Archive for August, 2012

True Prosperity

My oldest daughter mentioned the other day that one of the challenges with her new faith is the bias in favor of those who will do anything to get ahead.  Rhi does not do anything halfway so in giving her life to the Lord she has taken her work habits which were pretty ethical to begin with and made them spotless.  No more cutting corners for the sake of “getting better numbers”.  Prior to her conversion Rhi was a company ladder-climber with many persons envious of her rapid rise and her consistent high performance.  Since her very public conversion (the Lord used work confrontations as one of ways to get her to look to Him) Rhiannon has had many work challenges thrown her way.  I can so see the Lord working through these to strengthen her, but it is admittedly not easy.

Rhi, like me and many others, is sorely tempted to look at our performance in the workplace as a key barometer of how successful we are.  When others surpass us, particularly when we know they are not practicing sound, ethical behaviour, it can get under our skin and cause frustration and irritation.  We may even be moved to complain to God about this.  Fortunately David, who is refered to as a man after God’s own heart, did on several occasions.  We can see this best in the Psalms.  I think the best one is Psalm 37.

David acknowledges that the wicked flourish at times and it is tempting to wonder if our efforts at righteousness are of benefit.  If those who cut corners are richly rewarded it seems like plodding along faithfully will always have us playing second fiddle to those who do not have the same scruples.  But David correctly observes that the success of the wicked does come to an end… sometimes sooner, sometimes later but they always come to an end.  Even as I write this I can think of wicked rulers that have come to an end within the recent past.  Moamar Gaddafi, Hosni Mubarak, Saddam Hussein were all rich and powerful dictators who have fallen.

All of Psalm 37 is good, but I want to point out what I believe to be the key verse, verse 4.  “Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desire of your heart.”  The Lord spoke this to me once when I was laboring in intense intercessory prayer.  I stopped immediately and said, “No Lord not my will but Yours,” to which He replied.  “That is exactly why I am going to give you the desires of your heart.”  When our heart becomes so supple in God’s hand, when our intimacy with Him becomes the source of our greatest joy and delight, then we are in a place where we will want what He wants more than anything else.  And when that is our greatest desire, then things like worldly recognition and praise diminish in importance to nothing.

For me the prayer above was followed up by a move from Louisiana to Tennessee within a few months.  I was not praying for or seeking the move at the time, but it was something I did deeply desire and God brought it to pass.

Now concerning those who chose to do whatever it takes to get ahead in the world, I will only point out that each one of us have cut some corners in life and transgressed against the God who loves us so.  My response today is a bit different from when I was younger.  Very few of the persons I have known well who practiced this have lasted.  In the end it seems their actions came back to be their undoing.  A few have even faced their past with true conviction and repentance and come into a living relationship with God through His Son, Jesus.  But the point I am trying to make is that I don’t dwell on any perceived advantage that they might have.  I know it is short-lived.  Rather I focus upon the One who loves us so much that I can find my joy overflowing in His presence.  In Him I am whole, I am happy, I am fulfilled, I am called, I am equipped, and I am able to do anything He calls me to do.  And whatever He calls me to do is of greater worth than the things I might gain if I cut corners.

Today my wife and I are successful.  We count our success first by the relationships we have beginning with our relationship with God.  Next is our marriage and the intimacy and joy we share in being best friends and lovers.  Right behind that is our relationship with our children – they are all great people in their own right, but even more special because we share so much in common.  Next is the good health we walk in.  We realize this is a special blessing and we don’t take it for granted.  Notice that I have not mentioned our jobs anywhere in the list thus far.  That’s because we both enjoy, appreciate, and work hard in our jobs, but they do not define us nor are they our primary measure of success.  We both have good jobs and we do well in them, but if the Lord should separate us from our jobs, He would still be our delight.

My prayer is that this helps you to see that God’s frame of reference for success is bigger than the momentary success achieved by cheating or cutting corners.  I wish you a blessed day and pray that your delight will be in the One who loves you beyond comprehension.   To Him be the glory and honor and power and dominion for ever and ever.  Amen.

