Archive for the ‘Christian’ Tag

Remembering Why   Leave a comment


Christmas tree of the United States Capitol sh...

Christmas tree of the United States Capitol shortly after lighting ceremony. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I find that as time progresses, it is easy for leaders, members, and organizations to lose track of the “why”.  I was thinking about this during some reflecting time in regards to Christmas.  All of us are pretty harried this time of year racing around and trying to get everything completed in time for December 25.  The list of “to-do’s” just seems to get longer.  I find that this can quickly take the joy out of the season and everyone just says, “I can’t wait for Christmas to be over.”  The problem here is that I believe we lose track of the “why” related to Christmas in the midst of all the “have-to’s.”

Losing track of the “why” is not just in regards to Christmas but as I mentioned in my opening sentence, I believe that organizations and those connected to the organizations can quickly lose track of the “why” over time.  Whenever we lose track of this important component, we can lose energy and the passion which was present at the beginning.  So it is important to regularly call to our memory the “why” in an attempt to regain that energy and passion.

Back to the Christmas discussion — The “why” is a celebration to remember that God chose to be incarnate in Jesus.  God chose to be one of us as humans and not just a spiritual reality.  It is to be a celebration of something that is unique to Christians.  This is one claim that only the Christian faith can make.  That is the “why”!

 

Tired?   3 comments


English: A 20-year-old cat that looks tired be...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What do you do when you have one of those days that you are just tired?  I am talking not just physically tired but emotionally and spiritually tired as well.  I know that I am definitely not alone in having those days.  Well, today is one of those days.  I admit that the thought of even writing a blog post seemed far from appealing.  I have a very busy schedule today and tomorrow with some very important meetings and projects in the works.  Yet, here I sit, tired and not feeling like being very motivational or creative.

Leaders and non-leaders alike have these kind of days.  The challenge for the leader is that on these days it may be very difficult to lead well.  When you are physically, emotionally, and spiritually tired, it is hard to focus on what people are saying beyond their words.  It is difficult to avoid being reactive versus fairly analyzing the situation.  It is even difficult to articulate a clear vision and purpose.  Yet, those are all extremely important for a leader.

This is a time that I am so thankful I am a follower of Jesus Christ.  Days like this one are the days that I know I have to solely lean on the Spirit.  I need to rely on the Spirit to open my ears and my mind.  I need to rely on the Spirit to guide my decisions and actions.  I need to rely on the Spirit to be beyond myself and my situation.  These are all truths of any given day in my life but I find it even more important on difficult days like this one.

So what do you do on these days?  How do you successful maneuver through this type of day?

Day 6 of Holy Week   Leave a comment


resolute

resolute (Photo credit: istolethetv)

Today is the day that Christians all over the world stop and pause to remember Jesus dying a cross.  Today we are reminded of why Jesus chose to die and what that means to our life, and more importantly our eternal life.  In my reading of Scripture today, Jesus’ final words echoed in my thoughts.

“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’  With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”  (John 19:30, NIV)

Jesus’ words cause me to wonder, “What is finished?”  There are many answers to that question:

  • Jesus’ life
  • The fulfillment of the prophesies and Scripture
  • The salvation work
  • Jesus’ obedience to God
  • The pain and suffering
  • Jesus’ ministry in this life

All of these are likely responses to my question.  In Jesus’ death on the cross, there comes an end to this chapter in the Jesus’ story.  However, this is the end of Jesus or Jesus’ work in any way.  Like many aspects of life, now we wait, or at least we wait in the telling of the story.  Jesus is placed in a tomb which is carved in the stone of a hillside.  For many, this clearly signaled an end.  However, for believers on this side of the story, we know that this is not the end.  The full culmination of Jesus’ powerful display of love will not be realized for a few more days.  In addition, Jesus’ work still continues today.

So as a believer, it is important for me to pause today.  It is important to be in limbo for the next few days.  The reward is a great celebration in a couple of days.  A celebration which will be just a small foretaste of the greatest celebration yet to come.  These days of limbo give me great insight to the limbo in which I live every day as I await the full completion of God’s glory in my life.

 

 

Day 3 of Holy Week   Leave a comment


Quito, Ecuador, Good Friday 2010: Street proce...

Quito, Ecuador, Good Friday 2010: Street procession entitled Procesión del Jesús del Gran Poder (Jesus with the Great Power). Français : Quito, Équateur, Vendredi saint 2010 : procession appelée Procesión del Jesús del Gran Poder (Jésus au grand pouvoir). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I decided this week to focus on the most important week for a believer…. Holy Week.  This is the time period between Palm/Passion Sunday and Easter Sunday.  During this week, Christians focus on the events of the last week of Jesus’ life.  Palm Sunday recalls the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.  Everything starts in a very upbeat and positive manner but by the end of the week the attitudes are much different.  Today is the third day of Holy Week.

