Category Archive: Monday Manna

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. Life At The End Of Your Comfort Zone

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    August 12, 2019 – Robert J. Tamasy  Some people are natural risk-takers. They are the first ones to try skydiving or bungee jumping. They study a restaurant menu and search for the unusual selection, the exotic concoction few people ever order. Rather than opt for the security of a job with an established company, they venture out on their own without assurance of success but certain they don’t want the regret of not pursuing their dream.

    I admire people like that. Because I have spent much of my life choosing what I perceived to be the safe and secure course, often the path of least resistance and stress. Making cautious, carefully considered decisions. Electing to stay with what felt comfortable. However, many of my most rewarding experiences have come when I have been willing to venture beyond my comfort zone.

    A speaker reminded me of this recently when he talked about “life at the end of your comfort zone.” This can mean many things: the willingness to consider new ideas, even ones that challenge your accepted views and understanding. Being willing to forgo your standard choice at your favorite restaurant to try something different – or even trying a new, unusual restaurant!

    Over my career, many of my most rewarding accomplishments have come at the end of my personal comfort zone: Attempting to submit a magazine article for the first time, risking rejection; collaborating with someone in writing a book for the first time; leaving the security of a guaranteed income to join a ministry that required me to raise all of my financial support; agreeing to speak publicly despite my natural shyness.

    Spiritually it has been much the same for me. I remember learning about CBMC’s discipling program, “Operation Timothy.” I asked a good friend to take me through it as a mentor, but he recommended, “Why don’t you find someone that you can take through Operation Timothy, instead?” Even though I did not feel very prepared for helping someone else grow spiritually, I discovered that experience among the most fulfilling I have ever had. And in the process, I found the person who grew the most rapidly was…me.

    The greatest example of moving past the end of our comfort zone, spiritually speaking, is committing our life to Jesus Christ, not only for the hope of life after death, but also for life before death – including in the workplace. Operating a business, or carrying out our job responsibilities, according to biblical principles, especially when it runs counter to the practices of our peers, definitely takes us out of our comfort zone. Here are just a couple of things the Bible says about that:

    Clinging to integrity when competitors do not. Living and working in a competitive world, it seems easy to yield to the temptation to act the same as everyone else does. God’s standard, however, is often very different. It requires faith not to do as everyone else is doing. “The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out” (Proverbs 10:9).

    Trusting God when circumstances do not make sense. Situations arise that take us off guard, ones we cannot comprehend and don’t know how to resolve. Often these are occasions God uses for teaching us to live outside our comfort zones – and instead, find our comfort in Him. “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).

    © 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. Are you a risk-taker, eager to test the new and challenging? Or do you prefer to operate within your personal comfort zone, both in your personal and professional life? Explain your answer.

     

    1. Why do you think most of us find the “comfort zone” so attractive?

     

    1. Give an example of a time you willingly stepped beyond your comfort zone – or were forced to do so? What were the circumstances, and the results? How has that experience affected you since then?

     

    1. Do you think that truly trusting in God, acting according to faith in Jesus Christ, requires us to venture far outside of our comfort zones – maybe even many times? Why or why not?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages:
    Psalm 1:1-6; Proverbs 3:5-6, 16:3,9, 23:23; Isaiah 26:3, 40:27:31; Jeremiah 29:11

  5. Is This A Good Time For A Restart?

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    August 5, 2019 – Rick Boxx  A calendar year has 12 months, but during the summer months many of us experience a notable change in work demands and schedules. Businesses often find employees distracted with their children being home for the summer, taking their annual break from school. Many workers are eagerly anticipating vacations for times of much-needed rest and relaxation. Either way, they receive a break from the daily demands of work.

    In some cultures, such as in Europe, during the summer months work staffs can take extended holiday breaks from their regular work routine. “Business as usual” slows, or comes to a sudden halt. With this slowdown in the pace and momentum of the work, business teams become shorthanded temporarily. A question then becomes how to use this time most usefully.

    In a general sense, the conclusion of a school year or time for staff vacations can serve as an excellent time for a restart. This might involve meeting with your staff as they are available, casting vision for the coming months. It becomes a time for reenergizing and refocusing your team. These “down times” can prove to be as important as the periods of concentrated productivity.

