Where Do You Need Courage Today?

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Our devotional today is provided by Steve Brown of Arrow Leadership

Almost every leader needs courage in some area of his or her life. Do you need courage to boldly speak up or to be quiet and listen? To faithfully step forward, patiently wait or graciously step back? To say, “yes”, “no”, or “not now”? To dream, try a new idea or stop something? To risk, obey or keep pressing on? To take a stand or to invite help? To reach out or to confront?

Whatever your need today, it’s hard to underestimate the importance of courage. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “Courage isn’t simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point… [even Pontius Pilate was merciful until it became risky] ”

But what is courage actually – particularly spiritual courage?

Here’s one definition I’ve been working on: Spiritual courage is choosing to follow Jesus even when you are shaking inside or out.

I suspect Ananias’ knees were knocking when he followed God’s direction to reach out to a blinded Saul in Acts 9. I think we are safe to assume that Esther’s heart was beating extra fast as she entered the king’s hall to plead for her people. I bet Nathan’s mouth was dry and palms clammy when he launched into his rebuke of David. Spiritual courage isn’t about eliminating feelings of fear. Instead, spiritual courage is, by God’s grace, choosing to trust and obey God in the face of fear.

I’m also reminded of Peter and John’s remarkable courage after being jailed and brought before the Sadducees in Acts 4. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter and John didn’t back down. Instead, they continued to boldly declare the gospel. I love how Acts 4:13 records the reaction of the Sadducees, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished, and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

Be encouraged by the accessibility of Peter and John’s credentials for remarkable courage. They had been filled with the Holy Spirit, and they had been with Jesus. These two factors were, and are, the difference-makers for living out spiritual courage.

It’s also important to remember that spiritual courage isn’t a solo endeavour. If spiritual courage is choosing to follow Jesus, then we can know that we are not alone. Jesus is with us and is even ahead of us. He’s leading, guiding, providing and protecting.

REFLECT:

  • Where do you need courage today? This month? Ask God for it. Know that God is faithful, for you and with you. Remember God’s faithfulness in the past. Abide and depend on the Holy Spirit. Choose to trust and follow Him in your specific area of need.
  • Whom could you give courage to today? Reach out. Pray. Write a note. Make a phone call. Come alongside. There are people all around you who need encouragement in the face of life’s challenges.

Copyright © 2018 Arrow Leadership

John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca

[This devotional may be freely shared with others.  We ask that you include the above attribution and website address when sending to others.]

 

Forget Your Perfect Offering

October 01, 2018

This week’s devotional meditation comes from Business Coach David Irvine:

“Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen

Every leader has cracks, imperfections in their personality. Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, Gandhi, John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela – all had cracks. All the great contributors of our time had flaws. Why? Because they were bad leaders? No. Because cracks come with being human.

I often speculate that some of these great leaders would never have made it in the age of the internet, where their imperfections would be magnified and scrutinized in social media. They may never have stood a chance of earning credibility or making an impact.

With modern news access, especially in an economy when fear sells, the rarity is the reality, and the reality is the rarity. One murder in a million, amplified in the news reels, suddenly makes a whole city feel afraid. The action of one employee, magnified by social media posts, can color the perception of an entire organization. If we aren’t careful and judge the many by the one, the behavior of a single person can taint an entire race. If we fail to understand the context and the means by which news is fed to us, we run the risk of naïve prejudice when we turn on our devices. It is both difficult and essential to a civil, sustainable society to expose ourselves to competing perspectives and exercise our freedom to choose – to “screen in and screen out.”

So how do you work with the flaws in yourself and others?

