Are You Willing?

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We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first. 1 John 4:19 The Message

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Tea drinkers shun coffee, and sit alongside the espresso drinker in Starbucks.  Republicans wear red and Democrats wear blue, and are election judges in the same precinct.  Oldsters listen to Sinatra, youngsters to Beyonce–and dance together at the wedding reception.

Are you willing to engage with those that have different opinions with you in a respectable manner?   Diversity and disagreement are healthy parts of a dynamic free society. Segregation divides us and encourages our stagnation.  Are you a lethargic Christian?

As a Christian– welcome engagement.  However, we must be equipped to engage.  That means each individual is an apologist.  (one who offers a defense ex: religious doctrine) Apologetics comes in many forms.  This is done in love, side by side, and creates in you a dynamic faithful disciple.

We will always make mistakes, like arguing too much with other peo­ple. But let our aim be to give witness to life only in friendship and good­ness, for God is faithful to all people. Like our crucified Lord, let us bear silently any opposition we face, even from our worst enemy, firmly holding on to the truth that all people belong to God. Let us fight that more and more people realize this. Let us hold on to the faith that God will help each sinner turn into a good person. People will not slander and hate forever. The more faithful we are, the more hate against us will be burned away. Hate has a short life. It is love that lives forever.”

Source: The Gospel of God’s Reign

 

The most important witness may be to the most difficult, most different person you encounter.  

 

Pray for the Challenge: Pray the words of Paul from 1 Corinthians 2: (paraphrased)

Father, I do not have excellent speech or wisdom to declare the testimony of God.  I know that Jesus died for me. My words are not persuasive, but in demonstration of the Spirit’s power my speech has power and my faith is not in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.  I am willing to engage and witness in love. Amen

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Let Freedom Ring

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Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

“Freedom is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness.”

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All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12 ESV

 

 

Viktor Frankl, an Austrian Jewish physician, neurologist, therapist, holocaust survivor wrote extensively and focused on finding meaning in all forms of life.  Responsibleness is a large aspect of Frankl’s theories because through responsibleness we take on tasks and actions that help us determine our meaning – the why in our lives. Responsibleness also balances freedom.

Responsibility:   Response  Ability: ability to respond.   

 

What are you responding to today?   You have the freedom to respond to many things: what to eat, what to say, who to associate, gestures to articulate, the manners to condone, and how many prayers to utter.  

Pray:  Utter prayers continually in “responsibleness”

 

Post Labor Day

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THOUGHTS ON WORK

POST LABOR DAY

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How does your faith shape your work?  

ASK yourself: How does my work…advance the kingdom?  

 

Work is toilsome…Is right to stay with a job that is hard?  He may have you in this job for a purpose…even though difficult.  

 

                      God promises joy…there is joy in accomplishing….a work.  

 

Work…it captures your dreams as a child…

“I want to be a…..”  

 

What did you want to be when your were a child?  Example: designer, race car driver, editor, baseball player, singer, …we are designed to work….we are designed to be fruitful….

The goodness of work is spoken of in  Genesis.  WORK is stewardship in Genesis.  It is a gift of creation.  1:31  “It is very good…our labor, our cultivating is good…God affirms it as very good.”  

 

The good of being human is our work.  

 

I think about hosting a party.  I enjoy making a good cup of coffee. I get excited about putting together this season’s Bible Study curriculum. —- These are “works.”  

 

What is the value of work?  Dignity.  It affirms dignity.  Character.  Timeliness, respect, loyalty, perseverance, team-work.  It develops character.

 

What do you do?  What do you love about your work?  

Engage your heart, whole mind, soul in work.

You can engage in God’s restorative work–you can build business as a channel for the common good. 

Think about your: Worst JOB   I have given a few examples that were given in a video:

Worst Job

Copy boy–in a little room.  Bad smell.  Two years.  

Washing cars at a local car wash…lots of mini vans!  Yuck!!!

Fast food restaurant…accidentlly locked in refrigerator.  

MY worst job: picking up eggs at an egg farm (1 cent/dozen)

What did you learn? What do you bring to the table today from the “worst job” experience?

 

Even in a dream job, we still do experience the brokenness.  We taste the toil of work when going well.  There is sin present in every room.

 

God makes us in his image, and we cultivate the earth.  In Genesis 3, because of sin, we have the frustration of work.  The systems of the work–are identified–and it fights against man.  

