Monthly Archives: January 2014

What Do People Say About You?

The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? (Matthew 10:24-25)

Jesus Christ went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil (Acts 10:38). He preached an uncompromising truth. He stood against the religious leaders who wanted Him to conform to the religious system they had created. It was a system based upon status and pedigree. It was a system insulated by laws that guaranteed outsiders would remain outside. It was a system that “had a form of godliness but denied the power thereof.” They had religion without relationship. And Jesus Christ railed against it.

The religious leaders called Jesus Beelzebub, not just a devil but the chief of devils; they saw Him not as Christ but as antichrist. They pretended to love Him just long enough to find a way to destroy Him. Inwardly they hated Him and all He stood for. Fire would come from their nostrils after they tried to entrap Him and lost. Spiritual wisdom trumps earthly wisdom all day every day.

What do religious folk call you? Those with religion and no relationship, are you expecting them to call you friend? If you are seen as their friend somehow you have compromised the gospel. The sheep look to the shepherd but goats look out for themselves. The sheep love the shepherd but the goats buck and try to bite the shepherd. You have no friends among goats, only selfish people who are concerned about themselves.

If they hated Jesus Christ and they did, you will be no exception. Get used to pain; learn to suffer as Christ did because you cannot separate the sheep from the goats. You will not be popular with everyone but someone will love you back. God will see to that. Amen!

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Acknowledgement: The Third Responsibility of a Leader

“Leaders don’t inflict pain; they bear pain.” Max De Pree

People in this world need someone to acknowledge that they exist. Rene’ Descartes is noted for his saying, “I think therefore I am.” As true as that statement is, it is worthless without acknowledgement of another human being. We should note that Descartes used his interaction with people to develop his own unique views about life.

In terms of leadership and organizations, each employee needs to know that its leaders know they are on the job. Therefore, a leader has to find ways to acknowledge each employee. John Maxwell tells the story of an apprentice preacher in his organization. One day the preacher came into the office and although other employees and members of the church were in the foyer and mingling around the office area, this apprentice preacher, this would be leader, marched right past them without speaking or acknowledging their presence. John says he called the young preacher into his office to discuss his actions. He asked the young preacher why he had not bothered to acknowledge the people present on his way into his office. John said he told him, he was busy and had a lot of work to do and just wanted to dive right in. John remarked, “Those people you just ignored are your business.” Leaders should remember at all times that people are the most important asset in any organization.

According to Robert Slater (2003), one of Jack Welch’s leadership secrets is “Nurture employees who share the company’s values” (p.23). In other words, a leader has to ensure that those employees and managers who embrace the company’s goals and visions are acknowledged and affirmed in some way. According to Welch, “Give employees more responsibility, and they will make better decisions. By making your employees more accountable, you make your organization more productive” (Slater, 2003, p.25).

Leaders should use both spontaneous and systematic methods of acknowledgement to recognize its employees. But above all, a friendly greeting is crucial when leaders interact with employees at every level. “I think therefore I am” means little if no other person acknowledges that fact.

I urge leaders to ensure they acknowledge those who both support the team and those who do not. Each person is valuable in their skin. Even when they don’t support your efforts, you should still value their existence. Even when hard decisions are necessary regarding their position or continuance with the company, you should treat them with dignity and respect and thank them for the contributions they had made up to that point.

References:
De Pree, M. (2004). Leadership is an art. New York, NY: Doubleday.
Slater, R. (2003). 29 Leadership secrets from Jack Welch. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Descartes, R. (2014) Wiki “Rene’ Descartes. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rene’_Descartes

Reach Past the Past and Achieve Your Potential

 19The Lord said to Moses in Midian, Go back to Egypt; for all the men who were seeking your life [for killing the Egyptian] are dead.  [Exodus 4:19]

            Moses began his adulthood at odds with the law.  Presently he’s living as a fugitive.  He had run from Egypt after committing a capital crime – that of killing an Egyptian guard.  The Pharaoh sought to take his life, but Moses fled.  He ran and kept on running until he came to a wilderness place called Midian.

            Presently, he is living based on his past not his future.  He has developed a comfortable life in Midian.  He is married to Zipporah, the eldest daughter of Jethro, the High Priest of that region and settled down as a shepherd tending the sheep of Jethro.  Moses has settled; his original dream suppressed – his role as deliverer, rejected and his label as murderer, accepted. That label, murderer, lived in his mind for 40 years. To observe his life, you would say Moses was doing quite well.  But what Moses put behind him, destiny brought back to him.  A spiritual encounter quickened his conscience and challenged his reality.  Moses could no longer stay in that nice, pretentious, settled existence. He realized he was living a lie.

Uncle Albert and I were discussing conflict and issues and he said to me, “When time fixes it, it is well fixed.”  When your future becomes your present, you can stay in your past no longer.  Destiny waited until time had passed, the situation had changed, and Moses was receptive.  Moses realized that the life he settled for conflicted with the life he was destined for.  Moses could no longer exist in his present; his future had invaded his now!

Yet, his past had a strong grip.  It reminded him he was a felon, a fugitive no less.  The past brought up all the reasons why Moses should remain in Midian, in his comfortable, settled life.  Again, “When time fixes it, it is well fixed.”  After 40 years, Moses was no longer the talk of the town.  His record had long since been exonerated.   His record was clean; he could do whatever he liked.  The only thing keeping him in Midian was his mindset; he needed to exercise courage to break free from the prison of his mind.  Moses rejected the voices of the past and with faith moved toward his future.  He lived a life of power, adventure, challenge, and purpose.  His wife gained in her respect for him and his sons honored him.  Dad had taken off the shepherd clothes and put on the mantle of deliverer.  Life was worth living now because Moses had stopped settling and starting directing his life in concert with his potential.  The past had lost its grip.  Moses was free!