Here are three strategies to deal with the imperfect offerings we will inevitably bring to the world in our leadership:

  1. Be sincere. Sincere is derived from the Latin ‘sine’ meaning without, and ‘cera’, meaning wax. According to one popular explanation, dishonest sculptors in ancient Rome and Greece would cover flaws in their work with wax to deceive the viewer; therefore, a sculpture “without wax” would mean honesty in its imperfection. Sincerity means being honest with yourself and aware of the impact your behavior has on those around you. It’s about being open to seeing your inevitable cracks. You don’t need to shine a light on all your defects in public, but honesty and realness in the spirit of acceptance and a commitment to grow and change goes a long way.
  2. Start with the person in the mirror. It is human nature to see the flaws in others more readily than it is to see them within ourselves. Those in the public eye who risk daring greatly in the arena of critics, provide us with a great opportunity to look at ourselves before pointing the finger. Whenever you see arrogance, unethical behavior, or any other crack in a public figure, resist the human impulse to judge and instead take a close look at these potential blind spots within yourself. Get some feedback from trusted people in your life and listen carefully to what they tell you. Get some coaching. Grant yourself and others some grace. Reflect upon the notion that our judgement of others is often a defense against looking at our own flaws and a lack of courage to change.
  3. Find your gifts in the cracks. It’s within our flaws that the light of consciousness is able to see its way in and its way out. It is within our wounds that we are often able to use our gifts to make the world a better place. True authentic leadership is fueled by a voyage that takes us inward toward the hardest realities of our lives. To attain the capacity to influence in today’s changing and demanding world, along with the depth to lead with a strong authentic presence requires an inner journey, a journey to one’s heart, a journey to what I call the “Other Everest.”

Remember – no one is perfect, and it is through the cracks or imperfections that the light shines upon our gifts!


© 2018 by David Irvine. Permission to reprint is granted.
For information on how David can bring value to your organization, contact david@davidirvine.com

[This devotional may be freely shared with others.  We ask that you include the above attribution and website address when sending to others.]

The Soul’s Objective Union with God

“.. he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”   [2 Peter 1:4]

This week’s devotional meditation comes from spiritual writer Richard Rohr:

The Genesis story of the Judeo-Christian tradition is quite extraordinary. It says that we were created in the very “image and likeness” of God, proceeding from free and overflowing love (Genesis 1:26). This flow is rediscovered and re-experienced by various imperfect people throughout the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. This sets us on a positive and hopeful foundation, which cannot be overstated. The Bible illustrates, through various stories, humanity’s objective unity with God, the total [grace] of that love and, unfortunately, our resistance to such an “impossibility.”

Due to a lack of mysticism and contemplative consciousness, I find that many Christians still have no knowledge of the soul’s objective union with God (e.g., 1 John 3:2, 2 Peter 1:4). Such [grace] is too good to be true. Even ministers often fight me on this, quoting Augustine’s “original sin,” Calvin’s “total depravity,” or Luther’s statement, “humans are like piles of manure, covered over by Christ.” I am sure they all meant well, but they also dug a pit so deep that many could never climb out or allow themselves to be lifted out.

How do we ever undo such foundational damnation? Grace can only be trusted by an equally graceful human nature. Our work is merely to till the fertile soil, knowing that the Indwelling Spirit has already been planted within, and [the Spirit] is the One who “teaches you all things and reminds you of all things” (John 14:26). Many Christians have tried to pile a positive theology of salvation on top of a very negative anthropology of the human person, and it just does not work. The human self-image is too damaged and distorted within such a framework.

What we call sins are usually more symptoms of sin. Sin is primarily living outside of union; it is a state of separation—when the part poses as the Whole. It’s the loss of any inner experience of who you are in God. “Sins” often have more to do with ignorance than actual malice. Disconnected people may become malicious, but they did not start there. They began in union, and disunion became their experienced lie.

You can’t accomplish or work up to union with God, because you’ve already got it. “Before the world began you were chosen, chosen in Christ to live through love in his presence” (Ephesians 1:4). You cannot ever become worthy or “perfect” by yourself; you can only reconnect to your Infinite Source. The biblical revelation is about awakening, not accomplishing. It is about realization, not performanceYou cannot get there, you can only be there. Only the humble can receive it and surrender to such grace.