 

Tim Kellerman was asked: — “why to stay in job when hard, or see that it is not what you want”  He said, “Learn the ropes of profession…earning your spurs…meeting people….accomplishing a goal….”  

 

OR—advancing the kingdom in a place of darkness??

 

Sin in work:  

There will be sin in all places.  Don’t be mystified or shocked when it is present in your work environment.  Look first to self.  Make yourself clean–before casting stones…and then clear a space around you for others to come into a safe place.  

 

God given instinct to work….to create fruitfulness…even in the brokenness.  Example: to plant a garden in the trampled decayed inner city.  There are ministries that plant gardens in these dark, concrete places…how hard it is to start…the green shoots appear…amid the abandoned homes, the chain link fences….the blighted place becomes a fertile place of growth…..spiritual light.  

The buildings are still crumbling, but there is a small, green, patch of land.  

 

Make your place in work a patch of green land.  

Prayer:

Lead me Lord, Lead my work….

Father, I thank You that You are instructing me and teaching me in the way I should go and that You are guiding me with Your eye.  I thank You for Your guidance and leadership concerning Your will, Your plan and Your purpose for my life.  

I trust in You and lean not on my own understanding.  As I acknowledge You in all my ways, You direct my paths.  I believe that as I trust in You completely, You will show me the path of life. Amen

Psalm 32:8; Proverbs 3:5,6; Psalm 16:11  

Grow LOVE

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Working in the garden, I have seen the first signs of fall this week.  A bit of brown on the tips of leaves, the annuals are starting to grow weary, and the summer perennials are done with.  

 

Why am I furiously digging in August?  A wedding in two weeks.  An only daughter being married is something close to a State Dinner for a mother.  Wedding dress, florist, photographer, organist, soloist, guest lists, centerpieces, family members from afar–way far, as in Australia, food, accommodations, rehearsal dinner, reception, brunch, and last but not least–the yard must look like Buckingham Palace.  

 

Are my priorities askew? Maybe not.  The garden is where I can really relax–pray–and lift all the things that may be making me anxious up to God.  

 

Love, Love, Love has been the theme this summer.  From 1 Corinthians 13 (Love chapter) and the phrase “Love is Kind” has been my catch phrase.  

Jesus said, “By this all will know you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 13:35

Even the disciples had to be kind to one another….

 

As I garden, I keep thinking, “How can I be kind to those who are prickly?”  Love is kind…even to those who are difficult.  Dig deeper Paula, maybe the answer will come with the next weed pulled.  

 

The UPS driver pulls up.  He has a delivery.  Small succulents–another wedding thing.  I open the neatly packed cacti.  These small potted plants need air and light.  The directions are written on a piece of paper with a card attached.  The card has a pretty imprint of a cactus with the company name and a slogan:

ALL THINGS GROW WITH LOVE

 

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Yes, prickly plants AND people WILL grow with love. 

LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.  That is the theme this summer.  Even in the garden.  

Prayer:

Dear God strengthen me in your power and love.  Lead me to love and be kind –even the prickly people.  When I am prickly, you love me–thank you.   

 

At home, at work, in the garden , –remind me–ALL THINGS GROW WITH LOVE.  

AMEN. 

PASSWORD

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What is your password?  Yep, the infamous question.  The one that always has you scrambling…where did I put that?  Did I update that?  Is that in my super secret file?  Or in my notebook?  Is it my birthday with my favorite number? Backwards, with a cherry on top… My kid’s favorite number….

 

No password needed for prayer.  Nope.  Imagine if there was a password needed?  Would it make it more popular?  Maybe if there was a prayer video game that God had…and you had to navigate a certain number of levels just to get to Him?  

 

What do you need to pray today?  Think about it…what if you had to put in a password or a credit card number, or wait on hold?  TRULY EASY ACCESS….don’t take this full access for granted.  

 

**There ARE some faith traditions that require “passwords” to access their god.  Jesus Christ accomplished everything for us.  AMAZING GRACE.  AMAZING PASSWORD.  

 

Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. Eph 3:12

 

Prayers:

*Give thanks that we do not need a password to pray!

*Give thanks for your job and the business you are in…

*Pray for all who work together at your work that they be blessed in their work environment in safety, and a positive culture.  

*Continued favor in your industry…that current customers remain loyal and new customers seek your company out for advice and orders!

*Thank God for each and every conversation that you have –and ask God for guidance when confronted with a challenge.  The challenges may be an opportunity in disguise.  

