Category Archive: Monday Manna

  1. Denial-Crisis-Action

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    February 17, 2020 – Jim Mathis  For a few years I kept noticing my blood pressure was elevating. Each time I would check it, it would be slightly higher than the time before. I always attributed this to some contributing source – too much coffee, I was tired, or some other easily explained and dismissed reason. Finally, my physician came right out and told me, “Your blood pressure is too high. I am going to put you on medication for that.” The medication worked and my blood pressure was back to a normal, healthy level. I had been in denial; the doctor forced me to admit my denial and prescribed a course of action.

    Another time, my indebtedness was increasing. It started me on a slippery slope the very first time I failed to pay the entire balance on a credit card. I kept thinking I would catch up the next month, but did not. I denied this was a problem until it turned into a crisis, an amount I could no longer tolerate. I came up with a plan of action and paid off all of my debts in about the same amount of time it took to accumulate them.

    I have been gaining a little weight each year of my adult life. I convinced myself this was normal and besides, I knew a lot of people who were much more overweight than I was. I also reasoned that my scales must be off, I was wearing heavy shoes, or had just consumed a large meal, and besides, I thought, my weight varies with the time of day.

    Eventually I hit a number beyond my comfort zone for what I was willing to weigh. It became a personal crisis. I bought a new digital scale and started charting my weight at the same time every day; I wanted no variables that I could rationalize. Once again, I was in denial, reached a crisis of belief, and developed a plan of action.

    Many years ago I was drifting spiritually. I had gone to church as a youth, and even had a “religious experience.” I looked back at that experience, convinced I was right with God, but somehow realized I was not. Eventually, I reached a crisis of belief where I knew I was going to have to change my life. I started attending church again and joined a Bible study group. There I became aware my view of God was that of a child, a perspective I had picked up in Sunday school decades before.

    After a period of deep soul-searching, I decided to become a dedicated follower of Christ – this time as an adult with a plan. Just as with my blood pressure, indebtedness and weight, I had been in denial about my lack of faith. I had a crisis of belief where I knew things had to change, and that crisis led me to a new and more mature faith in Jesus Christ.

    Over the years, I have seen this same pattern played out in many other people’s lives in a wide variety of subjects. For some, their ability to live in denial is higher than others; they never seem to get to the crisis stage where they recognize the need to take action. Others confront reality and take the necessary steps before a major crisis strikes. Are there areas of your life where you are in denial? Are you heading for a crisis or should you take action now?

    I would suggest you consult others for help: God, and trusted friends. “’You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 29:13). “A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength; for waging war you need guidance and for victory many advisors” (Proverbs 24:5-6).

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

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Have you ever had a problem, whether with indebtedness, physical health, destructive behavior, or an issue in the workplace that you denied for a long time before taking action on it? If so, describe the problem, how it affected you, and what you ultimately did about it.

     

    1. Is it possible you might still be in the denial stage of some unaddressed problems or challenges in your life? How do you think you could go about discovering there actually is a problem before it turned into a full-scale crisis?

     

    1. What about your spiritual life? Do you think you are where you should be in your relationship to God? Why or why not? If you are not certain, who might you go to for counsel or advice to help you gain an honest understanding of where you are – or might not be?

     

    1. Suppose you were forced to admit you were in denial about some controlling issue in your life, and it was reaching the crisis stage. Would you be willing to surrender your pride and submit to the guidance of a trusted advisor to help you in taking whatever action is necessary? Why or why not?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages: 

    Deuteronomy 5:32-33; Psalm 139:1-12,23; Proverbs 8:17, 11:14, 19:20; 1 Timothy 4:7

  2. Love In The Office That Cannot Be Discouraged

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    February 10, 2020 – Robert J. Tamasy  When you hear the term, “love in the office,” what comes to mind? A romantic relationship between coworkers or colleagues, perhaps? Some workplaces forbid such “fraternization,” while others merely discourage it or insist such relationships be kept discreet. But what about a kind of love in the office that cannot nor should not be discouraged, with no cause for discretion?

    What I am referring to is the kind of love we often see described in the Bible. For instance, Jesus on numerous occasions told His followers to, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). This was preceded by what He called the “greatest commandment” – to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).

