to participate in a mission of reconciliation, as described in the following verse: “as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

    Whether it is striving to rebuild a portion of a city, or investing in the lives of individual people, we have the joy and privilege of being part of God’s work of restoration and renewal: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

    © 2020, 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, visit www.unconventionalbusiness.org. His latest book, Unconventional Business, provides “Five Keys to Growing a Business God’s Way.”

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. What are your thoughts about employing people with previous criminal records? What are some of the potential problems with that practice? What are some of the possible opportunities?

     

    1. Are you familiar with the story of Nehemiah being called to oversee the rebuilding of the ancient city of Jerusalem? What were some of the obstacles he faced?

     

    1. Why do you think many companies – and individual business and professional people – fail to recognize or act upon opportunities to make positive contributions to their communities, the people living in them, or the people working within the organization?

     

    1. How might you go about seeking ways for serving as a “Nehemiah” in your own sphere of influence? What – or who – is in need of rebuilding or restoration?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
    Nehemiah 1:1-11, 2:1-20; Isaiah 43:18-19; Galatians 2:20; Revelation 3:11-13, 21:1-2