Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Leading Leaders

Several of us have been meeting early Monday mornings to talk about leadership. We’ve been using John Maxwell’s The Twenty-one Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader’s Day as our resource. It is an excellent resource. Maxwell uses leaders from the pages of the Bible to illustrate the Twenty-one Irrefutable Laws of Leadership – the title of an earlier book he wrote.

As we talked this week about the Law of Explosive Growth, we hit again on the need to lead other leaders to great leadership. The future will need effective leaders. When those leaders can “hit the ground running” so-to-speak, they will be much more effective, much quicker than if they have to learn then what they could be learning now from you. That is true whether the future leaders you have opportunity to influence are leaders in a business or organization, a church, or your home.

Don’t allow neglect, laziness, or selfishness keep you from helping the groups that are important to you. They can experience explosive growth if you will create or continue the cycle of leading effective leaders. That’s Life at Work!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Blessed Are the Persecuted

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).

How should I respond to that amazing teaching by Jesus? Is this a calling to persecution like Jesus just called the disciples to humility, meekness, hunger, mercy, purity, and peace? Or is persecution something that I am likely to encounter as a follower, like mourning, and Jesus is teaching me about the heavenly attitude to have when persecution happens?

I think I have an idea about what was happening in the lives of Matthew’s first readers. Some of the disciples who Matthew wrote specifically to influence were being mistreated, at least socially, by fellow Jews who didn’t trust Jesus. These unbelievers were led in their meanness by the Pharisees who were an influential bunch. Jesus said, “They persecuted the prophets before you,” and emphasized that again later (Matthew 23) directly identifying the Jews who actually murdered the prophets.

I don’t know that there is evidence of wide-spread deadly persecution for the first readers of Matthew. Yet, it seems that Matthew wants to underscore the relationships these followers have. They are related to the prophets who were killed by the Jews, yet now have reward in heaven. They are related to Jesus, who was persecuted by the socially and religiously elite among the Jews and has ascended to the right hand with all authority. They are in great company, even if the social standouts don’t think so.

I’ve never been mistreated by a Jew. There haven’t been many times in my life that I felt like I was being mistreated by anybody because I am a follower of Jesus. But I have some incredibly brave relatives; ancestors and contemporaries in Christ who have their reward in heaven. If I ever do have to put up with discrimination or deadly force “because of Jesus,” I’ll remember them, and I will not deny my Savior and Lord! That’s Life at Work!

Monday, October 17, 2005

All My Life

George Shearing was a jazz pianist He had been blind from birth. An admirer of his musical ability asked him, “Have you been blind all your life?”
“Not yet,” Shearing responded.
“All my life” hasn’t happened yet. If you are reading this, it hasn’t for you yet either. I wonder if Shearing expected to be blind all his life, or if he had some reason to hope that some day, he would see the keys on the piano he played.

“…make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
(2 Peter 1:5-7)

You have things that are part of your life that you would love to get rid of. There are some things that are true about you now, that you don’t want to be true. Some of those things, perhaps like Shearing’s blindness, are not likely to go away. But there are other things – weaknesses, habits, sins, etc. – that are more under your control. You haven’t lived all your life yet. Be diligent to change those things about you that need changing.
There are other things about you that are great. You have strengths, habits, and goodness that you need to keep. You haven’t had them all your life yet, but you should. Be diligent to keep and build up those things that are true about you that are strong and good. That’s Life at Work!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Blessed Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness!

Hungry? Thirsty? You will be filled.

There was an awful lot to learn to keep up with the Pharisees. Jesus spoke about the burden that Pharisees put on people, “They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” That word picture is meaningful to most of us. We know what it means to carry something that is just too heavy.

Not only did the Pharisees offer a load to heavy to bear, they offered a food without the substance to satisfy and nourish. Matthew records early in his gospel account that if you are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, you will be filled. Matthew reveals as he continues to tell the gospel story that what he means is that Jesus is the source of satisfaction. Listen to him, eat his bread, and you will be satisfied; filled with righteousness.

Matthew was writing to Christians. He knew they wanted to be filled with righteousness. What disciple wouldn’t want that? But there have always been multiple messages about what teaching you should eat and drink in or to be filled. Some teachings just don’t do it.