    Well, that sounds nice and fits well for religious or spiritual settings. But what about the everyday, dog-eat-dog, highly competitive business and professional world? As one song put it, “what’s love got to do with it?” Actually, when we look closer, we see that love can – and should – have a lot to do with how we conduct ourselves and relate to others in the marketplace.

    Looking back at what Jesus said about loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves, this does not refer to the emotional, warm, fuzzy feelings we get when we are around people we care about. This is about revering and honoring God in all we do, and in the process, demonstrating sincere interest and care for others – including colleagues, coworkers, bosses, customers and suppliers.

    Think about perhaps the greatest single statement about love in the Scriptures: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). This definitely was not a hugs-and-kisses kind of love. It was an expression of divine love – and sacrifice – that the human mind cannot fully comprehend. Yet every day of our lives, we can benefit from this.

    There is no way humanly speaking we can replicate this unfathomable form of love, but at the same time, as followers of Jesus we are called to demonstrate sincere, even sacrificial love to those around us, whether it be where we work, in our homes, or our communities. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

    What this looks like in a real-life situation will differ from one person to the next, partly depending on the circumstances we find ourselves in. But here are a couple of examples:

    Living others by putting them first. Often in the business world, the mantra is, “Looking out for No. 1 – look out for yourself,” This is not the admonition we receive from the Scriptures. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better (more important) than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

    Seeking to give rather than to receive. The natural tendency is to seek whatever we can get out of a situation, but the biblical command is to instead, seek how much we can give.. “…the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35).

    © 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. Thinking of the phrase, “love in the office” (or the workplace), what immediately comes to your mind?

     

    1. Has this “Monday Manna’s” different perspective about love expressed in a marketplace setting changed or challenged your thinking on this? If so, in what ways?

     

    1. Have you ever seen “love” demonstrated in a workplace setting, as it has been described here? If so, what did that look like? If it was shown toward you, how did it feel?

     

    1. How would you go about trying to communicate and display an others-oriented, unselfish kind of love in your own working environment today? How difficult do you think it would be for you to do so? Explain your answer.

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages:

    John 13:34-35; 1 Thessalonians 3:12; 1 Peter 4:8-10; 1 John 4:7-12

  3. The Incredible Power Of Proverbs

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    February 3, 2020 – Rick Boxx  While attending a funeral, I struck up a conversation with Joe, a guy I had not seen in 20 years. As he learned about what I do with Unconventional Business Network, the non-profit organization I direct, Joe said that in one sense it reminded of his uncle.

    He explained that his uncle started with modest means in a blue-collar trade, but years later was worth millions of dollars. When Joe asked about his uncle about his success, the uncle replied, “Years ago, I was looking for a solution to a work problem when I turned to the book of Proverbs. It worked so well that I’ve read and applied a chapter of Proverbs to my life every day since.”

    My experience with Proverbs has been similar. In fact, one of the Bible’s “wisdom books,” it says that about itself. But it is not just about the words we read; it is about the God who is behind those words. For instance, Proverbs 1:7 declares, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Those might sound like harsh words, but as we continue reading through each of the book’s 31 chapters, we come to understand why.

    Proverbs is not a book of philosophy, nor lofty idealism, but one of down-to-earth, rubber-meets-the-road, practical principles and precepts. Proverbs 7:2 tells us: “Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.” The teachings we find in Proverbs prove equally relevant and useful for the workplace as they are for every other area of life.

    I have heard of business executives who commit to meeting weekly to discuss the wisdom and insights from Proverbs, some of whom may not even claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. Even as outsiders to God’s family of faith, they see the value of the truths they find in this concisely written Old Testament book. Here is a small sampling of what we can learn from it. For consistent wisdom in your work, turn to Proverbs frequently:

    Anger. “A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult” (Proverbs 12:16). “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly” (Proverbs 15:18).

    Consequences for actions. “Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free” (Proverbs 11:21). “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12).

    Discipline and correction. “He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray” (Proverbs 10:17). “He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored” (Proverbs 13:18).

    Seeking wise counsel. “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisors make victory sure” (Proverbs 11:14). “A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength; for waging war you need guidance and for victory many advisers” (Proverbs 24:5-6).

    Handling finances. “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow” (Proverbs 13:11). “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).