REFLECT:

  • How do you set aside the natural human tendency to want to accomplish and perform and just awaken to the realization that you are in a graceful union with God?

You Are the Beloved

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love… I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:9,11)

Some thoughts from Henri J.M. Nouwen provide this week’s devotional thought on what it means to be the ‘beloved of God.’

Don’t you often hope: “May this book, idea, course, trip, job, country or relationship fulfill my deepest desire.”  But as long as you are waiting for that mysterious moment you will go on running helter-skelter, always anxious and restless, always on edge and angry, never fully satisfied.  You know that this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy, but at the same time makes us wonder whether we are getting anywhere in the long run.  This is the way to spiritual exhaustion and burn-out.  This is the way to spiritual death.

Well, you and I don’t have to kill ourselves.  We are the Beloved.  We are intimately loved long before our teachers, spouses, children and friends loved or wounded us.  That’s the truth of our lives.  That’s the truth I want you to claim for yourself.  That’s the truth spoken by the voice that says, “You are my Beloved.”

Listening to that voice with great inner attentiveness, I hear at my center words that say: “I have called you by name, from the very beginning.  You are mine and I am yours.  You are my Beloved, on you, my favor rests.  I have moulded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother’s womb.  I have carved you in the palms of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace.  I look at you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate than that of a mother for her child.  I have counted every hair on your head and guided you at every step.  Where you go, I go with you, and wherever you rest, I keep watch.  I will give you food that will satisfy all your hunger and drink that will quench all your thirst.  I will not hide my face from you.  You know me as your own as I know you as my own.  You belong to me.  I am your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, your lover and your spouse…yes, even your child… wherever you are I will be.  Nothing will ever separate us.   “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.”

From ‘Life of the Beloved’ by Henri J.M. Nouwen

REFLECT:

  • Is some of your compulsive busyness driven by an uncertainty that you are worthy of love?
  • How will you begin to accept the deep truth that you are God’s Beloved?

John Wiseman –  Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca
[This devotional may be freely shared with others.  We ask that you include the above attribution and website address when sending to others.]

Bread and Water

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” ‘Sir,’ they said, “from now on give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”  (John 6:32-35 NIV)

Most of us are familiar with the story that when God’s people miraculously escaped slavery in Egypt they spent 40 years wandering in the Sinai during which God provided sustenance by providing ‘manna’ bread, and streams of flowing water in the desert.  But are we familiar with the deeper truth that these historical events also have metaphorical meanings and lessons for us today?  At several points, Paul and Jesus, in referring to the exodus experience, state explicitly that these events were meant to act as lessons for God’s people for future generations.

The lessons are both negative and positive.   In I Corinthians 10:6ff, Paul refers to the post-exodus events as warnings from Israel’s history and states, “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.”  But in our passage above from the gospel of John, Jesus reveals the positive lesson.  Just as God provided physical sustenance for His people in the Sinai so long ago, Jesus and God the Father will provide spiritual bread and water for all our needs today.

The ultimate example of God’s promise to continue to provide for the physical and spiritual needs of his followers is given in Christ’s assurance toward the end of his ministry, “Know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” (Matt. 28:20).  Brennan Manning in his book, Abba’s Child comments, “We should expect that Christ will be actively present in our lives.  If our faith is alive… we will be alert to moments, events and occasions when the power of resurrection is brought to bear on our lives.  Self-absorbed and inattentive, we fail to notice the subtle ways in which Jesus is snagging our attention.”

As the fall launch is upon us, as we come out of the slower rhythms of summer, this is a message that I commend to you.  There is a risk that the activity of returning kids to school schedules, the demands of business activity, the relentless pull of social media may cause us to become self-absorbed or inattentive.  There is a risk that a return to busier schedules may cause us to miss the still small voice of God nudging us to make time for kingdom priorities of worship, giving back, spiritual transformation, and stewardship of time and resources that God is calling us to.  These priorities are usually at odds with what the world is calling us to.