    Offering your team an opportunity to remember why they are there can help your organization in being more productive in the future. The Bible gives a humorous description of people who lacked any focus for their activity: The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there”(Acts 19:32). While the context was not about people in business, it could describe corporate teams who have become so busy they have forgotten their overall mission and goals.

    There is a temptation to insist on being busy for the sake of being busy. This brings to mind the boss who ran through the office shouting, “Don’t just stand there! Do something! Even if it’s wrong!” Sadly, this can be result in waste of effort and energy, and unintended lack of productivity.

    As a passage in the Bible’s Old Testament states so well, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…. A time to plant and a time to uproot…a time to tear down and a time to build…a time to tear and a time to mend…a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-7). There is a time for moving forward – and should be a time for pausing to review how far we have come and where we hope to be going.

    We see this theme, the recognition of times when starting over is necessary, recurring in the Bible. For instance, after spending many years building an ark and then experiencing the great flood, Noah needed a restart. We see him receiving it in Genesis 9:1, “Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.’” This signified the time for mankind’s literal restart.

    Your organization might not have just endured a great flood – or a major calamity – but a lull in the usual work routine should be welcomed. If you sense it is time for a restart with your team, don’t wait. Schedule a meeting today! Review questions like, “Why are we here?” and “Where are we going?”

    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. Does your organization usually experience a time during the year when staffs are depleted by annual vacations or holidays, or workers restructure their days to accommodate children at home because the school year has ended? How do you or your company usually respond?

     

    1. What in your view is the value of a “restart,” taking time to slow down and re-evaluate the work you have been doing as well as your future plans, goals and objectives?

     

    1. Have you ever experienced something similar to what was described in the Bible, where people were obviously confused, even to a point where, “…the people did not even know why they were there”? If so, what did that feel like?

     

    1. If you sense it might be time for a restart in your business – or even for a restart in your life personally – how do you think you could you go about doing that?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:
    Proverbs 10:4-5, 12:27, 14:23; Ecclesiastes 3:17,22; Acts 21:34; Ephesians 5:15-17

  6. A Fail-Safe Philosophy For Failure

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    July 29, 2019 — Robert J. Tamasy  Seth Godin, a consultant, entrepreneur and business blogger, posed a question to his readers that all of us have asked ourselves at one time or another: “But what if I fail?” Godin offered a realistic answer to that ominous possibility: “You will.” Then he asked an even more important question: “After I fail, what then?”

    Failure is one of the great certainties of life. Not every seed sprouts into a healthy, fruitful plant. Not every decision is the correct one. And not every attempt at trying something different, whether it is a business venture, an attempt to acquire a new skill, or even purchasing a new product, leads to success. However, failure is often a part of the process necessary for attaining success.

    As Godin observed, “if you have chosen well, after you fail you will be one step closer to succeeding, you will be wiser and stronger, and you almost certainly will be more respected by all of those that are afraid to try.” If nothing else, failure reveals one way for not achieving the success we desire.

    Stories have been told about how Thomas Alva Edison made hundreds of failed attempts for inventing the incandescent lightbulb before discovering the right way to get it done. If we examine the lives and careers of any highly successful executives and entrepreneurs, we will find their paths to success were littered with failures, times of discouragement, sometimes even bankruptcy. One secret to their success, however, was they never stopped trying. They refused to let failure define them.

    We find numerous examples in the Scriptures of people who failed on their way to success. One Old Testament example was Joseph, who got on his brother’s nerves by constantly reminding them he was their father’s favorite. He was sold into slavery, then wrongfully imprisoned, but Joseph still rose to be second in command of Egypt. And he formulated a plan to overcome a devastating famine, not only for the Egyptians but also for his family and ultimately, the people of Israel.

    In the New Testament, Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, three times denied Him. Yet he later became one of the leaders of the early Church. And the apostle Paul was transformed from a misguided persecutor of Christians to another central figure of the first-century Church and author of numerous letters in the Bible. The Scriptures teach that failure need not be a dead end, but instead, can be a launching point. Here are some of its principles for dealing with failure:

    Team up with others. Failure is easier to bear when you do not have to carry the burden alone. “Two are better than on, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who fails and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

    Learn to rely on God’s strength. Failure often teaches us the importance of trusting in and depending on God, His strength and wisdom. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak…those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:29-31).