*Pray for the health of all your co-workers…

 

Lead Like Jesus

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Strong leaders can help an organization to maximize productivity and achieve business goals.  

Strong leaders have certain personal characteristics: integrity, confidence that is mixed with humility, passion, patience, focus, honesty, transparency, courage –and  are committed to communication.  

 

If you communicate your ideas and thoughts clearly with integrity you become an agent of change. You are able to engage a workforce to produce value, create an environment of innovation, and create a competitive edge for your organization.  

 

Jesus was the ultimate communicator.  Look at his message and method.  He had to tell the world he was the Messiah, teaching along the way…remaining sinless.  

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*He never wrote down a single word.

*He spoke in parables.

*He formed relationships with people. (12 close relationships and a few others, but relatively small circle)

*He was humble in all he did.

 

Today, all the rage are TED talks.  The acronym stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design — and have found their way into church life. The talks influence preachers and are shown in a variety of church settings to spark discussion.

The talks are video-recorded in front of live audiences and shared worldwide through the Internet. They’re typically brief (about 18 minutes), anecdot

al and focused on a single idea about which the speaker feels passionately.

 

According to Alyce Mckenzie, teaching professor at Southern Methodist University, preachers can learn from TED talks in that the same principles work:  “Be clear. Be interesting. Be vivid. Waste no words. And then sit down.”

You see–Jesus taught in the same way too. CLEAR. INTERESTING. VIVID. WASTED NO WORDS. AND THEN HE SAT DOWN…that is when it got interesting….

 

Business Leaders: You don’t have to write it down.  Form a relationship with your team.  Tell a story–your story.  Be trustworthy.  Give a talk today: Clear, Interesting, vivid, waste no words. Then sit down.  Take it from the best.  TED talks–no Jesus.  

 

3 Simple Rules

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Go out today and be the living answer to the prayer of Jesus:

Holy Father,protect them in your name that you have given me,so that they may be one, as we are one”  John 17:11b  

John Wesley had a blueprint that fleshed it out, taught it, and practiced it:

**Three Simple Rules

  • Do No Harm

  • Do Good

  • Stay in Love with God

We are not the first to struggle with faithfulness to God.  The follower of Jesus Christ is God’s chosen one and as such deserves and demands a certain way of living.  

IMG_5893“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.  Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  Above all. Clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.   Paul’s letter to the Colossians 3:12-14  

My theme for 2017 has been “Love is Kind.”  These 3 rules help “clothe” me in what Paul urges the Colossians to wear.

Head into work today with a new “outfit” — keep it simple.

Prayer:

Loving Teacher, come and make your home in our hearts today.  Teach us today to do no harm, to do good, and assist us so that we may stay in loving relationship with you and our neighbor.  Help us today to be an answer to another’s prayer to that we may be a sign of hope in the world you created and love.  

Give us vision for work, hearts for the lost, and strength for the day.

AMEN

**See Three Simple Rules, A Wesleyan Way of Living, by Reuben Job

Holy Club

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Holy Holy Holy…Lord God Almighty…

 

When John Wesley was a student at Christ Church in Oxford he longed for a group with whom he could share his spiritual growth. As a student, he never quite found what he was looking for.

When his brother Charles arrived in Oxford to study at Christ Church, John may have hoped that being in the same town would give them opportunity to support one another in their discipleship. Their mom Susanna had instilled in her children a routine of spiritual accountability from an early age.

It didn’t work out right away…Charles was slow to pick up the spiritual zeal, John went on to study to become ordained a priest in the Church of England at Lincoln College–a short walk from Christ Church College, and after graduation, at the request of his father, the Rev. Samuel Wesley, rector, of St. Andrew’s Church in Epworth, John went home to serve as the associate pastor in the congregation in which he and his brothers and sisters were raised.

One day, John received a letter from Charles. “I … awoke out of my lethargy,” his younger brother wrote of his renewed desire to focus on his spiritual growth. He also asked for tips on keeping a spiritual journal, a practice John found helpful.

John returned to Oxford to visit his brother.  Reunited in Oxford, the brothers periodically met with Charles’ friend William Morgan for prayer, Bible study, and conversation. They also received the Lord’s Supper at least once a week, earning them the nickname “Sacramentarians.”

Slowly, more Oxford students joined the group. They visited the poor and elderly, taught children..visited the imprisoned.  