There is another powerful metaphor in the Exodus story.  The manna that God provided to his people could not be stored up for later use.  If more than a day’s supply was stored away for later use, it rotted.  The spiritual message is clear.  We must re-establish our reliance upon God’s provision daily!  We must not think that a meaningful spiritual retreat or a good worship experience on a weekend will eliminate the need for continuing to seek God’s provision daily.  Provision from God is not something to be stored up and drawn upon later.

I encourage you to make time in your schedule, during your monthly Forum meetings, to recognize, talk about and pray over those moments, events and occasions where the power of the resurrection is brought to bear on your life.

REFLECT:

  • What causes self-absorption and inattentiveness to spiritual priorities in your life?
  • How will you pick up your spiritual ‘manna’ from God each day?

John Wiseman –  Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca
[This devotional may be freely shared with others.  We ask that you include the above attribution and website address when sending to others.]

Spiritual Fruit, Foundation and Effort

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22,23)

Last summer I shared a meditation upon Spiritual Fruit and Character.  This week, I would like to revisit that topic to provide some clarity on how Spiritual Fruit relates to our life Foundation, and our life Effort.

FOUNDATION

A number of years ago as I reflected upon the Fruits of the Spirit passage in Galatians 5 I realized I had been using the passage to tell myself to be more loving, more kind – to have more self-control, etc.  These are all good goals, but they are not the intent of the passage.  I came to the realization that the Fruits of the Spirit list is not a series of attributes for us to achieve by Effort – rather, they are a description of the nature of our new character which will result in a new Foundation for our life once we are a new creation in Christ – (2 Cor. 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!)

This brought relief to two common struggles that I had, and I believe most Christians struggle with.

  1. How do I produce the fruits of the spirit if I notice they are not evidenced in my life and character?
  2. I know the Bible says I cannot earn my salvation, so where does my effort come into play in my spiritual walk with God.

So, if I cannot earn my Spiritual foundation of Spiritual fruits through effort, how do I produce the Fruits of the Spirit?  As I reflected on my changed thinking on this struggle, I thought of a cherry tree my family had in our backyard while growing up in Ohio.  As a young child, I would put my ear to the trunk wanting to hear the deep voice of the tree groaning with the effort of producing those cherries – but I never did hear it – Why?  Because for a cherry tree, producing cherries is an effortless joy.  A cherry tree does not create cherries by an energy-draining effort – producing cherries is not a burdensome effort for it.  Rather – it produces cherries effortlessly by virtue of its foundational nature as a cherry tree.

In similar fashion, as Christians – we should not labor under the misconception that we need to screw up our faces and be about the great effort of being more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient etc. – rather, we are invited to be transformed by staying connected to the life-giving force of Christ and abiding in Him through the Holy Spirit.  Once this becomes our focus – we naturally produce the Fruits of the Spirit over time effortlessly as part of our new nature in Christ. This is the Foundation of the Christian Life that caused Martin Luther to upend the Church of his day which had fallen into the error of salvation by works or by obtaining or purchasing things to earn merit.

EFFORT

So if effort has no place in obtaining my new identity in Christ and his salvation, what does it mean when Paul says in Philippians 2:12 “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”?  The answer, I believe, revolves around understanding the difference between ‘earning’ and ‘effort’.

Trying to earn your salvation is clearly condemned in scripture, especially in the Ephesians 2:8,9 clarification that salvation is by grace, NOT by works.

But producing effort to build upon your freely gifted salvation as a way of “working out” your gratitude for that foundational gift is what Paul is talking about.  As Dallas Willard put it in his book, Spirit of the Disciplines, “God is against earning, but he is very supportive of effort.”