    Persevere when facing challenges. Quitting in the face of failure may prevent us from experiencing the joy of success if we just persisted with our endeavors a bit longer. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

    © 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 many times have you been hindered by the concern, “What if I fail?” How do you typically answer that question?

     

    1. What would you consider to be your greatest failure? What was its impact on you – then and now?

     

    1. When you read or hear accounts of people who have achieved great success after enduring much failure, how does that affect you? Does it inspire and motivate you, or do you reason that might have worked for them, but not for you? Explain your answer.

     

    1. In your view, how can we – or how should we – continue to persevere in the wake of failure? What is the role of faith in dealing with failure?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more this subject, consider the following passages:
    Proverbs 16:3,9, 19:21, 20:24, 27:1; 1 Corinthians 15:57-58: Hebrews 11:1,11-12,24-27

  7. Decisions Of The Head — And The Heart

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    July 22, 2019 — Jim Langley  Early in my insurance career, I learned an important lesson for closing the sale. Decisions can be made either from the head or from the heart. Personally, I consider buying life insurance to be a decision of the heart, but financial considerations must come into play. I often advise clients to choose lower monthly premiums to ensure their policies will remain in force. My approach to initially recommend limiting their commitment to not more than 50 percent of what they feel they can comfortably afford. I believe this approach can be valuable for many life decisions.

    It is easy to let the heart take over – or to let the mind do the same. In my experience, the best decisions come from a balanced perspective. In marriages, the husband and wife need to discuss and hopefully pray about important family decisions. In business, there can be great value from getting counsel from others who bring experience and wisdom to the table.

    Years ago, I watched two leaders of a medium-sized manufacturing firm eliminate two-thirds of the company’s jobs by reducing costs and outsourcing much of the work done for many years by faithful employees. The numbers might have supported their decisions, but the lives and livelihoods of many devoted people were drastically affected. Seeing two executives decimate the founders’ successful business philosophy caused me to eventually leave corporate life, after seeking wise counsel.

    In Proverbs 19:20-23 we are told, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. What a man desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar. The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.”

    Some translations of this passage use the word “mind” instead of “heart,” since those two terms are often considered interchangeable in the Scriptures. As God’s most wonderful creation, we have been given the ability to think through pertinent information and feel emotions to help in the decision-making process. As we seek to align both our hearts and minds with the Lord, we can better discern His will for our lives.

    When our emotions and thoughts are in tune with His Spirit, we find ourselves in a powerful position for making critical decisions. In Romans 8:6-8 Paul explains about the new nature we receive through Jesus Christ. He concludes, “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”

    In other words, if the heart and mind are not controlled by Christ, the outcome will not be pleasing to God, since we have centered on selfish wants and desires rather than His plans and purposes.

    For more than 30 years, I have strived to be guided by the heart and mind of Christ. And because of that, I believe God has faithfully led me down the right path. In Proverbs 3:5-6 we are instructed, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

    As you consider the decisions of your heart and your mind, consider placing your total trust in God, our Heavenly Father, seeking His wisdom and perfect will.

    © 2019 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. How do you typically make your decisions, from the heart or from your mind? Explain your answer.

     

    1. What can be the impact of decision-making solely from the mind, based on information you have, or solely from the heart, responding to emotions and feelings? Do you agree that a balanced approach is necessary? If so, what are ways for ensuring that is the case when making critical decisions?

     

    1. When you are confronting crucial decisions, do you usually seek out advice and wise counsel from others? Why or why not?

     

    1. As we consider making decisions from a balanced approach of involving both the mind and the heart, where in your view does faith fit into the process, if at all? Explain how you have reached this conclusion.

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, read the following passages:
    Psalm 13:1-3, 37:4-5, 51:10-12; Jeremiah 31:33-34; Ezekiel 11:19-20; Luke 6:45

  8. Developing ‘Margin’ By Pruning Unfruitful Pursuits

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    July 15, 2019 – Jim Mathis  For several years I was a member of two local chambers of commerce. The people I met and the activities we did were all very encouraging and helpful for me personally and for my business. A few years ago I made the difficult decision to drop my memberships in order to have more time for other interests.

    For about 35 years I had been involved with a wonderful event called the Overland Park Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. This year I decided to step down and let others continue this great tradition as well.