            Judge Greg Mathis had a past.  He grew up in the housing projects of Detroit, and as a teenager was well on his way to a life of crime.  Mathis was a gang member who dropped out of school, was in and out of jail.  But, as a promise to his dying mother, he vowed to change his ways.  At age 18, he turned his life around, earning his GED, continuing on to college and earning a jurist doctorate degree.  Despite tremendous obstacles and odds, Mathis became the youngest judge in Michigan’s history and was elected a Superior Court Judge for Michigan’s 36th District.

             “It pains me to think of all the hurt that I caused my neighborhood, my community, my family,” said Mathis.  “That’s why I’ve made a lifetime commitment to redeeming myself and changing my life and helping to inspire other street youth to redeem themselves and change their lives. With Judge Mathis, [Television show] I hope to reach even more people with my story and, hopefully, make an even bigger difference in the lives of others.”  His past ran into his future and became his present.

            Two monks belonged to a convent that did not believe in touching a woman.  They were walking down a road one day toward a river they needed to cross to get to their convent.  When they got to the river, they encountered a woman.  The woman asked them to help her across.  The monks looked at each other for a moment.  Then one monk just picked up the woman and carried her across the river.  He let her down and the two continued their journey.

            About two miles down the road, the monk who had done nothing said to the one who had carried the woman.  You know that we are not allowed to touch a woman, why did you pick up that woman?  The monk who helped replied, “I put that woman down nearly 2 miles ago.”  If anyone is still carrying her, it is you, not me.”  And with that he continued walking.

God Demands a Response to Jesus

Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. (John 1:35-37 KJV)

In the Movie, Deliver Us From Eva, LL Cool J is hired by three men to woe a woman away from her sister.  Her brother-in-laws have described her as a devil from hell.  Before meeting her, LL agrees to woe Eva, played by Gabrielle Union and take her away from her sisters so the brother-in-laws can have more influence over their wives.  However, when he actually meets Eva, LL is awestruck. He cannot deceive her because he finds her altogether lovely and now wants to spend his entire life with her.  So immediately, the plan is foiled because LL Cool J has made a decision to love Eva.  It was a radical, costly decision, not logical, critical, or methodical.  His heart and head joined together to attain the woman of  his dreams.  That was an irrational move.

This passage illustrates clearly how irrational following Jesus can be.  Here we have two disciples of John the Baptist upon being made known who  Jesus is immediately walk away from John to follow Jesus.  They move without forethought, without going on a retreat, without having to pray about it, they move without consulting anyone else, they simply walk away from their past life and begin to follow Jesus.  There is something to be said for people who have a sense of when to move forward and do so with clarity of purpose.  These two disciples wanted to know Jesus in a more personal way and so they left John’s ministry to go with Jesus.  They didn’t even know where Jesus lived or what Jesus was about.  They had not even heard one message from Jesus to justify their actions.  When John the Baptist identified Jesus as the one promised in the scriptures, the Messiah, something in their heart resonated with that proclamation and they responded in radical fashion.

The fact of the matter is some of us are just  too cautious about changing when clearly the time for change has come.  We procrastinate just because procrastination is what we do.  But when you meet Jesus, Jesus calls for action, immediate, swift, decisive action.  Either you love him or you don’t but you can’t just sit around and think about it.  This morning Jesus is looking for radical disciples, those who will throw caution to the wind and follow him with their whole hearts.

Critical thinking has its place, reasoned thought has its place, but when the gospel is preached, when you meet The Lord Jesus Christ, your mind and heart births faith to believe or reproach to reject Jesus.    Paul put it this way in Romans 1:16-17, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16, 17 KJV).

God’s salvific action is revealed “from faith to faith” from person to person.  What Jesus needs is somebody like John, somebody like Andrew who will witness as to who Jesus is.  Andrew  first concern was his brother  and  goes looking for  Simon and exclaims, “We have found the Messiah” and then brings Simon to Jesus. By the preponderance of the scholarship regarding this statement John also finds his brother James and brings him to Jesus.  Thus, John brings his brother James, Andrew brings his brother Simon and the first four disciples begin to follow Jesus.

God demands a response from each one of us when Jesus is proclaimed as the Messiah.  It is a response based on faith not logic, not critical thinking, not being persuaded by scientific inquiry, but being instantly converted by faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  God demands an instant, unequivocal, irrevocable response, either I will follow Jesus or I will not follow Jesus.  All who try to procrastinate, put off, or reason, end up not following Jesus.  But when you follow Jesus, you become a new person.  I want to ask you, what will your response be to the gospel of Jesus Christ?

The Power of Hope

Hope is not a strategy” ~ John Maxwell

Hope

But don’t you just love it anyway.  Hope is an outstretched neck poised with anticipation of what will happen.  You know something wonderful, something adventurous, something new is coming.  It is not frivolous; it’s based on a plan that you’ve implemented and you’re working diligently to see come to fruition.  You hope inwardly, silently, and then with outward jubilation because you just know.

Hope is powerful indeed; it chases depression, attacks despair, and exterminates doubt. What are you hoping for based on what you’re working toward?  Promises have been made, collaborations have been formed, all that remains is accomplishment of the dream.

Emily Dickinson said, “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.”  I’m singing because I just believe something good is about to happen!  Can’t you sense something on the horizon?  Sing a new song; it’s 2014 – hope, believe, dream, let it capture your soul!

The rainbow shouts, “It’s not over yet!  Sunshine is coming!”  So perk up, dance, and sing.  You’ve got another chance. Barbara Kingsolver said,  “The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.”  I totally agree; live in hope based on faith that your work will reap a great harvest.  Dare to Hope in 2014!