Therefore, when I begin to notice that I am sliding into agitation rather than peace, to abruptness rather than kindness, to unhealthy impulsiveness rather than self-control (which happens to me more often than I would like to admit) – I no longer ramp up my effort to be better at love, joy, peace, kindness and self-control etc.  Instead, I remember my true character is found in my Foundation in Christ.  Jesus compared this process to a branch staying connected and drawing its life from the vine. (John 15:5).  Jesus promises me that if I remain in Him, I will bear much fruit, including the Fruits of the Spirit.

Therefore, my singular reaction to the consistent pull to return to my old nature, the way of the world – is to reconnect to my Foundation in Christ, REMAIN in Him, and the Spiritual Fruits show up in my life as sure as a cherry tree produces cherries.

 REFLECT:

  • Does the challenge to reconnect to Christ instead of trying to change your character resonate with you?
  • In your EFFORTS to work out the calling of your Christianity, do you sometimes fall into the false mindset that you are somehow EARNING merit with God?

John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca 

Authentic Leadership – The Strength of Your Presence Means Being Present to Life

” Be still and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10 NIV)

This week we have a timely message for the summer months from David Irvine:

A participant who attended one of my leadership programs earlier in the spring has been traveling with her daughter in Europe and sent me an email with a line that has not left me: “…while traveling I’ve had time to not think at all, just wonder and be amazed…”

This put me into a reflective mode and I contemplated how, in a world filled with so many demands and expectations, we don’t have time even to think, much less “just wonder and be amazed.”

  • When was the last time you slowed down long enough to watch the sun go down?
  • When have you taken time recently to meditate, notice your breathing, and fully relax?

We are clever people, efficient and high-powered, but in our zeal to get things done we are forgetting the simple art of living. And I might add, the art of leading.

Since my schedule has tapered off for the summer, I am reminded how important stillness is in life; time to get away from the demands of the world and simply be. There is wisdom that can surface when we stop thinking, stop planning, stop doing, and make room for even a few minutes of stillness and attention to breathing. Whenever an answer, a solution, or a creative idea is needed, stop thinking for a moment by focusing your attention on what is going on inside of you. Momentarily get away from the burden of “thinking,” and become aware of the stillness. This may only take a minute or two, or it may require a walk outdoors. When you resume thinking, it will be fresh and creative. In any thought activity, make it a habit to go back and forth every few minutes between thinking and an inner kind of listening, an inner stillness.

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life,” wrote Socrates over twenty-four hundred years ago. While an overbooked schedule is exhausting, I wonder if he was also referring to the nature of the active mind, the human tendency toward busyness inside our heads. Whether it’s an over-extended timetable or a harried mind or a combination of both, be sure to take time, not just over the summer but in your daily living, to pause and be present to life. It not only improves your leadership; it makes life worth living.

If we don’t make time to befriend the present moment, to connect ourselves with the world around us and with the people who matter most to us, what is the purpose for doing anything else?

© 2018 by David Irvine. Permission to reprint and circulate is granted.

david@davidirvine.com, or 1-866-621-7008 (toll-free).


Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca   

Change Your Leadership Posture

This week’s Meditation comes to us from the Arrow Program.  Arrow has been training Christian leaders in Canada for decades.

Confession: I have struggled with bad posture my entire life, and I believe it is getting worse as I age. My chiropractor reminds me often that not paying attention to my posture will affect many areas of my life. It will impact my running, my sleep, my ability to breathe deeply and ultimately my overall health. The crazy thing about it all is that one’s posture can be corrected!

As we age, our posture can become an issue, and I believe the same is true for us as Christian leaders. There are three healthy postures I believe we need to have as leaders that will help us “age” and “mature” well.