    I have taken steps in other areas of my life to reduce my activities using this general principle to guide my decisions: “You cannot do everything. In fact, you can only do a few things if you want to do them well.”

    A good metaphor for this approach to everyday living is the pruning that is necessary for some plants to flourish. Examples are grapevines and rose bushes. Sometimes we cut off old dead branches, and other times we need to clip off new growth so the entire vine will become more fruitful.

    Applying that principle to human pursuits, we could call that creating “margin.” I think of margin as having room to grow. Engineers might call it excess capacity. If we are always running at our maximum, full-speed ahead, sooner or later we are either going to crash, wearing ourselves down to the point of exhaustion and total ineffectiveness, or we are going be doing a very poor job at everything.

    Speaking to His disciples, Jesus made reference to this when He declared,“I am the vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:1-2). Jesus was talking specifically about spiritual growth, but the principle applies to every area of life, whether we are in the workplace, in our homes with our families, or engaged in activities in our neighborhoods and communities.

    No one can be the best at everything. To excel at some things requires being willing to let go of, or at least reduce, our involvement in other things. And sometimes we discover that pursuits we once enjoyed and found useful have served their purpose and it is time to move on to other things. As Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells us, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…a time to plant and a time to uproot…a time to tear down and a time to build…a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them…a time to tear and a time to mend.” 

    For those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ, there is another key to being fruitful. He said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Even if we are engaged in doing good things, unless we are relying on God’s wisdom, strength and direction, we will never produce the results we expect.

    As I have been doing this “pruning” in my own life, I have determined that for the near future I want to pursue the “best” things that God has for me. For now, this means I am going to spend more time writing, which requires having the margin in my life to research, asking questions, and of course, thinking. I am in the middle of one book and I am getting together with my co-writing partner to work on another project. I trust these will prove to be endeavors that “bear much fruit.” Are you pursuing the things you believe are most fruitful for you?

    © 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 do you think can a person determine whether he or she is engaged in doing the right things – or taking on too many things at one time?

     

    1. As Mr. Mathis defines it, how much “margin” do you have in your life – or your work? Do you find yourself so heavily involved and committed to many things that you often find yourself worn out and unfulfilled? If so, what steps might you take to create more margin in your life?

     

    1. Have you ever observed – or actually taken part in – pruning of a plant? What was the purpose of that, from what you could see? And what were the results?

     

    1. What do you think Jesus had in mind specifically when He told His followers about the need for each of them to be “pruned”? What does that look like in everyday life? Do you think you are presently being pruned – or have undergone some pruning in the past? Explain your answer.

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Ecclesiastes 9:10; John 5:5-16; Galatians 6:9-10; Ephesians 5:15-18; Colossians 4:5

  9. What’s The Reason Behind Your Work?

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    July 8, 2019 – Robert J. Tamasy  Why do you go to work? For many of us, we would not have to blink before answering: “I work to make a living.” “I work to earn an income that can support the kind of life I want to live.” “I work so I can pay my bills.” None of these answers are wrong, but are they good enough?

    Recently I attended a breakfast meeting where the guest speaker said we should consider at this question from another perspective. “Do you work to earn a living?” he asked, “or do you work to make a difference?”

    Without question, work does enable us to live and meet our financial obligations. Bills do not pay themselves. And food, clothing and other necessities don’t miraculously materialize. If we need something, it requires money to obtain it. However, as the speaker suggested, if we approach work only for the compensation we receive, we will regard it as an obligation and not an opportunity.

    There are many ways we can make a difference through we work we perform and responsibilities we carry out. A law enforcement officer, for example, can either view his or her job as being paid to apprehend law breakers, or begin each day with an unwavering determination to use their roles of authority for making their communities better places to live. Teachers can regard their jobs as sources of income or as a way for having a positive impact in the lives of their students, helping to shape them into productive people.

    Some professions, such as practicing medicine or law, or being top executives, often enable people to earn lucrative incomes. But as many people have discovered, no matter how much money you earn, it is never enough. When one wealthy businessman was asked, “How much is enough?”, he immediately responded, “Just a little bit more.” So the excitement over how much one gets paid soon fades, However, if the focus is on making a difference in the world, or in the lives of individual people, there is no limit to the intangible rewards we can receive as we go to work each day.