Today, I spent time considered Jesus’ words, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  (Luke 23:34, NIV)  It points out to me two important realities.  First, that even in the midst of pain, disappointment, abandonment, and dread, Jesus still had an attitude of forgiveness.  I am confident that if I was experiencing what Jesus was experiencing, and if I knew that I was on the path to execution, I would not have forgiveness at the forefront of my mind.  Jesus even provides them an excuse which would not hold water with me.  I am extremely grateful for this demonstration of forgiveness however.  It clearly communicates to me how deeply Jesus’ forgiveness can go.  I need that type of forgiveness.  I know that there are many aspects of my life that need a forgiveness that does not make sense, a forgiveness that I, myself, am not able to offer.

The second reality that stands out to me is that many times I do or say things that I do not even realize will have the impact that they do.  I am truly one of those who “do not know what they are doing.”  While I have never executed someone physically, I wonder how many times I execute someone with my words, my actions, my inaction.  How many times do I not even realize what I am doing to someone else?  to the Lord?  These words call me to be more mindful of how I can negatively impact others and not even realize it.

So on the third day of holy week, I hear Jesus’ words of forgiveness and am challenged to be more mindful of the way I do things unknowingly.

 

Hearing Other Voices   2 comments


Ear. Good for listening.

Ear. Good for listening. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A wise person once told me that it is extremely important to listen to voices that are different from your own.  Yesterday I had the opportunity to do exactly that at a meeting.  I am a person who has spent most of my life in Iowa and Nebraska.  While I have traveled internationally and throughout our nation, I would say that I have a somewhat limited understanding of individuals who are not from the center of the United States.  I have been raised a Christian and lived my entire life as a Christian.  I used to have a Jewish co-worker but beyond that, I have not had any depth of exposure to a contemporary member of the Jewish faith.  Yesterday changed that for me.  I was able to listen to a local Rabbi and a Jewish member of the Interfaith Alliance as they shared their perspectives of the Israeli-Arab conflict.  As I sat and listened to their remarks and responses to questions, I was reminded of what that wise person from my past had said.

I think that one of the most important traits of a leader and a Christian is to be able to  listen to different voices.  I have placed the word “listen” in bold because I think that there is more depth to that word than many of us practice.  We may sit and attempt to believe attentive as people share words with us but I am not always sure that we listen.  Especially if the individual is expressing thoughts that are different from our own or with which we strongly disagree.  We are already trying to prepare our persuasive comments to get the individual(s) to convert to our way of thinking or arguments to refute their positions.

When we take the time to sit and listen, we are often surprised by the results.  In some situations, we may find that we are not that different from the person with whom we disagree or have different views.  Other situations may lead us to increase the depth of understanding we have in regards to this person and/or the individual’s viewpoint.  We may never agree with the position(s) that the individual takes but we will be given the opportunity to change our opinion of the individual and gain an understanding of why they so passionately feel the way they do.  In all of it, we grow.

So I encourage leaders and Christians alike to seek out voices that are different from your own.   Listen to what those voices have to share.  It will only be to your benefit.

Nothing To Prove   Leave a comment


Professor and student work together in the studio.

Professor and student work together in the studio. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week my son passed on a link to me through Facebook.  I thought it said something significant so I am copying the text here.  I don’t know the original source.  It is rather lengthy but I encourage you to read it.  I will share a few thoughts at the end.

Professor : You are a Christian, aren’t you, son ?

Student : Yes, sir.

Professor: So, you believe in GOD ?

Student : Absolutely, sir.

Professor : Is GOD good ?

Student : Sure.

Professor: Is GOD all-powerful ?

Student : Yes.

Professor: My brother died of cancer even though he prayed to GOD to heal him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill. But GOD didn’t. How is this GOD good then? Hmm?

(Student was silent.)

Professor: You can’t answer, can you ? Let’s start again, young fella. Is GOD good?

Student : Yes.

Professor: Is satan good ?

Student : No.

Professor: Where does satan come from ?

Student : From … GOD …

Professor: That’s right. Tell me son, is there evil in this world?

Student : Yes.

Professor: Evil is everywhere, isn’t it ? And GOD did make everything. Correct?

Student : Yes.

Professor: So who created evil ?

(Student did not answer.)

Professor: Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things exist in the world, don’t they?

Student : Yes, sir.

Professor: So, who created them ?

(Student had no answer.)

Professor: Science says you have 5 Senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Tell me, son, have you ever seen GOD?

Student : No, sir.

Professor: Tell us if you have ever heard your GOD?

Student : No , sir.

Professor: Have you ever felt your GOD, tasted your GOD, smelt your GOD? Have you ever had any sensory perception of GOD for that matter?