  1. Posture of Submission – Philippians 2:6 I like being right. I like being in charge. I like being the final word. I like leading because, in most circumstances, the org chart reveals that most are in submission to me. Dear leader, please be careful. Jesus reminds us that our submission must be first to God (John 8:28), but I will go a step further and say that submission to God and man is good for the soul. Find space and situations where your word is not the final one. Force yourself to listen to an outside voice or wise counsel that pushes you into areas you would not naturally go. Allow your board or supervisor to lead you even when you don’t fully agree with the decision.
  2. Posture of Service – Philippians 2:7 As we age, it is easy to forget that our first call is to serve. Jesus, our leader, reminds us that just like him we are not called to be served but to serve. It is easy to forget this posture and to begin thinking our people, our staff or our community exist to serve us. A little secret I learned years ago was to find a practice of serving those that my job description did not require. I also learned it is good to show up within the church or organization in places that you are not required to be and just be there to serve.
  3. Posture of Sacrifice – Philippians 2:8 A posture of service is impossible without a proper posture of sacrifice. Remember leader, we have been crucified with Christ and we no longer even live, Christ now lives in us (Gal. 2:20). A posture of sacrifice reminds us that our leadership is not about us. We gave up our salaries, our retirement, our positions and titles when we said “Yes” to following Jesus. Sacrifice means just that, letting go of what we believe is ours for the sake of others. Sacrifice can hurt, and that is OK. Don’t take the credit for something, be audaciously generous and don’t let anyone know it was you. Let go of something that you want to provide for someone in need.

These three postures are vital to leadership health. Here is the reality, you must seek to be healthy in all three; you can’t cheat! There have been seasons of my leadership where I was healthy in one area but not the others. Healthy postures do not work like that, it takes focus on each.

My Chiropractor often reminds me of the formula to healthy body posture:

Awareness – You must look in the mirror and see for yourself. You must ask others to remind you when you are out of line.

Attitude – You must want to change, or you never will. You must believe for yourself in the importance of right posture, or it won’t change.

Actions – Now that you are aware, and your attitude is ready, it is time to put into action some steps to fix the problem.

How about you? Are you aware of your leadership posture? Are you willing to ask others how are you doing in those areas? How is your attitude as you read this article; are you open to change? Are you willing to take action?

Here is one final encouragement:

Don’t get overwhelmed! Change in posture is a process that must continually be reviewed. Sometimes we may need some simple tweaks, while other times we may need a complete overhaul. You can do it! I believe you want to be a leader worth following, and you want to be like Jesus in your leadership. Here is the amazing mystery about postures, you are in control. The health of your posture is not determined by anyone else but you. You can change. You can be healthy. You don’t have to ask permission or seek board approval. Change can start right now, today, and will begin to impact your leadership, personal life and family for a lifetime!

Dr. Taylor Williams

Director of Leader Engagement – Arrow Leadership Program

http://www.arrowleadership.org/

We All Need a Rest!

“You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today…” (Deuteronomy 8:17,18 NIV)

“but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work,” (Exodus 20:10)

As I interact with Corpath members, there is often a theme of busyness and tiredness that comes up.  My concern when I hear this is that one of the fundamental truths of Christian spirituality is to rest one day in seven.  Scriptures teach, “remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.”  So why do so many of us in business struggle to protect one day, why do so many of us struggle to practice a sabbatical rest?

There are many reasons I am sure, but I suspect one core reason is captured in the Deuteronomy text above.  We may say to ourselves, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”  Many leaders in business have a Type A Personality.  Many business owners know that to be successful you must log long hours.  I have no problem with that, and I am in awe of the strong work ethic of many of our members.

But there is a very small distance from having a good work ethic to build a business and slipping into a conscious, or unconsciously held belief that our businesses will not be successful unless we work 24/7.  We must examine our assumptions.  Do we really believe that it is God who partners with us to give us the ability to produce wealth?  Or do we act as if it is all up to us, regardless of what we say we believe?