    © 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. Have you – or someone you know – ever taken the time to read through the book of Proverbs? If so, what kind of impact has it had?

     

    1. How would you define “wisdom”? How would you distinguish it from knowledge, or experience?

     

    1. Which of the passages from Proverbs cited in this “Monday Manna” seem most interesting or insightful to you? Explain your answer.

     

    1. Since there are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs, what would you think of committing to try reading one chapter of Proverbs a day for an entire month, and then evaluating what you had learned over that time?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:

    Proverbs 14:4, 15:33, 16:32, 18:16, 19:9, 20:25, 24:27, 27:4, 27:8, 27:17

  4. Resume Or Eulogy – Which Would You Choose?

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    January 27, 2020 – Jim Mathis  In modern society we are encouraged to work to build our resume. The questions are always: What have we accomplished? What skills do we have? What is our job title? Or, how much money do we earn?

    However, in the end, thinking about our eulogy is a better idea. At our funeral, what will our family and friends say about us? They will probably not list our jobs or our degrees. If so, it will only be in passing. They will most likely talk about what it was like to be our friend, or to have us as a loved one. Will they talk about our integrity and honesty? Will somebody mention how we always looked for the good side of people and situations, or how we lit up a room when we came into it?

    Is our life characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and self-control, as the Bible describes in Galatians 5:22-23? Or are we only a list of accomplishments?

    I have never attended a funeral where the pastor read a list of the deceased person’s possessions. I was thinking about this because my mother died a few months ago. At her funeral, person after person came forward to comment on her contributions to the community, as well the many close relationships that she had. Some talked about her patience, her loving spirit, and about her always positive attitude. There were no comments or mention of her financial situation, though several people reflected on her career and what a joy it was to have worked with her.

    One of the sins of society is that we place undue honor on people because positions they hold or how much money they possess. Conversely, we fail to respect people with lower incomes or working in lower status jobs. This is exactly the opposite of how God would have us act. Scripture is clear about our need to not be prejudiced or to show favoritism. James 2:5 (New Living Translation) says, Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him?”

    Matthew 6:19-21 reminds us to not place our trust in earthly treasures, but to lay up eternal treasure. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

    Luke 12:15 adds, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” In practical terms, what we own is not who we are. Our money, houses and cars are all external to who we are. “Things” are temporary, just along for the ride, often dragging us down. Our experiences, education, and relationships, most important our relationship with God, define who we are. Those things are internal, along with characteristics like integrity, love, joy, and peace.

    When we die, we will leave all possessions behind, but the lives we have touched and the difference we have made will live on, both on earth and in heaven.

    © 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 ever attended a funeral or memorial service where people spoke at length about the deceased person’s money, or jobs, or earthly possessions? What are the things that seem to be mentioned most often?

     

    1. Why is the content of one’s resume typically so different from what is expressed through a eulogy at a memorial service?

     

    1. Which of the characteristics cited by the Bible – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – do you think people would associate with your life?

     

    1. How can we avoid becoming preoccupied or consumed with the eternal trappings of success, and learn instead to cultivate internal qualities and traits that will be remembered long after our lives have come to an end?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more consider the following passages: Proverbs 20:11, 21:21;
    Matthew 6:24,33, 7:24-27, 13:44-45; Philippians 4:8-9

  5. Expecting Holiness In Business?

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    January 20, 2020 – Robert J. Tamasy  Suppose you were to try identifying the traits you feel are most important for an employer, an employee, a customer or client, or a supplier. What would they be? It might seem simple to list qualities such as talent, skill, dependability and effectiveness, along with some others. But how about…holiness?

    Holiness? When we hear that word, it conjures images of religious people and rites, perhaps someone sequestered in a secluded monastery somewhere engaging in rituals that have no connection with everyday life and work. But in truth, that is not what “holiness” is about.

    Yes, one dictionary defines the word as “the quality or state of being holy.” Synonyms suggested include “blessedness, devoutness, godliness, piety, piousness, saintliness.” All these terms seem to have nothing to do with the marketplace, at least in the 21st century. But a speaker I heard recently explained that at its roots, holiness means things such as “wholeness, integrity, and quality.”

    In that context, would it not be desirable to find “holiness” in those for whom we work, those who work for us, people who buy our goods and services, and those who provide resources that we need? Would it not be desirable for others to find those characteristics of holiness in ourselves?