    We see this truth addressed in the Scriptures in many ways. Here are some examples:

    We are created to do good. Nowhere in the Bible does it say the purpose of work is only “to earn a living.” It does say, however, the work we are uniquely positioned and called to perform has been specially designed for do. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

    Through our work we can bring light to a world of growing darkness. For many reasons, we live in a world of growing negativity. Times often seem increasingly dark and disheartening. Through our work, we have the privilege of bringing the light of hope, affirming the life-giving truths and principles God has presented through His Word, the Scriptures. “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

    We can find fulfillment in work well done. God has entrusted each of us with specific, unique talents and abilities. In doing our work – and serving others – we also are honoring Him.“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24).

    © 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. When you initially read the question, “Why do you go to work?” what was your answer?

     

    1. Do you agree with the statement that working just to earn an income or to make a living is not a good enough reason for going to work? Why or why not?

     

    1. What does it mean to make a difference through the work we do? What kind of difference do you think you can make – or are already making – through your work?

     

    1. How can we go about working “with all our might” or “with all our heart,” even in the midst of mundane, uninspiring tasks and responsibilities we must perform?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:
    Proverbs 12:24, 14:23, 22:29; Ecclesiastes 11:6; Romans 12:9-13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17

  10. Waiting: The ‘Game’ No One Likes To Play

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    July 1, 2019 – Rick Boxx  Many of us find ourselves each day on the proverbial treadmill, frantically rushing to another appointment or the next deadline, refusing to slow down for fear of failing or missing out on some once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Patience is not a virtue we strive to nurture. If we wait, we suspect this fast-paced world will still keep moving, leaving us far behind.

    People talk about the “waiting game,” but it is a “game” the vast majority of us find no pleasure in playing. We want what we want – and we want it now. Whatever “it” happens to be.

    Some time ago I met with a successful business leader who admitted this. He told me that one of the hardest things for him is to “wait on the Lord.” Finding himself in a time of transition, he felt ready to move forward with the next stage of his career, but God would not release him yet. So, he found himself in God’s “waiting room.”

    Driven, goal-focused business leaders often struggle with waiting patiently on God’s direction, preferring to charge forward on their own. There are many reasons for this. When forced to wait, we feel no longer in control, like we are at the mercy of circumstances as they unfold. We are action-oriented and think that waiting – pausing from frenetic activity – is a terrible waste of time and energy.

    However, as we consider principles presented in the Bible from our perspectives as business and professional people, we discover that some of God’s greatest work occurs after He has commanded His people to wait.

    For instance, we read in Acts 16 a time when the apostle Paul and his companions were prohibited from going into an area that seemed very reasonable for them to enter: “When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to”(Acts 16:7). They must of wondered why, knowing the people in the region needed to hear the Good News they were so eager to present.

    In fact, Paul was stopped twice from moving forward with his plan. However, he later learned the reason for the delay. By waiting on the Lord and His timing, Paul eventually was able to launch a vibrant church in Macedonia instead. God, it turned out, had a better idea.

    In Psalm 37, written by King David of Israel, we read passages filled with action verbs: “Trust in the Lord….” “Delight yourself in the Lord….” “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him….” Those are words we like to hear – things we can do. But then we read, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7). In verse 34 of the same psalm we read, “Wait for the Lord and keep his way.”

    When we read such instructions, we want to respond, “What? Wait? Why can’t we just keep moving? There is so much to do!” Often, we discover in retrospect that God’s plans and His timing are different – and superior – to what we had in mind. When you are feeling stifled by God, remember that He knows the beginning and the end. And our heavenly Father always knows what is best.

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

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How good are you at waiting? What is your typical reaction when confronted with an unexpected and undesired delay?

     

    1. Why do you think waiting is so difficult for most of us?

     

    1. Think of a time when you had no alternative but to wait – and discovered later that the delay actually resulted in a much better outcome. Describe that situation and how you responded – first, when you had to wait, and then when you realized that waiting was the best thing that you could have done.

     

    1. When you run out of options, forced to wait rather than moving forward as you had intended, do you typically recognize that the “waiting game” is of God’s doing, a result of His intentions? Why or why not?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: 1 Kings 19:1-18; Psalm 40:1-5, 46:10, 62:5, 123:1-2; Isaiah 40:27-31; Lamentations 3:25-29