Other students noticed them, and did not understand them.  They gave them names like:  Supererogation Men , Methodists, HOLY CLUB…BUT they kept meeting even with with the mocking and name calling.  The labels were meant to be discouraging to the men.  

John Wesley never liked the name ‘Methodist’, but it stuck.

The Holy Club, the slang name for their group around Oxford, was adopting a holistic approach to their Christian formation. They studied the Bible, prayed, and worshiped together and served others in need.

Even though the names were given as a form of mockery, the members made significant contributions to generations of the faithful.  (John Clayton, George Whitefield, John Wesley, Charles Wesley, Thomas Brougham, John Gambold, James Hervey, Benjamin Ignham)

Never let your faith be shaken when you know you stand on HOLY ground…are you part of a Holy Club 2017?  Who do you share your faith journey with and who holds you accountable?  At home?  At work?  In the middle?  

 

Next Week: John Wesley’s Three Rules

Prayer:

IMG_5880Lord, let me “take time to be holy”…as it says in the old hymn, to speak often with you.  

Lord, let me “take time to be holy”…to read your word, and feed on your word.

Lord, let me “take time to be holy”…to make friends with your children, and help those who are weak.

Lord, let me “take time to be holy”…and be calm in my soul, led by your Spirit, for your purpose today.  

 

 

Mr. and Mrs. Worldly

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“Nope…you are wrong”, says the world.

 

 “Going to church on Sunday is just old fashioned and weird.  The people you meet there are judgmental and stodgy…most are old and move slowly. Reading the Bible is for those who are in a rut and can’t push all the right buttons on their computer for Netflix.  God’s word is outdated.  It is WAY too rigid.  You must be tolerant of behaviors that make one feel good about themselves.  God understands.  It is YOU that has a problem…maybe it is YOU that needs counseling and to look inward.”, say Mr. and Mrs. Worldly.   

 

My question to Mr. and Mrs. Worldly,  “May I have a value system, and if so, is it appropriate to demonstrate?”  

 

Mrs. Worldly whispers back, “Oh, yes, you may, but the value system is flawed.  So flawed.  And Mr. Worldly says that he sees everyone not following “the rules.”  You Christians are all a bunch of losers.”

 

Christians have always been “not cool.”  The Way –has always been “out of the way.”  

We don’t have rules…we have commandments.  We sin, we confess, we are forgiven.  

 

We have a Savior.  We have Grace.  We have Mercy and Love.  

Our value system is not flawed, we are.  

 

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You better believe in God’s word! 

 

  (Allie age 6–David chipping golf balls before the dance recital)  

Prayer: Lord, let us trust in you, not the world.  We hear so much rumbling from the outside.  We let our eyes be deceived, and our hearts pulled by negative thoughts and words.

Help us today be STRONG at work. Use our words to prosper your agenda.  

Help us today be LOVING at home.  Use our hearts to see what others need.  

Help us today be KIND in the world.  Use us as ambassadors of the Way.  

AMEN.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

WOW GOD

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Went to Vacation Bible School.  Yes, even at my age, you can learn and make new friends in an alternative way.  I was in the Middle School class.  These kids were:

     

                                      Vibrant, energetic, dynamic.  Great week.

 

We had a curriculum that provided a one line theme each day.  If the one-liner was said–for example– “GOD IS ALWAYS WITH YOU”,   you would shout–   “WOW GOD!”  The older kids thought it was a little funky

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Hearts and Tissues! 

 at first, but it caught on by the middle of the week.  They were really into it by Friday….

So here I am with this WOW GOD stuck in my head.  Everything I see that is amazing or not-so-amazing I say, “WOW GOD!”  

 

For the entire time Jesus was on earth, there are only two recorded instances of Jesus being amazed!

One was because of  incredible unbelief, the other was because of incredible belief.  

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“And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any mighty miracles among them except to place His hands on a few sick people and heal them. And He was amazed at their unbelief”. –Mark 6:5-6

“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” –Luke 7:9 (the centurion who believes in Jesus’ authoritative word)

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Even Jesus had “Wow God” moments.  He was amazed.  Jesus acknowledged belief and

unbelief.  He knew who He came from:

“I and the Father are one.” , and he had the emotion of amazement.   

Some things cannot be taught.  They are caught.  

WOW GOD!

This phrase caught me.

Prayer:

WOW GOD, I believe–yes, I do!  Help me to cast away my unbelief.  Thank you for all of your gifts in creation and undergird me today with strength, wisdom, and vision in my work and home.  AMEN