    I must admit there have been few times – if any – when I thought, “there goes someone who exhibits holiness.” However, as I reflect upon the thousands of individuals I have encountered through my career in many different settings, some people have demonstrated distinctive, even unusual wholeness, integrity, quality, humility, compassion, honesty and sincerity. They certainly would have into  the aforementioned speaker’s definition of holiness.

    So, how do we respond to this idea? How do we find holiness in others? How can – or should – we cultivate it in ourselves? It is not surprising that the Bible offers some suggestions:

    Seek out and emulate people who model holiness. Is there anyone you know who, in terms of wholeness, integrity, quality and similar virtues, could fit into the “holiness” category? If there is, try to spend time with that person, even pursue him or her as a mentor and teacher. Then seek to become like them and positively influence others. “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice…” (Philippians 4:9). “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).

    Pursue a different way of thinking. We work and live in settings where holiness seems an alien concept. The world around us wants to “press us into its mold.” By a conscious act of the will, we can resist such pressure and strive for higher standards of thought and action. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approved what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

    Appropriate the power to become a holy person. The Bible teaches those who have committed their lives to following Jesus Christ have been given new life, a new capacity to live in a way they could not previously. “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your minds” (Ephesians 4:22-24).

    © 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 hear the words “holiness” or “holy,” what comes to mind? Have you ever encountered a person that you regarded as holy, or who displayed holiness in their life? If so, describe what that person is (or was) like.

     

    1. Why do you think the term “holiness” has such an unfamiliar ring to it, especially when considered within the context of today’s workplace?

     

    1. If you are a follower of Jesus, have you experienced evidence of a new life, as the Bible describes it? Explain your answer. If you are not yet a follower of Jesus, or are not certain, does the idea of gaining a new life spiritually – even to experience holiness – have appeal for you?

     

    1. Would you like to one day regarded as a holy person, a person that exhibited holiness, even in the marketplace? What do you think that would look like? How could you go about cultivating qualifies of holiness?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more consider the following passages: John 15:1-17; Romans 6:4; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 4:13; Colossians 3:1-10

  6. Matters Of Faith – And Why Faith Matters

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    January 13, 2020 – Jim Langley  “Faith” is not a word we often use in the 21st century marketplace, where only things tangible and measurable are prized. However, in one way or another, we all possess and exercise faith. We might define faith as “trust or complete confidence in something or someone.” Many people limit their trust to what they can do on their own, and place little or no faith in others. Where do you place your faith?

    Personally, I have found that faith in others, and especially in God, my Heavenly Father, allows me to live life more fully. Finding and nurturing meaningful faith can bring about a paradigm shift in how we approach every day of our complex lives. Life can be so much more rewarding when we allow others to enter into our world.

    In our business lives, it is easy to curl up into a ball, like a hedgehog, and not allow others to get close to us. When a hedgehog assumes this defensive posture, it becomes immobile and can go nowhere! I have known many focused executives who live defensively, refusing to allow those around them to invade their domain.

    These may gain some level of success but are missing the opportunity to greatly expand their horizons. If they would open up and let others into their space, their business endeavors could become much more productive. They apparently fear the influence of others and wish to receive all the credit for whatever they might accomplish.

    However, in reality, teamwork is critical in all we do in life. In Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, King Solomon wrote, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.”

    Then he concludes the thought by observing, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). I have adopted this as one of my life verses from the Bible, and over the years have seen our family make it through very challenging times, knowing the Lord is that “third strand” that kept us strong through it all. It was faith – first in God, and then in one another.

    There is a right way to live our lives. In Romans 1:17, the apostle Paul proclaimed, “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” That applies to every aspect of our existence on this planet, including the time we spend in the business and professional world. If we attempt to conduct our lives without letting others and God become part of the equation, sooner or later we will find ourselves being deceived. Worse yet, we will realize we are out of God’s will and failing to pursue His purpose for our lives.

    Proverbs 14:8-9 teaches, “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception. Fools mock at making amends for sin, but good will is found among the upright.” Those who cut themselves off from the good people around them, failing to trust in them and appreciate what they can contribute, and also ignoring what God’s Word instructs, are on a road that leads to a dead end.

