Category Archive: Monday Manna

  1. The Underappreciated Gift of Rest

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    October 8, 2018 – Sergio Fortes  Recently I spent an entire Saturday at home doing…nothing. I had planned to go to the beautiful park of the small Brazilian town where I live, and stroll among its giant trees, lakes, and open areas where some families enjoy friendly picnics.

    For some reason, I could not do any of this. Sloth – you might call it laziness, or spiritual apathy and inactivity – took hold of me. I read a little bit, watched TV for a while, ate, and slept. At the end of the day I felt badly, however, almost guilty. I could not help feeling I had wasted the day being unproductive; it seemed like a day I had lost.

    Talking about this with my daughter, a psychologist, she caught my attention when she offered a different perspective: “No, Father, rest is a gift from GOD. Receive this gift without guilt and enjoy it.” Inactivity – and rest. A gift from God?

    This reminded me that the preceding week had been intense, with lots of hard work, along with considerable traveling. After that, I needed a break time, an opportunity to become re-energized. I also remembered that the Bible tells us that even God, “having finished his work, he rested” (Genesis 2: 7).

    I do not know why God needed to rest, but it clearly says He “rested.” It makes sense then, that created in His image, each week after finishing our work, we also should take time to rest.

    Once, the apostles returned to Jesus from a ministry tour He had assigned to them. In giving their report, they recounted days of hard work and emotional weariness. They had not even taken time to eat. Jesus’ response to their weariness provided for them a significant lesson: “Let us go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile” (Mark 6.31).

    A story is told that one time the priest of a small village, after years of hard work, communicated to his parishioners during his Sunday morning sermon that he intended to take a few days off. At the exit of the church, three old sisters, objected to his plan, expressing their disagreement: “How can you take a vacation? Do not you know that the devil does not take a vacation?” they argued.

    The old priest replied with humility and wisdom: “That’s why I need a vacation; not to do the works of the devil.”

    The daily business and professional challenges we face are gigantic. We cannot always achieve the goals we want. The results are sometimes trifling; sometimes we feel as if we have accomplished nothing at all. As a consequence, we are tempted to think we have no right for leisure, that we have work that must be done.

    We unconsciously punish ourselves with weekend programs and frenetic activity, including everything we can imagine – except rest. No leisure. Some people even speak about “creative leisure,” perhaps an unconscious reaction that makes us feel that even in rest, we should be producing something worthwhile.

    But there is no need for such self-inflicted “punishment.” As my daughter reminded me, rest is a gift from God. The next time you decide to rest, there is no reason for guilt or feeling that doing something always is better than doing nothing. Instead, give yourself permission to do nothing – and do it with joy and in perfect peace, as a GOD’s gift for you. “I myself will tend my sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign Lord” (Ezekiel 34:5).

    © 2018. J. Sergio Fortes is a consultant in strategic management and a specialist in corporate leadership. He also is a member of CBMC Brazil.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How do you feel when you are afforded a time to rest, with no specific activities scheduled or expected of you? Do you welcome those times, or do you feel guilty, as if you are obligated to be doing something?


    1. What does a meaningful time of rest look like for you?


    1. When the old priest mentioned in this “Monday Manna” said he planned to rest so that he would “not do the works of the devil,” what do you think he meant?


    1. As you consider taking time to rest, especially after a particularly demanding period at work or an extremely busy schedule, do you ever make an intentional effort to include God in your time for rest? Explain your answer.


    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about his subject, consider the following passages: Exodus 33:12-14; 1 Kings 19:3-9; Psalm 37:3-7,34, 46:10; Isaiah 40:31; Matthew 11:28

  2. Effective Leaders Embrace and Nurture Change

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    October 1, 2018 – Rick Boxx  Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Edith Onderick-Harvey discussed what she called “five behaviors of leaders who embrace change.” She expressed the view that 70-90 percent of mergers and acquisitions fail to meet their objectives often because of the reluctance of leaders to accept and embrace necessary change. Since change is inescapable, let’s discuss these five behaviors that Onderick-Harvey cites.