Read Full Post »

I don’t know how many followers my blog has – I’m not really to worried.  I think I am supposed to write so I write.  I want to be an encouragement to others and hopefully by being totally open and honest the Lord can use my experiences – both good and humorous as well as the difficult and challenging to help others.  My life today is so much richer because of the words or advice, encouragement, and wisdom others have shared.  I want to do the same for anyone who stumbles upon my blog.

I started a new job after 23 years in my old job and I have been swamped.  It is exhilarating to be in a new role where I can interact with so many persons.  It is also fun to be in a leadership role where I help set direction for the site.  But being a new facility means there is SO MUCH to do.  We are building work processes, hiring new people, developing and delivering training, all while we have production lines that are coming up to speed producing our product.  For the past 5 weeks I have averaged over 65 hours a week at the plant.  I go to work each day invigorated by the challenges ahead and I return home with that happy weariness of feeling like we’ve made progress.  (Truth in reporting requires that I admit a few times I’ve come home just weary, but most of the time we can see progress.)

So this is why I have not been able to post much.  While I am hopeful I will see a bit of a moderation in these hours, it may still be a few weeks.  I will endeavor to get back to blogging though because I feel it is something I am called to do.  Also I wrote a bit on our vacation and I will reread and post those as appropriate.  And finally I took photos on the trip so I will try to add in a pic to two.

I just wanted to give readers a reason for my absence.  Take care and have a blessed day!

Read Full Post »

Florence, Italy is a beautiful and historic city.  We visited on day 3 of our Mediterranean vacation.  Aside from the stifling heat and crowded conditions I was enthralled by the architecture, culture, and food. One of the highlights was entering the Duomo which is one of the largest cathedrals in the world. Admittedly the day was one of hustle and hurry from place to place as we tried to cram as much as possible into the day. One of the main reasons I enjoyed the Duomo is because we were able to slow down and just sit quietly for several minutes.

I have studied only a little of the history, but I understand that the Medici family was particularly powerful and influential in supporting / leading the development of much of the most beautiful of what we see in Florence. Not everything about the Medici family was magnanimous though. In fact a lot of the stories were anything but flattering. However their efforts were used to create the beautiful place Christin and I were able to sit.

Gazing upon the frescos and sculptures my mind rested upon the God who gives wonderful gifts and talents to man. A thought struck me that persists – the art in Florence and specifically within the churches was sometimes helpful to me in my meditation upon God. But at other times it was distracting by degrees. So the question arises – what is the true value of art?

It seems to me that the highest purpose of art is to speak to the deepest parts of our consciousness and point us to God. Admittedly I begin from a standpoint of knowing that God exists and that He wants to be involved in our lives. While He chooses to remain out-of-sight for the most part, it is not because He doesn’t want to be known. On the contrary He desires a relationship with us, but He wants that relationship to be one of faith rather than sight. So when I think of the highest purpose of art I see that it is to draw us into an acknowledgement of the one who gives gifts to people and creates beauty in this world. For many people art speaks more eloquently to the spiritual part of them than rhetoric ever could.

Another purpose of art I believe is to stretch us, to see things that we might overlook otherwise. I know the few moments in the Duomo made me realize I had allowed some of the negative “press” about the Medici family to cloud my perspective of Florence and this powerful family. That is not to condone things they may or may not have done, but it does mean I can look upon them as I do every man and acknowledge, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Hopefully their religious acts did not get in the way of meeting the savior personally. Jesus was able to stretch me as I sat on a little bench against one of the cool, stone walls gazing upon the grandeur of the place. My hope is He did that for the Medici family and for the hundreds and thousands who have passed through this beautiful city as well.

As we leave Florence I am stirred by the many generations that have gone on before me who have sought to honor God in their day and in their way. I pray that you and I may leave a lasting legacy, perhaps not with stones and blocks, frescos and sculptures, but with good deeds done and faithful obedience to the One who has called us to Himself.

Have a blessed day today and always!

Read Full Post »