    They are being deceived by the self-centered culture that surrounds them. As Proverbs 27:17 affirms, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” And as Jesus said, “…apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). If we want to experience well-rounded, fulfilling lives, we need to let others into our daily affairs. If we want an abundant life, you need to let God into our every thought, allowing Him to take control of our lives. The Lord also said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

    © 2020 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. When you hear the word “faith,” what comes to your mind? What would be your own definition of what it means to have faith?

     

    1. What does it mean to have faith in God, especially in the world of work? Is this important for you? Why or why not?

     

    1. What does it mean to have faith in others as we conduct our daily activities and carry out our responsibilities in the business and professional world? How easy is it for you to place your trust in others, rather than attempting to accomplish your goals solely on your own?

     

    1. How might you be able to exert and demonstrate more faith – both in God and others – in how you conduct your everyday life? Is this something you are even willing to do? Explain your answer.

     

    NOTE: For more about what the Bible says consider the following passages: Psalm 97:10-12; Proverbs 16:1-3; Isaiah 26:1-4;
    1 Corinthians 12:12-26; Hebrews 12:1

  7. When Failure Becomes Success

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    January 6, 2020 – Rick Boxx  Early in my practice as a business consultant, I submitted a bid on a consulting project for a mortgage lender named Tom. During a follow-up interview, I explained to him about my biblical approach to consulting, Tom’s gaze suddenly went cold. Our discussion and the meeting came to an abrupt end. Tom clearly did not appreciate the perspective I would be using; needless to say, I did not get the project.

    Since I was still fairly new as a consultant, I chalked it up to failure on my part. I wondered how I might have handled the meeting differently but did not regret telling him about my beliefs and the way they influenced how I would approach issues in his business. As the apostle Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16).

    I also knew that if we did not share the same value system and motivations, trying to work together would have failed anyway. One of the Bible’s most practical warnings that relate to the marketplace is found in 2 Corinthians 6:14, which admonishes, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers, for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” This did not mean I was to pass judgment on Tom and his own values, but it reminded me that we would be unable to strive for the same goals.

    What I had perceived as failure, however, proved to be anything but that. About two years later, Tom’s brother informed me that when he chose not to utilize my consulting services, Tom instead hired another individual who proceeded to steal $40,000 from his company. Obviously, the other person did not share my biblical perspective on how to operate a business!

    That experience launched Tom on a spiritual journey, one that ultimately resulted in his life becoming totally transformed by a relationship with Jesus Christ. What I had perceived as failure became God’s success.

    Stories like this are not unusual. We see them frequently in the Bible. For instance, after Moses initially asked Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery, Moses felt like a failure when Pharaoh refused. However, in Exodus 11:9 we discover the Lord had told Moses in advance, “Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you – so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.” God often uses times of apparent failure as opportunities for Him to display His power and carry out His will.

    What is most important is not whether we experience the results we had hoped for, but rather that we remain obedient to the Lord – even if it means failing to achieve our own goals and objectives. Obedience to God is success even if it is first viewed as failure, and He delights in demonstrating how He can turn apparent failure into success beyond our greatest hopes.

    The book of Proverbs has much to say about this. For instance, Proverbs 16:3 offers this encouragement: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” This does not necessarily mean things will work out as we expect them to, but in the end, God will grant us success – sometimes beyond our hopes.

    We are also advised not to be surprised when the Lord modifies our plans: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Another verse says, “A man’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?” (Proverbs 20:24). We can trust that our Father knows best.

    © 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. Have you ever experienced a time when apparent failure turned into success? What was that experience like – and how did you feel about it?

     

    1. What does this tell you about the importance of remaining true to your convictions, even when the outcome is not what you expected or hoped for?

     

    1. How do you think God can use your failures not only to bring about success, but also to make you into the person He intends for you to become?

     

    1. Realizing that God’s plans might be different from your own, how can this affect the way you proceed in your planning process?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages: Psalm 37:4-5;
    Proverbs 3:5-6, 16:4, 19:21, 21:30-31, 22:12, 24:19-20, 27:1; Jeremiah 33:3

  8. One Thing We All Could Use In The New Year

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    December 30, 2019 – Robert J. Tamasy  All around the world, clocks and calendars are counting down. By this time next week, we will have entered another year, either bidding a fond farewell to the year just passed or simply saying, “Good riddance!” Each new year represents an opportunity for a fresh start. If the past year was a successful one, it is a chance to build on that success. If not, we can resolve to fix what was broken.

    Since we only get one shot at each new year, we typically seek to maximize the “newness” by reflecting on the past, taking a deep breath, and then plunging into whatever the next year has to offer. With that in mind, if you were to identify the most important things you hope to achieve during the coming year, what would they be? Greater profits? A long-awaited promotion? A job change?

    One thing many of us might not include on such a list is peace. Not world peace, since that is something we have little if any control over. Living in a world filled with turmoil and chaos, it seems unlikely that will change anytime soon. But amid the continual upheaval that surrounds us, is it possible to attain inner peace that external circumstances cannot touch?

    In search of this, some turn to spiritual alternatives, such as meditation or mysticism. Blocking out the external, physical world to cultivate our internal, spiritual selves. There are many books, websites and workshops for those who choose such options. These may be helpful, to one degree or another.

    However, there is one time-tested, enduring source of peace that countless millions of people through the centuries have found for connecting both the spiritual and the physical worlds in which they live. Here are some of the many peace-giving promises we find in the Bible:

    Peace through Jesus Christ. The Scriptures called Jesus the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Nearing the conclusion of His earthly ministry, Jesus promised to give them a kind of peace unlike anything they had ever experienced. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27).

    Peace beyond all human comprehension. Sometimes the challenges and hardships of everyday living seem without solution. How can we experience peace when enduring such difficult times? The apostle Paul, no stranger to adversity, offered this assurance for followers of Jesus: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

    Peace in the midst of trials. We often regain a sense of peace when difficulties subside, but Jesus promised His followers they could enjoy peace in the midst of them. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

    Peace: a promise, and a command. Those of who profess faith in Christ are instructed not only to believe assurances of peace, but also to act on those promises. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace” (Colossians 3:15).

    © 2019. 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 edited other books, including Advancing Through Adversity by Mike Landry. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How would you define “peace”? What does it look like or feel like when you are experiencing peace in your life, even if it is momentary?

     

    1. In your opinion, why is peace such an elusive quality in our world today? Do you think the hope of having true inner peace that transcends external circumstances is realistic? Why or why not?

     

    1. Have you ever experienced a time of unusual inner peace despite extremely difficult trials you had encountered in your life? If so, describe what that was like for you.

     

    1. Does the idea of having a sense of peace in the marketplace differ from the kind of peace you can experience in one’s personal life, apart from work responsibilities? Explain your answer.

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more consider the following passages:
    Psalm 23:1-6, 29:10-11; John 20:21; Romans 15:13; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 2:11-18

  9. Celebrating The Giving Season’s Greatest Gift

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    December 23, 2019 – Robert J. Tamasy  This week millions of people around the world will observe one of the most significant holidays of the year: Christmas. Although the practice varies from country to country, and culture to culture, one of the hallmarks of this annual celebration is the giving and exchange of gifts.

    For the business and professional world, this giving tradition may include individual gifts to employees and staff, special remembrances for clients, customers and suppliers, festive parties, and in some cases, end-of-year bonuses. In addition, many of us are spending these final days making certain that we have completed our gift purchases for loved ones and friends.

    As we enjoy this time of year, reveling in both the receiving and giving of gifts, it would be good to trace the origins of this tradition. Those who regard themselves as Christians or followers of Jesus Christ know this season has additional, profound meaning that transcends the bestowing of material resources to one another. Because as we are told in the Scriptures, Jesus was the foremost, incomparable gift from God to all of humankind. A verse very familiar to many of us says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

    The gospel of Matthew tells us the coming Messiah was such an extraordinary, much-anticipated event that magi – wise men from the East – came to visit Jesus after His birth, and carried gifts of gold, incense and myrrh to present to Him. However, the Bible makes it clear that God was the original Gift Giver. Here are just some of the things we learn about this unique, divine Gift:

    Bread of Life. In the Scriptures, “bread” is synonymous with the necessities of life, those things that sustain us. Jesus, in the gospel of John, declares, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty…. Here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the bread of life that came down from heaven….”

    (John 6:35-51). He is telling us that to truly live, not only in this life but in the life promised to come, we must receive Him.