    The first behavior is to share a compelling, clear purpose.Have you ever had a boss demand something without telling you why? People are more willing to embrace change if they understand the reason that is compelling and clear. As Proverbs 20:5 teaches, “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” Wise leaders clarify for themselves – and their team – the purposes for change.

    The second behavior is to look ahead and see opportunity.The author contends that all employees should be encouraged to look forward and help surface opportunities. Marion Laboratories founder, Ewing Kaufman, understood the value in engaging his staff in looking forward. The company was famous for holding annual meetings with all staff to announce the winners of the most innovative ideas.

    Proverbs 20:12 says, “Ears that hear and eyes that see – the Lord has made them both.”The Lord gives each of us eyes and ears to scout out new opportunities. Unleash that quality in your staff and change will go easier.

    The third behavior is to seek out what’s not working.There is always a need for discovering problems, but especially when major change is taking place. I once worked for a CEO who started off well. He visited the branches and listened to views from all levels of staff. It didn’t take long, however, before this CEO isolated himself. There were many significant problems he rarely heard about.

    In Proverbs 28:22 we are told, “Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.”When change is in your midst, make sure your staff feels safe to express their concerns.

    The fourth behavior is to promote calculated risk taking and experimentation.When confronted with risky opportunities, many organizations tend to ask, “Why?” Companies that handle change well tend to ask, “Why not?” Without the opportunity to take calculated risks and to fail occasionally, innovation will be stifled.

    God gave man the freedom to make mistakes, even big mistakes. In Genesis 2, God said, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” To manage change well, give your staff the freedom to innovate and take reasonable risks without fear of reprisal.

    The fifth behavior is to look for boundary-spanning partnerships.Many businesses have departments or “silos” that hinder a unified approach to advancing the business. A large bank was implementing a major technology change that was going to impact many different departments. A team was formed that included key people from each of the departments. This approach allowed us to learn and address the unique challenges for each department, bringing a unified resolution to the problem.

    Psalm 133:1 says, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”Boundary-spanning partnerships can help your organization strive toward greater overall unity.

    Copyright 2018, 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, His latest book, Unconventional Business,provides “Five Keys to Growing a Business God’s Way.”

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Do leaders in your organization – including yourself – seem to welcome and facilitate change, or do they seem to make changes more difficult to implement than necessary? Explain your answer.


    1. What is the difference between viewing change as a problem – or an opportunity?


    1. Why is it important to not only effectively communicate what changes must be made and why, but also give everyone affected the opportunity to respond, ask questions and express concerns they may have throughout the process?


    1. How do you understand what is meant by “calculated risk taking and experimentation,” and what are the positives and negatives of encouraging this approach to change?


    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Psalm 37:4-5; Proverbs 3:5-6, 11:14, 15:22, 16:3, 19:20-21, 20:18, 27:1; Isaiah 43:18-19

  3. What Followers Expect of Their Leaders

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    September 24, 2018 – Robert J. Tamasy  Most leaders have specific expectations. They often communicate, whether orally, in writing, or both, what they expect of those that report to them. They provide job descriptions, set goals and objectives, and determine the parameters that define when, where and how they are to perform their job responsibilities. But how often do we consider that followers might rightfully have expectations of their leaders?

    Max DePree, the late entrepreneur, business executive and writer, offered this perspective:

    “Any follower has a right to ask things of a leader. Here are several questions that leaders should expect to hear: What may I expect from you? Can I achieve my own goals by following you? Will I reach my potential by working with you? Have you bothered to prepare yourself for leadership? What do you believe?”

    A common perspective is that followers – employees, staff, and team members – are there primarily for the benefit of the leader. However, authorities on the business and professional world like DePree have long contended that equally so, the leader is there for the benefit of the followers. Many renowned leaders say one of their foremost desires is to assist those that work for them in maximizing their potential and fulfillment.

    My first job was as a grocery clerk, working on a local supermarket’s night crew. I was assigned a specific aisle and the responsibility for keeping the shelves stocked, sweeping and mopping the floor, and making certain the aisle looked presentable for shoppers the next morning. The night crew manager, a fellow named Joe, could have spent the night in his office, but every evening would work alongside one of us in our respective aisles.

    One night I asked Joe why he worked with us, helping us to do our jobs, rather than just giving us our instructions and making sure we did our work properly. His answer was profound: “I will never ask anyone to do anything that I am not willing to do.” That, long before the term became popular, was my first exposure to servant leadership.

    I did not ask the manager any of the questions DePree suggested, but from that simple response, I knew Joe had my best interests at heart, as well as those of my fellow workers.

    The concept of a leader that serves his or her followers was not originated by DePree, or Robert K. Greenleaf, the author of Servant Leadership. It was stated explicitly by Jesus Christ. He said, For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many(Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45). Jesus also made the curious statement, “and whoever wants to be first must be your slave” (Matthew 20:27).

    These declarations were made by the One of whom the Bible says, He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2). That, without question, is the epitome of servant leadership. That is not all the Bible says about how are we as leaders to serve others.

    The leader who puts the needs and interests of others first will inspire followers to give their best, including their loyalty. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

    As Jesus said, it is “more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). One reason is because when we give – putting others first – we also receive. In the workplace, this often means serving others, who in turn are willing to give their best to those for whom they are working.

    © 2018. 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:

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. If you report directly to someone, what expectations does he or she have for you?


    1. Do you think that employees – followers – are entitled to have expectations of their leaders? If you serve in a leadership role, would you be willing to ask those who work for you what expectations they have for you? Why or why not?


    1. Should a leader rightfully be obligated to help followers in being able to achieve their goals or reach their potential? Or should a leader focus only on corporate goals and objectives, seeing staff as the means for achieving them? Explain your answer.


    1. What risk, if any, would leaders be taking by setting aside or deemphasizing personal ambitions and instead, considering others as better, or more important, than themselves?


    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages: Leviticus 19:18;
    Mark 12:30-31; Luke 22:24-27; Galatians 5:13-14; James 2:8

  4. Feeling Impatient in the ‘Waiting Room’?

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    September 17, 2018 – Robert J. Tamasy  Do you like having to wait? If you do, you are a rare individual. Most of us find waiting a great source of annoyance, frustration, even fear. We do not like waiting for a traffic light to change or finding ourselves stuck in traffic. When goals are delayed, we feel dismayed, wondering how we can speed the process. Sitting in the waiting room to see a doctor or dentist can test the limits of our patience.

    Recently I had to undergo a significant medical procedure. I arrived at the hospital before 8:30 a.m., as instructed, and was informed the procedure would begin by 10:30. But 10:30 came – and went – and my wife and I were still waiting. I tried not to get impatient, but eventually asked about the delay. Finally, the medical staff got to me and started the procedure, but it was not until 12:30!

    Waiting is just as unpleasant in a workplace context. Sometimes we must wait on someone before we can proceed with our part of a project. We need to discuss a major issue to discuss with our boss, but she cannot see us until later in the day. Waiting on a much-desired job offer can be agonizing.

    For those who follow Jesus Christ, waiting is part of God’s plan for developing character and helping us grow in our faith. Sometimes the only answer to our fervent prayers is, “Wait!” Some people have even referred to such times as being in “God’s waiting room.”

    We see many examples in the Bible of people God required to wait, even though He had special plans for them. Abraham and his wife, Sarah, had to wait many years for the child that God had promised them. The Lord had chosen Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, but Moses still had to spend many years in exile before the right time arrived. Then the people of Israel had to “wait” 40 years in the wilderness before they could enter the Promised Land.

    Sooner or later, we all find ourselves in God’s waiting room. What should we know about waiting – and what should we do during these unavoidable times? The Scriptures offer helpful insights:

    Trust in the One in whom we must wait.When things come to a standstill in our lives and careers, we attempt to do anything possible to get things moving again. Sometimes, however, God wants us simply to wait and trust that He is in control.Be still and know that I am God(Psalm 46:10).

    Do all that we can, but then, if necessary, wait.Being in “God’s waiting room” does not necessarily mean doing nothing. It does mean when we have done everything we think should be done, we must wait for God to accomplish the rest. Trust in the Lord and do good…. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. 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. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…. Wait for the Lord and keep his way…(Psalm 37:3-7,34).

    When God hits the “pause button” in your life, draw on your faith.When forced to wait, we can become discouraged and even wonder if God has forgotten about us and what we need. This is an opportunity to strengthen our faith in Him and see what He will do, often far more than we could have imagined. 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(Proverbs 3:5-6).

    © 2018. 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:

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. What is your typical response when you have to wait? In what circumstances do you find waiting most difficult?


    1. Is there something right now that is requiring you to wait? How are you responding to being in the “waiting room”?


    1. Why do you think God would want us to wait, instead of answering our prayers immediately? Can you think of any times when it turned out that having to wait actually was part of His answer to your requests?


    1. How would you advise someone else who finds themselves in God’s waiting room, desperately wanting a problem resolved but not seeing any answers forthcoming?


    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages: Psalm 27:14, 130:5-6; Isaiah 26:3, 41:10; Jeremiah 29:11-13, 33:3; Philippians 4:6-7

  5. Even in the Workplace, We are Made to Worship

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    September 10, 2018 – Jim Mathis  It seems all human beings are designed to worship something, even within the scope of our professional lives. We seem to require having an object for our affections if we are to be whole, to be complete.Some people worship sports or a particular sport, team, or player. They know all the statistics, and devote countless hours and significant amounts of money to following their team. The line between dedicated fan and ardent worship can easily become obliterated.

    Other people worship music, giving highest honor to their favorite band or entertainer. Some people worship a political affiliation or an important cause. Others worship a specific profession, such as the military, or a symbol, like a flag, and give special honor to the object of their worship. Nationalism, which is worshipping one’s country and considering it superior to every other nation, has spawned real problems in some places, including my home country, the United States.

    For many business people, their work becomes an object of worship. They might devote inordinate amounts of time to their company or profession to the exclusion of family, friends, their health, and especially God.

    Sometimes we worship money or its pursuit, forgetting money is intended only as a tool, not as a “god.” This is one reason Jesus said, in Matthew 6: 24, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.“He was asserting we cannot grow spiritually if money competes with God for our time, energy and reverence.

    Even within Christianity, worship can take many forms, some that distract from our devotion to the one true God. People often worship a particular style or order of worship, or even the Bible, placing it above the God whose story it tells. Some people worship their spouse, confusing such worship with normal love and affection.

    From the beginning, God knew this would be a problem. He built into us a desire to worship, but when He handed down the Ten Commandments to Moses, made clear He alone should be the focus of our worship. The very first commandment God gave to His people said, “I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods before me.”

    The Message, an paraphrase of the Bible, expresses Exodus 20:3-6 this way:“No other gods, only me. No carved gods of any size, shape, or form of anything whatever, whether of things that fly or walk or swim. Don’t bow down to them and don’t serve them because I am God,your God, and I’m a most jealous God, punishing the children for any sins their parents pass on to them to the third, and yes, even to the fourth generation of those who hate me. But I’m unswervingly loyal to the thousands who love me and keep my commandments.”

    In reading the biblical account that surrounds the giving of the Ten Commandments, we discover that by the time Moses had gotten back from the mountain with commandments, the Israelites had already built a calf of gold to worship. It did not take long for them to let the object of their worship to become divided.

    We have a need to worship something. The question we must ask ourselves is whether the object of our worship truly deserves our devotion and dedication? Is it a “god” that will never fail us? In my experience, there is only one, the God who said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). What other “god” can say that?

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

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How would you define worship? In your opinion, is worship strictly a religious practice, or does involve other aspects of life, as Mr. Mathis asserts?


    1. What types of things do you find yourself inclined to worship?


    1. If we realize our worship has become divided, that we are worshiping more than one thing or object, how can we order our lives to eliminate other “gods” or prevent them from creeping in?


    1. In your view, how should worship affect your approach to your career and how you approach the work you do every day?


    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Exodus 20:5, 23:24-26;
    2 Kings 17:36-39; Psalm 29:1-2; Matthew 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8

  6. Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding

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    September 3, 2018 – Rick Boxx  If you are like me, you spend a lot of time seeking wisdom for the many work decisions that need made. And I think you would agree that knowledge and understanding also are important to the decision-making process. I have found it interesting to discover many verses in the Bible make reference to wisdom, knowledgeand understanding all in the same passage.

    These three words have different meanings, but the Scriptures point out they build on each other. It says Understanding comes from learning God’s Word. Knowledge comes from the experiences and skills God provides to us, and Wisdom comes from an accumulation of the understanding and knowledge we receive over time. All three traits, however, ultimately come from God. As Proverbs 2:6 teaches, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

    To better comprehend how they relate, let’s take a look at each term individually, beginning with Understanding.

    The Hebrew meaning of this word has been defined as, “perceptive insight with the ability to judge.” A consulting client once asked me and his other advisors to help him with an issue. One of the advisors recommended a plan that was immoral. It was my time in God’s Word that enabled me to realize the perils of this choice and to gain understanding of the situation, resulting in a better solution.

    Job 28:28 teaches, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding.” To gain understanding we need to use our senses to listen and observe. But the ability to judge appropriately comes from understanding God’s Word.

    Knowledge comes from God, through the experiences, skills, talents and gifts He provides, allowing us to confront in life – provided we’re humble enough to learn.

    As a young loan officer at a bank, my first Small Business Administration loan was a disaster. SBA loans require lots of attention to detail and dozens of documentation challenges. With no previous experience, I made a mess of a loan application, but after my superior critiqued my performance, I humbly accepted my failure. That failure provided the knowledge I needed to excel in SBA loans later. In my career

    Provers 1:7 teaches, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Fear of the Lord – reverential awe – provides the humility necessary to gain knowledge and excel later.

    Wisdomemerges out of the knowledge and understanding we gain over the years. When we have made enough mistakes, the knowledge gained enables us to have wisdom. You could say the application of wisdom is strategic, while knowledge is more tactical.

    My first business began with a business loan of 21% interest. Painful lessons learned from that loan, and bank customers of mine overextended financially, provided me with wisdom to counsel others on the perils of debt.

    Applying the lessons we’ve learned over time provides a pathway for us to gain wisdom, but once again it requires humility. As Proverbs 9:10 sums it up, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

    Copyright 2018, 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. sign up for Rick’s daily Integrity Moments emails, latest book, Unconventional Business,provides “Five Keys to Growing a Business God’s Way.” 

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Prior to reading this “Monday Manna,” how would you define and distinguish between Knowledge, Understandingand Wisdom?


    1. What do you think of Rick Boxx’s distinctions between the three terms? Do the differences even matter, from your perspective? Explain your answer.


    1. Do you agree with the assertion that all three ultimately come from God? Why or why not?


    1. Which of these three is the most important, in your opinion?


    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Proverbs 3:13-15, 10:14-15, 14:8, 15:7,21, 16:16,21, 18:4, 19:20

  7. Choosing — Or Refusing — To ‘Drink The Cup’

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    August 27, 2018 – Sergio Fortes  Whether in our personal or professional lives, there are certain times when it seems that nothing works. No matter what we do, everything goes wrong. We feel like the end has come, whether it is our career, striving toward an important goal, or saving a valued relationship. Our minds become overwhelmed with negative thoughts. Friends and close relatives seem distant, leaving us surrounded by lonely feelings. The anticipated shipwreck seems just a matter of time.

    All that matters, we believe, whether in the corporate world, personal pursuits, or even our spiritual lives, is success. If our story is not successful one, it can only be one thing: a failure. Unfortunately, no one has interest in failure.

    In his book, Here and Now,author Henri Nouwen, a foremost exponent of spirituality during the last century, reminds us that the episodes of life alternate, having a natural ebb and flow: joy and sadness; success and failure; health and illness; similar to the seasons of a calendar year. The Bible can tell us much about these seasons. In fact, the Old Testament says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die…a time to tear down and a time to build…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).

    During His time on earth, Jesus Christ of Nazareth regarded moments of pain and failure as integral parts of his life.Speaking to Peter, one of his closest followers (and the most impulsive), He rebuked him the night when He was betrayed. Jesus said, “Put your sword into away! Shall I not drink lhe cup the Father has given me?” (John 18.11).He understood this was a trial He could not avoid.

    Peter thought this was unacceptable, refusing to tolerate what he perceived as failure. He preferred to draw his sword, which he had skillfully camouflaged, and fight against Jesus’ accusers. Attack the attackers. Cut off an ear. He was willing to do anything but “drink the cup.”

    We all desire our own “swords” to ward off the assaults of life. These seemingly protective weapons can look like a fat bank checking account, gold-credit card, large savings account, a wealthy friend we can call upon in a crisis, or material goods we can easily liquidate if needed. But are they really effective, or just walking sticks that delay the inevitable “drinking the cup” process?

    Distinguishing between when to fight and when to drink the cup requires spiritual discernment. Surrounded by angry, armed and violent soldiers, Jesus ​​saw beyond the siege. He understood it was not a time to fight, but rather to accept God’s will, even if it meant bitter suffering, pain and death. It was necessary for Him to drink the cup. His purpose was to atone for the sins of mankind.

    This is not just a spiritual illustration. For each of us laboring in the business and professional world, sometimes the “cup” is inevitable.Maybe you are in one of those moments of your life today. You are being asked to drink the cup, but do not like it one bit. Who prefers pain and bitterness over success?

    In these circumstances, we need wisdom to understand what is happening. And it will happen. But the Scriptures offer us consolation. As the psalmist David wrote, “His anger lasts only a moment, but his goodness is for life. The weeping may last all night long, but joy comes in the morning”(Psalm 30:5). Then, in verse 11, David wrote, “You have changed my weeping into joyful dancing, you have removed my sorrow from me, and have girded me with joy.” He had confidence God could use even the worst times for good.

    © 2018. J. Sergio Fortes is a consultant in strategic management and a specialist in corporate leadership. He also is a member of CBMC Brazil.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. When was the last time you experienced a time when nothing seemed to be working, when no matter what you tried, it turned out wrong? How did you respond to that?


    1. Do you agree with the writer who said there are inevitable seasons in life, times to succeed and times to fail, times to advance and times to pause, or even have to retreat? Explain your answer.


    1. What do you think Jesus Christ meant when He said He must “drink the cup” God had given to Him?


    1. How does faith help in being able to endure times when everything seems to have gone wrong, and there is no immediate evidence that things will soon change?


    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about his subject, consider the following passages: Ecclesiastes 3:1-15;
    Romans 5:3-5; Hebrews 11:1,39-40; James 1:2-8; 1 Peter 1:6-7

  8. Nothing To Fear — But Fear Itself?

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    August 20, 2018 – Robert J. Tamasy  It was U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt who said in his first inaugural address, in 1933, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” If I had been alive then, I might have been tempted to respond, “Oh, yeah? That’s easy for you to say!” Roosevelt had a point, however, because fear can be a powerful, paralyzing emotion, preventing us from doing – or even attempting – promising opportunities.

    A friend, David Sanford, wrote about five fears he has observed that plague professionals. These include:

    • Fear of silence (taking time away from work to reflect, re-envision, think creatively and plan).
    • Fear of sharing (presenting initial ideas or very rough drafts for others to consider and critique).
    • Fear of selling (promoting polished concepts, products, plans, proposals and recommendations).
    • Fear of rejection and failure (worrying about what others might say about us).
    • Fear of success (worrying that others might expect more of us if we succeed).

    Virtually all of us can identify with at least one of these fears, possibly all of them. Several seem familiar for me. Stepping away from work to think, imagine and plan sometimes goes against my grain. “I should be doingsomething, not thinking!”But if we do not take pauses from frenetic activity, how do we know we are doing the right things – or doing them the right way?

    Selling has never been one of my strong points, as I learned early on when I was still in college. The prospect of trying to persuade people to buy a product from me often felt like trying to twist their arms behind their backs. And I think we all have had times when we hesitated from moving forward, struggling with the thought, “What if I try and do my best, and still fail?”