A subtler danger is captured in the phrase, “this is just a temporary crunch time which will soon be over…”.  This is where we buy into the myth that in 6 months or a year or two, the crunch will be over and we will be able to return to spending time with family, caring for ourselves, keeping balance, honouring the Sabbath, etc.  But, while the temporary crunch is on, I must launch this business or I will not be successful.  After all, you may say to yourself,  “…once I have achieved the wealth I seek I will be giving a portion to God’s Kingdom.”  This may end with the sudden realization, three years later, that what started out as a temporary ‘crunch time’ has become a lifestyle with some dark consequences!

This week’s scripture reminds us that our personal efforts and strengths are not the formula for wealth creation in God’s economy.  Conversely, it is through relying upon His strength and obedience to His Word that will bring success.  This is not to say that prolonged effort and pursuing excellence in our business skill sets are not required.  Rather, it is to say that exclusive reliance upon our own strength and skill sets is not the biblical formula for success.

At Corpath, we believe that true success is a balance between business life, personal-family life, and spiritual life.  To stay spiritually healthy, we must retreat from being ‘on’ all the time to having solitude with God for at least a day a week.  If you believe that the route to business success lies in sacrificing imbalance for ‘a time’, you are buying into a secular driven culture laying a foundation for a destructive and unsustainable lifestyle – because, “…it is God who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”  Honour His command to protect a Sabbath day to spend with Him in rest and trust that the rhythm of resting one day in seven is part of the formula for success.

REFLECT:

  • What does “keep the Sabbath” mean in the context of your work schedule?

John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca

The Ongoing Nature of Salvation

“Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8)

The theme of the Corpath Devotional Green Guide this past week is Conversion.  I recall in my early Christian experience that some in the Christian community were concerned that I identify a particular day or even an hour when I was converted.  However, that was not my experience.  Rather, I went through a few weeks of a growing realization that God was present in Christ and was calling me to accept the message of Jesus Christ and allow him to mold me to His purposes.  This process continues in me today, as I continue to experience conversion to new realizations of God’s presence in my life.  For some, the conversion experience is an intense, discrete experience.  For others, it is a growing realization and life change.  Reuben Job expresses it well in his essay below:

“Conversion is going on all the time within us and within the world. The radical change of Christian conversion is also going on within us at all times.  While the change of turning toward God may seem like a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it is in reality a continual process. We may think that we have turned fully toward God; then we discover another dimension of God, and we know immediately that more conversion is possible and necessary if we are to move Godward in all of life.

Conversion is a lifelong process of turning more and more fully toward God in all that we are, possess, and do. There may be earthshaking moments when we are being formed in the image of Christ at incredible speed and in remarkable ways. But such moments are not the end; there is more to come as we give ourselves to the transforming power of God.

While conversion requires our decision and action, the grace and strength to be changed—to become more than we are – is the gift of God.  Conversion is a partnership project.   We cannot transform ourselves, and God does not transform us against our wishes. However, once we invite God’s transforming presence into our lives, the necessary power to change comes with the transforming presence.

It is wise not to try to dictate what our conversion will be like. We cannot know what God has in store for us until we begin to live in harmony and companionship with God.  As our understanding of and relationship to God grow, we may begin to see where God is leading us in our conversion. On the other hand, we may experience surprises throughout our lives as God seeks to shape us.  It is also wise not to assume that our conversion will look like, feel like, or keep pace with any other person’s conversion.  Since we are unique and God is infinite, our conversion experiences will be unique as well. The important thing is inviting God to be the master potter in our lives. We may not know what the end product will be, but we do know that it will be good when we permit God to be the potter and we agree to be the malleable clay,” [Reuben Job, A Guide to Prayer for all who seek God. Pp. 249,250]

As you reflect upon your conversion AND the ongoing process of sanctification that God is doing in you, regardless of the nature of your conversion be comforted that his end goal is to bless you as you allow yourself to be molded to his purposes in your Business, Family life and Personal life.

God’s Promise

“I will come to you and fulfill my good promise…  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:10-11 NIV).


John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca