Students pictured on the Nazarene Theological College campus, set in foothills on 44 acres of park-like grounds, just northwest of Johannesburg.
Happy New Year to you, your family and those you lead. Welcome to 2019. I hope you are looking forward with excitement and promise for where 2019 will take you. God has been good to us and He has led us this far. I am certain God will continue to lead as we make our lives available.
In 2019, my family and I begin a major transition as we obediently follow God’s leading into a new phase of life. As of Jan. 1, Rhonda and I are employed by the Global Missions Department of our denomination (Church of the Nazarene), and we will be moving from Nampa, Idaho, to Johannesburg, South Africa, where Rhonda will serve as principal of Nazarene Theological College South Africa. As for me, well, we are not sure what my role will look like yet – that is for the principal to decide!
A popular trend with churches is to conduct off-site meetings with their staff. This is usually a time when the staff gathers somewhere away from the physical location of where they work to focus on long-term planning, review how current plans are going, and give attention to mission, vision, strategy and team building.
The question is, how effective are these off-site meetings? Does the team come away motivated, challenged, and clear on what they are doing, why they are doing it and who is doing what? If at the end of the time away all that happened was meeting after meeting with some socializing in between, then the off-site was not a success.
“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.” – Viktor E. Frankl
How do you respond when life treats you unfairly? What do you do when you are hurt by someone you love and trust? How do you respond when things are done to you by powers beyond your control? We all have stories of pain and disappointment. The question is how do you handle your pain and disappointment?
Warning signs are everywhere: on medication bottles, road signs, plastic wrapping and cartons. We find them on electrical appliances, and coffee cups from convenience stores and fast food joints. Warning signs are all around, and if we ignore them the consequences can be great. We may recover from some consequences; but others allow no recovery.
For example, if you ignore the warning sign of the stop light and go when it is not your turn, you may end up in a simple fender bender with repairs easily made. Or, you might end up with serious bodily injuries from which you never fully recover. Worse yet, life may be lost by ignoring the stop light.
The sad reality is that many of us ignore warning signs until it’s too late. This does not have to be the case. We can pay better attention.
In the world of organizational performance in which organizations measure themselves by results, the Church stands apart in a significant way from all other groups. At the same time, the Church continues to incorporate organizational skills used by secular organizations, many of which have been helpful in assisting the Church to do great things in spreading the good news of the Gospel.
Many larger churches have taken on the management structure of corporations with the lead pastor and numerous supporting staff mirroring corporate CEOs and managers or vice presidents. Organizational structures which help churches operate effectively reflect good stewardship of resources.
How many times have you said, “I wish I was as talented as, or as good with something as so and so”? We have all said it at one time or another. It is part of the human challenge of always comparing ourselves with others.
We compare ourselves to our parents, our siblings, friends, co-workers, teammates, spouse, classmates, etc. We go through life comparing ourselves. We compare for dozens of reasons such as, wealth, health, job, appearance, race, religion and gender to name only a few.
I grew up hearing the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words could never hurt me.” As I grew to adulthood and became honest with my pain in life, I had to admit that words do hurt. Words can hurt so deeply that recovery time is often much longer than the time needed for a broken bone to heal.
For some of us healing has taken most of our lives, while others struggle to embrace the healing because they have been hurt so deeply. For many of us the pains that are the deepest and the most difficult to heal from, are pains caused by words.
“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein
Recall the last mistake you made. How did you handle it? Did you own up to it, and perhaps learn something from it? Or did you try to blame it on someone or something else and move on? If your response was the latter, you have plenty of company: it is the response of most people.
At some point we have had or will have a tough conversation. Whether with a friend, a neighbor, a colleague or a family member, confrontation is never easy.
Because we dislike confrontation, and because it is so difficult, we often do anything to avoid confronting others.
These conversations usually occur because you care about the person, you have been hurt, or you do not want someone else to get hurt.
Whatever the reason, confronting another person is never easy.
In the story of the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-22), Jesus tells him to go and sell everything, give the money to the poor, and follow Him.
The young man left very sad because his riches meant more to him than following Jesus. I suspect he wasn’t aware that the blessings had replaced the Blesser until he was asked to make a choice between the two.
Jesus also said to follow Him we must be willing to hate/give up the most important relationships in our lives (Luke 14:26).
By Jesus’ own clear instructions, we are told we should not allow anything [riches] or anyone [parents, spouse, siblings, etc.] to stand between us and our relationship with Him.
Jesus wants our undivided, uncompromising focus and attention.