    Even at this advanced stage of my career, I find myself wrestling with these fears at times. Then I try to remind myself of truths such as, “If I do not try, failure is guaranteed.” Or, to restate the Golden Rule, “Sell unto others as you would have them sell unto you.”

    But I have found that the real solution for overcoming fear is not clever slogans, but trusting in God, His wisdom and guidance. Here are some passages I have found helpful in that regard:

    Faith in God’s presence.When we confront daunting situations and fears, knowing God is with us in the midst of them can bring us confidence and hope. Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand(Isaiah 41:10).

    Belief in God’s love. We as God’s children believe He is sovereign – that He knows our circumstances and is in control. Therefore we can trust He will use them for our ultimate good. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love(1 John 4:18). “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery that returns you to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’”(Romans 8:15).

    Trust that God can deal with our obstacles. When problems appear too big for us to handle, we have the assurance God is bigger than our problems. What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?(Romans 8:31).

    © 2018. 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:

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Which of the five fears listed can you identify with the most? Explain your answer.


    1. Do you regularly wrestle with other fears not included on this list? If so, what are they, and when do you typically encounter them?


    1. How do you usually attempt to deal with these fears?


    1. What difference does faith in God make for you when these fears arise, if any? Do you even think He is concerned about your fears and anxieties as you deal with them during the course of a normal day, including your work? 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 118:6;
    Jeremiah 29:11,13; Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Peter 5:7; 1 John 4:4

  9. Are You Simply Limping Through Life?

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    August 13, 2018 – Jim Langley  Have you ever felt like you were simply limping through life? Some days will be tougher than others, facing challenges that can seem insurmountable. My insurance career has seen exceptionally good months and some very good years, but there have been lean times as well. A lackluster economy can take a toll on anyone who sells a specific product or a service.

    Through experience I have learned these difficult times require true dedication to your profession and perseverance. To survive, you must work more diligently, meet daily goals and not get discouraged.

    Most successful businessmen have had multiple setbacks in life. Success has required tenacious ability to cope with difficult times and rebound as opportunities arise. This can be done without deceiving others or taking unfair advantage of your competition. Hard work and ingenuity can pay great rewards in any field of expertise. Some allow circumstances to dictate their lives, but we don’t have to limp through life.

    In sports, baseball became my main focus during my boyhood and young adult years. As a lead-off hitter, my goal was to get on base as often as I could. I worked diligently on techniques that helped me reach base nearly half my plate appearances. Improving my understanding of the strike zone, developing good bat control and working on my bunting strategies helped greatly.

    However, I recall limping through a portion of one baseball season with a torn hamstring, but that did not prevent me from playing every game that summer. I refused to let the injury keep me down.

    Over the past 30 years, I have discovered deep faith can make a great difference, whether at work, trying to acquire and develop a specific skill, or just getting through everyday life. That faith is strengthened by confronting trials and realizing God desires to reveal Himself through those difficult timess. Like physical exercise, one’s faith can only be strengthened through putting it to use.

    A biblical account recorded in Genesis 32:22-32 describes Jacob wrestling with the angel of the Lord. Jacob’s life was filled with struggles, but on this particular occasion he would not let go of God. Jacob asked Him to bless him and he got his wish. However, the Lord touched the socket of Jacob’s hip, causing him to walk with a limp the rest of his life. Nevertheless, God did bless him, even giving him a new name, Israel. He became the ancestral father of the nation of Israel, which traces its lineage to him even now.

    One of the best illustrations for all who follow Jesus Christ is the life of the apostle Paul. His tenacity in remaining strong through adversity has shown us what faith looks like when it is put into action. His teachings and personal example have inspired countless millions over the past 2,000 years to follow Jesus and surrender to Him.

    The apostle suffered greatly for the cause of Christ, to the point of his eventual death. Most of us will not have to face death for our faith, but we must persevere for His sake and the sake of those He puts into our path throughout this journey of life.