So Jesus fed five thousand plus women and children from a small amount of bread. Then he fed four thousand more plus women and children from a small amount of bread. Immediately after he fed them, the disciples realized they had not prepared for the next meal. They hadn’t brought any bread onto the boat with them. Jesus told them, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” The disciples finally learned that Jesus was telling them to beware of the teaching and influence of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

You see the Pharisees, who were more influential when Matthew wrote these words than they were when Jesus spoke them, and the Sadducees who basically died out after 70 A.D., demanded much, but delivered little. Their teachings couldn’t fill the follower with righteousness.

Jesus could fill them, though. He can fill you! That’s Life at Work!

Breast Cancer Awarenesss Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There is good news regarding treatment of breast cancer. The death rate due to breast cancer is dropping. Much of the success of breast cancer treatment is due to early detection. Trouble is being found earlier because women have been educated regarding self-examination.A number of the members at South Yukon have been impacted by breast cancer. We have survivors as a part of the family here. We have family members who have lost family members to this horrible disease. They would all encourage you to read the information from credible sources like the American Cancer Society regarding effective self-examination. Check yourself regularly. Your life may depend on it. We want you to stick around.

All of us need to examine ourselves regularly in regard to our faith. Paul told the Corinthian Church, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5). He knew in that context that they would know after some self-examination that they were in the faith, but we might find that we are not.Do you resist temptation like you should? Are you growing in the Fruit of the Spirit? Does your attitude about others reflect humility like Jesus’? Is your heart set on things above? Does your belief reflect Bible teaching?Those questions, and many more like them, are questions of self-examination. Ask them of yourself regularly. Your life may depend on it. That’s Life at Work!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

“Blessed Are the peacemakers; they will be called children of God.”

What does it take to be a peacemaker? Certainly there are some skills that individuals can use to maintain peace in their own relationships. There are other tools that third parties can utilize to create peace between others who need some help getting along.

Peacemakers begin with a motivation that is incredibly important. In fact, this motivation is a must. To be a peacemaker you must place a high value on relationships. If relationships are not important to you, your drive to have peace will be low.

There is good reason to value relationships. Surely you are aware that relationships are important to God. Paul wrote about his “ministry of reconciliation” (getting people and God back into relationship).

“For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:14-19).

Christ died for all … to bring us back into relationship with God! When he did that, he created a relationship between the people he saved. He expects that we, who together share relationship with him in the Spirit, will make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit peaceful (Ephesians 4:3).

If you don’t care whether we have a good relationship, you will not put any effort toward being a peacemaker when we are at odds. If it doesn’t concern you when you see a family warring, you’ll have no interest in intervening. If you don’t really care about being close to your family, you won’t pursue peace with your spouse or children.

If relationships are close to God’s heart, they should be close to mine. Isn’t that true? God went to extremes to create peace because he values relationships. What do your efforts toward peace say about the value you put on them? That’s Life at Work!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Blessed Are the Meek

Pushy, rough, harsh, knock-down, drag-out efforts put people in position to get theirs.

Perhaps we think of the cloak-clothed inhabitants of Palestine in the fi rst century as wholly rural, keep-to-myself, community concerned kind of people. There were some of those. Th ere were others, though, who were urbanites, concerned mostly for themselves and used to maneuvering their way up the leadership ladder using whatever means were necessary.

Some of the people listening to the Jesus Perspective on the mountainside were being called to continue in their gentleness with the promise that they, not the harsh, would inherit the earth. That might have been hard to believe for those who knew that even the priesthood could be purchased. Others were there who were being called to dramatically change their view about achieving success.

As Matthew recorded the Sermon on the Mount in his gospel account years after Jesus spoke the words those harsh people were still around and increasing in numbers probably, and the disciples of Jesus were likely having a harder time remaining meek.

You’ve got some opportunity in the next twenty-four hours to be pushy. You will be in a position in which some heaviness would get you something that you want. That possibility might present itself before breakfast in your own home. You might have several opportunities in your office or at the job site. Maybe the most obvious chance to move ahead hard will be in the softball game you play with your church team.

You might get your way in your home, and the price paid will be the feelings of your wife or husband or kids. You might close the big deal and look good for your superior or customer, at the expense of the trust or friendship of a colleague. You might coerce Blue so that the call goes your way on the next close call; and think the cost is minimal.

But the heavenly view is that the meek will inherit the earth. What are you going to do with that? That’s Life at Work!