    Good Shepherd. People in biblical times were accustomed to the presence of sheep in their agrarian society, and they knew how dependent those wooly creatures were on the care and concern of their shepherds. Recognizing that we, too, require guidance, provision and protection to navigate challenges and complexities of everyday life, Jesus assured His followers, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:11-15).

    Light of the World. Increasingly, despite incredible technological advances, we live in a world that seems overwhelmed by darkness and despair. Where can we turn for hope? Jesus said we can turn to Him to escape the darkness and, as we resolved to faithfully follow Him, can bring light to others. “…I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life….You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden” (John 8:12, Matthew 5:14). He is saying that as we walk in His light, we can reflect His light to others.

    © 2019. 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 edited other books, including Advancing Through Adversity by Mike Landry. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Describe your favorite part of Christmas and this season of celebration. Is it a time of special meaning for you? Why or why not?

     

    1. What is the best Christmas gift you have ever given? What is the greatest gift you have ever received? Explain your answer.

     

    1. When you read, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,” what does that mean to you? Why is Jesus Christ regarded as a gift from God?

     

    1. Which of the phrases Jesus used to describe Himself seem most meaningful to you? Can you think of any other titles or terms for Him that have also been important to you?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more consider the following passages:
    Matthew 5:13; John 10:1-18, 14:6, 15:18, 16:5-15; Romans 6:23; 1 Corinthians 1-11

  10. Simply Showing Sensitivity

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    December 16, 2019 – Jim Langley  One of the things in short supply in today’s marketplace is sensitivity. This can be defined as “tuning in” to the needs of those who come into our lives every day. We can easily become distant from those we should be closest to, casually tuning them out. But sensitivity can be critical for both business and personal relationships. Demonstrating it makes a tremendous difference in our everyday relationships.

    However, sensitivity is not only about the quality and tone of our conversations. It also can require sacrificing a significant amount of time to address the needs of others. This includes active listening, and then responding in ways that show we do care and are putting people’s concerns above our own.

    Relationships are integral to a meaningful, fulfilling life. As a young boy, my only relationships were with family members; as an only child for 10 years, I never experienced how strong, positive relationships could be formed. The concept of forming lasting relationships came to me later in life, after Jesus Christ came into my life as Savior and Lord. This took place after two divorces and many missed friendship opportunities. When we are self-absorbed, we put ourselves first, at the cost of relationships.

    Much has been written about the “art” of listening. But no one modeled this better than Jesus Christ. What He did so best was to add two letters to the word. You could say Jesus added “He” to “art,” demonstrating the “Heart” of listening. He was also able to sense the needs of both the masses and individuals as He performed miracles and taught those willing to listen how they could have an eternal relationship with God.

    We too have the ability to develop a listening heart, but this comes at a price. It is not something we can turn on and off like a faucet. We must remain attuned to circumstances the Lord puts around us, while keeping in tune with His desires for our lives. This is not easy, but possible through God’s power.

    In Ephesians 4:22-24, the apostle Paul explains to those who had chosen to follow Christ, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” I believe this is the only way to truly discover and learn how to be sensitive to the needs of others.

    We do not  need to attend sensitivity training sessions to learn how to be sensitive to the needs of others. What we need is a changed heart, along with an understanding of how to love others – even when they aren’t lovable. This is how Jesus loved, and how God our Heavenly Father loves us. He is listening to our needs, but needs us to allow Jesus to guide us to the only path for lasting peace and true happiness.

    Sensitivity comes from “tuning in” to God first. As we do this, He begins the lifelong process of changing our hearts, making us more and more like Him. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holding and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:1-2).

    © 2019, all rights reserved. Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his 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. What has been your experience with sensitivity in the workplace? How would you describe what sensitivity looks like when it is being properly demonstrated?

     

    1. How would you describe yourself in terms of being able to show sensitivity toward others?

     

    1. What are the benefits of striving to have and display sensitivity toward others? Are there downsides of sensitivity in the workplace? Explain your answer.

     

    1. Do you think that Jesus Christ served as a good example of sensitivity toward others? Why or why not?

     

    NOTE: For more about what the Bible says consider the following passages:
    Psalm 34:11-16; Philippians 2:3-4; Colossians 3:5-10; Hebrews 4:14-16; 1 Peter 3:8-9