    Consider your life precious to our Lord, as it is, and realize that even if you must “limp” in some way, you can still hold your head high and persevere for the sake of Christ, experiencing the abundant life He has promised (John 10:10).

    Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God. 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. Are you “limping” through life now, whether due to some physical malady or disability, or because of circumstances that are hindering you in striving to advance through life? If so, briefly describe what you are presently dealing with.


    1. How easy have you found it to ignore the problems that cause you to “limp,” or to persevere through those challenges? What poses the greatest difficulty for you?


    1. Are you familiar with the story in the Bible about Jacob wrestling with the angel of God, His representative, to receive the Lord’s blessing? Would you ever consider doing something like that? Why or why not?


    1. What is your typical response to adversity, obstacles that can sometimes seem so formidable that you are tempted to lose heart and give up?


    NOTE: If you would like to consider other things the Bible says about this topic, read and reflect on the following passages: Genesis 32:22-28; Proverbs 24:16; Romans 12:3; Hebrews 11:21; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-7

  10. Unconventional Strategies

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    August 6, 2018 – Rick Boxx  In the 1880s, entrepreneur Henry Crowell bought an oat mill to produce feed for horses. Even though Crowell had high expectations when he started, the business was struggling and he resolved to turn to God in prayer, seeking a creative solution for his business woes. He had run out of ideas for expanding his horse feed enterprise.

    In answer to his prayers, God led Henry to embark of an concept that few people, if any, had ever imagined. Crowell would change his “market” for oats, beginning to sell his oats to people– as a breakfast cereal. This was an unconventional strategy, because oats were traditionally sold from insect-infested barrels in general stores as horse feed. No reasonable human being would want to buy oats infested with bugs!

    Selling oats for human consumption seemed foolish at best, crazy at worst, and Crowell’s critics were having a good laugh at his expense. However, again in response to his prayers, God gave him another idea: He would design a cardboard box that could be filled with rolled oats to place on grocery store shelves. The cardboard boxes would be sealed, impenetrable to the insects that would desire to devour the oats as food.

    Today, Crowell’s enterprise has become prominent in the food retailing world and is widely known as Quaker Oats. The company now sells not only oats and oatmeal, but a variety of other cereals and food products. All because he was unable to sell enough oats for horse feed!

    Too often, we try to face our business challenges alone, determined to rely on our own innovation and ingenuity. This, the Bible tells us, is true foolishness when we can call on the wisdom and resources of the Creator God. As Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”To state it another way, many times we find ourselves inclined to think, “I know what I need to do. I’ve got this,” while God is waiting for us to ask so He can respond, “I have a much better idea.” Here is some more wisdom from the Scriptures:

    Do not insist on figuring everything out. Sometimes in our pride, arrogance or stubbornness, we feel we must understand exactly what we must do and why. God, however, has a different perspective: “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”(Proverbs 3:5-6).

    Commit your work to God and trust He will guide you. When tempted to “compartmentalize” our faith, restricting it to spiritual settings like a worship service or private devotional reading, we should remember God wants to be involved in every area of our lives, including the work we do. “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. 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 37:3-6).

    Moral of this story: If you need fresh ideas or an unconventional strategy for your workplace, pray, listen, and let God guide your steps.

    Copyright 2018, 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 Integrity Moments emails, His latest book, Unconventional Business,provides “Five Keys to Growing a Business God’s Way.”

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Had you previously heard about Henry Crowell and his oat manufacturing business? Would you consider the shift in focus – from horses to people – an unconventional strategy? Why or why not?


    1. When, if ever, have you seen someone – perhaps even yourself – adopt an unconventional strategy to revive a failing business, or to resolve a major business dilemma? Where do you think the idea for that strategy came from?


    1. How would you restate or paraphrase Proverbs 16:9, which says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps”? How can you apply this teaching to your circumstances where you work?


    1. Why, in seeking to make a major decision – especially if time seems to be an important factor in the process – does it seem so difficult to “trust in the Lord,” as Proverbs 37 instructs us to do?


    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Jeremiah 29:11-13;
    Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 3:17, 23-24; 2 Timothy 3:16-17