Student : No, sir. I’m afraid I haven’t.

Professor: Yet you still believe in Him?

Student : Yes.

Professor : According to Empirical, Testable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says your GOD doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?

Student : Nothing. I only have my faith.

Professor: Yes, faith. And that is the problem Science has.

Student : Professor, is there such a thing as heat?

Professor: Yes.

Student : And is there such a thing as cold?

Professor: Yes.

Student : No, sir. There isn’t.

(The lecture theater became very quiet with this turn of events.)

Student : Sir, you can have lots of heat, even more heat, superheat, mega heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat. But we don’t have anything called cold. We can hit 458 degrees below zero which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold. Cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.

(There was pin-drop silence in the lecture theater.)

Student : What about darkness, Professor? Is there such a thing as darkness?

Professor: Yes. What is night if there isn’t darkness?

Student : You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light. But if you have no light constantly, you have nothing and its called darkness, isn’t it? In reality, darkness isn’t. If it is, well you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?

Professor: So what is the point you are making, young man ?

Student : Sir, my point is your philosophical premise is flawed.

Professor: Flawed ? Can you explain how?

Student : Sir, you are working on the premise of duality. You argue there is life and then there is death, a good GOD and a bad GOD. You are viewing the concept of GOD as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, Science can’t even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing.

Death is not the opposite of life: just the absence of it. Now tell me, Professor, do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?

Professor: If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, yes, of course, I do.

Student : Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?

(The Professor shook his head with a smile, beginning to realize where the argument was going.)

Student : Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor. Are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you not a scientist but a preacher?

(The class was in uproar.)

Student : Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the Professor’s brain?

(The class broke out into laughter. )

Student : Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professor’s brain, felt it, touched or smelt it? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established Rules of Empirical, Stable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says that you have no brain, sir. With all due respect, sir, how do we then trust your lectures, sir?

(The room was silent. The Professor stared at the student, his face unfathomable.)

Professor: I guess you’ll have to take them on faith, son.

Student : That is it sir … Exactly ! The link between man & GOD is FAITH. That is all that keeps things alive and moving.

P.S.

I believe you have enjoyed the conversation. And if so, you’ll probably want your friends / colleagues to enjoy the same, won’t you?

Forward this to increase their knowledge … or FAITH.

By the way, that student was EINSTEIN.

Since I don’t know the original source of this, I cannot say that it was an actual event.  However, I believe that the student’s response to the professor speaks to the core of our faith.

Some people spend so much time and energy either trying to prove the existence of God or the non-existence of God.  I would like to place before you the concept that we are not required as believers to prove the existence of God.  Faith for me is believing that God exists without an empirical proof.  My faith is grounded in my very being.  The Spirit is the one that will do the work in the hearts of others, not me.  I am just to live out my faith so others may be drawn to seek God.  When asked, I am to share what I believe.  When given the opportunity I am to express what I believe.  But I am never required to prove that God exists.  God is very capable of proving that on God’s own.

Outside the Walls   Leave a comment


St Ethelburga-the-Virgin within Bishopsgate In...

Today I was reminded how important it is for us to take our faith outside the walls of a church building.  Recently I have found myself engaged more and more in conversations that end up leading to faith discussions.  The really cool thing about these conversations is that they are not occurring within the walls of the church building but in various locations throughout the community.

For many years, Christians have been told that there are two topics that should never be discussed in public settings:  politics and religion.  I would question this statement and agree with one aspect of this statement.  First, I believe that it is vital for United States citizens to discuss politics in public settings.  One of the key components of democracy is for citizens to discuss what is occurring in government with one another.  This does not condone the personal attacks upon other’s viewpoints or the refusal to listen to a views that are different from our own.  However, public discourse is vital to our democratic approach to government.

The second topic is similar in some aspects.  I would agree that religion should rarely be discussed in a public forum.  The reason is that religion is just the practices and beliefs agreed upon by a group of people.  However, I believe that faith can be discussed in a public forum.  I would throw a word of caution in here to state that discussing faith should be done as part of a dialogue and not a monologue.  There needs to be mutual respect and a commitment to listen, again, even if the views of another are different from your own.  Through such dialogues, each person’s faith and understanding of beliefs grow.

More believers need to have more sincere discussions outside the walls of the church building.  I have been enriched in my conversations with others, especially when they have a different understanding of God.  I have had an opportunity to share my understandings as I listen to others.  I know that I have grown in my faith because of these dialogues.  If more believers were to respectfully engage in dialogue, I think we would see some profound movement in faith.

If you choose to take on this challenge, let me remind you:  DIALOGUE AND NOT MONOLOGUE.  I believe that the best way to follow this approach is to remember that I do not have all the answers, I am not always right, and I can learn as much as I may ever be able to teach.